Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Free Mystery Writing Workshop

February 9, 2013 – 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

The SinC Desert Sleuths Chapter 3rd Annual Mystery Writers Workshop

NUTS & BOLTS: Fine-Tuning Your Mystery for Publication
Scottsdale Civic Center Library - 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Gain expertise in creating the can't-put-it-down mystery thriller! This is a FREE event sponsored by the Scottsdale Public Library and the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter, For more detailed information contact

Featuring workshops by Desert Sleuths members:

10:00-10:45  “Plots that Kill”          
Presenter:  Kate Herbert

11:00-11:45  “Writer’s Voice”          
Presenter:  Nancy McCurry

12:00-12:45   “Creating Memorable Characters”                      
Presenter:  Kris Neri

1:00-1:45   “Scene of the Crime”
Presenter: Connie Flynn

2:00-2:45   Getting Your Cop Facts Straight”          
Presenter:  Isabella Maldonado

3:00-3:45   “First Lines, Queries, and Synopses”
Presenters: Deborah Ledford and Pascal Marco

Tell Your Friends! Our speakers are published and the fee is $0.00. What better way for a writer to spend a Saturday?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It has been posted in several parts over the last few months. If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.

The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:

Enchanting the Lady:  In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.

Double Enchantment:  When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.

Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.

Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?

So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.

(Read my previous posts on this subject by searching for the title in the LABELS or CATEGORIES in the far right sidebar.)


I think writing is like weaving, where you have to incorporate all these different strands into your work, and that removing any thread will make the entire thing fall apart.  So in all of the examples I’ve shown in the past few posts, there’s an element of conflict and plot as well.  Both their external (plot) and internal conflict can lead you to a unique love scene. In Enchanting the Lady, Felicity is trying to overcome her feelings of inadequacy (internal conflict), while Terence is trying to trust her (internal) and find the relic (external conflict).  In Double Enchantment, Jasmina is trying to prove that she’s just as passionate as her magical twin (internal) and Sterling is determined to make her marry him (internal).  And they’re both using each other to find the relic (external).  In Enchanting the Beast, Philomena is insecure about her age (internal) and Nico fears the nature of his beast (internal).  They are both trying to solve the mystery of Grimspell castle’s ghosts (external). For another example, I’ll use an excerpt from my upcoming brand new release, Everlasting Enchantment, to reflect the use of plot and conflict. Gareth is trying to seduce Millicent to break his curse (external), but finds himself actually falling in love with her (internal). Because she’s aware of the curse and his goal (external), she doesn’t trust him (internal), but finds herself wanting him all at the same time (internal), and the nature of her beast is fighting within her as well (internal). As you can tell, there’s a lot of conflict going on within this love scene:

Gareth groaned and pressed closer to her. She could feel his muscles tremble as he fought to keep his touch gentle.
Millicent buried her fingers in his hair and showed him she would not break. Perhaps…perhaps the moment she had truly known she would make love to him was when she had thought he had died. When she had felt such an overwhelming grief that she would have blindly rushed forward to save him if it hadn’t been for Nell reminding her that he was immortal.
Or was he?
Millicent easily pulled his face away from hers, heard him catch a breath at the reminder of her were-strength. “I cannot break your curse. I do not have enough love in my heart to do such a powerful thing.”
“I do not care.”
“So you said. But what if…what if it were possible? Will time catch up with you and turn you to dust?” Her voice cracked, betraying her emotions, her fear of making the wrong choice.
His eyes looked like twin pools of midnight, the light blue barely discernable. “I do not care.”
“I will lose you either way.”
“Are you sure you want to keep me?”
“I—“ Millicent frowned. She did not know what she wanted beyond this moment.
He slid his finger across her cheek. “Merlin’s spell bedamned. I will make love to you for no other reason than because I want to. Because I have to. Because I need to make you a part of me, if only for one night.”
And Millicent’s beast, who had lain strangely quiet within her, sensed her weakness and suddenly rose up, demanding this man for her mate. She could not stop the low growl that sounded in the back of her throat. Could not help but pull his face to hers once again, kissing him with a fierceness that she feared would startle him.
But Gareth only moaned, met her fierceness with his own, pushing her back against the bedding, his tongue tasting the inside of her mouth, his hands roaming over the silk sheet covering her; exploring, kneading, demanding.
Millicent did not know how he managed to keep her senses overwhelmed and remove his clothing at the same time, but within moments she felt his naked body slide next to hers, his skin warm and smoother than the silk. He felt perfect, his muscles molding against hers, as if they somehow fit like a puzzle into one form. And yet…a flutter of anxiety twisted through her and she fought the urge to push him away. She wanted him, yes, but feared him all at the same time.
Her beast growled, chiding her for being a coward. But the animal lacked the vulnerabilities of a human heart, acting on instinct and need alone. Her beast had always been a part of her, even in human form, and she had used that side of her nature to save her life and sanity more than once. But she had always controlled the inclinations of the were-cat.
Until now.

Consider your external and internal conflicts and allow your characters to bring them into their love scenes with them.  Think of all the different emotions they’re feeling and how it affects the intimacy of the scene, and then use that to guide you through their very own unique, special moment.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Promotion - Your Secret Tool

This month we are discussing promotion. Aside from word-of-mouth and a publisher fully backing your book, it is difficult to track down what helps your sales and what doesn't. I do know what will hurt your sales and that is acting pushy and rude at booksignings or conferences. This should be obvious, but I have met a couple of writers I stopped reading because of their attitudes at conferences. In both cases, I gave them the benefit of the doubt the first time, everyone has a bad day; but the second time, I realized I didn't want to remember their attitudes while reading their books, so I stopped reading them.

Readers who are fans, or who might turn out to be a fan, want an enjoyable experience. They want to meet an author who smiles and wants to meet them as well. So, writers, smile and ask your reader questions at booksignings. What do they like in a book and what don't they like? You might learn something to improve your craft and your sales.

Until next week,
happy writing and reading.
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, January 25, 2013

Author Spotlight on Pamela S. Thibodeaux

The Visionary

 A visionary is someone who sees into the future Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as "a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique" Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that's disgustingly prevalent in today's society.

Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in...The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God's love heals the most wounded of souls.


Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, "Inspirational with an Edge!" and reviewed as "steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Workshop Notice: Christian Writers of the West

This writer's workshop has a terrific speaker with a solid and practical point of view toward publishing. I highly recommend that you attend. I'll be out of town that weekend, otherwise I would be there myself. For more information go to the Christian Writer's website at

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Don't Miss The Glendale Chocolate Affaire

Once again the Valley of the Sun Romance Authors will be hosting one of the largest romance author booksignings in the Southwest at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire. You can find our booth on the east side of Murphy Park which is located at 58th and Glendale Avenues.  Event hours are Friday 5 - 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

While strolling through the park, you'll find vendors selling chocolate-covered strawberries, bananas, ice cream, etc. Activities for children include face-painting and rock-wall climbing, plus couples can take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Whatever you do, don't forget to drop by and say hello to the romance writers. We often give out bookmarks and other freebies. This year we will have a  mock romance novel cover cut-out for photo opportunities. Don't forget to bring your camera or cell phone to take that memorable picture.

Romance authors love to meet readers and discuss their books or even their writing process. And if you find books you would like to purchase, not only will the author sign them for you, but our cashier will place your books inside of the red tote bag shown above, which lists the names of some of our authors. (Bags are limited to the first 250 customers.)

If you are interested in becoming a writer, we will also be giving free writing workshops on Saturday.

For more information on the Chocolate Affaire go to

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Promotion – a four, no I mean a nine letter word

When I think of promotion, I think of one word: Visibility.

Other than a great product with a good word-of-mouth, I really believe it’s all about visibility. There are a number of ways to do that. Some are listed below.

Offer your book for sale or free: For indie authors, there are a number of sites to help promote your book for a fee. A few of the sites are: Pixel of Ink, Book Bub, The Cheap and The Fugal Ereader.

Facebook: Be as active as you can but don’t bury people, and don’t hit people over the head with your book. They’ll get tired of it. Posting funny quotes and pictures that people share helps with name recognition.

Facebook has an option for advertising on their site by pay per click. You only pay if someone clicks on your ad. Some people have had success with this, but you have to do your research to narrow down your demographic, etc. Also you can create an event on Facebook and invite your Facebook friends.

Twitter: There are many groups out there where you can join, or you can create your own group where you can retweet your groups tweets. Make them fun and interesting. You have only a number of characters to catch a person’s attention. Hootsuite is a great site to schedule and keep track of your tweets. I highly recommend them and they’re free!

Goodreads giveaways: You can offer a book giveaway on Goodreads.  I’ve done this a number of times, and it does create more visibility. When I do this I've always managed to get my book on a number of friend's 'to-be-read' list.

Goodreads events: Create an event (book signing, sale day) and invite your Goodreads friends. Also limit the amount of events you create. Like anything else, they can become very much like spam and turn your friends off.

Book reviews: Reviews help boost your visibility. Goodreads is a great place for getting reviews. Many of the reviewers there have their own review sites. Also I have noticed a correlation with reviews and sales. If I receive a number of favorable reviews on Goodreads in a given week, I do see a jump in my sales.

Newsletter: I almost forgot one of the most important opportunities available: growing a list of people for your newsletter and actually sending that newsletter out. You can grow your list through a number of opportunities, one being contests. Have someone signup for your newsletter in order for them to be entered in a contest you are having. I seriously think this is the most important promotional tool you can use.

There are so many promotional opportunities available for writers, it's hard to decide and at times confusing. The key, I believe comes down to focusing your energy on one or two and following through with them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


This month we are discussing promotion. It might as well be a four letter word for some writers. Trying to decide what works and doesn't work in promoting your books can be frustrating. Although we write because we enjoy creating stories, most of us would enjoy making more money selling our books. Many writers have grand dreams of quitting their day jobs, or retiring one day, to write full time. Some writers are fortunate, their book catches on by word-of-mouth and book sales take off. That is more the exception than the rule.

Writers are left searching for ways to promote their book without breaking the bank. Bookmarks are popular. Unfortunately, many writers give them out at conferences to other writers and they usually get tossed. I make beaded ones hoping they are less likely to be tossed. Pens with your logo are useful and less likely to be thrown away, but I don't know how many of them result in sales. I do remember seeing Linda Style's name on Emory boards year-after-year and I did buy a couple of her books. The idea is to get name recognition so when a reader sees your name on a book, she'll know she's hear of you.

Social media is another way to get your name out there. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and two blogs. Facebook and Twitter seems to be mainly writers friending writers. Pinterest allows access to a wide variety of people who may or may not be readers. Your best best may be blog tours and blog hops. You want to focus on blogs that attract readers and readers will come for the prizes on blog hops.

There are two things to remember when promoting your books:
1. You want to focus on reaching readers.
2. You don't want to use up all of your writing time to promote.

Until next week,
happy writing and reading!
Tina Swayzee McCright

Thursday, January 10, 2013


An Author Spotlight
by Connie Flynn 

K. R. Richards is the Author of the Lords of Avalon Series, an adventurous, sexy, romantic, humorous romp through nineteenth century Glastonbury and other locations in South West England.  The Lords of Avalon are members of the Avalon Society, a historical and paranormal society; so the series also includes some paranormal elements. Did I mention the Lords of Avalon are referred to as the Lusty Lords of Avalon by the Ton. (They are!) K. R.  likes to call them Alpha Geeks, because they are scholars who are highly intelligent, but oh so hot and sexy!  People ask K. R. all of the time what her series is about.  Instead of saying, “Well, it’s complicated…” she generally says, “It’s Jane Austen meets Indiana Jones, Da Vinci Code and Sherlock Holmes. Sort of.”

Having studied and taught in the psychic development arena for years, K. R. set out to combine her love of the Spiritual realm and mystic studies with her love of history and the Romance genre.  The Lords of Avalon series was born.
K. R.’s other interest include archaeology, genealogy, reading, Yoga, Pilates, antiques, music and Johnny Depp (K. R. is a Co-Admin on two JD fan pages that are highly respected in Deppland!) She is an avid and serious collector of crystals, gemstones and minerals. K. R. currently lives in Mississippi though she calls Arizona home, and plans to someday return to her beloved desert!        

I have a favorite query for spotlighted authors new to Much Cheaper Than Therapy:  What question has no one ever asked you that you wish they would? K.R. answered:

No one has ever asked me how I go about naming my main characters. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about the etymology and origin of names, and have something of a collection of names.  Since I write historical romance, it’s important to me that I find names that could have been used during the time period I’m working in. I visit genealogy sites for the area and time frame my characters were born for both first and last names. I have a vague idea of who the character is, but they don’t become real to me until they are named. The naming process is very important to me. I want their name and/or titles to convey something of their personality.  For me, once the character has their very well thought out name, they spring to life.  Then the fun begins.  

About Her Books:

Book 1 in the Lords of Avalon Series   
 Lady Rowena Locke seeks permission from Harry Bellingham, the new Lord Glaston to search for treasure hidden on Glastonbury Abbey grounds.  Glaston is the head of the renowned Avalon Society, an historical society which pursues myths, legends, ancient treasures and the paranormal.

To her surprise, not only is Harry interested in the treasure hidden by the last Abbot of Glastonbury before the dissolution of the Abbey; he is also interested in Rowena.  Her vow to never marry is severely tested upon meeting Lord Glaston.

When Harry and the Avalon Society members step in to assist Rowena and her aunt on their quest, dangerous and mysterious men in brown coats and hats appear in Glastonbury also searching for the lost Abbey treasure.  It’s a race against time as the mysterious ‘Brown Coats’ seem to be always a step ahead of them. Their quest becomes more dangerous as they find more clues, treasures, letters and holy secrets while trying to protect their finds from the enemy.

Will they discover who the ‘Brown Coats’ are and why they are after the treasures?  Can Harry convince marriage wary Rowena to trust in love and marry him?  AVAILABLE THRU AMAZON

Book 2 in the Lords of Avalon Series

Through no fault of their own, Avalon Society member, Micah Wychcombe, Viscount Wincanton, and Lady Elizabeth “Libby” Darrington find themselves in a compromising situation.  Micah offers for Libby out of gentlemanly duty and honor.

In another situation involving honor, fellow Avalon Society member, Lyon Ravenscroft, the Earl of Amesbury, must offer for Miss Sophia Hart.

Meanwhile, the Avalon Society realizes they are once again being pursued by the mysterious brown-coated men who plagued them recently in Glastonbury.  It becomes clear the Brown Coats are after their recent finds and acquisitions, the Glastonbury Sapphire, the Holy cruets brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea, and five ancient Greek and Aramaic scrolls which were hidden by Glastonbury’s last Abbot, Richard Whiting, before the Abbey was destroyed in 1539. The Brown Coat numbers increase and their attacks become vicious.  Soon, the Avalon Society members realize the leaders of the brown-coated army are anonymous heads of an Order of powerful men in prominent positions. 

When their loved ones and families are targeted, the Avalon Society must join forces with the Crown to discover the identities and destroy their enemies. Can they discover the identities of the leaders and stop the Order’s attacks?  Will Micah and Libby, and Lyon and Sophia, find happiness in their new circumstances?
The First Lords of Avalon Novella, Lord Greyton’s Fall From Grace, was released on Amazon Kindle in October 2012.  It is the back story of Owen and Grace who are introduced in Lords of Honor. AVAILABLE THRU AMAZON

Facebook Page
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
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Email address:

 Available on Amazon Kindle in February 2013.
Book 3 in the Lords of Avalon Series, Lords of Retribution,

Book 4, Lords of Atonement
will be out in Fall, 2013.

What are you afraid of?

For years I thought I was afraid of success. I knew that if I ever hit it big with my books, things would change and not necessarily in a good way. Sure the money would be nice, but my writing would change.
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy but when my Redaction series started taking off, that's exactly what happened. I sat down to write and froze. Could I capture the magic that people loved and hated? Would my new fans keep coming back or would the next book suck eggs? Then there were all the reviews that told me exactly what I'd done wrong. All of these thoughts and tons more played over and over in my mind like a song stuck on repeat.
Not cool.
When the New Year arrived, I decided to see if there were tips to overcome my fear of success.
After perusing many blogs by experts on the web, I came to realize something I had known all along. I'm not afraid of success, I deserve all the success I've received and hopefully will continue to earn more in the future.
I've had 4 small presses take a chance on me and my writing. Editors remember me and my stories. 
I am a damn good and talented storyteller.
Some people love my writing; others will always hate it.
To polarize folks in such a matter means I'm doing my job--touching something inside people for better or worse.
For ten years I wrote for a pittance, earning roughly 50 dollars a year on multiple books and presses. My dad asked me why I bothered to write for so little. I told him one day I'd be discovered, one day someone somewhere would hold a class about my writing. I didn't want to hit the NY Times bestseller list, I wanted to have mattered, to have made a difference in someone's life.
Since self-publishing my languishing books, I have accomplished just that. Practically every week I get contacted by someone about my books and questioned as to why they're so different.
And that reason is my real fear, the one that has me playing hundreds of games of fishdom instead of writing.
I immerse myself totally in the world I'm writing. I think like the characters, my syntax changes and my posture changes. It is a possession that has me fearing that I will be lost somewhere in the mix. I know that I'm not the same when I write the end. 
And that's the crux of the matter. 
I had thought to be in control of the worlds I build, the characters in my head. Instead, they control me and I'm not comfortable with it.
But I have to learn to adapt.
Because that connection with my characters bleeds onto the page. My readers connect with it and it sucks them in. From the flutter of love to the dark corners of the soul that scare the bejabbers out of me, I have to lead where I expect my readers to follow. I have to be changed by the events if I want my readers to remember my stories.
To do anything less means I need to hang up my keyboard. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Author Spotlight - Laurie London

Meet Laurie London!  She writes the Sweetblood series and the Iron Portal series, with dark, sexy vampires in Seattle and dark, sexy warriors in Seattle. Yeah, she's got a thing for hot guys in her hometown.

Her current release, ASSASSIN'S TOUCH, opens her new Iron Portal series and hit the shelves in November of 2012!

Two worlds. Two enemies.

Haunted by loss, Cascadian assassin Rickert D’Angelus is on a mission of vengeance. Determined to stop the Pacifican army from finding a portal to his world, he leads a group of warriors into New Seattle with one goal—to kill all Pacifican soldiers.

Neyla Trihorn had the perfect life until a deadly accident revealed her latent para-abilities. Now, the former fashion designer is the Pacifican army’s hottest commodity in their fight against the invaders.

When Rickert discovers a beautiful, unconscious soldier on a cold mountain ledge near the portal, he realizes she’s a Protection-Talent and cannot be killed. To prevent the army from using her skills again, he takes her as his prisoner instead.

One fated touch…

But when he pulls her into his arms, a sexy and compelling vision appears, awakening something inside him. Something he can’t ignore.

Torn between duty and passion, Rickert must decide if the vision is a Talent trick designed to foil the enemy or the answer to his deepest desires... 

Laurie London is the author of the Sweetblood and Iron Portal series—dark, sexy paranormal romance, set primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Publisher’s Weekly calls the Sweetblood series “sexy” and “sizzling.” Her latest release, ASSASSIN’S TOUCH, kicks off the new Iron Portal series.

She lives on a small farm outside of Seattle with her husband, two children and a variety of animals. After graduating cum laude with a business degree from Western Washington University, she worked for a Fortune 500 company as a programmer/tester and an underwriter. Her other jobs included cocktail waitress, hotel maid, candy store manager and bridal gown sales.

When not writing, she can be found running, reading, sewing, making jewelry, mucking stalls, volunteering or riding her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again.

You can find Laurie at:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Domino Theory, by Tia Dani

Self-editing is tricky. For example as the author you are so familiar with your story you could absentmindedly forget to include information along the way...say an important point you thought of but, without thinking, left out.

Keep this point in mind while editing, a reader knows only what you have actually told (or shown) them on paper.

When we go back through our stories during the editing process we try to remember this and work together to make sure that we haven’t left out important details and confused our readers.  Plus, we don’t want our writing to be choppy and sound like there are two writers. We have worked very hard to create the Tia Dani voice.

We call this particular part of our editing process the Domino Theory.

Imagine you have spent hours, aligning hundreds of dominos, narrow-end up, across a flat surface. You’ve placed the black, shiny tiles perfectly so they form an intricate and unusual pattern. Once finished, your finger is poised at the beginning. You tap the first key lightly. With pride you watch as the line tumbles gracefully, one clicking against another, until the formation comes to a glorious end.

Writing a well-designed story is very much like setting up the dominos. Each sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter must be aligned in your intricate formation. The writing dominos you work with generally are combinations of showing vs. telling, description, view point, senses, mood, voice, plot, dialogue, characterization, humor, and motivation. If any of the writing dominos are off-centered or missing entirely, your beautiful story will fail.

Writers who understand the power of correct placement look upon their manuscript as an exciting challenge. They instinctively study a newly finished scene and ask themselves what needs changing, adding or deleting. Will they need a domino from their bag of writing tricks for a missing slot? Or will they have to carefully adjust an off-centered tile so that it aligns perfectly with the others?

For beginners (and for those who haven’t yet developed this gut instinct), condition yourself to recognize what a missing or an off-centered domino looks like. If time is available, put the work aside, return later and reread with fresh eyes. Or have a trusted friend read the scene and ask if anything seems unclear. Don't ask them to edit, just read for clarity. After while you will begin to see a pattern of how you misalign your work or leave something out entirely. The bottom line here:  Knowledge comes with practice, hard work, and common sense. It is also called pay-attention-to-what-the- reader-sees.

For examples, let’s look at some obvious missing dominos.

Problem:  Imagine paragraphs one through twelve has Katy in the house washing dishes and talking to her mother on the phone her lack of boyfriends. Suddenly in paragraph thirteen Katy is outside washing the car and talking to her dog about going for a walk.

Solution:  Transition Domino. Add a short paragraph between twelve and thirteen to show why Katy ended mom’s phone call and went outside with her dog. Voila! You’ve filled in the open slot.

Problem:  Veronica is home, alone, with only a dozing cat for company. She’s just finished reading a romantic love scene in one of her favorite books and is staring dreamily into the fire. Suddenly Veronica throws the book across the room and jumps to her feet, dislodging the sleepy animal from her lap. She mumbles something under her breath then walks slowly into her darkened bedroom to get ready for bed.

Solution:  Motivation Domino. Let’s say the author used the correct dominos needed to build a believable scene; such as the five senses, description, and mood. However why did the character suddenly throw her book? The author neglected to explain poor Veronica hasn’t had a date for over a year and she feels that her chances of meeting an interesting man are nil to none.

Problem:  A scene takes place outdoors. The day is sunny, horribly hot with no wind. The characters walk and engage in a captivating conversation which has drawn the reader in, yet something feels not quite right.

Solution:  Off-centered Domino. The characters appear to be totally unfazed by the high temperatures. This scene requires one of the five-senses realignment. With a few short sentences the author can adjust the scene to show perspiration dripping from HIS brow or SHE rapidly fans her face with her hand.

Problem:  Envision a scene where Charles is hiking and has stumbled across a rattler. The snake coiled, ready to strike. Yet paragraph after paragraph, the author goes to great detail in describing the beauty of the reptile, the sound of the animal’s ominous rattle and the texture of the sand surrounding it.

Solution:  A 'mis'-aligned domino. The detail, though well-written, is not pertinent to Charles view point. Charles would not be noting sand textures here. The snake is about to strike! Try going back over the scene and weave in some extra dominos so that the emotional dominos and descriptive dominos form a dance in time with each other. It might take some work but will be worth it when completed.

Here are some important points to remember

* A domino line can be fixed at any time by concentrating on one very important rule. For every action there must be a reaction. Use it as a mantra.

* Write down your important dominos and display them somewhere you can see the list. While editing, consider if any are missing. If you do, you'll soon keep your story flow moving smoothly to a glorious end.

* Read aloud. For us, one of the best ways we catch a missing domino is reading our scenes aloud. Tia seems to have a natural instinct for catching missing dominos. So, usually Dani reads the first round while Tia closes her eyes and listens. Then we alternate. Tia reads while Dani listens for missing words. (Dani can catch them in a heartbeat.)

* Print out your scene. When you're truly stumped with awkward domino line, try printing out the scene on paper. We generally do this when we feel something is still off with a particular scene. Sometimes it seems faster to catch a tricky misaligned domino that way.

The glorious end? Once we feel we've aligned our dominos the best we can, we give it a thumbs up send it off to our editor.
Tia Dani
Magical, Mystical, & Oh, So, Tempting
Death Unseen
Spoonful of Sugar
Color of Dreams - Coming soon

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writer U January Classes

SIX WEEK CLASS: Discovering Story Magic
by Laura Baker
January 3-February 13, 2013
$90 ($85 by check) at

Prerequisite: For greatest benefit, please come prepared with a story idea, not a finished manuscript, to use for brainstorming.  And please see the movie Casablanca as close to the start of class as possible.

The acclaimed method for creating a story they can’t refuse is back for six weeks! Here is the clear process to creating three-dimensional characters, sustainable conflict, and a plot that escalates to wrenching black moments. This three-step technique has been the path for many unpublished writers to finally start selling and used by bestselling authors to broaden and deepen their stories. Bring this magic to YOUR book! Receive personal attention and brainstorm on your own story with critically-acclaimed and award-winning author Laura Baker. In this class you will:

* Learn what Inciting Incident catapults your story into compelling drama
* Create sustainable conflict that escalates within a tight, interwoven plot
* Use Character Flaw to compel the story
* Brainstorm villains who provoke struggle AND insight for your protagonist
* Use Turning Points to braid plot and character.
* Create visceral connections between plot, subplot and secondary characters
* Broaden the scope of your story with theme
* Hook your readers with escalating stakes and emotions

Laura has over two decades of experience as a writer, teacher, and coach. Her national award nominations include the National Reader’s Choice and the RITA, and her articles have been published in the Writer’s Digest and newsletters across the country. “Story Magic…is a no-fail system for achieving interesting characters and a coherent plot—and more.” Jasmine Cresswell, USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty novels. For more information visit her website:

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MASTER CLASS: How To Become A Social Media Superstar
by Lisa Pietsch
January 14-25
$65 ($60 by check) at

Prerequisite: Must have a website (free from if you don’t yet have a website) plus Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts (all free). Accounts need not be populated or used yet, but you will need them for the class.

Stop the madness! You need to know where your social networking is taking you and stop the constant time-suck of blogging, updating your unfriendly website, juggling Facebook Profiles, Groups and Fan Pages, Tweeting, Pinning, and staying on top of your Goodreads, Amazon and MySpace pages. You need a 50-hour day to get it all done and still write! Learn from a social media professional how to manage your social networks like a superstar and bump up your book sales in only 30 minutes per day. In this master class, you’ll learn to:

* Maximize your author website content without adding more work
* Completely automate your Facebook Fan Page
* Take advantage of Twitter time to score big
* Make Goodreads work for you
* Profit from Amazon Author Central’s benefits
* Become a Pinterest pro and hook your readers
* Manipulate every opportunity for automation without looking like a bot

Lisa Pietsch lives, eats and breathes social media. She is a successful Social Media marketing consultant as well as a bestselling, multi-published novelist. Her clients include authors, editors, publishers, graphic designers, models, restaurants, retail stores (online and off) and even tequila distributors. Lisa has served as managing editor for five content-rich online communities and several online and print newsletters. She currently lives in the Hill Country north of San Antonio, Texas and online at