Tag Archives: novels

Make Characters Unique with Layering – by Jami Gold…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Somewhere along our learning curve as writers, we’re likely to come across the skill of layering. But what does that mean?

Often that skill refers to how we layer in different elements of our story, weaving in our plot, characters, settings, emotions, etc. In fact, some writers even start with just one element—such as writing their whole story just as dialogue—and then layer in everything else once they have the shape of the story.

But today, I want to talk more about layering that focuses on characters. Specifically, I want to dig into how layering can help us create unique characters, no matter how stereotypical or tropey they might be on the surface.

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Four Ways to Build Suspense in Your Novel

Douglas W. T. Smith

For many writers and readers, the suspense is a genre. However, it is also a key element in all stories—if you want your readers to keep reading, that is.

Tools for creating suspense belong in every writer’s toolkit because they help arouse expectation or uncertainty about what’s going to happen.

And that worry pulls readers deeper into your story, whether it’s fantasy, thriller, science-fiction, literary fiction or any other genre.

Below are four ways to help add suspense to your novel, no matter where you’re at in the writing process, from drafting to the fourth round of editing (like me).

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Writer Flexibility: Trying New Things – by Jami Gold…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Even though I’ve studied story structure enough to teach workshops and offer beat sheets, I still love learning new perspectives. I still read blog posts, check out Twitter threads, and pick up books about beats, plots, and story structure, hoping to take away at least one new thing.

Once we’ve written more than one story, we often learn a “writer truth”:

The processes and techniques that worked on our last story might not work on our next one.

So I figure I should fill my brain with all the options. I want to have more choices in my toolbox should my usual processes for writing and editing a story fail. The more tools at our fingertips, the better our chances of finding something that will work.

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When do a Book Reviewer’s Statements Become Libelous?

This isn’t about a bad review. Big Deal. I’ve had those. I know not everyone is going to like or love my books. But this? This is something totally different.

So I want to know, when do a reviewer’s statements become libelous? Is this woman, who wrote the comments in the review that I’ve inserted below, being libelous? Actually, it’s not really a review. It’s accusations. She’s accusing me of ripping- off another author. JK Rowling to be exact. I definitely have not done this. I actually used my very own imagination. Apparently, a novel concept to this person.

And since what she wrote is completely not true, isn’t that libel? Defamation? Slander? Isn’t it ruining my good name as an honest and hard-working author?

She says my magical house is Hogwarts. How can that be? It’s not a school or a castle. It’s a house. Nearly every room and many hallways in the house are magical and have different magical powers in them. Hogwarts doesn’t have that. Of course there are staircases in the house. It’s like ten stories tall. It needs staircases to get anywhere. I have ONE staircase that slithers back and forth like a snake. The others are all stationary. Also, no ghosts wander the house. And apparently no other fantasy story can ever have magical doors or secret doorways? Give me a break, lady.

As for the idea of the house: When I was a real estate agent, I did a lot of open houses. One Sunday I held one at a huge, fancy, beautiful house. Someplace I would’ve loved to live, if I could afford it. That night, I dreamed I lived in a huge, fancy, beautiful house, but for some reason, every room had a different magical power in it. (I dunno why. Maybe it was destiny.) The next day, the Tinker House, or House of Magic, was born. Disclaimer: Hogwarts had no part in the creation of the Tinker House.

I have ONE portrait that Andy falls into and meets the two Tinkers sitting in it. Harry Potter has no portraits like that. And oval windows can never be used in books ever again? Say what?! I didn’t even know Hogwarts had an oval window.

Grandfather has short gray hair, glasses, and a mustache. He also loves to wear bowties. No beards or robes there. And yes, I tried to make him intelligent and wise, like Gandalf and Dumbledore and Vikus (from Gregor the Overlander). Was I supposed to make him stupid? He does keep things from the kids so as not to worry them. So what? When I was a kid, my parents did that to me and my siblings all the time. I’m sure the grand majority of parents out there did the same thing. Nothing new there!

And yes, the kids get in trouble and do a few things behind Grandfather’s back. If anyone can say that they NEVER got in trouble or did things they weren’t supposed to do behind their parents’ backs, then either they’re big ol’ fibbers, or those sweet little angels deserve a million golden stars. (So something else from my childhood, not HP.)

NONE of my characters are based off of or are anything like JKR’s. They’re actually inspired by myself, my family members, and people I’ve known through the years. (Ahem, main bad guy? My horrid ex-husband who always wore his long, dirty-blonde hair back in an ugly ponytail.) The evil Marlowes, also known as the Dark Enemy, are nothing like the Malfoys. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not. They have yellowish blonde hair, not white, and cold, piercing blue eyes. Their magic comes from a dark magic object. And anyone who reads the whole series will see that there are a whole bunch of those wicked beings causing trouble in my make-believe world.

Yes, Chase has dark-brown hair, just like Harry Potter (Oh no!), but there are only so many hair colors (and eye colors, Chase has dark-brown eyes, BTW) in the world. Was I supposed to make Chase’s hair blue to really distinguish him from Harry? I already had the bad guys with blonde hair and Persephone with auburn. Sheesh! Plus, there are no “Chosen Ones” in my books. Every character has a totally different purpose and personality than the ones in the Harry Potter books.

And Mrs. Periwinkle is just Mrs. Periwinkle. She’s the housekeeper and Persephone’s mom. James, Chase and Andy’s cousin and Janie’s brother, is not Draco. Even though he’s a bully, who acts nice when it suits him, his character is influenced by a girl who bullied me in school. She attacked me one night and tried to pound my head into the sidewalk, then acted really nice to me the next time she saw me. Bullies aren’t a Harry Potter thing. They’re all over MG/YA literature.

Persephone, friend to the other kids, is inspired by my beautiful, wonderful mom. She died before she could read my books. :( Yes, Janie, Chase and Andy’s cousin, can be a know-it-all. So can my brother, along with a lot of other people. I guess you can say I stole that trait from many individuals. (gasp)

And then there’s Andy, Chase’s little brother, he’s one of my favorite characters. I have to admit that I put a little bit of Dash from the Incredibles in his personality. Plus, he wears glasses, loves pizza, and has a tendency to say whatever he happens to be thinking. Not always a good thing. He’s also never jealous of his brother Chase. And even though the two brothers bicker all the time, they’re very close and care deeply for each other. Oh, and they’re not orphans or mistreated and abused by anyone. There are also no pet rats who morph into humans or anything else in my books. Just a cute little ferret named Maxwell. He really is just a ferret.

The story is about two magical families, one good, one bad, fighting over a magical house and the incredibly powerful, magical entity that controls it. I hate to break it to this woman, but JK Rowling hasn’t cornered the market on fantasy, magic, magical places, magical objects, or magical people. It’s all been around for ages. Long before JKR was even born.

Based on her fabrications and delusions, this woman is telling people not to buy or read ANY of the books in my Chase Tinker Series. She only read the first book, for gosh sakes! Who the heck does that with absolutely no knowledge of something? And with all of these lies and accusations, I’m worried it’s going to affect my book sales, especially since Amazon was so kind as to put it at the very top of my reviews. What makes this even crazier, is that a lot of other people have read my books and yet no one, except this woman, has said anything like this in their reviews.

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Are Your Amazon Books Merged On Your Book Sales Page? – by Derek Haines…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Just Publishing Advice:

A trap to avoid for new authors on Amazon Books

Publishing a new book is an exciting time for any author.

There are so many things you have to do, and it is sometimes easy to overlook a few important things.

When you publish different versions of your book, such as in Kindle ebook and paperback, you should always check your book sales page.

It is not unusual for Amazon to take quite some time on occasions to merge both versions. When you have separate sales pages, it is difficult for potential readers to find your book in their preferred format.

Another problem is that because you have two separate book sales pages with different URLs, it makes it impossible for you to promote your book with one link.

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What NOT to do in your marketing

Ari Meghlen - Writer | Blogger | Bad card player

It’s Monday Marketing time and today I thought I would do something different and discuss what NOT to do in Marketing. 

If you are new to my blog, I post Marketing articles on most Mondays and if you want to check the earlier Marketing posts, you can find them here.

What NOT to do in your book Marketing. Marketing tips for Writers.  Image: Stop sign

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How to Connect With Your Readers

A Writer's Path

by Meg Dowell

The writer-reader connection is delicate.

Possibly one of the biggest challenges new writers face is figuring out how to create a bond between themselves and people they may never meet face-to-face.

How do you connect with someone in such a way that they feel you’re speaking only to them?

How do you make a stranger feel like someone, finally, GETS IT?

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