Pre-orders Are OPEN

I’ve been hinting at this one for ages but it’s finally available for pre-order! If you’re a fan of my rare romances, then make sure to check out “When World’s Collide Pre-order” for another installment!

23435287_1954506251503998_7246991695449606107_n

This anthology features works by myself as well as Catrina Taylor, Heather Birchfield and RaeAnne Hadley.

Advertisements

Constructive Criticism: What It Is and How to Give It

shame-799094_640

Anyone who has ever put there work out there has heard of criticism and everyone with a mouth has probably given a critique of something at some point, usually unasked for and since this is the internet (stupid) probably in the harshest of possible tones. It might surprise many to know that there’s a way to give criticism that’s actually helpful, that will help the person improve if they’re willing to listen. It’s even possible to give that criticism in such a way that they’ll want to listen to it.

When I went to college and majored in creative writing – this was an actual lesson we had to have at the beginning of the semester. Everything about it seemed pretty common sense but in order for all us tender young things to actually learn and progress rather than shrivel up on the vine, we needed to be on the same page. The same thing goes with all kinds of people who make things and have an internet presence. If you want them to keep making the stuff and improving, you’ve got to learn how to tell them that so they’ll actually hear you and not just run off into a corner crying after reading your first sentence.

It Starts With the First Sentence

The first sentence is always, always crucial. You can win or lose someone with just a handful of words so, choose carefully! When offering criticism that you want them to hear and heed it’s important to start from a positive place.

Remember the Positive

If you’re going to take the time to offer a helping hand towards improvement, you must have seen something in the work that you enjoyed. Start there. Know what you like and don’t be afraid to gush about it! Knowing what really struck a cord with you, might help them to understand that they’ve hit the right point somewhere, so they’re less likely to throw out all the things you loved as they improve their craft. There’s nothing worse than not really liking everything about someone’s work but really enjoying a few elements only to find that the next work doesn’t have any of those elements left in it.

Enhance That Image

Now that they know what you enjoyed, tell them ways to enhance that image. Talk about additional steps they could take to improve on what’s already a good thing.

Don’t Overemphasis the Bad

Eventually you’ll run out of the good bits to talk about and you’re going to want to talk about the bad things you want them to lance out like a infected boil. Hold up there buttercup. How much good stuff did you mention? A nice rule of thumb is to aim for no more than an equal number of bad things so they don’t get overwhelmed. Make sure you know what really bothered you so you don’t get bogged down with smaller pet peeves, prioritize.

Be Polite

Should go without saying but this is the internet (stupid) so it’s worth pointing out specifically: be polite, especially when you’re talking about someone’s faults. Remember that even though you’re talking about someone’s work, most creatives view their work as externalized parts of themselves, so everything negative you say about their work can feel like a personal attack.

You Want to Help

This is the most important part, even when you’re talking about the stuff you absolutely hated – you want to help. Don’t forget to offer possible solutions as you’re pointing out the bad bits, without this no amount of careful wording will make your criticism constructive. You need to not only know what you hated but why, how to improve it and most importantly how to tell them how they can do better.

That’s just about everything. As you can see it’s not an easy task but if you care enough about the thing the thing to try I promise you they’ll appreciate the effort. Don’t forget that while being helpful takes some actual work on your part, you can always just drop a positive word or two in the review section to brighten any creative’s day, seriously we live for that stuff. Now go forth and help improve the quotient of awesome in the world!

Just the way shit goes…

14828_10152015672358558_680537552_nAlmost as soon as I posted that the story was stalled and looking at a major gut, inspiration struck and I now have a concrete direction to take things in that shouldn’t be too drastic!

I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me but instead of looking at draining an ocean with a teacup now I’m just looking at climbing a steep mountain. One is impossible, the other is hard as hell but doable. What a relief!

I’d say expect additional progress updates all over the place but don’t, school has started up again and I’m looking at accepting additional duties to make more ends meet. That means even less time for everything else but the hope is that taking these steps now will lead me more quickly to being able to put way more time back into my writing work. Fingers crossed!

Crisis of Conflict…

21056157_10155191706703558_8464771038173336451_oI’ve been wracking my brain going through this rewrite and it was still horribly off. Time and again I’d have the thought that I loved this or that scene but I felt like Ash was leaning a bit to hard on this one character. Those thoughts eventually resolved themselves to “do I really need this character?”

Now I’ve come to the realization that I’ve got to delete that character, possibly in entirety. A character that was a vital part of the book, whose scenes will mostly be ruined by their absence. I think I’m looking at a 50-75% rewrite from scratch at this point. I’m still assessing the damage but it’s looking grim.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

So… What’s Next?

Sunset Pair Romance Love Bank Nature Lovers LakeAm I really back? Yes I’m really back – at least until August when I gotta go back to the grind.

What kind of goodies can you expect, now that I’m really really back? Well first up – I’m about as far along with “Tasting Ash” as I was before I went poof. There just wasn’t really enough time and room for me to concentrate on the rewrite as it needs to be done properly, though I can assure you it’s never been far from my mind and that despite my lack of releases or blog posts – I have been writing.

My gran is 92, you see, and in the last year she gave us all a horrible shock, such a shock I insisted on dropping everything and flying home to see her briefly. While I was there I asked her what she would like me to write (my gran is great but she’s got no head for fantasy or horror so hasn’t read anything of mine since grade school when it was still mostly fairy princesses and love stories) and she said, “I’d love it if you’d write me a romance.”

Cue me, completely out of my element trying to fulfill my gran’s request. Some of you might remember that I’m not very good at romances. Lots and lots of practice is therefore required before I’ll finally have something I can show to my gran. Basically I’m saying I’ve got a folder full of horrific little Belladonna shorts that I’ve been adding to in my rare healthy and unoccupied moments. A few of them I actually think I might not die from embarrassment releasing out to the world, a very small few but a few nonetheless.

One of my other author friends who actually has a handle on this romance thing suggested an anthology and as luck would have it I had a nub of a story that seemed to fit the bill! So this summer there will be a new Belladonna short released upon the world in “When Worlds Collide: A Vampire Alien Romance Anthology!”

Those of you who are fans of my twisted little brand of romance are in for a right treat!

Aaaand We’re Back!

So it’s been forever and there’s a good reason for that, I recently returned to the world of day jobs and self loathing – and it almost killed me.

That’s not sarcasm either, I had no less than three incidents of illness where I was afraid for my life in the last ten months or so. All of which probably could have been prevented or drastically alleviated if I had been able to go to a doctor. Of course, I can’t afford healthcare even with the new job and paying out of pocket would have negated my entire savings. Savings I was desperate enough to earn that I kept going back, risking my health, for an entire year.

The good news is, I survived! I survived and I have manged to keep most of my savings! Money I’ve been using for some much needed replacing of various electronic bits that make this whole self publishing thing a reality as well as more professional edits.

I am exhausted.

So expect updates full of goodies to come but for right now I really need a nap!

Guest Post: Catrina Taylor “Knights of the Immortals”

Knights of the Immortals“Knights of the Immortals” is based on the question “What IF there were other hominid species that continued until today? What would they be like?” The answer might surprise you, it did me. When I started the first thing I did was look into the possibility that humans of today once walked with other hominids and according to scientists we have! At least three other hominid species co-existed with humans as we know them. Additionally, when you reflect on historical storytelling, some of them may have lead to mythological creations.

The most recent discovery confirms the prior existence of Hobbits. Yes, I said Hobbits. Smaller humanoid people that created tools, hunted and so much we still don’t know. This was discovered some time ago, but reaffirmed only recently when a prior ancestor was discovered as well. For a fun tidbit on these hobbits, not from the shire, check out this video from SciShow.

 

Once I learned our humans have existed alongside other hominid species, I researched mythology. It’s amazing what you can learn from ancient stories. Did you know that mermaids off the cost of Ireland and Scotland were vicious creatures that needed to lure in handsome men and women to live? Were you aware that both the Amazons and the Celts were thought to have attacked the islands of Atlantis? They did this not long before the island nation is thought to have disappeared. Neither group fared well against the famed children of the gods.

Here’s where the two mix to create the universe of “Knights of the Immortals.” Let’s imagine instead of being children of a god like Poseidon, they are a technologically advanced society of tribes who have agreed to co-habit the same island chain. Some of these hominid tribes would pass as the ever growing homo-sapien species over populating the Earth. There would be others who don’t pass for different reasons. Maybe some have an aversion to light, or are far shorter than most, or are bald by nature. Each tribe or species would have another benefit that the others don’t have. Let’s then imagine how a long lived group of technologically advanced peoples might look to homo-sapiens at around 10 to 20 thousand BCE. They would seem like the children of gods and maybe even seem like demons, monsters, or immortals.

It’s been a fun ride. With season one of “Knights of the Immortals” nearly released, I’m excited to get started on season two. If you’d like to get the first glimpse at the series for free, book one is available at http://theladywrites.com/