Thursday, December 20, 2018

Plotting Made Easy (or Easier)

If you know nothing else about your story before you begin, these four elements are essential to getting the plot moving:

A need or want (the bigger the stakes, the more interesting your character will be)

A strong point (i.e. a positive character or personality trait)

A fatal flaw (i.e. a negative trait that could lead to the character's downfall)

A story problem (what the character must overcome to get what they want)


I can't take credit for this plotting plan--Mary Kittredge wrote about this in an article called "Hot to Plot! A Plotting "System" That Works."

This system isn't the be-all-end-all to writing a book, though. 

"Sure, you still need crisp dialogue, vivid descriptions, true-to-life characters, and more--because good writing, too, is a necessary element of interesting, salable fiction. But plot's the engine that revs your story up to racing speed," she says. "Plot keeps readers reading and editors buying; it's the solid technical element on which all your other skills must hang."

So . . . . need/want, strong point, fatal flaw, and story problem.

Do some brainstorming. 

Dig deep. 

See what you can come up with, then run with it. 

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 17, 2018

(More on) Resistance

More words of wisdom from Steven Pressfield (The War of Art):

(Capital R) Resistance isn't some force that works outside ourselves. It comes from within. 

It doesn't have any strength on its own; we feed it. 

We feed it by not doing the work we're called to do because we're afraid of it. 

We feed it by putting off the work we're called to do.

It's okay. I'm going to do it. . . . I'm just going to do it tomorrow.

The truth? 

There is never the perfect moment to start something new or do something different. 

It's better to dive in, take it day by day--trust that this is what's best for us--that it will all (somehow) work out in the end.


Push against Resistance with every new sunrise. 

Be ruthless in the pursuit of your goals.

And serve as an example while doing it, lighting the way for others.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ideas vs. Situations

"I want to write a book, but I don't have a good idea."

or the flipside: 

"I have a great idea. It needs to be a book."

An idea, however, does not "a story" make.

An idea is a little spark that might set a story in motion, but it's not enough. 

What you're really looking for is a situation. 

Boy meets girl. 

This is an idea.

A German boy falls in love with a Jewish girl in the moments before Hitler's Army comes to town.

This is a situation. 

A situation demands the question: "what happens next?"

The idea is where the story starts, but the situation drives the narrative.

When inspiration strikes, make sure it's a situation (or figure out how to turn it into one). 

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 10, 2018

What Lights You Up?

In The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, he talks about the two lives we live that are at odds with one another: our real life and the unlived life inside us (the life we WISH we could live). 

The line separating the two is (capital R) Resistance.

Resistance is toxic, he says, because it keeps us from growing into the person we're meant to become.

But how do we know who we're supposed to become? 

It goes back to determining what makes us light up.

To toss in the cliche: what would you do if you only had six months left to live?

Quit your soul-sucking job? Get those characters that have been swimming around your head for years onto paper? List your crafts and/or art on Etsy? Get your website up and running? Open that store?

If the answer is anything other than what you're doing right now, a serious change (or, at the very least, some serious soul-searching) is in order.

As scary as it sounds, it might be time to break down that wall of Resistance and try something else.

What lights you up, and why aren't you doing it?

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, December 6, 2018

On Stakes--Writing Tip

Readers want a character with a goal. 

A goal they pursue relentlessly.

They don't want a story about a guy who sort of likes a girl. They want a story about a guy who can't live without the girl, even if he doesn't realize it right away.

What's at stake?

What does the hero get when she wins?
What does the hero lose if he fails?

The bigger the stakes, the more satisfying the read.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 3, 2018

But What Do I Write About?

Write about something you know--some small aspect of your life--a personal experience or a world you're familiar with. Something that requires no research. Forget the facts; tell the story.

Don't worry about being perfect; just make it as good as you can.

Writing a book is hard. 

That doesn't mean you're not capable of doing it or shouldn't give it a shot. 

It just means that it's hard.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

On Conflict -- Writing Tip

-Conflict happens when someone wants something he can't have.
-Conflict happens when someone wants two different things, but can't have both.
-Conflict happens when two people in the same orbit want different things (but also each other).
-Conflict happens when two people want the same thing, but there can only be one winner.
-Conflict happens when two people want the same thing, they can both have said thing, but they disagree over how to get it.

Putting characters at odds with each other (and themselves) is the quickest way to propel the plot and keep those pages turning.

And, let's be real, conflict is super-fun to write. :)

Be Brilliant!


Monday, November 26, 2018

On Killing Those "Darlings"

Note: this is a throwback post from June 2017, but the message is worth repeating.


I'm working my way through Screenwriting for Neurotics by Scott Winfield Sublett, which has valuable information not only for screenwriters but for all writers. The chapters on plotting have been especially helpful, but he also says something truly wonderful about killing your "darlings."

Your darlings, they say, are those words or phrases or sentences (or paragraphs or entire scenes) that you've poured your heart and soul into and that you love more than life itself, despite the fact that they really don't add much to the story.  

Sublett says: 

“You might say, 

'What a pity that my inspiration should go to waste!' 

But saying that is misunderstanding the nature of inspiration: it’s not a scarce resource but rather a limitless river that flows through you. There’s plenty more inspiration in that river, so please waste it.

Building a table would produce sawdust and wood scraps

Would you glue them to the top of the table so that they don’t 'go to waste'?”

Isn't that a fantastic analogy?

No: you wouldn't build a table--carving and sanding--then heap the "unnecessary" back onto it, no matter how interesting or "beautiful" it seems.
If it really bothers you, don't delete the darlings permanently. Move them to a "darlings" file. Maybe you'll be able to use them somewhere else/in some other project one day.
So go ahead. Tap into your limitless river, and don't be afraid to kill those darlings. There's plenty more inspiration where that came from. 

In fact, you are a well of inspiration, and the more you create the more creative you'll be.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

On Taking Risks

Why take risks?

The more risks you take, the more confident you become.
The more confident you become, the more equipped you are to deal with rejection.

The more rejections you accrue, the more likely you are to embrace feedback.
The more feedback you apply, the more you grow

The more you grow, the closer you get to reaching those important goals you've set for yourself.

Take risks.

The more darts you throw, the more targets you'll hit.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 15, 2018

The End--Writing Tip

The key promise you've made to your reader at the beginning of the story is that something will be different by the end.

The main character will not only possess new information, but it's likely she (or he) has done something about it.

The final pages, paragraphs, and sentences should elicit some kind of emotion in your reader (it's up to you to determine what emotion that might be).

An effective end to your story will merge your character's thoughts, symbols, and action to bring about a meaningful close to your story--and that last sentence is most powerful of all.

The feeling in this moment is what will make your story linger in the reader's mind for hours, days, and even weeks to come.

Don't squander the opportunity.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, November 12, 2018

Wishing and Hoping (Throwback Post)

While you're sitting back wishing and hoping, someone else is stepping up and getting the hard work done. It's simple, really.... 

If you want to be a painter, you should be painting. And if you drop by this blog every so often because you know me or have read my books and you think it would be cool to write one--that maybe you want to be a writer--you should be writing. 

If you want to be a blogger, you should be blogging. If you want to launch a new business venture, you should be launching. 

Vloggers vlog. Designers design. Leaders lead. Painters paint. 



Proceed boldly, before this world sucks all of the creative out of you. 

No more excuses. 

Be Brilliant! :) 


Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Denouement--Writing Tip

Post-climax, the denouement serves to wrap up your story. Where are your characters now? How are they doing? What's next for them?

The denouement answers any remaining questions. It provides closure.

Because readers don't want to be left hanging. They want to know that the characters are (or will be) okay after the book closes.

The exception to the rule?

If you're writing a series. In this case, the story should be wrapped up, but not too wrapped up.

Either way, the denouement should grow organically out of who your characters are, the conflict they faced, and the obstacles they overcame.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, November 5, 2018

The Law of Diminishing Intent

The Law of Diminishing Intent says. . . .

The longer you wait to do something, 
the less likely you are to ever actually do it.

An alternative?

1. Define your goal
2. Get a plan together
3. Take the first, most manageable step

In other words:

1. Write a Book
2. Write 500 words a day for 100 days
3. Sit down and write your first 500 words

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Ending--Writing Tip

What kind of ending delivers?

It depends.

What is your story trying to accomplish?
Are you aiming for emotional satisfaction or intellectual satisfaction?
Have you promised the reader a fright or love or justice?
Have you promised the answer to a problem?
A new insight?
The "warm fuzzies"?

What forces were set in motion throughout your narrative, and who is going to be triumphant?

Either way, the ending should satisfy, it should be logical, and it should be emotional.

It should grow out of who your characters are.

There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" ending. If the climax could happen to anyone, it's not your character's climax.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, October 29, 2018

On Creative Vampires

It would be so amazing if everyone in our lives were supportive of us and our efforts.

If you've chosen to live a creative life, though, chances are your values don't quite align with what "society" thinks you should be doing.

You want to paint, but your dad wants you to pick a career that's more stable.

You want to write, but your sister thinks it's a waste of time since so few people actually get publishing deals, a small minority actually make a living at it, and fewer still become household names.

If you're serious about your goals and dreams, though, these people and their negativity will suck the creative energy out of your body. They're like vampires in that way, and it's better to stay as far away from them as possible.

Over the years, I've learned *exactly* who I can talk to about my publishing career or writing process, and who it's better to just leave in the dark, even if they ask about what I'm working on.

So take a few moments to consider:

Who in your life is supporting you right now?
How do they support you?
Who in your life isn't supporting you right now?
What does this lack of support look like?

How does it affect you?
What might your life look like if you cut this person out of it?

If you can't cut him/her out of your life completely, what can you do to lessen their proverbial blows? What parts of your life/career might you need to keep to yourself? If you do plan to be open, how can you insulate yourself so their negativity doesn't have an adverse effect on you?

Know who the creative vampires in your life are, and put a plan in place to deal with them.

And, as always, Be Brilliant!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Promise--Writing Tip

From the very first words on the very first page of your story, you've made a promise to the reader. You've promised them conflict. Surprises. Disasters. Secrets. Change.

And you've promised that, at some point, time will run out and everything delivered through the middle of the story will collide.

Therein lies the climax.

The promises you've made determine how your story can end. If you've built up to a fiery crash and burn, then you'd better deliver or the reader will be left disappointed. If you've built up to a quiet revelation, the character should have that clear "come to Jesus" moment.

There is a plethora of options available--you're not limited in terms of what could potentially happen--but you can't violate the promise. 

The ending should satisfy. 

Be Brilliant!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Chase that Bus

I know I quote Julia Cameron quite a bit on the blog, but that's only because she's nailed artistic living in The Artist's Way so effectively.

I especially love this analogy she provides in the chapter on "Recovering a Sense of Possibility":

Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can. . . . 
But first, believe you're allowed to catch the bus.

Whatever that "bus" is in your life--whatever you're striving for or chasing after--believe it's yours for the taking. Ask for it to happen. Then work your tail off.

You're more powerful than you think.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

On Showing Up--Writing Tip

Question: How long does it take to write a novel?

Answer: As long as it takes.

For some, maybe that's three months. For others, maybe it's a year. For others, maybe it's five years.

I worked on RISE off and on for several years. My (many) drafts weren't working, and the more I tried to fix what was going wrong, the more it became something I didn't really want it to be. I had my sights set on "high concept," but the "high concept" wasn't meshing with the kinds of stories I really like to tell: dramatic love stories.

So this summer I deleted everything in the manuscript (the fifth or sixth version of it, actually) that wasn't related to Nick and Fallon and the fallout from their kiss. (There wasn't even a kiss in one of the earliest versions!) At this point, I focused on telling their story.

If you would have told me going into it, though, it would take five years before I ended up with a draft I was satisfied with, I might not have had the courage to sit down and make it happen.

Just the thought of writing a novel--putting 50,000+ cohesive words onto paper--can be paralyzing.

But . . . it will help if you don't think of it as "sitting down and writing a novel." Just sit down and write that scene. Sit down and fill that page. Just sit down--get your butt in the chair. Start typing. Then show up and do the same thing the next day. And the next. And the next.

Soon you'll have those words.
You'll have your scenes.
You'll have your book.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, October 15, 2018

What Do You Want?

"Take your life in your own hands and what happens? 
A terrible thing: no one to blame." -Erica Jong

What do you want to do?

Be honest.

Because if you can nail down what, exactly, it is that you want, the "how" to make it happen usually takes care of itself. 

It's not hard to follow your dreams. It's actually harder to avoid all of the doors that the universe is opening up around you. 

The always brilliant Julia Cameron said: 

"Possibility is far more frightening than impossibility; 
freedom is more terrifying than any prison."

So I guess my next question is:

What are you avoiding?

And why?

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, October 11, 2018

On Reading--Writing Tip

Would you believe I have students who want to write but hate to read?

I know. 

I kind of want to shake them--to wake them up.

How can you possibly know what you want to write if you don't read? How do you know what's out there if you're not reading what's being published? How do you know what the trends are? How do you know how to structure your story or what readers expect if you're not reading in the genre?

For me, it doesn't add up. 

I love writing. I put a lot of work into the things I create. Some do okay. Some don't. Some fail abysmally. (Yes! I still get rejections. All the time.) But I can't imagine doing what I'm trying to do (that is, tell a solid story) without considering the background work. 

I'm not saying that writing can't be taught. It can. I have no doubt about that.

But I'm not sure good writing can be taught without good reading, because a lot of what we do as writers is picked up intuitively--by reading story after story after story after story.

I work with these students, anyway. I do my best to help them. There's a certain level of required reading in my classes, but I know it's not enough. So by the end of my time with them, I've more than stressed the fact that:

Good writers are good readers. They read widely. They read often. They read for reading's sake. They read for writing's sake.

What have you read, lately?

Be Brilliant!


Monday, October 8, 2018

Five Things Roger Sterling Taught Us About Writing (Throwback Post)

I'm a huge fan of the show Mad Men, and was so sad when it ended. I loved the character development and dialogue, and one of my favorite characters in the show was Roger Sterling. He showed up more for "quips" than conversations, but he was one of the most quotable characters in the entire series.

 So, without further ado, here are five things Roger Sterling taught us about the writing life.

"Nobody knows what I'm doing. It's good for mystique." (S2, E5)

The takeaway: Yes, you want to be a writer. Own it. Tell the world. That doesn't mean you have to give away your secrets. You don't have to tell Aunt Ida every last detail about your work in progress. In fact, I wonder if we don't lose some of the magic of the story every time we give a little bit of it away. There will be a time to promote yourself and talk about your work; I'm just not sure if that time is in the middle of writing it. Keep your words close to you.

The exceptionThis doesn't apply to brainstorming with fellow writers or agents or editors (i.e. people who can legitimately help you).  

Otherwise, assure them you're working hard and let their minds fill in the blanks. Writing novels is rarely as exciting as outsiders think it is. 
"I'm going to count to three, and then I'm gonna start saying a lot of words you don't like, sweetheart." (S4, E7) 

The takeaway: Spew the crap. All of it. Get your story onto paper as fast as you can and don't look back. Count to three and let it all out. Write now; revise later. 

"What do you think Accounts does, besides limit your brilliance?" (S3, E9)

The takeaway: You know that old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen? I think enlisting the help of friends, family members, writer's groups, editors, beta readers, etc. can be a good thing. With too many differing opinions, however, there are potential hazards. Feedback is great, but not at the expense of losing your story or voice. If you don't feel comfortable with a suggestion or see how it will make the story better, let it go. At the end of the day, it's your name on the cover. 

"My mother always said be careful what you wish for, because you'll get it, and then people get jealous and try to take it away from you." (S4, E6) 

The takeaway: If you're a writer, there's plenty of drama going on in your head at any given time. Don't compound this by letting outside drama in, tooThere are too many haters and not enough creators in the world. Stay away from the people who want to bring you down.

"Not to get too deep before the cocktail hour, but do I need to remind you of the finite nature of life?" (S2, E7)

The takeaway: You've got one life--one opportunity; don't squander it. If there's a book inside you, get it out. Don't look back five, ten, or fifteen years from now wishing you picked differently. Take the smallest, most manageable first step today. Your future self will thank you.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, October 4, 2018

On Outlining--Writing Tip

To outline or not to outline. That is the question.

In novel writing, there are pros and cons to plotting, and pros and cons to pantsing (that is, flying by the seat of your pants--letting the plot surprise you as it emerges).

The best advice I can think of is to do what's right for you and your story at that moment in time. 

But what happens if you're a careful plotter--that is, you have your entire roadmap laid out--and your character suddenly takes a wrong turn? He does or says something completely unexpected--something that changes everything.

Do you let him keep going and "re-route" your path to your intended destination?

Do you make a hard U-turn to get him back on the straight and narrow?

I don't know. 

But I have to believe that the universe drops these little gifts in our laps along the way--that it nudges us in a new, more exciting direction when we least expect it--adding something to our narrative that we never could have envisioned when we began. 

So maybe a happy mix of the two? 

Begin with something like an outline--or at the very least a starting point and intended destination--and let those happy accidents color your story as the universe wills them into existence.   

And--as always--Be Brilliant!


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Monday, October 1, 2018

On Being Unrealistic

What if you were completely unrealistic about a deadline for one of your creative projects?

What if, for instance, it's Monday, and you decide you want to write 5,000 words on your manuscript by Friday?

"That's crazy!" you say. "There are kids and meals and jobs and pets and houses to manage. . . ."

But what if

There's this thing called Parkinson's Law--this law of productivity that says "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

This means that whatever time we allow ourselves to complete a project, that's the time it will take to finish it. 

So if we allow fifteen minutes to check our email, it will take fifteen minutes, even if we could check it and be done in three minutes.

If we give ourselves a month to get 5,000 words on the page, it's going to take a month. If we give ourselves a week. . . .

Do you see where I'm going with this?

So set that unreasonable goal. Even if you don't quite meet your benchmark, I think you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish. Hint: it's probably more than you think. 

Fact: a tight deadline makes us more focused and productive. 

Let this work to your advantage. 

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Character Motivation and Believability -- Writing Tip

One of the biggest challenges a writer will face is creating a believable character. To be believable, the reader has to understand the character's motives, and, if we want an interesting story, those motives are likely to be complex.

Complex motives are what creates interesting characters because these lead to interesting actions.

BUT. . . .

The motives still need to be believable. 

Make sure you know why your characters are doing what they're doing, and make sure there's a pattern of behavior. 

If Sam is going to steal a car, we need to know she knows how to hotwire a car or where to find the keys. We need to know she's pissed at the car's owner. We need to know that this behavior is exactly in line with who she is. 

Little seeds, planted throughout your narrative, bear big fruit.

Okay. That was corny. But you get the point. :D

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

On Villains -- Writing Tip

It's so easy to create a stock "villain" who wreaks havoc on the world (or maybe just your protagonist)--evil for the sake of being evil or just a tool to advance the plot. . . . 

It's harder to create a well-rounded villain with his own beliefs and motivations and justifications for what he does. A believable villain should always have his own "why."

If you can make the reader understand this "why" and feel for your villain (i.e. they can identify with him)? Well, that deserves bonus points.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, September 17, 2018

Ideas vs. Action

It's so much easier to think about what we want to write than it is to actually write it.
It's so much easier to fantasize about the creation than it is to create it.
It's so much easier to talk about all the great things we could do than it is to actually do them. 
It's so much easier to ignore that pull than it is to step up and admit we might actually have something important to share with the world.

Do you see the pattern here?

Everything we have in this world was once an idea that was acted upon.

The idea alone isn't enough. 

The action--the follow-up--is what matters.

Because the book in your hands is worth way more than the book in your head.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Characters and Change

To be interesting, our characters need to learn from their experiences. They need to grow and change over the course of the narrative. 

As a people, though, we're not really fans of change. In fact, we're pretty resistant to it. A lot of us are firmly rooted in our opinions and beliefs. Sometimes we'll go through something that makes us question and adapt, but most of the time we are who we are and we don't really veer off course.  

But for a character, it's not that simple. Your reader wants to see progress, and in order for a big change to be believable, we need to see a pattern of smaller (but still believable) changes. 

In Cross My Heart, we accept Jaden's choice (in Parker) because she's spent most of the story shedding that "good girl" image. Each chapter she does something that pulls her closer to him and away from who she was. They're little things, but they add up, and, by the end, it's easier to believe she's a different person because of Parker. 

Use those seemingly small, insignificant changes and insights to your advantage. They prepare us for the bigger change to come.

Be Brilliant!


Friday, September 7, 2018

Happy Release Day! RISE is LIVE!

First, a huge THANK YOU!

Thank you for your comments and kind words, your enthusiasm, for everyone who pre-ordered RISE. . . . I have the BEST readers in the world. Truly.

I also appreciate everyone who's reached out in recent days: Danielle, who called RISE "hold your breath amazing," and Sonia, who said it was "tragically and devastatingly beautiful."

Be still my heart, you guys.

Ana at The Book Hookup also posted a fantastic (5-star!!!) review. You can read it here.

In fact, I may adopt a new tagline.

Katie Klein: making readers swoon, cry, and sigh since 2011. :P

She has great taste, so make sure you're following her on Twitter, too.

So . . . Release Day!

That means RISE is officially live.

Here are the ebook links: 

The paperback version is Coming Soon. I'm still waiting on the proof (delayed due to Labor Day holiday). Keep an eye on the blog for that announcement.

In honor of Release Day, I'm putting both CROSS MY HEART AND COLLATERAL DAMAGE ON SALE for the weekend. 

If you'd like to help promote, feel free to steal this tweet:
It’s #HappyReleaseDay (RISE) and CROSS MY HEART and COLLATERAL DAMAGE are BOTH on sale! @katiekleinbooks #YA #Romance

If you'd like to help promote RISE, feel free to post the link and info anywhere you can. You can link to the store or my blog, or even share/retweet the posts I send out. Every effort (no matter how small it may seem) matters.

These early weeks are *so* important for new books. If you do happen to read (and enjoy! *fingers crossed*) RISE, I hope you'll consider leaving a rating/review. It doesn't have to be long, but these help point other potential readers my way.

And finally, thank you again for your enthusiasm and support over the years. I'm so excited to have a new book out in the world, and I'm looking forward to releasing many more.

(And I promise it won't take five years next time!!) ;)


Monday, September 3, 2018

On Masterpieces

I love going to art museums and taking in the different works on display. From ancient civilizations to the modern era, it's fascinating to me what society has determined are the pieces that best represent the time or genre--the "masters."

Here's the thing about art museums and galleries, though: what we're seeing, quite often, is the best of that artist's best.

Their masterpiece.

If you're a struggling artist, still searching for your proverbial "voice," a museum can be equal parts inspiring and disheartening.

As creators, it would be infinitely more encouraging if we could see what's sometimes UNDER that masterpiece because it's most likely a failed attempt. It would be better if we could see the dozens of sketches the artist completed BEFORE he reached that apex, creating the one drawing he would be remembered for.  

Because in a museum we see the masterpiece, but we don't always have a firm grasp on the years it took for the artist to reach that point. Because for every painting that commands attention, there are dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of attempts that ended up in the trash (or were painted over). We see the final product, but we aren't privy to the process.   

We read a book that both amazes us and leaves us feeling like we'll never write something so great, but we don't consider the number of drafts and amount of editorial feedback it took to pull everything together. We don't consider the number of manuscripts that didn't work and were tucked away. 

The point is: 

Don't compare your first attempts to someone else's masterpiece.

Know the masterpieces when you see them, appreciate them, but don't forget the training, the years of practice, and the failures weathered to bring that one work to fruition.

Keep the story behind the creation in mind, and keep working on yours.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, August 27, 2018

So This Is Happening. . . .

After five (LONG) years . . . there is a book. And it's available for pre-order NOW.

Fallon Oakley, the best violinist her inner-city high school has ever seen, has a shot at earning a coveted spot in a local university's symphony and music program—a full scholarship.

Nick Trevino wants to shed his slacker skin in order to prove himself worthy of Fallon, but first he has to convince her that he can be trusted, even in her darkest hour.

It starts with a kiss—one kiss with a ripple effect so powerful it will change the trajectory of Nick and Fallon's lives forever, but not before bringing both of their worlds crashing down around them.

A print version is also on the way. 

Also, congrats to Jennifer, Sonia, Stephanie, Samantha, and Gino, winners in my random eARC giveaway based on my most active newsletter subscribers. Copies were emailed over the weekend. I hope you enjoy your early look! 

This novel has been a long time coming, that's for sure, but I am thankful for YOU (dear reader) and your patience and continued support of my little corner of the world.

My hope is that you love Fallon and Nick as much as you love Livy and Jonathan, Seth and Genesis, and, yes, possibly even Parker and Jaden. :P

Nick is my newest bad guy with a heart of gold, and Fallon? She's a fighter. More than anything else, I hope I've done their story justice. 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Middles -- Writing Tip

The messy middle.

They call it this for a reason, because between the initial action (or inciting incident) and the climax (yet to come) there is a massive chunk of your book that can easily become the hardest part to write, as you're required to fill this space with enough drama and insight to keep your reader hooked.

Throughout the middle, your job is to keep your promise to the reader. That means you're going to follow through with whatever you've set up within the beginning scene(s). The action should be building and conflicts deepening, with everything moving toward a massive collision (and ultimate resolution).

To do this, it's important to keep your "throughline" at the forefront.

Your throughline is your basic plotline, as in: what happens to the main character? How will they be different at the end than they were at the beginning of this story? What will have changed for them?

Any scenes that don't contribute to the throughline should be eliminated. This is the fastest way to tighten your narrative and keep the reader satisfied. 

And this will take you from one end of the messy middle to the other.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, August 20, 2018

The Landing

You cannot predict the landing.

I didn't say this. Brene Brown did. Other people have said it too, in a variety of ways. 

We have no control over who is interested in our work, how it's received, etc.

The only thing we can control is the work itself, and our attitude toward it, and everything it takes to bring it to fruition.

You can't predict the landing.

Maybe you'll nail it the very first time. Maybe you won't. Maybe it will take a hundred rejections a year for eighteen years before you "nail it."

Courage (to act) comes before confidence.

I believe in you. You should, too.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Flashbacks -- Writing Tip

Like backfill, flashbacks pull your reader away from the action. But this doesn't mean you have to avoid them at all costs. Too many flashbacks and you might be telling the wrong story, but flashbacks do serve a purpose: they offer additional insight into a character and can bring the reader up to speed. 

Still, we have to know about the character's present situation if we're going to care at all about their past, so maybe beginning a story with a flashback isn't the best idea.

But if you need to write a flashback into one of your scenes, know that it has to be strong enough to keep us interested. This means it should offer value to the story and add relevant depth to the character or storyline.

Be clear: we should know that it's a flashback and approximately when it took place in relation to the character and their current situation. 

No flashbacks for the sake of filling space.

And make sure that appropriate "kick" (our swimming pool theory) is there to help us navigate to the other side.

Flashbacks, when done right, can offer the reader some much-needed breathing room to help process what's taking place.

Again, balance is key.

Be Brilliant!