Posts by Jen

Happy Release Day: “The Revenger” By Debra Anastasia

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 in Diva Promotions | 2 comments

Happy Release Day: “The Revenger” By Debra Anastasia

Happy release day, Debra Anastasia, and congratulations on the release of The Revenger! Summary: The real hero of this story is dead. You should have met him. He was a beautiful man. The love of my life. I didn’t deserve him. Now what’s left are the jagged edges of the person I am without him, and what I have to do to get by. This isn’t even a story about love. Not really. It’s a twisted tale of revenge and hate—a happily never after. The only man in my life now is the one I have to kill. I’m Savvy Raine. I used to be a wife. I used to be a mother. Now I am the Revenger.   Excerpt: “What the hell are you?” He searched frantically for the door latch, his panic making him oblivious to the open top of the Jeep above him. He didn’t deserve an answer, and he wouldn’t get one. Only in her head would she respond. She pulled him from the backseat and held him aloft, thinking, I’m a mom without a reason. I’m a person without a life. I’m dead with no escape.   Review: I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of talent Debra Anastasia has. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can craft a tale the way she can, drawing you in so that you believe the unbelievable—suspend your logical mind and just allow her words to wrap around you and make you witness to the story as if there should never be a doubt about their legitimacy. The Revenger is her latest tale, and it opens with such pain—a woman who’s lost her husband and her daughter to an accident she feels she’s responsible for—I teared up from the image of her at their unmarked gravestone. For a year, Savvy’s been a ghost of a person, eating because that’s what you do, bathing for the same reason, but not living. Her brother Toby keeps an eye on her, making sure she doesn’t try to harm herself—again. But she’s got no purpose anymore. A year after the accident, Savvy is just trying to find a way to end it all when suddenly she’s different. Her vision is clearer, she can hear more acutely, and her strength—where did it come from? She sees people differently, too. The bad guys are now crystal clear to Savvy. Is this her purpose? Was she spared from death to stop the criminals? The rage she feels is new and powerful, and it gives her a sense of purpose until she comes across the person truly responsible for the death of her husband and daughter. Is revenge why she’s still alive? Or is her purpose something deeper than revenge? Can she restrain these new instincts to kill and instead, show the killer her truth? That’s about all I’m going say for now because I don’t want to spoil anything. However, this story takes you on so many twists and turns and ups and downs it should be a roller coaster. I honestly thought I had it all worked out a third of the way in, and let me tell you, I was wrong, wrong, wrong! And that made me so crazy happy! I love when an author can surprise me with plot twists and unexpected turns. The Revenger is a story about pain. Pain and suffering and hoping like hell that it’s all worth it in the end. And it’s also about love—because, come on, it wouldn’t be a Debra Anastasia story without love in it. It’s not your normal kind of love, though. It’s learning about the different kinds of love. It’s learning how to love and how to accept that love can be real—can exist—and that it doesn’t make you weak but instead makes you strong. Did it make me cry? Yup. A couple of times, actually, and the last time was simply from the way the author put her beautiful words together. But this book also gave me a sense of satisfaction… you’ll have to read for yourself to understand why. Congratulations on the...

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Editing Dialogue

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in Featured Articles | 3 comments

Editing Dialogue

Recently I had a conversation with an author about the differences between editing dialogue and editing narrative. It occurred to me that this is something I do automatically, but I don’t really know if it’s a hard and fast rule or if editors follow their own rules. Maybe editors don’t make adjustments or aren’t consciously aware they make them. Perhaps I over think things. Anything’s possible. So, me being me, I decided to try to put down on paper some of the reasons I edit dialogue and narrative differently and what adjustments I make in my editing and commentary. Dialogue is more casual than narrative. Most people do not speak proper English. We use contractions—hell, we make up contractions on the fly. We speak in fragments and run-on sentences, and we mispronounce words. Young children confuse verb tense, and those learning the language misuse words altogether. Dialogue isn’t always perfect. Dialogue conveys a character’s voice. Often, the technical “rules” of writing that make narrative clean and concise can squelch the voice of a character significantly. Take comma splices, for example. We’re all well aware comma splices are a no-no when used more than very occasionally in narrative. However, we speak in comma splices all the time. At least, I do. I’m from New York, I talk fast. See what I did right there? If I were to speak that sentence, there would barely be a pause, much less a stop. Yes, technically I could use a semicolon, but I actually like to leave the comma splice to show the speed, urgency, or sense of united thought those two separate phrases are meant to convey. The same can be said for fragments—perhaps your character is impatient and barks one-word orders a lot—or run-on sentences—maybe your character is a little absentminded and loses her train of thought, resulting in a long, drawn-out ramble. These “mistakes” add another layer to the picture you’re painting of your character. Dialogue conveys a character’s emotions. A character’s words are predominant in drawing an emotion from the reader, but how the dialogue is punctuated can aid in that goal… or not. If I were to read a paragraph of narrative full of ellipses, em dashes, and fragments, I might twitch a little. Okay, a lot. But imagine your character were a small child attempting to relive a frightening experience for the sake of therapy or a police report. Those pauses, stops and starts, stutters, and bits of words would be crucial in showing her terror. So, what adjustments do I make when I’m editing? Overall, I tend to ease up on the rules when it comes to dialogue as long as the reasoning behind deviation from the rules is valid. (Please note that this does not pertain to dialogue tags, which I will edit to death if they’re too creative.) But if Sam and Joe are having a chat, and suddenly all structure and format disappears from their dialogue without an obvious reason, I’ll mark it up and most likely leave a comment wondering what the point was. Conversely, if there’s dialogue between children and every sentence is grammatically correct with perfect syntax, punctuation and spelling, I’ll most probably flag that, too. What differences between narrative and dialogue would you, as an author, flag to edit differently? What other things do you think dialogue can convey with a more relaxed edit? Let me know; I’d love to hear what you think. Happy...

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Drawing An Emotional Reaction From Your Reader

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Drawing An Emotional Reaction From Your Reader

Drawing an emotional reaction from your reader Recently I read a sequel with a male lead whose inner struggles nearly cost him everything—his love, his job, his child—and I cried at no less than three points in the story. As he pulled himself back from the edge and turned his life around, I wondered what about this character and his story prompted such a visceral reaction from me. The easy answer is the fact that it’s a sequel, I loved the first book, and I’d anxiously awaited the second. But that’s not quite the whole picture. Because I’ve read plenty of books—and their sequels—and they don’t all pull an emotional reaction from me. But the ones that do… well, they have a few things in common. So, as an author, what can you do to pull this reaction from your reader? First of all, give the reader a character they can care about. Not a perfect Mary Sue, but a real person. Give your characters flaws; it makes them more believable, more human. Readers are more likely to react to a character they can relate to, whether in a good situation or a bad. Give your character layers and depth. And moods. We all have them. The more real you make her, the easier it will be for your reader to connect. Conversely, give your reader someone they can loathe. But remember that villains have layers, too. No bad guy is 100% bad all the time. Some of the very best villains of all time have a not-so-bad side. In your story line, create realistic situations, but don’t be too careful or cautious. In life, good things AND bad things naturally happen. Babies are born. People die. In your story, good and bad should both occur. Characters are born. Characters die. Yes, I said it. Kill someone off. Don’t be afraid. One of the best things about writing is the godlike aspect it brings the author. You can always reincarnate that character, or aspects of that character, in a future story. Or—dun, dun, dun—bring him back as his evil twin! Ha, kidding. No, really. Don’t. In addition to the story line you create for them, also force your characters to actually be human beings and live. Wives get promoted. Fathers lose their jobs.  Kids choose to use drugs. An alcoholic takes her first step into an AA meeting. People have to make life or death decisions and hard choices, which create conflict. And without conflict, there can be no resolution. Don’t forget to foreshadow, foreshadow, foreshadow. For any emotional reaction—good, bad, or something in between—anticipation is imperative. It could be the slow burn of sexual tension or a sick feeling of dread that builds until the reader is begging for it to end. Whether it’s subtle or blatant, use foreshadowing to your advantage. But then don’t be afraid to throw a curve ball. Depending on the curve, that can rank right up there with “kill off your character.” Nothing brings out a reaction from the reader like a curve ball. Often the reaction is something akin to “tosses book across the room” or “how could she kill off Sam?” Sometimes it’s more positive, like “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” And that’s when you know you did it right. And while you’re doing all that, craft scenes that show the emotion you’re trying to summon from your reader. This is where all that “show, don’t tell” stuff your editor has been yammering about comes into play. Choose your words carefully and for maximum effect. Paint a picture of the grief your leading lady is feeling. Choreograph a dance of joy for your happy couple. Pen a song that expresses your protagonist’s frustration and angst. Humans are pretty complicated beings. We don’t feel one simple emotion at any given moment—we usually have a bunch of feelings swirling around us at any given time. So mix things up. Add some bittersweet to your joy, some humor to your anxiety, some anger to your sorrow. Conflicting emotions create… well, conflict. And conflict...

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Divas Rec: Top 5 Tips I Gave Out This Year

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 in Divas Recommend | 0 comments

Divas Rec: Top 5 Tips I Gave Out This Year

As 2015 comes to a close, I wanted to pull together some kind of Divas Rec that summarized my thoughts for the year. That proved to be more challenging than I’d thought until I came across Shannon A. Thompson’s article Top 5 Tips I Gave Out This Year as an Editor and Marketer on her blog.  Shannon’s top five pieces of advice combine editing and marketing tips to authors. My very favorite editing tip is to keep track of your stylistic choices. This is a huge help to your editor, especially if you write a series. As the author says, “Editing is often a matter of preference. While some rules are definitely not debatable, many aspects of the English language are.” So if these preferences are tracked and shared with your editor, they’ll be more consistent throughout your book and your series. As for marketing, my favorite tip was regarding branding. Just be yourself. “You are not competing with others. They are them; you are you.” I couldn’t have said it any better. Stop the comparisons and be the best you you can be! Check out Shannon’s article for her other three top tips for 2015. What were some good tips you received in 2015? Feel free to leave some in the comments. Happy...

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Merry Christmas!

Posted by on Dec 25, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Merry Christmas!

We would like to take the opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at Write Divas. May your stocking be full of bling, your holiday decorations the envy of all your neighbors, your tree surrounded by designer shoes and handbags to die for, and your dreams full of well-edited manuscripts and bestsellers! But seriously, we wish you and yours all the best this year and in the coming year! With much love, Janine, Jen, and Lauren...

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