Sunday, October 19, 2014

5 Ways to boost your word count…. Without cheating

Let's talk about 5 ways to boost your word count.... Without cheating. The daily word count needed to reach is 1,667 words. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of words to write in an entire day. (Are they crazy? )  But there are days that life will interfere with our lofty noveling goals. Try one of these when your fingers start to slow.

1. Sprinting
Meet up with the other Wrimos in person or online and see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. Most sprints are 10-20 minutes long. This is great for a tweet-up. You'll be amazed at how many words you can get down with a couple hours of sprinting. Not to mention the fun! 

2. Long Lost Friend /Relative
If you feel your scene is dragging or you just can't get those words out. Try having your character run into an old friend or relative while they're out and about. Or even a phone call from them. You can add tons of words as they reminisce about old times or that Thanksgiving when Aunt Mable's cat ate the stuffing. Even if it's something you may edit out in the next draft, it will breathe some new life into your muse and pad that count! 

3. Disaster Strikes
A hurricane heading in, a freak F5 tornado, earthquake, flood, a 3-10 car pile up. Any one of these can add at least a couple of pages worth of wordiness. You have the before, during, and effects after that might even bring out some qualities you didn't know your characters had

4. Kill'em Kill'em All!
Let's face it. Death is wordy. Not matter how or who gets bumped off you've gotten at least 4 scenes from a corpse turning up. The death itself, the discovery, the aftermath, and the funeral, lots and lots of words. 

5. Use Your Senses
You have 5 senses taste, touch, scent, sight, sound. Every single environment your characters walk into, or crash into in some cases, holds each of these elements just waiting for you to detail them. A car crash could have the scent of smoke and gasoline in the air. They would see broken glass, dented and crushed cars, hear someone crying for help or a siren approaching, maybe a car horn. Taste blood from a gash, or if gas is thick in the air it will leave a taste on your tongue. They may feel the ache of injury or the rough edges or the broken plastic of the dash. Talk about filling the pages, just let your nose guide you.... Literally. 

Okay there you have it 5 ways to get wordy and pad that word count. Now who's ready to meet up in the 50k Winner’s Circle?  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Music to write by

Music can be a powerful tool for a writer. No, we can’t put it in the pages of our books, (unless it’s an audio book :) but, we can use it as a guide for how we write.

Some writers use music to help them keep focused and avoid some of the distractions that occur around us. It can also be used to set the writer’s mental mood as they write a scene or maybe as a pacing tool. Play some upbeat tunes and start typing a short paragraph or two. You’ll find that your fingers move to the rhythm of the music. A good upbeat playlist can really help the words fly onto paper.

It’s a combination of those things for me, but mostly a key to helping me set the scene. Soundtracks are fantastic for settings. Some of my favorites for action are the 3:10 to Yuma Soundtrack and the Tokyo Drift Soundtrack. There aren’t any lyrics to distract and plenty of intense tracks to help build tension and burst into the action of a scene.

I have a strange, eclectic collection of music from movie soundtracks, opera, oldies, big band, strings, flamenco, rock, pop, blues, jazz… you name it it’s probably in my collection somewhere. A wide musical taste just like a wide variety of genres in reading can be beneficial to a writer. Each musical genre brings a different picture to mind as much as any other sense.

If your ears have never had the experience of listening to Cajun zydeco, big band, Irish pipes and drums, or even a mix of country and rap. Head over to Youtube, Pandora or Spotify and try them out. A new kind of music can inspire the muse.

I’m jumping into my 8th NaNoWriMo in November writing a paranormal noir. I love the dark settings and the intensity of some noir scenes. I’ve got some music set aside to help the mood of those pages along. Tokyo Drift of course, but also Apocalyptica: Worlds Collide, Nickleback: Dark Horse, and some Korn.

Since this novel is also going to be set in 1940s Florida, I’ve created some oldies playlists. Songs by Glenn Miller, Dean Martin, Patti Page, Dave Pell, Duke Ellington and other fantastic musicians and performers of the time.

Music is a tool for us just as our favorite writing program or pen and notebook. It can inspire us and the characters we write adding a bit more life to them and their story.

Do you have a favorite playlist or album to write to? Do you tailor a music list just for the novel your writing or make just a general set that will get your muse dancing? 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Old Lady Creeper's Meat Pies

“What do we do now? You told me nothing could go wrong and look what’s happened.” Kurt pushed and
shook the basement doors again. “We’ll just go in and get the ball, he said, nothing will happen, he said, the old lady isn’t even home, he said.”

Pete gave his friend a shove. “Shut up! It’s not my fault the wind blew the doors shut.” He gave the other boy another shove to the side. “Stop acting like a baby, they probably just need a good shot of elbow grease.”

Kurt scoffed, “Yeah, my sister can bench press more than you in weight class.”

Pete gave him an evil eye, then rubbed his hands together and pushed on the cellar doors. When they didn’t give he put his back into it, added a grunt or two for good measure. The doors rattled a bit but didn’t budge.

Pete looked to Kurt panic started to rise in both the boys. “Holy crap, Kurt! We’re gonna die down here!”

Kurt swallowed, then stomped his foot. He wasn’t going to end up in one of Old Lady Creeper’s meat pies. “Shut up, Pete.”

After a few panted breaths of musty basement air, Kurt squinted as he tried to see in the dark. “There’s got to be another way out of here. We never see the old hag leave ‘cept to go to the Piggly Wiggly.”

Pete started to search with him, both boys took a tentative step further into the dark room. He swallowed. “Do you think this is where she stores the bodies? You know… the ones for the pies.”

Kurt gulped hard and elbowed his pal in the side. “Don’t be stupid, that stuff is just stories to scare kids like us.”

They took a few more steps into the dark, Kurt squinted again and peered into the dark corner. “Hey, it’s the ball.” He ran over and picked it up. “Pete, here’s stairs. We can get out of here before Old Lady Creeper gets home.”

Pete yelped when his hand hit the edge of a worktable. His hands crept along the surface. “Yeah, I’m too young to be a pie.”

He took another few steps, his hands felt along the table for guidance. A box turned over onto his hands and he froze in place. “K..kKurt…. “

Kurt was done with this freaky place, the old lady would be home soon. She’d call his parents, he would get grounded and miss the carnival this weekend. “Come on, stop being a baby.”

He walked over to Pete and grabbed at the items that lay over his friend’s hands. It felt…. No, it couldn’t be…

The sun had started to shift and shine into the tiny filth smudged window. Kurt held up one of the things. He swallowed hard and started to tremble as his gaze fell on a skeletal hand. Kurt dropped the hand as Pete joined him in a high-pitched girly scream.

They ran full steam to the basement doors the force unjammed them. When the double doors flew open, they ran for the closest house, the boys emitted that girly scream all the way.

Mrs. Caraway walked down the stairs taking care with her bad hip. When she reached the bottom, the old dear gave out a long breath of relief. She set her Piggly Wiggly woven market bag by the deep freeze and looked over at the worktable.

There were skeletal remains scattered over the surface. With a deep sigh, she walked over and started to clean up the mess. She dropped a skull into the box on top of a witch’s hat and pumpkin tablecloth. “Damn kids, always getting in here and making a mess of my holiday decorations. Maybe I should start putting more mince pies on the window sill.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall into Romance with paranormal thriller Half

Welcome to the next stop on the Fall into Romance Blog Hop! Sponsored by Romance Blog Hops Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy a taste of romance from my paranormal thriller, Half. Would you like to win an ebook copy? Just leave a comment and one lucky winner will be chosen and announced on the 23rd of September. Don't forget to enter the Fall into Romance Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $75 Amazon gift card. Now pour a cuppa and relax as you get aquatinted with Valeska and Alex of Half.

About Half
Guarding CEO Alex Blazen during a charity gala was an easy job for Valeska Gorstef...until all hell breaks loose... Literally. Forced to face her own darkness, Valeska may lose her only chance to live a human life. Two sides of her soul will be at war. Which half will win?
Purchase links:

Valeska stood within the darkness of the room and felt it breathe. The dark was a living creature part of
what she was. Her darkness, her vampire, and she hated it. A bit of dust and the stain was all that was left of her father. Once she had thought killing him would free her to live a normal life, but that was just a pretty lie.

After all this time, she still had to exist in the twilight between two worlds. Trapped. She was lost in the past when she heard footsteps and smelled Alex’s cologne before he reached the room. Good. He’ll see the darkness and run. It would be that easy to stop this before I want any more than I can have.

Alex didn’t run. Instead, he walked over, embracing her and kissing her blood covered mouth. All he cared about was showing her it didn’t matter. That he loved her human or not. Plying her lips with his tongue, he gently pushed into her mouth and met sharp fangs.

She tasted fresh blood and pushed him away roughly. “Alex stop! I haven’t fed enough.”

He gazed at her and the concern she saw there was more than she could bear. “I couldn’t. I couldn’t take an unwilling victim, not even a four legged one.”

He looked beneath the splatters of blood to the pain her eyes held. What horrors she must have endured to survive over six hundred years of life.

She wanted to push him farther away. “Don’t you see me? This is Valeska Gorstef. Alex, I can’t change what I am. I can smell the sweet copper scent of blood in your mouth. I can hear your heart pumping more through your veins and I want it. I want to taste you in ways that have nothing to do with passion.”

The video flashed in his mind. “I see the beautiful woman who walked into my office three days ago. I see the dark desire in your eyes. Blood isn’t all you want.”

She shook her head. “Alex, you don’t know what you’re asking.” Valeska felt her control starting to slip.

“No, I don’t.” Alex unbuttoned her shirt, peeled the blood soaked fabric from her shoulders. He pulled off his own shirt and tossed it in the pile. She was dizzy from bloodlust and need. Need to give in, need to love him.

She stood stiff as he embraced her and kissing, caressing first one lip then the other. He was more careful exploring the warmth of her mouth. He licked her fangs tasting the sweet copper in her mouth.

Weakening with the scent of his body so close, she kissed him back him feeling his warm clean skin. They fell to the floor, she rolled over him. “We can’t do this. I have to feed.”

He grabbed her face as he kissed her again. “Then feed.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fall into romance and visit these other fantastic blogs on the hop for more chances to win great books and prizes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Briton and the Dane: Second Edition gets Audible

Historical fiction author MarryAnn Bernal's epic tale The Briton and the Dane is now available in audio-book.

About The Briton and the Dane
King Alfred the Great has thwarted the Viking threat against his kingdom of Wessex. Signing a treaty with the formidable Danish King Guthrum, he succeeds in pushing the heathen army back to the rolling fens of East Anglia.

An uneasy peace holds sway: The King establishes a standing army under Lord Richard, who takes command of the citadel at Wareham.

Richard and his army are accompanied by his daughter, Gwyneth, an impetuous and reckless young woman - at once striking, intellectually gifted, but dangerously vain and imprudent.

While Richard broods on the Viking threat, Gwyneth falls in love with an enemy prince - only to discover that she has been betrothed to a Saxon warrior twice her age.

Refusing to countenance her grim fate, she flees the fortress, but is soon kidnapped by a Viking warrior and taken to the camp of King Guthrum while Saxon search parties scour the land.

In captivity, a hostage to fortune, and the focus of political intrigue, Gwyneth is submerged in a world of expediency, betrayal, and black treachery. Slowly, she realizes the truth is suspect, nothing is what it appears and her reality cannot be trusted.

And all the time, against this background, she desires nothing more than to be reunited with her dashing Danish prince.

Where to get The Britton and the Dane audio-book

About Author MaryAnn Bernal
Mary Ann Bernal, author of The Briton and the Dane novels, is an avid history buff whose area of interest
focuses on Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain during the Viking Age. While pursuing a degree in business administration, she managed to fit creative writing classes and workshops into her busy schedule to learn the craft, but it would take decades before her “Erik the Viking” novel was ultimately published.

Mary Ann is also a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter writing campaigns and other support programs since Operation Desert Storm. She has appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has also been a featured author on Triangle Variety Radio, The Phil Naessens Show, and The Writers Showcase, and has been interviewed extensively by American and European bloggers.

Follow MaryAnn around the web

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Those Off Kilter Days

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. I feel like I’ve been off planet part of the time. There has been so much activity going on in my house and life that my poor blog has been suffering from neglect.

My writing has been the same a bit. Usually I write every day, but lately it has been sporadic and short bursts. I feel very off kilter when I don’t write at least a few paragraphs in a day. I feel like I’ve forgotten something very important all day long. 

Though some of the distractions have been super exciting things that could lead to rising up another rung or two on the ladder of success. I was honored to give a workshop at the Fall Conference for Florida Authors and Publishers Association. What a fantastic experience that was!

I was inspired and thrilled to meet wonderful authors and publishers from all over the state. If you aren’t a
How to energize your platform
with technology workshop at FAPA's
Fall Conference
member of FAPA I do encourage it. They are a fantastic group of people who strive to help authors and publishers succeed. It was a hugely positive experience that I hope to have again next year!

My next big distraction was the primary elections. I’m not a very political person and I keep my views to myself. (most of the time *wink*) I do pride myself on being an election poll worker. I am Clerk of Precinct 3500, Marion County, FL. This is my 20th Year as clerk there. I absolutely love working elections.

Yes, it can be stressful and tedious when things go wrong or very few voters show up at the polls. The day is a long one about 16hrs long for a clerk, but, it is also very rewarding to know I’ve been a small part of history being made.

Now, though those distractions are past and it’s time to buckle down and set some goals that will get my muse back on track and stories moving again.

Goals for the week of 9/7 thru 9/13
1) Write at least 1000 words daily
2) Get 2 articles finished for Orlando Destinations
3) Get one part 1 of special project completed.
4) Go someplace that will inspire the muse.
5) Post one more blog for this week at least.

I think that should get the muse moving and back in kilter… I hope! When big distractions loom or events take place that knock everything off kilter, it can be difficult to set it right again. Getting back into a grove can feel very disjointed until that smooth rhythm can be found again.

Now it’s your turn to set some goals and follow where your muse leads you this week. How do you battle those off kilter times that spring up? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet Ben Mason of Outlaw Born

I was invited to participate in the Meet Your Character Blog Tour by fellow author Juneta Key. After you meet the handsome and deadly Ben Mason be sure to visit her blog and meet her character Heiden Grim.

Now let me introduce you to Ben Mason main character of Outlaw Born.

What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?
Ben Mason is a historical fictional character. Yet he is based on the story of two brothers who came home from fighting in the Civil War only to find their family hanged and the homestead burned. The family had refused the railroad's offer to buy their land. The rail company wouldn't give in, bullying the family, in the end they took measures to destroy them and took the land by force. The brothers were good men, but they vowed to avenge their loved ones and turned outlaw to do so.

When and where is the story set? 
The story is set at the end of the Civil War, a historical western. The story begins getting to know Ben as he leads a regiment of men for the North. Then we head for the wild west, New Mexico/Arizona, where Ben's home and family are. 

What should we know about him?
Ben Mason is haunted by his father's legacy. A legacy of crime, murder, and hate. Outlaw blood runs through Ben's veins and he's faught the tendencies he learned as a child to become a good man. Yet he must face those dark needs on his journey in Outlaw Born. 

What is the personal goal of the character?
Ben's goal in the beginning is simple. To come home to his wife and son, build his ranch and live as a good man should. That all changes when he discovers the deaths of his family. He embraces that darnkess to get the justice they deserved. 

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Outlaw Born is the true title for the novel. You can read a rough draft of the first two chapters on my Wattpad  And be sure to follow my blog for tidbits through Weekend Writing Warriors posts. 

When can we expect the book to be published?
My goal is early 2015 Jan/Feb, though it may be more into spring if LIFE jumps in. 

Outlaw Born Blurb: 
Orphaned at 8 years old and raised by a preacher's family Benjamin Mason became a good man. He wanted to forget and erase his real father's legacy of blood and violence from their name for his own son.

Then tragedy struck. The law wouldn’t give him justice, so he would take it. After all, wasn’t he born to be this kind of man, an outlaw filled with hell and vengeance in his blood? Ben Mason is outlaw born.

My vision of Ben Mason

Ben woke with a gasp; it had felt more like a vision instead of a dream. His wife and son trapped in fire. He could feel the heat of the flames as he reached out to them. “Ellen… Joseph…” 

Sarah sat up in the chair next to him. “Lieutenant Mason, just lay back, your fever broke, you’ll be alright now.”

It ached to take a breath, recognition set in and so did the ache of his heart. It had just been a dream, but he woke back to the nightmare of war.  “How long have I been here?” 

The nurse gave him a gentle grin as she checked the wound. “Four days, not so long.” 

Ben sighed as he took the offered sips of cool water. Not so long, but it felt like an eternity. He couldn’t shake the nightmare, it had been a long time since he’d gotten a letter from home. 

The nurse left him to assist another. The soldier next to him rose from his cot and took the nurse’s chair. The older man clutched his arm to his chest, careful of it as he sat. Something about the old man put Ben on edge

The man grinned and offered his only hand. “Jorge Wilson, Boston.” 

Ben shook the hand, “Ben Mason, New Mexico.” 

Jorge looked at him for a moment as if he seemed familiar. “New Mexico… I knew you had a familiarity. Benjamin Alexander Mason, Johnny’s boy?” 

Ben’s expression went blank almost cold. “No. No John’s on the tree.” 

Jorge chuckled. “No sense denyin’. You got your ma’s eyes. I remember you hidin behind her skirts in the saloon.” 

Ben glared at him and forced his weak body upright. He reached out and gripped the man’s wounded stump. “You remember nothing old man. The laudanum has you seein things not there. No, John Mason in my tree.” 

The old man’s eyes widened with the sharp pain as he gave a brief nod. Ben let go and leaned back, his breath came in pants with the effort. He didn’t want to hurt the old man but the past needed to stay as dead as his father. 

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Ben Mason and Outlaw Born. Do stop by for more about Ben and his journey, writing news, and a bit of fun on Gladiator's Pen.