Thursday, December 27, 2012

Glass Cases: The Year of Self-Publishing

Confused About Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing?

Me too!

I have been confused on whether or not I should self-publish my novel The Consequential Element. I've had many inquries on when it would be available, and lost sales over the holiday because people wanted to buy it for gifts and it isn't out yet. But, I met an agent and a small publisher at a conference who asked me NOT to self-pub until they had the opportunity to review my material. The said they would contact me 'after the holidays'. I have to say, it has been a long 8 weeks thus far, and I know I need to wait at least another 4 before I either get a response from them, or have to nudge them for a response.

In the meantime, I've been considering self-publishing. It is true that my heart is in the traditional route, but people keep pushing me into the self-pub route. They say that if I self-pub, then I will be able to build a better image for agents to discover me, or by self-pubbing I will stand out more with agents.

Then I stumbled across this post by Sarah LaPolla Glass Cases: The Year of Self-Publishing

At last, some clarity. After reading this post, my decision now is to wait. I will begin the new year with heavy querying to agents. I will give it my all. If, after 6 - 8 months I don't get an agent, then I will re-visit the idea of self-publishing.

Thank you, Sarah, for this post.

And thank you to all my followers. What about you? Have you been struggling with this decision? What made you decide to self-publish? If you are traditionally published, how long did it take you? Did you ever think to give up? What kept you going?

All my best wishes for a great, prosperous, successful, and happy new year!

Dee Ann

Friday, December 21, 2012

Building Characters
In my opinion, in order for any story to become successful, even plot driven stories, it first needs to have well defined, richly layered characters that the reader can connect with.  Reader connection develops on many levels.
·         Through Reminders - maybe the character reminds us of ourselves – past, present, or future
·         Through Love – maybe the reader develops a strong love for the character
·         Through Hate – maybe the reader hates them
·         Through Heroism – maybe the reader lives through the character’s heroic acts
No matter what level the reader connects with, the fact remains that a connection must be made. Think back to every book you have read that you’ve loved. Why did you love it? Is your first thought about a certain character? Do you remember their names? Do you have a clear picture of who they were/are? Then that, my friend, is reader connection.
Take a look at this Character Development Worksheet for some good pointers on areas you may have missed during your character development process.
Some writers disagree, but I think there’s something to be said for this important element of writing. Some may say that characters are dynamic, constantly changing, spontaneous, and shouldn't be drawn out from a cookie-cutter. And I agree. The worksheet is designed to give you something to refer to in your discovery of who your character is, inside and out. They are unique, no doubt about, and should be created as the unique individuals that they are.
Make sure you spend time on their back story, dialogue, physical description, nemesis, fears, and the like. Once you get to know them, you may hate them, but you will connect with them.
Some links to help you along:

Advice From Fiction Writers
Writing Advice for Fiction Writers
101 Character Development Questions for Writers

Let me know what other things you look at when developing your characters. I'd love to know so I can add them to my list!

Merry Christmas. I hope your holiday is filled with happiness, warmth, and joy.

Dee Ann

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Way to Use Twitter
Hi everyone. I hope you’re all finished with shopping and are now in the relaxing stages of the Christmas season. But, if you’re anything like me, NOT. I found myself taking deep breaths today, and realized that I will soon be suffering from PTSD from this season. Once again I have tested the elasticity of my budget and found its breaking point.  Oh well. It is, what it is.
During the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to my social network as often as I’d like, and thus I have fallen behind in some areas. For one, checking my DMs on Twitter. So, this morning I’ve invested time in doing just this. Herein lies my problem (and I know I am not the only one who suffers this - check out Editor Su's blog for her opinion on the subject!).
My DMs are full of people saying hi and then leading me to their social network, be it FB, website, blog, book link, Amazon link, etc. Now, I ask you, why would I visit these sites, or even buy a book from someone who is a complete and utter stranger to me? Have we met? Have we even said two words that were personal beyond hello?
Look, I’m a writer. I worked hard on my books. I want to sell my books. This is all true, same as you. But I think what’s important to remember when building a social network is that it is first, and foremost, SOCIAL. This means that in order for it to work, we must be social with one another. This doesn’t mean ramming our links down someone’s throat. It means getting to know people. These are our contacts. These are the people that are going to help make or break us.
Here are a few suggestions on doing this, for those of us recluse writers who suck at being social:
·         Say hello … and mean it.
·         Ask what they are working.
·         Is your new contact a writer, reader, publisher, agent? Wouldn’t it be good to find out?
·         Have they written a book? Did they go the traditional route in publishing, or are they self-published?
·         Are you working on a book that requires research? Ask your fellow tweeters if there is anyone out there than can assist. You’ll be surprised at who comes back!
·         Show an interest your fellow writers’ concerns. Maybe you can help, or steer them to someone who can. This is priceless, and will come back to you tenfold.
I recently helped someone – a stranger to me – who returned the favor by providing me a contact at a publishing company who is now reviewing my book for publication. How much better can it get? Even if the publisher should end up declining, what a great opportunity I was given simply by extending my hand to someone else.
The same goes for all your platforms. Take the time to utilize them in the way they were intended. I think you will be pleased with the end results.
I hope this sheds some light, or at least creates a spark for you to further investigate the best uses of Twitter. It can be an effective tool, if used properly.
All my best.
Dee Ann

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forgiveness.  A simple word, really. People do it all the time… for small things.
But, what about the really big things? Things like rape, adultery, physical abuse, mental abuse, incest, robbery, murder, child exploitation/abuse, kidnapping, or any number of other violent acts against humanity? Can you forgive then?
Like many of us, I have had terrible things happen to me that I have had to learn to forgive. It took me many years to come to the realization that the hatred I harbored for my ‘enemies’ was actually destroying me inside.
My MC in THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT, Danielle Montgomery, has to learn this lesson for herself. She’s suffered. Greatly.
·         Murder: Fifteen year old Danielle cradled her mother’s wounded body in her lap and begged the African rebel soldier not to shoot again. But he did.
·         Kidnapping: Danielle was awarded to this murderer, Obasanji, as a prize to the young rebel for his conquest of the small Congolese village.
·         Rape: As Obasanji’s prize, she was forced, day after day, night after night, to succumb to his every whim.
·         Physical and mental abuse: Danielle was trained as a rebel soldier and forced to kill innocent women and children, or face dire consequences.
·         Betrayal by her own country, the USA: The US government refused to send in a rescue team for a young girl that they had no idea either lived or died.
It took three years before her uncle was able to put together a team of mercenaries and complete a rescue mission to save her. For three years she lived amongst the scum of the Continent with the man who stole her soul. She would have lost her mind, if it wasn’t for Zulu, her fellow prisoner, and friend from the village. He encouraged her to live, and reminded her frequently that the person she had become was not the person she would be forever.
Now, thirty-two year old Danielle is doing her best to blend into the cityscape of Boston, MA, where she struggles to lead a normal, yet rigid life behind a façade of normalcy. Nothing or no one gets into her tight little world. No one that is, except for Sarah Everett, her one and only friend, and Roland Dupre, her last surviving relative and renowned archaeologist.
It takes all her strength each day to deal with the lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Lingering, Sarah says, because Danielle can’t let go of her hatred for Obasanji. Sarah knows Danielle’s secret. Buried beneath the façade, lies Danielle’s deepest desire: murder. She wants Obasanji dead, and she wants to be the one to do it. Her hatred has consumed her. She finds herself living and breathing for the sweet taste of revenge. It beckons from her dreams, haunts her waking hours, and festers in her empty heart. The question is, how?
And then a letter written in her uncle’s hand arrives, and along with it, an encrypted notebook and a small piece of a map. The letter speaks of a fantastic discovery that he’s made deep within the Congo. One that will change the fate of the troubled United States from China’s imminent attack: a rare earth element known as Promethium, the missing element needed for the completion of Viper 6 – an unprecedented stealth missile that will secure the position of world leader for United States.
But General Sao, a Chinese commander sent to Africa to mine for rare earths, has other ideas. He enlists the aid of the rebel forces known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by no other than the now Major Colonel, Obasanji. Sao promises Obasanji that China will help move blood diamonds out of the country, which will provide money to fund his army.
Now Danielle’s uncle has gone missing, and the C.I.A. wants the information she has. Only, the letter she received said to trust no one but Dobbs in Homeland Security. Trouble is Dobbs is dead. Danielle uses her uncle’s disappearance as an excuse to return to Africa.
Enter Kayden Moreau, a mercenary hired by her uncle before his disappearance to protect her. Only, Danielle wants nothing to do with him. She fears he will discover her secret for revenge and thwart her mission. Kayden takes his job seriously. He was hired to protect her, and that’s what he’s going to do. But, he wasn’t hired to fall in love with her, and he does that, too.
Whether she likes it or not, Kayden is forced to save her life on more than one occasion. And Danielle finds herself drawn to him, struggling with the mysterious and unfamiliar feelings that rage within her whenever he’s near.
Unable to shake him off, Danielle is forced to lead him and a small team of men, consisting of former special ops Marines to African cattle ranchers, on a voyage into the harsh, remote corners of the Congo; a journey where Danielle makes a phenomenal discovery of her own.
She finds Obasanji, but to her horror she learns that he’s the only man alive who can help her find her uncle and the cave where the element was discovered. His price is her forgiveness. Now, she is forced to make a choice: will she forgive him for the murder of her mother and destruction of her life, or is her desire for revenge more than she can bear?
Danielle must endure through car chases with shootouts, kidnapping, and treasure hunting, in order to reach her goal, only to get herself taken, once again, as a prisoner of Obasanji. Kayden and his team must go head-to-head with Obasanji’s army in order to attempt a rescue mission to save Danielle and her uncle. But is it too late?
The lesson of forgiveness is a hard one. To survive takes courage, but to forgive also takes courage. And the act must be consciously desired and made. It is not for the ones who’ve harmed us, but for ourselves, for the rescue and survival of our souls, and is in-and-of-itself, the most courageous act of all.
Christmas reminds me that forgiveness is a charity that should be given. It is God’s gift to us, and one that must be re-gifted many times over.
I hope that you can find it within yourself to forgive, this holiday season. Forgive, and set yourself free.
Merry Christmas.
Dee Ann

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I’ve entered the world of… waiting. Query letters have been written, two versions of synopses have been created (long and short), and my novel has been exquisitely polished. THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT has finally been launched into the outer realm of the agentsphere. Now, I wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Through my waiting process, I have learned several things about myself:
1.       I hate waiting
2.       I don’t have near the patience I thought I had (my kids told me this years ago, I refused to listen)
3.       My confidence has been replaced by doubt…no… panic is more like it
4.       I’m a stress eater – this was a shocker!
5.       I’m under-medicated
6.       I’m more moody and frustrated (compound that with menopause – yeah, that’s fun)
7.       I’ve developed Situational OCD (not sure if this is a proper diagnosis, but it accounts for the constant ringing of hands, checking email on the 60 second click of the clock, and sitting bug-eyed staring at a blank television screen while thinking that I need to check my email)
8.       My best friends are actually wine and chocolate, not my husband and sister, as I once thought
9.       I’m a nag to my dog (“Get off the damn couch!” I scold, and then moments later I sit and pat the cushion beside me. “Here, come sit by mommy.” (Yes, my dog is becoming as neurotic as me)
10.   I hate waiting (I know I already said that, but it bears repeating)
So, how do I cope? Here are a few things that seem to help with the above issues:
1.       I get involved in another project, whether it be another book, art, scrap booking, or house repairs. Anything to help take my mind off the fact that I’m waiting.
2.       Exercise. I belong to a gym and find that a good daily workout does wonders.
3.       Redesign several rooms in my house at once. Now THAT really helps.
4.       Go shopping, but don’t spend any money. (Hubby says it teaches restraint. He says, if I can do this, then this waiting gig should be a piece of cake. Yeah, hubby says senseless stuff, sometimes. But at least he makes me laugh.)
5.       Eat. (Okay, not the best advice, but the question was how do I cope, remember?)
6.       Keep submitting. Yep. For every rejection I receive, I send out two more to unsuspecting agents.
7.       Write. Anything. Just write. Start an Anthology; write poems, short stories, or my next novel. But, just write.
8.       Promote my book, work on marketing, build on my social network. Great everyday therapy.
9.       Be patient. (Yeah, that coming from me, of all people. Do as I say, not as I do.)
Let’s face it, the profession of writing is a huge waiting game. If you intend on succeeding, it makes sense to adopt a process that helps you be as efficient and productive as possible throughout the publishing journey.
This waiting thing isn’t going to go away. You have the waiting period of pre-agent, post-agent, pre-sale, and then after you’ve been lucky enough to sell, you will be waiting for your editor to work with you. Finished waiting? Not yet. Now, you will wait for the sales results, then wait for your royalty checks. And if and when you write your next book, you will begin the whole process over again. So, best advice? Get used to waiting. I can’t, but you’re a bigger person than me. You can do it.
Me? I’ve just decided to call the spa for an afternoon appointment. Hmm, maybe I should look them up on the NYSE. It’s about time I invest.
I know you didn’t ask for it, but here’s a piece of advice. Never sit and wait for someone else to fulfill you. You wrote a book. You know it’s good. You know someone will discover this for themselves. Until then, keep on moving forward… and WRITE.
You may also like:
How about you? What have you done to get through the waiting process?
Thanks for stopping by.
Merry Christmas!
Dee Ann

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Horrifying Journey of Querying an Agent
Is it just me, or does anyone else experience an immense gnawing in the pit of your stomach while typing your query letter? And how long does it take you to push SEND once you’ve finished?
I’ve finally finished all of the revisions that my copy editor suggested, re-read the entire book for the seventh time, and had another copy editor look it over for good measure. And I thought that was harrowing! But, compared to writing the query letter, that was a piece of cake.
I’ve researched agencies, many of them, and they all seem to provide similar advice on query letters. Advice like; “Be careful with your query because it is your very first impression with the agent. A bad query can sink your book,” hasn’t really done much for my confidence. Instead I think; “Oh, thanks. That’s just great. No pressure, right?”
One of the best places I did get the best advice on the infamous query letter is at Agent Query. I like this site because it offers so much information about… well, so much! It’s like a one-stop-shop for writers. Here are some other resources on this subject:
When you begin your journey, my best advice to you is, be sure you check out the agency’s website. They pretty much spell out, to the T, what their expectations are, from the query letter through submission. Taking the time to read through their websites has helped me tremendously to understand what is expected of me. It hasn’t helped, however, in calming my nerves. I guess only I can do that. I suppose a fifteen minute session of Yoga, followed by another fifteen minute session of Pilates, and finished off with an hour at the spa before each submission would be beneficial. Not sure how productive it would be, but at least I’d get to keep my sanity.
Oh, wait! I remember now. I received a response from an agent last night who is requesting a two page synopsis. OMG!!! Two pages?! Are they crazy? They want me to tell them all about a 387 page novel IN TWO PAGES?? Okay. These nerves are going to take more than an hour at the spa can cure.
How about you? Are any of you experiencing these sorts of feelings? If so, what do you do to curtail, or deal with them? TELL ME! I really want to know.
All my best to you.
Merry Christmas!
Dee Ann

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Author Interview: Riley Banks

Riley Banks - Author
Please join me in welcoming Riley Banks, author of The William S Club. Riley Banks writes sexy contemporary novels a la Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon. Her background is in journalism, which shows through in the fast-paced action of her novels. Having spent more than a decade living the pampered life of the expatriate wife overseas, Riley has plenty of rich experiences to colour her books and has created larger than life characters you love or love to hate. With plenty of raunchy sex, passion, scandals, drama, corruption, affairs, murders, glamor, suspense, love, heartache, secrets, betrayals, big money, power and exotic locations, there is more than enough for fans of many different genres. Visit Riley's website -

ref=la_B009BDA8IG_1_1.jpgWithout further ado, let's get down to business and find out
more about Riley and her wonderful stories.

  1. Where do you get your ideas?

    They come to me in all sorts of places. Take The William S Club, for instance. I got the idea for that sitting in a Chinese take away restaurant waiting for my order. I started reading something about the dramatic rise in property prices over the years and my brain started imagining what it would have been like to have bought back before the boom. I started jotting down notes and the book was born. Another book I have on the backburner at the moment, The Pact, came to me when my mother was admitted to hospital with pancreatitis. I did a bit of research and discovered that the ailment usually affects chronic drinkers and drug addicts yet my mother is a complete tea-totaller. From there, I came up with the idea to write about a woman who has survived some of the worst tragedies a family could face and who has watched her daughter ruin her life with drugs and alcohol. She makes a pact with God to take her daughter’s addictions upon herself and as the daughter gradually gets better, the mother grows sicker. It is a story of redemption and love, and how far a parent will go to protect their child. So in answer to the original question, the ideas come from tiny sparks, which I allow to germinate and become fully fledged ideas and plot lines. Often times, if an idea comes to me, I will sit down and write the first couple of chapters based on that idea. I then leave it and go back to whatever it was I was already working on, knowing that those chapters are there, ready for me to work on when I get the chance.
2. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

A bit of both. I generally have a loose outline of where I want to go with a story but I try not to get too bogged down in sticking to the plan. I think if you lock yourself too rigidly into an outline, your story is in danger of becoming plot driven rather than character driven. And sometimes, it is the characters themselves which take us on the most exciting journey.  

3. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel, or getting it published, that you would change?

If I didn’t hate writing synopses so much, I probably would have made an attempt to get a trade publisher. In this instance, I didn’t even try. Just made the decision to Indie publish it and get on with the job of writing the next book.

4. How do you market your work?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just hand our books over to a publicist and say, ‘Make me famous’? One day I hope that will happen but in the meantime, I utilize as many marketing tactics as I can. It does help that one of my day jobs is in marketing, so I know the mechanics of writing media releases. Having worked as a journalist in the past, I’m also quite comfortable approaching the media. One thing people often forget to do is harness their existing network. I’ve lived in four countries and have friends all over the world so one of the first things I did was send out an email to them all letting them know I’d published a book. I gave them the link and asked if they wouldn’t mind spreading the word to any of their friends who might be interested. That simple technique generated a number of sales that might otherwise have been missed and introduced me to new readers I would not have been able to directly market to. 

Another forum I use quite heavily is social media. One of the mistakes I think a lot of people make is to only use social media to promote their work. They send out dozens of tweets and posts each day, plugging their books and their websites and their interviews and their ads… ad nauseum. They never interact on a social level with their follows, forgetting the key word is social media. People expect you to interact with them, not just bombard them with advertising material. I take the time to introduce myself to new followers. Sometimes it takes a week or two to get back to everyone, and it does take up time, but by engaging them in conversation, people are far more likely to remember you and take notice of what you have to say.

I’ve got a couple of other marketing ideas up my sleeve but I’ll let you know how successful they are once I put them into action.

5. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The William S Club straddles a couple of genres. It is a chick lit novel with elements of drama, suspense, erotica, and action but it ultimately a romance.  

6. What project are you working on now?

I’m wearing two writer hats at the moment. As R.A. Byfield, I am putting the finishing touches to book one of The Vampire Origins. As Riley Banks, I am writing The Expat Wives series about a group of pampered women living in Dubai. Having been the ‘expat wife’ I am really excited about this project and have plenty of colorful characters – some based on real life people – to explore.

7. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Keep plugging away. Every single author out there started out just like you – a beginner. And everyone of them had their fair share of rejections, knock backs and critics. Read up as much as you can on the craft of writing and read other authors to see what works and what doesn’t – but please, don’t jump on bandwagons. Forge your own path and be original. Most of all, develop a tough skin. While I haven’t had negative comments yet, I am sure they will come. The buying public can be quite cruel when they don’t like something. Act like a duck and let the negativity run off your back. My mother had a great saying – chew the fat and spit out the bones. In other words, if there is a lesson to be learned in negative feedback, take that lesson and then get rid of the rest. Don’t let it upset you.  

8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve got three completed manuscripts done in addition to The William S Club. I’m leaving two of them to mature while working on The Vampire Origins. (Like a fine wine or cheese, I believe all books need some time to sit and mature – even just a couple of months greatly improves them because on the next read through, you see things you missed the first ten times of reading through it). My favourite, so far, is Vampire Origins because it is the one book I share with my family. They helped me plot out storylines and work on characters. In fact, we had some great ‘family meetings’ sitting around discussing the book series and where it could go. While I love my Riley Banks books, I can only really share it with my eldest daughter, as the other two are too young for the adult themes.

9. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

I think one of the overriding themes of The William S Club is that bad things happen in life. It is up to the individual whether they choose to get on with life or become a perpetual victim.

Having lived overseas, I have seen people overcome the most terrible tribulations. Met people that have watched their entire families raped and murdered in front of them. Yet despite having survived such a horrendous ordeal, they are still positive about life and genuinely happy to be alive. Many of them are trying desperately to make something better of their live, studying hard to honor their dead family members. Western society has a terrible habit of looking inwards. We’ve become a generation of ‘belly button gazers’, trying to find ourselves, to seek self-fulfillment and self-enjoyment. We are a society of victims looking to lay blame for our actions on other people.

Bad things happen to Charlotte but she chooses to get on with life, to find the positives rather than focus on the negative. Hopefully more people are inspired by her to do the same.  

10. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have a real problem writing synopses. No problem with writing the book but condensing it all down to a couple of pages is torture. For that reason alone, I chose to self-publish so I didn’t have to go through that torment. One day I’ll face that fear and see if an agent or publisher is interested in picking up my work. Otherwise, I’ll keep slogging on being an independent author.

11. Do you have any pets that keep you company when you write?

Ah, yes. We have three very spoiled pets that we shipped back from Saudi Arabia with us. Two golden cocker spaniel dogs who sit at my feet while I write and a street cat we rescued in Riyadh who often tries to lay across my keyboard. In fact, Bear, the cat, has already ‘forced’ his way into Vampire Origins as a character.

12. Do you have a favorite quote?

The quote I live my life by is ‘Do what you enjoy and it is less like work and more like fun’. No idea who wrote it or if I just made it up myself but it is definitely my motto in life.

13. Where can people buy your books?

The William S Club is available as both a paperback and ebook through Amazon, Smashwords, Sony, Diesel, Apple, Barnes and Noble and a number of other retailers. For more details, go to Happy to do discounts for book clubs or other bulk purchases.  

Thanks so much, Riley! It's been an absolute pleasure getting to know a little about you as an author.

For all you readers who wish to learn more, or read about The William S Club, you can get in touch with Ms. Banks in a number of ways. See below:

Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave a comment.

About the interviewer: Dee Ann Waite is the author of The Consequential Element, a fiction based on fact, which is due to be released the end of Decenber 2012. She is a passionate writer, an avid reader, a semi-pro photographer, and lover of life in general.

Ms. Waite is a poet and freelance writer, and has written several tense and emotional pieces of work. Many of her main characters are women who struggle through the pains and sufferings of life, but somehow manage to come through as victors, not victims. They wear their battle scars proudly, and they learn to see life as half full... like Dee Ann.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


We are blog hopping our way through some new reads. What a great way to be introduced to some wonderful authors you might have not known about. Be sure to follow our blog hop and be introduced to some exciting reads as well as works in progress. Below you will be able to learn a little about myself and the authors who follow me in week 18. Be sure to check them all out. For they are fabulous authors that I am delighted to brag about!! Special thanks to Eri Nelson at for asking me to participate.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

Q: What is the working title of your book?

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: I was surfing the net one day reading up on some political issues and came across a site that discussed the current issue of China and their near monopoly on rare earth elements and minerals. The article went into how China's control over the elements and minerals, and their decrease of exporting them to the U.S., could - and does - affect the security of our country against foreign invasion. The U.S.  utilizes rare earth elements and minerals in much of their military weaponry, and unfortunately we are 100% dependent on China for them. After discussing this with family and friends, it became obvious that many people were unaware of this very critical issue. I decided to write a book (fiction) around this important issue, but do it in such a way - surround it with action, adventure, and thrills such as car chases and kidnappings - that the reader becomes enthralled with the story. Oh, and yes, there is a bit of romance, too. :)

Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: Action/Thriller

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A: The archeologist Roland Dupre would be Sean Connery; the main protagonist female Danielle Montgomery would be Alexa Davalos; and the main protagonist male would be... hmm, I'm still working on this one.

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: Ha! This is a killer. Guess what - I still haven't come up with being able to sum up my book in one sentence. Sorry.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A: Self-published, but I'm still going to send out query letters. You never know. I've had two friends who have been picked up by agents after they self-published, so the possibility is real.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A: It was my first book, and I wasn't even sure I wanted to write it, at first. I only worked on it here and there for the first six months. Then all of a sudden things just seemed to kick in and I developed this unbelievable desire to write it - I mean really write it. I know this sounds strange, but it was as if the characters started screaming at me that they needed to tell their story.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A: A bit like Michael Crichton's Congo and Andy McDermott's Atlantis.

Q: Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A: After surfing the web one day I came across an article regarding China and the rare earth element issues between China and the U.S. It became obvious that this is a serious issue. Unfortunately, not many people seem to be aware of it. So, I decided to write a fiction novel based on this premise to help enlighten people to the very real threat of China weakening our borders little by little making us more vulnerable every day. What do you suppose China's intentions would be once we are too weak to control our borders?

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
A: Like I said earlier, there's quite a bit of action, suspense, thriller, and romance. The fact that the main character Danielle must travel back to Africa to find her missing uncle, and must confront the rebel soldier (now leader of the rebel army) who killed her mother and ruined her life - the man who she has dreamed of killing every night for these past 15 years - and how she is forced to make a decision: forgive the demon of her dreams and accept his help in finding her uncle, or exact her deepest desire of revenge and kill him once and for all, I think this is very compelling for the reader.

Here's a list of my tagged blog hop authors for next week. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, October 24th, to read about their WIPs and New Releases:


Monday, October 15, 2012

As promised, here's chapter 1 of THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT - my debut action/thriller fiction novel! Enjoy. And please leave a comment to let me know what you think.
I heard from my copy editor today. All is going well and on track so I'm still looking forward to a beginning of December release date. 
I am going to post one more chapter - chapter 2 will be up in one week. This will be the LAST chapter I post.


"What do you mean, you have to turn me in? Do you know what you’re saying?" Roland Dupre sat in the over-stuffed, brown leather chair across from Simpson's desk, his fists clenched.
Charles Simpson stood staring out the window into the gardens of the U.S. Embassy. The sweet, nutty scent of his Cuban cigar wafted through the air, enticing Roland's taste buds. "This isn't Botswana we're talking about," Simpson said, "it's the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and you crossed the line when you went digging there. The DRC wants what they believe to be rightfully theirs, for the benefit of their country."
Roland sneered. "Come on Charlie. We’ve been friends far too long and seen far too many years of political bullshit for you to think I’d believe that crap. You know as well as I do the rebels have been working with the Chinese on digs like mine, ever since they discovered the element Yttrium a few months back.” He leaned forward in his chair resting his elbows on his knees, and ran his fingers through his thick, gray hair. “My discovery won't even make it into the hands of the government of the DRC. The rebels will confiscate it and use it to fund their army - grow their forces. Nothing good will come of that, and you know it. 
"Our government, on the other hand,” Roland drew in a long breath and exhaled, “we need this, Charlie.” Roland stood, the red notebook clenched in his hand. “This is Promethium. Do you know what that means? Do you know how rare this is? I need your help.” Excitement and desperation oozed from his words.
Simpson continued his gaze outside.
 The clock over the sofa began to chime. Roland waited for the final eleventh chord to fade. "I said, I need your help.”
Simpson turned, his hands clasped behind his back. His dark suit and gray hair made the deep, etched lines in his pale skin stand out, making his worn face appear older than Roland remembered from just four months earlier. He reached for the phone.
"What are you doing?" Roland asked.
"I'm sorry."
Roland stood. "No, don't give me that shit. You owe me, you son-of-a-bitch. Do you know what will happen to the United States if China gets their hands on this? We're talking about a new discovery, a possible new element of the periodic table. I need you to help me secure that cave." He took two strides closer to Simpson. "Is this about money? Is that it? What'd they promise you? Whatever it is, it's not worth it. Your country is at stake. Your fellow Americans' lives are at stake. The world as we know it could change forever." 
"What have you done with the girl?" Simpson asked.
Time stopped for the briefest of moments and Roland’s mind froze. “Is that what this is? You want the girl? Are you working with them now, Charlie?” Roland asked in nearly a whisper. Anger crept under his skin as he regained focus. "You have a responsibility here, and you damn well better own up to it."
Simpson turned, his gray eyes pinched to narrow slits. "Don't talk to me about responsibility. I fulfill my responsibilities to my country each and every day. Look around you; this is the goddamned U.S. Embassy - Gaborone post. And I've been stuck in this God forsaken country for nine years. It seems the good 'ole U.S. of A. doesn't want me back, so fuck 'em. Responsibility? I've paid my debt to our country. Now they owe me." Simpson stood before Roland, his body shaking, spit sliding from his lower lip, his eyes red with rage.
 Roland knew he'd gone as far as he could. Simpson had made up his mind and he'd chosen a side -- as wrong as it was. "Fine, have it your way." Roland returned the notebook to the pocket beneath his field jacket. “The girl’s safe. That’s all you need to know. As for the cave…”
Simpson eyed the notebook and softened. "Just give it to me. They can decipher it themselves. Give it to me and you can walk away. No one has to get hurt."
"Weren't you listening to me? An entire country will get hurt, and that's just for starters. I'm not giving you shit."
"Then you leave me no choice," Simpson said, lifting the receiver from the desktop phone.
Roland took the receiver from him and returned it to its carriage. "You owe me. Give me a head start, at least."
"What will you do with a head start? You have no place to go where they won't find you. You're an old man now, my friend. You're no match for these men. It would be better for you to be here, let them come to you. The Embassy will protect you; out there you're as good as dead."
"Yeah, maybe. But at least I can try to do what's right."
"I'm afraid I can't buy you time. I'm sorry."
Roland pulled a small caliber pistol from his jacket pocket. "I'm afraid you don't have a choice," he said backing toward the door. "I don't know what happened to you, Charles 'ole boy. It breaks my heart to see you go to the dogs like this, after all we've been through together." He reached behind with his left hand and opened the door. "Touch that phone or call out to your assistant, and I'll kill you myself." 
Roland squeezed out the door, slid the gun back in his pocket, and rushed down the hall and out of the building. 
A young African man standing in the shadows of a tall Fica tree in the lobby, watched Roland exit the building, then pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed.
He returned to his room at the lodge. Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he gathered his thoughts. Sitting at the edge of the bed, he pulled the notebook from beneath his field jacket and thumbed through its pages. Who could help, if not Charlie? 
Roland dialed the front desk and gave the New York number for Bull Reardon. After several minutes he heard Bull's voice.
"You've reached Bull Reardon. I'm away on business and will return next week, at which time I'll be happy to return your call. Please leave your name and number. Thank you."
Roland hung up the phone and dropped his head in his hands, rubbing his temples with his thumbs. His mind snapped on an idea. On the desk sat a pad of paper with "Big Five Wild Game Preserve" written across the top. He tore off a piece of paper and quickly made a rough drawing of a map, then tore it in two. Shoving a piece of the map in the middle of the notebook, he scribbled out a letter to his niece, then jammed the notebook and letter in a large envelope. He turned it over in his hands several times, doubting his decision, but knowing he had no other he could make. With his mind set, he grabbed the backpack and left the room.
"Good day to you, sir," said Samson, the front desk operator.
"Yes, good day. Listen, I need you to do something for me, right away. I want to have this mailed to this address. Can you do this?" 
"Yes, yes, of course, Mr. Dupre. I will see that this is done right away."
"Thank you." Roland stared out the doorway into the setting sun and cursed Simpson for his betrayal. Two things were very clear: his discovery of the rare earth element was of definite value… and the girl needed to be moved… again. He returned to his room.
Roland woke to loud male voices. He sat up and pulled the curtain back. Were they soldiers? Unable to make out their clothing from the distance, he threw on a pair trousers and a shirt, and rushed to gather his things. He pulled the second half of the map from the night stand and slid it in the pocket of the pants he wore the day before, then shoved them in his cargo trunk.
Roland’s cell phone rang and he looked down at the caller I.D. - Simpson. “Tell me you’ve had a change of mind, or we have nothing more to talk about.”
“I’m sorry. I thought you should know that the rebels have been informed of your visit here yesterday.”
“You son-of-a-bitch.”
“No, it wasn’t by me. I told you, many people want what you have. I’m afraid it was my assistant who turned you in.”
Roland moved to the window and pulled the curtain back. “I think I have company.”
“Yes, that would be my men. Listen, Roland, just go with them and everything will be fine. You have to trust me.”
Roland’s heart raced with anger. “Trust you? Your assistant turned me in to the rebels, you sent your own men after me, and you want my trust?”
“Listen to me, if you don’t come back, I won’t be able to help you. Please, stop being so pig-headed and acting like an old fool.”
Roland watched the men from the window as they moved from hut to hut. “Why, Charlie?”
“Because you’re my friend, and it matters to me what happens to you.”
“No, I mean why did you change sides? What could make you turn against your own country?”
Simpson’s voice came through the phone weak, and tired. “I haven’t changed sides.”
“Then you should have helped me.”
“Come back to the Embassy. We’ll work this out.”
“Nothing left to work out. I no longer have the notebook. I’ve sent it some place safe from the likes of you.” Simpson’s silence made Roland smile. “What’s wrong, Simpson? A little curve ball in your plans?”
“Roland, what have you done? You must tell me where you’ve sent the book.”
Roland chuckled at his victory. “No need to worry, ‘ole boy. It’ll get where it needs to now.”
“Listen to me. Wherever you’ve sent it, to whoever you sent it to, you’ve put them in grave danger. The people I’m dealing with - they’re well funded and have resources. They’ll find you, and they’ll track the book. Tell me now. Where have you sent it?”
Roland’s gut wrenched. He disconnected the call and stared out the window at the chaos in the camp. His thoughts raced and his heart sank at the thought of what he’d done. Danielle’s life was in danger, and it was his fault. He had to make it right. He flipped open his cell phone and dialed the only person he knew could help.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My book The Consequential Element is nearly ready for release! I'd like to share the Prologue with you. Next week I'll post Chapter 1 and the following week will be Chapter 2. Enjoy! And please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Really - I want to know and would appreciate your feedback tremendously. Thanks.


he'd been rescued. That's what they said. Only she didn't feel rescued; she felt captured.

Danielle sat in the middle of the organized chaos, a thick military blanket held tight around her shoulders. They landed in the clearing of the Safe Zone in Congolese territory only minutes before. She watched through the open sides of the chopper as Congolese troops and U.S. military men shouted to each other over the rhythmic sound of the helicopter. The tall, dry, sun-burnt grass resisted violently against the strong winds blowing down upon it from the slow turning blades.

“Keep this chopper running; be ready to move out on my orders,” said a tall soldier with up and down stripes on his sleeve.

Danielle looked past the chaos into the deep jungle that surrounded the clearing. The new sun had risen and its bright rays cast down through a cloud; she imagined them shining directly over what was once her village. Was this Allah’s will?

“You’ll be all right, Miss,” a soldier said, and knelt before her. He helped her from the chopper and waived to a man in camouflage with red crosses emblazoned on white bands around his arms. The medic ran to them and ducked as he approached.

“Miss,” he yelled, “are you hurt? Can you walk?” asked the medic.

Danielle couldn’t speak.

The medic took her arm and led her toward a large, white, open-sided tent. “Miss, I’m going to examine you to be sure you’re all right. Do you understand?”

Again, Danielle was silent. His words left his mouth in English, but her mind distorted them. Nothing made sense to her. Why did they do this? As the medic placed the stethoscope on her heart she thought, you won't find anything there. He helped her on a table and began his intrusion.

Men in green camouflage and others in solid black moved about in rapid sequence, carrying out orders from a man with the name "Bull" taped to the front of his helmet. He pointed toward Danielle and two soldiers turned and headed in her direction. They passed by her tent and jumped into a black military jeep. She overheard them as they pulled away:

"Poor kid looks pretty fucked up."

"Yeah, three years as a prisoner with those assholes'll do that to ya."

Three years? Has it really only been three years? I'm only seventeen?

These were the men who attacked her village. They’d called out her name and killed her fellow soldiers - these were the men who claimed to save her.

She looked up at the medic’s face – he couldn’t be much older than her, maybe eighteen or nineteen. He nodded and smiled. She didn’t smile back.

Close to her right, inside another large tent stuffed with radios and communication equipment, Zulu sat watching her, a green blanket draped around his shoulders. Another medic held a stethoscope to his chest.

A jeep sped from around the corner and Danielle saw two men in the front and one in the back. The passenger was dressed as a civilian. She eyed him carefully while her thoughts confused her. He was familiar, yet not. A part of her wanted to run to him, a part of her wanted to run from him.

She looked back at Zulu who limped his way through the chaos and stood before her, but did not speak. She moved off the table and locked her eyes to his, helpless to stop them from filling with tears. Her comrade - her friend - why did he betray her?

Someone grasped her shoulders from behind and spun her around.

“Danni! Oh my God, Danni,” the man said, and pulled her close in a bear hug before releasing her at arms length.

Danielle looked up and examined his face. Her mind reeled with confusion. Why did she feel for this man? What did she feel for him?

“Danni, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I tried to get you out of there from the very first day.”

He stared into her eyes and she could almost hear his thoughts. His thumb traced the long scar from her jaw down her neck. His once neatly trimmed beard was now bushy and white, his gray/black hair had thinned and receded back on his forehead, but his eyes – the dark handsome eyes that had once laughed and danced – remained. He was…familiar; he was…safe.

“Uncle Roland,” she whispered.

A smile curved his mouth but tears filled his eyes. “Yes, yes, my dear,” he said, and pulled her to his chest.

"Monsieur Dupre, thank you for rescuing me," said Zulu.

"No son, it is I who thank you," Roland said. "You are a very brave young man. My friend Bull told me if it wasn’t for you they may have never found Danni. He told me how you risked your life when you pulled her from that hut. If it wasn't for you, this rescue would never have been possible. You saved my niece's life, and for that I will always be grateful. Your mother would be proud."

“My mother…”

“Yes, son. I’m sorry. She was a good woman and a good friend. My sister, Danni’s mother, loved her very much.”

“They’re dead,” Danielle said, without emotion.

Both men looked at her.

“You’re dead,” she said to Roland. “You are a ghost. He told me you were dead.”

“No, I’m not dead. He lied to you,” Roland said. "Danni, my dear. You're going to be all right now. I promise you." He pulled her close and hugged her. She stood rigid in his arms, numb with confusion. Her head rested on his chest, and she noticed her pale hand against his black uniform. She was touching him - the man she had dreamed of saving her all those many nights long ago – the man Obasanji said was dead. But now he seemed alien to her. These were not her people – he was not her people - not anymore.

Her people were back in the rebel camp in the mountain forest. Her guardian was Obasanji; she belonged to him. Images raced through her mind. Did he live? She’d seen his angry eyes when these men ran her from the camp. He’d pointed his AK-47 at them - at her - and fired, yelling wildly. And then she was in the deep, dark jungle forced to run with the American soldiers to a waiting chopper. But did he live?

Bull came up behind them. "Dupre, you need to be ready to pull out in ten minutes."

Roland nodded. As Bull turned Roland placed a hand on his shoulder. “Thank you.”

Bull smiled at Danielle. “Well worth it my friend. Well worth it.”

“How can I ever…”

Bull held up his hand. “Not another word. You saved my ass in Nam. It took all these years, but now we’re even.” He smiled, patted Roland on the shoulder and ran off toward the chopper.

Zulu placed a hand on Danielle's shoulder and looked at Roland.

"Five minutes," Roland said.

Danielle watched her uncle jog off toward the camp and then faced Zulu.

"Danni, listen to me. You are safe now. You are with your uncle. He loves you and will care for you. You will be all right."

"Why, Zulu? Why did you betray us? Why did you turn your back on your brothers and sisters - your comrades?" She wasn’t angry, her love for him went too deep for anger, but she needed to understand.

"I did not betray you. You do not belong here. You are not a rebel soldier anymore than I am. That is not who we are. We are not murderers, Danni. We were prisoners, and we did what we had to so we could survive."

Danielle watched the dark clouds roll over his eyes. She knew his pain, she’d lived it. But her mind would not allow her to betray her comrades, even with words. "You're wrong."

"No, I am not."

“He’ll kill us.”

“No, he cannot harm you any longer. You will be safe now.” His eyes cleared and he smiled down at her.

“And you?”

“I will be fine. I am going to return to my people in Botswana. I will be okay.”

"Our mothers’ spirits are here, I can't leave her."

"No, Bano, they are not here. Their spirits live in us, here," he said, and pressed his palm to her chest. "They will forever be with us. They goes where we go now. You must leave this place. Leave and never come back. If you do, you will die."

"And you? How do I leave you? I would have died without you with me these past three years. You’re all I have." Danielle grabbed his arm and moved in close to him. "Come with me, Zulu. Please, I know they'll let you."

"I cannot. I need to return to my village. My people will be happy with my return. I'm sorry, Bano. Please know that my heart goes with you."

Danielle stepped back. "Bano - you call me Bano - your princess - but you don't care.
You will let me leave."

She saw Roland nod and tap his watch.

"Danni, we cannot speak any longer. They are ready for you. You must promise me you will never return," Zulu said.


"Promise me."

"I hate you!"

"Yes, now promise me."

Danielle looked at the helicopter and the men waiting to take her away. She squared her shoulders and turned toward Zulu. She took a step closer to him and stared up into his dark eyes. The eyes she had learned to read, to love, that had given her comfort for three years. Now they said good-bye. Tears fell and her voice cracked, but she spoke with anger. "I promise you, I will never return."

Roland approached and tapped her arm. “We need to go.”

Danielle stared at Zulu a moment longer silently praying he would change his mind.

“Danielle, we have to go…”

She turned and ran to the helicopter, away from her uncle – away from him. A soldier pulled her inside and her uncle climbed in a moment later.

Roland took her hand in his and looked at her, but her eyes were fixed out the open door, locked on Zulu.

“I’m sorry, Danni. Please try to understand. Perhaps one day…”

Her uncle’s voice trailed off as the chopper’s blades spun into motion. She could not pull her eyes from Zulu. The chopper slowly lifted and she watched as the last piece of her soul ripped away - until nothing remained of Danielle Montgomery.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Michael Crichton said... “Books aren’t written- they’re rewritten.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” 

I like this quote by Michael Crichton. Especially since I can relate so well. Can you? Hmm, I thought so.

I just finished the revision process of my novel... or did I? Is it ever really done? I think not.

Let me share with you the process I used, and what it taught me on my journey through this often torturous, yet necessary venture.

First, even if you use a computer, I would suggest that you print a hard copy of your manuscript. It will be easier to see and flip through, and will give you a fresh impression of your work. After making any major changes to your work you should reprint that section so that you will have a clean copy when you finally go through it from beginning to end. Next, I made a simple list:

- Review your characters: do they seem alive to you? What do you like about them? Hate about them? Do you think you understand them? Does your MC change throughout the story evenly and sufficiently or is it abrupt and trivial? Be very careful here with the development of your characters. If you can't relate to them as real individuals, then either will your reader.

- Do the same thing with your antagonist: ask yourself questions like is he supposed to be morally bad or just badly behaved? Does he enjoy behaving badly to people? Is he an element of his upbringing or just a 'bad seed'? Form villain or villains as carefully as you would your protagonist. The reader needs to be able to relate with him - hating him or loving him - but relating no less. Try to make sure your villain has some redeeming qualities - charming, interesting, possesses a certain charisma. He must have some traits that entice his victims to him.

- Don't forget your minor characters. Their development needs must be met with careful precision as well. They are your supporting 'actors' and will help your protagonist and antagonist through their adventure.

- Review the conflict between your protagonist and antagonist. Is it credible?

- Check your scenes: yes, each and every scene must be checked. What is your most memorable scene? How about your least favorite? What makes them that way? If you don't like a scene, if it doesn't move the story forward, if it doesn't contain any action, then you most likely will want to cut it. But if doing so removes some piece of information that you feel the reader needs, you may need to find some other way of conveying that information in the existing scene.

Note: I've found it helpful to walk away from my novel for a week or more and return with 'fresh eyes'. The scenes are easier to review for the true usefulness in my novel.

- Now check the motivation of your writing. Are the main actions motivated to the best of your ability? Remember, motivation either has to be planted ahead of time, or provoked by circumstance. You want to make sure the writing is credible and not the hand of the author at work. Your reader is intelligent. Don't underestimate them. They may be tolerable of much and willing to suspend disbelief more readily for a fast-paced, action packed scene, but they know... they always know.

- Now... ready? Now you begin from page 1 and move on through your novel, but not as a writer. You need to read each word, each line, look at each scene, as if you were the reader and the editor. Read critically. Utilize your margins, or better yet, a separate notebook where you can make careful and precise notes about certain scenes, characters, words, etc.

- Work toward tightening your manuscript. Now is the time get rid of those adjectives and adverbs, unnecessary words, bad scenes, unworkable characters.

- Look at your between scenes material. Chances are it is unnecessary. Your book should be written in present tense through dialogue and action. Back story should be avoided whenever possible. 

- Watch your POVs. Make sure you know which character's view you're supposed to be in throughout a chapter. Of course, you can switch POVs per scene, but this is not something you should do unless you are a master at writing. It can easily become confusing to the reader.

- Shh.. don't speak. I mean you - the author. During revision you should be reading something that draws you into the story where you become part of the game. You don't want to hear the author jump in and start telling you about the story - you want to live it. Just as your reader does. Be careful not to let 'author intrusion' tarnish your work.

- Is the intensity of the characters - stress, tension - enough to keep the reader moving forward? Is your reader sitting at the edge of their seat, or holding their breath, or perhaps saying a silent prayer for your characters? I hope so.

- Review your sentences to be sure you know who is talking. It may be something as easy as where you place your tag. Place the tag at the beginning of the sentence unless you are certain of who is talking. You don't want to pull the reader out of the story trying to figure out who is saying what and when.

- Read your sentences carefully. Do they sound right they way they're written? What would they sound like if you changed them around a bit? Play with them. You'll be surprised how different things can sound just by moving a few words around.

- Be careful of 'purple prose' or flowery speech. Unless your novel is meant to be written this way, change or eliminate writing that is over the top: "The cry of the tortured soul swept away on the tail of the midnight wind..." Um, get my meaning?

- Review your dialogue. If your character is speaking in complete and proper sentences - change it. Have you used enough dialogue? Dialogue makes the scenes come alive. Make sure you add interjections throughout so that it isn't all dialogue. Keep the image of the scene in the reader's mind. Have someone sip a coffee, light a cigarette, cough, get up and stroll across the room... something, some action.

- Speaking dialogue, did you use anything other than 'he said, she said'? If so, now is the time to go back and remove all the "he muttered", "she screamed", "he yelled", and replace them with "he said" or "she said".

- Now go and make all the revisions you've noted and come up with a clean manuscript. Think you're done. Your not! ha ha ha Nope. You need to let it sit another few days while you completely get your mind off it. Go work on a new book, or a short story, or an article for a magazine - anything that will get you away from your masterpiece. After several days... yep, you guessed it... do another revision from start to finish.

NOW you should be somewhat satisfied. NOW you can pat yourself on your back for a job well done. NOW you can send it to the editor... for more changes. :)

A bit longer than my usual blogs, but I feel there is quite a bit of information here for anyone interested in revisions. If I've left anything out, please leave a comment and let us know. We're all here to help one another. 

Until next time, all my wishes for your success!