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Find Your Author's Voice And Don't Let It Go

Hello, readers! I just wanted to let you know that this will be another short post. For this, I am sorry. I would really like to get back to giving more detailed writing craft tips with examples, but I've been so busy with wedding planning, college starting, and of course, finishing my work in progress.

Today, I'd love to talk about voice. Unlike what the cartoon suggests, your author voice is not spoken aloud. It is what makes your novel unique. Our influences contribute at least 50%, but what carries your words is actually YOU. There are exercises you could use to help you along, if you still don't think your author's voice is developed enough. No matter what you choose to do in any situation, just be yourself.
Isn't this what I preach all along?

Here are some helpful tips on establishing your voice as an author:
-Write poetry.
-Transcribe conversations you can overhear in public places.
-Copy a couple of pages from a scene by a writer you most admire.
-Write a lot!
-Use music (or whatever else gets your creative juices flowing) to get the words out.
-Know your characters. (Remember the interview I did with the hero from To Love An Irishman, Ciaran O'Devlin?)
-Learn how to self-edit.
(For more information on author voice, please visit this site: Finding Your Voice)


Remember, these tips are intended to help you. Every one has their own method for success. Would you like to share your way of discovering your author's voice? I'd love to hear it in a comment! 


As always, thank you so much for reading.



Happy writing!
Diva J.
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Show Me Your Ways

In a time when actions don't speak louder than words, we tend to overlook many important reasons why description is so important to our existence. Of course, our thoughts portray so much more than what we say. Now a days people prefer electronic communication (phone, email, etc.) instead of writing a letter. Although, I'm not going to go into the history of written correspondence, I will tell you that we are not as challenged as we were then. Now all it takes is a laugh or a smiley face to know someone is happy.

Click on the picture to watch a quick writing lesson!
Today, I watched a silent movie. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) to be exact. I think watching these types of movies are great for actors and writers a like. Not only are you required to read something on screen, but it's really hard to be a terrible performer when you don't have dialogue to back you up. Without it, you know exactly what the actor is thinking and feeling through their...you guessed right...actions!

My favorite ways to SHOW are:
-Through dialogue.
-Through setting or character description.
-Through using all five senses.

My favorite ways to TELL are:
-Transitions through scenes.
-Interspersed back story.
-Through dialogue.

The great thing about dialogue is that you could use it for both telling and showing. In a sense, writing a narrative is telling a story, but don't bore the reader. Remember, we want our characters to be memorable. Show your readers their world.

Thank you for reading! How do you use show vs. tell in your novels?






Happy writing!
Diva J.
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To Be Or Not To Be Continued...

Since we all read last week how I write with passion, now you have a chance to learn how I add spice to my novel.  Yes, I call suspense/conflict the flavor ingredients, because they are integral parts of your book's recipe. We all know the four parts of a book: The set-up, the response, the attack (I call it rising action!), and the resolution. For movies with three acts, the response and the attack are combined, and this second act is called the confrontation. (You could read more about this on Storyfix.)

I love reading and learning my craft. Writing romance is so exhilarating, but sometimes I like to research another genre so I could improve my own writing and add a little flavor. I think when you look outside the box, you experience another perspective you might not have noticed before. In my most recent works, you'll notice how I sprinkle just enough suspense in to keep my readers interested.

Here are 5 ways you can add suspense in your novel:

Probably one of the most iconic suspense tactics.
1) Use time to your advantage. When I say time, I'm not talking about how long it takes you to write. What I mean is utilize the time in the story for the benefit of the reader. A protagonist shouldn't succeed at his goal in the specific time-frame you gave him, because if he did accomplish the goal, the story would be over. In my work in progress, The Earl's Son, Lord William has less than 24 hours to reach London in order to get his son back from his captor. If he achieved that goal in the beginning of the book, I would have to come up with something else to keep the reader interested. Which means more work for the writer. Just let the story work for you instead. That makes more sense, right?
2) Raise the stakes and keep them high. Life gives us good/bad consequences no matter if we make wrong or right decisions. This also works for your hero/heroine. Without a crisis, or something causing them not to reach their goal, our books would be boring indeed. This is one of my favorite ways to add suspense, because in a way you as the writer are calling the shots. In my novel, there is a carriage crash, a fist-fight, a carriage chase, and a shooting to name a few instances where the tension is raised, but the plot is slowed down when this happens thus causing a complication. Don't hold back on your writing, readers could tell the difference.
3) Include many complications. I know stakes could count as complications, but don't confuse them with the pointy, wooden weapons we use on vampires! Use your antagonist to the greatest advantage. Not only is time against your hero/heroine, but the choices he or she made can create a dilemma. Ex: Alex grinned. All talk, no play, makes the bandits run away. Now that he was free and the woman was favorably shaken, he had two options: Escape, or free her from her controlling brother. From this example we see my hero has a complication. Whether he truly cares about the woman he wanted to free or not, his choice is not going to be easy, because he still has "her controlling brother" (the villain) to overcome first.  
4) Create a memorable villain. Don't make your villain so awful that you'd want him to die off in the first or second chapter. At least, not yet. Drinking, gambling, and bedding wenches is a very mediocre way of describing him in a way where you are disgusted in his habits, but he is worth keeping around. Of course, other genres have different ways of showing their antagonist. Mysteries use a transparent villain to hide who they are until later, while an actual suspense wants you to know who he is right now. I think romance tends to mix the two or at least use either to the greatest advantage in the novel. No matter what you do with the villain, he has to be a worthy enough contender against the hero/heroine. In my work in progress, you find out fairly soon that the antagonist, Oliver Attwood, is the heroine's brother and has a firm dislike for the hero's family. These are givens. Although you know his ties with the hero/heroine, this does not set him apart from anyone else. You learn his intelligence and motivation later on. This makes him memorable. (Don't worry, women can be villains, too!)  
5) Create a memorable hero/heroine. Make sure he or she is believable. Their cause has to be just or at least redeemable by the end of the story. I try to make my characters as real as possible. Every one experiences death in their life, some lost love or heartbreak, and others have a pension for not experiencing the best childhood. Not everyone is born to fame nor walked through life without facing problems. As compassionate human beings, we tend to feel more sorry for those with hurdles to cross over than those who have it easy. After all, they reflect ourselves. My protagonist(s) inadvertently reflect me. From my work in progress, the heroine's, Rosalind's, past is filled with painful memories of loss. She needs to accept the choices she's made, put away her prejudices against men and the aristocracy, and move on with her life. I'm sure we all hope she'll fall in love with Alex and live happily ever after! But that is another given. What really matters is if she overcomes her problems and grows as a person, right?

Most readers care about the characters' journeys above all. We know a romance will end with a happy ending, we know the villain in a mystery will be discovered at the end, etc. The most important part of a story is how they got there.

Of course, mystery and suspense writers will give you more ways and an even broader insight into suspense, because that is what they thrive upon, but these are the ways I incorporate conflict into my romance. Many of the examples I give you are from my current work in progress, The Earl's Son. You may think I'm giving away pertinent information about the plot, but what I'm actually doing is showing you the spices I use for my recipe, not the main ingredients. ^_~ For more suspense topics not covered here and to read someone else's perspective, please visit: Writers Digest: 9 Tricks To Writing Suspense

When you think you can't, you can. When you think you can, you will. Never give up!
Do you use conflict/suspense in your novels? If so, please feel free to share some of your tips with the rest of us. I do love learning new tricks of the trade. :)



Happy writing!
Diva J.
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Shameless Summer Giveaway Hop

red hot books


As you know, summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the sun. When the weather outside is hot, I love to have a nice picnic near a river or lake. I love watching the sun's rays dance off of the water's surface while I eat a sandwich, sip a nice cold beer, and enjoy some fresh-cut watermelon.

The farmers in my novel, To Love An Irishman, are no exception. Sometimes the only great place to cool off is in a nearby river or lake.

She is left with an offer she cannot refuse...

Upon his death in 1823, English nobleman, Lord Peyton leaves his daughter Lady Aveline with two choices—stay single and inherit only a small farm in Ireland, where she might just be able to eke out a living, or get married and live in luxury, inheriting all his wealth and property. Fiercely independent, Aveline heads for Ireland only to run afoul of her father’s farm manager, the devastatingly handsome Ciaran O’'Devlin. Alone in a strange country, Aveline yearns for love and friendship, but Ciaran offers only criticism and disdain. Confused and angered by strange visions and her growing attraction to Ciaran, Aveline is determined to make the farm prosper—despite the insufferable Irishman.

He has a secret he cannot reveal...

Ciaran mistrusts Aveline’s intentions and refuses to admit that a willful, English woman now owns the farm that should have been his. Although he insists Aveline should go back to England, he cannot deny their budding passion. Yet, he knows—even if she doesn’t—that nothing will come of it. Not only can’t a poor Irishman marry an English noblewoman, but when Aveline learns of his past, she’ll want nothing more to do with him. Ciaran has always known that each decision carries a consequence, but it’s only when he stands to lose Aveline that he realizes what a heavy price his past decisions may have.


Thank you so much for stopping by! :)

For a chance to win an e-book copy of To Love An Irishman, leave a comment with your email address below. What is your favorite thing to do over the summer?

EDIT: CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Foretta! Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway hop. :)



Happy writing!
-Diva J.
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The Rules of Writing With Passion

We've all heard of the movie "The Rules of Attraction", right? Although I haven't seen it, I don't really want to because it's college drama. Not really my thing, you know. So in light of the movie's title though, I've developed ways to add more passion into my work in progress. As I stated before, I am an edit-as-you-go writer, which can sometimes harm and help me at the same time. I make revisions during the writing process. Other people tell me I should just finish the novel before revising it, but the problem is I can't let go until it sounds right. I become an insomniac, just ask my fiance, and I literally stay awake late into the night trying to figure out what to fix in my manuscript. Okay, maybe I'm just obsessed, but you get the idea of what I'm talking about. Hopefully, you can relate some way.

When an author tells a story, no matter if they write romance or not, they are doing what makes them happy. At least, I hope you do what you do for good reasons. I mean we can't depend on the money coming in, and who knows how many people will buy your finished product (if/when you get published), but what we do know is how to make what we write the best. I came up with this plan to add more passion into my work when I was reading someone else's book. The emotion on every page was heightened and the character's seemed to connect through the air. I know this sounds crazy, but it is possible for everyone to make their pages sizzle with words.

The rules of passion I use are as follows...
RULE #1: Don't tell the reader what the person is feeling, but show the reader through dialogue, internal monologue, and long descriptive sentences. You'd be surprised how far a little showing goes.
Ex: When Alex looked in her direction, the air around Rosalind turned warm and comforting like a soft blanket.

RULE #2: When describing a setting, add the right adjectives. Don't just heighten a scene, empower it to sound more compelling. 
Ex: Early morning fog swirled about the damp streets of London.

RULE #3: Use a period or pause to your greatest advantage. They aren't just for showing where sentences end. They work to convey ideas, a character's short attention spans, and add a little bit of flavor. Ex: The woman [Rosalind] had been through so much. Maybe more than he [Alex] had. Her strength was tremendous. He reflected on his own life. His sisters' lives. He couldn't imagine them out on the streets...

RULE #4: Don't hold back on your emotions. I've mentioned in an earlier post about how I like to repeat my words out loud to create a natural dialogue or to make sure what I write makes sense. You'd be surprised how much I'm affected by some scenes. I'll cry with my character or seek revenge on the antagonist for hurting her pride. Ex: “I do worry about your welfare, you know.” She didn’t remove her eyes from the window in fear of seeing the anger on his face. “Lurkers hide often in the shadows.”

RULE #5: Begin and end your story with a bang (literally or figuratively). Many published novelists will tell you that in order to hook an editor or agent, your first chapter has to stand out. Allow your first impression to express how much you love what you do. Ex. (from my prologue): The shot rang through Fonthill Abbey like thunder rolling over the hills. The smoking pistol clattered to the floor. William Kendall slumped over.

As you can probably see, anyone can write with passion. Genre does not prejudice against well-written words. Remember this as you write.
(BTW, all writing examples are from my work in progress, The Earl's Son. Enjoy!)
Do you have another rule you'd like to share with everyone? Please feel free to leave a comment below.



Happy writing!
Diva J.
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6 Writing Tips For Success

As writers, we need all the help we can get. The easier the access we have to materials that assist in learning our craft, the better. I love writing advice from other authors, especially best-selling ones like Stephen King or...


Here are John Steinbeck's Writing Tips:

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
I love the motivational tools writers use against writer's block. All this NANOWRIMO and #1khr stuff is just pressure. I'm a big advocate for writing every day. I don't really care how much, just do it!

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
Someone also wrote a book about this. Although, I am a perfectionist, I will admit backtracking to fix every problem in the manuscript is my greatest excuse for not actually writing new material. Sometimes, I use it to get something done when the muse is out to lunch. Flow is something you should treasure when you write. It helps you to keep pace and tell your story. 

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
It's true. I have the worst stage fright ever. I used to sing in chorus when I was in school, but when we performed in front of our audiences everything we learned in the year, I couldn't help but feel an immense trepidation. My knees wobbled, and I couldn't relax. Then I'd focus on my dad. They say in Broadway, in order to avoid butterflies, it is good to focus on a beam in the roof or some object in the far off distance. This works great. To me, my dad was the only one in the audience when I performed and I was able to relax more. I love all my readers, but when I write, I think about one person, so I don't clam up.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
Throughout the writing community, the general rule of thumb is to cut 10% from your novel when you revise. It's more like an average then a rule though. Sometimes, you just can't leave certain things there. In addition to not revising while you write, it's good not to remain riveted on the same scene or section. Especially if already written. You might change your mind when you go back for revision later.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
Okay. This one is very hard for me to follow, but it's happened before. I am a writer with a closet ego. (Aren't we all?) Our work is very special to us. We covet it like junk food sometimes. There are scenes that I cannot simply delete, because they sound so perfect, but I know they have nothing to do with the plot. Writing romance, I tend to write great dialogue between the h/H, but the beautiful admissions of love come at the wrong time in the manuscript or they do not further the story. I've cut plenty of good material, but I always save it (just for kicks) in a separate file called 'deleted scenes'.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
Another tip I take personally. If you were to set up a video camera with sound in my office, you'd record every tantalizing reenactment of my manuscript spoken in my words. I know how my characters feel and interact with each other. I read each dialogue like I'm acting a part in a movie. If they don't sound natural, it's easier to catch the differences this way, and I know how to fix the problem. Even as I write this blog, I'm repeating it out loud.


I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have anymore you'd like to share, please feel free to tell me in a comment below.
Thank you for being a reader.




As always, Happy Writing!
-Diva J.

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