Saturday, 29 October 2016

10 Books You Should Read Again Now That You're All Grown Up


Nothing standing out in the best seller list for you these days? Does the Hot & New section at the bookstore look kind of dull?

Then I suggest you step in your own
Tardis and revisit your teen favorites from long—or in my case, long, long ago.


1. Forever by Judy Blume

Holy crap! A book with sex scenes. I remember being totally blown away by Michael and Kathy's relationship and was devastated with Kathy's choice. Now, of course I'm digging the ending like a grave yard worker on a double shift.


2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag's world scared the bee-Jesus out of me and was completely depressing. I recently discovered it makes a great companion to a pumpkin spice latte.




3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

A perfectly creepy read ruined by homework questions like: Who was your favorite character and why? This time around I found reading without a looming book report was so much more enjoyable. For the record, my favorite character was Simon because he seemed like good boyfriend material. I didn't write that, but that's the truth.


4. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

This book felt mysterious and sacred when I read it as a teenager. But now that I have children, I wasn't surprised my focus went from Anne to her parents, especially her father who ends up being the only survivor. How he must have felt reading her words, knowing he'd never hear her voice again.


5. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Yes, we're all still a bunch of phonies. Poor Holden. I totally get him now.


6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Plucky orphan + red hair + nemesis that grows into love interest = epic read


7. Nancy Drew by a bunch of writers who went by the name of Carolyn Keene

Any book from the original series. I can't say enough about a girl who wears white gloves and knows how to change a tire on her blue convertible. And don't forget the wonderful sweets by Hannah.

8. Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan

Lois breaks all the rules for YA. Both parents are alive, the protagonist already has a great boyfriend and none of her friends are into 80's music or fashion designers. She creates tension the old fashioned way, by throwing the main character into a completely unnatural situation and watching her squirm. It's a psychological thriller at its best!

This is the cover, though! I remember staying up late, too scared to sleep.




9. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

No explanation is needed. Just go read it again. Then watch the movie because of Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.


10. The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Two precocious runaways secretly living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Sign me up! Great book to read aloud to your kids, too.



What are some of your old time favorites?

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Novel Spotlight MIND WAVES


MIND WAVES

RELEASED: OCT. 7, 2016




If he can control her mind…


Government operative David Jenkins is skilled at controlling his emotions. Feelings are lethal when your job is to infiltrate minds, erase and implant thoughts, and guard the nation’s intellectual capital. But even he can’t fight his strange attraction to Grace Woznisky. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from a madman intent on possessing both their minds. Neither suspect their dangerous enemy has a larger motive, and David may be Grace’s only chance for survival.



Can he control her heart?


All freelance artist Grace wants is steady-paying work and to see her flighty sister to the altar. But after David offers her a job, she finds herself in the middle of a mental tug of war—one that has her reeling from nightmares and fighting for her life. She must decide: Are her growing feelings for her new boss authentic, or is she a victim of his mind-altering abilities?



A short excerpt is available here --> http://wp.me/P6dMeM-12.


AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT THESE RETAILERS

Mind Waves can be purchased as an ebook and in paperback at any of these locations:



·         The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2bR06aC

·         Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bPR62X

·         Kobo: http://bit.ly/2bAG3No

·         Nook: http://bit.ly/2c78i4y

·         iTunes: https://itun.es/us/ce0Feb.l

·         All Romance: http://bit.ly/2czOydp

·        Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/2ciKHR3

·         Google Play: http://bit.ly/2dph4Aq



Awards & Honors






ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Amanda Uhl has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was "born" into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master's degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she's not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visit her online at www.amandauhl.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandauhlauthor or Twitter at @AuAuthor


Amanda Uhl will be participating in a blog hop (The Snarkology) along with 77 other authors starting on Oct. 26 and running through Oct. 31. As part of that, she's raffling off one free e-copy of Mind Waves.

Blog Hop -- http://www.thesnarkology.com/snarkology-halloween-hop-oct-26-31st/



GET IN TOUCH






Monday, 24 October 2016

BOO! Dress Up As These Literary Villains For Hallween


Looking for a costume to help you stand out? Search no further.

Here's a list of the top eight scariest literary characters you can be for Halloween. Skipping, of course, the obvious Dracula and Frankenstein choices...


1. Dolores Umbridge from
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All you need to wear is a pink wool suit and an expression of sweetness hidden behind pure evil.
harrypotterwikia.com

2. Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist. Toss on a ratty blazer, an ascot with a beer stain, a woolly top hat, grow out three days worth of beard and you're all set. Throw in a cocky accent for good measure.
celebritiesindisgrace.wordpress.com

3. Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Easy-peasy costume; half white and half black. What? You don't think a cartoon character is nasty enough? She makes clothing from the skin of cute little puppies. Enough said.
jlcauvinon.com

4. Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs. The straight jacket may make it tough to hold a drink, but I'm sure a straw will fit through the face mask.
                                                                         
5. Annie Wilkes from Misery. Flowered peasant dress with deep pockets and a sledge hammer. FYI, this costume works best if you're actually Kathy Bates.
                                                 
                       

6. Voldemort from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Tape down your nose, shave your head, and grow out your fingernails.

                                                                          

7. Pennywise from It. A creepy clown with sharp teeth is guaranteed a scream or two. Please don't show up at my house dressed like this.
                                                                            

8. White Witch from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Dress all in white and don't smile, a few icicles in your hair wouldn't hurt either. Make sure to carry a tin of Turkish delight.
                                                                       

Who are some of your picks for scariest literary characters?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Top 5 Things Downton Abbey Taught Me About Writing


I've been having withdrawal since the finale. But I know I'm not alone. Millions of viewers were captivated with the personal lives of both the aristocrats and the staff at the majestic manor.

And why do we love it so? One word—conflict. Well, yes, and maybe the jewelry, and dresses, and how everyone talks fancy. But, as a writer, I wanted to examine how Julian Fellowes managed to create a huge cast of characters that we embraced so quickly.


Here are the top five things Downton Abbey has taught me about writing.


1. Every character should be either rich, good looking, or in a position of authority.
Mr. Carson, Head Butler
photo credit, townhallblogspot.com


2. The main love interests should despise each other at first, then secretly hide their affection. It also helps if they're never single at the same time.
Mathew and Mary
photo credit, greenbeanqueenteen.com
3. Create a sympathetic character who continuously battles hardships and bad luck, then finally gets what he wants most—only to have that taken away by an unforeseeable complication.

Mr. Bates and Anna
photo credit, austenprose.com
4. One character should be able to say whatever witty insult they please, without suffering any consequences.

Dowager Duchess aka the awesome Maggie Smith
photo credit, harlemlovebirds.com

5. The villain should have a sidekick who is just as deceptive, yet has a concealed capacity for compassion and may not always go along with the plan—especially if they're feeling unappreciated by the villain.


Thomas and Miss O'Brien
photo credit, guardian.co.uk

And here's the bonus...

When in doubt, add a dinner scene.


Norman Rockwell...almost
photo credit, lindaraxa.blogspot.com
Who's your favorite character on Downton?




Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Top 5 Methods To Help You Reach Your Word Count

You have an idea. Great!
You get the laptop ready. Great!
You write the first three sentences. And man oh man, they are awesome. Great!

Then you stare at the monitor for the next half hour trying to decide if that comma should be a semicolon.




Does this look familiar?
photo credit inboundpro.ne

Come on!

The world is waiting for your super fantastic story. Hurry up!I know...I know, easier said than done. But don't despair, follow these tips and soon you'll be on your way to penning the next War and Peace.




The phone book, not exactly as shown
photo credit
bookguide.ca


                            
      Top Five Methods To Help You Reach Your Word Count



1. No Internet! You're reading this because you were on Twitter, which means you're not writing. How's that working for you? If you need to do research, save it for later, it's too tempting to pop over and see what's new on Pinterest. Seriously, get off line.

2. Set a reasonable word count for each writing session. You want to set yourself up for success, not failure. The feeling of accomplishment will fuel your motivation for the next goal. Start small then gradually increase the word count.

3. Reward yourself each time you reach a goal. Preferably something that will get you moving or at least outside. Like say...a walk to the candy store. And if you don't live near a candy store, that's really sad.

4. Tell someone about your goal. Accountability increases your chances of following through. Lots of writers use twitter to give word count updates on their latest WIP. This helps motivate other authors as well.

5. Get unplugged. If you know your laptop only has a battery life of one hour, you'll write faster. No really, you will.

Now go set the world on fire with your awesomeness. I can't wait to read your book!

Do you have any tips for reaching your word count?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Novel Spotlight, ISLAND ENCOUNTER



Welcome! Novel spotlight is a new feature where I shine a little love on some upcoming romance novels; some with steamy elements, some on the more 'let your imagination fill in the blanks' variety.

Today's feature is ISLAND ENCOUNTER, an erotic romance  by Samantha Gentry.




He wants revenge. She wants peace.


BLURB:

He wants revenge. She wants peace.

A man with the wealth and power to make things happen, Flynn Ormond is about to see his decade-long quest for revenge fulfilled. But then he stumbles onto a bikini-clad beauty sunbathing on his deserted beach. He wants her, and he's accustomed to getting what he wants. However, she's a distraction he can't afford, not at all what she seems, and stands against everything he believes is right.

Traci Meredith has a long term plan of her own, to confront the man responsible for the death of her parents and finally move on with her life. But when sun-kissed god of a caretaker wanders into her life one sunny morning, she lets more than the tropical paradise seduce her from her goal. Then she discovers the truth of his identity and the length he'll go to for justice. Can she lure him from destruction's grip or will the fingers of the past hold on tight?


EXCERPT:

She carefully measured her words. “You seem to know a lot about his personal life. Does the island owner require that type of personal information about the people who use the conference facilities?”

He propped his body up on one elbow facing her. “And do you always follow sex with accusations and an interrogation? I think any concerns you have about me or my character would be more appropriately addressed before sex.”

Even though the gleam in his eyes and mischievous grin said he was teasing, she couldn’t stop herself from throwing his own words back to him. “That doesn’t really answer my question, does it?”

His expression turned serious. “The answer to your question is no, the island owner does not require extensive background checks on those who wish to rent the facilities. Usually nothing beyond the normal credit check unless the potential client has a reputation for destructive behavior such as the case with certain celebrities. Now, to repeat my question. Do you always follow sex with an interrogation? Take a beautiful and incredible interaction and put a damper on it?”

A nervous jitter told her she had pushed her concerns too far. She forced a smile. “We seem to have veered off into some sort of a strange direction.”

“Yes…you have. Would I get a straight answer from you if I asked why?” He furrowed his brow in a moment of confusion. “Is there something about you being here that I need to know? And before you take offense, let me clarify. By here, I mean at this conference rather than here in my bed. I consider our being in my bed a personal matter based on mutual attraction and having nothing to do with the outside world.”

She took a deep breath in an attempt to steady her tensed nerves. “Well, we do agree on that.” Her defensiveness quickly gave way to feelings of guilt over misleading him. “I apologize if I’ve given you the wrong impression. It’s just that…well, I’m not accustomed to hopping in bed with a man I’ve only known a few hours. Or more accurately, one I don’t know at all and only encountered for a few minutes earlier today. I guess I allowed my insecurities to show.”

His turquoise eyes seemed to delve into the very essence of her psyche. As if she had no will of her own, she felt herself being drawn into his mesmerizing aura. Her mind clouded and her body once again ached for his touch. “Maybe I’m just experiencing the equivalent of morning after jitters.”

He drew her closer. “Let’s see if I can calm them for you.”


What a tease! But don't despair, you can have the whole story right now.
ISLAND ENCOUNTER is available from The Wilder Roses, the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Rose Press.

And other online vendors

Additional excerpts and information available on Samantha's website www.samanthagentry.com



Thursday, 13 October 2016

You Know You're A Writer When...


1. You have the ability to carry on a conversation while secretly day dreaming about your characters.

2. When you're alone, you sometimes have arguments with your characters when they insist on the plot going the WRONG way.

3. When you see a gorgeous dress in a magazine, you picture your MC wearing it for her BIG DATE.


photo credit stylehive.com

4. You talk about your characters like they're real people.

5. You choose writing instead of sleeping—every time.

6. Just for kicks, you search
Google for your title, to see if anyone else has a book by that name.

7. When you see a guy at your local coffee shop who looks exactly like your novel's heart-throb, it totally freaks you out.



photo credit charlotteminty.blogspot.com



8. You dream about owning a huge library with one of those sliding ladders.

9. You obsess over
commas for long periods of time. You also like to make terrible puns.

10. You find typos in everything you read.


Do any of these sound familiar? What are your writer quirks?


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Plot Your Novel in 15 Sentences




With NaNoWriMo breathing down our necks almost here, get a leg up with this 15 sentence break down using the Blake Snyder beat sheet. And because I love examples, I've used Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.




1. Opening Image (a normal day in the life of your protagonist)Ten year old, Harry Potter lives with his spiteful Aunt and Uncle, and abusive cousin. He is repeatedly reminded how lucky he is to have a roof over his head, despite the fact his parents had the audacity to get killed in a car accident when he was an infant.

2. Theme stated (what the story is REALLY about)Harry frees the snake from the zoo just by talking to it, but this isn't the first time weird things have happened around Harry. Never experiencing any comfort  from his adoptive relations when these 'weird things' would happen, Harry often feels unwanted and shunned for being different.

3. Set-up (the bump in the normal life that foreshadows the catalyst)
Harry keeps receiving letters from Hogwarts that his Uncle refuses to let him open.


Post!
photo credit, blueroomblog.com

4. Catalyst (the inciting incident)Hagrid arrives and surprises Harry with the true nature of his parent's death at the hands of an evil wizard name Lord Voldemort, and as a young wizard, he's due to start his magical education at Hogwarts.5. Debate (main character has a struggle with inner question; should tie in with theme)Harry fears that he will not fit in at Hogwarts, having never been exposed to magic. The huge legacy left by his parent's death is a curse as he tries to live up to everyone's expectations.

6. Break into two (protagonist must make a proactive decision)During the sorting hat ceremony, Harry chooses to be in Gryffindor as opposed to Slytherin; the first stand he has ever made for himself, and a sign that he can control his own destiny.

NOT Slytherin!
photo credit, article.wn.com

7. B story (usual a romance or behind the scenes conflict that will rear it's head in the finale)Harry learns that The Philosophers Stone was stolen from Gringotts the day he and Hagrid were there. After Draco tricks Harry into a midnight duel, he discovers a trap door guarded by a three headed dog.

8. The Promise of the Premise (This is when the main character explores the new world and the audience is entertained; the heart of the book)Quidditch! Harry is a natural seeker and gets admiration from his classmates. When Hagrid gives him some information by mistake, he matches wits with Ron and Hermione to find out what's hidden under the trapdoor.

9. Midpoint (This is when everything is “great” or “awful”. The stakes are raised higher when another complication is thrown in the path of your protagonist)Having never been given proper presents from the Dursley's, Harry has the best Christmas ever at Hogwarts, and receives an invisibility cloak, which enables him to sneak around looking for more clues about the trapdoor. Instead, he finds 'the mirror of erised' which shows him with his parents. Harry soon becomes obsessed and forgets about his real friends, choosing to spend all his time looking into the glass. 

10. Bad guys close in (Doubt, fear, and enemies, gang up to defeat the main character’s goal; the "great”/“awful” situation disintegrates.)After eavesdropping on Snape threatening Professor Quirrell, and a nasty leg bite from a particular three headed dog, Harry is convinced that Snape is trying to steal the Philosophers Stone.

11. All is Lost – The moment that the main character realizes they’ve lost everything they gained, or everything they now have has no meaning. Something or someone dies. It can be physical or emotional, but the death of something old makes way for something new to be born.
While serving detention in the forbidden forest, Harry witnesses the murder of a unicorn and is saved by Firenze, one of the centaurs, who foretells that Lord Voldemort will once again rise to power. Harry realizes that the man who murdered his parents will be coming for him next. This is the first time Harry sees the evil that can exist in this new magical world.

photo credit, album.aufeminin.com

12. Dark Night of the Soul – The main character hits bottom. Grieving the "death" of their—dream? goal? mentor character? love of their life? etc. But it is in this darkest moment when they have their epiphany...Fearing that Snape is going to steal the Philosophers Stone to make the elixir of life for Lord Voldemort, Harry goes to Dumbledore only to find he's been called away. Knowing none of the other professors will believe him, Harry feels powerless and must put his own life on the line to try and stop Snape.

13. Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three) – Thanks to a fresh idea, new inspiration, or last-minute advice from the B Story (usually the love interest), the main character chooses to try again.After Ron is beaten unconscious at chess, and Hermione figures out the complicated wizard riddle, Harry is the only one who can move forward to the last chamber. With only a first year's knowledge of magic, he must face Shape alone. But Hermione reminds him that he IS a wizard, and the only chance they have at stopping Snape.

 
14. Finale – This time around, the main character incorporates the Theme – the nugget of truth that now makes sense to them – into their fight for the goal because they have experience from the A Story and context from the B Story.
Harry discovers Professor Quirrell is trying to steal the stone for Lord Voldemort, not Snape. Knowing his parents died saving him, Harry feels an overhwelming connection to them and believes in the power of their love. With his previous knowledge, Harry defeats Quirrell (and Lord Voldemort) by using the mirror of erised.


Uh-oh. Don't look under the turban.
photo credit, agataviscomwrodpress.com


15. Final Image – opposite of Opening Image, proving, visually, that a change has occurred within the character.Harry recuperates and realizes the friend's he's made at Hogwarts are like a real family to him, and that he is no longer alone. Hagrid gives him an album of his parents to remind him of where he came from and where he really belongs.

I hope this helps your writing. Now go tackle that novel like a champ!

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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Seven Characters That Will Strengthen Your Story

This is a great tool for outlining a new idea, but I mostly find its real worth when I'm revising. During this phase of writing I need to add meat to the bones of the story. I want to make sure the characters stay true, but this exercise also helps me tweak out something unexpected from them.

The Protagonist:

The character whose goal and transformation drives the story.



Needs to be likable. Show the reader the redeeming qualities as soon as you can.

Needs to be in trouble. What does she want and why can't she get it.

Needs to have a weakness. Primarily it should be her weakness that is her downfall. Whatever she fears the most should be the thing she needs to overcome at the end.

Needs to sacrifice something to get what she wants. She'll risk pursuit of a goal that she feels has a greater significance than her own comfort zone. Show how she changes/learns/grows through this transformation. In the end, she'll have to battle obstacles that would have stopped her at the beginning of the story.



The Antagonist:
The character whose goal drives the conflict and push the protagonist toward transformation.



Needs to have motives that make their ambitions opposite to those of the protagonist. Why are they in competition with the protagonist?

Needs to make sense. They can't be evil for evil's sake. Give them their own story arc. After all, the villain thinks they are the hero of the story.

Needs to be interesting, mysterious, and a little stronger than your protagonist.

Needs to go after goals in a way that sets up obstacles for protagonist to overcome, the more entertaining and extreme, the better.

Needs to have own transformation. Do they become a better person or do they get more desperate?


A Foil:

A character used to reflect and illuminate specific aspects of the progtagonist's strengths and weaknesses.




Needs to serve as an example or voice of reason through the story. Helps protagonist learn essential lesson.

Needs to be contrast to protagonist's logic.

Should have own character arc throughout story, but more behind the scenes than on the page.



A Threshold Guardian:

Someone who likes things the way they are and opposes the protagonist when she wants to change the situation.





Can be an ally of either the protagonist or the antagonist, or a completely neutral party.

Should be introduced to the reader before the turning point of the story.

Should add conflict to the B story by testing the protagonist or antagonist by pushing them to solve their problem by making discoveries or creating conflict by their actions.

Helps propel the story forward by either helping or hindering the protagonist.

May be come a mentor by the end.



A Mentor:

Someone in the story who give the protagonist answers, tools, or advice she needs to achieve her transformation or reach her goal.





Similar to the foil, but has a direct influence on helping the protagonist win past the threshold guardian.

Provides help to the protagonist based on respect or love or kindness. Through their actions, protagonist makes choices that lead to their change/growth.

May have a story arc of her own. Could be a
foil who has fallen on hard times and resurrects for one last stand against the antagonist. Or she may be the foil who can't be brave enough when it comes to the showdown.
    A Minion:

    An agent of the antagonist or someone who wants the same thing as the antagonist does.




    May oppose the protagonist for different reason, but assists the antagonist to help reach their goal as they share same desire to see protagonist fail.

    Unlike a mentor, the minion is motivated to help antagonist by greed or hate.


    A Ficelle:

    A character who helps you avoid infodump but may create worse problems.



    Has same motives as protagonist, but doesn't have the same obstacles.

    Is useful for discovering information through dialogue or action that will help add detail or clues about the story without baring all the responsibility on the protagonists story line.

    Is the most effective when they are introduced in a way that will be brought back and tied in to the story resolution.

    How do you outline your list of characters? Who else would you include?
     

    Saturday, 1 October 2016

    Top 5 Worst Fictional Boyfriends


    There's nothing better than discovering a new book with a wonderful character to swoon over. I even made a list of fictional boys I wished were real.

    However, some fellas are best left on the page.

    Here are my picks for the top five worst fictional boyfriends.


    #1. Edward Cullen

    Your date will consist of him piggy backing you through the forest while he constantly reminds you that he's fighting the urge to eat your intestines. Sure, he's refined, well read, and likes classical music, but seriously... he's in love with your blood type, not you.

    
    notenoughnerds.com

    #2. Holden Caulfield

    Poor Holden. Growing up is tough, but dating a guy who is fighting puberty will make for poor conversation and awkward flirting at Starbucks.

    #3. Draco Malfoy

    I get the bad boy attraction and the whole badass "my dad's a Death Eater" thing, but the dude can't even perform a simple spell to help you fight the baddies. And let's be clear, if you hang out with Draco you'll need to have gotten OWL's on your defence against the dark arts.

    #4. Christian Grey

    Call me old fashioned, but ropes and chains are meant for winter driving emergencies—not first dates. Sorry, I don't get the attraction... like at all.

    #5. George Wickham

    An English accent and a regimental uniform can make a girl's knees turn to water. However, beware because this officer is NOT a gentleman. He'll be selfish and aloof with your feelings. Plus he's so cheap, he'll lie about forgetting his wallet, and make you pay for the date.



    BONUS!!!  Heathcliff

    Yes, just Heathcliff. A guy with only one name should be warning enough. You'll hope that his cruelty is the manifestation of his frustrated love for you, and that his brutish behavior is a guise, hiding the hero underneath. But...no. He's just mean.


    Can you think of anymore bad boys?

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