#MondayBlog The Rules of Writing?

The Rules of Writing banner


Don’t use prologues.

Don’t write multiple points of view.

Don’t write in the first person.

Don’t write in present tense.

Don’t write in passive voice.

Don’t head-hop.

Don’t use adverbs.

Show don’t tell.

Sound familiar? These are just a handful of the Rules of Writing. There are more. Many. Many more.

But no need to fear—rules are good things created in part to establish order and organization, maintain quality and maximum outcomes, and define best practices.

They’re also made to be broken.

I’m not saying anyone should write Rebel across their forehead and pen a prologue filled with adverbs. I’m saying you need to know when to break the rules, and moderation is always key.

If you want to include a prologue, go ahead. Prologues can be effective, giving just enough details to set-up the story and prime readers. They should never be info-dumps, burdening readers with information they’re supposed to carry and remember throughout the book.  That’s what plots are for and story details should be shared and shown to readers as the story unfolds.

If your prologue is full of plot points, skip it.

The debate over POVs (points of view) will never end. Some prefer one POV—the protagonist, while others feel the protagonist and the antagonist should be heard from. Still, in genres like romance, POVs of the hero and heroine are popular.

But, it’s the writer who gets to decide the POV of their story, and it should be compelling, always moving the story forward.

A writer once lamented she struggled halfway through her first draft before she realized she had the wrong character telling the story. With a different character’s POV, the story flowed, and in her words, “made so much more sense.”

Multiple POVs can be troublesome and too often lead to head-hopping—multiple POVs in the same scene or chapter.

And that will open up a brand new can of worms.

Some say never, ever, ever hop heads. It’s confusing to the readers and weakens the story.

The opposing teams say it can be done as long as the reader is cued in such a way to know the POV is about to change.

And again, from books and blogs I’ve read and chats I’ve sat in on, head-hopping appears to occur often and be acceptable in the romance genre.

Case in point—author Nora Roberts is a notorious head-hopper who sells books in the millions. Anyone complaining about her books being confusing?

In the end, the issue of head-hopping is between writers and their editors, because they don’t care for it and will point it out.

If you didn’t know any better (like me) or drifted into head-hopping by mistake, correct it and move on.

If it was intentional, be prepared for a fight. You’re not Nora Roberts.

Speaking of famous authors, Stephen King says, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” so don’t use them… ever, and who’s going to argue with Stephen King?

Well, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer might. And William Golding definitely would… while waving his Nobel Prize for literature in your face.

I believe most writers will agree adverbs weaken writing. You can prove it to yourself by writing a paragraph laced with adverbs like, quickly, silently, suddenly, really, and only. Then write the same paragraph replacing adverbs with strong active verbs. There’s no question the second paragraph will be clearer and more compelling… and less exhausting.

Yes, adverbs are considered weak words, but all words have power if used correctly. Books like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Twilight Saga, and Lord of the Flies are still leaving bookstore shelves—adverbs and all.

Again, the problem with the Rules of Writing is all too often you don’t know you’re breaking them until you do. So, it’s in any writer’s best interest to make learning an active part of their writing journey. We’ll never know it all, but it’s better to know when you’re breaking the rules… so you can high-five your inner rebel and enjoy it.

#MondayBlog Humor in Suspense

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Do you know someone who’s serious all the time?

You know the type you tell a joke or a funny story then they feel compelled to break it down, analyze it and explain the rationale?

Yeah, those people.

Author E. B. White once said, “Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”

My older brother was like that from the ages of twenty-five to forty.

Everything was a debate, discussion, or monologue. Even when I believed a conversation was over, he’d come back with more supporting facts or data. It was exhausting being around him.

We had seven other siblings, and when the rest of us were busy with the shenanigans and tomfoolery, big brother was always the ice-cold bucket of water tossed on the fun. We called him “The Pope” and no, we’re not Catholic.

I was a member of the wedding party when he got married at twenty-five (to a woman with a great sense of humor). Then he moved to the east coast, I moved to the west coast, and we met up at our parents’ once a year in the Midwest.

It worked.

I’m not sure what caused it, but something happened as he approached forty which made him dust off the dull and polish up his sense of humor. Suddenly, he found the humor in even the most morose situations.

We all exhaled and sighed in relief. Even our mom and he’s her favorite.

Life is serious.

But life is also funny, and it’s the humor that gets us through the serious, bad times.

Humor diffuses situations and lightens moments, and in those moments we often find clarity.

Humor is different things to different people. One person might dissolve into a fit of laughter over a joke or humorous situation while another might say, “I don’t get it.” The opportunity for humor was there even if it didn’t work for everyone.

It’s the same way with books.

No two people read the same book. We’re all different, so, we approach books with different mindsets. Two people can love the same book but for different reasons. A person can love a book so much they want the entire human race to read it while another can hate it with a passion intense as ten flaming suns. They want to burn the book, bury the ashes, salt the ground, and never speak of it again.

People are funny that way.

But most can agree a book must contain certain things to hold their interest, make them care, and inspire them to read on.

Developed characters with personalities – they don’t have to be liked (it helps) but readers should be on their side.

Conflict – and it should be believable

Pacing – the story cannot drag but readers don’t want to be rushed through scenes either.

A developed storyline or plot – what makes the reader care?

Satisfying conclusion or HEA – aliens are defeated, the world is saved, good guy gets the girl.

For me, there also must be humor.

I’m not referring to laugh-out-loud, thigh-slapping humor, although in some genres like Romantic Comedy, that’s what is expected.

Rhetoric or hyperbole can be used to create humor, or the irony of the current situation can be humorous but it needs to be in the story because it’s real.

The fun-loving, loyal sidekick takes a bullet for the story’s protagonist. During his death scene, he motions for his buddy to lean in close and whispers, “You know I was supposed to be off today, right?”

He still dies, it’s still sad, but it’s not depressing.

Who reads to get depressed?

In the midst of serial crimes, brutal beatings, and missing persons, I will find a way to insert humor.

Because art imitates life.

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

George Bernard Shaw


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#MondayBlog CampNaNo Update

Monday Blog bannerIt’s July which means CampNaNoWriMo participants are off and writing!

And NaNoWriMo organizers have made it even easier to participate by offering different options to measure progress.

Don’t want to measure in word counts? Try hours or pages.

Don’t want to write a novel? Try blog posts, poetry or drabbles.  Even screenwriting is easier.

Authors/ writers have sprinted, plotted, pantsed, and stressed to get here. To be in the moment.

I didn’t do any of those things, but it’s already been established I have my own set of unique issues.

Beginning the process is not the problem.

Typing The End? Still working on that superpower.

I’m not starting from scratch for this writing challenge, but continuing on with the results of another writing challenge.

Stay with me.Sins of the Mother cover3

On March18th I posted a mystery and suspense flash piece for the #52weeks52stories challenge.

Twelve weeks later I was still adding to the, um…flash piece. All forty-four-thousand words of it.

Go ahead and laugh because I haven’t stopped laughing. This could be a bad sign too.

Seriously though, it’s not as though I didn’t do any planning.

I changed the title, even though it may be temporary. What was The Devil You Know is now Sins of the Mother and I made a working cover just for CampNaNoWriMo!

See? Progress!

Scene layoutI also have the first act completed.

That wasn’t any. I had to let a psychopath attack a seventy-four-year-old woman.

I’m sure I’ll pay for that somewhere down the line.

To finish on time (July 31st) I only need to add nine hundred (900) words a day to my existing WIP,  and on day one I added sixteen-hundred (1600).

The current story has a full cast–spouses and their adult children, the villian and his family, neighbors, police detectives and a coroner. There is absolutely no space for another character.

But I’ll bet one shows up. They always do.

Why Some Book Reviews Are Annoying #MondayBlog

Book Stack

When it comes to book reviews, authors and readers must contend with fake reviews, bought-and-paid-for-reviews, the I-didn’t-read-this-book-but-I know-I’ll-hate-it reviews, and of course, author-bashing reviews.

These taint a book’s review history and it can be difficult for the genuine reader who includes reviews in their book-purchase decisions to know what to believe.

However, the ‘review’ which annoys me the most is the response to a review, or as I call them, the review’s review… and it goes something like this.

A reader leaves this review:

It was an ‘ok’ read but not what I expected. Jill (the heroine) whined like a child for most of the story. Jack (the hero) couldn’t open his mouth without F-bombs falling out.

I have no problem with profanity or sex, but that’s all this book was. Where was the plot?

This just didn’t work for me.


And the response:

How old are you, 12? People swear, they scr*w. Grow up! Romance is different things for us all. Did you miss the part where Jack and Jill stopped scr*wing around and became a couple? Maybe you should download samples first, so your delicate sensibilities aren’t offended, and you won’t leave crappy reviews like you did hurting a book and the author.


This is a paraphrasing of an actual review—and it’s one of the nicer ones.

And it pissed me off.

The first reader is called juvenile, overly sensitive and accused of bashing because she didn’t think the book was the best piece of literature written since time began.

Who made the second reader the Review Police?

We have all been there. Someone gives a book we loved a 1-star review.

We’re like “Wait, what? Are you serious?”

Or we read the book drowning in 5-star reviews and think we were given the wrong book.

“5-stars? THIS? Really? I can’t find enough good in it to give three stars.”

But that’s how it goes, and we’re adults and understand no two people read the same book. No harm. No foul.

The review-reviewers, depending on which side of the book they’re standing, want everyone to love or hate a book… end of story.

That’s not their call, but they win quite a bit of the time.


Think about it.

How many times have you finished a book and your first thought is, “Ugh! Talk about a 2-star read.” But you either didn’t leave a review or changed it to a 3-star (and wrote ‘3.5’ at the beginning of the review) because you didn’t want to be attacked by the masses, make waves, or be singled out.

We can find a question about reviews every week on blogs, websites, Facebook, and Twitter, asking how readers rate reviews. A popular response is if three stars can’t be given, no review is left. Keep in mind that some readers (and most definitely, authors) consider a 3-star review an insult too.

So, what can you do?

Not much you can do except keep being you. Don’t let the possibility of what someone else may do or say affect YOUR review.

Good or not so good, authors need reviews. And, people who read and use reviews to make book purchases need HONEST reviews. Those could run the gamut from “I loved this book so much I want it placed in my casket when I die,” to “I wish I could unread what I just read.”

You don’t have to please the review-reviewers. You don’t even have to please the author. You simply need to know you gave the book the review you felt it deserved… in your opinion.

Because in the end, isn’t that all reviews are… personal opinions?

Keep reading and keep reviewing!

Have a great week!

East coast U.S. – stay warm!

West coast U.S. and desert states – stay cool!

My One Takeaway From NaNoWriMo #MondayBlog

NaNo winner banner

Another NaNoWriMo is behind me.

Did I learn anything? Were there any takeaways?

Oh, sure. Planning is good. Plotting can be a friend… even to a pantser like me.

Maybe only character-driven writers will understand this, but all the planning and prepping in the world still guarantees you nothing.

I was plodding right along, words flowing like a cool stream, when all of a sudden, my beloved protagonist looks around with the malevolent grin of a serial killer and dumps a plot twist in my lap. (We’re still not speaking.)

Okaaaay. Now what?

I went with it.

The scene I was writing looked nothing like the one I sketched out six weeks ago. But, hey. Words were flowing… from somewhere, so I kept writing—and making notes.

I gave a cursory glance to my journal every morning, wondering if the completed scene would resemble what I’d planned in any way.

It didn’t.

But, I stayed with it, because that is the point of NaNoWriMo. Get the words out of your head and on paper…fifty-thousand of them at least.

I reached the halfway mark and wondered if Hemingway ever struggled like this. Then I realized he drank… and a glass of wine doesn’t sound bad. But should I drink it or give it to my protagonist?

Nah. I’m still not happy with her… the wine is mine.

After one glass of Sweet Red, I understand why Hemingway drank!

It gets you out of your own way. The wall of doubt and fountain of inhibitions fall and you write like you’re on fire.

Or maybe that was just me.

No, I’m not advocating drinking while writing. Our liver is our friend and unlike plots, we can’t get a new one with every manuscript.

But, a writer writes because they have to. It is a deep-seeded need that can only be fulfilled by putting words on paper. Anything else is unacceptable.

If you get hit with a dose of writer’s block, get out of your way. The characters didn’t change and the words remain the same. The problem is you.

Remember why you write.

Remember the freedom you feel.

Remember the sense of accomplishment you feel regardless of if it’s five, five hundred, or five-thousand words you leave on the paper.

It took me a couple of years to “get it” but the NaNoWriMo rule of no editing makes perfect sense. It makes me get out of my own way to just write. Of course, by doing so, I’m also giving my characters free reign, but that’s a completely different blog post.

I’ve spent the first three days of December making notes and moving things around in my MS, however, I’m putting it away until after the holidays. But sometime in January, I’ll have to decipher all those red squiggly lines and double blue lines, and wonder if I was typing in alien code.

And there may or may not be wine involved, because… Hemingway.


What is Successful Blogging? #MondayBlog

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We live it.

We breathe it.

We write blogs about blogging.  Ahem!

We write blogs about not blogging.

We blog the how-to and the why.

We blog the if and the then.

We blog the funny, the ironic and the sarcastic.

We blog the sad, the tragic, and the devastating.

We blog the journeys, the pathways, and the epiphanies.

We blog for money, attention, and fame.

We blog to connect and know we’re not alone.

We rant, vent, posit, and postulate.

We ponder, wonder, and extoll.

We link, sync, and hotspot … so we’re always able to blog.

We announce when we’re unplugging and going off-the-grid

Because we want it known we’ll be back … to blog.

We have blog parties, blog hops, and blog meet-n-greets

So, we can meet more people to blog to.

On those rare occasions when we have conversations with real people not behind a blog we ask, “Do you blog?” and offer up our blog address.

Experts/consultants are adamant that you’re not a serious *Insert your profession of choice here* if you don’t have a blog.

We put hours into planning ‘the right’ blog posts with attention-getting headlines and appealing graphics … because we take blogging seriously.

And after we blog …

We become the man behind-the-curtain checking Likes, views, and comments.

Search engine referrals are up and links are being clicked.

Blogging is a success!

But… is blogging its own reward?

What is the payoff?

Product moved?

New subscribers to the mailing list?

Increase in page views/daily blog visitors?

New friendships and collaborations?

More Likes?

More Follows?


What is blogging to you and how do you know if/when you’re successful at it?



5 Things Bloggers Should Remember When Hosting Book Tours #MondayBlog

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In my last two #MondayBlog posts, I posted five things book promotion services and authors should remember when planning/running book tours. The week – it’s bloggers’ turn.

Regardless of where you post—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or an Internet blog—you’re a blogger. When you join book tours… you’re a tour host. Authors can write books and services can plan tours, but without motivated tour hosts to help get the word out… nothing happens… it doesn’t work!

Bloggers host tour events for a variety of reasons, including the love of books and reading, supporting authors, and blog content.

Five things bloggers should remember are:

  1. Know what you’re signing up for. What type of tour is it? Is it DIY or will HTML be provided? Is it just a promo post? Is reviewing an option or mandatory? Is sharing the post expected?  If you are not sure- ASK QUESTIONS before signing up.
  2. If you sign up – be proactive! Add the event to your calendar. Set a reminder alert. Start a draft copy with the date of the tour. Do not just sign up and forget about the event. Problems arise with authors and services… and the blogger is the last to know. Be prepared.
  3. Publicize! Authors and services blog about upcoming tours and include the info in newsletters – bloggers should too! Promotional posts only work when they are seen. Some bloggers do post calendars, but publicizing could be as simple as a post at the beginning of the week on upcoming events for that week. You’re not just promoting the tour, author, or service, you’re promoting YOU!
  4. If reviewing, only review books you are interested in! Reviews are only beneficial when reviews are posted, but some of the worst reviews have been written by tour hosts who had no interest in the promoted book… and said so in their review! Reading diverse books and/or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone are two things everyone should try, but a review tour is not the time to start. Do not be badgered by services or lured by contests, giveaways, or simply a free book.
  5. Tag your posts and Moderate your comments. When hosting a tour, bloggers should strongly consider tagging the author or the service… or both! It’s the quickest, easiest way to guide them to your post, and hopefully, they will leave comments. Acknowledge commenters on your blog post! Even when they leave questions for the author, like their comment and thank them for stopping by. You are a tour host… so be open, amiable, and approachable. This will encourage visitors to return and enjoy your site content even when you’re not hosting a tour.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to book tours. There is experience… and some have more than others, but no two tours are the same—even if they’re for the same author.

However, even experience is worthless if there isn’t real communication among all team members, and yes, it is a team. All team members are equally important and should be treated as such. Forget the ‘form letter’ emails and plastic posts in Facebook groups.

Authors + promotion services + bloggers collaborating and working together will always lead to a successful book promotion. If communication fails… so will the event.




5 Things Authors Should Remember When Planning a Book Tour #MondayBlog

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Book promotion services provide a wide range of services to authors including promotional tours for cover reveals, new releases, and blog tours. Many also offer publishing support features for indie authors like manuscript editing, book formatting, cover design, and book reviews. These are invaluable services to any author which may not necessarily sell books, but go a long way in garnering name recognition for an author and help build the author platform.

When it works.

Recently, a group of authors shared their most recent experiences with promotion services. The emails went from humorous to frustrated to angry quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Not all their complaints were the fault of promotions services. Authors have to be held accountable also.

I’ve been on all sides of promotions—as a blogger, a service provider, and an author and last week, I posted five things for promotion services to remember—this week, it’s the author’s turn.

Authors, when planning a book tour of any type;

Do your homework! Most services have FAQs—read them! Granted, some are more detailed than others, but this simply means you need to ask questions.

Does the service have a wide reach? Many services boast blogger listings of 200, 400, even 800 or more. This is usually followed by a disclaimer stating there is no guarantee on how many bloggers will sign up for the tour. Pay attention.

Where are these bloggers? Facebook? Blogspot? Tumblr? WordPress? Will HTML be provided to tour hosts? Is everything DIY? Does the author receive the tour post too? Does the author receive a copy of all participating blogs?

Are Rafflecopters/giveaways included? Can the author create and include a giveaway?

Make no assumptions and have no expectations of items not discussed. This means you need to…

Get a clear understanding! What exactly are you getting? Most services include tour banners, but do they also have original icons, buttons and/or section dividers? Can you include your logo? Does your tour allow for a synopsis/blurb AND an excerpt? A playlist? Are URLs simply typed out or linked to object or titles?

These things may seem minor weeks before a tour begins, but getting the details agreed upon and confirmed will strengthen business relationships and lead to successful promotions.

Be prepared! Ideally, you have a media kit complete with book covers, buy links, blurbs, excerpts, author bio/photo, and social media links, right?

If only.

With the time involved for services to build tours, you may have to book a date even before you’ve finished the book.

But this thing begins and ends with you… and now the clock is ticking. Promo services need as much info as possible from authors to build an event which is appealing to bloggers/readers, so before you book a tour date, make sure you have a timeline for items not yet completed and share it with the service in advance so all parties know what to expect.

Regardless of the items still waiting to be received from editors, cover designers, etc., send the promo service everything you already have.

Follow up! The most repeated comment I’ve heard from authors regarding their upcoming tours was “I haven’t heard from them” when speaking about the service. What are you waiting for – contact them!

Best practices! Whether you’re elated or less than thrilled after a tour, document it and share it with the service.

Was the excerpt too long? Blurb not detailed enough? Did the tour run over a weekend? Should it have? Were you tagged in blogger posts? Did you confirm you would be? Were links broken and never fixed? Were reviews posted in a timely manner? Did YOU stop by blogs and comment? Respond to comments?

Promo tours may not always sell books, but they’re great for getting an author and their work in front of new readers. Authors should remember regardless of whom they hire, it’s the author who’s ultimately responsible for how they’re promoted to the public.


Next week: 5 Things Bloggers Should Do When Hosting Book Tours


The First Writing App? #MondayBlog

Writing Helmet


The Isolator is a bizarre helmet invented in 1925 which was used to help increase focus and concentration by rendering the wearer deaf, piping them full of oxygen, and limiting their vision to a tiny horizontal slit. The Isolator was invented by Hugo Gernsback, editor of Science and Invention magazine, member of “The American Physical Society,” and one of the pioneers of science fiction

The Isolator

Science and Invention Mag


So! Who wants one?


Images from Pinterest.