Anthology Book Launch Party for California Screamin’

Join me as editor of the anthology and contributors E.S. Magill, Jean Graham, Aaron Smith, Richard W. Goldsmith, and Billy San Juan at this festive pre-Halloween Launch Party to celebrate the publication of California Screamin’. Come early for champagne, cake, and other holiday goodies. Anthology contributors will discuss the anthology and read spell-binding snippets of […]

California Screamin’

California Screamin’ California. Close your eyes and say it: California. Images of perpetual sunshine, swaying palm trees, and blue waters lapping at sandy beaches. That one word conjures visions of gold and fame, luring dreamers to its mythic shores. The original peoples lived in an abundant paradise. The Spanish found a familiarity to their homeland. […]

Gender presentation in Stephen King’s Carrie

Stephen King’s novel, Carrie, is an epistolary novel whose form has the tendency to confuse and disorient the reader. While King’s book was quite popular and successful enough to warrant several film adaptations, it is a bit of a shallow representation of the female psyche, represented by the slew of bitchy teenage high school girls […]

The Forgotten

Forgotten  (As Script Supervisor) In development by Bagboy Productions and Street Artist Pictures Set in a therapist’s office, a tormented man reluctantly opens up about his abandonment issues deriving from his Greek biological father, reflecting on his addictions, anger and near death experience. Based on true events. Winner: Best Experimental Short   Best Experimental Short […]

Does Syntax In Dialogue Set a Genre Apart?

Should we consider linguistics and English composition when creating dialogue in fiction? How does syntax function within fictional dialogue and set a genre apart? In How English Works: A Lingusitic Introduction, Adams and Curzan state that we use “intuition” (169) to decipher the meanings of sentences and determine whether a sentence is structured correctly. For […]

To Describe Your Main Character or Not: That is the Question…

When writing a story, your goal is to paint such a vivid word picture that your readers will be able to see and experience everything on the page as they read it. Your goal, then, is to paint as many vivid images as possible. To do that, you have to describe settings, characters, sights, sounds, […]

The Three POVs You’re Most Likely to Use

So, you’ve drawn up a complex character sheet, prepared a full outline with all the plot twists and surprise reveals, and have everything ready to write that future best-selling novel. But before you can write the clever opening line of your book, you have to decide on one important thing: the Point of View. Point […]

The Query Letter

The query letter is usually the first thing that is seen by an editor, and unless the query is polished and stands out above the rest of the slush pile, it may be the only thing seen before your letter is tossed to the “rejected” stack after the first paragraph. The opening of your letter sets […]

Titles for your Novel

So you’re finally finished writing it – the thing that has taken up all of your free time for the past two years (or more), the monkey on your back that wouldn’t let you sleep, that had you pulling out your pen and paper while on vacation with your family because The Idea came to […]

Should you define your character’s age?

Is it important for an author to tell the age of his characters? Or should you leave it up to the mind of the reader? Well, there are mixed answers on this, but for the most part I believe some indication of age should be given, especially in longer works such as novels. A writer […]

Word Count

I received a question over the weekend regarding Microsoft Word’s word count tool versus to the manual page x 250 word formula when submitting to publishers, and which is more accurate. Since I have gotten this question multiple times over the past year, it seems prudent to post something here. …He [my agent] gave a […]

The Driving Force: Characters

People go to the movies for the characters. Pretty elementary, right? Oh, sure, you have the occasional viewer who just wants to see what your digitized Tyrannosaurus Rex looks like up close, but for the most part, people go to the movies because movies tell a story, and stories are about characters. It doesn’t matter […]

The Art of the Short Story 

I’ve been thinking a lot about short stories lately, and thought I’d share some of those thoughts here. On paper, short stories look like they should be easy—they’re short, after all. They probably don’t require all the intricate plotting and thought of novels…right? It’s a common misconception that the short story is easy to craft. […]

Clothes Make the Character

“Clothes make the man,” Mark Twain once declared. “Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Last week, we talked about audiences tuning in to movies and television to see characters. Unless you’re making a very specific type of movie that Mark Twain certainly wouldn’t approve of, your characters will most likely be clothed […]

Questions about Plot

Rejection is never fun. I know, I’ve been there. With the thousands of manuscripts out in the mail and the hundreds more sitting piled on an editor’s desk, your submission must stand out immediately above the gargantuan slush-pile in order to be considered. While a fine-tuned query letter is just the first step to catching […]

A Lesson on Tense

Alright, I’m going to take a moment here and go back to high school English, and spell out a quick lesson on the difference between different tenses and the importance of sticking to just one throughout your book. Why? Because it’s annoying when a writer starts out talking about what a character did, and then suddenly […]

The Real Hero

One important thing to remember when creating your main character–which in most cases (though not all) turns out to be the hero–is that they need to be real. What I mean is creating a character that is believable, despite all of the amazing–if not fictional–acts and accomplishments they achieve over the course of the novel. […]

Dialogue as Setting 

On paper, dialogue is the most important part of the filmmaking. Listening to characters talking—to each other, to themselves, to their pet rooster—is the easiest way to convey information, plot development, and humor. You can pull off all of the above without fancy camerawork, CGI, or the need for stunt doubles. Dialogue—along with sound effects […]

Active vs. Passive Voice 

One thing editors frequently get after writers about is the use of active vs. passive voice. Everyone faces this critique at times: “Make this sentence more active, will you? It should be snappier,” or “Passive voice bogs down the narrative.” But what exactly is passive voice, and how should you avoid it? First, let’s clear […]

Performance Anxiety 

The Ins and Outs of Sex Scenes Ah, the sex scene. Is any other aspect of writing so adored and reviled? There’s entire contests devoted to good and bad sex in fiction. Writers eternally hope their own scenes wind up in the former and not the latter. Sex scenes are tricky on their best days. […]

When to Research vs. Wing It 

One of the pitfalls of writing fiction is that moment where you wonder if you actually know what you’re talking about. Maybe you’re working on a piece that involves a rare disease, or your main character needs to be promoted to a higher rank in his Roman legion. Do you stop and look up the […]

Old is New Again

  Oh, the things you discover during spring cleaning. I’ve always felt that old stories never really die—they just disappear, waiting for the right time for their creator to pick them up again. Sometimes you just have to give up on a project for whatever reason—time constraints, loss of passion, family emergencies—and then they end […]

Tips on Editing Your Manuscript

Proofreading Proofreading should be done after you’ve completed the manuscript. When you’re writing, you want to just get your story down on paper. Let the words flow as they come to you, worry about editing later. When you do get to the editing stage, don’t get upset or worried if sentences, paragraphs, or even scenes […]

Summer’s Coming 

Actually, depending on how warm it is (or if your child is out of school yet), it might feel like summer is already here. We’ve had some warm days and some cool days, and I think it’s still officially spring, but finally—finally—summer is right around the bend instead of months away. I’m excited. There’s just […]

Spring Beginnings 

Spring is just around the corner—March 20, to be exact. Spring has always been the season of new beginnings and fresh starts; you’ll notice I have a new logo on top of the page, and I’m exploring a number of new projects. Thus, for this blog entry, I’m going to talk about beginnings. The beginning […]

Experiment in Background Noise 

I’m sure most writers know the feeling: you’re sitting at your computer, listening to a song on YouTube, and then…it hits you. Your ears are still listening to the music, but your brain has dropped everything and is constructing a scene around what you’re hearing. It might be a love scene, a battle scene, or […]

Halloween is Coming 

October is here. Are you ready? One of the best things about October (besides the candy, of course) is the influx of scary stuff it brings with it. It’s a big month for scary movies, the obligatory scary episodes of Halloween shows, and horror novels. Why not, right? In honor of this most spook-tacular holiday, […]