Editing woes…

Wrote a cool creepy scene yesterday that I’m going to cut out today. Probably one of the worst things about writing – I have tens of thousands of words set aside, waiting probably just short of forever to see the light of day.

Creepy old Dr. Rethy with the sickly gray skin and dull dead eyes – I’m sorry but you’re going to have to have a seat in the ‘edit for later’ pile. Don’t eat anyone, please.

Rules for Writing Good Dialogue

I just came across an article that gives 10 rules to writing good dialogue. They’re the pretty standard rules of speech. Be to the point. Have a point. Make your point. Ok, it’s a nice list, but when I read, and I try to do this from time to time, or preview drafts that I’m lucky enough to get a hold of, I have 1 rule.


Can you say it out loud and not sound like an idiot?


You’d be surprised. Take into account who the speaker is, where they live, and when. I tend to read and write present day fiction. I think most writers have at least one character who speaks exactly like them. I know I do. Pop culture, although relevant in 2013, doesn’t help a book’s staying power. Consider the demographic of your reader, focus in on their slang, then pull back. I do use current pop culture slang, but I try to minimize it and try not to let the dialogue get lost in the ‘how’ of the speech.


A few things to take into account:


~ Conversational cursing – I am a huge fan of this practice. I grew up in a military household, harsh language was more common than the Filipino dialect Tagalog my mother spoke. I could proudly curse in two languages by the time I was in the third grade, and people these days do talk with colorful expletives, however…can you say it out loud and not sound like an idiot? Anyone with reasonable intelligence should know better than to use bad language to express themselves. And then there are times when a well placed ‘f-bomb’ is called for – I’m the first person to say that and stand behind it. If you have more than 5 F words on one page, go back and reread the dialogue out loud…then take them all out. Ok, maybe leave 1.


Men curse. A lot. Conversationally. My husband once worked with Combat Controllers in the USAF. They curse constantly. He came home and cursed constantly. Know your character, and if you’re going to go Rated R on that shit, at least use it wisely.


~ Monologues. This was a point from the article linked above. No one talks in long, boring soliloquies. If you’re trying to explain something, it is far easier (and makes more sense) to write it out instead of having your character take up 2 full pages to explain something. Embrace the omnipresent voice. You’re not writing King Lear.


I’m a fan of the quick, broken up dialogue. People never shut up when you’re speaking, so consider it when you’re writing. People interrupt – it’s human nature, so odds are you’re not living up to your character’s personality if they just stand there and spew at the mouth or wait quietly for someone to finish their 30 line dialogue.


I think you can apply my thought process to most any situation.


Marriage – can you say ‘I am married to (insert name here)’ without sounding like an idiot? Come on. Really?


Sex – can you say ‘I had sex with that person and it was good’ without sounding like an idiot? Or without crying?


Your job – can you say ‘I love my job’ without wanting to stab someone in the eye…and sound like an idiot? Legit question, yo.


Dialogue. It’s everything. It carries your story, establishes the scene, and makes a book worthy of being finished. If you can’t say your dialogue out loud without it sounding awkward, wrong, or without sounding like an idiot…then revisit it in future edits. It means everything.



Come find me:  Twitter and Facebook

Character chart for you writers – courtesy of @epiguide

I’ve got more characters in my head than I know what to do with, lately. When I began writing on Sanguine Affliction back in the day, we had our own bio form that fit my needs for a lot of years. Once I started putting all that role playing together, I realized – I had a crap load of people to keep track of. Most of my characters were created back in 2005, and I still forget silly things like first names. I like this form and I think I’ll start using this version.





The EPIGUIDE.COM Character Chart for Fiction Writers
This chart can be found at http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html

Print this page to complete the form for each main character you create. IMPORTANT: Note that all fields are optional and should be used simply as a guide; character charts should inspire you to think about your character in new ways, rather than constrain your writing. Fill in only as much info as you choose. Have fun getting to know your character!

Character’s Full Name: __________________________________  

   Date: ____________________

Name origin:
Nickname, if any (if so, explain its origin – e.g. who created it?):
Does s/he like the nickname?
Birth date:
Place of birth:
Ethnic background:
Degree of religious practice (e.g. orthodox, casual, lapsed)::
Current address:
Does s/he rent or own?
Brief description of home (apartment, house, etc.):


Does s/he live with anyone?
Describe the area in which s/he lives  (city, town, rural, other):


Is this his/her ideal home and location? If not, what would s/he prefer?


Home decor:    Expensive     Inexpensive     Carefully planned     Comfortable     Neat     Cluttered
Does s/he drive? Own a car? (Make, model, color, age, etc.):


Pets?  (If so, what kind/how many/names?)
If so, how important are they? How well are they treated?


Current occupation (include length of time, location, job title):
Job satisfaction (happy, discontent, ambivalent, ambitious…):
Sexuality (e.g. straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, uncertain…):
Marital status:
If married or currently romantically involved, with whom, and for how long?
List any significant previous romantic partners:
For current spouse/partner, what does the character call him/her (pet names, nicknames, etc.)?
How did they meet?




Any children (include names, ages, other parent if different from any current partner):
Describe his/her relationship with children (if any)?


Height: Weight: Body type (thin, athletic, overweight, curvy, muscular, etc.)
Eye color: Need glasses/contacts/hearing aid? Skin tone (pale, ivory, tan, olive, ruddy, brown, etc.):
Face shape (round, oval, chubby, thin, long, square, heart-shaped, etc.:
Any prominent features, freckles/moles/scars/tattoos or other distinguishing marks:
Whom does s/he most look like (e.g. famous person or relative)?
General health (good, excellent, poor…)?
Any current health problems or chronic conditions?


How does s/he dress?

Price:   Expensive     Average     Inexpensive    Cheap

Style:   Haute Couture   Conservative     Trendy     Eclectic    Business     Sexy    Gaudy     Casual     Sloppy

Why does she dress in the above manner (e.g. to be noticed)?



Any special jewelry? (If so, why is it special?)    What about accessories?
Grooming:     Fastidious/Very neat     Average     Clean but scruffy    Dirty/Unkempt

If other than average, why?



Describe hairstyle  (long, short, crewcut, locs, bangs, side-part etc.):


Natural hair texture  (smooth, wavy, curly, etc.):


Current hair texture (if different):
Natural hair color:


Current hair color (if different):


Pace of speech (fast, average, slow?): Voice tone (shrill, high, average, deep, squeaky, hoarse, harsh, authoritative, cultured, etc.):
Accent/dialect, if any: Any favorite/habitual words/phrases? Curse words?
Describe general vocabulary or speech pattern (e.g. educated, precise, pretentious, average, uneducated, vulgar…)

Cool/confident    Volatile     Nervous/shy    Aggressive     Friendly     Remote     Other (describe)


Typical posture:

Stiff     Stands straight but not stiffly     Average, varies with mood     Slumped/defeated      Slouchy, careless

Relaxed     Other (describe)

Gestures:   Rarely     Controlled     When excited    Most of the time     Wildly/oddly     Other (describe)


Common/habitual gestures (e.g. nail-biting, hair patting, drumming fingers, clenched fists, hands in pockets, etc.):


Finances: (prudent/cautious, some debt, lives paycheck to paycheck, deep in debt, criminal activity, etc.):
Personal Habits: Smoking, Drinking, Drugs, Gambling, etc.? Are any of these addictions?
Morning Routine:  Describe the character’s morning rituals. Who else is sleeping in the same bed? What time does he/she wake up? Is he/she cheerful in the morning?  What does he/she do during breakfast-read, watch tv, feed kids, etc.
Afternoon/Workday:  Does s/he work outside the home? How does he/she get there? Is s/he good at this job? What if anything would he/she rather be doing? How long and hard is the work day? If the job isn’t outside the home, what does a typical afternoon consist of?
Dinner:  Does s/he eat at home or go out a lot? What is/are his or her favorite restaurant(s)? Who cooks at home?  Does s/he eat alone?
Evening:  What does your character do on a typical evening? Where? With whom? How much does he/she enjoy it? What is the ideal evening for him or her?
Sleep Habits:  Fall asleep easily, or an insomniac? Any recurring dreams? Sleep soundly, or toss & turn?
Any special talents? Skills?
What is s/he particularly unskilled at?
Any hobbies (sports, games, arts, collecting, etc.)?


Mother’s name (include maiden name if known/applicable):
Current status:  __ living __ deceased   (If alive, enter age: ____ )
Mother’s occupation, if any:
Describe the mother’s relationship with character:
Father’s name:
Current status:  __ living __ deceased   (If alive, enter age: ____ )
Father’s occupation, if any:
Describe the father’s relationship with character:
Any step-parents, foster parents, or birth parents (if not same as above):

(If s/he is adopted, does s/he know? If not, why?)

Sibling(s) (include age and birth order relative to main character):
Relationship(s) with character:
Nieces/Nephews: In-Laws, if any:
Other than the above, who else in the story is part of his/her extended family (e.g.  cousins, etc.)?


Home town (if different from current home):
Was his/her childhood happy? Troubled? Dull?  Does the character remember it accurately?
Earliest memory:
Happiest memory:
Saddest memory:
How much school did s/he attend, if any? Did/does s/he like school? Why or why not?


Most significant childhood event:
Other significant childhood events:
Significant past jobs:
Police record (explain any convictions, sentence served, where/when):
First crush/romantic love?
What was his/her first sexual experience?  Is it a positive or negative memory?


Major illnesses, accidents or traumas? How is s/he still affected, if at all?


Who is his/her best friend?
Who are his/her other close friends?
How in general does the character relate to friends?
… to strangers?
… to spouse/Lover?
… to past spouses/lovers?
… to own children, if any?
… to other family members?
… to the same sex?
… to the opposite sex?
… to children in general?
… to others who are more successful?
… to others who are less successful?
… to boss (if any)?
… to underlings at work?
… to competitors?
… to authority (police, IRS, politicians, attorneys, doctors, etc.)?
What do most people consider his/her most likeable trait?
What do most people consider his/her biggest flaw?
Any secret attractions/crushes?
In romantic relationships, is s/he generally monogamous or uncommitted? (If the latter, is s/he honest w/ partners?)
Is his/her sexual behavior inhibited, average, experimental, or reckless? Has this changed (and if so, why)?
Whom does s/he dislike most, and why?
Whom does s/he like most, and why?
Who’s the most important person in his/her life right now, and why?
Whom does s/he secretly admire (nonromantic), and why?
Who was his/her biggest influence, and why?
Person s/he most misunderstands or misjudges:
Person who most misunderstands or misjudges him or her:
Has s/he lost touch with anyone significant in his/her life? If so, why?
Worst end of a relationship (could be friend, romance, colleague…)?
Whom does s/he most rely on for practical advice?
Whom does s/he most rely on for emotional support?
Whom, if anyone, does s/he support (e.g. advice or emotional support)?


Any psychological issues (e.g. phobias,  depression, paranoia, narcissism, etc.)?
Is s/he an optimist or pessimist?
Meyers Briggs Personality Type (see http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp):
S/he is most comfortable when …  (alone, hanging w/friends, drinking, etc.):
S/he is most uncomfortable when … (in a crowd, alone, speaking in public, etc.):
Is s/he cautious, brave, or reckless in his/her approach to life?
What does s/he most value/prioritize (family, money, success, religion, etc.)?
Whom does s/he really love best?
Whom or what would s/he be willing to die for?
Is s/he generally compassionate or self-involved?
Personal philosophy:
What’s his/her most embarrassing moment?
What is his/her secret wish?
What (or who) is his/her biggest fear?
Any prejudices (race, culture, sexuality, religion, etc.)?
Political party or beliefs, if any:
Does s/he believe in fate or destiny? Is s/he superstitious?
Character’s greatest strength:
Other good characteristics:
Character’s greatest flaw:
Other character flaws:
What are his/her own favorite attributes (both physical and personal)?

What about least favorite?

Are these feelings accurate?
How does s/he think others perceive him or her? (And is this accurate?)
Biggest regret:
Other regrets:
Proudest accomplishment:
Other accomplishments:
Character’s biggest secret(s)? Who else knows (if anyone)?
How does s/he react to a crisis?
What usually causes the problems in his/her life (romance, finances, friends, rivals, colleagues, personality flaws, health, etc.)?
What would s/he most like to change about her-/himself? Why?


Write a paragraph (~100 words) of the character describing him/herself:


Short term goals:
Long term goals:
Does s/he plan to achieve these goals,
or does s/he think they’re unrealistic?
Will others be affected? If so, does s/he care?
What if anything is stopping him/her from achieving these goals?
What event or occurrence does s/he most dread or fear?
What does he/she actively work to gain, keep or protect?  


Which person in his/her life would s/he most want to emulate?
Which person in his/her life would s/he least want to emulate?




Food: Drink: Color:
Book: Film: TV Show:
Music/Song: Sport: Hangout(s):
Motto/Quote: Possession:


Copyright 2004 – 2011 by EPIGUIDE.COM, the Guide to Web Entertainment
This chart may be reprinted as long as above credit is included

Twitter Tips for Authors – guest post

Indie Author News original source


I don’t like Twitter. It’s like spitting into the wind. Ok, maybe not as disgusting, but the reward is pretty much the same. What I don’t get is how there are people out there who follow a kajillion people. Personally I follow more than I’d seriously like.



What does that say…774 following? Honestly, I use twitter to promote my book, which apparently according to this article I’m linking to, I’m not supposed to do that, or to curse vehemently and with great passive aggressiveness. The latter is very relaxing, I must say.


What to tweet and not to tweet (for Authors)

– Do not sell your book!
Nothing annoys your followers more then asking them “Please buy my book”, “Please, read my book”, “Now only 99 cents” etc. Followers are quickly annoyed and will call this ‘shameless’ self-promotion. And you might think the same when reading only these kinds of tweets from people you are following and might decide to not follow these Tweeps anymore.

– Make yourself as Author interesting
Tweet about your writing and the progress of your new book project. Having received an amazing review, award, etc. Share the publishing process, provide tips for others. Share sale success etc. If you make yourself/your book interesting enough  your followers will probably investigate and buying your book and/or reviewing your book. (soft sale)
Let your followers know if your book has been featured, or you’ve done an Interview or a guest-post. Let them know about reading or signings, how to get freebies, etc.

– Get involved in discussions
You’re seeing your followers discussing interesting topics – get involved. Or ask a question to start a conversation.

– Re-tweeting
If you see interesting or helpful tweets from others you’d like to share – RT (Re-Tweet) it to your followers. This helps interesting posts to get a wider audience. Your followers will RT your Tweets as well if they are interesting for them. Don’t ask for RT’s – your followers will re-tweet your tweets if your posts are good (interesting, helpful) enough for a RT.

– Using Hashtags (#)
Use Hashtags – so Tweeps who search for for a category or genre can easier find your tweets, like #thriller #para #ya #WritingTip etc. Don’t overuse them – else tweets can be more difficult to read with to many hashtags.

– Build relationships with other writers
“Thanks for the RT” doesn’t exactly build relationships. If someone retweets your tweet or mentions you, take the extra two minutes to check out their Twitter profile, see what they write, and comment on it in a tweet with a ‘Thank you’ included.
Fellow writers are mostly also readers and are great to have relationships with to share tweets, writing tips, found a beta reader group, etc. Do NOT use these relationships trying to sell them your books. (This can be seen a lot on Twitter)


“- Do not sell your book!
Nothing annoys your followers more then asking them “Please buy my book”, “Please, read my book”, “Now only 99 cents” etc. Followers are quickly annoyed and will call this ‘shameless’ self-promotion. And you might think the same when reading only these kinds of tweets from people you are following and might decide to not follow these Tweeps anymore.”

Then why the hell am I on Twitter, and why doesn’t anyone else take this advice? I’ve removed people/companies that do NOTHING but schlep their books. Multiple posts daily with quotes from reviews (real or imagined, who knows) with links back to their books. At least a half dozen times A DAY. I try to do it maybe once every couple days, but I’m always amazed when people say, “Oh hey, when does your book come out?” or “You wrote a book?”



(This is me. Confused.)

More fun…

– Be honest. Have fun. Don’t try to sell anything.

            Pretty sure this is said at least a dozen times in the article. I get it. I’m annoying.  Sheesh.

– Twitter about stuff that has to do with your blog, but also Twitter stuff that has nothing to do with your blog.

            On occasion I’ll tweet about the F word and how I enjoy sunset pictures. I’m sure that’s fascinating.

– Write each word like it matters, because it does.

             No it doesn’t. This is twitter. Anything I say will be lost in the 1 billion people tweeting about Justin Bieber or Beyonce. Is Beyonce pregnant again? I bet she is.

– Don’t follow more people than you can handle. If you’ve got too much going on, you miss a lot of the good stuff.

              Thank you. That one is gold, but there’s that compunction to follow-back because the person took the time to follow you. Probably didn’t read one single tweet out of the 10s of thousands of tweets other people have put out, but it’s the follow-back thought that counts!

– Stop thinking that twitter is pointless and just try it. It’s all about community, reach out and be a part of it.

               Did I just get reprimanded by an article? I think I did.

– Better to be friendly and positive than negative and critical in your Tweets

                Pfft. This is the internet. I’m pretty sure everyone read the ‘Don’t forget to be a mindless dick face’ memo. I had to sign mine.

Maybe I’m being too negative about Twitter? I suppose it can be helpful. Personally, I’m shocked that the ‘auto Direct-Message’ offense was left out of this one.

– Don’t sign up for one of those ‘automatic Direct Message your new follower, plugging away at your mediocre product’, because that shit is annoying. Don’t DM me. I don’t DM anyone. You DM me, you better have a fully written, 140 character love letter steaming up my inbox, because I have expectations when I get a private message, thank you! DMs. I really dislike them. Like, “Oh I dated him once, I really dislike his ass” dislike.

Just sayin’.

Come find me being passive aggressive on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Post by Shannon @duolit – The Justin Timberlake School of Rocking Your Book Launch

Rocking your book launch


Twitter and Facebook


The Justin Timberlake School of Rocking Your Book Launch

In addition to charming you with his suave style, sweet dance moves, and amazing falsetto melodies, Justin Timberlake can teach you a thing or two about how to rock your book launch.

Teach us, oh master.


For those of you under-the-rock-dwellers, Mr. Timberlake recently released his third album, the 20/20 Experience, and sold 968,000 copies in the first week.

That’s a lot. Even for Justin.

Most of the agencies that project numbers for these sorts of things estimated Justin’s third album in seven years would move about 500,000 copies at best, given the market for music these days. (How many people still buy whole albums when you can grab a single on iTunes?)

So what made the 468,000 copy difference?

Justin Timberlake ROCKED the heck out of his product launch.

What can we learn from the master?

A ton.

I poured over this detailed outline of events leading up to Justin’s launch on March 19, 2013, and used that to put together these 7 ideas we can take and apply to our next book launch.

1. Start early

What Justin did:

After finishing his album in July 2012, Justin got together with his team to begin planning his launch in September 2012 (six months before his release date). By November he had advertising partners lined up for the big event.

What you should do:

Six months might be a little far in advance to plan your launch, but three months is the minimum amount of time I would set aside to get your ducks in a row.

You need plenty of time to set-up a blog tour (your version of Justin’s pre-launch ad blitz) and plan a steady release of exciting content leading up to the big event.

You can still be in final edits with your manuscript during those three months, but by about four to six weeks out you should have a well edited version to send out to your last group of beta readers and reviewers.

2. Set the tone

What Justin did:

In early January 2013, Justin posted a short video to his website announcing his return to the studio. Days later, he released the title of the new project and shared a very earnest letter with fans.

(Take a moment to go and read the letter, I’ll wait!)

That letter is a PERFECTLY crafted piece of marketing copy.

It’s sincere, builds anticipation, but remains vague in any details (notice he did not give any dates or other specifics).

Still, he made his fans feel like he was in their living room, sitting next to them on the couch, making an exciting personal announcement and asking (without asking) you to be happy for him and be a part of the magic to come.

What you should do:

Begin building anticipation with your fans via a direct, sincere message.

Tell them honestly how much work–how much heart and soul–you’ve put into your new novel. Tell them how excited you are to share it and how much you’re looking forward to enveloping them in the fun.

This will set the tone for what’s to come–it’s an exciting, special, unique, original, authentic, and passionate project. It’s not just a book, it’s a piece of work you have carefully crafted just for them (that’s not to sound overdone, but honestly we all put a lot of hard work into our books and it’s okay to say that sometimes).

3. Give them a taste

What Justin did:

A week after sharing his letter, Justin released his first single from the new album.

The timing here is critical. He kept the excitement rolling week-to-week from that letter straight through the launch of his new CD.

In this case, people were still buzzing about his return to the studio when they suddenly got a taste of what Justin had in store.

What you should do:

A single is to an album what an excerpt is to a novel.

(Did you just have a PTSD flashback to your last SAT test?)

Pick an exciting excerpt from your book (it doesn’t have to be the prologue or first chapter) to share with your fans.

This should get their taste buds tingling with anticipation. You want them to be eagerly checking back with your website or social media accounts to find out when there will be more to indulge in.

4. Keep the ball rolling

What Justin did:

Mr. Timberlake spent the entire month of February acting like the sample guy at the grocery store.

(You know you get excited on sample day at the market. Do I want a free, hot tasty cookie? Why yes, yes I do!)

He popped up every few days with a new little cup of goodies for fans to try out — the official release date of his album, the cover artwork and tracklist, a concert tour announcement, and a video to go with his first single.

This kept the momentum going as the big date approached, without beating people over the head with it or releasing a deluge of information that would just overwhelm his fans.

What you should do:

Maintain a level of excitement with your fans by releasing sample tastings of your own in the month leading up to your big release.

You can share your cover art, summary, reviews (if you have any in advance), character profiles, research/inspiration, blog tour dates/sites, and of course the official release date of your forthcoming novel.

These should be spaced out about a week apart in separate blog posts (which you should be sure to share on social media as well).

5. Get your feet wet

What Justin did:

At the same time he was sharing samples with fans, Justin made a few select appearances to perform material from his new album.

He played a small concert for a group of VIPs before the Super Bowl, performed at the Grammy’s, and made an appearance at SXSW.

These performances were not only a sampling of his new music, they were a warm-up for Justin as he prepared to take over the world prior to his album release date.

What you should do:

Outside of your pre-launch blog tour, plan a few events in the month before your release to get in front of an audience and break the ice.

You can do a guest post, a Skype session with a book club, or a Twitter chat with some fans. Anything that will get you talking about your book.

This will give you a chance to fine tune your message and figure out exactly what your fans get most excited about with the new book.

Plus, you’ll begin to build your street team of excited fans who will go forth and conquer–or at least tell all their friends about an awesome author with a new book they just heard about!

6. Flood the market

What Justin did:

About two weeks before the release of his album, Justin Timberlake was everywhere.

He was in commercials, hosting SNL, and making an entire week of appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show. You turned on the TV and he was there. You turned on the radio and he was there.

That is–if you were between the ages of say, 25 and 35.

Justin did a very good job in this stage of not just getting himself out there, but getting himself out there through the right channels for *his* fans.

Here are Justin’s partnerships from the launch in a nutshell: SNL, SXSW, Jimmy Fallon, Bud Light Premium, and Target.

Here’s an alternative line-up of appearances/ad partners he *could* have had: American Idol, Warped Tour, Jay Leno, Coors Light, and Wal-Mart.

But Justin knows his fans. He knows who they are and where they hang out and what they think is cool and what they think is NOT cool.

He knows his most passionate fans are 20 and 30 somethings (myself included) who fancy themselves just a little bit hipster (enough so that they disdain today’s pop music and its primary production factory, American Idol), are still young enough (or single enough) to get their laughs from late night TV (but not those stodgy old guys their parents like–sorry Leno and Letterman) and would never admit to shopping at Wal-Mart (but know Target is the cool place to be).

What you should do:

This is where your reader profile and target market worksheets really come in handy. Your blog tour (an author’s equivalent to Justin’s all out pre-launch media blitz) should be carefully planned around the places your fans would hang out.

You need about 8 – 10 stops around the Internet planned for your launch (more is better if you can handle it, and keep in mind if you ask 10 – 12 blogs to be a stop on your tour, you can hope for about 6-8 “yes” responses).

But unlike Justin’s pre-sale blitz, you should plan your blog tour to start on the day of your book release and run through the next week or two.


Because you want fans to have the opportunity for instant gratification. As soon as they decide they like you and your book, you want them to immediately go to Amazon and make a purchase.

Asking them to remember to go back to Amazon in a week and make a purchase is dicey, at best. You’ll lose momentum. So it’s better to have the option available at the time of your tour.

You should also mix-up your stops, offering giveaways, excerpts, interviews, and guest posts so even if you’re sharing the same information, the different formats won’t make people who follow the entire tour feel like it’s all redundant.

The second most important part of this step (after tailoring it *your* fans) is this: You have to make it EXCITING.

Listen, I’ve been a fan of Justin Timberlake since the days of *NSYNC (note the proper asterisk placement and spelling denoting my TRUE devotion here) but even I was not excited of my own accord about Justin’s new album. I’m not that into pop music these days and though I love Justin, I had my doubts about what he could do after a seven year absence from the music industry.

But all the activity leading up to his release got me REALLY excited.

It is YOUR job to get the fans excited. You have to make your book launch into A BIG EVENT so your fans will feel the anticipation and want to be part of the big release (instead of waiting a few months to buy it whenever they feel like it).

7. Kick it up a notch

What Justin did:

On the same day he released his album, Justin also released an exclusive “deluxe” version (featuring two additional tracks) available *only* in Target stores.

I honestly could not tell you when I last bought an actual CD from a store. Like most people these days, I get my music from iTunes, delivered straight to my iPhone.

But moved by the perfect wave of Justin’s promotions, I took my butt to Target (after the gym, in my sweaty clothes, during rush hour traffic on a Friday for pete’s sake) and bought the exclusive deluxe album.

It was the same price as the regular album (for a limited time) but I would have paid more for it without blinking.

What you should do:

Create a limited edition set for your novel release featuring some special bonuses that will *only* be offered as part of this exclusive offer.

You can include a special bookmark, a hand-written thank you note, some sort of book-related trinket, and (of course) an autographed copy of the book.

These limited copies would be sold directly through your website (you can use PayPal for the transactions) and should cost more than the book by itself.

But your reader will be getting a special value above and beyond *just* a book.

Even if you only have 10 – 25 of these, it’s something really special and fans will want a *real* piece of the history you are making.

The ends justify the means

Yes, you’re probably reading this and thinking — “Good Lord, Shannon. That sounds like a lot of work! Have you forgotten that I also have a full time job and dinner to cook and kids to take to soccer practice and other hobbies I enjoy?”

Make no mistake, a *good* book launch does take a lot of work.

But the payoff is SO worth it.

Your book launch will set the tone for everything to come. It’s your best chance to build the kind of momentum that will spiral into steady monthly sales and therefore get you closer to your goals of doing this writing thing full-time.

People doubted Justin and he proved them wrong, nearly doubling their projected numbers for his first week of sales and breaking all sorts of records in the process.

So now it’s your turn to prove people wrong.

Show us what you got!

P.S. – In the middle of his album release hoopla, Justin confirmed a “leak” (totally planted, come on) that he will have a SECOND album out later this year. Just saying, if you want to announce a sequel…Justin wrote the book on doing that, too.

‘Keeping up with your characters’ – #BloodMemory origins

Guest post by author Joyce Lavene


This is how one author keeps up with her many characters.


Why keep track of characters?

Some of my friends who only write stand-alone stories feel that it’s a waste of time. They aren’t going to repeat their characters. Here’s my argument for that:

  1. It helps organize your thoughts about your characters. Sometimes when you pin them down, they aren’t who you think they are. Or they look different than you imagined. Characters can be tricky – at least mine are.
  2. Protect yourself in the future. If you have a dated character sheet, no one can accuse you of ‘borrowing’ characters.  Also, no one can claim your characters after you’ve written them and sent them out into the world. You have proof of their birth.
  3. And, of course, there’s always the chance that this story might be the BIG one – the one you’re going to want to repeat. That would be a bad time to find out you didn’t take the time to figure out who the characters were and write them down.


Included in your character sheet could be:

  1. Physical traits – how they look, which parent they take after, physical imperfections (dry hair, biting nails) as well as their best points (pretty eyes, nice feet).
  2. Temperament – do they have calm natures? Are they bullies? Are they good drivers? Do they have a tendency to daydream?
  3. What happens to this character in the story? How do they respond?
  4. Where do they live? What do they do for a living?
  5. Do they like ice cream? Are they allergic to bee stings? Do they have a thing for wearing cotton?
  6. If these are mystery (science fiction, fantasy) characters, how many times have they been shot or injured?


I like to take photos, or cut and paste pictures of people I see on the Internet and in magazines which remind me of these characters. I can look back at them and see exactly what I was thinking at the time I first imagined them. Using imagery is a good way to keep ‘seeing’ your characters, even if you’ve written ten books about them.



You can make your character sheets as long and detailed as you like. I try to cut back on side characters. I know who they are but maybe not all the details. I have enough that I can come back and use them again if I want to.



There are programs that do this for you too.  Microsoft  Scrivener is one of them. Also Pathfinder. I don’t particularly like these because I don’t like filling out forms. I’m a pantser when it comes to information. I have some of my stuff on paper and some on the computer, and I like it that way. But you might enjoy an organizer program.



The important thing is to take some time with your characters. Get to know them and keep track of your scorecard on them. You might want to take them out again sometime!




Originally the Blood Memory universe started off with 2 characters, one of which my readers will know: Simon Huntington. The particular universe was created on the role-playing message board Sanguine Affliction. I actually used the bios to help me keep track of my characters, and I ended up with at least 20 different ones when I became inactive on that board.





Hair Color:
Length and Style:
Eye Color:
Skin Color:
Race: (I.E. Vampire, Werewolf, human etc.)
Body Type:
Wolf Form (Werewolf – please read first):

Description (if an NPC) or name of your creator/gifter(if a PC) ( Please be as specific as possible, who your creator/gifter was, why he chose to change you, where is he/she now?):

Personal Questions

1. Describe your character’s personality
2. Describe how your character would appear to a stranger (I.E. typical dress, way they carry themselves etc.)
3.What does your character like?
4. Dislike?
5. (For humans) Describe what abilities you see your character having if they were turned.
6. What are your fears? (please choose and explain 3 minimum)
7. What is your character’s strengths and weaknesses? (please pick 3 minimum of each and explain in detail how and why this affects your character)

Vampire –

Abilities (Listed here)

Flaws (Listed here)

Werewolf –

Abilities – Listed here (Include Tier Points) –

Flaws – Listed here(Include Tier Points) –

Hobbies & Skills (for more information, read here)

Cosmetic Traits(Distinct, character defining physical attributes. These should be minor and offer no real power other than to make your character appear more interesting.)

Quirks and Habits worthy of mention –


Check out Sanguine Affliction if role-playing sounds like fun to you. It helped me become a better writer and be more organized. Wouldn’t be here without it, fo sho.