Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Release Day – In Darkness: The Shark

I am very excited for the second book of my In Darkness series. I love great white sharks. And this one talks!

In Darkness: The Shark
By L. Diane Wolfe

Romance/Paranormal - Fantasy/Paranormal - Fantasy/Romance
eBook ISBN 9781939844910, $3.99

Souls shrouded in darkness…

Focused on her studies and duties at the aquarium, Jewels prefers her solitary life. Burned many times and short on trust, she has more in common with her aquatic friends than the people around her. But she never imagined coming face to face with a shark named Clarence…a shark who talks!

As their friendship grows, Jewels must overcome her deep set mistrust. There are dangers, both in the Australian ocean and on dry land. Can Jewels depend on the great white or will his animal nature betray her?

Links: Amazon / iTunes / B&N / Kobo / Scribed / Goodreads

“I am so shocked because I loved this book so much and it was a book that was so unlike anything I have ever read.” – A Ravenclaw Library

“I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't a warm, sweet story of trust and friendship. I greatly enjoyed this short work and fell in love with Clarence.” – Nat Kennedy, author

“True love and trust can break most spells!” – Beth, Archaeolibrarian

I’m also doing a blog tour. Today I am visiting Tyrean Martinson

Tour dates:
May 8 Alex J. Cavanaugh

May 9 Tyrean Martinson
May 9 I Smell Sheep
May 10 Denise Covey

May 12 Elizabeth Seckman
May 15 Jemi Fraser

Have you ever read a love story with a shark?

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Writing Inspiration, and The Shark Tour Kicks Off

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today’s question: When you are working on a story, what inspires you?

Sometimes it’s playlists I will put together for a particular story. Most often it’s a collection of images. I created Boards on Pinterest for all four In Darkness stories and I collected hundreds of images that fit the location and feel for the story. (There’s one extra Board for a story about a ghost that just never came together.) I’m a visual person, so images tend to work best for me.

And if you’re curious about those Pinterest Boards:
The Vampire / The Shark / The Werewolf / The Alien

In Darkness: The Shark releases next Tuesday. The tour kicks off today at Lynda Young’s site as I talk about amusing Aussie words & phrases and why I love paranormal romance. I’m also at the IWSG Anthologies site today discussing rapid-releasing a series.

Here is the full schedule:

May 3 Lynda Young
and IWSG Anthologies

May 5 Australian Romance Readers

May 8 Alex J. Cavanaugh

May 9 Tyrean Martinson

May 10 Denise Covey

May 12 Elizabeth Seckman

May 15 Jemi Fraser

What inspires you? Do you create Boards for your stories?

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Shannon Lawrence Interview, and Sandra Cox Feature

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today’s question: Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you? If you're at the start of the journey, what are your goals?

I wanted to be an author ever since I picked up the newly-released The White Dragon at aged 13 and pictured my name on the cover. The journey had many starts and stops, a weak beginning, another bit of a pause, and now back in swing with my paranormal romance series, In Darkness. Now is definitely a better place than where I began as author!

* * *

Today I am featuring two very patient authors, both of whom were to have a guest spot on this blog last month – and I totally spaced both! Carolyn Howard-Johnson got Shannon’s spot and then I completely forgot Sandra’s. So, I am giving them both a prime spot here today to make up for it.

First up, Shannon Lawrence and Happy Ghoulidays II:

How did you select the title?

I wanted a play on "holiday" that also conveyed that this was horror, and this is what came to mind.

Why holiday horror stories?
Holiday horror movies are always fun. I like to watch them when the holiday rolls around. Christmas horror is a personal favorite, which is why there are two of those in the predecessor to this book. There's a familiarity to the holidays, and plenty fo fun to be had by playing around with them. In a way, we take the holidays for granted, doing the same things over and over again (tradition). I wanted to shake that up a bit.

The covers of the two Happy Ghoulidays books make one creature. Was that planned and who does your cover work?

It wasn't planned from the very beginning. My husband does my covers for me. Initially, he offered to try because he'd personally wanted to try graphic art (he works in computers, but not in art). It turns out he has a great eye for it! In fact, at a writing event, a publisher came up and asked me to pass their card along to my cover designer. When I was considering doing a second Ghoulidays collection, we thought it would be fun to make it so the covers would form one piece of art when next to each other, and it really helps to bring them together since the two have different holidays in them.

What was different between putting together book 1 and putting together book 2?
In book 2 I already had a process. I made a list of the holidays and researched them until something caught my attention. If nothing inspired me, that holiday wasn't going to be in the book. There are so many holidays! The second book was also more focused. In addition, one of the stories in the second one has my first trigger warning. Typically, I feel like horror brings the implication of possible triggers, but this was a topic I didn't want to cause harm.

Do you have plans for a third book?
At this time, I don't think I'd do a third book. These were both meant to be "fun" projects for me. Something to get the creative juices flowing and enjoy the process. Holidays make great prompts. Not that I wouldn't be able to write more holiday stories or enjoy doing so, but two collections is good. Plus, how would I work the cover in with the others?

Happy Ghoulidays II
The holidays elicit a mixture of emotions, from joy and revelry to despair and rage. In these stories, we examine the dark side of the holidays with a twisted Easter egg hunt, a desperate St. Patrick's Day curse, a monster that's only visible in the light of fireworks, a mother's guilt on Halloween, and more in this follow up to Happy Ghoulidays that embraces the underlying shadows of our favorite holidays.

Available on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Scribd, and Smashwords. E-book universal link HERE Also available in paperback at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her three solo horror short story collections and her nonfiction title are available now, with her fourth collection releasing March 2023. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her HERE.

Next, we have the delightful Sandra Cox and Return to Silverhills:

Greetings, Everyone. Diane, thanks so much letting me come to visit and chat about Return to Silverhills.

As far as writing this story, I enjoyed ‘returning’ to Silverhills and getting reacquainted with characters who were old friends. The main problem I ran into writing it was that it had been years since I wrote Silverhills. Seriously, years. So, I had to keep a copy at my elbow to use as a reference. I got all the way through Return and thought I had the perfect ending when I realized my perfect ending didn’t jive with the timeframe mentioned in Silverhills. I wasn’t about to give up my ending so I had to do some fiddling. Hopefully, my fiddling and my ending meshed😊

Return to Silverhills
A trail boss with a fast gun. A damaged woman. A cattle drive fraught with danger. And a combustible attraction.

The unexpected sound made her heart crash against her ribs, her hands grow clammy and her breath push in and out in sharp gasps. Her horse sidled in response to her nerves.
More gunfire and whoops sounded in the distance.
She flinched. The bang and flash of gunfire. The sight and scent of sulphur. Always a reminder of the night the Comancheros had captured her and slaughtered her family.
Fighting back the painful memories, Lisa Reiner stared into the valley at the ranch below, the mountains behind it throwing off a blinding glitter wherever the sun touched. Alex talked incessantly about those flashes of silver in the hills. Alex. Who’d cared enough to take her out of the mission and bring her to her own home to start fresh, to live with her like a sister.
Slowly. Tentatively. Fear and nerves crawled into excitement. Silverhills.

Foodie Facts:

She spent a number of years in the Midwest chasing down good Southern BBQ. By the time she moved to North Carolina where Southern BBQ is practically a staple, she’d become a vegetarian. (Same here, Sandra!)
Pineapple is a must-have on pizza, along with black olives and onions. (I agree! Plus sun-dried tomatoes.)
She loves pumpkin waffles. Pumpkin cream cheese, not so much. (I will have to try those.)

Sandra, who also writes as S. Cox, is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and cats in sunny North Carolina.
An award-winning author, her stories consist of all things Western and more.

You can find her at: website / Cowboy Trivia / blog / Twitter

Find Return to Silverhills on Amazon

What are your thoughts on your writing career path?
Have you picked up Shannon’s and Sandra’s books?
And May kicks off my tour for the release of In Darkness: The Shark!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Learning to Love Passive Construction

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the winningest in the series, The Frugal Editor, just released in its third edition. 

Writers are often told to avoid passive sentences. Reasons for such admonitions are many because they tend to tug on the forward momentum we are usually trying to create. But passive construction can be used effectively, too. In fact we may find instances where our writing improves when use them. We can try to utilize what they’re good at in our writing and—at the same time—recognize their flaws so we can avoid them when they are just plain ugly.

Luckily, good editors are here to help. And so are many books. 

Your editor may help you avoid passive constructions by making suggestions to “activate” them. There are times, however, when you must do your own editing. In this article we’ll cover both how to spot passives and activate them when that is helpful as well as a few instances where you may want to enlist their help. 

Here are three simple passive sentences. See if you can figure out how to make them active and then read some possible edits in the next section. 

1. "I was offended by the President's proclamation." (This passive is sneaky because the word “I” posing there at the front of the sentence seems like the subject, but it hides the prepositional phrase alluding to “by whom.” Put “the President’s proclamation” at the beginning of the sentence, ditch the helping verb, and you’ll see how the sentence comes alive.)

2. "Catherine was being watched."

3. "Catherine was being silly."

Here is your cheat sheet:

1.   For the first you would, of course, make it "The President's proclamation offended me."

2.   For the second, you must ascertain the intended, unnamed subject that would name who was doing the watching, and plug it into the sentence. It might look like this:

"The fuzz watched Catherine."

(So, maybe you'd be more formal and call them "coppers!")

3.   The third example might throw you a curve. That's because it isn't a passive sentence. Here's the thing. We tend to assume a construction is passive when we see helper verbs and "ing" words. But these are not always passive indicators. That's one more thing for you to figure out in addition to deciding whether you want to avoid a passive construction. (You’ll find a lot more on that topic in the just-released third edition of my “The Frugal Editor.”)

You may choose (probably should) to avoid the not-so-active sounding helper verb with a mini rewrite:

“Gracie thought Catherine was being silly.” 

You might ask, “So, if these slowpoke constructions stall the forward motion of my prose, what are the good reasons for using them? 

Etymologists tell us that language develops in ways that facilitate our need to be more clearly understood. When we recognize what passive construction and its copycats can do for us, we may grow to love using passive—at least some of the time. Here are reasons you might want to intentionally use passive construction:

1.   You want to slow down the movement in a saga sent in the 19th century. I do some of that (very judiciously!) in my This Land Divided now being shopped by my    agent. It proves that the passive ploy worked, it won the best in B. Lynn Goodwin’s WriterAdvice.com’s Scintillating Starts contest. 

2.    You need to set one character’s dialogue apart from another to avoid so many fussy dialogue tags. You can do that by assigning one character a tendency to use passive voice. Just be sure you assign that speech pattern to a character it suits—maybe someone who is slow moving, deceitful or…well, you decide. 

3.     You’re writing political copy and you want to avoid pointing a finger at, say, the FBI because you don’t want to get put on the dreaded US No-Fly list. So instead of saying “The FBI is watching Carolyn.” You say, “Carolyn is being watched.” It’s a way to avoid pointing a blaming finger at a perpetrator.

4.     If you write copy for pharmaceutical TV ads, your career could depend on knowing how to use passive voice. I watch TV commercials carefully because I do some acting. The passive voiceovers behind all those happy, healthy faces make me cringe. The use of passive voice clearly avoids assigning any responsibility for all those side effects and deaths. One actually says, “Deaths have happened.” The pharmaceutical company causing all those deaths gets off the hook nicely. 

We need to know how to make verbs active, when to leave them alone, and, yep. when to use them to our advantage. That way, we can take a red pen to them when they are likely to brand us as amateurs, occasionally put them to very good use, and even learn to love them.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a multi award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, is celebrating the release of the third edition of the winningest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers The Frugal Editor: Do-It-Yourself Editing Secrets from Modern History Press. She is a former publicist for a New York PR firm and was an instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program for nearly a decade. She is also an editor with years of publishing and editing experience including national magazines, newspapers, and her own poetry and fiction. Her The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromoIII) won USA Book News' best professional book award and the Irwin Award. The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 30 Minutes or Less is a helpful little booklet available at http://bit.ly/BookProposalsII. It is in its second edition from Modern History Press. And don’t miss another booklet from Modern History Press, Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copyhttp://bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII. Carolyn also appears in TV commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Lenscrafters, Disney Cruises (Japan) and Time-Life CDs. Learn more about her at: www.HowToDoItFrugally.com


*I'd like to add that Carolyn is a dynamo when it comes to book marketing and just the nicest person you will ever meet - which we got to do several years ago! - Diane