Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Review of December's Posts

 Review of December's Posts

Beth Barany
J.J. DiBenedetto
Sandra McGregor

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Design Cuts Sale

Happy New Year To All
Stay Tuned For Another Year of Posts

Friday, December 21, 2018

Class Flash with Laurie Schenbly Campbell ~ A Full Year To Plan By

(Jan. 7-Feb. 1, 2019)

The ideal flaw isn't totally random, tossed in at the last minute to keep a character from being Too Perfect. Instead, it's built right into their personality -- which means it's guaranteed to create turmoil that’ll keep the plot moving, along with a flip-side asset that'll enable your character to triumph in the end. See what kind will work best for your people, whether they're starring in a current story or taking the lead in another to come.
blog: SOS: POV, ASAP!

(Feb. 4) writersinthestormblog. com
Are yours AOK? How about (LOL) theirs? WTF is POV about, anyway?
live in San Diego“ROLL YOUR OWN” RETREAT
(Feb. 7-10, 2019) wait-list info at mailto:booklaurie@yahoo.com
Includes 150 minutes of one-on-one input for each of just eight writers.

(Feb. 18-Mar. 1, 2019)
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/ groups/PointOView/info
In theory, it’s simple: whose head is the reader in? In practice, it can be a bit (or a lot) more tricky. Whose head is best for this scene, this section, this story, this series? How do you know when it’s time to switch? What if the reader gets bored? What if the POV character doesn’t know something you want the reader to know? Learn the techniques that make Point of View easier to work with, no matter who your readers will be.

(March 4-29)
writeruniv.wordpress. com/classes

Here's what writers have said about the course in previous years: "I never thought I could plot my entire book from start to finish, but here it is. This is AWESOME." / "This month has truly changed the way I think about writing. I wish I'd taken Plotting Via Motivation before giving up on my earlier novels." / "Now that I look back in the notebook where I wrote all my homework, I realize I've got my book right here!"

(April 8-19)
writeruniv.wordpress. com/classes
A continuation of the March process open solely to people who've taken PVM online or in person at some point, this no-more-than-30-people group gets you plotting a brand new or already-begun book (using your completed 14-point worksheet) from start to finish. No need to prepare a new story idea, character bios, goal charts or anything else, because you'll see how to plot an entire book -- and actually have it ready to type -- by the end of this hands-on workshop.

(May 13-24)
heartsthroughhistory. com

Tools for determining naturally lovable (and intriguingly flawed) characters include Adlerian birth order, Jungian thought/feeling scales, the Dewey priorities, and other theories of temperament. Learn which ones will offer the best opportunities for conflict between your realistic hero & heroine...whose "inborn" personalities will both oppose and attract.

(May 31) writersinthestormblog. com
Sure, you’ve got to start strong. But that’s not necessarily enough.

(June 10-21)
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/ groups/BofFab/info
How can you make sure your book will draw readers in from the very first paragraph, through the next several pages, continuing into further chapters until they realize they’ve been reading so fast and so deep they can’t put this story down? How can you leave them, after reaching The End, so wonderfully satisfied with the book they just finished that they’re already vowing to read whatever else you’ve written and are going to write next? That’s what this class is about.
(Once again, no July class…although, who knows, maybe someday that’ll change.)

(August 2) writersinthestormblog. com
You’ve dreamed up the who & what already, but that’s just the beginning.

(August 12-23)
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/ groups/MTSWB/info
Of course your book needs a setting that contributes to the story, but your characters’ story world goes far beyond just the time and place they occupy. It’s also the people who surround them, the expectations they take for granted, the rules that infuriate them, the attitudes they share with their society --whether or not they realize it -- and more. All those elements belong in your story world’s setting…and here’s how to build a world that works.

(Sept. 2-27)
writeruniv.wordpress.com/ classes

Weaving the different strands and levels of your story is trickier than 
making a simple braid, but the idea is the same: you need to give equal attention to every separate element that's part of the finished creation. Whether you're braiding the conflict and resolution of a thriller, romance, fantasy, mystery or any other journey of discovery, learn how to deliver the balance your readers expect.

(Oct. 7-18)
writeruniv.wordpress.com/ classes

Once you’ve outlined the elements of your braid, this hands-on master class takes you through the steps of assembling it from beginning to end. Each day’s assignment will keep you going, accomplishing more actual writing than in any usual two-week period, with feedback during every segment of the process.

(Nov. 4-15)
heartsthroughhistory. com

Writers who discover the versatility of enneagrams, the nine personality types and subtypes, are fascinated by how easy it is to identify their existing characters and create new ones -- each with uniquely heroic and distinctive traits, as well as a fatal (or not so fatal) flaw that naturally brings them into conflict with other characters AND with themselves.

Laurie's  Bio:

Laurie Schnebly Campbell published half a dozen romances with Harlequin, including one that beat out Nora Roberts for “Best Special Edition of the Year,” before discovering the only thing she loves more than writing is working with other writers. So she started giving workshops every month, online and in person, and now has a special area on her bookshelf full of books with acknowledgments from authors who’ve loved her classes.

By clicking on my Amazon affiliate links, I may earn a small commission there is no additional charge to you. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Take Five and Meet Beth Barany & Her Book ~ A Christmas Cupcake

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Beth Barany Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, A Cupcake Christmas?

Thanks for hosting me L.A. I’ve always loved baking and Christmas elves, so what better than combining the two in a romance?! Plus, I wanted to write more in my Christmas elf series. I also wanted to write a story with a too-serious (dare I say, workaholic?!) meets a fun-loving man, and see what would happen. One of my favorite things to write about, and a story I know oh so well. (Yep, my life!)

How do you use setting to further your story?

I love using my local setting of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Setting can enhance a mood or contrast it. I love using the Bay Area famous fog or how it’s often drizzling in winter. I also love using landmarks and the views to bring familiarity or discomfort to the scene.

Since the locations I use have lots of hills, there’s lots of vistas to mention and help my characters to have a bigger picture. I also use the hills as a form of exercise. My hero thinks: “Maybe a good fast walk up some of San Francisco's famously steep hills would help him clear his head, and heart.”

And I use the weather and location to bring my lovers closer together, like here:
“Florian grinned. She could swear his eyes twinkled but maybe it was the light of the restaurant or of the sky. Dusk was falling. Low sunlight reflected off the fog hovering above them. Kate walked back with him, arm in arm, to her van parked behind the kitchen a block away. There they stood in the cold foggy night.”

How is your main character completely different than you?

She’s a full-time baker! I am not, nor would I want that to be my job. I do like the creative part of coming up with recipes though. Clearly! Since I did for the story.

What do you do to rev your creative juices?

I love to travel, even if it’s to a new part of town or to the next town over. I especially love going to Paris! Way more than just an hour’s drive away. LOL Also, I listen to a lot of music and purposely search out the newest pop or pay attention to what other people’s favorites are to stretch my horizons.

I also love to watch action and science fiction/fantasy movies. I come away from that immersive experience ready to create my own through my stories. Lastly, I often walk around my neighborhood, or whatever neighborhood I’m visiting to people watch and see new things.

I love seeing people interact with each other and their environment and to interact with them, even if it’s just a “hello, how are you” type interaction.

How do you create internal and external conflict in your characters? I find conflict often the hardest to create when I start planning a book.

I do too. I had to figure out a way to find my stories conflict, so I created a way to dive into my character’s fears. They form a great basis for creating obstacles in my characters way. I teach that in my book, Plan Your Novel Like A Pro. I do the planning, then I write.

Often things come out differently than I planned, but that’s okay. I follow the muse where she leads. It’s in the editing that I revisit the conflicts and really make sure they’re connected to my character’s deepest fears and inner challenges. I’m in the middle of that right now for a new series, totally different from my romances, and it’s a wonderful challenge, and why I love writing stories so much.

I love making the external conflicts deeply personal to my main character. Not easy, but definitely worth it. (If you’re curious about what I’m working on next, I’ll give you a hint; it’s science fiction murder mystery. More about that here.)

If you could live during any era of history, which one would you choose?

I’m very attracted to the cathedral building era in France, so the Middle Ages. One of the other books in the Touchstone Series is a time travel to medieval France during the building of a town’s cathedral, Touchstone of Love. When I lived in Paris, I made a point to visit all the cathedrals in the surrounding area, including my favorite: Mont St. Michel on the northern coast of France.

Give us a brief summary of A Cupcake Christmas:

Love, chaotic magic, and cupcakes. What could possibly go wrong?

Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves.

Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business in downtown San Francisco. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming.

But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

Another Magical Tale of Romance and Adventure by award-winning novelist, Beth Barany. Book 5 in the Touchstone series.

“I truly enjoyed it. I am a sucker for anything Christmas and Santa related which probably didn’t hurt. … Overall the story was light, charming and just right for a pleasant escape from the daily grind, kind of like a good dessert (yes, I love my sweets). I have to say this was my favorite of Beth Barany's romances I’ve read thus far…” — Beth Chapmon (Book Reviewer)

Amazon | iBooks | Nook

Award-winning novelist Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to enchant readers into worlds where anything is possible. In her off-hours, Beth enjoys gardening, walking, and watching movies with her husband, author Ezra Barany. Together they live in Oakland, California, with their cat and over 1,000 books.

Get the first book in the Touchstone series here.

Find Beth:

By clicking on my Amazon affiliate links, I may earn a small commission, 
there is no additional charge to you. Thank you. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

$2 Bundle From Design Cuts

Celebrate An Amazing 2018 With This Special $2 Design Bundle

We wanted to thank you, our fantastic Community for being so incredibly supportive throughout an amazing year. This special $2 bundle is a massive thank you for being part of Design Cuts and making our year so special!
Our incredibly talented design partners have kindly offered these popular products as their gift to the Design Cuts community. The $2 price simply helps us to cover the cost of hosting this bundle. We hope you enjoy working with this treasure trove of fantastic fonts, illustrations, textures, florals, brushes and much more.
Once again, thank you for being part of Design Cuts and Happy Holidays from our entire team!

This image shows all the products in the $2 bundle

I may receive a small commission if you purchase this, as I'm an affiliate of DesignCuts. There is no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Take Five And Meet Author J.J. DiBenedetto

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, J.J.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book Mr. Smith and the Roach?

The book actually started out as a joke. A friend had a TV/pop culture podcast, and they were throwing out ridiculous titles for TV shows that would never be made, and one of them was “Mr. Smith and the Roach.” Being the oddball that I am, I came up with characters and a setting and a plot for what that might be. It became a “buddy cop” story between a retired New York detective and his new roommate, a six-foot-tall talking cockroach named Sam.

Then it sat for several years until I finally decided earlier this year to turn it into a novel, and now it’s publishe

How do you use setting to further your story?

The setting goes hand-in-hand with the story.  It contributes to the mood and the feel of the book.  Mr. Smith and the Roach is totally a New York City tale – it really couldn’t take place anywhere else.  And the specific setting of the Westview Apartments (the building Mr. Smith lives in) also contributes.  It’s a rent-controlled apartment building with a very eclectic mix of residents, some of whom have a big part in the story, and some of whom provide a little extra flavor to things.

How is your main character completely different than you?

Mr. Smith is different from me in just about every way.  He’s a somewhat hard-boiled retired cop, and he’s seen a lot of very nasty things in his career, which I obviously haven’t at all.  At the same time, he’s a lot more open-minded than I am in some ways – I’m not sure I’d be welcoming of a six-foot-tall cockroach in my spare bedroom, but Mr. Smith just takes that in stride.

You’re having a dinner party.  What character from your novel do you hope doesn’t show up? Why?

There are a couple of people in the book that I’d really rather not have show up at my door.  One of them is only mentioned (but he’ll have a much larger role in book 2), so I’ll skip him and say Peter Franks.  Would YOU want a con artist who stole money from retired police officers and then faked his own death at your dinner party?  I didn’t think so!

How do you create internal and external conflict in your characters?  I find conflict often the hardest to create when I start planning a book.
One thing I do is to try and work out the backstory and history of my characters so that they’ve already got conflicts built in before we even meet them.  We learn right away that Mr. Smith, for example, has some very complicated relationships with his old police colleagues, and also with a close friend who was on the other side of the law and has a very dark past.  So that sets up lots of possible conflicts before I even get into the main plot of the book. 

When you’re brainstorming for a new story, what usually comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

It’s always the characters.  With several of my books, I didn’t really figure out what the main plot actually was until fifty pages in.

With this book, the characters and the plot came at the same time, though.  The idea of Mr. Smith sharing his apartment with a giant cockroach obviously implied that he had some need for a roommate, and I knew right away that his money troubles and the Roach’s story would be connected.  I didn’t know all the details, but the general idea was there.

Give us a brief summary of Mr. Smith and the Roach:

John Smith is a retired New York City homicide detective.  When he discovers that his pension has been wiped out, he’s forced to take on a roommate to help make ends meet.

Sam is a six-foot-tall talking cockroach who rents out John’s spare room while trying to discover his own past.

Working together, they discover that John’s pension, Sam’s origin, and the death of John’s old partner at the NYPD are all connected, and they’re drawn into an unbelievable mystery.

J.J. DiBenedetto is the author of the Dream Doctor Mysteries, the Jane Barnaby Adventures, two Welcome to Romance novellas, and other works. 

 He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his lovely wife and Danny, a white cat who’s trained them both.  He’s originally from Yonkers, New York.  He loves the New York Giants, fondue, photography, travel, the opera and he’s a huge science-fiction and fantasy geek.

Find J.J.:

Monday, December 10, 2018

R&R: Raves and Rants ~ Commas and Compound Sentences

Commas and Compound Sentences

 I’ve never done a formal study of it, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the comma is the second-most common punctuation mark, following the period.  And, as you can see from the number that I included in that sentence, I’m a huge fan of commas.  Yes, I know that there’s a trend toward eliminating them, with some people referring to them as speedbumps, but doing so can create confusion or result in truly absurd sentences.
Commas are sometimes called speedbumps, but they're important
Let’s start by reviewing the purpose of commas or, for that matter, any form of punctuation.  Punctuation is designed to make sense of the written word and, to a lesser degree, to tell us when to pause.  When we speak, we take breaths occasionally.  The period, the semicolon, and the comma can be viewed as signals to the reader that it’s okay to pause ever so briefly.  And unlike a speedbump, which no one likes, those pauses are good … if they’re used properly. 

This month we’re going to discuss the use of commas in compound sentences.  You probably know the definition of a compound sentence, but here’s a refresher: a compound sentence is one composed of more than one independent clause.  Simply put, there are multiple subjects and multiple verbs, and the clauses make sense if they stand alone.  (Did you notice that the last two sentences were compound?)

There are several ways to punctuate a compound sentence, depending on how the clauses are connected.  We’re going to start with the simplest and most common, the one that’s punctuated with a comma.  The rule is: if the clauses are connected by what some call “simple links” and others refer to by the acronym FANBOYS, you need a comma before the linking word.

What are the FANBOYS?

The meaning of fanboys
Let’s look at a couple examples of correct and incorrect punctuation.


It was the second week in December, and every storefront was covered with holiday decorations.

The snow was heavy and just right for packing, so we planned to make a snowman and then go sledding.


Michelle’s job was to protect the owners’ interests in the matters of schedules and budgetary issues and rotten beams had the potential to affect both.

What’s wrong with this?  Not only is it a run-on sentence, but as written, it appears that Michelle is supposed to protect the owners’ interests in matters of schedules, budgetary issues, and rotten beams.  Yes, you can make sense of the sentence, but the lack of a comma between “issues” and “and” means that your brain had to pause to figure out exactly what the author meant.  This is one case where the pause was unwelcome and unnecessary.

Here’s another example.  Like the previous one, I found it in a published book.

There had to be an inch of dust accumulated but that could be cleaned. It was early April, and warm during the day.

Did you find the errors in these sentences?  The first sentence needs a comma before “but,” since that’s one of the FANBOYS.  The second needs no commas, since it contains only one clause.  In this case, the comma causes us to pause at the wrong time.  That was a definite speedbump.

There are other ways to punctuate compound sentences and a number of other uses for the comma that we’ll discuss in future months, but we’ll take a brief break from them, because I want to start 2019 with Lessons from Little Women.  See you then!


A lifetime of reading and writing, not to mention a host of teachers who believed that good grammar was one of the essentials of life, have given Amanda Cabot such firm opinions about the printed word that I asked her to share some with us in her Raves and Rants posts.  Although her working career was in Information Technology, Amanda achieved her dream of selling her first novel before her thirtieth birthday and is now the author of more than thirty novels as well as a number of books and articles for Information Technology professionals.  

Her most recent release is A Borrowed Dream, the second of the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

Find all of Amanda's books, newsletter info and social media links here.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Sarra Cannon of Heart Breathings ~ Tips For Success In 2019 As An Indie Author

Guest post banner for blog
I heard about Sarra Cannon from everyone at RWA, and I just had to go to her site and watch her Heart Breathing videos.

Then I had the audacity to email her and see if she'd guest post for me. 
I'm so glad I did and I hope you will be as well. 

Tips For Success In 2019 As An Indie Author

Thanks, L.A., for hosting me on your blog. 

It's that wonderful time of year when we all get to look back at what we've accomplished in the past year and daydream about what's possible in the year to come. If you are an indie author who is looking to really set yourself up for success in 2019, I would love to share some of what I've learned over the course of my career.

Image of a planner
First of all, if you aren't familiar with me, my name is Sarra Cannon. I write Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy, and I've been self-published since October of 2010. I've made some mistakes along the way, but mistakes are great teachers. I've also had my fair share of success with over seven-hundred-thousand books sold since I first began.

I am excited to have the opportunity to talk with you today about some of the biggest lessons I've learned throughout my indie journey and how you can hopefully take some of what I've learned and use it to set yourself up for one of your best years coming up.

Focus On Joy, Not Fear

When people talk about success, they tend to focus on marketing, but one of the most important things I've learned over the years is that there is so much more to success than how much money you make. Yes, of course, money is essential to publishing, and most of us have some goal of making money and reaching a lot of readers.

But let me tell you what I had to learn the hard way.

When you focus solely on marketing and the business of writing, it's really easy to forget the joy. The more successful I became, the more I focused on how to keep it up. How to sell more. How to reach more fans.

There's nothing wrong with that. Not exactly.

Image of the word Joy with polka dots to make it happyThe problem for me came when I realized I had made a subtle shift from joy and loving what I was writing to constantly being afraid. I was afraid of losing my fans, of making a mistake, or of not doing everything I felt I "should" be doing. Instead of feeling giddy when I release a new book, I found myself chewing my fingernails, watching my rankings and sales numbers as if my life depended on it.

My writing and career was fueled by fear, and please take my word for it when I say fear leaves no space for creativity to bloom.

If you want to find true success as an indie author, I encourage you to focus on what lights you up. What makes you feel excited and joyful? Focus there and the money will come.

Yes, please keep learning how to run a good business and reach more readers. Make good business decisions. But don't let stress and fear steal your joy along the way.

Remember: Success Takes Time

We live in a fast-paced digital world where the outliers are louder than ever. It can get so loud, in fact, that it may seem like every author around you has found a ridiculous amount of success overnight.

The truth is, though, that lasting success takes time to build. There will always be that one-in-a-million example who wrote a book over spring break and found instant success, but that person is almost an urban legend. For most authors--Indie or Traditionally published--success simply takes time.
image of a pocket watch in white and crystal
Be patient with yourself. Say nice things to yourself when you sit down to write. Putting yourself out there takes courage. Don't put extra pressure on your creativity and bravery by expecting your first book to pay all your bills.

Growing a loyal readership, learning the business of publishing, and even learning to write amazing books all take time. Give yourself that gift.

The good news is that there is no time limit on massive success. As my business mentor, Amber McCue says, "You are right on time."

If you ever look around and start to panic, feeling that everyone around you is miles ahead or rising fast, take a deep breath and repeat that to yourself. "I am right on time." It will make you feel better, I promise.

One of the best things you can do for yourself in 2019 is to take the pressure of needing fast success off your shoulders and just focus on what matters most--the creating and learning.

Be Deliberate About Everything

This is the toughest tip I'm going to share with you today.

As creatives, we have more ideas than we will ever be able to write in ten lifetimes. As entrepreneurs, we have more items on our to-do lists than we could possibly get done, even if we had ten assistants.

So, what's the solution, other than to run screaming into the night?

I guess we could choose to work sixty or more hours a week, but how long can we keep that up? And is that really the vision you have of your ideal life?

I was one of these writer-preneurs who tried to do it all. A few years ago, I was writing several different genres, trying to manage ads and social media accounts, and raising a small child. I worked sixty-plus hours a week and always felt behind and overwhelmed.

Which is when I burned out. Big time.

Everything halted for me, which felt like the worst possible thing that could happen to me. It turns out being forced to slow down was a blessing because I had no choice but to really think about what it was I wanted out of this career. I didn't just think about what success looked like to me. I also thought about what success felt like.

And I'll tell you this. My ideal life was not, in fact, feeling constantly behind, overworked, and out of control.

image of a napkin with the words penned on it, what do you want to changeThat's when I made a major shift in my energy and my business that has made all the difference in my life. I figured out exactly what I wanted, and then I got deliberate about every single choice I made from where I spent my time to what books I was going to write.

The truth is we don't have enough time to write all our ideas or do everything we feel we should be doing as indie authors. We never will.

That means we have a choice to either throw spaghetti at the wall and feel out of control at all times, or we can set very clear intentions. When I got clear about my vision for my life, I started to weigh every single action and decision against that vision. If it moved me closer to my vision for my life, I put it on my list. If it didn't, I just stopped doing it. I didn't care if other people told me I needed to do it to be a success. I knew what my vision for myself was, and I only had time to do those things that moved me closer to it.

I got very clear about who my ideal reader was, too, and I stopped worrying about pleasing everyone. I developed a system of planning 90 days at a time, which helped me to be intentional (and realistic) about my time.

Being deliberate changed my life, and if you want to move toward huge success in 2019, I would encourage you to get clear on what it is that truly motivates and matters to you, too. It can truly make all the difference.

Heart Breathings

If you want to go deeper in setting goals and getting intentional about planning your time, I would love for you to check out my My YouTube Channel where I talk about indie publishing, writing, and organizing your time as an author. 

Heart Breathings Logo in script with pink heart

Or, if you'd like to take a look at my other tips for How To Make 2019 Your Best Year, I'd love for you to visit my blog.

Image of Sarra Cannon with her Kanban board
Sarra Cannon is the YA Indie Author of more than 25 novels, including the bestselling Shadow Demons Saga. She is also a passionate speaker and productivity coach for authors. Through her website and YouTube channel, Heart Breathings, Sarra shares her own experiences in order to help fellow authors live their dream. She is a devoted planner girl, anime-lover, and gamer. Sarra lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her programmer husband and adorable red-headed son.

You can find her on her author website at author website or over on her heartbreathings blog.