Super helpful beats guide: Emotional Beats by Nicholas C. Rossis

There’s no better way to introduce this super useful book than give you the author’s book description right away. In the words of Nicholas C. Rossis:

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Publication Date: September 11, 2016

Purchase Links

Ebook: Amazon US Amazon UK

Paperback: Amazon US Amazon UK

Book Description

Because of the way our brains are wired, readers empathize more strongly if you don’t name the emotion you are trying to describe. As soon as you name an emotion, readers go into thinking mode. And when they think about an emotion, they distance themselves from feeling it.

A great way to show anger, fear, indifference, and the whole range of emotions that characterize the human experience, is through beats. These action snippets that pepper dialogue can help describe a wide range of emotions, while avoiding lazy writing. The power of beats lies in their innate ability to create richer, more immediate, deeper writing.

This book includes hundreds of examples that you can use for your inspiration, so that you, too, can harness this technique to easily convert your writing into palpable feelings.

________________

I don’t know about you, author friends, but when I edit my first draft, one major roadblock I need to overcome is finding fresh ways to show not tell feelings. I write in “deep point of view”, and I can’t have my characters be “surprised”, “sad”, “angry” or “frightened”. But they tend to “look” a lot or express their feelings through their eyes, and it’s only so many times one can “narrow her eyes” or “widen her eyes” before the reader will, well, roll her eyes.

To me, this guide is a life saver. I’m definitely getting it in paperback because I want to be able to physically turn the page to the relevant emotion and see what kind of language beats best portray it. And if you need an example of the wealth of beats included in Emotional Beats, here it is:

Surprise

  • He shot up an eyebrow
  • He whipped his head around
  • She clamped her mouth shut, but her jaw went slack when she saw him. “You!”
  • His face remained a plank of wood, his amazement hidden by a slow breath.
  • His mouth slackened.
  • Her brows shot to her hairline.
  • She slapped a hand over her mouth.
  • He facepalmed.

And that’s just a selection.

Fastest one-click ever! Here are those purchase links again:

Purchase Links: Amazon US Amazon UK

MM Jaye

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How to be a Productive Writer at Home: Workplace Organization

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

While stateside today is a day to lay back and feast, for the rest of us it’s business as usual. The “as usual” part can be seriously improved, though, following simple, doable tips. And what’s a better way to digest them than an infographic?

photoToday, I’m pleased to welcome Emily Johnson from Omnipapers.com, a website about writing life of students and everyone who creates content for the Web. Emily also is a contributor to many websites about blogging, writing, and content marketing. She shares her writing experience with others, and you can always find more works of hers on G+.

In this article, she will give us insights on how to boost our writing productivity through paying more attention to the organization side of things. She’s also sharing a great infographic to illustrate her points. Emily, the floor is yours.

How to be a Productive Writer at Home: Workplace Organization

Every writer wants to be creative, innovative, and interesting. The most common way to achieve these goals is to boost productivity. There are many writers who work from home where it’s nearly impossible to stay focused. However, there are several tips that might help you become a productive writer.

In fact, a well-organized workplace impacts your attention, cleverness, and productivity.

While you are thinking about the best ways to organize your workplace, pay attention to OmniPaper’s infographic ‘Your Writing Cabinet Organization’, as here you can find an incredible piece of advice. Keep on reading to reveal more.

Clean Your Writing Desk Up

Being a writer means thinking about new ideas, insights, and creative drafts. A writing desk is an important workplace for all writers. Sometimes you can turn your desk into a messy table where you can’t find anything: drafts, utensils, gadgets, cups, etc. If you want to stay productive and don’t waste time, form a habit to clean up your table every day. Use lockers, boxes, and bookshelves to keep everything organized.

Organize Your Writing Cabinet

The writing process is not just creating drafts and texts, editing, proofreading, and publishing. It is also communicating with clients, setting up goals, learning something new, and boosting inspiration. Thus, you need to divide your workplace into two zones: computer and non-computer ones.

  • A computer zone is for work;
  • A non-computer zone is for inspiration and relax.

Add Comfort

If you want to stay healthy, you need to add some comfort. Your office chair should support the lower back to reduce a risk of health problems. Plus, you need to work standing sometimes to prove upper back and neck pain relief. Take care of your health!

Check out more interesting ideas about workplace organization below. Let’s boost productivity once and for all.
ways to organize your writing cabinet

Definitely not following most of this advice. I have to step up to the plate and become more oganized if I really want to meet my goals for 2016.

Thank you, Emily, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating!

 

How I wrote 28K words in two days – Guest post by Ivy Sinclair

I got you there, didn’t I? I can picture those of you who know me doing a double-take. It famously took me four years to write my first book, but I’ve been hanging out with a crowd that really really pumps out words, and their attitude towards writing has rubbed off on me.

Ivy Sinclair is the author of shifter suspense and paranormal thriller novels. She published this post of how she churned out 28K words in two days in one of the author groups I follow, and I just had to ask for it. Read through and get inspired. Duplicating her feat sounds next to impossible, but her attitude and determination have inspired me into quadrupling my daily output. Ivy, take it from here:

How I Wrote 28,000 Words in Two Days

by Ivy Sinclair

Greyelf

This post isn’t intended to be a braggery kind of post, but hopefully offer up some helpful tips for any writer who wants to write faster and get a ton of words down on the page. The way I do this isn’t for the faint of heart and isn’t something I just woke up one morning and said “I’m going to be a crazy ass writing fool today.” I write fast- and this just tells you how fast and how much I can write when I’m properly motivated.

Even if you have no desire to ever try any of this kind of lunacy (much like I enjoy running well enough to do a 5K, but I have no desire to run a marathon), you might find a tip or trick here in any case.

Prior to this particular 2-day writing marathon, my personal best for 2 solid days of writing was in the 20-22K word range. I had done that several times, and I honestly thought this marathon was going to be the same. Turns out, because I needed to get to “THE END” no matter what- I needed to go longer than I anticipated. Luckily, I had set myself up to do it and out popped the necessary 6,000 more words.

Let’s dig in.

deadline

The first piece of the puzzle involved the dreaded “D” word: DEADLINE

Whether self-imposed or put on you by someone else (I’m looking at you, Amazon- stupid 10-day pre-order window deadline), having a deadline creates a sensation of what I’ll call positive anxiety. Your deadline should be publically announced somehow- tell your family or friends, tell your fans. Absolutely, write it down. Put a note in your calendar. Make sure it’s visible there in front of you all the time.

In my case, I’d written half of my novel already but had slacked off a bit. When I was 10 days away from the promised publishing date that I’d given my fans, I knew I was quickly approaching the point of no return. It was disappoint my fans or get the manuscript done. That deadline set the fire under my ass.

prepareThe second piece of the puzzle is SCHEDULE.

You have your deadline. You (hopefully) know enough about yourself and your writing process to know how long you realistically need to accomplish your goal, and you know what you have going on in the rest of your life around that time. Strategically pick days/times that work best for you to focus exclusively and wholeheartedly on your story.

That means you might have to have some tough conversations with the people around you to tell them to leave you the heck alone—of course, I’d soften that by sharing with them the importance of what you’re trying to do and how they can best support you. Get their buy-in and make them your cheerleaders. Promise them updates in-person (if you live with them) or via text or social media. Having a cheering squad is kind of fun— and also serves the purpose of keeping them out of your face.

I picked a weekend where I had no commitments on Sat/Sun, and the kids were with my husband’s ex. Quiet house. I encouraged my husband to rev up his Xbox One and have at it for the weekend. Win-win.

outlineThe third piece of the puzzle is PREPARATION.

Now, this is the point in the post where I expect to lose the pantsers, so I’ve got to say something brilliant. How about, I’ll give you some thoughts on how to make a tiny, little, minimal outlining task fun? (I promise—practically painless.)

I was scarred for life by the horrible outlining requirements for school papers back in junior high/high school. If I never have to look at main bullet + 3 required sub-bullets format again in my life, it’ll be too soon. I vehemently opposed doing any kind of plotting ahead of time with my books, and I did okay with that for a long time.

Then I started interviewing other authors earlier this year, and these were people who were seriously killing it in terms of sales and building a rabid fan base. Almost without exception, every one of them plotted their books out in advance. Some of them went far more in-depth than others, and everybody’s process seemed a bit different. That’s when I realized that I could make plotting what I wanted it to be in a way that worked for ME. Suddenly, my opposition to the idea waned.

Here’s what I do. (This is the FUN part.) I put a big whiteboard up on the wall of my office. I separated it into the 3-act story structure. (That’s a whole other post, but that has completely changed the dynamic of my writing.) Then I bought a stack of brightly colored post-it notes. On each one, I wrote one sentence describing a scene in my story. (In black sharpie, so the sentences aren’t that long.) Then I stuck the post-it up on the board where it fit in the story.

When you have that done for every scene (or chapter), you have a lovely visual diagram of your story. You can move bits around if something doesn’t make sense or add something in if you see a gap. This whole process can take me anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on the story length.

Then I open up my pre-formatted Word document and align chapter headings to my storyboard. I type in my one sentence summary for each chapter/scene. I take a break. Later, I come back and flesh out the chapter summaries a bit more- usually 200-250 words per chapter.

That’s it. That’s the extent of my outline, and I made it as painless as possible.

Now, if I’m doing a preorder, that’s what I use for my drat file upload. I know some folks will probably flip about that, but I’ve used this process over half a dozen times, and it works for me. I’ve never missed a deadline, and I don’t plan on it. I put a warning note at the top that if they’re seeing that message to contact Amazon because they got the wrong file (in case Amazon messes up the draft vs. final file for some reason.)

Now we are really for the crucial piece of the puzzle: SPRINTS.

You’ve scheduled your time and cleared your calendar. You’ve committed publically and to yourself you’re going to do this thing. You have your outline (however bony or robust it is) ready and raring to go.

It’s time to strap your butt to your chair and get the job done. I haven’t found a more effective way to do this than Pomodoro sprints. 25-minute writing sessions following by a 5-min break before starting again. After having used sprints for a couple of years, I know that I average 1250 words in a single sprint. I realize that not everyone is going to hit that, but if you know what you’re going to write (see PREPARATION above), and you keep practicing, you will get faster than you are right now.

When you know your average wordcount per sprint, you can divide that by the number of words you need to get in, and that’ll tell you how many sprints you need to do in the time you have allocated. During my massive wordcount days, I usually plan on 10K words per day. That’s 8 sprints of 1250 each.

I break it down like this: 4 sprints in the morning while I’m fresh. 2 sprints in the afternoon because that’s when my energy is low, and my attention span has a tendency to wander. 2 final sprints in the evening before I give myself the reward of having a glass of wine and watching one of my favorite TV shows or movies.

Honestly, when I do it like this I still have time to have proper sitdown meals with my husband, putter a bit on the internet, and go to the gym or run errands. Or sit my lazy butt on the couch and stare off into space. It doesn’t feel that strenuous. The thing is, you can’t let yourself get distracted so much that you don’t come back and do the work. (Very important!!)

I’d recommend changing the scenery up throughout the day too. I usually write those first 4 sprints at my local Starbucks. Then I do the afternoon/evening sprints in different places in my house. I listen to either baroque or early jazz music with headphones during my sprints (also effective for giving my husband a clue that I am busy…) and that is the only time I listen to those genres of music. That’s a productivity brain hack I read years ago to help train my brain to focus on writing. Do whatever you need to do to fight any kind of desire to be distracted.

When I had my 28,000 word weekend, I wrote 10K words on my first day and realized that if I did the same on the 2nd day, I still had too much runaway left on the story to finish it out. My whole goal was to get to the end of the story. So I did more sprints to fill-in during the afternoon and evening. I wrote “THE END” on the manuscript about 11pm that 2nd day, and I had done 15 sprints. (Some were a bit shorter because I got interrupted btw.)

My eyes were blurry. My brain was mush. But it was done.

Don’t miss the final step of the puzzle: CELEBRATE

My favorite way to celebrate completing the first draft of a manuscript is to open a bottle of champagne and have a toast with my husband. Know that if you attempt anything like this, the day after you’re done your body will probably be sore, and your brain pretty fuzzy. What tempers it is the giddy feeling of kicking ass and taking names for a job well done. 🙂

I’d recommend taking the day off work completely and being kind to yourself. Sleep in. Get a massage. Take a long walk. Go shopping. Take a nap. Veg in front of the TV. Whatever strikes your fancy but recognize that it is important to do that if you ever think you’d do it again.

So that’s it. How I wrote 28,000 words in two days and some thoughts on how you could do the same. Happy Writing!

Recommended Resources: 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron for rapid writing, 5,000 WPH app from Chris Fox for timing sprints and tracking wordcounts

So what do you think about that, folks? Outworldly? Impossible? Doable? Whatever you think, let’s all give Ivy a round of applause because a feat it is. Bravo, Ivy!

About the Author

Ivy Sinclair is the author of the Greyelf Grizzlies bear shifter suspense series as well as the necromancer and demon paranormal thriller serial, Protect Her. She is a firm believer in true love, a happily ever after ending, and the medicinal use of chocolate to cure any ailment of the heart. Ivy’s guilty pleasures include sushi, endless Starbucks lattes, and wine. Connect with Ivy on Twitter @Author_Ivy or on Facebook.

The phenomenal Kim Linwood – Part Two

Last time I invited Kim Linwood over to talk about the spanking success of Rebel, her debut stepbrother romance (no blood-related MCs, big HEA) and her method, I ended up publishing one of the most read and widely shared posts on this blog (here is the interview if you missed it). Her second outing with Bossy in the same sub-genre was equally successful, proving that she’s here to stay. I’m super excited to have Kim back to give us the lowdown on how she repeated her feat of producing a book that topped Kindle categories and shot up the Kindle bestseller list.

Welcome back, Kim! Are you ready for another third degree? Your success is too good not to be shared. Let’s start with your writing process. Bossy was published four months after Rebel but still, having read both books, I felt you have grown as an author. What are the writing areas that you worked on more this time around?

Thank you! I feel like Bossy is a better book, but it’s really difficult to evaluate when you’re so close to the source. By the time you’ve read over the book for the millionth time, you’re convinced it’s terrible, completely unfunny and hopelessly unromantic.

This time I tried to work on character depth and story depth, without losing the humor and plain fun that I try to inject into my stories. Declan and Claire’s relationship builds more naturally in Bossy, I think, and there’s a subplot narrative beyond just “I love/hate you” that helps drive the story and their relationship forwards. Obviously, the readers will determine whether I succeeded or not, but that was at least what I was going for. 🙂

You target a commercial, trendy romance niche: the stepbrother romance. Do you adjust your story to fit a specific mold? Do you follow a specific recipe or do you go by instinct? 

This is a difficult question to answer. By writing to a niche, I suppose the answer is always going to be yes, since I keep the niche in mind while planning the book. On the other hand, it’s a type of book that I really enjoy writing, putting my personal touch to it. I think my books have a definite comedic aspect to them, and I try to make the characters bigger than life with a bunch of over the top antics, all while writing a solid romance with real emotions and a happy ending at the core of it. I think my style works pretty well for the stepbrother/bad boy tropes, so I guess the answer is yes and no. The niche guides my decisions when I plan the book, but they’re usually decisions I might’ve made anyway, so I’m not sure if those count as concessions or not.

You published Rebel in May with great results. What knowledge have you gained since in terms of marketing a book? What did you do differently this time?

To be honest, I’ll be following more or less the same plan. Rebel was #11 in the Amazon Kindle store at its best, and it’s impossible to not be very happy about that. Obviously, I was hoping for a repeat success, but while I was hopeful, it’d be crazy for me to expect it. It could be quite possible that Rebel was a fluke, or just happened to show up at the right place at the right time. It was my first novel, and with a sample size of one, it’s difficult to glean any meaningful data. So for now, I’ll keep going with what I know worked last time, and then in a month or two, I’ll look back at this launch and see if there’s anything I feel needs to change.

Do you see the stepbrother romance trend holding up? Is there another romance niche on the rise?

There are definitely fewer stepbrother novels hitting the top ranks these days, so the trend might be dying down, or there might just be a lull right now. That said, I still see authors doing well with them and I know there are more coming from authors I respect. I have a lot of fun with the trope, so I’ll probably keep at them while readers enjoy them. That said, bad boys and sassy heroines don’t really seem to go out of style, even if the specifics change. Whether they’re werewolves, bikers, stepbrothers, MMA fighters, or something else, I think they’ll be around in some form for a long time to come. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a few with different tropes just to mix it up. 🙂

As for coming genres, I have hopes for science fiction romance. The new Star Wars movie comes out around Christmas, and authors like Ruby Lionsdrake and Mina Carter have had good luck with them. If they’re going to get to top 10 material, I don’t know, though. I think writing sci-fi would be a ton of fun, but contemporary romance does seem to be the vast majority of the bestsellers, but there was certainly periods for werewolves and vampires in the past, so maybe the fantastical will get another chance. There are many authors who are still doing really well in those categories.

I guess my answer is, I don’t know, but if it’s not stepbrothers, I think it’ll be difficult to go wrong with the bad boys in some format. 😉

I know you sent out over 300 ARCs which got you over 100 reviews on the first day of Bossy’s publication. With only one book out and a budding platform, how did you connect with such a large number of potential readers and got them to give up their email address?

Well, for Rebel, I sent out 113 ARCs, I think it was, so the first thing I did was to ask them to sign up if they wanted to do an ARC again. I do a new signup each time to keep the list fresh. I figure that’ll get rid of those who didn’t care for the previous book and probably aren’t a good match as an ARC reader anyway. Also, my mailing list had about 230 people on it at the time, so I offered all of them to sign up as ARC readers.

At the same time, I try to get to know other authors, especially ones who write in similar genres, and we’ll do newsletter exchanges, so several of my friends sent notes to their mailing lists asking for ARC signups. In addition, I used Facebook, but I do think the majority came from the newsletters and previous ARC reviewers.

Endorsement through newsletters. Awesome! I keep seeing indie authors adding a whole other book at the end of a new release (two even). You’ve also added Rebel in its entirety as a bonus novel in Bossy. Why an entire book when it’s already up on Amazon and not just the one chapter?

With the way Kindle Unlimited has changed to paying authors by the page, there’s really very little reason to not give the reader as much content as you can, with as low of a barrier as possible. If it’s as simple as flipping a page to start reading another of your books, the threshold is virtually zero, at least so long as the reader likes your writing to begin with. You still have to generate quality product, writing good stories well, or they’ll never get there. But so long as they do, it’s a win/win situation for author and reader.

That makes so much sense. So, readers, you see that writing well is just one of the talents a successful author possesses (although it’s the number one talent, and that will never change). But if sales matter to you, then you have to keep abreast of trends, pool resources with others, and keep those books coming out! (Maria, are you listening?)

Kim, thank you so much for allowing me to tap into your insights for the second time. Here’s to you coming over a third with another bestseller, equally jaw-dropping stats and more useful tips.

Thank you so much, and believe you me, I hope so too! 😉

Links used in this article:

Bossy: A Stepbrother Romance (with bonus novel Rebel)Amazon US–   Amazon UK

My review of Bossy

Rebel: A Stepbrother Romance)Amazon US– Amazon UK

My review of Rebel

Kim’s first Q&A on MM Jaye writes

Connect with Kim Linwood

Sitehttp://kimlinwood.com
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/kimlinwood
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kim.linwood

WIP Wednesday: Q&A with author and editor Alicia Dean

Alicia Dean Tin Man BWI haven’t posted a Q&A in a while, but I will compensate through introducing you to today’s guest, author, blogger and freelance editor, Alicia Dean. Alicia likes spinning spine-chilling stories, but she’s successfully delved into romance and paranormal as well. Scarred is her latest release, a Gothic short that appears in the Mysteries of the Macabre, a Halloween anthology, available just in time for the creepy holiday everybody loves.

Apart from her author’s work, we’ll talk about PoVs and newbie writer errors, so come join us!

Alicia, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP process and your editing services, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

In addition to writing and editing, I work as a legal assistant for a family law firm. I am a huge Elvis fan. I love MLB and NFL. And, I love watching tv. You would think that takes away from my editing/writing time, but I get a lot of work done in front of the television…promise! J I have three grown kids who come over and hang out with me on a fairly regular basis, which I love. So far, none of them are married or have children, so I still get some of their time.

Halloween_cover_lowresYou’re an author and a professional editor. What came first?

 Being an author. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. Although, now that I think about it, I was officially an editor for The Wild Rose Press before my first book was published. So…

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

As a teen, High School teacher Sabrina Spencer survived a serial killer attack at Christmas that took her entire family. Ten years later, a few weeks before Christmas, bizarre gifts begin arriving with a threat linked to the Twelve Days of Christmas. At the cabin she rents each year to escape the holidays, she meets Josh, a sexy handyman and a playboy who is the opposite of the kind of man she needs. The threats escalate and her students could be in danger as the Twelfth Day approaches. Sabrina must determine if she can trust Josh or if he is the one sending the twisted gifts.

Ha, just over 100!

Well done, and an enticing story you’ve got there! When you set word count goals, do you usually follow through? Do you have an effective writing method or time saving tips that you would like to share?

Honestly, I am usually behind on my goals, mainly because I have so many other projects that need my attention. The only time saving method I have is to use the speech to text function in Word. I am still trying to get used to it, but if I close my eyes and visualize the scene and just ‘speak’ it, I seem to write more quickly.

I’ve read that although this seems like a strange process, it gradually grows on you and you can indeed add words to your WIP. You run a very interesting blog. My favorite column is your Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip where you post excellent editing tips and sample edits of authors’ WIPs. You go for “deep PoV” edits”. Could you define “deep point of view writing”?

Thank you! I enjoy blogging and I enjoy sharing tips with others. Deep POV writing is when readers are brought closer to the experiences of the characters, rather than being distanced. It’s closely related to ‘showing’ vs ‘telling.’ Using filter words that distance the reader (such as ‘saw’ ‘heard’ ‘felt’ ‘wondered’ ‘thought’ etc) are signs that you might not be in deep POV. Also, using phrases that a character wouldn’t think about themselves, for example: (Let’s pretend we’re in my heroine, Sabrina’s, POV)

Sabrina wondered if Josh was the one sending the gifts. Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. The teacher’s blue-gray eyes filled with tears. She jumped in fear when she heard the phone ring.  (or, another common way sentences like the first one are stated: Josh could be sending  the gifts, she thought).

There is no need to tell us she wondered or thought. And, believe it or not, some writers DO say things like ‘the teacher or detective did this or the woman did that’ when they are in a character’s POV because they don’t want to keep using the names or pronouns, but that distances the reader, as do words like ‘heard’ and that last sentence is “telling” and distant POV. Also, a character won’t think of the color of their own eyes, or any of their physical qualities unless they are looking at them or it has something to do with their thoughts, such as: “She hated the way the humidity made her hair frizz.”

 This is better:

Was Josh the one sending the gifts? Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. Please, don’t let him be the one… Tears rose, and she wiped her eyes. The shrill ring of the phone made her jump. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears. (This could all be worded better, but my aim was just to make it deeper POV, less telling. No need to tell us she was ‘in fear’ and using ‘when the’ gives readers a head’s up and puts it in past tense, more or less)

Going deep in writing seems to be the name of the game. I attended a relevant course, and the teacher said that a writer stands no chance being picked up by an agent if she doesn’t go deep. Is that so? And does that apply to all genres?

I can’t speak for all agents, but I would say that it would be difficult to pick up an agent or get published without going deep. They may reject you without telling you that you didn’t use deep POV, but oftentimes if you hear phrases like I wasn’t engaged in the story’ or ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters,’ it’s probably because of distant writing.

Can you give us the most common writing mistakes in a new writer’s manuscript? The ones you’ve come to expect to correct?

Some of the most common are telling vs showing, filter words (both of these related to deep POV, or lack thereof), and backstory dumps.

For more info on Alicia Dean’s freelance editorial services, click here. http://aliciadean.com/editing-services/

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

AliciaWorkspace

Actually, I don’t have a very inspiring workspace, it is a corner of my bedroom with no outside view. But, I do hang things above my computer that inspire me.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

My best marketing tip is to choose a few social media platforms and be consistent on those, rather than trying to be on them all. Find a few that you enjoy. Facebook and Twitter are my main focus. As for a promotional site, I run an Authors Helping Authors loop where we promote for one another so we aren’t always ‘tooting our own horn’ and I have met a fabulous group of supportive authors. This is the link if anyone would like to check it out:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AuthorsHelpingAuthors/info

Your site is http://aliciadean.com. Where else can we connect with you?

Blog: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008364070487

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Alicia_Dean_

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aliciamdean/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468339.Alicia_Dean

Alicia, thank you for the awesome interview. Best of luck with your future projects.

Thank you for having me! I enjoyed visiting with you.

We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips

I’m super excited to announce that I’m one of the contributors in an upcoming recipe & tips book inspired and edited by USA Today Bestselling author Lois Winston.  When Lois put out feelers, calling for submissions in the Authors Network Yahoo group, I thought that as an indie who’s way down the food chain (pun intended) I wouldn’t stand a chance, but I submitted anyway. And I’m in among NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors!

The book entitled We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips is already up for pre-order for only 99 cents with its release date set for October 30.

Read on for all the book details and please consider purchasing or gifting it as part of the proceeds will go to No Kid Hungry https://www.nokidhungry.org.

We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips

Editor: Lois Winston
Release Date: October 30
Pre-order link: Amazon

Book Description

Have you ever wished you could find more time to do the things you want to do, rather than just doing the things you have to do? Most authors juggle day jobs and family responsibilities along with their writing. Because they need to find time to write, they look for ways to save time in other aspects of their lives.

Cooking often takes up a huge junk of time. In We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips you’ll find easy, nutritious recipes for meat, poultry, pasta, soup, stew, chili, and vegetarian meals. All of the recipes require a minimum of prep time, freeing you up to read, exercise, garden, craft, write, spend more time with family, or whatever.

Within the pages of We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips you’ll be introduced to authors who write a wide range of fiction—everything from mystery to romance to speculative fiction to books for children, young adults, and new adults—and some who write nonfiction. Some of the authors write sweet; others write steamy. Some write cozy; others write tense thrillers.

Some are debut authors with only one published book; others are multi-published and have had long publishing careers. Some are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors who may or may not be familiar to you, but being a bestselling author doesn’t mean they still don’t have to juggle their day job along with their writing.

The authors who contributed to this book are a rather creative and resourceful bunch when it comes to carving out time from their busy lives. So in addition to timesaving recipes, within the pages of this book you’ll find timesaving and organizational tips for other aspects of your life. And if you happen to be a writer, you’ll also find a plethora of great ideas to help you organize your writing life.

Authors who contributed to this book include: Lisa Alber, Reggi Allder, Judy Alter, Krista Ames, Rose Anderson, Cori Lynn Arnold, Judy Baker, Beverley Bateman, Donnell Ann Bell, Paula Gail Benson, Kris Bock, Maureen Bonatch, Ava Bradley, Susan Breen, Lida Bushloper, Michelle Markey Butler, Ashlyn Chase, Judy Copek, Maya Corrigan, Mariposa Cruz, Melinda Curtis, Lesley A. Diehl, Conda V. Douglas, Nancy Eady, Helena Fairfax, Jennifer Faye, Flo Fitzpatrick, Kit Frazier, Shelley Freydont, Mariana Gabrielle, Rosie Genova, Marni Graff, Joanne Guidoccio, Margaret S. Hamilton, L.C. Hayden, Linda Gordon Hengerer, Heather Hiestand, R.Franklin James, Kathryn Jane, M.M. Jaye, Elizabeth John, Stacy Juba, Gemma Juliana, Carol Goodman Kaufman, Melissa Keir, Kay Kendall, A.R. Kennedy, Lynn Kinnaman, Marie Laval, B.V. Lawson, Claudia Lefeve, Alice Loweecey, Cynthia Luhrs, Sandra Masters, Lisa Q. Mathews, J.M. Maurer, Sandra McGregor, Kathy McIntosh, Claire A. Murray, Ann Myers, Tara Neale, Stacey Joy Netzel, Jayne Ormerod, Alice Orr, Laurel Peterson, Irene Peterson, Pepper Phillips, Caridad Pineiro, Kathryn Quick, Renée Reynolds, Josie Riviera, Elizabeth Rose, C.A. Rowland, Cindy Sample, Sharleen Scott, Terry Shames, Susan C. Shea, Judy Penz Sheluk, Joanna Campbell Slan, Karen Rose Smith, Lynette Sofras, Kaye Spencer, Skye Taylor, Lourdes Venard, Lea Wait, Regan Walker, Lois Winston, and Aubrey Wynne.

Thank you, Lois, for offering me a spot in this awesome book, and all of you readers for considering its purchase or promotion.

MM Jaye

Critique Groups are for everyone – Guest Post by Jami Gray

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Today, Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance author Jami Gray gives her insight into the benefits of being part of a critique group. It makes an awesome read, especially since it draws on personal experience.

SHADOW’S EDGE, the first book in Jami Gray’s amazing KYN KRONICLES urban fantasy series is FREE for a limited time! For more details on the book and an enticing excerpt, click here.

Guest post by Jami Gray

Critique Groups Are For Everyone 

Let me just start out by saying, I’m a HUGE advocate of critique groups.  If there was one small gem I could share with any writer it would be: Go forth and become part of a critique group.

I can hear the moans and groans now.  “I’ve already tried, but…” and the list of reasons why to avoid a critique group grows by the minute.

“…it was too big”

“…the people were strange”

“…they didn’t get my writing style”

“…I don’t have time”

“…meet new people? Really?”

and so on.

Don’t leave!  Let me tell you how I finally, after three years of critique group shopping, found my home with the 7 Evil Dwarves.  I even stayed for seven years, an eternity for any critique group.

Writing has been part of who I am for…forever.  While in college I thought being the anti-social, reclusive hermit was a pre-requisite for every aspiring writer. I wouldn’t share what I wrote unless I was submitting to publishers. I know (ducking the head), if I could, I’d go back and smack myself for that alone.

Somehow as I was finishing up my first college tour, I managed to come out of my cave long enough to marry my best friend.  A few years passed, writing took a bit of a backseat as I finished an advanced tour of college, (yes, professional student did get mentioned once or twice). Writing got pushed back even further when my little family of two, went to three and eighteen months later, to four.

As you can see, insanity was bound to set in and when it finally began popping up in various forms, I knew it was time to turn back to my own self-therapy—writing.

My first problem was nerves.  I could write. That part was easy.  I could do it hiding in a closet, under a blanket with a flashlight so the little rug crawlers couldn’t find me.  I could jot a few lines in-between real work and family-raising time. Writing is a solo adventure, right? Wrong.

My very loving, and patient, hubby finally dragged me out of the house, pushed me out of the moving car and said, “Go spend some time with this Mothers’ Writing group.”  He didn’t even wait for my response, as if it could’ve been heard over the squealing tires disappearing in a cloud of dust.

I stumbled to my feet and cautiously made my way into my very first writing group.  They were great—women from various walks of life, writing in a variety of genres.  This first group became the ones who made me realize how valuable a support group (aka critique group) is to a writer.

Feeling bolder, I waved good-bye to that group and began a long journey on my search for “my” critique group.  Considering I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, it was a rocky road.

The first group was large, twenty people at a minimum, and every genre under the sun was represented.  It was heartbreaking to hear how someone thought my work was “too dark and depressing”, or another couldn’t understand “why anyone would believe magic existed in the real world”. I almost gave up, but do you know what I found?

The core of the 7 Evil Dwarves.  These were writers of Speculative Fiction, a term I hadn’t heard used before.  Soon, four or five of us decided a smaller group would be more productive.  Plus, wouldn’t it help if everyone knew what Spec Fic was?

Our group underwent a great many changes.  Anything important always does.  It took us almost five years to create a solid, steady group.  We had some great members stop and share their creations with us, and then move on.  And yes, we’ve had a few entertaining guests, which I’m under threat of death by zombies if I reveal, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. You’ll probably come up with more exciting scenarios anyway.

There were times I was scared to death to set my stuff before my group.  The whispers of my very loving and supportive critique group twisted through my mind when I wrote. It helped if I was a few (or more) chapters ahead of where they were critiquing, but when they were right behind me—I found myself overanalyzing every word I typed. I became hyperaware of small edit type things instead of getting the basic story out on paper.

See the Evil 7 were damn good. They caught everything. From how many times I used “ing” to how much I truly suck at math anything (do you know what a polyhedron is? I don’t.). They made great therapists. I mean, how many of your friends would take the time to discuss the nature of relationships between dragons and warlocks, or how manipulative a ghost can be with three young friends? Uh-huh, I thought so.

Then came the point in ever writer’s life, I outgrew my group. It wasn’t an easy decision. Seven years I spent with these fantastic writers, mining every bit of advice, hoarding their critiques for more. But things changed, and so did my writing, to the extent that I felt our critiques weren’t quite the chisel they’d once been. So I bid the Evil 7 adieu with many hugs, and back out I went. This time, I found writing partners, two to three individuals I could trust to give me honest feedback, because in the end, that is what writers want and need.

I’m still a firm believer in critique groups. While I struggled to build my worlds into cohesive realities, breath life into my characters, and untangle the twists and turns of my plots, I knew there was this great group who had my back. The Evil 7 might have driven me to screaming when they pointed out how much my new character channeled my previous one, or questioned the depth of trust between characters who’d been to hell and back, but you know what? Even though the holes they pointed out scared me, I was ever so grateful, because when it was all done and I clicked save for the last time, I had a story that was stronger than what I started with. That’s why I loved my critique group, even when they scared me.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…

Shadow’s Edge (The Kyn Kronicles, Book 1)

Author: Jami Gray

Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Purchase Links:

AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE / BLACK OPAL BOOKS / ARe / SMASHWORDS / iBOOKS / KOBO / SCRIBD

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SHADOW’S EDGE: BOOK 1 OF THE KYN KRONICLES

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Jami Gray SmallAbout the Author

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon

Complication Cards: a must-read guest by Ines Johnson, author of The Loyal Steed

Ines Johnson has become a regular on this blog. Whenever she has a new release (and this girl is prolific!) she sends such tantalizing guest posts, I’d make space for them even if my schedule was full–which is not (mental note to blog more 🙂 ).

This time Ines’ guest post is about digging deep into your characters to define their inner needs as opposed to their wants, and how to structure your story based on that. Really worth your time. But before you get there, here are the details on Ines’ latest release The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound, a serialized erotic dystopian story. The first part was released on May 12.

The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound novel

by Ines Johnson
Release date: May 12
Genres: Erotic romance, dystopian
Purchase Link: Part 1 | Part 2 (Pre-order) | Part 3 (Pre-order)

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Synopsis

Jaspir has been in love with Lady Merlyn since they were children, but she has always been out of his reach. Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, his heart has always remained loyal to his true love.

Liam was promised to Merlyn in their youth, but he’s always known that he’s not the man in her heart. With their betrothal approaching, Liam seeks out Jaspir for help. Eager to ensure the happiness of the woman they both love, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts.

What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons. In a society where men are second class citizens, Merlyn is torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.

GUEST POST

Complication Cards

THE HOLE CHARACTER

All characters have holes (notice it rhymes with goals). You open the first chapter and find a human being who believes they are lacking something crucial in their lives. Perhaps it’s the dream job, or the right social circle, or their mother’s approval, or maybe it’s love.

Rarely do you enter the world of a character who finds themselves whole. A part is usually missing. For the next tens of thousands of words you will embark upon a journey with that character to fill that void.

Characters fill these holes in one of two ways; with either a want or need.

Remember when you were young and you wanted the fancy pair of jeans? Think Brenda in 90210. Fresh from the Midwest, thrown into the dangerous waters of the Beverly Hills elite, and her working class parents couldn’t afford the patchwork, ripped jeans that cost the same as a car payment. But Brenda wanted those holey jeans so that she could fit in with Kelly and Donna. In Carol’s, her mother’s eyes, there was a need for a new pair of pants for Brenda to wear to school and that’s what Brenda got. Now if we watched that 20-year old episode we know what Brenda did to those new pair of jeans; she made holes in her jeans to fill her social void.

You might want a pair of Louis Vuitton, but in the end you need a pair of functioning heels to go with that cute dress.

A want is a false goal, a red herring that throws both the reader and the character off the true course that will fill the character’s hole. It takes some time and some bumps in the road before the character realizes their want is not likely what they need. The need perfectly fills the void the character has been experiencing.

Exercise

Take a look at your main character(s). What is it that they need in order to be whole again? Now consider if it would serve your story for your character to have a false goal that keeps them from seeing their true need for a good portion of the story?

THE OBSTACLE COURSE

Before a character can see their need, they have to yearn after a want, which takes them on a bumpy ride to nowhere.

This obstacle course consists of four physical and/or internal complications that force the hero or heroine to make decisions that produce dramatic action.

The four kinds of obstacles are:

The Antagonist (Bad Guy)

A specific antagonist lends clarity and power to the dramatic structure because his primary function is to oppose the protagonist. He doesn’t necessarily have to be evil, but he should personify the protagonist’s obstacles.

Example: Cinderella’s Wicked Step Mother

Physical Obstructions

Physical obstructions are just what they seem –material barriers standing in the way of the protagonist. These can be rivers, deserts, mountains, a dead-end street, or a car causing a crash –anything that presents a substantial obstacle for the protagonist.

Example: Arielle’s fin

Inner/Psychological Problems

Inner obstacles are intellectual, emotional, or psychological problems the protagonist must overcome before being able to achieve his goal. For example, dealing with fear, pride, jealousy, or the need to mature fall into this category.

Example: Fiona’s (from Shrek) appearance

Mystic Forces

Mystic forces enter most stories as accidents or chance but they can be expressed as moral choices or ethical codes, which present obstacles. They can also be personified as gods or supernatural forces, which the characters have to content with.

Example: Tiana’s (from The Frog Prince) magical transformation into a frog

Exercise

Which of these obstacles will your character face? Will they face more than one type of obstacle during the course of the story?

THE SCENE

You’ve discovered your character’s need, and potentially their want, which is a false goal. You’ve learned about the four types of obstacles that can obstruct your character on the way to achieving their goals and filling their need. Now, to build a heart-pounding story where you send your character through the toughest obstacle course you can imagine, you should map out a blueprint for the course.

Four Elements of a Story

  1. HERO/HEROINE

Primary character looking to fill the void in their life.

  1. WANT

A false goal that the hero/heroine initially believes is their path to wholeness.

  1. OBSTACLE

One of the four obstacles opposing the hero/heroine.

  1. NEED

The true goal of the hero/heroine which will satisfy their void.

OBSTACLE COURSE CARD

EXAMPLES

Antagonist example

In the Cinderella adaptation Ever After, Danielle (heroine) works tirelessly to gain acceptance (want) from her stepmother (antagonist) until she realizes her family of friends, including the Prince, love her unconditionally (need).

Physical example

In The Little Mermaid adaptation Splash, yes I went there!, Madison (heroine) leaves the sea to be with Allen (want) but when her legs get wet and her fins come back (obstacle) she’s forced to tell Allen the truth of her existence in the hopes that he’ll come and spend forever with her under the sea (need).

Inner/Psychological example

In the unconventional fairy tale Shrek, Princess Fiona (heroine) hopes to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (want) who will break her curse (obstacle) until she realizes that true love is “color” blind (need).

Mystic Forces example

In The Frog Prince, Tiana (heroine) dreams of opening a restaurant (want) but her dream takes a slight detour when she’s turned into a frog (obstacle) along with Prince Naveen and learns to seek and take help from others (need).

Exercise

Now its your turn. Fill out your own obstacle card for you story. If you want to take it a step farther, fill out a card for each scene!

About the Author

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect with the Author

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Publisher

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Great post, Ines! Thank you so much for sharing, and best of luck with The Loyal Steed!

GIF Friday: Beat It #5 (Kristen Stewart)

The winner of Beat It #4 with Matt Bomer is Karli Rush, author of dark, paranormal romance. The post on her upcoming release, Let Your Heart Drive, will be published on May 11.

You can’t know me well enough if you’re not aware of my ongoing Kristen Stewart fanship. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to her. It’s a wonder I didn’t start this meme with her, but this week is all about the Queen of brooding chic.

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Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

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Kristen Stewart @Jean_Nelson (depositphotos.com)
  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

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GIF Friday #5 starring Kristen Stewart

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With a weird military salute her clingy friends leave. Finally. I’ve been nursing my empty coffee mug for half an hour.

She stayed behind. That must be a good sign, right?

I try to ignore the flutter in my heart. I have set myself up for rejection, and I’m not used to that. But she’s different. I might be the school’s baseball star, but she’s the one who serves mean curveballs.

That land right onto my stomach.

Wiping my hands on my jeans, I stand and go to her. “You’ve had over half an hour to think it over.” I sit on the chair next to her. “Eight o’ clock. Orchard Tri Cinemas. You and me. No friends this time. Are you in or out?”

(insert beat)

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So what it’ll be? Will she say ‘yes’ this time or not? End this story the way you want. Remember to add a workable link in your comment so that I can credit you properly.

Do you give a LOGLINE when you’re asked for a TAGLINE?

I’ve seen the issue of tagline vs logline raised in forum conversations, so I did some research on it. Apparently, if you pitch a movie script, and you claim that a logline is a tagline, it can be instantly rejected. I hope that when it comes to books this is not set in stone, but knowing what you’re talking about is always a sign of professionalism, and that’s what we’re all striving for.

TAGLINEvsLOGLINE

So what is the difference between a tagline and a logline?

Tagline

It’s a short catchphrase (or two but not more than three) that captures the essence of your story. Think about what you’d put on the cover of your book.

What to consider when creating a tagline

  • Hooking your reader (how? use puns, fresh language, incite feelings)
  • Serving your genre (how? use genre keywords)

Examples:

Tired of seeing him go through women like water, can she convince him to pull her out of the friend-zone? Blue Streak – Jules Barnard

In one sentence, the author “screams” romance and gives us a strong grasp of the premise—girl wants promiscuous boy to see her as more than just a friend. Note how the author hints at the heroine’s timid nature as she needs him to pull her out of the friend-zone.

Love will go on forever seeking another chance. The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi

This is a romance with a paranormal twist. Note the key phrase that denotes the sub-genre: love will go on forever

An unshared smile is a wasted smile. Runaway Smile — Nicholas C. Rossis (Children’s book)

Tragedy awaits. The Search by C.H. Little (Thriller)

What you mustn’t do

  • Don’t make it too long which would mean applying a smaller font for your cover (not readable in thumbnail size)
  • Don’t try to describe the plot (or you’ll get into “logline” territory)
  • Don’t make it too obscure (i.e. use a gimmick that makes no sense unless you read the book)

Logline

This is the shortest description possible of your plot. It has to be one sentence only of up to 50 words. If you go over, it becomes a synopsis. Less could be a tagline.

Whereas in the tagline you want to hint at what’s there and leave an aura of mystery, here you have to establish your protagonist and antagonist and explain why the reader would want to read your book. I’ve also seen it called “the elevator pitch”. Think about meeting an agent in an elevator, needing to answer the dreaded “what’s your book about” question.

The logline is not suitable for your book cover. You will want to include it in your Media Kit, though, together with the tagline and your official blurb.

What you should consider when creating a logline

  • What drives your MCs (internal drive)
  • What makes your book exciting (the conflict)

Here’s what I plan on using for my upcoming novella Fate Captured (a romance).

A young woman will stop at nothing to make the stubborn Greek man she’s fallen for see the truth about his family even if it means losing him forever.

My heroine’s internal drive is a need to uncover lies (she’s been lied to by her family, and it’s the one thing she cannot tolerate). My hero’s main personality trait is his stubbornness (well, his Greek DNA is not a big help in that area). Showing the premise for their clash and what that entails (her losing him forever, him hanging on to a distorted view of people that matter) is–hopefully–what makes the book an interesting read.

Now, the tagline for the same book would be:

She wants him to see the truth. He wants her out of his life. Even if she gives it meaning.

Here, the romance branding takes front seat. She gives meaning to his life, ergo his life is empty. He needs her, but he’s too stubborn to see it.

See the difference?

I found an interesting article in pdf form presenting various famous film loglines with comments about their effectiveness. It’s an excellent guide to help you create effective loglines.

http://www.norman-hollyn.com/535/handouts/loglines.pdf

If you’d like to bounce tag- or logline ideas off me, just use the comments’ section.

Thanks for reading!