Archive for the ‘#iartg’ Tag

Sculpting Novels   7 comments

What did you edit out of your most recent book? (or another book…let’s see those outtakes!)


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First Draft

Here in Alaska, we have an annual competition of ice sculptors from around the world. I’ve helped with some of these projects and noticed that they share something in common with novel writing. An ice sculptor takes a block — or several — of ice and pares it down to something beautiful.

I’ve published seven books, in addition to submitting shorts to anthologies, and my editing process is a great deal like the process I see ice sculptors using. I am an inveterate self-editor who does not like to share her books before they’re almost ready for prime time. I did allow an editor a somewhat early crack at “What If … Wasn’t” which is why it is under extensive rewrite still two years later. It’s a good process that will make a better book, but that’s not my normal way of doing things.

When I write a first draft and to a certain extent the rewrite, it’s almost all creative process. I create the block, the large strokes of the story. I do some spot editing while I write. I fix my obvious typos and correct my spelling errors and grammar when they jump out at me, but for the most part, my first draft is pure creativity. I want to get the story down. I’m concentrating on narrative voice and character interaction and sometimes action scenes will be just one or two sentences because that’s not where I live as a writer. I know I’m going to come back later, so I’m not worried about making mistakes. This is my time to get messy and to throw stuff in that might not work. If it sticks to the wall, great. If it doesn’t, I can always revise.


My second draft is actually a rewrite that will invariably have a lot cut from it, but it will also be longer than the first draft because when I read the manuscript in its entirely, A bit like an ice sculptor using what is called ice welding, I”ll recognize where there are holes or events that don’t make sense without context and I will provide those. I’m a character-drive writer, so often times I don’t bother with descriptions during the first draft. I add those on the second draft because I recognize that pages and pages of dialog makes tough reading and sometimes I’ll cut a lot of dialog because I don’t need it once I add the description.


I end up at negative editing in what can arguably be called my third draft. I don’t really experience it as another draft, but I’ve had editors and writing partners term it a third draft, so I’ll go with what they say.

This is where I get ambitious. Everything is up for grabs. A 12-word sentence can become a 9-word sentence with a tweak and a stronger verb. Whole conversations that were merely filler might be cut down to a few words. The plot has already been changed and rerouted during the rewrite, but it might get tweaked again. Sometimes I’ll decide a scene needs a change of POV because, for example, Jazz would see things Shane would not or vice versa. I’ve moved whole scenes from one location to another, swapped paragraph order or even substituted characters that weren’t in the original scene.

I pay particular attention to the voice of the characters at this point. And not just the characters who are speaking dialog, but the POV character’s narrative voice. There’s no reason to have more than one POV if they all sound as if they think alike.

Sometimes I cut whole scenes or pare a scene down to a few sentences in another scene. Nothing is sacred, although it is sometimes painful to kill my darlings.


A common mistake I find in my writing is I don’t have enough turning points. Many of my chapters miss that moment of no return as I get caught up in description and dialogue and just forget that the plot needs to move forward. I catch that on rewrite, putting in a realization or an action that can’t be undone. These sorts of “gates” inevitably lead to more conflict, which makes everything interesting.

Currently, I am editing “Gathering In”, the 5th book in the Transformation Project series. Of course sentences will be edited out and dialog trimmed, but there’s one fairly large part that is currently highlighted. It won’t be cut entirely because I think there’s some important character development in there that touches on future scenes, but it’s a little heavy-handed so it’s getting a major rewrite even in the third draft.

It’s a scene between the two brothers – Cai and Shane. Although I don’t write to a Christian audience, I do always want to present elements of my faith. Cai is a born-again Christian who makes mistakes. He recently had to kill a man because that man was a slaver (it’s an apocalyptic, right?) He’s torn up by this and seeks advice from his brother Shane who is not a Christian and is a mercenary with a lot of blood on his hands. Inevitably, the conversation will turn to faith because it’s a conflict between these two men. It’s a friendly conflict. Shane isn’t hostile toward his family’s beliefs, he just doesn’t accept them. Cai can get a little obnoxious (from Shane’s POV) but he means well. He believes Shane’s life would be better if he were a believer.

But the conversation is too long and too heavy-handed and so it’ll get pared – not deleted, just cut down to a few words and phrases so that Cai makes his points and Shane can reject them (or not) and move on. I can’t cut the scene entirely because it’s a healing scene for Cai and I can’t cut the conversation completely because there’s something Cai says in this section of the scene that is pivotal for events in the next book and rather than trying to explain what happened off-scene, I prefer to show it.

Yes, all that editing is a lot of work, but it is oh-so necessary. I spend at least as much time editing as I do writing the first draft. It’s a painful, but rewarding process as I hammer out scenes that I feel I can be proud of. I never send a draft to betas or editors that looks much like my first draft. I’m never sharing that draft with anyone (which is why I have no outtakes for this blog post). I would never knowingly dump a lousy draft on an editor. I want my book, whatever it is, to be as good as I can make it on my own before I let anyone else read it, especially before I pay anyone else to read it.

Posted September 16, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Big Heads & Clay Feet   6 comments

September 2, 2019

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

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Defining Terms

This isn’t an easy question to answer. It requires a fair amount of self-analysis and that’s always scary. None of us like to look at our own faults because — well, we prefer to think of ourselves as perfect which means we don’t have any faults. It’s a self-reinforcing denial and I have spent decades learning to be more honest with myself than I would like to be.

Before we can really discuss this topic, however, I think we need to define some terms.

Ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Self-esteem is confidence in one’s value as a human being. Psychologists say it is a highly positive factor in life correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships.

Conversely, too much self-love results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism in which individuals may behave in a self-centered, arrogant, and manipulative manner. Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories.

Ah, but there is wisdom in knowing the difference between having an out-sized narcissistic ego and a healthy self-protective ego. Legitimate self-worth is knowing the value of what you have accomplished and feeling good about both your product and your contribution to that product. Narcisstic self-esteem expects to be praised even when you have accomplished nothing of value. We all know those obnoxious people who think the world should praise them for existing. I know you know them. You know I know them. They’re ubiquitous.

Revisiting Writer Kryptonite

When we turn to the subject of ego in a writer’s life, we are touching on writer kryptonite. A big ego can hurt a writer who avoids constructive criticism that might make them a better writer, but might hurt their feelings. Conversely, a healthy ego can help a writer by shielding us from ill-intended negative criticism. It’s troll repellent. If you haven’t encountered any trolls in your writing life yet, you need to interact more with the world. Having the strength of character to repel vitriol is a useful attribute, especially in the era in which we live when people feel so free to be abusive toward anyone they disagree with.

Does Ego Help or Hurt Writers?

To a certain extent, writing and a big ego go hand in hand. Writers have big egos. You need a fair degree of self-worth to believe your words are worthy of other people reading them. There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to read your writing because you know it’s good and makes an impact. It feels wonderful to share that and positive feedback is the ultimate validation of what you already know – your words have worth. What could be more ego-boosting than that?

And, yet there are writers who clearly believe they are God’s gift to the reading world. Maybe they were praised a bit too much on their first book. Maybe they OD’d on sticker charts as a preschooler. Who knows? Probably doesn’t matter. We see them fuss over every bit of negative criticism and blustering on talk shows. They’re very proud of their accomplishment and (often, but not always) in need of a good dressing down. And they wonder why their second book doesn’t sell and they fade off into obscurity and (possibly) substance abuse, moaning and groaning that the audience was too stupid to grasp the wonderful truths found in their writing.

Be honest. You know a writer like that. And it can be a fine line between a healthy ego that accepts criticism to become a better writer and an outsized ego that is certain it needs nw guidance or feedback.

So Which Is It? Good or Bad?

Both. You have to know your own worth to publish a book. Someone with low self-esteem would never do that. Conversely, self-esteem needs to be healthy, not brittle and defensive. There’s a ying and yang to ego, a happy medium where we know our worth, but we are aware that we can make mistakes and we need positive feedback.

And, of course, I think I’m one of those balanced people, but if I’m honest — any wisdom I possess comes as a result of seeing the tension between self-worth and narcissism in my own life. I think my words have worth and that people will gain something from reading them. I can take criticism. I can even read venom and take a pause and decide whether there is anything worthwhile in it (and sometimes there is). And there’s a part of me that wishes I were perfect, but knows that the key to a good book is recognizing that I don’t want to sacrifice the good for the perfect.

By the way, I’ve written some books filled with words that are worth reading. Check them out and then go see what my fellow writers think about this question.

Posted September 2, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Cover Reveal Continued   2 comments

Welcome to Launch Day   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverA Threatening Fragility goes live today. All my books will be on 99-cent sale this week and A Threatening Fragility will be FREE for four days.

#Reviewers Wanted   1 comment

Image result for image of a threatening fragility markhamA Threatening Fragility publishes November 7, 2017, and I’m looking for reviewers … for the entire series.

I’m willing to give FREE ebooks for an honest review.

This is the third book for a libertarian-influenced apocalyptic series that asks “How would the people of a small Midwestern town survive if brought to a breaking point?”

If you’re interested, email me at with “Review Offer” in the subject line.

Posted November 6, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in books, Uncategorized

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Reveal Is Coming   Leave a comment

I believe that covers should have something to do with the book they represent. For example, the cover for Life As We Knew It (Book 1 of Transformation Project) featured a mushroom cloud behind a barn with a bomb shelter sign on it. It was meant to make people think … just how ready are we for a terrorist attack? Most communities are unprepared for the scenario I set up in the book.

Then, the cover for Objects in View (Book 2) featured the same mushroom cloud in the mirror of a car that is stuck in traffic. Wouldn’t that be exactly what would happen to us in such a scenario? We all live in cities and the preppers all plan to bug out, so everybody will be on the road, trying to get away.

So now I’m getting ready for the third book in the series, A Threatening Fragility. Watch for the cover reveal on August 30. You can join us on Facebook and sign up for the Rafflecopter giveaway if you’re interested.

#Free #Fantasy   Leave a comment

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverWho killed Prince Maryn? Human factions, dragons, mages & vengeful Celtic goddesses.

August 15-16 only


#free, #fantasy, #FRTG, #epic, #IARTG

Interview with Stephany Tullis   1 comment

Today’s interview is with STEPHANY TULLIS. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 


Stephany Tullis Author PicHello, I refer to myself as a ‘A Native New Yorker’. Typically, when most people think of New York, they think of New York City—one of the biggest cities in the world. I’m from upstate New York about two hours north of NYC. However, I love The City—as it is also called and have visited it many times but would not like to live there-. New York, however, is a city known for its style, flare, theatre, shopping and so much more. It is a progressive city where its residents and often first-time visitors learn the importance of coping with their environment and circumstances with an attitude and perspective of succeeding with the hand life has dealt them. It is that seeming ability to cope and handle it all that I bring to my personality. My father and some family members continue to live in New York State. Other family members live in Georgia where I also reside about 30 minutes north of Atlanta.

I currently have small business management consulting company but write full time for the most part.



At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my first book entitled The Master’s Plan, A Novel at the dare of my oldest son. I had unexpectedly left my management job in New York because of family reasons and relocated to the Atlanta area sooner than I expected. Upon relocation, I was extremely disappointed when I was not able to find a job. When I relocated, finding another job was the least of my worries. It was this New Yorker attitude that eventually led me to conclude that my sometimes brash, bold, fast talking, confident persona did not mesh well with the genteel southern sometimes-not-so-hospitable south.


Stephany Tullis Masters PlanAs I commiserated over my unemployment status, my son said quite cavalierly, ‘why don’t you do what you do best? Write! Write a book!’ I had never thought about writing fiction. Loved to read—always have and he was correct. I wrote but my expertise was in the areas of technical writing—contracts, proposals, speech-writing.

Needless to say, I took the dare and wrote my first book in 2013—a novel about a woman’s search for purpose.


What are you passionate about?

As I write in my bio, “In my world, there is no life without writing, traveling, family, music and my love of politics. My loves and interests are central to my writing.”

My world (my back-story) is guided by my faith and the inspiration I receive from God.

With this backdrop, regardless of the date or time of your visit, you will find family. Without exaggeration, family and relationships are the core of every book I write.

I love to travel and like me, my characters are always off and running and in so doing require me to research (and often visit) so many fascinating places.

I also love music—all kinds and I’m never surprised by what track finds its way to my personal playlists and a character’s ring tone, door chime, or car radio station.

People frown sometimes and don’t understand my love of politics, but I have a political administration background and thrived on it and in my past government career. For me, it’s the people, the process and what democracy offers. As with life, my fictional towns and cities include mayors, governors, school board members, etc.

If you haven’t guessed, I love my world that allows me the joy of living a life I love but most importantly, one where I can share it with others via my writing.



Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Stephany Tullis Blue LadyFrom start to finish, my writing is driven by my characters. There are times when I have an idea or a plot and storyline but as I create my characters, the story line and plot usually changes. For example, recently, I had developed a very general outline of my intended story. When I began my search for images for my cover design, the entire theme of my story changed as well as the qualities, quirks and characteristics of my characters. In this respect, my cover is very important to me and has a motivating influence on the development of my characters and the ultimate storyline. Additionally, I use a lot of dialogue in my stories and have been told that I am a cinemagraphic writer…scene and dialogue driven.



Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?

I am a pantster, i.e. discovery writer primarily as I describe above. My characters drive my story and as ‘they develop (along with the storyline), an initial plot outline will change drastically as my story evolves. I no longer spend time in developing outlines for this reason.



Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Stephany Tullis Love's LegacyI intend to write ‘with purpose’ without moralizing or chastising. I write in several genres but my goal is to not only entertain and write a ‘good’ book but to also provide my readers something to think about. This was an important objective in writing my first novel, The Master’s Plan. My first book is ‘Inspirational’ and I tackle some important moral issues; e.g. fidelity, family, relationships, etc. My goal was to write a book that anyone could read and would want to read regardless of religious backgrounds and come away with a message that they could apply to their respective personal situations.


My favourite review of this first book is by a reader who describes himself as a ’63-year-old blond-haired, blue eyed male who rated the book with five stars.




What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I decided to self-publish after hearing the horror stories of so many writers who had signed writing contracts only to find themselves boxed into situations that limited their ability to write and did not provide them the financial advantages they expected.


If you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

For a short period, I was under contract with a small publishing company. There were some distinct advantages such as the availability of editing, proofreading and cover design services. I’ve learned, however, that I prefer my independence and the ability to direct my writing according to my personal preferences. I had anticipated that I would receive much more support in promoting my books with a publishing company. I was extremely disappointed to discover that this was not the case.



Who designed your book cover/s?

As mentioned previously, my cover design is very important to me and I view the cover as a reflection of me, the overall quality of my book and writing. I have used several designers since publishing my first book. My primary objective in selecting a designer is their willingness to work with me to design a cover that meets my needs and personal taste. I’m proud and very happy to say that I have ongoing relationships with all my designers and that several of my covers have won ‘best cover’ awards in various competitions.



***Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

I address this question above but would also like to reiterate that I write cross genre, always with a ‘purpose’ and do not write only for Christian audiences. I want my reading audience to understand that all people, regardless of their religious background, ethnicity or gender have problems, issues, and challenges. It’s the manner in which we handle those issues and challenges that makes the difference in our lives.


What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

The biggest challenge for me is reflected in how I view myself. I am a Christian who writes fiction and not a Christian writer. This may appear to be a minor point, but it isn’t. I’ll use a couple of examples to illustrate my point. As a Christian, I know that we all have issues and problems. We live in a world filled with horrific problems that impact us all and not just Christians. My goal as a writer is to share stories about how people live in view of and despite such problems. To illustrate a point, as a writer, I might have a character who swears. While I know most Christians will find swear words offensive in an inspirational book, I approach this area carefully. Usually by softening the presentation by using language such as, ‘he cursed’ but I have been known to use certain words such as ‘hell’ to illustrate a point.



Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?


I think as a writer who is a Christian, my purpose is to tell a great story. In my first book, The Master’s Plan’, I use a lot of scriptural references (note the book is based around a woman in search of her purpose who happens to be the second wife of a pastor). My goal is not to present the gospel. My goal is to present a life style that reflects a character’s ability to face life challenges in a manner that would be pleasing to Christ.


Where can readers find you and your books?





Amazon Author Page

Book Bub

Readers Group

Interview with Aduro   Leave a comment

Today’s interview is with Aduro. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

AduroWell, I’m from the United States, Idaho in particular and well, let’s just say writing is otherwise my life. I live and breathe storytelling.


At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Well, it was after I had gone through a number of possible career options in my younger years. Eventually though, I reached a point where school became a hassle, because just one of the teachers ruined the experience for me and she was outright horrible in her own way. Not saying she was a bad teacher, I’m just saying she was a bad teacher for me in particular and was kind of insufferable to deal with.


Tell us about your writing process.

I’m what you would call a really complicated author. I write in what can only be described as an “expanded universe” similar to that of DC or Marvel in its concept. As for direct writing, I simply start with a character of mine and build a story around them. If it works, I start writing the story and see how I can expand the story further until I reach a state where I can be satisfied with the work itself.


What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I mostly prefer works of fantasy, especially high fantasy. Though I also enjoy some mythology too, namely Greek Mythology.


What are you passionate about?

Writing and gaming of course.


Well, of course. What is something you cannot live without?

Writing. I couldn’t live without being able to write stories. Though I mostly use a computer. I’d probably have to use a typewriter if I couldn’t use a computer.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

Gaming. Playing video games.


Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Not that I can think of.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Aduro Within Shadows CoverA variety of sources, but mostly I get them from the media I take in. Whether it’s a TV show or a video game. Though a huge chunk of my inspiration comes from a combination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra.


What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Well, given the subject of my novels are usually pretty fictional, I don’t really need to do as much research. The only time I need to do research is when I need to apply some scientific concept or medical knowledge, maybe even a bit of cooking knowledge, to a story.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Hmm, that’s rather difficult. I would best describe them as something similar, though not as good as J.R.R. Tolkien’s works with some flavour of J.K. Rowling’s works sprinkled on top. Mind you, compared to them, I’m just a small time indie author, while they are among the biggest legends of the modern literature world. But I have modeled my style more after Tolkien’s.


At one time, they were small-time, unknown authors. Do you have a special place where you write?

Not really. Just my room.


Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Yes. One of the many recurring themes in my works usually involve balance. Finding it and bringing it to others. In some cases though I just write a story for the sake of writing it/simply because I want to write it.


Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

More character driven. Though they drive the plot more.


Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I start as a discovery writer with a very rudimentary outline just to know where I’m going and so I don’t get lost. But once I finish the first draft, I create a more detailed outline for my second draft and beyond, that way I can return to it at any time. Even if I have to take a pause from the story and deal with other matters.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

Third person, usually third person omniscient. Meaning I can get into all the characters’ minds if I need to, but I primarily focus on just ONE character at a time.



I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Computer, video games, a fair internet connection. That way I can do what I want in some peace and quiet. If I bring any books, they’re my own or Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings, so I can reread them and spot details I may have missed.


Tell us about your book.

Within Shadows is my first and presently only published novel. It is a simple story about the Head General of a kingdom waking up to find herself in pain with little memory of how she got there. It focuses primarily on her trying to find out why that is the way it is and getting everything back on track within the kingdom. Being a no-nonsense type of person.

Any future stories I wish to keep to myself for now.


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Sometimes, it depends on the story itself. I believe in leaving things up for the reader to interpret instead of intentionally planting moral messages in a story. If it happens, it might be unintentional.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

That they just took a walk in the lives of these characters. That they entered a fantasy world and experienced something different. That they truly felt like they connected with some of the characters.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Well, considering the content of my work focuses on Non-human characters as the mains in most cases, where they are instead animal people or dragons, or something of the like. I don’t think I’m that good for the mainstream.


There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I believe that traditional publishing will stand, but if they don’t make a change, they will fall. Self-publishing does have some future as it lets people get work out and become known as authors. People like myself that have ideas that are willing to push boundaries.


What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

The creative freedom. I can mostly do what I want in my works and I don’t have anyone putting deadlines on me. It’s the control I need.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Better pay and advertising. Their books will get out there faster and become known faster. As well, they’ll usually do better overall.


With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I haven’t exactly figured this one out yet. It’s just a matter of hammering it away as much as you can. Making unique characters and well crafted stories, while advertising as hard as you can.


Who designed your book cover/s?

A close friend. Skitty22 on deviantart, though her name is Cheyanne.



Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes. We can, and it’s a relatively simple process. All you have to do is find a good editor, go through all the appropriate hoops and everything and you can have high quality stories. But you need a GOOD TEAM to help you.


Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

No. I don’t.


How do readers find you and your book?

Link to the cover artist:

Link to my personal Deviantart account:

Link to Within Shadows:

Primary Twitter:

Dedicated Writing Only Twitter:

Woo-Hoo!   Leave a comment

Two Cover MontageThe Willow Branch and Mirklin Wood both broke 10,000 today as free books (Happy, Summer Solstice!)

I also lowered Life As We Knew It and Objects in View to 99 cents each for the Solstice. This deal might hold through the weekend … unless I change my mind … but it will definitely be on until Friday.

Get all four books at GREAT prices.


a voracious reader. | a book blogger.


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