Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Bronwyn Green's Random Thoughts

Top 10 Things I Avoid

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I think we all have things we avoid in life–at least, as much as we’re able. Here are a few of mine.

10.) Clowns. (I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. They’re creepy AF.)

9.)  Wet paper. (I don’t know why, but it makes me gag.)

8.)  Large warehouse stores like Home Depot, Best Buy and Ikea.  (They stress me right out.)

7.)  Fluorescent lights. (They make me twitchy and give me headaches.)

6.)  Aspartame. (It gives me migraines.)

5.)   Cilantro. (Because it tastes like soap.)

4.)  Spicy food. (Because I have baby mouth.)

3.)  People who use others to try to get ahead in life.

2.)  People who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions (or inaction).

1.)  People whose version of the truth changes depending on who they’re talking to and what they want from that person.

So…what do you try to avoid? Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts to see what they avoid. Jess, Kellie, Deelylah, Torrance, Gwen, and Kris.

Fancy winning Scarlett Parrish’s new book? (Your line is: Yes, of course! What do I need to do?)

Please welcome Scarlett Parrish to the blog today. Scarlett is one of the great gifts I’ve received from Twitter. (Seriously, I meet the best people there!) Anyway, she’s got a new book out and has (mostly) cheerfully agreed to answer my nosy interview questions, and she’s also agreed to give away a copy of her brand new story to a lucky commenter! Why? Because she’s awesome.

So, let’s get to know Scarlett a little better and check out Deep Screw. 

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What’s a typical day like for you?

Because I’m trying to make a go of being a writer full-time my time is pretty much my own. It calls for a lot of self-discipline, not having a boss to answer to. Pyjamas feature heavily, of course. As does caffeine.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Recovering from a nervous breakdown and writing again. It took a long time for me to feel creative.

Do you have any collections?

Do books count, or is that too obvious? Apart from those, no, as I’m a minimalist. In fact, friends have said my home looks bare, empty, or even sterile. I have the bare minimum of everything I need, apart from books. You can never have too many books.

Do you have any hobbies?

Don’t laugh. Colouring in.

Do you have any bad habits?

Staying up late when I’m trying to regulate my sleep pattern.

Do you have any pet peeves?

People who make a noise in public places, like swearing loudly on a bus. Or having their music turned up so loud everyone can hear it. Just generally existing anywhere near me. Or people who see me reading alone and take pity on me, trying to strike up a conversation.

Are there any skills you’d like to learn?

Playing a musical instrument is probably an obvious answer, but apart from the piano or violin, I’d say I’d like to learn Gaelic. It’s a dying language and I feel it’s my duty as a Scot to master it.

What’s your favorite word?

Eckythump.

(What does it mean?)

What’s your least favorite word?

Moist.

What’s your favorite curse word?

Spunktrumpet. No, shitweasel. Cuntpuffin, maybe? Wait, jizzflute!

Funny you should ask this, though, as chapter 9 of Deep Screw – actually the chapters are titled ‘frames’ to honour the game of snooker – contains an insult created by my Twitter buddy, @MetalOllie, he of ‘cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shitgibbon’ fame. I’m honoured to have him contribute in such a creative way to my first book in years! But you’ll have to read it to find out exactly how creative he can be.

(I’m utterly delighted and inspired.)

What sound do you love?

There’s an ASMR artist on YouTube called Maria Gentlewhispering; I listen to her every night in bed. Whispering, paper-folding, page-turning sounds are very relaxing.

What sound do you hate?

Loud music coming through to my flat from the neighbours. I could cheerfully bean them in the face with a brick in a sock.

Dog or cat person?

I don’t have any pets but if I had to choose…cats. There’s a saying, “Dogs look up to you and cats look down on you.” I respect that. They just want a place to sleep and someone to feed them.

City or country?

Country, as long as I had shedloads of books and caffeine and chocolate. Glencoe would be ideal for me.

Coffee or tea?

Tea. I hate the taste of coffee, although I love its aroma.

Morning or night person?

I’m naturally an owl, but trying to get in synch with normal daylight hours and larkifying myself. It’s definitely a challenge. If I want writing to be my job I have to treat it like one, though.

Get things done early or procrastinate?

I have a household chores routine for each day of the week (no, really) but when it comes to paperwork, letters, editing…I tend to procrastinate. I’m super-productive the week before a deadline.

Introvert or extravert?

Introvert, I’d say. I don’t hate people; I’m not scared of them. I just prefer peace and quiet, and solitude. Or being in small groups.

What do you like best about writing?

Having no-one to answer to.

What do you like least?

Having no-one to answer to.

Do you have a day job in addition to writing?

I did, but now I don’t, hence my desire to really make a go of things with fiction. However, I’m open to taking another secular job. As well as being good financially, seeing a bit more of other people gives you a wider perspective and, providing I’m not dog-tired when I get home, should add life to my writing.

If you were a book, which book would you be and why?

A puzzle book – they take a lot of working out and are usually full of cross words.

What was your favorite childhood book?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, although I’m also fond of Charlotte’s Web by EB White and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. And just about anything by Roald Dahl.

Questions about the book. 

Deep Screw is your first book in quite some time. First off, I’d like to say, we’re so glad you’re publishing again! Has your perspective changed at all between now and then?

Well, I’ve changed my mind on self-publishing. I used to swear against it, but given how many epubs have gone under in recent years and how much work authors are expected to do as regards promo even when working with a publisher, I’ve obviously come round to the idea. When I set out, I was going to set the world on fire and be rich enough to eat diamonds. Now I’m just looking to make enough to support myself and keep a roof over my head.  I’m less idealistic these days. I’ve also realised that a strict (though flexible, in times of illness) routine is essential for me if I want to finish anything!

What do you like best about Cameron?

He’s got a fine line in double entendres, which is totally not like me at all. Honest.

He sees the humour in every situation. Also, he’s Scottish.

What do you like best about Ryan?

As the book’s written in first person from Cameron’s point of view, Ryan obviously doesn’t feature as much as the main character but he finds it difficult to stay away from Cam, which is just as well. I wouldn’t have a book otherwise!

Is there anything you hope readers take away from Deep Screw?

Blue balls. There are lots of blue balls in this book.

If you were to cast your book as a movie, who would you choose to play your characters? 

Do you know, this question helped me realise Deep Screw is the first book I’ve written without casting the main characters in my head first. I believe the only references made to looks are that Cam has dirty blond hair, and Ryan is darker and an inch or two shorter. So it’s pretty much open to interpretation.

What’s up next for you—care to share a bit?

I have a BDSM-lite novel called Family Jewels nearly finished. It’s M/F, so different from Deep Screw in that respect. I believe erotic romance readers are open-minded enough to cross over from M/M and back again. I read across the board and don’t think I’m alone in that. Family Jewels is actually the book I’m proudest of. It’s not hardcore whips-and-chains, but concentrates on mind-fuckery and the ‘rules’ of a relationship. I like to think it has its funny moments too. I think you always know a Scarlett Parrish book from the sarcasm and humour. It’s the book that reminded me yes, writing’s work, but it can also be fun too.

Deep Screw – Blurb:

Cameron Carmichael used to be on top of the world—literally—as a World Snooker Champion and World Number One. These days, his mood is sinking faster than his ranking. Only thirty-one and barely holding on to his top-16 placement, his automatic pass into all the big tournaments, Cameron’s considering retirement.

It might be time to hang up his snooker cue; the only thing keeping him on the circuit is a taste for the finer things in life and snooker does pay very well. And there’s something else he has to deal with—an unavoidable attraction to Ryan Miller, a cocky young challenger with an eye for the trophies that used to be Cameron’s.

Deep ScrewExcerpt:

            Then I become aware of someone slightly off to one side, hovering in the background. The dark brown of a jacket nearing, then jerking back as if shocked. It’s as if the wearer wanted a drink too, then saw something – someone – at the bar which, or who, surprised them.

        So I look up. Ryan. Of course. Who else? And I catch his eye. He looks around, nervously, probably wondering if he can make a sharp exit without making it obvious to other people in the bar he’s exiting because of me.

        “It’s all right,” I tell him, turning away. “I don’t bite.”

        He clears his throat, still hesitant, still lurking near the bar stool at my side like it’s going to hurt him. Maybe sitting down anywhere near me would be an admission of something he doesn’t want to face up to. And to be honest, if I make him so uncomfortable, I’d rather he go drink somewhere else. I don’t want to be reminded of what happened between us any more than he does. Well, not if he’s going to persist in thinking it’s shameful, anyway. Something dirty, to be hidden.

        Mind, in the world we occupy, it would have to remain hidden. Secretive. If it got out…our private lives would become more interesting than our respective careers.

        I shake my head. Not that there’s anything to remain discreet about. It was a one-night thing. A stoned, drunk one-night thing that he crept away from, telling me all I need to know about his feelings.

        “I just didn’t…I don’t know…”

        “What to drink?” I wave a ten-pound note at the barman and ask for a random bottled beer, not caring what he brings me. My thirst increased tenfold when I realised it was Ryan beside me. Glancing to one side, I acknowledge his surprise, if the raised eyebrow and nervous look at the barman are anything to go by. He was probably expecting me to offer to buy him a drink. After I’ve pocketed my change and taken my first swig, I say without looking up, “You can buy your own.”

        “Oh, I wasn’t…I wasn’t…”

        “I hope you’re more articulate on the snooker table than you are in conversation.”

        Again, Ryan coughs, and finally, finally, takes the bloody barstool beside me. Not that I was particularly desperate for him to – in fact, I’d feel an awful lot more comfortable if he went to another bar – but for some reason it irritates me, his uncertainty. Shit or get off the pot, as the saying goes. Added to which, his uncertainty, his jitters, they’re annoying. An insult to me. It’s like he thinks I’m going to announce to everyone in this crowded room what we did. I’m not so stupid. I don’t want to damage what remains of my career, and I’m not about to dump a bucket of tabloid gossip all over his, either. I have more honour than he seems to think. I just wish he understood that.

        He orders his drink, nothing I pay much attention to. But then, it’s hard to pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth when, now that he’s sitting beside me, I’m increasingly aware of the thereness of him.

Deep Screw – Buy links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Bio

Scarlett Parrish writes stuff, drinks a lot of tea and is currently working on mastering the art of teleportation. She can be contacted through her blog or by email or on Twitter.

To enter the contest to win an ebook copy of Deep Screw, please leave a comment, and a winner will be chosen at random next Saturday.

Monthly Goals Check-In: February 2017

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I can’t believe it’s the end of February. Though, I probably said that at the end of last month, too. Sigh.

Okay, so last month, I said that I wanted to:

Continue with whatever’s next on the Organized Home Challenge (Yep.)

Finish revising and expanding Mist and Stone. (Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.)

Progress on DN & EP (Nope.)

Finish 5 more pussyhats (I did!)

Progress on the other two websites I’m putting together. (Yep, and I added a third.)

Oh yeah, and start that damn yoga program. (I did it!)

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And I edited several novels, worked on my annual writing plan did a massive amount of cleaning and sewing, and I’ve been happily hanging out with Jess Jarman for the last  eight days! And we’re gearing up for a mini writing retreat weekend. Oh, and I’ve developed an unhealthy washi tape addiction.

Oh! And I finished a bonus goal – organizing my bedroom and altering the quilt I bought that lied about fitting a king size bed.

So, for next month, my goals are:

Finish revising and expanding Mist and Stone. 

Progress on DN & EP 

Continue with that damn yoga program and exercise program.

Update Writing Bujo

Put together Publishing and Promo Bujo

Knit 4 more pussyhats. 

Continue with whatever’s next on the Organized Home Challenge.

Finish at least two of the three websites. 

Complete all client edits. 

Complete all March blog posts. 

Okay, that’s it for me. What are some of your goals? Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts, too! Jess, Deelylah, Gwen, and Torrance.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools I Use to Organize My Writing

Putting me and the idea of organization together in the same sentence is optimistic at best. However, I’ve been trying to do better.

If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know I’m not a plotter. At all. That’s just not the way my brain works. And I’m also a very visual person. Pinterest is great for people like me. One of the things I like to do while I’m working on a story is create a image board. I look for images that either remind me of my characters or of the general situation they’ve found themselves in. I don’t necessarily plot according to the pictures I’ve pinned, but often, they do spur ideas. And if they do spur ideas, the boards are a great place to help keep track of them.

Here’s an example of a finished board for my book, In Bounds (aka Sportsball that released late last year.) screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-06-25-pm

And here’s an example of a board in progress for my upcoming book, Mist and Stone. 

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I also use bullet journals to keep myself on track with both writing and life in general. The daily #bujo keeps me on track with daily writing, editing, and life-in-general tasks. This is my daily journal with a sample daily task list.

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I’ll be opening an Etsy shop, soon (Granola Girl Creations) where I’ll be featuring custom made #bujo covers and other organizational supplies. 

I use the Piccadilly Essential Large Ruled Notebook. For me, it’s the perfect size, and the paper quality is great – even markers don’t ghost through the pages.

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Purple signifies writing related tasks, light blue is editing, green is family and personal stuff, and pink is health. As you can see, February has been a bit of a bitch in terms of getting stuff done. But, I’m pushing through. img_4223

This is my #writingbujo.

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I use this journal to keep track of story notes, character details, and progress. Since I currently have multiple series plus a number of stand alone books going, the #writingbujo helps me keep everything in a centralized location.

There’s not currently a lot of info on this story, but you get the idea.  Also, sorry about the shadowy pictures, but it was late when I remembered I needed pictures, and the lighting in my house suuuuuuucks.

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This is about it for me today, if you have any questions about my “process” such as it is, or if you’d like to order a journal cover of your own, lemme know. 🙂 And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts to see what kinds of tips and tricks they have–I know I will be. Deelylah, Gwen, Jessica, and Jess.

Flash Fiction #52 – Glycerin

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This month’s post was inspired by Bush’s Glycerin. Here are the lyrics and the video.

Thanks to Edna and her loathing of maraschino cherries, I rushed into room 406, bright red spots marring my scrubs and far later than I should have for the evening med round.

“Hey there, Hector,” I said as I cleared the threshold.

“Don’t let the days go by.” His voice sounded like a rusty tin can being opened–all metallic scrape and rasp–but he didn’t look at me when he spoke.

His words were so unexpected and startling, my hand convulsed around the styrofoam cup I carried. Water splooshed through the  now-cracked sides, wetting his paper-thin pajamas and the tiny paper cup of pills I held in my other hand, dissolving them almost instantly.

I should have been more worried about what the Sadie, the charge nurse, would say when she found out I’d screwed up the med schedule, but it was the first time I’d ever heard him speak. I’d been working in the head trauma unit for nearly four months, and he’d never uttered a word the entire time. He just watched the sharp angles of sunlight travel across the gray wall, slowly turning his wheelchair as he marked the progress. On overcast days, he just stared at nothing. Or maybe it was something. I wasn’t in his head, so what did I know?

“What did you say?”

He lifted his head and stared woodenly at me, blinking slowly, as if he were looking straight through me. This was more like the guy I was used to.

“Cathy?” And just as quickly, he changed again.

“Nope, I’m Dani.” I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and dabbed at his water-soaked knee. “I’m really sorry about this. I’ll get you some fresh PJs.”

His fingers, dry and papery, but still surprisingly strong closed around my wrist. “Could’ve been easier on her.

“On Cathy?” The question was out of my mouth before I could stop it. We weren’t supposed to engage about anything that had the potential to upset them, and the way his hand tightened around my wrist, I knew I’d just blown that directive.

“Tell her I’m sorry.” He stared into my eyes then his hand finally fell away from my skin. “I couldn’t change.”

“I’m sure she knows you tried.” I glanced at the clock on the wall behind his head. Shit. I was almost twenty-five minutes behind schedule, and I still needed to get him fresh meds. “I’ll be back in a few, okay?”

I needn’t have bothered speaking. He was already back to staring through me. While I waited for Sadie to sign off on a new med cup, I asked, “Hey, who’s Cathy? Hector mentioned her.”

Sadie’s eyes widened. “He spoke?”

“Yeah. Said he could’ve been easier on her or something.”

Sadie counted and recounted the pills in the paper cup. “Cathy was his daughter. She didn’t make it.”

 

That’s it for me. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Jess, Gwen, and Deelylah

Wordless Wednesday – Winter Where I Live

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This winter has been weird, yo.

Normally, this is what winter in West Michigan looks like.

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The back of my house.

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My garage.

However, this year, there’s some weird shit going on. We’ve even had 50 degree days in February. This is not normal. This is what it looks like today.

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I just went outside without a coat on to take this picture. It’s like spring out there.

Check out the other bloggers’ posts and see what winter is like where they live. Gwen, Deelylah, TorranceKellie, and Kris.

Promptly Penned: Reliable Wi-Fi

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Prompt: “That’s what happens when you don’t have reliable Wi-Fi.”

 

Caleb squinted at the phone then looked up and did the same at our surroundings. He gestured toward a particularly dense area of forest. “It should be right through there.”

“We’ve been walking for hours. Are you sure you put in the right coordinates.”

He glared at me. “Yes. I’m sure. The Wi-Fi at the diner was shitty, but I’m sure these are the right coordinates.”

I glanced around. “I know the resort is supposed to be super exclusive and remote and accessible only by hiking, but this is ridiculous. What happens if one of their guests has a medical emergency? They can’t possibly be this far out in the middle of nowhere.”

“They have Wi-Fi–I’m sure they can get help if they need it.” Caleb hit refresh on his phone, then frowned, holding the device up in the air, clearly trying to get a signal.

“C’mon. Let’s just go back to the main road and head back toward that last little town we passed.

Still holding his phone up in the air, he ignored me and marched into the thick stand of trees.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering,” I muttered, following him. “It’s not like you’re going to get a signal now.”

He didn’t answer, but I really didn’t expect him to. My brother was nothing if not stubborn.

Another hour had passed by the time we stumbled across the log cabin that looked more like a large hunting shack than resort. I was pretty sure the blisters on my feet were bleeding, and I had to pee. At this point, I didn’t care what the place looked like.

Caleb pushed open the door and swept his arm to the side, motioning me in. Laughing in relief, I elbowed him as  I crossed the threshold, my brother close behind me. Turning, I glanced around the room, searching for a bathroom and stopped dead unable to take another step forward.

Every inch of wall space was covered in antlers. Antlers everywhere. Behind me, Caleb started humming the tune to Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They cast long, grasping shadows wherever I looked. It was like we’d wandered onto a set for Hannibal

Peering more closely at the nearest wall, I swallowed hard. They weren’t all antlers. There were bones. So many bones. An icy chill ran down my spine as I continued to stare at them. Far too many of them looked human.

I grabbed Caleb’s arm and dragged him toward the door. “This,” I hissed. “This is what happens when you don’t have reliable Wi-Fi!”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out Jess and Deelylah‘s stories, too!

Flash Fiction #51 – Red Cape

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I peered through a broken window in the once spectacular public museum. They were coming. Hooded cloaks and greatcoats hiding their identity as they walked along what had once been the portico to one of the most amazing libraries in the entirety of North America.

It was hard to believe that only three years ago this had been building had been full of life–full of students, professors, families, even tourists. Now, it was a shell. The books that hadn’t been destroyed by the oppressors for containing “treasonous content” had since been used by the homeless as kindling. And we were all homeless, now. Well, more of us than not. There was nothing left for us anymore. No jobs. No way to pay back our mountains of student loans for degrees we’d never use. We were all surviving as best we could.

In the basement of the library, searching for the blueprints for the subways and sewers, I found something else–something that had become our last hope. Shoved out of sight, under a desk in the staff area of the special collections room was a wooden packing crate. I pried it open with the tire iron I never let out of my sight. After society had crumbled, I’d learned the hard way that I could never let my guard down. Not any more.

Inside the crate was a single book–large, ornate, and very, very old. Not having read anything but the propaganda pamphlets the oppressors bothered to drop on us every few months, I couldn’t bear to burn the book. I shoved it inside my backpack and dragged the crate upstairs to burn.

Keeping clear of the oppressor’s foot soldiers and those who’d turn me in for a day’s worth of food rations, I read the book. It was nonsensical–a spellbook–but that didn’t matter. The symbols on the page became words and the words became images in my head. And the images birthed thoughts I hadn’t dared think in far too long. Thoughts about fighting back. Thoughts of resistance. They were so powerful, that were so intense, they hammered on the inside of my skull. They clawed at my graymatter. They slipped into my dreams until I woke, gasping for breath and my heart in my throat, repeating words I hadn’t realized I’d memorized. Repeating the Spell of Gathering. 

The woman in the red cloak stepped over the debris strewn across what had once been a beautiful mosaic floor. She glanced toward the others who’d gathered then approached me. “We’ve been waiting for your call.”

My confusion must have been clear on my face. She pushed her hood back. “We knew the book hadn’t been destroyed. And we sensed when it had been found–when you found it. But until you spoke the words, we couldn’t narrow our focus.”

Swallowing thickly, I pressed the book into her hands, not wanting to relinquish the words I’d come to depend on, but knowing I must.

She cradled the book to her chest. “Can you get us to the roof? ”

I nodded then turned to lead the way to the access stairs in the rear of the building. The woman in red followed me and her companions fell into step behind her. We climbed in near-silence, the rustling of fabric and the shuffling of feet the only sounds. In the darkness, I felt something that felt a lot like hope.

It was a hope I was afraid to examine too closely. Afterall, if the book was to be believed, I’d just summoned an army of witches to fight the greatest evil ever known–an utterly corrupt government led by an egomaniacal despot and his collection of  pet monsters.

As I led the witches out into the moonlight, the woman with the book smiled grimly at me and took my hand. That tentative feeling of hope grew a little bit stronger.

 

Okay, that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers stories, too. Deelylah, Jess, Kayleigh, and Kris.

Top 10 Ways to Hook Me as a Reader

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It’s time for another Top 10 List!

Okay, so like most people, the best way to hook me as a reader is by writing a good book. And when I say a good book, I  mean the premise and the actual writing, too–some books are strictly a one or the other kind of thing. I want the whole package. Because I’m demanding. And picky. And a limited amount of time available to read. That’s why I usually read the first few pages to see if the author’s voice and I are going to get along.

I’m not sure these are actually in any kind of order, cover art aside, they’re all pretty crucial.

10.) Okay, so I’m going to start out here by being utterly shallow. I love a good cover. I’m not saying it’s crucial, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t play into whether or not I was attracted enough to a book to pick it up.  I mean, there are books I’ve loved whose covers I hate, and I secretly think to myself that it deserved a better cover.

9.) I want to see as little telling as possible. Show me what’s happening in the story, don’t tell me. What does her anger look like? How does it affect her and the other people in the scene. Do her fists clench? Does her scalp pickle? Does her face get sweaty? Does her eye twitch? What are her her specific thoughts?  I don’t want to read, She was so angry she was ready to scream. I want to read, Rage-fueled lava flooded her veins, and her hand tightened into a fist. If that horrible orange man got any closer to her, she’d punch straight through his saggy, fleshy throat. 

8.) I need me some character growth. I don’t want to read about static characters–I want evolution. I don’t want to read the story of a person falling in love and being  the same person they were when the story started. Everyone we interact with, every experience we have, changes us it some way. It makes us look at things differently. Even if it’s something as mundane as standing behind a hipster at a coffee shop. Fucking hipsters. But damn, that really is a cute plaid. Maybe I don’t hate plaid as much as I thought. The same is true for characters. No, they might not discover a latent appreciation for plaid, but if they fall in love, they’re going to change in other ways. Well, I suppose they could fall in love with a hipster and plaid.

7.) I need the story to be believable. I don’t care if the book is about a race of land-dwelling purple squids who time travel through portals in stairwells of municipal buildings. Does the plot of  a story about land-dwelling, time traveling squids make enough sense with enough familiarity that I’m willing to suspend disbelief in the laws of reality, possibly physics, and known biology of aquatic animals? If yes, good for you, writer. You’ve got yourself another sale.

6.) I need you to make me care about these people–or land-dwelling, time traveling squids. Can I identify with these people? With these squids? With their struggles? Are the squids holding up some kind of mirror to me that I see at least some portion of myself or someone I love amongst their tentacles and ink? Or something relatable in the life of this washed up actor or soldier suffering from PTSD?

5.) I also need you to not bore me. So, let’s talk conflict–is it helping to drive the plot? I’m talking both internal and external, here, but I’ll be honest, I’m far more moved by internal conflict. We all experience it–it’s a regular state of being for many of us. So, what do the characters what that they can’t have? What’s thwarting them? What’s keeping them apart? What’s at stake? Are the stakes high enough. That doesn’t mean that the stakes in every book need to be at the level of world-ending nuclear annihilation. However, whatever the conflict is in your character’s life needs to feel like it is. So that boy who desperately wants the lead in the school musical so his mother will finally be proud of him, being cast as an ensemble member is going to crush him. That conflict can be just as interesting, if not more so, than the fear of world-ending nuclear annihilation.

4.) Chemistry – it’s not just for high school teachers and meth labs. This goes back a bit to showing vs. telling, but I need to see the chemistry between characters. This goes for all characters, but it’s especially true of romance. I need to see how they affect each other. It’s not enough to know that each of the pair finds the other the hottest person in the history of ever. Finding each other attractive doesn’t equal chemistry. Characters who sex with one another also doesn’t equal chemistry. Show the reader specifically what makes the characters personalities spark when they’re together. When that’s absent, secondary characters commenting on the chemistry between the main couple doesn’t make it true, it just makes it author intrusion.

3.) Please don’t give me a story where the plot just happens to the characters. Those kinds of stories seem to grab the protagonist like a riptide and drag them farther and farther from shore and instead of acting on the plot–making choices that change the course of the story, the character is constantly stuck in reaction mode, trying to deal with whatever the plot is throwing at her, but not making any moves of her own to affect the storyline. Even if the character make some stupidass choices, and ultimately makes things worse for themselves, at least they’re victims of a runaway plot.

2.) I’m a sucker for emotional angst. I want to feeeeeeeeeeeel all the feels, and yeah, I usually want to cry about them, too. That’s not to say that I’m looking for melodrama, but I am here for the intense emotion and also the catharsis that comes from experiencing those emotions through the eyes of well-written characters.

1.) I can forgive a lot of writing sins in exchange for awesome dialogue. (Looking at you, Buffy and Firefly.) I love language. I love listening to the way people talk to each other–how we communicate. I’m focusing on English speakers here, because it’s the only language I speak fluently, but we’re all using the same 26 letters. We’re all (mostly) using the same collection of words. We’re all saying many of the same things to one another, but phrasing is everything. Some authors have such a way with dialogue that it not only sounds completely natural, it’s so delightful (and sometimes awful) to the ear that the reader has a visceral response to it. Some people write such great dialogue, you almost want to read it aloud. Well-written dialogue is at its best when it works to reveal the individual characters and their personalities. I read a book recently, and I found myself getting frustrated because while there were all these great lines, all  of the characters were saying them–even when what was being said was completely out of line for those particular character’s personality. That great dialogue lost all its impact.

What are the ways authors hook you as a reader? Share!

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ Top 10 posts! Deelylah, Jess, Gwen, Kellie, and Kris.

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