Strong Secondary Characters & A Free Short Story

I was recently asked in an interview about which characters I love. My mind immediately went to some of my secondary characters. While I love my main characters, I enjoy my minor characters because they have so much story left that the readers never see. When I start a novel, I begin with the characters. I write short stories, journal entries, and whatever I need to get inside the characters mind. Then when I began writing, the characters take off. Sometimes they do as expected, but every now and then they take a twist I didn’t see coming and controlled chaos ensues. It’s part of what makes writing fun.

One of my favorite secondary characters is Grace. We meet her halfway through the story, as a product of the magicians’ slave trade. She’s compliant and defeated at first, but she never loses her brazen personality. When she is given a second chance, she fights with everything she has.EvilEtched in Gold (1)

Another character that makes a brief appearance and strong impression is Nevada. He struck me so much that I wrote a short story about him, Evil Etched in Gold. I’m offering this story for a limited time on my website when you sign up for my newsletter (click HERE). Nevada is an illusionist with the power to look like anyone. He is on the run from the local coven and with Nevada, nothing is ever as it seems. We’ll be seeing more of Nevada in book two, Unholy Sundering out with Black Opal Book 2018.

Hope you enjoy!

DeAnna

Peek at my New Release, DEMON RISING

Over the weekend my debut novel, DEMON RISING, was released on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo. One reviewer, Taylor Jones said, “For a debut novel, the story is extremely well written, filled with wonderful characters, strange happenings, and fast-paced actions. I, for one, found it very hard to put down. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.”

I have the first page below for those that want a sneak peak. Also remember if you sign up for my newsletter (click here to sign up), I have a free short story based on one of the characters from Demon Rising, Nevada. He’s one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy.

2x6_bookmark - side 1 DEMON RISING

The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist.

She moved amid a throng of people, shuffling along the worn walkways. Heavy clouds were scattered across the sky, while dilapidated buildings surrounded them, a haunting reminder of what once was. A young man pushed past Becca, dressed in blue coveralls. He must be heading to the line. The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist.

The warehouse traveled up twenty stories high, the tallest building in town with a large fountain in front. It must have once been a beauty. Now the fountain, covered in graffiti, ran dry and the boarded up windows could barely keep the wind out.

A familiar, lanky guard stood watch on the side of the road. Could he have been the source of the magic warming her tattoo? He scanned the crowd with a demon dog at his side, a German shepherd with unnaturally large black eyes.

Turning forward, she let her dark hair fall into her face, not wanting to draw his attention. She stepped past the guard undisturbed. She could handle herself with the guards, but her boss, Nikko, constantly nagged her about keeping a low profile.

The crowds pressed together, and a large man knocked into Becca’s side, tripping her. She stumbled, spilling the remains of her coffee all over her black jeans. Someone swore as the crowd surged forward, and she stepped to the side.

At five-foot-five, she was on the small side, but strong enough to cause pain and scrappy enough to avoid it when she could. The crowds weren’t her problem, though. That would be the presence behind her, causing her tattoo to burn.

Cover Reveal: Demon Rising

I’m excited to announced my debut novel, Demon Rising, will be released with Black Opal Books mid-August 2017. As this is my first book baby, I’m a ball of nerves. But I’m already done with book two and it’s under contract. So ready or not, here we come.

DeAnnaBrowne_ADemonRising_eCover_1400

Thirty years ago, dark magicians unleashed new power on the earth fueled by demons. Governments toppled, millions died and magicians ended up on top of the food chain.

Twenty-four-year-old Becca survives these dangerous times by relying on her wits, her fists, and the limited goodwill of her boss, a local crime lord. When news comes of a fire back home and the family she left behind dead, she realizes her dark past has finally caught up to her.

On the hunt for her missing sister, she must rely on Darion, a treacherous ex-boyfriend with ties to the local coven for back-up. Problem is he’s a pyromancer that can’t be trusted, especially with her heart. Becca’s forced to navigate a dangerous web of deceit and must decide what’s she’s willing to sacrifice to save her sister.

 

 

 

Image

The Demons in the Writer’s Mind

I recently signed my first writing contract. When people learn of my accomplishment they often congratulate me and ask how happy or excited I am. I always reply positively, which in the first moments of learning about the contract offer I was truly happy and excited to begin my journey as a professional author.  Sadly, I don’t think the feeling lasted twenty-four hours before those dark thoughts crept in: the publisher must have made a mistake, or everyone I know will hate the book. Initially, I felt alone. Other authors published easily with a smile on their face−see their Facebook photo for proof.

But slowly I found this topic coming up more and more with authors, and I think it is worth repeating. Writing maybe a solitary activity, but we’re not alone−and many people fake their Facebook photo (see my super smiling one for proof). A lot of my author friends experience the doubt and demons, even after publishing several books. At the ANWA 2016 Conference, J. Scott Savage spoke about how after seventeen releases, he still experiences the gut wrenching fear before each book release.

So how do we fight these demons that can threaten to take us down?

The first step is to RECOGNIZE THE NEGATIVE THOUGHT. Acknowledge it is a fear, an opinion, but not a fact.

Then QUESTION IT/MOCK IT even. Discredit it to give it less power.

Finally, REPLACE IT with an empowering thought, a mantra maybe. Personally, I don’t go around saying how wonderful I am. I’m not there yet, but I start with what I know to be true: I love to write. I write every day, and I write for a reason. The rest isn’t as important.

I hope this helps along your journey in writing or in life. I’ve love to hear any of your tips or experiences.

DeAnna

Three Truths and A Lie: Creating Characters that are Believable

Do you remember the game three truths and a lie? It is a group game often played to get to know one another. A person tells three truths and one lie, and the other people have to figure out what is the lie.

This game is a great example of creating believable characters. In the game people try to create truths that may appear out of character and a lie that is ordinary.

As authors we can often create truths for our characters that don’t align with the world we have created for them. I currently am struggling with one of my characters that is flat in my story. Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way.

*Character’s Journal: I have to go beyond the standard character questioner we often see, and write in their voice. Even if the story is not from their point of view, I write a scene or more in the character’s point of view.

*Motivation: Know your character’s motivation. Not only the motivation that drives them to accomplish their goals, but possible unconscious motivation that drives their personality, speech, and actions.

*Avoid Stereotypes: Most characters can be easily categorized-which is fine. Go beyond the stereotype though. Make yours unique and realistic by giving them a history, a motivation, and a voice all their own.

Delve into your inner Freud and create characters that are complex and interesting. And just for fun I added below my three truths and one lie. Feel free to join in.

  1. 3-truths-a-lieI am prepared for a zombie apocalypse.
  2. I find being underwater peaceful.
  3. I have eaten a cricket.
  4. My first pet was a five foot snake.

Brainstorming: Finding Ideas That Work

At a recent write-in, a couple of us needed to work on world building. In my case, I was working on names for magic ceremonies, events in the past, that sort of thing. One technique that worked well for us was what I call idea dumping (aka brainstorming).

I’m not talking about the old style of brainstorming: grabbing a pen and staring at a blank page for an hour until the perfect idea comes. I’m talking about dumping all the ideas out of your mind−good, bad and ugly—until you find what fits. We pulled up a thesaurus, and I wrote down everything that was said. My paper was a mess, cramped and full of notes.

I can’t lie and say magic poured out of our mouths, but as we batted around ideas they morphed into something great. So when you’re searching for that perfect name for your next goblin or handsome hunk remember a couple of things:

*Write every idea that comes to mind, even the crappy ones.

*Write at least ten if not twenty. I find my first three ideas are generic, and middle five to ten suck. The other day, it was not until at least twenty or more names had floated around until I found one I loved.

*Keep the list for a little bit, percolation helps sometimes. One writer thought she had a name, but it wasn’t until we moved on and were talking about something else did she realize the perfect one hit.

Idea Dumping can be used for book names, magic systems, upcoming plot twists, and more. Sometimes our creativity is laying on the service and other times we have to dig a little for that golden nugget.

Filling your writing toolbox with books

Many a handyman will say that without their toolbox, the work can’t be done. Writers are the same. We fill our toolbox with a variety of tools. We may pick these up at conferences, writing groups, or even blogs (wink, wink). Some of my favorite places to find those gems are books. Great writing books help me look at my writing in a whole different light.

emotion-thesaurus

 

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I use this book most frequently and keep it at my desk when writing. Definitely a must have. They also have several others that are worth purchasing.

 

James Scott Bell has so many great books on writing it was hard for me to pick only one, so I didn’t.dialogue-book

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fasted Way to Improve Any Manuscript

 

conflict-book

 

Conflict and Suspense

 

 

save-the-cat

 

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Black Synder. While about screenwriting, this book covers essential elements on storytelling that every author can use.

 

story-engineering

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has a great comprehension books on the essential building blocks of a story.

 

 

I’m in the middle of another craft book, so this list may grow. Do you have any that I have missed? Please let me know.

Image

Riding the High of a Writers Conference

I recently went to the 30th Annual Anwa Writers’ Conference this weekend, and though my body is exhausted, my mind is filled with ideas, fueled by motivation, and warmed with a slew of new friends in the publishing world.

It took me a several years to go to a writers’ conference. I thought for sure I could learn just as much through classes and books. This weekend I realized conferences are more than the new techniques we learn (though I found some invaluable). Conferences include growing friendships in the professional writing world, and being inspired to fulfill your potential.

Where else could I casually talk to a publishing manager about my book and the current trends in the market? Or learn from New York Times Best Selling authors about craft and get to chat over lunch with them?  With some of the bigger conferences you may not get this opportunity, but you need to find what conference fits your needs.

Now that I am back home and alone in front of my computer, I’m trying to decide what is the best way to keep riding this high and fulfilling my dream. Here are some tips I thought I’d share and feel free to add some of your own.

  1. Stay in Touch: When you make connections at the conference, keep them. Friend them on social media and keep that connection if it works for you. These writers, published or not, are serious about their careers. Support each other on your journey.
  2. Utilize the Connection: If you met an agent and plan on querying them next year, make sure to remind them where you met.  And with other authors, reach out to switch reviews or beta reads.
  3. Read those Notes: We all took notes over the weekend, but don’t let your conference notes get buried in that deep drawer we never venture too.
  4. “Success is in the doing”: Don’t let those negative thoughts most writers have, get to you. We can’t wait for happiness when we get our first book deal, or make a certain list, or win a certain award. Live in the journey. Live in the writing.

 

Ten Commandments of Reading

The other day while my son was reading book four of the Michael Vay series, skipping book two and three since we’re waiting for them from our library, I decided he needed to learn some very basic rules of reading. So in my horrific English accent, I proceeded to the commandments of reading.

  The Ten Commandments of Reading

  1. Never tell the end of a good book to a friend.
  2. Read the book before the movie, except if the movie is Princess Bride.
  3. If you’re in a used bookstore, you must buy a book. Unless you’re dead broke, then go to the library.
  4. You should always have a library card.
  5. Always read a series in order, unless there are too many to keep count. Then go crazy.
  6. If a friend lends you a book and you accidentally damage it, replace it.
  7. Don’t break the binding of a book or damage a book, no matter how you detest it. Get a bookmark people, even a sock will do.
  8. If you interrupt someone during a good part of a book you must recite the alphabet backwards, while standing on your head. (Parents are the only exception for underage children, and a fire because the safety of a book comes first.)
  9. No skipping to the end of a book. Yes, you know who you are.
  10. When reciting the commandments, please use your best snooty English accent.

library card

When my daughter broke rule one as my son was reading Harry Potter, I thought she’d catch on fire with that blasphemy. And I recommend two library cards, in case of emergencies.

What is your pet peeve when reading?  Let me know. While these may be etched in stone, like every writer knows, the edits never stop.

Old School Dystopia

I love how dystopia has taken off lately. I devoured Hunger Games with everyone else and recently watched the fourth movie in the theaters. Suzanne Collins told of pain, love, and war masterfully, and of Katniss’s antagonist, the government.

I recently went back to some of the old school dystopian stories that I loved. And reading them a second time, helped me appreciate not only the story but the artistry involved in every word. I couldn’t help but mark up Fahrenheit 451 and pause in awe several times. 1984 left me with the haunting images that I’ll never forget. Another one off the beaten path I found was The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper. There were secrets unseen that left my mind reeling for days.

Enjoying the revival of this genre makes me appreciate the classics all the more. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Ray Bradbury.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder… live as if you’d drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there were never such an animal.”