Thursday, May 26, 2011

Z is for...

We've reached the end of the alphabet. You might wonder how a writer would handle the letter 'Z' in relation to any aspect of writing. Well, author Judith Leger has no problem giving us something to think about as she shares her insight into Z's place in the alphabet and the importance of zest in writing.
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Hi Linda, thanks so much for letting me guest with the letter Z. Did you know that Z is not really a letter? Yeah, I know. How is it possible for someone to say, out with the Z, and completely remove it from the alphabet? The slanted letter was so rarely used that Roman Censor Appius Claudius Caecus got rid of it. Why have it if it's not used, right? Fits perfect with the old saying, use it or lose it. Well, something like that. A couple of hundreds years later, the letter Z was put into the latin alphabet and voila, we had our Z back. I mean, seriously, you can't have Greek words without using the letter Z. Which is a great thing cause what we would do without the word zest?

I love this word. Why? Well, because of the its meaning, of course. Zest is a keen relish, a hearty enjoyment, and great gusto. It's also a wonderful flavor or scent placed on something to enhance enjoyment. Did I hear the word soap? Let me make myself clear. I'm not just talking about your Momma's soap. Every day I look for zest in life, in love, and definitely in my writing. I try to put a little zest into the words and scenes in my books. I'm not talking about zany, crazy antics from the hero/heroine. No, I shoot for the stars. I want there to be a spark of magic in my characters to where the reader can feel it.

So for me, Z is a very special letter and one I hope no one takes away too soon. Whatever would we do without zebras, zodiacs, zippers, zeroes...well, you get the picture.
Judith Leger

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Judith Leger lives in SW Louisiana (yes, hurricane alley) with her family. Her first publication came when Chicken Soup for the Soul published her personal essay, A Heart of Compassion. Since then, she has had several other short stories and novels published. This year, her fantasy YA, Wraith's Forest under her other pen name LJ Leger, was released. Another brand new release is her fantasy romance novel, Dragon Wish, from Wild Child Publishing. She loves creating new characters and worlds for readers to visit over and over again.

When she’s not writing, she’s reading, watching anime or enjoying the country atmosphere of her home. She sits on her back patio and looks out over the pastures to where her Appaloosa mare is grazing. Her little dachshund is stretched out at her feet. With four men in the house, Judith needs all the female company she can come across, even the four-legged kind. Be sure and stop by her site to check out her other books.
Website :
New Release: Dragon Wish -

Buy Link

Buy Link

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Y is for YA: Writing for the Young Adult

As we near the end of the alphabet, I'm very pleased to welcome author Cindy K. Green who shares her thoughts and her expertise on writing Young Adult fiction.

Writing for the Young Adult

Like YA books? Curious about the genre as a reader or a writer? I’ve got some information for you. My love of YA literature began when I was a pre-teen myself and continued as I became a teacher of middle schoolers. When I took the step to become an author, the first manuscript I ever worked on was a YA story. Just like any other type of writing, you need to know your market/audience and genre well. Here’s some help.

What is YA?

YA stands for ‘Young Adult’ and most often refers to literature intended for older tweens and younger teens. These are books which have an interest for teenage readers and follow the growth and experiences of a teenage protagonist. They can have various tones. For example, Meg Cabot’s Princess Diary series is light and funny but there is a lot of truth and reality in there too. On the other hand, there are very dark, almost-adult themed books intended for the YA. They do not all necessarily end happily—that of course will depend on your tone. However, they should have a point and a reason to hope that through this journey the characters are better off either through the change in circumstances or through the lessons learned in the course of their experiences.

What is the age range for young adults?

The range for YA can vary. There is the low rage of 10-12 and then the 12 and up variety. There is even what is called ‘Teen Fiction’ for 16 and up. Generally speaking, young adult refers to those over 12 years of age. Write characters that are a couple years older than your intended audience. YA readers tend to enjoy reading about kids that are the same age or older than themselves. So, if you are aiming for the Jr. High market (12-14 year olds), write a story about a character 14 years-old or older.


*Learn the writing craft. Everything you have to know to write for adults pertains to the YA market as well. IT IS NOT EASIER TO WRITE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. A key bit of advice is to not write down to your readers. Use language that you feel works for your story. If a YA reader doesn’t recognize or know the definition of a word, he can look it up or just deduce the meaning through usage.

*And like all authors know, to write in a certain genre you must read in that genre. So, if you want to write for young adults start reading the books. I have heard some authors suggest you try to read all the YA books in your library. That could be daunting depending on your library, but at least begin to sample them. As a middle school English teacher, I read a lot of YA books before I even contemplated writing in the genre; but that background really helped in writing my book.

*Knowing kids today also helps. You want to be able to get into the heads of today’s teens (as much as we can) and reach them with your story. Figure out a plot that teens can relate to in this day and age.

*Join an organization such as SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. This is one of the best organizations for Children’s writers and illustrators.

The Market & Resources

*Right now the market for YA books is booming. Check out the Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman (Prima Publishers) an annual publication that has a subject guide in the back. Also look in the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market from Writer's Digest Books, also an annual.

*If you want a list of YA publishers, try this link.

*Another great website for it’s comprehension into publishing, writing, and reading YA literature can be found at

*Check out Verla Kay’s Website for getting started in writing for Children and Young Adults.

*There are a lot of print resources as well. Here are a couple I can recommend.

Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland

Writing for Children and Teenagers by Lee Wyndam

My best advice to you is to write and continue writing. Resolve in your heart that this is something you want to do. My favorite writing quote is that there are more quitters than failures in writing. Don’t be one of the quitters.

This is just a beginning of all the information out there on writing for the young adult. But you have to start somewhere. Any other YA authors have some bits of advice?


Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, Suspense, Fantasy and Historical romance. No matter what she writes, she always throws in a bit of humor and fun. Under the name CK Green she writes YA romantic fiction.

Find out more about Cindy and her books at and CK Green has a website at and a blog

Friday, May 13, 2011

X is for X-rated: Writing Erotic Fiction

 We continue the Writer's Alphabet with the letter X. I welcome erotica writer Lori Witt to talk about writing sex in fiction.

A lot of people turn up their noses at sex in fiction. For some, it’s highly offensive (I won’t go off on my “why is sex worse than violence?” rant this time, but believe me, I have one). For others, it’s just not their thing. To each their own, of course.

Some readers, though, don’t believe it can possibly add anything to any story, so why bother? I’ve heard everything from “sex should be used absolutely sparingly and with as little detail as possible” to “sex has no place in fiction. It’s all gratuitous.”

And it is there I must disagree. Fiction involves humans, and humans have sex. But still, why on earth do some of us choose to write about that aspect of life? Is it really that big of a deal?

You’ll probably get a different answer out of any writer. We all have our reasons for writing it or not writing it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but here’s why this erotica author chooses to write copious amounts of sex.

My answer is, yes, sex really is that big of a deal. Big enough that it absolutely has its place in some fiction. The fact is, sex affects people. On countless levels, in countless ways, sex runs much deeper than just physical pleasure. After all, look at the lengths people go to in the pursuit of sex.

In my career, I’ve written sex between friends, exes, adversaries, strangers, longtime lovers, spouses, couples on the verge of breaking up, Dominants/submissives, you name it. Angry sex. Comfort sex. Sex to connect or reconnect. Sex to blow off steam. The possibilities are endless, and in certain situations with certain characters, sex can be the most powerful way to demonstrate the dynamic between those characters. It can change relationships for better or worse. It can show cracks in a relationship or help solidify a shaky foundation. Sometimes it’s a temporary escape from the bad things in life—a way to feel better, if only for a short time, when the rest of the world is falling down around them. The sky’s the limit, really.

If a couple is going through a difficult period, and can’t quite find the words to solve it, sometimes a little physical intimacy can go a long way toward getting back on the same page. As an example, this is a quote from Out of Focus, one of my upcoming books:

“I inched closer until his skin warmed my chest. Dropping a light kiss on his shoulder, I moved my hand down his arm to his hand, and just as I’d hoped, he splayed his fingers to let mine slip between. Squeezing his hand gently, I kissed the back of his neck, and his sharp intake of breath gave me a little more hope that he wouldn’t push me away.

I wanted to ask if he was okay. I wanted to whisper “I love you”. But words didn’t feel right. There was so much we needed to discuss, but at least for the moment, I just needed to know he was still here.”

On the other end of the spectrum, in my BDSM novel, Reconstructing Meredith, the title character is a traumatized submissive and a rape survivor. She has a great deal of psychological damage tied directly to sex, but she wants to take her sexuality back from her abuser, and that’s why she’s approached Scott. He’s an experienced Dominant, as well as a trusted friend and former lover. Little by little, he eases her back into being able to enjoy physical intimacy again, and believe me, it’s a bumpy road. Without showing the sex, I don’t believe the progression of her recovery or her relationship with Scott would have had quite the emotional impact.

In another of my own books, Between Brothers, Marisa is frustrated with the lackluster sex she’s experienced, but she also lacks confidence in all aspects of her life. The more she learns to be assertive in bed, the more she learns to be the same way outside the bedroom.

Sex is more than just two people getting sweaty between the sheets. Oh, it’s certainly hot, and not every sex scene needs to have a deeper emotional meaning, but the fact is, sex changes people. It changes relationships.

In short, while it most definitely does not have its place in every story, sex absolutely does have a very valid place in fiction.

Buy Link

Buy Link

Lori Witt is an erotica writer who is said to be living in Okinawa, Japan, with her husband and two incredibly spoiled cats. There is some speculation that she is once again on the run from the Polynesian Mafia in the mountains of Bhutan, but she’s also been sighted recently in the jungles of Brazil, on a beach in Spain, and in a back alley in Detroit with some shifty-eyed toaster salesmen. Though her whereabouts are unknown, it is known that she writes hetero erotic romance under the pseudonym Lauren Gallagher and gay erotic romance as L. A. Witt.


Professional blog:

Personal blog:

Twitter: GallagherWitt

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Women's Fiction Talk and Book Signing

F.O.R. Sto-Rox Public Library Thursday, May 5, 2011, where I spoke about Women's Fiction: Telling Our Own Stories and followed with a book signing.

The most popular book that evening?
The Year I Lost My Mind

I had a great time at the F.O.R. Sto-Rox Library in McKees Rocks, PA. Thanks so much to Sue Ann and Brad for welcoming me once again, and to everyone to came out and joined in the fun. For those of you who missed it--well, there were prizes. Bet you'll be there next time!

I always enjoy the opportunity to meet readers, talk about my books, and hear what it is that readers look for in a good story. If you missed this event, I hope to see you soon at another event near you.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Anna Catherine Hennessey Rettstatt

Today's Alphabet Blog post would have been the letter 'X'. Then I considered that this Sunday, we celebrate Mother's Day. Since all of us writers, at one time, had a mother (or you may still have her with you), I figured it's a great time to honor mothers. We'll return to the Writer's Alphabet and the letter 'X' next week.

My mom, Anna Catherine Hennessey Rettstatt was born in 1925 and passed away in 1991. A short life by today's standards. Being the eldest of nine children, I think my mother, known to most folks at Kay, began mothering at the age of four. She grew up in a large family supported on a coal miner's salary. No frills and, I imagine, hard financial times, though she never talked about those times or complained.

With her younger sister, Bridget

My mom loved family and was a constant in the lives of my self and my younger sister, Peggy. We never came home to an empty house. She would often tell us stories from her teenaged years--sneaking out of the house to meet friends or taking risky bike rides in the dark down winding country roads--then end the story with, "And don't even think about trying that." She loved a good joke, too, and was quick to laugh. Memories that I still have on old 8 mm movies are of mom playing baseball in the back yard (she loved baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates) and trying, over and over, to master the Hula Hoop. She loved to dance and to sing, and could often be caught humming a country song while she worked. If she were around today, I've no doubt Dancing With the Stars and American Idol would be her TV favorites.

While she preferred to do the housekeeping and cooking herself, therein failing to teach me to survive on my own (something I learned quickly when I moved into my first apartment), she did teach me other important values. The small town in which I grew up had three known homeless people: Bill, Johnnie, and Annie. My mom was fearful and anxious at times, but never allowed her fears to prevent her from doing a kindness. We lived in the days when glass soda (pop) bottles were worth a nickle. The homeless folks would forage for bottles (much like people gather cans today) and would turn them in at the local grocery in exchange for food. My mother collected our bottles and set them out on the back porch for Bill or Johnnie to pick up. She often left a foil-wrapped package of food, as well.

I would like to say that my mother and I were close, best friends. But we were not. I always thought that was because we were so very different in our views on life. I learned, as I approached my middle years, that we were very much alike. They say that, at some point, we all become our mothers. In some ways, I could only be so lucky.

If you still have your mom with you this Mother's Day, let her know she is loved. If she has already passed from this life, honor her by remembering and sharing something about her.

And if you're a mom, Happy Mother's Day!