Friday, April 29, 2011

W is for Wit and Humor in Writing

Laughter is good for us. But injecting wit and humor into writing demands skill. Joining us today from Australia to talk about the challenge of infusing humor into our writing is Sci/Fi Futuristic Romance author Angela Verdenius.

I agreed to do a blog – no, I volunteered to write about Wit & Humor in, well, writing. I agree to do these things, ‘cause at the time it seems a really great idea, then as the day nears that it’s due, I start to ask myself – yet again – why I do this to myself? What if I flop badly? What if not only the readers but also the owner of the blog, hates it? In a nutshell, I…have no idea. ROTFL

I write Sci-fi/futuristic romance, and have also recently written a horror/satire short story. I’m really proud of that one, I had so much fun screwing with protocol, political correctness, and zombies! I’m currently working on my first contemporary romance.

I believe that wit and humor can exist in almost any genre – urban fantasy, biographies, romance, horror, thrillers – you name it. The secret is…HOW does one incorporate wit and humor into the written word?

I can’t tell you that. I know, I just burst your bubble. Humor is a very touchy subject. What one reader (and the author, let’s be honest) laughs like a hyena at, the other reader will roll his/her eyes and tell all and sundry what utter garbage they just read.

I can tell you how I write it. Having a bit of toilet humor and a liking for sarcasm (sad but true, people, just ask my long-suffering mother), I like to inject some of that into my books. Some titles I deliberately set out to have a lot of humor (read my Love’s titles. Please. I need the money). My heroines say the most outrageous things to try and get out of situations. I basically let rip and have them say all those things I would love to say to someone in that situation. My heroes are usually left flummoxed. Always a good thing with humorous romances.

Of course, not all my books are witty (some would say none of them are, but I’m not going to interview them, okay?), such as my Soul and most of my Heart books (read these titles. Please. I need to keep my cats in the comfort to which they’ve become accustomed), but I think they still need a touch of humor, be it a little dark, or just something to give a smile. Really, can a romance be a romance without a touch of lightness here and there?

So what I am saying, people, is that what I write is how I tend to speak myself. Most times. Okay, I wouldn’t say some of what I write to a church minister, because even I draw the line somewhere, but when I write a humor piece, I set out with the right attitude, a lightness of mind, and I put myself into the heroine’s shoes. I write what I think is funny. If it’s clumsy, I’ll take it out.

The dialogue rolls from my mind, to my tongue, to the page. Sometimes my heroine will say things I’d LOVE to say but am not game enough, other times I think, “she is so me!” Scarily, I’ve had a friend who says she can see me in the heroines.

Basically, I believe you write how you think, there is no other way. Some readers will love it (same sense of humor), others will hate it (not-same sense of humour), and others will be ‘ho-hum’ (I can’t figure them out myself).

So is there a secret? Can anyone go out and write a gut-busting, witty book? I don’t believe you can. I don’t believe there’s a secret formula. It has to come from within yourself, what YOU think is funny, how YOU believe your witty heroine would answer someone or act, how YOU would answer it. Individual readers will see your book as funny or not. That’s the down and dirty truth.

So all I can say is…write how you would respond. You might find it funny, someone else might not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, the ball rolls, my cat destroys toilet paper… it just is. (I hope no one is taking note of grammar here).

I truly believe that we all write as differently as we perceive the story and the world around us.

So who is my number one favourite humorous & witty author? Janet Evanovich – her Stephanie Plum books rule!


Angela Verdenius


Angela Verdenius lives in Australia, where she is ruled by her cats, adores reading, and thinks a perfect day is writing and drinking Diet Coke, followed by reading or a good horror movie.

Angela has written 18 novels and 2 novellas, self-published a short horror story, and her books have won many reviewers’ awards as well as having been on the Fictionwise best-seller list. Soul of a Guardian won the Golden Rose Award, and she was a finalist in the Australian Romance Reader’s Awards.

Learn more about Angela at:

Available now at Wings ePress

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Award Arrived Today

My Author of the Year Award from Champagne Books arrived today. Stop by my website to see how nicely it balances out my mantle.

Friday, April 22, 2011

V is for Villains

This week Romantic Eco-suspense and Eco-thriller author, Lynn Romaine returns to talk with us about Villains.


What would we do without our villains? Suspense writers especially are in debt to them. Those poor creatures who we invent and then proceed to beat up, run over with a truck, push off a mountain, or just pull a gun and shoot them. The problem with our villains is that we want to hate them—and THAT is a problem. Why? Because to make a villain live on a page, whether the reader knows it or not, that reader needs to feel something for the bad guy besides distain. She needs to know that the character is not just a cut-out, but a human being, with a kaleidoscope of feelings like all human beings, with a mother and a father and maybe even children.

Planning Ahead

The above being said, I have to admit, I haven’t taken much time to consider my villains and their characters in detail. I’ve created a female sociopath who kills the father who abandoned her as a child, a psychopath who torments the person he believes stole his love away, a pillar of society who committed murder as a kid and now is trying to keep his crime secret, and finally a scurvy businessman who massacres a family to keep the mafia off his back. For me, I see they’ve all been plot techniques, ways to solve my story without a lot of fuss about character as I focus on my heroines. I have devoted very little time to really considering my villains and truly developing deep characters.

What would my books be like if I did take some time to consider the inner conflicts that drive the villain to mayhem? What if this was as important as the heroine’s internal struggles?

With that in mind, I’ve done a little web research to come up with some basic ideas for villain development. I hope you find them as useful as I do since I plan on referring to them from now on as I write my thrillers.

Villains – what are they good for?

Here are a few basic themes where a villain comes in handy as the scapegoat:

• Righting a prior wrong

• Revenge (the victim deserved to die)

• Vigilante justice (the justice system didn’t work)

• Protecting a loved one

• Restoring order to the world.


Villain Do’s and Don’t’s

* You don’t need one to create a tension filled story (although I can’t the suspense thrillers I write without them;

* It’s good (and fun) to have the villain get his due. There was something so satisfying about the scene when Lisbeth Salander (The Girl Who Played with Fire) shot the creepy motorcycle badass in the foot after he tried to rape her.

* Don’t overdo the villain thing. He needs a couple of good things about him, something to make him or her human.

* Make sure the villains are believable in their own economic, social class, with the right clothes, language, job, etc.

* Make sure you connect the villain’s actions that make him or her act/react, not just a random bad person.

* Don’t forget even villains have goals. Make sure you have a clear one in mind and let the reader in on the goal early in the story.

I can’t think of anything else that’s important to writing a villain. If you have some suggestions, Please feel free to add your comments below.

Linda, thanks so much for letting me dig into the world of bad guys on your so good and gentle blog.     Lynn Romaine

~ * ~

Lynn Romaine, Master’s Degree in Information Science from Indiana University, she lives in Bloomington, Indiana. She writes romantic suspense and ecothriller novels with five books in print. She has participated continuously in Landmark Education and the earlier forms of the education since 1975. She is committed to all people living created lives and words that inspire the world. In 2008, she created an organization called Red Pants for the World, encouraging young women in Afghanistan and everywhere to find their self-expression through words that inspire the world.

Buy Link

Buy Link

You can find Lynn on the web at:  and at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I won!

I am so happy to announce that I have been named Author of the Year for 2010 at Champagne Books. I'm humbled by this award, and I'm proud to be in the company of such fine authors--fellow nominees: Michael Davis, Rebecca Goings, Tanya Eby,
Rie McGaha, and Todd Hunter.
Thanks so much to J. Ellen Smith and Champagne Books for this honor.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Writer's Wellness by Joy E. Held

Buy link

I haven't yet posted book reviews here on my blog, but I wanted to share this review because many of my readers are also writers. Here is my review of Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity by Joy E. Held.

In Writer Wellness, Joy Held presents a comprehensive program for achieving mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical unity. As an author, I know the challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while being absorbed by my writing. Healthy meals and exercise are the first to go. I do my best work when I’m rested, centered, and my body is comfortable.

As a former psychotherapist, I believe in the value of creativity that feeds the human spirit and engages the mind and the emotions. I’ve long believed that creativity is a human need and results in joy and wholeness. Joy Held has given us a book that will not only benefit writers, but anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle and tap into the depths of their creative spirit.

Linda Rettstatt, Author of Next Time I’m Gonna Dance

You can find Joy Held at

On the subject of having a 'Mews'

Come on over to friend and fellow author Kimberley Dehn's blog to find out why I no longer need an alarm clock.

Hint: It has something to do with the critter in the picture!

(Great blog for writers and the pet that inspire them)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Useful Tools for Writers

As we near the end of the alphabet, I'd like to welcome Jim Woods back with us to talk about U (no, not you), but Useful Tools for Writers.

In the mid 1960s when I finally was able to return to college, following my military duty and starting a family, and having put a career in electronics engineering behind me in favor of journalism, I was introduced to a handy little booklet that would be part of my literary life forever. The compact writers guide is still a part of my literary reference library that has grown to two-dozen volumes of writing advice, tips, and most importantly, style. According to the authors, that sixty-page, half-size Guide to Rapid Revision was not intended as a course book for creative writing, but a quick reference source of frequently needed answers to style and writing-convention questions. Somewhat later I added yet another slim, small and extremely useful book of writing rules to my resources, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.

I was to be governed by several other publication style guides over my writing life, some huge and heavy ones dictated by the military, and other commercial and medical tomes equally impressive in size and scope, but those earlier concise guidebooks molded me as an author.

Of all the writers guidebooks available in print and on line, perhaps the most useful for book authors is The Chicago Manual of Style. Its history goes back well over a century, when the University of Chicago Press opened its doors in 1891. At that time, The Press was dedicated to publishing scientific works from the university’s own professors. To bring a common set of rules to the process, the composing room staff drew up style guidelines. “The University Press Style Book and Style Sheet” grew into a more substantial pamphlet and the pamphlet grew into a book with the impressive title, Manual of Style: Being a compilation of the typographical rules in force at the University of Chicago Press, to which are appended specimens of type in use. At two hundred pages, this original First Edition cost fifty cents, plus six cents for postage and handling. Now in its 16th edition, The Chicago Manual of Style, with more than a thousand pages in print or more than two thousand paragraphs online, has become the authoritative reference work for authors, editors, proofreaders, copywriters and publishers.

On the other hand, journalists are better served by The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. The friendly title is simply “AP Stylebook,” but by whatever name, it is a style and usage guide for the United States news industry. Incidentally, the volume on my personal reference shelf is “…and Libel Manual” instead of the updated “… and Briefing on Media Law.” The lesson from this is that all style manuals are updated and re-released as time and convention requires. The AP Stylebook is used by reporters and editors as a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. It’s also considered an industry standard for broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms.

From time to time I use both styleguides—the Chicago Manual most often—but a third such manual in my library is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Assocation. Obviously from that impressive title, it’s quite a specialized writing guide. I purchased it for one time use, needing it for an editing commission, but it certainly looks impressive on my bookshelf.

These widely accepted styleguides are superceded by the individual publishers’ in-house style conventions. However, if you start out adhering to The Chicago Manual of Style if you’re writing books; or the The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law if you’re writing for broadcast or other print media, you can’t be too far from wrong in the eyes of your editor.

If these strict style guides are seen as mandatory requirements by some publishers, authors can learn much from the plethora of less-restrictive writing-tip books available from a number of successful authors, and written in conversational style. But whatever writers’ aid books you choose, the basic collection must be anchored by a good dictionary—mine weighs fifteen pounds and requires its own pedestal stand—and a print thesaurus. Another reference that I depend on, and I do not know if it is available in a recent printing, is J.I. Rodale’s The Word Finder, which does not find substitute words as does a thesaurus, but suggests words to embellish an idea. Don’t settle for a pretty sunset if that sunset can be crimson, brilliant, fiery, lingering or glorious.

What it boils down to is that to be a sucessful writer you first had better become a studious reader. Everything you ever need to know is in the book.

~ * ~

Jim Woods is an independent editor assisting book authors, small presses and corporations with line, style, and substance editing; applying his expertise to novels, short story collections, nonfiction and corporate image. Formerly, he was in-house Editor, Managing Editor and Contributing Editor with two commercial magazine publishers. His professional associations include American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). He lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.

See his website:

Buy Link

He is author of the fiction collection, CABBAGES AND KINGS, and other fiction works with Champagne Books:



Buy Link



Monday, April 11, 2011

Follow Me on Networked Blogs

Hi, blog followers. If you look on the right side menu, you'll see the current Followers list and, below that, a new 'Follow' Box from Networked Blogs. I'm asking that if you don't mind, please jump in there and follow.

Thanks much.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

T is for Timing and Pacing

Timing is everything. How many times have you heard that saying. This week we hear from author Camille Cavanagh about the intricacies of timing and pacing.

“Begin as close to the end of your story as possible.” I don’t remember where I heard that, but it was excellent advice and one that I find myself wishing more authors, including myself, would heed. As an author I am interested in my characters and their backstory and I want my readers to be interested as well. What I have learned, however, is that backstory must be hoarded by the author and only doled out in fragments, if at all. Backstory slows the pacing of a novel to the point where a reader will stop reading. Of course this is the very last thing you want to happen! Though you began your paragraph with good intent—to give the reader insight, to connect them to the character—large info dumps, in fact, do the exact opposite.

Backstory is crucial; to you the author. To your readers, however, nothing from history is needed. A story that starts in real time and goes only forward (unless it is a time travel) should be your goal. Anything, anything that is needed from the backstory can be revealed in another way to enrich character or to build motivation. Action and suspense move a story forward. Think tension, of all kinds, and you will keep the reader reading. You want your reader keeping that book in their hands until the last page is turned. Tension and suspense will do this. Good writers in all genres know how to weave all kinds of tension into their writing and keep building and building until the reader is so tense they can do nothing but read.

Dialogue, quick snappy back and forth like a good ping pong match with always quicken pace. Keep your tags to a minimum of course, “he said, she said” and only for clarity. And you must resist the urge to “table dust” or have two characters discussing something (while doing nothing but dusting) just to provide info dump in a different way. Any way you slice it, it still spells boring. I love the phrase “in real life, things happen one after the other—in fiction things happen because of the other”. Make it your mantra.

There should be no extra information, no extra scenes and no extra words. Readers are savvy, readers are smart, and readers can connect the dots of your story. Do not connect the dots for them; they want to be challenged. Never answer a question until you have posed another one, otherwise why should they keep reading? The best compliment a reader can pay me is to tell me they couldn’t put my book down. The best reviews say “it’s a page turner” because this means I have got the timing and the pacing correct. Before you begin your next novel draw your plot line out and drop your pen in the middle—start your story there and keep your reader guessing until the very last page. Some people will recommend you pace your novel with action scenes and thoughtful sequels; giving your readers time to catch their breath. I say up the action and build upon it until the very last scene. Your readers can breathe once the book is finished. Trust me; they’ll beg you for more!

Camille’s first memory of wanting to be a writer comes from her early teens. Her short story “A Love to Remember” had been gingerly passed to a friend. Unbeknownst to her, that friend shared it with another, and eventually circled it around the school, until one day a classmate thrust a well-worn copy back into her hands and said, “I don’t know who wrote this, but you’ve got to read it!”

She has since written several novels, short stories and poems and also works as an editor. Camille lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Buy Link
Camille's historical romance novel, A Claim on Her Heart is now available at Wings ePress. You can find Camille on the web at