Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Amelia Xerces Duffy launches tomorrow in Brooks

Illustrator extraordinaire James Grasdal and I are heading to Brooks, Alberta tomorrow to launch the fifth book in the Chase Duffy education-adventure series published by the Alberta Canola Producers.

Yeah, maybe I say this about each book, but this story - and the amazing accompanying artwork - is my "new" favorite. I mean, take a look at the awesome cover!

We're launching at the Outstanding In Our Field event in Brooks, with more than 400 young readers in attendance. At every launch, I grow more proud of the creativity, collaboration and support that makes these books so special.

James and I are lucky to have a contract for 10 books thanks to the generous support from the Alberta Canola Commission Board of Directors and the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund.

So far, I've traveled to Saskatchewan to see the roots of Canadian canola, become friends with the inventor of the only Jet Fuel Funny Car to run on 100% canola biodiesel, hung out with Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk (who took 250,000 canola seeds into space!), created a mystery around some delicious canola-inspired recipes, and interviewed an entomologist that single-handedly curbed my fear of spiders. Pretty awesome gig, right?

Each week, I write a blog in the lead character's voice. Chase also has a Facebook page, an Instagram profile, and a Tumblr page. Plus, Chase writes daily tweets for teachers!

The Chase Duffy books are free for Alberta educators. For more information, or to purchase copies, please contact the Alberta Canola Producers Commission at 1-800-551-6652 or reception@canola.ab.ca.

Gotta jet! It's off to Brooks we go...

- Dawn

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Crossroads Blog Tour 2013

The "other me" is taking part in the creeptastic CROSSROADS BLOG TOUR, created by the awesome Judith Graves.

I'm so thrilled to join 20 creeptastic authors of young adult paranormal fiction on a tour that offers Crossroads headquarters.
amazing opportunities for readers. Not only can you learn about some pretty cool writers, you can WIN a Kindle, fully-loaded with more than twenty spooktacular reads. For full details and how to win, go to

This year I'm stoked to promote KILLER'S INSTINCT, the cool zombie tale I co-wrote with Judith Graves, launching later this month with Leap Books

Today, I'm hanging out with Amanda Ashby, Christine Fonseca and "Cricket" at the Little Library Muse Blog. Thanks for hosting, Cricket!

Don't forget to check out ALL of the participating blogger sites for a change to WIN one fangtastic prize - a fully-loaded KINDLE.

This week, I'm thrilled to meet you at the Crossroads.

- Dawn


October 20, 2013 - Little Library Muse
October 21, 2013 - A Simple Love of Reading
October 22, 2013 - Confessions of a Bookaholic
October 24, 2013 - Jenzah Cresswell
October 25, 2013 - A Life Bound By BooksOctober 26, 2013 - Erika Knudsen

Monday, August 26, 2013

Indie antho will inspire you!

I'm super excited to be part of an inspirational anthology written and created by Indie authors, FOR indie authors. 

Do you need motivation and inspiration to self-publish or sign that contract with an interested smaller press? Have you done all the research you can, but still feel ambivalent about the idea? Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle celebrates the experiences of 29 indie authors—their passions, their insights, their successes—to help you make the leap into indie publishing.

It's been a while since I've written essay style, but in this anthology, I talk about how my contract with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission to write 12 educational, comic-style books on the Chase Duffy character was, in some ways,  the catalyst for a whole host of other opportunities including publishing a short story and novel with Leap Books, pending contracts with other publishers (announcement(s) coming soon), and even an option for development of a TV show based on one of my characters. 

Of course, this is not a how-to guide. This is the best of the indie tradition of experienced authors paying forward what they’ve learned, giving you information to help you on your journey. The personal essays in this book will leave you itching to get your work into the hands of readers and experience, first-hand, all the rewards indie publishing has to offer.

Not only is this anthology packed full of interesting and unique information, and totally worth the 99 cents (only 99 cents!!!), 100% of proceeds will be donated to BUILDON.org, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Pretty amazing, huh?
What are you waiting for?
Buy Indiestructiblesupport the indie author and an amazing charity—TODAY!

eBook: $0.99 USD
Publisher: Vine Leaves PressISBN 10: 0987593102 ISBN 13: 9780987593108

Compiled & Edited: Jessica Bell

Contributing authors:

Alex J. Cavanaugh <> Angela Brown <> Anne R. Allen <> Briane Pagel <> C.S. Lakin <> Ciara Knight <> Cindy M. Hogan <> D. Robert Pease <> Dawn Ius <> Emily White <> Greg Metcalf <> Jadie Jones <> Jessica Bell <> Karen Bass <> Karen Walker <> Kristie Cook <> Laura Diamond <> Laura Pauling <> Laurel Garver <> Leigh Talbert Moore <> Lori Robinson <> Melissa Foster <> Michael Offutt <> Michelle Davidson Argyle <> Rick Daley <> Roz Morris <> S.R. Johannes <> Stephen Tremp <> Susan Kaye Quinn

I'm in some pretty cool company, huh?

Happy Monday!

- Dawn

Monday, August 19, 2013

So, this happened.

I can't remember a time I didn't want to be a writer.

It wasn't always the most popular decision with my more practical parents. Pretty sure my Dad wanted me to be an electrician, or some kind of tradeswoman. And my mom, well, despite her "Alice" nickname (a nod to Alice in Wonderland), she encouraged me to explore all sides of creative writing - like corporate communications and journalism.

Probably a good thing, since making a living writing books isn't easy.

The thing is, financial reward is only one part of the equation. My reasons for writing are varied, complex, confusing for some, I'm sure. (Hubs has a hard time understanding the voices in my head...) But something happened this summer that offered a much-needed reminder of the most important reason I write.

The cutie in the picture above is my cousin Brooke's daughter, Ellie. Much like her mother, she's beautiful, smart - and loves ice cream. It's kind of a IUS tradition.

When I was younger, Ellie's mom used to read over my shoulder while I tapped away on a primitive word processor. Brooke was the first to read Jack of Hearts, the first real book I ever wrote at the tender age of 14. It's crap - well, the actual writing is, but the story is still pretty solid. Anyway, I might say Brooke was one of my first "fans" - I actually cherished those moments at the lake because she was always so EAGER to read more. Talk about fanning a writer's ego.

This summer, I gave Ellie a copy of each of the four books in the Chase Duffy series I write for the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Ellie read them all - several times, noting that her favourite was the most recent mystery/cookboook, TASTING MY STORY. Clearly, Ellie is following in her mother's footsteps of boosting my writerly confidence.

And then, this happened.

On the last day of my holidays, Ellie came to see me, notebook in hand. She had written two full pages, single spaced, of a complex mystery/adventure story. The protagonist was at the lake with her friends when they stumbled upon a bottle - and inside that bottle were the clues to a grand adventure.

Although the story wasn't finished, I could already tell it would be great. The characters were varied. The description spot on. She even had correct usage of dialogue tags. In fact, Ellie had set the stage for a wonderful mystery adventure - and in what she'd written so far, she had only one or two minor typos.

This was Ellie's first time writing a story.

While I certainly can't take credit for her exemplary reading and writing skills, I can claim a little bit of credit for her inspiration to start writing her own story. She told her Mom, "Now that I know there's an author in the family, I want to try it."

When I was Ellie's age, I was inspired by the likes of Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss. I went on adventures with Lewis Carroll, and later found a love of horror through Stephen King. As a teen, I discovered romance with Nora Roberts, and explored fantasy with Tolkien.

Each of those authors has inspired my own journey of story.

I am absolutely honored and thrilled to be a catalyst for young Ellie's journey. Because THAT, my friends, is why I write.

- Dawn

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A killer trailer for a killer book

I'm super (super!) excited about Killer's Instinct, a creeptastic Young Adult thriller the "other me" wrote with the awesome Judith Graves.

The book launches October 2013 from Leap Books, the same amazing publisher that published my short story THREAD OF THE PAST in the SPIRITED anthology.

Here's the blurb:


Where there is no life, there’s HOPE

Hope has always been a bit of a freak. She sees beyond the veil to where the dead walk amongst the living, their semi-corporeal forms appearing like creepy flashes from a never-ending macabre dream. But when her mother crawls from the grave and her zombified corpse goes MIA, Hope's last thread of normal snaps.

Enrolling in a militia-style school for monster hunters seems her best bet for tracking down Mommy-dearest and putting what’s left of her to rest. But the stakes are raised when she’s partnered with three unique male recruits – each with their own personal demons to slay if they want to survive basic training.

But does Hope have a true killer's instinct? If she finds her mother, will she have the guts to do what must be done to save her soul? In a place like Le Manoir, all bets are off.

And here's the trailer:

Awesome, right? The trailer was done by the ever-talented Judith Graves.

But wait, there's more! Here's a link to an advance review from author extraordinaire Sherry Ficklin, who calls Killer's Instinct: A beautifully woven story about courage and trust and what it really means to be a 'monster'. 

Pinch me - I think I'm dreaming.

More news about Killer's Instinct in the coming months here...and at the home of the "other me."

- Dawn

Monday, June 24, 2013

New show, new muse

From Lisa Kudrow to Sarah Michelle Gellar, an actor playing different roles on one show isn't new - but perhaps no one has done it with such brilliance as Tatiana Marsley, the star of the BBC series Orphan Black.

Up until about two weeks ago, I knew nothing about Orphan Black - but hearing a steadily increasing buzz about the series, I opted to check it out. By episode three, it had quickly become one of my favorite shows of the season - maybe one of my favorite shows of all time. I know, high praise indeed.

Orphan Black didn't suck me in with eye candy - though this week's muse Dylan Bruce, certainly has my attention. It isn't even a series I thought I might like: cloning is generally a bit too sci-fi for my tastes. But the science fiction element is subtle, believable even, and anchored by stunning performances from one of the most ingenious actors I've seen in a long time. It's more than just being in several places at once - Tatiana gives each of her clones distinct personalities, accents, lives. It's mind-boggling!

The first season - only 10 episodes, gah! - centers around Sarah, a con artist and criminal who discovers that she is one of 9 clones. As if that isn't cool enough already, the storyline is full of awesome twists and turns, and moves at a breakneck pace, somehow without spiralling out of control. It's almost as though you've just started the episode before it suddenly stops, leaving you at the top of a giant cliff, where you, and the characters, are hanging on for dear life. If Orphan Black is an amusement park ride, I don't ever want to get off.

Except that I had to - because yeah, only 10 episodes. I whipped through those in two days, and now have to wait over a year (gack!) for season 2.

I've been latching on to a few BBC shows as of late, mesmerized by the quality, the gorgeous cinematography and the blunt storytelling style. I loved Broadchurch, Being Human, and The Killing. But I am obsessed with Orphan Black.

I've given myself a hard deadline to complete one of my WIPs - July 1 - before I launch into edits for Killer's Instinct, the creeptastic novel I am co-writing with Judith Graves. I've a lot of work ahead of me, but it isn't impossible. Especially not with Dylan Bruce in the role of muse avatar.

For the next week, I'm halting all TV binge watching, but when the ban is lifted, I'll be re-watching the first season of Orphan Black. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

- Dawn

Monday, June 17, 2013

Please Eric, aMUSE me all summer long

Kind of a no brainer, right?

I mean, I pretty much start waiting for a new season of True Blood as soon as the previous one ends - even when it gets a little off the charts with that whole "Billith" storyline. I'm still not sure how I feel about that - or a few other side stories (4 babies, Andy? Weird.) - but I do know this: Alexander Skarsgard is absolutely muse worthy.

This next week is the return of many things I'd abandoned for a month - the gym, everyday writing, date nights with handsome hubs. I've bogged myself down with the day job, fixing up the yard at the new place, and power watching a bunch of TV shows. (Have you seen Scandal? Watch Scandal. So good.)

But this week, that's all gotta change. My pants are fitting a bit tighter, and the voices in my head are shouting at me to get back to a couple of WIPs - not to mention the couple of new shinies I've pushed to the back of the TBW pile.

Yep, my 2013 New Year's Resolution goals are slightly off course. The return of Eric Northman to Sunday night must-watch TV seems like a good omen that things are heading back on track. Welcome back, Eric. You've been gone far too long.

Happy Monday!

- Dawn

Monday, June 3, 2013

An adrenalized muse

I want to write a movie that includes a long car chase.

Yeah, I know it's been done before. For sure six times in the Fast and the Furious franchise, which, by the way, is my guilty pleasure. I love Vin Diesel. I love Paul Walker.

I love fast cars.

Ever seen Gone in 60 Seconds with Nic Cage? Eleanor is my dream car (1967 Shelby GT 500) - I even have a model of her on my desk. Call her my daily dose of inspiration.

Back when I was a starving journalist, my dream car was a Toyota Celica. I had a picture of one taped up in my cubicle, and promised myself that when I met my first professional career milestone, I'd buy it. When I left journalism for a slightly more lucrative career in communications, I made it happen. She was blue, souped up (though that's a different story), and very, very fast. She shifted like a dream, and cornered like she was on rails... *sigh*

But, she was the crappiest car in the world for Alberta, where nine months of winter wreaks serious havoc on a low profile, adrenalized sports car. (Important note: I never hurt her, though she was broken into and my stereo stolen...) I sold her about six years ago, trading in speed for the "responsible" Alberta vehicle. An SUV.

Thus making my father - and my poor dog (who crammed herself into the front seat for road trips) - extremely happy. But even though I opted for the sportiest SUV I could find, I still think about my Celica.

Every day.

Especially in the summer when the hot rods hit the streets.

These days, I fuel that adrenaline rush hole through movies with cars. Preferably hot cars. Going fast.

Yeah, I get that Vin Diesel is not the best actor, and that if not for Paul's pretty boy looks, The Fast and the Furious franchise would appeal mostly to men. I know the plot is thin, and the dialogue is cliched (especially in this last movie!). But there's action.

Lots and lots of action.

And I likes that.

So someday - not today, not tomorrow, maybe not for a few years - I'm going to write a screenplay with a long, long, LONG car chase. And if Vin Diesel is still racing cars on screen, then heck, he can hop in the driver's seat and take me for a ride. (Please?)

Unless of course Ryan Gosling wants the role. Because even though I *think* I want to write something fun and frivolous like The Fast and the Furious, I probably really want to write something a little more like Drive.

I'd just give Ryan a much better looking car.

This week - and for the past two weeks - I've been revising an old project that my script agent requested, and getting ready for some ultra cool upcoming meetings - which means fresh word count is WAY down.

I've leaned on Kiefer for a couple weeks to kick my revisions butt into gear. After treating myself to a movie break this weekend, I think I'll hand the muse avatar torch over to Mr. Diesel. He doesn't have to spout encouraging dialogue (I can do without the cliches) - all he has to do is look pretty and drive me across the finish line.


Happy Monday!

- Dawn


Total words last week: 0 (at least NEW words...)
Total words to date for 2013: 81,662

Total pounds lost for week: 0
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 27 

Books read last week: 1
Total books read to date for 2013: 9

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 8

Monday, May 13, 2013

The muse came back


This is the most awesome news since --

Well, since ever.

After a way-too-long hiatus, Jack Bauer is returning to the small screen. And this, my dear bloggy friends, is BIG news. At least to me.

You see, I am a huge - and I do mean HUGE - Kiefer Sutherland/24/Jack Bauer fan. Kiefer has owned my heart since Lost Boys, a movie that pretty much defines my youth since I watched it every. single. weekend. I'm not kidding.

But then came Jack Bauer. Rugged. Kick ass. Take no crap Jack Bauer. Oh yeah, and he's hot.

Cue: world change.

Not only did I see a different, even more awesome side of Kiefer, but my writing...advanced. It was after watching the first season of 24 that I finally understood the twists and turns that make a great thriller. I could identify with the "ticking time clock" so necessary in thriller fiction, the rationale of killing off main characters, even when it hurts. 24 took TV risks, pushed boundaries. Sure there were some cheesy moments, but 24 fueled my creative well.

When the show was cancelled in 2010 after admittedly a weak season 8, it left a Monday-night void that not even The Voice and The Following could fill - and I luvs me some Adam Levine and Kevin Bacon. I tried to watch Touch, but Kiefer seemed awkward in the role of loving, caring Dad (I kept waiting for him to yell or threaten torture or something crazy) and as I suspected, the show was cancelled after just two seasons.

 I've been filling my TV dance card with some fairly amazing shows lately - Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, Revenge, Hannibal, The Killing, Broadchurch, Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Not to mention Dexter and True Blood return to TV next month. I have no trouble admitting that I'd drop them ALL for a new season of 24.

Thankfully, having a PVR means I don't have to.

I can't wait for the new season of 24! Welcome back, Jack, even if it is a limited run. And of course, thanks for being this week's Muse Avatar. Though you never really went away, I'm looking forward to kicking some serious ass with you in the very near future.

Anyone else anxiously awaiting the return of Jack Bauer?

- Dawn


Total words last week: 5,858
Total words to date for 2013: 81,662

Total pounds lost for week: 1
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 27 

Books read last week: 1
Total books read to date for 2013: 8

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 7

Monday, May 6, 2013

I choose Usher!

If only Usher was a writing coach!

Okay, I admit, before this season of The Voice, I pretty much watched the show for Adam Levine. Sure, I liked the singing and the fun coach banter, but there was something a little creepy about Cee Lo Green, and it didn't take me long to get tired of X-Tina's ample bosom.

Enter Shakira - whom I have loved since Hips Don't Lie.

And Usher.

Aside from being some serious eye candy competition for Adam, Usher is my dream coach. No, seriously. Just watching his mentoring style makes me want to drop everything and be a singer - just for the chance to work with him. (Don't worry, I won't be gracing The Voice stage any time soon - I kind of suck at singing.)

Up until this season, the mentoring on The Voice has consisted primarily of some minor vocal corrections. Don't get me wrong, those tips have helped further the careers of some awesome talent. But Usher goes beyond the minor and strives for excellence. He's taken his team into the boxing ring for breath training and performance endurance, held a mirror up to force one girl to see her own inner beauty, and waltzed with one contestant to help her voice dance. He's laughed, complimented, and chastized. He's tough. Damn tough.

As he should be.

One of my writing mentors, Steve Berry, once said to me, "Nobody ever got to be a better writer by being told how good they are."

Wise words that are applicable to pretty much any vocation.

Practice your craft.

Strive for your personal best.

And never settle for anything less.

Yeah, Usher you can be MY coach any time. This week, please be my muse avatar. As the statistics show, I'm in need of a little push. And if I'm slacking, I honestly don't mind if you want to take a few rounds out of me in the boxing ring. No really. I even have my own gloves.

Happy Monday! Go be great.

- Dawn


Total words last week: 3,000
Total words to date for 2013: 75,804

Total pounds lost for week: +1
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 26 (Back to the gym this week!)

Books read last week: 0
Total books read to date for 2013: 7

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 6

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Post: Jessica Bell talks about adverbs and cliches

I'm pleased to kick off the month with a guest post from the amazing Jessica Bell.

In addition to writing beautiful poetry, mesmerizing fiction, and stunning song lyrics (for songs she actually sings and has recorded), Jessica has created a new series of help aides for writers - the "in a Nutshell" pocket guides. The first in the series, Show and Tell in a Nutshell tackled the difficult balance of showing vs telling - a common issue for amateur and seasoned writers alike. Jessica's easy-to-understand examples are supported with beautiful prose that clearly demonstrates the benefit of showing - her words almost leap off the page.

Now, in the second book of the series, Jessica looks at two other common areas of difficulty for writers - adverbs and cliches. Whether you write fantasy or romance, thriller or erotica, this pocket guide should be on your bookshelf - right next to your dictionary and thesaurus. It's that vital. Please welcome the talented Jessica Bell to talk about her latest non-fiction work, Adverbs and Cliches In a Nutshell.

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.

by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo

Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zombies

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
*     *    *

It's the final day of the A to Z Challenge and I am grateful for all of the new blogs I've discovered throughout April - but also relieved it has come to an end. I actually maintained three blogs for the challenge - it started as four, but I can only stretch so far. I blogged here, of course, and over at the "other me" website I talked about movies I loved as a child, and then I wrote in character as Chase Duffy talking about things/people that inspire him.

All three of my blog posts today have a zombie connection. The "other me" is talking about Zombieland, a great horror comedy. And Chase is chatting about his love of Zombie fiction. Chase is way out of my target audience range, but I'm glad he's a fan of Zombie fiction, because the thriller book I'm currently working on. The book is called Madonna of the Bones - and aside from the title and the general theme, that's about all I'm going to say right now.

I love this book. It's been percolating for almost a year, and I've been plucking away at research, jotting down scenes, and outlining the plot. It might be the most well thought-out of all of my projects. Which is why, now that the A to Z is done, I'll be back to my weekly blog schedule - and spending the rest of that valuable time writing Madonna of the Bones. Well, that and a few other things I've got on tap.

Zombies. They're pretty cool, no?

How are you ending off the A to Z Challenge? Zombie apocalypse? 

- Dawn

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yikes!

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
*     *    *

Yikes! That's my favorite exclamation when I read or watch something that creeps me out. Well, unless it scares the crap out of me - then I scream, loudly. Just ask my friends. I'm kind of a chicken sometimes.

I like a little "yikes!" factor in my thriller reads, though. That moment when the protagonist faces one of their fears, or is wounded, or gets into a predicament *I* can't see his/her way out of - until the end of the book.

When I write, I'm always looking for some "yikes!" moments, usually at the end of each chapter. Cliffhangers are not always easy, but they're worth it if your reader turns the page.

What are some of your favorite "Yikes!" moments in fiction or theatre?

- Dawn

P.S. - It's Muse Avatar Monday and honestly, I scrolled through "hot male celebrity" lists for almost an hour looking for Mr. "Y" in honor of the A to Z Challenge. (I know, tough job, but someone had to do it.) The best I could come up with is Ryan Gosling. Hey, there's a Y in his name!

The Book In My Bag Today: The Fault In Our Stars, John Green

Total words last week: 0
Total words to date for 2013: 72,804

Total pounds lost for week: 0
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 27

Books read last week: 0
Total books read to date for 2013: 7

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 6

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for X-Men

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
*     *    *

Yeah, I know, X-Men is a BIG cheat. But I'm positive I'm not the only one from the A to Z Blogging Challenge hopping on the X-Men bandwagon today. Not a lot of X words to choose from. And yeah, I'm aware, it's not a thriller per se.

BUT, in this case, X-Men is a metaphor for action which IS something required for thriller writing. (Ha! See what I did there?)

There's actually a whole sub genre of thriller for action-adventure. Some of the writers in this sub-genre include Clive Cussler, Steve Berry, James Rollins, Lee Child and of course, the author that revitalized the sub-genre with The Davinci Code, Dan Brown.

I'm a fan of all thriller - but this is the sub genre I grew up with, and the sub-genre I buy for my father, my father-in-law, my mother, and well, it's the sub-genre I buy the most. Action! It's a good thing. Particularly if you write thriller - which I do.

And yeah, I know there are better action flicks. But do they start with X? No.

What's your favorite thriller sub-genre?

- Dawn

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Write

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
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I suppose it's a bit of a cop-out on an A to Z of thriller terms to use the "W" post for writing. But let's face it, if you're working on a thriller novel, it's not going to get done if you aren't writing. 

Have you ever read Stephen King's book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft? It's brilliant, actually. Filled with tips and tricks to hone your craft and get inspired. I read it once a year, kind of like my annual kick in the ass to remember some of the skills that can be lost when you're engrossed in the first draft of a new project. It's my editing bible. Have I used dialogue tags other than said? Have I filled the book with cliches? Stephen is good at (bluntly) reminding me why those things are "bad", particularly after I've read something that has been published - and yet, doesn't conform to those rules.

Perhaps one of the strongest messages in Stephen's book, however, is the reminder to write every day. Yeah, he writes 10 pages a day, which is somewhat easier when writing IS your day job. But being busy shouldn't be an excuse. One of my mentors, Steve Berry, was a full time lawyer while he was writing a bestselling novel a year. Amid the paperwork, court appearances, and full slate of meetings, he made time for writing. His dedication paid off.

I made a New Year's resolution on January 1 to write 500,000 words in 2013. Ambitious, yes, and likely not going to happen. Because even though I started out strong, putting in 1370 words a day for the first two months of the year, I tapered off when life got busy, or stressful.

Not to mention, I forgot that sometimes you need to take a break and re-read what you've written, plot the next few chapters, spend time researching, or yeah, catching up on the day job, family, or even just reading a good book.

I'm not beating myself up. I've written 80,000 words in 2013 so far, which has meant the completion of three books I'd started in 2012, a finished elementary school project, three quarters of a script, and the start of the second book in a series. Not bad.

And, there's still time! I won't make 500,000 words this year - it will be a miracle if I do. But I will write more this year than last year...putting me one step closer to achieving my writing dreams.

So, how much time do you spend honing your craft - even if your craft isn't creative?

- Dawn

V is for Vengeance

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
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As a firm believer in Karma, the concept of vengeance - at least in real life - is both compelling and disturbing. But as a literary tool, particularly with thriller fiction, I understand its role. In fact, I'm often drawn to stories about it.

One of the surprise TV show discoveries of the last year for me was Revenge. If you haven't seen it, the title pretty much sums it up - but it's well done in that it demonstrates some of the consequences of revenge.

Of course, the vengeance theme has been around for billions of years, and even when the story is not centralized around it, there are often elements of vengeance and revenge throughout. Consider these great books, movies and TV shows:  Romeo and Juliet (or pretty much any Shakespearean tale), The Count of Monte Cristo, V is for Vendetta, 24, Game of Thrones, and True Blood. 

Vengeance was actually a central theme of my first thriller, Absolution - though some of that has been edited out in the re-work.

Got a favorite book, TV show or movie about vengeance? Share!

- Dawn

PS - Blogging about vengeance was just another excuse for me to share a picture of Jack Bauer, one of my favorite TV characters, played by one of my favorite actors - Kiefer Sutherland. Kiefer has been a muse avatar countless times.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Underworld

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you want), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
*     *    *

When I started dabbling in storytelling, I had a weird fascination with the Underworld. Maybe I'd read too many horror books as a teenager. My earlier (unfinished) works starred lead characters such as Mephistopheles, Leviathan and Lucifer. (Charming, I know.)

Of course, Satan is the most well-known leader of the common underworld, but further research (and I loves me some research) exposes pretty interesting lesser known, and way cooler underworld rulers from different religions and mythologies.

I've since veered off the "underworld craze" favoring themes slightly less dark (for now), but I'm still fascinated with other "worlds" and mysterious unexplored places, like caves, black holes, and sunken ships. When I was a kid, I was desperate to go to space camp, determined to be the "first woman in space" (hey, I was naive back then...) and up until a few years ago, I kind of wanted to be a deep sea diver. But um, I went scuba diving in Hawaii, saw a really large shark RIGHT UNDER MY FEET and that was the end of my ocean exploration dreams.

Except in fiction.

These days, I'm addicted to podcasts. *cue nerdy music* Like one of my favorite magazine, Mental Floss, there are some fabulous things you can learn listening to podcasts like Stuff to Blow Your Mind and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Literally HUNDREDS of story idea buried within the gems of these two podcasts alone.

Now to polish off these other projects so I can work on one of them!

What underworld - or hidden world - most fascinates you?

- Dawn