Plan With Me: June

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Hello, lovelies!

I’ve been slowly integrating some planning elements into my blog posts. You’ve seen my bullet journal(s) for my projects and some of my doodles, but I don’t think I’ve revealed just how deeply obsessed I am with my bullet journal.

I am equally as obsessed with watching how others utilize their planners and journals, aka my YouTube history is littered with plan with me videos.

I’ve finally filmed my own, and here are my highlights.

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First, this my month at a glance. On one side, I have my appointments and dates—as you can see, I don’t have a ton of them, but it’s nice to have a place to jot them down when they do come up and to see when birthdays are and if I have a promo (something I try to do every month to some degree). I might also use it for delivery dates to track packages as we need to open our gate for deliveries. It’s the first time I’m using this in my bullet journal, so we’ll see how it works.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the top is a small section for future appointments that I can take with me when I plan my next month.

Down the right side of the page, I have a habit tracker. I smashed these together because I didn’t want to waste a lot of space for either of these spreads. I’d used the bigger habit tracker when I first started bullet journaling over a year ago, and I put my spin on it for a few months before it became too much. I’d forget to look at it and fill it out, and quite frankly, it wasn’t making me feel guilty enough for not getting things done that I needed to—especially self-care items.

This version hits some of the same things that my creativity calendar does and my weekly spread does, but I wanted the overall representation of how I’ve improved and if I’m staying on track. Now that I’ve gotten a handle on my social media schedule, I hope this will remind me that I am actually getting shit done.

On the left is my Week Of…spread that I got from Boho Berry and Lisa Jacobs. I tweaked it a little to fit my overall aesthetic and put my major goals down the left, and my weeks on the right. Each holds tasks that I need to complete in order to achieve project goals. I’ve found this really helpful, even when I don’t cross everything off. (Let’s be honest, not many sane people like to pile to-do’s on themselves like I do).

At the bottom of the spread, I listed my main monthly goals. I used to have a full page spread for this, but I noticed a lot of repetition in my Week Of spread and my goals spread, so I smashed them together to test it out. I’m hoping that this means I can cross more off and, once again, not overload myself, which often leads to less productivity.

I’ve posted about this next one in passing before. This is my creativity calendar. I plan out when I need to post what and where it needs shared. If you think it looks full now, wait until I put my #WritingCommunityChallenge posts in there for Instagram and facebook. Fun times.

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Next, I have a page for my mood mandala. It’s not much to look at now, so here’s a picture of this month so far, so you can see what it’ll look like.

This next spread is also new to me, it’s simply to track one line a day of my life, diary style. I’ve found this helpful in my dailies, but when I mark major notes, it’s nice to have them in one place.

The last monthly spread I have is new as well. Essentially, I hope to track my husband’s moods with more intent to look for patterns with his bipolar and undiagnosed PTSD. I show off my community challenge spread and my weekly in my YouTube Plan With Me companion.

Let me know if you have questions about bullet journaling, planning, and the writing/publishing process. Or personal shit, I answer those sometimes, too.

Interview with Tahe Love: The Battle Buddy.

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Welcome, Tahe Love, full of sass, crass, and class.

That’s me, chica.

 

I hear you once met Nikola Tesla, can you tell us about that?

It was brief. He shook my hand and looked me in the eyes. The intellect and general good in him astonished me. I’d probably have bent over for him there if he’d asked me to, even though I wasn’t into the mustache.
Oh my.

Sorry, sista. I tell it how it is.

 

I heard you dabbled in magic. Can you tell me about your time as a magician’s assistant?

I loved magic and sleight of hand. There was this young bloke, charming as shit, good at misdirection, and good with his hands. I saw him perform on the street one night and took him to an alley for a little nibble. Impressed him when I stole the cash he’d made from the show right out of his pocket. So we did a lot of disappearing assistant acts. Didn’t get anywhere, and his obsession got dark, confinement and danger, and I ain’t gonna watch a good man descend like that. Watch him kill himself. No thanks.

 

Which trick was your favorite?

He taught me how to fling cards, which he’d cut with his double-sided dagger. We got some speed on that trick. Got noticed for it, too. That’s when shit went wrong.

 

I also heard that you’re a bit of a car nut.

I love what industry has done to them, well before all of the electronic controls. The ignition system though in the early 1900s, those were brilliant because the hand cranks were monsters. But people don’t know their cars now, all those automatic regulators get in the way. I enjoyed getting to know my car, its quirks, its parts, its language.

 

What was the first car you stole?

A Cadillac Roadster Type 61 in 1922.

 

Can you tell me about how you and Julia met?

I was hanging out at a biker bar, cheating a few big guys at pool and hitting on their ladies. I felt her watching me, and when she challenged me to a game, I let her take the first shot, and she swept the game. Cost me five hundred dollars and a round of beers. Worth every penny.

 

What can you tell us about Julia?

She was a rare kind of human. Ain’t a lot of them out there that have such open minds, that don’t judge or react out of fear. That made her a hell of a lot of fun to pull shit with. Besides, she had an imagination, especially in bed. I’m a dog without a bone, if you catch me.

 

I do.

Figured you would.

 

What was it like to have a man as a mentor?

I think that’s a story for another time, sweet cakes.

 

Thanks for spending some time with me, Tahe.

You got it. Anytime.

 

Interested in learning more about her story? Click here!

Super Dork Reading, an excerpt from Blood Phoenix: Imprinted

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In all of my dorky awkwardness, I recorded myself reading a chapter from my new book, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted. Watch until the end and get an extra 45 seconds of bloopers.

If you want to read along, I’ve posted the chapter below.

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

Gene’s blade slammed against my own, the movement jarring vibrations down my arms and chattering my teeth. The sword in my hand felt like I wielded a skyscraper as a weapon. I took two steps back, wiping sweat from my lip, my other arm lowering in the process.

He advanced, and I twisted out of the way, throwing my sword down so that it stuck straight up in the dirt, swaying slightly. “I need a break.”

“You don’t get a break in battle.” Yet he stopped, gaze narrowing at how I discarded my weapon.

“Well, I’m done. Since this is practice, I’m taking five. My arms are about to fall off.” How likely would I use a sword in a fight anyways? Was I traveling back in time?

“A great number of us still use old-fashioned weapons to fight each other. Guns are useful against fae and bosex on a small scale, but most of them move faster than a bullet, as I’m sure you already know.”

I did; both Boden and I caught a bullet each before I arrived at Boot Camp.

“And you also know how conventional we can be. Stakes, swords, silver.” He gestured to my side where I’d been staked by a lion in a dark alleyway.

“Never seen anyone wielding a sword or a mace or even nunchucks, except for maybe Bruce Lee.”

The way Gene smiled made me suspect he’d watched his share of martial-arts films. I dated a boy once who loved Bruce Lee, part of the reason I took kickboxing as a self-defense class. That man could fight.

“You haven’t encountered many of us yet. Give it time.”

“Time’s what people keep telling me I’ve got.” I shook out the tired in my limbs and reached for the sword again. “So long as I survive being claimed.”

He gave me a pointed look, but let the amusement softened the small wrinkles around his eyes. His sword swung up to the ready again, and I yanked mine from the dirt.

Giant imaginary spiders clambered along my spine, freezing the sweat to my skin. Felix walked out into empty meadow with Adelina, Julia in tow behind them both. His hair styled in his signature faux hawk, pointed and threatening. They stopped where we could observe them from our little opening in the trees.

Cheeks sunken further than the other morning when I saw her last, Julia stood compliant between them. Felix gestured for her to put her hands up.

She did.

“Advance,” he said, the same way Adelina trained me.

Julia jerked forward, swinging at the female warrior. Adelina blocked the advance with ease and hooked Julia in the cheek, sending her staggering back.

“Again.” Felix circled around her, like a predator.

She started her swing with the twist of her hips, but faked and jumped out of the way before Adelina struck. Felix pushed her into the fight and his partner’s kick, making contact in her stomach and sending her breath wheezing out of her.

“Don’t be a coward.”

My heart ramped up, repulsed by their training. She’d made the right move, anticipating her opponent’s blows. They weren’t helping her.

“Get up.”

Adelina smiled, sharp white against her tan, almost as demented as Felix’s. They were made for each other.

That wasn’t good for Julia.

She straightened, hands up in defense.

Gene’s grip found my shoulder, and I didn’t realize I’d stepped forward.

“Get me,” Adelina said. Laughing. Taunting her.

Fear showed in her posture, shoulders angled in, elbows protecting her ribs. Hesitation shifted her, tipping them off to her attack before she made it. As soon as her arm cleared her side, Adelina kidney punched her, crossed, and sprawled Julia on the grass.

I shot forward, ready to kick some common courtesy into Adelina or Felix or both.

Gene pulled me back, swinging me around so that I couldn’t see them fight anymore.

“No,” I said, my voice squabbled out. “No. I need to help her.”

“You have to choose your battles.”

Another three whacks sounded against flesh, and a soft noise emitted from Julia before she thudded to the ground again.

I twisted in Gene’s arms harder. I wanted to kill Felix, knock out his fangs and make him eat them; slice him from his sternum to his pelvis and gut him like the pig he was.

I caught a glimpse of Julia as she struggled to stand on shaky limbs.

Gene grabbed either side of my face, shoving images at me as quickly as I could swat them away. Bent close to me, he blocked my view of everything else. “If you don’t calm down, you will start something that I will have to finish.”

“How can you let this happen?”

“Because they’re not breaking any of the rules.”

Cobalt blue overtook my sight.

“Pick up your sword. Move to the gym. Now.”

Sucking in a breath, I grit my teeth.

Whack. Slap. Whack. Thud.

His thumbs pinched my chin as I sought out Julia again.

God damn it.

Spun on my heel, I grabbed my things and stormed off toward the squat building at the end of the semi-circle and the storage closet next to the room we trained in. I replaced my weapons in their allotted spots, hand convulsing around the handle a few times.

I turned on Gene. “Why won’t you let me help her?”

Reaching in beyond me, he replaced his sword and spread his fingers between my shoulder blades. “Do you remember how hard fighting Harris was? A renegade vampire not even two weeks younger than you.”

Instead of revving me up, my rage pacified me. I nearly died. How could I forget that? “Yes.”

“So what makes you think you can take down two vampires that are much older and much stronger than you? In front of the rest of the facility at that. Do you believe the others would merely stand there and watch? Especially when you take on one of Phea’s favorites for actions that do not break any rules. What do you think would happen to you? Do you think you would win? That you’d merely be beating down? That they wouldn’t kill you right in front of me? Because they would have the right if you interfere.”

“I could beat them if I used all of my abilities. My flames. Wind. Earth. Visions. I have more than enough to do that.”

“To what end?” Gene grew larger, protective. “To save one woman. A woman you don’t even know.”

“To save an innocent being from what will only amount to torture and rape before long.” Emotion, such a mix of hatred, despair, and helplessness, strained my voice. “It doesn’t matter if I know her or not. And you should know that.”

I wanted to tell him how he didn’t understand because he wasn’t a woman, but I couldn’t. He did know. Adelina had done this to him and worse—made him fight her before she raped him. And no one helped him.

Swallowing past the pain in my chest, I gently touched his tie. “So, I’ll ask again. Why don’t you want me to help her?”

His pause cracked my righteous foundation.

And he whispered, “Because I don’t want to lose you.”

Interested in seeing more? Check out my last post’s teasers. Also, here’s a few excerpts: Chapter Ten & Chapter Eleven.

 

Allusions to an Old Soul

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Hello, lovelies!

It’s a special day. My newest book in the Broken World series is live on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, on Kobo, and on the Transmundane Press store!

If you don’t know the Blood Phoenix thread featuring vampire-phoenix-rebel-brat, Ria, the first book is on sale for 99 cents until the end of the day. Jump into my world.

I love Ria’s story so much because I have these little life stories hidden within the pages. Part of Ria is me, as I’ve alluded to in relation to Ari, but a good part of her isn’t me.

Let me share one of these connections. I’ve always been told that I have one of those faces…

“I wanted to get something off my chest. And you’ve just got…one of those faces. Like I can trust you to keep a secret. Ya know?”

I nodded. I’d been playing with the thought that my phoenix made me this way. Others confided in me so easily. Emily Baxter, the most popular girl in school, used to talk to me in gym class about her older brother. He came out to her family, and their parents blew up, sending him off to a straight camp. I don’t know why she trusted me to give her advice, especially since I was only sixteen, but Emily often felt better after our talks even when she’d start off so distressed.

That is until he hanged himself in their backyard.

Then we stopped talking.

“I did something bad, red. Really bad. But I didn’t have a choice.”

I’ve had some serious conversations with near strangers. Once, while waiting for my car’s oil change, the owner of the shop asked me a question or two, and before he knew it, he was telling me about his problems—all of which had come to a head around that moment.

After he’d gotten his troubles off his chest, he blushed and dropped his head, telling me he didn’t mean to do that. I just had one of those faces.

Like Ria, I wonder if my past makes me accessible to people. When I was young, I learned to navigate as a sounding board for other’s frustrations and emotions. I’m open to it; I relate to it; and I do my best not to judge. It’s the primary reason I studied communications as an undergrad. I tend to understand what others need from our interaction and why they’re telling me the stories they are.

Sometimes, I think I know people better than a lot of the people in their lives because of this. Many say I have an old soul. Others, like Ria, call it intuition. Whatever it is, I take pride in it.

Do you have one of those faces or an experience similar to this? Let me know in the comments!

And now, enjoy some beautiful teasers from my new book, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted, and remember to check out my book trailer on YouTube.

The Past Life Paradigm

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Hello, lovelies.

I wanted to talk about Ria. Oh, Ria. That poor girl had no chance at a normal life. Between her abnormal birth, sharing a soul with her mother, and being the reincarnation of the Atlantean goddess, Meleia, it’s no wonder Ria’s got a shit storm to work through.

With that in mind, I wanted to give y’all a peek at Ria’s past lives as they are a major part of her story. So here is the quick list:

Meleia—goddess of chaos (8100 BCE)

Isura—Mesopotamia (5512 BCE)

Bianca—Italy (4027 BCE)

Niabi—Japan (1377BCE)

Colista—Greece (184 CE)

Sura—Germany (481 CE)

Benny—Spanish (714 CE)

Valarie—French (933 CE)

Zyanya—China (1212 CE)

Sophia—Ireland (1416 CE)

Layla—Scotland (1632 CE)

Dashay—Jamaica (1799 CE)

Tatiana—America (1969 CE)

It’s a long list. Thirteen past lives in all, which is linked to the chaos from her original form, or maybe because thirteen is an unlucky number. Either way, it’s my favorite. (I’m a serious lover of Friday the thirteenth—the day, not the movies. Although…)

Now, the author honesty. I don’t know much more about these women than I’ve created them in the books. Well, with a few exceptions. Ria’s mother, Tatiana, is forming herself in my fire story, featuring Ria’s father. I know a bit more about Bianca and Colista and Layla than I’ve let y’all in on.

I feel as though Layla is my most interesting of the women—the most independent and vulnerable. Maybe it’s because she reminds me a bit of Cinderella—of Drew Barrymore’s version in Ever After—and of Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice. She takes on her role as the eldest-daughter-turned-mother when her parents died in the Great Plague of Edinburgh along with two of her siblings.

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At thirteen, she had to navigate a devastated city to feed her three remaining brothers and sisters. And for the next four years, she struggles to do so every day, until she meets a man who eventually takes care of her…but he vanishes a decade later.

If you haven’t guessed it, and maybe you haven’t because you don’t know Ria’s story, but that man was Gene (whom I like to think of as my Mr. Darcy), and Layla is the spitfire that pops up when the two of them are fighting.

This is because of the fire in Layla from the life she was dealt and her ability to adapt. Ria has a lot of the same characteristics but could learn a lot from Layla still.

Before I turn this into some twisted circle of babbling, let me wrap this up.

Want to know more about these past life connections? Feel free to ask me questions!

And check out the first novel in my series, it’s on sale for 99 cents to celebrate my upcoming installment in the series on May 9th.

Rebirth 99 cent Promo

Did You Know…About Imprinting?

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Imprints seem to span further than the notable reference to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. First, they imply a biological connection between the sex of a parent and the gene passed down, which results in learning and development.  If you want to know more of the science, check this out, but I’m no expert. I merely gleam some reference to Ria and her past, especially her connections with her mother.

Second, we have the psychological imprint. The two types 4sgpxfi-mediumof psychological imprints refer to bonding with one’s parents or parent-like figures. The sexual imprinting suggests the stage of our development commented on by Freud, that we favor our opposite-sex parent and often create a template for future partners based off of them. Whereas, bonding imprints take place in new born creatures that bond to the types of animals they’re surrounded by at birth, thus they pattern their behaviors in a similar fashion.

I once again find connections between Ria and Boden’s relationship and what the term imprint implies. When her powers were budding, Boden used his influential magick on her—beginning their imprint. A few hours later, he drank his blood, deepening their connection, and shit got crazy from there.

Third, the newly famous theories from the paranormal romance world focuses on shifters, or werewolves, and their strong bonds with humans. Stephenie Meyer’s books popularized this involuntary lifetime attachment with her werewolves. Their imprints mean the werewolves protect and please their mates for the remainder of their lives. But she wasn’t the first to use this type of connection. Laurell K. Hamilton used this in her Anita Blake series between both the shifter characters and the main human female, and a link between this woman, a necromancer, and newly risen vampires. Sherrilyn Kenyon also creates a bond between her shifter characters in her Dark Hunter and Were Hunter series, where shifters mate for life, literally marking them for their mate and their mate only. The men cannot cheat, and the women cannot reproduce without their mate. Their bond is ultimate and complete.  Even further back, the story of Honan and Delsa created this type of bond as the characters transverse the before, the life, and the afterlife together, fated to find each other again and again. In fact, this is theorized to be Meyer’s inspiration as a Mormon story. This guy writes about it more in depth. Interesting stuff.

Fourth, paranormal investigators theorize that because we are made of energy and leave almost undetectable traces everywhere we go, we thusly leave an energy stamp, like a fingerprint, in places we spend a great deal of time or energy.

This is the final nail, so to speak, is their transfer of powers—when both the imprint and her newly acquired glamour explode in a coffee shop. It takes an elemental to sort it out, but traces are left. Too much of their energy swapped.

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Ultimately, I called it an imprint for a lack of a better word. Boden and Ria formed this bond without my intent and not really with theirs either. Unless you take Boden’s cackling as any sort of sign.

In book three of Ria’s story, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted, we explore their bond more deeply, but the name refers not only—just majoritively—to Ria and Boden. It also refers to her past selves, and thus, her connections to her parents, her soul, James, and Gene.

 

Want a free look into the Broken World and access to more super secret book stuff? Download “Maiden of the Underworld” here.

 

BONUS CONTENT: The Official Blood Phoenix: Imprinted book trailer is live. ❤

Fucking finally, it’s here!

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I keep hearing people talking about strong female characters, which I am ALL for. I have plenty of them myself. But lately, the focus has been on their flaws. Well, here’s something I don’t quite understand…why doesn’t EVERY character have flaws? They should. I mean seriously, who wants to read about a perfect person being perfect? Boring.

I’d rather have my powerful girl be a loud mouth, righteous, know-it-all with serious insecurities than have her simply kicking ass all the time. I mean she still kicks ass all the time, but she’s never sure if she’s going to survive. What fun would it be if we KNEW she would survive? Even if we’re pretty sure of it, the battle better fuck her the hell up. And she’d better change from it. Because my god, who wants to see people make the same mistakes for the same reasons and have the same conversations again and again in a story.

I’ve seen it. Two books, same exact conversation repeated ten times. TEN. What the fuck, people. WTF.

All right, reeling in the rant.

Reeling it in.

And breathe.

So, want a fucked up, neurotic, half-cocked heroine to follow as she pinballs around an oppressive paranormal world? Then buy your ass some Blood Phoenix novels, because Ria trudges through a shit storm of death, blood, and trials that causes her to lose her hair. Literally.

Boom, the cover! I hope you like it because I sure the fuck do.

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I have a bit of story for you. Let me give you some context. Ria and her battle buddy, Tahe, just completed their first mission scouting out some wolves in a Syracuse BBQ joint. Tahe stole a car for Ria to drive…for her first time, resulting in a nasty crash and a bit of PTSD from Ria’s renegade fight.

Enter Chapter Eleven:

Tahe whimpered beside me as I came awake with the hot fumes of barbequed meat and blood clogging my sense of smell. Her breath fast and shallow, her nails dipped into my forearm. “You awake, red.”

“Yeah.” A mallet pounded on my temples in a steady staccato, and I rubbed them as the cracked windshield came into view.

“Good.” Her breath caught. “Need some help.”

Terror strangled me when I turned to her. A piece of metal pinned her to the seat through her abdomen. I jumped back, hitting the door handle with my shoulder blades.

“Oh shit.”

Harris blinked at me from the passenger seat, dagger handle jutting out of his chest and blood dripping from the corner of his mouth. “You bitch.”

Red.”

I jerked back to reality and the blood spreading through her top. I peered around quick, looking for the phantoms of Harris. Nothing but woods.

“Ain’t nothing to go off the deep end about. At least it ain’t wood.” Tahe took another shaky breath. “How far out the back is it?”

The metal came out clean on the other side. “A few inches.”

“Doable.” Wetness garbled her words.

“Okay. You need to stop talking unless it’s necessary. Let me see if I can pull it out the front.” A single hole of a few inches in diameter punctured the windshield on her side, and the metal looked like one of the posts off the guardrail. The end still had a flat wire where it connected to rail and left Tahe enough room to grab hold of it with one hand. I hoped there were no jagged pieces inside that would tear her further when I pulled it out, but if it did, I’d need something to stop the bleeding.

My door was crushed shut. “I’m going to see if there’s anything in the trunk to tend the wound once you’re free, but I have to break my window. Turn away so I don’t spray you.”

Pulling my sleeve taut against my elbow, I hit the glass three times before it shattered. A small chunk fell inside, but the rest remained intact with spider-line fractures that I pushed out.

The trunk didn’t have a whole lot of useful junk: just fluids, a jack, and a spare tire. Crap. I needed to call for help. My phone proved useless with its smashed screen. Double crap.

My giant savior it was then.

Also check out the Transmundane Press Blog for an excerpt from Chapter Ten.

Like what you read? Enter the giveaway to win the complete Broken World Collection.

 

 

Drop the Deets: My tip for eliminating pesky dialogue tags

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Hi, I’m Alisha, and I don’t like dialogue tags.

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Aware that a great many readers and writers could give two shits about when, where, how often, and which dialogue tags are used, they rile me up.  Plain and simple.

Let me show you why.

First, to clarify, dialogue tags are necessary. They keep us on track when characters have extended conversations. And if said or asked is used to do this, they essentially become invisible. No problem here. Use them to assign a speaker—sparingly.

Now, where I get to be a bit of an editing snob: if your readers can’t tell the difference between most of your characters when they speak, this means other issues need addressed. However, the below suggestions can help with that stage of revision, too.

Next, cut the fluffy, telling dialogue tags. The ones that say how someone speaks rather than earning the true emotion of the speaker.  I’m talking about growled, mumbled, whispered, and hissing, etc. Side note, don’t have characters’ hiss without at least a few s-words. Yes, I’ve seen it, and yes, it’s infuriating. Or, god forbid, the use of adverbs to indicate these things, like he said wistfully or she said teasingly. Don’t. Just don’t.

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The trick is to drop details between dialogue to nix these and develop scene, character, and tension.

Develop scene by scattering descriptions when a pause is needed. If you struggle setting scene, as I often have issue with, this is a great place for small details: a loud, neon pink duvet; the rubber frog stuck in an inner-tube on the bookshelf; a sun-bleached couch hidden in the tall grass. Be specific, use details that differentiate the scene or that reflect what the characters are thinking about.

This type of detailing helps slow down a tense scene where a lot of dialogue takes place. If you want the tension to grow, let the reader dwell on what’s said by providing sensory input that heightens the feel of the scene.

Also, to slow down and deepen tensions means providing internalization. We don’t simply talk and listen during a conversation. We digest and respond to the other person. Maybe your characters are on the same page, and their blood is pumping, their excited, and they’re thinking, Yes! Yes, finally someone who isn’t a moron. They get it. Thus, when they respond verbally with, “I absolutely agree,” you won’t need to dump why they agree into their conversation. It’s not needed. The reader feels the same.

But maybe, the characters are not in agreement with each other, and they’re trying to navigate unfriendly territory without slitting each other’s throats. Then amidst the conversation, your POV character might think to himself, This guy. How do they keep making this guy? All slick and shiny with his clichéd euphemisms and shoddy tan. Forget this, I won’t buy from him. All the while, the other guy is selling him a used car—persistent beyond normal pleasantries.

If you’ve met people that you connect with or dislike immediately, you know the emotion that comes with this, but readers should get a taste, too. Hence, internalizing. This doesn’t just mean thoughts. It means physical reactions, too. The heat of anger, the cold of fear, the frenzy of adrenaline, the gooeyness of love. Throw some of that in there, too. Steer clear of the clichés with personification or metaphor.

Finally, show a bit more character, beyond scene and internalization are other senses that we can appeal to, other details that we can drop. Build a character slowly through a conversation. First, notice the elaborate ring on the old man’s middle finger that seems to glow strangely when the sun hits it right. Then when he speaks of a long-gone lover, show how his dark eyes shine, glossy with a deep pain that crinkles when he looks away. Catch a whiff of his cologne, astringent with undertones of grease and cedar. Finally, the notch in his ear, twisting his lobe that you didn’t notice under the shadow of his hat until he leaned forward.

We don’t see everything about a person at once. If we did, life would be boring, and when we do it in writing, our stories grow boring. And don’t merely show us things. Make us feel them, taste them, and smell them.

Don’t be afraid to give your characters’ tics—picking at their nails, rubbing their hands together, tugging at their shirt hem—we all have tells for our emotions. The reader might not know exactly why a character keeps spinning their ring around their finger, but the writer should, and they should show it.

Let me know your tips and tricks for eliminating dialogue tags and world-building. Or disagree with me, I can take it.

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Daydreaming in Ink

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I may be a wee bit addicted to planning and notebooks…and pens…and paper…and markers…okay, I’m just a big kid who likes to daydream in ink.

But I’ve finally found a way to make it work in my favor.

See, the internet has blown up with this new planning market in the last few years—for real, go check out YouTube or Pinterest or Instagram and drown in the bombardment of it. I love every bit of it, too, and probably consume more of it than I should, but that’s not really the point…is it?

No, seriously, it’s not. Step off my walnut.

So, I’ve been planning for the last year, mixing a multitude of formats and systems to make sure I break down my big plans and don’t forget any of those small steps…you know, the ones that come back and bite you in the ass at the last second.

Without any further side-tracking, hopefully, let me show you.

Here are three examples of my main project tracker, the one that shows me the entire project from start to finish in one page. It reminds me of my important tasks and allows me to track my progress and mark things out.

The simple ability to fill in my word count or how many chapters I’ve edited in a manuscript helps me feel like I’m accomplishing something even though I know I have a long way to go.

And these babies are new to me this year, after months of struggling to balance my tracking, so I’m excited to finally complete one of these. (Hint: the green one, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted should by full by the end of next quarter, to include publishing and promotion and giveaways and a whole lot of jazz. Squee.) You can see I have a whole lot sitting there in one place.

Here’s another way I help track from month to month to be sure I’m completing the tasks from my project list.

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This I took from Lisa Jacobs. I bought her workbook, Your Best Year 2017, and this allows me to take the chunking from my project plans—in conjunction with my marketing and publishing outlines—and implement them into each week of the month so I know when I need that little shit done by to stay on target.

Let me be honest, I don’t always stick to this. Life happens, shit gets shifted around, but now, I know when I’ve missed stuff and can figure out how to finish those things and keep moving forward.

It also lets me know when I have to let some tasks go. I have big dreams and big plans, and I pile a lot onto my own plate. So when I miss something consistently, I know it’s not meant to happen for a particular project. And that’s fine. I’ll try it next time.

Well, that’s it. That’s how I’ve made my tendency to goof off and doodle and journal into a productive and rewarding practice. Best of all, I really love doing it.

What do you do to plan out your creative projects? Do you have creative energy that you channel in your favor? Tell me about it.

After Happily Ever After: Editrix and Author Alisha Costanzo Talks Secret Agents and Creative Impulses

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If you haven’t heard about the After Happily Ever After anthology, this interview series is a front row seat into the creative minds of the authors who have re-envisioned the fairy tale world beyond the final credits. However, as we reach the close of the series, we now have the opportunity to turn our attention to the guiding forces behind the anthology — the editors themselves!

Welcome author and editrix Alisha Costanzo to the blog!

Costanzo Author Pic Editrix and author, Alisha Costanzo

How did you begin your writing journey?

Honestly, I always have a hard time pin-pointing a beginning, and I wonder if other authors feel the same way. I’ll start here. I had sixty-seven imaginary friends before I started public school. My mother made me a cocoon in the far corner of the living room to hide and read Goosebumps

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