Saturday, March 30, 2013

Brae Wyckoff and The Orb of Truth

Brae Wyckoff was born and raised in San Diego, CA and is working toward a Psychology degree. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Jill, for 19 years, and they have three children; Tommy, Michelle, and Brittany. He has a beautiful grandson named Avery. Brae has been an avid gamer since 1985. His passion for mysterious realms and the supernatural inspired him to write The Orb of Truth, the first in a series of fantasy action adventures. Brae describes The Orb of Truth as a cross between the Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of OZ where you will be swept away into a magical land of Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. And today, he's visiting us on Writer's Sanctuary. Welcome, Brae!

“It’s a cross between Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of OZ where you will be swept away into a magical land of Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings.”

—Brae Wyckoff

Where are you from?

Born and raised in beautiful San Diego, CA.

What sparked your interest in writing?

Movies truly brought out the writing interest in me. I remember watching the first Star Wars movie when I was six years old and have never forgotten that moment in time. This started my daydreaming of fantasy and sci-fi. Then came along Dungeons and Dragons in the 80’s and that is where my stories started to evolve.

What components, in your opinion, makes a great story?

The biggest component for me is that the story needs to move me. It needs to compel me to read on and cheer for the hero. I need to be drawn in to the adventure and be a part of it. There was something magical with the movie The Neverending Story and the little boy as he is reading the book realizes he is part of the story. That is the essence of what I’m talking about. I want my readers to enjoy the adventure, relate to the characters, and feel they are involved somehow with what is happening on the pages of the book. When you read my books, you will be able to envision the story like a movie is playing inside your head.

How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?

I write Epic Fantasy books. It is high level adventuring to the core with powerhouse characters and strong personalities.

What kind of world or realm have you created for your story?

I created my own realm called Ruauck-El. It has that Dungeons and Dragons feel to it along with Lord of the Rings. There is map in front of each of my books to give you the locale and I have the map posted on my website as well.

I love taking people to beautiful landscapes, interesting locations, secret hideouts, a good tavern where there is sure to be brawl. I didn’t re-invent the wheel but took components and made it my own within the realm I created.

What inspired you to write your book?

I would say that I was divinely inspired. I have a strong message of hope within my books that people will relate to in real life. I see my real life as an epic adventure and even amongst the bad things in life I can thwart the evil and be the hero. My goal is to empower people to take control of their destiny and realize they matter in life and that they do have a purpose.

Was there much research involved?

Not too much research as I grew up playing D&D and the setting and style revolves around that. I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan and this also has helped me in my writing. It just seems to flow from me and is part of my DNA. Write what you know.

Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?

The Orb of Truth is a classic adventure of good vs evil. There is sacrifice, there is friendship, there is loyalty, and there is a story of hope. There is a line that you will read that says, “It is time.” This will reoccur throughout the novel and there is a message behind it that goes into all of our lives. Now is the time. Each of us has a destiny and a purpose but each of us need to recognize it and walk it out.

Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
Oh, yes, I actually YouTubed my celebration out on my deck with a glass of wine and a cigar.

I cried when my proof of the book showed up. It was truly a moment in my life because I have poured my heart and soul into the story.

Do you listen to music when you write?

I love listening to the top 40 when writing. There is something about the creative flow of lyrics and the beat that can take me into a rhythm for writing.

What do you like least about writing?

The fact that I can’t write fast enough to get the story I have in my head out…that is annoying. I outline my book from beginning to the end and this gives me a way to capture my thoughts before I start. Things change along the way, but it is the structure of the story that I need to get out of my system. It burns inside me…waiting to be released.

If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?

Well, of course, it would be JRR Tolkien for me.

You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?

The Bible cause well, you know, it’s the Bible.

What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?

My 2nd book is due out this year (2013). It is currently with my editor. It is called The Dragon God and is the sequel to The Orb of Truth. I have also started writing the 3rd book, The Vampire King, and it is coming along nicely.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Write what you know and do it with excellence. Get your work professionally edited with someone you trust with your work. Get your book cover professionally designed. Don’t give up!

How can readers reach you?

I’m on every social media platform out there. You can join my Official Fan Club on Facebook. 

I reveal exclusives on my fan club page that are just for the fans. I just recently posted a snippet for the upcoming book, The Dragon God, introducing everyone to a new character…a gnome named Trillius and he is sure to become a fan favorite.

The Orb of Truth Book Synopsis:

In the hundreds of years since the Holy City disappeared, darkness has fallen over the land. Human kingdoms have seized control of the realm, scattering the other races into hiding.

Bridazak, a skilled thief, and his friends, a Dwarf and a fellow Ordakian, have dared to remain within the human communities and live relatively quiet lives, until they discover a mysterious, magical artifact. The three friends are thrust into an adventure that will challenge their faith, their purpose, and their destiny as they chase a forgotten and lost prophecy across the realm of Ruauck-El, where they hope to discover the origins of the strange item and their place in its history.

An ancient, unknown enemy threatens the completion of their journey at every turn. Bridazak is about to face the biggest adventure of his life, one that may change the known realm, and answer the questions he has carried all his life. Will they unlock the truth?

Voted #1 for BEST fantasy book under the radar!

Voted #1 Best Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book!

Buy link for The Orb of Truth:

Paperback Amazon

E-Book Amazon

Book Trailer Video

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Geography Lesson

I wrote this short for another writing group I used to belong to. I don't remember if there was a prompt or if we simply decided on the subject ourselves. This is what I wrote.

"Hah! I got you!" Brady yelled as he hurled himself at his little brother.
Alfie flung himself backward on the bed, clutching his chest dramatically, gurgling loudly as he fell. "Arrg! You got me, Captain Brady, Terror of the Six Seas!"
"That's Terror of the Seven Seas, Alfie."
"Nope. I'm saving one for me, so only six."
Brady laughed as he helped his brother up. "Okay, you can have the Mediterranean Sea. Is that okay?"
"Sure. Show me." They walked to the world map that took up over half the wall.
Alfie loved geography, but he couldn't read yet. Brady showed him the Mediterranean.
"Now spell it."
Alfie dutifully complied.
"Show me Holland," Brady commanded. It was a game they had made up to go along with the map.
Alfie pointed to Holland with a grin, anticipating the impending entertainment. He loved this game even better than pirates.
"What's it known for?" Brady demanded.
"Tulips and wooden shoes! Norway!"
Brady pointed to it.
"What's it known for?" Alfie asked.
"Um, Vikings and fjords!"
They went back and forth trying to stump one another for twenty minutes until their mother called them for supper.
"Wash up," she called as she walked down the hall. "I don't want a couple of dirty fisted conquerors at my dinner table."
"Yes, Mom," they chorused as they ran to the bathroom.
Tussling and nudging, they managed to get more water on the floor than their hands, but they passed muster as Mom inspected them. Dinner was set up in the living room on TV trays. The boys looked around excitedly. They rarely got to eat out there.
"Special treat," their mother smiled. "Daddy sent a video! He filmed his friends and some of the natives around camp. One of his buddies even taped him working. Now you can see what Daddy does all day."
"Cool!" Both boys sat down to watch.
Their father's handsome face appeared in the middle of the screen. "Hi, boys! Hello, Martha, honey. Well, here we are! Filming on location in the desert hasn't been a lot of fun, but there's some cool stuff to see."
He wandered around doing a travel log for them, showing them camels, Arabs, palm trees and a genuine oasis. He and some of his friends sat around a campfire at night telling stories and singing songs. Several of the Egyptian men who worked with them also told stories from their country. The boys were fascinated.
After about an hour, their father sat alone in his trailer, a wistful smile on his face. "I miss you all a lot. I'll be back soon. The film wraps next week. By the time you see this, I may be on my way home. I love you all. Hugs and kisses to everyone." The screen went blank.
"Wow!" Brady yelled. "That was so cool!"
"Show me where Egypt is, please?"
"Sure!" Brady jumped up, ready for action.
"Clear your places first, boys," Mom reminded them.
"Yes, ma'am," they chorused.
They were just finishing in the bathroom when they heard voices in the front room. Exchanging an excited look, they ran to the living room to see who had arrived.
"Daddy!" Alfie launched himself at his father.
"Dad!" Brady hurled himself at his father's legs.
The only thing that kept their father upright was the fact he was already hugging their mother. Otherwise, he would have been bowled over.
"Whoa, guys! I'm glad you're happy to see me! It's good to be home," he said quietly.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I'm told I have a suspicious mind. I prefer to say I have a healthy dose of cynicism with a spot of paranoia. Though it is true, I am suspicious. Crime is all around us. Every day someone gets robbed or killed and the police can't find a clue. That's why a guy like me is necessary.
Bill Sussman, Private Eye.
My career started in the second grade when little Myron Golden lost his marbles, twelve of them, plus an Aggy. Someone stole them from his coat pocket at recess. I found those marbles. Who but me would have thought that Vera Teigler was capable of such a heinous crime? And at such a tender age.
From there, I progressed to bigger things, each case more impressive than the last. In middle school, I uncovered the gang responsible for the graffiti on the bathroom walls. In high school, I uncovered a term paper forgery business by posing as a football player in need of a grade fix. None of my discoveries made me very popular with my classmates, but sometimes a man has to do the tough jobs whether he gets extra swirlies or pantsed in gym class.
Let's not forget my biggest case to date, the Japanese Sumo Wrestling Pornography Ring! Okay, so I was wrong that Mr. Sato had a porn studio in back of his sushi shop. But he was fronting for a bookie, so my suspicions about illegal activity were correct.
Things have been a little slow lately, so I've been taking any case that comes my way. I'm not proud of the fact I'm doing car repos or following deadbeat dads, but it puts food on the table.
So imagine my surprise when the blonde walked in. My suspicious nature kicked in the second she opened the door. Trouble had just entered my office. She was a real babe, tall, thin, willowy - like Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep. Dressed in silk and smelling like Chanel No. 5, she stood across the desk from me. My knees were weak as I stood to greet her.
"Please, have a seat, Miss?"
"Oh, Mr. Sussman, you have to help me!" She burst into tears.
I handed her a box of tissues. She nodded her thanks and cried like crazy. Not many babes can cry like that and not move their makeup. Bill Sussman's suspicious nature stood up and said hello.Any woman who's sobbing like her heart is broken is gonna leave tracks. Her eyes go red, her face turns puffy. Not this chick. My professional mien descended like a lead zeppelin.
"How may I help you?" I tried again.
"I'm so sorry," she gulped and sobbed, looking just as perfect as when she walked in.
The tissues clutched in her well manicured hands were dry as a bone. She kept her head down and her hands in her lap. I moved around to the front of the desk, leaning against the edge.
"It's me, Bill. Vera Teigler. Don't you recognize me anymore?"
"Little Vera Teigler from second grade?" My smile nearly split my face in two. "How ya been, Vera?"
"A little of this, a little of that," she said with a funny smile that made me very suspicious indeed. "A lot better than you, you low life creep!"
And suddenly I'm looking at the business end of a snub nosed pistol. I figured I had two choices, grab the gun or put up my hands. Bill Sussman ain't a hero, dig? My hands flew up and I got real nervous.
"Hey, Vera. I'm sorry about the marbles, okay?"
"This isn't about the marbles, you freak! It's about Andy!"
"Andy? Andy who?"
"Tucker. Andy Tucker, my boyfriend. Don't you know anything?"
"Come to think, that name rings a bell or two."
"You were following him because his wife hired you to find out who he was seeing on the side. He was seeing me!" She screamed at me. The gun wavered in her hand.
"Well, sorry about that, Vera. Didn't mean to put a dent in your love life."
"She shot him, you idiot! Shot him dead! You killed the only man I ever loved! I hate you, Bill Sussman!"
My choices had just narrowed to one. I leaped at her, grabbing the barrel of the gun, pushing it out of my face as she pulled the trigger. I felt the bullet whiz past my ear, the sound of the explosion loud in the small office. I got the gun away from her, holding it carefully so my prints wouldn't get on the grip.
"It's over, Vera. I'm sorry about Andy, but business is business."
"Yeah, well, he was a pretty lousy boyfriend. Sorry about the gun." She brushed her hair out of her face. "So, Bill, you seeing anybody?"
"No," I grinned. "So, Vera, want to go out for a cup of coffee and talk about old times?"
"Sure," she said, taking my arm.
I smirked. Yeah, life comes at a guy fast, but sometimes it tosses in a hell of a ride.

© Dellani Oakes

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Donna Anastasi - Spin the Plate

Today we have an interview with Donna Anastasi, whose re-edited and re-released edition of Spin the Plate is currently on tour with Walker Author Tours. Enjoy, and don't forget to check out her book!

What is your greatest writing challenge?  Child abuse and post-traumatic stress syndrome are such sensitive topics, so I needed to proceed cautiously and strike a balance between realism and not being overly sentimental or dramatic.

What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?  The many posts I’ve received from readers on how it’s moved them forward life journey.  Plus winning the Living Now gold medal award was a huge honor.

Tell us about your previous work.  I wrote two book on animal care – The Complete Guide to Gerbil Car and the Complete Guide to Chinchilla care. I just completed another “gritty Christian fiction” work, a short story entitled “In God’s Name” available free from Smashwords.

What other projects do you have coming up? Another small-animal book called “Gerbil Agility: Yes, they can”

Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?  No, I don’t write full time. I’m an interaction designer.  I make on-line applications easy to use and improve the user experience. Design is a very interactive process requiring a lot of feedback and revision, plus a thick skin. The focus has to be on improving the end-product and making it right for your audience. These skills help in writing as well.

What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?  The book was originally a short story that came to me all at once. I wrote it down in about two week. Then I thought, “these characters are such interesting people, why not tell the whole story.” Writing fiction is extremely difficult. So, I had many authors, editors, and avid-readers help me to expand it to a full-length novel, which took four years.

Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?  My husband has had four books published and has won several playwriting awards – he helped me with the dialogue – plus several friends and relatives helped by writing down their stories which I wrote the characters into. This style of writing which I term “mosaic” results in a very realistic portrayal of events because of the details know only to those with first-hand experience.

Tell us about your book.
This book is not your usual bodice-ripper romance where an unnaturally gorgeous heroine meets a buff, alpha-male for hot nasty sex.

Not even close.

Jo is a survivor of a bleak and abusive childhood. She channels her pain and rage into weight training and roams the city streets at night as a powerful vigilante. While she is more than capable of defending herself against physical danger, she is defenseless against the memories of the past that torment her.

Francis is a mysterious man she meets on the subway train. He doesn’t have a regular job and is still living at home. But he is gentle, likeable, friendly, intelligent, sensitive, respectful, generous, patient, and understanding. Just what a brave, but damaged soul like Jo needs.

In this story, the average-guy hero battles to win the battered heart of the wary, edgy, less-than-perfect heroine.

Spin the Plate is a fast-paced, edgy, darkly comic tale of resilience, romance, and redemption that breaks over you in waves. All you can do is gasp, stay afloat, and enjoy the ride.”
-- Holly Robinson, author of The Wishing Hill and Sleeping Tigers

Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?
The novel is free from smashwords and itunes. It is a 99 cent kindle and available in paperback from amazon and barnes and noble. Make sure to get the January 2013 (full length novel) version entitled “Spin the Plate: A novel.

Where did you get the idea for the story?It came to me one day as I was driving my daily 65 mile commute across the width of New Hampshire. It was like remembering a movie I’d just seen. The main characters, Jo’s flashback and her story just hit me in crashing waves. It was a pretty amazing experience, the first one of that kind I’d ever had.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pounding the Pavement

The prompt from writing group was Pounding the Pavement. This is what I wrote.

I've never really actually pounded the pavement, except with my butt. What can I say? I'm clumsy. If it's possible to hurt myself, I will. I don't know what my first experience with pavement pounding was, but several incidents certainly stand out in my mind in rather spectacular ways. I seem to have a proclivity for injuring my feet the most, though my shins and knees refuse to be left out of the action.
When I was four, my family lived in married student housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while my father attended Harvard. There were lots of children running around barefoot and we played outside all spring and summer. One of the boys was given a red wagon for his birthday and we were all getting rides. I was determined not to be left out and claimed my place in the front while two others piled in behind me.
I started out with my feet under me Indian style, but there wasn't enough room, so I let my toes dangle over the side. Everything was fine until we hit a bump. I fell forward, my toes dragged on the pavement and I took part of the nail and the tips of my big toes clean off.
Screaming and crying, I was carted back to my mother who cleaned and bound the wounds, administered baby aspirin and kept me inside for the next week. For a long time after that, I was confined by tennis shoes.
My first major knee involvement came at age nine when I was learning to ride a bike. The neighbors had an old, battered, dark green bike with nearly flat tires. Jane, the eldest who was four or five years older than I was, got me set up, ran me around and got me confident. Feeling empowered by my new found skill, I decided to ride around the block a few times.
Flying along, I felt the freedom the bike gave me, enjoying the sun on my face and the wind in my hair – until I hit a patch of loose gravel. The bike went one way and I went the other, down on all fours in the dirt road.
Gravel and dirt embedded themselves in my flesh, leaving a trail of grime and blood. Luckily for me, I fell in front of the same neighbors' house. Their father carried me inside and their mother, a registered nurse, cleaned me up while her daughter ran down and got my mother. To make me feel better, Mr. Magsman got me a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup. It kept my mind off the fact his wife was taking stones from my knees with tweezers.
My last major escapade with pavement pounding involved my right shin. This time, in college, working summer stock at a theater in Tennessee, I was coming off stage when disaster struck.
We were doing Carousel and I was singing and dancing in the chorus. I was going to the dressing room in the basement laughing and chatting with my friends. I really was paying attention to where I was going, but I was wearing slick bottomed dance shoes.
There was a rise in the floor, a step up of about ten inches. Instead of stepping on it like I should, I missed, catching my heel on the edge of the step. The shoe flew out from under me and I fell down, grinding my shin against the edge of the concrete step.
Luckily, there were several doctors and nurses in the cast as the theater drew extras largely from the community. One of the doctors gently checked my leg while one of the nurses held my hand and tried to calm me down. It wasn't broken, but I had a gash in my shin down to the bone that went from my knee to my ankle. I couldn't even get stitches because there was no skin left.
I've done many things to myself that defy description. None of them have ever been life threatening, but all of them have been painful and of major inconvenience. I'm not quite as clumsy as I was as a child, but that's probably because I try to be more aware of what's around me. Aside from the occasional stubbed toe, I do pretty well and avoid pounding the pavement.

© Dellani Oakes

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pet Peeves

I go to a small, informal writing group once a week. We get a weekly prompt to write about. This is what I wrote for Pet Peeves.

 The therapist looked around the group steepling his fingers. Smiling ponderously he turned to the newest member. "Everyone, this is Letitia. She's joining us for the first time. Letitia, why don't you share with the group some of the things that make you angry."
Letitia smiled sweetly at him. "You mean like other than smarmy psychologists with ingratiating voices and sissy mannerisms?"
His smile faded slightly as he brought his hands to his lap. "Yes, other than that."
"Stupid people," she said tersely.
"Define stupid," a short, wiry, Hispanic youth across from her said.
Letitia thought for a moment. "Stupid people, hm. Can't walk, can't talk, shouldn't breathe?"
He grinned, nodding for her to go on. The therapist frowned.
"Get behind them in the grocery store - Oops! They forgot something. Okay, we all do that sometimes. Once, I have no problem with. But this one lady I got behind went back three times! I wanted to choke her."
"What did you do?" An excitable older woman to her right said.
"Next time she started to turn around, I blocked the way and told her the only way she was leaving the line again was through me."
"What did she do?" The youth asked.
"About peed herself," she looked smug.
He clapped and nodded. "Right on!"
"See here," the therapist tried to assert himself. "We aren't encouraging this kind of behavior. What Letitia did was wrong. You can't intimidate people at he grocery store!"
"Why not?" The man next to him asked. "I think it's great. Get what you need and get out. If you forget something, go back after you pay for the rest. Not so hard to do." He leaned forward toward the group. "My pet peeve is people who can't make up their minds what they want to order at a fast food place. They've been in line ten minutes with that huge menu in front of them. Do they look at it? No. Not until they get to the register."
"I know what you mean, dude," the Hispanic young man said. "I worked McDonald's right? Got myself fired."
"Manuel, I don't think this is the time for that story," the therapist interjected.
"Dude, chill, okay? So this lady, must have weighed like three hundred and change, waddles up with her chubby kids. I'm waiting while the fat broad makes up her mind how many pounds of burgers she's gonna scarf down and her six year old starts yelling, 'Mommy, Mommy! I want a Whopper!'" He snorted, rolling his eyes expressively. "So I said, 'Kid, we don't do Whoppers here, that's Burger King.' And he starts crying. 'How about a Big Mac and fries?' I'm being nice. She starts to argue with me about why can't I give her dumb kid a Whopper? I sad, 'Lady, I'd love to give him a Whopper, but we don't do Whoppers at McDonald's.' She's screaming by this time. So I climbed up on the counter, drop my pants and flash the entire restaurant. 'Lady, that's the only Whopper in the store. Okay?' I got arrested for indecent exposure." He shrugged, fidgeting like he wanted a cigarette.
"This is getting out of hand, Manuel."
"Hey, ain't my fault." He shrugged, leaning back in his seat.
"I hate bad drivers," the lady to Letitia's right said angrily. "Can't decide what speed to go! Can't stay in their lanes! Blinkers going for six blocks and they slow at every cross street!"
"Or tail gate on a four lane road when nobody else is around," the older man added. "I had some guy follow me back and forth like I had a magnet on my rear. Right on my bumper. Every time I changed lanes, he did."
"How did you handle that, Frank?" The therapist asked despite himself.
"Hit my brakes and let him rear end me," Frank nodded happily, grinning.
He and Manuel did a high five.
"I hate when people turn and think about it," Letitia added. "Like they start to slow down two blocks away, with the blinker on. Practically stop to turn in at the gas station. Come on, already! Get out of the road! I wish I drove a huge truck or maybe a tank. POW! I'd take 'em out!" She giggled with anticipation.
"Did you ever see that movie, 'Death Race 2000'?" The older lady asked.
"Dude! I love that movie!" Manuel grinned.
"Well, more than once," she admitted forcefully. "I've wanted to hit the accelerator and mow people down!" She put her hands up like she was gripping a steering wheel, mashing her foot to the floor. "VOOOM!"
"Marie!" the therapist was appalled. "That's it!" He bellowed. "Class dismissed!" He got up and walked out, banging the door behind him.
"Hey, Chica," Manuel addressed Letitia. "You rock, baby. Want to go out for coffee?"
"Yes, let's all go," Marie said excitedly. "I feel like stirring up trouble."
"That's why I love this group so much," Frank said with a grin. "I feel so much better when it's over."

© Dellani Oakes

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pantser, Planner, Plotter, Plunger


We've been called Panters by many – now we've been dubbed Plungers by the less than generous Plotters and Planners crowd.

Call me sensitive, but I find both of those terms somewhat demeaning. Just because I don't outline doesn't mean I don't plot and plan. I do that as I write rather than spending time on it before hand.

A recent article – the one that called us Plungers – said that Plungers and Pantsers are slower authors because we don't plan, plot and outline. We're disorganized, our method is slower and less directed. We are, therefore, less efficient authors.

Oh, really? For the last six years, I've participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge and I always finish. Not only do I complete my novels in less than 30 days, I have a first draft that's very close to a last draft. It needs a few passes by me and an editor, but plot, dialogue and characterization are fully developed. There aren't even very many typos or grammatical errors because I catch that as I go along.

As a matter of fact, I finished my NaNo Novel extra early one year, just before Thanksgiving. That afternoon, I got an idea and wrote an additional novel– 54,129 words, start to finish – in four days. But, how can that be? My unplanned approach is slower and less efficient. I'm surely prone to errors because I don't plot and plan before I begin writing. Good to know I'm not laboring under the misconception that I can never finish a novel and require inordinate amounts of time to edit because I didn't get it right on the first pass.

I prefer to put my creative energy into writing the actual book – NOT the outline. I like to do my research as I go – NOT spend a year on it before writing the first word.
Do I think Plotting and Planning is a bad way to approach our craft? No. It simply isn't my way. So, why do Plotters and Planners insult my approach, giving it derogatory names? Do they feel threatened? Is it word count envy? I'd really like to know. I don't belittle or denigrate your style. I'd appreciate it if you would show me the same respect.

As for being called a Pantser or Plunger – no thanks. I don't appreciate the imagery those names evoke. I prefer the term Spontaneous – because that's what I am.
~ Dellani Oakes – Spontaneous Author

On a side note, I finished THIS year's NaNoWriMo novel in the first week of November. That's right, 50,230 words in 7 days. Who's the slow poke now?

© Dellani Oakes

Look for Dellani's books - Indian Summer, The Ninja Tattoo, Lone Wolf, Shakazhan, Under the Western Sky and Conduct Unbecoming, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or at TirgeaerrPublishing and Second Wind Publishing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I was invited by Kathy Ree to participate in what can best be described as a chain-letter blog hop. Here’s how it works: someone gave me 10 interview questions, which I’m going to answer below. Then I passed on the questions to 5 other authors who will post their answers on their own blogs next week, and they pass on the questions to 5 more authors and so on.

I was invited by Kathy Ree. Here’s a link to her blog:

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was driving down Riverside Drive in New Smyrna and had a very disturbing experience with three bikers. It was so disturbing, it stuck with me. I used it as the basis for my NaNoWriMo novel three years ago.

What genre does your book fall under?

The Ninja Tattoo is a romantic suspense novel.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm glad you asked that question. I like to choose actors & actresses when I build my characters. It helps me with facial expressions, voices, movement, etc. For Teague McMurtry, I chose Eric Winter. For Vivica Rambo, I chose Sarah Shahi.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Teague McMurtry thinks life will be quiet when he returns from the Army, but he's wrong.

Is your book self-published, published by an indie publisher, or represented by an agency?

The Ninja Tattoo is published through Tirgearr Publishing, an amazing Irish e-book publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The Ninja Tattoo took me less than a month to complete. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't know of any like it. The Ninja Tattoo is unique.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A group of bikers behaving strangely. The incident is fully described in the first pages of The Ninja Tattoo.

What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has some sultry, sexy love scenes as well as some great action scenes. I've been told by several readers that they love Teague. I wish he was real ladies, but I think we'd have a fight on our hands.

To purchase The Ninja Tattoo, visit my publisher's site.

Be looking for my friends next week:
Jonz Victor Stoneroad:
William Beck:

Friday, March 08, 2013

Love On a Catwalk - An Excerpt from a WIP

This is an excerpt from one of my many works in progress - Love on a Catwalk.

Miranda is a college student who works part time at a theatre as house manager for their weekend shows. She lives across the hallway from Jeffry, a handsome male model. They dated for nearly a year before Miranda cut it off. With no explanation, she shoved Jeffry out of her life. Just when he thought he was over her, she knocks on his apartment door needing his help. She locked herself out of her apartment and begs Jeffry to let her in. The woman with him doesn't much appreciate the interruption and leaves. After Jeffry lets her in, he lingers.

"I'm sitting here thinking of a way you can repay me." A sly smile wreathed his handsome features and he raised his right eyebrow.
His glance at his bedroom door made me shiver. Feeling like a doe in headlights, I faltered. Jeffry chuckled.
"No, Miranda. Not gonna drag you off to bed. Ms. Thang took care of that itch for now."
"So glad to hear it," I snapped.
How could he play me like that? Get me jazzed and then crush me? He always could—and did.
"Can I get a cup of coffee? It smells good and I ran out."
"As usual." I knew Jeffry never went to the store if he could help it. "Help yourself. I need to get dressed."
He rose languidly, his muscular body moving like a jungle cat. Jeffry's an athlete who's studied martial arts with his dad since he was three. His mother is a dancer and she taught him how to be graceful. Is it any wonder he's one of the most sought after male models in the city?
The same grace applied to the bedroom. No one played my body like Jeffry. One reason for my celibacy stemmed from the fact I'd never find another man like him and I couldn't settle for second best.
When I came out of the bedroom, he handed me a cup of coffee fixed just the way I like it. He patted the couch next to him. I hesitated.
"Oh, come on. I don't bite—hard." His smart ass smile tugged at his lips—perfect lips, I might add, that had never seen a surgeon.
Against my better judgement, I sat—not too close. I know Jeff's morning wake up routine well. He likes sex a lot and wants to start his day that way whenever he can.
"Come on, Miranda. I'm not going to eat you."
"Sorry. It's been awhile since we talked. How have you been?"
"You're seriously pulling the small talk card?" His close shaved head thumped on the back of the couch. "I've hardly seen you in three months and you're acting like—hell, I don't even know. What'd I do wrong? What made you run away?"
"I didn't run. I'm right here."
"Don't play a player." Blue ice replaced the steel in his eyes. "I have to be at work in less than an hour. I should already be on the road, but I'm sitting here wondering what happened between us."
"I don't know," I whispered.
"It was going so good. Was it the sex?"
"No! Oh, no. The—the sex was—amazing!" I barely controlled a drool and my insides warmed at the though of the sex we used to have. It surpassed just amazing, soared over mind blowing. Epic. That's the word.
"Too much? Too little?"
"No, Jeff. You're fantastic. You're the greatest guy ever."
"If you give me that shit of 'it's not you, it's me', I'm gonna throw up."
"But that's true! And—and… I'm seeing a therapist. I decided after we broke up...."
"You dumped me," he interrupted loudly.
"Broke up," I persisted, knowing he was right. "That I should see someone."
"Is it helping?" He sounded skeptical.
"Yes, a lot. It was her idea that I try celibacy."
"Bites, huh?" His eyes twinkled.
I giggled. "Well, all my craft and do-it-yourself projects are done."
He laughed, tossing his head back. It was the most amazingly carefree sound I'd ever heard. Jeffry throws himself into everything he does a hundred percent. I always hold something back, even in bed, even with him. Like I'm afraid of losing myself.
"I need to get to work. Clothes don't sell themselves."
"Thanks again for letting me in."
"No problem. Don't be a stranger." He leaned toward me like he wanted to kiss me.
Honestly, I wished he would. His presence, his scent, had woken those feelings I'd worked weeks to suppress. I like sex too, especially with Jeffry. He didn't kiss me, instead, he got up fast and walked out faster.
His scent hung in the air, lingering behind him like a memory. I scooted over and picked up the pillow he'd held. It smelled like him. Closing my eyes, I hugged it, inhaling deeply. It made me tingle all over.

© Dellani Oakes

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

My Name is Thoeba

My guest today is a visitor from the great beyond. Please make her feel welcome! Hello, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

     My name is Thoeba, and I’m a refugee on your planet.
     It seems like ages ago that I was forced to flee my home in the heavens to save the Energy from the minions of evil.
     At first, I wondered why the Energy brought me to Earth. Your kind are a selfish lot, given to cruelty and self-destruction. What could you offer myself and my God in the way of salvation when you cannot save yourselves?
     And I struggled. Demons hunted me. I feared I would be forced to accomplish my mission alone—to save the Energy without my brethren and to find a way to break the Energy free of Its prison to save all life as we know it. Failure is not an option, otherwise all life will die.
     I met Peter, and through him, I met his children Zack and Kayla. They changed my mind. As we fight together for a common goal, I am learning not all humans are war-like and self-serving. I watched you come together...helping each other to save your own planet.
     Truly I am glad to have met your species. You are worthy of my allegiance and friendship. You are worth fighting for...and with.
     Your planet is beautiful and your vast cultures are fascinating. I could spend eons here and never learn enough. So many things to read, eat and experience. I like it here on Earth.
     And it is a good thing, because my work is not finished. I look forward to knowing you humans, and to rescuing our worlds together.

Thoeba - Donna Milward

Thoeba is a creature of light. As all things must be in balance, when the Energy created her kind it also created the darkness. Theoba's world fell to darkness forcing her to flee. She came to Earth to protect the Energy, losing everything in the process. Darkness has found a way to follow her and threatens to take this world as well. With only humans as allies, can she succeed?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A Novel Romance - Excerpt #2

This is a short excerpt from one of my many works in progress, A Novel Romance.

Lionel Pettigrew and Arista Lockhart amazingly hit it off after a somewhat rocky beginning. Unbeknownst to her, Lionel often does archeological dives, although he's an English professor. She's also a certified diver and instructor, so when he's called by a friend to work his site, Lionel accepts for them both. The woman paying the bills doesn't seem very impressed with Lionel or, more especially, with Arista. After she goes below on the yacht, his partner, Oliver, joins Arista and Lionel for a chat.

“Who's the frost princess?” Lionel asked.

“That, my boy, is our employer.”

“Hm, looks like a bitch,” he said quietly.

“I'd keep comments like that to yourself,” Oliver warned. “She has an uncanny way of finding things out. Now, more importantly, who is this lovely lady with whom you've adorned yourself?”

“Oliver Leander, may I present Arista Lockhart, my research assistant.”

“Enchanted,” he bowed over her hand, kissing it. “Surely more than that? A woman this beautiful defies such dreary confinement.”

Lionel's smile was guarded. Oliver had a reputation as a rake and roue which was well earned. To put it in layman's terms, he was a womanizing bastard who thought of women as disposable. He got what he wanted and moved on to the next.

“She is what I want her to be, not you,” he said calmly, smiling.

The carefree grin didn't reach his eyes, a fact that wasn't lost on Oliver. Reevaluating the woman's importance to his friend, he backed off. Lionel had made his point. This was his woman and no man's interference would be tolerated or appreciated.

“Forgive an old man his little games,” he begged insincerely.

“Oliver doesn't always understand the concept of too much,” Lionel said, taking a sip of champagne that the steward had brought. “So, old man,” he deliberately put emphasis on old. “What's the job?”

“Jacinda wanted to tell you personally.”

“Really?” Lionel's tone dripped sarcasm. “She isn't here. Why not tell me yourself?”

“Because she'll eat me alive if I do. She'll be back. No doubt she's gone to sacrifice the hearts of the unborn,” he muttered.

“This is a lovely yacht, Oliver. Is it yours?” Arista asked, by way of changing the subject.

“Yes. Thank you. Jacinda's is anchored by the site. She deigned to ride mine to pick you up.”

“Why bother to come?” Arista asked him, curious about the woman.

“Because it was an opportunity to pitch a fit and sulk?” Lionel added before Oliver could answer.

The older man shrugged, nodding. “In a nutshell. If she can make something more difficult, she does. You could have come on the launch, but she insisted upon taking my yacht, although she has done nothing but complain since she's been aboard.”

“And we want to work for this – woman, why?” Arista asked.

“She's paying outrageously well.”

“Money can't compensate for some things, Oliver,” Lionel pointed out.

“No, but she could ruin the reputations of the whole lot of us with a phone call or two.”

“What's to keep her from doing that anyway?” Arista pursued.

“Being tossed overboard?” Was Lionel's lighthearted suggestion.

“That thought has occurred,” Oliver whispered. “Believe me!”

“New Smyrna has more shark attacks per capita than anywhere else in the United States,” Arista offered graciously.

Oliver's laugh boomed out and he spewed his champagne. Fortunately, the others weren't close enough to be sprayed.

“Oh, I apologize. My dear child, I do like you. Lionel, where have you been keeping this magnificent woman?”

“We just met, Oliver. Believe me, I've been wishing ever since that I'd met her sooner.”

“Where are you from, my sweet?” He led Arista to a sitting area on the aft deck.

“The Shark Bite Capitol of the World,” she replied with a toss of her head.

“Floridian? New Smyrna? My word, who would have thought.”

“Oliver,” she spoke softly and sweetly. “How nice do I have to be?”

“As nice as possible. Why?”

“She's coming back.” She smiled beatifically, teeth gritted.

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

© Dellani Oakes

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Tirgearr Publishing opened its doors on 29 February, 2012, Leap Day.
We took a big leap of faith that day to start our new venture.
Now, one year on, things couldn’t be better. We have a great team of authors, our staff is growing, and our collection of books is second to none.
To celebrate, we’re putting all of our books on sale.
All Kindle titles for just 99c!
Join us from Sunday, 3 March, to Saturday, 9 March, for our one year anniversary sale. These days coincide with Read an eBook Week.
What a great opportunity to pick up some great digital books at a fabulous price.
This is no one-day sale. This sale goes all week!
During our sale week, you could win some FREE books.
Comment on one of our media sites and it could be you!
We’d love to hear comments on books you’ve read,
but we’ll take a simple hello or even a smiley.
Heck, just ‘like’ a post on our Facebook page between 3-9 March,
and we might pick you to win a book.
Just make your presence known and if we pick you,
you can choose any book in our catalog.
Tirgearr Publishing
One Year Anniversary Celebration – Kindle eBook Sale
3-9 March, 2013
My Romantic Suspense, The Ninja Tattoo, is on sale this week for .99 cents!

Writing Good Dialog

Regardless of the genre, there comes a time when characters have to talk. For some authors this is a challenge. How do you make the characters sound different? Where do you put the actions? Does it sound real? What would this character say? How would the other respond?
Dialog is important to a story. Making it sound realistic isn’t easy. One thing I do that helps me is trying to think like the characters. There is an easy exercise for this which I’ll go into at the end of this article.
Next, keep it simple. Don’t try to go all Shakespeare and make flowery speeches or say something relevant – unless that’s what the character is trying to do. Here again, character centered.
Make sure the dialog advances the story. Don’t just throw in some witty repartee for the sake of having them say something cute or funny. That’s for cheesy action flicks. If the characters would use this time for that, fine. Otherwise, leave it out.
Keep the passages short. Again, we aren’t doing Shakespearean soliloquies. There are other ways to express a character’s thoughts. Use his actions or her facial expressions to express what they are thinking. A well placed raised eyebrow can be quite eloquent.
Many writers have trouble with simultaneous action and dialog. Juggling this can get tricky. Rule of thumb, at least as far as I’m concerned, is keep relevant segments together. Don’t split the sentence unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Put actions before or after the dialog, but keep these passages short. Longer, more detailed action needs to be in its own paragraph. When the characters are talking, that’s the focus. They wouldn’t be talking if they didn’t have something important to say. Let the dialog stand out on the page, dominating it.
Having a few simple guidelines can take the sting out of dialog. To help get into the character’s head, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the character’s age?
  • What is the gender? Men & women don’t think alike nor do they speak alike.
  • What is his/ her occupation? Is there a level of technical language he/ she would understand or not?
  • What is his/ her education level? A person who is widely read has a better vocabulary than someone who never finished school.
  • Culture or ethnicity – is it important to his/ her characterization? A foreigner in a strange land will not communicate the same way as a native.
  • Does he/ she speak the same language? It’s very important to have this in mind before you start. If a character has minimal French, having him speak fluently in that language wouldn’t ring true.
  • Character’s health. A weak man will speak differently from a strong one.
  • Urgency of the situation. A character will not stop and give a long speech about how important this mission is if he’s being attacked by rabid wildebeests. Pacing is a must in dialog.
  • Relevant to the situation. Would he actually say something that incredibly stupid when in the throes of passion? Would she have enough where with all to bellow that when under attack?

Finally, read the dialog aloud. If it flows with the descriptions, you’ve done it well. If it doesn’t, look at it again and see what can be changed.
The above are my opinions and techniques for writing good dialog. Do you have any tips for others? Do you have trouble with dialog and would like other techniques? I am always interested in learning new ways to conquer a problem. Please post your tips and problems below.

For more of Dellani's books, check out Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

© Dellani Oakes

Friday, March 01, 2013

Spin the Plate - Excerpt from Donna Anastasi's New Book!

Award Winning Author, Donna Anastasi, shares an excerpt from her new book, Spin the Plate

Jo boarded the Green Line subway train D at Newton Highlands, heading into Boston’s Back Bay. With the lunchtime rush, seats were scarce. She spied the last two available and beat a man in a pressed suit by one step, taking them both. He stood, facing her. He grabbed the rail above him, sighed emphatically, and gazed over her head out the window. He let out another heavy sigh, and with a deepening frown, fixed a too-long stare in Jo’s direction, a flicker of irritation in his eyes. He was clearly tired of standing and even more clearly annoyed at having lost his seat to her.

What a prick, she thought.

Without giving him a second thought, Jo shifted her attention to the rattling of metal wheels on metal track and the swaying of the train’s car. A live conductor’s voice and thick Boston accent announcing each upcoming stop had been replaced years before by a primetime anchorman-sounding recording. The recording sounded to Jo like a foreigner who used the proper pronunciation rather than the local dialect. She always thought of the station names the way she’d grown up hearing them. In her head she still imagined the stations being called out with the first syllable shouted and held for three beats and the “Rs” at the end of words replaced by “Ah.” NEWton Centah, RESevwah, CHESTnut Hill…

“Next stop…LONGwood,” boomed over the sound system. Just five more stops to Arlington Station. The train ground to a halt, but no one got off. Half a dozen newcomers entered, the doors closed, and the passengers found their spots as the train lurched forward. With no seats vacated, the man in the suit remained standing and shifted his weight from his right to his left leg.

“Dyke,” he muttered just loud enough for Jo to hear.

In an instant she was up on her feet, transforming herself from some fat lady into a female version of an NFL linebacker: very big, extremely strong, and surprisingly fast. She weighed 257 pounds and stood 5’ 11” in her Chippewa hikers. She wore a flannel shirt—burnt orange with black checks—and denim overalls. In an inner pocket, nestled in the slight dip at her right hip bone and easily accessible from the bib of her overalls, she carried a Beretta 9mm Classic with ten live rounds. The gun was always with her; she reached in and touched it.

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today." "Yeah, I h...