Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Think and Drive

Admit it – you've done it too – let your mind wander when you're driving. One day, I let it wander a little too far....
I was working on a romantic suspense novel and had gotten myself painted into a corner. All the evidence pointed in one direction, but I knew that character wasn't the guilty party. Well, who was? I didn't know.
The story, like many of mine, is set here in Florida. In fact, I was driving past one of the major locations when inspiration struck. It struck so hard and so fast, I almost had a car accident! Fortunately, my destination was nearby. I did my shopping, still thinking about my story, and got back in my car to head home.
Inspiration struck again and I nearly had another accident. Less than a block away, another near miss! After the fourth almost accident, I realized I'd better concentrate on the road, not my story, but the details were flying fast and furious. Unfortunately, I was nearly 20 minutes from home and couldn't stop to write it down. Instead, I took back roads, driving slowly, so I could concentrate on both the story and the road.
Once I was in the door, I headed to my desk, my purchases forgotten in the car. My husband and boys had to unload because I was typing fast and furious, trying to finish my tale. And finish I did! It took another day or so of typing, but finally, A Tangled Web was complete.
It's a story of love lost and found, betrayal, mistaken identity and retribution. No, it's not out yet, though I'm trying. I'm very proud of this book and can't wait to see it in print.
Now, I keep a notebook in my purse so I can jot down notes. I try harder to concentrate on my driving and leave the book writing at home – or the pharmacy, doctor's office or anywhere else I have to wait.

© Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're Goin' to a Party Party!

A few months ago, some fellow authors and I embarked on an ambitious project to help one another promote our work. And so The Fantastic Blog Hop was born!

Now, we're having a party! A two day event on Facebook and we want all our friends to attend.

We're playing games, having contests, drawings and giveaways. Fun, Freebies, Fantastic! Join us on Friday, November 22 and Saturday, November 23 on Facebook!


Party goers include:

Dellani Oakes

Rachel Rueben

Karen Vaughan

Ruth Davis Hays

Kristen Duvall

Kevin Saito

Juli Morgan

Joan P. Lane

Stephanie Hussy

Dominica Malcolm

Chris Dunbar

Troy Lambert

Karina Gioertz

Stephanie Osborn

We're going to have some fun, so join us!


I Don't Follow the Industry

I admit. I don't follow the industry. I have no idea what's hot or what's not. I don't care about vampires, werewolves or bondage. I couldn't tell you any title that's on the New York Times Best Seller List – except my books aren't there yet.
Maybe I should. Maybe I should spend my precious time reading all about writing and marketing and what's hot. Maybe I should write to what the industry says sells. But I can't.
It's not in me to write to what sells. I have to write the stories that come to me. If I get a story that is about vampires, fine! If I get one that's sick and twisted bondage, okay. Honestly, I don't see my mind going that way.

I write romance, romantic suspense, historical romance and futuristic romance. Are we noticing a repetition of the “R” word here? I like love and lovers. I like love scenes and first meetings. I like the excitement I feel when the new lovers share their first kiss.

Yes, my stories sometimes get explicit, so if you don't like reading about sex, I'm not your gal. But you won't get hard core, whips and chains either. I'm not into that and I don't know enough about it to write a bondage scene.

On the subject of vampires – I have written two stories and have a third in the works. My short story, Vampire Hunter, is pretty straight forward. Someone hunting a vampire. It's free on Barnes & Noble or Smashwords if you want to read it. It's short. It's free. Enjoy.

My second story about vampires is very tongue in cheek. My sister challenged gave me the idea. She had been reading some series that had vampires in it – getting teased by her husband the entire time. She'd also been reading about caterers who solved crimes. “I think someone should write a story about vampire caterers who solve crime,” she said, with a pointed look at her little sister. “I think someone would have fun with that.”

Someone did. My story, Take a Bite Outta Crime was shared in serial form on my publisher's blog, www.secondwindpub.wordpress.com One day, when I grow up, I'll get it in novella form, but until then, people have to read it in sections.

One thing you'll learn about my romance novels, you won't get a formula. I'm not the kind who follows a set storyline with details plugged into the framework. I don't care for the boy meets girl, boy kisses (or has sex with) girl, boy and girl have a big fight, boy and girl split up, boy and girl are miserable and finally get back together after the reader screams and threatens to beat them over the head with a stick.
If you want that kind of story, again – I'm not your gal.

If you like a story full of romance, stolen glances, fleeting kisses, barely concealed lust and snappy comebacks, I invite you to read my novels. There's lots of action, romance (and the occasional hot love scene) that will keep you laughing and lusting as you read.

My novels are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords as well as through my publishers, Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing.

Look for me on Facebook! I'm always around. Above all else, read and enjoy my books in the spirit they were intended – to entertain.

~ Dellani

Dellani Oakes is an author, radio show host, mother, wife, grandmother (oh, the agony of admitting that) and former English teacher. She currently works from home, but also substitute teaches at local elementary schools. She's a prolific writer and hopes one day to have all her novels in print. Dellani currently lives on the east coast of Florida with her husband and youngest son.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, moving on through Hanukkah and Christmas. For the last couple of years, I've loaned out my blog space to allow my author friends a chance to share their buy links with readers. With Hanukkah so early this year, I'm starting this now. Below, you'll find a short blurb about my books with buy links. Leave your links in the comments section below.

I invite my author/ illustrator friends to post a short blurb and buy link as well. Musicians, if you have albums for sale, please feel free to link that as well. I don't want merchandise other than books, art or music, please. This is NOT a spot for craft items. Thank you.

Art, Books and Music make great gifts for everyone. They are the things that keep giving and feeding the soul.

~ Dellani

Indian Summer - Daughter of Florida's Spanish Governor, Gabriella Deza stands on the verge of womanhood. On her fifteenth birthday, Manuel Enriques, her father's confidential aid, declares his love. What should be a happy time turns into one of intrigue and espionage when Manuel is sent on a secret mission to find and stop a British spy. Set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739, this historical romance is appropriate for readers 15+

Lone Wolf - Matilda Dulac thinks she's content. At the age of 26, she has attained the rank of Commander in the Galactic Mining Guild, something no one has done before. When the mysterious Wilhelm VanLipsig steps across the threshold of her life, things take a sudden turn. Matilda finds herself swept up in a three year jaunt across the universe, following the infamous John Riley. Matilda, Wil and their shipmates, are all that stand between survival of the universe and its annihilation. Appropriate for readers 18+

Shakazhan - Lone Wolf book 2. Picks up where Lone Wolf left off. John Riley is still alive and kicking, causing even more trouble. And now, he has a legendary evil being as his sidekick. Can Wil and Matilda stop him before he frees the chaotic Kahlea? Appropriate for readers 18+

The Ninja TattooTeague McMurtry thinks he's left violence behind him when he comes home from the war. He's especially pleased when he meets Vivica Rambo at the local coffee shop. Unfortunately, Vivica's psychotic older brother, Randy, has other plans for the couple. Teague finds he's been marked for death so that someone in Randy's gang can earn his Ninja Tattoo. Appropriate for readers 18+

Under the Western SkyWestern Nebraska 1976. This small town seems ideal, but something lurks under the seemingly quiet, serene landscape. Bobby Menedez and Libby Marshall are happy in their new relationship until Bobby's cousin is beaten for dating a white girl. Will Bobby be next? What secrets lie Under the Western Sky? 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Let's Talk Trivia with Dellani Oakes

As some of you may know, some author friends and I started something a few months ago, known as the Fantastic Blog Hop. The first was five days of posts and fun. The second became nine days. This time, we decided to do something different -- a two day Facebook event.

We're going to be playing games, chatting with readers and giving away prizes. One of our games will be author trivia. The answers to our questions will come from our blogs. So take a moment and read my short answers and you'll be ready for my trivia.

The event starts next weekend. Join us! https://www.facebook.com/events/407812409321189/?source=1

How long have you been writing?

I've been making up stories since I could talk. I began as a child telling stories about my imaginary friend, Snowy Green, and our adventures are Rainbow School. I was four – so, way longer than I like to think about.

Which of your main characters is your favorite? Do you have more than one?

I do have more than one favorite character. Over and above all, Teague McMurtry from The Ninja Tattoo. Why? I'm not sure. He's a great guy, takes charge, he's protective and in control. He doesn't treat Vivica like an adornment, but as an equal.

My other favorite is Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf and Shakazhan. He's a cold, calculating bastard with a heart of gold underneath. WAY underneath. He's honorable, loyal, reliable and dead sexy.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in everything. Sometimes, it's a conversation I hear in passing. Mostly, I just get an idea in my mind and run with it. Sometimes, it's inspired by real life. The Ninja Tattoo was one of these. I got the idea when I had a very strange encounter on the road one day. The first few pages, where Teague is followed by bikers, came from a real life experience.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

It's probably easier to tell you what I DON'T listen to: rap, hiphop, pop and twangy country. I have been known to listen to Funky Cold Medina, maybe some Faith Hill and Willie Nelson, but that's my limit. Mostly, I'm listening to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Metallica, ZZ Top, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Clapton, Zeppelin, Rammstein, Slash, Guns n Roses. . . .

Name a famous author you've met, nearly met or wish you'd met.

I was fortunate, when in college, to attend lectures given by several famous authors. I met and conversed with Robin Cook – Coma, Richard Brautigan – Trout Fishing in America, Edward Albee – Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. I also saw Harlan Ellison speak. I didn't get to meet him, though.

What is the weirdest thing a character ever did in a book?

My characters have done some strange things. I think the weirdest that one of them ever did, was the villain in New at Love. She was mad at her ex-husband for dating a new woman (even though, she herself, had cheated on him) So she broke into the new girlfriend's apartment and shaved the cat before taping him (the cat) to the hood of his car.

Who really wrote the book, you or your characters?

My characters always write every book. I can't take credit for anything but typing really fast. They do it all, dialogue, action, pacing, story arc – all them, always.

How many books have you started and how many have you finished?

This is such an unfair question. I demand a recount! Oh, wait, that's what you want, isn't it. Umm (counts)
Finished Novels: 44
Finished Short Stories: 22
Unfinished novels: (mumble-mumble) 66
Giving me a grand total of (drum roll) 132 novels/ short stories. At least, that's the number of things I have notes on. There are probably close to 150 altogether.

What's the hardest part with writing: the writing of the story or the editing?

The hardest thing for me is finishing – as evidenced by my numbers above. I get a great idea, run with it awhile, then get another great idea, and another. (later, rinse, repeat)

How many books do you have published?

I have five books published so far.

Indian Summer – historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739
Lone Wolf – sci-fi romance set in outer space in 3032
Shakazhan – book 2 in my Lone Wolf series
The Ninja Tattoo – contemporary romantic suspense, set in present day Florida.
Under the Western Sky – retro-romantic suspense, set in western Nebraska in 1976.

If one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you choose and who would you cast?

Wow, hard to pick. I think they would all make great movies. If I were going to pick just one, probably Lone Wolf. It's a sweeping sci-fi set in space with lots of cool aliens, spaceships and fun stuff like that. It's quite different from Star Trek, or Star Wars, though the characters are out to save known space.


Wil VanLipsig – Warren Christie
Matilda Dulac – Angelina Jolie
Marc Slatterly -Eric Dane
Rebeckah Grammery – Amy Smart
John Riley – Ronnie Cox
There are many others, these are just the major players

What are your current projects?

Currently, I am working on Fly by Night, my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel. It's a story of a young woman who is in a car accident and starts having nightmares where she is in other accidents, reliving it from a victim's perspective.

You say you're involved in NaNoWriMo. What other books have you written during National Novel Writing Month and are any of them published?

I've written six other books. One of them, The Ninja Tattoo, was published last year by Tirgearr Publishing. They have also picked up an option on one other. I hope to get all of them published eventually. I think I've done some of my best writing during NaNo.

What's your greatest strength as a writer?

Dialogue – hands down. This is what I excel at. I've been told my love scenes are good and steamy too. I also think I do well at fight scenes.

If all of that is entirely untrue (which I hope it's not) One can't fault my grammar. I won't say it's flawless, but it's pretty good! I'm proud of that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Author's Memory Bank

Authors look at life from a unique angle. What seems like a regular day to anyone else, presents opportunities to an author. Each event stays in our memory banks, waiting to be used for a short story, novel or poem. We withdraw from the bank as needed, adding to the balance of our stories.
I find myself going through my day, listening and watching, always thinking if something will eventually make it into a book. I don't consciously remember them, nor do I plan to add things, they just sort of show up.
It amazes my husband that every time I go out, I come back with a story. Whether it be a conversation that took place in the store, a near-miss accident on the road, or crazy people in the parking lot at the mall, I always have something.
Do these things happen to other people? Seriously. Does everyone have a crazy, drunk lady walk up to them in the mall parking lot and ask if her hair looks all right? She's obviously wearing a cheap wig, okay? It looks horrible. Do I say that? Oh, hell no! “It looks lovely,” I reply as I quickly get in my car and lock the door.
Did anyone else notice the old lady in Panera Bread who stood ahead of me in line? I doubt it, but it stuck with me so much, I finally had to write it down. The line was long and a young man ahead of us had on a black Pantera jacket. The lettering was pale yellow and a white skull was behind the 'T', making it look like it said Panera.
“Why do you suppose he's standing in this long line,” she asked her husband in a worried tone. “If he works here, shouldn't he be able to walk up and get whatever he wants?” She carried on like that for some time.
I couldn't let the poor old darling keep thinking that he worked there, could I? She was getting herself all worked up. So I spoke to her.
“It doesn't say Panera. It says Pantera. The 'T' is obscured by a skull.”
“Oh. What does that mean?”
“Pantera is a heavy metal band.”
“Heavy what?”
“Heavy metal – hard rock.”
“Oh! Fancy you knowing a thing like that.”
“I have teenagers,” I said, diplomatically. I didn't have the heart to tell the old dear that I'd been listening to Cowboys from Hell moments before walking into the store.
My daughter and I were once in Winn Dixie doing some shopping. She wanted a case of sodas, so we loaded up some Coca-Cola. A little further down the aisle, we saw Pepsi was on sale, so we backed up the cart saying, in unison, “No Coke. Pepsi.” Like they did in the old Saturday Night Live skit. An elderly gentleman walked around the corner just as we said that. I'm sure he thought we were both completely insane.
Though my daughter isn't an author, she has equally strange things happen to her. She called me once and told me some man had come up to her in the store. “Clearly, English was not his first language,” she imparted. “He smiled and said, 'How may I pronounce your name?'”
Another time, she told me she'd seen a man going down the street, talking in sign language. He was obviously having an argument with himself. He would stand one way, gesture and fling the comments at another person. Then the second person would reply – different stance, but same aggressive gestures. He will one day make it into a book.
Random people I meet at the grocery store have been included in several books, some of them, not too favorably. The old woman who purposely hit me with her shopping cart – she's there. The older couple who blocked the sweet potatoes and couldn't hear when I asked to get around them – they're in another. The kindly gentleman who gave me advice in the wine section, he's also there, but more favorably.
The point I'm making is that inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but the most important for any author is the ability to observe. Everything you see, hear, smell or feel can be used to enhance a story. Never pass up an opportunity to deposit in your memory bank.

© Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Let's Talk Terms

Let's talk terminology. It's easy for English teachers to bandy around words like conflict, antagonist, protagonist, plot line, building action, falling action, denouement and point of attack. To us, it's normal lingo. Others will discuss story arcs and even throw in words like pacing, foreshadowing and flashback.

What do these terms mean? I'll do my best to explain.

Conflict—think of this like Murphy's Law. If anything can go wrong, it will. This is what makes a story great. We throw our characters into impossible situations and watch them dig themselves out. Some people claim that authors are sadistic. This right here pretty well confirms that.

Antagonist—this is your bad guy. He's the villain, the meany head who wants to kill or otherwise cause trouble for your Protagonist. (Boo Hiss)

Protagonist—this is your good guy, your hero/ heroine. S/he's the one you want your readers to cheer and root for. (Hooray!)

Plot Line—what happens in the story is the Plot or Plot Line. A good plot should start small and build. (see building action)

Point of Attack—The point of attack is where the story begins. There might be a very brief introduction (Exposition Phase) before the story actually starts, but it's best to keep this short. The point of attack is the incident that spurs the story into its upward climb.

Building Action—this is the upward movement of the plot. Building Action isn't usually a straight line. It goes up like stairs.

Climax—The top of the Building Action. It can't get any higher than this. The only way is down.

Falling Action—this is any of the story left after the Climax. Generally, this is the shortest portion of the story. Once you have your Climax, you don't want a long, detailed wind-up. Keep it simple.

Denouement—is the finale. This is where all the loose ends are tied up and the sub-plots are concluded (at least they should be). After the denouement, the author types THE END.

Exposition Phase—I'd better define this too. Simply put, introduction and backstory. Keep it SHORT. VERY short. You want your Point of Attack early on. Backstory can be woven into the plot later.

Pacing—pretty self-explanatory. How quickly does the author tell the story? (more on this later)

Foreshadowing—“She had no idea what was coming next” Cue mysterious, suspenseful music. This is one way of telling the reader that something important is going to take place. Use it sparingly.

Flashback—This is another thing to use sparingly, unless separate sections are devoted to it. I have a story I told on two levels, the character's past and her present. It works because I carefully delineated the past from the present.

These are only a few of the terms an author may encounter. If you have others, please feel free to ask me. Yes, you can look things up, but you may not always understand the explanation. I used to teach this and some of the definitions still confuse me.
I go on the K.I.S.S. Principle: Keep It Simple Sweetie.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share articles discussing different literary terms. Some, like today, will be brief definitions. Others, I will discuss in depth. If there is something I don't cover in as much detail as you'd like, please leave me a comment and I'll do my best to clarify it for you.

To Purchase Dellani's Books

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 62

Sam gets cut in the fight with Hempe. A nurse in the lock down wing stitches him up, thanking Sam for taking the monster out. He shows Sam a...