@DeanFWilson Shares 4 Keys to a Successful Novel #WriteTip #PubTip #AmWriting


There are four keys to a successful novel, and while one or more of these might be stressed over the others in any given book, their combination makes for something a reader will find difficult to put down.

Key 1: The Story

If you don’t have a good story, nothing will save the book. Generally speaking a writer needs one gripping concept that asks the reader a question, and then answers itself through the unfolding of the novel—or gives the reader the ability to answer the question him or herself by the end.

For example, what if the line between animals, humans, and androids was significantly blurred? This is one of the big questions posed in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick’s classic science fiction piece that became Blade Runner on the big screen. In fact, even the very title of the book (sadly lost in the film) asks a profound question that drives the story, and thus the reader, forward.

The reason the story is focused on a question is because mystery and intrigue are what pull most readers in, and keep them turning the page. It is that desire to find the answer that makes it impossible to put a book down, and is, indeed, the reason why the mystery and thriller genres are so popular, and why the likes of Sherlock Holmes continues to inspire to this day.

Humanity is questioning by nature, and it is largely our curiosity about ourselves and the world around us that has driven civilisation forward.

Key 2: The Character/s

You might encounter the notion of “story-driven” or “character-driven.” Sometimes a story is so good that it almost doesn’t matter who the character is—it’s the concept that matters. Other stories are less engaging, but the characters are so real and interesting that we just have to take a peek into their lives.

A good character not only propels the story forward, taking on a life of his or her own, but invites the possibility of numerous sequels. Think of, for example, the character of James Bond. While the various situations he gets into (in both the books and films) are interesting, it is largely the character itself that people are interested in. It almost doesn’t matter who the bad guy is, so long as we know that the martini-drinking and smooth-talking hero is along for the ride (preferably in an Aston Martin).

A well-developed character will not need to be prodded on by the writer, but will actively react to story elements as he or she encounters them. The most engaging characters, with the most interesting personalities, will stay with a reader long after the book is closed.

In fact, the fictional nature of the character may even be questioned by some readers, for whom such characters can seem more real than the people around them. We see this with some people who obsess with characters in soap operas, for example, and begin to warn the actor of situations in the show as if it were real life.

Key 3: The Suspense

A truly engaging story has risk. If Frodo could get on the back of an eagle and fly all the way to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring, we would stop caring about the characters. It is their struggle, and the possibility of failure, that excites the reader into rooting for the hero, and investing emotionally in the journey.

Many great stories not only have the central quest that must be achieved, and the major risk associated with that, but a series of smaller hurdles that must be crossed. Sometimes these throw the entire endeavour into jeopardy, further engaging the reader.

Plot twists, cliff-hangers, and surprises are all tools designed to heighten the tension. Some of them answer questions, while others pose new ones. Will a certain popular character die? (Or, in the case of George R.R. Martin, will any of the characters live?) Can the hero cross the new hurdle unscathed, and will success in this minor battle affect the bigger war?

Tension can also be worked into a story in more subtle ways, by hinting to the reader that all is not quite right. We are familiar with this from horror movies, in particular, where lighting and music will be used to suggest danger.

Writers can do the same in fiction by associating key words or phrases, or a particular style of writing, with intense events. When this literary “score” resurfaces, it instantly communicates the same emotions to the reader.

Key 4: The Conflict

Conflict is the driving force behind most stories, with many of the risks and hurdles characters face coming from other characters, or situations created by those characters.

There is external conflict, such as the various forces of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, more immediate conflict, such as Boromir turning on the Fellowship, and internal conflict, such as Frodo’s struggle with temptation, amplified by showing just how far that internal struggle can go in the dual-natured Gollum.

Popular soap operas thrive on conflict. Whether it’s family disputes, martial cheating, backstabbing friends, or just plain old shouting matches, it is this kind of thing that makes people watch. The same is true for any novel, because a story without conflict is boring.

Imagine for a moment if the central question of a story was answered by all of the characters in the same way. With no disagreement, a major source of interest is lost. We stop caring about the characters, because there is no battle to win, and thus no real side to root for.

When a good story is populated by strong characters, and when that story is underlined by tension and those characters driven by conflict, the reader is in for a treat.

roadToRebirth (1)


After the catastrophe of the Call of Agon, Ifferon and his companions find themselves in the unenviable situation of witnessing, and partaking in, the death of another god—this time Corrias, the ruler of the Overworld.

With Corrias locked inside the corpse of the boy Théos, he suffers a fate worse than the bonds of the Beast Agon. Yet hope is kindled when the company find a way to restore the boy, and possibly the god, back to life.

The road to rebirth has many pitfalls, and there are some who consider such meddling with the afterlife a grave risk. The prize might be life anew—but the price might also be a second death.

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Genre – Epic Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Lichgates: Book One of the Grimoire Saga by @TheSMBoyce #excerpt #fantasy


The king returned to his throne and bellowed his next words so that they reverberated off the walls of the cavernous hall.

“Stand and accept what you were born to be, my son.”


“Like I said, it’s not a choice.”

Carden reached toward him and clenched his hand into a fist. Braeden’s stomach tightened, as if his father had reached into his gut and squeezed. He curled over himself, stifling the agonizing yell in his throat.

The king twisted his hand and opened his palm, where sparks snapped and fizzled. Braeden’s muscles tore at the movement. Popping noises surged along his biceps and neck. His veins chilled and slowed. He unconsciously stood at a twitch of Carden’s finger. Braeden’s grip on his form was slipping. Smoke escaped his pores. Organs shifted. He screamed in pain until a heavy weight fell on his chest and closed his throat.

“Screams are for the weak,” Carden said.

The weight eased off Braeden’s lungs, letting him sink back to the floor as the internal tearing and popping stopped. The staggering numbness returned. His cuffs twisted as he moved, and searing fire coursed through his veins. Tremors pulsed through him.

Carden scowled from his chair, and the green lizard from earlier peered from the shadows beside the throne. Its outline blurred for a moment, but returned to normal so quickly that Braeden questioned what he’d seen.

It flickered again, more prominently this time.

Dark lines melted around its face. It grew taller, its skin stretching and pouring into the space around it. In a matter of seconds, the lizard filled the massive hall as it transformed into a dragon.

Braeden’s mouth went dry.

The dragon reared its head above the stunned hall and roared. The creature’s tail landed squarely on Carden’s chest, sending him flying into a support column by the main entry. The pillar crumbled on top of the king, burying him, and the dome it supported shattered. The dragon thrashed its wings against the walls by the thrones. Chunks of black marble pummeled downward, cracking the polished floor. Glass rained down on the cloaked subjects. A stampede began for the door.

A new, shriller roar echoed through the great hall, shooting chills through Braeden’s body. A red dragon with a long black stripe down its spine stood over Kara, baring its thick teeth. One dragon was bad enough, but two would be unstoppable. He tried to stand, to run, to possibly escape and at minimum find cover, but one of the spikes shifted and lodged into his bone. The pain buckled his knees.

Another patch in the ceiling crumbled. Pebbles and thick shards of painted glass showered to the floor. What yakona remained fled. Braeden grit his teeth, forced himself to his feet, and staggered to the edge of the hall.

Two thick claws engulfed him, pulling him into the air and pressing the spikes deeper into his hands with a single, deft motion. He cried out as the throbbing agony pulsed through his arms. Shimmering green scales blotted out the sky. The red dragon appeared in the air beside them, Kara tucked away in its claws.

The familiar weight of his father’s control returned on Braeden’s chest. Hatred coursed through his mind like a fever. He turned to the floor. Carden lay trapped beneath the rubble, a shredded look of fury consuming his gray face, and Braeden lost himself to the final ounces of his father’s remaining energy.

Kill the dragon, he was told. Rip it apart. Return.

He writhed, consumed by his father’s commands, but the green dragon clutched him tighter until the pain of the poisoned cuffs outweighed even his father’s will. He dangled in the dragon’s claws and watched the Stele recede from sight.


“The writing is flawless. The kingdoms and surrounding landscapes breathtaking. The Grimoire is a piece of imaginative genius that bedazzles from the moment Kara falls into the land of Ourea. – Nikki Jefford, author of the Spellbound Trilogy

Spring 2013 Rankings

#6 Kindle Store | #1 Science Fiction & Fantasy | #1 Epic Fantasy | #1 Sword & Sorcery | #1 Teens

Now an international Amazon bestseller. Fans of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Eragon will enjoy this contemporary remix of the classic epic fantasy genre.


Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict – a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.


Novels in the Grimoire Saga:

Lichgates (#1)

Treason (#2)

Heritage (#3) – Available Fall 2013

Illusion (#4) – Available Fall 2014

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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 Connect with SM Boyce on Facebook & Twitter & Pinterest

Dream Caster (The Dream Cycle) by Najeev Raj Nadarajah @NRNadarajah #Fantasy



Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city. In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to cast his dreams into reality. Convinced it’s just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it. That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and uses his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world. The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him. In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.

Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG

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R.J. Blain’s #WriteTip for Creating an Inspirational Work Area @rj_blain #howto


Not everyone can write anywhere under any circumstances. Creating an inspirational work area is a great way to help keep the words flowing. What makes for an inspirational workspace?

It’s a personal thing.

Creating a great workspace requires that you have a good understanding about what makes you tick. What calms you down? What puts you in the mood to create? Creating an inspirational workspace is the art of finding what inspires you, and submersing yourself in those things.

Before you can do that, there are some things you’ll want to do.

Clean Your Desk

Some people thrive on chaos and clutter, but you can’t create your inspirational workspace if you can’t access what you’re trying to work with. Clean your desk. If you’re a chaotic person with an equally chaotic desk, this may take you a couple of hours. Go to the extremes. Clean everything, scrub the desk down, and take everything that was cluttering your desk and put it in a box.

Find Your Basic Minimums 

What do you need in your workspace? Think about the supplies you use to write with. Take them out of the box and set them on your desk. These are your primary writing materials and workspace necessities. These are the absolute must have items in your writing arsenal. This might include your computer speakers, your monitor(s), your keyboard, your mouse, a pen (or a hundred pens), paper, and your organizational tools.

Organize Your Stuff

Take those basic minimums and place them in your workspace. Put them in easy-to-reach places. Make it look like you’d naturally work, even if that means a chaotic mess on your desk. But, organize your minimums on your desk.

Add Your Décor

An inspirational workspace is a mix of having the basic minimums and items that make you want to write. For example, if you love artwork, include a picture of the art you love – something that sings to you on an inspirational level. Like geology? Have rock crystals scattered over your desk. Are you inspired by books? Get shelves installed around your desk and transform your workspace into a miniature library. Décor is a great way to turn a blank workspace into an inspirational one. Make your space something that you love.

Your space needs to become an expression of your personality, your likes, and your inspirations.

Get a Comfortable Chair

Most people overlook the chair component of a workspace. You really need to have a comfortable chair that lets you work without straining your body. Comfort is a key part of being able to work without interruption.

Switch Things Up

Every now and then, switch up your desk. Seeing the same old things all of the time doesn’t often inspire someone all of the time. Don’t be afraid to go back to square one, find your minimums, and explore your inspirations again. Changing things up can be an easy way to reignite your inspirations.


This may sound a little crazy, but writing in a space frequently can make that space inspirational. Once you’re used to working in a space, this space becomes yours. It becomes easier to be creative in a space where you’re always creative.

When you’re building your inspirational workspace, make sure it is a place you can realistically work. This will make a huge difference in how productive you and how much you enjoy working in your space.


Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.

When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.

But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.

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Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG – 13

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Dora Machado – Fantasy’s “Real” Heroines @DoraMachado #TheCurseGiver


Fantasy’s “Real” Heroines


Dora Machado

Have you ever wondered what makes fantasy heroines real?

I do. All the time. Perhaps it’s because I write fantasy. Maybe it’s because I also read a lot of fantasy and I appreciate a heroine who is powerful not because she’s magical but rather because she’s real.

Lusielle, the heroine in my latest novel, The Curse Giver, from Twilight Times Books, turned out to be a remarkably “real” fantasy heroine. In hindsight, I liked her a lot and I wanted to learn more from the character I created. I wondered what made her so compelling.

But first, let me tell you a little bit about Lusielle. In the novel, she’s a powerful healer, on the run, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She’s about to be burned for her crimes when the Lord of Laonia saves her from the pyre. He’s not her savior. On the contrary, he’s deadly to her. A mysterious curse giver has cast a virulent curse that can’t be defused or defeated. The curse requires the Lord of Laonia to murder Lusielle in order to save his people from destruction. So this is how the story begins, with Lusielle wondering if she should help the bitter lord pledged to kill her and the Lord of Laonia set to kill the only woman who can heal more than his body—his soul.

One of the reasons Lusielle comes across so real in the story is that her passion for her occupation is very tangible. Practicing her craft lends her authority and, perhaps more importantly, many opportunities to grow and learn throughout the story. She takes her trade very seriously and so did I. All of the healing practices and ingredients that Lusielle uses in The Curse Giver are based on authentic medieval practices. Most of her potions’ components come from historical sources. I think that the concrete elements of her practice make her more real to the reader, more credible and therefore more compelling.

Another important aspect to Lusielle’s realism is that she’s not perfect and she knows it. She works hard but things don’t always go her way. She’s made mistakes—a marriage without love that led to years of abuse and slavery, years that, by her own admission, she won’t get back. And yet she’s also resilient, capable of looking forward, able to dream a different life and willing to pursue it even when it entails breaking the rules and loving someone who is ultimately pledged to kill her.

Along those lines, relationships bring a solid sense of reality to Lusielle’s story. Friendship is very important to her, and her often confusing feelings for the Lord of Laonia reflect the full gamut of the human emotions that are so familiar to all of us.

But I think that the elements that make Lusielle most real are her willingness to challenge her fears, her ability to learn from her experiences, and the confidence that she develops as she learns. Courage and learning go hand in hand. Sure, there’s some powerful magic in the story, but ultimately it’s Lusielle’s knowledge, reason and awareness that make all the difference. See, I think heroines who learn, change and adapt throughout a story are not just cool, they’re also real, because all of us have to grow and evolve to better our lives and we thrive only when we learn from our mistakes.


Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit:  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.


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Curse Giver

Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames. Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark. Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their demise.

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Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy

Rating – PG-18

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Website http://www.doramachado.com/