A Supernatural Valentine

Happy Early Valentine’s Day!

I’ve got a special treat for you all—a Supernatural Sleuth Valentine mystery! Join Paige and Sean (and Vlad!) as they tackle a new case in “Cupid’s Curse.”

Click here for pdf.

Happy reading!

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In other news, both Dreamsnatcher and Dreamweaver are now available in paperback! And if you buy a new print edition from Amazon, you can get the Kindle version for only $0.99!

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Motive: Adding Character Depth

Resolutions blog seriesWelcome to the final writing tip post in this January series. If you made a New Year’s goal to write a book, I hope you’re still going strong. So far I’ve discussed writing skeleton drafts and plotting, and today I’m going to talk about adding character depth.

Watch any crime show and one of the main things cops look for in solving a crime is motive. Motivation is the root of all our actions. Every decision we make in life is based on one emotion or another: love, fear, ambition, insecurity, anger, etc. What drives your characters?

I’m guessing many people know the answer to that question when it comes to their main character, but what about secondary characters? What about the antagonist or bad guy? Oh, well my evil dude wants to plunge the world into eternal darkness. Okay, but why? Desires and goals aren’t the same as motive. Motive is what lies behind a character’s goals and actions.

Take Loki from the movie Thor. He wanted to destroy the Frost Giants and rule Asgard. Why? Because he’s an evil psychopath? Well, yeah, but this wasn’t some random whim. He was neither born this way nor did he wake up one morning and think it’d be fun to wreak havoc on two worlds. No, Loki’s motivations were rooted in insecurity and a desperate need for approval from his father, Odin. Once on this homicidal path, it was easy for Loki to do other terrible things in The Avengers.

How about secondary characters? What driving motivation is behind their lives? Is it ambition in their career? A desire to be loved? A sense of entitlement? Answering this one question for each of the players in your book will give them an added layer of depth that will come through in the story, even if you never explicitly go into detail about their backstory. (Remember, just because you know all the angles, doesn’t mean you tell the reader.)

Now, how do you apply this in your writing? You already know from my previous posts that I’m big on plotting and organization. Before you get too far into a story, try writing out a summary of each character’s motivations and how it impacts their actions in the story. I find this crucially helpful with the antagonist. I put myself in his (or her) head and map out his actions behind the scenes, and his motives for doing them. Knowing a bad guy’s motives also helps you know how he or she will respond when your protagonist throws a wrench in his evil machinations.

How about you? Do you think of motive when it comes to all your characters?

I hope you found this series of writing tips useful. Happy writing!

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The Importance of Plotting

Resolutions blog seriesWelcome to my second post of writing tips to help you turn your New Year’s resolution of writing a novel into an attainable goal. Today I’m going to talk about plotting, and before all the pansters start protesting, let me say that there are several ways to approach this.

You can plot

  • the whole book
  • chapter by chapter
  • in reverse, by writing a summary of the scene you just wrote

I think of plot outlines as roadmaps: they help keep you from trundling down a washed-out road and crashing into a ditch. One reason I hear that people are resistant to plotting is it takes all the surprises out of writing. If you were to plan everything out in minute detail like a blueprint, then I would agree. But the thing about a looser roadmap is detours can come up. Plot twists can surprise you, without destroying the foundation you carefully laid out leading up to it.

So how does one go about plotting? There are dozens of organizational methods one could use, and it really depends on how you work best. I prefer pen and paper for brainstorming. Other people like to use the computer. Some write narrative summaries while others follow formal outlines with I. A. 1. a. Some people use notecards for scenes and tack them to walls or story boards that they can shuffle around like puzzle pieces. Try them all if you want to find what works best for your creative process.

Now, you can plot the entire book. But just like with writing a skeleton draft, such an outline will most likely start with the bare minimum of a storyline. Once you get to writing out those scenes in detail, you’ll find opportunities to expand chapters with character growth and plot development. Skeleton plots are like guidelines to keep you on track, but don’t be afraid to change direction if inspiration strikes you down the road.

Chapter by chapter plotting means you sit down and write out a summary or outline for the next chapter before you write it. This helps focus your thoughts so when you sit down to start writing, you don’t stare at a blank page wondering where to go next.

Sometimes what you write in your chapter plan isn’t what you end up writing. The muse takes over and you whip out several thousand words that had nothing to do with what you planned. Or you sit down without a game plan and just write a scene or chapter. However you got there, once you’re done with a chapter, you might want to write down a summary of what just happened in the book so you don’t accidentally leave out important developments in future chapters or forget to wrap up loose ends.

The great thing about the three approaches to plotting above is you can use just one, or all three in consecutive order as you go. Being organized in your creative process doesn’t have to be restricting. When you have a roadmap, whether it’s looking down the line to future developments, or tracking the progress you already made, it will be easier to not only spot potential plot holes, but know exactly where to go back in order to fix them.

So what about you? What plotting methods have you used in your writing?

Be sure to come back next week for our final writing tip on character depth.

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Writing Skeleton Drafts

Resolutions blog seriesThe arrival of the new year ushers in a long-standing tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Some of you have decided this will be the year you finally write that book. But, as I’m well familiar with, resolutions are hard to keep past a few weeks, so for the rest of January I’ve decided to write a short blog series on writing tips to help you turn that resolution into a sustainable habit.

The first thing I’m going to talk about is writing a skeleton draft. As in, a draft so poorly executed that it doesn’t even deserve to be called a first. Any writing expert will tell you that the most important thing is to get something down. It’s much easier to edit and refine a sludge pile of words than a blank page.

At this stage when you’re first starting on a story, don’t worry about sentence variety, decent description, or even witty dialogue. If your characters sound like sock puppets in a soap opera, go with it. In fact, I would encourage you not to edit anything in a chapter until at least a day after you’ve written it. If you realize you need to change something, make a note to do it later. Just focus on finishing that skeleton draft of that scene or chapter—and give yourself permission to suck! I’m serious. Nobody ever said the definition of a good writer is someone who can type up gold on the first pass. A good writer can weave words into something beautiful and moving, and by the way, what does a woven basket look like before it’s formed? A pile of reeds! That sometimes gets tangled.

Doing the above isn’t easy. Many writers feel anxiety over not writing well enough. They’ll sit and stare at a sentence or paragraph until it’s perfect, but that usually means they don’t get very far into the story. Fear of failing can hold us back from ever trying. I just finished writing my 11th book and I still experience what I like to call First Draft Syndrome. For those first several chapters, I had a hard time concentrating and putting actual words down because what I wrote felt pathetic compared to the quality of work I’d published in the past. It took some effort for me to push those insecurities aside and write however poorly I needed to just to get the story going. And eventually I got on a roll. I also have to look back at previous books’ early drafts to remind myself that it is possible to go from word muck to a pristine novel. So can you. Just don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Remember, a finished novel is a diamond, but gemstones don’t just pop out of the earth like magic. It takes extraordinary amounts of pressure, sweat, and probably some tears. Embrace the rough stage as part of the process, and you’ll make it through.

Do you experience First Draft Syndrome? Is it hard to give yourself permission to suck at something, even in the effort to get better at it?

Next week I’ll be talking about a strategy to reduce some road blocks and pitfalls: plotting. Hope to see you then!

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Heroes of Fantasy: Mr. January

Let’s start off 2014 with a bang, shall we? And who better to ring in the New Year than the Norse god of thunder?

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Thor

As a mighty warrior of Asgard wielding the hammer Mjolnir, Thor has, well, quite a big ego. Our first glimpse of him in Marvel’s 2011 film is rabble-rousing a crowd and winking at the ladies as he prepares to ascend the Asgardian throne. Too bad a small infiltration of Frost Giants interrupts the festivities. Thor’s solution? Smash them all!

Thor does a lot of thinking with his hammer and fists in the beginning, but after being banished from Asgard to earth for his arrogance, he learns the value of selflessness and sacrifice. And when he is worthy to possess the power of the hammer once more, there’s no stopping him from becoming an avenger for the weak and innocent.

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2013 Year In Review

Oh my goodness how time flies. I say this at the end of every year when I sit down to write up a blog post on the past year’s accomplishments. Which kind of feels like bragging and makes me uncomfortable, but I also think it’s good to keep track of what’s happened in my life, to remember the ups more than the downs and provide hope for the coming year.

I started 2013 with a list of goals…none of which I really remember at this point. I made some “business” goals in terms of book sales for the year because I’d been watching other authors do so back in January. I pretty much abandoned them, however, when they didn’t get much traction. I went through a period of serious soul-searching regarding my writing/publishing career and finally came to terms with what I want and need, and not what I’m “supposed to do.” It’s still a struggle sometimes navigating social media, branding, and marketing, but I’m doing the best I can. Most of all, I continue to write because I love stories and have many to tell.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900dream assassin 1000x1600Speaking of stories, I wrote and published way more this past year than I thought I was capable of. Part of that probably had to do with a season of the best health I’ve seen since I was…well, 14 and first got an insulin pump.

Dreamstealer, the second book in the Dreamwalker saga, came out in April, and I’d already started writing book three, which turned into books three and four. In between those I wrote a novella for one of the secondary characters: Dirk. Dream Assassin came out in June, Dreamsnatcher in November, and Dreamweaver just three weeks ago. WOW. I spent all of 2013 in the Dreamwalker world and it was a beautiful, heartwarming journey. I will miss it.

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750Dreamweaver-AngelaWallace-500x750

AW-SSleuth-432x648This past summer I also tried my hand at my very first Vote Your Adventure type story, and you guys helped me write a short tale featuring Paige from the Elemental Magic world. That stretched my writing–and pantsing–abilities to new heights.

ET cover with awardIn other news, I passed the national certification exam for sign language interpreting, and Earth Tones won the 2013 Best Indie Book Award for Fantasy. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather on both. I am so grateful for all the people who helped me achieve these things, from friends who helped me study for the exam and gave me pep talks when I was doubting myself, to those who critiqued and read Earth Tones.

I can’t claim sole credit for any of my accomplishments, for I wouldn’t be here without the support and guidance of dear friends and the Lord’s hand. These are the things I need to hold onto moving forward into 2014, for while 2013 held an abundance of blessings, that season of great health in the spring didn’t last past summer and this fall has been a struggle. But that’s part of the purpose behind this post: I did all this once; I can do it again.

So what’s ahead for 2014? Well, I’ve already made good progress writing Elemental Magic 4 with a tentative publication date in Spring. Now that the Dreamwalker series is complete, I can hopefully get out a few more Elemental Magic books before I start a new fantasy series that’s been simmering on the back burner. :-D

AND, speaking of the Elemental Magic series, I also spent the past few months rebranding the series’ image. That was a little exhausting, but I’m so thrilled with how the new covers turned out and the cohesiveness they now have. Don’t they look great? Covers by Shelley at Spittyfish Designs.

AW-EM-750x1125     AW-DS-750x1125

So how did you all do this past year, and what are your big plans for 2014?

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Sneak Peek ~ Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver-AngelaWallace-500x750Taryn’s world is falling apart, but despite being opposed to an arranged marriage, perhaps young Prince Fenir can find a way to win her heart…

Excerpt, Dreamweaver

Fenir lifted his gaze to hers, his blue eyes almost gold in the reflection of the burning oil. “I don’t know what to say to convince you of my sincerity. Words don’t seem to be enough, but neither do my actions.” He sighed. “Do you really find me so repulsive?”

Taryn shook her head slowly. “I do not find you repulsive. I find the whole situation abhorrent.” She let out a frustrated grunt. “Something in the dreamscape—my dreamscape—is hurting people. The dukes are at my throat to go to war with the wrong country and to marry you so you’ll give us weapons. Meanwhile, I haven’t heard from Lexa, who’s supposed to be finding a solution to this mess. She’s the only other person who understands that something else is going on, but she’s not here to help me explain it to those pompous lords!” She stopped to take a breath.

“You’re in a difficult position,” Fenir said.

“That’s an understatement.”

He crept closer until they stood shoulder to shoulder, looking out at the impenetrable night. “I wish we could have met under different circumstances, when neither of our lands wanted something from the other.”

Taryn pressed her mouth into a tight line. She wished many things could have been different.

He turned to face her, eyes alight and cheeks slightly pink. Cupping his hands together, he held them out. “I would have liked to show you a different side to me. The quiet, thoughtful stargazer.” His palms began to glow. “The man who loves poetry more than war.” Fenir began to move his hands in polar circles. Blue licks of fire spilled between his fingers as his palms brushed across each other.

Taryn stiffened, breath halting in her lungs.

Fenir continued to roll his palms against each other as the light between them pulsated stronger. “The boy who would be king.” He took one hand away, revealing a small mass of blue fire in his palm, flickering in the shape of a rose. Fenir held it out to her. Heat radiated from the fire, but more like the languid warmth of an afternoon sun than the bite of searing flames.

“It won’t burn,” he said.

Riveted, Taryn lifted her hand and inched toward the blazing petals. Her fingers twitched with the instinct to recoil, but she furrowed her brow and held them steady. With a centimeter between her skin and the flaming rose, she expected to feel and smell her skin singeing, but neither happened. Her finger brushed the edge of a petal and she jerked back automatically. Angling her hand, she noted smooth, unblemished skin. Then she reached forward and touched the rose again. The blue fire rippled like billowing silk. It was warm, almost hot, though not enough to burn.

“How are you doing this?” she whispered.

A smile tugged at his mouth. “I don’t know. How do you dreamwalk? It’s just something I can do—feel the elements, the music they make, and tune them as I would a lyre to make what I want.”

“Music?” she said dubiously.

Fenir took her hand, turning them face to face. “If I could wipe everything else away, the circumstances and the expectations, this is what I’d show you. And…” His throat bobbed as he swallowed. “I would ask you to dance again.”

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Get your copy of Dreamweaver on Amazon and B&N

With her father in a coma, Princess Taryn desperately tries to hold her kingdom together against conniving dukes, soulless raiders, and people being snatched from their dreams. Not to mention the insufferable Prince Fenir still wants to marry her. But when Taryn finds herself pitted against an unearthly invader in an epic battle to save both the dreamscape and waking world, she may have to sacrifice everything she holds dear.

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*DW 3D*Dreamstealer 3D*DA 3DDreamsnatcher 3D

Get caught up on the series with DreamwalkerDreamstealerDream Assassin, and Dreamsnatcher.

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I hope you enjoyed your visit and come back for more!  You can subscribe using RSSTwitterGoogle+, or Facebook. And to ensure you don’t miss any new releases, sign up for the newsletter!