Friday, 2 December 2016

Novel Spotlight: A & B by J.C. Lillis

Thrilled to be putting the spotlight on this one, folks. If you have a teen in your house, know a teen or were a teen, click the BUY IT NOW button on Amazon. You're welcome.

A & B by J.C. Lillis


Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open.

Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals.

Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

(Rated R for Rivalry, Romance, and Really Neat Subplot featuring Brandon and Abel from How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.)


Barnes & Noble
(It’s only available as an ebook right now, but the paperback should be out by January. If you’d like a paper copy, stay tuned for updates!)


So about me. I am a veteran of eight tempestuous Internet fandoms, three Catholic schools, and countless crushes on fictional characters. I live in Baltimore with my awesome and patient family and a ragtag band of tropical fish, some of which will probably be dead by the time you read this. I obsess over thrift store art, homemade dollhouses, second-tier 80s sitcoms, koi ponds, retrofuturism, Game of Thrones, Edward Gorey, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

My mom still has my first batch of homemade books. I wrote them when I was six or seven, on stapled pieces of construction paper. They were about a family of talking silverware, a gray shoe who lost her mate, and my father’s grim adventures at his office and in “Giantland” (vastly different locales, though in both places he was shouted at by the disembodied head of his boss). I’ve been trying to top the Giantland story ever since. Maybe this will be my year.

Stalk Connect with J.C. Lillis!


Thursday, 17 November 2016

10 Things Writing Has Taught Me

1. Good writing takes practice.

No one ever sat down at a piano and played a concerto without a lesson. Writing is a craft that deserves an investment of your time.

2. Being hopeful is just as important as being persistant.

Writers are inherently hopeful, otherwise no one would ever start a story.

3. Bad writing is better than no writing.

I can't edit a blank page.

4. Don't write to sell books, write to share stories.

Authenticity cannot be faked. If I don't care about my characters the readers won't either.

5. There are always ways to improve your writing, but don't let all 'the rules' keep you from finding your style.

I keep my inner editor turned off until I've finished the story.

6. There is a difference between dreams and goals.

Success is reaching goals, but my dreams are the fuel that help me reach my goals.

7. There is no limit to where my stories can take me.

Imagination affords me the luxury of taking vacations anywhere, anytime. 

8. My characters are depending on me.

Truly, as the author, I am the only one who can tell their story.

9. Writing requires patience and willingness to leave my comfort zone. 

I write more fluidly when I write without fear.

10. You're never too old to try something new.

I didn't start writing until my mid-thirties.

What has writing taught you?

Saturday, 5 November 2016

My Secret Weapon To Tackling #NaNoWriMo2016

I'm trying a new way of tackling #NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month). I'm going to be posting my story chapter by chapter on Wattpad.


A few reasons actually.

1. Motivation: There is nothing that makes me write faster than a reader asking, 'What happens next? Dying for the next update. UPDATE PLEASE!'

2. Gratitude: Wattpad has been essential in helping me achieve my goal of being published. I want to share this story as a thank you for all the opportunity the Wattpad readers have given me.

3. Immediate feedback: It's like having a built in army of BETA readers.

4. Building a fan base: If more people are checking out your profile because you're currently engaging them, they'll also be more likely to be interested in other projects you're already written.

5. Connecting with other writers: Writing is a solitary activity and sometimes we need to lean on one another for support. Wattpad leads to all other online sites. Never underestimate the power of a good Twitter buddy.

6. Popularity: Just kidding, although it is another motivator when you see the numbers go up for your story.

7. Star Search: Since Wattpad is driven by readers, it can be an important tool in determining what the next trend will be, therefore, Wattpad is crawling with agents/editors/publishers who are trolling, regularly keeping an eye on the writers who are making an impact.

What are your motivations for #NaWriNoMo?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex machina is the Latin phrase originally used to describe an ancient plot device used in Greek and Roman theatre. The phrase is loosely translated as “god from the machine.”

It referred to scenes in which a crane (machine) was used to lower actors playing a god (deus) onto the stage to set things right, often near the end of the play. Its most literal interpretation is when a godlike figure, with all the convenient power that comes with that, arrives to solve the problem.

The literary device of deus ex machina means to solve a seemingly intractable problem in a plot by adding an unexpected character, object, or situation.

With all due respect to the ancient Romans, it's good to avoid using a deus ex machina in your own story though, as readers will feel cheated. Here's a great explanation by the extremely talented, Kathy Bates playing Annie Wilkes in Stephen King's Misery.

If you ever think of taking the easy way out, remember Annie.

But this plot device comes in many disguises. Here are a number of requirements for a sudden plot development to be a deus ex machina:

1. It may be a solution to a problem, but it never make things worse nor does the sudden twist change the understanding of the story.

2. It is external to the characters and their choices throughout the story. 

3. The solution comes from a character with little influence on the plot until that point or by random chance.

One of the most common deus ex machina endings is the "it was all a dream" ending. It hits all the requirements: the crisis is solved through no actions of the protagonists, renders the actions/choices of the protagonists useless, and it comes out of nowhere.

Here are a few more examples:

Near the ending of The Wizard of Oz, after Dorothy is stranded when the hot air balloon takes off without her, the Good Fairy shows up and tells Dorothy she had the power to go home all along.

Why did she send this kid on an unnecessary and dangerous journey that ended up requiring her to kill ANOTHER witch?
Yes, that's right, double homicide. It's not like Dorothy wanted to stay in Munckinville. She wanted to go home right away! Don't get me wrong, I love the movie.  

Also, remember this moment in Jurasic Park? Just when everyone was about to be eaten by the raptors, the T-Rex jumps in and eats the raptor. No one noticed the giant dinosaur inside the lobby?

Annie Wilkes would not be impressed.

Okay, so now that you know what a deus ex machina is, make sure you don't have any in your story.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

9 Easy Ways To Create Conflict In Your Story

Stories need conflict otherwise your readers will have nothing to cheer for, nothing to be worried about, and no mystery to figure out. Conflict drives a story and keeps the plot moving forward. And most importantly, the conflict provides the catalyst for the growth of your characters.

Here are few sure fire tips you can start using today to get your character into hot water and keep your readers invested.

1. Let every stroke of good luck change the plot so that your character's path to their goal is now littered with new and potentially worse obstacles.

2. Get emotional! Show your characters' motivation in each scene. Pack it with resistance. Everyone can't be going for the same goal.

3. Your character should have a major flaw that prevents them from reaching their goal.

4. Give your protagonist two motives. They must sacrifice one goal in order to achieve the other.

5. Let the action be created by the character's decisions and not because of coincidence. This is especially effective if they make the wrong decision for the right reason.

6. When faced with choices, there should be positive and negative consequences. But your character must use motivation that makes sense for the situation.

7. Make sure that any solution they come up with to solve a problem actually makes things worse until they get it right.

8. Make one character passionately opinionated, always ready for an argument.

9. Take away your main character's greatest source of support at the most critical time.

I hope this was helpful. Happy writing!

Monday, 5 September 2016

A Second Chance

This past July the second book in the Nefertari Hughes Mystery series, DIADEM OF DEATH, was due to be launched. I was extremely excited about this book and head over heels in love with the cover. Unfortunately, Fierce Ink Books closed shop just shy of the publication date.

Based out of Halifax and dedicated to publishing quality young adult novels by Canadians, the staff behind Fierce worked tirelessly and passionately for four years, but ultimately they were not able to continue in the competitive field of publishing. I will always be appreciative for the experience with Fierce Ink and how they brought Asp of Ascension and its characters into the world.

Although it was a sticky situation to start shopping around a sequel, I didn't have to wait for long to find a home for the series. I'm thrilled to announce that Blue Moon Publishers has taken on the series and will be releasing Asp of Ascension and Diadem of Death in the Spring of 2017.

I'm not sure how the new covers will look, but I know Terry and Maude and the rest of the gang are in very capable hands. As of today, I'm busy writing the third book in the series and outlining ideas for a fourth.

Again, I'm grateful for what Fierce did for my writing career and I wish the team the best of luck in the future. They're all very talented and I'll be championing their future endeavors.

If you want to purchase the original Asp of Ascension, it's still available, but only for limited time.

Amazon (Canada)
Amazon (US)

Friday, 19 August 2016


Most people just skip this introductory paragraph so I'm not going to put anything important here. Oh, wait! There's a contest at the bottom of this post so make sure you enter.

Before we reveal the cover, a few quick facts about BLACK FRIDAY:

1. It's the second book in the NIGHT SHIFT series.

2. It's self published

3. There are a lot of twists so buckle up.

4. The original title was DISPLAY IN PROGRESS

5. It's 403 pages long. After editing, the novel was cut by 40, 000 words. I know, right? You're welcome.

6. There's a funeral.

7. You will cheer a few times.

8. You will laugh.

9. You will cry.

10. FINAL SALE will be the next and last book in this series.

Now, a bit about the novel...

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

It's been a month since nineteen-year-old Daniel Gale survived the brutal attack that almost cost him everything that he loved. As the culprit waits behind bars for a court date, Daniel and Mary spend every night shift researching Willard's history as a vaudeville theater and its main act, a ruined magician. They are searching for answers that will unlock the mystery of Mary's existence so she can finally escape the luxurious department store.

But an untimely death of an ally results in a shocking letter of confession from beyond the grave, making both Daniel and Mary question everything they thought was true. Under the watchful eye of a strict new night supervisor, Daniel desperately enlists assistance from a dubious source, unwilling to give up on saving Mary. However, his hope is soon shattered when new clues reveal the disturbing truth of Mary’s past—a truth that may destroy them both.

Oh, creepy! Now scroll down for the awesome cover.

Thanks to Emma Dolan who continues to give this series snazzy faces!

Here are some fun things to do...

Add BLACK FRIDAY on Goodreads.
Check out the Black Friday Pinterest board with character photos and soundtrack choices.

Available to buy now!
Amazon US
Amazon Canada

Congratulations, you made it to the end of this post. Now go ahead and enter the contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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