Lullaby is an Amazon #1 Bestseller! YAY!
Click here to find it on Amazon!
Silent Night is NOW AVAILABLE!
Click here to buy it on Amazon!
I'm a little excited. Can you tell?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



So here is the updated official cover for Lullaby. Available this Monday on Amazon. (I'll post a link Sunday)

 I have to admit...I was really in love with the original cover and didn't think I'd be able to get past that. But..I did. And when you see ALL FOUR covers together will knock your socks off. Not kidding. is it. I hope you all love it as much as I do! Feel free to tell me how gorgeous it is. (Thanks,'re amazing)

I've been a slacker

It's true what they say...when you are busy writing your novels, you rarely have time for your blog...or eating or breathing and definitely not for sleeping.

With that said...I apologize for my lack of anything to entertain you if you have stopped  by my blog in recent months. I'll try to do better once things slow down a bit.  I had no idea soooo much would be involved in publishing a book. Or two. Ultimately four.  So, thank you for hangin' in there and not judging me on my lack of posts. I hope it will be worth it.

Now...on to the business at hand. My book (I'm going to give it its own post. Go check it out. Now. Go already.) :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Outlining for the Pantsers

You're a pantser, and you happily admit it. Which means you HATE to feel like you're stuck in a box. You don't want to spend hours, days, who are we kidding…months…running in that hamster wheel in your head to plan your novel out in agonizing detail before the first sentence ever touches the page.

I get it.

I actually used to be just that way, until I tried to write my own novels. And when I began Developmentally Editing for my clients…I realized there was a real need in the world of pantsers for something that those who are less than OCD can use to reel their plots in.

Why is there such a need, you ask? Because without some sort of guideline, you're inclined to wander aimlessly, to drone on, to create a mountain of useless scenes, characters, and minor plots that take you down a road that brings you face to face with a dead end. And all that is doing is creating more work for you to edit... or for your editor to spew red ink on.

Granted, it feels great to get your writing onto the page sooner, but you're not going to complete your project any earlier. Truth is, you're probably dragging it out.

So, since most of my clients (okay, me too) hate the idea of outlining, I created a ridiculously simple method to produce a functional outline without causing permanent mental distress.


First, you're going to want to figure out approximately how many chapters you'll have. If you write much, you might have an idea of your average chapter length. If you have an idea of how long the whole novel should be, then you're going to do something you swore you'd never do after high school…use math. Don't stress over this though. If you don't have an idea of your chapter length, go with an average of 2,000 words per chapter and make a guess. It's not’s math. You can adjust later if you need to.

Beginning and End

The story is in your head, you know how it starts. You probably have a pretty good idea as to how it ends. Knowing the ending when you start allows you to plan ahead. You can construct a story that will be gratifying and complete. Not knowing the ending is likely to lead you to that dead end mentioned earlier…and leave you frustrated. If you don't feel you can commit to an ending, that's fine. This method allows for you to fill in what you need and get down the ideas you have.

You don't need to know every detail. Just concentrate on the overall plot and the significant characters.

Start by putting your beginning and end at the…well…beginning and end (Ch. 1 and Ch. 20 – or whatever).


Now, on to the climax. Pick a chapter near the end and add your climax. With any luck, this is a scene or chapter you’ve been playing in your head on loop since before you decided to write this story. It doesn't have to be right at the end, but it needs to be close.

If you have more than one scene that you feel is critical to your story, make a spot for it. Because next you're going to…

Fill in the Blanks

So you've got three (maybe four) chapters out of however many you decided on. Now it's time to fill in the blanks. Those scenes you've had bouncing around in your head, chunk those bad boys into your outline.

Of course, this is where you get to work. It's time to fill in those empty slots and start connecting the dots (chapters). Figure out what needs to transpire in order to tie one chapter to the next. In the process, you might see that your chain of events needs some adjusting, and that's fine. That's what outlining is all about – filling in the gaps. Your number of chapters may increase or decrease. No worries. As long as by the end…

…everything you want to take place in the story has been put somewhere in the outline.
…you have tied your plot together from beginning to end in a way that flows and makes sense.
…you're happy with how the story progresses.


This is your outline. You can be as detailed or bare bones as you like. Below each chapter, you can add in events, scenes, insights/findings, characterization changes, or whatever you want/need to remember when you write. It doesn't have to be lucid, coherent, or pretty. It's YOUR outline. It's just a guideline for you to use when writing your story. It can even transform along the way. But regardless, it will give you a simpler view of your plot and make it easier to adjust the story without having to search through a 60k+ word document to do so.

Have fun!

Friday, April 18, 2014

DreamWalker - Book of Dreams Trilogy - Book 3

So...the last few days the muse has been off the hook!  I love when the creativity starts pulsing through me like the electromagnet in Tony Stark's chest.  And so...DreamWalker is in full swing.

It isn't the final book cover, of course, but just to give me something to make it feel more urgent, I created this place holder for it.

I wonder if I'm the only writer who needs this kind of concrete visualization to help me along?

Anyway...back to writing.  I'm actually MORE excited about Book 3 than I was Lullaby.  Imagine that.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lost in Translation - Plotting

Have you ever tried to explain something to someone and the harder you try to get your point across, the harder it is to make sense?  You start to confuse yourself and YOU know what you were trying to say to begin with!!!  Somewhere amid the twists and turns your translation from idea to explanation got lost.  That can happen pretty easily with writing, too.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a book, an essay, a research paper or a letter you are writing to someone (seriously...go back and read some of the letters you’ve's not hard to get off track).  The point is, to keep your writing on track you need some guidelines.  A map of sorts. 

Now, now....all of you who are directionally challenged...take a deep breath and calm down.  This isn’t one of those OnStar maps that take you into the darkest alleys of downtown on the wrong side of the tracks when you were aiming for grassy meadows in the country somewhere.  This one you have control of.  And I do realize we are all different and our minds will need different types of maps to process things our own way.  Keep reading...there’s something for everyone (or at least something you can modify for yourself).

Regardless of its appearance....I’m going to call this map a Plot MapJ  Plots can be a difficult thing when you're trying to write a story.  You start out with this great idea in your head but can’t seem to manage to give it a shape so that it is not only emotionally compelling but also holds itself together to the finish.  I’m going to try to make this as simple as can complicate it all you want to suit your taste when you start using it. 

Let’s think about your book the way Shakespeare would have.  Those who know me well know I adore Shakespeare...he was a he had to be on to something with this idea.  ACTS.  No, I’m not referring to the book in the Bible (though I do recommend reading it), I’m talking about how to break your story into sections so that it’s easier to fill in what’s going on.  If you break it into three Acts you’ve simplified right there.

Act I – 25% of your story
Act II – 50%
Act III – 25%

(Side note:  I did get the idea for Acts from reading somewhere..but I seriously suck at citing and it was something someone said to copy and I honestly would love to give credit where it’s due...but I don’t know his/her it was you....speak up.)
Ok, yes, yes, I’m going to add in a little to make it move along.  Feel free to copy and use the outline below.  Here goes:

Act I (25%)
Setup (Happens immediately. We meet the protagonist(s) and we get a glimpse of who they are and what they’re about.)
Plot Point 1  (Where the fun begins...the events that set the protagonist on his/her path.)
New situation  (Self explanatory...protagonist is presented with something new to deal with.)
Plot point 2  (Everything changes...first major event that sends the status quo spiraling into oblivion.)
Climax for Act I  (This climactic event makes it impossible for the protagonist to turn away from this new situation and go back to the life they led a mere 25% ago.)

ACT II (50%)
Seeming progress (the protagonist is at a point of making a plan to get out of the mess they’ve found themselves in.  The Antagonist is planning their own ways to achieve their goals.  More allies likely are introduced for both sides.)
Plot Point 3  (Point of no return.  The protagonist learns the full extent of what he/she is facing.)
Midpoint Climax  (An unexpected twist of events that should really be close to the midpoint of the book...and just when the protagonist seemed to be making some progress.  It’s about to get complicated.  Think Murphy’s Law....what CAN go wrong SHOULD go wrong.)
Complications and higher stakes  (The protagonist is tested.  Faces harder obstacles, harsher consequences if he/she fails.)
Plot Point 4  (Major setback for the protagonist.)
Act II Climax  (Increase the stakes and decrease the hero’s abilities...even set a deadline that has to be met.)

ACT III (25%)
Final Push (Crisis. Things can’t continue as they are.)
Plot Point 5 Climax (The final showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.)
Aftermath/Wrap Up: (Ties up loose ends and foreshadows the future...because you KNOW you want to write another book)

Keep in mind...this could easily be changed to a FOUR Act scenario.  Just split Act II in half and use four 25% Acts if you feel you have more Plot Points and more climactic events to add.  It’s whatever works for you.

You can use any method you want to map this out: notecards, a story board, napkins from McDonald’s, that little triangle-mountain looking chart thingy they taught us in 8th grade English...whatever works for you.  I personally use MS Word and this outline.  It’s easier to add thoughts & details into Word than trying to rewrite the whole thing in my writer’s notebook.  That’s just where I jot down the ideas as they come to me. I said...everyone’s mind works in various, mysterious ways.

If anyone has any thoughts or tips for plot or character outlining they’d like to share that could help someone...let’s hear them!!!  Contact me or comment and we can get them posted so that other writers can benefit from your ideas as well.

Happy plotting everyone!!!  Try not to get lost.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Resolute or Rut?

(The only difference is in the spelling)

We’ve had a couple of weeks now to think about our resolutions (and in some cases, break any already made), so I thought this was the perfect time to revisit the concept.

 Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for the “normal” person
1.      Stop smoking
2.      Get fit
3.      Get out of debt
4.      Lose weight
5.      Get organized
6.      Eat healthier
7.      Quit drinking
8.      Exercise more
9.      Spend more time with family
10. Does this one even matter? (Join the gym – even though I won’t likely go)

Hmmm . . . am I the only one who sees a pattern here?  I did my own bit of research to get this list ( & by research I mean I just listened to others talk about their resolutions or I read about them somewhere . . . so no REAL research was conducted on a scientific level, unless you consider eavesdropping scientific , in which case it was TOTALLY scientific research).  Regardless, these are resolutions you see EVERY year and over & over again.  There is a reason that so many of the resolutions keep popping back up.  It’s because they are soooo HARD to keep.  That’s why they continue reappearing every year – we didn’t complete them the last time.  No follow through.  That seems to be the problem when it comes to resolutions.

Let’s face it, change is not easy.  Just ask any newlywed who has to learn to live with their spouse after being the only person they have had to answer to for heaven knows how long, or someone trying to stop smoking.  NOT easy.

But as writers, we shouldn’t make resolutions that are difficult to keep.  Here’s my list . . .I think even someone as ADHD as me might be able to get this accomplished.  Maybe.

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for WRITERS (you know the extraordinary person – nothing normal about us)

1.      Make time to write more – because even if I write 12 hours/day it’s not enough.

2.      Stop procrastinating – that book isn’t going to write itself onto paper just because I can see the movie playing in my head.

3.      Attend a writer’s conference – in person, not in my pajamas from the comfort of my home.

4.      Submit to an agent & learn something from the rejection letter(s).

5.      Get an agent – hopefully because of what I learned from the rejection letter(s).

6.      Draw hearts all over a Twilight poster and pin it to the wall to remind me it could happen to me.

7.      Throw darts at said Twilight poster – because let’s face it, sometimes I want to scream and blame someone for all those rejection letters and Stephenie Meyer is the most obvious choice.

8.      Create/update website/blog.

9.      Increase social media presence (I can’t make contacts on Twitter & Facebook if I don’t participate . . . it’s called “social” for a reason).

10. Don’t give up!  After all, JA Konrath wrote 9 novels (over a million words) and received over 500 rejection letters before he sold anything and dangit –I’m just as talented as that guy and I write sober.  (Disclaimer: I am in no way diss’n Konrath nor am I saying I know if he writes in a drunken state, but his novels are all named after something you might hear slurred to a bartender, so it’s a somewhat educated assumption)

As writers, we are not only artistic but have to be business-minded as well.  No business will succeed without effort, without taking a few chances.  Taking chances means doing things you might find a little frightening.  But if you don’t try, then you’ve already failed.  And if you don’t fail a few times, then you aren’t trying hard enough.
So what are some of your New Year's Resolutions?  I'm curious as to what writers and readers alike are resolving themselves to accomplish.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Possess Saga ~ J.A. Howell

When I was introduced to Nolan Finley, I was already pissed at him and we hadn’t even met yet.  Yes, I was holding a grudge.  I was ticked because I was all about Brody Walsh and a small part of me blamed Brody’s death on Nolan.  I loved Brody.  Still do.  But after a few glimpses into Nolan’s, umm . . .kitchen, I fell for him.  I mean, look at him.  Who wouldn’t?  Not to mention, that accent.  So hot.   

J.A. and I had a few conversations about Nolan and Brody, and she has assures me that Nolan is as hot as I imagine (and that we haven’t seen the last of Brody). 

J.A. recently sat down with Nolan and asked him a few questions.  (One of which was not about his infamous culinary skills with sausage . . . much to my dismay.)  Here’s what Nolan had to say:


JAH: I’m sitting down today with Nolan Finley from The Possess Saga. Nolan, thank you for joining me today.
Nolan: The pleasure’s all mine. *grins*

JAH: *smiles back* So, we know you run Finley’s Pub in The Possess Saga…well actually in all my books that take place in Midtown. Do you enjoy your job?
Nolan: For the most part. Every now and then I have ta toss a drunk out or break up fights. But I consider that a perk of the job.

JAH: Ah yes. I’ve heard that Aggie sometimes is bad about not cutting people off when she should, just so she gets to see you throw them out.
Nolan: Hmmph. She would. She’s a bit of an instigator.

JAH: Speaking of instigators. I also heard you were a bit of a wild one when you were younger and got into lots of fights.
Nolan: *looks around * Me? Never!

Nolan: Okay maybe a few. *Shrugs, flashing a devious grin*

JAH: I’ve heard when it was you and Brody out together you two were a bit of a force to be reckoned with. What sort of things did you guys get in fights over?
Nolan:  *His grin only grows as he stretches his arms out behind his head* Well…we beat up a lot of Aggie’s boyfriends. Most of ‘em were arseholes.  Every now and then I “might” have gotten inta a bar fight over a girl.

JAH: How noble of you.
Nolan: Not really. It was usually because their boyfriend caught us. Of course, how was I ta know they had a man if they were flirtin’ with me, right?

JAH: So you never knew that those girls had boyfriends? *raises an eyebrow, giving him a skeptical stare*
Nolan: *snorts* Me? Never!

Nolan: Okay, maybe a few.

JAH: Right, speaking of girls. I heard you like big butts. *Fails to suppress a giggle*
Nolan: And I cannot lie?

JAH: *Shakes head* Please don’t get that song stuck in my head.
Nolan: *laughs* Yes, I appreciate a nice arse. But ya really need ta stop talkin’ ta Aggie so much.

JAH: I can’t help it! She has all the good dirt on you!
Nolan: *crosses arms and lets out an indignant grunt*

JAH: I’m sure you have dirt on her too. You two are like brother and sister.
Nolan: Yes. She’s the little sister I never had. Or wanted.

JAH: I’m sooooo telling her you said that.
Nolan:*winces* Ah, Christ! Don’t do that! She’s vicious with those boney knees of hers.  What else do ya want ta know?

JAH: Hmm. I should use that scare tactic more often. Okay so one final question. A bit more serious. From books 1 & 2 of The Possess Saga, it’s obvious that a lot has happened to you in the past with the whole situation surrounding Brody’s death. Given where you are now, do you regret any of it?
Nolan: That’s a tough one. I like Harley and I’m glad I met her. If what happened with Claire and with Brody had never happened, would I have ever met her? I’m not sure. I’m glad things work out the way they do, but I really hate that they cost me some of the things they did. And I can’t say I’m not ashamed of myself for some of the part that I played in all of it.

JAH: Thanks for such a candid response. Well, it’s been a pleasure indeed, but I should let you get back to the pub.
Nolan: *winks* Until the next book, then.

Brody Walsh’s life is left in disarray when his girlfriend is found brutally raped and murdered. But it completely shatters when his best friend, Nolan is arrested for the crime.

Even as the media is portraying him as a monster, Brody knows Nolan isn’t capable of murder.

That leaves the question: Who is?

Once the trial begins, Brody discovers just how little he knew about his girlfriend, spurring him to dig into her past for possible answers. And as Aggie, his long time confidant and childhood crush, stands by his side through all of this, he finds his own past resurfacing when his feelings for her reignite. But as the media and the prosecutors close in on Nolan, ready to convict him for a crime he didn’t commit, Brody will be forced to make a choice.

A choice that will lead to his untimely death.



Stumbling off the bus in Midtown, Harley Martin thought she found an escape from her old life.

She soon realizes it was anything but that.

Low on cash and options, she manages to find herself a cheap but surprisingly nice apartment. The catch? The last tenant, Brody Walsh, killed himself.

Or did he?

As disturbing dreams and hauntings start to occur, Harley realizes there may be much more behind the previous tenant’s death than a simple suicide. She finds her life further entangled with his when she learns that her new boss, Nolan, was also his best friend. Could this handsome but evasive pub owner have something to do with Brody’s death?

Trying to piece together the events surrounding Brody’s death proves to be a daunting task, but Harley can’t give up. Brody won’t let her. He is still in the apartment with her, trapped in limbo until she finds his killer.

But he’s not waiting for revenge.

Harley's next.

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 About the Author
Author Bio:
J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in Apopka, FL with her husband and their menagerie of animal children. 
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Make sure you don't miss out on the Mini-Episodes located on J.A. Howell's Website!! Wait though! The episodes are password protected! How do you unlock them, you ask?
Simply by following the blog tour!! Each stop has a shamrock like this one on it, with letters in Blue, Yellow, and Red written on them. Keep track of the letters, and what color they are, and by the end of the tour, you'll have 3 passwords!! Below is the link to each episode and what color belongs with what episode! I've also included previous stops along the tour so you can go back and find the letters needed for the passwords.  Have fun!!!

First Password (Blue)-

Second Password (Yellow)-
Third Password (Red)-

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