Tips to Write Like a Pro

So a couple of months ago I attended another writer’s conference in my area. I’ve meant to share some of what I’ve learned with all of you, so that’s on the agenda for today. One speaker, Brian A. Klems, talked about some tips to write like the pros. I won’t go over all of them with you, since we’ve talked about some of them already. But I will go over some of the ones that stood out to me along with my thoughts about them.

Don’t just open with action, open with conflict

Get your readers hooked from sentence one and sympathizing with your character. And action doesn’t just mean a car chase or an explosion. But the character shouldn’t just be sitting around and thinking. Move the plot forward from the beginning towards the inciting incident and the rest of the story.

Speaking of the inciting incident, it is crucial to your story

It is the impetus to the rest of the story and builds to the climax. For a good example of what an inciting incident is, let’s look at the Hunger Games. The inciting incident occurs when Katniss’s sister is picked for the Reaping and Katniss volunteers to go in her place. The rest of the story couldn’t happen without this event and it sets up the conflict for the rest of the story. The inciting incident isn’t the same as your hook. Your hook is what starts your story and pulls the reader in and gets them asking questions. The inciting incident comes after, unless you are using the Fichtean Curve as your story structure.

Don’t include too many adjectives and adverbs

These don’t work as well as strong verbs and concrete nouns. And adjectives can often be vague. Pretty doesn’t tell us anything about what she actually looks like. And don’t use things like ran quickly, use sprinted, dashed, or raced. Stronger verbs are always better than adverbs.

Avoid passive voice

Passive voice is where the object of the sentence becomes the subject. So instead of “Bob threw the ball,” we have “The ball was thrown by Bob.” If you’re unsure whether a sentence is passive or not, see if you can add “by zombies” at the end of the sentence. If it makes sense, it’s passive and should be changed to active voice. Active voice is easier to read and much more immersive.

Hooks aren’t just for the beginning of your story

Keep raising questions for the reader in each chapter to keep those pages turning.

Characters are a priority and should be complex

Each main character should be unique and memorable. All characters, even the minor ones, need three things; a goal, a flaw, and motivations driving them. This will make your characters well-rounded and drive the plot forwards while creating tension. After all, goals conflict between characters. And without conflict, you don’t have a story. Flaws are important to make your characters relatable and believable to the reader. This is crucial and a good step towards getting your reader to care about your characters.

Watch your verb tenses

Don’t switch back and forth between present and past tense, for example. It’s jarring for the reader and should be something you catch in editing. The same applies to POV. Don’t switch from first to third, unless it’s intentional, such as when writing journal entries versus exposition.

Stay consistent

If you use the Oxford comma, use it each time. If you spell it grey instead of gray, stick to it. If you use OK instead of okay, keep to the acronym. Stay consistent.

Those were the tips that really stood out to me that I wanted to share with you. What do you think of these tips? Do they help you progress? Share your comments below and happy writing!

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Primal Elements Out Now!

Sorry I wasn’t able to get this up yesterday. It’s been very busy for me lately, with being added to the Executive Board of OWS Ink, LLC and the Primal Elements release party that was last Friday! I’m here to talk a little bit about the Primal Elements poetry anthology now that it’s live. And a little bit about poetry in general. Scroll down for my write up on imagery!

I’ve written poetry since I was about 13 or so. I discovered Pablo Neruda through my older sister and I was hooked. Like many youngsters though, I had a hard time really understanding what went into writing a successful poem. Though I wrote them constantly through high school, it wasn’t until college that I really began to blossom as a writer of both poetry and fiction through my classes.

Poetry has always meant a lot to me, so I was pleased as punch to accept the position of Head Poetry Editor at OWS last year. It also meant that I was extremely involved in getting Primal Elements together. From selecting the poems to shaping the final product, I was submerged into these poems and this anthology. And I loved the process! Especially getting to read everyone’s poems.

Primal Elements was inspired by the elements; air, fire, water, earth, and spirit. And even though it was themed, all the poets went a multitude of surprising ways with their poems making for a very diverse and well-rounded collection. Here’s the blurb:


Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. The raw force of these elements is truly phenomenal, but can these extraordinary poets harness their power?


What happens when you give poets an open call to write about the elements? You get a diverse array of poems that touch on everything from loss to the celebration of life, passion, and long lost memories, to the feeling of being at home in a storm. Though each poet wrote about these same five elements, each tapped into different themes and emotions, creating a well-rounded anthology that has something to offer to everyone.


OWS Ink Anthology collection brings you themed poetry from the brilliant minds of J.K. Allen, A.F. Stewart, Dorothy Tinker, Anna Schoenbach, Ed Ahern, Janet McCann, Ynes Malakova, Karla Linn Merrifield, Kerry E.B. Black, Matt Wilson, Rebecca R Pierce, and Stacy Overby.


From the lyrical to the concise, from odes of joy to the desolation of war, you’ll find your next favorite poem in these pages. Grab your favorite brew and settle in to explore Primal Elements today.

Grab your copy today at



So without further ado, here are some excerpts that I really loved.

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And the write up as promised!

Now to me, part of what makes poetry so powerful is the imagery it uses to invoke emotions in us. I find imagery to be a really integral part of what makes me connect to a particular poem really strongly. So I wrote a little bit on imagery, giving some tips and examples here. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think.  Happy writing!


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Interview with Rebekah Jonesy

So we are back this week with another interview. I was lucky enough to edit Moss and Clay by Rebekah Jonesy and I fell in love with this story. Moss and Clay is the first book in the Mab’s Doll series and was just released by OWS Ink, LLC. It’s got great characters, action, and comedy all rolled into one awesome story. You’ll love the characters of Gillian and Pitch, the protagonist and her mischievous kelpie sidekick. Gillian kicks ass while Pitch says a lot without saying a word. Get this book on preorder today. On paperback here.


Here’s the blurb:
A doll, crafted and given a mission by Danu. Given life by human and Fae blood.  First daughter of Mab, Queen of the Fae, Gillian must track down the rogue fae in the Americas and bring them back under Fae Law with only a volunteer kelpie to travel with her.

And no one knows what they’re in for. Not even the gods that sent them.

Get the FREE prequel story here:

Without delay, here’s the interview!



Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a dabbler. And a poker. And an instigator. I like to experiment with lots of things. My brain is always saying “What if?” or “Why?” or “How?” And then I do my best to figure out the answer. I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years and love them all. I haven’t really retired any of them and I use everything I have ever learned to ask and answer the next set of questions. People fascinate me.


Why do you write? How did you get started?

I write so I can see the answers to my questions. Stories are my sounding board. I bounce ideas off of them, through them, and see what I come up with.  I have almost no music appreciation, but I understand why musicians make music. Because the music is playing in their head and they have to work with it to make it whole. That’s what I do. I release the melody locked deep inside of me, and it becomes a story.

That’s not a fun story.  Actually I started in first grade I guess it was. In school we made this book from our workbooks. Rip out the pages, fold them a certain way, cut along the lines, and there was a book with a story and drawings about a little alligator.  The last few folded pages were blank, so I filled them up with his continuing story. Then I cut out more pages, folded them the same way, and kept going. My older siblings, and mom, thought they were stupid and wasteful and kept throwing them away. But as long as I could find paper and pencil I kept writing and drawing.

Basically that continued and evolved until I was living on my own and they didn’t have access to my stuff to destroy. I still kept all of my writings hidden though. Unpacking after another move a few years ago I was looking for a spot to hide my stash when it clicked in my head. I didn’t have to hide it. Any of it.  I was in my 30s and at that point I had two moving boxes full of notebooks. And a few disks of things too. So I sat down and read them. And yeah, most were crap. But some of them were really good. I looked online, found videos and how tos by indie authors, two of whom I am friends with today thanks so much Josh and Joe! And with their recorded advice I started publishing.  But I didn’t tell anyone. Not a soul. It was just me. And, amazingly, I got good reviews.


What is your process like? From idea to finished piece?

The stories sit in my head. They stew, ferment, rot, evolve, grow, and sometimes die, all without ever typing a single word. Some are full stories, some are series, some are just characters. But if I try to outline or plot, they fade away. When I have enough time and peace, I sit down, close out the world, and brain dump. With my novellas I would usually write the whole thing in a day or two. Because once I start it’s almost impossible for me to stop. I’ll forget I have a body. And any time I stop or walk away I have to read back through everything and edit it again, even though I edit while I go.  Once I am done, I get up and walk away, usually for a day. Once I can read it with a clearer mind I started the real editing and rewrites. Then I walk away and do something else. Usually cooking. Maybe a different kind of craft. Then I will sit down with it again and go over it, paragraph by paragraph. After third pass it’s off to the editor. Once it’s sent, it moves to a different folder in my brain. And after my editor is done with it and sends it back I can look at it like a product to be honed instead of my baby that I had to protect and nurture. Then comes the struggle of the cover. Ughhhhhhh. Graphic art is not something I am good at. I much prefer giving a basic idea to someone and having them make something then I will just add or ask for tweaks. After the manuscript and cover is done, some marketing people work necromancy or something like that. Later I am given a link and and I can cheer and share it with my friends and followers.


Where do your ideas come from? What’s your favorite way to brainstorm?

Everywhere. Anything. I’ve written two books based on covers I saw. I’ve written around five from secondary characters in my other books. The idea for my first trilogy started out with an idea to go on a shooting camping trip with some friends. It ended up no place near that. My second one was from a comment a waiter said. The fifth one was from a comment a character said in my book. And on and on. The series I am working on now, the concept of the idea started because of a child character in my romance thriller book. That got the idea of Americanized Irish lore stuck in my head which came up later in a conversation with a fantasy author friend of mine. So anything can spark the idea.

My favorite way is easily by chatting it over with a friend. That leads fairly quickly to actually writing it and it’s cleaner when I start working on it.


Who’s your biggest influence?

Coffee. And friends. I am blessed to have amazing artist friends or all flavors. And their creativity sparks my own and makes me feel more comfortable expressing it.


What’s your one piece of go to advice for other writers?

Write. Write. Write. Just write. Don’t have an idea? Write. Don’t think you can? Write. Work isn’t “good enough”? Write. Keep getting stuck? Write. Doesn’t matter what you write. So long as you are writing. Just shut up and write.


Tell us about Moss and Clay. What inspired you to write this story?

In my thriller romance Dangerous Angles there’s a family. They are Irish American and the parents passed down the old oral stories. Researching that and writing out what they would do really intrigued me. Later, much later, I was chatting with an author friend of mine and I don’t remember what exactly sparked it, but together we came up with this concept of an automaton crafted from magic to hunt down bad guys by following American legends and lore. Like Ghost Hunters meets Puppetmaster.

That stewed in my brain and even rotted a bit. But I trimmed off the rotted pieces and pulled out something new. It had grown and developed on its own over the year and became a story about a doll crafted by Danu, blessed by the sky, and brought to life with human and fae blood who is given a mission to find her lost peoples stuck in the Americas where they are surrounded by metal that they cannot touch or cross.


What’s one thing writing Moss and Clay taught you?

The similarities in myths and how they relate to and are influenced by languages. One example is how many cultures have a story about a water horse. Depending on how the language says “horse” it is either male or female, benevolent or malevolent, and even relates from there how to protect yourself from it. And a lot of myths seem to have a lot to do with how women are viewed in the culture as well.


What’s next on the horizon for you?

I see reds, yellows, oranges- which I am going to say is a sunrise, not a sunset. Either way I am moving forward fast and hard. I have the next three books in my series planned out along with a short or two to go with it. I have a full romance I have finished and will be publishing soon. I have a Patreon idea I plan to go forward with in the near future. And I have my gleefully geeky podcast that is really taking off recently that I have so much fun on. And of course my wonderful new job with OWS Ink publishing.


What’s your favorite food, favorite color, and favorite beverage?

Coffee, coffee, and coffee! Yay!


What’s three things most people don’t know about you yet?

  1. I am left handed.
  2. I am the youngest child of five.
  3. I had West Nile and nearly died from it.


And finally, where can we find you online?

  1. All over!
  9. Newsletter

Rebekah Jonesy knows stuff about things and isn’t afraid to talk and write about it. Outside of the literary world, she is a mad scientist cook, gardener, Jill of all trades, and military spouse. Inside the literary world she is a devourer of books, publisher, and mentor.

“Rebekah has the best kind of rabies”- JD Estrada


Check Rebekah out and grab your copy of Moss and Clay today!

Coming Soon!

So poetry is very special to me. It’s actually what I chose to do my senior thesis on in college. That was an intense experience, though I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am actually the poetry editor for Our Write Side, a lovely resource for both writers and readers (check them out at As such, I had the joy of selecting poems for the upcoming poetry anthology, Primal Elements, coming this June (that’s just next month!).

I had a great time reading all of the submissions and putting together the awesome line up for PE. I even had the honor of having four of my own poems selected for the anthology. The theme for PE was the elements. Fire, water, air, earth, and spirit. You would think that the poems written about these elements would all come out similar, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Each poet took the subject matter a completely different way and some wonderful poetry was the result.

Primal Elements is now available for preorder for just $2.99! Grab your copy here. Prices may rise once it’s released, so now is a great time to buy it.

Since we are talking poetry, here’s a link to a write up I did for OWS talking about getting started with poetry here.  What’s your favorite poem? Why? Share below and happy writing!


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Tips for Writing Love Scenes

So today I thought we could focus on writing love scenes. Love and sex scenes are some of the hardest scenes to write. We need to portray hard to capture emotions and desires. So let’s take a look at some tips for writing these scenes today. Also note, these tips are more for romantic scenes in any genre besides erotica.

  • Make it about more than just sex. These scenes should always advance the plot, not be gratuitous.
  • Create the mood. You do this by your word choice. Don’t use awkward or cliché words or phrases. You do not want your reader to laugh or cringe when they read this important scene.
  • You don’t have to be graphic or too specific. Don’t want to name body parts? Feel free not to. You can even just fade to black before things get too hot and heavy. It’s perfectly fine to focus on the characters’ emotions and the overall sensations rather than a laundry list of naughty actions.
  • Avoid euphemisms. They’re cheesy and/or cliché. Remember when we said we didn’t want our reader to laugh?
  • Build up the tension. This includes building up their relationship and, in sex scenes, building up with foreplay before we get to the main action.
  • Use it to complicate their relationship. After sex, things are different. Use this for tension and much needed conflict in your story.
  • Keep things believable. Sometimes things are a little awkward, like a first kiss. No relationship is perfect, so don’t make things perfect between your characters. Perfect equals boring.
  • Make your characters dynamic. They should change because of their relationship with each other from who they are at the beginning of the book to who they are at the end. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Know the difference between groan and moan.
  • Don’t rush. Remember how we said to build up the scene? Don’t disappoint your readers with three seconds of action.
  • Consider the genre. You’re going to write a love or sex scene differently if you write YA than if you write erotica. Know your genre expectations and how to meet them.
  • Start small and work your way up. What are your characters’ hands doing when they kiss? What kind of kiss is it? Light and airy or bruising with intensity?
  • Use all five senses in your descriptions. What does the MC smell like? What do her lips taste like?
  • Write about both characters. Even if we only have one POV character, don’t neglect to write about what the other character is doing or saying.
  • Don’t drown your scene with too much dialogue. This is not the time for drawn out talk.
  • Show, don’t tell. This is important even in love scenes. Show the emotions instead of telling them. Show how they care for each other or pay attention to each other. Show the sensations the characters are feeling rather than just stating them. Show, show, show.

Those are some tips for writing love scenes. Remember to build up the scene and to show. What are your best tips for writing love scenes? Share below and happy writing!


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Publishing News

So if you’ve been following me on social media, you would have seen my announcement that my debut novel, Angelborn, is being published this year by OWS Ink. I am very pleased to be able to announce this and this post will be a little about the process and where I am right now.

So the process began with edits, which I am currently working through with my editor. Angelborn was extensively edited before I submitted, so we didn’t need to make any major edits, but we did have some tweaks to do. The ending needed to be changed as well as a few other scenes, but I am happy with where it is going. I have also learned to trust my instincts better as some of these changes I had originally planned on writing, but changed for different reasons. I think it’s really important to learn to give credence to what our gut tells us, but it’s also important to listen to and consider feedback. It’s a balance to be made for sure, but ultimately it is your story and you have a certain vision for it.

I am also in talks with my cover designer. To me this is the scariest part of the process as it is such an important part and I have little experience with design. I know what I find pleasant or eye catching, but I am hardly an expert. The important thing to remember is the cover is like an advertisement or movie poster. It’s supposed to sell the idea of the novel and accurately portray the genre, not be something like a scene from the book. That seems to be a common mistake authors make when coming up with book cover ideas that I’m trying to avoid with mine. As Angelborn is also the first book in a series, I have to make sure I keep series branding in mind. My original ideas for a cover were actually better suited to the sequel than the first book, so I had to switch gears. I want them to match and seem like a series, so that’s another aspect to consider in the process.

I am also busy working on getting the sequel ready for publishing next year. Since publishing works ahead of time, it’s important for me to get my book into the queue for next year as soon as possible, so I’ve been working overtime editing that as well. My first reader finished reading it in two days and gave me good feedback, which was great and helped to allay some of those imposter syndrome doubts we all face as writers. So I plan on emailing my publisher the second book sometime this week after I do some final passes.

And that’s where I’m at right now. Busy editing, which can be a trying process, but also excited to see my stories come to life on the page. Keep an eye out for further announcements as we get closer to a release date and let me know in the comments what you’ve been working on.


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Author Interview with A.L. Mabry

Hello! So I don’t usually do this, but my good friend and colleague just released a book of short stories called Darker Daze: The Storms Within. I had the privilege of being able to read this collection as a beta reader and I wanted to share this interview from the author with you all today. Here’s my review:

Darker Daze is a collection of dark short stories. Each story was well contained and the endings, though not happy, were very satisfying! So satisfying! I really enjoyed reading these twisted tales. My favorite was The Next Best Seller. It features a headstrong protagonist willing to do anything to achieve her goals, including black magic. At a close second, and tied, were Beneath Salem and Belladonna. The emotional arc in Beneath Salem was so good and Belladonna did not disappoint in giving the characters what they deserved. If you like short stories, check these out.

And, without further ado, here is my interview with A.L. Mabry.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I am a wife and mother, first and foremost. My husband and I have five kids between us, ranging in age from 17 to almost 21. I went to college for early childhood education and taught preschool for 15 years before changing paths and focusing on my writing.

  1. What drew you to writing in the first place? How did you get your start?


I have always loved writing but I strayed and stumbled back to it. Throughout my teaching career I was using my writing without even thinking about it. I wrote stories, and songs, and even a whole curriculum. Then, when I was struggling with being a special needs parent I found the special needs blogging community. I grew from there discovering fiction writing groups and making the leap back to creative writing.

  1. What is your process like? From idea to finished piece?


I am a non-linear scene writer. I rarely write in order and I tend to do all my big scenes first before stitching it all together.

  1. Where do your ideas come from? What’s your favorite way to brainstorm?


I get inspired by EVERYTHING. People, places, quotes, art and so on. I generally just grab an idea and write a scene. Then I flash out a character and expand that scene and keep going.

  1. What genres do you dabble in and which is your favorite? Your least favorite?


I am primarily dark fiction/horror, fantasy and poetry. I love everything but I could probably live without Sci-Fi.

  1. Do you have a writing ritual to get you in the mood?


Not really but having a chunk of uninterrupted time available and shutting down all access to social media are imperative. I have the attention span of a fruit fly.

  1. Tell us about Darker Daze, both the inspiration for the book and what it’s about.


So, all of the stories in Darker Daze are fiction. However, most of them are inspired by real events in my life. Sometimes the inspiration was a mere second and then I fleshed out the worst case scenario. In one case, I took excerpts from an old journal and unleased my imagination on them.

  1. What’s one thing writing Darker Daze taught you?


I have learned that writing these stories is extremely therapeutic but, reading them is hard. Probably harder for me than you because there are so many little nuances that are only relevant to me.

  1. What’s next on the horizon for you?


I am working on the rewrites for Soul Purge which is slated for release this fall from OWS Ink, LLC.


  1. What’s your favorite food, favorite color, and favorite beverage?


I love potatoes in all its glorious forms. My favorite color is (and has always been) blue. And my favorite beverage is coffeewinetea.

  1. What’s three things most people don’t know about you yet?


-I am a Witch. Like, literally. I am not a big fan of labels but if I chose one it would be “Intuitive Eclectic Witch.”

-I am a survivor of domestic violence.

-I was a (very good!) teen mom.

  1. And finally, where can we find you online?

You can find me at from there you can find all my other links!


So there’s A.L. Mabry in a nutshell. Be sure to check out Darker Daze here.