January Writing Tip 4

Funnily enough, this was a hard one for me to grasp in recent years.

As someone who wanted to write for Harlequin, I literally entered their So You Think You Can Write competition as a newbie author with no know-how whatsover. I wrote the kind of novel I thought they would want.

When I didn’t make the cut, I looked at my novel again and rewrote some of it. But it still had that Harlequin vibe. My second contemporary romance I wrote again for a Harlequin writing competition. I made it to the top 5, but didn’t win. That novel was also geared towards the publisher and though I cared about the story (like I do with all my writing), it wasn’t like this quote from Laini Taylor.

The Wolf’s Choice became this quote for me. If I walked into a bookstore or if I was browsing online in an e-bookstore…what book, what story will intrigue me?

It took me three books to get to a place as an author where I’m more interested in writing stories for myself than what I think I publisher wants.

Nothing wrong with that.

It just didn’t work for me.



On Novel: My Writing Process with JC Layne

On Novel: My Writing Process


Author JC Layne


Image_1 JC article photo

You know that quote from a poem by Robert Burns that says, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” For me, this quote says it all!

The following diagram explains my writing process:

JC High Level Writing Process

Usually, the story comes first and then the characters develop as I write. The story may begin as a passing thought or idea and then it grows; i.e. I knew a production studio could be a wonderful setting for character interaction. Don’t be surprised if some characters take on a bigger role than planned!

I start with a high level outline of the story line, jotting down ideas like major scenes, ideas or events that I want to happen in the story. I don’t use any specific structure when I write, I’ve found that everything flows better if the story organically develops. I’m very left-brained about things and if I have a strict outline, I feel like I have to force the story into that box. The result SUCKS!

My characters guide my story to where they want it to go. None of my books have ended up like I expected. Initially, I fought where the characters were taking me when writing Perfect Timing, but ultimately, they won out. That book and Missing a Beat turned out much darker than I intended. Parts were difficult to write, but I think the stories ended up better than my original ideas!

I like readers to know characters’ quirks, humor, their habits, etc. Most start with a blank slate, but for certain characters, I may have a strong idea of what they will look like. For instance, Mitch in my Back on Track series looks like a particular musician that I love.

I keep a list of all characters and their details. Physical attributes like hair color, eye color, height, etc. Then, other attributes like nervous habits, laugh, facial expressions. Finally, anything I’ve mentioned like parents’ names, birth dates, ages. I learned the hard way that not keeping track as I go causes a lot of wasted time to find details.

People ask if there are specific places or times when I write or if I have rituals or quirks. I write when the creative juices are flowing, whether that’s at lunch on my day job or in the evenings. Some days, I couldn’t write a sentence if I had to. I just walk away, rather than get frustrated. When I write, I do talk to my characters…and yes, they talk back. So, either I’m not very stable, or my characters are pains in the ass!

Advice for new writers:

  • Don’t force anything, let your imagination work.
  • If you’re blocked, walk away, then come back to it. Again, don’t force it.
  • Just get it down on paper! Don’t leave it in your head. Getting something down is better than forgetting the idea. It doesn’t have to be good…it just has to be captured.
  • Pay the money to have your work edited. Not just read through, but edited. You’ve put your heart and soul into it…let it be correct. Books that have typos and grammar issues detract from the story. There are some reasonably priced editors out there. (If you need an editor, please shoot me an email and I’ll give you my editor’s info.)
  • Find a great cover artist! Covers are the first things the reader sees. (If you need a cover artist, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the info for mine.)


I am an indie author. I haven’t ventured into the world of publishing companies, sadly because I’ve heard so many horror stories. Perhaps one day I’ll give that a try, but right now, I’ll stay self-published. Whatever you choose, be true to yourself. This is your baby…don’t forget that.


Feel free to message me on Facebook or email me if you have questions. Good luck on your future venture! Kick ass!!!


Image_1 JC

Author Bio:

J.C. Layne is a relatively new author with three books under her belt so far. A bit of an author conundrum, she has a very left-brained degree from the University of South Carolina and spends her days swimming around in numbers. But, her right brain demands to be heard…and now it is! For 12 years, J.C. has interviewed bands and written articles and CD reviews for various music publications. Her love and knowledge of music combined with her love of books led her to write fiction about hot rock stars and falling in love.


Image_1 Face in the Crowd Cover

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*Thank you Jennifer, I really enjoyed reading your article. There are real diamonds for any author, aspiring or published.

On Novel: My Writing Process with Brenda Kuchinsky

On Novel: My Writing Process

BY:  Brenda Kuchinsky, Author and Clinical Psychologist

 Image_1 Brenda

I don’t outline and I don’t plan anything formally.  I start off with a kernel of an idea, revolving around a character.  Then I daydream and dream quite a bit which helps other characters emerge as well as plot lines.

I have to say that I began to meditate successfully in 2013, using the Transcendental Meditation ™ technique.  I had never been successful at meditation before.  This worked for me, doing it at home for twenty minutes twice a day with my own private mantra.  I am convinced, in retrospect, that meditation led me to writing for the first time since high school.  Several careers and postgraduate work in several fields as well as two husbands intervened.  Also, I think low self-esteem and shaky confidence, despite numerous successes in other areas, held me back both consciously and unconsciously.

I now meditate before I start writing.  I first hit upon this as a productive method accidentally when I became seriously stuck and bored with one of my characters in a scene where he travelled away from home to Key West.  I decided to take a writing break and meditate.  Rich imagery rose up unbidden and a second character stood before me, solving my problem and lending incredible depth and suspense to the story.  That’s when I realized that I probably wouldn’t have started my novel if it were not for meditation.  Serendipitous, right?

I write in one spot only.  On the corner of my yellow leather couch with my feet up on the coffee table and my IPhone by my side for instant research, word definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and inspiring pictures.  I had a Lenovo yoga laptop up until last month when I bought my first MAC, which I had been lusting after for quite some time.

So, I’m free form mostly and write an outline about halfway through a book when the characters and plotlines are at the bursting point and I need to organize.  I’m very character driven.  Character comes first and the plot lines devolve from that.  I also read that way.  Plot driven novels with cardboard characters bore me, no matter how great the plot. I’m writing the third book in a series, Time’s Haunted, so the same characters keep popping up. However, there are several intriguing new characters.  Sophia, the protagonist, also travels and in this one she goes to Buenos Aires.

I’d love to hear from people.  Happy writing and reading.

Times Harlot Brenda

Website: brendakuchinsky.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/brenda kuchinsky

TW: https://www.Brenda Kuchinsky @yogabrenda

Books available from the website and also Amazon.  Latest: Time’s Harlot: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KKL3YJ

Check out Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Brenda-Kuchinsky/e/B01KM69002 for Bio and blogs, etc.

Goodreads author

Bookbub partner

Dance of Love Tour


It’s here! Dance of Love’s first anniversary tour! *pops some sparkly*

$20 Paypal cash is up for grabs. Follow the scheduled stops to be eligible for the ‪#‎Giveaway‬. Also don’t forget, Dance of Love is on discount at Amazon and All Romance eBooks! ‪

#‎DanceofLove‬ Come join the tour!

Here’s the schedule for the virtual tour stops:

June 2nd: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

June 4th: Promo Post @ Maari Loves Her Indies

June 5th: Book Excerpt @ The Bookworm Lodge

June 6th: Promo Post @ Stormy Night Reviewing

June 6th: Promo Post @ Romantic Fanatic

June 7th: Author Interview @ Bedazzled Reading

June 9th: Promo and Giveaway @ Tome Tender’s Blog

June 12th: Character Interview @ The Book Daily

June 13th: Promo Post @ Bare Back Magazine Blog

June 15th: Book Review and Giveaway @ I Heart Reading

June 16th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

Discount on Dance of Love at Amazon: Amazon and All Romance eBooks.

Only $1.99 at Amazon and All Romance eBooks.

A Novella is not just a Latin American name for a serialized TV show

The more I write the less I know *grin* That`s how it feels like lately, especially now that I`m trying my hand at novellas.

Now there are some who`s asking, what in the world is a novella? And I`m one of those people. But I will get to that question in a minute because before it can be answered I will differentiate between a short story, novella and novel. Not in that order *smile*

The prevalent thought is length. Everyone on the internet seems to be of the opinion that length makes up the most significant difference between the three. And yes length does play an important part, but alas it is only the tip of the iceberg. And if you`re a writer like me, you know in your bones that, that can`t possibly be it! *gasp*

I`ve read some novellas recently and the level of skill required for this type of writing, is astounding. You can either wow the reader with the amount of information and character building you can pack in 10K or have an epic fail. But what also surprised me was this; novellas that were over a hundred pages with a 40K word count. The general consensus is that anything between 10K and 40K seems to be a ‘safe’ count for a novella.

Now novels start at 50K and can go up to 100K.  What does it consist of? It consists of fictional prose; usually having a plot that unfolds by actions, dialogue and thoughts of varies characters. It represents characters and events in real life with less or greater complexity. A novel is easy to indentify since the majority of us have been stuck with one at one point in our lives, whether at school, varsity or a well meaning friend who wanted you to read the next ‘it’ book out there aka Twilight.

A short story in my opinion is the complete opposite of a novel. It is a piece of writing that can be read in one sitting.  My favourite way of identifying it is this: writing depicting a decisive moment in life. It often has little action, hardly any character development, it`s just a snap-shot of life. There`s no complex plot (like the novel). There`s an open/abrupt beginning and often an open or surprise ending. Whenever I think of a short story I always think of The Suit written by South African writer Daniel Canodoce “Can” Themba who was one of the Drum writers (a magazine/paper in the Apartheid era in SA).

So now we get to the novella. First of all I have to say that a novella is not just a Latin American name for a serialized TV show, though I have read it described as an Italian style short tale or narrative prose usually with a moral or educational or satirical nature. Now if you`re like me and you love reading romance novels, you would have noticed this type of story, writing, length have found its way to romance novels. There are e-publishers that actually ask for submissions like this as well as print publishers.

Simply put a novella is this: Fictional prose often set in a brief period of time, such as a day, week or month. It often concentrates on character study. Therefore it`s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. I like to think of it as a ‘short book’. *laugh* Actually that`s what I called it up until I learned about ‘novellas’.

But this is the thing that irks me…yeah it irks me. The exact word count isn`t set in stone. Like I`ve mentioned before it can be anything from 10K to 40K. But there are e-publishers that want between 30K and 60K. The advice I would give with a novella is this, before you write it check the submission guidelines for the e-publisher you want to submit to. There are those who want between 10K- 25K others who would take a 40K etc. And I guess it`s because of this that people place such importance on length.

To me length does make a difference, but execution is much more important. There`s character development that happens over a short amount of ‘time’ and it`s this that carries the story.

Now can we say the novella is the evolution of the short story? Nope. Is it a shorter version of the novel? Yes there`s some truth in that. The novella (aptly named) is closer to a novel than it is to a short story. But it would never just be a Latin American name for a serialized TV show *smile*.

So now my search is over. I`ve found out what a novella is. Now comes the difficult part of putting pen to paper and writing that novella!