Peek at the Process: Six of my favorite writing tips!

Hey, everyone. This post is going to be pretty short, because I’m working against a deadline. I wanted to hop on here and share six of my favorite writing tips. Three for writing battle/fight scenes and three for general fiction writing.

Three things to help write a compelling battle scene:

  1. Pull in all of the senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. You might wonder how, but it can be anything from yelled insults, noticing the size of the opponent, blood in the mouth from the hero being hit, the feel of the hilt of a sword in the palm, to the scent of the dirt the hero’s face was just shoved into.
  2. Choose 1 POV character for the scene and stick with them. This is especially important if you have multiple POV characters in your book. This character is who your reader will experience the fight through.
  3. Don’t be scared to almost kill off your POV character. Near death is good in books.

Three things to help improve your general fiction writing:

  1. Whatever emotion your character is feeling, the word for the emotion should never enter into the scene. If your character is scared, have the hair on their arms raise, their heat race, stomach knot, a cold sweat slick their brow. Show us how they feel!
  2. Write each scene from the POV of the character with the most to lose. If you only have one POV character, challenge them! Even if they’re the only one in the scene, you need to make it difficult on them, even if it’s a phone ringing every five seconds while they’re trying to get a moment to run to the bathroom.
  3. If you run into a scene that has you puzzled, and writing sprints aren’t cutting it, get up and try acting it out. Physical movement and verbal speech activate more of the brain and may help you shake loose some new ideas.

Thank you for reading and happy writing!

Sincerely,

Justina

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hey, everyone! I’ve been writing my days away and recently submitted three new books to my publisher. (I’m currently writing another 2 right now and editing 2 more.) Which is why I haven’t been able to post in a while.

As y’all know, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I hope you have a wonderful day. Whether you celebrated with friends, family, or a special someone, I hope you felt the love. My Valentine’s Day was spent in book world as I had a new release. I’ll be back to posting normally in the near future (trying to come up with a new game plan of what to post here), but in the meantime, I’m excited to be able to share my latest release with you, Cherry’s Marshmallow Float! This sweet little book might just be the cherry on top of your day. To order your copy, click here.

Excerpt from Cherry’s Marshmallow Float:

Chapter Eight

8:35 p.m. July 1, 1971, Pattens, Idaho

Dinner passes with Nanna making most of the small talk from their side of the conversation while Cherry looks on, trying not to drop tomato sauce onto her pale blue top while she toys with her food. Why didn’t I wear something darker?

With post dinner coffee behind them, Cherry helps Nanna from the table while Gianna claps.

“I have the best idea! Cherry, you must be exhausted from pushing Nanna what, four blocks, right?” Before she can open her mouth, Gianna continues, “Right! Bernardo, my love, my king, my husband, be a doll and follow me.” She hurries out of the room and takes Nanna’s wheelchair with her.

With wide eyes, Cherry lowers Nanna into her seat and scurries after them. “I need to be a part of this conversation!”

By the time they stop, they’ve rounded the house out front to where a long low car with tall fins in the rear sets.

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Books: The Unlimited Tails Series, Reindeer Tails

Hey, everyone! To those celebrating, I would like to take a moment to wish you a happy and safe Hanukkah. Myself? I’m looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home.

This time of year, I invariably look back on the highs and lows I’ve experienced, but this year I’m pulled back even farther. This time last year I was mourning the loss of a beloved family pet. I had my cat Sassy for 17+ years. She was my near constant companion and shadow. I’m sure some of you will remember the post I made about her passing and the pair of kittens my family adopted a few weeks later. The three of them are my inspiration for my story Forever Home in the charity anthology Reindeer Tails.

In this season of giving, I was blessed to be able to take part in this project. As an animal lover, not only do I appreciate the need of homes for animals without them, but I understand the impact the right animal can have on the right person. They connect people who might never have met otherwise and bring cheer when it seems like there isn’t much to smile about. They say a pet never hurts us until they leave, and it’s true. So, when I heard about this fantastic anthology benefitting a cat shelter, I knew I had to take part. Though my story is fictional, the memories I shared in it were my own. I don’t know if a piece has ever had me crying so hard with each word I wrote. The story has a happy ending, much as my own pet story ultimately did, but sometimes we have to face our memories to come to a place we can accept them. I don’t think I’d have been willing to revisit some of my memories for any project, except this one. If you’re looking for a great read benefiting a worthy cause, I hope you’ll check out Reindeer Tails. You can grab your copy by clicking here.

Excerpt:

“Gram?” I mumble, my vision blurry in the low light of the dying fire as a thump pulls me from sleep. I lie on the couch, a blanket tucked around me. Sitting up, I rub my eyes and switch on the lamp beside the couch. “Gram?” I say a bit louder.

The couch cushion at my feet shifts and I twist, my jaw dropping. Two massive, lemon colored eyes watch me from a fluffy gray face. “Cassy?” My heart soars before it drops into my shoes. I jiggle my head. “You’re dreaming. Cassy is—”

“Gone? If my being here is weird, let my words sink in.”

I yelp and scramble backward to tumble off the couch. My head hits the carpet and I wince. “Ouch.” I rub the back of my skull. “At least I’m awake now.”

“You have been for a while.”

I jolt to find Cassy perched on the backrest of the couch, her long fluffy tail curled around her paws. When she hops into my lap, I open my mouth to scream.

“Do you want to give Grammy a stroke? Stop yowling and listen!” She slaps a paw onto my lips. A hint of claw tickles me. “If you’re surprised, imagine my position. Imagine the biggest bag of catnip you’ve ever seen. Mine. Then I got a call from the head honcho because you’re messed up.” She licks her paw to clean her ears. “Plopped me here without discussion. Though, being able to speak your language is nice. This way I don’t have to tell you the same thing five hundred times before it registers.” She glowers at me, her same resting hiss face in full force.

“How is this possible?”

She swishes her tail. “Someone, somewhere, likes you. You don’t think I’m a crumb of underdone potato?”

Something lodges in my throat while my lip trembles and I reach to scratch behind her left ear.

Purring, she tilts her head in my palm before headbutting my chin. “I missed you too.”

I pull her to me and burry my face in her fur; it has the same sweet earthy scent I remember. “You’re here?”

She licks the tip of my nose. “You got it. Alright, I’d love to stay here but we have places to be.” She gives me a final headbutt and hops off my lap to saunter to the front door.

“Where are you going?” I scramble after her. “Why do you have to leave now?”

“You realize I didn’t mean the royal we, right? You’re coming too. Or can you not grasp your own language either now?” She tilts her head at me. “Come on, I need your thumbs for this.”

Thank you for reading!

Sincerly,

Justina

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Peek at the Process: Trying New Genres.

Hey, everyone! I hope those of you who celebrated had a fabulous Thanksgiving and that everyone else had an awesome Thursday. Today I’m going to be talking the fun, good, and the terrifying parts of trying new genres.

As some of you know, I wrote my first clean horror book not too long ago, The Compact. My publisher thought horror couldn’t be written without cursing and I enjoyed proving that it can be.

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