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

Thursday, 4 August 2016

I Am Currently...

Loving: That my garden is producing the most tasty peas, beans, and carrots. I can't wait for the tomotoes. It's a universal truth that a toasted bacon and tomato sandwich enjoyed with a cup of tea can fix anything. 

Reading: Reader, I Married Him. A collection of short stories edited by Tracy Chevalier, inspired by that epic line from Jane Eyre.  

Watching: I just finished season one of STRANGER THINGS. My thirteen-year-old son and I made a ritual of watching one episode (okay maybe two) every night. I loved the 80's references (JAWS poster, Tupperware, music...) and my son liked the sci-fi angle stating, "This is better than X-Files." 

The kids steal the series. They have cool bikes with lights and walkie talkies and play Dungeons and Dragons in the basement and call each other jerk face. And holy Hannah, everybody smokes! And don't even get me started on the fabulous hair and clothes. I miss the 80's, a time when people weren't bent over their cell phones. The series ends with some lingering questions, leaving room for a second season. I'll be listening to Duran Duran while I wait.

Thinking about: What to make for supper. Seriously. Every single night. Why is meal planning so hard? Please send me your 'family favourite' recipes.

Anticipating: Launching BLACK FRIDAY, the sequel to NIGHT SHIFT, my YA paranormal mystery series. I've been working on these books for eight years and I finally decided to self-publish the trilogy. It's been a sharp learning curve as an Indie author, but totally worth the result. My heart is so happy they're finally real books out in the real world. Check out the Pinterest board.

Here's the cover I made for Wattpad, the official fancy pants one from the designer will be revealed in style in a few weeks!

When a shocking letter of confession from beyond the grave makes Daniel and Mary question everything they thought was true, he desperately enlists assistance from a dubious source. However, his hope is soon shattered when new clues reveal the disturbing truth of Mary’s past—a truth that may destroy them both.

Wishing: Netflix would make a series out of the Night Shift. But who would play Daniel? Any suggestions?

Making me happy: Yoga. It helps my writer brain, plus my hip flexors have never had so much attention.

How about you?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Cover Reveal for HEAR THE WOLVES

It's survival of the strongest in a contemporary, girl-versus-wild middle-grade debut from Fire & Flood author Victoria Scott

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn't be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it's been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight -- it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she's already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn't stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that's tied there -- their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That's when the wolves start hunting them . . .

HEAR THE WOLVES, releasing from Scholastic on March 28, 2017

Scroll down for the eye candy, then enter the rafflecopter contest to win a galley copy!!


Enter the contest! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Who Will Survive NIGHT SHIFT

Who will survive NIGHT SHIFT?

I’m starting an online campaign to promote an upcoming sale of my young adult mystery, Night Shift. I’m hoping to sell enough copies to fund the publishing costs of the sequel, Black Friday. In order to promote this event, I’m using a platform called Thunderclap to flood Twitter and Facebook with links to the sale.
Thunderclap is a new website that allows people to pledge a Tweet or Facebook message all on the same day—and at the exact time—in order to achieve the maximum effect. It’s kind of like an online flash mob to drive potential readers to check out Night Shift.

Click this link to my Thunderclap page and chose either “Support with Tweeter” or “Support with Facebook” or both! It is completely safe and will automatically post one message on your behalf. Then add your name to the Thunderclap and on July 18th everyone that has signed up will automatically post a link to the message about Night Shift and help spread the word about the sale!

Never underestimate the power of one click! With your help thousands of people will be checking out Night Shift!

Why am I using Thunderclap?          

Night Shift is self-published so I’m responsible for paying for the editing services, ebook formatting, and cover design. In addition, I’ve been promoting Night Shift on my own, taking the paperback editions to bookstores to sell on consignment and organizing online contests and giveaways.
With Thunderclap, I have the ability to reach many more potential readers. I’m hoping the spotlight on Night Shift will engage a large enough audience to help me fund the publishing costs of the sequel, Black Friday
I need 100 people to sign up or the Thunderclap won't happen,so click on this link and create some good karma.

Thank you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...