Monday, May 26, 2014

Talking About "My Writing Process": The Blog Tour and Baton Passing

Catherine Chant
First, my thanks to Catherine Chant for the invitation to participate in this blog hop about writers and how they put words on the page.

Catherine writes YA paranormal (and Vampire Diaries fan-fiction for the Amazon Worlds program). Her first full-length novel, WISHING YOU WERE HERE, is available at Amazon.

Find info on Catherine and her books at

And now, on to the fun stuff...

What I write...

As Gina Ardito, I write lighthearted contemporary and sensual paranormal fantasy romance. Under the pen name, Katherine Brandon, I write sweeping historical romance. In my spare time (ha!), I also run a freelance editing service, Excellence in Editing.

What I'm currently working on...

I'm deep in the heart of Book III of my Afterlife Series, currently titled, WAITING IN THE WINGS. In this story, Xavia Donovan will deal with a new and difficult spirit, Osiris Cavanaugh, who works in the Children's Services Department of the Afterlife. While watching over a little girl with a terminal illness, Osiris will learn about sacrifice, hope, and true love. Xavia will finally come to terms with the great loss that brought her to the Afterlife and receive a unique opportunity that will require a monumental decision.

How does this book differ from other paranormal fantasy romances?

For starters, most of my characters are dead or dying. It's tough to write a happily-ever-after in the hereafter. To do it three times? Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. But in this particular story, I'm breaking another cardinal rule by including a dying child. It's emotional and nerve-wracking and will totally wring you out. (I hope!)

Why do I write what I do?  

Certain stories call to me. The stronger the lure in my brain, the more certain I am that I have to put that particular story on paper. I've been working on this particular plot line for years in my head, but didn't have the courage to actually write this story. Until now. I thrive on challenge, on continually writing outside my comfort zone. My books are never run-of-the-mill.

How does my writing process work?

I call my writing style, "crack addict." This means I write constantly. When I'm not writing, I'm plotting in my head. I get up in the morning and write what's been percolating in my brain overnight. I print out those pages, take them with me to Le Day Job, and write more on my break, on my lunch hour, and during any down time. I then come home and write some more 'til dinner time. After dinner, I'm back on the keyboard until bedtime. The next day, I start the process all over again.

I edit as I go along. Each chapter has to be as perfect as possible before I can move on. And since I don't plot at all, this requires a lot of rewriting as I get deeper into a story. Why don't I plot? Because I need to be as surprised as my readers about where my story goes. If I know the ending too soon, I lose interest and won't finish the tale. My plotting plan is one question: "Okay, I left my characters here. What happens now?" My characters, working in collusion with my muse, fill in the blanks for me.

I don't recommend anyone emulate my process. It's rough and crazy and goes against most how-to books. But it's the only way that works for me. 

And I think that's what I hope everyone who reads this takes away from this post. Find what works for you and stick with it, no matter how crazy it may seem to everyone else!

And now, I'd like to pass the baton to Kimberly Wenzler, a brand spankin' new author who writes women's fiction with verve and sass. Be sure to check her out and grab a copy of her new release, BOTH SIDES OF LOVE. I know you'll love her and her work.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page:
Need editing services for your manuscript? Gina is proud to announce the launch of Excellence in Editing:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seize Your Joy!

Over at the Classic and Cozy blog today, I'm talking about my first foray into skydiving. You should read it. Just click on the link. Go ahead; I'll wait. Leave a comment if you're so inclined. Then come back here. 

You're back? Good. So, if you read my other post, you know that I mentioned how the Fates were toying with me and I opted to take back control. I learned a lot from that leap. I took back control by giving up control at the most dangerous time in my life. 

Now, if you're in a battle with the Fates and don't really relish the idea of climbing up to 16,000 feet and leaping to the hurtling Earth below, you can find another way to take back control. Find your joy and seize it! With both hands. 

Don't know what your joy is?

Ask yourself these questions:

What makes you happiest?
What brings out your passion?
What relaxes you, inspires you, makes you feel alive?
If you had a weekend to do anything you wanted with no interruptions, what would you choose?

For writers, this joy-seizure is sometimes called, "refilling the well." We pour a lot of ourselves into our stories--emotionally and physically. When we finish our latest Magnum Opus, we need to reboot and reconnect with other parts of our lives. Our joys are as unique as our stories: you'll find authors who love to cook, or have an interest in wine, or needlework, or kickboxing. There are ballroom dancers and swimmers and jewelry makers. Some of us love going to Ren Faires or collecting antiques. We all have our passions, our joys that help us rejuvenate and recharge the Muse. 

No matter what you do in life, you must find that one interest that brings you joy. So, whether it's spending time with your grandkids, singing opera, or hiking, seize your joy. Indulge in it whenever you need to refill your well--even if it's just a few minutes every week. 

Day-to-day life beats us up. The Fates toy with us every once in a while. Find ways to take time for yourself. Even if it's just dancing in your car when you're stuck in traffic. Seize your joy. Shake up the Fates. Take back the happiness that's meant to be yours.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page:
Need editing services for your manuscript? Gina is proud to announce the launch of Excellence in Editing:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You Gotta Have Friends
I've been ruminating lately about life and friendship and how the two co-mingle. Yeah, I know. I'm deep like that.

Like Lucy Ricardo, I better 'splain. 

One of the ways I find inspiration when writing is by checking out famous quotes based on the themes in my story. In my current work-in-progress, I'm dealing with themes of the importance of a person's life. But when I started looking for quotes under the topic of "life," all I found were statements regarding peace and seeking contentment and some versions of placidity. For example:

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." - Mark Twain
"Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even." - Horace

Those are all profound and lovely, but I don't buy it. 

Oh, sure, maybe some days in life are like that: lying on a hammock beneath a palm tree, sipping a margarita and just swaying through the day. But to really live means so much more, in my humble opinion.

If you ask me, I'd say life is a gigantic party. It's bright and messy and heady. A well-lived life isn't about sitting under a leafy tree, seeking contentment while watching the world go on around you. It's about being involved, making a difference for others, and unpredictable constructive chaos. Life is for grabbing opportunities, holding fast to loved ones, and making memories that will last beyond our earthly existence. 

Some might see life as lady-like, all subdued and polite, waiting for someone to notice. Not me. I prefer to think of life as a biker dude with attitude, commanding attention. 

You come into the world screaming and hope you'll go out fighting. And the moments in between are the memories you make of the days you're given. And I'm pretty sure that when I'm on my deathbed, I won't remember too many of my quiet days. I'll be reliving the days where I laughed a lot or cried a lot, the moments that tested me, shaped me, and taught me something valuable.  

And this is where the friendship part of the equation is vital. While reviewing my past days, I'll be thinking about the friends I've had over the years. In particular, I'll focus on my true friends: the ones who stayed with me when my life was complicated and messy, not the ones who only stuck around while my days were grand and easy. I'll always appreciate those who say, "I've got your back" when I'm up against hard times and don't complain that I'm whining when I confess my pain to them. These are the people who matter to me--the people who've demonstrated time and again that I matter to them (not just for what I can give them or do for them but every day--good or bad.)

Writers tend to wring emotion out of words, but if you insist on living your life on an even keel, how can you write a story full of angst and pathos and (dare I say it?) drama? Because that's what readers want in their stories. They want the full gamut of reactions. 

Oddly, when I checked for quotes on death, the results were the direct opposite:

"I am not going to die. I'm going home like a shooting star." - Sojourner Truth

"If you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy and colorful and lively." - Mel Brooks"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." - Susan Ertz

But I sincerely thank Hunter S. Thompson for this quote, which sums it up so well:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"

That's how I plan to go--and I'll be thanking those friends who loved me and the drama of my life for riding along beside me.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: Need editing services for your manuscript? Gina is proud to announce the launch of Excellence in Editing:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dear Erectile Dysfunction Advertisers (with video!)

An open letter to those geniuses behind the ads for Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra.

Dear Sirs,

No need to put "or madams" in this address because, clearly, women are not creating these ads. Wanna know how I figured that out? From the very first sentence you all seem to use. 

The thing is, you start out with something like "She's the love of your life, but your ED is probably not her fault."

Like this one:

Yeah, that's a big tip-off right there for me. 

What a relief to women everywhere! It's his blood flow, not the fact she still "gets" you after all these years. I gotta say, that is the most bizarre non-sequitur I've ever heard in a commercial. 

'Cuz, fellas, we know it's not our fault. Trust me when I say, we females are fairly familiar with the fact that, after a certain age, some of the plumbing just don't work the way it used to. 

And while we're on the subject of age, can someone tell me why the so-called wives in these commercials look so damn much younger than their husbands?

And let's discuss those side effects, shall we? From the more innocuous breathing issues to the four-hour erection (huh?!), I'm thinking most wives would rather skip the risk and settle for a little cuddle time.

Honestly, though. Has the marketing department done their homework with regards to these he-man products? Do you ad guys know who buys most of this stuff? Men in nursing homes! 

So, how about we see some age-appropriate actors in your ads? Those doddering silver used-to-think-I'm-God's-gift-to-the-feminine-gender-but-now-must-rely-on-my-sleek-top-of-the-line-scooter-to-attract-the-babes guys trolling the dimly lit halls for still-breathing widows who opted to skip Bingo after four o'clock dinner on a Wednesday evening. 

Think of it. Instead of "When you're in the mood...", the narrator could just say, "When you've found a live one..."

Sure, it's creepy. But, to most of us, so are these.

No Love (no, seriously. Stop waving that thing in my face!),


For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page:
Need editing services for your manuscript? Gina is proud to announce the launch of Excellence in Editing:

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Handle Bad Reviews

Last week, I posted about online bullies and why you shouldn't classify a bad review as "bullying." So...what should you do if you get a bad review? 

Really wanna know? 

Come closer...




Yes, that's right. Do nothing. 

If you must vent, do so in the privacy of your own home. Cry, scream, throw something. Give yourself one day to wallow in self-pity. Eat chocolate or indulge in a marathon of guilty pleasures. Pet your cat, dog, snake, or hamster. Then, pick yourself up, throw back your shoulders, and toddle over to the keyboard. You've got more important things to do.

What you shouldn't do is react in public.

Do not engage the reviewer, whether or not you agree with their assessment. Do not have a bunch of your friends respond on your behalf. Do not whine on social media about how unfair some reviewers can be.

If, upon self-reflection, you realize that maybe the critic is right about a particular weakness in your story, fix it if you can. If you can't fix it in this book, learn from your mistake and make your next book better.

If the criticism has no merit, why would you spend a moment considering it? Let it go and move on. You have other things to worry about--plot lines, deadlines, cover art, edits...

Why on earth would you waste time on a stranger's opinion? When reading your reviews, act like a reader, not a writer. If the blurb doesn't appeal to you, choose something else to read. You are responsible for your own happiness. Don't let a faceless person with a name like "LuvMeKindleFreebeez" on Amazon determine your worth.

You know what you are. Write on!

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page:
Need editing services for your manuscript? Gina is proud to announce the launch of Excellence in Editing: