Elizabeth Bennet Syndrome

This is so entertaining.

Fionna Guillaume: erotica for sophisticated readers

So I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately – what a surprise! And something struck me. Not for the first time, but for some reason I felt the need to define it, and respond to it. I call it: The Elizabeth Bennet Syndrome.

Here’s what it is (and you’ll surely recognize this plot point right away): that typical – almost expected – part of a romance novel, when the two main characters are just getting to know each other. And instead of hitting it off, they actually start out disliking the other. Sometimes mere annoyance or discomfort due to unfulfilled sexual tension, but often full-on “I can’t stand you” confrontations. Yes, just like Lizzie Bennet and her hate/love relationship with the inimitable Mr. Darcy, of Pride & Prejudice fame.

darcy-and-elizabeth-e1313521962809 The smoldering eyes, the sexual tension, the money… Of course, it takes several dramatic hours before the actually…

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Five Tips for Writing Dialogue

Dialogue is probably my favorite part of everything I write. It’s how I avoid exposition (which I hate) (No, seriously, hate) By getting my characters to reveal their settings, thoughts, and circumstances, the pace of my writing stays where I want it; At a brisk clip.

1. Get your characters to say what you don’t want to write

Because, honestly, they have a job to do. The author should not have to do everything.

We will use my new release Brother’s Keeper as an example mine since it’s easier to ask for my own permission. It’s a sequel. In the first novel, I introduced the world, including an alien race called the Brax. There could have been a lot of repeating of information.

Here, I use dialogue to convey simple facts a reader should have about the Brax going in. They are a very traditional and matriarchal society.

They turned right into a side corridor where Sandoval was waiting with his updates. The olive skinned man had a few years on Bryson, and plenty of experience in surveillance.

He should be running his own house by now, but he had no interest in command. “Laine reported in last night. She’s secured the evacuation site.”

“Excellent. Did the Braxian settlers get transport?”

They began to walk three wide down the long corridor. “Um, about that, Sir.” The taller of them looked uncomfortable. “They wouldn’t go.”

“Wouldn’t go?”

“Maroe, the matriarch, has decided this is safer. She won’t take her settlers anywhere.”

This conversation is basically a Sitrep for the reader. You get a glimpse of the Brax, and a line on where one of the characters are at the moment.

2. Dialogue is critical to story pacing.

In my case, the urge is always to speed things up, but there are moments (like love scenes) where you need to slow it down, let the momentum build up slowly.

Short, clipped sentences convey actions, speed. When I get somewhere that requires a softer touch, I’m still trying to run when I should be walking.  I just can’t slow down, and it seems to work for me. Here’s an example of short, fast-paced dialogue that sets the pace.

“I’m not a reporter. I’m no longer a princess, as you loved to call me. So, what am I? A rebel? A traitor?”

“You’re you.”

A fleeting anguish twisted her gentle expression into a fearsome frown. “That’s not enough, Bry. I have to have purpose. My work was what I had, until….”

“Until me,” he finished.

At this moment, the relationship is very unbalanced. She’s all in and he’s running scared. This is communicated most effectively in dialogue. She’s sharing. He’s not.

3. Do they all sound like me?

This happens to all of us, so let’s not indulge in denial here. I find at least one passage in every edit that was written in a flurry and sounds completely bland.

Dialogue must be read aloud during an edit. Every character should sound distinct. If you read it back and the only distinguishing difference in the way each person speaks is how you hear it in your head, then read it again. If there’s nothing that visually sets them apart, a reader will not be able to follow easily.

4. How your MC sounds will reflect his reality to your reader.

Typically, I write military men quite a bit. How do we all think they sound? Short, brusque, and all business, right?

That’s not wrong. It’s pretty close to the truth actually.

Gender plays a huge role in how a character sounds to a reader. Men tend to be more sparse and concrete in how they express themselves, the last example illustrates this as well. Women tend to share their thoughts more fluently as Cari was doing.  The young use slang. The elderly use outdated and out of use phrases. Young children have less vocabulary.  Everything can be a factor when you are trying to write realistic dialogue for a character.

5. People pay attention to what the characters say.

We’ve all heard it. The odd reader that says, “I skip the fight scenes.” I’ve even heard them say they skip the love scenes.

They seldom skip conversation.

Dialogue breaks up prose to keep the reader interested in these people you’re spinning into a tale. It’s one of the most crucial tools in your toolbox for creating a break, moving it along, or just sharing boring information with the reader in a more interesting way.

Take your time with it, and your reader will, too.Jolie Mason

Jolie Mason writes speculative fiction, mainly sci-fi romance. You can see her work at https://future-fairytales.com/

Her newest release, Brother’s Keeper, was released on June 20th.


Grab your pens, Spinners!

It’s time for a  random writing prompt.

Some people meticulously craft a world before they write a story. Others just discovery write their way down the road until they reach their destination. We’re gonna do something different.

Sit down and let a character walk in. You’re going to let this character tell you about his world in 500 words or less. Feel free to share it with the blog.

You have an audience.

Since we’re giving this group a new “spin”, I thought we’d start off with something encouraging. You have an audience. owl-158411_1280

I do not care what you write, how far out there it is. There is a reader for that work. All you have to do is take a look at the Amazon Best Sellers rankings to know this is true. Someone out there exists who will love your book. The trick is to find them.

When I started I learned quite a bit about starting an author profile, and I’ve retained a lot of those ideas, but I’m making this up as I go along. So will you. Didn’t take long to find a potential connection. Gamer moms.

That’ the most important lesson I learned in those early days; Picture your reader.

When you write, who are you talking to exactly? What is it you want her to take away from this book?

When you know that, you can market in a way that helps you find her, but that comes later… Right now, just get to know this reader you’re writing to. What part of the internet do they hang out on? Do they even care about blogs? Vlogs? Do they want more of this or more of that?

Finding the answers to these questions is the tricky part. I used a combination of methods over time, and none of it came in a user manual. So, as I have time, we may explore these “methods” in a series, but, for now, just look around. Start with your friends, your beta readers, your coworkers.  See if you can see your readers from where you are.

I bet you can. They aren’t usually that far away. They are usually a lot like us.

Happy Writing, Writers!

It’s been a long, long time…

Like that line in a song, it’s been a long, long time, and I thank everyone for their patience. Our family had a big loss, and there was a book to get out. We all know that kind of pressure.

Slowly, I’m getting back into the swing and fighting my way back. So today, that’s what we’re going to talk about. Writing may seem like a linear pursuit, but it’s not. Not even a little.

You write the book. You edit the book. You market the book the best way you know, but life happens. Heck, sometimes the business happens. The book just doesn’t fly like it should. Even writing a perfect book doesn’t guarantee getting that book in front of fans. You have to network those fans slowly. And write the best book you know how.

What’s the first rule of Write Club?rocky-meme-generator-even-champions-take-a-beating-f86385

It’s not don’t talk about write club. It’s never give up.

Your book is out there in digital in perpetuity. It’s not going anywhere, unless you pull it. When you have a flop, and you’re going to have a flop, you keep writing. Keep moving forward. If you decide you hit the publish button too soon, pull it. Rebrand it. Rewrite it. There are actually do overs in this business.

Start at the foundations.

The bottom of every good novel, of every successful career, is the foundation of good craft. This doesn’t mean you have to compare yourself to everyone else. It doesn’t mean to weigh yourself in the balance and find yourself wanting. It means keep learning.

There are resources that can teach you what you need to know. I’m fourteen books into a writing run, and I cannot tell you how often I google basic junk. Okay Google: is it sceptical or skeptical? Being a writer isn’t something you are because you say so. It’s a practice every day, like musicians.

Writers sign up to be students for life. There are no short cuts. You just keep punching away at the goals, and you train. Train like you’re a contender.

Jolie Mason grew up on the Mississippi river in a town the size of a postage stamp, moved away, and came back again to live in New Madrid, MO as so many do. She lives in a haunted house with three kids, two insane cats, and one neurotic dog.

She has published her Home in the Stars series on Kindle and other formats, and followed with her 47th Lancers in the same universe. Her current focus is in the genre of Science fiction romance and space opera because of her enduring need for a second season of Firefly.

For more updates, look for Jolie on Twitter and Facebook.@Rwjoliemason

No rest for the weary; making your author platform run itself.


As of July, we had a family situation that I knew would interrupt my efforts in trying to grow my author platform. Today, I’m passing on some shortcuts that can help you, not just in a crisis, but every single day.

When you’re forced to take a step back, it can damage the work you’ve already done. I know because I asked around. At least two authors of my acquaintance had had to take time off to care for sick family members, and both told me it put them back. So, I started searching for shortcuts that might help preserve the work I’d already done.

The three pieces of your platform that are most critical are:

  1. Your books
  2. Your social media presence
  3. Your blog

There may be nothing you can do about your writing, except try to keep on keeping on, however, the other two have solutions.

Social Media

The quickest fix is to use a retweeter like Roundteam. Set up a hashtag and that keeps your Twitter going, even if it’s just a little bit. Facebook’s a little harder and the most work for me. There’s no easy solution there. Depending on your SM platforms, you can find quick and easy ways to keep them active without you. The best way is to nurture a group of authors who can help you keep active by sharing what you do post. This has been a godsend for me.

The Blog

This requires set up, and then it will run itself. I start at the beginning of the month, if it looks like you can’t keep up for the month. Ask other authors if they can contribute content (which is good for them, and great for you.). In my case, I have a scifirom focused blog, so I need SFR content.

I put out the call, and started pre-scheduling guest posts for the month. It sounds time consuming, but it’s not. I received two press kits for my Future Fairy Tales Feature. Quite a few well known authors volunteered interviews, character posts, or guest posts, until the month was very nearly scheduled.

What does this accomplish? It keeps you current. It keeps you in front of readers’ eyes, and it mitigates the damage that three months or a year can do to your writing platform. For me, it’s three months and counting. Trying to juggle all the balls in the air just doesn’t work. Where there is technology, my advice is to use it.

If you have the time, it’s a good idea to schedule the odd promo event. Work with some of the authors you’ve networked and plan group events. Run the occasional add. Do a Bookbub. That helps to keep those Amazon algorithms looking your way.

Life happens. You don’t have to walk away from it completely. You just have to get creative.

Rookie Writer Mistakes: Is this really necessary?

Jolie Mason

Hi, I’m Jolie, and I’ll be your blogger today.

Indies get judged pretty harshly. We all know it, even if we’re slow to acknowledge it. As such, we have more to prove. In my new series, I want to explore writing craft on a very basic level, and cover very basic dos and don’ts that many Indies miss.

Is this really necessary?

Yes, now close your eyes. Close em. You heard me.

Pretend your father was a welder. Just do it. Okay, your father was a welder who came from a long line of very prestigious welders, and all your life you wanted to be a welder just like your dad. You wanted the same level of respect your father commanded.

Everywhere he went someone wanted to pick his brain about welding or he received an award for his award winning welding. Just go with it. He was a man with the professional respect of his peers because of the professional quality of his welding. You wanna be that guy. Where do you start? Not at the top, I can assure you.

You see in welding, much like in any creative endeavor, the results are all that matter. Is your structure good? Will it hold? Is it pretty? Is it to standard?

Just like your father’s reputation in the welding biz won’t secure you professional acclaim, so it is with writing. Just writing a book won’t do it. It has to be a good one to attract readers, and, no, it’s not gonna sell itself.

Is this the x files?

Remember Scully and Mulder, the main characters of the long running scifi series the Xfiles? Well, they each had a function in the storyline. Scully was the skeptic, and Mulder wanted to believe. Those were their roles. One questioned everything, and the other really wanted the answers to be amazing.

Our writing is out there. Trouble is that too often we aren’t our own Scully. As you’re writing that amazing, groundbreaking work in progress and facebooking your word count everyday, you ask yourself a lot of questions (writers are riddled with self doubt), but are you asking yourself the right questions? I submit that the most important question you ask yourself, especially in editing, is; Is this really necessary?

Is that character doing what’s necessary to move my plot along? Do I even need this scene? Is everything I’m saying exciting and moving my story  to its end? How is my structure?

We’ve all done it.

You know you have. You write the scene, get to the end and delete that sucker for the sin of offending your very eyes. What do you throw things away for most of the time? I would bet you throw it away for being predictable or trite.You punish your writing for being too unoriginal. Here are some of examples:

  • The Journey Begins- You open on a road going somewhere. It’s an epic journey. There’s swelling music playing behind the MC, and this is gonna be epic. WHY? What’s set to happen on that road, and why didn’t you just start there in the first place? Readers aren’t going to stick around for slogging through mud, rain and expositional thoughts. Not for long.
  • Blow it up! Blow it all up! – (I admit this one is mine.)  I don’t know what to do. WELL, clearly it’s time to spode something! Look, I love gratuitous explosions as much as the … okay, more than the next guy, but it’s about more than the big bang. The big question is why am I blowing that base to smithereens, and does it make my story more compelling? Or, does it just make me feel good because I live about an hour away from the nearest latte?
  • Flashback! – For the love of God, don’t do unnecessary flashbacks. Okay, if it’s central to the story, and I NEED to see the events in Hondurous in 1972 to truly understand the character, I can do that. However, I do not want a dry recitation of family history leading up to the epic saga that is your story, and keep it short. I’ve got a ten page rule, so you have ten pages to keep me interested. That’s pretty standard for the average reader.


And, know your job. Is your book meant to enlighten, entertain, inform?

I write primarily to entertain. My crowd is the escapist audience, and these kinds of readers want it banged out to the cheap seats, typically. An enlightened audience is looking for intelligent conclusions and deep thoughts. Students want information on a subject, and they want it reliable.

If you’re asked to boil your book down to the bare bones in one sentence, what do you say? That tells you a lot about who you are writing for, and there is nothing wrong with writing our books to that purpose. You aren’t less of an artist for knowing your audience and what they want. You’re a better writer, and that’s all that matters.

As always, the opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Alliance of Self Published Authors. They are the author’s alone.

Spotlight Thriller


Tony Logan is a destitute ex-professional photographer who has watched his flourishing business disappear under the wave of the digital world. He’s lost his shop, his wife, his flat and his dignity to the new technology. Reduced to living in a dirty bed-sit with drug-dealers and hookers and addicted to online porn, life really can’t get any worse for Tony.

A chance discovery of an old undeveloped film from the 1970’s and the intervention of his sister sees his life begin to improve. When Tony develops the old film, he realises he has opened a veritable Pandora’s Box.

One photo, in particular, will thrust Tony and his siblings into a frightening adventure to try and uncover what really happened to their parents.

A centuries old curse and a genealogy book will pit Tony and his sisters against Witches, Demons, an Unfrocked Priest and all types of dark magic. Were their parents truly dead? From the 1300’s through to the present day, Tony will try to unravel the mystery of that one photograph.

A page-turner that will keep you riveted right until the very end.

The Photograph was one of five books short-listed for the Books Go Social – Best Self-Published Book of the Year Award 2016.

Grant Leishman is a retired journalist and self described New Zealander expat now residing in the Phillipines with his family. He tends toward speculative fiction, and loves his new improved life of writing full time. The photograph is available as an Amazon exclusive in digital format. 

Spotlight Romance


Eve Taylor decides it’s time to move on from the past. After all, she has a wonderful boyfriend, who came with two great children. She has a fantastic career, and has achieved all her personal goals and dreams.
To cut all ties to the past, she must return to the small rural town where she grew up, to sell her parents farm – a job she’s been putting off for a long time. She has no desire to go there, not when her boyfriend Grayson is spending time with the world’s most gorgeous movie star.
Then, there’s Steven. Everyone says they were destined to be together, but Eve didn’t love him that way. She’s been avoiding him and his feelings for her for years. But when Grayson unexpectedly dumps her over the phone, Eve reconsiders. Could Steven really be her destiny? Can he fix her parents crumbling farm, and mend Eve’s broken heart too? 


Suzie Jay is a prolific writer of romance from Adelaide, Australia and an active member of the Alliance of Self published Authors. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon.

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