NaNoWriMo 2014 WINNER Ronda Del Boccio, They All Died Smiling

WINNER NaNoWriMo 2014

I hope you won't consider it bragging when I tell you the news that I WON NaNoWriMo 2014!

How exciting to cross the 50,000 word mark, validate my count and get to the winner's page.

National Novel Writing Month is a great way to commit to writing every day all the way to finishing a first draft of a book.

WINNER NaNoWriMo 2014

THe paranormal suspense novel They All Died Smiling is not finished yet, and I am taking a day off to rest my brain, but then it's right back to the keyboard to continue to the end.

Afterward, I'll go back through and make refinements. A couple of publishers are already interested in it, which astounds me.

I'm humbled and surprised, no matter what comes of it.

Writing 200 pages in a month means producing 6-7 pages every day if you're on a 7 day calendar or an average 10 per day if you take of weekends.  It requires dedication, discipline, and willingness to say NO to things, even when something else may seem more fun at the moment.

Whatever writing goals you set yourself,stick to them and you'll reach your mark.

If you want to know about my next release and get free stories, go to WriteOnPurpose.com/read right now.

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Novel Writing Help: Do Your Characters Have to Cuss? NaNoWriMo Day 26

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Today while working on They All Died Smiling, on my mad dash to 50,000 words this month for NaNoWriMo,  I needed to deal with an angry phone call without suddenly introducing swear words into an otherwise clean book.

Image depicting swearing, but with no actual foul words

At meetings of the Northwest Arkansas Writer's Workshop, when an author is reading their allowed five pages, sometimes there is a cuss word on the page but the author replaces it with something more for a G-rated audience.

We travelers talked about cussing and steamy scenes in writing on the road back home.  None of our group prefers Rated-R type content.

I'm pretty sure I won't ever write a character who drops F-bombs every other sentence. I don't care to read that and certainly have no desire to write it.

More mild cussing I can handle, though I'm happier without it. That's just me. I make no value judgments about you no matter what your preference may be.

The thing is, lots of people swear, and they won't all say "oh shucky-darns." Here's how I handled that in They All Died Smiling for the one scene in which it intrudes into the story.

Artfully Avoiding Cuss Words

Keep in mind that Kassidy, in whose head you are for the entire novel, is the daughter of a Baptist preacher and not prone to coarse talk.

Kassidy never made it to work because she was taken elsewhere. Her boss did not grow up in Maybury.

My cell vibrated for perhaps the fifth time. “Please excuse me, gentlemen. Since we’re on a break, I’d better answer this time. I’m pretty sure it’s my boss.”

Predictably, all the calls were from my editor. I answered. He yelled so loud into my ear it vibrated my head and I couldn’t even understand him. I dropped the phone, fumbled it back into my hand, switched sides, prepared to hold it a foot away from the other ear.

“What’s his name,” Joshua asked.

“Bob Barkley, my editor.”

He reached for the phone, tried several times without success o break through Bulldog Bob’s bellowing. Whence a moment of silence finally arrived, he put the phone to his ear and said, “Mr. Barkley, this is Agent Joshua Hayes of the FBI. Ms. Bates is helping us with an investigation.”

He yelled something a bull leaves behind so loud we all heard.

“That’s twenty bucks in the cuss can, Bob. And it’s the God’s honest truth.”

A pause, then uproarious laughter. “Oh yeah, and I’m the Queen of England.”

He next told me which portion of me needed to make an immediate appearance back at the Trib.

“Just that part? That’s forty bucks in the cuss can, Bob,” I said. “I’m afraid I’m detained.”

His debt doubled again before he slammed down the phone so hard I wondered if it broke. I’ve seen that in movies but never experienced it. I envisioned him stomping around the newsroom giving everyone an extra hard time. I’m in an alternate universe where a normal day has no meaning.

Russ’ mouth hung open.

“He thought I was lying.” Joshua stared stunned at my phone, then handed it back.

The incredulity in his voice, the look on my friend’s face, and Bob’s tantrum acted as a pressure release. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. I suppose I should have been upset, but with everything else in my life going sideways, I truly saw the humor.

Once I had regained composure, I told them, “I feel sorry for the poor folks in the newsroom today. Bulldog Bob is going to go berserk on them over the truth.”

What do you think of how I handled the situation? I hope Kass' natural wit came through in a way that made you chuckle without seeming ridiculous.

Now for the...

NaNoWriMo They All Died Smiling Update:

I WILL cross the 50,000 word mark either tonight or tomorrow, a few days ahead of the November 30 deadline.

Here is my counter:

May your muse continue to inspire you.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author & speaker

You can order all my books on Amazon

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Book Review of The Perfect Victim by Pamela Foster: NaNoWriMo Day 25

People read books to get caught up in a character or a story.

Cover of The Perfect Victim by Pamela FosterThe Perfect Victim by Pamela Foster begins with a birthday surprise that turns out to be much more than Mary or her friend could possibly imagine.

The Perfect Victim is a real-world horror story of love gone wrong. It is a compelling but frightening story that just might make you lose some sleep.

Before I delve more deeply into the review, here is some more about the book.

Here is the synopsis of the book:

When friend Anne "buys" the new deputy for loan officer Mary Brock at the local charity auction, neither she nor Mary know what has been brought into their lives.

At a little over six feet, slim, with wavy blond hair, Billy Joe Wilkins is enough to make most women dream of snuggling on the beach, the ocean's waves crashing rhythmically.

Mary discovers — to her delirious delight — that Billy's lovemaking more than fulfills the promise of the dream. But when his demands begin to include Mary's complete domination, physically and emotionally, it all begins to seem more like a nightmare she can't escape.

But Mary is trapped by her own feelings, reeling between what she knows she should do and what Billy says she must do. She becomes obsessed with escape.

And what about her son? What about Michael? He's being caught in the middle of her emotional tug-of-war. Will he become a victim too?

Can Mary find the courage to take control of the situation?

Praise for The Perfect Victim

"Foster has the gift of painting a scene so remarkably vivid that it's as though the reader has stepped through Alice's looking glass and can see, feel, smell and even taste the world she's created. She offers up characters who are just as vividly present as they reveal their hearts and souls with no reservations. She has one of the most unique writing voices." ~ Lori Ericson, author of A Lovely County

You can read my 5-star review on Amazon

Ronda's Review of The Perfect Victim

.I've read most of Pamela Foster's books. She is one of my favorite writers, and extremely versatile.

The Perfect Victim is a book she wrote a number of years ago then set aside. Returning to it after successfully publishing several books, she said she made improvements and it is now in print.

Deep into character - AKA Deep point of view

Getting into a character's mind so the reader feels involved is important. There are various "levels" of narration. The least engaged is where you as the reader feel the character is telling you a story, as in you're listening to the telling.

As the author goes deeper, the reader experience likewise becomes more rich and engaged. These days, the deeper the better.

Deep point of view means being so deeply inside the mind of the character telling the story that there's no filter between his/her thoughts and perception of the story's action.

Here is an  example of deep POV from Foster in The Perfect Victim. These are Mary's perceptions from  from when the new boyfriend Billy wants to buy her son an expensive pair of shoes.

Black angerbubbles up from my gut. Pain in my molars reminds me to unclench my jaws  How dare he put me in this position?

There's no separation between character and reader, no distinction between thoughts and reaction.

Immediacy

This story has an immediacy most books don't. A big reason for this is that Foster wrote it entirely in present tense.

Here is the opening:

A brew of perfume arises from pulse-points hot with anticipation , the air heady with the estrogen-rich excitement of a girl's night out.

Let me tell you,, while writing in present tense amps up the immediacy and urgency of a tale, this is  not easy to sustain over time. One slip into past tense and the spell is broken.

Emotion

Foster is a whiz at conveying emotion in her books. Here's just one example. It takes place with best friend Ann  wants to warn Mary about her new boyfriend:

I nod, concentrate on breathing, keep my mouth shut so the fear doesn't fly out into the room.

Terror

I'm not kidding when I call this book "real world horror." The situations that come up for single mom Mary as she enters a new relationship are frightening.

The story is likely to trigger fear or panic if you've ever had issues with a control freak or alcoholic.

Billy keeps inserting himself into Mary's life and she's torn between sexual desire and fear because of his control.

Adult content alert

This is a sexually explicit book with a few F bombs and some other coarse language. I mention this so you're not surprised. .

Empowerment

Emotionally charged, frightening at times, t his is ultimately a tale of empowerment at great personal cost.

About Pamela Foster

Pamela FosterPamela Foster grew up in the redwoods of northern California where her family has raised all manner of mischief for eight generations. She's lived on the banks of the Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the edge of the Mexican Caribbean, in the prickly-sticklies of the Arizona high desert, and on the tropical coast of Panama. She now lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas with her husband and his retired PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) service dog.

When she's not writing-or teaching writing workshops-Foster volunteers her time to raise public awareness of PTSD and its effects, speaking at Veteran's Centers and civic groups and facilitating the Northwest Arkansas chapter of INTERACT, a support group for families of veterans.

How to order The Perfect victim

You can order from Pen-L Publishing or buy on Amazon.

NaNoWriMo Day 25 Update

This is an intense writing day for me, and I am loving every minute of writing They All Died Smiling. I blew past the 45,000 word mark a while ago. I should make the 50,000 word goal by Thursday, the 27th.

 

 Enjoy this chilling book and as always, follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author and speaker

FInd my books on Amazon

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Creating a Page Turner with Cliffhangers: NaNoWriMo Day 24

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I'm chugging along in my novel They All Died Smiling, and today I was thinking about how I end chapters. No matter what's happening or what comes next, I like to give people a compelling reason to turn the page.

Perhaps it's because I cut my writing teeth on Doctor Who fan fiction back in high school but I like to leave off with a cliffhanger.

This is called the Zigarnik Effect, named after a Russian psychologist who studied the cliffhanger effect.

Cliffhanger

You hear it all the time: "5 lethal chemicals you have under your sink...news at 11.".

SO today I thought I'd share some of my suspenseful statements:

Chapter One opens with this:

I thought I was just making another Friday night commute home. I had no idea I was about to dance with the devil. Silly me.

and the chapter ends with Kass mentally asking this question:

So why did terror seep into my mind during this time of joy for my friend?

Chapter two ends with impending trouble:

I never imagined the day would turn into an emotional roller coaster. Also didn’t figure it would start me on a quest that would get me chin deep in trouble. But it sure did.

Chapter Three finishes with a chilling thought:

I knew of a similar, equally unexpected situation in another state. Could these deaths be related?

Later, Kass will discover the depth of her trouble:

Because now, the enemy knows exactly who I am.

A little further along, Kass knows she's being watched by a demon:

“Probably just a tree branch bouncing in the wind, or maybe a bird flyhing past the street light. Not much else it could be up this high.”

“Must have been.” No, it was a pair of eyes glowing like smoldering embers, glaring at me.

While crafting each chapter, end it with a strong emotion or the promise of more conflict to come.

They All Died Smiling NANoWriMo progress update:

I'm in the low 40K range, in the home stretch to make 50K words by the end of the month. Here's my progress bar:

I invite you to get my books on Amazon.

Do you have a good cliffhanger to share? If so, add it to the comments.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

# best sellingauthor and speaker

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Authors: Honor Your Own Needs: NaNoWriMo Day 23

Miracle Mindshif tMonth-Shift-Happens

Each day during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I'm sharing some insight that arose today. My book in progress is They All Died Smiling, a paranormal suspense book.

Previously I talked about honoring your writing process. Today is all about honoring your needs.

Miracle Mindshif tMonth-Shift-Happens

There will be days when no matter what your goal or intention, you won't get your desired amount of writing done.

There are also habits that will either improve or detract from your energy and production.

So here are my suggestions about respecting your needs.

Keep healthy snacks around.

Eat plenty of protein.

Rest when you need a break.

Get away from the desk and have fun.

MOVE your body every hour or so.

Get fresh air daily.

Realize that if you're working hot and heavy on a book, other things may slide (like housework).

I hope these tips help you. What would you add?

NaNoWriMo progress

I've passed the 80% mark and am on track to write 50,000 words t his month. It has been an emotional ride because of the nature of my book and the way I write.

Here's my proof of progress:

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author and speaker

You can find my books on Amazon.

 

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Novel Writing: Insights on Writing Emotionally Intense Scenes: NaNoWriMo Day 22

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BestEmotionsThere are times when writing  that you're simply not ready to create a certain scene.

I'm currently writing my second novel, They All Died Smiling. Today I filled in part of a scene I had been putting off for a bit.

 

I'm not a procrastinator when it comes to my favorite activity, so why did I put off writing the segment? Three reasons:

  1. It's a piece of backstory revealed as a memory.
  2. It's intense.
  3. Kass (the protagonist) hadn't told me everything that happened, and I needed that to amp up the emotion.

1. Reverie is often overdone in books and movies, but at times it's necessary. To do it well, the author needs to know the character and the event very well. Sometimes, things need to germinate and grow inside for a while before they're ready to come out.

2. Writing an intensely emotional scene involves me getting into that state. The writer's version of method acting. I go through every memory of my character as a fresh event. It's draining, so I need to be in the right space and have no possibility of interruption (which means late night writing).

3. My characters talk to me (or sometimes not). 3. I know Kass well, including the pain of her past, But as with any painful experience, it's often easier for someone to share the high level overview but not the gritty details.

So late tonight, I dove into that heart-wrenching memory that floods Kass's mind while she's riding the el train in Chicago all the way back in hapter one.

Putting the scene into words meant lots of tears, fear, and betrayal, then it took me a couple hours to go to sleep afterwards.

This scene didn't add much to the word count, but it enriched the reader experience.

I hope this is helpful to you on your author journey.

My NaNoWriMo Progress

I will hit the 80% mark this weekend, yay! Now that I have this crucial memory in place, I'm ready to  get into the most perilous, frightening part of the tale in the coming week.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#q best selling author and speaker

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Novel Writing Help: X Marks the Spot: Using Place Holders Saves Time: NaNoWriMo Day 21

reading birdsgraphic:

I'm well into writing my second novel, They All Died Smiling, and I use a technique I thought might be useful for you.

Did you ever decide you need to add something to a scene, but you're not ready right now?

Maybe you need to describe the setting or add actions to a chunk of dialogue,, but now isn't the time or you're not sure what to do yet.

Novel writing skills: keeping it simple

Writing a novel is a big deal with lots of people, situations, plots and subplots to track. SO keep things simple.

reading birdsgraphic:

Remember, you don't have to write in a linear fashion. You won't always know every single thing that needs to be in each chapter before or even while you're writing it. Sometimes you'll need to fiddle.

The solution is simple: Put a placeholder into your manuscript so you know where to go.

X Marks the Spot: Using Placeholders

I had completed several chapters before I knew exactly what needed to be in that place in Chapter One, and I wasn't ready to write it yet. So I used a placeholder.

I do this often in my work, and perhaps you'll find this tip helpful. It works in nonfiction or fiction.

I use XXXX, but it could be any repeated letter that isn't a word. That way, when you're ready to delve into whatever I've decided to do later, you simply search for XXXX (Find Command) and I'm there.

If you want to get fancy or are afraid you won't remember what you wanted to do, consider something like this:

XXXX-describe castle.

Then simply delete it when you come back to fix it.

I hope this saves you some time.

National Novel Writing Month Progress Report

I'm on trackto finish the 200 pages by the end of the month, in the high 30,000s as of now. THe weekend will be less words.

Stick to your writing goals.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

Find my books on Amazon

 

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Writing In Service of the Story: NaNoWriMo Day 20

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Today, the 20th day of a month-long novel writing challenge,  I consider my approach to the momentous task of producing 200 pages in 30 days.

My progress is over 120 pages thus far.

Abraham Inspirational Quote: "The Universe is not punishing you or blessing you. The Universe is responding to the vibrational attitude that you are emitting." - Abraham-Hicks

I didn't plot and plan for months. I decided on Halloween to participate. The protagonist, Kassidy, came to me with her story, and I know where the book is going. Characters and new scenes surprise me along the way.

Honor your process

Your process is what it is. I make no judgments about whether  you planned for months, complete detailed character sketches, or write by the seat of your pants.

What you receive mirrors your intent and energy.

Expectations shape reality

The task does not feel enormous to me, because each day I sit at my keyboard, open a vein and write, in service of the story and the characters.

By laying aside expectations, hopes for the work, concerns about publishing and the like,

I come to each writing session with a clean energy, a fresh experience.

In service of the story

Being in service of the tale, I am open and ready. I trust my muse, my process, and the work to be precisely what it needs to be.

This has kept me on track for completion on or slightly ahead of schedule.

The power of discipline

Yes, there is dedication. Yes, I say no to lots of extraneous distractions and invitations.

Yes, it is worth all of this and more.

If you are part of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, please hold true to your commitment and give it your best efforts, your best self.

My username is TheStoryLady, and I will gladly be your buddy.

I invite you to receive stories, words of encouragement, and surprises at WriteOnPurposecom/read.

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Ronda Del Boccio

#1  best selling author and speaker

Order any of my books from Amazon.

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It Practically Seemed Virtually Real: Avoid Bad Writing Habits: NaNoWriMo Day 19

Image of power in your hands

It grates on my nerves when I'm reading a good book and come across puny words that waste valuable emotion and say nothing. This is on my mind as I continue working on my paranormal suspense novel, They All Died Smiling

Image of power in your hands

If you're following my progress, wondering if I will indeed write a 200 page book in 30 days, I'm pleased to say I'm on track. Here is my progress bar:

Writers READ

I read at least two books a week (or one biggie). As I'm engaging in the story, I notice technique, because I'm also reading with the senses of a writer.

While enjoying a good cozy mystery, I came across the word "seem" three times. UGH! Seem is on the author 101 list of words to avoid. It's insubstantial, a waste of space.

As I'm writing, my focus is upon pouring out the first draft.I do very little fiddling unless it is to add to a scene. Only in the editing phase will I look through my work-in-progress for weak words.

Here are some examples. Look through every story, article or book you submit exercise your creative muscle to pump up your prose.

Naughty words list

Seem/seemed: Be strong. Say what something is or is not.

had ___ (past imperfect tense):  While at times necessary, one use of had ___ suffices.

Adverbs: This maligned part of speech answers the question "how?" and generally end in ly. Rather than saying "he walked quickly", why not say, "He dashed"?

Is/was/were: Often, you can replace forms of the word "to be" with more potent words. I said "suffices" above rather than "is sufficient."

Passive voice: This goes along with forms of "to be" and deflates your writing.

Talk Tags: While once all the rage, using tags such as "he said" has fallen from grace. Avoid talk tags except where they clear confusion.

Things/stuff: Call stuff what it is. teehee.

Got: Rather than "he got an ice cream", use a worthy verb. Got is the unwanted stepchild of verbs.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a start. Amp up the power.

Most Important Lesson:

Verbs power prose.

Have fun. If you want writing and book marketing tips, go to WriteOnPurpose.com/free for weekly guidance.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author and speaker

Find my books on Amazon.

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Book Review of Daughter of the Howling Moon by R. H. Burkett: NaNoWriMo Day 18

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Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week, I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

Here I am more than halfway through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and still on track with my own novel-in-progress, They All Died Smiling.

People who like my upcoming book will LOVE Daughter of the howling Moon, a .gripping paranormal suspense story of an epic battle between good and evil.

Before I dive into the review, here's my progress for those of you keeping tabs.

Writers need to read.

One of the most important tasks any author can do is to read superior books. Not the old time classics, but modern books that speak to the people in current times.

Daughter of the Howling Moon was an excellent book for me to read while writing my own work in the same genre.

R. H. Burkett is an Arkansas author with a background in theater and a poetic sensibility that adds a layer of intensity to her books that few authors achieve.

I gave her newest book, Daughter of the Howling Moon, a 5-star review on Amazon.

Cover of Daughter of the Howling Moon by R. H. Burkett

What makes this a great story worth reading? Continue reading "Book Review of Daughter of the Howling Moon by R. H. Burkett: NaNoWriMo Day 18"

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Dealing with a Derailed Day when Writing Novel: NaNoWriMo Day 17

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I can hardly believe it's day 17 of NaNoWriMo, I had been making good progress. Lost some steam this weekend with the writing conference, but I had gotten ahead, so no worries.

Today didn't end up as planned. My afternoon got swallowed up dealing with some unexpected time-sucking activities.

Later at night I'm not always in the space for an intense writing session, so tonight, een though I wasn't in the mood, I made myself sit down and work on the book, They All DIed Smiling.

Want to improve your writing skills? Simple. Write More.

I opted not to start into a big scene, but I interviewed one of my characters to get more insight into him, and I added a little to a scene I had wanted to adjust.

It's all progress.

Keep writing, no matter what. Just do it.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author and speaker

FInd my books on Amazon

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What Music Wwould Your Characters Like? NaNowriMo Day 17

Image of music notes

As I'm writing They All Died Smiling,  I get to know the principle characters. I started asking them about their taste in music.

Image of music notes

Kassidy, the point of view character for the entire story, is a country girl who loves country music. She enjoys singing., too  One of the songs in the Kassidy playlist is "Done" by The Band Perry.

Russell is into hip hop and other contemporary rock. "Bring Down for What" and "Fireball" are in his playlist.

And yes I actually have playlists started for them in my Rhapsody account. When I'm writing this book, I tend to listen to  contemporary country music. When I want to get into Russell's personality more, I switch to dance music, hip hop, etc. He enjoys clubbing and may ask Kass to go with him if he works up sufficient nerve.

They have a history.

So, what about your characers? What music do they like

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 Best selling author and speaker

Please drop by Amazon and pick up one of my books. I write a variety of genres.

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Getting OUT Among Other Writers: NaNoWriMo Day 15

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I'm still baking in the glow of winning a bunch of cash and those writing awards yesterday.

Today I was away from my writing desk to attend the Ozarks Writers League quarterly conference. Each time there are speakers helping with some aspect of writing.

Tricia Goyer, author of about four dozen books,  spoke at all sessions. She covered writing and publishing for the Christian market in the morning. This part was of little relevance to me,a s that is not my market.

Regardless, I have huge respect for someone who has been a professional writer for decades and manages to shuffle family, charity, and her craft. I can learn something from everybody I hear speak about writing.

Tricia Goyer has a super popular mom blog as well as bushels of books.

Picture ofAuthor Tricia Goyer
Author Tricia Goyer

Novel Writing Tips

Her afternoon sessions about writing a novel definitely piqued my interest. Here are a couple of the insights I gained from her talks:

Study the structure of movies and take that back into novel writing.

Halfway through a ovie or novel comes a turning point at which the protagonist must make a meaningful discovery and begin a path of change.

The protagonist should meet the problem in chapter one.

If there is a love interest, they need to meet in chapter one.

The hero needs a source of joy as well as a vice, which need to be introduced early in the tale.

Much to my delight, I am on track with all this in They All Died Smiling. the paranormal suspense novel I'm writing this month for NaNoWriMo.

Here's my progress for the book:

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How are you coming along toward your goals?

Keep writing, and as always, follow your BLISS

Ronda Del Boccio

Best selling author and speaker

Find my books from Amazon and enjoy them!,

 

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Ronda del Boccio Wins 4 Fiction Prizes: NaNoWriMo Day 14

Ronda Del Boccio Holding Award Certificates from Ozarks writers League Contests 2014

Entering writing  contests is a great way to get an adrenaline rush. Well, it is at the award ceremony. It's good to put your work up against others'.

There's no finish line or objective measure, so winning or not winning feels arbitrary to some extent, yet having those placements is good to add to your writing credits.

Contest Winnings!

Today I was at the awards ceremony for Ozarks Writers League, and I am thrilled to announce that I won 4 contests for my fiction. It feels WONDERFUL to receive cash awards for my stories.

"Hillbilly Heaven" won the Gene Anderack Short Story Contest

"She Had a Curfew...I Had a Van" took third place in the Genre Straddler Contest. that means a story that combines two genres. THis one's paranormal romance.

"Welcome to Haven" took second in the Flash Fiction 99 Word Story Contest. This was a very short horror story.

"Welcome to OWL" took first in the Hoot & Hollar Contest. This tale elated an experience I had welcome a prospective member to the Ozarks Writers League.

Ronda Del Boccio Holding Award Certificates from Ozarks writers League Contests 2014

I am so incredibly excited! Stunned, too. My writer friends aren't, but since there's no objective measure, it always feels like a playing a game of chance.

Update on my progress with They All Died Smiling, my NaNoWriMo project.

Meanwhile, I made a little progress on the novel today, as I wasn't home much. Tomorrow as well will be a light writing day, so I'm glad to be ahead on my goal!

I'm approaching the halfway point in the book.

Keep writing!

Ronda Del Boccio

Best Selling author and speaker

Find my books on Amazon

 

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Funny Story about Being Spooked while Writing a Novel: NaNoWriMo Day 13

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Today I was writing a creepy scene in They All Died Smiling about a demon who has just discovered who and what Kassidy is, even though she herself has no clear idea yet.

Here's a sample:

My hair stood on end. The black haze eclipsed Amber. A pair of red eyes glowing like embers pierced through the blackness to stare at me. They were where Amber’s eyes would be, but they did not belong to her.

Those red glowing eyes reappear a number of times. At one point, my cat sat next to my keyboard getting intermittently petted, and we both heard a sound from another room.

There was nobody in the house but us. I was spooked. Good thing I have the house shielded. I think I'll put seasalt at all the doors and windows.

Here's my progress in NaNoWriMo. Nice being past the halfway mark.

Keep writing and as always, follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author

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How to Just Keep Writing a Novel: NaNoWriMo Day 12

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One of the best writing skills you can develop is to save edits for the second draft.

Today as I was working on my novel They all Died Smiling, I thought of a few minor changes I wanted to make to earlier scenes. Since I'm in speed writing mode, I didn't stop to "fix" those scenes.

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I simply made some notes about what chapter and what to do. Now I know I won't forget, and I can put that out of my mind and...

Just Keep Writing.

As I said in yesterday's post, when writing, don't stop to edit. Taking notes lets you stay out of your own way.

May your must inspire you. Keep writing.

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author and speaker

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Authors Wear Two Hats: Wear the Right One for the Job: NaNoWriMo Day 11

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Whether you're writing a novel, short story or nonfiction piece, you as a writer have two hats:

  • Writer hat
  • Editor hat

Your writer hat is the creative side, responsible for conveying the story.

The editor hat is the stickler for grammar, punctuation, and structure.

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As you only have one head, presuming ou're a human reading this, you can only  wear one hat at a time.

So when you're in writer mode, these are things you do NOT want to do:

  • Don't worry about synonyms.
  • Don't bother with typos.
  • Don't fix scenes..
  • Don't go back and re-read past scenes to get yourself in the mood to write fresh material..

Wearing the Writer Hat, DO these things:

  • Just keep writing.
  • Leave typos to the Editor Hat.
  • Leave synonyms to the Editor Hat.
  • Leave grammar to the Editor Hat.

When you're writing, WRITE. When you're editing, EDIT. If you mix the two, you'll squash your creativity.

Remember... one head = one hat at a time!

Remember (image of a hand with a string tied around rhe index finger

They All Died Smiling Updatte

I'm writing this paranormal suspense novel during NaNoWriMo. Nice push goal to keep butt in seat and fingers on keys. I'm nearing the halfway mark and will get there on the 12th. Yay!


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Novel Writing: How Do You Keep the TImeline Straight? NaNowriMo Day 10

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I'm currently writing my second novel. Everything takes place within a tight timeline. My first 300+ page novel covered a timeframe of 2 weeks.

Keeping time is important. You don't want someone who's eating dinner with his wife in once scene be across town five minutes later in another.

People ask me how I keep time straight.

I do a couple of things to make my life easier. Maybe they'll help you with your novel.

The Time is NOW!

Add notes to the start of each chapter.

You'll take out the notes before sending your book to publishers, but while you're writing, the notes can really help. Especially when you're in the editing phase.

One of my notes reads as follows:

(NOTE: Saturday train ride 5 pm)

My story takes place in November. This cue tells me it's dark and feels like night even though it's still early evening.

In this book, They All Died Smiling,  I'm in one point of view the whole time , so this is sufficient. When I wrote Rue the Day, several people told the story, so I employed my other method.

Create a Timeline of who's where when.

Even though I don't need it as much for Smiling, I do have a paper list in a spiral notebook timeframe by each  Sure, I could do it online, but I still like to have aper notes near at hand. Plus, if I'm not at a computer and remember a detail or get inspired, I can write it down without major inconvenience.

My timeline notes for Smiling begin thusly:

  • Capter 1: Friday night commute
  • Chapter 2: Late Friday night, insomnia, cat fight
  • Chapter 3: Saturday AM  Kass + Julie,  commute

Now, as I go along, I can keep track of things with ease.

Don't be afraid to kick it old school

Sure, I love my computer. I'm thrilled to have a tablet. I feel all Star Trek with it. But I wouldn't do without my spiral notebooks either.

Sure, I could take notes in a file or with a voice app, but it's still good to have a way to track work that doesn't involve a power cord.

I like a steno pad or spiral notebook of a similar shape, but you'll figure out what works best for your preferences.

Don't forsake paper just because you have a phone, tablet, and/or computer that does it all.

My NaNoWriMo progress

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is all about writing a first draft of a 200 page book in the 30 days of November.

Today I will hit the halfway mark. Yay! I need to get ahead, because this weekend I will be at a writing conference and will anticipate only being able to produce small word counts Friday and Saturday.

Here's my progress chart:

Keep to your writing goals and be sure to join Ronda's Readers for stories, sneak peeks of my upcoming books and more WriteOnPurpose.com/read

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Inspration Doesn’t Come at the Keyboard: NaNoWriMo Day 9

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This weekend I had commitments that meant being away from home much of the day Did this keep me from keeping up writing my novel? No. It simply means planning.

Ronda's set of Writers Blocks

Whatever your writing goal, whether you're in a competition like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a publisher's deadline, or a self-chosen goal, you'll soon discover that life happens.

A Tasty Morsel paranormal fantasy novella cover

There will be family commitments, book signings, dinners with friends, going to the store, taking care of your family, and so forth.

I knew this weekend would probably be lighter on writing, so I worked more during those days I could so as to stay on track. Simple as that.

Here's my progress toward that 50,000 word (200 page) goal for the month of November:

Yesterday, I had the book signing at the library. Today I had a lovely visit with friends. And here's what you need to know:

Inspiration doesn't come from forcing yourself to sit at the keyboard. It comes from living life! Then you transmute what you discover into words.

My novella The Assassin ad the Prince came entirely from a dream. I scribbled down the gist of it as soon as I woke  up, then in a few  hours, it was a complete story. This can happen to you. Perhaps it already has.

Inspiration for A Tasty Morsel came from a trip to Dogwood Canyon. Our guide said a cave  had just been discovered. We saw an old elk who had a horn growing over his eye. Those two elements made it into the tale.

My current novel in progress, They All Died Smiling, started as a short story that did not win a contest. The judge wrote me and said I had the basis for a novel. I'm finally getting that tale expanded as it should be. The idea for the book came from a "dolly girl" hair dresser , more fake than real.

So don't think sitting at tje desk pulling out your hair will bring you a great idea. Go out and live life as you keep writing.t

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

bestselling author and speaker

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The Journey From One Book Author to Multi-Published Author: NaNoWriMo Day 8

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I knew today would be a light writing day. This morning, I went to Branson, an hour ride, to be at the Taney Hills Library Author Day, a book signing event.

A dozen authors of widely different genres, including some of us Jack Masters types who write in many genres, attended.

We each had to bring our own table and chair. I only had a TableMate, so my horizontal space was limited. So what did I do? Go vertical.

Branso nAuthor Day 2014 My Table

The Table

Thankfully, I have a plastic display stand I used for my books. This gave me hight. I also have a plastic sign stand, which let me advertise a bit. I put out a bowl of licorice for people to take, in honor of the plot twists in my stories.

Experience

Even though I have written several books and contributed chapter, poems and short stories s to over two dozen more, I don't think of myself as a seasoned writer. I'm always working to improve my stories, and I'm involved with a number of superior authors with many more books and much more experience than I.

Sure, I have many dozens of articles published and materials all over the web and I write in different genres, but still,  I'm always seeking to improve my writing, to go deeper into my characters, to pack more into as few words as possible. I don't often take top prizes in writing contests. I never feel good enough.

I met William Leverne Smith, an author with a half dozen or so novels, a couple s hort story collections, and loads of online stories, at the Author's Day. We talked about the difference between those of us with numerous books and the one-book authors.

I hadn't thought about it before, but there is a difference. Now, I'm not being condescending or better-than-thou about it. The honest truth is that when William and I were single book authors, we were in a similar place to the others. Now, with many books, things have changed.

So if you're a newer author, either pre-published or with one book, you might check out these differences and cultivate the experienced author mindset:

There's no shaming, no put-down. It's all a beautiful journey worth taking!

Motivation: Newer authors tend to look outside themselves to write. If you've ever said, "I have to feel inspired," then you're in this category. If you cannot write without certain conditions being met, then you're looking outside yourself.

So much of writing is about applying yourself, butt in seat and fingers on keys, to your craft.

Describing Your Book: Newer authors tend to take forever to explain your book. I remember well those days. It's important to sum up your book in a sentence, because then the listener can decide right then and there whether it's for them.

A pre-published author to whom I spoke took over 3 minutes to describe his novel. That's an eternity.

Connecting: The newer authors spent a lot of time sitting behind their table and spoke more with other authors than with the readers wandering through the event. The more seasoned authors stood to speak with people and found out what they like to read.

One of my favorite moments was when a mom told her 2 kids they could each choose 1 book. Her daughter chose my novel, Rue the Day.

Planning: Most of the one book authors had no table decoration or covering. Some did not have change to offer customers making a purchase. Some had no website or business cards.

Again, none of this is criticism, because everyone live and learns, in that order, but it was interesting to notice those differences.

There's something more subtle than all that.

Author Identity

The more you write and publish, the more you know whom you are as an author. Even if you, like me, work in multiple genres, you know your style.

I call myself a teller of transformational tales on my business cards, because that's what I am, whether in nonfiction or fiction. That's what I mean about knowing yourself as a writer.

So, keep writing and be exactly who you are.

Here's my progress in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I hope you'll find ways to reach out and connect with readers. If you would like stories, sneak peeks, and a chance to win free prizes, join Ronda's Readers right now WriteOnPurpose.com/read.

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Amp up the Conflict: NaNoWriMo Day 7

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Today I made it past the 15,000 word mark out of 50,000 words I'm aiming to write during this month of November in NaNoWriMo. It feels really good to be that far along the path.

Want to improve your writing skills? Simple. Write More.

For me, this is all about commitment to  daily writing goal. You can see my current progress, whatever day you see this, below.

Today I was working on a creepy scene. This is a place where you'll see Kassidy ignore something important and ever after wonder if she could have prevented what another character did. Sorry, that's all the detail you get right now.

So as I worked on this scene, I asked myself thes question:

"How can I amp up the conflict?"

As readers, we love love LOVE watching the protagonist go from the frying pan into the fire. The more pain and suffering, the better. I guess we writers AND readers are masochists of a sort.

Sometimes when thinking out a scene, I don't put enough conflict. Then while deep in it with my figurative sleeves rolled up, I remember to write worse than I planned.

Kassidy has a talent she absolutely does not want, and in this chapter, when her sign of trouble arises, she consistently ignores it, even as the signals get stronger.

It's like being whispered to, then tapped, then nudged, than poked, then pushed while continuing to ignore what your senses and experience are telling you.

The more turmoil I put my characters through, the better you'll like the book, you sicko!

Keep writing. Let the stories flow!

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

#1 bestselling author

Teller of Transformational Tales

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Do You Ever Cry or Laugh While Writing a Scene? NaNoWriMo Day 6

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Each day during NaNoWriMo I'm sharing an insght from the day's writing or a sneak peek at my work in progress, They All Died Smiling.

Do You Cry for Your Characters?

Today was an emotional day for me because of what my character experienced.

Today I wrote a scene in which Kassidy, my protagonist, is beginning to feel attraction for a man. She is a young widow whose husband died in battle, and she has mixed emotions about moving on.

characters

During the scene in which she and childhood friend Russell kiss, tears rolled down my face.

I get emotional when I write. I get mad at characters sometimes. I laugh when they do or say something funny.

I feel WITH them.

This isn't the least bit strange to me, but my mom thought it was. Other writers agreed with me.

If my story doesn't elicit emotion from me, how will it ever do so for my reader?

Surrender to your characters. Let them have their head. And feel with them.

And as always,

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

Bestselling author and speaker

Teller of transformational tales

PS FInd out 7 ways to make money from your book while still writing it plus get a weekly writing or book marketing tip. Get instant access at WriteOnPurpose.com/free

 

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Does Your Story Take Place in a Black Closet? NaNoWriMo Day 5

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I'm in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and sharing an insight each day of writing a 50,000 word story in 30 days.

CHicago Tribune Building against a clear blue skyHave you ever read a book that has no sense of place? I sure have. Someone will be having a cup of tea, but for all you know, they could be in a closet, because you have no sense of the setting.

You don't need long passages of exposition like the ones D. H. Lawrence crafted. That was then and this is ow. But you need to pull the reader into your setting as well as into the lives of your characters.

You'll want to set the scene. After that, add the flavor with a few sentences sprinkled throughout the action.

Today's Teaser from They All Died Smiling

This is the beginning of the book, and you'll get a feel for how country girl transplant Kassidy feels about the Chicago subway.

I thought I was just making another Friday night commute home. I had no idea I was about to dance with the devil. Silly me.

When I moved from the Ozarks to Chicago for my new job at the Tribune, I learned something I really didn’t want to know. I discovered that urine smells different the longer it ages on the poles, cement, and benches of a public transit system. Also, I learned that the more people live in an area, the more disgusting they become. We never had public transportation anywhere I lived, so nothing prepared me for the stinking mass of humanity in a big city. Yuck. When I first moved here, I was afraid. These days I’m not so much afraid as disgusted.

Keep writing!

Here's my progress in NaNoWriMo:

Follow your BLISS,

Ronda Del Boccio

author, speaker mentor

Find my books on Amazon WriteOnPurpose.com/amazon.

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How Do You Keep Writing Momentum? NaNoWriMo Day 4

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I'm part of NANoWriMo 2014, writing a 50,000 word novel in November.

Today I was thinking about the power of momentum.Momentum

Ome days, a writer will sail past their writing goal in the throes of creative fervor (or caffeine overdose). Other days, Life Happens. One writer had a bad cold and couldn't think. Another had unexpected company. Another had a pipe burst.

Naturally, some days will flow and others will be harder, but that doesn't mean you let up on yourself.

It's still possible to keep a good flow going, regardless of life.

Here are a few things I like to do to ensure a successful writing day:

1. Leave off where I KNOW precisely what comes next.

2. Leave off mid-scene, not at an ending.

3. Go back to fill in whatever needs fleshing out from yesterday's session. (I call it Spiral Writing).

4. Work on something related to the book, like a r filling in backstory or writing about one or more of the places where the action occurs.

All these things are considered within the rules of NaNoWriMo, as long as they're related to the book you're writing. Any of these techniques will keep you moving.

Today's Tease from They All Died Smiling:

Meet Russell Higgins, friend of Kassidy (our hero).

Russell and Kass went to the same school and hung out together with a cluster of other youth, including Randy, whom Kass married.

Russ always carried a torch for  Kassidy, as the saying goes, but since she and Randy becae an item, he felt like he never had a chance.

They grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and went to a rural school in a little place called Blue Eye. Whereas Kass was the consummate country girl, Russ craved big city life. He never figured to meet her in Chicago.

Since he always wanted to play spy games, Kass figured he would end up working with the CIA. Turns out she was close. He is a new FBI agent as the story opens. He wants to climb the ladder and hopefully move on to New York or D. C.

As They All Died Smiling opens, Kass unknowingly sees him when she sees him disembarking a subway train when she's  on her way home from work. He's well muscled with a great smile. She calls him Mr. Hottie in her mind.

The next day, they end up in the same restaurant. She recognizes him, and they will have all sorts of interesting encounters. He manages to put her down within minutes of their reunion.

That's all for today. I am staying on track to write a 200 page novel in 30 days, and I'm not losing ground!

You can watch my progress here: If you're in nano and want to be a buddy, feel free to add me.

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Ronda Del Boccio

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Teller of transformational tales.

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How Do You Make Minor Characters Come to Life? NaNoWriMo Day 3

Ronda Del Boccio, the Story Lady - Follow Your B.L.I.S.S.!

How do you bring your minor characters to life?

I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month, NaoWriMo, My book is They All Died Smiling, a paranormal suspense story.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) partiipant badge 2014)Today I was thinking about minor characters and what I do to make the come to life.

Honestly, even the minor characters typically simply "come to me." Occasionally I base one off of someone from my real life, but mostly they present themselves to me.

When I need a minor character, I like to know one thing that makes them stand out. It's not necessary to invent a whole back story for them.CHicago Tribune Building against a clear blue skyWhen I needed to have Kassidy's editor at the Chicago Tribune  send her out on assignment, an image of a bulldog came to me. The dialogue between them poured out. He's funny to her rather than intimidating, much to his chagrin, I'm sure.

Since Kass tends to give people nicknames, he shall forever be Bulldog Bob to her. The Arts and Entertainment Editor is Princess Olivia because of her grace and regal manner. Toni, hostess at Lou Mitchell's, is the Matchmaker.

She also has a couple of names for who becomes the antagonist, but I'll share that later.

Here's the encounter between Kassidy and her editor:

Bulldog Bob stopped and pointed at me. “Bates.” He reminded me of a bulldog, because of his big jowls and four chins. Any chair he sat in creaked in protest. He hooked his finger in a ‘come here’ gesture and went into his office, expecting me to be at his heels.

With him, I never knew what to expect. But then nobody else did either. He always scowled and barked orders, so I could be getting fired, scolded, praised or promoted. Impossible to tell until whatever it was happened.

Note to self. Better not ever call him Bulldog Bob to his face.

“A woman died in the River. Go.” He handed me a piece of paper and turned his attention to the computer. Code for dismissed.

The Chicago River made the miracle of walking on water seem possible. Thick and filthy, it was hard to imagine someone drowning in it.

“She couldn’t climb up the piles of pollution and save herself?”  I calculated the commute time and stayed put.

Bob grunted and kept typing. “Good one, Bates. When do you open at Second City?”

“Next week, if I keep getting assignments like this.” I’ve never been to the legendary comedy club, but it is on my list of places to visit. In the audience, not as a comedian.

The typing paused, then resumed. “You’re still standing there.”

“You’re observant this morning. Must’ve had your coffee.”

“Deadline is in two hours, so you’d better get a move on.” He snapped.

It would take me most of that time to commute if I had to take the bus. “Keys.” I held my palm out for them.

He shook his head.

“Bob, you’re giving me a two hour deadline. I don’t’ have a car here and I don’t know the city. You have a Garmen, so I can get there and back in almost enough time to write half an article for you.”

“Nothin doin. I‘ve seen how you park.”

“I practiced,” I lied. Nobody ever has to parallel park in the Ozarks.

He stood and loomed over me with his jowls hanging and swaying in front of him. “One scratch and you’re dead. Hear me? Not just fired. D. E. A. D. Dead.”

“Gee, thanks for the spelling lesson. I always wondered how to spell that word.”

He grunted and tossed me the keys.

“See you in a couple of hours.” After my father and a houseful of boys, it took a whole lot more than blubber wagging in my face to intimidate me.

How am I progressing?

This graphic shows howI am progressing toward my goal.

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Ronda Del Boccio, the Story Lady - Follow Your B.L.I.S.S.!Ronda Del Boccio

Bestselling author, speaker and mentor

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NaNoWriMo 2014 participant

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