I love all the cool promotional items I get from Spencer Hill Press! This week I recieved a bunch of fun Amarok Stickers--and its my own design!  How cool are these? Anyone wanting any fun Amarok Swag please contact me with your mailing address. Thanks Angie :)

Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday is here already! I can not wait until this weekend when I can find some time to sit down and to write.

One of my good friends and critique partner, Marie Martin, is celebrating the release of her new novel, Maternal Harbor. This was an exciting read that kept me on the edge of my seat. I just couldn't put down. The blurb on the back cover reads: Teagan O’Riley was pregnant and alone when she met three single mothers at an OB clinic. A few weeks later, two of them are dead and the third is close on Teagan’s heels, intent on a campaign of twisted murder and insanity. Teagan cannot risk entrusting the three infants to the police with her finger prints all over one crime scene and her foot print smeared into blood at another. She flees with the babies to a wilderness cabin belonging to her lost love’s grandmother, but is even this remote location safe?

A few fun questions I asked Marie...

1. What are your favorite books? The Bible, A Painted House by John Grisham and The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

2. Can you describe your novel in four words or less? Murder and Motherhood

3. Why did you choose to become an writer? Couldn't help myself. The words were there and they spilled out onto paper.

4. Were you a reader as a child? My mother was a librarian. We were raised with books and no tv.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your novel? Trying to figure out what I knew about so I could write about that. Well I knew about babies. I had four and 10 grandkids when I wrote this story.

6. Do you have any advice for struggling writers? Get to a place that is quiet, with a tablet and pencil. Let the words flow onto the paper without thinking of any thing else. later they can be put into your computer for refinement.

7. What is your favorite bird? A house finch. They have the prettiest sound.

Order Your Copy of Maternal Harbor at


Several months ago I started working on translating my book trailer into a professional film trailer to be previewed as an advertisement before the start of popular movies. Even though I am still in the production stages, I would like to share with you some of the steps we have taken in our journey.

First, I want to make it clear that I am not working alone. I am so blessed to have a lot of help from a professional crew of people from all areas of film, editing, directing and production experience. David Henderson is one of those talented professionals. David is a film and visionary genius from England who has had a lifetime of experience. At the start of the project David gave me some very good advice. “Think about movies that you love, consider what makes you love them. What makes them interesting? Is it the characters, the theme, the visuals? These are the elements you want to keep in mind as I’m filming the trailer. I want your input on this. ” This really started the wheels to turn. Suddenly I had many new ideas about what I wanted for each scene.

Next David and I were able to plan some of the camera angles, and draw out some of the scenes. Because trailers are visual, it was important to spend some time on the look and feel of it. I had to consider costume design. Films rely heavily on costumes to communicate character traits to the viewer. Another important design was the set. How did I want to capture the look of the film? A real location will offer more dimension while a built set can offer more control. I wanted a real location and so that is what we went for.

Lighting was another key factor to consider. Some movies feature soft, almost cloudy light that will give a dreamy effect, while a darker set will give a more ominous tone.

In the end, I hope everyone will enjoy my film trailer as much as I have enjoyed being part of such an exciting process.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and happy writing! – -Angela Townsend-
This week I have a very special guest, Angela Ackerman. Angela is a good friend of mine and the creator of a fantastic website--The Bookshelf Muse. Angela and I not only share a first name--we also share a fabulous agent,Jill Corcoran!

Angela's amazing reference book--The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression is my all time favorite tool for writing.

Here is a list of Angela's top six books for writing

Angela at The Grand Canyon
I think we’ve all read craft books that really hit a note--ones that either bring about a single epiphany or open our eyes to how we can improve our writing on a large scale. I am thrilled to share the 6 books that really helped my writing. Each one is filled with highlighter marks, sticky notes and freehand underlining. If you are in the market for a good craft book, please read on.

Description (Monica Wood) People who know what The Bookshelf Muse is all about might be surprised to find out that at one point, description baffled me! I didn’t know how to pick out only the important details and then convey them in a compelling way. This difficulty led to the Setting Thesaurus, a sensory description guide for Fiction Settings. Description is a must-have for all writers. It focuses on different aspects of description at every level, and has lessons that both new and advanced writers can benefit from.

On Writing (Stephen King) This book came when I hit that Magical know the one, right? The ‘I know enough about writing now to see... just how much...I DON’T know.’ Yes, that frozen, hollow moment when it feels like we’re trying to dig a hole to china with a teaspoon, and not even a good one. More like the plastic kind that come with takeout, sealed up with a napkin and the rest of the cutlery. If there’s ever a time a writer decides to throw in the towel, it’s here. So I turned to King, who is a master at so many things, but a real guy too, someone you could imagine sharing the hot dog cart’s umbrella with as you snarf down lunch in the rain. He came from the most humble of beginnings, and I very much wanted to know what he thought of the writing path. This book did not disappoint. Equally helpful and inspiring, On Writing was a beautifully autobiographical journey to author hood. Filled with smart advice, every writer should read it.

Writing The Breakout Novel (Donald Maass) Pumped up by King’s book that I could actually DO THIS WRITING THING, I started paying attention to critique partners more closely. They told me my conflict was good, but there needed to be more tension. Huh? Wha? Conflict, tension...weren’t they the same? I asked around and my brain latched onto the word, micro tension. Small tension? Didn’t I want bigger, better? Wasn’t that the problem, that I needed more tension, not bits of it? Undeterred, I got my hands on Breakout Novel and learned exactly what micro tension was, and the power it carried. Oh my, what an amazing book from someone who knows the craft. Do yourself a favor--if you don’t have this book, get it.

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers (Browne & King) Finally, I’d gotten the story on the page. WOOT! It was a good story too--I was happy with it and thought others would be too. Of course, written once (or even twice, three or five times) isn’t enough. If was time to rub off the rough edges, large and small, and bring out the beauty. Self-Editing is the single best book I’ve found on the subject, and to this day, is my revision bible.

Save The Cat (Blake Snyder) Even after securing an Agent and braving the submission waters, I still had more learning to do. (Truly, does the learning ever end? I hope not, because I love it!) I felt my plotting was solid, but something was still off. I didn’t have total confidence that the right things were happening a the right time. I kept hearing about this screenwriting book as a great structure tool, so I snagged a copy of Save The Cat. *cue light bulb* It was magic. Here, in the screenwriter’s world, I found a tool that could really help me with my fiction’s structure. This amazing book is helping to turn my plotting and pacing from good to great.

Writing Screenplays That Sell (Michael Hauge) On a total high from peeking inside the world of screenwriting, I bought a few more books on the subject. And oh, if light bulbs flashed for Save the Cat, angels sung during Writing Screenplays. Hauge and Snyder were speaking the same language, but while STC was more about dramatic story structure, Hauge was showing the character angle of motivation and arc. You know how every writer has an Achilles’ heel? That one craft weakness that supersedes all others? Mine happens to be characters. So this book was literally a godsend. I was lucky enough to take a workshop this past year from Hauge, and he’s just as dynamic and illuminating in person as in the book. Your turn! Which craft books came along at key moments on your writing journey, boosting your craft? Let me know in the comments! 
Angela Ackerman is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with seventy-five different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, in the shadow of the Rockies, with her crazy (and therefore awesome) family, dog and one slightly zombie-like fish.

My favorite part of the writing process has always been the research that goes into my novels. Majoring in Anthropology, I am fascinated by ancient cultures, art and lore. In my novel, Amarok, I wanted to incorporate characters and mythology from the Ice-Age period because I’ve always felt that the people from this ancient time period helped to shape the world we live in today. A time of development, learning and intense connection to the land. A time of great discovery, where people learned to forge their own tools and instruments.

I researched, in considerable depth, all aspects of life during this Paleolithic era. But, I spent most of my time studying early shelters. I wanted to know how people of that time incorporated their natural environment into dwellings. I found such creativity in the construction of these ancient shelters, whether it was a cave, an overhanging mossy rock slab or a tent made of bones, or hides.

In my investigations I have found caves to be the most interesting. I am fascinated that thousands of years can pass and we are still finding messages from early man in hidden in these stone recesses. History told in paintings--stories shared in brilliant brush strokes of ochre.

I hope readers will enjoy my novel, Amarok, as much as I enjoyed creating it.