Friday, September 30, 2016

Showing Surprise in Writing

I'm working on a few things right now, where I need to show surprise in a person's face and through their actions.  I'm tired of writing, 'their mouth fell open in surprise.'  So I went to the web.  Here are a few things I found:

  • Surprise is one of seven universal expressions (also included are disgust, sadness, joy, contempt, anger, and fear.)
  • It displays neither positive or negative attributes.
  • It takes in as much information as possible in a short period of time.  It's instantaneous and not planned.  Brief.
  • Can segue into other emotions in seconds.
  • Hiding surprise is not an option.
  • If it's prolonged, it's shock.
  • Surprised and startled are two different things.  Startled is to have a fearful reaction to an external stimuli.
  • The main purpose of surprise or startle is to interrupt another action and make the character focus on the new stimuli
  • The opposite of surprise is anticipation

To show surprise:
  • eyebrows up and curved
  • upper eyelids raised to open eyes wider
  • quick breath (not always)
  • open mouth, jaw drops (not always)
  • horizontal wrinkles appear on forehead
  • can jump back in surprise
  • hand can fly to collarbone
  • may blurt out a curse or euphemism (using dialogue to indicate surprise)
  • may go pale
  • stop breathing for a moment
  • quirks--hiccups, clasps hands, goosebumps
  • pupil dilation or constriction
  • tenseness in muscles, especially the neck muscles
  • fight or flight (this is more for startle) response

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Emotions: Showing Surprise
Surprise (emotion) Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Free sites that are cool tools

My sister has been giving me fantastic ideas for freebies online.  So here they are, in no particular order:

These are just a few.  Have more?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

More references:
The Best Free Apps and Online Tools for Entrepreneurs and Obsessive Collectors

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

20 Ways to Make Your Character: Have Outer Conflict in a Romance

In writing, it's said that a character needs to have an inner and outer conflict.  So, for example, you might have a lawyer who has a huge trial that is doomed to fail.  That's the outer conflict, the one that most people would see.  What they don't see is that he has a personal problem that he's battling.  Maybe he's an alcoholic or he's battling a broken heart, or even cancer.  It's what he's hiding from others.  John Grisham does this extremely well in some of his books, for example.

So first, I want to talk about the outer conflict.  Outer conflict is most of what the story is about--the main conflict.

From, outer conflict is defined as:

external conflict

    struggle between a literary or dramatic character and an outside force such as nature or another character, which drives the dramatic action of the plot:
    external conflict between Macbeth and Macduff.
    struggle between a person and an outside force:
    external conflict between parents and children.

    And, to contrast, the inner conflict is defined as:

    internal conflict

    psychological struggle within the mind of a literary or dramatic character, the resolution of which creates the plot's suspense:
    Hamlet's inaction is caused by internal conflict.
    mental struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses.

    Many times, it's a physical struggle.  For romances, it's about the problems between the two love interests.  I was told, when I first started writing, that the outer conflict should indicate two opposing sides in the love interests.  For example, the heroine might be a peace lover.  The hero, a soldier.  That type of thing.

    Since I write romances, here are 20 outer conflicts for your characters to encounter.  I've used all of these in my books.

    Just know that the characters HAVE to work together somehow, for a common goal.  If you split the couple up, there's no romance there.  They have to stick together.

    1. Disagree on fundamental values--politics, religion, morals
    2. Families don't agree
    3. Waiting for something to happen before they can get involved
    4. Revenge from an outside force
    5. One character trying to help the other even though they don't want help
    6. Forced to work with the 'enemy.'
    7. Arguing neighbors 
    8. One character has something the other character wants--and will stop at nothing to get it
    9. Client with attitude
    10. Doctor and unwilling patient
    11. Tyrant boss and employee 
    12. One character saving another from doom or death
    13. Religious beliefs, angry church people
    14. Sheriff and criminal
    15. Two characters stuck together to get out of a predicament (like lost in the woods)
    16. Giving condolences on a family member who has died...and the recipient is angry about it.
    17. Someone giving aid to a suicidal character 
    18. Saving a character from bullies
    19. Telling a character about their heritage when they didn't know it before
    20. Getting information to stop someone else
    It's not easy to come up with new conflicts, but they all come down to a problem against an outside force of some kind.  It can also be easy to mix up external and internal conflicts, but if you think of it as internal as a problem within just one person's mind and external as everything else, that might help.

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016

    Meet the Psychic

    In my upcoming Extreme Travel books (ones not published yet), I have a psychic.  I'm not going to give away plot details, but I had to do a lot of research into psychic abilities for these stories.

    During my research, I found that psychics aren't like you see on television or movies.  But I had to keep up the illusion or people wouldn't think my character was really psychic. From what I've read and seen, most of the psychic abilities are feelings more than actual concrete information.  In real life, I'm a bit of a doubter, but it makes for great fiction.

    Here's a list of the different types of psychics, taken from List of Psychic Abilities and How They Work

    There are four major intuitive abilities:

    • Clairvoyance (able to see events)
    • Clairsentience (feel what others feel; empathy)
    • Clairaudience (able to hear something that's not there)
    • Claircognizance (knowing something without logic or facts)

    So for the psychic, they'd have one of these main abilities.

    In my books, though, I was in that person's head.  How did they feel about all of this?  My character didn't want it.  She wanted rid of it, and even begged people to help her get rid of it.  The other characters did research, but they only came up with ideas of how to tune into those abilities.  What did I, as an author do?  I made her know things that no one else could know.  She was part of the CIA, so she had to share her information, or people would die.  But how could they cover up how they got the information?  They had to get creative.

    Thus, when you write about a psychic ability, go to the opposite of what most people would think--that the character is all knowing, all powerful, and make them vulnerable.  It makes for fantastic conflict.  Also, giving them more than one of these abilities while making them want rid of all of it really makes for a fun story.

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Monday, September 26, 2016

    Research: Tornadoes

    Even though tornado season is winding down for the year (it's not over quite yet, though), I thought I'd share some of the research I did for one of my Christian romances.  For the book, 'Faith in the Darkest of Nights,' a tornado hits the main character's home.  Most of the family members hide in a center closet, while much of the home falls around them.

    I've experienced some of this, myself, from when we lived in Kansas.  Once, a huge funnel cloud passed by our neighborhood, probably a mile or so away.  The thing was at least a mile wide and sounded like a freight train while everything else seemed so silent.  I watched it moving, and our kids hid in the basement.  The neighbors, having dealt with this before, weren't impressed.  They cooked out and ignored the funnel cloud.  I even called one of them and they didn't seem to care.  But being newcomers to the Midwest, we were scared. However, it never did touch down, thankfully.

    After it passed, we had a hailstorm.  The bits were bigger than a quarter and many cars that were outside were damaged, along with roofs, etc.  The people across the street were from CA.  Their kids went out to catch the hail, getting hit on the head a bunch of times in the process.

    So tornadoes are nothing to mess with.  Thus, to find information about what it's like to be inside a tornado is amazing.

    Since I was writing about what it was like inside the tornado, here's what I found in my research:

    • Before it hits, it can be eerily silent.
    • It's very loud, even from miles away.
    • It sounds like a freight train.
    • The air pressure drops and your ears pop.
    • It gets very dark.
    • Everything is thrown around or destroyed.
    • They smell like cut grass or wood, like nature.

    When we drove from KS up to Omaha once, we hit a very very dark section in Iowa.  The sky was so dark at the very top, but under the darkness was a rim of bright blue.  I've never seen anything like it, but I'd like to think this was pre-tornado weather.  It was kind of like the picture on this page: 123 HD Wallpapers or this page:  Threatening Black Sky During a Severe Thunderstorm, Edmonton AB, July 18/09.  Here's another one (it's a video but in French):  Le ciel precedent la Tornade de Toulouse le 29 avril 2012 . The sky just before Tornado .Very scary.  that's what we saw.

    If you're going to write about a tornado, put yourself in the place of the people who would be in the middle of it.  They'd be scared like anything.  It would definitely put their faith to the test.

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    What It Feels Like to Be Inside a Tornado (PHOTOS)
    This is what it's like to be inside a tornado
    Church Security Camera Captures What It’s Like to Be Inside a Tornado
    Incredible video: what it’s like inside a violent tornado

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    Affect vs. Effect

    I don't know about you, but I mess these two words up more often than I should.  So when do you use affect and when do you use effect?

    To the Internet I went and found this:

    From:  Spelling: Common Words that Sound Alike, I found:

    Affect, Effect
    • affect = verb meaning to influence:
    Will lack of sleep affect your game?
    • effect = noun meaning result or consequence:
    Will lack of sleep have an effect on your game?
    • effect = verb meaning to bring about, to accomplish:
    Our efforts have effected a major change in university policy.
    A memory-aid for affect and effect is RAVENRemember, Affect is a Verb and Effect is a Noun.

    So here's what works (from Affect/Effect Spelling Exercise

    Correct answers are in bold.
    1. Wars affect everybody, and their destructive effects last for generations.
    2. Television has a strong effect on public opinion.
    3. My mood can affect my thinking, too.
    4. I see that you're trying to affect apathy, but I know that you really do care.
    5. Falling on my head had a bad effect on my memory.
    6. His years of smoking have negatively affected his health.
    7. This plan will surely effect significant improvements in our productivity.
    8. The patient shows normal affect and appears to be psychologically stable.
    9. The principal's new rules affected the school.
    10. Supply and demand have a direct effect on the prices of commodities.
    11. The effect of the speech was visible on the faces of the sleeping audience.
    12. He's just trying to seem cool; his indifference is completely affected.
    13. We may never know the full effect of the radiation leak.
    14. The early frost will affect the crops.
    15. What kind of effect can this quiz have on your dinner tonight?

    Fantastic to know!  Now I just have to remember it.  :)

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    Possessives -- two people owning one or two items

    I came across an interesting dilemma this week in reworking one of my books.  I wanted to write the following sentences:

    Mark's the minister of Will's church and Eloise's church. (Will and Eloise go to the same church--they're married.)

    Rebecca took Jenny's hand and Emily's hand.

    But I didn't want to write them that way.  What should I have done?

    Well, I looked it up and they're different types of possessions.  From Possessives, I found:

    4.  A less-often faced decision involves the use of apostrophes where multiple owners are named. Where two or more people own one item together, place an apostrophe before an "s" only after the second-named person. For example:

    However, when two or more people own two or more items separately, each individual's name should take the possessive form. For example:
    Incorrect: Bill's and Mary's car was a lemon, leading them to seek rescission of their contract under the state's lemon law.
    Correct: Bill and Mary's car was a lemon, leading them to seek rescission of their contract under the state's lemon law.
    Incorrect: Joanne and Todd's cars were bought from the same dealer; both proved useless, even though Joanne's car was an import and Todd's was a domestic model.

    Correct: Joanne's and Todd's cars were bought from the same dealer; both proved useless, even though Joanne's car was an import and Todd's was a domestic model. 

    So, for my two examples, I should write:

    Mark’s the minister at Will and Eloise’s church.   (Will and Eloise go to the same church.)

    Rebecca took Jenny's and Emily's hands.

    I never knew that before.  Interesting!

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    20 Ways to Make Your Character: Love Life

    This one wasn't easy.  Loving life is tough, because for most, it's fleeting at best.  But what if you had a character that loved life all the time?  What would make them cherish each moment?  I came up with 20 reasons for your character to love life.  I even have some of them in a few of my books.

    Here goes:

    1. Facing a disease--live each moment like it's their last
    2. Realizing that life is short
    3. A new enjoyable job
    4. Finding love for the first time
    5. Getting a second chance after an illness
    6. Being able to see or hear for the first time
    7. Getting out of jail
    8. Redefining one's life
    9. Losing weight and loving the feeling
    10. Finding a person can be themselves for once
    11. Being cured of a disease or a sickness
    12. Being surrounded by beautiful things or cleanliness
    13. A new place to live
    14. All cares and worries are gone
    15. The birth of a child
    16. Being alone after an abusing relationship is over
    17. Feeling free
    18. New adventures, new memories
    19. Love after loss
    20. The ability and need to plan for the future with happiness

    There are 20 reasons for a character to love life.  Have any more to add?

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    Meet the Man With the It Factor

    When I first starting writing romance, I had a mentor in my writing circles who taught me invaluable lessons.  One of the things she taught me was to make my male heroes have the 'it factor.'  I'd never heard this before, but I now understand it.

    For a hero to have the 'it factor,' he has to have a type of compassion that appeals to women.  He has to actually listen and be a great communicator.  He has to have a type of charisma and confidence yet be fun-loving and caring.  It's not something that's easy to pull off, and it's tough to learn.

    Here are a few things that I found in my research that make sense for the guy with the 'it factor' that women love:

    • confident, but not cocky
    • focused on others, not on themselves
    • great storytellers and public speakers
    • interesting and interested in others
    • authentic and engaging
    • optimistic, assertive, and yet caring

    It's all about attitude and caring about others.  Some jobs lend themselves more toward this type of attitude, where the person's job is to care about others.  Some of these jobs include doctors, police officers, ministers, counselors, psychologists, teachers, and so on.  If you notice, many romance novels include these professions for the hero, because it gives the heroine a warm feeling about the hero. 

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books


    Defining the IT-Factor
    In Search of the ‘IT’ Factor
    The It Factor and How to Get It: Becoming a Master Communicator

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Research: Laos

    In one of my unpublished books for the Extreme Travel series, I take my characters to Laos.  Wow.  When I did research for this country, I realized that it really has issues.

    Here's what I found:

    (from Google Maps):

    Laos is in Asia, sandwiched between Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and China and Myanmar (Burma) to the north.

    This country was instrumental to the United States during the Vietnam War.  The Hmong people helped the U.S. military and many were thus, forced to leave as refugees.  I know that many of those refugees relocated in Wisconsin.

    In my research, I found that the country is rather backward.  In the countryside, people live in huts and eat the huge rats for sustenance.  Also, electricity is a luxury, since many people can only get it sometimes at their homes.

    They grow rice and have herds of water buffalo, much like we have cows in the United States.  There are also nasty animals in that country such as tigers, huge spiders, and scorpions.  Of course, my people had to get into the worst places to show what the country was really like.

    Anyway, Laos is beautiful, from what I read.  Even though the rural areas are poor, the cities are more cosmopolitan.  It's a slower lifestyle, with more of a rugged feel for the entire country.

    Some day, I'd love to visit!

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Google Maps
    Nye Noona (about Water Buffalo)

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    The Minutes of a Day

    I started to reflect on my day after I took our youngest kid back to college.  She was here all summer long.  We had a great time and I didn't get much done.  But when she was gone, the days seemed so much longer, with more time to do my things.

    We have 24 hours in a day.  That's 1440 minutes.  For me, I spend almost all of that time at home.  Subtracting out 8 hours for sleeping (if I'm lucky), about 2 hours for meals (also, if I'm lucky), and that's 14 hours of time for ME.  Wow.  I didn't know how to handle that, after this past summer.  (And yes, I'm using numbers to make it more 'real' to the reader, and not writing the numbers out).

    So I sat down and made a schedule.  I packed it with things I knew I had to do (mow, feed and walk the dogs, make meals, clean, etc.) and still had time left over.

    What would you do with around 8 hours a day to yourself?  I know...some of that time is sucked up with social media and watching television.

    It made me think about what they did before television was around.  Granted, it took longer to do things because they didn't have the modern appliances we have today.  But they had to get more done than we do now, right?

    Anyway, turn off the television, limit computer use, and see what you can accomplish today.  It's amazing when you think about it!

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    Run-on sentences

    I thought I was the queen of run-on sentences...until I saw some Facebook posts.  It seems to be a problem for many writers.

    As many of you know, I'm going back through some of my books and fixing up typos and things of that sort.  Run-ons are the bane of my existence, especially in some of my older books.

    Here's a definition (from

    RUN-ON SENTENCE (sometimes called a "fused sentence") has at least two parts, either one of which can stand by itself (in other words, two independent clauses), but the two parts have been smooshed together instead of being properly connected.
    (Wow...that's kind of run-on by itself, huh?)

    Anyway, here's what I've found in my own works:

    • If you can't say it in ten words or less, make it more than one sentence.  More than one sentence has more impact than putting the information all together.  Short sentences carry more punch.

      Example:  Her life was all about her father and she had no right to feel badly, but really wanted to make it on her own, by herself.

      This is better:  Her father's issues consumed her life.  She had no right to feel badly, because he was her father.  But she wanted to make it on her own, by herself.

      • If you have more than three items in a list, make it more than one sentence or cut it down to three things.  Groupings of three or less seem to make sense.
      Example (not a great example but it'll do):  After they both got inside, he moved away from her, pushed the button for the twentieth floor and the doors closed. 

      This is better:  After they both got inside, he pushed the button for the twentieth floor, and the doors closed. (Don't necessarily need the second comma, but I used it to show the three items--got inside, pushed the button, doors close).
      • 'And' and 'then' are not always your friends.
      Example:  The driver pulled up to the curb and Melody fished her wallet out of her purse, but not before John paid the fare.

      This is better:  The driver pulled the cab up to the curb.  Melody fished her wallet out of her purse, but John paid before she could offer the fare.

      Another example:  After grabbing her suitcase from the trunk, he thanked the cab driver, then walked with Melody into the hotel.

      This is better (taking out 'then', making it a grouping of three things):  After grabbing her suitcase from the trunk, he thanked the cab driver and walked with Melody into the hotel.


      • The thoughts in a sentence should be related.
      Example:  He was too beautiful, probably a player and he definitely didn’t live in anyone’s basement.

      This is better:  He was too beautiful.  She considered him a player.  He wasn't the type to live in anyone's basement.


      Needless to say, I'm learning a lot about run-on sentences.  If you have to catch your breath while reading the thing, chances are it's either a run-on sentence or it's just too long.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Wednesday, September 14, 2016

      20 Ways to Make Your Character: Mean

      The meanie.  Gotta love having a mean character in books.  A mean character is tough to be around, because you never know when they're going to fly off the handle or do something nasty.  They make for wonderful antagonists.  But the mean character can't be mean all the time or the reader will absolutely hate that character.  They also have to have other evil qualities, sometimes being conniving, underhanded, and even lovable (a character you love to hate).

      Here are 20 ways to make your character appear to be mean:

      1. Have them take something that isn't theirs.
      2. Have them lie about something.
      3. Argue with another character over something trivial.
      4. Make them politically correct, calling out anyone who doesn't agree with them.
      5. Have them physically hurt someone else.
      6. Have the rest of the community afraid of this character.
      7. Have the meanie abuse someone psychologically.
      8. Make the meanie avoided at all costs.
      9. They need to have one character flaw that makes them human, but they hate it.  Just mentioning it makes them fly off the handle.
      10. They think they're in charge and have to control others.
      11. They're fighting for or against something that happened in their past.
      12. They think they have to prove themselves.
      13. They put others down to make themselves look good.
      14. The meanie will stoop to any level, even framing someone else.
      15. They blame others for their inadequacies.
      16. The meanie uses others to get ahead, or to get what they want out of life.
      17. No one else matters but the meanie, in their mind.
      18. Morals don't matter, but anything underhanded and sneaky is the norm.
      19. The meanie has no self-worth, no self-discipline, and is rather spoiled.
      20. They blame others for everything,sometimes even transferring their faults by saying it's someone else who did it, and not them.

      Yes, I know quite a few meanies, as you might be able to tell.  However, they make a great character in a book, especially when retribution happens from someone higher up on the social scale.  Gotta love revenge in a story.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Tuesday, September 13, 2016

      Meet the Wall Flower

      I feel like I'm writing this one about myself.  I consider myself the wall flower at parties.

      So who is the wall flower (other than some rock band, apparently)?  According to, a wall flower is:

      To me, a wallflower is the person who doesn't join in, is shy, and unpopular.

      So let's talk about the wallflower in a book.  They're the person who's overlooked in a lot of writing, because, well, they're shy and boring.  What does the wallflower think of this?  It makes them angry but they don't think they can change their circumstances.  They feel stuck being in the unpopular crowd, always feeling jealous of those who are in the 'know.'

      As jealous as they are, they make no attempts to go outside their comfort zone to get to know the popular group.  They'd rather just sit by the sidelines and not be noticed than to risk being made fun of or failing.

      So when writing about a wallflower, make him or her step outside their comfort zone and be in the limelight.  That'll ramp up the conflict in your story and even make the reader relate to not being in the popular group.  Because, face it, we're not all with the in-crowd all the time.  So everyone can relate.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Monday, September 12, 2016

      Research: Phillipines

      For my fourth Extreme Travel book, 'Please Don't Blow Up the Neighbors,' I took my crew to the Philippines.  That's an interesting place.

      The Philippines is an archipelago (group or chain of islands) consisting of over 7000 islands in Southeast Asia.  It is slightly less than twice the size of Georgia, and slightly larger than Arizona.  The capital is Manila.  It is considered to be a tropical marine nation, with northeast monsoons from November to April and southwest monsoons from May to October.  Considered to be mostly mountainous, there are extensive coastal lowlands.


      The history is very interesting, because after Magellan (of Portugal, but on a Spanish expedition) found the area in 1521, he was killed by the local tribes.  Even so, the country came under Spanish rule and was named after Crown Prince Philip II of Spain.  Most of the natives were converted to Catholicism.  Filipinos declared independence from Spain in 1898, but the country was then given over to the United States by Spain, even though Spain had no right to do so.  For seven years, the Filipinos fought American colonization, and were granted commonwealth status in 1935.  The Japanese occupied the country from 1941-1945 until General Douglas MacArthur and the US Army helped liberate the territory along with the Filipinos.  In 1946, the Philippines were granted independence.

      Thus, many of the names in the country are more Spanish than Asian.  They have their own language (Tagalog, pronounced tag-A-log).  It, along with English, are the official languages.  There are about eight major languages, with many more language groups and other distinct languages.

      Lately, even after I wrote the book, there have been kidnappings and beheadings in that country.  The main group seems to be the Abu Sayyaf group.  It also has issues with terrorism, and there are places to be avoided in that country.  They kidnap for ransom, which is what inspired my book.

      Interesting place for my people to go, for sure.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books


      WikiTravel: Philippines
      Terrorism in the Philippines: Places you should avoid
      Philippines unrest: Who are the Abu Sayyaf group?

      Friday, September 9, 2016

      Weak Dialogue Tags

      I've been going over my books again (yes, all 56--it's a work in progress) to make them better.  I seem to have an issue with dialogue tags, making them more passive (in my mind) than they need to be.

      Here's an example.

      "Come with me," she said, opening the car door.

      Wouldn't it sound better as:

      "Come with me."  She opened the car door.

      It seems less passive than the first to me.  Do you have that problem, too?  I let some of the tags like that alone, if the action isn't an active one or it's done at the same time as the character is speaking in relation to the words.  For example:

      "That won't work," she said, scrunching up her nose.

      She scrunched up her nose because the action is related to the words.

      Just an opinion.  Check out your own works and see if  you have the same issue.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Thursday, September 8, 2016


      Recently, I've been going back over my books to make sure everything looks good.  I've found, in earlier publications, that sometimes, I'm capitalizing the wrong things.

      For example, the following is true:

      • In talking about Chief Smith, it's capitalized if you're talking about his name.  but if you write 'the chief,' it's not capitalized.  Same with the president, etc.
      • Citing the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, you write 'pleading the Fifth' where Fifth is capitalized.  (Note:  The Fifth Amendment includes the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination).
      • The coasts are capitalized, because they're a place.  So if referring to a specific place (like in the United States, for example), the West Coast, the East Coast, etc., are places.  The West Coast includes California, Oregon, and Washington, for example.
      • Brand names should always be capitalized.  For example, Dumpster is a brand name.
      • Holidays are capitalized
      • Races are capitalized (African American, Caucasian, Eskimo, etc.)  But white and black are not capitalized in reference to race.
      • Heaven and Hell can or can not be capitalized, depending on the reference.   Just be consistent. 
      • Governmental things, like Congress.  But some are not capitalized, like congressional or federal.
      • Historical episodes and eras
      • planets
      • Special occasions (like the Olympic Games)

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Grammar Book
      Heaven or heaven?
      Should words like hell/Hell and Heaven/heaven be capitalized or not? Why?

      Wednesday, September 7, 2016

      20 Ways to Make Your Character: Leave

      Why would you ever want your character to leave?  Conflict.  Conflict is what books are made of.  They're the heart and soul of a story, to have the characters figure out how to get back what they once had, but even better.

      If a character leaves, you, as the writer, can follow them on their journey until they realize they have to get back to their former life to truly be happy.

      So, here are 20 ways to make your character leave.

      1. The antagonist tells them to leave, or else.
      2. They see their love interest in the arms of someone else.
      3. Someone dies.
      4. They're jealous of someone else because of a job, family situation, wealth, or fame.
      5. They think they're unloved.
      6. They want to escape a bad situation.
      7. A job transfer.
      8. A new job.
      9. Loss of a job.
      10. Inheritance in a different place.
      11. They're needed by family elsewhere.
      12. Eviction.
      13. Instant wealth.
      14. Desire to climb a social ladder.
      15. Striving for the American dream.
      16. Safety reasons.
      17. Change in social status.
      18. Because of hate.
      19. Because of illness.
      20. Because they love someone.

      Wow.  In every romance, there's what's called a 'black moment,' right before the ending.  The heroine (usually) loses everything--her job, her family or social standing, and maybe even her living arrangements.  They contemplate leaving, and one of these reasons, above, is very helpful if you're stuck in your plotting.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Tuesday, September 6, 2016

      Meet the Don Juan

      The Don Juan.  What an interesting character.

      For you younger readers, Don Juan is a fictional character, given his literary personality in the book "El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra" (1630, "The Seducer of Seville" or "The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest").  In the book, he was a womanizer who seduced the daughter of a nobleman.  He killed the father, but the father's ghost got revenge.

      Today, the term Don Juan means womanizer.  He tells the woman what she wants to hear, flirting with her until she gives in.  I have a few Don Juans in my books.  My favorite one is Ben in the Extreme Travel series.  He flirts with my main character, Kes, to the point where she's embarrassed but can't turn away.

      So what do you do with the Don Juan?  Let them create havoc.  Let them go to the extreme and then reel them in.  It makes for a wonderful feeling when they finally get pulled back to reality for the reader.  Whatever you do, don't make them the hero in that state, because they will cheat on their love interest.

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      Don Juan: Fictional Character
      Don Juan

      Monday, September 5, 2016

      Research: Venezuela

      In my fourth Extreme Travel book, 'The Waterfall Coup,' I took my characters down to Venezuela.  The mission for this rag-tag group of CIA agents was to rescue the Vice President, his wife, and his young son.  The family had been kidnapped for a nefarious reason, and not for ransom.

      Thus, since I had decided to take my characters there, I had to do research.  Wow.  What an interesting place.

      The country is located on the upper central part of South America.

      Here's a map from

      It's bordered by Colombia, and Guyana, and Brazil.

      This is a very interesting place.  The Andes mountains like to the west, near the Colombia coast.  The Llanos, or plains, like to the southwest.  The Caribbean coast is in the northern center.  The Amazon Basin rain forest is in the south, and the Orinoco River Delta is in the east.  My characters stayed in the Orinoco River Delta area and the Amazon Basin rain forest, which is home to the tallest waterfall in the world--Angel Falls.

      Of course, my characters had to come up against some pretty fierce obstacles, including an anaconda, jaguars, and other local animals (like seeing tapirs and hearing howling monkeys).  

      Right now, the country is in political turmoil.  When I wrote the book (around 2005), the country was having problems, but nothing like it is today.  The history of the country includes leaders that are dictators, and rebels that fight against the government.  I capitalized on that fact in my book.

      Needless to say, the country is gorgeous, with wild orchids and strange animals at every turn.  Angel falls is gorgeous, as well, from all I read.

      It's a great place for a book to take place!

      Have a great day!
      SweetTale Books

      National Geographic MapMaker
      World Atlas
      Think Venezuela--Orinico Delta
      Angel Falls
      Anaconda - The Largest Snake in the World
      Think Venezuela--culture
      Venezuela--History and Culture
      Fact Monstery--Venezuela
      All About Rainforests
      Angel Falls
      Animal finder

      Friday, September 2, 2016

      It's School Time Again -- Enjoy a Book Today!

      Imagine're a stay-at-home-mom and have been home all summer with the kids.  Your days have been filled with summer projects, vacations, feeding the children, playing with them, and making sure they're busy.  It's exhausting!  I'm right there with you...and my kids are all over 21 (as of yesterday).  I have two kids still in college, and the third lives close by, working at a local business.

      So now, the kids are heading back to school (my last one goes back on Sunday) and you're on your own again.

      What do you do first?

      For me, I read.  A lot.  They're mostly my books, but I'm working on getting them published.  But reading is a huge part of my day, and to be honest, I love it.  I can escape into another world, someone else's life, and see how they solve their problems.

      If you'd like to do that, just to get back into the swing of being at home, alone, during the day, check out some of my books.  They're all under $3, and will make your day less lonely and the time will fly by.

      My books can all be found at  I write as all the authors on that website.  SweetTale Books is my 'marketing arm' of my business.  I have single websites for all my author names, as well.

      Enjoy a book today!
      SweetTale Books

      Thursday, September 1, 2016

      Writing the Christian Romance

      I've written a few Christian romances (see and have found out a few things that new writers might want to consider.  I'm currently going through all of my Christian romances to make sure I follow my own advice.

      Here's what I've found:
      • Not every reader is the same faith.  Be vague about the church name.
      • Don't use any specific way to baptize the person, or do use any other specifics for a given church.  
      • Do specify if it's a protestant versus Catholic church, for example
      • Specify if it's mainstream or fundamental protestant, just to be clear.
      • Don't judge others in the story for having a different religion
      • Keep the preachiness out.  Others might have different ways to worship than at your church.
      • When quoting the Bible, keep the number of verses to a minimum (I try to keep it to less than five, if possible).  If you need more thoughts from the Bible, paraphrase so no specific Bible is overquoted.
      • If you do quote the Bible, make sure you put something at the front of the manuscript that describes where you got the Bible quotes from.  If you don't know how to quote your specific Bible, go to a search engine and type in 'how to quote the Bible in a book' to get the information.  I also stay with just one Bible for quotation, if possible.  I think in one of my books, I used two (King James and New International Version) because a deceased character used the King James Bible.  If you do that, make sure you reference every Bible you use.
      • Your goal isn't to change hearts for Jesus (that can become preachy), but to tell a story that includes Jesus or religion.  If you do it that way, it'll be the reader's own choice to find out more, not you pushing them to believe.
      • I've found if one of my characters isn't religious for some reason but another one is, the belief of the non-believer is much more satisfying to the reader.
      That's just a start for writing Christian romances.  They're really fun to write, because the Good Guy always wins in the end.  

      Good luck! 
      SweetTale Books