Smokin’ & Cryin’ – coming soon!

Tuesday Evening, 85°F and hazy
Listening to The Zombies—This Will Be Our Year

Smokin’ & Cryin’ – a novel

The Rise and Fall of Smoky Topaz

August 27, 1972. Robin Chelsea, teenage lead singer of Smoky Topaz, disappears into the Atlantic Ocean mere weeks before the group’s double album, Smokin’ & Cryin’, is released. Recorded over one blistering Savannah summer in the dungeon of an antebellum mansion, it’s threaded with candid snippets of the band members’ dirty secrets, bitter arguments, and deepest fears.

In the wake of Robin’s disappearance, Smokin’ & Cryin’ flies off store shelves and dominates radio airwaves to become the obsession of a generation of music lovers. But what really happened to Robin Chelsea?

More than four decades later, the discovery of Robin’s candid writings—juxtaposed with news clippings, legal documents, reviews, letters, personal notes, and interviews—make it possible to finally piece together the tangled truth behind this mysterious rock and roll legend.

I couldn’t be more excited to finally bring you my second novel, Smokin’ & Cryin’. It has been a long time coming.

Set in the early 1970s, it’s the first-person narrative of teenage rock vocalist Robin Chelsea and is interspersed with epistolary elements. It was a blast to write, and I sure hope you’ll find it a  blast to read. Continue reading

Stone, hell yes

Tuesday Evening, 73°F and clear
Listening to The Beatles—Dear Prudence

A post shared by Grace (@realgrace) on

This is for every Pearl Jam fan who doesn’t think Stone Gossard gets anywhere near as much credit as he deserves. Ellie, Clive, and Saint all understand who the sacred heart of Pearl Jam really is. Oh my god, Stone, hell yes.

Read about these hardcore Pearl Jam fans in my tragicomic novel, State of Love & Trust.

Thesaurusitis

Monday Evening, 62°F and partly cloudy
Listening to Tame Impala—H.F.G.W. (Canyons Drunken Rage)

I’m begging you, dear writers, beware of the scourge of Thesaurusitis. Symptoms include reader head scratching, books being flung against walls, and misuse of new-to-you vocabulary words. If you’ve noticed any symptoms of Thesaurusitis, it’s essential that you set aside your thesaurus and take several giant steps away from it. I’m not saying you should burn it (well, maybe, but let’s not be too hasty).  For now, simply put it down and take some time to consider how you’re using the thesaurus, and why.

A thesaurus is a powerful tool when used properly. But abuse it and it will ruin your writing and out you as an insecure rube with a weak vocabulary and possibly an inferiority complex. Never attempt to use a thesaurus to make your writing more interesting or make yourself appear more intelligent and well read. It will do neither. A thesaurus can’t give you anything you don’t already have. But it can give your writing a rampant, itchy case of thesaurusitis. Continue reading

I Answer the Most Annoying Questions about NaNoWriMo

Saturday Afternoon, 34°F and foggy
Listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer—Tarkus

A confession: The first time I heard about NaNoWriMo I was skeptical. I had been fussing over a manuscript for more than a year and couldn’t imagine what anyone would get out of writing a novel in 30 days.

Then, on November 2, 2007, I made the irrational decision to give NaNo a shot. I won. I now understand that’s not the norm for first-time “WriMos” but I was already serious about writing and had a consistent writing habit.

However, “steaming pile” is not too harsh a description for the resulting manuscript. I disliked the protagonist. There was not enough tension. It was 100% seat of the pants and lacked a few important things, like a plot.

Yet it was worthwhile. Writing that first steaming pile of 50,000 words in 28 days gave me some useful results. Continue reading

How not to tag dialogue

Wednesday evening, 25°F and cloudy 
Listening to The Nice, War & Peace

Please, fiction authors. I am begging you. Learn how to properly use dialogue tags. It’s not that hard, I promise. The bad dialogue tags in self-published fiction make my eyeballs spurt blood. I’ll be covering several varieties of bad dialogue tags and what you can do to fix them. If you’re not sure how to properly tag dialogue, keep reading. If you think you’re sure but are using dialogue tags other than said or asked more than once every 5,000 words, keep reading.

Said and asked are your dialogue tag MVPs

You could write a 150,000-word novel using no dialogue tags other than these. It doesn’t mean you have to, but they should make up the majority of your dialogue tags (not including properly used action tags or “beats”). Said and asked are your go-to tags because they are practically invisible. Continue reading

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