Category: On Writing

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Writers often get asked, “Where do your ideas come from?” The answer is anywhere and everywhere. The idea for CAPTIVE, book one in the Survival Race Series came to me while watching the rescue of mistreated horses on an episode of Animal Cops. It was heart wrenching to see those beautiful animals neglected and starved so thin their rib cages showed. How would the owner have felt if he were penned up and abused like that? This got me thinking. What if humans were pets, and someone–aliens perhaps–bred us and gambled on us for sport like we do in horse racing, dog racing, and cockfights? What if they wanted to be entertained by watching alpha gladiators fight to the death? Hmm…I have no idea what happened in the rest of the episode, as I was busy cogitating a new story idea.  In creating the technologically advanced aliens, called the


What Running Injuries Taught Me About Writing

Last fall I injured myself…twice! You may know from reading the blog that in addition to being an author I am a martial artist. But did you know I’m also a lifelong runner? My love for running started in the 6th grade with track. In middle school, I found road races and cross country. I ran competitively in high school and lettered in cross country, indoor tack, and outdoor track every year for all fours years earning a total of 12 varsity letters. I was recruited to a Division I university where I competed mostly in the 800, 1500, and 3000 meters as well as cross country. I even met my husband at a road race! Over the years we’ve run many races together—at our own paces, of course, as he’s a lot faster than me. I’ve run trail races, tough mudders, and a few half marathons. I had even


Game of Characters

In my character building blog series we discussed how to bring people (and aliens) to life through words. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here. This month, I thought I’d share a characterization game my daughter and I used to play. A few years back my daughter (now 20) came to me with a list of Disney princess movies she used to watch over and over when she was younger, and asked me to list my favorite princesses in order from most favorite to least favorite. What my writer brain heard was, “Which heroines do you like the best and why?” We each put them in our desired order and then shared and discussed our lists. Then we did the same for the Disney heroes, the Disney villains–which was an interesting discussion about what makes a villain enjoyable to watch–and then she surprised me


Describing Fight Scenes

Authors often ask me how specific they should be when describing fight scenes. My advice is to avoid getting too technical or the fight scene will read like a training manual. Too many details can slow down the pacing. Fights are fast and you want your action to read quickly so you can elicit an emotional response in the reader. You want readers to feel the excitement of the fight, not confusion over the words used to describe it. The terms you use will also depend on your audience. If you don’t write books filled with action-packed fight sequences, then it may be best to keep to more general fighting terms. What if you want to showcase a particular awesome move or technique in the climax, but it’s too technical to explain at that moment? Describing in detail what’s happening in a fast-paced action scene will slow down the excitement.


Would You Fight Back? And Renegade’s Release!

I remember reading a comment from a woman about self-defense and how she felt that if attacked, she could never fight back, as she could never hurt another mother’s son. Wow. That’s a pretty noble statement. Now, she didn’t state her reasons for this. It could be her religious belief, or her moral code, or perhaps she’d recently given birth and couldn’t imagine hurting another mother’s child. I don’t know. But it did make me think. And my conclusion? Yeah…no, I could never be that noble. While I’d like to believe I have good moral principles, I know absolutely, without a doubt that if I were attacked or threatened, I’d fight back. There is no turning the other cheek for this girl. I’d punch, kick, claw, bite, poke out eyes…anything to get away. No, I’m not normally a violent person (ahem…I just write violent books) but if the situation comes


Fight Back – All Bottles Are Good

While giving a women’s self defense seminar at my dojo one night, a student asked me which technique was the best to stop an attacker. I said, “Whichever works!” That may not have been the answer she (or you) expected, but think about it. You’re attacked. You react. Your reaction either stops the assailant or doesn’t. If it stops your attacker, excellent!  But it doesn’t, what then? Do you coil into the fetal position and fall to the ground? Hell, no! You try another technique. And another one. And another one after that. And you keep fighting until you’ve succeeded, or until you’ve breathed your last breath. The point is, no matter what techniques you use, fighting back doubles your chances of an assailant breaking off their attack. Remember, your assailant fears two things: getting caught and getting hurt. Be sure to use your voice as well as your might.


Codes of Character

Codes are all around us: computer codes, genetic codes, zip codes, and bar codes. The military has codes, professionals have codes, even pirates have codes (though I hear they’re more like guidelines than actual rules.) Our code of honor, code of ethics, and code of conduct makes up our conscience. It gives us a moral compass to guide our way though life. Right or wrong, we all have a philosophy by which we live. And so should the characters we read or write about. We love stories with heroes with a strong moral code like Yoda (Star Wars), Mr. Myiagi (The Karate Kid), William Wallace (Braveheart). We also love stories with heroes whose moral codes rivals the rules of society. Who doesn’t love a wronged hero who takes matters into his own hands? He’s redeemable in our eyes as long as he is true to his own moral philosophy, and


Make It Work! & RENEGADE Cover Reveal

Three little words my karate Sensei A.J. Advincula says is Make it work! This means that sometimes the student must adjust a technique, principle, or concept in order to execute a technique based on individual needs. For example, someone shorter than their attacker (like me) may be better off countering an attack with groin strike rather than a strike to the throat. Why would I reach up when my target of opportunity, the groin, is closer? Adjusting, adapting, and overcoming—AKA making it work—applies in the martial arts, in life (as we’ve all been experiencing in the Covid-19 era), and in writing. One time, when Sensei Advincula stayed at our house for a long weekend of karate training, he taught us knife-fighting techniques with the Flesheater, the combat knife he designed. This awesome knife, custom made by knife maker Jim Hammond, is featured in each book in the Survival Race series

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