Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday - K.A. Mitchell

Regularly Scheduled Life (Ohio Books #1)

It's a long way back to happily ever after.

Sean and Kyle have enjoyed six perfect years of what their friends called a disgustingly happy relationship. But what happens one sunny Tuesday morning in October might be more than even the most loving couple can survive.

When the bell rings that morning in chemistry teacher Sean Farnham's first-period class, a terrifying sound fills the halls - gunshots. Without considering the consequences, Sean runs to tackle the shooter, sustaining a bullet wound to his leg. Despite his actions, he is unable to save the lives of the principal and two students.

Architect Kyle DeRusso hears about the shooting on the radio, and in the flash of an instant finds his life irrevocably altered. Everything - especially his heart - hangs suspended in a nightmare until he finds out Sean is alive. It doesn't matter that Sean will be left with a permanent limp. Kyle's just relieved the worst is over.

Or is it? Putting that day behind them isn't as simple as it sounds. As Sean struggles to make something positive out of the tragedy, Kyle fights to save their relationship from the dangers of publicity - and Sean's unwillingness to face how the crisis has changed him.

Warning: This book contains adults doing adult things, like using adult language and having hot m/m sex in various positions and on various furnishings. It might also cause the more tender-hearted adult to reach for a tissue or two.


Not Knowing Jack (Ohio Books #2) 

When your lover becomes a stranger, trust is the weakest link of all.

Bartender Tony Gemetti has it all: a rich, hot boyfriend, a McMansion in the burbs and unlimited sex in an expectation-free zone. He thought that was all he ever wanted out of any relationship until Jack begins making excuses for frequent disappearances. Realizing he has more than his libido and enough drawers for his T-shirt collection riding on this relationship, Tony figures it's time to find out what's going on.

Jack Noble has spent his life hiding his real self behind a carefully created image. With Tony, he finally knows real freedom, real happiness. Now a past of buried secrets and lies is closing in, and no matter how hard he tries to stop it, the truth is tearing through. Once Tony learns what kind of man Jack really is, he won't stay. Jack's sure of it.

Suddenly the past shows up in a completely unexpected way, testing the boundaries of their old, coasting-along-on-fun relationship. Tony indeed finds that Jack isn't the man he went looking for, but it's too late. There's too much at stake to just walk away. First, though, he has to make sure there are no lies left for Jack to hide behind.

Warning: Readers should be free of any heart condition that may be affected by a hero with an overactive imagination, painful back stories, and hot sex in a variety of athletic positions. Neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for any sudden or frequent urges to have children with Tony Gemetti.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Story Mapping with Excel

This week is another technology tip, but I am going in a little bit different direction. Instead of giving you more information about how to use Microsoft Word, instead I am going to tell you a little bit about how I use some other tools when I edit.

As you can imagine, I have a set of programs on my computer and a group of websites that I use on a regular basis to help me with various tasks. But what those tools are often surprise people. I mean, yes, I do own Aeon Timeline and Scrivener, but mostly so I can trade files with authors that work with those programs. When I am building out research, plotting story arcs, and tracking down tricky timelines, I tend to stick with much simpler tools: Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Evernote.

Today I am going to show you a tool I built in Excel recently when working with an author that had a large cast of characters in her book. With so many characters, it is easy to lose sight of who the reader has had a chance to connect with and they have not, which in turn can have a large impact on the reader’s impression of the book. By mapping the book out visually, we were quickly able to spot a place where she had made a character into a POV character where it didn’t make sense, and another place where we could beef up the reader’s familiarity with the character before that character became the POV character. These little tweaks can make the difference between a good story that the reader enjoys from a distance and a great story that the reader gets sucked into.

How to Create a Story Map

To use this, simply open Excel (or whatever spreadsheet tool you use), and set up a grid as shown in the image above.

Column A: Scenes
I used the comment feature in Word to mark the scenes in the story so the author and I knew where each scene started and stopped. You can use whatever nomenclature you want for these, but personally, I use chapter number-scene number. So 2-1 is chapter 2, scene 1.
Column B: Settings
These do not need full descriptions, just a keyword or two, but a word of caution: if you find yourself writing down more than 2 or 3 locations in a scene, you may want to rethink your scene breaks.
Columns C & D: Day and Time
These are optional, but are handy if you want to keep track of the timeline of your story.
Columns E-L: Main characters
In this particular map, columns E-L are our main characters in alpha order. Any character that is a POV character or a major character in at least one scene gets their own column. In the original map I had first names, I shortened them to the first two letters for anonymity’s sake. You may have more or fewer columns than this.
Column M: Other characters
These are any characters that appear in the scenes that are never POV characters. I include this column because it helps to be aware of who else is in the scene that may or may not need to be there. You might even find that one of your “other” characters should play a larger role than you initially thought or one of your main characters gets “demoted” to an other role.
Column N: Summary
This column is important in helping you make decisions. Write a quick 1-2 sentence summary of the story arc of this scene. Since the point of the map is to give you a quick bird’s eye view of the story, this summary provides the quick reminder of what is happening in each scene.
Column O: Purpose
What is the point of this scene? What character’s story arc is moving forward? The answer to this question will help you determine who is a minor character and who is a major character.

Once you’ve set up your columns, go back through your story and start filling in your map. Mark down who the POV character of each scene is. (Hint, if you find yourself marking more than one character and you weren’t intentionally doing omniscient POV, you have some rewriting to do.) Then mark down what other characters are in the scene. If you can’t decide who is a major character and who is a minor character yet, that’s fine, just mark that they are in the scene at all. You can always come back and make the major/minor decision later.

Go through the entire story, filling out each scene. In case the image isn't clear enough, the letters I use are P for the POV character, M for a major character in the scene, and i for a minor character in the scene. (I use i instead of m because of a quirk in the way Excel does conditional formatting.) After you have marked down all your characters, go through and color in your squares. You don’t have to use the same three colors I did, but make sure you pick three colors that are noticeably different. The trick here is we are using the visual part of your brain to help us, and the colors help engage that part of your brain. If you are really tech savvy, you can do what I did and set up conditional formatting for those columns so that it automatically colors the squares as you type in the letters.

For the characters you can’t decide between major and minor, this is where columns N and O come in to play. Go back and reread your summary and purpose statements for each scene again and then think about each character. Think about what would happen if that character was cut from the scene. Would the purpose still be able to be accomplished? If so, that character is minor. (No, I am not saying you have to cut the character. It was just a thought experiment.) If you could not cut the character from the scene without the purpose of the scene being derailed, then that character is a major character.

How to Use the Story Map

As I said before, we used the story map to find places where we had POV characters “out of place” so to speak. You could also use it to make sure your POVs is balanced if you are alternating between one or more characters. You can use it to see your various settings and which characters show up where. You can make sure you only have one POV per scene. The purpose column helps you think about your story arc in another way to make sure your story is tight and the character interaction is meaningful. The day and time columns help you get a quick check on your timeline. Basically what you have done is created a visual representation of your story in a format your brain isn’t used to seeing, which will often spark ideas you weren’t expecting. I’m sure there are many other uses that you can find for it that I wouldn’t even begin to think of. I’d love to hear from you if you come up with a different use for it that I haven’t listed here.

Happy writing and see you next week.

Erika OrrickErika Orrick wanted to be a writer when she grew up, but detoured into computers when she realized she actually wanted to eat. Financial stability established, she eased her way back into storytelling by fixing other people’s words and discovered she had a knack. An admitted geek, she is constantly distracted from resuming her quest to be a writer by all the shiny. Luckily, since she hasn’t yet grown up, no one can say she hasn’t met her goal. She has tried (and failed) to escape Texas twice and in fact now lives on the north side of Houston, less than 100 miles from where she started.
Erika can be found on Twitter at @erikaeditsbooks or email at

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Acting Out - Audiobook

After one very long tour of duty in Afghanistan and an honorable discharge from the USMC, Elijah Preston comes home to nothing. He barely scrapes up enough money for a cheap motel in Quantico, Virginia, with no money-making opportunities in sight. A chance encounter in a local Walmart finally gives Eli hope for employment. Elijah is ready to sign on with Royce Mackey's proposition... until he hears what’s required. Royce operates a gay military porn site and wants Eli as his next star, never mind that Eli isn’t gay. Desperate and broke, Eli grudgingly accepts Royce’s offer and soon finds himself immersed in a strange new world.

Hamish Turner’s been there before. Taking Eli under his wing, he teaches him everything he can about Royce’s operation. The two quickly become friends, easing the way for their first scene together. Awkward at first, they both ease into it and find there is more of a connection between them than either expected. Curious to see where their mutual attraction takes them, they begin a relationship off-screen. But life gets complicated when a crazed fan of Hamish’s starts sending threatening letters demanding the scenes between the two men stop. Or else….

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Back to the Grind - Iced Coffee Season

Vietnamese Iced Coffee
A thick layer of condensed milk and quality coffee beans lend a sweet and refreshing taste to this recipe for Vietnamese iced coffee from Todd and Diane at White On Rice Couple.

White Chocolate Caramel Mocha Cookie Iced Coffee Chillers
You're gonna need to whip out the blender for this recipe from Cat at Food Family & Finds, but boy, is it worth it.

Orange and Cardamom Infused Cold-Brewed Coffee
Cold-brewed coffee steeps with warm spices and orange zest in this smooth recipe from Danguole at 10th Kitchen.

Honey Mint Iced Coffee
Each cup of this sweet creation has just 95 calories thanks to this light recipe from Coco at Opera Girl Cooks.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Author Spotlight - K. Lynn

His Womanly Ways

Alex is a womanizer. He makes no excuses for it. Yes, he picks up women at the local bar, leaving them with just a memory of a good night and a good lay, but he hasn't had any complaints yet. That is, until he picks up the wrong woman. Not satisfied to be tossed aside as just another notch in Alex's bedpost, she curses him, wishing he “knew what it was like for a woman.” And he's about to find out what she means, embarking on a genderswap journey that he can't stop.
Alex starts slowly gaining secondary female characteristics. Waking up with his cock gone, replaced by a vagina, was bad enough. Then it gets worse, as his body becomes more like a woman than the man he used to be. Alex tries to hide the changes he's going through, for fear that someone will discover his secret, but keeping this quite literally “under wraps” might be impossible before the curse runs its course.
With the help of his female best friend, Eve, Alex tries to deal with who he is becoming.  He feels like he's lost his identity, his mind not matching the body he now has. But Eve sticks by him, and they become closer as Alex's changes progress. What started out as friendship may become something more before Alex's journey is over. Perhaps this curse was actually a blessing in disguise.  GET IT HERE

More by K. Lynn

Coming Soon 

Ryan and Jake are new parents to little baby Isabelle. After two long years of being involved in the adoption process, they are fathers. But Ryan wants Jake to remember that they are husbands as well, and need some time to connect. With a baby in the house, though, it's a constant struggle. Interruptions are bound to happen, even at the most inopportune moments.
This story is also included in Family Time Anthology.
Check it out HERE
Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she's trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She's decided she's done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He's sweet, friendly, charming... and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.

But if the truth doesn't ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.
Check it out HERE

About K. Lynn

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. In her youth, she could most likely be found in the local library, devouring books that covered everything from WWII History to Dr. McCoy's latest adventures aboard the Enterprise, with some X-Men thrown in for good measure. Once she had read everything that was on the shelves, she turned around and read them again. K. Lynn was also known to create elaborate adventures that more than once made it to the page. Ink-filled papers gave way to overflowing computer memory as the years went on, but the stories never ceased.

While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn's work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future.

K. Lynn has degrees and certificates from UNC-Chapel Hill in the areas of American History, Religion, Creative Writing, Public Health, and Journalism. She is a member of Mensa and has an extensive writing and editing background. To her, life is an ongoing adventure where she seeks to learn something new every day. When K. Lynn is not writing short stories, she is working on her novels. Her interests range from erotica to education, with stops along the way in paranormal fiction, historical novels, and established relationship romance. Give her a good story and she's willing to read.

Contact K. Lynn at or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn