Archive | September, 2013


29 Sep

Who writes their pets into their fiction? wpid-20130928_194835.jpg

Novel Sneak Peek #7–Chapter 24 Excerpt

25 Sep

This is the last peek you guys are getting. It’s not very long, it doesn’t give a lot away, but that’s the whole point! I can’t give you guys the end of the book now can I? But don’t worry! I’m going to start Acephalous 2 for NaNoWriMo. The end of a book is never really the end of the story.

For now, enjoy your last look at novel #1–chapter 24.

Ten minutes later, Lilly burst through Breena’s bedroom door.

“Shit, Breena!”

No response.

“Breena? Breena!” Lilly was shouting directly into Breena’s face, but still, there was no response.

Lilly tried to scoop Breena up in her arms to move her, but she couldn’t stand up with her. Then, she tried to roll the dead weight into her lap to pick her up from a little higher up. Lilly dropped Breena’s legs when she was almost in a standing position, so she flopped Breena’s top half onto the bed. Health class training made Lilly quite aware that she was doing all of the wrong things with her friend, but she knew that Breena was tough and that her friend would want her to try. Luckily, all of the jostling roused Breena.

“Breena, thank the sweet Lord.”


“What can I do for you? What happened?”

“Get Jordan,” Breena muttered feebly.

Lilly fumbled for her phone. “What do I tell him?”
     “Have to get gone. Atlas.”

Lilly didn’t need any other information. The mention of Atlas was scary enough. She dialed Jordan, and told him to come pick them up at Breena’s house right away. Discussion of where they would go could happen later.

As Lilly argued urgently over the phone with Jordan about why Breena didn’t call him first, Breena tried to get a read on her storm. Her time unconscious left it vulnerable for control by anyone else with the ability. She wanted to break it up before Atlas could grab it for himself. Wading through the vibrations of the world made her nauseous. Her limbs hurt, and her heart hurt. She couldn’t get a complete hold on her hurricane because the energy would flow through one part of her arm and get stuck in her shoulder. The strength flowing through her feet and up her legs seemed to leak out of her hips. It was like she was cracked apart inside, the channels of energy in her body fragmented.

“Bree? Let’s go.” Breena had faded into unconsciousness again, or was it sleep? Jordan and Lilly were shaking her gently. Next thing she knew, their arms were under her shoulders. They were walking out of the front door. They were in the car on the way to the park she still didn’t know the name of.


As always, feel free to share this post via the share links below, but please do not delete information linking it to this page or claim the words as your own. This is my livelihood here.

Happy reading!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

Commence night-before-first-day-of-classes frenzy.

22 Sep


I beg your pardon in advance for my imminent absence around here. Between new classes and work I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post. In the mean time, feel free to reminisce over your favorite self-editing tips to date, or to work yourself into a tizzy over what the final novel sneak peek might include. And, as always, happy reading and happy writing.

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

Self-Editing Tip #24–Cliches

19 Sep

The most basic definition of a cliché that I can give you is this: A cliché is any phrase that is so overused, hackneyed, and tossed about carelessly that it has lost all the power its meaning once had. Like I said, that’s a basic definition. Entire situations, settings, and plots can be cliché as well.

Give it the cliché test–When you read it, try to imagine the profundity and impact it made the very first time it was ever put on paper. If it doesn’t seem all that special anymore, it’s probably a cliché. If you groan when you hear it, it’s probably a cliché. If you lose faith in the originality of an author simply for its inclusion in the text, it’s probably a cliché. Or, you could also just go to this website and see if the phrase is on the list.

Phrase Examples:

  • “All over the map”
  • “Axe to grind”
  • “Fan the flames”
  • “Nice guys finish last.”
  • “Pay the piper”
  • “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

There are an abundance of clichés, but don’t forget that it’s not just what is said, but where it takes place and how that can make a reader want to put the text away.

Plot Examples:

  • Love triangle
  • Supernatural/fantasy creatures
    • Think about how innovative Tolkien’s creations were. He was on of the first true fantasy writers. Now think about what you see as soon as you walk into the book store—hundreds of teen fantasy books that differ only slightly. Even the covers look the same (check out BuzzFeed’s 19 Book Cover Cliches).
    • Bad guy change of heart
    • Break-up aftermath

This list could get extensive as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard to be totally original in plot creation, and there’s a good reason for it. We all write from and about the human condition and experience (whether our characters are human or not). Because we are human, these are the ideas that inform our creative process. In addition, there are only a fixed number of character interactions possible to create a plot. Carlo Gozzi and Georges Polti were creators of the list of 36 Dramatic Situations. So, most plots are cliché because there really is not a way to be totally original in our time. If you take something that is written about countless times, it might be boring, or it might not. It’s up to you. What makes it cliché is that the plot follows the same predictable path of unfolding events. Change things up and you’re set.

Happy writing!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

Novel Sneak Peek #6–Chapter 19 Excerpt

17 Sep

It’s been a busy week already! I am fully ready to acknowledge that I have been a MAJOR slacker on the self-editing tips this month. Not to worry, though, the efforts have been placed elsewhere. Acephalous is truly finished. I just ordered the reprint yesterday so I can give it one more just-in-case read through before publishing. That means you’ll only be getting one more sneak peek after this. Don’t want to give too much away about the ending 🙂 I’ve also been busy preparing materials for the James River Writers Conference in October (are you going?), editing for a client, and getting a head start on school reading (classes start Monday). So, basically, breaking a sweat without leaving my desk. Enough about me. HOW ARE YOU? Tell me what you’ve got going on at your desk in the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s a peek at chapter 19.

In her room, Breena stripped out of her clothes, put on her baggiest t-shirt, and climbed into bed. She hadn’t bothered to turn the lights on, so there was no need to turn them out, but she did pull the light-blocking shade down over her window. In the drawer of her nightstand lay her iPod. Breena checked the battery—it was fully charged—so she popped in the earbuds and put the playlist on shuffle. Last step in her preparation for an epic nap was pulling the covers up to her neck, rolling onto her belly, and tucking the blankets under her sides, feet, and shoulders to cocoon herself. She was ready to find Atlas.

     It took Breena thirty minutes to fall asleep, but once she was out, getting to the clearing was a quick trip. Atlas was clearly not in the opening, so she checked the few trees he made a habit of sitting under. She wasn’t certain how she knew which his favorites were; it was almost as if she could feel the vibrations of his energy left over in those spots. Maybe he’s not here.

 A strong sensation of desire and belonging pulled her toward the chapel, which had been recreated. In addition to its original state, there was a plaque in front, now. Breena moved to read the inscription, “Rebuilt for My Love, NEVER to be destroyed again.” How touching. Remaining animosity toward Atlas rose up her spine.

It occurred to Breena that she had never been inside the chapel, despite the number of times she had seen it in her dreams and visited it here. The white doors were not locked, but it took a lot of effort to pull the solid wooden masses open. Once she got the doors wide, they stayed open as if the doors themselves agreed that the tiny church needed airing out.

The wooden floor boards creaked as Breena walked between the two columns of pews. At the very front of the chapel, the stained glass window was even larger than she had dreamed so long ago. She sat on the floor and stared up at it.

What am I even doing here? I need a plan. As Breena thought about the purpose of her journey, a dove flew in and landed on the back of the first pew. It cocked its head to the left and to the right, and Breena expected it to fly back out of the chapel. It stayed.

“Well at least I’m not talking to myself, now, right?” she chuckled. Talking to a bird didn’t make her feel any better about herself, but there was added clarity to her thoughts knowing that another cognitive creature could hear her. “I miss him,” was her first admission to the bird.

As always, feel free to share this post via the share links below, but please do not delete information linking it to this page or claim the words as your own. This is my livelihood here.

Happy reading!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast


Self-Editing Tip #23–Taking a Step Back

13 Sep

Even editors need an editor sometime. AND IT’S OK. Don’t think of it as an admission of imperfection or as a sign of incapability to improve your own writing. The reality is that after working on your own project for a considerable amount of time, it becomes nearly impossible to see certain mistakes. After reading through a 300-page manuscript three times, you know what you’re trying to say. That doesn’t mean the writing makes the point so clear. It’s OK to need an outsider to say, “Hey, that section isn’t very cohesive,” or, “I don’t think you followed through with that thought.”

So, it doesn’t matter how great of an editor of other people’s work you are—you can’t always be that great editor for your own work. Yes, do your self-editing, do your grammar checks, spell checks, typo checks. Yes, try to make sure you tie up all the loose ends, the Chekhov guns and Red Herrings. But don’t get your pride hurt for realizing you need a second, third, fourth reader to make sure you’ve found all the missteps. Besides, what aspiring writer would ever turn down valuable input from the people that could one day become a paying audience?

Take a step back and enjoy what your writing has become.

P.S. It’s OK to get help.


Happy editing!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

Novel Sneak Peek #5– Ch. 21 Excerpt

11 Sep

I’m nearly done with the editing process, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Here’s one of the final sneak peeks you’ll be getting! Enjoy.

A week later, Breena was released from the hospital with no restrictions on her activity. All of her tests were consistently normal, and the doctor was pleased to see she hadn’t fallen back into a deep sleep. Jordan picked Breena up at 7:00 for a surprise dinner and movie. Breena hadn’t woken up in time for Valentine’s Day, so he was treating her to a belated one on the last Saturday of February.

While she was primping, if the one stroke of a brush and hole-less jeans she was rocking instead of her usual garb could be considered primping, Ari knocked on her bedroom door. She let him in after slipping a shirt over her head. As was his annoying custom, he made himself right at home on her bed.

“Guess what, Bree!”

Breena never liked when his sentences started like this; it usually meant stupidity was to follow.

He took her silence as an inquiry and continued, “I got a date with Linda. Finally sealed the deal.”

This got Breena’s attention and she whipped her head around to look at her brother. “You did what?”

“Yeah, I guess all that time in the hospital room, again, really got under her skin. I’m infectious like that. Fitting for the setting we were in, really.”

“Ari, you can’t go out with her.”

“I’m going to.”

“No, Ari. What do you think she wants with you? If it took so much convincing, do you think she’s really into you? And what would a twenty-three year old want with a sixteen year old anyway? Nothing good.”

Ari butted in, “Oh, you think she wants that from me? Sweet.”

“No, Ari, that is not what I meant. Grown adults don’t go out with teenagers unless they want a pet, someone to use. I know, I know how you’re about to take that. She’s not using you for that. Just stay away from her.”

“Shit, Bree, I thought you’d actually approve of this one. She’s your friend.” Ari paused. “Oh. That’s it, isn’t it? She’s your friend so you don’t want me to have her?”

“That’s not it at all!”

“Yeah right. Well, I don’t care what it is. I’m going out with her.” Ari was out of Breena’s room before Breena could think of anything more convincing to say to him.

It’s not like I can go telling him the real reason he can’t see her. He will be in more danger knowing everything than he will be just going on a date with her.

With Breena’s mood slightly soured before her date, she was even more annoyed with Jordan’s overprotective actions upon leaving her house. Since there was snow on the front steps of Breena’s home, and on everything else for that matter, Jordan was still treating Breena like she was in the hospital. He held her hand as she descended the three snowy steps, then handed her a bouquet of grocery store roses. They kissed and walked to the car.

“Jordan, thank you for all this.”

“Of course. Only the best for you.”

“But I haven’t given you the best of me.” Tears welled up in Breena’s eyes. “I haven’t treated you well at all. You deserve so much better.”

“Don’t do this tonight, Bree. I’ve told you, your past and your mistakes are your business. Plus, Atlas is a manipulator. I don’t blame you for what happened. I just want to help you.”

“Can we go back to your house after the movie? I don’t want to sleep alone tonight.”

“Sure. I don’t sleep well anymore either.”

The movie was a dud, so the couple left forty-five minutes in. Driving back to the house was an adventure through snow drifts, across black ice, and under trees hanging heavy with icicles. Breena took in the scenery; her mind wandered. She was thankful to be back with a guy that treated her so kindly. She was surprised that Atlas hadn’t come to look for her. She hadn’t seen him in town or in her sleep, not that Breena missed him.


As always, feel free to share this post via the share links below, but please do not delete information linking it to this page or claim the words as your own. This is my livelihood here.

Happy reading!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

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