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Under Construction

New Look Approaching!

I’m very excited to announce a brand new look for my website. I’ll be working hard at making the changes this weekend so there will be no Sensational Saturday Post and I will be hiding the site from view at noon today, July 6 2012.

The plan is to debut the site on July 9th on Moonday Mania, so stay tuned!

Jessica Aspen

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Starving With Bella? Katniss Feeds Paranormal Fans

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

Katniss hunger games

Katniss is a heroine for the hungry paranormal masses who have been starving with Bella.

There is a reason why Katniss defeats Bella in the paranormal heroine competition, and it isn’t because she shoots arrows. It’s because she has an inner strength that pulls here through. That’s why paranormal readers are flocking to the Hunger Games. There has been a pervasive hunger for a heroine who isn’t whiney, can stand on her own two feet, and is decisive.

I read Twilight. And the second one.

Why? Not because I liked Bella. No, I read it because I wanted to see what teens, and even grown women, wanted to read. I’m a paranormal author. I love paranormal romance. And vampires. I read Dracula for fun in high school. In fact I’ve read it at least three times. Gothic romance? Swooning heroines? I’ve read it all. But those stories were written during times when women were considered the weaker sex and even worse, were considered dangerous if they had opinions.

We don’t live in that time anymore. Women are strong capable people. We’ve always known it, but now we can celebrate it. We work and feed our families. We straddle generations, tending to our aging parents and our children, sometimes even our grandchildren while holding down jobs and keeping our marriages together. We aren’t wimpy. So why did Bella take off? Why, when all I want to read are heroines like Anna Strong, from author Jeanne Stein, did Bella become the woman for this generation?

I wish I knew. I wish I could say definitely it’s because women wanted a break from being strong, wanted to fantasize for a moment about some controlling man taking them away, but I can’t. And why can’t I? Because Katniss is here.

Maybe it’s Bella rebound, maybe it’s just the hot new thing, but I believe it’s that everywhere girls and women have been reading Bella’s stories and saying “WAIT! Isn’t there more?”

Yes, there is more.

Even if your heroines aren’t quite the physical, save-the-day, heroine that Katniss is, they can be emotionally strong. Stand up and move through an empowering character arc that ends, not in repeated sacrifice, but in decisive action. That’s the kind of heroine I like to read, and that’s the kind I like to write.

What kind of heroines do you like? Are you a Bella fan? (It’s okay, there are a lot of you out there.) Or are you an Anna Strong type? Do you like kick-ass climaxes? Or do you think it is better to lay down and sacrifice oneself for the greater good?

Oh, and come visit me on Paranormal Freebies on Friday April 4th for another chance to win Little Red Riding Wolf.

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Four Fabulous Posts to Check Out Since I’m on Vacation

Sensational Saturday’s

a blog for where I’m at (and it’s not here)

Hey folks! I’m on vacation! Enjoy these other posts while I’m away!

Gloria’s done it again! Her sense of humor slays me!

DO NOT CLICK ON THIS! Disjointed Excerpts Exploding Within! 

Looking for a more reliable book review site than mine? Check out Kayla Tocco and her Whole Latte Romance. Today’s blog:

Review: Forbidden Fantasies by Jodie Griffin

Want something totally different and more paranormal? Mare’s series on Chakras is muy cool!

Magical, Mystical, Metaphysical Monday Mania – March 26, 2012 2nd part of 3rd of 4th levels or dimensions of the universal field

And for you writer’s in the group, if you haven’t checked out Bob Mayer and Jen Talty’s blog, you need to go. They are rockin’ they publishing world!

The Secret Success of the Digital Author

That’s all folks! Have a great week and I’ll see you on Moonday Mania!

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Discover How Tiny Snowflakes Create a Story

Moonday Mania

a blog on the craft of writing

Snowflakes. Tiny crystalline forms that melt on your tongue. Pile enough of them up and you have a mountain of snow that you need to climb to get over. Writing a novel is like that. Each word a snowflake carefully chosen to pile in with the others till you have enough snow to make an Olympic skier happy. Or an editor.

Actually I believe Randy Ingermanson was thinking about how the crystal forms, one branch connecting to another and then back to a third till you have a uniquely beautiful structure, when he called his plotting method, The Snowflake Method. Last week I told you about my struggles with plotting (click HERE for the story). My resentment that anyone would even ask me to spend time in such a manner, and my realization that front loading the work is not such a bad idea.

Today I’m going to share with you why the Snowflake method works for me and why I think it’s a great way to plot. Especially for converting pantsers.

1. It’s easy.

There are no pages and pages of plotting. You start with an idea. Get your idea into one single sentence, and then expand it into a paragraph. When you are finished you have the entire story in a nutshell. And, by the way, a one sentence pitch for those times you are stuck in an elevator with a trapped agent or editor, and a blurb for your back cover.

Randy has designed it so that all of your steps can be used twice. Single themed sentence becomes one sentence pitch. Five sentence paragraph becomes the basis for a query letter or a back cover blurb. Expanded paragraph becomes your synopsis if you need one for following up that query letter. And so on. Each simple step is what Alton Brown would call a multi-tasker. (If you don’t watch Good Eats, you should. Alton is amazing!)

2. It’s natural.

Most plotting has you start by building your characters, but Randy has you go back and forth between the plot and the characters in an organic way. The plot helps shape the characters and the characters help shape the plot. So much easier for me than having to figure out who the heck these people are when I haven’t’ even seen them in action.

And just in case you were worrying, it is still character driven. Because you can always go back and change things if you need to. Find out your character wouldn’t end the story that way. No problem. You haven’t actually written the story yet, so changing that one sentence at the end of your paragraph is a piece of cake.

3. It saves time.

I have never had such an easy time plotting and in such a short amount of time. By the end of a week or two I have a plot, character descriptions, a pitch , blurb and synopsis all finished. And my plot is detailed. With scenes ready to go. No more floundering around wondering “What’s next?”.

4. Last, but not least, it’s flexible.

Change your order of scenes, no problem, you did them on an Excel spread sheet so you can move them by an easy cut and paste. Or even delete them. Or save them on a separate page, just in case you change your mind. All of this before you write the story. And then, as Randy says, you get to the fun part. Writing becomes fun. Why? Because you know where you’re going. And because you know where you are going you can take the short cut and get there faster.

Now you know the secret. Easy quick plotting and faster easier writing. That’s how those amazing series authors write six books in a year. This is why my killer goal list (click HERE) may actually be doable.

How do you plot? Are you using something like the Snowflake method? Have you ever tried it? Do you plot at all? Did changing your plotting methods cut down your editing time?

I’d love to know, so leave me a comment. And don’t forget to register it in the contest widget HERE so you can enter the Little Red Riding Wolf contest for fun prizes, including chocolate! And drop in and leave a comment on Wednesday on Gloria’s blog where I’ll be swinging in the hammock drinking sweet tea and answering Gloria’s interview questions. Wish me luck!

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TOO FUNNY!

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever I want, seriously

I have to do it. I have to post my favorite YouTube video of all time. Now, if you have ever taken Spanish, you will find it hysterically funny. If not, well, try it anyway. Just the pure cheese will get through to you. And you may know enough Spanish to get it. I’ve seen it too many times to count and I still think it’s hillarious.

Wait, too much build up. I should tell you it’s terrible, then you’ll really find it funny. Here goes.

I have to admit, I find this man strangely alluring. I don’t know if it’s the Spanglish or the Captain Kirk style of seduction. Yes, I am cheap and easy, which is why I don’t get drunk without my husband around. Very dangerous!

What was really amusing about this video was how funny my Spanish teacher found it. I had a terrific Spanish teacher when I went back to school a few years ago. Very dry sense of humor. She loved this video! And BTW, I still can’t speak Spanish very well, it keeps getting mixed up with my high school French. Maybe my brother was right and I should have taken Esperanza.

Leave a comment and enter the contest, you know the drill: you must record your comments on the rafflecopter plug in on http://paranormalfreebies.com/news. Enter HERE  And have a muy bueno day!

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Happy Holidays: the Blog Hops are Here!

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever I feel like writing

Click this link for fabulous authors and prizes all during December!

Today I am a guest over at Mare’s Place for the Countdown to Romance 2012. Hop on over and read about the holidays in my fictional small town of Radon, Colorado. In Radon werewolves keep themselves secret from the general public, and Red and Evan discover forbidden love.

Looking for more Holiday Treats? Another cool holiday hop going on is over at Gloria Richard’s blog. The suggested theme for this blog hop is for participants to write a letter to a real or imaginary pick-an-age-year-old. Find and post pictures of yourself at that age. Write a letter showing what it was like during that one window of time in your life. Or you can write from a character’s POV. Gloria even suggested, if anyone dares, the villain’s holiday memories. Gotta love that Gloria!

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday when I have fabulous multi-published author Starla Kaye as my guest. Starla will be helping us understand the pitfalls behind writing a romance anthology. She has a few twists in her writing to keep readers intrigued throughout a book of shorts.

Now I’m off to the CRW holiday potluck where we get lots of terrific prizes for completing our goals, and consoling pieces of chocolate for those we were unsuccessful at. I hope your December is filled with warmth and love and lots of friends, just like CRW. Happy Holiday’s!

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Will Grimm Survive?

Thursday’s Bite

a paranormal blog

Two new fairy tale tv shows popped up this season. I reviewed Once Upon a Time HERE, a quirky twist on Snow White and all the fairy tales, now I’m reviewing Grimm. With much anticipation I DVRd both shows and made my husband watch. We’re still watching both, but I find myself looking forward to Once Upon a Time slightly more. Why?

Grimm follows a darker story line about a descendant of the Grimm family who discovers he has special abilities and is able to see the strange people who live among us and disguise themselves as human. His inherited abilities now force him into a job as supernatural police and he must not only enforce moral laws on his own, but discern what morality is. So far he’s been a pretty black and white character, adhering to the exact letter of what he thinks is right. Despite killing at least one character who might be on his side.

I’m not sure if it’s his goody goody black and white world view that slows this show down, or the way every plot line is revealed that is a little too similar, but I’m waiting for that magical thing to happen. You know, that thing that happens to good shows after they get comfortable with themselves. So-so shows never have it. They make it through the bumpy first few episodes, but never hit the magic. Great shows hit it early on. They may start off looking like every other show, but then they take off and find themselves.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it. The remake of Dark Shadows never did. Unless a show figures out it’s personality and gets away from the stated box it starts with, it won’t fly. This is especially true for shows that are risk takers. Shows that are different from the norm. Like Grimm. Any show about supernaturals has to prove it’s worth earlier and stronger than a regular show because it is not only proving it’s worth to skeptical bigwigs at the production company, but it is proving itself to a narrow, highly discerning specialty audience. The paranormal geeks.

Will Grimm make it? I don’t know. They need to take this blue eyed cutie and give him some teeth. They need to take his by the rules side kick and give him some more depth. They’re trying to make it complex, trying to show not all the uglies are baddies, but that’s not enough. That’s external plotting being developed. We expect that. Give us something unexpected and twist it. Then we’ll watch.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Grimm, and seeing if it can struggle out of the box it used to sell itself to the network. Because that’s what it needs to do to sell itself to us.

Have you watched Grimm yet? What about Once Upon a Time? Do you agree with me that paranormal shows need to have more than a regular show? What do you think makes one successful?

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Discover First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left

Thursday’s Bite

a paranormal blog

ΩΩΩΩΩ

Five! You read ’em right, five omegas to First Grave on the Right! I loved this book from the moment I saw the cover. And once I started reading it, it did not disappoint. It’s no wonder it won RWA’s Golden Heart Award in 2009. It’s quirky sense of dark humor and creative premise catch you right from the beginning. And with the guts to name a heroine Charley Davidson, Darynda Jones has struck gold.

If you love the humor in Janet Evonovitch’s writing, but enjoy paranormal romance, this book’s for you. From the moment Charley wakes up, blearily cursing her alarm and the dead guy in her room, you’ll be hooked. Because the dead guy isn’t a body, he’s a ghost. And Charley is the Grim Reaper.

Or at least that’s the best title she can come up with for the only person in the world who can help ghosts move into the light. Is Charley and angel. No way! But she just might be a corporal portal to heaven.

And it gets better, because Charley has a super sexy, super mysterious, lover. So mysterious, she doesn’t even know who it is, she just knows he visits her in her dreams.

And that’s all in the first few pages.

Darynda Jones packs the action in. And I expect her to do the same in the sequel, Second Grave on the Left. Another mystery, and more hotness with…I’m not revealing the mystery lover, but you’ll find out in the first book. Let’s just say, he’s my favorite kind of hero, the conflicted, complicated kind with sharp edges.

Once again, Darynda is someone I met at Rom Con. If you want to get fantastic face to face with amazing authors, Rom Con is the place to be. Unlike other cons, it’s focus is connecting readers and authors in ways that mean you actually get to see, talk and interact with your favorites. Bring all your questions because you’ll actually be able to ask them and get answers.

For all you Margie Lawson  Fans, I think you’ll discover you have a connection with Darynda already, because it’s apparent from her quality writing that she is a Margie grad! her stellar writing and her fresh similes will make you think: “Why didn’t I come up with that!”

Has anyone already discovered First Grave on the Right? And if you’ve already read Second Grave on the Left, I’d love to know if you liked it. The first book was full of surprises and I want to make sure new readers get to discover Darynda’s creativity on their own, so no spoilers!

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Bijou from the CRW retreat, Margie Lawson

Sensational Saturdays

where I blog whatever I want

I’m thrilled to see so many new commenters on Jessica Aspen Writes! I love communicating with everyone. Those who know me know I am pretty talkative, so thanks for jumping in and feeding my conversational need. Once again this was confirmed at the CRW writers retreat I attended in September where we were lucky enough to have the talented Margie Lawson helping us figure out our personalities and our self defeating behaviors. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in today’s contest!

Are you riding the horse, or is the horse riding you?

Self-knowledge is one of the things Margie Lawson teaches in her Defeating Self Defeating Behavior courses and she was only able to cover a teeny tiny portion during the retreat, but I could still spot the wheels turning in everyone’s brains as they looked a little deeper into themselves and their various reasons for not getting the job done.

Are you like me? Very social and liable to be caught up in too much tweeting or blogging and never having enough time to finish your project? Or are you caught up in repeating the self defeating, it’s never going to happen so why bother. Whichever you are you have a problem. Either the work doesn’t get finished or it doesn’t get sent out. Whichever one is your problem, or if it’s something altogether different, Margie has it covered in her course. Margie is the woman with the solution.

If you’ve ever taken a Margie course, you know she fills it with tons of wonderful information. At the retreat we only had enough time to take a quick peek at our personalities and what might be holding us back as well as make lists of doable goals for the retreats. I discovered I’m pretty balanced on three out of four of the personality styles in the survey she had us take. This means that my talent for organization and my ability to socialize are just as strong as my positive enthusiastic side. What I’m lacking is the self-confidence and forceful pieces that might push me to say, submit my work?

Once again, Margie is the woman with the solution!

Her terrific system of goals have helped me tremendously since I started her Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors course. Making two lists, winner and superstar, keeps me on task and keeps me from beating myself up when I don’t get everything done. It also lets me reward myself with something fun, say Tweeting, when I have to do those tasks that are not so fun, say sending another letter after the first query asking “what happened to my query?” Rewarding my efforts that are difficult has helped me to achieve the things that are hard for me. Thanks Margie!

If you haven’t take a course from Margie Lawson I highly encourage you to do so. Her online courses have a tremendous amount of information and she has several for each stage of writing. We only had a taste of Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors at the retreat, but I know (from my personal experience with Margie’s courses) that you will discover things about yourself that you never knew. And address those issues that hold you back. Even if you feel that you’re on track, you can still find a wealth of information to get you organized and over any issues you might have.

You can find Margie’s courses like Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, and many more, at her brand new online school, Margie Lawson Academy!

What kind of self defeating behaviors do you struggle with? Have you ever taken Margie’s course? What strategies work for you?

Leave a comment and enter to win today’s Halloween Treat book, Kate Moore’s To Save the Devil. All entries go into the final drawing for the three grand prizes! Thursday’s winner is Sharon Clare! Send me your address through my contact box and I’ll be mailing prizes out next week! Congratulations Sharon!

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