Thursday, May 31, 2012


I had the good fortune of having an honest person critique my very first book – my sister. Though family members tend to praise and fear hurting our feelings, she was brutally honest to the point of tearing the book to shreds. Why would I say, then, that I was fortunate to have her? The answer is simple: she taught me how to accept criticism and use it to my advantage.

No writer should be without a critique partner or two and a few good beta readers. They can be found all over the web. I found my critique group through the SCBWI website and my beta readers through the forums. Without the help of these wonderful men and women, I would be lost.

Each person brings a different perspective to your story and a different method of critiquing. Whether they go line by line suggesting changes or just comment on the things they see are not working, every piece of advice will bring your story one step closer to perfection. And isn’t that what we all strive to achieve?

Do yourself and your book a favor. If you don’t share your work with anyone for whatever reason, find the courage to get a trusted reader or two who will give you honest feedback. You won’t regret it. 

Kimmy :)

TRIANGLES, Kimberly Ann Miller, Spencer Hill Press, June 2013

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hail to Introverts

I have a strange defense against my natural introversion. I force myself to be an extrovert. After all, I can catch up on my reading once I return home from an evening out. I can write after I’ve finished mingling with the crowd, matching names to faces. Being an introvert, it had been drilled into me, was not the path to success. Learning to work in a team, socializing and small talk were the ticket. Extroverts were the ones who got things done. They were the leaders who took charge and got the bacon home.

Today, there’s a whiff of change in the air. Introversion is the new IT girl. Move over small talk magicians. Get in line social butterflies. The introvert is getting all the attention. Not that we really want the attention. But from the New York Times  to Susan Cain’s new book ‘Quiet’ introverts are getting street cred that was generally reserved for the chest beaters and those artistes of self-promotion.

As summer conference season begins, many of my writer friends and I put on our extrovert hats and step out to socialize. Even without it, we’re blogging (I know! I know!), tweeting, facebooking so that we’re seen as extroverts not afraid to face the world of PR, marketing and advertising.

Is any of it going to help us become more productive as writers and focus on our own stories?  

The extroversion bias, is as Cain says, the world’s loss. We become successful writers when we sit ourselves down in our chairs, zone out the world and put words on paper/the screen. For that, we need some quiet just so that we can hear ourselves think, plot, or type the next word to make a sensible sentence. Writers, I believe, do their best work when they embrace their introvert selves.

Do we as writers do our best work, i.e, writing, when we are put into groups and make small talk? Does our creativity peak come when we’re in the midst of all the gabble? Or is it when we’re in isolation, on a quiet sunny day, like today, that we furiously type away at the keyboard?

What do you think?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's in a Good Mystery?

This past month I read Perception by Kim Harrington. For those of you who haven’t heard about Perception, it’s the follow up to Harrington’s debut last year, Clarity.  I truly enjoyed both books. But, I don’t just enjoy books, I study them. I try to find why each of them stands out for me. And for me, Clarity and Perception stand out as perfect mysteries. Harrington does such an amazing job of giving out little bread crumbs, adding to the mystery, at all the right places. Not only that, everyone looks like a suspect. And I mean everyone. You’re not absolutely 100% sure who the guilty party is until Clarity herself knows at the very end of the novel.
Of course, this got me thinking. What makes a great mystery novel? Especially if you’re not Kim Harrington, like me.

I came up with a short list based on what I learned from Harrington’s writing.

1 – Believable characters and world – the world and characters that Harrington delivers are not only believable, but it’s easy to like and relate to Clarity. Even if you don’t have psychic powers and have been bullied in high school because of who you are, you can still relate. Her setting is a place to get lost in and possibly add to your list of places to visit.

2 – Bread crumbs – Harrington gives the reader just enough bread crumbs to start making guesses. Then she gives more bread crumbs to make the reader doubt the first assumption and create another one. Harrington does this several times until the last couple chapters when Clarity herself figures it out on her own.

3 – Research – Harrington definitely did her research and it shows. Everything is believable through and through. She knew her stuff when it came to the types of stalkers. And she introduced it perfectly, rather than creating an info-dump session.

4 – Tension building – Harrington did so well building up the tension throughout both of her novels that it’s difficult to put the book down at all until the final page has been read.

5 – Bad guys are smart, but not smart enough – In both books the bad guy/gal was smart about how they committed their crimes. They covered their tracks extremely well, but not so good that they couldn’t get caught and the pieces couldn’t be put together. In Harrington’s novels the pieces don’t all get put together until the last two or three chapters.

Your turn -> What do you think makes a good mystery?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Authors and Books that Take you Places!

Carol Behrman is the author of Freedom Passage, a historical MG published by Aerodale Press. Welcome Carol! We here at TheWritersbytheshore blog believe in BIC (butt in chair), but we also think that writing (and life) should take us and our readers to fun destinations. So here we go...
Tell us a little about your book. Will we need our passports?
No passport necessary unless there is a document required for traveling back and forth in time. Freedom Passage takes place in the summer of 1963, the height of the civil rights struggle. Thirteen-year-old Peggy and her family have just moved from their cosmopolitan neighborhood in Manhattan to the quiet beach town of Bay Point at the Jersey Shore. Peggy is fearful about starting junior high in a strange place with no friends. Things pick up when she finds a potential best friend named Julia living next door, but what will Peggy do when she discovers she will have to betray that friend to be accepted by a popular peer group. And what about that mysterious, locked closet in her attic room that gives off vibes of mystery and danger?
Wow! Sounds great. So, if I was going to have dinner with your main character, what exotic locale would we be dining at?
In Bay Point, dinner on the beach is an attractive option although it might lead to an ugly scene of racial hatred. An alternative might occur when Peggy and Julia undergo a frightening trip back in time to the days of the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. The food in the safe house (station) would be good, but how much could they manage to swallow before the evil slave hunters charge in with their heavy boots and deadly rifles?
Who is the character you would vote as "Most likely not to make it through customs" and why?
The runaway slave, Titus, has the least chance of making it through anything and his options for survival are slim.
If your main character was stranded on a desert island, what would be an essential travel item for them to take along?
If stranded on a desert island, Peggy would need courage, fortitude and clever thinking to survive and/or find a way out--the same qualities she needs in her predicament in Freedom Passage.
What advice would you offer to other writers embarking on their own writing adventure?
Speaking as a long-time writer (35 books for children and YA, the first ones written in the 1970's), I must point out that the publishing field is so different today, it is almost like living in an alternative universe. Some of my experiences are no longer relevant, but there are basic rules for writing success that never change. First, it helps to have a strong inner compulsion--a need to express yourself in writing. Most successful writers I know are great readers and have a deep love of language. Then, whichever story you choose to tell, be sure that the characters, the plot, the setting, etc. are REAL to you. If you can feel the characters breathing with every breath you take, if you can feel inside yourself their fear, their joy, their yearnings, etc., then you can possibly convey this to your readers. Work hard to hone your skills as a writer through books, the internet, and classes (and the best way of all--JOIN A WRITER'S CRITIQUE GROUP). Developing good writing techniques can be learned, but it takes work. Be open to criticism and comments. And above all, DON'T GIVE UP! I know wonderful writers who never succeeded because they gave up too soon. Persistence is the key!!!

Thanks, Carol and Bon Voyage!

Toni De Palma

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Release: Suffocate by S.R. Johannes

It's May 21st and guess what that means?

S.R. Johannes’ Suffocate is out today!

Suffocate is the first novelette in THE BREATHLESS series. It is a 15,000 word young adult thriller that combines the dystopic and science fiction genres.

Here’s a little about the novelette…

“For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes. 

If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.”

The 2nd novella in the series, CHOKE, is scheduled for Fall 2012. The 3rd, EXHALE, is scheduled for Winter 2013.

You can purchase Suffocate for only 99 cents at Amazon or B&N!

Also, you can add it on Goodreads! -

About the author –

S.R. Johannes is author of the Amazon Bestseller Untraceable and a current nominee of the Georgia Author of the Year in the Young Adult category. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her goldendoodle Charley (notice he is listed first :), her British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.  You can find her hanging out online and visit her at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Turn

Hi! I’m Kimberly Ann Miller, but my friends call me Kimmy :) I write YA and MG speculative fiction. I started this adventure into fiction in 2008 and have had a wonderful time jumping into the world of writing and publishing. My first YA novel, TRIANGLES, is due to be released in June 2013 by Spencer Hill Press.

I have three college degrees in the sciences and healthcare but would love to get an MFA. I belong to a wonderful critique group and have beta readers that I ‘met’ online who work hard to make my books as good as they can be. I follow many agent, author, and editor blogs and do my best to learn more about my craft every day.

Personally, I enjoy traveling to sunny islands where I snorkel and play in the waves with my husband. We both love to read, so during vacations I devour up to a book per day. I also love stargazing, cats, watching movies, and spending time with my family.

You can find me at the following links:

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Fearless Ones

Archana Bharathan profile image
I've wanted to blog for the past three years and every time I started the 'what ifs' got me. Followed by a bout of the 'crazies.' So whenever the idea lit up in my head I doused it with a super-efficient water hose.

Yup, I was afraid. Yup, I was a scaredy cat. Yup, I let my fear talk me out of writing in the public domain for years. I would see friends, acquaintances, classmates and workmates set up blogs, create conversations and post away. The fearless ones. That's what I called them.

A few years ago, I started working on my current story. My WIP's MC, Priscilla Mayfair, is a determined twelve year old who is facing all kinds of trouble. In my first draft, she surmounted every obstacle, figured out every clue and solved the causes of her problems. She was my ideal heroine. By the second draft I'd made her a little less perfect. She couldn't solve the mystery on her own and needed help from her friends.  Still, as I worked with my critique group on rewrites I could feel there was something missing. Even when Priscilla was facing a dark dead end she wasn’t afraid. I needed her to reach inside her as much as she was reaching outside herself to become who she was and solve the clues of the mystery.

So I weaved in the threads to make Priscilla three dimensional. Now, Priscilla was not only overcoming obstacles, she was also working her way through her fears and fighting her own uncertainties. Acknowledging and accepting her fears had made Priscilla a richer and more real character. She’d become one of the fearless.

My MC had taught me something about the world. (Isn’t it usually the other way round?) Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about being afraid and doing it any way. It’s about being a scaredy cat and fighting your way out of fear paralysis and doing what you want to do. So this time round when my friends suggested a blog I said yes! Yup, I was still afraid but this time I wasn't going to allow fear to stop me from doing what I wanted.

Hello world of writers! I’m so happy to be blogging with the fearless writers at the shore Toni, Kimmy and Heather and look forward to good conversations and making friends

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let Me Introduce Myself - Part II

Hello and welcome to Writers By The Shore! I thought I'd give a quick howdy y'all!

That's right, I said howdy and y'all in the same sentence. I know that WBTS is based in New Jersey, and while I live in the Garden State I'm originally from Texas. Well, that's if you don't count the fact that I was born in Wyoming and spent the summers of my early life in Utah. This background definitely shines through in my young adult paranormal novels set in New Jersey, Texas, Utah, and a distant dystopian society.

I'm currently a stay-at-home mom of two, a 13 year old daughter and 2 year old son. When they aren’t giving me a run for my money I’m either writing, editing, or reading a good book. I also hold a bachelor's degree in history and three teaching certificates which I have yet to enjoy the full extent of. I'd love to return and earn my doctorate in history later down the road. Right along with the history theme I'm an avid genealogist and enjoy researching lost family members. Since I've been writing so much in my free time the past few years my family tree hasn't grown much, but I still do plenty of research for my manuscripts.

Speaking of manuscripts, I have one very close to the query stage and two more in the editing process. I’m hoping to have all three in query mode by NaNoWriMo. I’d like to take that time to write something new. I can’t wait to share my stories with others. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

Come visit me at any, or all, of my other internet haunts. Let me know you're a follower of this blog or my own! :-)

Adventures in Writer Land

Monday, May 7, 2012

Let Me Introduce Myself :)

Hi there! Let me introduce myself. My name is Toni De Palma and I am a writer living at the Jersey Shore who writes YA and Middle Grade books.

See that first picture of me? That ravishing creature above (ehem) is me in my first official headshot. May I add, that it's also my last official headshot since it took approximately three hours and one long bath and some Ben Gay aftewards to achieve that "natural" look. That's right, in order to achieve this circa 1970's Cheryl Tiegs pose, I had to hug myself like that for three freakin hours! The second picture is also me, this one in Paris, standing in front of the Seine. Notice the smile? What can I say? A little bit of good French wine can make for a much more pleasurable photo op!

So, as I was saying... I am a writer and have been for longer than I can remember. My first contemporary YA novel, Under the Banyan Tree, was published by Holiday House in 2007. My second novel, Jeremy Owl, a fantasy about a boy who turns into an owl and who wages war against fairies came out in 2010 and was published by Aerodale Press. My third novel, a paranormal YA titled Devil's Triangle, comes out later this year from Crescent Moon Press.

In addition to writing, I LOVE to travel. I also get seasick, airsick and carsick, so I never leave home without my seabands :)

I'm so happy to be hanging with my buds, Heather, Kimmy and Archana, here at TheWritersbytheshore.

You can check me and my books out at:

Or find me at:
Crescent Moon Press