Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

Novel Magic with Goddess Fish Promotions: A is For Author by Shayla McBride

Via Goddess Fish Promotions, I’m excited to share A is for Author by Shayla McBride. If you have written a book or just want to one day say you have–this book is for you.

Hello, Sorchia.

For some of us, the road to contentment is a rocky one. We  often can’t get out of our own way. One of the best ways to make a difference in your own life is to do something you love, something you can not only challenge yourself with but succeed in.

Over 92% of Americans believe they “have a book in them”. That’s over 250 million people. I couldn’t find a statistic or estimate on how many had actually started that novel or memoir or how-to. Accurate statistics are impossible to come by, but let’s assume a million books are published a year in America. We  can also assume, conservatively, that one-third of them are “scraped” off public domain and slapped up for e-sale. (Don’t ask me why, I have no idea the reason someone would do this.) That’s roughly 330,000 titles.

We’ll also assume that 20% are second or third books from the same author. That’s 200,000 more titles. How many “real” authors? Maybe 450,000. Which is an awful lot less than our original 250,000,000.


Because writing fiction is a lot tougher than most newbie or wannabe writers ever imagined. And genre fiction – romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, and the many other genres and sub-genres – are harder still.

Again, why?

We all read and we all write. We go through school, most of us, writing. We are employed, often, in positions that require us to read or write. Daily, we read everything from billboards to shopping lists to legal briefs to Tolstoy. We send holiday letters to friends and family. We tweet and write school or thank-you notes. Writing comes naturally, we think.

But none of that is genre fiction, which is a craft…and all crafts require an apprenticeship in technique. As Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft we will never master.” The new, hopeful writer has no clue that a novel has a long gestation and a difficult birth. They have no clue how much they do not know. And there are no writing how-to books that try to engage the entry-level writer in a basic manner. Yet every teacher of craft knows your gotta walk before you can dance. You have to start at the beginning.

Enter Shayla McBride and A is for Author, 333-plus topics designed to help the new writer become proficient,  or at least acquainted, with industry jargon, genre expectations, technique, branding, marketing, media presence, and publishing. Plus sex, violence, building good villains, and zebra crossings. Wow, that’s an awful lot. But there’s an awful lot to learn.

Think of Shayla as your sometimes-too-candid auntie who arrives with a cold six-pack and will happily talk the writer’s craft, and theory, and technique, for hours on end. For the early writer struggling with character and plot arcs, plot points, tension and conflict, and saggy middles (all covered, of course), A is for Author is a life-saver. Or at least a soother of riled-up emotions, an explainer of errors and a remover of obstacles.

If you’re going to do right by yourself, if you’re going to do the thing you love, and that thing is writing genre fiction…then you ought to give yourself all the edge you can. Take classes, join a critique group, develop relationships with other writers, be patient with yourself. Write hard. And get a copy of A is for Author.

Shayla McBride will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Be sure to follow the tour and comment and like at all the stops to increase your chances of winning. Here are the tour dates and stops. Read on to find the contest.


But first, here’s a peek at the advice and guidance you’ll find in A is for Author.


# Amelia desperately, agonizingly wanted to leave the untidy, moldy, cluttered, gloomy cellar. But the heavy, solid, thick trap door had slammed shut with a horrifying, terrible, surprising, ear-splitting crash. #


Almost universally, early writers rely on adjectives and adverbs to convey meaning. A work that’s one-third adjectives is unreadable to most people. How to see your adjectives in “real time”? Highlight every modifying word; they’re italicized here. You should have, on a page, only a few spots. If you have a rash, or blocks of the dread highlight, you’re relying too heavily on these words to make the reader understand and to make your writing colorful.


The example above was a tell, not a show. It’s an overview instead of an inside glimpse. Here’s one fix:


# Amelia screamed as the trap door slammed down, plunging the cellar into darkness. Fingers trembling, she fumbled in her pocket, brought out her cell phone, and switched on the light. It was worse than she’d feared. The place was a filthy trap. Who even knew she was down here? She blinked back tears. #


One adjective: filthy. Active verbs: screamed, slammed, plunging, trembling, fumbled, trapped. Point of view: close. This isn’t reporting, this is genre fiction narration(!). See what you can do with the first example. Just take a piece of paper and work out your own solution.


How to fix the adjective blight? Just be aware you’re doing it. Use more active, carefully-chosen verbs and nouns. If it still seems tame, put back in maybe one modifier (see above). Quickly, you’ll become aware of how often you’re depending on adjectives and adverbs. This is good. It’s a step toward more direct, vibrant writing.


♥  Readers are smart and savvy. You don’t need to inundate them with detail or beat them over the head with what you meant for them to get it.

Want one for yourself–or want a bunch to give to other budding authors as a gift?


Find A is for Author in digital form at all e-retailers. The trade paperback is available through Amazon and, outside the U.S., through Ingram Spark.

And now the GiveAway! Remember to visit all the stops of Shayla’s tour and comment to improve your chances. Use the link at the beginning of the post to find dates and stops on the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Meet Shayla

Think of the worst photo you’ve ever had taken. End-of-binge candid, strawpile hair, baggy eyes even Photoshop couldn’t erase, an Autumn shirt and you’re absolutely a Spring. Multiply that by ten. That’s how much the camera likes Shayla. So…no photo.

I’m a native of New York. Now I live in Florida, on the edge of Irma’s path. We’re fine, thanks, although Princess CooCoo refused to come inside while canines were in emergency residence. Before Florida, I lived in Maryland and Morocco. Two years in southern Morocco, in a small town near the Atlantic coast where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, convinced me we can all get along, but we have to try a lot harder than we are now. The previous twenty years in Annapolis, MD convinced me that “Crabtown” is the best, prettiest, funnest state capitol in the US.

At the end of Peace Corps, the idea was I’d move to Paris and become an expat. It was all about the food, of course. And the wine. But my kids are in Florida…so here I am drinking French wine while hurricanes roar instead of drinking it while sitting in a café on the Champs Elysées.

But I wouldn’t be a writer if I’d gone to France, and A is for Author would never have been written. Think of all the new writers who would’ve suffered without that book! And don’t forget the ever-enduring hero Carl Tanner, Key West’s Jake Baron and Margo Hollander, and hilltown Italy’s Marco McCabe and Laura Walter (and all the others) who would never have seen the light of day. Or the black and white of your e-reader or paperback. So it’s all to the good. But…I sure do miss a decent baguette…

I write, on average, seven hours a weekday. Obviously I have no time for housework; fine by me. I do have time for gardening, cooking, painting (house and fabric), my kids and friends, the Florida Symphony, and my fave, travel. I love exploring third world countries, especially their food and music. Street food: yum! Any ancient ruin is on my to-do list, as is any colonial town regardless of age. One of my favorites? Trinidad, Cuba (founded 1514). I do have a photo of Trinidad, and of a delicious garbanzo-ham-chorizo dish I had there. Find it on my website.

Thanks for visiting…Shayla

Find Shayla at




Or at her not-quite-finished blog .

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