Posts Tagged ‘Gift card giveaway’

Puppy Writer 101 – Tips from the dog




As I write this, I’ve got my helper Junie crammed next to me in my chair, tucked under my keyboard. (No doubt this will explain any typos and grammatical errors.) She’s new to the writing biz, but already she’s  mastered the three important points. Allow me to elucidate while my puppy helper licks a spot on the knee of my jeans.


1. Do it NOW! Yep, you may think you’re going to have time later to bang out that 1000 words or make notes about that blog you’ve been meaning to write. Don’t put it off because life is an uncertain thing, isn’t it? You never know when complications will occur (an emergency run for dog biscuits, relatives stopping over to coo at your adorable puppy, an  urgent need for a walk. ) Don’t procrastinate.

2. Take time to ponder. Yes, I know you have a million things to do and write. Me too. I’m working on two books at once, a blog, and several publicity campaigns. But you know what? Quiet time is key, too.  To pray, to ponder plots and themes, to deeply imagine characters. Some of the best writing work can occur when you are not in front of a keyboard. Pondering is important. Just ask Junie.

3. Pee happens. Ah me. In spite of all my learning about craft and technique, things are going to turn out wrong. Sigh. Passages will be flat. Characters will refuse to jump off the page. And what in the world happened to cause those middle chapters to sag like overstretched panty hose? Pee happens, as Junie will tell you. Delete. Rewrite. Clean it up. Move on. Do better next time.

You see? Puppies really are smart writers aren’t they? Do you have an animal companion? Would love to hear about him/her! Last week to enter the December contest for a signed book, gift card and treat. Winner announced Thursday! 










Info about Dana’s latest book

What fall tradition are you? Quiz time!




Because I know you look to this blog as a source of critical information and a font of wisdom, here’s a quiz that will put you in the right fall mood. See which fall tradition most matches your personality. Share and you’re entered into the October drawing for a signed book, an iTunes gift card and a fall surprise!


Which fall tradition are you?  Quiz!


And as a bonus, I’m also doing a Rafflecopter giveaway for another prize pack. It’s a double whammy! 🙂


Rafflecopter Prize Pack Giveaway

Why we despise that Phantom…and love him, too.







Recently I had the privilege of seeing the Phantom of the Opera performed here in San Francisco. Incredible music, dazzling stage effects, and the perfect villain…or is he the antihero? That question is the reason the Phantom of the Opera has resonated with audiences for decades. The Phantom is clearly the villian (he kills people, extorts money from the theater manager, terrorizes hapless singers/dancers) yet there is a part of us that wants to see him succeed in his ultimate goal…he wants to be loved. Yes, he’s evil, yes, he must be defeated so the innocent Christine can be with Raoul, but gosh, we empathize with the guy who was despised for his ugliness, spat upon by a world, unloved by his own mother.  He wants to be loved and everyone can relate to that need. Phantom, you are bad, but we love you. Kinda.

So let’s hear it for the antiheroes! Those stars of TV and books that are both good and bad, that make us want to love them, even while we know they must be punished. Can you think of any characters like that? Post your ideas and let’s make a list! Comments get you entered in the September contest for a signed book and Amazon gift card! 

Hobby quiz…which one is right for you?



Dog with suitcases

The more you know about a fiction character, the more real they will seem to the reader. What do they like to eat? Where do they spend their free time? When I create characters, I also spend time thinking about what sort of hobby they might enjoy. A hobby can tell a lot about a person. A current character I’ve created for a suspense novel enjoys fly fishing. How about you? Got hobbies? Just for fun let’s take a quiz and see what hobbies are recommended for our personality type! You share yours and I’ll share mine!

Throwback to my “newbie” days…top three writing mistakes.



I’ve never really made writing mistakes, actually. (And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you!) In truth, I’ve made too many mistakes to count, and we’re talking big ones, not the namby pamby spelling errors and missed commas. As I look back on a 15 year writing career and some 20 novels to date, here are my “big three” writing mistakes.

1. Leaving too many dangling threads. Ah yes. When I started out, I thought there would always be another book, another sequel in which to wrap up all those little niggling issues. Turns out, publishers can nix your line any old time, so you’d better make sure to wrap up all those reader questions. If not…you will get MAIL!

2. Using too many words. Oh I hate to admit this one, but I LOVE words, especially adverbs. I like to sprinkle them in to season the stew so to speak, but words are like salt. Too many and you’ve ruined the thing! Sigh. I have had to pare down my whimsical use of adverbs. The pain!

3. Using minor characters for plot purposes only. You know, the Crewman Donovan type who delivers a message and then falls off a cliff? Those kinds of characters can be one dimensional, and clutter up the story. Much better to have all the characters fully fleshed and interactive, rather than using the poor things to serve a practical purpose without giving them any dimension.

There. I’ve admitted it. I have had to learn many writing lessons (mostly the hard way.) Have you learned any lessons in your career or home life? Things you do differently now that you did as a “newbie?” Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise. 

The Snow White Trap…three traits we abhor in a heroine.



Having just returned from the happiest place on earth, I’ve spent the last few days watching some serious hero-worship. Little tykes (and not so little folks) trek around Disneyland, stalking their favorite heroines. It was clear during our stay that the big winner is Elsa from frozen. So why has this Frozen feminista dethroned our more seasoned heroines like Snow White? Why doesn’t poor Snow attract masses of adoring kids like Elsa? Putting on my writer’s cap, I’m going to say it’s because Snow White has three fatal flaws that modern folks cannot tolerate in their heroines.

#1) Snow White is weak and helpless. Sure she’s kind and compassionate, but she gets into all manner of predicaments and can’t extract herself from a single one. This is not what we aspire to as women (or humans in general.)

#2) She doesn’t make smart choices. It’s the classic “woman walks into a lonely house with a stalker on the loose without so much as a cell phone to call for help.” Man. Those dwarfs specifically TOLD her not to open the door. Not only that, but she takes an apple from a stranger and EATS it! Oy!

#3) She’s completely one dimensional. Who is she, aside from a pretty face? What does Snow feel passionate about? What does she strive for? What are her goals? Disappointments? No clue. The only things we know are that she’s a good housekeeper and has a way with animals. Sigh. These traits are lovely for a simple, antiquated fairy tale, but they don’t cut the mustard for our modern hero/heroine requirements.

Do you agree or disagree with my Snow White analysis? What fictional hero/heroines do you think are better role models for kids? Giving away a signed book, VISA gift card and February surprise.

Top five fave books in 60 seconds? Ready, set, go!



Okay! Time for a walk down literary memory lane! If someone asked me my top five fiction books (various categories) and gave me only a few minutes to think…here’s what I would say.

1. The Wizard of Oz (children’s)

2.  The Crystal Cave (fantasy)

3. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (literary fiction)

4.  Rebecca (gothic suspense)

5.  The Code of the Woosters (humor)

How about you? Off the top of your head…what is your fave book in each category? Would love to hear your answers! Giving away a VISA gift card, signed book and February surprise! 

Test your Valentine candy knowledge! Quiz time.



How do you feel about those colored candy conversation hearts cluttering the shelves this time? Love them or hate them, 8 billion hearts will be produced this year, but there are plenty of other choices to dazzle your sweetheart!

Let’s test your Valentine candy knowledge with a quiz!
Share your “sweet” results and you’ll be entered to win a VISA gift card, signed book and a February surprise this month. 

Did you use a card catalogues, SRA kits?

happy book

I watch the people go by, peering at their cell phone screens, iPads and tablets. This is how my teen kiddos interact with the written word. They can even read novels on those tiny cell phone screens. It makes me long for the simpler times, and wax nostalgic over some retro reading practices. Take a look below. Did you ever….

1. Read with a flashlight under the covers? It was the old school equivalent to the Kindle and a great way to sneak a book after bedtime rolled around.

2. Use a card catalogue? I remember the musty smell of those old wooden drawers, crammed with little treasure maps that would miraculously guide you to the exact spot on the shelves where you’d find your quarry. Not a computer screen in sight!

3. Read from an SRA kit? Those manilla card things that were all color coded? It was a real thrill to reach “aqua” or whatever color was my next level. Talk about old school!

So what do you remember from your “throwback” reading days? Were there any books/habits that stand out in your memory? Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise this month. 

What type of intelligence do you have? A quickie quiz!


This just in….I’m able to use language in many different ways, such as to entertain, to persuade and to inform, and I have strong grammar skills. 

Whew! What a relief! Take this quick quiz to find out about the ways you are intelligent! Would love to hear your results!