Saturday, August 14, 2010

Writing Advice from Michigan Author Mia Bailey & Of Night and Desire Giveaway

By Mia Bailey

Many new writers in their lack of knowledge of the basic elements of writing make some grave errors that can haunt them as they are struggling to complete their first novel overlooking the fundamental and essential basics rudimentary to tell a story well. But hopefully with a little guidance, they can learn how to avoid the monsters in writing that are lurking, just…on…the…next…page…

DRACULA – Your writing is too dark.

Style – the writer’s use of language.

There is nothing wrong in the use of dark elements in your writing, but they should be used as an enhancement to your writing and not overshadow the entire story. The gothic elements of Rosemary’s Baby reveal how seemingly innocuous activities during her pregnancy take on an ominous, sinister foreshadowing as the birth approaches. It is the presence of Rosemary’s joy of the impending birth of her child that accentuates her despair when she realizes she has given birth to the anti-Christ. It is this balance of light vs dark that heightens the expressive actions/reactions from your characters and is necessary in drawing an emotional response from your readers.

FRANKENSTEIN – Your story lumbers along.

Pace – the tempo or rate implied by the structure and style of your writing.

Timing IS everything. You want your story to be fast enough so the readers don’t become bored and put the book aside. But you want to be slow enough as so they are not left unsatisfied being left behind and not able to keep up with the action in your story. And the use of other elements of writing such as scenes, interludes and dialogue can be used to control the pace and rhythm of your story. A flashback can provide needed back story to a hero’s psyche as well as give the reader a much needed rest from the driven action propelling them forward.

THE MUMMY – You’re getting all wrapped up in details upon details upon details.

Conflict – the struggle found within the story.

We don’t care if the heroine’s mother’s brother-in-law was fond of strawberry shortcake or that the hero’s grandfather spent three weeks in the Bahamas...unless these elements are essential to the conflict our H/H are facing at this moment. Sometimes we give our readers too much information in our desire to keep them interested so to quote Sergeant Friday, “just the facts, ma’am”. While the resolution of the current struggle may result in a secondary and tertiary conflict, the key is that the initial objectives remain clear. Go ahead and tell the back story, but only what is NECESSARY to our H/H’s impending struggle.

THE WEREWOLF – Your story is hairy and all over the place.

Syntax – the connected and orderly system creating a harmonious arrangement of parts and elements of the story.

I have to admire the time frames and elements depicted on daytime dramas – one day our teen star is graduating high school and the next, they are running a major magazine publication with no explanation as to the why’s and wherefore’s of the transition from prom queen to successful entrepreneur. Your story needs to show a logical sense of order to obtain the buy-in from your reader. So if your 25-year old bio-physicist is a child prodigy a la Doogie Howser, then include that fact in your writing or your story will seem disjointed and unbelievable.

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON – Your dialogue is murky with little clarity.

Point of View – the relative identification of the narrator with the characters.

Head-hopping refers to writing where the point of view changes back and forth between multiple characters within a scene. Many novels are written in multiple viewpoints to elaborate actions/emotions within the story. It is important for the reader to know who is speaking in order to follow what is happening and avoid the confusing game of he said/she said. Watch the ambiguous use of pronouns without the clarification of who the pronouns are referring to.

THE INVISIBLE MAN – Your storyline is transparent.

Plot – the organization of events that will take place in the story.

Don’t you hate those people at the movie theater who stand up and announce what’s going to happen next? Nothing kills a good story than having some spoiler come in and give away the ending. In plotting your novel, keep in mind that there are five basic steps:

Goal – the initial objective

Conflict – the circumstances the H/H need to overcome

Action/Reaction – the struggle and emotions revealed by the conflict

Resolution – which may or may not create a secondary conflict

Success – the conflict is resolved

These plots and mini-plots within your story are as diverse as the writer’s imagination so keep your reader’s intrigued and the spoilers guessing – BE CREATIVE!

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE – Your characters are undefined.

Characters – the people or animals in the story.

There are personality traits that will uniquely define the basic essence of your characters and direct their actions/reactions: Sherlock Holmes was logical and analytical; Hamlet was a charming, intellectual with a cynical view of the world; Scarlett O’Hara was willful and spoiled. It is only through the trials and tribulations of resolving the conflict encouraging personal growth resulting in a personality change. Scrooge changed from stingy miser to generous philanthropist only after he was visited by the Christmas ghosts. It is this cause and effect which motivates your characters and captures your readers.

KING KONG – Your character overshadows everything else.

Theme – the main idea or meaning behind the story.

Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas about life, society or human nature that may be implied instead of stated explicitly. In watching the Planet of the Apes, you learn and recognize it is a study of political, social and cultural issues. And yet, it is the characters that dominate the story not the indirect commentary on the class differences, political agendas and cultural ideology. Taylor damning mankind as he gazes upon the disembodied Statue of Liberty is a powerful image to portray yet it is sequence of events leading to this realization that compels us to feel his anguish. As you’re working on your novel, make sure you are looking at the big picture balancing the elements of your writing.

THE BLOB – Your story just lays there.

Tone – the emotional attitude toward the subject in the story.

In order to win over your audience, there has to be an emotional attachment to the characters. We want to cry, struggle, fight and love right along with our H/H and share in their success. Without that attachment all you have is the making of marshmallow cream – all fluff but no real substance. Read your novel with a critical eye correcting weaker areas to illustrate a stronger story.

In writing your novel, remember no one element in fiction can take center stage. It is a combination of all of these elements that create an extraordinary story worthy to tell.

Fun and great writing advice from Mia Bailey- now let's take a look at some of her writing.


Richelle Sommers has inherited her mother’s magical gifts: empathic and telepathic, she can feel and hear the thoughts of others as well as speak with the beasts of nature. Raised in the mountains, she becomes a beautiful woman dedicated to saving her beloved wolves.

For centuries, Valya cel Mare has defended the innocent against the evil forces seeking to destroy them. One fateful day, he loses an innocent - a powerful psychic witch - and is left to protect her only child, Richelle from a cult of religious fanatics led by a demented old priest bent on using her powers to fight on the side of his ‘God’ and serve The Evil One, the most ancient and powerful of Vampyres.

Hunted by both man and monster, can Valya save Richelle from the religious fanatics and the Evil One, Luka cel Rau who plans to use her powers to enslave the World?


Here's a fun burger and cocktail recipe from a cookbook Mia is working on- it'll go great with a copy Of Night and Desire

Not for Vampire Burgers
With its garlicky taste, this burger is not for the faint of heart.



¾ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup sour cream
2 heads garlic
2 TBS olive oil
3 slices crisp bacon, chopped
1 TBS chives
1 TBS scallions

Cut the tops off garlic, drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and cook until tender.
Squeeze out garlic and whisk with mayonnaise and sour cream.
Combine with bacon, chives and scallions.
Cover and set aside.


1-½ lbs lean ground beef
1 egg
1 can tomato paste
1 TBS steak sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp winter savory
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ginger
½ cup plain breadcrumbs

Sourdough buns

6 TBS butter
1 ½ TBS garlic

6 slices each Swiss and Monterey Jack cheese
6 - ¼ inch thick Tomato slices
6 leaves of Romaine lettuce

Assemble the Burgers
To assemble the burgers, place patty on bottom bun. Add tomato slice and
lettuce. Spoon roasted garlic spread over lettuce. Add the top bun and serve.

Serve with a Vampire Kiss -

1oz Goldschlager (or red hot schnapps)
2oz apple juice
1oz vodka
serve in rock glass, neat (no ice) and garnish with a few red hots or a hard
cinnamon candy dropped in the glass

Wait until you sink your fangs into this burger....


Mia has offered a giveaway of free pdf of her book

Of Night and Desire

to one lucky reader

Want it?

Leave a comment on this post with your email address

Winner to be Announced Next Wednesday


stacey said...

wow don't know what to say if I was a wrighter that would be a lot of help but I'm just a reader.Your book does sound entresting I would love to have the chance of reading it.

Books and Bane said...

I'm taking all this great info and stashing it in my writing folder! Some day I'm gonna need it. I hope it's sooner than later!!!

Thank you !!!

nedsped at gmail dot com

Beverly said...

Sounds good - I would love to read it! Please enter me.

Laurie Ryan said...

That is one fun and innovative look at how to make a story "pop", Mia. Thanks for the very entertaining blog!

Roxanne Rhoads said...

excellent advice- I am definitely putting it away in my folder of writing stuff

and I love the way you used monsters to give the great advice- awesome

writtenwyrdd said...

Great post! I'm constantly resisting mummy tendencies, lol.

writtenwyrdd at live dot com

Melissa Bradley said...

Definitely a different twist on really excellent writing advice. I'm also going to have to pick up your story. It sounds very intriguing.

Meredith said...

Great writing advice and the recipes sound delicious!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

joder said...

This books sounds great! And I especially love the recipes. They sound super yummy.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Estella said...

The book sounds great and the recipe sounds yummy!

kissinoak at verizon dot net

Ciara Gold said...

Loved your anaologies on writing. Very creative and informative at the same time.

Sandy Jay said...

This book sounds great. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Love the burger recipe.

forwhlz at gmail dot com

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

What a clever way to deliver your message. I loved how you presented your writing tips. Brilliant!

I would love to explore more of your world in Of Night and Desire. Do I want it? Heck yeah. lol

Please enter me in the contest.
Here's my email: info (at) kmnbooks (dot) com.

I'd wish you great success, but I see you've already boarded the train.

Take care,

*yadkny* said...

Thanks for recipes... I'll definitely have to give them a try:) I'll also have to check out your books.

Gabrielle Lee said...

Interesting advice. What great recipes as well. Can't wait to check out your books.


Sherry said...

Your recipes sound very good. I enjoyed your post even though I'm not a writer.

Chantel said...

I'm just a reader, but I still enjoyed your post very much.

cwilliams127 at gmail dot com

Lisa Lane said...

I loved this post--a very cool way of detailing the fails of plot, device, and character. Thanks so much for sharing!

cerebralwriter *at* yahoo *dot* com

Andrea I said...

Great post! I loved your recipes.