Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meet a Book Blogger - A Star that Reads (Starr Ochoa)

Hey y’all! My name is Starr, I’m a reader, a future nurse (my hope), and a person who is dabbling in writing.

I run an Instagram blog that you can follow @astarthatreads. I started this blog because my friend forced me to get an Instagram account so we could stay in touch and I didn’t just want another social media account that I wouldn’t use. I started thinking about things I would do with it and realized I wanted to share my love of reading. I mostly read romance, but willing to try and open to other genres.

I’m currently doing author spotlights on Instagram: You give me teasers, cover reveals, excerpts, etc, to share to my followers and hopefully you gain some followers as well. I’m willing to share all genres through my blog.

*Review policy, I haven’t thought about a set of rules I follow, but I will be honest. I try not to post bad reviews , but if you want to send me your book and want me to review it, I will! My reviews are either short and sweet or a paragraph of me fangirling and demanding people get this book. Lol. I post on Goodreads, Instagram, and Amazon.

Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read this long post. ❤ I hope you decide to join me on Instagram.

How awesome is that?? Y'all go give her a follow and some content, for Pete's sake!

Monday, February 19, 2018

How to: Microplot

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a fantastic weekend and are ready to crank out the words this week! Today, I'm talking about microplotting. You know, that thing you do when you're furiously writing your novel. Oh! You don't do that? Don't know how? Well, sit back, relax, sip your coffee, and read on!

Some people have a detailed plot when they sit down to write their novels. If that's you, this post isn't your friend. But if you're of the other kind, the plansters, who only know where the story begins and ends when you start writing, and maybe have a couple of plot points you want to hit along the way, you may find this useful.

Microplotting isn't a long, drawn-out plot. You make decisions on the fly about what's going to happen to your characters, and you type them out like so:

In this chapter:
Beatrice will discover who has betrayed her.
How that happens:
She finds the key.
She opens the door.
She reads the riddle.
She solves the riddle, but has to seek help from Hayman to do so.
When Hayman reads the riddle, he becomes ill.
Beatrice must speak the answer aloud.
The betrayer's name appears in smoke, and it disappears just before Hayman comes to.

Then, you go above the microplot and write furiously. When you're typing out the microplot points, that's when you look up any names or important features you want to remember as you're writing. If there's something you don't know or forgot to include, type XXX in the place of the item and move on. Keep writing. Don't slow down to look it up. If you're consistent with your marker type, then you can do a find later and take the time to fact check or do research.

Microplotting can push your novel to a whole new level, but be careful of getting sidetracked. Stay on the path to the conclusion you're pushing toward. It's fun.

I don't know about all of you, but every time I've tried plotting out each chapter, I fail and end up having to scrap it and re-do the whole thing. Now, I go high-level plot points and fill in the blanks as I write. My loose outlines look something like this:
Chapter 1 - Introduce character, tone, and setting. Be sure to drop nuggets of what's coming (the beginning of change from now to the end).
Chapter 2 - Beatrice gets in trouble at school for something and a letter is sent home.
Chapter 3 - Beatrice is grounded because of the letter, and she ends up acting out at school again in some way.
Chapter 4 - Beatrice is suspended.
Chapter 5 - Beatrice meets Mark, and he ignores her because she's a "bad girl" (this makes her want to change because she really likes him).
... other chapters I fill in like the ones above.
Last Chapter - Beatrice and Mark finally get together.

So, in each chapter, I microplot how to flesh it out once I get there. Those outlines are treated as living documents and are changed often.

I hope this helps some of you when you're sprinting!

Did you find this useful? What do you do when writing? Plotter? Pantser? Plantser? Hit me with your process!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Let's Stop Talking About Gun Control and Mental Health

Hello, good people of the blogosphere. Today, I'm going on a NSFW rant and providing a realistic action plan for those of you that are interested in being the change you want to see happen. Get your coffee ready, because... Well, you may be here a while.
Earlier this week, there was yet another shooting at a school, taking seventeen more young lives. Understandably, people are pissed. I'm pissed. I'm sure you're pissed.

Those seventeen lives were just beginning.

Those seventeen lives matter.

As of today, those seventeen join many, many more in a string of senseless MURDERS at SCHOOLS. Let's call them what they are.

School is a place my child should be safe. It's supposed to be the fucking government's responsibility to CARE for, and PROTECT my child when she's not with me.

But they're failing to do that.

Let's look at some 100% honesty right now:
  • Shooter drills AREN'T WORKING (they were in place in Florida and activated - seventeen children STILL DIED).
  • Americans will NEVER give up their guns, and the US will NEVER try to force its citizens to give up their guns.
  • Most schools in the US are on a limited budget, hence metal detectors can't be afforded.
  • A majority of kids aren't as supervised nowadays as they were even ten years ago by their parents.
  • When kids see counselors at school, the kids aren't feeling heard (if they feel as though they can go to the counselor in the first place, that is).
  • Guns are too accessible.
  • Talking about mental illness and praying isn't doing DICK.

So, rather than scream at the media, march to show how you feel, or post a rant on Facebook about how GUNS ARE EVIL AND SHOULD BE DESTROYED, how about you do something in your own community?

ACT. Don't just talk about how pissed you are.

An action plan that just might work:
  • Get involved. Go to the school and talk to the principal or the PTO person. Get all the parents in your community together in a MANDATORY meeting. You don't show up? Your kid gets suspended until you attend a meeting. The worst thing the principal can say is no, and if he/she does that, ORGANIZE A MEETING OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL ON YOUR OWN. Don't fucking give up.
  • Harsh? You BET YOUR ASS IT IS.
  • But it's time to make people stand up and take responsibility for their own kids' actions. It's time to get them INVOLVED in preventing this shit from happening AGAIN.
  • Involve local law enforcement. Have those wonderful folks in blue come in and teach child/gun safety to EVERY parent (that's what your meeting is about). In school or out of school, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
  • Hold a community fundraiser to buy trigger locks the officers can give away for free and use them to teach people how to use and how to keep firearms SAFE and out of the hands of our fucking kids!
  • Have the counselor talk to the parents about recognizing signs of depression and thoughts of violence.
  • Visit EVERY GUN STORE within a 30 mile radius of YOUR house, and ask them what THEY'RE doing to vet the people who come in to buy firearms. Demand change if need be. These stores have a responsibility to act in a way that makes the cities they sell guns in safer. 
  • Ask local law enforcement to visit the stores regularly and do checks. FOLLOW UP.
  • Do a fund raiser to help PAY for those metal detectors we ALL want so very badly.
  • People will follow you. They're SCARED. And they have every right to be. Sometimes, people just need a leader with a loud, strong voice.
Don't talk about change. Be the change. Make the change happen.

If ONE person in every school district takes these safety matters into their own hands, that takes care of the whole US.

It just takes one person to make a difference.

This action plan won't be 100%, but it'll CERTAINLY reduce the likelihood of more of this shit happening a great deal.

Parents HAVE to be involved. Don't wait or depend on the government to do something.


I'll be doing something, because I refuse to sit by and let fear of sending my child to school be a chain around my damned neck. I want her to live, grow up to be whatever she wants, have the chance to fall in love, get married, and have children of her own.

I do NOT want some angry little bastard to get a bug up their ass and take her life before she's even begun to live it.


Sorry for the language today. Y'all have anything to add?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Emancipation Wins Silver in the Chapter of Excellence Contest by WAD

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today's post... Oh my goodness. I was so excited last night when I got an e-mail announcing that Emancipation took a silver award in the Chapter of Excellence Contest held by Writers After Dark. I have to share some of the details! Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

Here's all the details about the book (gonna start there):

Title: Emancipation (Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story 1)
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length: 70k
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle  ~ Paperback

Tobias Butler has been sitting on death row since being sentenced for a gruesome murder in 2007. Bored out of his mind, he decided to apply to the online pen pal program in 2012. It's a pleasant distraction—nothing more, nothing less—for three years, until he's contacted by a beautiful, smart young lawyer named Jess. She's convinced he's innocent and wants to see him freed. As they organize their attack on the judicial system, he wonders how she plans to get his conviction overturned—because he's guilty, and he knows it. Jess is desperate to release him—and he's desperate to feel his hands squeeze the life out of her once she does.

Information about the contest:
Writers were to submit either the prologue or chapter one to the contest, and each entry was judged by how well that chapter gripped the reader, making them want to find out more.

Click here to see ALL the winners. There are some awesome books on there, and I'm humbled to be included among them. 

Here's my certificate:

EEP! So excited! Huge thanks to WAD for everything they do.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Author Life ABCs - C

Happy Wednesday again, everyone! So, for your second post today, I'm back on my Author Life ABCs with the letter C. Today's topic is appropriate, I feel, because it's also Valentine's Day. We're out there spreading the love so our friends and family have an amazing day. What I want to know is what you're doing for yourself today. Let's chat about my word and the topic a bit. Ready? Hold on to your desk, and let's get going!

Today's word is:

noun - trademark
noun: CrossFit; noun: Cross Fit
A high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise.

Stay with me! I'm not talking about Crossfit for your body, so let's rename it to CrossCT (Cross Creative Training).

That's right, a one-hour exercise program for writers to keep our brains engaged and active. I hope y'all try this! I'm gonna! Ready? 3, 2, 1, GO!
  • 5 minutes of hard and fast writing only dialogue
  • 10 minutes, new characters, describing scene
  • 5 minutes, same characters, short world-building in a genre other than your own
  • 5 minutes learning the definition of a new word by randomly flipping open the dictionary and popping your finger down
  • 10 minutes, four new characters telling the reader their first impressions of one another
  • 5 minutes of micro-plotting
  • 5 minutes of speed editing the first dialogue you wrote
  • 10 minutes of prose with no dialogue using the word you just learned
  • 5 minutes of typing out a conversation with one of your characters

And you're done! That seems fun, right? Anyway, what I'm trying to get to here is that you should take terms and things you're familiar with and apply them to your writing. Have some fun. Flex your muscles!

Never stop learning how to write, market, and do. This is your career.

What do you think? You gonna give it a whirl?

I'll post my results sometime next week. Should be fun!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Photoshop 101.3 - Magnetic Lasso Tool

Happy Wednesday! You're getting two posts today and two posts tomorrow! I'm playing catch up, and I can't WAIT to show you all what I've been working on, but it'll have to wait until the author is ready to share it. :) Today, for this first post, I'm going to introduce you to a tool called the magnetic lasso. It's really nifty! Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going, shall we?

So? What did you all think of that one? Did you learn anything new or useful?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, February 9, 2018

Fun Fact Friday - Obscurities

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm so looking forward to the weekend. Are you? Kicking back, relaxing, and spending time with family is like a dream come true. Today, I'm giving you a few obscure facts you'll be able to share with people over the weekend (and maybe discuss the ins and outs of). Ready? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

  • There are about 40k injuries per year (to Americans) due to toilets.
  • The number of licks it really takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop is 142.18.
  • The man who invented the Pringles can was buried in one.
  • All the swans in England belong to the Queen.
  • This # is an octotroph.
  • This ~ is a tilde.
  • Deer can't eat hay.
  • You can catch leprosy from an armadillo.
  • Grapes explode when you microwave them.
  • Your lipstick probably contains fish scales.
  • A jiffy is actually 1/100th of a second.
  • About 100 people die every year from choking on a ball-point pen.
  • An infant doesn't have kneecaps; they grow between age two and six.
  • Jellyfish are 95% water.
  • Words with no rhyming counterpart: month, orange, silver, and purple.
  • Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil.
  • It's against the law to catch fish with your bare hands in Kansas.
  • Most people fear spiders more than death.
So, there are your obscure facts for this week. I hope you have some fun whipping these out on your family over the weekend.

Do you have one to share? Pop it in the comments below!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!