#Writing: Adding Action vs. Raising the Stakes

Check out this blog post on making your action scenes more cohesive by one of our authors:

M. B. Weston's Official Website

It’s easy to add in a few action sequences to get your story moving, but without raising the stakes for your protagonist, the story might still fall flat.

I’m working on the second draft of my urban-fantasy, pulp novella, and unfortunately, I’ve had to reconstruct the entire last quarter of the story. (You know, the part that includes rise to the climax and the climax. No big deal, right?)

This is a pulp novel, meaning it requires fast pacing and a plethora of action sequences. Because I’m rewriting the last four chapters, I’m having to start over with my writing process. I’ve practically been writing each chapter from scratch and pulling out bits and pieces from the old chapters. As usual, my first attempts at writing any scene involve basically dialogue and a bit of stage directions. As I’ve been looking over each of the chapters, I’ve been telling myself, “This is…

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Watching Character Develop – M. B. Weston’s Writing Diary: 10/01/15

Check out today’s blog post from Dark Oak Author, M. B. Weston:

M. B. Weston's Official Website

I love it when characters start developing right in front of me as I write them. I’ve been working on the Michael Lodestone urban-fantasy, pulp novella, and I’ve been stuck on a few plot points. I used to let getting stuck in plot issues mire my writing for days, until a few years ago when I just started “writing through them” to keep momentum going with the story. Now when I come to a part in unsure about, I use brackets to indicate what I still need to add in so I can keep going with the scene and at least develop dialogue between the characters and few action scenes. It will look something like this:

Jack and Jill went up the hill. [Not quite sure why they are going up the hill yet. Need to figure out their motivation later.]

This little trick helps me continue writing action and…

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Working with Editors: Send in Your Best Work

Good advice from one of our authors if you are looking to submit to Dark Oak Press & Media.

M. B. Weston's Official Website

About a year ago, I submitted a short story for a yet-to-be-titled anthology edited by one of my friends, author John Hartness. Hartness co-edited The Big Bad 2, which featured my story “The Witch Hunter“, so we have collaborated before. I respect him as a person, author, actor, and friend. I definitely want his opinion on my story, and I trust his corrections.

This anthology, originally titled Corsets, is rather open ended. I believe the word count maximum was around 9,000 words (because my story was 8,300). We were told to write anything we wanted as long as a corset was featured prominently in the story. My story, a thriller/horror story called “Blue Lights,” takes place on the moors of Dartmoor.

Most of my blog posts focus on writing before the story reaches an editor. I’m going to focus my next few posts on working…

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Working With Editors: Eliminate Forms of “To Be” & “Had”

A great post to read for all authors interested in submitting to Dark Oak Press and Media:

M. B. Weston's Official Website

I’m currently working on the corrections my horror/thriller short story, “Blue Lights,” which will appear in an anthology edited by John Hartness. I figured I would write a few posts about some of the things I’m working on during the editing process. (Be sure to check out my last post, “Working With Editors: Send in Your Best Work.“)

As I mentioned in that post, I worked up to the deadline to complete this story and only slept for a few hours during the final days of finishing the story. Unfortunately, I committed one of writing’s the cardinal sins: using forms of to be and have/has/had too often, and my exhaustion kept me from catching them. Editors hate the overuse of those two words, and John mentioned it to me in an email:

Go through and excise every use of the verb “to be” all is, was, had been words must…

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Author Interview: Natalie Silk

Dark Oak Press has just released science-fiction author Natalie Silk’s newest novel in the Stars’ Fire series: Part one of a Power Gathering. She was kind enough to give us an author interview about her own writing process and her books.

What genres do you enjoy writing? My favorite genre to write is, of course, science fiction. My focus right now is science fiction for girls; but I’m developing a short story that’s alternative history

Tell us about your latest book. My next book is the next in the Stars’ Fire series. Dahliea now must live like any other thirteen year old girl on Earth. She learns to enjoy shopping at the mall and a few secrets.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration? When I was twelve, I had a dream of five monks wearing a triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center. One of the monks told me that, “You’re not ready,” and I woke. I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant and I wrote them all down. Thirty seven years later, Dark Oak published Stars’ Fire.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? I do a combination of things. Since I’m very ‘old-school,’ I write out a draft with paper and pen and then use my trusty lap top (I’m not that ‘old-school’). The first draft is all action punctuated with some dialogue and looks like ‘word hurl’. The second draft looks a little less as if I threw words onto paper to see what sticks.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I think having to write on paper is a little strange compared to all the electronics available.

What are you working on at the minute? I just completed my second draft of my fourth book. I’m letting it cool a little bit so I can write an alternative history short story.

Natalie SilkHow important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend? I just love Asian and Latin names, such as: Sophia, Xavier, and Li.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? I stay away from love and racy scenes since I write YA. I’m in no mood to be greeted by an angry PTA mob on my front porch.

When did you decide to become a writer? I wanted to be a writer since I was ten.

Why do you write? Writing is such a great hobby; and hopefully it’ll turn into a really great part-time career.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I was wanted to meet Ernest Hemingway (preferably when he was on an upswing).



What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Don’t ever, ever (and I mean ever) give up.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I invite readers to come and talk to me at conventions and on my Facebook page: Natalie Silk, Author.

Be sure to check out Natalie Silk’s first novel in the series, Star’s Fire!

Author Interview: M. B. Weston

OOTS Front Dark OakDark Oak Press author, M. B. Weston, gave us an interview about not only her current fantasy series, The Elysian Chronicles, but also on her writing style and other things she has going on.

What genres do you enjoy writing? I started out with fantasy, but I’m also enjoying writing paranormal, suspense, urban fantasy, Steampunk, and I’m working on some pulp now. I also see a bit of mystery writing in my future.

Tell us about your latest book: My latest book is Out of the Shadows, the second book in the Elysian Chronicles series. The Elysian Chronicles is military fantasy about guardian angel warfare and treason with a lot of action. In the first book, A Prophecy Forgotten, my hero Davian must keep a young boy prophesied to save the world safe while at the same time stop a conspiracy of his fellow soldiers from taking over his home government. In Out of the Shadows, the scoundrels have successfully taken over, and Davian must do everything he can to bring them down, despite the fact he only has a few soldiers at his disposal.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration? Out of the Shadows is a sequel to A Prophecy Forgotten, and I have to admit that it was quite easy to come up with the idea for it since I knew what would happen once I started developing APF. It all began when I was imagining a scene with little boy drowning in a river. A young woman rescued him, but she ended up hitting her head on a rock and getting amnesia. When she woke, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this boy thought she was actually his guardian angel?” Then I thought, “What if she was?” At that moment, the entire story changed into epic fantasy, and the angels–cherubians, I call them–became the central culture instead of the humans.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Davian is a special operative in the guardian angel military who excels at leading black ops against the angel’s greatest enemies–mornachts. (If I’ve got angels, I’ve go to have some demons, right?) He’s a hard core soldier with a tremendous amount of focus on his mission–often at the expense of other aspects of his social life. I think my favorite thing about him is that he would really just rather live in peace in the country with a vegetable garden. In Out of the Shadows, Davian is imprisoned for 10 years and then finds himself with a chance at a new life when he escapes. Unfortunately, his loyalty to his country overcomes his desire for peace. He decides–with prodding–to free his country from the new dictator who rules it.

How about your least favorite character? I don’t have a least favorite character because all of them are vital to the story. However, most of my readers seem to hate Loraine, Tommy’s mother, the most.

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved? I did a lot of research on Delta Force, Green Berets, and Navy Seals to come up with the culture for my special ops team. I tried to blend the idea of navy-seals meets Roman soldiers with wings. The earth sections of Out of the Shadows take place at the United States Naval Academy. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel there for a weekend, and it really influenced my writing.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Trying to coordinate the battle going on in Heaven’s Realm (the name I have for the dimension the guardian angels live in) and the battle on earth. I had to make sure the timing fit into the appropriate parts of the Naval Academy’s academic schedule. (I used their 2006 calendar.) I also ended up dealing with two sets of characters on both earth and in Heaven’s Realm, and that meant I had to track each one’s development and make sure each was given his or her fair amount of time.

Which writers inspire you? Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, and in this one I used a lot of Tom Clancy.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m a modified pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants–mostly. I start out with a story idea. I do a bit of brain work to give myself a big picture concept of where I want the story to end up. Then I just start writing it. I’ve tried an outline, but using an outline takes me double the time because the story always changes once I get into the scene and into the characters. To keep from writing too much that might be deleted during the editing process, I write in layers. My first draft is really more of a rushed, bare-boned pre-draft with dialog and stage directions. I go back in and fill in the details, which means that if I delete a scene or change things around, I’m messing with something that only took me five minutes to jot down instead of a highly edited bit of writing that took a day.

What are you working on at the minute? In order of timing:

  • The Lodestone Series: This is an urban-fantasy, pulp novella series for ProSe Press about an immortal wizard named Michael Lodestone who sets out to free the world from his nine, more evil immortal counterparts who are bent on taking over. Basically, he knows he has to kill them, and the process of killing an immortal wizard is quite complex. I’m going to deal with one wizard or witch in each novella. In this first story, he faces off with the evil queen from the Snow White tales. I based it on a short story I wrote called, “The Witch Hunter,” which is featured in The Big Bad II short story anthology.
  • Unleashed (Working Title): A paranormal suspense thriller about a woman who discovers the person stalking her is 1) responsible for 90% of the world’s unsolved serial killings and 2) isn’t human. I’ve got the rough draft done and I’m in the middle of the 2nd. I was asked for a pulp novella, so I put this one on hold in order to finish the fist Lodestone book.
  • The Elysian Chronicles: The Sword of the Vanir (working title): I need to get this done before I start getting death threats from readers. I have some reasons it has taken a while, but I have to keep those to myself.


Why do you write? Because I have to. I know, silly answer, but it’s true. I have stories in my head, and I need to get them out.

Where do your ideas come from? Everywhere. Anything can spark an idea. That’s why its so important for writers to pay attention to everything.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Making sure the plot feels organic instead of contrived. The plot needs to feel seamless and real, and as odd as it seems it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes organizational work to make the story feel like it’s just unfolding effortlessly in front of you.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Well, most of the advice we all hear all the time is pretty relevant: don’t give up, keep writing, etc. I guess to be different, I would say to learn how to really edit. Learn the craft of writing. Don’t just think that because you’ve got a great story you can rush through and be done. Learn about style and grammar. Make your manuscript sparkle before you turn it in to a publisher. There is no such thing as good writers, just good editors. The ones who make it to the top are the ones who edit their own work the best.

Michelle-021 MediumFind out more about M. B. Weston at these sites:

Be sure to check out M. B.’s books:

Author Interview: Kimberly Richardson, the Goth Librarian

goth2xlgDark Oak Press author and editor, Kimberly Richardson, was kind enough to give us an interview. Read below to find out more about your favorite Goth Librarian…

What genres do you enjoy writing? As of late, I have enjoyed writing in both dark fantasy and erotica, although I am still getting used to writing in the latter. Writing in those two genres gives me a chance to explore my imagination and also answer a lot of “what ifs” that I wouldn’t normally be able to do in other genres. My mindset is very much of the Dark Side!

Tell us about your latest book: My newest book, Tales From a Goth Librarian II, is a continuation of the first book. More short stories with room for sequels! Although the stories are not Goth per se, they are still rather strange and unusual, of which seems to be very much liked by my friends and fans.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration.” Since Goth II is a collection of short stories, the a ha moments came whenever they felt like it! As for inspirations . . . the things that occupy my mind are my constant inspirations.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Honestly, I can’t really answer this question, since there are so many characters with so many personalities.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why? I don’t really have a favourite character from Goth II. I truly like them all for various reasons. (Editor’s Note: We’re pretty sure that the green fairy ranks up there pretty high on the readers’ list of favorites…)

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved? Aside from the journey into my mind, that was really it.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Wondering if perhaps I had gone too far with certain scenes.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I am insane. That is all.

Which writers inspire you? Here we go – Ernest Hemingway, Iris Murdoch, Ian McEwan, Claire Messud, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Anne Rice, John Irving, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Tobias Wolff, Virginia Woolf, Amy Tan, Jack Kerouac, Caleb Carr, Margaret Atwood, Charles De Lint, Graham Joyce, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Fyordor Dostoyevsky, Lawrence Durrell, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Robert Heinlein and many others.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? It really depends upon the work. Sometimes, I will do what I call “ripple effect”, in which I will begin with a character and then create the story around them. Sometimes, I will actually create the entire plot from beginning to end before I write the story. And then sometimes, I will just dive right in and go.

What are you working on at the minute? In between editing manuscripts for Dark Oak, I am currently working a trilogy of erotic novellas, the latest Agnes Viridian story for Pro Se Press and the Wanderlust Chronicles that appear on my blog. My other new novel, Open A, is slated to come out in 2015. That novel is already written and is going through the editing phase.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend? It really depends upon the story. When I created Hilliard Ravensdale for The Decembrists, I wanted a Welsh name and spent much time conducting research on name origins. Other times, I just randomly pick a name from my head, roll it around on my tongue to see how it feels and then assign it to a character.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? Not really. My mind tends to feel the same way no matter the scene.

When did you decide to become a writer? When I was born. No really, ask my parents.

Why do you write? That’s like asking me why I breathe. I write because I can. To not write means I don’t breathe and then turn blue.

Where do your ideas come from? Me and the world(s) I inhabit.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Not having enough time to do it.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t give in and don’t stop dreaming just because you need to “grow up”.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I really would not like to meet anyone famous – give me books, tea and friends and I’m good.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I would not have wanted to have been the original author of any other book. It would not feel right for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? No matter what anyone tells you, no matter how many times people ask you if you will get a “real” job, don’t stop typing. No matter what.


Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published? Attend conventions or writing conferences – listen, learn and network. Also, check out Poets and Writers Magazine – a plethora of information.

Tell the readers something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing. I am completely addicted to World of Warcraft!

KimberlyRichardsonWhat are your websites so people can find out more about you?

Also, be sure to check out Kim’s books: