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Into The Action: Placing Your Reader In The Story

May 9, 2018

People read for adventure, for the chance to escape to a place that is exciting and different. Part of the art of being a writer of great stories is the ability to bring your reader into the scene, to place them dead center in a dramatic shootout or right alongside the main character as she fights off an attacker. The best way to draw your reader in is to engage all of their senses.

Sight:              What should the reader see? The color, the brilliance, the movement of things paints a picture of the scene and your reader can easily bring it to life with their imagination if you give them the right images.

Sound:            What should the reader hear? Is the room so quiet that you could hear the floors settling or is there the soft shuffling of unidentifiable movement all around?

Smell:              What should the reader smell? Is there a sharp, burnt scent originating from the spark that caused the lights to go out?

Touch:            What should the reader feel? Touch is very important; this allows the reader to simulate a physical feeling in their own body. Explain the searing pain that washes over the victim’s bare back as the intruder drags her across the thick carpet.

Taste:              What should the reader taste? Taste is often forgotten but extremely important and does not relate only to food. Describe how the man can taste the smoke caused by the fire that has trapped him in the basement threatening to consume him at any moment.

Of course you cannot, or at least should not try to engage each of the reader’s senses with every new event or idea that you detail, this will bore your reader and could be a distraction, but strategically placed descriptions that allow the reader to use their senses will draw them into the moment in the most intimate way. Bringing your reader into the story by touching all of their senses will give the reader a better-rounded experience and the next time they want to take a trip out of their own world, your book will be the first one they grab.

Jean Nicole Rivers

BWT: The Unwanted: https://tinyurl.com/y89hru75

BWT: The Secret Keepers: https://tinyurl.com/yctrtqft




Starting Your Novel Today

March 22, 2018

You were going to start today, but you hardly slept last night so you’re way too tired. You’ll start tomorrow even though you have that “thing” after work so you may or may not get a chance. Also, you really should get a new laptop before you begin, it’s too dark in your office, etc. Many of us want to write a novel but have multiple excuses to keep that dream from ever coming to fruition. Writing a book is not quick or easy, I’m not here to tell you that it is, but the only way to finish one is to start one. Use the tips below to start your great work today!

  1. Get confident
  • Writing a novel can be a long and strenuous process and the only way that you will ever get to the light at the end of the tunnel is to stay positive and persevere. You must tell yourself that it is time and you are writing a novel, not trying to write a novel or thinking about writing a novel. Today is the day you start your book, rain or shine. Make the decision and don’t look back.
  1. Set aside 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes? That’s right! That’s it! 30 minutes is all you need to get started. Schedule it and let your family know that you will be OFF LIMITS for that short period of time.
  1. Get a rough start
  • Use the time that you set aside above and start with 5 of those minutes to summarize your novel in one sentence. This one sentence hardly needs to be perfect, it just needs to be present. Once you have your summary sentence, write the first page of your novel, and just start writing. DO NOT overthink what you are writing. DO NOT worry about having the perfect opening line. DO NOT consider anything but putting one word in front of the other until you have a full page or until the remaining 25 minutes are over. You can do all of the editing you want later, but today is just about getting the words on paper. Once done, take a huge exhale and pat yourself on the back, you have officially begun your novel.

Need a little extra help? Try a writing software like Simply Stylus (simplystylus.com) to help you stay on track. Simply Stylus is in beta (save your work outside of the software) and being offered for free for a limited time.

Completing a novel is one of the most gratifying accomplishments in the world and you can do it. Any start for your novel is better than no start at all. Get started, keep going, finish!

Jean Nicole Rivers

BWT: The Unwanted: https://tinyurl.com/y89hru75

BWT: The Secret Keepers: https://tinyurl.com/yctrtqft




Let’s Play: A 60 Seconds of Midnight Story

October 26, 2017

Kiera and Freddie stood in their front doorway, bodies intertwined for warmth, amazed that it was finally happening. The small car came to a stop in their driveway and the door opened. The couple knew that all of the final approvals were complete but had no idea until two days before when their new daughter was coming home for the first time. When Kiera received the call she was excited, but nervous since her husband was due for a business trip at the end of the week which would leave her to parent the child alone at the very start. Ms. Alice of Alice’s Angels Adoption Agency bumbled out of the car, spilling some papers unto the ground, then hastily gathering them up again before opening the back door and allowing Gentry to place one then two small boots on the pavement. Kiera could hardly hold back the tears as the girl ran toward her, her red puffer coat covering a corduroy dress of the same color. “Mommy” She yelled. Kiera hugged the girl, picking her up and swinging her around. Freddie pulled his wife and new daughter close as Kiera’s shoulders heaved and dropped with her sobs.

Over the next hour, Kiera showed her daughter around her new home and introduced her to Pinky, a pet hamster they had purchased especially for Gentry. In love with Pinky at once she could hardly keep herself from the little animal or from Doc, the family’s golden retriever. Kiera and Freddie then hosted Alice for tea and cake and they talked for an hour before Ms. Alice finally announced her departure, “I really should get going and allow you all some time to spend with Gentry, especially since you will be away for a couple of days soon, Freddie. I want to give you as much time to spend with your family this week as possible.”

“We could not be happier, Alice.” Kiera whispered as she walked the woman to the door.

“Don’t thank me. It’s what I do.” The woman said as she barreled toward her vehicle. With a quick wave she ducked in through the car door and was soon out of sight.

That night as Kiera tucked her daughter into bed for the first time, she read her a story. “Can I play with Pinky?” a sleepy Gentry asked. “Not anymore tonight, sweetie. You are tired. We can play with him in the morning.” Kiera turned off the lamp leaving the glow of the night light to cast ominous shapes on the walls.

Morning seemed to come earlier than usual with Gentry’s excessive knocking on her parents’ bedroom door. “Mommy, daddy! Can I play with Pinky?” She was asking. Kiera and Freddie looked at one another before he smiled, “So this is what being a parent is like, huh?”

Kiera adjusted the thermostat to warm the chilly house before she came up the stairs and made her way to Gentry’s room. She crossed the room to take Pinky’s cage off of the high dresser and placed it on the floor. “Pinky.” Kiera said trying to rouse the little rodent. “Perhaps he’s still sleeping. Pinky?” She called again as she swished her fingers through the dressings. She felt a cold, hard mound. Kiera jumped, pulling her finger back. Shaking the dressings away revealed Pinky’s stiff body.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Gentry asked.

“Nothing, I just don’t think that Pinky is doing too well this morning. I’m going to have daddy look at him, ok? Wash your face and come down for breakfast.”

Freddie seemed somewhat relieved, “He was a rodent, and they die all the time. I’m kind of glad he’s gone, those things are nasty. She can play with Doc.”

“I guess. Can you get rid of him?” Kiera asked before going into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

“Sure thing.” Her husband said, disappearing with the cage.

It was Gentry’s first night in their home and her animal had died. It was Kiera’s second day having a child and she was now going to have to explain life’s biggest catch…death.

“Can I play with Pinky?” Gentry asked again over her eggs.

Kiera looked nervously over her coffee cup to her husband then back to Gentry. “I’m sorry, honey, but you can’t.”

“Why not?” She wanted to know.

“Because Pinky is…dead.” She finally said.

Gentry looked bewildered then spoke again.

“So?” Gentry asked again, her brown eyes completely blank.

Kiera stopped short and turned to face the girl.

Freddie quickly cut in. “Because when something dies, it has to be buried. It goes away.”

“Oh.” Gentry said, returning quickly to her breakfast.

All that day Kiera kept an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach that could be traced back to the breakfast conversation, but her husband was convinced that it was not strange, nothing more than a child’s simple reaction to a complex concept. Kiera wasn’t convinced, but she would not put up a fight. Still she wished that Freddie didn’t have to leave for his business trip the following day. The next morning as Kiera started to wake Gentry, the girl popped up almost as if she hadn’t been sleeping at all, “Can I play with Doc? Huh, momma? Can I?”

Instantly a dread crept up in the new mother. Doc was a good dog, but during the night Kiera would usually hear him bark at least once or twice, but she realized that the night before he had been exceptionally quiet. Scrambling down the stairs, Kiera called for her dog, “DOC!”

Freddie emerged from the bedroom. “You can’t find Doc? Did you let him in last night?”

“Of course, I let him in.” she snapped. They both searched the house but no Doc. In the backyard Kiera noticed that the gate was flapping open, “Doc” she called as she crossed the yard. Her husband was close behind her. She closed the gate and then turned back to the house and that was when she saw something brown on the side of the air conditioning unit. “Doc.” Kiera called nervously as she ran up and touched her dog’s rigid body. His head was a mess of wounds and gashes. “Jesus.” Freddie said, pulling his sobbing wife away from the animal into the house, passing Gentry who watched with a dull expression.

That evening Kiera lay in bed, sipping tea. The television was on and her eyes were trained on it, but she wasn’t watching.

“I really wish that I didn’t have to go, but my mother is coming in the morning to stay until I return, ok.” Freddie informed her. “I made sure to lock the gate so that whatever came out of those woods and attacked Doc can’t get back in.”

Kiera’s eyes darted toward her husband. “The woods…” She said.

“Sure, what else could it have been?” He asked. Kiera’s eyes rolled up into her head.

Before leaving for the airport, Freddie put his daughter to bed and Kiera was so exhausted from the emotional stress, she was sleeping no later than he was gone. Something in the dark house woke Kiera in the middle of the night. The hallway light flicked on and she heard massive footsteps crashing down the hall until the shadow stood right outside of her door.

“Mommy, can we play?” A deep, guttural voice asked.

Jean Nicole Rivers





The Soul Seeker By: Jean Nicole Rivers

October 5, 2017

As the wind picked up, Arlene tightened her ill-fitting coat around her and then knocked on the door again, harder this time. Over the last few days, since her husband’s unexpected death, her eyes had dulled, her hair grew unkempt and her body had taken to inconspicuous but constant trembling.

An older man finally pulled the heavy wooden door open without a word of greeting. The silent man with the lines of worry cut deep into his face already knew why she was here, same reason as the others before her. The pair eyed one another solemnly until Arlene managed to swallow the lump in her throat.

“Th..the Soul Seeker…is that here?” She asked, her voice shuddering.

The man’s body deflated immediately expressing more sadness and even a hint of anger, anger at himself for still having hope that for once someone at the door would be a regular visitor, a jovial family member or loyal friend, the type they had not received since Betty was able to walk and talk. While he still refused to speak, he stepped aside and allowed her into the home. He started down the hall and Arlene followed. As they made their way to the belly of the old home they passed an opening into a parlor area where a woman whose appearance told a story of such pain that her eyes never had a chance to dry spoke to a priest in murmurs that ended snappishly when they saw Arlene pass.

At the end of the hall the man opened a door and allowed Arlene to step inside of a room filled with as much sunlight as the dim day offered. He closed the door behind her without ever speaking a word and for a moment she listened to his footsteps disappear in the distance. Arlene searched the room and in the corner spotted a little girl draped in a colorful frock.

“You? You’re the soul seeker?” Arlene spoke, her confusion obvious.

“No, of course not silly, I’m just a little girl…but, I am the vessel for her, she speaks through me.”

Arlene suddenly felt as if all of the terror in the world had been bottled up and was now being pumped directly into her veins, she turned and twisted frantically at the unmoving knob on the door.

“You found my information in your husband’s things, right? He came a few weeks ago with his desires and I told him what needed to be done as no dream comes to fruition without sacrifice. He had ten days to deliver the blood of an innocent.”

Arlene was quaking now. “He tried to kill a man and was shot and killed himself in the process.”

“His failure is a pity as now the responsibility falls to you. His debt to the soul seeker must be paid by you, his next of kin. If you do not deliver the blood she will take yours and your debt will be passed on to your next of kin.”

“My son? No! There has to be some other way. Please, I am begging you! My son is just a child.” Arlene said throwing herself to her knees.

Betty stood over the kneeling woman as a dark figure grew out of her, towering over both humans covering them in shadow. “10 days.” It growled.

Jean Nicole Rivers





Three Tips to Help You Finally Finish That Novel

April 19, 2016

The Unwanted

Recently, I completed my second novel, Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, a follow up to Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers. While this is only my second novel and I hardly consider myself a writing expert, I understand that when you are struggling to get your first novel on paper you are willing to try anything; with that in mind I want to share with you the three most important things that helped me finally complete my first novel in hopes that it will help you complete yours.

  1. Summary: Write a solid sentence that summarizes your entire novel. As simple as it sounds most people struggling to organize their ideas have not completed this fundamental task.

Ex:                               Marie has become a fast-paced, city girl who has lost herself in her climb to success in NYC, but when she travels back to her small lakeside hometown in Texas to see her mother who has been injured in an accident she is reunited with a cast of friends who live less than fabulous lives yet she soon realizes that they all have something she is missing despite all of her fabulous things…love and happiness.

  1. Outline:             The outline is crucial in order for you to transform the discombobulated plots, sub-plots, clever quotes and unforgettable characters into a story that other people can read, understand and enjoy. Write down everything that you have in your brain for the story; put it in some type of order similar to the way that you want it to unfold in the book. Details and exact timeline are not crucial at this point. The outline is imperfect in many ways, but you must have a solid beginning, middle and end.

Ex:                               We first see Marie doing something fabulous as part of her great NY lifestyle.

Marie gets a call that tells her that her mother has been in an accident.

Marie tells her agent, but he is hesitant as she has big upcoming show.

A reluctant Marie flies home.


  1. Free Write: Well…semi-free writing. You have your outline so get a  cup of coffee (even if you don’t drink it, it will keep you awake), put a pencil behind your ear (this just makes you look smart), put your outline in front of you and begin to write. Start with your first point and let the words play out like a movie in your head. This draft will be very rough, but the key is to keep writing no matter what.  Don’t get caught up on details like the names of characters, the way the house looks, etc. Get the main stuff on paper, you can make everything perfect later, that is what re-writes are for.

Ex:                               Marie Delano sat outside of the chic Sorrenta Café sipping the white mocha that she drank every morning, while she waited for her agent.  She was confident that her personal trainer would be able to get her into her designer dress for her opening despite her less than healthy eating habits. Marie held out her freshly manicured finger nails and reviewed them when she was startled by her ringing phone. She looked down and gasped when she recognized the phone number that belonged to her mother. She had not spoken to her mother in years and she knew instantly that something terrible had happened, she could feel it in every inch of her petite frame. Marie reached out and grabbed the phone abruptly as if the sound offended her ears. She answered and was told that her premonition had been correct.

Do this for your entire outline and once you get to the end, you have a novel. Don’t get too excited there is much more to be done, but the first step is taken and the first step is always the hardest.

Happy writing!





When To Let Go of Your Novel

April 1, 2016
When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

Last week I pressed the “approve” button for the final edits on my first novel, Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers, and it was more difficult than I could have ever imagined.  Over the past year as I composed the novel I could not wait for the moment to finally be finished, to have completed one of the “biggies” on the bucket list, to be able to say, “I have written a novel, I’m a writer, I have arrived!”

But instead of the triumphant (Rocky music playing in the background) feeling I had envisioned, I felt more like a mother standing at the glass doors of kindergarten, bawling her eyes out as she watches her baby leaving her.  It was a bit traumatizing.

There was a fear of losing something that had become so much a part of my everyday life.  For so long now, it has just been me… and the book, I have watched it develop, struggled with it, loved it, hated it and finally finished it.

Also, there was the fear of the big reveal.  Writing is personal and despite the fact that my novel is fiction, when people read anything that I write, they are getting a look into my personal thoughts and the feelings; they are literally reading from the pages of my diary. If you are human, you know the fear of letting people see the real you, with all of your vulnerabilities, insecurities and flaws.  One of our biggest fears as human beings is not that we won’t be seen, but that we will be.  It’s like stripping in front of a crowd and allowing them to make unencumbered judgments of your nakedness.

What if people hate it?  What if I missed a mistake? What if people read the first chapter and think that I’m unimaginative, long winded or just a complete idiot?

One would have to be made of stone not be intimidated.

When it is all done, I have done everything right, I have gone through the process of writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, professional editing, more editing, peer review and the time had finally come for me to let it go, but how?

As I sat there in front of my computer with my mouse hovering over the “approve” button, vacillating in doubt, I remembered something a wise person once told me when it came to making tough decisions, they said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

I pressed the button.

I realized that the story was complete and that I needed the story more than it needed me anymore and that was a sure sign that it was time for the bittersweet process of moving on.

Writing your story is the most empowering things that you can do, but letting it go is one of the most courageous.

Jean Nicole Rivers