October 2014 - Tianna Holley | Tianna Holley

How to Create an Alternate Reality

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although I’m a panster writer and the thought of an outline scares me, I do believe in planning out my alternate realities before I start on a new fantasy series. I learned from my first novel not to be lazy about it, as I finished my first draft without planning out all the details. Then my beta reader told me it was more romance than fantasy. Of course, she was right. It was my first time writing a novel, and although it had a complicated plot, I had not put a lot of thought into how the world/magic worked.

I grumbled about her complaint, but I sat down with a pen and paper. I then asked myself the following questions: How does the magic work? How does this reality get its power/electricity?

Those two questions led to a massive amount of detail being added into my rough draft, and it was a slow and tedious process going back through and editing my first novel. However, those details are what makes my writing unique and enjoyable. The one thing I keep hearing from my readers when I meet them or read reviews is how they love the world I created. Some have said they wish they could live there.

People continuously ask me how I thought of such a place, and I know my books would be nothing without all those details I added in. People want to get a complete visualization when they read books with alternate realities. They need to be able to put themselves into the new world, and to do that, they need the details.

Now that I’m planning a new series, I again find myself putting a lot of thought into how the magic will work and where the power will come from. I have to completely answer those two questions before I can get an idea of how the world looks, the clothes the people wear–everything.

The great thing about fantasy is that there are no rules. I can make it all up–as long as it flows and doesn’t contradict itself. How do I get ideas? Some ideas just naturally come into my head, but I also look at art on Pinterest. I keep a private board with pictures I find that pull emotions from me, and those emotions can easily be turned into a story.

I have to completely visualize the surroundings, the characters, and their clothing. Even if I don’t plan to describe everything, I still need to have those things clear in my mind when I sit down to write. If it’s vague in my mind, it will be vague in my writing, and I don’t want vague writing. I want to take my readers on a magical adventure. I want them to see what I see and feel what I feel. To do that, I must have it clearly in my head. Writing is so much more than putting the plot out on paper. You have to make your readers fall in love with the characters, and you have to get them to relate to your characters. You need to pull emotions from your readers–take them on a roller coaster ride. To do that, you can’t be lazy. Plan it! Describe it! And that is how you create an alternate reality.

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Mark of the Dragon Queen Book Review – YA Fantasy

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Book Reviews | 0 comments

Today’s book review is for Mark of the Dragon Queen, written by Katie W. Stewart. The story starts out at a fast pace, as a teenage girl’s life abruptly falls apart within the first chapter. The reader is then taken on an epic journey filled with magic, dragons, and adventure.

I give this book five stars. It’s a classic fantasy read where good versus a great evil. The author didn’t give any secrets away, and the plot is thick and filled with surprises. There’s a lot of action, and I don’t believe this story was lacking in any way. I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy reads.

As for my clean rating, I am very impressed with the writing of this author. Although there is death that is to be expected from an epic fantasy, there are no curse words or sexual content–not even kissing. This book is clean enough for middle grade children, yet it’s perfect for adults also. It’s an adventure you won’t outgrow.

If you love stories involving magic and dragons, then I suggest you give it a try. I’m a *cough* older woman, yet I highly enjoyed this book.


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Why Kindles Make the Perfect Gifts for Children–Better than iPads

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Electronics are a big thing in my house. We have a large selection with iPads, iPhones, iPods, a Nabi, Kindles, and even the Nintendo DS. I’m at the point that I believe my children have too much technology at their fingertips, and I’m continuously grounding them from their electronics, as all the games and videos often get in the way of chores and homework.

So then, why did I just buy my oldest daughter a Kindle Paperwhite for her birthday? Well, eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks–even free. Most authors put their first book in their series up for free when the second one comes out–as that is the case with my novel titled Unexpected Metamorphosis. The last time I bought my daughter a paperback at the bookstore, I realized the eBook was $7.00 cheaper. All of that adds up, as my house is full of readers. We love books.

There’s also the fact that many books are only available in Kindle format and not available in paperback or Nook. I’ve heard of some best-selling authors that have done this with a few of their books.

Although my children have access to the Kindle app through their tablets, I’ve learned they would rather sit for hours staring at videos or playing games on a tablet than read a book. That’s why my husband and I have set strict time limitations on their devices. However, we soon realized that when we took their tablets away, we were also taking the Kindle app away. That’s like taking their books from them. What kind of parent grounds their children from books? (Okay, I admit that I have done that often with my youngest daughter, as she will read through the night or when she’s supposed to be cleaning her room. I have confiscated many.)

Anyways, I decided to invest in Kindles for their birthdays. With all the YA novels I read and get from fellow clean authors, my Kindle library is filled with books they can read, and it’s always at their fingertips. The Paperwhite is small, and my daughter now carries it everywhere she goes.

I also bought myself a Paperwhite, and although I will soon be posting a full review on it, I will say I can highly recommend it over all the other eBook readers and tablets. It’s great on my eyes and highly convenient. I plan to do a Youtube video soon to explain why I highly recommend it. (Just be sure to get the insurance package with it.)

Should you get your child a Kindle Paperwhite or an iPad mini for a gift? In my opinion, go for the Paperwhite and fill it with books, where they can read for hours. Instead of watching television on a small screen or playing trivial games for hours at a time, they can immerse their minds in another world–fly on the backs of dragons, win epic battles, create magic, and so much more. Books will take them on many great adventures, and a Kindle Paperwhite is a library at their fingertips.

Stay tuned for the video where I’ll compare the Paperwhite to other eReaders I have experience with, and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Fanged Outcast Novella Review – YA Vampires/Fantasy

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Book Reviews | 2 comments

This is the second novella in the Fanged Princess Series, written by Elisabeth Wheatley. If you haven’t already, you can also read my review of Fanged Princess, the first novella in the series. Fanged Outcast picks up where the first one ended, and we join nineteen-year-old vampire Hadassah as she continues to try to protect her younger brother and his human girlfriend from their father.

This one has even more action than the first one, as it immediately dives into the plot with intense fighting that continues throughout. If this were a movie, you’d see swat teams, creatures, car chases, fist fights, tear gas . . . You get the idea–complete action.

As for romance, we still see the hint of one. The author dangles it in front of her readers. There’s just enough to make you want more. And with that, I am now waiting patiently for the third novella in the series. I enjoy the characters, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

There is some mild cursing throughout and lots of action, but there is no sexual references or anything to alarm parents. I can honestly recommend this series, and I give it five stars. It’s a quick read and highly enjoyable.

At the time of this post, Fanged Princess is free.

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Getting to Know Your Side Characters – A Writer’s Guide

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in For Authors | 0 comments

Oh, the joys of adding a new character into your story. Sometimes I’m on a roll with my typing, and when it comes to adding in a side character, I don’t want to stop. I just want to keep on writing and get the job done. However, that always ends in disaster, and I have to go back and rewrite the scene. You see, it’s not just about what a character has to do in your story. Does he or she do it begrudgingly? Why is this person doing what they are doing? And, most importantly, what is the personality of this character? That will decide if there is a smile, how the person smiles, and gives the smallest of details. Without those details, it’s a dull and dreary story. To bring life to your writing, you have to give life to each character.

I added a lot of new characters into my last novel, and unlike scenery, describing the way they look is not enough. I admit that I struggled greatly with the personality of one of the main characters I threw in. In the beginning, I hated writing out his scenes, and I grew to dislike him. In the end, I got it down, and he plays an important role in the story. Some even say he made that story.

At the end of that novel, I added in more characters, but I was quite tired the night I was typing out the beginning scenes. After a while, I asked myself, “Where is this conversation going?” Because I had not truly thought out the details of the new people, I was just writing. It was dull, and it wasn’t going anywhere. One might consider it rambling.

That’s when I had to step away from the keyboard and think things through. I had to consider the future of each new character, their past, their personalities–everything. I had to truly create–not just add characters into the story.

Yet, here I am again. Last night I started typing out a scene with new characters, and although I had done research on ships and aquatic life to get the images in my head, I had not put a lot of thought into the captain and his crew. I began typing out the scene, but once again, I found myself stuck when it came to the conversation.

Today I had to step away from my laptop. During my cleaning and workout, I imagined each and every character. Where did they grow up? Why are they doing what they are doing? And so much more. I imagined whether it was a forced smile, an easy smile, or was there even a smile. Although their past will not be written into the story, those details will show up in each person. I need to know these things as their creator. It gives the visual, and it leads the conversations.

My advice to aspiring writers is that you need to know your characters–not just the main ones. You need to know them all. Befriend them. Listen to them. And only then will you be able to paint them into words.

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