My blog will be moving to my new site soon! You can find it at

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A crime is only a crime if it's a crime. #research

I may be biased because of my background, but it drives me nuts when an author writes about a crime, but doesn't have a solid grasp of the basic rules of crime and the criminal justice system.

Repeat after me: A crime is only a crime if it's a crime. As authors, we can't just make something up and hope readers won't notice the crime your character committed wasn't actually a chargeable offense. While we do have creative license, our plots need to be realistic, especially if the book is set in our world.

In order for a crime to be prosecuted certain things must be established. These things are known as the elements of the crime. Necessary elements are:

    • Law
    • Intent
    • Act
    • Concurrence
Let's break it down.

  • Law – A law governing the behavior must exist whether you're aware of the law or not (meaning ignorance of the law isn't a defense).  

It's not against the law to pick up a $10 bill you find in the middle of the street, but it is against the law to rob someone for that $10.

·         Intent – ("mens rea" or guilty mind) - one must intend to commit the crime and have the mental capacity necessary to establish or support the intent.

Intent Example:
If I run over someone who walks out in front of me, I lack intent. But if I hit someone on purpose, I do not lack intent. Additionally, if I hit someone because I'm driving recklessly, I can be charged with a crime.

Mental Capacity Example #1:
I aim a gun at you and pull the trigger. I know the gun is loaded, and that it will kill you. I also know this is wrong. - I had the mental capacity to form intent.

Mental Capacity Example #2:
If a toddler aims a gun and pulls the trigger, he or she lacks the mental capacity to form intent because of age.

Diminished Capacity – (the inability to form intent due to a lack of mental capacity or understanding) - can occur in instances of mental illness or retardation, in youthful offenders (as in example 2 above), in crimes of passion, or during periods of intoxication.

Strict liability – crimes in which intent is not required in order to be charged. Strict liability crimes include minor crimes like parking violations, as well as crimes such as drunk driving or statutory rape.

I don't see the "No Parking" sign, so I pull up and park. When I get back to my car, I have a ticket on my windshield. Even though I didn't mean to break the law, I still did so, and can be required to pay the fine.

Felony Murder Rule – if someone dies during the commission of the crime in certain areas of the US, all individuals participating in that crime can be charged with murder regardless of intent.

Example: Tom and Jane decide to break into Bob's house and steal his safe while he's not home. Jane brings a gun without telling Tom. Bob hears them, and bursts into the room. Jane shoots Bob and he dies. Even though Tom didn't touch the gun or know Jane had it, under the Felony Murder Rule, Tom can be charged with Bob's murder.

·         Act – ("actus rea" or guilty action) – In order for a crime to happen, steps to commit the act must occur or the act itself must occur

I buy a gun to commit a murder – I can be charged with a crime
I commit a murder – I can be charged with a crime.
I conspire with John to commit a murder, and John buys a gun – I can be charged with a crime of conspiracy.
I plan a murder but never take any further action – I can't be charged with a crime. 

Inept Criminal – if I attempt to commit the crime, but fail because of my own ineptitude, I can still be charged with the crime. Being a bad criminal is not a defense.

·         Concurrence – act and intent must occur either at roughly the same time or the act must be motivated by the intent

I'm doing the speed limit, and I accidentally run someone over and kill them. When I get out of the car, I realize the victim is Bob, who I hate. I dance and exclaim how happy I am Bob is dead. – I did not commit a crime because the act was not motivated by intent nor did the act occur when intent was established. It was purely coincidental.

Temporary Concurrence – Intent and Act occur at roughly the same time.

Example: Jane discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, so she decides to kill him. She grabs the knife on the counter and stabs him to death.

Motivational Concurrence – The Act is motivated by the establishment of Intent.

Example: Tom needs money to pay his rent, so he decides to commit a crime. He learns that Jane has thousands stashed around her house. One month later, Tom breaks in to Jane's house to steal the cash.

Not sure if your plot contains all the elements necessary to make it work? Ask a professional! Lawyers, judges, CJ professors, and police officers are great sources of information, and many are more than willing to help answer research questions for authors.


Note: Not all possibilities are contained in this overview. If in doubt, research!

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teaser: Fall - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book Two #teasertuesday

Hello, lovelies,

It's Tuesday which means it's time for another teaser. Yay! As the title suggests, this particular teaser comes from FALL, Book Two.

Ragnarok (from
I flipped through the book lying across my lap, aimlessly shuffling through the pages instead of reading. Split-second views of the black and white etchings inside looked like an animated comic, one that got more disturbing the farther I flipped. Smiling gods and goddesses turned into grim-faced, weapon wielding threats. The pious masks on their worshippers’ faces slipped and twisted into something harder, crueler. Flesh rent and tore beneath wickedly sharp blades. Ragnarök, or one artist’s representation of it, unfolded before my eyes.

How much worse would the end of the world look in living color, playing out all around me?

My stomach threatened to rebel at the thought.

I heaved a sigh and set the book aside.

* * *
Some of you have expressed interest in reading more about the Ragnarok prophesy. You can find the original prophesy (or myth if you will) in the Eddic poem, Voluspo . If you have some time, I highly recommend giving the poem a read. It covers everything from the creation of the world to the first people to the eventual destruction of the world, according to the Norse belief. 

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Friday, June 21, 2013

Success is earned. Not given. #writing #advice

Yesterday, a colleague asked me for advice on publishing. She has a couple of manuscripts sitting around, collecting dust, and doesn't know where to begin trying to send them off into the world.

After talking to her for a little while about writing, she asked how to go about finding a publisher. When I explained the query process to her, her eyes lit up with excitement.

"Oh! That sounds so easy," she said.

"Then I must not have explained it right," I replied.

She thought I was trying to be funny, but I wasn't, and I told her as much.

Most new writers seem to believe finishing an entire manuscript is the hard part. Once that's done, life as a writer is a breeze.

Yeah, not so much!

Finishing that manuscript is only half the battle. And, in many ways, it's the easiest part of the entire process. Once you decide you're serious about publishing, you have to tear the story apart, rewrite it, revise it, and then do it again.

You agonize over your query and your synopsis for weeks at a time before you ever work up the nerve to hit that "send" button. And then you wait for weeks and months at a time for a response. When you get one, it's a "no".
No. No. No. No. No.

Sometimes, the "no" comes with pretty harsh criticism. Your story is unoriginal. It's unpublishable. You need to seriously think about rewriting this, or rewriting that. You aren't half as clever as you think you are. No one will ever buy this story.

You get these responses for months, sometimes years at a time, before you finally get that yes. You jump up and down, screaming at the top of your lungs. You read the contract six times. You have everyone you know read the contract. You worry over every little word. And then you sign.


Until your publisher sends you their style guide.

You rip your manuscript apart again, and then put it back together. You send it to your editor, who then helps you tear it apart once more. You wonder why you ever got yourself into this. What were you thinking? You'll never get this right. Everyone will hate your story. They'll hate you.

You finally finish editing, and realize your story is so much stronger now. You see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything is coming together, and your dream is right there, a few feet in front of you.

And then you hear the words "marketing" and "promotion". You jump in with both feet and tell the world about your book. You talk about it so much, you sometimes want to gouge your own eyes out, not because you don't love the book, but because you can only think of so many ways to discuss your characters, your ideas, your playlist, or that moment when you realized all the frustration is worth it.

When release day comes, you panic again. What if everyone hates your story? What if they love it? What if they expect you to do this exact same thing another thousand times before you die? What if, what if, what if?

You get your first review and it's positive. Yay! Writing is the best thing ever!

You wake up two days later and your first positive review is rubbing elbows with your first negative review. It's brutal. Reading it kills you. You cry because the reviewer hates your baby. The reviewer was mean to you. Everyone's going to see this review and no one will want to read your book ever again!

You're going to fail! Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail!

But your buddies convince you to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle anyway.

You do everything above all over again.

And then you do it again.
You do it over and over while working a full time job, taking care of a family, and saving every penny. You do it without sleep, a shower, or sunlight for days at a time.

Somewhere along the way, you realize those bad days, the ones where you want nothing more than to grab a bottle of vodka and hide under the bed . . . . Those are they days you NEED because they're the days that make you work harder, write better, and strive to be stronger. They give you the thick skin needed to deal with those bad reviews. The humility required to focus on your goals and not let the positive feedback go to your head. The drive demanding you get your ass off the couch and WRITE.
You have a love/hate relationship with those days. With writing. Editing. Marketing. Publishing. This relationship never ends. It doesn't always get easier the second or third or fourth time around. Sometimes, it gets harder with each book you write.
"Surely it's not like that for everyone," my coworker said when I told her all this.
"Wanna bet?" I asked her.
She sat quietly for a moment, and then sighed. "Is it worth it?"
"Writing is one hell of a rough journey," I said, "but yeah, it's worth it if you're willing to fight and bleed for it . . . and then wake up and do it all over again tomorrow."
A thoughtful, determined expression crossed her face. "So... where do I start?" she asked.

I smiled at her. "Right there. You start right there."


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Forever #drabble

Every once in a while, some mysterious character living in the back of my head will pop up for a brief moment. When that happens, I try to jot down whatever is going on in his or her world. Sometimes, those little moments grow. Other times, they don't.

I don't know which of the two this piece is, but I kind of like it where it stands. :)

I've dubbed it Forever.

Enjoy. <3


"I love you," he whispered, wrapping his arms around me when I stepped up between his legs. He lifted his hooded gaze to mine.

Emotion he never showed me blazed in the clear blue depths of his eyes like storm clouds roiling. Everything I wanted hung there, but nowhere near enough of it.

"Show me," I said, needing more from him in that moment than spoken professions and unguarded looks. I needed . . . forever as only he could give it to me. I needed his lips on mine and his heart pounding for me. Only for me.

"Always for you," he promised as if he'd plucked the thought from the depths of my mind.

His lips parted, sliding over mine like warm silk.

For the first time in days, forever didn't seem so impossible after all.

It seemed right.

* * *
See you next time I surface from editing FALL.
Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cover Reveal: Demon's Veil by Brandice Snowden

Hi, lovelies!

I am so excited to help reveal the phenomenal cover for Demon's Veil by Brandice Snowden, a fellow Curiosity Quills author. In addition to being one of CQ's newest additions, Brandice was the winner of the 2012 NANO-Virtuoso Competition and an all around sweetheart.

Demon's Veil is slated for release on July 15th.

Isn't the cover absolutely gorgeous?!
Summary: Powerful veils hold Earth apart from realms mortals believe are merely tales of myth and legend.

They are opening again, leaving humans vulnerable, and the monsters ready to strike.


Marie Leveau prefers to remain alone and anonymous, for she knows what goes bump in the night, and sacrificing others isn't part of her personality. But life isn’t always about getting what you want.


Contracted by The Organization, a shadow government agency, Marie is assigned a new Special Ops team, one she must introduce via Paranormal 101 to the very monsters they didn’t believe existed. Marie and her team are sent to Asia in search of an ancient relic, leading them into the jungle and tests of a fragile new bond. Despite the initial distrust, and an unholy battle with a demon-god, the team survives, their lives forever changed and woven into an unbreakable tapestry.

Returning home, the new friends sense the very people responsible for their safety are willing to sacrifice them all in the name of power.


They learn of a prophecy, and The Paladin, the one person able to close the veils and keep the mortals safe.

With few clues, the team must unravel the prophecy and figure out how to close the veils. Or the monsters will use Earth as ground zero, innocents be damned.
Adult Urban Fantasy: Intended for readers 17 years of age and older.
Visit Brandice on Facebook and Twitter.
Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Sizzling Summer Giveaway is Coming! #signup

Guess what? Guess what?!

The Sizzling Summer Giveaway, hosted by YA Bound, is coming your way! This massive, multi-author giveaway has 50 participating authors, and I'm one of them! Woohoo!

So what's up for grabs? Oh, nothin' but two Kindle Fires loaded with YA, NA, and Adult titles (like those below). Pretty awesome, right? I think so!

The giveaway runs from July 22nd- July 27th, but you don't have to wait until then to get in on the action. You can sign up here to host the giveaway on your blog. Participating authors will provide a guest post and the Rafflecopter for you. All you have to do is post it.

Easy peasy. :)

Go! Sign up! Hurry!


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Blog Archive