Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Enter to Win a Signed Hardback Copy of UNLOCKED!

It's a Goodreads giveaway for UNLOCKED!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unlocked by Margo Kelly


by Margo Kelly

Giveaway ends June 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Storymakers Conference 2017

Whew! Two writers' conferences in two weekends! What was I thinking? Well, honestly, I was thinking it would be AWESOME!! And it was. But my brain is tired. So many ideas bouncing around in there. ;)

This was my first time attending the Storymakers Conference in Provo, Utah, and it was AH-MAZING!

Nearly ten different class choices were offered every hour on every topic imaginable - for TWO days! How is a person supposed to choose? It was hard. But it was worth it.

Some of my favorites included:
Frank Cole talking about being a writing juggernaut
Rosalyn Eves teaching about rhetorical devices
Michelle Frey explaining her perspective as an acquisitions editor
Jennifer A. Nielsen exploring the psychology of characterization
Camille Andros showing how to write picture books
Rosalyn Eves explaining the Objective Correlative

Yes, Rosalyn Eves was such a fabulous teacher, I attended two of her classes!

I also had the pleasure of sharing my presentation "Infuse Tension into Your Writing" with attendees.


I signed books with people like James Dashner, Brandon Sanderson, Ally Condie and more. ;) I even got James Dashner to write encouraging words to my critique partner Melissa.

The surprise benefit of attending was meeting great people like LJ, Karen, and Shane.

Plus, Ally Condie gave a keynote address. Jennifer A. Nielson gave a lunch-time talk that was so inspiring, 750 attendees rose to their feet, giving a standing ovation. And James Dashner was a hoot throughout the entire conference.

If you've never attended this conference, I would encourage you to add it to your calendar for next year: May 3-5, 2018.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Booking Signing at Jordan Landing Barnes & Noble

What are the benefits are doing a book signing?

1. Seeing old friends
2. Meeting people who've already read my books
3. Meeting new people who want to read my books
4. Discussing all books with all readers
5. Feeling happy . . . because BOOKS!
6. OH, and of course there was the awesome Facebook post my sweet son shared (see below)

Here are a few pictures from the event:

Oh, and I signed the remaining copies of both books at the Jordan Landing Barnes & Noble in Utah. Hop on over there and grab one before they're all gone! 

Happy reading!

CRAFT: Infusing Tension into Your Writing

This weekend I will be teaching a class about "tension" at the Storymakers Conference in Utah, and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite quotes on the topic.

Of course, story conflict begins with your overarching idea, but to keep readers turning pages, you must infuse tension into every scene. This does not mean inserting fist fights; it means embedding opposing goals, emotions, and ideals. When you steep a scene with contrasting elements, the crafted tension keeps the reader engaged in the story. 

You might think, “I don’t write thrillers. Therefore, I don’t need to worry about tension in every scene.” Wrong! This concept applies to all great writing – both fiction and narrative non-fiction.

"It’s your writing craft that empowers your storytelling to sink its fingers into readers’ imaginations and compel them to want to know what happens next." -- Ray Rhamey, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling

"Tension is achieved when you have a goal, emotion, or ideal working in conflict." -- Margo Kelly

"The more intensely characters want something, and the more intense the resistance, the greater the conflict. And conflict is the most important ingredient for getting your audience to dream the fictive dream. At all times, you should have a motivated character overcoming obstacles in pursuit of a goal." -- James Frey, How to Write a Damn Good Thriller

"Micro-tension is that sense that, on every page of the novel, there’s conflict in the air, or that characters are slightly off-balance. It needn’t be a flat-out argument or a gun battle or a huge confrontation. …But small and continuous doses of tension keep the story moving and keep the pages turning." -- Tess Gerritsen

If you'd like me to speak with your group on this topic, send me an email at margokelly1 @ outlook . com (without the spaces).

Happy writing!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Idaho Writers Conference 2017

On May 5 and 6, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Idaho Writers Conference in Boise, Idaho, where I presented two classes (one about characters and one about voice). But I not only taught, I also learned. 

Here are a few of the notes I took from the conference:

Recommended books from the attending agents:
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Underground Railroad by  Colson Whitehead
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Jen Mann (NYT Bestselling Humor Writer) suggested:
* Use the Urban Dictionary as a thesaurus
* Maximize your blog archive
* If you think you're funny, you're funny!

Joanne Pence (USA Today Bestselling Mystery Writer) suggested:
* As authors, we should hide clues in the middle of a sentence and in the middle of a scene.
* In our stories, villains are often proud of the way they've gotten away with their crime and brag about it near the end of the story.

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta (writer, teacher, and editor) recommended the following books:
Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
The Virgin's Promise by Kim Hudson
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler

The conference was wonderful. I highly suggest you mark your calendar to attend the next one. For more details, visit the Idaho Writers Guild online. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Developing Your VOICE

The concept of “voice” is an elusive one for many writers, but when you utilize techniques to develop your author’s voice, the narrative voice, and each character’s voice, your manuscript will become significantly more dynamic.

Below is an exercise from Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction to help find and develop your author's voice.

1. Choose a page from your manuscript.
2. Rewrite the page, stripping all colorful description and replacing nouns and verbs with generic choices. Make the characters and action bland.
3. Rewrite the page again, using all upper crust formality.
4. Rewrite it again, making main character easily offended by everything.
5. Rewrite again, observing as a foreign tourist, with awe and bewilderment.
6. Rewrite it again, utilizing the wisdom of an elderly person.
7. Finally, rewrite it as it will appear in print, embracing your own voice—opinions, observations, sensibilities.

(The above exercise is paraphrased from Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction.)

An author's voice is “… the outlook, opinions, details, delivery, and original perspectives that an author brings to his tale. Above all, a singular voice is not a lucky accident; it comes from a storyteller’s commitment not just to tell a terrific story but to tell it in a way that is wholly his own.”

-- Donald Maass, Literary Agent

What do you think? Have you mastered your own distinctive author's voice?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#IWSG: Writing Research - Emotional Flaws

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for an Insecure Writers Support Group post!

IWSG Question of the Month: What is the weirdest / coolest thing you've ever had to research for your story.

Oh . . . I research SO MANY FABULOUS things! It's one of the best parts about being a writer.

Lately, I've been researching and studying emotional flaws, which is more interesting the more I learn about it.

Here are two great sites with more information about character flaws:

Fascinating discussion on the topic of flaws. "Every one of us has a fundamental flaw, an immaturity of character, a dark side or negative tendency." More:
(this is also the source for the image above)

List of over a hundred different flaws:

What would you consider your emotional flaw?

Or if that's too personal, what is the emotional flaw of the main character in the story you're currently working on?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Behind the Scenes of WHO R U REALLY? - A Great Discussion

I love visiting with students about reading, writing, and online safety! I had the great pleasure of returning to Sawtooth Middle School this year to discuss those three topics with a new group of students (future authors, literary critics, and origami experts).

To make the visit even better, they followed it up with a thank you card with hand-written notes inside. Julie does a fantastic job with the library and her students there.

Here are a few snapshots from the event:


Book Review: BEYOND BEDLAM'S DOOR by Mark Rubinstein

Beyond Bedlam's Door: True Tales from the Couch and CourtroomBeyond Bedlam's Door: True Tales from the Couch and Courtroom by Mark Rubinstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mark Rubinstein, MD, brings us another great book that looks into the lives and stories of twenty-one mentally ill people and the influences around them. In addition to telling interesting stories about psychiatric patients, BEYOND BEDLAM'S DOOR also delves into fascinating court cases involving them and the legal ramifications of our system here in the United States.

"Put succinctly, mixing law, medicine, and money can sometimes generate odd situations" (page 48).

"Where money and the law intersect, truth can sometimes be the victim" (page 90).

I'm intrigued by the reality of how much influence one person has over another. This book explores and shows how loved ones can knowingly, and unknowingly, hinder another person's ability to master his or her own mental condition.

The stories in this book are well told, and with each one, the author includes an "afterword" discussing and explaining the legal and medical issues involved in that particular story. While interesting, these afterwords became repetitive, causing me to give the book four stars instead of five. If each medical condition had been explained once, the first time a story was told about it, and then merely footnoted or referred to a glossary each subsequent time, the book would have been more engaging. However, even as is, this book was a terrific read.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in the mental health profession or anyone curious to understand the workings of the human mind.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing Workshop at the Nampa Public Library

Today, we had a gathering of creatively minded people at the Nampa Public Library, where we discussed my 12-Step Writing Process. The energy in the room was contagious as we explored the different aspects of writing and getting published. I left there excited to write more, and I hope everyone else felt the same way!

Here are a few snapshots from the event:

If you're interested in having me come and speak to your group, send me an email for more information: margokelly1 @ outlook . com (without the spaces)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

9 Digital Spring Cleaning Tips

"Spring Cleaning" makes me think of tidying up my house, but there are other items that need our attention as well. In order to remain cyber-aware and keep ourselves and our children safer online, we need to clean out our devices. Here are a few tips:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring 2017 - Young Adult Scavenger Hunt - #YASH

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! 

I'm Margo Kelly, and I'll be your hostess for this leg of the hunt. I write thrillers, and I'm excited that my second novel, UNLOCKED, has been born into the world! Somewhere along this scavenger hunt, I've shared exclusive content related to UNLOCKED, and clear down at the bottom of this post, I'm giving away a signed hardback copy of it (exclusive to readers of this post) along with a super cool flashlight key chain! Yup. That's right. 

(So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post before you hop off to the next site in the scavenger hunt!)

By the way, you are currently hunting on TEAM BLUE.

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors ... and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt.

Add up the clues, and you can enter for the prize -- one lucky winner will receive:
one book from each author on the BLUE team! 

But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon on Sunday, April 9, 2017!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM -- but there are five other teams, each with a different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 9, 2017, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


I am happy to introduce you to the author I'm hosting for the hunt:
Sarah Ahiers

Sarah Ahiers has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with her dogs and a house full of critters. She's the author of ASSASSIN'S HEART and THIEF'S CUNNING and when she’s not writing she fills her time with good games, good food, good friends, and good family.

Find out more information by checking out Sarah's website or find more about her book here!

Allegra Saldana has always had to look over her shoulder. As the niece of the infamous assassin Lea Saldana, Allegra is used to hiding from people who want her dead. Once the strongest clipper family in the Kingdom of Lovero, the Saldanas are now the most hunted. Their number one enemy is the Da Vias, whose thirst for retaliation is almost two decades in the making.

At least that’s what Lea has told Allegra her whole life, but lately Allegra’s been feeling like things are being kept from her—including her parents’ identity. So when Allegra finally learns the truth--I’m a Da Via—her world crumbles. Feeling betrayed by the people she trusted the most, Allegra turns to Nev, a Traveler boy whose presence makes her feel alive in ways she’s only dreamed of. But getting caught up in Nev’s world has consequences Allegra never saw coming.

 from Sarah Ahiers

Her inspiration board!
Click here to view the full board on Pintrest.

Here is a sampling of Sarah's inspiration:

* * * * *

Now don't forget to enter the YASH contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me and 19 other authors on TEAM BLUE. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on team blue, and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

But before you go, you'll need to know that my favorite number is 11, and there are 11 chances in this exclusive Rafflecopter giveaway for you to win a signed hardback copy of UNLOCKED and a super cool flashlight key chain! (This contest is separate from the YASH contest. Only visitors here are eligible.)


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author: AMY PLUM