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Website of author and professional editor Rachelle M. N. Shaw. Find information about her books, her editing services, and her blog, From Mind to Paper: On Writing and Editing.


From Mind to Paper: On Writing and Editing

From Mind to Paper is a blog for writers, editors, and those interested in the English language. It covers a multitude of writing topics, from punctuation and grammar to plot development, character development, and world building. In addition to in-depth articles about various writing topics, this blog also has a number of series posts, which are currently being transformed into a nonfiction series on writing.

Filtering by Category: Young Adult Fiction

Trick-Or-Treat Reads 2017

Rachelle M. N. Shaw


Patricia Lynne, a fellow YA author, graciously invited me to participate in her awesome annual Trick-Or-Treat Reads event again this year, and I'm excited to announce what I have in store.

What is Trick-Or-Treat Reads?

Authors who signed up for the event unite to celebrate Halloween by offering up their books for free today to anyone who wants to score extra reads at a great price. All readers have to do is hop from blog to blog in search of links to the free books from each participating author!

My Bag of Goodies

I’m doing a two-for-one deal again this year, where you can get The Eyes That Moved, the first book in the YA paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls, for free, then head over to Smashwords and get the second one for free with a special coupon code.

The Porcelain Souls, Part 1

Kendra and Adam, two teens with addiction for adventure and a knack for spotting treasures in abandoned houses, team up to discover the secrets of the Whitson house. When they delve into its undiscovered past, Kendra unlocks a deadly secret, one that Adam failed to share.

The Eyes That Moved is permanently free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iBooks. And anyone who signs up for my author newsletter today will get a signed copy of it, as well as a free copy of my latest publication, Sisters. I often send out discount codes, freebies, and exclusive excerpts to subscriberslike I'll be doing later this afternoon, when I'll share the opening scene from my upcoming publication, part 3 in The Porcelain Souls series.

The Porcelain Souls, Part 2

When Marley's parents buy the infamously spooky Whitson house, she comes face to face with the startling truth about its past. Torn between her escalting popularity and protecting herself and her loved ones from the looming danger that surrounds them, Marley must choose if the risks of her new social life are worth it.

The Ballerina’s Gift is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks for $0.99. But today, you can get it on Smashwords for free with the coupon code AH25P.

Get Books From Other Participating Authors

After you’ve grabbed your free copy of The Eyes That Moved and The Ballerina’s Gift, head on over to Patricia's Trick-or-Treat Reads page to visit the rest of the blogs giving away goodies. Some authors will only have these deals on the 31st, so be sure to check them all before tomorrow!

Lastly, I'd like to give a HUGE thank-you to Patricia, who put this whole thing together. It's been an honor to participate in it for the past two years!

Happy Halloween, everyone, and I hope you have a lovely time book-or-treating!

Trick-Or-Treat Reads: Free Books for Readers

Rachelle M. N. Shaw


After connecting with Patricia Lynne, YA author, on various social media, she invited me to participate in her awesome annual Trick-Or-Treat Reads event, where authors offer free books for Halloween. This will be my first year participating in the event, but all the same, I’m excited to share it with you guys.

What is Trick-Or-Treat Reads?

When it comes to this spooktacular holiday, kids often get to have all the fun. So Patricia organized this awesome event as a way for young adults and adults to get their own goodies. Readers get to hop from blog to blog, snagging free books for treats from each participating author!

My Bag of Goodies

This year, I’m doing a two-for-one deal, where you can get The Eyes That Moved, the first book in the YA paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls, for free, then enter my Amazon giveaway for a chance to win the second book in the series.

The Porcelain Souls, Part I

Kendra and Adam, two teens with addiction for adventure and a knack for spotting treasures in abandoned houses, team up to discover the secrets of the Whitson house. When they delve into its undiscovered past, Kendra unlocks a deadly secret, one that Adam failed to share.

The Eyes That Moved is actually permanently free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. I’m also giving away signed copies to new subscribers to my newsletter during the month of October, as well as a nifty desktop background for the series.

The Porcelain Souls, Part II

As I mentioned before, I’m also hosting a giveaway for The Ballerina’s Gift, which is part two in the trilogy, through November 2nd. If you enter but don’t come away with a free copy, you can still get it through Kindle Unlimited for free, or you can buy it on Amazon for $1.29. I’ll have plenty of new chances to win a copy during the whole holiday season, so keep tabs on my blog and website to find out more.

When Marley's parents buy the infamously spooky Whitson house, she comes face to face with the startling truth about its past. Torn between her escalting popularity and protecting herself and her loved ones from the looming danger that surrounds them, Marley must choose if the risks of her new social life are worth it.

Who’s Participating?

After you’ve gotten your free copy of The Eyes That Moved and entered for a chance to win The Ballerina’s Gift, be sure to visit the rest of the blogs giving away goodies. Some authors will only have these deals on the 31st, so be sure to check them all before tomorrow!

If you’re an author and would like to participate in this even, simply sign up to add your blog to the list.

I also want to give a HUGE thank-you to Patricia, who put this whole thing together. What a fantastic idea it was!

Happy Halloween, everyone, and I hope you have a lovely time book-or-treating!

Supernatural Introduction: Interview with April White

Rachelle M. N. Shaw

To kick off FMTP’s supernatural series, I’ll be sharing an interview with one of my favorite new authors, April White. I had the privilege of chatting with her a few weeks ago about her Immortal Descendants series, a supernatural time-travel series with a touch of romance. Not only does she do an excellent job of weaving in historical fact with fiction, but she’s also really adept at incorporating supernatural elements, especially at hinting at them early on. So I figured it was only fitting to share her pearls of wisdom and her latest book, Waging War, with all of you.

What inspired you to write about time travel, and was there any specific inspiration for this series?

Take a modern teenager who thinks she has life wired and drop her into a time and place she knows nothing about? That wasn’t a hard choice. I’ve always loved historical fiction that actually teaches the reader something factual, and the things I’ve read in those books stay with me a lot longer than history books ever have, so there was that, too.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Are there are any routines that you follow or any specific place that you prefer to write?

My writing process begins with conversations. My husband is a filmmaker who always listens to my story ideas as though he’s watching the movie, and my editor is also a very dear friend who will happily kick plot ideas around with me during evenings while we drink wine. I take several notes in a notebook with a collaged cover full of inspiring photos I collect as I’m gathering plot ideas, and then I start writing.

There are authors who plot every chapter and know exactly what’s going to happen, precisely when. I am not one of them. My writing style tends to be more seat-of-the-pants, and I often write myself into corners, which requires extreme creativity to emerge without gaping plot holes. But some of my favorite scenes happen in those moments, and I’ve surprised myself more than a few times with characters I wasn’t expecting to create. Ringo is one of those characters who sort of invented himself and then decided he’d like to hang out awhile. I’m so glad he did, because now he’s like the moral compass and voice of reason for Saira, and he helps really humanize Archer with his friendship.

My actual physical writing takes place on my bed. I usually wake up before 5 AM to get some writing done before my kids wake up, and after they go to school, I continue writing until they get home. At that point, homework time takes whatever patience and creativity I have left. When I can entice my boys to go on long dog walks with me, they always ask about what I’ve written that day, and talking to them helps refine ideas that I’ve been toying with. Which brings everything back around to conversations again.

What was the publishing process like for you? Do you feel there are particular advantages to publishing traditionally vs. self-publishing, or vice versa?

When I was twelve, I knew I wanted to write books, but I finally got the courage up to write AND FINISH Marking Time when independent publishing moved out of the realm of vanity presses and gained traction as a viable option. I did submit it to agents, and most resulted in either silence or a form rejection. The agents who rejected me nicely were actually incredibly helpful because they told me WHY they weren’t interested in representing my book. They loved the concept and the writing, but the YA market wouldn’t support books longer than 100k words (Marking Time ultimately weighed in at 140k) because teens “just don’t read.” I disagreed with that statement so heartily that I pulled indie publishing out of my back pocket, built a cover with my husband, taught myself formatting, and published a month later.

Now, after publishing four books, I can say with total certainty that I love the freedom, the control, and the opportunities independent publishing affords authors. I say this having never been traditionally published, so I know I’m biased, but I’ve also spoken to a lot of very successful indie and hybrid authors. Nearly all prefer having control of their release dates, covers, content, and price points. The amount of marketing we ALL have to do is the same regardless of who does the publishing.

How long did it take to complete the first draft for Waging War? Is there anything you would have done differently in the process?

It took about nine months to finish the first draft of Waging War, and yes, I would have done things differently. Changing Nature took three months to write (the first draft), and it shows in the pacing. It was much easier to write quickly because I was going so fast and I still remembered all the paths I’d set in motion in the beginning. For various, personal reasons, I stalled on Waging War. Some had to do with the story I was telling, because I needed to get it just right, and some were confidence-based (which sucks, and I don’t recommend it). When I finally got my stride back, I increased my pace, so everything moved faster.

With Cheating Death (book five), I still have the pressure of getting it just right, because there are so many plotlines from the previous four books to wrap up, but the writing isn’t as hard as it was for Waging War, so I’m anticipating a faster first draft.

Do you have plans to write other genres in the future?

Yes. I’m not entirely sure I’m done with this world yet though, and some ideas for spin-off series have been percolating.

When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer? Any specific event that triggered it?

My dad took me with him to trek in the Himalayas when I was twelve years old, and my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Chandler, handed me a little black journal before I left. My only homework for the six weeks I was gone was to write in that journal every day. Because I knew my words would be read, I took extra care to add as many sights and sounds and smells and flavors as I could to my writing, and from the moment she handed the journal back to me with a heartfelt “thank you for sharing your journey with me,” I was hooked on storytelling.

We’ve seen all the characters in The Immortal Descendants series grow throughout the books, but Ringo stuck out in my mind in particular. Can you tell us about the process of writing him? Did you know the events he would face when you first started writing the series?

Ringo was an accident. My favorite accident, to be sure, but completely accidental nonetheless. When his role grew as Saira returned to 1888, I had to go back and add him to earlier scenes so he didn’t just appear from nowhere. Then, when readers reviewed Marking Time and talked about how much they loved Ringo, I realized I needed to carry him throughout the series.

Now he’s my favorite character to write because he gets to say all the cool stuff.

Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing this book compared to the rest of the series?

I actively dislike cliffhangers, and yet I knew this book had to have one. I also have a real issue with characters who aren’t allowed to grow into themselves in what would be an organic way if they were real people, so I had to create a realistic progression for Saira and Archer’s relationship. So yes, those two things were challenging to write in Waging War.

At the end of Waging War, we see at least one major character’s life at stake. Are there any planned deaths in the next book?

Yes. Someone has to die.

Who are your favorite characters in the series and why?

I love Saira’s fierceness and fearlessness, and Archer’s honor and passion. I love Ringo’s wit and wisdom and the cheek he brings to the table when Saira gets too serious. Bas, the Moorish Vampire, makes me happy with his centuries-long studies of the world’s religions, and Millicent surprised me with her vulnerability and affection. Connor, the Wolf, is wise beyond his years and can still be a kid, and his little brother, Logan, is who Ringo would have been had he grown up with a family and Descendant skills.

Were there any characters who were annoying to write?

No. That would have been foolish. My rule as I read/edit every book is that if I find myself skipping over or skimming any scene or section, it’s gone. Because if I’m bored, readers will be too.

What was the easiest scene to write in Waging War? The hardest?

The easiest scene to write was the conversation Millicent had with Saira and Claire in the garden about the man she met after the war. I’m not sure why that was so easy to write—maybe because Millicent as a caring human being is such fun to explore after her previous beastliness.

The hardest scenes to write were Tom’s. He struggles with so much self-loathing, and it’s hard to keep him sympathetic when I just want to shake him and tell him to snap out of it.

You did an amazing job with researching your books and weaving in fact with fiction. What were your main methods of conducting research, and were there any unexpected facts you came across in the process?

Thank you—I love the real history in the books. My primary source for research is the Internet, and the rabbit holes to disappear into are endless. My favorite things to find are the historical tidbits that either aren’t corroborated anywhere else, or are contradicted in other works. Those become the mysteries that time travel exposes.

One of my favorite contradictions was in Tempting Fate—the place in the Tower of London where Lady Elizabeth Tudor was kept prisoner. The more I looked into it (even poking around as much as possible in person), the more it seemed like historian laziness to say her room was in the Bell Tower. It made much more historical sense that she would have been held in her mother’s apartments in the Royal Residence, especially given that Lady Jane Grey had just occupied those rooms, and she had much less status than Elizabeth had. It seems like such a little thing to obsess over, but because I was using blueprints, photos, and maps to determine the geography that Saira, Archer, and Ringo would have to navigate, it mattered.

In your opinion, what is the one most important thing that you've learned from your experience as a writer?

Marketing is vital, relationships are key, editors are as necessary as breathing, but it’s ALL ABOUT THE WRITING. Write what you want to read, and write the best book you can, because you WILL read it a hundred times (okay, maybe just twenty) before it goes to publication.

What advice do you have to for new/young writers looking to get published for the first time?

Read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read things other people recommend. Find your style. Find your voice. Then pick a point of view, choose third person or first according to the story you want to tell, sit down, and write. And for the practical piece of advice—end your day’s writing on a cliffhanger in the plot, or in the middle of a scene if you know how it ends. It’ll be much easier to turn on the computer the next day and pick up where you left off.

How has having an online presence has made a difference in the success of your series?

I have had the great fortune to have become friends with some amazing authors, and in the independent community in particular, the support among authors and readers is pretty spectacular. Social media is key to that equation, and far more effective than doing one’s own marketing is sharing other authors’ works. Ad money can’t buy that kind of cross-promotion because it comes from a place of genuine admiration and friendship. So, that’s a long way of saying that an online presence is very important—but it should be a genuine, interactive presence rather than something designed to just push ads about books.

If you weren't a writer, what other occupation would you choose and why?

I’ve fallen into some pretty amazing jobs in my life, and I always tell students I talk to about reading and writing that every job is an opportunity to find a story, or meet characters you want to write about. If I had the skill to be a visual artist, I’d love to create beautiful things, or if I’d chosen a different educational/vocational path, I could have been an awesome archeologist. But all the roads I’ve traveled led to this, and I’m doing exactly what I love to do.

Have any specific people inspired you in your career?

My mom came to the U.S. from Germany with the equivalent of an 8th grade education, and she finished law school when I was thirteen. From that, I’ve always known I could do anything I set out to do.

What types of things do you do to improve your writing skills?

Read good books. There are times when I have to put down a book club selection because the writing isn’t great, or the characters are weak, because they negatively affect my own writing. And then there are those books that make you want to step up your game. Neil Gaiman writes those kinds of books.

What is your favorite quote about writing?

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” –Neil Gaiman

What is the hardest thing about being a writer? What is the most rewarding?

Writing is the hardest thing about being a writer—actually sitting down and making myself do it. That’s why early morning writing is so good for me; I don’t want to wake my family up, so I do all the work-avoidance tasks later in the day. The most rewarding thing about being a writer is when a reader cries, laughs out loud, or throws the book and immediately scrambles to pick it up so they can find out what happens next. The most rewarding thing is telling a story that matters.

What are your goals as an author for 2016?

I will publish Cheating Death, which means I will finish the Immortal Descendants series. And then I will plot the thing that comes next. My goals are all work goals, because those are the only things I really have control over.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

Travel with my family; take long walks with my dog and kids; take photos of interesting things; have my friends over for food, wine, and deep conversations; and read great books.

When can we expect your next book?

I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve finished the first draft because, as Patrick Rothfuss said about rushing the work, “It’ll only be late once, but it’ll suck forever.”


April White has been a film producer, private investigator, bouncer, teacher, and screenwriter. She has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a shipwreck, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. She and her husband share their home in Southern California with two extraordinary boys and a lifetime collection of books.

All four books in the Immortal Descendants series are on the Amazon Top 100 lists in Time Travel Romance and Historical Fantasy.

You can find Waging War and the rest of the Immortal Descendants series on Amazon (by the way, the first one is FREE on Kindle!), and you can also follow April on her blog ( and several other social media platforms:






The Ballerina's Gift Cover Reveal!

Rachelle M. N. Shaw

After several months of hard work, The Ballerina's Gift is one step closer to being finished—which means I finally get to share the cover (and the blurb) with you guys! So here it is, the second installment in The Porcelain Souls series:


Marley Harcove wants nothing more than to inch her way up the social ladder and win over her three-year crush. But when her parents buy the infamously spooky Whitson house, she comes face-to-face with the rumors surrounding it—and one of its previous occupants.

When her rival, Alex Wingate, crashes her party, everything unravels. Marley needs a plan, and fast, especially after whispers of a missing girl spread and an anonymous gift turns up in her bedroom. But those are the least of her concerns. If rumors about the house are true, more than Marley's reputation might be at stake.

I'm also excited to share that The Eyes That Moved, part one of trilogy, is getting a makeover. A second edition will be released in the next couple of weeks with a new cover (see The Porcelain Souls page) and new content. I've taken some of the feedback I've received into consideration for the new edition, and I'm making it perma-free to boot! So get ready...this version is more chilling than ever.

A New Approach to Writing Young Adult Fiction

Rachelle M. N. Shaw

One of the most read and written types of fiction today is young adult fiction. Many of its authors find themselves at the top of the best-seller list and gain an ever-growing fandom. But many readers and new authors of young adult fiction find themselves shying away from it more and more. Perhaps it's because of all the best-selling "love" stories creeping out of the woodwork. Or maybe it's because the subject of vampires, zombies, and the like have been beaten to death recently (no pun intended). Whichever the case, I'm going to step out and be bold for a minute and proclaim that this genre should NOT be thrown out the window. Not only do I think it should be written more often, I think it should be celebrated and admired by new authors. No, I haven't gone bonkers. I think what is required to transform this niche is simply a new approach. If any type of fiction needs a new makeover, this one is certainly it. So how does one go about writing a YA fiction that is both unique and well-liked? Don't make it a love story. Love stories often are cliché, and they tend to lack a worthwhile plot. That's not to say that you can't include any romance in your story. Romance and love are very natural parts of human nature (and other creatures as well), so it's unlikely that it can be avoided altogether. In fact, it probably wouldn't be realistic if the subject didn't come up at all. However, there are ways of incorporating love connections in stories without writing them as though they were shoved in there "just because."

Develop a story arc that isn't a love triangle. Figure out what you want out of the story you're writing, the points you're trying to make (if any), and what the reason is for telling the story. Then let things play out how they will in the romance department; let your characters guide you. If you get to know them well enough, you will see that they can sometimes act unexpectedly and will respond differently to one another (and others) depending on the situation. For example, an otherwise argumentative, yet passionate, pair who normally dislike one another and don't typically see eye to eye may suddenly find themselves bonding (sexually or otherwise) when faced with certain doom. In just the same way, new lovers who are completely attached to one another may end up realizing that their differences are far more reaching when they are placed under extreme conditions in close proximity to one another. This can either strengthen their relationship in the long run, or it can break it. In real life, love can be unpredictable. If written correctly, romantic scenes and connections can portray this authenticity well.

Don't avoid topics just because they're supposedly overdone. I know that the mere mention of vampires, werewolves, or zombies can lead to automated eye rolls and groans. But the truth is, if an author makes a story with these subjects unique but authentic, readers will enjoy and appreciate the story anyway. The trick is research and a vivid imagination. One certainly shouldn't write a fantasy story full of supernatural creatures just because they're selling well right now. But with the same token, don't avoid the genre just because so many have been written recently. If you truly make it your own and create a story and worthwhile plot that captivates readers and keeps them yearning for more, the subject matter will matter very little. Keep in mind that there will always be those who like a certain niche more than others regardless, so you can't expect to please everyone. Write what you intend to write, and write it well. This is how you will reap your rewards as an author.

Make your characters well-rounded. Nobody likes someone who is perfect. Why? Nobody is perfect. Everyone of us has flaws, no matter how minor or major. So don't make your characters this way if you want them to be taken seriously. If you want to write a character that is muscular, handsome, and attractive, give him some flaws---and not just personality ones. Make one ear higher than the other. Make him so vain that he's addicted to plastic surgery. Make him a terrible kisser. Give the reader something unexpected. This will make your character truly unique and will likely make them more real and relatable to the reader. Complete stereotypes are also just as annoying as flawless characters. If you're going to make a story revolve around a quiet, smart girl that's a loner, don't make her a Plain Jane. Make her attractive. Make her have self-confidence, even to a fault! That will keep every guy from wanting her. After all, not everyone will fall for a cocky b****, no matter how pretty she is!

I hope that after reading this, a few of you authors out there will take a new approach when it comes to both writing and reading YA fiction. Maybe you've even developed a new liking for it and would like to take a stab at it yourself if you haven't already. The key is to keep a positive attitude about it and an open mind. It truly can be one of the most rewarding types of fiction; after all, in what other time of life does one change, learn, and grow so much?