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Elizabeth Michels

My Favorite! <3 Actions Scenes for Easily Confused Writers

When searching for my favorite post here on Bad Girlz Write I stumbled across this one and couldn’t resist.  Here’s one last post about my crazy writing process with a picture of my giant plot board of doom! Enjoy! 🙂


I am easily confused. There. I said it. Know my secret shame.

For one entire year I thought I was a year older than I was in reality and even celebrated the wrong birthday. Then, there was the time…(s) *winces at the plural of that word* I drove to the wrong state when navigating the interstate. We won’t discuss how this happened more than once, but let’s just say it’s been a hard mishap to live down in my family. So, when I attempt to tackle the writing of a book, I’m super organized about the process. Surprising? Not really.

I’m likely the most plotsy plotter you’ll ever meet, with a giant cork board in my office where scenes are tracked and color coded, and graphs of characters hang beside timelines in organizational harmony. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? *sighs*
Plot Board 7-4

But, even with this level of organization, there are scenes I struggle to write. Action scenes have a lot of moving pieces in them—not the best for this befuddled author. But, they are also necessary in every story. So what’s a Bad Girl to do? I use two tactics that I picked up from football and spy movies—obviously, because that’s not random at all.

The first concept has helped me ever since my editor wrote in the track changes of one of my books, “There are a lot of people running around in the woods. ???” I knew then I needed a way to track characters movements so that I wouldn’t lose anyone as I wrote, and I wouldn’t lose my readers as they followed along.

The Football Locker Room White Board


I use a version of this concept with the Xs and Os in my office to track characters’ locations. It’s helpful in climactic scenes where bad guys are surrounding the heroine. Or, as you can see in this example, when characters are moving around at a party and the scene crosses over between 2 books. The use of a whiteboard makes complicated scenes easy to see as you write.
white board diagram

The second concept I’ve recently added when I found myself getting lost in my own scene. “Wait…She can’t trail her hand across his bare chest when he’s still fully dressed.”

Where did I look, but to spy movies to solve my problem? At 08:00 hours, we’ll meet at the ridge line above the enemy camp…It works for spies. Why not use this idea to simplify complex scenes?

The Spy Movie Action List


I’ve started listing out a play by play in a bullet point type of list. I change the text color in my document to red and then delete the list as I write in standard black type. It keeps everything in the scene moving along in the right direction, and allows me to focus on the emotion of the moment and not what comes next in the scene.

He sees her across the room and moves in her direction.
She escapes the conversation she was in and turns for the door.
He catches up with her on the front steps and they move into the shadows.

I hope these organizational tips from a mixed-up Bad Girl are helpful! Happy writing!

Are you easily confused? What tactics do you use to stay organized? Let’s chat about it!

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Rejection 101

Let’s talk about rejection for a minute–or more accurately, how to transform rejection into success.

Wait a minute… Why am I showing you an image of a chair if we’re talking about rejection?  Because you’re going to travel back in time with me to to a class I took my freshman year of college: Art 101! 🙂

We’re now sitting in Art 101: Introduction to Drawing. It’s the first day of class and we’re about to learn how to draw a chair in negative space.

The professor places one of the chairs from the classroom on a table with a lamp behind it.  The lights are dim in the room and the lamp casts long shadows of the chair legs out across the blank paper in front of you.  You’re instructed to shade in with pencil every space you see around the chair until a chair emerges on your paper.  Basically you’re going to spend the next few hours, drawing everything that isn’t a chair.

It’s tedious and exhausting work.  At times you feel like you’re just scribbling on paper.  Does any of it really matter?  More than once you’re tempted to give up.

Then it happens.  You look back down at your paper for the thousandth time, and for the first time you can see it.  Just like that…

You’ve drawn a chair.

Now let’s travel back to today.

You’ve sent out a pile of query emails.  The silence from No response means no cuts you a little bit deeper with every passing day.  The rejection letters – that for some sick reason you keep instead of throwing away – are piling up.  There are fewer and fewer agents and editors out there who are options for your manuscript.

The process of submissions is tedious and exhausting work.  At times you feel like you’re just scribbling on paper.  Does any of it really matter?  More than once you’re tempted to give up.

Then one day, it happens.  You meet someone, or you get an email, or you have a moment of complete clarity.  And for the first time you can see it. You’re going to get the book you’ve written into readers’ hands.  You’re going to share your story. You’ve successfully carved away everywhere you aren’t meant to be.  You’ve eliminated every option that wasn’t meant for you.  And through it all you realize that you now understand what you want.  You have a clearer idea of where you want to go and how you want to get there. And just like that…

You’ve drawn a bright future for yourself.

Never give up on your dreams no matter where you are on your journey.  There will always be blank paper before you.  And paths to success, just like chairs, will always be waiting for us to find them.

Where are you on your journey to success?  Have you carved out what isn’t your path to publication?  Are you carving out what isn’t your path to finding your readership?  Let’s chat about it.


Shenanigans! (Part 2)

As EMichels said in her previous post, sometimes the best way to begin your writing process is with some non-writing activity that clears the brain. With three different projects staring at me from my monitor, and less and less time to write with each passing year, I knew what I needed before I dove in: one of my closest writer friends to help me talk through the challenges, a day away from reality to cope with the pressures, and some shronking to kick back and relax. I bring you, more shenanigans!

It is way more difficult than it seems to get these distance pics just right! I’m supposed to be pinching the peach butt. Does it work?

EMichels is supposed to be biting the peach butt. After three minutes of setting up this shot and five minutes of me sitting on the sidewalk and giggling uncontrollably, I’m fairly certain we were not successful. We did entertain ourselves and a dozen or so passersby though.

Getting into the tiny cop car seemed a cute idea at the time. But a small child, I am not.

Finally, here’s EMichels doing some invaluable research on horses and cowboys for her upcoming series.

After my day of shopping, I was lucky enough to have a long girls’ weekend in Charleston, SC. The weather was perfect, the food delicious, the beach walks and talking and laughing, and even crying were exactly what I needed. Probably what everyone needs from time to time.

Folly Pier from our condo’s balcony. Folly has a piece of my heart and always will.

Sunset at Bowen’s Island. If you like seafood, but have not been to Bowen’s, get thee to there anon!

Last week was a must-have for me, and I’m so grateful I had the time and opportunity to reconnect with friends and have non-stop fun for 5 straight days. This break gave me the rest I needed to forge ahead with my projects and kick off my process yet again. 🙂


Shenanigans! (Part 1)

For those of you wondering where the heck I’ve been lately, I took some time off to get my out of control personal life back under control. And I did it!!!!! The construction project at my house is FINALLY over now! My in-laws have officially moved in with us. I repainted the section of the house that we re-purposed after the completion of the addition. I tiled floors.  I moved artwork. I bought furniture. And then when everything was finished, I sat down at my computer and stared at the blank document of my next project…

And I stared. And I stared some more.

The problem was that after spending so much time wrapped up in my real life craziness, I had to remember how to slow down, how to sit still, and how to get back to what I love—writing.  But how do you slow down when you’ve spent the past year going far too fast with no breaks?

My solution to shake off the real world and get back to work is the same as always: Shenanigans!

So, I met up with Heather McGovern last week for a day of shenanigans with plenty of shronking, laughter, and fun. What exactly is shronking, you ask?  Shopping + Drinking = Shronking You heard it here first. 🙂 I highly recommend shronking for shoes with friends. It’s the best! But back to my story…

There’s an outlet mall located at the midpoint between our houses, and it’s the perfect spot for a day trip to get together. First, we met at Starbucks to catch up on all the latest gossip…

This is our, “Look who I found pic.” What??? You’re at Starbucks today too?!?! What luck!

Then it was time to shronk!  And we came prepared with our Yetis and the ingredients for mimosas!

Just walking, chatting, and shronking…

We were in the dressing room at Ann Taylor Loft when we heard the news that our fellow Badgirlz, Jeanette Grey and Tanya Michaels finalled in the RITAs! We jumped up and down with excitement.  Then since we had mimosas in hand, we toasted them!  Congrats, girlz!!!!!!

A store or two later, I saw some bright orange pants in Banana Republic.  I knew that McGovy needed to try on the orange pants just as I knew that she needed to pose like a tiger in those pants while I made tiger noises and took her picture.  Rawr!

Then in the Gap we found matching shiny butterfly shirts! I’ll repeat this for dramatic effect, MATCHING SHINY BUTTERFLY SHIRTS!!!!!  If you go to RWA this summer, you might see these shirts since they’ll be making an appearance there.

It was such a fun day! And this is only the first half of our shronking shenanigans! Make sure to check back on Thursday for McGovy’s post with the other half of our adventure.

What do you do to shake off the craziness of the real world?


Hitting the Ground Strolling

Am I the only one struggling to dive into 2017?

I know it’s the third day of January already, but my mind is still on vacation. I’ve never been a “Hit the ground running” sort of person. Instead, I prefer to hit the ground, take a few minutes to appreciate the change of scenery, chat with a friend, maybe even find a gift shop on whatever ground I’ve hit, grab a snack for the road, then wander forward. And that’s how I’m hitting the ground in 2017.

I had an amazing vacation! One of the best ever! Did it involve an exotic beach or a ski lodge? Um, no. To be honest, I did nothing and it was perfect! I finally saw the new Star Wars movie. I binge watched a season and a half of Pretty Little Liars. Every night I played board games with my family. When I wanted to get out of my house, I wandered through shops and looked at all the pretty things. Then I decorated some blank spots on the walls with the pretty things I found when I was out. For me, this was the ideal break from life.

It seems like a lot of my conversations lately with my fellow Bad Girlz have centered on the theme of how stretched thin and exhausted we’ve collectively been. There haven’t been enough hours in the day. Our to-do lists have gotten longer and longer. And the pace of life has had us running even when we’d rather stroll. Then the holiday season arrived…

My hope for this year is that we can take time every now and then to do what brings us peace.

In an effort to make this happen in my life, I’m going to keep making time after vacation to occasionally wander through a shop or two. I’m going to continue to decorate my house. And I’m going to cherish every second I get to spend with my family, because these are the things that bring me peace and happiness.

The new decor in the Monkey's bathroom/ my laundry room. ;)

The new decor in the Monkey’s bathroom/ my laundry room. I had a blast working on this over vacation.  And I *might* have ordered DC female superhero fabric to use to make a window valence.  😉


The early stages of the new game room. I’m waiting to get the vintage board games I found back from the framing shop to add to this wall. I can’t wait! 🙂

As I wander slowly into this New Year, I’m looking forward to a few dates on the calendar like the When the Heart Dreams Reader Event on February 11th where I’ll be the emcee! And I’m anticipating the release of The Wicked Heir on July 1st. And somewhere in between those dates, I’m excited to spend the day shopping, reading a book, or doing absolutely nothing just for me.


Sometimes it’s nice to do nothing.

What will you make time for in 2017?


Let’s Run Away Together!

With the hurricane hitting the coast this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about storms. There’s the kind of storm that beats on the walls of homes and uproots trees, and the metaphorical kind that rips through our lives and tears apart everything we thought we knew.

Both types of storm are crazy to experience firsthand, and both—if you look hard enough—have a small place of peace right in the center of the chaos.

I remember when I was 12 years old, I sat wide-eyed in my living room floor in South Carolina, surrounded by the warmth of my sleeping bag while Hurricane Hugo passed directly over our house. It hit us at night, for hours pounding against the brick on one side of our home. Then a time of deadly calm surrounded us. There wasn’t even a breeze as we sat waiting for what we knew would come soon, and then it did, hammering the other side of our home until early morning.

Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been living through a different sort of hurricane, the overly hectic life sort of hurricane. As many of you know, the construction at my house started in May and has been unrelenting ever since. Every day there are multiple crews of workers moving around me, and hammering things—always with the hammering of things. And the mess, dear God, the mess.

On top of the construction madness, there’s been my writing life… Bad Girlz of the World, will things in this business ever be simple? I’m pretty sure the answer is no, in fact I’m sure of it. LOL

In this constant fight to navigate my way through the current hurricane of writer life and real life, I’ve been feeling pretty run down, defeated even. I’m someone who likes to have everything in my life neat and organized. I select my clothes for a conference months in advance, I already know what vacations I’ll take in the next 2 years, and the plot of my manuscripts as well as my dinner menus might as well be chiseled in stone. But lately all of my plans and carefully sorted details of life have blown around until they’re unrecognizable, and the effort of keeping things straight has become exhausting.

That was until last week when the wind and rain came to abrupt halt for a day and I finally found the eye of the storm and peace for the first time since spring. It started with a simple text message from Heather McGovern: I need a break. We should run away from home for a night.

Sometimes that’s how times of peace approach us, with a gentle tap on the shoulder or in this case, a text message from a friend, for you to stop and turn around.

Soon we were meeting up in Asheville, NC for a full day andnight of fun!


The construction at my house was still pounding away and I had a deadline for developmental edits on my next book, but for a day McGovy and I laughed, shopped, sipped champagne, ate chocolates, and stopped to sit on the sidewalk with a poet for hire.poet-for-hire

Sure, it was a nice break from reality and a good time with my good friend, McGovy. But more than that, our time away helped me remember that I’m not finding my way through the dark and rainy streets of the writer world or the real world alone. I have a tribe. Not only do I have a family who loves me, I have you, my Bad Girlz. Wherever the wind pushes me tomorrow, next week, or a year from now, I know now that I’ll survive the storm. And so will you!

poemHave you ever survived a hurricane? Which kind? I hope you found the eye of the storm in the middle of the madness.


Cute Graphics? I’ve got ’em!

Writer confession # 8, 573: I’m addicted to!

Have you ever visited their website? You should! This site makes the creation of graphics for social media super easy and the images are either free or just a dollar or two. You select what you’re using the image for whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a cover image, and they size it for you. Then they give you options for your image to get you started, or you can choose your background and text individually. It is so simple to make your social media look fancy with the help of this great website. I love it!

Yes, I’ve used it in the past here and there, but y’all, lately? I’m out of control, and I don’t care. I have a book releasing in one week, THE REBEL HEIR, and I’ve created all the things! Check it out.

To celebrate my blog tour:


Virtual Tour Promo Image

Oooooor, if you prefer: 


Tour Schedule

To encourage readers to pre-order this bad boy! 🙂 :


DSS Crossover Graphic


Broadway Teaser


Evangeline Dared Graphic


Meet Ash Claughbane


Steal me FB image



To celebrate my release day:


RH Release Day Invitation


For posting on book release day (In one week!!!!!):


New Release Ad for Facebook


Twitter release day 2


Release day 2


Twitter release day 1


For fun:


Release day 1

Just in case one or all of these graphics worked to get your attention:

The Rebel Heir releases in one week! I bet you had no idea! *grins*

Google Play:

Thanks for reading!

Do you have a latest favorite thing in your life? What is it? Let’s chat!


Lemony Things

Sometimes life is lemony.

We all have days, weeks, months, even years when our arms are full with all the lemons life has dealt us. We work to make lemonade from the pile we carry around as we’re told to do, but sometimes we end up with lemonade, lemon pie, lemon drops, lemon pound cake, those lemon squares with the powdered sugar on top, and still lemons left over. What’s a Bad Girl to do?

Earlier this week I encountered some lemons of my own. It had been a long week sprinkled with a bit of lemon zest here and there at #RWA16 and I was ready to get home and hug my family. So I was all smiles on the airplane headed for the east coast.
Only the plane never left the ground. After getting off the plane twice, they announced that the flight was canceled and we walked back out of the gate for the third and last time. Thankfully I found the ingredients for lemonade nearby since Jeanette Grey and Sydney Carroll were on the same flight.

I’m not going to gloss over this part. There was about 30-45 minutes of panic over all the lemons: We’re stranded. We need to get home to our families. I can’t even tell my husband what happened, because he’s on a plane today too. The red eye out is already booked up. Where do we go? What do we do?

But then I remembered what I’ll call Lemony Law #1: You have friends who love you no matter what.

So we rescheduled our flights, called an Uber to take us to the Airline’s designated hotel, and paused to take a selfie. 🙂
But what we found when we got to the hotel was even better. The hotel was across the street from the attraction we’d regretted not making time for while we were in town: Anthony’s Fish Grotto and the Maritime Museum. And our hotel wasn’t too shabby either.

Which brings me to Lemony Law #2: Don’t let the lemons steal your joy while you make that lemonade.
IMG_1087IMG_1146fish grotto
After relaxing in the room for a while, we walked across the street, ready to experience anything the day had to offer. If you’re going to be stranded somewhere, I highly recommend San Diego.

Lemony Law #3: Sip that lemonade like you’ve never sipped lemonade before in your life. Work it! Sip it! You never know what sights you’ll see along the way.


IMG_1150Ship at sunset
We finally got home yesterday after being tourists and eating at the fish grotto. There was much rejoicing over airplanes that actually lifted off the ground. But we’ll always have the memories of the day we were stranded in San Diego together.

Lemony Law #4: You have family who love you no matter what. Hug them often, especially after extended time away.

If life has thrown lemons at you lately: a rocky point in your career path, health problems you’re struggling to overcome, or simply a canceled flight home, find a way to make lemonade, and enjoy it to the fullest. After all, every one of us has to drink lemony things on occasion.

*sips lemonade with a smile*


The Happy Little Trees of Writing a Scene

When you sit down to write a new story, do the words flow out in perfect order from chapter 1 to The End? Maybe that’s the way it happens for some people, but I’m not one of them.

The longer I’ve been in this crazy business of writing books, the more I realize that everyone has a different way of tackling a manuscript. Beyond the division among writers of plotters and pantsers, there are fast drafters, 1k/1Hr people, those who chart characters in a multitude of ways, those who use software systems to track the plot, linear and nonlinear writers, those who gather in cafes and at retreats to bang out words, and those who prefer to work alone…the list goes on. There is no right or wrong, there is only what works for you.

I find it interesting to learn what other writers do, not because I’m going to change what I do, but because there might be some element in their plan of attack that changes the way I see my own process. I recently broke the rule that I’ve heard over and over from countless authors—I went back and started reading through the document before I got the last few scenes written. But guess what, I needed to go back. Personally, I’m a nonlinear plotter, meaning that I storyboard the entire book, then draft out of order. So I got down to the last 8 scenes that were scattered through the story and became stuck. I had to go back to the beginning to find my place. It wasn’t wrong in the way that everyone claims, for me, it was necessary.

My point is this: there is no wrong in writing. I thought today I would tell you a little bit about how I write each scene within a story. I hope you take away something helpful, but at the end of the day just keep writing—that’s the important part.

When I look at each scene in a book, I see every one as

a painting on canvas.

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Bob Ross painting on TV, but it just makes sense to me. I noticed when watching these instructional TV shows about painting that they never start at the left or the top and just paint the thing. A painting isn’t like a piece of paper feeding out of the printer, instead it’s steadily built upon and constructed in layers. To me, scenes in a story are the same. Therefore I write my scenes in 4 steps or passes through the document.

4 Steps to writing a scene as learned from a lack of cable TV when I was a kid.

Step 1: The blue sky background- Framework. When I begin a new scene I start with the setting, where the characters are in the beginning and where they go, who is there, etc. This blocking of the basic concept is like the pale blue sky that the artist always starts with on the canvas. Everything is added from there.

Step 2: The happy little trees that make up the horizon- Dialogue. Once I know who is present and where they are, I write out the dialogue between the characters. This is the bulk of the scene, just like the forest and stream are the bulk of the painting.

Step 3: The white movement of the water in the stream- Action. Every scene needs a little action. Usually this is accomplished through action tags for the dialogue I placed in the story in the last step. But when I’m writing action scenes or sex scenes, I make notes of all action in red font as it happens and then go back and lace in the actual action as it will appear in the story. This keeps awkward sequences from happening like the heroine feeling up the hero’s rippling muscles when he never took off his shirt. This method helps me keep my sanity the most when writing action-heavy scenes. Separating all of these layers out, allows me to focus on the details when there’s a lot going on.

Step 4: The light and shadow- Deep POV. Maybe it’s my background in art, but to me light and shadow are what make something feel real. In books, this is the character’s interpretation of the scene at hand. We’re seeing the scene through that character’s eyes and everything is colored by their perception of events. I always add this step last since it finishes everything and makes it feel like a finished product.

After these 4 steps, when I move on to the next scene, I’ve already cleaned each scene as I go. So this makes me a plotter, nonlinear writer, a writer who dislikes weeks of edits, and a painter…well, maybe not. I think I’ll stick with painting with words for now.

How do you write your scenes? However you do it, keep going!


Brand Me! :)

It’s time for an author branding discussion! Are you as excited as I am? Listen closely, Bad Girlz of the World because this topic originated in an unlikely place—with me actually listening to my husband. *grins*

Why Book Cover

If you’ve ever met Mr. Alpha Male in person, you know he’s a talker. Actually, he could talk a talker under the table. So it’s fortunate that I was paying attention when he was going on and on about a book he and his coworkers had read, Start with Why by Simon Sinek. They’d read the same book in preparation for meeting with the author and writing their company mission statement. Why? Because this book is all about why. I recommend it—very informative and not just about corporate business strategy.  It can also give us guidance in building our brands as authors.
Why do we do what we do?
How does that translate into our branding?

The concept behind starting with why is that customers, or in this case readers, want to identify with us in some way. At first I said, well duh. We try to write characters that are identifiable already. We know this, but starting with why is deeper than that. It’s about your personal identity connecting with your reader’s personal identity and how they see themselves. Step one: ask yourself what brands you’re loyal to no matter what.

Here’s how the conversation went for me:

Mr. Alpha: What’s your favorite clothing brand?

Me: Guess.

Mr. Alpha: Why?

Me: Their clothes are well-made. Their jeans fit nicely and they have cute dresses.

Mr. Alpha: Those aren’t the only jeans and cute dresses in the world. Why them?

Me: *pauses for deep introspective thought* …Honestly? They have the Guess Girl as the center piece of their ad campaign, and the model they pick always looks like a modern day Marilyn Monroe. Their look is the perfect mix of classic and modern sass.

Mr. Alpha: And that’s the identity you want to show to the world—a mix of classic and modern sass.

Me: With big sunglasses, bright lipstick, and blonde hair…yeah, I guess so.

oh my tiara

…Did this concept just click for you the way it did for me? We don’t like the brands we like because of the product. We like them because they reflect something about who we are. People want to express themselves through brands. If you let them know who you are and what you represent, they’ll have brand loyalty with you. Now I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing: that’s fine for a car company or a clothing line, but I write books. There are many, many others who would have the same “why” that I do. How does that help me?

This is the part of the story where I had to percolate for a few weeks on the subject. Why do I write the stories I write? Because I love to tell stories. Because I like watching people fall in love. Because those are the books I like to read. Because… This had been at the back of my mind for a while until 2 days ago. I was driving back from a weekend getaway with Mr. Alpha Male and passing the 4 hour road trip by telling him about my current manuscript.

Me: Plot, plot, blah, blah, blah, plot, plot…I’m so excited!!! I think this is my favorite book I’ve ever written! *giant smiles and seal claps in the passenger seat of the car* I can’t wait for this one to come out!

Mr. Alpha: *laughs* You just want to meet everyone in the world, and make them all smile.

Me: You make me sound like a Coke commercial. [cue light bulbs turning on above E. Michels’ head]…OMG! Is that why I like Coke? I even have Coca-Cola bar stools in my back yard for goodness’ sakes. Apparently, I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony!

And just like that, I knew why I write these stories that have happily-ever-afters, why I’ve chosen a path in publishing that would lead to more foreign distribution than other avenues. I want to meet everyone in the world, give them a big ol’ hug, and make them smile. Through my books, I get to do just that, which makes me smile and the cycle begins again.

So, on the deepest level possible, why do you write?

Now for the fun part: How the knowledge of why you write leads to your author branding.

All you have to do is incorporate why you do what you do into your social media and into your website design. Show everyone who you are at your core at every opportunity you have, and they’ll want to connect with you even more. As for me, I’m going to remove the boring photo gallery from my website and start the “smile file” where I’ll post fun pictures of meeting readers at book signings. I’m going to post on social media about things that make me smile. And I’m going to in general, keep on smiling, like I do anyway. I can’t wait!

What brands are you loyal to? What does that say about your personal identity? Any clue why it is you write what you do? Let’s chat! 🙂


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