About Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

I'm a science fiction author of the Star Trails Tetralogy, retired after two decades working at NASA, defected from my physics training to become a professional astrologer, and various other acts of rebellion.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Details and descriptions are important to support imagery, but balance is required so they enhance, rather than slow down, a story. This is genre-dependent, however, because some, such as romances, thrive on description. Thrillers should have less, but enough for readers to envision what’s going on.

Integrating details into the action is a challenge, but a skill serious writers must develop. This is where strong verbs are essential. A diligent author will take the time necessary to find the exact word needed to convey action and imagery with an economy of words. This is part of your job as an author.


Today’s Writing Tips


When you write a murder mystery, you must keep your readers guessing. Any “whodunnit” story needs red herrings to place doubt in the reader’s mind regarding who the culprit might be. No matter how many novels your readers have experienced, they shouldn’t be able to easily predict how it will end. Readers thrive on suspense and wondering what will happen next.

These red herrings may necessitate a few characters who are technically extraneous. These, of course, are the exception to the rule to not include people with no function in your story. The fact of the matter is that they DO serve a function, and that is to keep the reader guessing.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Next on the list for scratching 5-stars is no challenge. If the protagonist breezes through the entire story without any obstacles or personal growth, it’s pointless. Whatever it is s/he wants, the harder it is to get it the better.

Most of us are somewhat annoyed by those who have everything they want handed to them, perhaps on the proverbial silver platter. Starting out a story that way is fine, but then having your protagonist lose everything and get a hefty dose of the real world will get your reader involved.  An example of where this is well-done is the relatively new sit-com “Schitt’s Creek”, where a family formerly in the millionaire range loses everything and is living in a cheap motel.

The harder your protagonist has to work for what he wants, the better. This also builds suspense, a critical ingredient in any story.

Today’s Writing Tip

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The last complaint was directly related to style and the skill of the author, i.e. too many adverbs. While useful, they shouldn’t be overdone. Before using one, see if you can find a better verb. More often than not, this can be done and eliminate the need.

For example, instead of saying “she walked slowly” how about “she trudged”, “she strolled”, or “she moped, dragging her feet”? See how the verb also implies imagery and mood? Economy of words increases their impact. Verbs are powerful. Make sure you use them to make your story more vivid. Scrutinize every one to see if you can replace it or really need it.

A Sexy Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller Mystery Romance



This book crosses so many genres that it’s bound to have something for just about everyone. Alma is a widow with young children, struggling to make ends meet while she takes care of her two young children. However, she’s haunted by strange dreams of a sexy, mysterious stranger. Imagine her surprise when one day she encounters him in the flesh! It gets better and better from there as she discovers that the life she thought she’d been living was but an illusion, a shadow of her true identity and mission in life.

This fantastic story progresses at a fast-pace with surprises at every turn. Alma’s anxiety as her life turns upside-down is palatable. The imagery is fantastic, the plot complex, the characters engaging, the other worlds vivid and believable.  I don’t want to say any more because it would constitute spoilers and ruin the enjoyment of watching this fascinating tale unfold.

Many elements of this story are the exact fantasy of so many women caught in a mundane, unsatisfying world where her day to day routine is somewhere between boring and depressing. It’s a great read with something for everyone who likes sci-fi, romance, mystery, and characters to die for. The best part is that there’s more to come, this only the beginning of this delicious tale. Don’t miss it!

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Here’s a reader gripe that definitely drives me crazy, this one #7: Similar names! Avoid having them start with the same letter or rhyme. One example that comes to mind is from the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”, where we have Howard and Leonard. These two are very different characters who look and act entirely different, but the names are too much alike. If your reader is the slightest big dyslexic, it will drive him or her crazy.

Your story should never have a Shelley, Sherry, Susan and Stacy. Be more original! Give some thought to naming your characters. Bear in mind that those who read quickly are most likely to stumble over this form of thoughtless writing.

My Favorite Zombie Story of All Time



This is my very favorite zombie series of all time. Okay, I’ll admit, it’s the only zombie series I’ve read. Truth be known, I’m not usually a zombie fan, but Elle Klass is one of my very favorite authors and thus I’ll give just about anything she writes a try. Her characters absolutely jump off the page,  plots complex and full of surprises, writing style saturated with luscious descriptions and subtle humor.

This is the final episode and completes the Zombie Girl trilogy. This exciting conclusion is loaded with suspense regarding the fate of the numerous characters after they leave the African continent bound for the USA through various means. Tidbits include fascinating explanations regarding what caused the lethal pandemic that resulted in some people turning into zombies while others recovered or were immune. If you liked the movie “World War Z” you’ll probably love this story.

The action never stops, the suspense sustained beautifully. It had been a while since I read the previous books, so it took me a while to remember who some of the characters were and where they joined the story. This is a series best read straight through, which can now be done with all three books now available.

Whether or not you’re a zombie story fan, I definitely recommend this series. I’m usually pretty bored by the usual zombie tale, but Elle’s characters are so real, the personalization of the plot so well done, that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The descriptions are gross enough to make a point, but not so disgusting as to be too much. Some are downright funny, actually, and make perfect sense with the primary character, Maddie, a teenager who would undoubtedly see the humor in it to maintain her sanity. She’s a great kick-ass heroine who refuses to cave into the worst of circumstances and definitely runs the show.

Now that this entire series is available, grab the three of them and get ready to enjoy a great tale that keeps you turning the pages from start to finish.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Here’s another gripe on the “doesn’t get 5-stars” list, though I haven’t seen this one quite as often. This one is when the main character is forgotten. I’ve seen stories that started out with one person and then s/he disappeared at some point and someone else took over.

Huh? Whose story is it? Even the first chapter should start out with the main character, which is sometimes violated, and may cause the confusion in the first place. If someone off-stage is key, use a prologue.

I saw this happen in one book recently where this transition would have been the perfect place to end it and segue into the sequel. However, doing it halfway through the book definitely didn’t work for me. You just get connected with a character and then he disappears? WTF!

Today’s Writing Tip


Another complaint that keeps a story from getting 5-stars is too many characters. I would amend that by saying too many extraneous characters. Every person should be tied into the plot in some way and stand out as an individual. If they don’t, ditch him or her. If you really like the person, you can always use him or her for another story.

This is not to say that a meaty plot shouldn’t have a vast array of characters. However, the number should be proportionate to the complexity of the plot and length of the novel. Populating the story with a bunch of people with no story function only keeps the reader wondering what they’re doing there in the first place. For example, if your protagonist’s job is one of the settings, you don’t have to give everyone a name unless the person relates to the story.  In fact, if their place of work doesn’t relate directly to the story, why is it included, anyway? The movie “Nine to Five” certainly was an exception, as well as the TV show, “The Office.” But if it’s not directly related to the plot, minimize it or leave it out completely.

If you do have a long cast of characters and you can justify their existence, then include a dramatis personae in the beginning to help your readers keep them straight as far as where they fit into the story and relationship to one another. A confused reader is inclined to become a lost fan.