Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boring Dialogue and How to Fix It

As an editor, I run across boring dialogue all the time. I consistently advise my authors to study "micro tension" and often to look into some of Donald Maass's books where he discusses it.

Good dialogue has good tension. Sometimes all that is needed to build tension is to give your audience an expectation of a negative outcome (they know something the characters don't or are pretending they don't), and then delaying that outcome while often teasing its arrival. Watch a few Tarantino films--the man knows his dialogue. Check out this scene for instance.

Warning: This scene is a bit graphic and the language gets offensive. It's a Tarantino film, and that's just how he rolls.

Everyone knows that Candy knows Dr. King Schultz is playing him. When Candy returns, the audience expects Schultz to be confronted. That doesn't happen, not immediately. Instead Candy engages the men he knows are trying to cheat him, appearing affable, all while telling a story that grows increasingly more threatening. The audience very quickly realizes that Schultz knows that Candy knows, and so throughout the entire nine minute scene we're expecting violence and a full confrontation. At multiple points it looks like the situation is going to explode into real violence, but it's not until about eight and a half minutes in when we're made to, for just a moment, think Django's wife is certainly going to be killed, and yet even in this expectation we're denied. The dialogue and interactions set up expectation, deny it, set it up, deny it again--this is tension.

An alternative scene that does nearly the same thing, but isn't quite so NSFW: 

But you don't always have a gun pointed at a character's back, and you don't always have imminent doom you can use for a scene you are writing. When that happens, micro tension is king, but even then it works on the same general principle of setting up expectations and then delaying them. Every scene should have a purpose, and every character in a scene should have a goal--what the character wants in the long run, and what the character wants RIGHT NOW. Tension in dialogue is created when the wants/needs of one character are at odds with the wants and needs of the other character. It can be as minor as a man really needing his morning cup of coffee, and a barista who really just wants the morning rush to clear out, so she can check Facebook on her iPhone. As both of these characters stand in the way of the other's needs, and the author delays fulfilling those needs, you create tension.

Micro tension at its finest! 

Check out these links for more information on micro tension:

Pick a passage of dialogue. Strip it down. Increase hostility between the speakers. It can be friendly ribbing, worried questioning, polite disagreement, snide derision, veiled threats, open hostility, or any other degree of friction.

You can add micro-tension in dialogue in two ways.

1. Escalate the language. This doesn't mean tossing in a bunch of F-bombs or otherwise. That's just trying to be edgy and failing. But don't let characters use wussy words or vague phrasing. Make their statements direct and strong. Use harsher, more meaningful words.

2. Have the dialogue create friction. Besides the composure of the dialogue, consider the content as well. Are people [kitten]footing around the issue when they talk to each other? Get them to call each other out. Perhaps one character uses a word the other might consider blasphemous or insulting. Don't let them become so diplomatic (unless it's that vitriolic diplomacy where tension is simmering below every nicety).

Maass says earlier in the chapter: Micro-tension is easily understood but hard to do. I know this because when teaching it in workshops I watch participants nod in understanding when I explain it, but see them stare helplessly at their pages when they try to do it themselves.

Dialogue becomes compelling when the two speakers are emotionally at odds with each other: perhaps one is dubious of the other's argument. The reader reads on, wanting to know -- needing to know -- if, at the end of the conversation, the speakers will be reconciled.

Friday, March 13, 2015

NOW in Print! Scandalous Endeavors

NOW in print!

Scandalous Endeavors
Release Date: December 12, 2014
Publisher: Three Worlds Press
Length: 42k/about 137 pages in eBook

Lady Amelia’s willing to create a scandal to stay in her beloved England. A Scottish duke ignites her passion, but will she abandon her endeavor for love?

Lady Amelia has only known the comfort of life in mid-eighteenth century English aristocracy. But when first her mother and then her father die, she finds herself alone, grief stricken and….. not of age. Her appointed guardian, an American uncle, has ordered her travel to his plantation where she must remain for at least two years when she will come of age.

With the help of Lady Grace and Lady Sarah, Lady Amelia gets her uncle to agree to give her four weeks to settle her affairs and unbeknownst to him…find an English lord to marry so she can remain in her beloved England. Despite her mourning period she endeavors to trap one of London’s eligible bachelors in matrimony.

Lord Goldstone, Lady Grace’s nephew is devilishly handsome, but a Scottish Duke and so entirely unacceptable as a possible husband. After all Scotland is not her beloved London and environs. He also has a nasty habit of showing up at all the wrong moments and thwarting her carefully laid plans to ensnare a suitable husband. Sparks fly as the pair find themselves at odds with each other and drawn to each other at the same time. Can they find a way to stop arguing long enough to explore their growing passion? Is it strong enough to make Lady Amelia give up her English home after all? Or will Lady Amelia find a suitable English lord and avoid social exile in America? Time is running out.


Lord Roseington wrapped his arms around her and stood up, setting her on her feet. “Yes, Amelia, everything is okay now.” He reached up and removed her arms from around him, then took a step back. “We must stop winding up in these situations before we cause a scandal.”

She looked at him through hooded eyes. “‘Tis a wonder we haven’t already.”

A man cleared his voice behind her.

Amelia turned her head, already knowing who had caught them. “Lord Goldstone, you mustn’t trouble yourself with keeping our secret.”

“What she means to say is that there is no secret to be kept. Amelia carelessly got close enough to the hearth to catch her skirts ablaze. I could not very well let her burn up.”

“No, Roseington, you were obliged to help. I am glad to know that you were not taking advantage of our dear Amelia.” He glanced at her and flashed a rakish smirk. “Indeed, you are a hero. Let us go share the story while Amelia changes her charred gown.”

She tried her hardest to shoot daggers at him from her narrowed glare. His grin only deepened at the attempt, which increased her ire. “Don’t you dare tell a soul. I would most definitely perish from the embarrassment!” Amelia spat the words out with anger and annoyance. How dare he ruin everything for a second time, and then jest about sharing her humiliation. If he were not Scottish, she would trap him instead. That would teach him a lesson.

“Do not worry your head over it, Lady Amelia. We will not breathe a word of this little mishap,” Lord Roseington said. “Right, Goldstone?”

“Of course not. All of your secrets are safe with me.” He winked.

Amelia blushed at what he had implied. “Thank you. Now that it is settled I am going to retire for the evening. Enjoy the rest of the party. Lord Roseington, Lord Goldstone.” She inclined her head to them before spinning on her heels and speeding from the room.

Sneak Peek:

When I wrote Scandalous Endeavors I had no intention of writing anymore books in Amelia’s world. I even told my family and friends that I was moving on to a new idea. Scandalous Endeavors released on December 12, 2014. Within a week it became clear that people wanted another book. I aim to be a crowd pleaser, so I started working on Scandalous Arrangement. I plan to have Lady Sarah’s story ready for my publisher this spring and it is expected to release early this summer. Here is an excerpt from my rough draft.

“I do not believe that you have any honor and am not fool enough to believe this to be an innocent dance. You want something from me.” She peered up at him.

He grinned. “Perhaps I do.”

“You are wasting your time sir.”

“Unless, of course, this is simply a dance.”

“You just stated that you wanted something from me.” Sarah balled her hand in the fabric of her skirt. If she were less of a lady, she would smack him for toying with her.

“No, I said perhaps I wanted something. That means I could very well want nothing.” He arched one dark, brow and a chestnut lock of hair flopped onto his forehead.

Bloody hell the man was attractive. Sarah stared into his shamrock eyes. “Enough with the games. Tell me what you want with me, Lord Luvington.”


“Yes, tonight.” Sarah bit out through clenched teeth.

“Tonight I want to hold you.” He grinned.

Sarah blushed at the implication and turned her head to look out into the crowd. She had enough of talking to him. Clearly he did not plan to tell her anything of importance.

He pulled her closer and leaned in close. “Tomorrow I want to get to know you better.” He whispered.

Her breath caught and she fought the urge to slap him. The waltz ended and he released her. Before she could form a thought, he walked off and left her standing there alone.

Author Bio and Links

Amanda Marie dreams of days gone by when life moved at a slower pace. She enjoys taking pen to paper and exploring historical time periods through her imagination and the written word. Her hobbies include reading, writing, crocheting, traveling, photography, and spending time with her family. Some of Amanda Marie's favorite places in the continental U.S. are Harper's Ferry West Virginia and Sea Brook New Hampshire. She loves the history that surrounds them and visits them every chance she gets.

Amanda Marie lives along the Lake Huron shore line in northern Michigan with her husband and two kids. She holds a Master of Liberal Arts Degree with a concentration in literature and has a long standing love affair with sugary junk food.

Join Amanda Marie on Facebook at!/AuthorAmandaMarie1
Write to Amanda Marie at
Follow her on Twitter

Buy Links:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Seer by Cynthia D. Witherspoon

Wow! have I got a good one for you.

The Seer is the third book in a series, sent to me as an ARC. I expected to be confused, maybe even a little uninterested because, let's be honest, picking up with the third book in a series is like trying to watch a movie in the third act. You know what though? It didn't matter. From the first line I was engaged and by the end of the first scene there was no way I was putting the book down! The writing is beautiful, tense, and before you realize it you've stayed up all night reading. I have found my new paranormal series to love and a new author to stalk. 

Wolf Love Rating: 

      Blurb of The Seer by Cynthia D. Witherspoon

       The past will foretell the future.

       Eva McRayne has seen a lot during her short time as the Sibyl. She's spoken to        
       the dead. Fought against the Erinyes. But when she is faced by an entity no
       one dares to speak of, Eva must strike back or lose the only thing she has ever


Excerpt of The Seer by Cynthia D. Witherspoon –
Available March 1, 2015

I ran as if my life depended on it. Somehow, even in this twisted nightmare of mine, I knew that it did. 
Branches snapped back against my skin as I pushed through them. Leaves were crushed beneath my boots. The silence was the most unnerving part. I could feel. I could see. But there was no sound whatsoever. 
Gone were the usual whispers which haunted my dreams. Gone were the voices of those long dead who clamored for my attention. 
I was more alone than ever. Abandoned and discarded by the gods and dead alike. 
I pressed against a tree in an attempt to hide long enough to catch my breath. My lungs were on fire. My legs ached from my run. Yet the moment I stopped, all hell broke loose. The silence was shattered as my hearing returned. 
Dogs howled as they closed the narrow gap I had managed to make. Men shouted words I couldn’t understand as they gave chase. Hooves pounded against the forest floor and I knew they were coming for me. 
This was it. The end. 
And it was all for nothing. 
I was convinced my heart was going to burst out of my chest as I resumed my flight. But to stop now would be my downfall. To slow down would be my demise.  
Even as I ran, I understood my enemies’ fear. I was an unnatural. A monster made by a vengeful god. And I had done something horrible. Unspeakable. I knew this. I could feel my victim’s blood stiffening my clothes as each minute passed. 
I just couldn’t remember what I had done. Had I struck out against Cyrus? Elliot? Joey? 
Impossible. I wouldn’t hurt them. Hell, I wouldn’t hurt anyone without justification to do so. 
Would I? 
Flashes of memory flickered behind my eyes in a blur that matched the trees I was passing. Cyrus’ golden sword slashing downward. Hazel eyes widening with surprise. The sword coming down once more before the life in those eyes diminished. 
I stumbled as a loud explosion knocked me forward. I slammed against the ground with a plea for mercy as dogs circled around me. The first rider slid his horse to a stop just short of where I had landed. 
“You will murder no one else in this land, Skinwalker.” 
Skinwalker?  I felt relief despite the fear gripping my heart. They were after someone else. Of course I wasn’t a murderer. I could be freed from this if the man would listen to me. 
“No, please.” I managed as the man pressed the muzzle of his gun against my temple. “You’ve got to believe me. You’re wrong. I am not a Skinwalker. I don’t even know what that is. I am the Sibyl.” 
“Either way, I will see you dead for what you have done.” 
The resounding shot was deafening until the silence returned and with it, an eternal darkness my soul was all too familiar with. 


I woke up screaming. Grabbing for anything steady enough to make the shaking of my body stop. Before I could collapse into the tears threatening to overwhelm me, Cyrus pulled me into his embrace. 
“Hush, Little One. It was only a dream. You are safe.” 
I buried my face into his chest as I willed myself to calm down. He was right. There was no gunman here. No one was chasing me. I was secure in my condo on the outskirts of Los Angeles in the arms of a man who would go to Hades before any harm came to me. 
I knew this. I relished in the sweet security Cyrus provided. But now, it did nothing to stop the pounding of my heart or my head. I was still in the grip of my nightmare and it did not want to let me go. 
I had to get ahold of myself. I breathed in Cyrus’ scent of old liquor and counted to five. It didn’t help. All I could see was the man on horseback with his gun. 
“Here.” Cyrus pulled away just enough to press a glass between us. “Drink this. It should do wonders to calm your nerves, Eva.” 
“One, I am not awake enough for whiskey. And two,” I pushed the cup away. “I’m fine. Just a little rattled.” 
“Rattled, is it?” Cyrus put the glass down on my bedside table. “You’ve woken up screaming for the past three nights. Each time I end up having to change shirts because your tears have soaked them through.  That is not what I call fine.” 
I shuddered as he reached out to brush my hair away from my face. After a moment, Cyrus broke the silence between us.  
“The Erinyes?” 
“No. Worse.”  
I thanked Apollo that the nightmares of little girls with demon eyes had not made an appearance tonight. I could still hear them giggling over the fight I had been forced into over Elliot’s soul. I shook my head to get rid of the memory as I switched on the lamp beside my bed with a glance over to my alarm clock. It was just after six in the morning. 
 “Look, you know I’m no good at talking about things I don’t want to. Don’t push me, Cyrus.” 
“Will coffee help?” Cyrus gave me a crooked smile as he offered me his hand. “I bought a new bag yesterday for you.” 
“Coffee always helps.”  
I took his hand and let him lead me into the kitchen. Once Cyrus had deposited me at the table, he busied himself with my coffeemaker while I tried to forget the images trying to return to my head. 
Running through a forest. Chased down by men on horseback. The sound of the final gunshot. 
My nightmare was always the same. There had been no fluctuations to it over the past three nights. No break in the action. Cyrus had tried to calm me before by saying the bad dreams were nothing more than a workplace hazard. Images born out of the horrible stories of death I had to tell on my television show. But I knew better. What I was seeing wasn’t just the product of haunted houses. They were either memories or premonitions. 
And I didn’t believe in premonitions. 
“One mug with enough sugar to put you in a coma,” Cyrus sat my favorite yellow coffee mug in front of me. “And just enough coffee to give it taste.” 
“Bless you, Cyrus.” I cradled it in my hands. The warmth was soothing. The smell alone was enough to chase away the rest of my lingering fears. “You are the best keeper ever.” 
“I know.” He grinned. “I’m also your only keeper, so you better take advantage of it.” 
Cyrus switched from playful to serious in two seconds flat. He tapped his fingers against the tabletop as he spoke. “Come on, Little One. Talk to me. Perhaps we can find a way to put a stop to this dream of yours.” 
“It’s not just any dream.” I shrugged as I swallowed my drink. “Besides, can you even stop such a thing? I’m sorry, Stick, but I don’t think you can protect me from this one.” 
Cyrus awarded me with another crooked smile at the use of my nickname for him. But what I had said was true. As my keeper, Cyrus was bound to protect me from any spirit who wished to do me harm that I came in contact with as the Sibyl. That was his duty to Apollo just as mine was in using spirit communication to bring him followers. But dreams were different than ghosts.  
No. This was a battle I would have to fight on my own. 
“During my time, it was believed that there were two types of dreams.” Cyrus leaned forward to rest his elbows on the table. “The insomnium, which could be interpreted, and the somnium which foretold the future. Do you believe this is a dream of prophecy?”  
“No.” I snapped before I could stop myself. I took a breath, muttered an apology, and started over. “At least, I hope to the gods it’s not.” 
“Because it is horrible.” I muttered again as I stared into the remains of my coffee as if it had the answers. “I die, Cyrus. Shot in the head.” 
My keeper didn’t argue with me. He didn’t need to remind me that I had no need to fear death. As the Sibyl, I was an immortal until I chose to relinquish my role. But since I’d broken the ancient mirror used to pass the powers of my position from one girl to another, I knew there was no way I could ever be replaced.  
No, instead of arguing, Cyrus did the most annoying thing. He went silent. It was up to me to fill in the gaps as he waited for an explanation. I didn’t know why I couldn’t talk about what I’d seen. And I couldn’t explain my reaction to it. After all, it was just a stupid dream. So I gave in to his silent treatment and started talking. 
I told Cyrus everything; from the forest to the murder to the gunshot which never failed to wake me up. When I was finished, I glanced over to see that his expression had gone dark.  
“Well, oh wise one?” I took the final gulp of my now cold coffee. “What do you think? Is this some vengeful spirit looking to find the men who killed him? Is it indeed a prophecy and I am killed somehow? Or have I finally gone completely insane thanks to this whole talking-to-the-dead business?” 
“Alright, Eva.” Cyrus held up his hand to shush me. “I get your point. Yet despite your sarcasm, you may just be correct.” 
“That I’m insane?” 
“No, silly girl.” Cyrus clasped his hand over mine. “Remember, if you will, that even in your sleep the spirits can still contact you. It is when you are the most vulnerable. I do not believe that this is a nightmare at all. I think it is a memory.” 
“So do I. But who does it belong to? And why do I tell the shooter that he has the wrong person? That I’m the Sibyl?” 
“I do not know.” Cyrus shook his head. “I think we are asking the wrong questions though. I am curious as to what this monster is. What was it called again?” 
“A skinwalker.” 
“I will see what I can find out while you are in your meeting this morning. What time do you have to be there?” 
“Eight-thirty.” I stood and rinsed out my coffee mug. “Since we are finished with the contract negotiations for season two, Connor wants all the paperwork signed by the time Joseph gets into the office.” 
I was drying off the mug when Cyrus came up behind me. He took the dishrag away from me before putting his hands on my shoulders. My keeper turned me to face him before he wrapped his arms around me. I closed my eyes as my heart flipped at his touch. Say what you will about Cyrus, but he was good to me. And he had the most amazing ability to raise my blood pressure. I felt myself blushing as he brushed a single kiss of my ear before he whispered. 
“I will keep you safe, Little One. Monsters or no, you will have nothing to fear in this life.” 

*** End of Excerpt ***

Author Bio:

Cynthia D. Witherspoon is an award winning writer of Southern Gothic, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy. She has been published in numerous anthologies since 2009. Her work has appeared in several award winning collections including Dark Tales of Ancient  Civilizations (2012) and PellucidLunacy (2010).


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Free Preview - Look Back in Anger

I uploaded a FREE Preview of Look Back in Anger (the first episode) to GoodReads, and thought I may as well share it everywhere. :)

Click to Download the Free Preview - Look Back in Anger

This Omnibus Edition collects the six Look Back in Anger episodes into a single volume for ease of reading and to provide an alternative way to read the serial for those who aren't using Kindle Unlimited.

If you’d like to know as soon as a new book goes live, please sign up for email ALERTS!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Look Back in Anger Omnibus

I have reduced the price on all parts of my serial, so if you are well into it already it should be much easier to finish reading it! Also, if you haven’t started yet, or have only read one or two episodes, I have now put the whole serial in a collection so you can buy it all at once. If you have read the whole serial already, and you want to help me out, you could add a full review to the collection at Amazon and on Good Reads. 

The print version of Look Back in Anger, and the second part of the series is coming soon.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Look Back in Anger Quiz!

Hey, ya'll! I made a quiz for Look Back in Anger! Lend me a moment of your time and take it, then let me know your results and what you think!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Episode Five is Live!

Episode Five is live and waiting to be read by you, and I have lots of discounts to get you started in the series...cuz, that's just how much I love you guys. :)
Get Episode Five Now!

Episode One FREE today ONLY! 11/10

Also, to celebrate being so close to the end (one more episode left!), I have dropped the price on half of the series to 99 cents each episode. I may discount the rest of the serial if the response is good enough. It’s also available on unlimited. I would LOVE feedback in any form!

Find all Episodes here!
Look Back in Anger is a paranormal/urban fantasy with high levels of romantic suspense.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Episode Five - Cover Reveal - Paranormal Romance Blog Tour -- Final Day

Hey all!

For the final day of the blog tour, I thought I would share the rough cover of my upcoming Episode Five for Look Back in Anger. It will probably undergo some changes before I finalize it, but this will give you an idea what to expect. 

Raffle Winners Announced!

Raffle Winners Announced!

Amber P.

Wins the first THREE Episodes in Look Back in Anger! Mobi, PDF, or Epub format.

Custom Cover Art for Your Next E-Book by Grave Designs!
See samples here --!coverart/c1orx

This is a coupon for 50 dollars off any cover art purchase. Choose an option that will get you a whole cover FREE or use the prize as a discount toward a more complex cover.

Greg T.

$25 off any editing service from S.N. Graves

S.N. Graves is a senior editor for a reputable publishing house and holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. This prize entitles the winner to twenty-five dollars off any purchase of editing services. This can be used toward the purchase of a total book edit, or used to help you retool that one scene that’s been hanging up your manuscript!

See services here --!services3/cn63

Kathleen C.

Wins the first THREE Episodes in Look Back in Anger! Mobi, PDF, or Epub format.

Casey C.

Wins the first THREE Episodes in Look Back in Anger! Mobi, PDF, or Epub format.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PNRBT: Author Interview -- Ariana Hawkes

Welcome all! For day four of the Paranormal Romance Blog Tour we have an interview with Ariana Hawkes where she discusses, her inspirations, what's next for her characters, and the challenges and research that goes into writing a novel about shifters!

1. When did you know you were a writer?

Pretty much as soon as I learned to write. I was always writing long, involved stories, usually about horses. My teacher would look at them wearily and say, here’s the next Lord of the Rings.

2. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Isabel, definitely. I like the combination of feistiness and fragility, and the way that’s she’s just awakening into being this really sexual person, after ending a safe but boring relationship.

3. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

I enjoy writing the character of Kara, but in real life, she’d probably annoy the hell out of me, as she’s just too much all the time! At the same time, I’d admire someone who’s intelligent and lots of fun, with a strong appetite for sex. 

4. I so relate to Isabel—my family and friends always tell me to meet them about an hour or half hour before any get together because time and me have a poor relationship. Is she based on anyone in real life, or are her quirks maybe inspired by your own?

Haha! Yes, unfortunately that aspect of her character was inspired by my own! Most of my friends are the same, but it drives my partner crazy!

5. Okay Lupus11 would have lost me at the “let’s be on time.” He has some moments of coming off a bit like an ass in instant messages. What is it about Isabel that makes her look past that, and if someone spoke to you that way, would you respond differently?

She decides to give him a chance because she knows that kinky hook-ups function differently from normal dating – even if she doesn’t understand how. She’s also keen to experience new things, and not afraid to take a risk. If I encountered Peter in a similar situation, I’d hook up with him, but I wouldn’t date him. What I look for in a sexy game situation and a potential partner are thankfully very different things!

6. What authors, or books, have influenced you?

My degree is in English and Latin Literature, so I’ve had so many influences from the ancient world onwards. Latin and Ancient Greek poets wrote a lot about shapeshifters, and I’d always wanted to write a modern version that would appeal to lots of people. Then I came across werewolves, and I was like…duh!

7. What is it about wolves that drew you to write about them? Why not cats or birds or any number of creatures in the animal kingdom?

I wanted to go back to an old shapeshifter myth and give it new life, and the Dracula story was an obvious choice for me, as it’s still the scariest book I’ve read. So I had Peter coming from Transylvania, which has very old vampire and werewolf myths. Silver City, where the book is set, is also the only place in the southern states that still has wolves, so it was also a strategic choice. 

8. Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your series and where it’s going.

It’s going to Transylvania! But only if Isabel can get to the bottom of Peter and his weird ways!

10. What genre would you love to write but haven’t tackled yet? What’s stopping you?

I’d love to write a domestic thriller. I have it all planned out actually, but time has been the main barrier so far!

11. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I had to do quite a bit of research on the area where the story is set, and once I get on Wikipedia, hours and hours disappear! It was also hard to know how full on the sex scenes could be, so I’ve spent quite a lot of time writing and rewriting them to get the tone right. 

12. Do you have any advice for new authors?

If you have a daily writing target, stick with it, unless something dramatic happens during the day! It’s too easy to get side-tracked and lose the flow. Also, read plenty of books on writing to improve your style and plot and characterization techniques. There are so many useful tips you can pick up – and there’s no need to try to reinvent the wheel by figuring them out by yourself!