Tuesday, June 20, 2017

End the Story

So, I was reading through some new reviews for They Called Him Nightmare. If you haven't heard of that one, by the way, it's a short story I wrote that many people loved for reasons that I never envisioned when I penned it. Go figure. But, one thing that came to mind while reading a review was that there wasn't an epilogue.



Oh, They Called Him Nightmare? Don't know that one? Wait. Let me get the information for you. Hang on. It's around him somewhere.









Here's the picture! Cat Ford did the cover!

Tricia Kristufek is the editor! (She's magic, people. Promise!)





Here's the blurb and the buy links:

Growing up, Kai Bennu was taunted for skin dark as midnight and his otherworldly appearance. They called him Nightmare, but Alec Vasilios, a wealthy and powerful businessman, wants to call Kai his own. Kai’s past has left him with little trust in others and even more reluctance to surrender himself to Alec’s power. With both men harboring supernatural secrets, finding common ground won’t come without sacrifice. 


Amazon US:  goo.gl/V0rRqX
Dreamspinner Press: https://goo.gl/32HS1I

Okay, now that that's finished, going back to epilogues.



I've learned in this short time I've been writing to avoid certain types of reviews and to pay attention to others. Sometimes, there might be a thing or three to learn from the ones that come from reputable reviewers and ones from readers who are thorough and passionate about what they read, ones who care. I usually read reviews and celebrate a win or scan for a goal to improve. My goal now is an epilogue at the end of a short story. 

The reviews on They Called Him Nightmare have been awesome, enough to let me know that I made the right choice in helping the guys in my head tell their stories.  
Wait. I have a few of those, too. 















This one is from A Barb The Zany Old Lady Review

Since it's the most recent one, I'm just going to copy and paste it. Why did I find it? Well, I'm trying out this new thing called Queeromance Ink https://www.queeromanceink.com/ which will help readers get to my work. It's easy to use, pretty affordable and it just might work. Also, there are quite a few authors I actually read there. So, why not? 

But, here's the latest review:

From the 2016 Daily Dose package – A Walk on the Wild Side
This short story is my first from this author, and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It opens with high school student Alec assessing all the others in his class for who will taste the best. A young vampire, he has the ability to put people in thrall, so they have no idea he has had sex with them and drunk their blood. But when the young man nicknamed Nightmare is around, Alec loses his ability to think straight. He’s attracted to the boy whose real name is Kai, and when he reaches out and touches him, sparks literally fly. Both recoil from the shock, but Alec wants more and Kai, wanting nothing to do with Alec, disappears shortly after the encounter.
Flash forward ten years and Alec has finally found the location where Kai has been hiding from him all this time. Excited to finally set out to meet the man he feels attracted to, he has no idea that Kai’s mother, or at least the woman he calls mother, is dying of cancer but wants nothing more than to see her boy settled before she goes so is willing to help him get his man.
There’s much more, including some very good character development, considering the brevity of the story, and there’s a surprise in store for readers who are wondering what type of being Kai might be. Let’s just say he’s the last of his kind. When the two men come together this time, they ignite in passion and finally fulfill their destiny.
I really like this story as I said at the beginning of this review. It had all the ingredients of a longer story, including a unique otherworldly perspective, and I’m looking forward to more from this author in the future.
Catt Ford is the cover artist for this series and this particular cover shows a figure in the center of a clearing lit by bright blue light and surrounded by wild animals in a darker shadowed border. It’s very appealing.
Now, there were some others I found, and one in particular stated they felt the story hadn't ended. To me, it had. It was done. But, the reviewer needed more. And, I read another with a similar thought. Again, the reader wanted more. So, I had to do it. I asked Facebook the question. 

Who feels that you must have an epilogue when you read a book or a short story? 

If you'd like to see all the responses, feel free to drop by my Facebook profile Deja Black https://www.facebook.com/deja.black.69 . There's always a flower and a little purple frog book. 













Now, I had some great responses. Won't mind if you stop by there and add an opinion or two, but these are the ones that grabbed me:

First Response
NO epilogues are poor excuse to write reasonable ending or write a series. The current trend for epilogue to be same sex marriage and adoption of child/children in house with white picket fence are trite.

Second Response
I... on the other hand...appreciate a good satisfying ending...COMPLETE with an epilogue. I like a short "revisiting " with the M/C's.

Another
Never "must" - sometimes it's a lovely touch to wrap things up, sometimes it's cute but unnecessary, like a second bit of icing on a completed cake, sometimes it feels like a cop-out, skipping over the real work of forming a relationship or dealing with the world to say "and it all worked out great" where another book or story would be better.

Last I'm Sharing
Epilogue equals resolution to me, I don't care what you call it, as long as it's a HEA.

There were a few other lovelies, but this has me thinking. Yes, I make sure that my novels have epilogues, but do I need to do that for the short stories, too? You know me. I had to look up a few articles and share, of course. It's the researcher in me. 


Writing 101: Do You Need an Epilogue? - Jade Varden
https://goo.gl/E2FrWH

Loved her thoughts here. Will be saving that one!

Is It Really Over? To Epilogue or Not to Epilogue - Kaye Dacus




Great ideas here and thorough explanation. (Of course, I had to change the subject pronouns in my head a little, but hey! Life!)


After “The End” – The Epilogue - 

This is a must read. Oh, so helpful. 


So, let's think. 


As a writer, I may think my book is complete. As a reader, I may want a bit more. In the end, I think I have to ask, "What does the reader want? Is the reader satisfied?"

I can end with a solid finish, but for many readers, if the book doesn't have an epilogue, a glimpse into the characters' future, then it's not finished. That would have to go for my short stories, too. And, you know what, maybe it's a compliment to the writer that readers want to know more.

In the end, I have to keep the reader in mind. Looking at the reviews, the Facebook responses, the articles and just generally speaking, readers like closure. If I can give them that, why not? 



Epilogue
And, Deja wrote epilogues for her short stories! 




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pimpin' Ain't Easy



Pimpin' Ain't Easy






No, seriously, it isn't, and by pimpin', I mean promoting.

And by promoting, I mean sharing your books.







First, let me start this by saying I write because I want to, because it's all I've ever dreamed of since I was in high school, and the fact that people read my stories blows my mind. But, I want more. I want more readers and the money that comes with people enjoying what I write so I can write even more. Who hasn't fantasized about being able to quit work and just write? A girl can dream.





After I received this quarter's check, you know the one we're all hoping for, the one that's going to pay off the student loans, knock out some bills? Yeah, that one. Well, I got the one that I deserved after having taken a break from promoting my books. That's the one that you debate actually depositing. I've had them bigger, enough that my hubby was quite proud. But, that last one? Pocket change, people.



I didn't get angry. How could I? I was the one who was sad because my books weren't picked up by my first publisher and let's not forget the kids' sports schedules along with my grad school class. In other words, life happened.



Now, the books are on the move with a new publisher, school's almost over, and while I'm taking two summer grad school classes, at least I won't be teaching.

But that check? What an eye opener to let me know that it was time to get my ass in gear. Time to pimp my work.



Are you a writer with hopes of people reading what you've worked hard to produce? Do you envision selling books off the shelves? Won't happen if you don't promote. So, I'm back in. I still remember that goal I have, the one where I want to be someone's "go-to" read. Well, I can't get that if my readers don't know I'm out there, and they won't if I don't tackle the leviathan that is social networking.



Where to begin?
Why don't I share my plan with you and then give you a few bits and pieces that have helped me? Ready?



Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/deja.black.69


I have a wonderful friend who helped me with this. I do about 12-15 separate posts in book groups, particularly ones that cater to my type of reader daily. I've saved the words, the links and the image to make it less work. I make sure I time myself 3-5 minutes apart so I don't look like a robot and end up in Facebook prison. Don't know about you, but I need Facebook, so while I don't always agree with their rules, I would rather follow and keep my access than lose all of the friends I've gained. I always post pretty pictures simply because I love pretty pictures of men and flowers and positive thoughts. That's me. Man-loving-legal-hippie who loves seeing men who love men. That is what I write about after all.

Pictures in My Mind


Blog http://dejablack77.blogspot.com/

This is it right here. It's a progress. I began with thoughts, transitioned to trying to have it more organized, a newbie writer resource. Then, another friend told me that people just want to know what your struggles have been. Share those and how you're growing. It's what I've been doing lately, and she was right. I've heard more about these than the ones I worked on for weeks ahead of publishing. Funny. People just want you to be yourself. Wink.

I try to do a blog a week, but there may be a span of two or three weeks in between which means I will promote the blog again during the other weeks which works because I gain more numbers for the blog which will give me more readers. Another reason to shake my head. So, if you're blogging daily? Stop it. You have to give people time to read and for your blog to find others. So, a week, two weeks, promote. There are some who blog once a month. It's your thing. Feel it out.


Twitter https://twitter.com/DejaBlack69
I have a Twitter. Now, I actually use it. I've starting tweeting my books each day, several times a day. It was actually a suggestion I read because I'm always reading about ways to promote. Now, instead of just the one-liners, I'm using hashtags. I still post pretty pictures, images and thoughts. I also include moments. Your readers need to know you're a real person, that it's not all about your books. So, again, be you. Tweet what you like. Someone else is bound to like it. Check out the impressions and the engagements. See what you've tweeted that received the most interest. Then, act accordingly. Know your followers.

Instagram  @dejablack69
Oh, wow. This is so new to me, but it's fun. No real conversations. It's all about the pictures. You can actually take that same Twitter post you did, complete with hashtags, and use it for Instagram. There's a lot to take in for me as it always is when I use something new, but if it helps me to connect with more readers and writers, I'm in. I want to learn. Getting to know more people who share my interest will help. Instagram is instant satisfaction. Let's see where it takes me.

Pinterest Deja Black
I use Pinterest as my own giant pretty picture album. You can actually make boards for your books. Then, fill those boards with pictures of the characters, places, and chief elements. Beyond that, make boards of your personal interests. I know a few writers whose readers found them through Pinterest. It's worth a try. To me, it's fun.

As with anything, be mindful of what you post. They all have rules. So, if you have some exposed body parts, you may find yourself blocked from your account whether it's Facebook or Pinterest.

Now, I do have a tumblr, but you can't have that one. I uhm research topics there.



Phone
I use my phone to schedule my posts. I try to post about four times a day on all of my social networking sites beyond the twelve-fifteen for Facebook. The sound I'm using? Ocean waves. I find them relaxing which helps to ease the pressure of me adding something to this one, this one, this one, and this one. I do have followers who are on all of my sites which means I need to vary it up a bit. You have to keep things interesting, or they won't come back.

Using a reminder app, my calendar, even a timer are all helpful. If you have a phone, that's the perfect resource. Might as well use it. Thinking of phones, you can access all of the apps with your phone. Your key to pimpin' or promoting your books is in the palm of your hands.

Don't believe me? Here's a few articles I've found, ones that I'll definitely use again. From advice for writers to building a platform through social media, they are all helpful.


10 TIPS (THAT WORK) TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers




9 Ways to Use Social Media to Launch a Book

Michael Stelzner
https://goo.gl/GXPxLA



Can't ever say enough how just building relationships with others is your best tool for promoting. Word of mouth, or help, is just around the corner if you get to know people. Chat, share, laugh, question, all the things you do that help make this world a better place.

Be yourself, and have fun doing it.

Love,
Deja


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Broken Pieces Gets a Chance to Live


Broken Pieces - A New Hope

Had a lovely Spring Break with the grandparents in South Carolina and got some news about one of my books. Took my laptop on our vacation because I had thoughts of writing and reading, playing with the kiddos while they visited their family. Unfortunately, I forgot a few things. My kids are 5 and 9, their grandmother is hands off which means she loves them from a distance, and while their grandfather is a doting and nurturing grandparent who wants to spend lots of time with them, he's pretty busy. We had fun, though. 

Went to Edventure Children's museum where the kids fondly remember climbing in Ed and seeing his brain.
.


Went to the beach where I learned about scary riptides that had me patrolling the shore and yelling at my kids, "Stay back! Stay Back!"


Hung out with their cousins and just vegged. At night, I stayed up insanely late talking to my parents, and in the morning I would turn over to find my five year old's elbows and knees in tender places. Yeah, going to be wearing those bruises for a bit.

So writing? No. Reading? Barely.

Returning, I got an email about Broken Pieces. If you know my writing at all, you know my first book was Broken Bones. That book was the first in the Broken series.


If you've never heard of it, here's the blurb:

Dan Tolliver, the adopted son of alpha pack leader Jeremiah Tolliver, has suffered his last moment of abuse by his lover Keith Mulligan and finds himself in the hospital. There he meets dark and sharp-tongued Dr. Aiden Kavanaugh, who believes Dan needs some of his straightforward kind of medicine. Still, there is something different about the doctor.
Aiden is a sandman, a weaver of dreams, and has been on earth far longer than even he knows. He's at the end of his time, ready to transition, and needs a human mate to keep him connected to the world he’s grown to love. Only he hasn’t found a special person who makes him want to stay. He doesn’t despair, because not every sandman has the chance to choose, but he knows if he doesn’t find a partner, he will soon lose his physical form and exist only in dreams.
When Aiden realizes Keith is a far greater monster than Dan has any idea, they grow and work together using the support of the pack—and Dan’s inner strength—to overcome impossible odds.
Links:
DSP Publications: https://goo.gl/jDHV5P


Now, while Broken Bones is an excellent book, I failed it. I hadn't built a platform, hadn't established myself in social media or made use of the tools that would have helped that book to succeed prior to its release.

Want to avoid that problem and build your platform? Check out this article:

Build Your Author Platform: 7 Manageable Ways to Start From Scratch



Always looking for new ideas on building platforms, this is the latest article I've found, and already I see some changes that need to be made. Warner gives new and veteran writers great ideas which are certainly worth a look.



Since the Broken series had to find a new home, Broken Pieces had to change, too. It now has to be the first book in the series under a new publisher. This means anyone reading Broken Pieces will meet a few characters for the first time ever. It means I won't be able to rely on the relationships my readers have made with Broken Bones unless they are willing to start with Dreamspinner Press and move to Extasy Books to continue. 






The question is will they? I guess it's up to me which leads me back to the platform. Have I maintained my relationships? Am I staying connected? Am I keeping myself out there? 












If I want people to love my two guys, Peter and Remi, they have to know about them, enough to make them interested.


Peter                                                        Remi

 



The blurb (or what I'm considering for now):

Broken Pieces is the story of Remi Devereaux, a detective living in Louisville, Kentucky and a photographer named Peter Romanoff. Peter is the Korol to the Romanoff Coven of Nelapsi/Vampires from Kazan, Russia. He is the son of the last Korol and future ruler of the coven. 

Peter possesses the spirit of two creatures within, two beings that are slowly tearing him apart. He needs a Supruga, a mate to help give him balance. That mate is Remi, the detective who is investigating the murders that the coven is committing. Lead by Alonya Romanoff, the current Korolova and relative to Peter, the coven is looking for Peter and are killing people he knows and loves in order to find him. Alonya will only be able to rule the coven as Korolova without contest if she kills Peter, the aberration of the Romanoff bloodline.


Remi sees Peter in a store and the first thing he notices is Peter’s body. From there, he’s on a mission to have Peter as his own. Together, they will need to fight the obstacles standing against them to survive.

There it is. It's in edits right now. I'm waiting on it.




The hope? With the research, the preparation, the studying, the changing, the reading and learning, that my readers will increase, that I will develop into an extraordinary writer, a person whose following will love the stories I produce. 

The dream? That it will never stop. 






Sunday, March 26, 2017

How Much Sex is Too Much Sex?

Random thoughts here today, people! Be warned. I'm avoiding my book. It's in the wicked, gnarly stage where there's a twist that I'm having trouble figuring out.

So, let's get started, shall we?

How Much Sex is Too Much Sex?


I've actually been thinking about this since last week in regards to writing. I enjoy some heated moments in what I read and what I write. Usually it's the manhandled, younger/smaller dominate kind, but I've been known to enjoy the sweet and gentle on occasion. There are one or two writers I've loved reading in the past who rarely write on page sex. Megan Derr is one although I did actually read one of hers that had graphic details this week, but that woman can give a pretty lovely tale without mentioning a rod or a pole anywhere. Can't remember the other author right now.

But, is sex in a book necessary? You know, I guess it's completely up to the reader. There have been moments when I've been so interested in the storyline that I've totally skipped the sex. I know it's coming. I feel the signs. I scan over the grunts and moans and get back to the story. When I look through my saved bookmarks of my favorite books, rarely is it the sexy times. There may be the moment that leads into it, could be the moment after, but there are only a very few where it's the sex I go back to read. For me, it's the way the characters interact, it's the relationship, the spot where I realize this guy I've been waiting on to finally act, to just take over, is truly about to, and I have to read it again and again.

Now, those moments? Beautiful.



On Facebook, there's been the conversation of what defines a clean book. Some say a clean book is a book without sex? Really. There are some pretty horrific books out there without sex that I wouldn't let my kids near. Others are taking the challenge to write stories without on page sex. That's a tough one because you have to know how to give the heat, the passion, and the intimacy. Not saying it isn't possible. It's beautiful when a person knows how. Take me nearly there, like we're edging the pleasure, and I'm sold.

Then there's the other extreme. Too much sex. When is that exactly? Is it when the majority of the book is about the grunts and moans, and very little story actually happens? I think that depends on the reader as well. What's the reader looking for in their book? I bet that many readers can pretty much tell you the authors they read specifically for their own moments. I know my list for the dark and sexy kind, the oh-so-sweet kind, the fairy tale kind, the mysterious kind, and the I need a quick fix kind. As a reader myself (because that's why I became a writer anyway), I don't just read one type of book although I only read m/m. (That's it. I'm 43. I read and enjoyed everything under the sun until I found my genre about four years ago, one I used to write about in my teens. Bam. It's over. That's all my book fund pays for, the hard and male kind.)




 So, why do we write about sex if there is this question of clean, off page, too much sex? Don't know the answer to that myself. Could it be we're human, and we like to read where someone gets it right? We have enough stress in our lives. Why not enjoy a little fantasy? I will say my hubby's happier because of the books I read. Just sayin.

Why do I write it? I enjoy it. No, my guys aren't humping their way through the entire book, but I save the moments where they get up, close and personal and go in for the long haul complete with thrusts, pumps, touches and tender words. They have off page as well, but I like them to get physical.
Do I want the book overwhelmed by it? No. Those who enjoy reading my work know I'm a character writer. I love getting to know my people. All of them. I love story. I love plot. I love meat, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the sexy roller coaster ride along the way. So, I provide them. This also doesn't mean that there aren't a few fabulous books that have been awesome without it.



When do I write it? It depends on the book and sometimes on the length. If it's a short story, it may have one or none. There may be allusions to it but nothing descriptive. If it's a novella or a novel, then I've given myself time to play.

How do I write it? I go with my characters. I like a little surprise sometimes. I like the younger, smaller guy to take over. Other times, I love the alpha male. Then, there's the moments when I enjoy a good switch.

Keep in mind that I've only written four books with another three in editing. I'm new. And, since I'm new, I have to do my research. Would you like to write about sex, but you're not sure how? Do you know what your heat levels are?



Check out the articles below for some excellent ideas:

Sex in Fiction—Do They or Don’t They?

by Fiction Editor Beth Hill 
http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/03/03/sex-in-fiction-do-they-or-dont-they/
 It's the Editor's Blog, and it's pretty amazing on the details, the do's and don'ts. Give it a read.


Ten Top Tips For Writing Sex Scenes by Emma Darwin


Loved this one, too. Packed full of good advice but sectioned in a way you can scan for what you need.

With this done, maybe I should get back to my book.

The one that's scrambling my brain is Flirty and Red. Flirty's a Puerto Rican nurse who loves to chat. Red's a cowboy from Louisville who just can't get away. In the end, he doesn't want to. Neither does his beast. Yeah, it's that twist right there that's killing me.

Until next time, family.

Love,
Deja




Thursday, March 16, 2017

You've Submitted. Now what?

So, You've Submitted! Now what?


Submitted a book recently. Whew, that book. In the beginning I loved it, loved the characters. After editing, searching for repeat words and tweaking, I could happily push them both off of a cliff. But, that's writing.

Like giving birth, I'll forget about the pain and move on to the next one, but what do I do in between?

If you're trying to figure that one out, let me give you a few suggestions:


1. Read

It's probably one of the things that got you into the idea of writing to begin with. You read and read, and then one day, you said, "Why not write?" And, you did. The good thing about reading is that it not only gives you a break, but you are actually learning from other writers. I find that as a writer, I look at the way others tell their stories differently. I still read to enjoy, but it's more about how they transition and word their thoughts, how they avoid the repetition of words I seem unable to do without. How do they show rather than tell? The phrasing? Too bad I can't claim my library list on my taxes as research. Man, the money I could save. 

But, read. It's a must if you're going to take the craft seriously. You'll not only learn more about what you do, or see what you've grown past, but you'll enjoy yourself, too. 

2. Live



Get out of the house! Live! Go on a date. Are you single? Take yourself out. Go to a movie! Go shopping or window shop! Exercise. If these things are not already a part of life for you, make them regular. You need to schedule some time for you. 

You love to write? Yes, I do, too, but most of us are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency for a reason. 

See the sun. Get your blood pumping. Interact with others. I guarantee when you come back from actually doing something outside of the desk chair or wherever it is you type, you will have stories to add to your WIP list. 

3. Write


You finished your book! Now you're done. WRONG! Do you have a notebook, a journal? If not, try to get one. Carry this little guy everywhere. There are ideas waiting to be had. It could start with someone's eye color, a word or two you hear in conversation, pictures, shopping in the grocery store, etc. You never know, but you'll be surprised how quickly that thread of an idea becomes an actual story. If you don't get it down, it will join the pile of the forgotten, and you'll be left with nothing. 

You could even map out works you're already considering while waiting in line or sitting beneath the hair dryer. Take advantage or those moments. Get those ideas written, so you'll have them later. The only way to become a better writer is to keep writing. 


4. Build Your Platform




Social media can be more than a place for you to vent your frustrations, laugh at delightful cat videos, or find the latest and greatest recipes. For me, it's more than when the next pop up Lularoe party will happen. (Yes, me too.) 

Anyway, social media can be a tool for getting your name out there. Let's face it, you wouldn't work so hard to get your books published if you honestly didn't want people reading them. So, build those relationships and build your platform. Not sure how? Check out this article below:


There are some great ideas here and more to be found. Just remember to be yourself, get to know people and connect. Establish yourself.

5. Study Your Craft



If you're going to write and write well, there are just a few things to remember. LIE! There's a ton to remember which means you need to get started fast. Where do you start? First, try reading. Read books of authors you enjoy in the style you want to write. Look for tools to help. Need a few?

First, here's the best 100 websites for writers in 2016
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/129267451784839307/

Then, let's take a look at creating characters
http://www.justinmclachlan.com/787/25-things-creating-characters/

And Justin McLachlan? Let me just say AMAZING! Read anything by this man. So helpful. Promise


All of this to say, don't just sit and wait to hear back about your book. You did it. You finished it. I applaud you. I love you for what you've accomplished. Now, move. Get shaking. Do more!



Lots of love,
Deja

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Writing - The Journey Never Ends!

Yes, Broken Pieces made it! I have signed the contract with Extasy Books, and Peter's story will be told.

And after I have finished Flirty and Red,








I will begin Kristoff's story!

I'm beyond thrilled to have a home for these works and can't wait to see what happens next. 

In the meantime, though, I'm working on Getting There with hopes of sending it to Extasy. One of the greatest gifts I've received from Extasy Books so far is their list of House Style rules. If you're a writer, you're always trying to find the words you've repeated, and while there are probably great tools for this, I have yet to find one that I am going to copy and paste all of my work into so this can happen.

In the past, I created a list, but it just wasn't complete. I would read through and stress, scratching my head.

Now, I have this. Thank you, Extasy.

Some of these words are passive, weak and/or excessively overused. Search via the highlight all feature, you might be surprised and watch for all forms:

a bit                        a little             a lot                            about
actually                 almost             alread y                      appear
approximately       as                    basically                    been
began                     begin,             begun                         being
caused                   close to           completely                could
essentially            even                eventually                 exactly
extremely              fairly               finally                         get
got                          had                 half                             has
have                       here                highly                         in
into                        just                  just then                     kind of
knew                      knowing        large                           like
momentarily        mostly            must                           nearly
notice                     now                only                            out
practically             pretty             quite                           rather
really                     seem               seen                            simply
slightly                  small              so                                somehow
something             sometime       somewhat                  sort of
start                        such                suddenly                   that
then                        there               therefore                    thing
to                            to be               truly                           unbeknownst
utterly                   very                was                             watch
were                       within             would                        all names
Beware of phrases that start with words such as:
about to                 began to         begin to                      begun to
could                     start to            would



Actually going through and checking for these words has improved my writing! I have better sentences since I just can't remove a word. The sentences have to be tweaked and changed. And, I find that I like the results, the way my words flow.

Maybe you have something else you're using, but I love this. No more scratching my head looking for the repeat word. Now, I'm scratching my head for ways to make it better. 
Writing. It's the journey that never ends!