Monday, November 23, 2020

An Arresting New Book & Hero

November has always been one of my favorite months  as a writer. This is a good time to stay inside and read or write and relax before the hectic holiday season. The opportunity is even greater this year because we are spending so much time inside. That has me on the search for new and different writers and more interesting books to read. When they have a Colorado connection, well, that always gets my attention, and I want to know more. 

 The guest today in My Writing Corner is author Amber Daulton, whose newest book, Arresting Jeremiah has just been released.

Amber is the author of is the author of a romantic-suspense series -- Arresting Onyx as well as several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She tells us she lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats. 

Let's get more on that newest book, Arresting Jeremiah,

Injured Parole Officer Jeremiah "Jim" Borden never expected Calista Barlow, the sassy blonde waitress he’s craved for months, to ring his doorbell. She slips into his heart—and his bed—but he’s obsessed with a gangland investigation that threatens his career and maybe even his life.

Calista doesn’t trust easily, not with a daughter to protect and the stalker who keeps calling her. After

her violent ex-boyfriend returns, she finds solace in Jim’s arms.

Jim may have to forego his need for answers to protect the ready-made family he adores, but how will he and Calista escape an unseen enemy that is always one step ahead of them? 

Doesn't Jeremiah sound like a great character you want to know more about?  Let's talk to him!

What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?

 I’m a parole officer in the city of Denver, Colorado, and I travel all throughout the tri-county area to visit my paroles. I have the highest rehabilitation rate for the officers in my district, but it’s no easy accomplishment. I don’t have much of a life outside of work. After some crap that happened a short while back, I’m no longer content with my job. Someone I work with betrayed me to the most powerful crime lord in the city. How can I keep working there when I don’t know who to trust?

What conflicts are you facing?

 One of my parolees has rejoined his old gang and is now slinging drugs again. He’s gone missing while I’m on suspension from the office, so I can’t help the police in trying to find him. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from targeting me, Calista, and her daughter. On top of that, Calista’s violent ex-boyfriend is back and someone else is stalking her. Then there’s the mole in my office and the mysterious drug lord who promised to keep an eye on me. So yeah, I have five assholes to deal with. My life is just perfect.

 What did you think or do the first time you saw Calista?

 I’ve known Calista for about a year before our story begins. I was meeting one of my paroles at the greasy diner where she worked, which I hadn’t been to in years. I was struck dumb the first time I saw her. She was hustling about, taking orders and grinning at customers. Her blonde hair was up in a ponytail, and her mile-long legs were drawing my undivided attention. Then she came to my table and did the usual waitress bit—a greeting, introduction, offer of drinks. I barely heard her. I kept saying “Wow.” over and over again in my head like a broken record.

Then my parolee started flirting with her.

Oh, hell no. My temper jumped to the red-zone. It didn’t make sense—my possessive response and sudden need of her—but I still growled at the man, and he literally flinched. Calista cocked her eyebrow at me in what I later learned is a distinctive no-bullshit pose for her (kind of like her saying, “Seriously? You’re growling like a he-man?”).

Anyway, from that moment on, I rearranged my work schedule to eat at the diner a few times a week. I had to see her; I couldn’t not be around her. After a while, we became friends of a sort and flirted like crazy, but neither of us ever made a move.

 What is your family like?

 I don’t have much of a family. My parents died two years ago in a car crash, so it’s just me and my sister, Mia. She’s dating this hothead, Mason, and expects Mase and me to hang out together like we’re best buds. Not happening. He used to be one of my parolees, believe it or not. I flipped my shit when they first got together (read their story, Arresting Mason, and you’ll know how badly I acted), but I’ve gotten used to their relationship. Hell, I just want Mia to be happy.

 What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

 It’s from my dad—“Stop worrying about the ‘worse-case scenario.’ Live your life, son. You only get one.”

He was right, but it took me a while to admit it.

For years I shunned commitment. Starting a real relationship with a woman wasn’t in the cards for me, which is why I never acted on my feelings for Calista until she made the first move. It’s bad enough when my gangbanger or junkie parolees are shooting at me; I sure as hell never wanted them pulling that shit with someone I love.

 Why do you think your author chose to write about you?

 After she wrote Mia and Mason’s book, she saw how angry and frustrated I was. She wanted to give me a happy ending. Unfortunately, she has a thing for damaged, tortured heroes, so she put me through hell before slapping a big red bow on my life. I really should have a talk with her about that. What kind of crazy woman makes a man fight when he’s already covered in bruises and has a broken arm? Just not right.

What other character from your book do you think your author should write a book about? Care to tell us why?

Amber has ideas for more stories, but most of those heroes and heroines weren’t featured in my book. There is a minor character, however—I won’t say who—that she’s pairing with a minor character from book one. It’s going to be a novella, book 2.5, currently titled Ryan’s Temptation. She’s hoping to publish it sometime in the fall of 2021.

 Want more information? Here are the buy links;

Add to Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55223686-arresting-jeremiah

Check it out on BookBubhttps://www.bookbub.com/books/arresting-jeremiah-arresting-onyx-book-2-by-amber-daulto

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://amzn.to/32vAlqu

Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/2E4eJYO

Apple – https://apple.co/35BOuo1

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/arresting-jeremiah

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=XwMBEAAAQBAJ

Universal link – https://books2read.com/u/mVKvMP

And if you would like to know more about Amber and her work, here is her social media   contact information 

Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Street Team – https://www.facebook.com/groups/572204316296198/

Pinterest – https://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Amazon Author Page – https://amzn.to/14JoZff

Book Bub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amber-daulton

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amberdaultonauthor1/

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYg7JZ7XXp24Vg1O3IYeYkA

The Wild Rose Press – https://www.thewildrosepress.com/authors/amber-daulton

Any questions for Amber?   

Thank you, Amber, for being my guest today and introducing a wonderful new hero!


Monday, November 16, 2020

The joy of Brainstorming

 Every so often I teach classes on how to pitch books to editors and agents and I’m also working on a new book on pitching. Among the questions that always come up are how do you know when you have just the right pitch and how do you even get started with a pitch?  Unfortunately, there are no easy answers – most pitch opportunities will be different and your books will be different too. You can always find a better way to say something and different people hear things differently and take different meanings from things.

But the one thing that I do know works for pitches or even for getting started on any book is brainstorming. Recently, I have been working on finishing edits on a book as well as working ideas for a new story with several friends. What is the best way to get things started? Well, ideas, of course, but how do you come up with them? There’s a simple answer whether you’re pitching or starting a new book.  The key is brainstorming! 

 Years ago, when I worked as a TV news producer, I worked alongside several other producers. We all had our various programs that went on the air at 4, 5 and 6, and we usually had different stories we wanted to tease or “pitch” during our newscasts.

One of the things I learned over the years was that we all had our strengths and challenges, and we all wrote our teases to the next segments in different ways.  Those teases were actually very much like the blurbs I often teach in my pitching classes. Just like pitches are for promoting or selling a book, those teases were aimed at getting viewers to stay tuned for the next segment of the news program.  We were all arranged in a row 4pm, 5pm and 6pm producers and one of the things we all did every day was to test our teases on each other.  We all knew the stories so  we sort of competed to see  who wrote the best one. We also tested our individual teases about stories the others didn’t have to see if they sounded interesting.  We often found the other person might not understand exactly what we were trying to get across and we might then re-write our tease to be more accurate or more understandable.

 I often recommend writers do that with their pitches, especially if you’re preparing to meet with one at a convention or if you’re looking to write a query letter. Write out your pitch and then test it on those around you, or your friends, your loved ones, your writing buddies, your critique partners. . After all, this is something you will be sending out to total strangers. If your friends have questions, consider what the interest or the questions of those other strangers might be. Or eventually you might be writing that in the blurb that goes on your book or online at Amazon.  Are you saying what needs to be said? Are  you attracting interest?

But there are more cases to be considered. Are you being too vague?  But that isn’t necessarily a bad
thing. Vague in some cases is good.  What you’re looking for is for them to say, “Yes, I want to read that,” or “I want to publish that.”

That is the bottom line for the pitch or blurb you develop.  If you leave a few questions that make them want to read the book, fine! That is the point.  If you leave them confused so that they are uncertain about what is in your book, then you need to go back to the drawing board. You want your pitch to sell your book.

Brainstorming can be useful when you get stuck in the middle of the book too. Why not try a wine party and let everyone come up with some ideas for where to go next in the story? Input doesn’t need to be followed, but it might get you out of a rut and into a new direction that allows you to move forward.

The writing process can be a quiet, lonely time, but getting those around you interested in your book can also lead to suggestions that can help you.  Just don’t feel obligated to do whatever anyone says and let them know that too. Trying to please one person may be a big mistake. You know what your readers are expecting from your work, or if you are a new author, pay attention to what draws readers and what they say in their reviews.

The more you learn about your story whether coming from others or from inside yourself can only make the story better.  I often set my stores Currently I am working on a book set in southern Colorado. Whenever I need brainstorming help, I check in with my brother and sister who can bring me back memories of the old days and the countryside we remember from t he past. 

Now I know that some of you may feel awkward about sharing your pitches or ideas with those around you, but keep in mind when you pitch, you will be giving that pitch to and when your book is on the shelves or at Amazon, you are selling that book total strangers.  Don’t be afraid to test your pitch, and it’s easiest to start with people you know.  When we were writing teases for our news programs, we would  be constantly changing things until the words came out of the anchor’s mouth and were heard by millions. Until then, even the anchor might change something.  For you, until it is set in print perhaps as a blurb on your book or a description on a website, you can still re-work and fix and polish the pitch.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and polish.  That can only make your work better.

My only caution is that you don’t want to lose the meaning of the book.  Remember, the story is at the bottom of everything and selling that story is what we want to achieve. Listen to suggestions, but don’t let someone else force a change on you that won’t work for the story. A pitch that sounds great won’t result in a sale if the story is not as promised. The story is still the bottom line.

Follow me at Facebook, on Twitter and see my books at Amazon. 

Rebecca Grace.com

https://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Grace/e/B004KSOGP8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Sunday, November 8, 2020

A Visit to the Old West

 Having grown up and lived in the West all my life, I have always been drawn to stories, books and movies set any place in the West. My dad and mom loved Western movies and stories so that was what I grew up watching and reading. It's still the part of the country where I set my own romance and mystery stories. That was part of what drew me to the books of author Mike Torreano.   He is the guest today in My Writing Corner. I always enjoy hearing authors' stories of how they come to be published and his story really hit home, especially since his latest book has just been released.

Welcome, Mike. what do you think are some of the challenges of being a writer?

We all have to work at our craft, that’s a common condition, but I find that marketing and social media are my biggest challenges. Stories seem to generally reveal themselves, whether that happens today or ‘tomorrow’. Marketing, as for many of us, is the toughest part for me.

Tell us about your road to publication.

Curiously enough, a rejection led to my first contract. Years ago, I received an email from my future editor who sent me the nicest rejection I’ve ever gotten. Personalized, and helpful, so about eight months later, I emailed her again with an outline of my new WIP, and thanked her for her previous spot-on feedback. She said she remembered me (don’t know if she did or not) and asked me to send my manuscript, ‘WHEN IT’S READY’.

I sent this new story in when it was well-polished and got my first ‘Congratulations!’ email back soon thereafter. Funny how a ‘no’ can become a ‘yes’.

How do you come up with your characters?

I think you have to have read a LOT in your genre, and/or be a keen student of human nature. We all write what we know, and so my characters are an honest amalgam of my reading, as well as a reflection of people I’ve come into contact with over the years.

How do you come up with plots?

I’m a ‘pantser’ rather than a ‘plotter, but pantsers still have to have a vague idea of what the story might be about, right? For me, the plot always comes to life itself over time, so what I concentrate on the most is crafting tension on every page. Tension is what pulls readers in my genre in the most. I believe that holds true for all genres, whether it’s the subtler tension of a literary work, or the overt action of a western. I try to reflect that everywhere-in my characters, their dialogue, internals, and even description. Find consistent ways to do that and you’ll have a faithful readership. Beyond tension, I work to create a second level of emotion everywhere, micro-tension, as Donald Maas calls it.

Tell us about your latest book.  What made you write it?

A Score to Settle is set on a cattle drive on the Goodnight-Loving trail in New Mexico Territory, 1870. Some of the events in the iconic western, Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, mirrored happenings on an 1867 drive on G-L. As I read more about Charles Goodnight and Owen Loving, that’s when I decided to site my story on their trail. Throw in the bedlam of a cattle drive, strong women and good men, killers after stolen gold, and a white-hot desire for revenge and the story pretty much wrote itself. 

Here's the blurb and it certainly drew me in!

Broken after his family is murdered, rancher Del Lawson signs on to a cattle drive along the Goodnight Loving trail in 1870—unaware he's still in danger. When he falls for a pretty Army nurse, the killers target her.

If he's to recover from his grief and build a new life, Del must set out on a gritty hunt for the men who are hunting him.

Meanwhile, Del's mother, Maybelle, doesn't know her son survived that murderous night. When she discovers the gold the killers are after, she uses the treasure in an elaborate masquerade to try to take the murderers down.

Will mother and son's plans reap justice—or destroy what's left of the Lawson clan?

Sounds like a wonderful read! What advice do you have for beginning writers?

DON’T waiting to start writing until you have the story all worked out in your head or on your storyboard. Take your hazy idea and start running with it. Often you’ll be happily surprised where you end up. Enjoy the ride!

What’s your next project? 

A friend brought me an idea that launched my initial research into White Sands Gold. The plot happens to involve an historical mystery that’s never been solved, which intrigued me. As I started writing, I decided I didn’t really have to solve this real-life mystery, I’d just create interesting characters struggling with the puzzle and see where they took things. The mystery still hangs nicely throughout the story as an historical backdrop, and the characters are sweeping the story along with them. I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out (said the pantser).

I think I've heard of that mystery! Good luck with the story, and thank you for being my guest.

Here is the information if you want to know more about Mike and his books.

Buy Links



Monday, November 2, 2020

Autumn Romance in Vermont

 Isn't it fun to get hooked on a series of stories either set in a familiar place or that follow one another? I have to admit I have done that for years so I was excited when The Wild Rose Press began to publish a series of books set at the fictional location of the Deerbourne Inn in Vermont. I've featured a number of authors in the series, and Maria Imbalzano who has a Deerbourne story is my guest today. 

What would you say are some challenges of being a writer? 
My current challenge is coming up with big-story plot points that are fresh. Most of the books I have written (all contemporary romance) have twists and turns and are emotion-packed. I am working on the third book in my Sworn Sisters series (Sworn to Fly) and I’m questioning whether it lives up to the surprises that readers encountered in the first two books. I need to dig deeper before I let that book go.  


Tell us about your road to publication.

It was meandering and slow-going. I decided I wanted to write a novel in 1998, but had no idea how to do that. I was a psychology major in undergraduate school, and then went to law school. At that time, I was sailing along in my career as a divorce lawyer, was married,  and had two young children. While I loved legal writing, which is analytical and linear, I was not a fan of creative writing. But reading was my favorite pastime, and romance my favorite genre. I took a seminar called How to Write a Book in Fourteen Days- a Lawyer’s Guide (a very catchy title – no?) and followed the advice given. I sat down and plotted out my book, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. It was more of a blueprint then an outline. Then I wrote the book – with no knowledge of point of view, character arcs, conflicts, black moments etc. Of course, it was rejected, but I started to learn the craft of writing fiction through New Jersey Romance Writers and RWA. I wrote four books before I got published – fifteen years after I decided I wanted to write a novel. Persistance is key.   

 

What do you like best about being a writer?

I love creating new characters, new plot lines, and torturing the hero and heroine on their journey to find true love. It’s so much fun to get lost in my character’s heads as they figure out their next moves.

How do you come up with your characters?  That depends on the book. The women of the Sworn Sisters Series are best friends since high school and they are loosely based on my best friends from high school.  Some of my characters are lawyers (the heroines of “Unchained Memories,” “Dancing In The Sand,” and “Sworn to Remember.” Being a lawyer and working with lawyers makes it easy to create these characters. I then deepen the characters while working through the plot. If my heroine is a lawyer, the hero is going to be someone who is opposed to what she does.  In “Unchained Memories,” the hero is an ER doctor and the heroine a medical malpractice lawyer, which pits the two of them against each other from the very beginning. I want my characters to be in conflict from the start.


How do you come up with plots?

 Once I decide on my main characters, then its easier to come up with plots that will put them in conflict. For example, in “Dancing In The Sand,” the heroine is an environmental lawyer and the hero works in his father’s company which does fracking, causing major damage to water systems. The hero hires the law firm, where the heroine works, to represent his father’s company even though the firm usually represents the party suing company’s like his. That’s the subplot. The major plot has to do with the two of them having been together ten years earlier at a college graduation party, but the hero doesn’t remember the heroine. That plot came from a dream.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?  

Try to write every day, or as often as possible. I know how hard that is when you’re working full-time and have a family, but you will only get better while doing. Also take seminars and read books on the craft of writing. That way you can apply what you are learning to your work in progress. Once you have a draft of a manuscript going, join a critique group with two or three other writers who are at a stage a little further than you are. Getting knowledgeable feedback is key. And don’t give up!


Tell us about your latest book. What made you write it?  

“A Song For Another Day” is part of the Deerbourne Inn Series put out by The Wild Rose Press. I chose a character who had already been identified and lives in Willow Springs, Vermont, working as a shuttle driver for the Deerbourne Inn. His name is Jason Simmons and he also sings and plays guitar at the local bar.  I had wanted to write a story about a songwriter, because I’m in awe of them. So I developed Jason to be not only a singer and guitar player, but a songwriter trying to break into the Nashville music scene. The problem is that he has stage fright, and he blew his chance two years earlier when he walked off the stage. Jason is a quiet, reserved guy who likes small town life. Enter Gigi, an up and coming Broadway star who loves the limelight.  She’s only in Willow Springs for six weeks to direct their first Community Revue while waiting to hear about her audition for a part in the touring company of CATS. Jason and Gigi are very different people but their paths collide and sparks fly. Unfortunately, their stars are rising in different directions:  


Gigi Jenson, an up-and-coming Broadway star, finds herself in Willow Springs, Vermont, for the summer as director of their first annual community revue. This sleepy town is worlds away from her vibrant and beloved New York City, but the experience she’ll gain will be invaluable to her career.

Jason Simmons has lived in Willow Springs his entire life. Working several jobs while writing music, he yearns for a contract to record his songs. The one chance he had to make it in Nashville he blew due to stage fright.

When Jason volunteers to help Gigi with the revue, sparks ignite but their dreams are taking them in different directions. Will their love for each other ever guide them to the same path? 

Sounds like a wonderful romance! What is your next project? 

  After I finalize “Sworn to Fly”, I have one more book in the Sworn Sisters Series which I must finish and edit. I also sent a proposal to my publisher for a novella in the Wylder West Series.  I’m waiting to hear if it’s a go. In the meantime, I have decided to narrate my own books, since hiring a narrator is very costly. I took a few seminars, purchased the equipment, (which was a lot less expensive than I thought it would be) and I’m learning how to work the software program. It’s a huge undertaking, but it’s fun and different.


Here are the buy links for Maria's newest book

https://books2read.com/u/bzjQ7G

Print Books 

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/product/a-song-for-another-day

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Song-Another-Day-Deerbourne-Inn-ebook/dp/B08HM5RF6M/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=A+Song+For+Another+Day+by+Maria+Imbalzano&qid=1600801795&sr=8-1

http://bitly.ws/9WUk

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-song-for-another-day-maria-imbalzano/1137661144?ean=2940162673620

Kobo   https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=A+Song+For+Another+Day

Apple   https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-song-for-another-day/id1531645078?uo=4&mt=11&at=1010l9S2

Google Play   https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=umkCEAAAQBAJ

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55428983-a-song-for-another-day

Bookbub

https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-song-for-another-day-deerbourne-inn-by-maria-imbalzano

ASIN

B08HM5RF6M

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/?text=A+Song+For+Another+Day

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/206463

How can readers get in touch with you?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mariaimbalzanoauthor

 Twitter -  http://www.twitter.com/mariaimbalzano

 @mariaimbalzano

 Instagram - mariaimbal

 Blog Link - http://www.mariaimbalzano.com/category/blog/

 Website Link - http://www.mariaimbalzano.com

 Goodreads Author Page

 https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7276749.Maria_Imbalzano

 Book Bub Profile page

 https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maria-imbalzano

 Mailing List Sign Up form

 https://mariaimbalzano.com/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

  Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00FG9RI5K

The Wild Rose Press Blog Interview May 2020

https://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com/2020/05/welcome-maria-imbalzano-to-our-garden.html

Thank you, Maria, for being my guest today and taking us back again to that wonderful spot, Deerbourne Inn! Any comments or questions for Maria?



Monday, October 26, 2020

A Simple, Single Thought

             Beginning writers are always asking how others come up with story ideas. I know it’s a question I used to have all the time when I first began fiction writing. But even as I was asking that question, new ideas for stories were always popping into my head. What I learned was that as a writer you need to be ready for them and open to them. One of the things I have always enjoyed doing is listening to other writers and how they get their story ideas. From best selling authors to beginners, I always perk up when I hear someone say, “I got the idea for my story from…”  That is the bottom line.  We all get our story ideas from somewhere. Those ideas can come from even the smallest things around us – even just a sentence

My mother presented me with a great story idea just from one line that I never forgot. She was a born story teller and the one story she loved telling over and over was how she met my father. She was a girl just shy of her teen years sitting on a fence post watching the cowboys at work on her uncle’s ranch. She took one look at my dad and told her cousin, “I’m going to marry that boy one day.” Needless to say, my dad wasn’t interested in some kid who kept following him around and playing tricks on him to get his attention. It took years before he ever noticed her beyond her peskiness, much less showed any attention.

            But that little story always stuck with me, so of course, I had to use it in a story, which became the background for one of my first romances, Home Fires Burning. While it sometimes seems easy for me to come up with story ideas, taking them from quick lines seems to be a good way to begin working on a premise.  I took another idea from a quick line – “women don’t belong in…”   That line was given to me by more than one man in the sports field when I wanted to become a sportswriter. First, “women don’t belong in the press box,”  and second “women don’t belong in the locker room.”  Whether it was true or not, I got to use it when writing my romance, Love on Deck.  (the good news was that I did get into the press box at more than one place and I did get into the press area of more than one baseball team.)  But breaking ground rules is not the point here. The point is that there can be story lines and ideas developed from even something as small as one line.

           

It can also be as simple as a walk in the park. That was how I came up with the idea for my book Deadly Messages. It began with a long walk along the sea wall in Vancouver, BC  I was supposed to meet my sister, who walked much faster than I did, at a certain point. I would take a short cut across the lawn  while she walked around a scenic point. The idea occurred to me, we were in a strange city and what if she didn't appear? These were the days before cell phones so I had lots of crazy ideas as I sat on a park bench waiting. The result was a story idea!

Recently I began working with a couple of friends on a new story adventure and as we were tossing out ideas, I realized that it’s those quick one line items that can work great at developing stories.  Just talking about a storyline with your friends, your family and throwing around ideas can help you discover a new idea for a scene or for a plot point. They can help you discover a new character.

The ideas don’t have to be perfect. They may not even be what you want when you first come up with them. The secret is to let them percolate in your brain. Think them through and consider the good points or consider the characters who might work for that particular idea. Sometimes it’s the character who will give you the idea. Is there someone who either infuriates you or excites and energizes you? What is it about that person that sets you off in a particular direction. Plots often come from characters or characters come from plots, but either way, the ideas around both don’t just explode. Often it takes a little bit of thought to make them work. You just need to open your mind and let them in.  

            Story ideas, characters and situations are all around us and as long as we remain open to them, we will find them. Or they may find their way to us. Just as my dad eventually realized that crazy little mouthed kid wasn’t going away and he realized she was actually amusing and clever, you can find that story ideas can be floating around you. All you have to do sometimes is stop, listen and look. Take the time, and then go for it!  

https://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Grace/e/B004KSOGP8?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1603662541&sr=8-1

Monday, October 19, 2020

Getting Out While Staying Home

    One sad result from these days of isolation has been the inability to attend writing conferences.  personally I have always loved writing conventions from the first RWA convention I attended in 1983 aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. To me they have always offered a great opportunity to connect with writers of all kinds -- from those who are best selling authors to those who are just starting out. They are the perfect place to socialize with others who are in the same creative and searching boat. 

    I have always suggested writing conventions to other writers as well. To me they are appealing because they’re the place where  normally quiet and more introverted groups gather to study craft. Writing can be a lonely profession and most writers prefer it that way.  We are often more used to sitting in a room alone and doing our writing. When you’re dealing with a whole convention of  people who are more comfortable sitting in a room alone, it can be easier to connect because so many of us are sitting in a corner watching everyone else…

    That’s why I enjoy writing conventions—even for an introvert, it’s easier to approach someone else or even a group of people who might be or are probably feeling just as uncomfortable. We don’t mind sitting alone at the bar at these conventions because there’s a person alone next to you who is probably feeling just as uncomfortable. The bottom line is if you do strike up a conversation with the person next to you, you’ll probably discover that you have a lot in common – the need to write. Not only that, whatever you decide to do -- just keep sitting there or talk, well, those around you  understand. Actually, most respect your silence unless you choose to talk. I often find that if you start talking to that other alone person, before long you find you have a lot in common… the need to write.

    This year we’re all sitting alone in our rooms writing, but our forced isolation has also opened up a whole new world. Technically, we’re all sitting alone at that bar as we join the various rooms as conventions are held virtually. While I was unable to attend one of my favorite conferences, Left Coast Crime in San Diego, which got cancelled at the last minute, I have been able to enjoy other, virtual meetings and now a virtual convention.

    This weekend I attended Women Writing the West which was conducted as a virtual convention and it was a new and fun experience. I presented my Plotting Wheel session from the cozy confines of my home office, sitting at my desk. My companions were Molly and Chewpie, the cats who normally hang out around my area. Molly insisted on making a guest appearance, which seemed a common theme among other writers attending.  A number of cats and dogs made virtual appearances.

 I have to admit I am enjoying these virtual meetings. In some ways it’s easier to chat as we sit and wait for the next session to start. So many of us are isolated that we’re excited when we get some of that outside interaction we’re no longer getting on a regular basis. Our local writing groups aren’t meeting or are meeting virtually too. If you haven’t tried meeting virtually it’s a good way to keep from a totally forced isolation. Virtual meetings are a way to connect and the best thing is we get to see all of us who are at the meeting. We get to connect with others we might not have gotten a chance to talk to at the last writers’ meeting.

These days of virtual meetings and conventions also present an opportunity to attend sessions we might have missed due to time constraints. They give us a chance to  connect in person with others and to get to hear challenges and issues we are all facing during these months when we are more isolated than ever.

The isolation is also having an effect on the ability and opportunity to write. I suggest looking to find ways to make that work for you as a writer, rather than lamenting lost opportunities. Not being able to go out has meant the chance to pick up on old work that needs editing or polishing that has been ignored or the opportunity to finish a story.

 It also can present time to take a refresher class on an element of writing or to work on research for a story you might want to write. Those openings are out there now because many groups are having to go to virtual meetings so traveling across town or the inconvenience of a time period can be solved by recording a meeting and playing back later is solved.

My entire point here is that this is a time  we can find new opportunities to get more writing done, but don’t let that mean you can’t still socialize with other writers. Look for those virtual opportunities and still connect with other writers. Use the time we are inside to find new writing subjects or to still connect with new and different types of writers.

While I just attended and spoke at my first virtual convention, I know it won’t be the last. I’ll be looking for other, new opportunities to connect with other members of the writing community. This week I'll be conducting a class at Savvy Authors on Pitching, and please watch for the new book on pitching that will soon be available on Amazon.com. For more information on plotting, please watch my website RebeccaGrace.com and Writethatnovel.net for more details. 




Monday, October 12, 2020

Bright Ideas for Dark Days

 Let’s face it. Sometimes we need a new way to look at life—whether it’s looking in or looking out. These days it’s  a fun way to brighten up living quarters or brighten up the day. We’re getting ready for those darker days of winter, but we’ve already spent a good amount of time inside and unable to do the things we normally do in the fall.  Whether it’s because not being able to drive through the mountains to see the fall colors because of fires or restrictions due to Co-Vid, these are unique times for all of us and we still need those things that bring us joy.

How can we find some of that joy when we’re limited on so many levels? For a writer that can mean a lot of different things:

  1. Try a new genre. I think I’ve issued that challenge in the past, but there is always something fun about trying a different genre, whether it’s writing science fiction when you normally write romance or trying  romance when you normally write mystery.
  2. Look for new ways to research. I have to admit I miss those days of being able to spend endless hours at the library, but you can find so much information online or simply by getting out and driving in your neighborhood. Are there places you’ve driven past that you never took the time to fully watch or learn about? Call around to various places and look for information you’ve wanted to know or haven’t had time to learn in the past.
  3. Call a friend and get new information about how they are coping with these dark days or just chat and catch up. You’ll never believe how many new ideas you might come up with. Ask them for ideas, or even indulge in some fun gossip. 
  4. Do what my brother is doing and re-decorate! He is having a good time not only rearranging the house but looking for new material to make by constructing a home shop. He figures that will give him plenty to do in the winter months when he can’t get out and do his normal bike riding or hiking.
  5. Look for new interests. This is the slow time to indulge in those things you always wanted to complete it try, but never had time to do. That can even mean going through old pictures or organizing them.  I have to admit I had a great time going through my old pictures of visits to the Denver Art Museum which included a wonderful gem and jewelry show, which included a diamond snake and and gold lizard., a Dior retrospective and the works of Monet. 




 But these are not all  tough days. I have had some fun events Going on too. Some of my books are getting a new look at Amazon and the covers are great. I will have an update on that next week. I also have my first virtual conference coming up.


So yes, we are all going through some quiet days and the unlikely end is still not in sight, but we can use the time to either get new story ideas or work on old stories.  I’ll look at doing that next week.  

   

An Arresting New Book & Hero

November has always been one of my favorite months  as a writer. This is a good time to stay inside and read or write and relax before the h...