Monday, December 28, 2020

Celebrating A Fresh Start

Every year don’t we all as writers make promises to ourselves to write more in the New Year? This will be the year when we get another book written or start working on the novel we’ve always wanted to write. This year seems to be even more challenging with all that has occurring around us, things over which we have no or little control.

Usually at this time of the year, I have often looked back on what I accomplished in the past 

year before I start making goals for the new year. It’s a good way of acknowledging my good moments  while recognizing what still needs to be done.  These past few months have been more challenging, especially since we often don’t have control over what is happening around us. That only makes our writing endeavors more critical.

Rather than worrying about not being able to write, this is a good time to take stock of what we have accomplished during this challenging last year and look forward to what we still want to accomplish and how we might want to get moving on a started project or working on something new.  

No matter what happens in the coming months, I know that one way or another I will be starting new projects and finishing old ones before the year is out. I will not stop and that is half the battle.

So how do we get started with fresh material and fresh ideas to start out the new year?   Well, here are some easy ideas that can help with your writing.

 Experiment with a new genre

Take a class

Try a New Way of Researching

Write a short story

Try a Whole New Approach

 Let’s examine some of those tips for getting that fresh start for 2017:

Look for something new to do. One thing that has caught my interest as the year closed on 2020 was writing science fiction. Oh, I’ve had the idea in the past, but this year I am going to try it. Why not? Look around at the genre you are working in. Is it growing a little stale? Have you been considering another one? Why not try it now in the new year? Play with a short story if you can’t commit to something long. Or if you haven’t written a short story in a while, do that instead of a longer tale.

 Take a class.  I always recommend classes when people are stuck with their writing. A different perspective on your work and a different way to look at an old topic can get the creative juices flowing again. I am always on the look out for new classes to take or something new to learn. Keeping my mind active is a good way to keep young. I am not taking a class this month, but I am teaching one on plotting and I’ve already come up with some new ideas from the students who will be in my class. 

Try a new method of researching.  One story I began working on last year required historical research and I found myself so involved in it that this past weekend I started off the new year at the library with an in depth look at the research department. I already came away with some new leads (and some new research books) that will help me get that story finished.

Experiment with a  new approach. I usually write down my accomplishments from last year and set goals for the new year. This time around I am going to look at different methods of getting my writing output increased. You can do the same thing. If you've been considering some changes in your writing schedule or even a new project, use this time of year as the perfect way to make that start. 

Try a new schedule, a new way of editing--what didn’t you do last year? Are there things you wanted to do that you put off?  I’ve declared 2021 as the year of finishing things those projects that got started and are waiting for progress or finishing. 

And that’s  just what I hope I’ll be applauding at the end of the year. Happy New Year and Happy beginnings!!  I'll be around with new classes, new writing projects and new ideas for your writing as well as introducing new writers and their books here in My Writing Corner. Let's make 2021 the Year of Writing!

 

Monday, December 21, 2020

As The Plot Thickens...

 Recently I’ve started on several new writing opportunities as I finish up editing on several fiction and non-fiction books. Last week I looked at new opportunities, but now let’s talk about that finishing up process and take a look at some key elements involved in writing your books.

 Let’s face it. By the time you’ve reached the middle of writing your book, the overall plot process can start to seem overwhelming. We’ve got the good beginning, we might even have ideas for some complications with conflict for our heroes, heroines and companions. So now how else can you make the middle come alive? This is the point where so many authors get stuck. Suddenly there seem to be so many directions the story could go and the choices can seem endless. Maybe you’ve hit a block or you know some of the things you want to have happen, but you have no idea now where to place anything.  In my writing classes I always say that complications and conflict can keep building the plot, but that they’re not enough. In fact, use too much conflict or too many complications, will mean you’re going to get bogged down in the other direction – too much!

 The best way to combat that problem is to slow it down a little now and focus on how to keep plotting your book through small, deliberate steps. One of those ways to keep the plot moving is with a twist. Once you’ve established a flow with the beginning of your story, it’s time to start throwing in those elements that make the reader keep turning the pages.

 Are your scenes too action filled as a result of a slam bang beginning? Is it getting slow now that you’ve introduced your characters?  Look over those opening chapters and look for ways to make a change. Speed things up, if it’s moving too slow.  If the opening left the reader breathless, slow it down. No, you don’t want to start boring the reader to death, but too much action can be a problem too. Look back on those opening pages and make certain you’re going in the direction you want the story to go.

 I’ve been working on a cozy mystery with my frequent co-author Sue Viders and she is very focused on the plotting structure. It’s easy to look back and see where the action scenes are and where we are slowing things down. That’s a great way to keep track, but at the same time you don’t’ want your story to become predictable.  Once we’ve plotted, we still go back and look for ways to break up the action or the slow flow in an unpredictable fashion. Our sweet old heroines are living their lives and sudden someone throws a rock through the window. That is guaranteed to shake things up.

 Look for those places where you need to throw a rock through the window of your plot. Look for ways that you can make your story less predictable. At the same time, look through your action sequences. Do you have too many in a row? You don’t want to simply string together a bunch of action scenes. You can afford to take a few breathers every now and then to let your characters react emotionally to what has happened.

 You might even look for places to put in that dreaded backstory you might want to include. What made your heroine afraid of heights? Why doesn’t he like to play his guitar anymore? Who are these people?

Look for ways to do some of the necessary work in your story by using some of the necessary elements that can help set your pace. There are lots of different elements in the writing process. Learn about them and then use them when and where you need them in your books.  Your readers will thank you.

 For instance, you don’t want to drag down your book with too much detail or backstory. There is a reason this part of books is often called the “sagging middle.” So what do you do to make the backstory interesting, make it part of the action and avoid that sagging middle? Are there ways you might show them in a good or bad light and still keep the plot moving? Scenes can be on the internal or external level and this provides a good chance to use some of those internal or emotional scenes. What you need to keep in mind is that through this all you still want to keep up the tension and the pace. Try using what is called a “hook.”

 Hooks are those tiny little surprises that the author constantly throws at the reader to keep them going.


They are especially useful in the middle of the book, but they can come in at any time. In my mystery, Blues at 11, I threw in a car chase, through the hills of Malibu?  Actually it came to me long before I ever wrote the book -- one day as I was driving my car through those winding turns, it occurred to me, what if someone was chasing me?  Years later, I put those thoughts to good use! 

As for writing your own books, look for ways and places you can come up with your own hooks. 

- At the beginning of the book --sometimes even in the first line to draw in the reader

- At end of a scene so the reader will keep reading  

- At the beginning of the scene to get the reader "hooked" into reading all of the following pages

- As the story begins moving. Often the “inciting incident” is considered a hook.

- At the end of the chapter -- this is where they are used most often in order to keep the reader from putting the book down.                

Hooks can come in lots of forms. Perhaps your heroine suddenly discovers a family secret such as the fact she was adopted. Maybe your hero learns the wife he thought was dead is still alive. Put those discoveries at the end of a scene or a chapter and your reader isn’t going anywhere. They are going to want to read on to the next scene or chapter. Some authors suggest using hooks at the beginning of a chapter to get the reader into it, and again at the ending of the chapter to keep the reader going. A hook can be as simple as a question or a provocative statement. You’ve seen it before in books you’ve read. Look them over and see why they work. Then, figure out how you can use them in your own stories.

 Most plot twists will be considered hooks because they keep the reader wanting more but not all hooks are going to be plot twists. Hooks are surprises that hook the reader into reading more. Twists, on the other hand, only come several times in a story and they will turn the entire story around. In some cases, authors may use only two or three twists -- one at the beginning of the story and another a third of the way in and one two thirds of the way in.

 Look for ways to use hooks and twists in your stories. The possibilities are there. You just need to dig them out and utilize them. As you put your story events in order, look for those places where you can use hooks and twists. Play a “what if” game and see if that can help you make your story keep moving. Finally, list them all or any other ideas you might have for things that could happen in your plot. You can always weed them out later if you decide they won’t work. No story comes out of the computer on the first try.  Keep working!

 And if you’re looking for more help with your writing, please check books on writing on Amazon…

Seven Ways to Plot

Rebecca Grace

Blues at 11

Monday, December 14, 2020

New Looks and New Opportunities

 Don’t we love it when we get something new? Whether it’s a new outfit or a new purse or a new outlook on life, having something new and different is always a great experience. For me I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many places I’ve visited in my life and how exciting it was to see something for the first time. Whether it was the state of California or my new car coming out of the showroom all polished to drive home, I’ve celebrated a lot of new opportunities and experiences over the years. Several years ago my sister and I drove across country with our parents and we celebrated every time we drove into a new state and saw the sign that said “Now Entering.” Yes, that’s how much I enjoy seeing new things!

Imagine my surprise and delight every time I see a new book cover for my next book. This month I get to not only celebrate that, but I also get to celebrate new covers that are being done for some of my old books and that has me even more delighted.

 Let’s start with that new book first.  My next published book will be a book from Savvy Authors on one of my favorite subjects – something all authors have to do at one point in their lives – pitch their books.  

Whether you are trying to sell to a publisher or if you are publishing your own and selling directly to readers, you need to pitch your book.   Here’s a look at that cover that should be available soon.

What I loved about working on this book has been  ideas for helping authors to sell their own books--to agents, editors and eventually to readers. 

For several years I have taught classes with Savvy Authors on various topics about writing, but one of the most rewarding has been the pitch classes I've taught. Selling  yourself  as an author can be one of the most difficult challenges we face, so it's great to be able to help new\ writers get started with that process. We all want to write, but we also want to sell and the whole process starts with the pitch. Again, this book will be available soon. 

We’ll have more on that subject in a future blog, but for now I am focused on the “new” – the new covers for my other books. 

My first publisher Wings ePress is updating their covers and the minute I started seeing the new look, I absolutely loved the looks.  My first novel, a romance, Love on Deck was absolutely one of my favorite books to write and in many ways, a vision of the future.

“Women don’t belong on the baseball field. ” 

That’s the way handsome, playboy manager Sam Lucero thinks, but just try telling that to Amber Morales—she wants to be a baseball radio announcer. But she wants no part of a macho ex-jock who is trying to tell her what she can and can’t do. But while they may be striking out on the field, their hearts are hitting a grand slam in the bedroom

This book was a great enjoyment to write because when I set out to be a writer my first desire was to be a sportswriter. Unfortuantely, back in those days, the idea of a woman on a baseball field holding a microphone and trying  to get an interview was a real battle. My first trip to a the press box for a football game was met with frowns and men shaking their heads.  My baseball and basketball experience were very similar. Getting on the field at major league spring training was enjoyable but part because not only was I there to conduct the interviews, but I also had a female behind the TV camera. But those experiences helped me to write fiction in later years. I learned there might be obstacles, but to fight on. I wasn't looking for romance, but I found a great subject for a book!

My second book came out of another real life experience--my time spent in Las Vegas, and here's that great new cover.

Abandoned, unwanted, unloved. Maggie Hemple feels like the proverbial loser at love until a jackpot win and a new computer turn her life around. Now she has men pursuing her on the internet and she’s discovering she may become a winner at love after all. 

Or is she looking for love in all the wrong places? 

Jack Conroy, her handsome neighbor, thought he was happy being Maggie’s friend. But now Maggie is changing before his eyes and he realizes unless he drops his brotherly fa├žade, he might lose her forever. But how can he compete with a dream she has carried for 14 years?

My joy in writing this book was again using a backdrop I had become familiar with and the suddenly new world of computer dating. 

Opportunities for writers are all around us if we look and we can always find something new and exciting to write about. As we head into the darkest days of winter, this might be a good time to sit down and try your hand at finally starting that next great American novel! 

Here are the buy links for these books and please email me at RebeccaGrace55@gmail.com if you have any writing questions or if  you would like to know more about my Savvy Authors Classes.

Here are the buy links for my books:

Love on Deck

Desert Blossom

Visit me at:

Rebecca Grace.com

Writethatnovel.net

Writethatnovel.com

Please keep on with your own writing.  If you have any writing questions at any time please email me Rebeccagrace55@gmail.com 

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Magical Holiday Treat

These are the short, cold days when all we want to do is curl up in our favorite chair or on the sofa with a good romance to read. It's even better if it's a story geared to this special time of the year. This week in My Writing Corner, I am presenting a great possibility that can take you away to New England for what sounds like a wonderful story and two engaging characters. 

My author guest today is  Ryan Jo Summers, and her latest book sounds perfect for winter holiday reading. It's a romance titled Magic in the Snow

The ink is barely dry from her divorce when Dawson Patrick and her three-year-old Autistic son,

Adam, arrive in Cedar Falls, Maine. She’s here to help her aging father and doesn’t plan to stay long. Soon she and Adam will be on their way somewhere … to a new life. When she finds her dad sitting in a cold house with little food, that’s falling around him, she realizes she might have a bigger problem on her hands. To make matters worse, she has no idea where to start on her long list of home improvement. She needs books on lots of DIY projects, and the man to help her is the local Christmas scrooge.

Samuel Johnson owns Chapter Twenty-five Bookstore. He doesn’t enjoy the holiday season and he doesn’t ‘do’ gifts. He just happens to live in a town that wholeheartedly embraces it, so he’s learned to adapt and lay low to escape the memories of many an unhappy Christmas past. He can’t believe the blonde beauty who marches into his store like a candy-coated snowstorm, along with her pint-sized elfin toddler, and orders up a stack of DIY home repair books for her estranged dad’s house. Before Samuel knows it, he’s letting Dawson and Adam drag him to the town’s tree lighting ceremony, convincing him to foster kittens and to give gifts.

Has Dawson just returned home to forget her past, only to slide into another relationship? Has the town scrooge finally seen the Christmas lights?

Want more? Let's get an excerpt!

      Immediately the smell of old and new books enveloped her, as did the warm air. She glanced around for the holiday decorations. The only thing she saw was a spindly tree standing in the corner, with four gold balls hanging from its sparse branches. She blinked twice. Was it a joke? That tree made Charlie Brown’s tree look the National Christmas tree in D.C. Confused, she looked around for the staff.

       “Can I help you?”

The baritone voice directed her attention to the old wooden counter stacked high with books. Behind the counter stood a man, one that many women probably wanted to find under their own Christmas tree. He towered over her by several inches, and his broad shoulders gave the impression of firm muscles beneath the checkered flannel. His smile was cautious but friendly. Gold, wire-framed glasses framed brown eyes crinkled at the corners. Dark brown hair curled near his ears and eyes. The early morning scruff on his chin only added to the rugged appeal. Yum.

“Um, yes, I wondered if you had some books.”

He looked around. “Yes, I have a few. Can you be more specific?”

Heat filled her face. Oh, for Pete’s sake! He hadn’t even grinned at her slip. “Home repair,” she blurted. “I have a home that needs repair.”

“All right.” He stepped around the counter and she took one long moment to appreciate his long legs and how well those worn jeans clung to them. Muscular. He led her to a row of books and gestured to a shelf. “Home repair.” His gaze flickered to Adam where he clung to her leg. “Is your little buddy going to help fix up the house too?”

She grinned at his reference to little buddy. “He might. This is Adam. I’m Dawson.”

He knelt and extended his hand to Adam. “Hi, Adam. I’m Samuel.”

Adam tightened his grip on Dawson. “Don’t take it personal, but he’s shy with new people. It normally takes him a while to warm up.”

Samuel stood up. “No worries. So—Dawson—here are the home repair books I have on hand.”

She was a little disappointed he didn’t offer to take her hand. She’d bet his grip was strong and warm. But he made an effort to connect with Adam and that was pure gold in her eyes. She brushed her hair aside and scanned the titles. “Building a patio, installing a fishpond, and putting in a shed.” She looked up at Samuel. Her heart skipped a little. He was good looking. She cleared her throat. “I hate to sound picky, but these aren’t quite what I had in mind.”

“What did you have in mind?”

She exhaled. “Plumbing, basic electricity and wiring, repairing drywall, carpentry and cabinets. That sort of repair.”

His mouth formed an O of surprise as she named her list. “That is some serious repair. And you’re going to do all that?” He arched one brown eyebrow, his tone almost a dare.

Dawson lifted her chin a little higher and squared her shoulders. “Yes, I intend to. Now, that’s why I need the books. Do you have them or not?”

He scrubbed his scruffy chin, like her dad did. “Not on hand, but I can probably order them. Come back to the counter and I’ll see what I can find.”

He led them back to the counter. “Come on around.” He patted the wooden top and stepped to a computer on a lower desk attached to the counter. He moved the mouse and the screen flickered to life.

She watched as he scrolled around and then pointed to the display.

“Okay, here are some repair titles. Look and see if they would work for you.”

She settled into the chair he offered and lifted Adam onto her lap. “Yes, these are more like it.” She pointed out specific titles that offered descriptions suited to her needs. As her finger trailed the monitor and he took down titles and information he needed, their hands brushed. Startled, Dawson looked into his brown eyes and her breath paused. He looked just as affected. He turned away first and cleared his throat. Well, he just made his point loud and clear. She waved to the screen.

“Can you get these?”

“I can order them.” He fluttered the list he’d created. “They should be here in about two days.”

Two days. She was at a stand still for two days? She chewed her lip as she considered the options. She hated to go to a repair store and have no idea where to start. The books would tell her what she needed and how to figure how many of each item. In the long run, they would save her time and money. She just had to wait two days.

“Okay, go ahead and please order them. I really need them as soon as they come in.”

“Yeah, it sounds like you have some important ventures planned. Electricity? Carpentry?” He flashed her a smile. It did wonderful things for his looks. “Is this a side job of yours?”

“No. It’s… complicated.”

He nodded. “I get it. If you leave me your number, I can call you once the shipment arrives.” He passed the paper with the list to her. “That way you won’t waste any time.”

She wrote her cell phone number down. “I appreciate that.” She handed the list back. “Tell me, what is the deal with your sad little Christmas tree?” She inclined her head toward the pitiful sapling.

He looked taken aback. “What do you mean?”

“It is the most pathetic holiday tree I’ve ever seen.”

“It does the job. It adds the Christmas cheer required by the town’s good citizens.”

Dawson thought about the lovely lights and festive decorations and stately, full trees she and Adam had seen. She looked back at Samuel’s dejected evergreen. It was almost comical. She took a couple steps closer, aware he was following. “Don’t you want somewhere to put presents?”

She watched his lips thin and wondered what was wrong with an innocent question.

“I don’t plan on giving anyone presents and I don’t expect anyone to give me gifts.”

Her breath hitched. “Samuel, that is quite possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Don’t you even want an ugly sweater?”

“No.” He held his palm out to her. “Let me stop you right there, all right? I know this town lives and breathes all things Christmas and embraces the holiday with an open-armed spirit that sometimes doesn’t know when to quit. I put up that tree and a handful of decorations to avoid a citizen mutiny, but I do not share the sentiments of the rest of the good people of this town. I guess you need to know that since you’re now a part of Cedar Falls.”

She worked his speech around her mind, looking for the logic and reason. Finally, she gave up. “Well, Samuel, everyone is entitled to their views. Please do let me know when the books are in.” She took Adam’s hand and guided him toward the front door. She paused as she held the door open for Adam and looked back over her shoulder at Samuel as he stood behind his counter. The barest twitch of a grin threatened to betray her. 

“Merry Christmas,” she called just before she shut the door.

If you want to  read more, you'll have to get the book!  I know I'm ready to sit back and enjoy the story of Samuel and Dawson

BUY Links:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/magic-in-the-snow https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/magic-in-the-snow

 Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Maic-Snow-Ryan-Jo-Summers-ebook/dp/B08L5JYR2N/

 Here is how you can get in touch with Ryan Jo and check out her other books.

Home (ryanjosummers.com)

Thank you, Ryan, for being my guest today!  Any questions or comments for Ryan Jo?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Writing Experience

 Romance has long been one of my favorite genres and when you throw in a good suspense element, I have to admit I am always hooked!  That was what immediately grabbed by attention when I discovered the work of author Mike Owens.  He is my guest today in My Writing Corner

Welcome, Mike, please tell us about your road to publication.

Ah, yes, the bumpy road to publication. Years ago I was swapping notes at a writers’ conference with another attendee. I mentioned that I had just finished my first novel. “Congratulations,” he said. “You’ve finished the easy part.” I had no idea what he meant because, as a novice writer, I knew nothing about the process of submissions, queries, rejections, etc. No problem, I thought since for certain the world was waiting eagerly for my masterpiece. Yeah, right. Needless to say, the learning curve from there on was almost vertical. One lesson I acquired from this process was the value of a good critique group. I was very fortunate in joining a great group that never held back on “friendly fire.” We stayed together for years, and without that group, and others that I’ve joined since, the road to publication would probably have been a dead end.

What  do you like best about being a writer?

The thing that keeps me coming back to my desk is the joy of finding out what happens next. I don’t outline my stories ahead of time (sometimes I wish I did) for the simple reason that, aside from the opening gambit, I don’t know where the story will go. In other words, what happens next? How will the characters develop? After a bit they take on a life of their own, make some of their decisions without any help from me.

What are some of the challenges of being a writer?

 I’d guess that most writers, if given a wish-list, would put time and a quiet space somewhere near the top of the list, but this is probably a luxury most don’t have. I can’t imagine how a single mom with small kids can squeeze in time for writing, but many do. The need for a quiet space is one of personal preference. I think the anecdote I’m searching for was one about Flaubert who was asked by a friend to let her sit in the room while he was writing, no noise, no questions, no moving about, just quietly sitting. After a short time he asked her to leave. Even the presence of another person, quiet as she was, disturbed him. That said, writers abound in Starbucks and other coffee shops, preferring to write in the presence of others. Take your choice.

How do you come up with your characters?

 I think most of my characters come from my life experience, people I’ve known or wish I had. That said, most of mine are composites of different characteristics drawn from different sources (people).

How do you come up with your plots?

Someone said that, by the time you’ve reached the age of six, you’ve accumulated enough experiences to write about forever. Unfortunately, my own early years were not quite that exciting, but still, plot ideas are all around. Just look for them. For me, plots start with a single idea, a “What if?” question. From there on, it’s a matter of sitting at the desk every day and typing out whatever the little gremlin from the basement sends up to me. I’ll avoid the debate between outlining and flying by the seat of one’s pants, being a diehard pantser myself…personal preference.

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


Bernie & Bertie (Serial Killers Need Love Too)
is a rather dark, slightly twisted romantic comedy and just received a 4-Star review from InD’tale mag., Nov 2020. Bernie, the central character appeared in a short work that I submitted for a class assignment some years ago. For several years his story, along with many others, stayed in a box in my closet until I decided to spend some time with him. I wanted to see if I could pull off a story that was full of cliches, and Bernie seemed the perfect place to start. In fact, the opening line from the story begins, “It was a dark and stormy night…” I knew early on that Bernie had a homicidal trigger that would be any of the cliches from the 60s, but I didn’t know he would be so successful at it. The story really comes to life (for me, at least) when Bernie meets his doppleganger, Bertie, his mirror image in all but gender. She wasn’t present in the original story and appeared without any particular planning on my part. I love it when characters do that.

Let's get a blurb:

They looked alike, dressed alike, shared the same food preferences, finished one another's sentences. What were the chances that in a world where opposites attract and likes repel, two people so similar in every way, including their successful careers as serial killers would meet, fall in love and form one of the deadliest duos ever? Bernie and Bertie did just that, and this is their story.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Conventional wisdom has the writer sitting at his/her desk each day at the same time, same place. That way, your muse knows exactly where and when to find you. Perhaps your muse doesn’t have much material for you on any given day, but you won’t find that out unless you’re there to receive it. On the other hand, maybe muse has brought you a treasure trove of new insights, new information, stuff to kick your story into a higher gear, and you really want to be there for it, fingers poised above the keyboard, etc..I will pass along what I consider to be the most valuable bit of advice I’ve ever received, and that is to work on your project every day. Whether it’s pages, paragraphs or just a few words, the important thing is to keep the project alive in your own mind, and that requires daily attention.

 What is your next project?

My current project is a story set in two time periods fifty years apart. The characters are interrelated. Part of it is set in a textile mill town in North Carolina. I grew up in NC but had no idea of the number of textile mills in the state, over 200 in the 1800s and 1900s. Part of it is about a family that works in the mill and the other about the family that owns the mill. There are twin brothers, both mill workers and both in love with the mill owner’s daughter. Obviously, an unworkable situation. All my other stories have been linear, so this format switching back and forth in time is proving to be a challenge. I can only hope that the end product will be less confusing for the reader than it has been for this writer.

Thank you for telling us about your writing process and introducing us to your work, Mike. If anyone would like to read more about Mike's books or order them, here are the links:

And here is his contact information if you would like to get in touch with him:


Thank you, Mike, for being my guest today.  Any questions or comments for Mike?

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

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