Monday, December 31, 2012

Mastering the Heart of the Book Blurb

First off, let's take a few minutes on this first day of 2013 to make a resolution to achieve a goal you're sure is impossible.

Impossible dreams make for long reaches and long reaches pull in more of the goodies we want. One of my impossible reaches is to master the art of  consistently writing good promotional copy for my books. I've been trying for a few decades and I'm convinced it's impossible, but I'm going to reach again.

Since 'hooks & blurbs' are Much Cheaper Than Therapy's blog topic for the  month, I decided, being that the blurb is not my strong suit, this was my wake-up call to go research the skill. I found some really interesting blog sites and some valuable tips.

The sites I chose to recommend each have their own strengths.

So, if you're just finishing up your first book and are now asking, "Blurb? Blurb? What is this blurb?' then the following links are where you should start.

http://voices.yahoo.com/tips-writing-blurb-fiction-novel-179323.html?cat=4
This Yahoo site gives a basic overview:

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/5-tips-on-how-to-write-a-blurb-for-your-book/
Savvy Writers gives some great tips on the fundamentals we should never forget.

http://jamigold.com/2012/04/tips-for-writing-back-cover-copy-guest-roz-morris/
Tips for Writing Back Cover Copy — Guest: Roz Morris writes guidelines for both genre and non-genre fiction.

Jami Gold's blog has links to lots of fascinating subjects that might tempt you to wander off to read some. Just remember to come back to Much Cheaper Than Therapy because there is still more to discuss here..

As you dig in you'll probably find that the above tips helps you achieve on again/off again quality in your blurb writing efforts,an achievement I've also reached, but don't find that it's good enough. The following articles add some tools to apply finishing touches.

http://www.writing4success.com/Writing-a-Short-Book-Blurb.html
This one is more comprehensive and provides links to other articles.

http://www.rtbookreviews.com/content/writing-stars-vote-best-back-cover-blurb
This is the Romantic Times online site ant the page is on a blurb writing contest. The contestants each posted their blurbs for feedback from Kristen Nelson, a well-known and established agent. Take the time to study what Kristen had to say and notice the huge disconnect between each writer's coach's comments and the comments from a professional in the industry.

http://www.angelabooth.biz/2012/12/ebooks-how-to-write-your-blurb.html
Last but not least is an article from Angela Booth, in which she presents an often cited formula for writing your blurb.

Each and every story is composed of the same five basic elements:  a (1) hero who finds himself stuck in a (2) situation from which he wants to free himself by achieving a (3) goal. However, there is a (4) villain who wants to stop him from this, and if he’s successful, will cause the hero to experience a (5) disaster.
a
I'd forgotten about this formula and am so happy I ran across it because now I can write a decent short blurb, another skill that's needed in today's changing and impatient marketplace. The above sites were talking more about longer query letter or back cover copy but eBook publishing is changing the way blurbs are written. Instead of flowing sentences and connected paragraphs, the small space given on eBook publishing sites and the very nature of the online reader begs us to summarize in just a few quick snappy sentences. Bullet points are often used. These would state the situation, the obstacle, and the consequences of failure. Often names aren't even used.

And with that I've reached the end of my knowledge on this subject but I am always studying and always blogging, so there may be more to come. In the meantime, I also got an education and hope this summary was of benefit to you.

I am curious, I must say, about the experience other writers have had with blurbs. Do you find them easy to write? Do you find them so impossible you have someone else write them? Are you on again/off again in quality? Do you love them? Hate them? Drop in a leave a comment about your experiences. I love to chat with readers.



A Christmas combination of two paranormal romances THE FIRE OPAL and SHADOW OF THE WOLF and one short romantic suspense OLD BONES all in one combined package.  Available through Amazon.com  

The books of Connie Flynn, a bestselling, award-winning author of ten novels and several short stories, are become popular with eBooks readers these days. She writes in several genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy and romantic action/adventure and contemporary fantasy. Look for several more new releases from her in 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Author Spotlight on K. Dawn Byrd

Double Identity
Seventeen-year old Bree has always wanted a sister. She's shocked when she learns that her father is alive and her identical twin sister, Cassie, is coming to live with her. She can't wait for Cassie to arrive. She just knows they'll be best friends. 

Bree soon discovers that even though they look alike, they're totally different. Cassie is wild and impulsive. She hates Bree's little town and everything in it, except Bree's boyfriend, Luke. When Cassie becomes obsessed with Luke, she'll go to any length to have him for herself. 

Luke has a secret, which Cassie learns and uses against him. She's off her medication and will stop at nothing. She says he's in love with her. He says he loves Bree. Will their secrets destroy them and their relationships?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

LET YOUR CHARACTERS WRITE YOUR LOVE SCENES/PART FOUR



Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It has been posted in several parts over the last few months. If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.

The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:

Enchanting the Lady:  In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.

Double Enchantment:  When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.

Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.

Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?

So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.

(Read my previous posts on this subject by searching for the title in the LABELS or CATEGORIES in the far right sidebar.)


FOUR: USING YOUR CHARACTERS’ PERSONALITIES

Or you might want to think of this as: why your characters are perfect for each other.  What personality traits complement each other? Your character’s flaws, strengths, goals and motivation all combine to create a unique personality. Let the character’s personality add depth to your love scene and lead you into even more romantic encounters.  The following example on using your character’s personality is from Enchanting the Beast:

“But then I realized,” she mumbled, her eyes watching his every move, “that it wasn’t your predatory nature itself that fascinated me so much, as it was…”
Nico couldn’t resist the temptation any longer.  His hands curved around and under her breasts and he gave them a gentle squeeze.  Her breasts were heavy and full in his hands, so very perfect.  He lowered his mouth and kissed the top where the cloth had exposed the skin.  His shaft had been hard for some time but now his trousers felt as if they nearly strangled him.
Nico dropped her breasts long enough to yank on the flimsy gown, exposing her hardened, dark nipples.  Before she could finish her gasp of surprise he had his hands under her breasts again, lifting them and burying his face in all of that soft, sweet flesh.
“Ah, Nico,” she groaned, her hands weaving through his hair.  She raked her fingers back from his temples and he yielded his feast to look into her eyes.  “Don’t you see?  It’s not your nature that fascinates me.  I…I cannot resist the lure of taming your beast.”
Nico grinned, more wolfishly than he’d intended.  “It’s not possible, lady.”

Nico is a were-wolf, who is struggling with the predatory nature of his beast.  Philomena is an older woman (a ghost-hunter by trade) who has the ability to tame him. Their personalities led to a full chapter love scene, the longest I’ve ever written.  But the moment Phil calms him, Nico’s beast-nature surfaces again. So they went back and forth between their two personalities during a romantic encounter, until Philomena finally won.:}

Consider both your hero and heroine.  What facets of their personalities make them perfect for each other?  What parts clash, and need to be resolved (or compromised on) before they can have their happily-ever-after?  Let that lead you to write their first love scene, where their conflicts are revealed.  Can you resolve some of them in that first scene?  Reveal how their strengths and weaknesses compliment each other and maybe hint how this will help resolve their conflicts.  Then consider their next love scene and the next, until they’ve finally resolved all of their issues and they have revealed enough of their personalities to each other that they can appreciate how perfect they are for each other.

Until Next Time,
Kathryne

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays! Drive Carefully


On the way home today, we had to take a slight detour due to an accident at the entrance to our street. My heart ached for the drivers involved and their families. Accidents are horrific experiences at any time of the year, but at Christmas it brings sadness to what should be a time of joy.

Lately, I've noticed drivers are in more of a rush. Please slow down and be aware of your surroundings. We want all of you to have a wonderful holiday season and an even better 2013.

Until next Sunday,
happy reading and writing!
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Man Like That




It is my pleasure to introduce Alison Henderson, another writer from the Wild Rose Press, and her book


A Man Like That 

Jessamine Randall, fearless crusader and champion of the downtrodden, is not a woman to be left waiting at the altar.  When her fiancĂ© disappears hours before their wedding, the ever-resourceful Jessy hatches a plan to track him down and bring him back where he belongs.

Morgan Bingham knows he’s no good.  Never has been.  Never will be.  A former outlaw is no fit husband for the only daughter of the town judge, despite her misguided notions.  Besides, after ten long years away from home, it’s time to return to the hills and face his demons.

Ill-prepared, but armed with unshakeable certainty, Jessy follows Morgan to his family’s cabin deep in the Ozark Mountains where she’s sucked into a whirlpool of deep secrets and old hatreds.  While she struggles to bring light and hope into their dark lives, her greatest challenge is Morgan himself.   Can she ever convince him he’s worthy of love?

You can read more about Alison and her books at alisonhenderson.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing the Hook


As a reader I LOVE the hook. Get me a book that has a hook in the first paragraph and I’m probably going to buy that book above the others. As a writer, sometimes I’m not so fond of the hook. It can take work and a lot of rewrites to get a good hook. A good hook will make a reader ask a number of questions: why, who, what, where and even how.

With Shrouded in Mystery, I wanted to add a bit of mystery:

He came to with a jolt. Wind rushed through the broken windshield and slashed vicious tentacles against his face, while shattered glass and snow lay scattered across the dashboard and his lap. Pain cut into his skull and the back of his neck. With a tentative hand, he touched his brow and came away with damp fingers.

The first paragraph of Shrouded in Mystery raises the questions why, where and when.  Why is he in an accident, where is he and what is on his fingers to make them damp? In the next sentence, I mention blood, but then I weave more raised questions throughout the first chapter and end it with I hope one of my better hooks.

Simply put, a hook grabs a reader and pulls them forward in the story. To get a reader to the next chapter, having a hook at the end of a chapter is a practice I try to follow. Having your heroine fall asleep at the end of a chapter is going to have your reader to do the same. Not good! You want your reader to keep on reading until the wee hours of the morning, preferably in one sitting. lol

On the first chapter of Shrouded in Mystery I added an end of chapter hook, which pulls the reader into the next chapter:

“Not the best place to break down.” The driver shifted his rear against the vinyl seat and steered the truck back onto the road. “Since we’re going to be up close and personal for a while—the name’s Stu. And you’re?”

“Clark. Clark Kent.”

In Shrouded in Illusion I wanted to instill a sense of danger.

“No one fuckin' move!  You!  Get away from the door."

Excuse the language, but I wanted to get in the readers face and feel exactly what the heroine, Skye, is feeling. Questions raised: Who is the person talking to? Why is the speaker so upset and why does the other person need to get away from the door?

Here are a couple sample endings I used for Shrouded in Illusion.to pull the reader into the next chapter.

Brandy bottle in hand, David closed the cabinet door and turned to find a dark silhouette of someone else in the kitchen with him.

A shout broke into the library air.

The boy slumped.  The squirming stopped.

The door leading into the hallway and her only escape route from inside, slammed shut.

A moment later she understood why Peter wanted her quiet.

The gun went off again.  This time the bullet didn’t hit air.  There was no mistake this time.  The bullet entered flesh.  His flesh.

Happy writing! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Go ahead and drop it!

A very good friend of mine, Calista Fox, told me once that the trick to writing a novella is to begin with the house dropping on the witch.  It was some of the best writing advice I ever received and it applies to novels as well as novellas.

It's our natural tendency to want to build, but the purpose of a hook is to grab.  Period.  No matter what the intrigue, no matter what the genre, readers want to be sucked in so deeply that they forget about their laundry. 

I can hear some of you out there saying, "But if The Wizard of Oz had started with the house, we never would have heard the haunting lyrics of Somewhere Over The Rainbow."  Not true.  The kind of compelling back story told in that song has a way of finding a better place when it gets trimmed from the hook.  I know.  I've cut those beautiful melodies from my beginning many times and found a way to weave them in later.

In How to Write a Damn Good Novel, author James N. Frey offers up the advice to start as close to the final inciting incident as possible.  (He also suggest that when in doubt, drop a body from the ceiling, too).  Frey's formula for a page turner is spot on.  So take a look at your favorite books--I'm not talking about the classics--but a recently released novel that is a stand-alone title or first in the series and see if the house is on the witch on page one.

Whether your hook is action-packed, emotional or sexual, just go ahead and drop it.


Erin Quinn is an award winning author who writes haunting romance for the thinking reader.  Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in the Booksellers Best, WILLA Award for Historical fiction, the Orange Rose, Readers Crown, Golden Quill, Best Books, and Award of Excellence.  Look for Erin’s latest release from Pocket Books, THE FIVE DEATHS OF ROXANNE LOVE, in Fall 2013.  Go to www.erinquinnbooks.com for more information. 



 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Once Upon a Weekend




I am proud to announce the release of Once Upon a Weekend. My short story is a fractured fairy tale inspired by Rapunzel. Although the story is a step away from the mystery/suspense I usually write, it does have an unexpected twist like my other projects. The twist in Liquid Hypnosis was quite unexpected. Readers said they should have seen it coming, but did not.

What to expect from Once Upon a Weekend:

Sometimes a curse is really a blessing...When Hannah Lawrence agrees to manage a hair salon in a castle, she doesn't expect fairy tales. Then she finds herself alone in the salon with the owner's hunky brother, and magic sizzles between them. But can she forget her past long enough to embrace it? Contractor Tate Browning doesn't believe in magic. But when he makes the wrong comment to the wrong witch, his hair starts growing fast and won't stop. He's determined to finish the work he promised his sister--but how can he concentrate with the salon's beautiful new manager around? When Hannah discovers that Tate must prove himself worthy three times to remove the curse, he refuses to believe it--but magic cannot be denied. Will Tate and Hannah need a fairy godmother to find their happily ever after?

You can download Once Upon a Weekend in digital format at 
Amazon Books for $1.99 and TheWildRosePress.com

Friday, December 14, 2012

SPOTLIGHTING: Shelley Coriell

An Author Spotlight
by Connie Flynn

Shelley Coriel

About Me

Welcome, readers! Coriell here. I write young adult books and bake desserts. My debut novel, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, is available now from Amulet  Books/Abrams. CHLOE is the story of a big-hearted girl who is ostracized by her best friends and forced to join her high school’s struggling radio station where she starts her own radio call-in show. On and off the air Chloe learns lessons about love, listening, and loneliness. Here you’ll find info about Chloemoi, and contests. Hugs!

I write stories about teens on the edge of love, life-changing moments, and a little bit of crazy. My debut novel, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, released May 2012 from Amulet Books/Abrams, and my next YA, Goodbye, Rebel Blue, will be published Fall 2013. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, I live in Arizona with my family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. When I’m not writing, I bake high-calorie, high-fat desserts and listen to voices in my head.

And also take some time out to answer readers' questions. Here is a small sample:

Q. How do you pronounce your last name?
A. The “i” is silent. It’s Cor-el, like the dishware that doesn’t break.

Q. Don’t you also write romance?
A. I write dark, edgy suspense with a little kissy-kissy under a pen name. These romantic suspense stories will be published in Spring/Summer 2014 and feature an elite but maverick group of FBI agents I call The Apostles. Nope, ain’t nothing holy about them!

Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A. Write. Edit. Repeat. I wrote more than a million words and eight complete manuscripts before I got a New York publishing contract.

Q. Do you have any more advice for aspiring authors?
A. Study the craft of writing. Study the business of publishing. Even after you’re published, study. You should always be learning and growing. If you’re not, you’re dying. Which sucks.

Contact Shelly:
For Speaking and Workshop Presentations: Shelley Coriell  http://www.shelleycoriell.com/

Rights Information: Agent Jill Corcoran, The Herman Agency
ARCS/Publicity: Jason Wells, Amulet Books/Abrams

About Chloe Camden

Chloe Camden has a big heart and an even bigger collection of vintage shoes. Life is good…until her best friend turns the entire school against her and her counselor axes her junior independent study project. Forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass her Junior year, Chloe joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t always appreciate her unique style. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe tackles love, loneliness, and painful life lessons as she gives her big heart to the radio station and the misfits who call it home.  

Praise for Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe
“Debut novelist Coriel shows sparkling wit and great skill in creating complex characters with memorable personalities.” – Publishers Weekly

This debut novel is more than it seems. Tough issues are addressed here, and the information is ladled out deftly.” – VOYA

“An upbeat romance…with a winning personality.” – Kirkus  

Details:
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe
Publisher: Amulet Books/Abrams
Age Group: 12 and Up
Pages: 299
Want To Order,  Click Here

And here's a holiday gift for Much Cheaper Than Therapy readers, a free copy of Eat, Read, Love: Romance and Recipes from the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. This unique literary cookbook pairs recipes with excerpts from the romance novels that inspired them. From YA to suspense to historical to contemporary... Join the members of the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood for some "romancing the stove," and delight in romance and recipes from Shelley Coriell, Darynda Jones, Jeannie Lin, Hope Ramsay, Laurie Kellogg, Kim Law, Amanda Brice, Liz Talley, and more! http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Read-Love-Ruby-Slippered-ebook/dp/B009POJRK6

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hook Me With Your Best Shot


Hooks in writing are simply a means to grab the reader's attention and pull them into your story. Sounds simple, right?  It is and it isn't.

Just like in fishing, prose hooks come in different styles.

There are beginning hooks. You find these at the beginning of a book. They can be a paragraph, a statement, a comparison or a question. In a single line or four, these hooks set the tone for the entire book. That's right entire book.  A book with a funny hook must be a comedy. If your first line is there was a body in my bed, you better be writing a mystery or erotica.

Classic hook: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. A Tale of Two Cities

There are end of chapter hooks, aka Cliffhangers. These keep the reader turning the pages and usually end with the stakes for the hero or heroine being raised. These too must set the tone of the book. If you're going for adventure, you might end with a choice or a dilemma a la the Lady and the Tiger. No matter which the character chooses, the outcome is always bad, but just how bad it is will keep the reader engaged long after they should have shut the book.

Hook from Redaction: the Meltdown: Please, God. Don't force him to ink another rose onto his arm. He was already fully sleeved.

And lastly, there are hooks for the book. These have to be short and sweet, specific yet generic and they also have to reflect the tone of the book. For the greatest impact, chose words that elicit a visceral response. Here's a list http://socialmediastrategy.org.uk/blog/strategic-marketing/the-top-emotional-response-words-marketing-firms-have-an-inside-secret/  These are used in selling a manuscript via synopsis and also on the back cover of a book. 

Book Hook from The Stand: ...apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggled between good and evil...

Elegantly simple and unbelievably hard to write. And to make matters worse, no one hook is going to work for everyone but if you research your market, you're a step ahead of the game.

Good luck!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Writing Hooks




This month we are discussing hooks. I chose the picture above as an example of how a hook might get your reader asking questions. Is this picture really Elvis or a Vegas impersonator? Is Tina going to discuss Elvis or other famous singers? Perhaps it is the jacket she wants us to look at, is that it? Or maybe she is going to discuss how people changed history. Is she going to bring up The Beatles?

The beginning of your story needs to plant a story question your reader wants answered. The first line of Liquid Hypnosis is Trevor Carlton hated threats-when they were directed at him. Hopefully, the reader will want to know what the threat is and who it is directed at and will continue reading long enough to get pulled into the story.

That is the goal of the hook: to get your reader to continue reading long enough to get pulled into the story.

More on hooks next Sunday.
Until then, happy reading and writing!
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, December 7, 2012

Author Spotlight - Victoria Danann!!!



 A secret society, modern day knights, and vampires come together for a once in a lifetime adventure and a once in a lifetime opportunity proving that true love can find you in the strangest places, even far, far from home.

Minutes ahead of inevitable assassination, Elora Laiken is forcibly transported to an alternate dimension similar, but not identical, to her own.

Of course a girl could suffer worse problems than having gorgeous suitors. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of an epidemic of vampire related abductions, can she stay alive long enough to choose between an honor debt, true love, or the breathlessness of single-minded passion?

My Familiar Stranger is a full length, stand alone, Paranormal Romance novel that also sets up the foundation for the Black Swan series. It is loved by fans of paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and urban fantasy.


What critics say:  "Smart. Sexy. Magical."

About Victoria Danann:  Though works of fiction are a departure for her, she's had this series simmering on the back burner of her mind for years, but time is at a premium. In addition to authoring and illustrating Seasons of the Witch and writing course work for Seasons in Avalon, she plays Classic Rock music and manages Houston’s premier variety and R&B band.

She's been married to the same person for way more than half her life.  She believes in true love and romance, too.

You can learn more about Victoria at:  http://victoriadanann.me/

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Available Soon --- Spoonful of Sugar by Tia Dani


 
BLURB:
 
During a drug bust, friendly fire almost ended Brad Davidson's career on the St Louis police force, but his wife's social avarice, was the final blow. Divorced and disillusioned, Brad returned to his home town of Coker City to become its County Sheriff, content to keep the town, and his heart, safe. Until, he meets the new pharmacist. Brad decides he's wasted plenty of time running from his own broken heart.
 
Dana Barrett looks for a fresh start in a small town. Coker City, Illinois is about as far away as a young widow with four small children can afford to get from Chicago and its painful memories. Malicious gossip ruined her life once and she swears she will never let it happen again. While Dana struggles to keep a professional relationship with the handsome, attentive sheriff, Brad is ready to take a chance on love again. Dana's fear of gossip raises an unswayable wall between them.
 
The entire town is convinced Brad is the answer for Dana's family and the town's future. Through their eyes, Dana decides not all gossip is meant to be destructive. When she learns Brad is considering another job out of state, she risks the outrageous so she and her children can keep from losing the sweetest love of her life.
 
Cover by Bella Media management  http://www.bellamediamanagement.com/
 
Available soon on Amazon.com
 
 
We had a lot of fun writing Dana and Brad's story and we hope you have as much fun reading about them.
 
Available soon in ebook and print  --  Spoonful of Sugar.
 
Tia Dani
 

Ink Jockeys Sponsor a Book Derby



The champions are out of the gate! Ink Jockeys announce their first ever . . .

BOOK DERBY

All books FREE or 99 Cents
TWO DAYS ONLY:  December 5 and December 6


All books written by bestselling, award-winning, traditionally published authors who have broken out of the starting gate to publish independently.  Join us at the ticket window.

WIN A $25 AMAZON

 GIFT CARD*

SCROLL ON DOWN. FILL YOUR KINDLE

Don't forget to send a few as gifts! You can specify delivery date on Amazon, so your gift is received at Christmas! Don't have a Kindle? Check out Amazon's FREE reading apps

Find it all at the Ink Jockeys blog where you can learn more about our members and our purpose for coming together. We can also be found on Facebook and be tweeted at @inkjockeys.


THE FIRE OPAL

The books of Connie Flynn, a bestselling, award-winning author of ten novels and several short stories, are getting some positive attention from eBooks readers these days. She writes in several genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy and romantic action/adventure, contemporary fantasy, and mystery/suspense.



*Giveaway Rules: We love to hear from our readers so please leave a comment. If you include the email address where you can be notified, you will be entered into the gift card drawing. The winner will be selected through Random Org. By entering, you understand that you may be added to Ink Jockey member's mailing lists.  Your address will not be given to others and if you later decide you don't want to continue,  feel free to unsubscribe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Constructing Killer Characters

by Connie Flynn

1. Start with the villain
Why start with the villain? Possibly because they can be more interesting, which is often true.  There’s nothing quite so compelling as someone who will stop at nothing. Even if that nothing turns your stomach, you’re still fascinated because you want to know if this vile person will actually do it.  He might, and that’s what has you on the edge of your seat. Somebody has to stop him.

2. Constructing the villain

Shouldn't you start with villainous traits? Isn’t that how villain’s are made?  A nefarious purpose, unmitigated selfishness, ruthless determination. Kicks cats and dogs, cruel to children and beats his mother. I could even give him a waxed mustache to twirl, because I’m sure you all see how stereotypical this is. Good villains have traits every bit as complex as your protagonist and should sometimes exhibit caring and  tenderness and generosity. Hitler loved his mother and Eva Braun and managed to compartmentalize his life and this is the key to a strong villain -- he has different rules for different people.

There are also differences between antagonists and villains. Antagonists oppose the protagonist, often for very valid reasons – these two battle on opposite sides of the fence, rather than battling good and evil.  All villains are antagonists but not all antagonists are villains. Villain’s intend to harm or eliminate the hero any way he can. But that doesn’t mean you can give him a waxed mustache.

3. Constructing the hero/ine
This is where the hero finally comes in.  Build an exciting and scheming villain. Then bring the hero in to thwart him, stand in his way wherever he can, defeat his every evil scheme. Turn the tables so the hero is every bit as proactive as the everyday villain, if not more so. He does this for the purist of reasons of course (except for a touch of egotism and self-interest) and makes the villain reveal his true colors.

4.Constructing the conflict
Use conflict to build a powerful story.  With each side of the battle determined to be a step ahead of the other, you can't help but create conflict that crackles.  Each time a character impacts the other, the second character regroups with a counter-move. Back and forth, back and forth. What she wants is exactly opposite of what he wants.  As you plot you will have one character make a move, then have the other move against it in an engrossing game of chess or an exhilarating tennis match. Because that's exactly how it works.

This is a true writing secret that spans both character and plot development that’s right under every writer’s nose: What makes characters come to life and keeps readers glued to the page is the continual push/pull between what the villain wants, what the hero/ine wants.  One wins, the other loses, that one wins, the first one loses, each with escalating consequences until one finally goes over the edge.  

Do you have a favorite villain. If so, I invite you to tell us who and why? Mine is Hannibal Lector (the deadly cannible) because he was so deadly . . . and also urbane. So fess up. How's your man . . . or woman . . . or supernatural character for that matter. Think Count Dracula or Ann Rice's Lestat.



99Cents at Amazon
The books of Connie Flynn, a bestselling, award-winning author of ten novels and several short stories, are getting quite a bit of positive attention from eBooks readers these days. She writes in several genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy and action/adventure, contemporary fantasy, and mystery/suspense, this last under the name of K.C. Flynn. Look for several more new releases from Connie/K.C. in 2013.

FREE eBOOK ALERT:
I'll also belong to Ink Jockeys, a group of multi-published, bestselling and award-winning authors who are now breaking out in independent eBook publishing.  Stop by the Ink Jockeys blog on December 5 and 6 for a FREE and 99Cents Blowout Book Derby.  Plus . . . a $25 Kindle gift card giveaway drawing open to any visitor who leaves a comment with an email address. You will be added to our mailing lists but you can unsubscribe at a later date.

I hope to see you at the BookDerby! ! !

CONTACT CONNIE:
Website: http://connieflynn.com
Blogs:
http://imaginationgonewild322.blogspot.com/
http://inkjockeys.blogspot.com/
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https://www.facebook.com/ConnieFlynnAuthor
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Email: connieflynn@yahoo.com
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Organizing Chargers



I am constantly looking for ideas to make my life easier. I don't have time to mess with stuff. Today, I came up with a better way of organizing my chargers.

I already label each charger so I know which device it belongs to. Once upon a time, I found a collection of chargers in my daughter's room and had no idea what do with them. I believe I eventually tossed them since she had long grown up and move out.

I had already been placing the chargers in the basket, but today I remembered I had a box organizer, which are plastic pieces that divide boxes. I bent them a little to fit into the basket and now each charger has its own place in the basket, so they no longer get tangled together. To hide the chargers, I place a fake plant on top of the basket. Now it looks like part of the decor.

Until next week, 
happy writing or
happy organizing!

Tina Swayzee McCright

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LET YOUR CHARACTERS WRITE YOUR LOVE SCENES/PART THREE



Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It has been posted in several parts over the last few months. If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.

The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:

Enchanting the Lady:  In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.

Double Enchantment:  When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.

Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.

Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?

So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.

(Read my previous posts on this subject by searching for the title in the LABELS or CATEGORIES in the far right sidebar.)

THREE: USING YOUR CHARACTERS’ GOALS

The following excerpt is taken from the same scene I used from Enchanting the Lady for using a character’s flaws.  In this part, Felicity has been covering her nervousness with speech, and Terence takes advantage of it to pursue his own goal—to find the magical relic by discovering Felicity’s involvement with it:

   “So, you like to talk?”  His voice had gentled to a purr.  “All right, we’ll talk.  Had any bad dreams lately?”  He started at the buttons on his shirt, slowly releasing them one at a time.
   Felicity’s head spun.  Tonight of all nights he had to ask her about her dreams?  “No, not since the one I had at Fairview Manor.  Why?”
   “It got you that time, didn’t it?  What was it, a fog of black, a slimy monster, a mist of knives?”  He stripped off his shirt and let it fall to the floor.  His skin gleamed gold in the candlelight, the hairs of his chest made a pattern that sharpened to a point near the top of his trousers.

So Terence is intent on making love to Felicity but at the same time he’s still pursuing his goal: finding the relic. Consider how your character’s goals can lead you through their love scene or create one for you.  This next excerpt is from Double Enchantment. At this point in the story, Sterling’s goal is obvious:

   Frenzy gripped him and he rocked her up and down against his groin, pulled away and then plunged in again, seeking that threshold of pleasure that only Lady Jasmina could give him. And when it came he groaned with the force of it, half-aware that her own release shook her body in union with his.
   “Let go,” he finally rasped. Jasmina tore her cramped fingers from the headboard and he gathered her into his arms, her legs still wrapped around him, his shaft still inside her as she sat on his lap. He kissed the hair away from her face and stroked her back. He couldn’t afford to show her any mercy. He would have her promises before she came back to earth. “You are mine now.”
   “I know.”
   “I will tell your father that we are to be married.”

So think about what your character wants.  It will probably change throughout your book (although their primary goal might not) and each new goal can lead you to a new, unique love scene. Consider what your character wants.  Can the H/H provide it for them?  Can you use the love scene to reflect their individual goals?

Until Next Time,
Kathryne 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why Read Romance Novels




Yesterday we attended a wedding reception for our friends Angie and Dan. The above picture is of her bouquet and the unity sand bottle filled by wedded couple, family and friends. It warmed my heart to see how happy they both looked. I don't think I have ever seen her so beautiful.

With so much love in the room, I was reminded of why so many people read and write romance. We can't attend weddings every day to get that adrenaline shot of love that makes you feel good all over, but we can read novels daily.

A romance novel will challenge the hero and heroine with life's ups and downs, but in the end they are guaranteed a happy ending. When I put down the novel after reading the last page, I always feel good.

The last I heard, over 50% of all paperback novels were romances. I understand why.

Until next week,
happy writing and reading!

Tina Swayzee McCright


Friday, November 23, 2012

Author Spotlight on Cara Marsi

 
Blurb: Lexie Cortese is in Rome to forget. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of murders, muggings, and kidnappings, Lexie doesn't know what to think--or who to believe.

Dominic Brioni's assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more--something he allowed himself to hope for only once before.

But that woman betrayed him, and his boss isn't about to let him forget it. With his career on the line and Lexie in danger, will Dominic learn to trust his heart before they both get killed?
 
http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mi-Amore/dp/B009UEVVP0/

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More on Villains





This month we are discussing villains. The trick-or-treater above seems harmless enough, even kind of cute, but what if this isn't your child following you home after a night of collecting candy? Who is it? What will he do? Let your imagination take over and write the story.

Villains are your antagonist. They are whoever or whatever keeps you from your happily ever after. The villain could be an abusive husband like the one in the movie Enough with Jennifer Lopez, or a monster as threatening as the evil vampires in Twilight. You could be your own villain if you have split personalities just as the character played by Sally Field did in Sybil or the character plagued by mental illness in A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe. The villain doesn't have to be human or even a monster; it could be a storm such as the tornadoes in the movie Twister. The villain could also be big industry dumping harmful chemicals similar to the one in the movie Erin Brockovich.

Sometimes villain are based on true stories and sometimes they are a figment of the imagination. In either case, they should be powerful. Our hero and heroine must fear them before they fight and conquer. When you are creating your next villain, look deep inside to what scares you, what really, really scares you.

Until next week,
happy writing!

Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, November 16, 2012

Introducing Nancy Jardine



Once again, I would like to introduce our blog readers to another author at The Wild Rose Press.


       Nairn Malcolm’s looking for the impossible. He needs a highly skilled, enterprising aide who’ll be at his beck and call 24/7. No ordinary Jane Doe will do. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who drops in at his Scottish castle for an interview to be so competent…or so stunning.
      Aela Cameron’s got exactly the right mix of talents to satisfy all Nairn Malcolm’s needs, and more. She loves the jobs he needs done, adores his castle, and finds his frenetic lifestyle energizing. But she’s only      looking for temporary: not to fall in love with the man.
      Can Nairn convince Aela she’s tailor-made for him in every way…and not a passing fancy?  

Take Me Now, is available at Amazon and at the publisher's website: http:www.thewildrosepress.com.  You can read more about Nancy on her various Internet sites:  

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com                                                            http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com                                                             http://facebook.com/nancy.jardine.56   






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing the Villian


Villains. We all love to hate them. Everyone has tricks and techniques to write villians. I’m hoping I can add a little something to how to go about making a villain three-dimensional.

Character Sheet 

I always pull out my characterization sheets and map out my villain’s traits. You have to make them three dimension with hopes and fears just like your other characters. You need to decide on what motivates him or her, what their greatest fear is, etc.

How dark is your villain? 

Decide how dark you want to make your villain. What shade of gray is he or her? Do you want to go all out and have a serial killer or someone tamer and who stays inside societies dictates?

Does the villain make the hero grow? 

When you’re mapping out your character and giving them certain traits, don’t forget to ask yourself, “What is it about the villain that makes the hero grow?”

What makes the villain who she or he is now? 

A villain wasn’t born that way. Peel back the layers of your villain and discover what changed him or her? Was there one factor growing up that made them who they are or were there numerous factors? Were they abused on a regular bases? Raped? Did they have cold, impersonal parents? Or maybe loving parents and then had a physical trauma as a teenager?

Do you love writing about your villain? 

If the answer is no, than go back and discover a trait or characteristic that you love about them. Once you do, it will come through in your writing, and add a new dimension to them.

Below is an excerpt of one of the villains in my story, Shrouded in Illusion, which will be coming out in the spring of next year. I loved writing about Peter.

Placing the file folder on the floor of the office, Peter Weaver crouched and opened the cabinet’s bottom drawer.  He gripped the penlight between his teeth.  It illuminated three rows of cassette recordings in their plastic cases.  Names inked in black ran across each spine.  He skimmed a gloved finger along the second row and pulled out three cassettes.

Unexpected light appeared through the frosted glass window to the right of the office door and cast fresh shadows over the desk and chairs.

For one pulse beat, Peter froze.  Quickly, he turned off his penlight and gripped the cassettes in a tight-fisted hand.  He rose to his full six-foot height and heard footsteps echo against the tiled hallway.  He hadn’t expected any interruptions after ten tonight.  This added a different spin on things.  He didn’t like complications.

The orders had been to get in, retrieve all available information on his mark, and get out undetected.  Only when everything was evaluated would the decision be made on whether or not to kill the woman.  But if a sudden obstacle developed, then Peter had been given the go-head to eliminate it.

He'd memorized the building from every angle.  The two-story, simple rectangular structure on the outskirts of Boston consisted of offices of varying medical and dental practices.  The elevators were on one side, and the stairwell rested at the other.  This office stood on the top floor and in the middle of the building.  The person walking this way sounded as if he or she were coming from the elevator.

The alarm system had been easy to breach, and the offices themselves were pathetic when it came to added security.  After entering the building, he’d reactivated the alarm system and locked the office door behind him.  That gave the person in the hall the misguided belief of being alone.

A shadow appeared behind the thick, opaque window.  Peter moved around the desk, over to the wall and set the cassettes on the floor by his feet.  He stood left of the door and flexed his gloved fingers.

The scrape of a key against metal and the whisper of the lock being eased back broke the silence.  The door opened inward and shielded him from view.  Someone flicked on the light switch.  Peter didn’t move as the door sighed shut, revealing a woman in beige slacks, a sleeveless brown shirt and shoulder length, straight brown hair.  She turned toward the desk, which gave him her profile, and confirmed her identity as the woman in the photo he’d been given.  

She hadn’t noticed him against the wall.  She turned again, this time exposing her back to him as she bent over her desk.

Perfect.

The carpet covered the sound of his step as he eased up behind her.  Then he struck, whipping his forearm across her throat and under her chin.  She jerked back against him.  Her hand caught at a stack of files.  Papers swept off the desk and into the air.  He drove his other forearm into the back of her neck in a chokehold, while crushing her windpipe and rupturing her larynx with his other arm.  He stepped back, throwing her off her feet and giving him added leverage.

She never had a chance to fight back or cry out.  Her hands fluttered midair, then dropped.  Peter snapped her neck.  He felt her body give, the energy within evaporate, leaving a husk of bone and muscle.

It took all of three seconds to complete the kill.

Peter dropped the woman to the carpeted floor in frustration.  Now he had to dispose of a body.  He'd killed a few people over the years, and they’d stayed buried, but only because he'd taken the time to do it right.  As for evidence of foul play, he’d eliminate all signs of a struggle and dispose of the body in his favorite dumping ground.  That’s why he liked using his hands.  They didn’t leave a mess like a gun or knife.  

He stepped over the woman's body, cleaned the room of evidence, and pocketed the cassettes.

H. D. Thomson

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Villains


This month we are going to talk about writing villains. You don't want them to be the typical bad guy who is simply evil. Your villain is the hero of his own story. He needs to have his own layers as a character, his own strengths and weaknesses, his own hates and loves. Why is he/she evil? Were they always bad or did someone push them over the edge? Does everyone see this character as evil? Your villain needs to have character development as strong as your hero to make the story more interesting.


Friday, November 9, 2012

SPOTLIGHTTING: Janette Rallison/C.J. Hill

Janette Rallison
An Author Spotlight
by Connie Flynn


Janette Rallison (who is also sometimes CJ Hill when the mood strikes her) writes books because writing is much more fun than cleaning bathrooms.  Her avoidance of housework has led her to writing 19 novels which have sold over 1,000,000 copies and have been on the IRA Young Adults’ Choices lists, Popular Picks, and many state reading lists. Her latest are Slayers, Erasing Time, and My Unfair Godmother. Most of her books are romantic comedies or urban fantasies (with romance) because hey, there is enough angst in real life, but there’s a drastic shortage of fantasy, humor and hot guys who want to kiss you.  She lives in Arizona with her husband, kids, and enough cats to classify her as eccentric. In her blog, she discusses the funny side of being a YA author http://janette-rallison.blogspot.com .

To keep Janette on her toes I asked my standard trick question: What question has no one ever asked you that you wish they would.  Here is Janette's well thought out answer.

After sixteen years of publishing, I think I’ve been asked just about every question there is about writing. At conferences people ask about agents, editors, and revisions. Bloggers ask about the writing process, how book ideas happened, and what’s next on the horizon. The really interesting questions come during school visits because kids will ask any and every question that pops into their mind. What is your favorite color? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  How much money do you make? 
The question I’ve never been asked is: Is it all worth it?  I suppose everyone thinks they already know the answer to this question. The aspiring writers are sure it is, the bloggers are glad it is, and many of the students--when they realize how much money I make--are sure it isn’t.  (The first boy who asked me how much money I made pondered my answer and then said, “So, writing is really more of a hobby than a career.”  It was back then, now it isn’t.) 
Perhaps the best answer to the Is-it-all-worth-it question is: “If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and stop.” That pretty much sums up life for the avid writer. We’ll write whether it’s a hobby or a career.
The question that surprised me and still haunts me sometimes, came from a young girl during one of my school visits. She couldn’t have had the wisdom or prescience to realize what she was asking when she said, “Have you ever written anything that you regret writing?”
At that moment I thought of every book I’d ever written and the millions of children who have read them. I thought of how books affected me as a child. Some made me want to be a better person, some expanded my mind, some comforted me, others influenced me to do things I shouldn’t have. Books are that powerful. You can’t step into a main character’s skin, live their story, think their thoughts, and not be affected somehow.  Authors are kidding themselves if they think they can step away from that privilege and responsibility.
Standing in that school auditorium, I thought of the story ideas, plot outlines, and random chapters I have on my computer in my Possible Manuscripts folder.  A lot of those story ideas are really good. Some of them might not have the best affect on readers though. I vacillate whether I should ever write those books. On one hand, I as an author want to go on those journeys, to give life to those characters, and experience their stories with them. And doesn’t an author need to be true to a story no matter where it goes or what paths it takes the characters on? Who am I to censor creation?
It’s not the fault of Batman’s writers that some psycho dressed up as the Joker and shot up a movie theater. It’s not Stephenie Meyer’s fault if some misguided folks try to be vampires, or Footloose’s writers fault that teens died recreating car stunt shown in the movie. People are born with common sense and should use it.
But once you publish a book, once it’s out in the world sale and resale, it never goes away. You can’t ever take back what you’ve written. You can’t add disclaimers. No matter what common sense dictates, readers don’t even seem to fully realize that everything a character says or does isn’t condoned by the author. I’ve had people order food for me because I wrote that my main character liked that food.
The books I have out now are fun, romantic comedies and adventures. I write about good characters making mostly good choices. The others stories are still safely tucked away. For now at least, they’ll stay that way.
That's when I looked the girl in the eyes and told her there were books I wish I’d written better, but I didn’t regret anything I’d written. 
I was touched by the poignancy of Janette's answer and it reminded me that writers do important work, something that we so often forget in our scramble to stay in the marketplace.

Erasing Time Janette's latest release. I am an urban fantasy fan and am fascinated.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that's so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can't go back home.

The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The same government has implanted tracking devices in the citizens, limiting and examining everything they do. Taylor and Sheridan have to find a way out of the city before the government discovers their secrets. To complicate matters, the moblike Dakine has interest in getting hold of them too. The only way for the girls to elude their pursuers is to put their trust in Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.
Available at  Amazon.

Reviews.
Dramatic twists and turns to the very end ensure readers’ attention and the possibility of an equally thrilling sequel. Kirkus Reviews

Hill leaves the ending wide open for a sequel, and the combination of action and romance—which has become a trademark of the ever-growing trend of dystopian series—will make readers eager for the next installment.
Booklist

You can learn even more about Janette at her website Janette Rallison.