Sunday, June 29, 2014

Writing Advice From Janet Evanovich

Writers should continue to study their craft. You can join writing organizations and listen to speeches, or you can simply pick up a book and read the advice given by experts. I enjoy reading novels by Janet Evanovich (pictured above) so I picked up a copy of How I Write - Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof.

In the section on characterization, Janet gives three tips.

1. The main character must want something.
2. Someone or something (nature, money, distance) must stand in the way of his getting what he wants.
3. The choices that a character makes in his efforts to overcome obstacles and ultimately get what he wants define the character.

For more advice, you can pick up this title in ebook, paperback, or audiobook.

Until next week,
happy reading and writing.

Tina Swayzee McCright

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meet Were-Snake Sarah in ENCHANTING THE BEAST, By Kathryne Kennedy

A letter from Sarah Pluckett, companion to the infamous ghost-hunter Lady Philomena Radcliff, dated August 2, 1861:

Dearest Mama:

We have arrived at Grimspell castle without too many misadventures, which as you know is the usual case when my mistress travels.  Despite having to walk from the village of Trollersby and a stickman attaching itself to my lady’s skirts, we arrived to find the baronet, Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, frolicking with his hounds.  My protective instincts could not be denied, and I found myself shifting to my were-form to protect my mistress from the beasts, although in hindsight, it proved to be quite unnecessary. 

Sir Nico appears to be a gentleman, despite his predatory nature, and much to my surprise, dearest Mama, he does not abhor my were-shape.  Indeed, his entire staff consists of shape-shifters, which is quite unusual, and despite their instincts to fear my snake-form, I feel more accepted here than I have ever felt before.

I do not want you to worry, but I must confess that Grimspell castle is a queer, haunted place, and the members of Sir Nico’s family are perhaps a touch…eccentric.  But as you know, this is exactly why the baronet hired my mistress and I have the most absolute confidence that she will ferret out the mystery behind this family and their ghostly visitations.

Indeed, Mama, my only worry is that Sir Nico--despite the disparity of their ages--is intensely attracted to Lady Philomena.  I feel it my duty to discourage the handsome young man, and I fear that I will have to rely on all of my were-senses to stay one slither ahead of him in his pursuit of my mistress.

Despite the strangeness that surrounds me (or perhaps because of it?) I find myself most content here, and have even made friends with many of the staff.  So rest assured that I am safe and well, and will protect and serve my mistress as faithfully as I ever have.

Your Loving Daughter,

PS. I should mention that there is a footman named Cheevers, who, despite being a were-duck (do not laugh, Mama) is quite an extraordinarily charming young man. 

Read more about Sarah and her mistress in ENCHANTING THE BEAST, which earned a Top Pick rating from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, Night Owl Reviews, and Romance Reader at Heart!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Learning From Movies

Friday night, I watched Jersey Boys. What a great movie! Clint Eastwood picked another winner. I remembered the songs from my childhood and was surprised I knew the lyrics. Of course the story wouldn't have been made into a movie if the group didn't have hurdles to overcome and drama behind the scenes. I'm not sure if Jersey Boys will appeal to a younger crowd, but I hope so.

Although the songs are still playing in my mind, I did find lessons in the story that also apply to writers.
First, Frankie Valli kept working on improving his ability. No matter what you want to accomplish in life, you need to keep working toward your goal.

Second, he stayed true to his voice. No one sang like him. That can be good or bad, depending on what your audience wants. He could have tried to alter his singing style, but he had faith in his talent. Writers need to learn this lesson. Don't try to emulate Nora Roberts or Stephen King. Find your voice and let it work for you.

Finally, Frankie found a songwriter who could produce hits. Once you find your voice, write the story that will appeal to an audience. Analyze the stories and movies you like. What is it about them that appeals to you? I'm not saying to follow the trends. Do you enjoy a mystery element in a story? Or perhaps taking a fairy tale and twisting it? What about crazy relatives? Use what appeals to you to bring out the story that you want to share with the world. Odds are if you love your story, someone else will, too.

Until next week,
happy reading and writing.
Tina Swayzee McCright

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Author Platforms - Part 2

Author platforms.... In my last post I mentioned what they were, but how exactly do you build one? Below are a number of ways to start building your author platform. This are some but not all. Feel
free to be inventive!
  • A website and/or blog with a large readership. 
    • Use Google analytics or a stat service to see what posts or topics generate the most hits.
    • Have a goal of increasing traffic in a six month period and see if you have favorable results by looking at your analytics.
  • An e-newsletter and/or mailing list with a large number of subscribers/recipients. 
    • Mailchimp, Constant Contact. 
    •  Put signup form above the fold. 
    • Use contests, book signings and blog hops to get signups.
  • A large social media presence - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram
    • Dive in and see what works for you. 
    • Focus on one or two. 
    • Don’t panic. Take your time. This is a marathon.
  • Article/column writing for the media with a large audience: 
    • Examples: RWR, Writer’s Digest, preferably ones that have a large audience base. 
  •  Public Speaking 
    • Local chapters 
    • National conferences 
    • The bigger the better
  • Membership in organizations in the area where you want to build your author platform. 
Bella Media Management

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Influenced You?

This weekend, I found the second season of Murder She Wrote in a bookstore. I have to admit, while growing up I watched a lot of television, which included the Jessica Fletcher character pictured above. I also enjoyed Diagnosis Murder, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Charlie's Angels, and Matlock. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few titles. Don't get me wrong, I did read, but for every one book I read, I watched twenty mystery shows with my mother. I still enjoy watching these reruns over and over again.

I discovered I had a strong desire to create stories in my early forties. As Jessica says, "You're never too old to start writing." I had always felt like there was something missing in my life and when I put pen to paper that feeling went away. These shows I watched greatly influenced my writing. I'm not satisfied with a story unless it has a mystery element. I also find I'm not comfortable with writing extreme violence or sex scenes. I blame that on watching too many reruns of the Brady Bunch. I'm joking. I feel the enjoyment I found watching family type mysteries, also touched me in a way that I find myself replicating their tone.

Sometimes when my mother visits, we watch Matlock together and I smile. I guess I can thank my father for my writing genes and my mother for the type of stories I write.

What influenced your writing?

Until next week,
happy reading and writing.
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, June 6, 2014

6/6 Author Spotlight: Erin Kellison!!!

Hi, Everyone!  Today, I'm spotlighting a good writing friend of mine, Erin Kellison!  Erin is the author of the dark fantasy romance Shadow, Shadow Touch, and Shadow Kissed series. Stories have always been a central part of Erin’s life. She attempted her first book in sixth grade, a dark fantasy adventure, and she still has those early hand-written chapters. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English Language and Literature and went on for a masters in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on oral storytelling. When she had children, nothing scared her anymore, so her focus shifted to writing fiction.

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Fun Facts About Erin:

  • Has had ongoing science fiction epic in her head since childhood
  • Is scared of the dark
  • Storyboards scenes already written, but not what is to come
  • Seventh of eight kids (lucky seven! must mean something)
  • Wanted to be the Empress in The Neverending Story so I could wear the pearl on my forehead
  • Decorates to the nines at Christmas
  • Is still waiting for super powers to kick in
  • Would be villain if ever written into a book
Her latest project is THE REVELER SERIES and the first book is now available: 

Agent Malcolm Rook is hunting for people with the rarest of talents—the ability to master dreams. He finds the undeniably gifted Jordan Lane, but she's wary of mysterious Rook and resists his pursuit as long as she can. Yet the dreamwaters they enter are too exhilarating to resist, and attraction soon ignites electric passions. Delving too deep stirs a nightmare, one they must defeat, or be forever lost to darkness. To learn more, visit Erin's website:

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I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Erin's life and her work.  
Have a wonderful day and an even better night!