Tuesday, February 18, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit--One reason readers might be bypassing your book

More blurb help...

I'm on several mailing lists for cheap/free ebooks (it's not an addiction, honest!) Anyway, I was going through one of them the other day and clicked on several "See More." But each time I read the full blurb, I returned to the newsletter instead of buying.

Why?

The blurbs promised action, adventure, magic...all the things I like in a read. But the main character, the highlight of the story?

Might as well have been a brick.

As a reader, I want to connect with the main character, not just in your book, but in your blurb.

How can I do that? Remember your character is a person. Pretend you're at a party, and you want to get your character together with a friend. You really want your friend to like this person.

How would you introduce the character to your friend? Would you say she's smart? Or would you say she's a college grad, or better yet a Stanford PhD? Would you say she's kind? Or would you say she volunteers at the local pet shelter where she's absolutely taken with one animal everyone else hates, the crotchety old wolf? (See the plot starting to weave in here?)

Point being, don't genericize. One way to make your character memorable--and clickable--is by giving her real, touchable/quantifiable assets.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

What's in a name...? A Blurb Fit for Royalty -- Guest Remi Bond--originally posted June 16, 2016.

Please welcome guest Remi Bond, whose release Surprise for Three: Leap Year, along with S.L. Carpenter's Chasing Dreams: Leap Year, leaped into reader hands February 29!


The first thing a reader sees of an author's book is the cover or title. I think Surprise for Three is a good, engaging title, and with SL Carpenter's artwork, you know the cover is going to be superlative.

But the next thing a reader sees is the "tag" and "blurb", the hook line plus the three or four paragraphs that set up a promise as to what kind of ride the story will give.

I wrote what I thought was a good blurb, but for this first menage, was it good enough?

So I handed it over to The Blurb Queen, a professional. Oh, my, am I glad I did! Here's the before and after, paragraph by paragraph, for your reading pleasure.

TAG
Before: (none)
After: Will she dare to take a leap this bold?

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
Before: Annaliese loves Ransom, but she's too shy for him, and knows it. So in farewell, she throws him a Leap Year birthday party—with a surprise. Sure, she doesn't get his heart a-pumping, but the beautiful exotic dancer popping out of the cake will.
After: … she's not daring enough for him Annaliese loves Ransom, but has given up on winning his heart. It hurts too much to watch him with other women, so she’s leaving town. In farewell, she throws him a Leap Year birthday party—with a surprise. She may not get his heart a-pumping, but the beautiful exotic dancer popping out of the cake will.

THE RICH PLAYBOY
Before: Ransom craves the adrenaline rush extreme sports and kinky sex give him. His heart belongs to Annaliese, but he’d make her miserable as her lover. He can only hope his hot blood cools before another man sweeps her away …and then the giant cake is wheeled in.
After: … he's too much of a risk-taker for her Ransom’s heart belongs to Annaliese, but he’s convinced he’d make her miserable, since he craves the adrenaline rush of extreme sports and kinky sex. He can only hope his passion for her matures before another man sweeps her away … and then the giant cake is wheeled in.

THE INJURED SEAL
Before: Jack's home from war for good and looking for a sweet woman to settle down with. When a relative maneuvers him into a pirate costume to swing his sword for some rich woman's birthday party, he spies sweet Annaliese and knows she's the one he wants. But she loves another…
After: THE WOUNDED WARRIOR … she's just what he's looking forJack is home from duty as a Navy SEAL and on the hunt for a sweet woman to settle down with. When a relative maneuvers him into a pirate costume to swing his sword for some rich chick's birthday party, he goes along as a favor. Then he spies sweet Annaliese watching his moves and knows she's the one.

(Wrapup)
Before: When the exotic dancer bursting from Ransom's birthday cake turns out to be a well-muscled pirate, it's a surprise for three.
After: A LEAP YEAR LOVE TRIANGLE … can they make it last? When Jack sees the way Annaliese looks at Ransom, he’s ready to back away … until Ransom invites him to a private after-party for three. Can Annaliese overcome her shyness to share passion with not one, but two hot men?

WARNING
Before: This story contains material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.
After: Warning: This story contains hot ménage and demonstrations of affection between two alpha heroes and one heroine.
Don’t miss your chance to get in on this sexy celebration—get your copy of Surprise for Three today!

Here are the finished products:
Chasing Dreams: Leap Year by S.L. Carpenter

Michelle has reached a crossroads in her life just as the year offers her an extra day – February 29th. Walking away from an empty relationship and striking out on a new path is reviving feelings—both scary and wonderful. A train trip home offers time to think about her future, and what the Leap Year might bring. It also offers her a good looking drunk, passed out in her sleeping compartment.

Josh is mortified that he crashed in the wrong compartment, but fascinated by the woman who let him sleep and even covered him with a blanket. Their meeting seems pre-destined, as does the passion sparking between them.

But they both have pasts, and sometimes the past can leave a long shadow across the future. Michelle and Josh will have to come to terms with where they’ve been before they can really set off on the ultimate adventure…chasing their dreams.

Amazon | Amazon UK
Surprise for Three: Leap Year by Remi Bond

Will she dare to take a leap this bold?

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR … she's not daring enough for him Annaliese loves Ransom but has given up on winning his heart. It hurts too much to watch him with other women, so she’s leaving town. In farewell, she throws him a Leap Year birthday party—with a surprise. She may not get his heart a-pumping, but the beautiful exotic dancer popping out of the cake will.

THE RICH PLAYBOY … he's too much of a risk-taker for her Ransom’s heart belongs to Annaliese, but he’s convinced he’d make her miserable, since he craves the adrenaline rush of extreme sports and kinky sex. He can only hope his passion for her matures before another man sweeps her away … and then the giant cake is wheeled in.

THE WOUNDED WARRIOR … she's just what he's looking for Jack is home from duty as a Navy SEAL and on the hunt for a sweet woman to settle down with. When a relative maneuvers him into a pirate costume to swing his sword for some rich chick's birthday party, he goes along as a favor. Then he spies sweet Annaliese watching his moves and knows she's the one.

A LEAP YEAR LOVE TRIANGLE … can they make it last? When Jack sees the way Annaliese looks at Ransom, he’s ready to back away … until Ransom invites him to a private after-party for three. Can Annaliese overcome her shyness to share passion with not one, but two hot men?

Warning: This story contains hot ménage and demonstrations of affection between two alpha heroes and one heroine.

Don’t miss your chance to get in on this sexy celebration—get your copy of Surprise for Three today!

Amazon | Amazon UK

What about you? Does a polished blurb make a difference?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

February 1T Status Update

Ah, February. Month of valentines, candy kisses, and alternating slush and freezes (at least in 'Sconsin). Am I the only one who buys those little candy hearts with the cute messages to drop in my husband's pocket or lunch? Even stale, they're both crunchy and fun.

  • I didn't quite finish the first draft of Night's Bliss, but I'm into the crisis, and of course the climax is mapped. More info as it comes.
  • Back-to-school means I've switched over to a smaller project (more doable in short spurts). New Orleans' Nobody is shaping up nicely.
  • Did you miss Helen's blog post? You can see it here. Informative and enjoyable for both authors and readers!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit -- Special Guest Helen C. Johannes


Helen C. Johannes is one of the smartest writers I know. She's also kind, witty, and a great teacher. Today we're lucky to have her present one of her gems of writing knowledge!

Read on for her guest post...

Layering a Scene 

by Helen C. Johannes


Plot, or what happens, is the basis for a scene. If nothing happens relative to the overall plot, the scene should be cut. But just recording what happens isn’t enough to make a scene memorable or create enough of a hook to keep the reader involved. To do that a writer needs to put flesh on the bare bones of the plot. That requires using these tools in the writer’s toolbox: the five senses, the character’s emotions, elements of conflict, and symbolism (if possible).

Consider the following bit of plot:

She paused at the foot of the stairs. The doors above were open. Swallowing, she went in.

Let’s flesh this out first by adding the five senses with time and place:
  • Who? Name the character.
  • Where exactly is she?
  • When? What’s the time of day? Day of the week? Year? Season?
  • What does she see? Texture, color, temperature? Objects?
  • What does she smell? Hear? Dialogue?
  • Are there others—people, animals—in this scene?

Now add the character’s emotions:
  • How does she feel about being in this place?

Bring in elements of the conflict, either main or contributing:
  • Why is she here?
  • What’s at stake?

Enhance symbolism, if possible:
  • Stairs can represent choices and decisions. A character can go up to something new, or down into something bad, or refuse to participate and remain aloof.
  • Are these stairs central to some particular conflict or memory?

Here’s an example:

     Jennifer Bryant halted at the foot of the courthouse stairs.
     Twenty-four granite steps, two flights of twelve with a six-foot wide landing in between, stretched toward the colonnaded portico above. As a child she’d raced up these steps and dashed from end to end amid three-story high pillars only to stand panting in the middle at the precise spot where the boulevard ran straight to the steps.
     “All roads lead to Rome,” her grade school teacher had told her. McKintock County wasn’t Rome, but to her fourth-grade self, that spot up there had been the center of the universe.
     All around her, a steady stream of people flowed upward, not a single one pausing at that special spot. Men clad in suits, ties flapping, women dressed in conservative brown, black and tan, all carrying briefcases in one hand and cups of varying descriptions in the other. The strong smell of fresh coffee wafted in their wakes.
     She breathed the aroma, and wished for the third time in as many minutes she’d stopped at Coffee Joe’s for a brew of her own. Having something to cling to just might galvanize her into taking that first step.
     When had the simple act of climbing these steps, passing under those Doric columns and entering her workplace of the last six years become so daunting?
Layering means to go through your scene as often as necessary to add pieces of “flesh” to it. From the bare bones you can construct something meaningful and evocative that also advances your plot, reveals character, creates conflict, and—even—suggests symbolism. And, most importantly, keeps your reader reading.

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

Links:
Amazon Goodreads BookBub Email Blog
      Blog


Latest release: Lord of Druemarwin
In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father's household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he's a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.



Click here to read an excerpt


Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Writing is Like a Box...--originally posted May 25, 2016.

As part of my Cin Wikkid: April Fools For Love tour, I did an interview where I was asked the question--what is your writing process? It made me realize writing is like a box.

Have you ever folded the flaps of a box together so they interlock? Sometimes I get it right first try, barely bending the corners. Sometimes I wrestle with it forever, breaking the corners and giving myself paper cuts. (If you're curious, I looked up a video of the process on YouTube. This person makes it look easy!)

That is my writing process, angling and sawing, making character, plot, and emotion all fit.

One flap is a spark of inspiration, something that ignites my imagination. Say, a young cop on her first patrol, interrupting a mugging, managing to subdue the mugger only to be attacked by vampires—only to have the vampires attacked by a bigger, badder vampire. But then she tries to arrest the bigger, badder vampire.

The second flap is character, with the hero or heroine's goal, motivation and conflict as the skeleton. I’ll usually create a symbol for the hero or heroine for a more concrete handle on their character.

Third flap is theme. It's usually something I’ve actively struggled with, to make it sing for the reader.

Fourth flap is plot. Hero, heroine, and romance all have the five big turning points of Catalyst, Big Event, Pinch, Crisis, and Climax. Mentally I play with possibilities for each of those fifteen events, trying to picture which will be most in character while creating the richest story. After I create preliminary scenes around those fifteen points, I’ll play with order to spark the most tension.

Then I start folding.

The characters firm up as I go. The plot points often change as I see better ways to make them resonate. Even after the draft is done, editing is another process almost as long as the writing. I tease the flaps into place, making sure they're tight and square--making sure the story doesn’t get laggy or confused, the beginning and ending grab me, and the middle is a nice rise of tension. Then I go back and pull up the peaks and push down the troughs, making sure action and emotion deliver as much punch as possible.

Authors, what's your process? Readers, do you like to see the process or is it so much sausage?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

January 1T Status Update

Happy 2020! Starting a new month and a new year. And big new news!

  • Night's Bliss, Elias's story, has been bought by Entangled Publishing. I can't wait to get this one into reader's hands!
  • The incredible Helen C. Johannes has graciously agreed to do a 3T Writing Tidbit! Look for it in just TWO WEEKS!
  • I'm halfway through the first draft of Night's Bliss.  I hope to finish the draft by the end of winter break.
  • Signed up for my last semester of classes. IoT, mobile app dev... This one's a fun one!