Tuesday, November 17, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

Again taking a sidestep from strict craft into promotion.

Many authors are introverts. They'd have to be, to get energy from such an intensely alone profession. Because we're introverts, we think about things, deeply. And some of us...overthink things.

My stories are my own reaction to vanilla romance and vanilla paranormal romance. I like just a little ghost pepper in my romance, you see. And some people have my same taste.

Some, obviously, don't care for spice in their vanilla romance, and that's okay. Until I started thinking about that, worrying about how the stories would be disappointing for those readers. I started worrying about that when I did my ads and promotions and so pulled back on what made them special. I forgot how much of a kick they are for readers who like a little pepper.

Authors! Don't worry about how your book might disappoint a set of readers. Revel instead in how it excites your readers; how it enhances your readers' lives.

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, November 10, 2020

2T Repeat Performance - Big Heart = Baking a Bigger Pie (chocolate silk?)

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published March 13, 2010 for ARRA

Hello, ARRA! Thanks for inviting me to guest blog today, and huge thanks for Bite My Fire’s nomination, an honor and thrill.

What a lovely blog and website you have! I admit to a special delight in the ARRA logo. The way the Rs combine to make a heart really tickled my fancy…and inspired this blog.

ARRA. Australian Romance Readers Association. Well, I’m a US gal but my hubby has relatives in Australia, and I studied conducting under Geoffrey Simon—can that count for a bit of a connection? I’m certainly a reader of romance. Great swaths of it, Sherrilyn Kenyon, JD Robb, Anne Stuart and now Stephanie Laurens to name a few.

So many romances, so little time! (Ninety award finalists alone, all amazing authors.) And yet we find time, don’t we? Time to read, to water the seeds of love in our hearts, our lives. Despite our busy days and nights, we somehow find time to absorb stories of the sweet joining of two people in heart, body and soul.

ARRA nurtures that love, and not just through reading.

When Maggie notified me that Bite My Fire was a finalist in the Favourite Erotic Romance category, she also mentioned an opportunity to guest blog.  I emailed my interest, thinking that with all those finalists (did I mention there were ninety?) I might get a spot sometime in 2011. Instead Debbie mailed me back that extra blogging spots would be opened up during voting.  That’s plain exceptional.

See, there’s a lot of competition out there. A lot of writers, a lot of great books. As an author it’s easy to feel lost in the sheer volume of spines on the shelf.  Easy to feel you have to scrabble and grab for your little slice of the pie (mmm, lemon meringue).

But ARRA demonstrates the secret of love in action. When faced with feeding the multitude, instead of diminishing the portions, ARRA just baked a bigger pie. (Maybe pecan.)

I have to admit—I still scrabble and have to work hard not to grab. It’s fellow Samhain Publishing author, the awesome Vivi Andrews, who taught me what a big heart is. Just walking among the stars expands me. Makes my pie a little bigger.  (Strawberry-rhubarb. Or maybe chocolate silk after all.)

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for nominating Bite My Fire for Favourite Erotic Romance—for allowing me to walk among your author stars. It is an honor I hold to my heart, which is just a bit bigger today.

Please visit me at Mary Hughes Books!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

This is a slight step away from strictly writing into the marvelous, frightening world of book marketing.

One of the things I used to wonder is why there are all these articles on Steps to Follow to Promote Your Book, and they'd usually consist of things like
  • Grow your newsletter to sell more 
  • Offer free books to grow your newsletter 
  • Offer free books to get more reviews to sell more
  • Make sure there's a call to action! (or trigger)
In other words, how to increase your reach.

Now don't get me wrong, these are good and valid recommendations. But even following them, you won't sell much better unless you have a good book that people want to read.

In other words, how to increase your appeal.

Who writes articles about that? Who writes articles about the surefire way to write a blurb to get those one-clicks? Yes, the trigger is important, but so too are desire and ability. Few people write articles about how to stoke the desire to buy your books (at least, not in a step-by-step version).

Promotion is both about the books' appeal and their reach. But it's easier to quantify reach, and that's why there are more articles and posts about it.

I challenge bloggers to help authors increase their stories' appeal. How do we create the perfect blurb for our book? How do we look into our story and extract the marrow of what will appeal to readers? What if our book isn't anything like the bestsellers in the genre--and that's why we're writing, because we're tired of same-old, same-old?

So many articles on "promotion" are really on reach. Even when there are articles on appeal, it's how to promise to the broadest audience via stereotypes (dark, brooding vampires).

How do we appeal to our readers?

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, October 13, 2020

2T Research Tidbit

So now that I've run out of repeat performances, I thought I'd try something completely different. I do quite a bit of research in preparation and during the writing process, even and especially for the paranormal. As they occur to me, I thought I'd share some with you.

As of this writing (February, 2018) I'm doing research on Romania for Night's Kiss. Specifically, I'm putting together facts for my bad-guy vamp's hideaway castle. So I thought, why not check out Dracula's, the foremost bad-guy vamp there is?

Googling Dracula's Castle gets you Bram's Castle in Romania. But further research indicates Stoker (who wrote Dracula) didn't know anything about this castle. The two more likely contenders are castles Vlad III (the model for Dracula). Castelul Corvinilor and Poenari Kalesi (both in Romania) are linked to the Dracula legend. Not that either of these are Vlad's full-time castle. So I dug a little deeper.

And here, things got weird.

Turns out, there's a guy who did research into Stoker's notes (with the heir's help). According to Wikipedia, " Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos,[1] proposes as location for Castle Dracula an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 2,033 metres (6,670 ft) high, located in the Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia."

But when I actually searched for Mount Izvorul? The only references are repeats of this particular fact. No independent corroboration.

Cue the X-Files music.

So I looked at the Calimani Mountains, hoping to identify the peak by height. Here's another quote from Wikipedia: "Maximum height is reached in Pietrosul Călimanilor Peak, at 2,102 m. Other significant peaks include: Bistriciorul (1,990 m), Stuniorul (1,885 m), Gruiului (1,913 m), Negoiul Unguresc (2,084 m), Rețițiș (2,021 m), Bradul Ciont (1,899 m), Iezerul Călimanilor (2,023 m)."

There is NO mountain peak of exactly 2033 meters!!

(There IS a Mount Izvor, but it's in Antarctica.)

So the apparent fact of Stoker's notes seems to be only a ghost of a fact. Anybody who has independent confirmation of Mount Izvor, get in touch!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

1T Status Update October

"There isn't enough time in the day" isn't quite true. What we're really challenged by is the fact that there may not be enough time to do everything that's important to us in a way that gives us satisfaction.

And yes, this is leading somewhere. I'm working full time outside writing these days, and so don't have as much time for the monthly updates or nice touches I was used to making in the online world. That may change, but for the present, this may be the last update for a while.

So, on to the good news! Giveaway! $462 in GCs plus ebooks from bestselling authors to ONE winner in this pre-holiday MEGA #giveaway.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I finished the manuscript for Night's Bliss, final book in the Ancients series, and sent it in to my editor at the end of August. In celebration, I created two short videos for the first two books in the series.



Tuesday, September 29, 2020

5T Tossup

In honor of turning in Night's Bliss (final book in the Ancients Series) to my editor, here's another new trailer, for Night's Kiss (The Ancients, Book 2). Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

4T Olio

In honor of sending off Night's Bliss (final book in The Ancients series) to my editor, here's a new trailer for Night's Caress (The Ancients, Book 1)!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

I've studied story structure a lot, mainly because it's never come naturally to me.

And I have a secret to admit. More on that later.

One of my favorite rules of thumb for starting a story is this: start with your main character doing something interesting that shows their everyday life.

The reason I like this one is because stories are about change, and if you start this way, the end writes itself with a bookend scene. That is, using the opening "everyday" scene, show the main character doing something interesting that shows their everyday life now, after they've changed.

Compare and contrast. Effective, simple. And it wraps things up nicely to see, in the echo of where they started, where they are now.

Here's my little secret: I don't like reading or writing end-of-book sex scenes.

You know, the one where the hero and heroine get it on just one last time? I never got the point. Romance stories to me were about the tension between hero and heroine, and about the slow, sensual surrender to each other and emotional and physical intimacy.

But I've turned around on that one-eighty, and here's why. The Final Sex Scene is a hot/steamy romance story's "after". It demonstrates, in a clear and concrete way, where the couple has come from and who they are now.

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, September 8, 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 a guest post I did before joining.

Mary Hughes Raises the Curtain – with Giveaway!--originally posted June 28, 2012.
Cue the Music, Raise the Curtain
What is it that’s so exciting about live theater? Is it the magic of sitting breathless in the dark with your date or family? Is it the drama of a great story? Is it the glitter of costumes, swirling in dance and song?

Or is it the possibility, however remote, of a train wreck and watching the actors try to bail themselves out?

In my upcoming release, Biting Oz, I take the reader into the world of musical theater as it is seldom seen—from the underside. Heroine Junior Stieg is a musician in the belly of the beast, that is, the pit.

The story’s backdrop is a musical retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The twist? Dorothy is being played by a young vampire. Complication? Someone’s trying to kidnap her. To protect her, Junior joins with Dorothy’s big, sapphire-eyed bodyguard Glynn Rhys-Jenkins. Together they find the true meaning of love and home.

Junior is a marvelous point of view character for me, letting me show the reader both the best and the worst of musical theater. She manages to keep playing through the almost cataclysmically bad dress rehearsal and endures performances where Toto gets bored and licks his, um, scenery. She also gets to help create the magic of the Perfect Show—the one that moves not only the audience, but the whole town, to tears and applause.

I love everything about musical theater: the drama, the humor, the costumes and the music, all of it larger than life. Pit musicians have a unique perspective on that world.  

What do you find exciting about live theater? Is there a perspective you’d find especially interesting in a story?
Real vampires do musicals.
Excerpt from Biting Oz. It’s the first full rehearsal and Junior is late. She’s rushing through the house (the audience seating) to get to the pit, but is blocked by a sea of kids/Munchkins. Glynn helps her out.
I set down my instrument bag and blew out my tension. “Wow.
Thanks. I…”
Straightening to his full height of six-OMG, he faced me, emanating strength and energy. Powerful chest muscles pushed into the jacket’s gap right in front of my nose.
I gaped, realized I was starting to drool and looked up.
Sondheim shoot me. His face was all dark, dangerous planes.
His eyes were twin sapphire flames that hit me in the gut. My breath punched out and none came to replace it. Bad news for a wind player.
He turned to set the sax down. I started breathing again.
A tapping caught my ear, the conductor ready to start. I needed to get into that pit now.
Half a dozen kids and two makeup adults were still in my way.
I’d have crawled over the seats myself but my joints weren’t as limber as the kids’…unless I used my black Lara Croft braid as a rope. I was desperate enough to consider it.
The man, turning back, saw my predicament. He lifted my instrument bag and music stand over kids with the same strength and grace as when he’d snatched the tenor. Then he turned to me.
And swept me up into his arms.
An instant of shock, of male heat and rock-hard muscle. A carved face right next to mine, masculine lips beautifully defined—abruptly I was set on my feet beside the pit. The sax landed next to me with a thump.
“There.” His accent was jagged, as if he were as rattled as me.
“There’s your instrument.” He bounded to the back of the theater and was gone.
Biting Oz releases August 14. Warning: Cue the music, click your heels together, make a wish and get ready for one steamy vampire romance. Contains biting, multiple climaxes, embarrassing innuendos, ka-click/ka-ching violence, sausage wars and—shudder—pistachio fluff.
Hugs! Mary

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

Writing--art or craft?

Writers argue about this almost as much as pantser versus plotter.

In order to answer the question, you first must answer for yourself what is art (versus craft). I think one of the best explanations I've read recently belongs to Rex Stout, out of the mouth of his genius detective Nero Wolfe. Here's my interpretation of that:

Most detectives work by following leads and asking questions that lead to answers. You can trace backwards--that answer was from that question, and that question was because of that lead.

(Craft, in writing, is following the rules.)

Wolfe arrives at his answers by genius or art. There is no way to trace back from the answer to anything. The answer arrives in his skull fullblown.

(Art, in writing, is when you follow all the rules and the story still doesn't work. It takes a spark of something that can't be reproduced.)

Think about trying to unmake a cake. You can't separate out the eggs, butter, and sugar, you can't work backwards, you can only separate it into crumbs. So though we crafters follow a recipe now to make a cake, nobody before the first cake knew putting eggs, butter, sugar, and flour together and baking it would result in a cake. That was art. (Yes, art is sometimes lots and lots of trial and error until you finally hit something new that works, lol.)

So writing, according to this viewpoint, is mostly craft--and good craft is vital. But the books that breathe, that have an unexpected spark of genius--those are art.

 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, August 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 the last of those posts. (Addendum: I found a guest post I'd done before joining the team. See that next month.)

What day is today?--originally posted November 9, 2016.

Back in my IT days, I worked with a marketing database of a famous car company who shall remain nameless, but whose cars regularly passed the 100K mile mark even back in the bad old 80s (when cars were just starting to come out of the rustbucket gas-guzzling phase).

Now you may not know this, but car model years actually start in fall of the year before. So 2017 models will have released already, and 2018 is on the drawing board. For marketing, since we had to get ahead of the selling curve, this often mean I was dealing with the next year in June.

Sometimes I dated my checks that way.  You remember checks, the paper things we used instead of cash before debit cards, lol.

It was always a relief when January finally came. On the plus side, I never made a mistake dating checks with the old year.

Writing is a lot like that. I sit here on a rainy September day, the window open to 68 F temps, writing a post that will go live in November when it will almost certainly be 30s or low 40s. Working on a book that won't be due until December, and will probably release in 2017 but maybe as late as 2018. A book that's set in October. Still marketing a book that released in August of 2016.Thinking about plots for an April Fools short story.

I am in such trouble if I ever get in an accident. When the EMT asks, "What day is today?" I won't know.

ADDENDUM: This is the last of the old Magical Musings posts, and the issue is even more true than ever. I'm putting these together in February of 2017, gearing up to launch a box set next week that contains a book I wrote in 2013, waiting for edits on a book I wrote in 2016 that I think is coming out late 2017, working on a set of stories for release in 2017 that I originally wrote 20 years ago. Fun!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

One of the things you may have to do is show a character not liking, then learning to like, another character.

This is hard to do right, because if you create too big an antagonism in the beginning, you may never overcome it. Say main character M doesn't like and doesn't trust secondary character S--really upsettingly doesn't like--that may be a hole too deep to dig out of.

Some children still don't like Snape...just sayin'.

Here's one way to handle it (works best with adults).
  • Start: M thinks: We have nothing in common. I'm not sure I like S.
  • Move to: Oh, it'd be wrong to dismiss S as _____. (Some characteristic M doesn't like, say a forthright M might not want to dismiss S as sly).
  • Turning point: Find an important (hidden) thing where M can think: Oh, what a surprise! In this way, we're the same.

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, July 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.

I'm just a big cat--originally posted October 12, 2016.

The internet is a source of amazing information. Apparently, according to one study (http://www.cnet.com/news/scientist-cats-think-you-are-just-a-big-stupid-cat), my son’s cats think I’m just another big (and slightly stupid) cat.

I believe this. It would explain why they cuddle and take the pets sometimes and not others. Why they steal my chair. And why they lay on papers...specifically, bills and manuscripts. They’re saying “Life’s too short to work all the time. Come play with me!”

Although, with all respect to the researcher, there's another explanation.

Cats think they're human! I have pictures to prove it.

[caption id="attachment_28943" align="aligncenter" width="340"]carpetlayercats Carpet Layer Cats: “Nap break!”[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_28944" align="aligncenter" width="434"]editorcat Editor Cat: “I’m sorry, these thirty pages have to go.”[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_28946" align="aligncenter" width="415"]fashioncat Fashion Cat: “Tie one more thing on me, and you’ll see how good my pedicure is.”[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_28945" align="aligncenter" width="500"]princesscat Princess Cat: “Bring me my tuna!”[/caption]

What about you? Do your cats think they’re human, or do they think you’re a cat?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

Last month I introduced Bruce Campbell's brilliantly simple three-act structure.

Let's complicate it with one simple truth: there is more than one solution to any problem.

Let that sink in. There is one solution to the problem...and another solution which may be better or worse overall, or better for some and worse for others,  or mostly better but with one big drawback...and yet another solution that fits the same puzzle in a different way...and, and, and.

We're taught to think beyond the obvious for the final solution to the main character's problem. Well and good. But don't throw those intermediate solutions away! The great thing about books is that you can explore alternate possibilities.

Paint those alternate solutions via other characters, and use them to compare and contrast--and so heighten--the main character's solution.

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, June 9, 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.

Just how do I market this thing...?--originally posted September 14, 2016.

On to the topic of today's post. I think I've mentioned before that I write steamy, wickedly funny urban fantasy/paranormal romance with plenty of action. It's an olio that's hard to pin down. Like with the movie The Princess Bride, that means it's hard to market.

Too much action for a simple romance. Too much romance for an action book. Too much humor for a gritty paranormal. Too much grit for a hilarious romcom. Too much sex for a romcom too.

So when it came to ordering a trailer for paranormal romance Mind Mates, well, I was expecting a mishmash.

Instead, I got this breathtaking video.

The humor is utterly missing from the trailer. But wow, I'd buy the book just from the beauty of it. I did wonder if I should ask for changes to the trailer, to add the humor, but my husband said, "Let readers discover that as a bonus."

What do you think? Was he right?

Mind Mates: When a powerful wizard prince comes out of hiding to save his sister, he is forced to team with a pretty shifter—one with ugly, dangerous powers of her own. As vengeful enemies close in, a forbidden attraction flaming between them, the two race to find a mysterious key.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

1T Status Update - June

Is there a customer service department for years? Seriously, someone needs to cash 2020 in for a refund or exchange it for a better year.

In the interest of staying upbeat and positive... (grits teeth and makes with the happy face)

I did finish my final two final projects for my associate degree in software development, one of which was a challenging capstone project with big presentation. So, hooray! On the other hand, I should have been done by now except another class was a lab class so we had to wait until June to return to campus. So there's that. But I have an internship which is the last piece before graduation.

The first draft of Night's Bliss is done except for the denouement. Final school projects and various 2020 pressures means that draft is a little rough, but I have a week now to smooth it out. Then I'll have my usual personal edit passes. On track to send to my editor by end of August.

There's a Rafflecopter! To celebrate Tina Donahue's release of HARD LUST - PNR Reverse Harem, she's holding a Rafflecopter with $365 in GCs plus ebooks from bestselling authors to ONE winner.  https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ec8aae6737/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

This one is from Bruce Campbell, in his autobiography Hail to the Chin, which is excellent reading (see below if you're interested in checking it out). He gives us the essence of story structure in brilliantly clear language.

A story can be separated into three pieces (the Three Act structure).

I Introduce the problem
II Confront the problem
III Solve the problem

 (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
( As an Amazon Associate
I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Also at Barnes and Noble and iBooks

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, May 12, 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.

photo credit: Monaka & Laptop via photopin (license)
The Strange Places Ideas Come From--originally posted August 17, 2016.

My husband is in IT, running his own data center. He often brings work home, but he loves his job, and I'm happy he's happy—and besides, bringing work home is better than his having to groggily drive out in the middle of the night, which was true of one of his other jobs (I always sent a shot-gunner along to keep him awake in the form of myself or one of our kids, and an extra $20 for coffee, lol).

The thing is, for his current job, sometimes it's not just clients calling. Sometimes the computers call.

Strictly speaking, the servers on the computers that call. Problem is, he's got things set up to send an alert to his phone when a server is in trouble. Whatever time, day or night. Which leads to a story.

Now most times, his phone chirps with a minor problem. We wake up, but after a check, manage to go back to sleep.

Sometimes things get a little crazier.

The second weekend in March is Daylight Savings Time in the Midwest, where we set our clocks forward an hour, and two in the morning becomes three. One of the things the servers check for is power outages, based on--you guessed it--time. If the computer clock is missing so much as five seconds, it sends an alarm.

The phone alarm is a quick whallow-whoop, a small sound, but it can herald huge problems, like the data center crashing. Like a baby's whimper, it doesn't take long for that sound to auto-trigger a flood of stomach acid.

So at three-oh-one a.m. that Sunday, hubby's phone, laying on his nightstand, went crazy. Error-error-error-error...every few seconds it would throw another alarm. Whallow-whoop. Whallow-whoop. It was not a restful night, lol.

The time change is a really great example of how computers think differently than humans. People, faced with Daylight Savings Time, well, we might wake up an hour late and realize we're late for or missed a meeting or church or work. And we say, "Darn, I'm late," and let it go at that. Maybe we grumble a bit and there's fallout and we take care of it.

But computers...they're like dogs, in a way. They'll check the time and cry, "I'm late!" A second later they'll check the time and cry, "I'm still late!" And a second later, "Still late!" ad infinitum, that is FOREVER. Each with equal fervor, as if it's brand new.

Wouldn't that make an awesome story? A human and robot, either partners or in competition, and the human is rubbish at everything compared to the robot until they're in a situation like this?

Seeing the ordinary from a new angle is one place ideas come from.

What about you? Where do your ideas come from?

Less than one week to Mind Mates release and virtual tour! Much giveaway goodness and blog fun.

KindleNookSmashwords | iTunesGoogle Play | Kobo | Kindle UK

Pretty little shifter, wizard prince—their taboo love could burn the barriers between worlds.

When a powerful wizard prince comes out of hiding to save his sister, he is forced to team with a pretty shifter—one with dangerous powers of her own. With vengeful enemies close behind, and forbidden attraction flaming between them, the two must race to find a mysterious key.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Monday, April 20, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit--It must be High Concept! But what does that mean...?

Everything must be High Concept!!

Okay, sounds good. But what does that mean? If you ask, you'll get answers like--
  • Life and death!!
  • Galaxies at stake!!
  • Two exclamation points!!
Given these restrictions, I can think of only three different stories to tell. Where's the place for cozy mysteries, gentle reflections, coming of age tales? If it can't sell without a death in it, where's the room for comedy and happily-ever-after endings?

Don't lose hope! I've since seen the show Lucifer and had a shocking idea.

Any concept can be high concept.

What if high concept doesn't just mean humanity teetering on the edge of destruction? What if there's a very simple way to still write those gentler genres--but still make them more?

This is my take on High Concept.

Start with your concept. It'll probably have a couple parts that are in conflict with each other. Raise one of those items (bump it up a level). Then raise the other. Check the new dramatic possibilities. Use them to bump again. Repeat until you can't wait to write it!

Let's take a simple, universal example--

Boy meets girl. They fall in love.

Now bump up the boy. He's the son of a rich Italian family. Hmm... this has possibilities.

Bump up the girl. She's a poor waif in contrast to the rich boy...or wait. Make her the daughter of another rich Italian family...one feuding with the boy's family. This has dramatic possibilities!

Bump up the love. They can't live without each other, so they form a suicide pact. Or wait, they pretend to suicide...or do they? What if one dies and the other kills themselves in grief? What if that tragic resolution reconciles the feuding families?

Yeah. In just three bumps, you've got the archetypal high concept Romeo and Juliet.

From Lucifer: Start with a demon who wants a vacation from hell. Bump it up to Lucifer himself. Bump that up to vacationing in Los Angeles. Bump that to him meeting a detective who doesn't immediately fall in lust with him.

See how, with each bump, the possibilities expand?

Now take your concept and raise it to such dizzying heights you just have to write it!

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, April 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.

photo credit: Guess who? :) via photopin (license))
Princess: Pleasure or Pain?--originally posted July 20, 2016.

As part of the Cin Wikkid: April Fools For Love book tour, I did a couple posts on the top 5 pleasures and the top 5 problems of being a princess. As you can see, it's not all fun and games--but the perks might just be worth it!

  1. Sparkly tiara.
  2. Handsome prince. Or an ogre prince, but the key point is, this is your soulmate.
  3. Adventure.
  4. No cooking or cleaning! My personal fave.
  5. Ponies. Matched. Drawing a fancy carriage. ‘Nuff said.
So there are the Perks of Princessdom. But there are two sides to everything (or more!) and that includes princesses.

photo credit: Camilla & Catherine via photopin (license)

Frankly, Kate makes being a princess look easy and fun. But while there are a lot of perks to being a princess, there are quite a few down sides as well.

Here are my top 6 (with a tie for #5).
  1. Surely the worst thing about being a princess is those back-breaking, oh-so-fragile glass high heels. Or skyscraper heels of any sort. Sure, they’re gorgeous (yes, I may be whimpering a little in yearning at the shoe pictured here), but what is the price of these beauties in chiropractic and podiatry bills?
  2. Enduring long affairs of state (worse if you’re wearing the back-twisters, above). Although I’ve heard there’s champagne at these gigs, always served on silver trays by waitstaff in crisp black and white uniforms. That probably makes these shindigs worthwhile, or at least more tolerable.
  3. photo credit: Wicked Stepmother. via photopin (license)
    Your very own nemesis. For some of the more adventurous princesses, this may qualify as a perk, lol. But from Wicked Stepmothers to Evil Viziers, you’re in the big leagues now, and that means big problems in the form of an Arch Villain.
  4. Being treated like an object. Unfortunately, there is a form of princess who isn’t star of her own story. Most often in this sad reality, “the girl” is fought over by the Hero and Villain like a juicy steak. She’s trotted out only three times—at the beginning as a rescue goal, in the middle to remind everyone what the stakes are, and at the end as a reward. On the plus side, this kind of princess gets to languish a lot and doesn’t have much work to do.
  5. Tying for number five are two of my personal deal-breakers for princess as a career choice. First, you can’t swear. Ever. Only words like sugarplums can drop from royal lips, or the paparazzi or worse, the Princess Censorship League, get hold of it and bam, it’s time to hang up the royal tiara. Second, a princess doesn’t get a choice of where to rule. Sure, some lucky princesses get Hawaii. But what if you are born or marry into the Kingdom of Northern Freezing Extremities? Good luck finding flattering goose-down gowns. And glass high heels on ice? Whole new meaning to the words "royal pain".
CinWikkid3x4.5What about you? Would you take up the tiara anyway? Any favorite Princessly problems I’ve missed? Let me know! Cin Wikkid: April Fools For Love
From award-winning bestselling author Mary Hughes comes a fairytale romance with a twist.

THE WRONGED DAUGHTER Cinderella hungers to escape from under Widow Wikkid's grinding thumb. But to snare a plum job at Prince Industries, Cin desperately needs her degree, and she can't wrap her mind around tax accounting.
Then scarred but sexy Rafe Montoya ignites her imagination with his brilliant tutoring—and, as they work together in his cozy apartment, he sets her body on fire. She thinks he's the one for her, until he starts pushing her to attend Gideon Prince's marriage-mart ball.
THE HANDSOME PRINCE Rafe is really Gideon Prince, head of Prince Industries. He must name his bride by his April first birthday or suffer the loss of his family fortune.
Rumors say he's still single because women love his money and looks, not him. Is he lonely or just another duplicitous tycoon?
THE GLASS SLIPPER TEST Hopefuls flock to Prince's birthday ball, but only the woman who is kind, wise, and generous will win his heart. Is it Cin, or will her stepmother, as she always does, snatch the prize for her own daughters?
And on the night of the ball, when Cin discovers Rafe’s true identity, can she even accept his final test?
Warning: Rags-to-riches fairytale meets the texting generation. Stepsisters who are a blush-brush shy of a full makeup set, and a ball gown built like a tank. Contains material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.
For anyone who has ever been persecuted or hidden their light under a bushel.