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Posts tagged with: Autumn Jordon

SELLING 101- Blurbs

Your book is written, polished and edited. Now comes the moment when you need to hook an agent, editor or buyers on your book in a few short lines.  After spending months writing your story, you might be knocking your head against the wall trying to decide how to condense everything wonderful about your work into what, approximately one-hundred words.

You’re not alone.

Writing blurbs commands a different mindset. Instead of adding layers we need to get out the filet knife and cut away all the fat and end up with the juiciest part of our stories, because that is what the readers really want know about. Those juicy tidbits are what makes them buy your book. But how do you whittle down to the wonderful stuff? I’ll share my process.

I write romance, so I begin with a one-line story premise and then the GMC of both my heroine and hero—or as I like to refer this portion, my characters’ mini-bios.

Here is how I began to write my blurb for my new release PERFECT HEARTS which is the second book in my Perfect Love series.

Fourteen years ago, two geeky teens became best friends and their romance was sabotaged by the town’s diva sending them on different paths. 

Carrie returns to Black Moose, Vermont to emerge from the shadows of her parents’ stardom and find a normal life, love, and family, but the ratio of female versus eligible bachelors (under the age of thirty-five) is like 50 to 1.

Luke McQuire is a man with two things on his mind: building his electrical business and evading the town diva, Olive Ann, who has made it known to all the women on the mountain that he is her future husband.

After I’ve that step is completed, then comes the slicing and dicing to make the blurb entertaining, because fiction books are entertainment. And we have to add back in our voices. So the next step is to add that hook—that wonderful first line that will draw the reader in and make them want to read more.

Back to PERFECT HEARTS:

Block-buster movies picture it. Platinum records are composed based on it. Stories and poems are written because of it. Every breathing soul searches for it, including Carrie Shultz. Good grief, her livelihood depends on love.

 

But like all first lines they need to be tweaked and reworked and sometimes scrubbed. So we work some more. And we tweak our characters mini-bios again, adding in interesting story details and hooks.

Blockbuster movies show it, platinum records praise it, great literature lauds it…every living soul searches for it. Good grief, Carrie Twines’ livelihood depends on it. Everyone in Black Moose, Vermont seems to be in love or in hot pursuit of it. Their bliss only reminds Carrie of what she lost as a teen when two geeky best friends became first loves—until heartache sent them on different paths.

Carrie returns to Black Moose, Vermont to emerge from the shadows of her parents’ stardom and find a normal life, love, and family, but the odds are stacked against her. However, her luck is about to change. As she contemplates the merits of becoming a spinster, a game of chance brings her back to the man she’d walked away from years ago.

Luke McQuire is a man with two things on his mind: building his electrical business and evading the town diva, Olive Ann. But when Carrie shows up again like a lucky penny, he’s got more to think about—including why she left him in the first place.

And again, we cut, we add and we polish until the finish blurb seems perfect.

Blockbuster Movies show it, Platinum Records praise it, great literature lauds it…every living soul searches for it. Good grief, Carrie Twines’ livelihood depends on it. Everyone in Black Moose, Vermont seems to be in love or in hot pursuit of it. Their bliss only reminds Carrie of what she lost as a teen when two geeky best friends became first loves—until heartache sent them on different paths.

Carrie returns to Black Moose to emerge from the shadows of her parents’ stardom and find a normal life, love and family, but the odds are stacked against her. However, her luck is about to change. As she contemplates the merits of spinsterhood, a game of chance brings her back to the man she’d walked away from years ago. He’s even more kind and sexy than he was fourteen years ago, but can she trust him with her heart again? Luke McQuire is a man with two things on his mind: building his electrical business and evading the town diva, Olive Ann. But when Carrie shows up again like a lucky penny, he’s got more to think about—including why she left him in the first place. He’s a damn good electrician, but can he make sparks fly with the one woman he wants—the one woman who was able to resist him?

 

And from that polished back cover blurb I can pull a shorter blurb to be used in other advertising venues.

Blockbuster movies, platinum records, and great literature laud it. Every living soul searches for it. Carrie Twines’ livelihood depends on it. In Black Moose, Vermont, everyone seems to be in love. Their bliss reminds Carrie of what she lost as a teen when heartache sent first loves on different paths. However, a game of chance brings back the man she’d walked away from years ago. Luke’s even more kind and sexy than he was fourteen years ago, but can she trust him with her heart again?

 

I want to thank my Ruby-sisters Anne Marie Becker and Rita Henuber and my editor Pat Thomas for their help in brainstorming and tweaking with the final blurb. Sometimes we’re so close to our work we can’t see its best features, so it’s always a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes reviewing it.

That is my process for writing blurbs. Sisters and readers do you approach blurbs differently?   

POWER

Words are like a living entity, with the incredible ability to spread on their own. And partnered with today’s technology their range and speed are vast. They have the power to influence one, or many, and in doing so change the world. They have the potential to span centuries and thus persuade or motivate generations.

Think about that, because as an author that colossal sovereignty comes through you.  What a huge responsibility.

As authors, we spend considerable periods of time thinking about our characters and plot. Then we write. After which, we layer in emotions, senses and setting details. And of course, there is the endless tweaking of dialogue, sentence structure, hooks and much more. However, have you consider the message of your story?

I love to learn new things when I read, and I believe my readers do too. My all-time favorite book is Jean M. Auel’s Valley Of The Horses. Yes. It is a romance, at least it is to me. A beautiful love story. The novel’s setting is the primeval world. I applauded Miss Auel for her research. I can’t imagine the years she spent doing the work. While reading, I learned tons about herbs and ordinary plants and their therapeutic uses. I also learned a valuable safe aid tips, not to mention I discovered a fantasying past world.

In my romantic suspense stories, I’ve embedded true crime cases and safety tips in hopes my readers take heed and share the pointers, because one day my message might just save them from harm. Each of my contemporary novels contain messages relating to honesty with one’s self, strength of character and of family the their importance. My readers have responded positively to my messages in their reviews.

We have the power to change others’ lives-save lives. We can change people’s perception of themselves, help them understand a different person’s perspective or perhaps handle a stressful, urgent situation in a much better way than they would’ve. We can change their beliefs about history, people, the world or the future. We can spur them to take action for a cause. When their life changes, they remember you.

Great stories share information as well as entertain. What is the knowledge that you want to share for the Greater Good with your readers?

Autumn Jordon is happy to announce the release of PERFECT HEARTS.

PerfectHearts2_1400 - Copy (533x800)Blockbuster Movies show it, Platinum Records praise it, great literature lauds it…every living soul searches for it. Good grief, Carrie Twines’ livelihood depends on it. Everyone in Black Moose, Vermont seems to be in love or in hot pursuit of it. Their bliss only reminds Carrie of what she lost as a teen when two geeky best friends became first loves—until heartache sent them on different paths.

Carrie returns to Black Moose to emerge from the shadows of her parents’ stardom and find a normal life, love and family, but the odds are stacked against her. However, her luck is about to change. As she contemplates the merits of spinsterhood, a game of chance brings her back to the man she’d walked away from years ago. He’s even more kind and sexy than he was fourteen years ago, but can she trust him with her heart again?

Luke McQuire is a man with two things on his mind: building his electrical business and evading the town diva, Olive Ann. But when Carrie shows up again like a lucky penny, he’s got more to think about—including why she left him in the first place. He’s a damn good electrician, but can he make sparks fly with the one woman he wants—the one woman who was able to resist him?

Readers loved PERFECT, and the rib-tickling, warm fuzzy feelings continue in PERFECT HEARTS.

TIME GONE WRONG

There are many reasons a writer’s work is considered weak. A faulty time line is among them.

The statement below was made by a reader on a book discussion
list to which I belong:(Disclaimer: The locations in this passage have been changed to
protect the author.)

“After Paris it all began to fall apart for me.  A lot of skipping around—unexplained time
periods went by that didn’t make sense. He was in Puerto Rico, running for his
life. Then he was beaten in New York. In the next scene, the heroine was upset
because he was gone for months, but the timeline did not support her feelings.”
Did you hear her frustration with the author’s work?

Have you read a story which made you stop and wonder either
how much time had gone by or how did a claimed span go by so fast?

I’ve read stories where the time lines were totally off. I remember one book in particular while the clock stuck midnight on New
Year’s Eve the heroine wondered how she would provide for her unborn child. She thought this while stroking her flat stomach. She’d taken a pregnancy test earlier in the day, because of one missed period.

Pages later, it was spring and she gave birth to a full-term health baby boy. Spring stopped me. The seasonal
identifiers didn’t fit the timeline of a normal pregnancy. The story, which had
drawn me in, lost me right there. The author hadn’t done her job.

I’ve also read stories where the author didn’t use any time
descriptor words or phases such as the next day, or later that morning, or
years passed before, which can leave the reader feeling lost.

Here’s an example:
Jonathan’s jaw tightened before he turned and slammed the door. (End of
Chapter. Next chapter begins.) Jonathan didn’t know what to expect when he
opened the door.  The whole house was barren. Everything he’d owned was gone.

As the reader, do you know how much time has gone by? No.
Jonathan could’ve closed the door and reopened it in peek-a-boo fashion for all
we know, which if he did, this story would have paranormal or
psychological-thriller elements. But if our hero had been gone for days, weeks
or months, we would see an emotional conflict.

How do you ensure a proper time flow for your story?

Map it out. Draw a line on piece of paper. Write the important events that happen to your characters
along the line and then chart in seasonal bits and pieces. If your hero is
going to be gone for six months and he leaves in July, when he returns in
January the weather, food, etc. should reflect the month’s setting.

Also, remember to ground your readers by using time related
phases.

Example: There was no more to say. Jonathan’s jaw tightened.
He stalked out and slammed the door behind him. The next morning when he
returned home the entire house was empty. His life had disappeared overnight.

See the difference?

Time lines are especially important when writing a series. Not all events can happen in the season or the same year. The more books you add to a series the more confused you, the author, can become. Imagine how lost your readers would feel in your world.

Has a weak time line stopped you from finishing a book? Do you have an example to share?

Closet Writers

CLOSET WRITER

http://www.dreamstime.com/working-late-free-stock-photography-imagefree59647

http://www.dreamstime.com/working-late-free-stock-photography-imagefree59647

Closet writers break my heart. Any reason a writer keeps their writing a secret is just wrong, unless the writing is extremely personal and not meant for other’s eyes. I was a closet writer.

There are many reasons why writers remain in the closet and the Rubies have had discussions concerning them. At some time or another, many of us have faced the road-blocks that kept us from being us.

Some writers think they haven’t read enough books to be considered a writing expert. In their minds, if people find out they write, they must’ve read every single book ever published. I’m here to tell you that I’ve never read Huck Finn, War and Peace, Fifty Shades Of Gray or a zillion other classic or best-selling books. Does that confession make me less of a writer? I think not.

Being shy, it can take years for some people to join a writer’s group. A long, long time ago, when the internet was young and a thing called dial-up was used to connect to it, writers actually went to public meetings to connect with those of like minds. Walking into a meeting can be daunting to a wall flower. I know because I’m an introvert. The internet and the ambiguity it provides, has made it easier for some writers to connect to others, but not all. They remain in the background, unsure of themselves.  To them, I say, “it’s always the quiet ones who make the biggest impression when they’re ready.” Rest assured most writers are genuinely nice and more than willing to help other writers in any way they can. You only need to be serious about the craft to be considered a writer by them.

A closet writer might feel they don’t know enough about the craft and until they know all there is to know they remain in seclusion. I’m not sure if there is anyone out there who knows it all. Well, maybe King, Patterson or Nora. Only they can answer that question. The point being, the majority of writers will openly admit that they don’t know everything and that they learn something new all the time. Join the club that strives to be better at their craft.

dreamstimefree_666077My writing sucks. It very well could, but are you the best judge? You’ve read and studied and wrote and edited. Now it’s time to trust yourself and share your work. If a critique offers constructive advice, weigh it, and then accept it or not. In the end, it’s your story. There is no greater joy for a writer than when a reader enjoys your work. The only way to know that joy is to share your gift.

There are those who really, really want to be a writer but struggle to do the work required. Writing is hard work and takes a huge amount of time. Completing a work is possible a word at a time. Commit to the work, or perhaps another hobby would be better for you.

I’m fortunate. I’m a writer who has had the support of family and friends for many years, but that wasn’t always the case. I once was a closet writer. I was told that my dreams of becoming a published writer were stupid and thus I hid my passion. Now, when I read the notebooks I filled during that time, I cringe at the darkness that shadowed my life.

One day, I finally broke and said to myself, “This is my life and I don’t want to look back and wonder what if I’d taken one step. Would my dreams have come true?” That was a year of change for me on many levels. It was a hard trial but through it I learned I had the support of mBooks 2012 001 (640x480)any family members. I read craft books. I joined a writer’s group. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I attended conferences and workshops.  I found more support through my writer friends. I met the man of my dreams and he became my biggest supporter. I will love him forever for letting me be me.

Life doesn’t give us do-overs, but it does give us second chances. Take the step toward being you.

 

 

RUSH

We’re ten days into the Winter Writing Fest and I want to talk about stress. Appropriate? I think so.

Stress affects every level of our lives, including our writing.

I don’t know about you but the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until sometime in the late evening I’m on the go. The list is endless.  Some days, I feel as if my feet will drop off at the ankles if I stop and propped them up and my mind is mush.  Let’s face it, women are caregivers and being a caregiver is stressful. Add extra duties (ie; taking care of aging parents or a love one, moving to a new house, remodeling) and you’re adding stress.

Recently, I read an article at Women’s Health (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/stress-help ) which stated that some women need to be busy in order to feel alive, and I wondered if I wasn’t one of them.  I mean I always need to be doing something.  Even now, as I write this article, I’m multi-tasking.

Stress can lead to mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, menstrual problems, and acne and other skin problems.  So what can we do to relieve stress?

 

It’s all about attitude.

•There are some things you do not have control over. Don’t worry about them.

• You don’t always have to be right. Pick your fights. It’s not worth the stress to argue. Give in or at least meet people halfway.  Be open.

• Get organized. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do and do those things first.

• Set limits. We only have so many hours in the day. Set limits for yourself and don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.

 

Relaxation doesn’t take a lot of time.

• Take deep breaths.  Taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.

• Stretching can also help relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.

• Having someone massage the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back can help you feel less tense.

• Take time to do something you want to do. We all have lots of things that we have to do, but often we don’t take the time to do the things that we really want to do.  You know that priority list above, but your want to do on that list too.

 

You have one body. Take care of it.

• Get enough sleep. Doing so helps you recover from the stresses of the day and helps you think better so that you can handle problems as they come up.

• Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Caffeine or high-sugar snack jolts, wear off quickly. That is why they’re called jolts. You’ll  wind up feeling more tired than you did before.

• Drink Lots of water.  At least eight glasses a day.

• Get moving. Physical activity will not only help relax your tense muscles but improve your mood.

• Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.

 

There is nothing better than a friend.

• Share your stress. Talking with friends or family members can help you feel better. They could help you see your problems in a new way and suggest solutions that you hadn’t thought of.

• Get help from a professional if you need it.

• Help others. Volunteering in your community can help you feel better.

 

Long list, right?  Don’t stress. Pick one, do it, get good at it and then add another. Deep breaths.

2013 was a very stressful year for me, but through the events I’ve learned a lot. One being there will always be stress around waiting to knock me down, but if I’m prepared I’ll handle things much better. So I’m getting organized, making goals and lists to help make those goals, and I’m setting limits!

I’m drinking more water, making sure I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, smaller portions and limiting the snacks. I’m stretching, walking and dancing. I’ve called a good friend more than once and laughed.

I think laughter should be on the above list. Don’t you?

Now, tell me. What helps you when you feel the world on your shoulders?

It’s Because Of You

It is because of you that I am.

The above line sounds like a perfect line in a romance novel, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is. I’m sure there are probably hundreds of lines that are similar and hold the same meaning, like the Jerry Mcguire line “You complete me.”

Anyway, it just came to me when thinking about something Yanni said during one of his concerts. Yeah, I’m a Yanni fan. Old Yanni and New Yanni. I’ll clue you in on what he said later.

Now, I want you to take the above line and add the word A to it and then finish it by adding a noun. Any noun. Make a short list of five. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I promise I have a point to make.

Waiting…

Waiting…

Waiting….

 

Okay, my short list:

It is because of you that I am a light bulb.

It is because of you that I am a wheel.

It is because of you that I am a calendar.

It is because of you that I am a laptop.

It is because of you that I am a song.

Every one of those nouns at one point in time didn’t exist. They were once the idea of its creator—an idea that came to them while they were living life, watching the sunset or as children rolled a log down a mountain side. And they came about because the person had this insatiable drive to bring their brain child to life. To present it to the world.

By this time, you’re wondering what does that have to do with writing a novel? Well, besides the obvious that we always start with an idea, it is my belief that nothing has been created without trial and error, without studying the problem and its effects, and without lots of pondering. Writing a great story takes all of those steps.

Now, for my point today. Don’t beat yourself up for not having your fingers on the keyboard 24/7. I hear a lot of writers chiding themselves for not writing a word for a day or days. Your story hasn’t stilled. It’s growing inside you. A worthy story takes thought and research and study to create. It takes time to get to know your characters just like it did for you to get to know your hubby and friends. Take the time you need. And allow yourself to fumble, just don’t allow yourself to quit.

Okay, here is what was said and got me thinking.

“Creating is one of the most powerful, deliberate acts that human beings can do. It is one of the most important reasons to exist. If I do my job right, my listeners will experience what I experience while creating.” Yanni

Creating is one of the most important reasons to exist. Love it!

Until The Last Moment Yanni- You Tube

Don’t Let Your Savvy Reader Down

Romantic suspense readers are savvy.  They know their stuff.

Some RS readers enjoy reading stories set on foreign soils. The unfamiliarity of the setting might add to the reader’s intrigue. Or, this reader feels more comfortable knowing the danger the characters face is far away from their safe world. Others, on the other hand, might get an extra charge knowing the dangerous world unfolding between the pages could be set in their own neighborhood. These are the readers that sleep with their lights on and double check their locks. You the author must decide what is the best location for your novel, and know stuff.

What stuff?  Well, besides general setting, which is a no-brainer, and since we’re discussing romantic suspense, you need to know what law enforcement agencies are found in the region you’re using, and, very important, which agencies would be involved in your case at the particular time frame of your plot.  Nothing is more annoying to a savvy RS reader than the author using the wrong agency.

Has it happen?  Yes. It did for me and I promptly returned the author’s work.

Did you know…

…most cases are initially handed at a local level. Under certain circumstances state or federal agencies are involved. There are many partnership tasks forces in place. That is not saying the state and federal resources and data banks are unavailable to the local agents. Those data banks are always available. Always check state and local procedures to involve federal agents.

…the CIA and FBI are both members of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The CIA, however, is not a law enforcement organization. Its function is to collect information only regarding foreign countries and their citizens and analyzes the information vital to the formation of U.S. policy, particularly areas that impact USA national security. It is said, that the CIA is prohibited from collecting information regarding “U.S. Persons,” (U.S. citizens, resident aliens, legal immigrants, and U.S. corporations, regardless of where they are located.)

…The FBI is a primary law enforcement agency for the U.S. government, charged with enforcement of more than 200 categories of federal laws. The FBI task forces have proven to be a highly effective way for the FBI and federal, state, and local law enforcement to join together to address what are called concurrent jurisdiction cases, where a crime may violate local, state, and federal laws all at the same time. Task forces typically focus on terrorism, organized crime, narcotics, gangs, bank robberies, kidnapping, and motor vehicle theft.  To learn more about what the FBI investigates visit; http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/what_we_investigate

…Single-mission agencies such as DEA which is in charged with enforcing drug law and the ATF, which enforces federal firearms statutes and investigates arsons and bombings works closely with the FBI on cases where jurisdictions overlap.

…US Marshals Service (USMS) is the nation’s oldest and most multi-talented federal law enforcement agency. The Marshals occupy a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. Its mission is to protect, defend, and enforce the American justice system. It is the enforcement arm of the federal courts, and as such, it is involved in virtually every federal law enforcement initiative. The U.S. Marshals Service has been designated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the primary federal agency for apprehending fugitives that are wanted by foreign nations and believed to be in the United States. Additionally, the Marshals Service is the primary federal agency responsible for tracking and extraditing fugitives who are apprehended in foreign countries and wanted for prosecution in the United States.

…there were five branches of the armed services. Yes, five.  Marines, Navy, Air Force, Army and the Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard is the one branch of the armed services that does not trace its chain of command through the Department of Defense. It falls under the Department of Homeland Security and as such it is responsible for protecting our shores and inland waterways.  As we all know, the Coast Guard does so much more.

When I brainstormed the plot for my most recent RS release, SEIZED BY DARKNESS, I knew three things. One, I wanted the story to be set in my backyard, northeast USA.  Yup, I’m a making-sure-my-doors-are-locked-and-gun-loaded kidda of girl. Two, the story was going to be about a kidnapping victim reclaiming her life, which meant the FBI probably had been involved in the case but since years had passed my heroine’s case was probably buried under thousands of others. Finally, I wanted the hero to be a part of an elite division of a U.S. agency. But which agency?

Since I was planning a series revolving around a top task force, I needed an agency that is constantly involved in a wide array of cases and the setting could be anywhere in the world. After some research, which led me to the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006, the decision was a no-brainer for me. I went with the US Marshals and my C.U.F.F. team came to life.

As a result of the Adam Walsh enactment, the USMS established the Sex Offender Investigative Branch (SOIB) in August 2006.  The USMS is the lead law enforcement agency responsible for investigating sex offender registration violations under the Act.  This information and more took my story on a different path—a more emotional one.

So far I’ve referred to USA law bureaus, but if you’re writing a foreign setting you’ll need to know the appropriate law enforcement agents there.  A simple search, as I posted below, can start you on your way to learning facts that will set your novel apart from others and ensure accuracy.

Did you know…

… it is the French DST, “Département de la Sûreté/SécuritéTerritoriale” (Department of Territorial Safety/Security), commonly referred to as la Sûreté that is equivalent to the American FBI.

…the equivalent to the CIA in China is guó ān bù 国安部. Qíng bào bù 情报部 is military intelligence.

…In Britain SOCA (serious organized crime agency) are the UK FBI equivalent. MI5/ 6 are the equivalent of the CIA. (Enter James Bond.)

Once you know the agency, you can gather details about the organization and their agents that will enhance your story and bring your characters to life. Taking the time to research will earn you the respect of serious RS readers.

PERFECT. Why Would You Write That?

Last Thursday, Ruby sister June Love started the awesome, lively discussion on how writers handle writing through difficult times, and many writers offered great advice. I stated that my writing was an asylum for me during difficult times, which was indeed true.

My life has been in a funk, to say the least, the last few years. Sometimes, I don’t know which way I’m going and for what reason. I’m sure many of you, if not all, have had times when you’ve felt the same way.

Several months ago, after some heart-wrenching news, I opened my file to continue work on my next romantic suspense—because you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, you know— and the words simply weren’t there. Tears rolled down my cheeks and my chest was so tight with pain. My fingers were stilled on my keyboard. I just couldn’t bring myself to write and put someone in danger. I needed laughter and love in my life at that moment. So, I did what any sane writer should do. I closed my romantic suspense file and started a new work. It was the best thing I could’ve done.

I found myself submersed in the lives of one down-on-her-luck Charleston, S.C. restaurateur and one yummy maple tree farmer who had one goal.

No. Not to fall in love.

After totally screwing up Thanksgiving, Dylan’s goal is to make Christmas special for his two, small nieces whose parents were deployed overseas and would be absence for the holidays. However, when Darcy Witherspoon arrives in Black Moose, Vermont, his thoughts do turn to the forever kind of love that suddenly seems apparent all around him. My fingers flew across the keyboard, and with my crazy-ass schedule in a little over six weeks I wrote the end to my new holiday novella, PERFECT.

Now, some might question whether writing a contemporary holiday novella, with not a suspenseful word in it, will dilute my brand as a romantic suspense author. BRAND seems to be big a BIG word in the publishing world—a rule of sorts for marketing. To them I say, “I don’t know. I like reading both. Maybe, I’ll bring a non-romantic suspense reader over to the darker side.” And, actually, I think I’m marketing myself—a unique writer with many likes.

All I know is if I hadn’t written PERFECT, I might still be sitting in front of my laptop, getting frustrated, and perhaps depressed because I needed happy, happy and wasn’t listening to my own needs. Instead, I went with my gut, finished a novella that made me chuckle, and while doing so, the oddest thing happened. Near the end of PERFECT my muse turned back to my unfinished romantic suspense.  I’m now ready to dive back into the second of the C.U.F.F series with renewed enthusiasm. I hope to finish the rough draft before the Christmas holiday hits, so that I can work on C.U.F.F.’s third book during the Ruby Writing Fest.

I truly believe if you listen and give yourself what you need, in the end you will be a much happier person.

 

What do you think about the question of an author diluting their brand by writing in different genres?

PERFECT BLURB:

Dylan Kincaid totally screwed up Thanksgiving and now he’s faced with Christmas. Thrown into the frightening role of both mother and father while his brother and sister-in-law are off serving their country, all Dylan wants is to make Christmas perfect for his two nieces. But time is running out.

Down on her luck Charleston, S.C. restaurateur, Darcy Witherspoon is licking a wounded ego when she arrives in Black Moose, VT and meets the handsome Maple tree farmer. Wanting a happy holiday herself, she teams up with Dylan to make a perfect Christmas.

Neither is interested in a holiday affair, but the magic of Christmas has something more everlasting in store for the couple. An absolutely perfect love!

I hope you’ll check out PERFECT over the holidays.  It’s available at AMAZON and will be available at B&N.com soon.

Season Sense

If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong.  Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.

My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already.  So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.

Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lecture, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world, and ‘Wala’  I think I came up with unique tutorial for our awesome followers.

OPENING A CAN OF FLATWORMS

To open a can of flat worms you need a nail, hammer and a flat-head screwdriver. The extraction should be done outside, because flat worms are smelly buggers, and man, can they move fast.  You wouldn’t want to find them slithering between the sheets later. They like 800 count Egyptian cotton.

 

Did I get your attention? Good because that is what this post is about, openings which grab you and hold on.

 

There is no one set rule for beginning your story. Story telling is an art and as we have seen countless times since woman first poked her man to pick up a chisel and strike rock that the artist who breaks the presumed rules and creates in a heartfelt manner is remembered long after his or her demise.  With that said, it is important to remember the purpose of starting a story.  A story is a journey. The reason for any passage is to reach a destination. Finding excitement, joy, wisdom, or love along the way, is a huge plus and makes the trip an enjoyable adventure.  And who doesn’t love an adventure.

 

Our job, as an author, is to create a beginning that will entice our readers to come along for the ride. But how do we convince them our story is the excursion for them?  From our first line and every line after, we show them that the world we’ve built is interesting, we introduce them to characters they can relate to and root for as they change and grow, and we intrigue them with a story line that lets the reader escape from their own world.

 

I don’t know about you, but I agonize over my opening. I did for this blog and I’m still thinking I could do better. I think my first line is the most rewritten line of any. A great hook is a must. The line can be action or dialogue or internalization, as long as it is intriguing and sets the tone of the story.  And more often than not, my first draft opening (which could be one or more chapters) ends in the trash or finds a place somewhere else in the book.  Openings are hard.

 

The following is my short list for writing a great opening.

 

1)    Openings should introduce the main character because the first character presented to a reader is usually the one they bond with.  Connection is key. Characters need to be flawed and they need to do something we could do ourselves. So if you kill that character off, you better be writing romantic suspense and/or have a reason for doing so. The reader will be leery of investing in another character.

 

However, shocking the reader is another way to drawn them into the story.  Choice your POV carefully when writing the scene this way.

 

2)    The author reveals secrets, asks an intriguing question or creates high stakes.  GMC, right?  I always think of Romancing The Stone when thinking about this one.  In the first moments of the movie we learn Jean Widler’s heart’s desire— to have a hero of her own— and that her sister’s life is put at risk. The screenwriter used all three.  What’s the third you ask?  Will Joan answer the call to adventure?

 

3)    Introduce the reader to a strange new world in little interesting bits, so that they want to learn more. This advice is not just for paranormal or fantasy authors.  Every world written is different from the ones in which we live, in some ways. Every section of New York City is unique.  Your world could be a planetary station, small town in USA, large city, foreign soil, somewhere in the future or the past. Build the world through different characters’ POV. I see walking through the forest as enjoyable and relish the coolness and peace, but someone else could see it as frightening, looking for snakes and bears and slapping at deer flies. Also, remember we came to learn our world through our senses.

 

 

4)    An author can briefly start their story in the ordinary world.  The optimum word here is briefly. Once, I heard an editor panel discussion where they stated that by page two you better turn the character’s world upside down with an enticing incident or you’re done.  Editors don’t have time for more and readers want to escape now. Not after the character gets up, has breakfast, takes the bus to work, greets her co-workers, etc.  That is boring.  Drop into the story near the moment everything changes and make the disruptive incident so unpleasant your characters will want to turn back time and gain their safe world back.

 

5)    The opening should show your voice.  This part of the promise you are making to your readers.  You don’t want to open with a comic scene and then the follow chapters turn dark. The dark element should be part of your opening, if that’s the case.  If it’s not, you might need to rethink opening POV or ditch the scene altogether.

 

6)    Don’t use the opening for an information dump on character’s backstory.  Reveal bits of necessary information over the length of the book.

 

Okay, that is my short checklist.  Does anyone else have suggestions for making  openings great? Oh, and FTW, I have no experience with flatworms.

 

Visit Autumn at www.autumnjordon.com . Her new release Seized By Darkness is available on Amazon and B&N.

 

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The Latest Comments

  • Hope Ramsay: Hi Vivi, hope the tips help. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
  • Hope Ramsay: Thanks Anne Marie. I’ve never burned the gravy yet, but every year I’m sure this year will...
  • Vivi Andrews: Congrats on the new release, Hope! And thanks for the advice on gravy making. I’m on gravy duty...
  • Anne Marie Becker: Love the tips, Hope! I never would have thought to brown it until it’s basically burning,...
  • Laurie Kellogg: Hmmm, you are so right. Bacon makes everything better. The turkey must be amazing!

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