NaNoWriMo…or Less?

Many authors take on the daunting task every November of pledging to complete a manuscript within one month.  It is an ambitious undertaking.  I envy every author who successfully accomplishes the task.  Unfortunately, I have never succeeded in completing any story within one month.

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B.C. or Before Children, I always tried to write 2,000 words per day.  At this rate, I was able to finish a manuscript within a three month span.   My post-kid status is, ahem, not exactly up to the same standard, but I still try to write every single day.

The best advice I’ve received from another author came in two parts and I believe it could apply for those hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo:

1) Write What You Know

If you hope to have a believable story, it’s good to write about something you are familiar with. Now, this isn’t to say you can’t take on a foreign topic and learn about it through research. It just means if you know what you’re writing about, there is more authenticity to the work and it “feels real.”

2) Write

While this seems obvious, that’s not always the case. Writer’s block is a terrible condition that most authors contract at some point in their careers. Write through it. Even if your first draft isn’t great, once you have a draft, you can always go back and revise it later.

Here’s to everyone preparing to participate in NaNoWriMo! Happy Writing!

SIMPLE MISCONCEPTION (JORDAN JAMES, PI BOOK FOUR)

“A Trip to the Big Easy Turns into a Big Nightmare…”

When private investigator Jordan James returns home to New Orleans for Christmas, she never imagined her holiday could end with kidnapping and death. As she begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a childhood friend, she unwittingly stumbles upon a dangerous, international syndicate. With lives at risk and time running short, Jordan must find a connection between these seemingly unrelated events if she ever hopes to find her friend.

SIMPLE MISCONCEPTION, Coming Soon from Soul Mate Publishing!!!
 

Also from Rachel Sharpe:

COLD AMBITION, Available Now on Amazon!!!  http://www.amzn.com/B00L2OLQPG/
LOST DISTINCTION, Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B00Q5OGCS4
BITTER RETRIBUTION, Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B015YS0O94
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Sharpe is the author of Cold Ambition, Lost Distinction, Bitter Retribution, and Simple Misconception, all part of the Jordan James, PI series. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English, Rachel began dedicating her free time to her childhood passion, writing, and in the fall of 2013, she signed with Soul Mate Publishing. An active member of Sisters in Crime, Rachel currently resides with her husband and children in the Greater New Orleans area.

Check Out Rachel’s Sites to Keep Up with Jordan James!!!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorrachelsharpe

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Marisa Makes Memories

dancing-stars-disney-nightThe Disney Factor! Even if you’ve never been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you know what I’m talking about. The ultimate delight that rushes through you when you hear a song like “When you Wish Upon a Star” or the laughter of Mickey Mouse or see Tinkerbell’s fairy dust splashed across your television or smartphone screen.

I was witness to those three moments this week when I watched Disney-Night on “Dancing with the Stars.”  The network airing the dance competition is ABC, owned by Disney, so it wasn’t a surprise to find the music and characters used liberally throughout the show.

The stars from sports, film and television, matched with their professional partners in Disney-themed character wear, performed their best passo doble, promenade or pirouette on the dance floor, much to my delight.

Of course, memories of my favorite childhood movies based on popular stories like 143115_8339Pinocchio, Snow White and Cinderella were brought back to life as the contestants vied for a “Ten from Len.”

But at the same time, newer stories like Frozen and Moana, also brought me to squeals of giddy glee.

Perhaps it’s because Disney movies are filled with memorable, almost archetypal characters and we writers can borrow from their legacy of success.

Even if Disney didn’t pen the original story, they’ve enhanced our memories and joy of seeing the characters brought to life in literature’s favorite fables.

Certainly, writers must strive for a delicate balance between realism and fiction. We want readers to suspend disbelief, but we don’t want our characters to be caricatures. With that in mind though, let them be your inspiration.

Consider the disposition of the heroin in Alice in Wonderland when she said, “I give Alice-in-Wonderland-Disney-Artmyself good advice, but I seldom follow it.”  What kind of plot line would suit a character with that attitude? Perhaps, a tumble down a rabbit’s hole brings Alice into a world beyond the looking glass where she meets a mad hatter and fights the queen of hearts? Your spin, a US engineering grad student volunteers for a mission trip to Mexico to help build houses for the underprivileged, but gets kidnapped by a group of drug dealers and has to pretend she’s British, while using her skills as a drone pilot to help her escape.

You get the idea.

Yes, dashing heroes like Price Charming, with the complexity of an antihero like the Beast, can help you create a complex leading man in your story readers will root for.

And don’t forget the villain. Even a character like Cinderella’s evil step-mother can be inspiration for your next manuscript.

Disney_Magic_logo.svgYes, a little Disney Magic goes a long way and may help inspire you when you are writing your next story. In romance, we want to deliver the happy ever after, just like our favorite Disney movies.

 

Marisa Dillon

http://marisadillon.com

Facebook.com/pages/Marisa-Dillon

Twitter.com/marisadillon

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BOOK TOUR: VENGEANCE BY BELLE AMI

The Bookworm Chronicles

NEW BOOK RELEASE !!
Book 2 of the thrilling Tip of the Spear series by Belle Ami
VENGEANCE
Belle Ami
Series: Tip of the Spear Book 2
Genre: Romance, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Hartwood Publishing
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
A Mossad agent will do anything to rescue his kidnapped wife and to stop a terrorist plot to blow up a nuclear facility.
Vengeance
Vengeance is a sexy thriller teeming with romantic suspense. A well-researched tale, scary in its possibility, packed with excitement, it will leave you breathlessly turning pages.
Layla Wallace Hassani is living her dream, curating a major art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. She has it all, a fabulous career, the perfect marriage and the perfect child. She’s madly in love with her husband Cyrus Hassani, a Mossad agent, and lives in Tel Aviv with their four-year-old daughter Cerise. Her life takes a disastrous…

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A WhirlWind Fall!

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Autumn certainly has blown into my life with a whoosh this year! We left on September 30th for a two-week vacation in Florida from our home in Massachusetts. One week in Tampa, and the other lying on the beach in St. Augustine certainly gave me plenty of time to revive my faltering muse.

IMG_1530Our rental car was upgraded to a convertible Mustang, which neither my husband, nor my daughter or grandson complained about.

We encountered some pretty interesting moments at Potter’s Wax Museum in St. Augustine, and I got sore and tired just watching my son on his waveboard. And yes, I missed a few spots with the sunscreen (ouch!)

 

But the fun didn’t end there. We flew back on Friday, Oct. 13th—I believe in the paranormal, but I’m not particularly superstitious—so we could drive another few hours north to the Fall in Love with New England Author/Reader Conference. This is the second year for this fabulous event, hosted by author Ashlyn Chase, along with her amazing conference board. This year was even better than last. We had a blast, learned a lot, and gained new friends and readers alike.IMG_1652

If there’s one thing I can recommend highly to my fellow Soulies, it’s this: find a cohort. Find a group of writers who do what you do, and understand your goals and challenges. I have definitely found this with the group that I joined forces with this weekend.

 

~~~

Claire Gem writes contemporary romance, romantic women’s fiction, & supernatural suspense. Check out her work at her Website or at her Amazon Author Page.

 

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Transatlantic Cruising

Pluto greeting on Disney Magic

Minnie and the Chipmunks

A long time ago, we tried out cruising on a cruise to nowhere for a weekend. A great way to get your feet wet, pardon the pun, on an ocean liner. There’s a wide range of entertainment, kids’ clubs, spacious staterooms and more! Adults-only spaces · Something for everyone · Broadway style shows, dancing, latest movies, fitness center, personal trainer, spa and lots and lots and lots of food.

First sunrise on Disney Magic, what a greeting!

Me in the porthole

A short time ago we tried a Disney cruise to somewhere, for eleven days. Ya gotta love Disney with the characters and no casino or smoke. Believe it or not, we were busy all the time. We had to find the time to swim and relax.

We hung at the ‘adults only’ section with our own pool, and a place to do some writing. The kids didn’t mind us adults though when we watched Disney movies on their huge screen in their pool area.

Nightly monkey made from towels

Between the rock, almost blown away, son Paul Ingis!

Holding on for dear life, me and Tom. It was a mite windy

Sailing into the sunset-through the Straits of Gibraltar

This ship did port days, one in Cadiz, another in Lisbon where we took a side trip to beautiful Sintra and charming Cascais, then a stop in the Azores, where Paul and Joanne hailed a taxi and took a side adventure. We would have gone to St. John’s in Newfoundland, but the Captain didn’t go  because going north was the same direction as the hurricane, so we headed west for New York.

Highlight of that first Sunday was standing and holding onto each other, up on the top deck, in a fifty mile an hour wind, going through the Straits of Gibraltar at sunset. Behold nature’s beauty.

The fitness center and Olivia, the personal trainer, were tops, as were the people in the spa. Laurabeth Fitzpatrick, an esthetician was fun to talk with. I didn’t get a facial, but enjoyed discussing skin care and explained BeautyCounter’s philosophy. Lots of people took advantage of the convenience of the spa, they offered a full range of face and body care, including sauna and beauty salon. I didn’t do any of that, but I did do the fitness center exercise and elliptical. Imagine exercising in an all glass facility overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

NY sunset

Our servers rotated with us for a different dining room experience each night. Animation Palette, Luminaries, and Carioca’s dining rooms and the buffet dining room, Cabana’s. The last night we dined in their famous upscale Palo dining room on the 10th deck, while we were docked in NY. So we got to see the gorgeous New York sunset and we can say we had a great Italian meal in an excellent restaurant on the Hudson River.

That’s us in Luminaires DR

 

 

 

 

 

Most important crew members. Lucio & Carolina, our excellent servers.

Cascais, Portugal

Sintra, Portugal

Paul&Joanne in Animation Palette

 

Mickey pop, our fav dessert

Time to go home, on our way to debark

 

 

 

Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

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Marketing a Series: When to Move One

When I finished Breakwater Beach,  I never intended to write a sequel, never mind two. But Mike and Liz weren’t letting go of their lease on life, and the story premise for The Widow’s Walk popped into my head. It took about another year for me to get the second one done, about fifteen months later Storm Watch was complete.

I’ve been on the marketing bandwagon for the Unfinished Business series for three years, and since these books were in the same world, branding was consistent and I could spend time marketing and writing without too much effort. But though there are stirring of a possible fourth book, it is time for me to move on to other projects–my urban fantasy series in particular.

The current wisdom is for writers to keep going on a series, because one book helps sell the others. It has taken several months to pull myself out of a Cape Cod ghost mentality and reacquaint myself with two Latino witches battling the dhampirs and werewolves who’ve have taken control of The Bronx. A quick re read of the first book, jump started writing on the second, but it’s slow and I haven’t been able to get the “fever” needed to make real progress. The research for the Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken Dreams series is very involved, and not nearly as pleasant and as sitting on a Cape Cod beach where the worst that can happen to me is a sunburn.

I can’t blame in all on the time spent marketing the Unfinished Business series, but the blogging and social media events keep pulling me away from writing every day. I don’t have a lot of time when I get home from the day job, and with the little time I do have I’d  rather curl up with someone else’s book. There is still Audible to investigate and execute for Unfinished Business–plus some calls for a film adaptation that will require cutting out some words–and all the sex scenes. I just got my print copies of Storm Watch–and have a holiday book signing at Barnes and Noble in early December to prepare for. Then there is Romance Writers Gone Wild in mid November. Oh my.

I’m exhausted and need time off, but the marketing bug has infected me and getting rid of it has proven impossible. The result is gridlock, with nothing new getting done. My best hope in NaNoWriMo, but that’s only a month away and I’m not sure I can get my head facing the South Bronx.  I’d love to know how other authors juggle writing different series. And when to say enough is enough, get off the social media, put on the headphones, and write with a new playlist dancing in my head.

 

 

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Story Questions

File:Circle-question.svg

courtesy of Wikimedia

 

A while back, my husband and writing partner, the D of C.D. Hersh,  built me a new cabinet pantry. We spent the better part of an afternoon talking about the size and construction of the pantry to make sure it was exactly like I wanted it. Afterwards, he went to Home Depot to get the lumber.

While holding the front door open so he could carry the lumber in I noticed the first piece was shorter than I thought it should be. When I commented, he answered as he went back out the door saying, “Didn’t you want it counter height?”

No, I thought as I closed the door behind him. I don’t. Didn’t he remember what we’d discussed? I peeked through the side window curtain anxiously wondering what he’d bring in next.

The next piece was short, too, and I became concerned. He laid the second piece on the floor next to the first and my angst jumped. They were definitely the wrong size. Had he cut all the pieces wrong? I awaited the next piece, hoping it wasn’t going to be short, too.

The third piece came in and I gave a sigh of relief. It looked like the right length. Then fourth and final piece came in and I could envision the size of the cabinet we had discussed.

“You scared me,” I said. “I thought you’d cut it wrong.”

He laughed and replied, “The other two pieces are the top and the bottom.”

My husband had purposely led me on, leaving me with a new question each time he brought in a piece of lumber.

As writers it is our job to lead our readers on, posing new story questions that will make them want to turn the pages. Each scene and each chapter should leave your reader with new questions about the plot you are constructing, the reasons your characters are acting and reacting, and how they are going to resolve their conflicts.

For example, in The Wizard of Oz, the over arching story question is will Dorothy ever get home? But along her journey in Oz a number of other questions pop up like:

  • What is going happen to her because her house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East and killed her?
  • Are the characters she meets along the way going to be friends or foes?
  • How do Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man figure in the story?
  • Will the Cowardly Lion sleep forever in the poppy field because his companions couldn’t carry him out in time?
  • Who is the Wizard …really?
  • How will the Wizard grant their wishes? Or can he even do that?
  • Will the Wicked Witch of the West get Dorothy before Dorothy and her companions get the witch, and thus secure Dorothy’s way home, a heart for Tin Man, a brain for Scarecrow, and courage for The Cowardly Lion?
  • When the Wizard’s hot air balloon leaves without Dorothy is she going to be stuck in Oz forever?

Each one of these questions moves the story forward, posing new problems that the characters must solve in order to reach their final goals—going home, getting a heart, a brain, and courage. A story with only one question is a simple story that will not hold readers’ interest for 300 or more pages. Baum answers his story questions fairly quickly after he has posed them, but it’s not necessary, nor desirable to do so, in today’s stories. We want our readers to keep turning those pages to find those answers.

But beware one thing—the questions you pose must be answered before the book ends. There is nothing more frustrating to a reader than to finish a book and discover you, the writer, have left out an important answer to a burning question you posed.

I forgave my husband his little joke, but only because he got the pieces right. Make sure you do the same thing for your readers.

 

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