The Write Word with Wareeze

The Write Word with Wareeze

Before the first word is written, the author must decide what to write. The time period must be considered first. The where (in the entire world), and what is happening. Also important is the why.

I love history, all the romance of another era regardless of the hardships of the times. Therefore, I write historical romance. All the stories I write have happily ever after. Sitting at my computer, I hear the tinkle of a music-box. One of my collection of nearly one-hundred. The sound cast me into another world.

A heroine is born:

Stella sank onto the bench before her mirror where the folds of her ball-gown billowed out before collapsing with a soft whisper around her bare feet. She’d dance the night away at the Granville’s ball, the first of the Season. Dropping her forehead on her palm, she groaned with despair. She must receive an offer before the Season ended. Her guardian had warned her not to fail or consequences would follow.

The flicker of the candle cast her image in relief against the shadowed dimness of the bedchamber and danced over the borrowed ruby necklace at her throat. She opened the lid of her music-box and the soft tinkle of sound drifted out, soothing, familiar, dispersing the deep silence of the room. She unclasped the ruby necklace, but before she could place the jewelry in her box, a shadow, deeper than the rest, lengthened over her and her music-box.

I forgot to mention, I always include suspense. Not the standard historical romance, but one with a bit extra both before and after the ball.  There are so many directions to take this story. Sprinkled in the beginning of the tale is an inkling of the time and place with a hint of a dilemma for the heroine. Perhaps, one day I shall actually write Stella’s story.

I have two historical novels released by Soul Mate Publishing. Both are romance mixed with suspense and mystery. Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, my first novel, and An Enduring Love. I have a website where further details are posted. http://www.wareezewoodson.com

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Use Focus Groups Before Your Novel is Published by Beth Carter

What? Use a focus group for novels? Why not! Marketers use focus groups. So can authors, I say. And I did. Let’s back up a bit. We write for readers, right? And we write because we love it but we also want readers to enjoy our work. I’ve worked in marketing for 25 years in banking and healthcare and decided to take advantage of my marketing background before my debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, was published. Call me Nervous Nelly but I wanted feedback before submitting my novel to agents and editors.

First, I invited a group of ten girlfriends to my house. I ordered pizza and plastered (I mean served) them wine. Then, I explained the premise behind my women’s fiction laced with romance, humor, and suspense. I told them I valued their advice as readers and had sample chapters for them to read. They were excited. EXCITED.

thursdaysatcoconuts 400x600 I distributed typewritten chapters introducing my three main characters–Suzy, Alex, and Hope. I explained Suzy is a wedding planner who deals with neurotic brides but can’t find her own wedded bliss. Then, they “met” Alexandra (aka Alex) who is a career-driven bank marketer who gets involved quite by accident with a sexy, possibly bad-boy cop (who happens to be married). Finally, I introduced Hope, a high school counselor who hates her name, hair, and looks–and is driven nearly mad by her stuck-in-the seventies hippie parents. I also gave them another chapter including the hippies but made sure I didn’t have spoilers.

I paced the floor while they read the chapters and passed them to one another like good students. I agonized when it was too quiet and nearly jumped up and down every time one of them laughed. They like it, I thought. Every author is insecure and we crave feedback. After they were finished reading, we discussed my novel, then titled “THE GIRLS” and I asked them to fill out an anonymous survey asking everything from voting on the title (THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS won by a sliver, thank goodness!) and I also asked questions ranging from character likeability, if the hook made them want to keep reading, settings, and much more. It was a fun-filled evening and they took it seriously. We also had fun eating pizza, drinking wine, and talking about reading and writing.

As promised, I mentioned my focus group readers in the “Acknowledgements” section when THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS was published by Soul Mate Publishing less than a year ago. That was their payment other than the food and drink and they loved it! I encourage you to use a focus group. You’ll receive great feedback and your friends will be honored you asked for their advice. Try it! head shots from ORA 2012 003

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A Writer’s Tribute to Dad: The 5 Invaluable Lessons My Dad Taught Me

Father and ChildThe heart-felt flurry of posts on Facebook this past Sunday for fathers on Father’s Day reminded me how fortunate I am to still have my own dad around. As an author, I find the tools my dad gave me over the years have been invaluable to the success I’ve found thus far and I have no doubt will serve me well in the future.

Dream the Impossible Dream, Then Do It

My dad taught me more about dreaming than anyone else. He has always encouraged me to talk about my dreams, to reach high, and never compromise. He’s been an advocate who did everything in his power to support my fledgling dreams. If you can imagine it, you can do it is a mantra that still rings in my head from my childhood. It’s this mindset that sent me back to graduate school and has encouraged me to work toward a career as a writer.believe-in-you

If You’re Generous, Courage Will Never Fail

My father led by example. When he found himself a nineteen-year-old father back in the late 60s, he stepped up to the plate and became the father, husband, and provider he needed to be. He never wavered. He’s always been one to give generously of his time no matter the situation. He helped rescue people during the Johnstown Flood in 1977. He stood beside the hospital bed of my dying mother for almost five months straight when there was nothing else he could do to show his love and support. He’s proven again and again if you give, whether it’s your time, energy, love, or support, your courage will never fail.

He taught me to never back down, no matter what life throws your way. Face life with courage. Give everything you’ve got. Each and every day I face the task set before me. I refuse to back down when life is hard and when things aren’t going my way. Life is unfair. That doesn’t give us an excuse to behave badly.

Does it take bravery to write a novel? You betcha. It’s a scary journey that’s not for the faint of heart. There’s more of me between those pages of fiction than I’d ever like to admit. And it’s even scarier to send those stories out into the world. You never now what kind of response you’ll get, but that doesn’t mean you stop. Because you can still make a difference.

courageShow Up Every Day

My dad has always worked harder than anyone I know. Born the second son to an auto mechanic of German descent, my father didn’t go to college until after both my brother and I had gotten our degrees. For all the years I was at home, he worked as a coal miner. He operated a drag line, then other heavy equipment. He had his back broken when an I-beam fell on him. And yet, once he healed, he continued working. He never gave up. He showed up every day.

This strong work ethic is ingrained in my DNA. And I’m forever grateful. Why? Because it allows me to be productive, to produce page after page of writing that will lead to novel after novel. I show up each day. No, I don’t have to do the back-grueling work my dad did all those years ago, however, writing is still hard work. To understand your craft takes time. To write a novel takes dedication and stick-to-it-iveness, and a certain expertise.clock

Time is a Precious Commodity

When I was a teenager with a curfew, my dad’s motto was, “If you’re a minute late, you may as well be an hour late.” He didn’t tolerate tardiness. I know, this sounds strict. It was. And it still is by most standards. But what I learned from my father’s rule is that deadlines are meant to be kept and being early is preferable to the alternative. And, in the real world, there are always consequences for being late.

How does this translate to writing? Deadlines are hard. They’re not soft. Editors, agents, and teachers have all imposed deadlines for a reason. Those rules are there to maintain order, to help me, and facilitate less stress for everyone concerned. By respecting those deadlines, I become a better writer and a better publishing partner.

JoyOutlast, Outwork, Outplay

Finally, my father has taught me that perseverance is strength turned inside out. If you’re strong enough to stand, you’re strong enough to outlast, outwork, outplay the competition. If you can do this, you’ll eventually be rewarded.

And if that doesn’t work? Reinvent yourself. Figure out how to make your situation work for you. After three years of unemployment at the age of sixty-four, he finally found work again and has been gainfully employed for the last year. Today’s youth-centric culture did not play fair with him. Yet, he didn’t make excuses. Didn’t give up. No one wanted to hire a sixty-two-year-old man when they could hire someone straight out of college for a lot less money. However, he persevered and he took the lemons life handed him and he squeezed them until he had lemonade. Again, he never gave up. He’s always been convinced good things will come his way if he remains steadfast and works hard. And it has.

What a great lesson for aspiring writers. Publishing that novel you’ve written could take years. Don’t write it and sit on your laurels. Get started on the next story. And if you haven’t found your niche yet, think about different directions your writing could take. So many novels seem to cross genres today, figure out where you could blur the lines and appeal to a new audience. Redefine yourself. Go indie, go hybrid. Diversify.

My dad is also an avid golfer. He can outplay the best. Any writer can take this lesson to heart, too. Knowing when to work and then knowing when to play is an important skill. Recreation and time away from work makes you a better worker, a better writer, and a better person.

So wherever you are right now, remember to thank your dad for the invaluable lessons he taught you over the years. Hug him. Tell him you love him. Give thanks that you are, in part, the person you are today because of his guidance. Happy belated Father’s Day! We couldn’t do it without them.

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Writing in the Key of HEA – Elle Hill

key_heaLet’s get real for a moment, friends: Happily ever afters are not optional.

I’ve pondered in the past the essential components of a romance novel. Chief among those criteria is, of course, the HEA. Unlike the unbridled evil of such books as Love Story or The Notebook, real romance novels shouldn’t leave readers sobbing into their pillows. (Love may mean not having to say “sorry,” but these novelists should apologize — heck, send chocolate and flowers to! — to their traumatized readers.) Does real-life romance always end happily? No. Do I care? Desperately, which is why I demand my fiction provide the HEA real life doesn’t always deliver. In the tug-of-war between reality and romance, I will always add my muscle to Team Cupid’s.

Recently, I gobbled up two YA paranormal romance series. It amazes me sometimes how the young adult genre can be so gritty and riveting, probably because their target audience is young enough not to crave the beautiful simplicity of HEAs. But anyway, after gleefully reading through these two stark, gripping series, you can imagine my reader rage when, at the very end, main characters died. They died. As in, like, stopped living. Moved into the Beyond. Was there a sequel where they found out, ala Star Trek 3, that the beloved main character could be resurrected? An epilogue that reassured us it was all a trick to fool the bad guys? No, my friends. They died. Forever. Heck, in the second series I read, the main character, the one narrating the book through the first-person voice, perished. You… you can’t do that, right? My eighth grade English teacher said so! But apparently, that series’ author didn’t have Miss Webber for eighth grade English, because she went right ahead and did it.

So, yeah. Thanks, YA novels, both for shattering my tender little heart and for reaffirming my undying (undying, because dying sucks!) devotion to the HEA. No more shall I stray from the clear, untroubled waters of traditional paranormal romance, in which the most tragic occurrence is the evil rule of Count Sparkleskull.

Back in the day, when I was a starry-eyed music major at college, one of my professors told the class about early (like, pre-Renaissance) European musicians. Back when most official music occurred in the church, songs in a minor key were considered sacrilegious, since their melancholy sounds seemingly questioned the glory of God. But crafty musicians found a way around it. They would create a musical piece in a minor key but, in the very final chord, the song would move into a major key, turning a dark and somber song into something bright and shining.

I have no problem with making our protagonists suffer a little, as long as, major-key like, the last bit of the novel brings those crazy kids together. Conditions may be rough, but by golly, our romantic pair can face anything together. Insert C-major chord.

Gritty rocks. Realism is awesome. Even tragedy in moderation is acceptable. Ending a romance novel with a tragic death or a failed love affair? Not. Cool. Death, taxes, and divorce may sing the song of reality, but I like my fiction a little less blues and a lot more national anthem.

HEA all the way, baby!

Posted in Excerpts from Elle! | 7 Comments

Cornish Spirit

–by Kate Collier, writing as Katie O’Boyle–

A couple of weeks ago, Rusty treated us to photos from his bucket-list journey to France. I read his post just a few days after returning from a bucket-list trip of my own to Cornwall in the UK. My trip was also research for my current series: Lakeside Porches and The Tompkins Falls Mysteries. And since the title of our Road Scholar program was “Digital Photography in the South West of England,” you know I took a ton of photos.

Doc Martin fans know this as "Port Wenn"

Post Isaac (Port Wenn)

I was expecting the coast and countryside to be gorgeous, and it surpassed my expectations. The color of the sea blew me away. Some areas of the coast are rich in slate, which creates an aqua such as you’d see in the Caribbean. In other places the sea is a deep blue violet. St. Ives and Port Isaac’s harbors are a mix of colors.

Widdecombe-RugglestoneMan

Gentleman met in Widdecombe-on-the-Moor

Is it true that Cornish men are charming, fit, and handsome? I’d say so! Their easy manner with weary travelers certainly put a smile on my face at every turn.

Since Kyle Pennington (hero of Lakeside Porches book four, Waking Up To Love, due for release by SMP in October), is from Padstow, in Cornwall, I am revising the current draft with details in mind— the quirky smiles we encountered, the twinkling eyes, the rapt gaze of concern quickly followed by a quip meant to ease worry. In fact, “No worries” was one of the most-frequently-offered phrases by the Cornishmen we met.

StIves-Beach-Play-

Children playing on St. Ives’ beach

Some of the moments I captured suggested that “Life’s a beach!” in Cornwall. Vacations aside, life is real in Cornwall. Now I know that underneath the hardship, history, and mystery of the place is a spirit that loves fun, cherishes family, and feasts on the beauty all around. My kind of place! I plan to work much more of it into Kyle’s spin-off mystery series.

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Consciously Unskilled: Ferreting Out the “I Don’t Know What I Don’t Knows”

Recently I attended a Mindsets and Behaviors training course for my day job. A two day session, I found the topics absolutely fascinating. Discussions included personalities, our own and our peers’, interaction, and the concept of adult learning. Basically, it goes like this:

Unconsciously Unskilled –> Consciously Unskilled –> Consciously Skilled –> Unconsciously Skilled

I refer to this process indirectly in another blog post, Freelance to Fiction, Learning to be an Author.

It’s a process we don’t really think about, but it’s one we’ve all gone through, numerous times. It really got me thinking about my experiences in the last year as a published author, in particular regarding marketing.woodland-656969__180

We all have a lot to learn, and I’m finding myself in the Consciously Unskilled category for right now, and attempting to become for the foreseeable future, somewhat Consciously Skilled.

When I finished my second book, I took a few weeks off from writing to turn my attention to marketing, knowing this was an area in which I unskilled. I also was very motivated to learn as much as I could, as I’d just signed a three book deal for my new paranormal romance series. I had lots of questions – how was marketing a series different from marketing a single title? How could I do better than I did for the first book? And most importantly, I was on a mission to ferret out the “I don’t know what I don’t knows’, if you know what I mean.

On a side note, I want to take a moment to thank my fellow Soul Mate authors, Samanthya Wyatt and Erin Riley, for some discussions that took place on the loop, and via email about Twitter. Your questions were, in part, the catalyst for what became a reading frenzy for me about all things book marketing.

What’ve I learned? LOL – there’s a whole lot more to learn. But here are some of the takeaways I’d like to share:

Taking time to meet folks in person. Taking the time to call the local libraries, go to the local shops, hand out SWAG, find out about book clubs. Recently, a local book club invited me back to their last meeting before summer, and I was touched, and happy to meet new members, and talk with old friends.

www.timgrahl.com An excellent resource, for all things related to book marketing, written in easy to understand, step by step language. Articles, guides, and his book, Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book. The focus is his Connection system, and it focuses on connecting with readers, spreading your ideas, and using your writing to add value to people’s lives. A must read.

Twitter How To – Yeah, I tweeted, but I didn’t understand how to compose a tweet, who, or how to follow, or when to tweet. Here’s a great guide, if I may say so: http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/blog/ultimate-guide-building-your-twitter-presence-03172015

Note: Twitter is my preference, over Facebook, though I’m on there as well.

As I learned how to be a better Tweep, I discovered all sorts of interesting blogs and people and started to interact, and found some great resources. I’ve learned so much, and gained a lot of followers along the way, which, to me, is a cool side benefit. I still haven’t taken part in a Twitter chat, but it’s on my list. See: http://www.socialfresh.com/twitter-chat-how-to/

I took time to work on presenting a unified theme on all of my author platforms – website, Twitter, Facebook and blog.

Evernote – I have come to depend on this wonderful organizational tool for capturing all of my research, ideas, notes, to do’s – you name it. Yep, I have it on my iPad, iPhone and I can access it online. A big thank you to author Kim Hotzon for bringing this to my attention!

Cool Tools worth mentioning: SumoMe, Pixabay, Canva, Click to Tweet, Buffer, Hootsuite

There’s much more, but those are some of the biggies. Since this is going to be my last post for the Soul Mate blog, I’d like to wish you all the best with your writing and marketing efforts, and close with an inspirational story from a video we watched at the two day training.

A photographer from National Geographic talked about how so many people found so much wrong with the world; that was all they could see. He chose to focus on what was right with the world, through his pictures. As he went on his journey, traveling all over the world taking pictures, he found himself challenging his old thought process: if he could see it, then he would believe it. Instead, he came to discover that if he believed it, he would see it.

Powerful stuff. I think being an author is an amazing blessing that’s changed my life in so many ways, and to completely embrace the blessing, it requires shifting my paradigm, just as the photographer did. I’m in the journey for the long haul, moving toward becoming Unconsciously Skilled. I believe it. And I’m seeing it.

I hope you do too.

As an author, what have you delved into, to move from Unconsciously Unskilled to Unconsciously Skilled?

P.S. I’m busy crafting characters for my new Crossing Realms paranormal romance series -Click here to get a sneak peek at The Keeper, the first book in the series, coming late 2015!

Catch up with me at my personal blog, at http://rebeccaeneely.blogspot.com/ I’d love to hear from you!

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On Writers’ Habits

Photo by C.D. Hersh

Photo by C.D. Hersh

Hi!

Catherine, the C of C.D. Hersh, here today talking about writing habits.

We’ve been working on the next book in The Turning Stone Series—The Mercenary and the Shifters. Donald has done his part—the scene outlines and putting the plot lines together. Now It’s my turn to start the first draft. I’ve begun, but it’s starts and jerks, interrupted by blog tours, guest blogging, and the daily stuff of life that is making me crazy.

So, I thought—to make myself feel better about the herky-jerky way I’ve been writing—I’d research what other writers have to say about how they go about the task of writing. Yes, I know, I should really be writing, not wasting my time surfing the internet for quotes. But what can I say? I’m a procrastinator. Anyway, after reading a few quotes, I’m not beating myself up so much.

Here’s what some famous writers have to say about their writing processes.

  1. I just sit at my typewriter and curse a bit.—P.G. Wodehouse
  2. I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.—Clarence Budington Kelland
  3. I write whenever it suits me. During a creative period I write every day: a novel should not be interrupted. When I cease to be carried along, when I no longer feel as though I were taking down dictation, I stop. —Francois Mauriac
  4. I quit writing if I feel inspired, because I know I’m going to have to throw it away. Writing a novel is like building a wall brick by brick; only amateurs believe in inspiration. —Frank Yerby
  5. Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write. —Anthony Trollope.
  6. I type in one place but I write all over the house. —Toni Morrison.
  7. When I have trouble writing, I step outside my studio into the garden and pull weeds until my mind clears—I find weeding to be the best therapy there is for writer’s block. —Irving Stone
  8. What I find is that I can write and do other things. When the creative urge seizes one—at, least, such is my experience—one becomes creative in all directions at once. —Henry Miller
  9. The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. —Raymond Chandler
  10. Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up…—Charles Dickens
  11. As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly.—Paul Rudnik
  12. Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. —Jane Yolen

After reading these writers’ habits (at least some of them) I don’t feel so bad. Personally, I favor numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, 10. Number 11 is my default writer’s avoidance tactic, with a bit of cleaning thrown in.

Do any of these methods work for you? If not, what does?

Posted in From the Desk of CD -, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments