Well, maybe not always. I currently have two books in the editorial process at two different publishers and sequels to each of them in process. If I hit a snag in one, I can switch to the other while I work it out. At the moment all four projects are moving, so I guess you could say I have a lot of work to do.
The thing is, writing is my love, and while it isn’t always simple, it is always a joy. Work to me means the thing that burdens me. It isn’t the writing.
The real work? Marketing. When I think about what has to happen to enable readers to discover my work, not to mention to sell books, I feel like Sisyphus—you know, that guy who the gods condemned to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down every time.
The Romance market has become a crowded, chaotic, cacophonous place.
Social media is in continuous upheaval with both products and their algorithms changing constantly, some catering to one subgenre and some to another. Readers are as confused as authors and a splintered, making it hard to build community.
Listbuilding, the process of recruiting newsletter, Bookbub, and website followers, is ever a central task for an author, and for that very reason has become another croweded market place. By my count at least six major vendors promise me great success—for a fee. Just reviewing and evaluating them is a huge time suck.
Publishing platforms have begun to proliferate as well, as do platforms for distributing advance copies for reviewers. Have to have those reviews. More places competing for my limited funds, more places to review and evaluate.
Advertising sounds simple, but there are mixed reports about how effective it is. Not to worry, again there are competing services that will help me track your progress and success. Other entrepreneurial types are jumping in with classes, webinars, ongoing subscription services, all happy to take a piece of the pie to help me along.
Confusing? You bet. Downright debilitating. Expensive? You bet. I get the need to invest money to make money, but I resent the way an author is nickled and dimed. More than that, I resent the time it takes to simply sort through the noise. Of course, I could hire a virtual assistant or marketing consultant to do it for me. If I sell enough books to afford it.
That, my friends is the real work, the boulder being rolled up a hill.
Do you like historical romance—sensual but not steamy? You can keep up with my work by subscribing to my newsletter or following me on Bookbub. Never miss an opportunity for listbuilding, I say.
About five years ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed when a post to an RWA group caught my eye. I believe the topic must have been about where everyone in the group was from, because one commenter said she was from a small town about 90 minutes from me. I chimed in with my location, and we connected, started chatting, and planned to meet up for dinner. Then I remembered I knew two other romance others in my town, so I reached out to them to see if they would like to join. These women knew other romance writers in the area, who also joined in.
We’ve taken to calling ourselves the Gainesville Girls, and we have since grown to a private Facebook group of 27 authors, all local (if you consider a 90-minute radius local). Who knew there were so many of us in the area? A core group of about 6 to 8 of us got together every two or three months for dinner, to toast our successes, lament our failures, and seek validation of a sort from our fellow romance writers. We shared tips and tricks, discussed our latest WIPs, passed along the names of favorite cover designers and other companies who offered author services, and participated in multi-author book signings.
I looked forward to those dinners for their shared experiences, kinship, and sisterhood. Then came COVID. The raucous dinners, hugs and kisses, and general human connection ended abruptly.
Our Facebook group provided an outlet for some things. Sharing our latest book covers, awards, and 5-star reviews. It was great for getting help with book blurbs, taglines, and marketing materials, but it wasn’t enough. Zoom did its best to fill the void, and we’ve actually been able to meet more frequently on Zoom, but again, it just wasn’t the same as our dinners together. I miss these women!
Enter the COVID vaccines. One-by-one we’ve been getting vaccinated and the last of our crew will be fully vaccinated by mid-May. Plans are underway for our first in-person dinner in over a year! We may even be able to hug one another again. This dinner is one of my first steps to a return to normalcy, and I can hardly wait! Online groups are fine, but nothing beats frequent face-to-face interactions. As we all know, writing is (mostly) a solitary endeavor, but connecting with people who share the same passion, the same pitfalls, and the same tenacity is what keeps me going. No one at our dinner table thinks it’s weird that we hear voices in our heads. ☺
Do you have a local group of authors to whom you can turn for support? How have you handled staying connected during the pandemic?
Authors get a lot of advice. Friends, relatives, bloggers, other authors all have something to say. Some of the advice is worth keeping. Some is not. I’m an author and I am not here to tell anyone what to do. But I have a few observations. Bear with me.
The days when the key to “instant” success was “write a better book” are gone. If you’ve ever purchased a best-selling category book on Kindle you will find a few exceptionally well-written books. You will also find a few that will make you scratch your head. So why do the okay ones sell as well or better than good ones?
Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.
I’m from a generation that began writing on a typewriter. I learned how to use word-processing software when I had a contract for a non-fiction book. I took myself to a remote location—no internet, no car, no distractions—and I wrote for a week to get my first draft.
Now we have sophisticated tools for writing and on-line resources. We never have to leave our house to write and interact with people. We can even post our own books. But there are millions of books available to readers. How do we get readers to discover our books?It’s nearly impossible unless you know how to use the marketing tools available and even then there is no guarantee.
What tools am I talking about? Website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest—these are some of the most popular social media sites. Posting to these sites is time consuming. Street teams (which used to be very effective) are really time sucks. Are we not supposed to be writing? Plus you still have to get people to look at your posts. Newsletters? It’s hard to get signups with so many authors offering them.
We can hire a company to put a book on a blog tour. We can do interviews with bloggers. We can pay to feature our book on sites with lots of subscribers like Bookbub. We can pay to advertise our books in on-line publications. Or we can sign up for free sites that promise reviews. Do any of them work? Are we risking piracy?
So what is left? How do we get our books in front of new readers if we don’t have the skill or time or money to use all of the marketing tools available (and I’m sure I’ve left out many)?
A publisher once gave this advice to a stable of new authors: word of mouth will slowly be your best advertisement. I guess that gets us back to the “write a better book” idea. An exceptional book will get good reviews. People will recommend your book on line. They’ll talk about it to their friends.
Instant success? No. This is gradual success because the readers you pleased will buy your next book and maybe the one after that.
So is “write a better book” a myth or a must. I’d say unless you are an extraordinary marketer, or can manage to get lots of Bookbubs, it’s a must. And if you’re like me, it’s what you want to do anyway.
Spring is definitely in the air in my neck of the woods. The temperatures are rising, the snow has melted, Robins are back, and when I go for a walk, I can hear the birds singing in the trees. What a difference to last year when we still had snow up to our knees! This time of year, I find I have a craving for salads, so I thought I’d share a recipe for a light salad with a delicious peanutty dressing. I love Boston lettuce because of its fresh, airy taste.
Melon Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
1 cantaloupe – scooped out with a melon baller to make bite-sized balls
1 lb seedless grapes halved
1 head Boston lettuce, torn to pieces
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp gingerroot, minced
2 Tbsp peanut butter
½ cup coriander
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
Dash of hot pepper sauce (optional)
Blend dressing ingredients together with a hand blender or in a food processor. Combine the lettuce, grapes, and lettuce in a bowl and pour dressing over top (you may not need it all). Enjoy!
If you have time to relax this long weekend, spend time reading! Happy Easter! InPerfectly Reasonable, Trace is applying to medical school. With a little help from Margo, he plans to ace the dreaded medical school interview. Now he just has to convince Margo to help him!
Love what you do and do what you love. Sounds perfectly reasonable, but chances are, you’ll find your passion in the last place you look . . .
Margo MacMillan finished medical school, but in the process, her self-confidence and self-esteem took a beating. So for the sake of self-preservation, she’s stepped away from medicine to re-group. In the meantime, painting soothes her soul and pays the bills
Trace Bennett set his sights on a medical degree and has to prepare the perfect medical school application. His big plan is to paint his condo for a little feng shui divine luck. When Margo shows up to paint, he realizes he’s found exactly what he’s looking for. He just has to convince Margo to share more than the art of medicine.
She’s got it. He wants it. It’s Perfectly Reasonable.
“Because you’re paying twice the usual fee,” Margo said with a cheeky grin.
“Shouldn’t you be…doctoring?”
Her smile slipped. He sounded like her mother. All that time, all that money, blah, blah, blah. “I could be, but at the moment, I’m painting.” She pointed to the paint sample hanging on the wall. “That’s the color I chose.”
He looked over. “I like it. Hopefully it will work.”
“I think it’ll work. Blue’s a neutral color. Looks good in this lighting and it’ll be a great backdrop with your metal furniture.”
“Hm-mm. I’m hoping it’ll be lucky.”
“Feng shui. Water and metal elements, á la blue paint and metal furniture, in the west and southwest rooms are supposed to bring divine luck this year. Good bye beige and wooden antiques.”
She smiled at him. He wants to get lucky? Look at those abs. Really, any color would do. “Sounds like you’ve researched this.”
He took a sip of coffee and set the cup down. “I have. I’m applying to medicine. Again. I’m giving it one last chance, and this time I’m doing it properly.”
“And you think feng shui will help?” She reached for a small tool in the outer pocket of the tote bag and used it to pry open the lid from the first can of paint.
“Couldn’t hurt. And I want to cover all the bases. If I can get a little divine luck on my side, I’m all for it.”
She smiled at him as she stirred the paint. Hopefully he had more than feng shui up his sleeve. “I’ll get this done and get you started. I’m happy to help.” Especially if it meant her bills would get paid.
Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.
Some of the charm of reading a favourite book is sharing a meal with the characters. But the reader is not alone – for over the shoulders of the character is the author, perhaps also yearning to have a meal and a gossip with their characters.
A meal in a book can often reflect the life and times of the author. In this way, Jane Austen can show us the benefits of being rich and having access to hothouse grapes and fruits early in the season. We catch a glimpse of a team of gardeners working away in the background, being learned in the magical properties of dung, training trees into fruit bearing shapes, and the probable close relationship between gardener and cook. In Emma, food is used to show the overbearing control that the illness obsessed Mr Woodhouse would inflict on his family and guests. Guests are urged to eat only gruel (a thin porridge designed to be easy for invalids to digest) and twice cooked baked apples. Innocent foods of the nursery take on a more sinister aspect when he is in control.
Tolkien wrote much of his work while he suffered under the privations of both war rationing and soldiers’ rations while he served in the trenches at the Somme. Is it any wonder that he created lembas? A light, airy, honey biscuit of the elves, which could sustain one on any journey. A far cry from weevilly hard tack. Many of the meals and feasts feel like he imagined them when hungry – second hobbit breakfasts, a hearty dish of mushrooms, and the vanishing elven feast that nearly spelled doom for Bilbo and the dwarves. CS Lewis was of the same generation, and the Narnia books are filled with glorious meals, but also privations and danger. Teatime with Tumnus is crumpets and tea, laced with the faun’s fear of the witch. The meal with the badgers – fresh caught fried fish, buttery potatoes and hot marmalade pudding– is welcome yet eaten while listening for the sound of wolves. The desirable Turkish delight becomes sickly sweet as Edward finds out he has betrayed his family. Meals are eaten with danger looking over your shoulder and provide energy and courage for what lies ahead.
Enid Blyton also lived through the wartime rationing in Britain, which extended well into the 1950’s. An interesting take on this is food writer Elizabeth David. She writes of the glory of seeing the first tomatoes and lemons to add flavour after so many dull years of plain rations. For JK Rowling, a single mum trying to write on very little money, the feeling was the same. Both Blyton and Rowling’s books are filled with delicious food, all provided without work by house elves or Cook, who seemingly led a similar life to a house elf.
So it’s interesting that today – in a time of too easy availability of food – that many books don’t even mention food. Action and thriller novel characters never seem to eat. The fun of getting food prepared for you has gone. Nuking a meal in the microwave is so dull and commonplace that it doesn’t rate a mention in a modern novel. The one genre that does still focus on food are post apocalypse novels, and much of that is the dehydrated prepper packs, or roast rat if you didn’t plan ahead and stock your bunker.
So the way food is talked about in a book can tell you a lot about what the author intended for the characters, but it can also show a glimpse of the author, peeking between the pages, holding a cup of tea.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. Her latest release -The Organized Author – provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Sign up to my newsletter for a free short story set.
Recently, I stumbled upon a website that asked why we read and offered five reasons. What struck me was that the reasons the website provided as to why we read are very much also the reasons we write. I’ve taken those concepts and applied them to my own situation.
We read/write to escape: According to this site, readers launch into a new book to escape their mundane or traumatic lives. I can completely agree with that hypothesis. I, too, have often read a book, particularly one set in the past, to escape. My life is not humdrum or horrific; however, I have a high-pressure job, my writing career, and the demands of domestic life. Losing myself in a good book is often a stress-buster, and writing often serves the same purpose. When I create characters, I lose myself in another time or place. The world around me disappears. When I wrote Buccaneer Beauty, I wanted to challenge myself and disappear in 1500s Ireland in the character of a real female pirate. When I wrote Love at War, I wanted to escape to a time when my mother’s generation faced challenges that seemed insurmountable, yet many young people faced that challenge and defeated bully nations.
We read/write for companionship: I am not a lonely person. My life is full with a loving husband, a fulfilling but stressful job, and many friends/family. However, the characters in books may become friends and companions. Jo in Little Women was definitely my role model. I wanted to be a writer like her. As a child, I frequently lost myself in a book and identified with the characters.
We read/write to gain perspective. When I read a book set in another period, I gain an understanding of my own time. Many of our problems also plagued people of other generations. A novel set during the Influenza outbreak might help me make sense of COVID—if making sense of this time is possible—but our ancestors probably felt the same anxiety as they watched people succumb to disease. Similarly, science fiction helps us deal with our anxiety about scientific discoveries, innovation, and uncertainty.
We read/write to understand the people they have never met and places they have never visited. My historical fiction requires a great deal of research, and I love placing myself in the shoes of people who lived in other times and faced their own challenges. As a traveler, reader, and a writer, I love reading novels set in locations I’d love to explore. When I wrote From Ice Wagon to Club House, I was re-creating the past to understand my father. My father, like Jude Mooney, had been a bootlegger, bookie, horse trainer, and boxing promoter. He died when I was very young, and his exploits are the stuff of legend. I knew the legend more than the man. Like Jude Mooney, he grew up poor and started his life driving an ice wagon. I embellished Jude Mooney—as most fiction writers do, but Jude shares many of my father’s traits. I was able to place myself in my father’s shoes in ways I never could have when he was alive.
5. We read/write to be entertained. When I read and when I write, I want to feel fulfilled and happy. Reading a novel about people I can identify with and root for satisfies me. Writing a novel after completing research and planning also provides me with a sense of fulfillment and contentment. Lazy summer days and rainy weekends are perfect times to curl up with an entertaining book. They also are the perfect times to snuggle up to your laptop and bring your characters and their alternate worlds to life.
If someone would have told me on Friday, March 13th, 2020 that I would still be working from home on March 26th, 2021, I would have told them that was impossible. The company shut down that Friday for an experiment in working from home that we thought would last a few weeks. Then a few months. One of the Directors took up a pool about when we would return to the office. The latest date projected was August, 2020. Needless to say, nobody won that pool.
It feels like a lifetime ago. A year ago, I waited in line at the grocery store in the pre-dawn hours of March 14th to stock up on supplies. I did not wear a mask. I had no idea then that the world we lived in would be completely different. Now I have a supply of masks both in my house and in my car so I never run out.
Most of my social interactions are done through Zoom or through the few supply runs I take to the grocery store and the drugstore. I have a routine—I find comfort in those—and regularly see two people in my weekly grocery store outings. One is a former co-worker, and one a neighbor. I look forward to those masked chats and sometimes make sure I schedule my Saturday so that I will go to the store around that time to say hi to one or both of them.
Things are starting to ease and I am beginning to imagine a world in which I do more than gleefully look forward to going to Ace Hardware for hose caddies as a break from my usual routine. My parents are vaccinated and my turn will come soon. Then maybe I’ll feel more secure about doing things outside of the bare essentials. I would love to go to the beach, for instance. It’s not that far to Santa Monica and the idea of dipping my toes in the water is compelling.
It hasn’t been all bad. I got a lot of writing done and would like to keep that up however the world looks in a few months. I did many home improvement projects. I saved a ton on gas and the fact that I didn’t have to deal with the daily Los Angeles commute de-stressed me significantly. I hope that we never have to go back to that soul-crushing nightmare five days a week.
As the world opens up, I would love to start going to book signings again. The next one I currently have scheduled isn’t until February of 2022 but maybe something will happen before then. We shall see.
Hope you and yours are safe and thriving!
Below is a little about my Soul Mate books and me.
My third Universe Chronicles series book is called Storming Time. Here’s a blurb and a buy link—if you’re interested!
Storming Time blurb:
A fast car, a little weather manipulation to cover his tracks, and Zared Hersh’s emergency extraction job is done. But when Hannah Nickels dives into his front seat, something about her aquamarine eyes strikes him like lightning.
Hannah’s been groomed to join Universe from the moment her time-freezing talent emerged. But recently, her power’s been glitchy.
In the relative safety of Universe HQ in Richmond, their relationship grows. But Hannah has a second, more dangerous power. And as her control slips, someone with a hidden agenda sets her up to fall—straight into Whisper’s trap.
Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits. Her novels can be found in the paranormal romance and contemporary romance sections, while her short stories run the gamut. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine. Claire can be found at: www.clairedavon.com
Writing may feel like it’s done in a lonely dark void most of the time. Perhaps that’s a bit overdramatic. It’s only that way when the words don’t flow. However, most of the time, it is a solitary endeavor: you versus the blank page. But, the path to publication is a rowdy, carnival like journey full of people. Some are trying to sell you wares you don’t want or need, others try to get you to buy tickets to a ride that’s not for you, but through all of that you also find other lovely writers who become your lifelong friends and mentors. People you would have never met if you hadn’t been united by the love and obsession with the need to tell your stories, share your character’s lives, and to become that thing that is the published author.
Along my own journey, which began in January of 2013 when I joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers, I have met some of the most amazing people. Many of them gifted me with advice that I still to this day use, and I thought today should be the day I share five of my favorite pieces of writing advice. To protect the innocent, I have not added the names of the authors that shared such advice with me. As with all unsolicited advice, take what makes sense and resonates with you and run from the rest.
Tip #1: Just because a publishing or agent says yes to you, doesn’t mean you have to say yes to them.
This one is a doozy. As an unpublished author all you want is to BE published, right? So a yes from any agent or any publishing house begins to sound like blissful wind chimes in your ears. But, don’t be fooled. Do your research on who it is that is offering to represent or publish you. If it sounds too good, it might be. If they are new to the business, be extra careful. Above all, check them out. Look at sites that help you weed out the good versus the bad like writer beware and query tracker. Take your time, trust your gut, and say no if you want to. The most important thing is that you say yes to yourself and your manuscript.
TIP #2: If three or more people give you the same feedback on your manuscript, then listen.
It can be hard to hear what isn’t great about your story. It often feels like your heart has been ripped from your chest and is being held in that other person’s hand while it’s still beating. But, here’s the truth of it. If three or more of your beta readers give you similar feedback and suggestions for changes to your manuscript, then take their words to heart. If it’s just one person, it might just be personal taste, but more than three often means there is a significant flaw that should be addressed . . . and quickly.
TIP #3: Stay in your own lane.
If you think the first two pieces of advice were hard to take, this one may seem like climbing Mt. Everest, but you will save your sanity if you stay in your own lane and focus on your writing, your books, and your successes. Once you begin comparing yourself to another writer’s career, you begin to steal all of the joy from your own journey. You’ll never feel satisfied or content with your successes because you will always be doing better than someone else and worse than someone else. It’s just facts. Give yourself the gift of only competing with yourself and reaching your next goal. It’s really difficult to do, and I still struggle with this one all the time. It takes practice not to compare.
TIP #4: Listen to your manuscript from end to beginning when editing.
This was an editing game changer for me. Listening to my books always helps me to hear my errors and doing it from the end to the beginning helps me to find more plot holes, repetition, and continuity issues than I would have otherwise. So after I finish a draft, I listen to the last chapter, then the second to last chapter, etc. until I reach page 1. If you’ve never tried this, give it a whirl. It is my absolute favorite editing tip.
TIP #5: Let go of people who do not support your dream of becoming a writer and your worries of what they think of you.
Okay, perhaps THIS is the hardest of the five, but it will free you and your writing in a way that nothing else did for me. If you’re like me, writing and my writing are a core, soul-tied aspect of who I am. To say otherwise is a lie, and for years I pretended like it wasn’t that important to me. Because to say out loud how important it was and be scoffed for it seemed, well, unsurvivable. But, you do survive it, and knowing where people stand in their belief in or lack of belief in you and your dream is quite telling. And once you grieve that disappointment, you can let them go or at least let go of your worry over what they may think of you or your writing.
Then, suddenly, you find that your words flow more smoothly without the thorns of judgment being pressed into you or them. Write all of the stories of your heart without fear of anything because those are the stories that capture readers and don’t let go.
Most of all don’t ever begrudge your gifts as a writer. There is a Hank Williams Jr. quote that I love, and I think it applies to writing as well as music. He said “People don’t write music. It’s given to them.”
I believe stories are the same. Cherish the ones that are given to you and your duty as the shepherd of those words.
Care to share your favorite writing advice? Feel free to drop a comment and share them with us. I’d love to see them!
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2020 Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery and the 2020 Maggie Award for Best Romantic Suspense. It also won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.
The euphoria of finishing a novel, which for me is generally a yearlong process, fades quickly when the editing starts. I thought I’d overcome the perils of being a panster (rather than a plotter) by working with a developmental editor.
I appreciate the help of my critique partners, which have resulted in a need for major reworkings of my new Contemporary Western/Women’s Fiction. But even an Urban Fantasy completed and heavily edited multiple times since 2017 needs more before being submitted, which lead me to believe there will always be room for changes.
Market trends certainly play a part, since what readers want, and as a result what editors are looking for are moving targets. But the bottom line always seems to be cutting scenes that are not helping to build tension and conflict, and those that don’t advance the storyline.
For the urban fantasy, what is probably the fifth major edit resulted in re-ordering the opening chapters and cutting scenes that only involved the protagonist’s internal struggles. But for the Contemporary, the third major edit will require removing most of the first chapter, and then re working the next five or six to accommodate those changes.
That will ramp up the tension and conflict, but my own personal tension and conflict about the process have been so high it’s been paralyzing. The complexity of the task is also colliding with the writing on the next book in the series. Keeping track of how all the plot threads change will require a time consuming methodical process of tracing from Book One through Book Two.
I wonder if full time writers struggle same distractions that part time writers face that have prevented me from just doing it. Then again, considering the stress, the losses, the distractions and the difficulties we all have been experiencing over the past year makes a bit of writer’s block seem far to trivial to worry about.
Hello again friends. Thank you for sharing some of your valuable time to read this posting on the Soul Mate Publishing blog. I am a SMP author, and I write historical romance mixed with suspense and mystery. My pen name is Wareeze Woodson, and I have five books published by Soul Mate listed on Amazon. Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, An Enduring Love, A Lady’s Vanishing Choices, Captured by the Viscount and Bittersweep. Bittersweep is my historical western. I made another leap—into self-publishing. My titled, After She Became a Lady. I plan to never jump so far again.
I am so excited. I have one more book to offer listed for presell on May 3, 2021. That title is The Earl’s Scandalous Wager.
Please spare a few more moments with me, and I will get to the point of this blog. The middle of the story, but first, The blurb for The Earl’s Scandalous Wager below:
Having been the recent recipient of the earl’s interest, could the lovely Annalise be the culprit or was someone else responsible for the attempts to snuff out Emily’s life?
Now for the middle of the story.
In some of my past postings for Soul Mate Publishing, we have discussed many writing topics, settings, dialogue, character traits, villains, heroes, and heroines. Today, I’d like to explore the middle of a story with you. As an added bonus, I plan to give you some gems from my editor.
There is always a beginning. Where the story starts must be interesting, holding the readers’ attention. If the readers’ interest isn’t captured very quickly, the book is closed and never opened again. The beginning is that important.
Hopefully the reader will be intrigued enough to continue to the middle of the story. Below, you will find the beginning of The Earl’s Scandalous Wager, my latest novel to be release for presell May 3,2021.
Emily found the smells of melting candlewax, lamp-oil, and the overall scent in the room overwhelming, causing her to force down a gag. Aided by candles placed around the table to wash the surface with light, the close quarters sweltered. Beneath the lingering odors, nervous energy exuded from all the gentlemen anxious to claim the victor’s prize—her. At the moment, the wager had been placed, not a single gentleman objected to the pledge of her freedom to replace L100 which her guardian did not have to the ready.
Naturally, there must be a happy ever after ending. That is the only conclusion acceptable to me as a writer. The ending must leave the reader satisfied with the tale, not only the beginning, the middle, but especially the ending. I won’t post an excerpt from the final chapter in this blog. I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for you.
On to the middle, the most important part of the book. What happened to Emily after this beginning? Are we to learn what transpired when she followed the earl from the smoke-filled room? Certainly the reader will discover her what happened to her, not here, but in the book. However, I do have an exciting excerpt moving the story forward and catching the readers’ interest. The middle of the book must always have action both emotional and physical followed by reactions.
With an exasperated nod at his sister, Noble rode up beside Phillip. “Let’s allow the ladies to ride ahead to become better acquainted.”
Emily turned Firefly to ride alongside Mary. “At least, the gentlemen shall enjoy our dust instead of the other way around.”
Mary giggled. “Splendid. I hope we can become friends. London is very new to me.”
“To me, as well. From this moment on, we are friends.”
Emily heard the thunder of hooves coming up the path behind Phillip and Noble. She glanced over her shoulder to discover a new arrival. Under her breath, she uttered, “Annalise.”
Mary glanced back as well. “The path is not wide enough to ride three abreast. That doesn’t seem to bother the young lady.”
“No indeed. And we are not gnashing our teeth about her access to the gentlemen while we ride ahead, are we?”
Emily and Mary both laughed. A loud bang spooked Mary’s horse into a frenzied dash with her clinging to the saddle-horn. Emily kicked Firefly into a dead run after Mary. Emily heard hooves pounding up behind her, knowing Phillip would be in hot pursuit, but she didn’t yield. There wasn’t time. In the lead, she barely managed to catch the bay by the bridle a moment before the horse darted straight into the path of an oncoming carriage. She couldn’t pull the animal to a halt, but she managed to veer the out-of-control horse away from the roadway. Phillip rode up beside the frantically running bay and lifted Mary onto his lap. After a long run, Emily finally pulled the animal to a lathered stand-still.
Her heart beating like a drum, she waited for Phillip to catch up with her. Having left Mary with her brother, Phillip took charge of the winded horse and smiled at Emily.
“That wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned when I wished to judge your riding skills.”
This is an added bonus: The quote from my editor. ‘Whenever possible, avoid buffer words like heard, watched, saw, knew, felt, etc. They act as a buffer between the reader and the story, inhibiting deep point of view.’
Emily heard hooves pounding up behind her, knowing Phillip would be in hot pursuit, but she didn’t yield.
I’m sorry to say I used two buffer words. Another quote from my editor. ‘If it is on the page, she heard it.’
In a deeper point of view, the sentence would have been better stated: With the pounding of hooves behind her and Phillip in hot pursuit, she didn’t yield. There wasn’t time.
I hope I have shown a small sampling of what should go into the middle. This scene moves the story forward. Emily clearly displays; the foreshadowing of events to come. The action with the near accident and her ability to ride extremely well also moves the story forward between the hero and the heroine.
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