Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Essentials in Writing a Page Turner

Everyone wants to be that author -- the one readers are clamoring to read. How does that happen, though? How do you become that author, with tribes of loyal natives willing to trek barefoot through jungles to buy your next book?

Easy. Write a page turner and they'll come back for more.

Okay, so maybe it's not that easy. Penning a riveting story is hard work, but there are a few key ingredients you can add to make the outcome more tantalizing to a reader . . .


Do This: Intensify the story stakes.
Not That: Make life too easy for your characters.

You've got to torture your characters. Your hero has to go from sweet-mercy, to dang-it, to oh-my-freaking-stars-I'm-going-to-die. Think of your story as a journey, uphill, both ways, with the climax at the tippy top. Your characters have to work hard to overcome struggles in order to gain the readers respect, and those struggles need to be something more intense than a chipped nail.

Example: In The Captive Heart, heroine Eleanor goes from losing her job, to losing her freedom, to nearly losing her life.


Do This: End every scene with a gasp.
Not That: Make it easy for a reader to put down the book.

Don't just dangle a readerly carrot at the end of each scene. Dangle a piece of turtle cheesecake. You always want to end a scene or a chapter with a huge unanswered question, that way your reader just has to flip the page and find out the answer.

Example: In The Captive Heart, every scene ends with an OMG moment, such as Eleanor facing a charging rogue bear.


Do This: Have your characters hold on to secrets.
Not That: Make your characters blab everything up front.

Everyone loves a juicy secret. Readers especially. Resist the urge to spill all the beans at the beginning of the story. Dole out background crumbs, hints at what the character has in his past, but don't do the big reveal until the climax.

Example: In (you guessed it) The Captive Heart, hero Samuel hides the fact that his grandmother is a full-blooded Cherokee.

Entice your reader by using these 3 tricks and you will be that author.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Feeling Creative is a Myth

“Have no fear of perfection, 
you’ll never reach it.” 
~ Salvador Dali

In order to meet my deadlines and fulfill my contracts, I have to write 5 days a week, without fail, sit my rumpus in a chair and pound out a chapter a day.

What's your response to that?

Usually I get, "But what if you don't feel like writing? It's not like you can flip a switch and turn on creativity, right?"

Well . . . to some extent, that's true. I personally don't have an on/off switch on any of my body parts. But yes indeedy, you can write and/or create without feeling particularly creative.

How does one accomplish this? By kicking perfection to the curb. If you put off writing until a flow of perfectly awesome words comes to mind, you'll never finish a manuscript, because here's the deal . . .
Writing isn't about perfection.  

It's about getting words on paper, and that has nothing to do with "feeling" creative. Pry your grasping fingers off that myth and slap them on a keyboard instead. Today is the day to create, whether you feel like it or not.

What? You're still here? Go. Write.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Infographic: 5 Secrets to Getting Published

As always, feel free to steal this and spread it like a toenail fungus. Eew. Sorry for the visual.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In the News

I know. You were hoping for a break from the news, right? You're fed up with all the Hillary this and Trump that. Never fear, though, little cowboys . . . today's smattering of news here at Writer Off the Leash is all happiness and sunshine because it's from the publishing world.

Read For Free with Amazon Prime
Join Amazon Prime and you'll have access to over a thousand titles to read for free on your e-reader or device of your choice. The content is pretty varied, ranging from Harry Potter to comics and magazines.

Kid's Haircut Discount for Reading
Here's a piece of good news in this dark world . . . a barber in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is offering a $2 discount in exchange for the kid reading a book while getting his haircut. Sweet way to encourage reading, eh?

Kickstarter Jane Austen Coloring Book Project
Want to support an artist and spread your love of Jane Austen? This is the project for you. It combines the artist's love of Austen with her illustrating skills. She's pretty close to meeting her goal so I think this one will make it.

Book Sales Are Up
According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, bookstore sales in August rose by 2%. Could be just from college students snatching up their texts, but hey, a sale is a sale.

There you have it . . . your dose of good news for the day.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Win! Win!

Whew. Party week is over. Good thing, because my tongue is a woolen sock and can anyone tell me why this lampshade is on my head?

But seriously, a HUGE thank you to the best readers in the world. Yeah, that'd be you. Last week was a fantastic launch week for The Captive Heart and I have all of you to thank for that.

There's one last piece of party business to attend to, though. The winner of the Rafflecopter giveaway of a signed Captive Heart copy is . . .

Vicki Geslak

Woo-hoo! A huge round of applause to you, Vickie!

But if you didn't win, don't mope. I've got a few consolation prizes . . .

There's an ebook sale for Captive Heart on Amazon. Only $2.51. Click HERE.

Or if money is tight right now and/or you don't have an e-reader, then check out the 2 new, free interactive literary maps over at Placing Literature.

There's a map for Dickens and one for Sherlock Holmes. Just click on the little map markers and it brings up information about the place as it relates to Oliver Twist or Sherlock Holmes's adventure in the Adventure of the Three Garridebs. Of course there are other maps, too, but these are my two faves.

Thanks for tuning in, gang. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled Writer Off the Leash shenanigans tomorrow.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Inspiration Behind The Captive Heart

As a wrap up to launch week for THE CAPTIVE HEART, here are a few random behind-the-scenes factoids about the inspiration for the story.

The Inspiration Behind the Plot

Currently our freedoms are being chipped away, piece by piece, to the point that makes me wonder where will it all end. I imagined what it might be like to have my freedom taken away completely . . . and so was born THE CAPTIVE HEART. I crafted the heroine to experience the loss of everything then took her on a journey to learn to cope with that loss.

The Inspiration Behind the Setting

Backcountry South Carolina is no more. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are still rolling hills with drop-jaw gorgeous scenery, but the wildness, the unpredictability is buried in history. Did you know buffalo used to roam in that southern region? Neither did I until I did some digging. I tried to give the reader a snapshot of the area as it was in the eighteenth century, because it’s completely different than what it is today.

Research That Inspired

Before and during the writing of Captive Heart, I did LOTS of reading. My preferred haunt is the fiction realm but to write this story and stay true to the area, I had to read lots of sometimes dry historical non-fiction. Let’s just say I drank lots of coffee. On the flip side, though, I had a blast touring the area and hiking the same trails that my hero and heroine would’ve roamed.

I also couldn’t have done this without the aid of my rural writing buddies. As a city girl, I don’t know which end is up on a horse. Okay, so I suppose I could’ve figured that out, but sheesh! There’s a lot to the handling and care of a horse that I didn’t know about.

What's Next?

Currently I'm working on so many projects that that I’m kind of schizophrenic. It's tough trying to separate myself from all the characters clamoring in my head. My biggest project, though, is a holiday project that will release one book for the next 3 years. Once Upon a Dicken’s Christmas is a Victorian collection of heart-warming yet suspenseful Christmas stories. And actually the first story, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, carries the same theme of freedom but as experienced by the hero’s point of view (as opposed to the heroine's POV in Captive Heart). Here’s a blurb:

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar?

And here's your chance to win a signed copy of The Captive Heart . . .

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Cutting Room Floor

Not all scenes make it into movies. Some end up on the cutting room floor. There are lots of reasons for a piece of work to not make the final draft, the two biggest being a lack of space and a change of direction for the story.

The same is true for novels. For all you Captive Heart fans out there, here is a deleted scene that didn't make it into the final draft. . .

Grace babbled on and on about Biz. So far it’d been a losing battle to get her to add Miss in front of Biz’s name. Eleanor sighed, then smiled when Grace twisted and patted her cheek with her chubby little fingers. “Home, mama!”
            She grinned back. “Yes, Grace. We are soon to home.”
            Grace bounced, whipping her head from one side to the other and bumping into her father.
            “Whoa now,” Samuel reached out his arm and stilled her. “You’re wild as a ’coon cub on a full moon.”
            For a moment Grace stilled, then pushed up from Eleanor’s skirts and howled out a word that would make a sailor blush.
            Eleanor’s jaw dropped. Samuel’s face jerked to hers. Were her eyes as wide as his? Apparently Grace had spent more time with Biz than with the reverend.
            Eleanor grabbed hold of the girl’s shoulders and turned her on her lap, drawing her face to face. What to do? Overreacting would make this naught but a game. Still, ignoring the outburst would surely condone it.
            Drawing from years of governess experience, she held up her hand, fingers curled as if she held a great treasure. “Grace, would you like to see what I have?”
            Grace nodded, eyes fixed on her hand. Even Samuel gazed, a curious tilt to his head.
            “I hold a word that’s even better than the one you just used. Would you like to trade for it?”
            The girl’s nose scrunched up, but slowly she nodded.
            “Very well.” Eleanor opened her other hand, palm flat. “But you must give up the other one first. Put it here.”
            “What on earth—”
            She shushed Samuel before he broke Grace’s concentration. “Go on, Grace, take that word from your mouth and I shall cast it away so you’ll have room for the other.” She shoved her open palm closer.
            With solemn movement, Grace lifted her forefinger and thumb to her lips, then pretend plucked the vile word from her lips and gently dropped it onto Eleanor’s hand.
            “Good girl.” She closed her fist over the curse and mimicked throwing it into the dark woods. Then she opened up her other hand and offered a new word. “Here is your new word. Instead you shall say . . .” She waited until the girl’s eyes fixed on her lips, anticipation shining like a bright star.

            “Oogdoogle!” Eleanor tickled the child until she shrieked. Samuel chuckled along with her. And by the time the laughter faded, Samuel pulled the wagon into the yard.

So there's your bonus feature, only for my buddies here at Writer Off the Leash. And here's one more bonus . . . sign up to win a signed copy of THE CAPTIVE HEART.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Blogger Templates