Saturday, August 26, 2017
BACK TO SCHOOL
Labour Day might as well be New Year's Eve for me. Even though I'm long past worrying about who my new teacher is going to be, I still get the jitters about the first day of school.
Working as a crossing guard for the last eight years, my jitters have less to do with how much I forgot over the summer as how much the drivers have forgotten. The first few days back can be a bit nerve wracking.
It will be nice to see the kids. I might have trouble recognizing a few. I swear they grow faster in the summer than the rest of the previous year. What really bowls me over is the ones who have moved on to high school. I see them on the way to the bus and it makes my head spin. I hardly recognized my own sons when they started high school and I see them all the time.
I'm going to miss being able to sleep in. I don't usually sleep in, but during the summer I can. All my other work can be done as easily (more easily for me) after 10am. (Note to self: rememember to reset alarms.)
One of the sad parts about back to school was that I missed not seeing my kids all the time. I like having them around in the summer. This year, I might actually see one of my sons more often. When he hasn't been working he's been doiing stuff with his friends. Starting September, he'll have to be home earlier, at least on school nights.
My body is going to complain about going to the corner again. I meant to do more active stuff this summer but I was recovering from a car accident and Bell's Palsy and it was too hot/cold/wet/dry and I didn't feel like it. That's okay. I'll do better in the fall. (I won't have a choice.)
One more week.
At least I have cupcakes...
Well, I HAD cupcakes.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
He’s a Navajo sworn to bring her to America;
She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France
At last! Beguiling Delila (Romancing the Guardians, Book 6) is here. This one took longer than usual to write because of all the settings I had to research. Most of the book is set in France. Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love.
Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on the breathtaking Côte d’Azur.
Both Delilah and Leon have lost loved ones, and they’re no longer youngsters, but they are not too old for a second chance at love. Their journey is fraught with danger, excitement and steamy, mature romance. Will it lead to love – if they live long enough?
US Amazon UK Amazon CA: Amazon AU: Amazon
US Amazon UK Amazon CA: Amazon AU: Amazon
Overview of the series so far: There are seven Guardians, each possessing a psychic gift and a precious scroll containing a secret prophecy handed down from ancient Irish seers. Not to be revealed until mankind is ready to listen, the prophesies are in danger of being seized by vicious “Hellhounds” who want to use them for their own evil ends.
Rescuing Lara (Book 1), winner in the 2015 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards, is set in Ireland and Texas. It stars Lara Spenser, the injured niece of the murdered high Guardian, and Connor O’Shea, a hunky ex-Special Forces soldier Lara hires as her bodyguard. Lethal villains, hot romance and a few surprises make this a wild ride.
Decoding Michaela (Book 2) features a heroine who can read minds. Stunned by news that her revered leader, the High Guardian, has been murdered, Michaela Peterson is attracted to Dev Medina, the handsome messenger, but fears he may be out to steal the scroll she guards. Can Dev win her trust and unlock her heart before the Hellhounds capture her?
Capturing Gabriel (Book 3) is set in Colombia. Gabriel Valdez refuses to believe the feisty Navajo beauty who tracks him down with a message to meet the other Guardians in the United States. Instead, he takes her prisoner. Josie doesn’t count on falling for him. Gabriel doesn’t intend to trust her with his secrets or his love, but the heart has a mind of its own.
Touching Charlotte (Book 4) Introduces Charlotte Dixon, an empathic Guardian, and Tristan Jameson, an ex-NYC cop burdened by grief. He needs healing and love, but how can a man romance a woman who can’t stand to be touched? Breaking through Charlotte’s barriers while protecting her from Hellhounds proves his ultimate challenge.
Profiling Nathan (Book 5) is a chilling murder mystery/sexy romance. Guardian and ex-con Nathan Maguire just wants to make a living inking tattoos in Tampa, Florida, but when FBI profiler Talia Werner walks into his shop, she turns his life upside down. To save her pretty neck, he must help catch a serial killer. His deadly psychic gift may come in handy.
BEGUILING DELILAH Excerpt
Leon thrust open the door to Delilah’s outer office and charged in. He tossed Esme a quick greeting as he strode to the inner door. She replied but didn’t try to stop him when he once again entered Delilah’s private office unannounced. He found her standing at a small open closet tucked in beside the wet bar in the corner.
“We must leave. Now,” he said the moment she turned to look at him. “The Hellhounds have come. They were at your condo asking for you.”
Her eyes widened. “How do you know it was them?”
“I know because at least one had a gun. Come, we must go. They might be on their way here right now.”
She made a choked sound, grabbed her coat from the closet and stuffed her arms into the sleeves. Snatching her handbag off her desk, she rushed over to him, breathing fast. Leon gripped her elbow and turned toward the door he’d left partway open. At that moment, a man’s voice sounded from the outer office. He spoke in French. Leon didn’t understand the words but caught his threatening tone.
Esme screamed and Delilah cried out, clutching Leon’s arm. Then her inner door was shoved open, banging against the wall. Three men barged in. Determined to protect Delilah, Leon circled his arm around her, slipping his other hand into his jacket pocket at the same time.
The shortest of the three, who had asked for Delilah at her condo, was apparently the leader. An ugly lantern-jawed tough, he reached under his coat and pulled out an automatic. Pointing it at Leon, he growled something in French.
“I do not understand your words,” Leon said mildly, “but I have no gun if that is what worries you.”
“Oh yes? Then show what you do have,” the man ordered in thickly accented English, indicating the hand Leon had stuffed in his pocket.
He nodded and obeyed. Extending his fisted hand, he uncurled his fingers to reveal a small pile of fine, dark powder lying on his palm. “This is only a calming medicine I sometimes use.”
Laughing, the Frenchman sneered, “You need calming now, eh, old man?” He waved his weapon at Delilah, causing her to gasp. “Release the woman. She is to come with us.”
Delilah trembled in fear. Would Leon meekly hand her over to the vile trio? Intending to resist, she tried to draw away from him, but his arm tightened like an iron band around her waist, holding her close. Seeing him bend his head, she thought he meant to inhale the calming powder but, instead, he blew it into the men’s faces.
The three inhaled sharply, choked, coughed and screwed their eyes shut. “What the hell?” The leader demanded in a strangled voice. Trying to blink the dust from his eyes, obviously unable to see, he waved his gun back and forth.
Delilah shrieked, certain he was about to shoot both Leon and her. But he didn’t get the chance. Clutching her arm, Leon hurried her past the blinded men and out the open door. She spotted Esme crouched on the floor behind her desk. Resisting Leon’s tug on her arm, she shouted, “Don’t cower there like a frightened rabbit, Esme. Come! We must escape!”
White with fear, the trembling girl rose and followed them. As the elevator doors opened, Delilah heard the three villains stumbling from her office, shouting furiously. Heart hammering, she dashed into the elevator with her companions and sagged in relief against the wall when the doors closed. Esme huddled in the corner, crying and shaking.
Leon laid his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Calm down and look at me,” he said, drawing her tearful gaze. “When we reach ground floor, Delilah and I must run. But you should go to the security desk and ask the guard to call the police. Will you do that?”
“Oui, M-Monsieur,” the girl stammered, swiping tears from her cheeks. “But what if those terrible men follow you?” Esme glanced anxiously at Delilah. “Can you protect Madame Moreau?”
“We must leave the city for a while, but do not worry. I will keep her safe.”
Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and romantic suspense novels, all spiced with paranormal elements. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and a gaggle of very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.
Find Lyn’s books on her Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/Y3aotC
Sign up for Lyn’s Romance Gazette: http://eepurl.com/bMYkeX
Monday, July 17, 2017
Building Your Author Brand
By Liz Lindsay (aka one-half of Jamie Tremain)
You’ve written a book? Wonderful and now you’re set to send out your query letters to find a publisher or agent who will work with you. Here’s a question. If an agent or publisher googled your name what would be the result of their search?
I’m going to relate the steps my writing partner, Pam Blance and I took on this writing journey of ours and how invaluable it’s been to have established our brand well in advance of sending out the first query letter.
We kind of fell into the world of writing very unplanned and honestly really didn’t have much of a clue about what we were doing – clueless mystery writers – great. The first thing we did was decide on a name under which to write and so Jamie Tremain was born.
Once Pam and I realized we were serious about pursuing our writing goals, we began to pay attention to how other writers worked. Right away we recognized the value of a blog and that was our first step in getting the name Jamie Tremain out there.
Initially the blog, Jamie Tremain Remember the Name, centered around the steps (baby steps) we were taking in our writing journey, sharing our progress, setbacks and frustrations. As our confidence grew, the posts began to mature and attract followers.
We also began to network. This I believe is a key foundation to building your brand. You need to gain recognition within the writing community as a serious writer.
Pam and I attended several workshops given by Brian Henry – he offers writing workshops from Toronto to London to Collingwood and beyond. I’d highly recommend them. The Quick Brown Fox is his blog and always lists his schedule and topics available.
Not long after the blog was up and running, we created our first business card. They were handed out everywhere and anywhere. Sometimes we splurged and ordered pens, or book bags with our name, but always to give away and get that name in circulation!
For marketing merchandise we’ve used VistaPrint and Zazzle. Create an account and you’ll see almost limitless ways to market yourself. And by limitless I mean whatever your bank account allows.
Facebook was the next step and a page for Jamie Tremain was created. Then came Goodreads and LinkedIn.
We often discussed how we could make “Jamie Tremain” stand out. At this stage we were still writing our first book and were nowhere near ready to begin sending out query letters
So while we continued writing and polishing our manuscript, we interviewed authors on our blog. This was Pam’s idea and probably did the most to help establish the name and brand of Jamie Tremain. Our fellow authors were glad to share their answers to all our questions about writing. Hits on the blog began to take off and interviews became a regular feature of Jamie Tremain’s blog. It became our brand and we capitalized on it as much as we could.
Blog interviews were interspersed with posts about events in our lives, travel, etc., and helped build a connection with our readers. If you build a connection, you grow a fan base. Future sales are driven by fans who want to read your work.
Whenever our schedules and finances permitted we travelled to conferences and workshops. More networking which is, and continues to be, priceless. Listening and learning from others, not to copy, but to adapt into something Jamie Tremain could incorporate. What worked, what was too much work, and what we knew was just not us.
We showed our support for other authors whenever possible at their book launches and promoting their newest releases or events through social media.
I remember the day I was shopping for a new computer in Staples and just for fun googled Jamie Tremain, and was stunned when it was the first item returned in the search, along with the next half dozen beneath it! And we still didn’t have a book published! That’s when we began to realize the name Jamie Tremain was becoming familiar. Time to develop our own web site. There are many providers which make it truly easy to set up and maintain your own site. We used GoDaddy to provide the domain name, and Weebly to host the site. Not always free, but reasonably priced and, hey, it’s a tax write off too.
So we ventured into Twitter; 3 accounts in all, one for Jamie Tremain, one for Pam and one for myself. A little time consuming, but brilliant for cross posting. (just don’t ask about remembering passwords!) We started by searching and following other authors, writers, advice sites, but once you get the ball rolling it will soon take on a life of its own.
Check out membership sites you can join, depending on the genre you identify with. For us it’s Crime Writers of Canada. Often you don’t have to be a published author to join some of these organizations.
Pinterest has recently become another venue for promotion as well as You Tube. And if you like statistics, both Pinterest and You Tube, as well as Google, know how to present stats and data in multiple ways. Very helpful if you want to target a certain demographic or geographical area.
The downside is that all of these areas of promotion take time and you need to determine where you can best put your precious resource of time for the greatest return. For instance I’ve dabbled in Reddit, and Instagram for JT, but at this point, I’m not pursuing either as another source of exposure. Never say never though.
So when we were finally ready to send out query letters, we were able to show that we were serious, and established, writers with a moderate online following. I feel that helped ensure we weren’t discarded so quickly.
At our launch for our debut novel The Silk Shroud we had standing room only and sold out of all books on hand. We credit this to all the foregoing steps we took, from writing the opening lines of the book to the signed contract with our publisher.
The publishing world is very competitive and if you can find something unique to promote about yourself, or build a following well before you send your first query letter, you will have a fantastic head start.
Cheers and Happy Writing!
Liz Lindsay co-authors with Pam Blance as “Jamie Tremain”. She lives in Guelph, loves the craft of writing and can’t wait to retire from the 9-5 in order to focus on what she truly enjoys. She and Pam are busy crafting the sequel to their debut novel, The Silk Shroud.
Twitter or Facebook? Which one do you like the most? (Or hate the least?)
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Self-editing Your First Draft
By Donna J. Warner
You’ve accomplished what seemed impossible! The first draft of your manuscript is finished. Now what?
Let Your Draft Breathe
- Wait a couple of weeks before tackling editing. You’ll be more objective and better able to find mistakes. Otherwise, you brain will discern what you intended to write versus what you wrote.
Be a Reader Not an Author
- Read your manuscript from a reader’s point of view to check pacing, tone, writing voice, and story flow. It can be helpful to read aloud or convert your document to a PDF and utilize the ‘read aloud mode’ found at the ‘View’ tab.
Edit in Steps and Ask Yourself These Questions
- Does your first chapter confirm the book’s genre?
- Is the setting alluring?
- Do your characters have a purpose? Are they memorable? Is their dialogue appropriate? Are names easy to pronounce and spelled correctly?
- Point of view is whose head you’re in during a scene. Draw readers into the emotion of your story by writing in deep POV. Eliminate excessive dialogue tags.
- Filter words weaken your writing by taking readers out of the character’s head. Reduce as many as possible, words such as: wondered, very, then, felt, realized, just
- Delete repetition of words and details. Use MS-Word’s ‘Find and Replace’ feature.
- If a sentence doesn’t advance the plot or add to character development – axe it.
- As a general rule, you should use active voice whenever possible to engage your readers. Active voice is bold, e.g., “Jordan stubbed her toe.” Versus “The toe was stubbed by Jordan.
- The Show -- Don’t Tell writing tip is a challenge for many seasoned and novice writers. SHOWING with vivid description makes a reader feel that they are experiencing a scene. Whereas, TELLING them what is occurring, is reporting or narrative, which tends to distance them from the action. To further complicate things, some writers do both. TELL and in the following sentence, SHOW. This can frustrate readers who don’t feel the need to be fed details twice.
- Have you used powerful sentences for chapter beginnings and endings to hook readers to read on? Is there conflict, tension, and plot originality? Have all plot questions been answered? Does your story have a satisfactory conclusion?
- Proofread on-line; then print off your manuscript to edit with a pen for: spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, excess wordiness, and awkward phrasing. A Style Guide is helpful for checking mechanical errors.
Seek Feedback and Develop a Thick Skin
- Request constructive input from people who agree to be your beta readers. Consider their suggestions carefully, especially if more than one voices a similar concern. It’s difficult to identify your own writing mistakes even if you have editing skills.
- If your goal is to indie publish, hire an editorial consultant to polish your manuscript to publication quality.
Targeted (#1) and Death’s Footprint (#2) in the Blair & Piermont crime thriller series are novellas Donna co-authored with award winning mystery author Gloria Ferris.
Donna’s former careers: a freelance editor; manager of the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres; ESL tutor; and instructor of college-level education courses. She is a member of International Thriller Writers & Crime Writers of Canada.
Web site: www.donnawarnerauthor.com
Are you a beta reader? Tell us about it!
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Humour in Fiction
By Gloria Ferris
When you think of it, life is funny. Not all the time, but usually there’s a humorous aspect to every situation if you look closely enough.
Why should mystery fiction be any different? It’s a reflection of life, a parallel reality where the author can execute any crime, place her characters in mortal danger in scene after scene — and come out alive and victorious. That’s what happens in my kind of book, anyway.
Have you read any of Matthew Reilley’s Sigma Force series? Or Clive Cussler’s NUMA series? Or, my favourite mystery thriller author, John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series? In every book these authors write, the teams should die ten times, at least. Okay, once in a while, a member takes a big dirt nap, but mostly they survive, saving the world, maybe with a slight concussion, or in one memorable case, I don’t remember which story, losing a hand and being fitted with a bionic limb that’s much better than the original. Sign me up for that one.
I’m digressing wildly, but the point is, the heart stopping action is bearable only because of the humorous banter among the characters between their death-defying capers. These interludes give us a chance to breathe, to fetch a beer or an Ativan before plunging back into battle. And, humour is one way to flesh out the characters, to make us care about them. And, that, as we all know, is integral to retaining a reader’s attention.
Each of my fellow Guelph Partners in Crime members, Joanne Guidaccio, Donna Warner, Liz Lindsay, and Alison Bruce (and myself), use humour in our mystery writing. All to a different degree. And, whether they realize it or not, the humour in their writing is a reflection of their own personalities. In their stories, I see a gentle nuance, a self-deprecating joke, dry wit, sarcasm as-a-first-language, and fall off your chair hilarity. You’ll have to come out to one of our author events to figure out which is which.
Gloria Ferris is the award-winning author of the Cornwall & Redfern mysteries, featuring serious crimes and not-so-serious characters. She also co-writes a suspense series with Donna Warner.
When not writing, Gloria works on character profiles, researches plotlines, reads voraciously, and is often heard to mutter, “I wish I’d written that!” She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, and the International Thriller Writers.
Do you know us? Have you read our books? Can you match the style of humour to the author? Let us know in the comments!
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Collaborative Writing - It's not for everyone
By Pam Blance (aka Jamie Tremain)
Writing generally is a solitary occupation. You are in control of your thoughts and meanings. You are responsible for your mistakes but also for the brilliant prose you type onto your computer. The only voice you hear is your own until a publisher or editor has their hands on your masterpiece.
Not so in a collaboration. When writing with a partner there are a few dos and don'ts.
- If you Do decide to write with someone make sure it is a person you respect and like.
- Do set a schedule to meet up and have face to face brainstorming sessions. Being on the same page is important.
- A fresh pair of eyes can spot mistakes. The brilliant word or sentence you are sure will win you an award will be weeded out by your partner. Do listen to them and don’t get upset. You will be doing the same to them in the next paragraph.
- Do follow through with the work if your collaborator is waiting to start the next chapter.
- Do trust you partner enough to get on with the story when you are not available. Life gets in the way sometimes.
- Do have a shared vision of your finished product.
- Do speak up and voice what you don’t like. You can’t move forward if you are not in agreement.
- Don’t lose your sense of humour.
- Don’t let your ego get in the way.
- Don’t be swayed by all the advice and how to you receive from other writers, this list included.
- DO what works for you.
Other collaborators work differently. In our case, we never change anything unless the other agrees. Others make changes when they see a mistake and fix it. If you decide to write with a partner you will find your own flow and set your own rules.
I can’t imagine writing any other way. We have each other’s back and it works for us. Try it, you’ll like it!
Pam left the corporate world to revel in her first love, reading and writing. Growing up surrounded by books and a writer father who influenced her love of the written word. After many years working and bringing up a family she is in a collaborative partnership with Liz Lindsay as Jamie Tremain.
Fellow collaborators, share your partnership stories.
Sunday, July 9, 2017
The Right Opening
By Joanne Guidoccio
Have you ever experienced the tyranny of the blank page?
If you’re nodding in agreement, you are in good company. In fact, I believe every writer—from beginner to published—has experienced those feelings of doubt and apprehension, especially at the start of a new manuscript. That’s when gremlin thoughts are most powerful.
In this post, I will offer several suggestions on how to squash those gremlins and start writing the first page of your next manuscript.
First, I will dispel three popular rules:
Rule #1–Start with a bang
Some writers believe the first page needs drama: a passionate argument between two people or a man running out of a burning house. One problem: the reader is not yet invested in the characters. The two people arguing could be murderers, and the man running out of the burning house could be a burglar.
The reader needs to know more about the characters and their motivations before the drama occurs.
Rule #2—Start at the beginning
You can use a prologue to cut forward to later events or recall much earlier events. A three- to five-page prologue that introduces the crime or dead body can whet the reader’s appetite for more details.
This works well with mysteries and thrillers.
Rule #3—Never start with dialogue
Used effectively, dialogue can establish the writer’s or protagonist’s voice. This will quickly draw the reader into the writer’s world.
So, what should the “right opening” accomplish?
Very simply, the first sentence needs to draw the reader’s attention to the next sentence and the rest of the first paragraph. And so on. That first sentence does not have to be loud or flashy…only intriguing.
Five “Intriguing” Examples:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 1984 by George Orwell.
“They shoot the white girl first.” Paradise by Toni Morrison
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.” Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
If you’re struggling with “intriguing,” start with a simple sentence, and use the rest of the paragraph to follow up with details.
Five examples of the “Simple” Approach:
“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf“It was love at first sight.” Catch-22 by Joseph Heller“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.“Nothing happens the way you plan it.” The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett“When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Hard-to-read and grammatically incorrect sentences can turn off readers, agents, and publishers. But sometimes they work! (English majors and editors–start cringing!)
Two examples of the “Breaking the Rules and Getting Away with It” approach:
“You better not never tell nobody but God.” The Color Purple by Alice Walker“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- Think of opening lines and paragraphs as introductions to new people. You probably wouldn’t be interested in getting to know a person who immediately launches into a monologue about her divorce, her latest car accident, or upcoming surgery. Instead, you want to learn just enough about the person so that you can have a pleasant conversation.
- Gently lead the reader into the rest of the paragraph and the next page. The reader doesn’t have to fall in love with that first sentence, but she needs to be curious enough to keep reading.
- Leave the reader with unanswered questions. She should be asking the question “Why” as she reads that first chapter. Why did those characters fall in love? Why did that murder happen?
- Reread your favorite novels and critically analyze the opening sentences and paragraphs. Ask yourself what intrigued you as a reader and then apply the same approach to your own writing.
- Keep in mind that the first chapter of a novel is the most heavily revised section of the book. You don’t have to get it right the first time.
In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Amazon (US): https://is.gd/NRjAXT
Amazon (Canada): https://is.gd/1pX3Bn
The Wild Rose Press: https://is.gd/1mns8Q
Barnes & Noble: https://is.gd/NFHdlS
Where to find Joanne...
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