Thursday, May 21, 2015

T is for THE

Debra feels there is a time and place to capitalize those 'small' words.

Any writer knows that a good editor is essential. Whether you're 'traditionally' published or an indie, having someone help you fine-tune your work is a must.

I have always been fortunate to work with really great editors. When I started my career with Wild Rose, I was assigned a fabulous editor whose 'voice' I still hear in my head when I write. When she moved on, I received a new editor, and we've been working together ever since.

Together (another T word!) is the right word. When it gets to the editing stages of a book, we work collaboratively to polish it up to make it the best it can be.

An editor who knows his/her stuff is key, but when that editor will take it one step further and go to bat for you with higher ups, then you know you have a gem.

Right now Christmas at The Corral is in the waiting-for-a-cover stage. To give you a bit of background and to explain my issue with lower case versus upper case for the word THE, it's the first in a holiday spin-off set at The Corral, the bar when my trilogy takes place. I've always referred to The Corral with both letters in the title capitalized, since it's the name of the place. Proper nouns and all that. When I wrote This Feels Like Home, I worked with a different editor (since it featured a bullrider and thus fell into TWRP's western line) who insisted the T in The Corral should be lower case based on some new formatting manual. It drove me crazy that it didn't match how I'd used it in the first two books, but it wasn't worth a total knock-down-drag-out, so I let it go. When I wrote the Christmas spin-off I went back to my traditional way of using the capital T.

During the editing process I got an e-mail from my editor asking which was the proper way to refer to it. I told her of my preference for the capital and the issue in Home. She went to bat for me with the copy editor and sent me this message:

Well, it's RIGHT in this one! I argued with the CE that it's the NAME of the place. She cited CMOS rules. I said, "Tell that to the owner of the bar."

I had a smile on my face the rest of the day. (Of course when I got the galley back to proof, there were still a few places where it needed to be fixed again, including all of the headings on the odd numbered pages, so I am curious to see how it comes out on the cover. I should be taking bets on whether the T is capitalized or not.)

Moral of the story? When you find a good editor: keep her, trust (another good T word!) her, and she'll have your back.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Time Factor

Paula looks at time periods in stories

What period of time do your stories cover? A few weeks, a few months, a few years?

Most of mine take place over a few months (excluding any backstory between the characters). None of them have covered more than twelve months.

Is this realistic? Maybe in ‘reunion’ stories where the characters have fallen in love in the past and then meet again, it’s reasonable to suggest the spark is rekindled, and the couple sort out their problems/conflicts etc. within a fairly short time.

But what about stories where a couple meet for the first time? Yes, there can be instant attraction or even instant dislike, but how much time should elapse before they reach their ‘happy ending’?

‘Timing’ is something that usually (often?) causes me problems. While I am writing a story, I often get the feeling that events are happening too quickly. At the same time, if I try to slow them down, the story begins to drag. There’s also a danger of bringing in unnecessary events that add nothing to the storyline as a whole.

Of course, different stories require different techniques, but I usually cover a time lapse with a paragraph summary of either some events or one character’s feelings during this time.

I’ll be interested to know
(a) what time period do your stories cover?
(b) how do you deal with any lengthy ‘time lapses’ in your stories?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

T Is For Team...Street Team, That Is.

Jennifer is forming a street team...

My agent wants me to form a street team. What is a street team? It’s a group of people who actively participate in helping me market my books.

What do they do? They post on social media for me, they write reviews, they recommend me to others. I’ll post a request for something each week and my street team members will do what I ask some time during that week. Unless there’s something crazy going on, there won’t be more than one request a week.

What do they get? They get free copies of my books, swag and the chance to win prizes.

A street team allows me to reach people I wouldn’t normally reach. Remember that Faberge shampoo commercial from the 1980’s: “I told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.” 


Well, a street team works the same way.


So how can you help? If you think you might be interested in being on my street team, please go to this website: http://jenniferwilckstreetteam.blogspot.com Click on the tabs and it will give you all the information you need. Next, go to this Facebook group page and ask to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/749451931834130/ That’s where I’ll be posting what I need from you each week. If you’re not interested in being part of my street team, but know someone who might be, please pass the information along. The more people who help me, the better chance I have of getting my books in the hands of more readers.

And if you're interested in setting up your own street team, talk to me. I'm happy to help you out!

Monday, May 18, 2015

T is for Tension

Ana muses on how a writer can build page-turning tension.

Beats. The words that describe what the characters are doing with their hands, eyes, and feet during scenes with dialogue. Sentences that reveal what the POV character is thinking or feeling. Beats can up the tension by slowing down the action at critical moments. A hero being stalked by the villain can strain for the crack of a branch or creak of a staircase step.

Short sentences. "Who's out there?" sounds serious. We usually don't construct long or perfect sentences when we're under stress. We shout, ramble, blurt, repeat. We don't describe the pattern on the wallpaper.

Short (one line) paragraphs. Rapid fire dialogue conveys tension. Terse sentences make for a fast read, which helps the reader feel how the scene is building to a crescendo.

Word choice. 

Deep POV (internal dialogue) reveals.

Plot (story arc).












Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Snippet - A peek into one of Margaret's romances



 The Santorini Marriage Bargain was one of my favourite books to write

   Rhianne heard the screech of brakes before she saw the car. By then it was too late. Lost in her own world of misery she had not thought to look before she stepped off the pavement. Urged on by the front fender of the car, she spun across the road and for a few moments lay curled in blessed silence. It was as though everything in the whole world had stopped. No traffic noise, no voices, no birds singing. Nothing except a strange calm. She wasn’t even hurting.
Then came the voice. A deep, gruff male voice. “Why the hell didn’t you look where you were going?”
   Why the hell didn’t she look? Rhianne struggled to turn her head and glare at the owner of the voice. He was clearly the man who had knocked her down. Beyond him was his car with the door still open, the engine still running. “Why didn’t I look?” Her tone matched his for hardness. And why shouldn’t it when he was behaving as though she was the one at fault. “Why the hell didn’t you look? Call yourself a driver. This is a busy main road. You should have had your wits about you.
   “Are you hurt”
   The belated question angered her still further. She closed her eyes, needing to shut out the handsome face that had come a little too close. The man was on his haunches now, peering at her, making her feel like an insect under a microscope.
   “Hell! Can you hear me?”
   So he thought she’d passed out! Rhianne snapped her eyes open again and scrambled to her feet. She felt wobbly but nothing appeared to be broken. At least she didn’t think so. Her legs still held her up and she could move her arms. Her hip felt a little sore and she guessed she’d be bruised tomorrow, but other than that she was okay.
   No thanks to Mr Fast Car Driver.

Friday, May 15, 2015

S is for Sagging Middle


Margaret talks about mid-book crisis

It happens to all of us. The sagging middle. We started our book so eagerly but then ground to a halt. And all because we didn’t properly plot. And how about pansters like myself? How do we get around it?

My own method is to keep on writing until I come out the other end, and then go back and re-write the part that’s not working. We all work differently, though. I know the best way to avoid it is to meticulously plot. Easier said than done. I never know what’s going to happen until I write it. I like the element of surprise. The times I’ve said to myself, “I didn’t know that was going to happen.”

There are various reasons why we get writers block. Perhaps you’ve given away too much too early in the story? Information needs to be fed in slowly during thoughts or conversation. Or maybe you haven’t fleshed out your characters enough? Do you ever do character studies before you begin to write? I write about two pages for each of my main characters. Apart from physical descriptions I write down all their likes and dislikes, hobbies, families, pets, jobs, anything and everything until they become like real family members. I like to know my two main characters thoroughly so they don’t come up with any nasty surprises along the way. I don’t want anything to ruin my carefully written work.

Admittedly I haven’t always done this but when I did started doing it I realised how much easier it made my job.

What methods do you use to avoid the sagging middle?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

S is for Series

Debra loves a good series.

I've always been a fan of series. I love being able to follow characters throughout the course of more than one book. Which is probably why I enjoyed writing my own series so much.

When I first set out to write This Time for Always, I always envisioned it as the first book of a three-part series. I've said it before, but it was truly a dream come true to complete the series with This Can't Be Love and This Feels Like Home. Each subsequent story allowed me to not only tell about a new hero and heroine's journey to true love, but to peek back at the previous characters and let readers know what happened after their happily ever afters. For my series, each book is a stand alone read with its own hero and heroine, but the three original characters (Sharlie, Zach, and Jake) make an appearance in all three books and their stories are intertwined with the new leads. I will admit, there are probably a few minor spoilers if you read them in the wrong order, but nothing major. I mean, after all, we all know a romance is going to have a HEA and our characters will wind up together in the end.

I was crazy thrilled, happy, and proud when I finished my Corral series, but I soon realized I wasn't quite ready to let go of the world I'd built. So I've come up with a spin-off series featuring the same bar. This new sub-series also integrates some of my favorite themes to write about: holidays. The first book Christmas at The Corral will be released on November 4 of this year. I also have plans to write a Halloween, Fourth of July, New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day story for the series.

The original titles in the series were all full-length novels, the spin-offs are novellas. In the new series, those original main characters may be mentioned, but they won't ever make an appearance. And there's not as much of a time line involved. I just want to hang around at The Corral for a little while longer.

I also have an idea for another series of three, or possibly four, new novels. The first will be based on an idea I've had for ages. I'd only intended it to be a stand-alone, but had one of Paula's lightbulb moments and decided I could use it as the first in a series. I've even got simple tag lines for two of the other books already too. The heroes in these stories will all be brothers.

That said, I haven't done much in the way of getting anything written for the first book. I know where I want the story to go, but I'm having trouble getting it started and set up in just the right way. I'm not worried. It will come to me.

In the meantime, I have Julie Ann Walker's latest Black Knights Inc. book sitting on my shelf waiting to be my first read of summer. She also has the first book in a new series coming out in July. And a few of my favorite cozies have new books out or coming soon as well. So even if I'm not writing a series, I'll still be immersed in (at least) one.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

The Corral Series
available from The Wild Rose Press