#TuesdayTip Letting the Characters Lead the Way

Sorry to miss Man Candy, but I had some family things to handle. In the meantime, I’ve been furiously working on #2 in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance Series which more and more is feeling like “A Goodbye Summer.” Or least that’s the title for now. LOL!

For a long time I was a pantser and never wrote an outline. That ended for me years ago when I started writing series and needed to have an outline of not only the first book, but the connected books in the series. But for me, even an outline has a lot of give because of the characters and what I want to get across in the story.

For example, I’ve just gotten to a pivotal point where the hero and heroine are about to take that leap and I could have approached it in various ways. In fact, I wrote a good chunk of the scene but decided that it just wasn’t the feeling I wanted to convey for two people who were once lovers, but haven’t been together in nearly a decade. Sure there’s physical attraction there and I found myself fighting it as much as the characters were fighting it.

Which led me to a different scene because the characters were telling me there needed to be more to have them make that leap to lovers once again. There needed to be a deep emotional connection to bring them together at that particular moment.

Sometimes the characters will lead the way and as a writer, you need to give them the space and experiment with what they’re telling you to do. If it doesn’t work, there’s always the delete key and a chance to let them lead you down a different path. You’ll know in your gut when you’re on the right road with them.

Caridad's Writing Outline

#WriteWed My Writing Process & #Contest

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How can you write so much when you’ve still got your full time job?”

It’s not easy, I’ll confess. There is a tug and pull between work and writing obligations and even more importantly, between family and work/writing obligations.

Because of all those conflicting things, I had to adapt to creating a writing process for myself that minimized conflicts.

The first thing was to make the most efficient use of my time. That meant writing on my commute to and from work. That also meant learning to write when it wouldn’t impinge on family times, namely, early morning and late late night.

I learned to be a morning person something which my mom would find hard to believe if she was still alive. I was one of those people who loved to laze in bed until noon.

Now I’m up at 5 a.m. on weekdays and on the train by 6. I get a solid 45 minutes of writing in on the train ride in and another on the train ride home.

The bulk of my writing is done on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’m up by 6 usually, make the coffee (must have coffee) and then I’m on my laptop. During the winter months, I’m usually on the couch under a blanket while I write. I also usually have the television on. Yes, I know that some might find that distracting, but I’m used to working in noisy environments.

The spring/summer/Fall months are my favorite ones since when it’s warm enough, I head out onto my small balcony and sit and write there. In the early mornings it’s peaceful and I can often hear and smell the ocean, which is quite relaxing. The family cat, Osiris, will often join me. Here’s a picture of her and also, of some of the flowers I try to have on the balcony. I love those also and wish I had more space to grow things at my place.

Orisis my family cat
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When I’ve got tight deadlines, I also work late at night, but I’m not a fan of that. First, because I’m tired from a day at work and second, because that’ll make me tired for the next day at work. But when I have to do it, I do.

So that’s my writing process. It works for me. It may not work for you and I think the key is to find out how to balance your writing life with all your other obligations.

Contest

Don’t forget we’ve got lots of fun things going on for the release of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Box Set.

This set is available for pre-order now, but will be officially released on March 3. We’re having a big release party on March 5 at our Facebook page and a contest where you can win a number of different items. Just check out the Rafflecopter below to find out how to earn points!

You can also get extra points by capturing the bad boy keyword(s) (hint: find the hot bad boy pic) in our Lucky 7 Videos. You can find them here:

Lucky 7 Video #1
Lucky 7 Video #2

a Rafflecopter giveaway















My Writer’s Journey Part 2 #amwriting

A few weeks ago I shared with you the start of my writer’s journey and although I got the writing bug in the fifth grade, it wasn’t until high school that I once again sat down to think about writing something longer than a short story or class assignment.

As some of you may know, I was born in Cuba and left when I was quite young. That story is a long one and filled with adventure in many ways, but the story of what came before was what inspired my first book.

Throughout my life I’d heard bits and pieces about how my parents had worked with the Civic Resistance in Havana to help bring about change on the island. I’d also heard how they realized that the change they had wrought, namely putting Fidel Castro in power, was totally not what they had expected. Because of that, they had started working with many of the same people to bring about change again. Of course, that’s what prompted my parents’ precipitous escape from Cuba and started a nearly two year struggle to get the rest of the family out of the country.

But the “after” part is for another time. It’s the “before” part that inspired the first novel I wanted to write, a romantic adventure about a wealthy Philadelphia Main Line woman who goes down to Cuba and falls in love with a handsome doctor who is involved in the rebellion. In real life, it was my mother who was the rebel and briefly engaged to a rich Main Line man. His family didn’t approve and so that romance ended not-so-happily, but in my books there is always a happily-ever-after.

I gleaned what info I could from family and friends and books so I could write that romance set during the Cuban revolution. Off and on during my high school days, I did that work and built the story in my head. I asked for a typewriter (no computers in my day!) and desk for high school graduation and pictured myself slaving away to write that novel.

I’m not sure my mom approved on many levels. For starters, she rarely talked about Cuba and what had happened. I know it had hurt her deeply to be so wrong and bring about such horrific change to the country she loved. Once we came here, we became American and moved away from all that, I think in part because remembering was too painful for her.

I’m not sure she approved of my thinking of writing as a possible career choice. I’d already been accepted to a few colleges and in her mind there were only a few professions that would allow her daughters to prosper, law and medicine being at the top of the list. Writer, not so much.

I didn’t get that typewriter or desk for high school graduation, but that didn’t stop me from collecting all my notes and research so I could start writing my novel during the summer before college. That decision shocked my mother I’m sure, but she went along with it.

Her office was getting rid of this awful pink paper and so she brought some home for me to type my first draft on. We weren’t well off so things like reams of paper were not in the budget.

Somehow the pink fit the romantic undertones in the novel. LOL!

I didn’t finish that novel that summer, but I got at least a hundred or more pages done. I kept at it during free time in college while I was a Science Major with my eye set on a career as a doctor. That’s my hubby and I in the summer after our freshman year of college.

I figured, doctors read and doctors write. I could always do the writing in my spare time and finish my novel.

By the time college was done, I was a little closer to having a finished work, but life has a funny way of throwing a curve your way just when you think you know where you are going.

I graduated magna cum laude, but I didn’t get into medical school. My mom had left her job to join a new law firm and I went to work with her while I decided what to do. But even though there was some hesitation about my future as a doctor, I was sure of one thing: I was going to finish my novel.

My Writer’s Journey Part 1 #Amwriting

I thought I’d share something different with you today: Part one of my writing journey.

Someone asked the other day if I had always wanted to a be a writer and the truth was, I didn’t really think of it as a possibility until the fifth grade when my English teacher, Miss Kreschenko, advised our class that in order to pass we had to write a 20 page typed book. The book could be about anything and it would not be graded. It just had to get done which brought a sigh of relief to many, I’m sure.

Once the books were turned in, they would be placed in a class lending library so students could check them out to read them during the last month of class.

I can’t really remember what I thought back then. Like most kids that age, my mind was filled with more important things, like whether Danny Keller liked me or not or whether we’d play saloogie at lunch hour or whether I would pass whatever test was headed my way in the near future.

All I do remember is that I went home and at some point early on, started writing. I had just read LORD OF THE FLIES over the summer (for fun) and WUTHERING HEIGHTS. I was all caught up in the drama of Catherine and Heathcliff and why they could not have a happily-ever-after. I think I must have thought that if they had been born into another time and another place, it might have happened.

Maybe on a tropical island somewhere. With no kind of class structure. They might possibly be younger, like high school age. Maybe even in some danger where they would be thrown together and love would blossom.

The idea for that book quickly took shape and by the end of the school year, my mom had to help me type up the book. 120 pages of a book!

It was quite an action-packed romance-filled work. First there was the plane crash onto the tropical island where the high schoolers had to find a way to survive. Then there was a threat from “others” who were already on the island and the star-crossed romance between one of those “others” and one of the high schoolers.

And a kiss. . . Boy, was that hot for the fifth grade, not that I knew all that much about kissing at that age! LOL!

In any case, if how often it came off the lending library shelf was evidence of a hit, then I guess it was a hit.

And I guess I knew then what I wanted to do. I had always been an avid reader and had always had stories in my head. I had just not known that it was possible to take those stories and put them down on paper for others to read.

Thank you, Miss Kreschenko and Gardiners Avenue Elementary School.

This is a picture of my family right around that time. Check out the bugles. My sister and I joined a drum and bugle corps that met at a nearby church. Lots of fun. We did it for several years, participating in a number of local parades, but also the Van Stuben Day Parade down Fifth Avenue. Very exciting for a group of young kids! I’m the one in the green culottes with the pink flowers.

Making It All Fit by Wendy Ely #Writetip #AmWriting

Today we’re offering up some tips on writing. Wendy is here sharing her thoughts on “Making It All Fit” while I’m visiting Wendy’s blog and chatting about why I put my characters on the couch before I write!

So without further ado, here’s Wendy!

*****

I was scanning through the cable channels Saturday morning looking for a something good to watch. After reading the description of The Crush, I decided to give the movie a shot. The movie was described as a suspense (my kind of genre!) about a college student who had sex with a woman. The woman then became obsessive. I started watching the movie and things that didn’t make sense started jumping out at me.

If you are an author you know what I’m about to talk about. If you are a reader only, you might find it interesting to know about this part of the writing process. When we are writing a book we have to make sure that the actions fit well with the plot. Everything has to run smoothly together or we get our edits back with comments like “Why is she doing this? It makes no sense at all,” or that the details don’t fit with the plot, or that something similar. Our books are like puzzles, every single piece must fit perfectly or the picture is not complete.

So back to the movie. One of the key points is that the college student is house-sitting for a rich stranger. As the owner of the house leaves, he mentions his niece stopping by occasionally for a swim. I had an issue with this. Why would the owner have a stranger live in the house while his niece (an adult) lives close by and can do it? Did not make sense to me. I kept watching. So the college student met the “niece” who happens to be there all the time! He has sex with the niece even though he has a girlfriend and the niece becomes obsessive over the college student. At one point she wraps her hands around his neck and makes him tell her that he loves her. The college student becomes so scared of this chick that he can’t sleep at night. It affects his schooling and the sport he plays. So why doesn’t he leave? I don’t know and that fact alone bothered me. The owner calls the college student who mentions that he had met the owner’s niece. Guess what? The owner told him that meeting his niece wasn’t possible since his niece had taken a trip out of town. Did the college student leave yet? Heck no. I would have packed up my crap and hit the road. He later finds out that she is a ghost and is in love with the college student.

There wasn’t any ghost stuff through 3/4 of the movie. There wasn’t any hint of the movie turning paranormal or even close. I kept watching though just to see how it ended. The ghost woman transformed from being a beautiful woman to an evil entity which the sudden change scared the crap out of me. I couldn’t look at her half the time. Even after the change, the actions didn’t make sense. She told the college student (now locked in the house so he couldn’t leave) that she was the one who would end all of this stuff but then she went into the water with slit wrists. Made no sense. Then she was back in the bedroom telling him he needed to die so he could be with her forever. She did manage to kill him as his girlfriend (who had been ignoring him all through the movie) suddenly appears to save him.

I love watching movies that reminds me of the “right way” to write a story. By showing me everything wrong, reinforced the desire to make everything fit smoothly together. I don’t want a single reader to ask why the heck I threw another puzzle’s piece in the center of the one the reader is enjoying. Thanks, crappy movie writers, for reminding me of this!

A little something about the author

Wendy Ely is a contemporary romance author. She writes some romantic suspense, really hot stories, and the wonderful happily-ever-after. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her own real-life hero and her two teenagers. Wendy loves to hear from readers and you can e-mail her at authorwendyely at gmail dot com.

A tasty tidbit from Wendy’s book: CONFESSIONS

Can Chelsea and Jordan find their child, and rediscover each other?

When Chelsea Montgomery vanished eleven years ago, her hometown thought she’d been abducted. In truth, she’d given up the daughter she’d secretly had with Jordan Case.

Now he confronts her to help find the child. With a little girl’s fate hanging in the balance, will the uneasy partnership — stained by the past — transform into something else?

To purchase CONFESSIONS, please visit http://amzn.com/B00A3FVT84

Advice for Writers by Paranormal Romance Author India Drummond

ORDINARY ANGELS Paranormal Romance We’re very lucky to have with us today India Drummond who is going to offer up some advice for writers.

India is the author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She knew from age nine that writing would be her passion. Since then she’s discovered many more, but none quite so fulfilling as creating a world, a character, or a moment and watching them evolve into something complex and compelling. She has lived in three countries and four American states, is a dual British and American citizen, and currently lives at the base of the Scottish Highlands in a village so small its main attraction is a red phone box. In other words: paradise.

The supernatural and paranormal have always fascinated India. In addition to being an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, she also enjoys mysteries, thrillers, and romance. This probably explains why her novels have elements of adventure, ghosts (or elves, fairies, angels, aliens, and whatever else she can dream up), and spicy love stories.

So without further ado! Here’s India’s Advice for Writers!

My advice? Oh, don’t ask me that! Why not? See, I’m perfectly happy to share. I have learned so much from authors I’ve met online, from classes, workshops, and the good, old school of experience. Ask me anything specific, and I’m happy to give freely of whatever knowledge I have, but I rarely offer advice.

I’ve learned that what works for one author often doesn’t work for another. For example, I used to write by the seat of my pants. Then I heard all these authors saying, “You have to learn to plot. It’s the only way.” And I tried it… and failed. I was so frustrated! I felt there was a right way to do things, but I couldn’t do it. Of course, I also assumed this was why I was languishing on the query-go-round.

Then, as I began to write more books, I saw the patterns in my various novel projects, how I created turning points in around 1/3 and 2/3 of the way through a book, how I wove multiple storylines into one. I was developing my own style, and from that, I created an outline template that works for me and makes life easier. Would it work for anyone else? Probably not.

There’s so much advice out there on the internet. Some of it’s good, some… not so much. And as an unpublished writer, I gobbled up every morsel of it, hoping to find the magic nugget of gold that would transport me beyond the forbidden gates and into the world of the published.

Now that I have achieved my dream of publication, I have more perspective. And looking back, I see that I used to spend hours socialising with other writers on the various networks out there. I wish now I had spent at least 50% of that time writing more books.

So here’s my one piece of advice to aspiring authors. It might annoy some to hear it. But if you can get this, it will make you a better writer: Write more books. Quit agonising over your query letter. Quit worrying that one project to death. Quit spending more time blogging than you do writing fiction. Quit spending more time critiquing for others than you do writing fiction.

Write. More. Books.

Why “more books” instead of just making the current project better?

Because the average published author has written six books by the time they get a contract. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will improve your writing like experience. And you can’t get all your experience in one book.

I think part of that is that with each successive story, we experiment. Those experiments lead us into new places, and we begin to see what works and what doesn’t. I promise those unpublished projects won’t be a waste of time. What you learn by the third or fourth book, you can go back and apply to your first book, once you have some perspective on it.

So, yes, there’s some good advice out there. Do learn to write a professional query letter. Do learn how to write a blurb, how to write effective dialogue, how to use just enough description, but not too much… But don’t obsessive over the mountains of advice you can find on the net these days, hoping to learn “the secret”.

The real secret, in my experience, is experience. And you get it by writing. Nothing more, and nothing less.

So go forth and WRITE!

Never give up. Never let yourself get down. Never give in to the voices in your head that tell you it’s too hard or it can’t be done, or maybe getting published is too big a dream. You CAN do it… if you’ll only WRITE… and write… and write.

THAT is what I wish I’d known two years ago.

* * * * *

I second India’s advice! I always tell writers that the only wrong thing to do is to not write. There is no wrong or right way to write. Each person has their own creative ways of doing things. So don’t be stymied by well meaning advice about “the right way” to write. And NEVER GIVE UP!

For more information on India, please check out these sources:

India’s website and blog: http://www.indiadrummond.com/
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/india.drummond.author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/IndiaDrummond

To arrange an interview or contact the author, please email: author@indiadrummond.com

How to Write a Page Turner by Elaine Cantrell

I want to thank all of you who dropped by for yesterday’s Birthday Bash. Thank you all for sharing in my special day! The winner of yesterday’s Gift Card giveaway is CrystalGB! LOL – Crystal you have amazing luck. Please e-mail me at cpsromance at att dot net with your mailing address so I can send the card.

Today we’ve got a special visit from fellow author Elaine Cantrell who is going to be sharing her tips on creating a page turner. Thank you so much for dropping by Elaine!

* * * * *

A NEW DREAMI don’t know of an author anywhere who wouldn’t like for readers to say that his or her book is a page turner. Everyone knows what is meant by the term; it’s a story you can’t stop reading. You know you have to get up in the morning, but you don’t care because you absolutely have to find out what happens. I love it when I find a book like that.

But what makes the book a page turner? What has to be in it for me to lose sleep just to read it? I’ve analyzed this thing, and this is what appeals to me. First, the book has to use proper grammar and punctuation. It turns me off and feels jarring when subjects and verbs don’t agree, there’s a run-on sentence, etc. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. Characters can massacre the English language all they like, but I have to have the feeling that the author is doing it on purpose and not that he/she doesn’t know any better.

Second, you’d better have a good hook if you want me to read the book. I don’t have time to waste on books that don’t interest me. In my latest release, A New Dream, which is coming out today at http://www.astraeapress.com, I begin the book with a car crash:

    “Oh, Matt, it’s such a beautiful night,” Stacey declared with a sigh. “I’m going to miss you when you leave tomorrow.”

    Matt reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. “I’ll miss you too, but if I don’t report on time, I’m in trouble with the coach.”

    “That’s what I get for falling in love with a pro football player,” Stacey teased, her blonde hair turned to frosted silver by the light of the full moon above them.

    Matt squeezed her hand that wore his engagement ring. “It’s too late to back out now,” he teased. “You’re mine.”

    “Mmm, do I like the sound of that!”

    The car rounded a curve, and without warning a deer bounded across the road. “Look out,” Stacey screamed.

    Matt braked sharply to avoid the animal. The tires slid on a patch of loose gravel in the road, and he lost control of the convertible. It fishtailed and started to spin in the road.

    He hauled on the steering wheel to correct the slide, but it was useless. The car turned around once more and skidded backwards for a short distance before it charged off the road. It jumped a steep ditch and went airborne. All Matt could see was a blur of trees and darkness as the car careened into the woods. It made a lazy turn in the air and came to rest bottom side up.

    The last thing he remembered was the sound of Stacey’s scream.

Okay, several questions immediately come to mind. Are Matt and Stacey okay? Do both of them survive the crash? Will the accident affect Matt’s pro-football career? Could his relationship with Stacey be changed in some way?

Third, the main characters must be dynamic and sympathetic. I have to like them and want things to work out for them. I recently read a book by a famous author, but I didn’t like it because the heroine just wasn’t a nice person. She made her living preying on grieving widowers and let her young daughter help her. It was hard to care what happened to her. The characters don’t have to be syrupy good, though. In A NEW DREAM, my heroine Violet is unforgiving when a loose thread from Matt’s past comes back to haunt him. She hurts Matt and jeopardizes their relationship with her doubts and suspicion.

Fourth, there must be some suspense involved. But I don’t read suspense, you say. You still need suspense. Readers should be biting their fingernails worrying about the outcome of the book. Will the heroine win the hero’s heart in spite of a dreadful accident which left her scarred and reclusive? Will the hero defuse the bomb in time? Will he believe the bad girl’s lies? Will she accept his child from a previous relationship? Well, you get the idea.

Lastly, the pacing is important. If it goes too slowly I lose interest. I like a face paced story myself, and that’s what I write. I’ve been accused of setting a blistering pace which is absolutely true. Okay, maybe I need to slow down a bit. Maybe I could throw in a few sensory images. Okay, you do need some sensory images, but like my friend recently said, “I just skip that part to get to the good stuff.”

Okay, I’ve given you my definition of a page turner. Do you agree with me? What’s your definition? If you’re interested in my work you can check it out at http://www.elainecantrell.com.  Hope to see you there.