Posts Tagged ‘love inspired suspense’

Dreaming up a new fiction series…gulp!

Dangerous Tidings is a Holt Medallion Winner

Yep, all good things must come to an end, you see, and I’ve just stuck a pin in the last of the Pacific Coast Investigations series. Four books filled with intrique, mystery and love and now…poof! All done! Time to hash out a proposal for a new series. Oh the agony and the ecstasy! Here are two big questions every fiction writer needs to wrestle with when creating a series idea.

1. How are you going to link the books? It is going to be tied together through the setting? (Think of rustic Buckaroo Town where murder and mayhem is the norm.) Or could it be a series tied together by theme? I had a blast writing a natural disaster series like that. Might I suggest that it could be linked by profession? (Navy Seal Protectors, that kind of thing.) Or perhaps we might employ the popular method of linking through family connections (The Macho brothers of Polkadot Ranch.) Hmmm. Now we’ve got some decisions to make.

2.  On to the second question. How overlapping are these books going to be? By that I mean to say how will I wrap up the mystery/suspense/romance in each individual book  and still sprinkle in enough unanswered questions to keep readers looking for the next book? Or perhaps the secondary characters in book one will be so compelling readers will immediately run to the bookstore to get their hands on the next installment? Sigh. One can only hope.

Those are just two of the big questions that an author needs to wrestle with. So what about you, dear reader? What compells you to pick up the next book in a series? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Throwback Thursday…featuring NYT bestselling author Lenora Worth!

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It’s such an honor to have New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lenora Worth on the blog today!!!! Comments on Lenora’s post get you entered to win her new release…..Deadly Holiday Reunion! (and comments also get you entered in the December drawing for a VISA gift card and other goodies!)

Two of Lenora’s current books are available now online. Deadly Holiday Reunion is a suspense set in East Texas and Mistletoe Kisses includes her short novella “A Palm Tree Christmas” set in Florida.

Here is Lenora’s throwback Thursday memory: One of my favorite Christmas memories is about a blue bicycle. I had asked for it one Christmas and my daddy told me maybe Santa would bring me a bike. But on Christmas Eve, I had a horrible cold and was miserable. My sister took me with her to town to finish some shopping and when I got home, I saw the blue bike on our back porch. My daddy was standing there by it and I burst into tears. He said, “What’s wrong? Santa brought your bike early.” And I said I was crying because I was so happy. I road that bike for years after that, and I always loved it because it was the same sweet blue as my daddy’s eyes. I’d love to hear some of your favorite Christmas memories. 🙂

Top three writing obstacles.

 

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Ah the perks of the writing biz are great, to be sure, but let’s not sugarcoat it. There are some serious obstacles to making a go of it in this strange business. Here are a few I’ve faced personally.

1. You need an agent to get published… and an agent is looking for published writers.

Uh oh. Most publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions and most agents prefer a client with some publishing credits under their belt. That’s an obstacle, now isn’t it? How does one get around that? I published a three book series with Barbour before I was acquired by my agent. There are still a few houses (like Barbour and Harlequin) who will take unagented work, so you can try to build your career that way which will make you more attractive to an agent. You can also build your writing credits by contributing to magazines, ezines, blogs, etc. and even self publishing if you’re enormously committed to marketing that ebook. Every publishing credit can only make you more attractive to an agent.

2. Hours in….money out. It’s a time consuming business to write a book. The fastest I’ve ever managed is three months. As my agent says, “A good book is better than a fast book.” That said, the time investment is huge on a book that may never see the shelf. So what’s the remedy for that? There isn’t one, really, except to stagger your work and make sure there are several income producing projects afoot at one time. Also, books can be self pubbed, of course, but the quality needs to be just as amazing as it would be in a traditionally published novel.

3.  The “write what sells” vs. “what I want to write” dilemma. I know folks who absolutely love what they write and it sells like hotcakes. Me? Not so much. I tend to write “quirky” I’m afraid, and that doesn’t always translate into mainstream sales. Obviously, my publisher and I both want my books to fly off the shelves, but I can’t justify writing about topics just because they are popular. So what’s the answer? Somehow, I need to find that balance. I need to hear from my publisher what they feel is going to appeal to their readers (and they have a keen sense of this) and I must write my own story that balances both what the readers want with what I am comfortable writing. Best case is we hit upon a winner that makes us all happy.

What obstacles do you have in your work or daily life? How do you overcome them? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card, a signed book and a fall treat this month.

 

Three comments that kill a writer’s ego.

 

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What’s the worst thing you can say to a writer? I’m sure there’s an impressive list that can wound our fragile egos. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.

#1) I didn’t finish your book. Oh, the agony. Was it a sagging middle? The characters weren’t fully fleshed out? You hated the font? It’s like telling a chef the food wasn’t good enough to bother eating. Excuse me, while I go throw myself into a lake!

#2) There’s not enough sex in your book. Sigh. If you want lots of graphic content, you’re just not going to get that from me. Is it possible to enjoy a book that isn’t sexually explicit? If the answer is no, I’m not your author.  We will shake hands and agree to disagree.

#3) I don’t read. Acck! Really? Like, at all? This one is perhaps the most discouraging of all. I hear it a lot from folks who get their entertainment in other ways, T.V., computer games, etc. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but when I hear folks say they haven’t read a book since high school, I am saddened.

Are there phrases that really cut you to the quick? Would love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a Starbuck’s card, signed book and a cute fall surprise this month. 

Music to an author’s ears….top three compliments that thrill.

 

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The job of the professional writer takes place mostly in darkened rooms or at out-of-the-way coffee shop tables. We slave away, push the send button and through some miraculous process the manuscript turns into a book. It’s done mostly in isolation. Perhaps that’s why writers covet those hard-to-earn words of praise. Here are the top three comments guaranteed to thrill any writer any time.

#1) “I couldn’t put it down.” Oh joy! All that endless agonizing over pace, plot, character arcs and such! There is no sweeter sentiment than hearing you’ve managed to create something compelling. If an element in your book captured a reader in some small way, you have completed  a writer’s greatest mission.

#2) “When will the next book come out?” Ah ha! Not only has someone enjoyed your book, but they are eager to check out more of your work? Priceless!

#3) “I could really relate to the characters.” What a sweet sentiment. Creating characters who are different but believable, multi-faceted but not over the top, and meaningful without being maudlin is not an easy task, I can tell you. Think about how many people in the world pass by you every day with whom you have no personal connection. The writer has a scant smattering of words, the briefest of moments, to make you connect with somebody whom you’ll only meet across the pages.

We all have that particular compliment that is sweet to our ears. What compliment do you most enjoy hearing? Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card tomorrow! Would love to hear your thoughts! 

Hard truths about writing and eggplant.

imageimageLet me just say the hard part first. If you want to be in the writing business, you’d better know that you’re going to fail. A lot. Take in the following two points, but be sure to read to the end. The bitter comes before the sweet!

1. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to feel rejection. Looking for an agent? You’ll no doubt query a ton of them before you get a nibble. I probably sent out a dozen agent queries a week for a while. I got some nibbles, but mostly just the form letters. Dear BLANK, Thank you for your interest in Skippy Doo Agency. Don’t take it personally, but we are not interested in representing you at the present time. Truth is, I published three books with Heartsong Presents before I even acquired an agent! Same is true with project proposals. You’re going to mail out a bushel of those babies and most will come back stamped “Thanks, but no thanks.”  I used to keep a binder to track my status and for many years the rejection section was bigger than all my published works stacked up!

2. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to experience criticism. It’s the nature of what we do. We write things, craft the very best product possible and send it out into the world. Some people are going to love it, and others are going to cut you to ribbons. Publicly. On Amazon and their blogs. And Twitter. It’s just the way of the world because consumers are very empowered by technology to share their thoughts. ALL of them.

Discouraged? Here’s the sweet part. Writing is like eggplant. Some people love it, and some can’t abide the veggie. Your book or article will find its way to the people who love it and need to hear it. Those are the people you write for, those eggplant lovers who need to hear what you have to say. You’re going to bless them, but you have to endure some rejection and criticism to do that.  It takes courage and commitment, but all good things do, don’t they?

What things in your life have required courage and commitment? Would love to hear your thoughts! Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books at the end of the month!

Series or standalones, pros and cons

I started my writing career as a greenhorn with a three book mystery series set in the tiny fictional town of Finny. I guess you could say, therefore, that I cut my teeth on series writing. However, when that series wrapped I signed on with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and I spent a good bit of time writing single books before I once again switched to series. So which is better? In this writer’s humble opinion, there are advantages and challenges to both.

With stand alone books, you can get in there and write a book with all manner of murder and mayhem, because the characters and setting will not have to carry on through another book. Ah the freedom! Characters can be discarded at will. Frankly, it’s easier to write a stand-alone because you have fewer details to keep track of over time. The disadvantage? Your reader may not be as invested in buying your next book. Stand-alones do not provide that built in sense of urgency about what happens next.

The series, by contrast, is a whole lot more complicated. Characters must be placed carefully in the narrative who may not have the spotlight focused on them until a few more books have come and gone. Still, they need to be set into place (and they can’t be cardboard placeholders either) until it’s their turn to shine. All of their pertinent details from eye color to family history must be recorded to ensure the facts remain consistent over the course of the series. Same with the setting, if the entire series takes place in one location. That coffee shop on the corner of Cream and Sugar had better be in the same location in book two, unless you’ve explained the change. Publishers appreciate series book because if readers enjoy the first one, they’re primed to come back for the rest which makes everyone’s marketing job a bit easier.

So what about you? Do you enjoy stand-alone novels or series? Got any favorites you’d care to share?  Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books this month.

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