Posts Tagged ‘romantic suspense’

A big writing announcement…

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I’ve got news. Big news, at least for me it is! I’m excited to report that I’ve just signed a three book contract with Harvest House for a series of lighthearted, dog themed romances. This is both exhilerating and frightening. The exhileration comes from the fact that, I am by nature, a nut. I love to laugh, and the peeps that know me will tell you I have a wacky sense of humor. Humor is very natural to me, so to be asked to write a lightearted romance with plenty of laughter included, is an honor. And the dog theme? Oh man. I have written dozens of dog characters in my day because I believe there is no greater example of unconditional love than a dog’s affection for its human.

So why is this also a frightening adventure? Because I’m branded already as a romantic suspense author. I will continue to write those, too. The question is, how restrictive is my brand? Will people say, “Oh, that Mentink is a pretty decent writer, I’ll give her lighthearted romances a try.” Or perhaps they’ll say, “Mentink is a romantic suspense author, and that’s what I want to read from her.” You see the dilemma?

So what do you think? If you like an author, are you willing to try them out in a new genre, or do you prefer your authors to stick with what they’re known for? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a Starbuck’s card and signed book this month. 

Throwback Thursday, Double Prize Day: Author Susan Sleeman recalls a writing blooper!

It’s a DOUBLE PRIZE PACKAGE day!

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I am honored to have fellow author Susan Sleeman here for Throwback Thursday! She’s going to share a blurb from her amazing new suspense and an embarassing moment from her early writing days. At the end of the day we’ll pick a winner to receive a double prize pack of Susan’s book and mine. Comments also get you entered in the November drawing, of course, so it’s a bonus day!

Silent Night Standoff
HOSTAGE SITUATION
When armed robbers strike her bank, hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan’s life is on the line. Rescue comes from the last person she thought she could count on—the ex-boyfriend who chose his job over their relationship.

FBI agent Logan Hunter knows how much is resting on this case. The promotion of his dreams…and the safety of the woman he’s never been able to forget. But when an unexpected twist in the case pulls Logan in two separate directions, he’ll have to make an impossible choice. Will he manage to have it all by Christmas—a career and love—or will he lose them both?

Just thinking back on my early days of writing has brought a lot of smiles to my face. And made me cringe at my ignorance of how to write a book and about the writing business in general. But, trust me, you don’t want to hear about all of that. Instead, let me share a funny story. I turned one of my early manuscripts into my editor and naively trusted that spell check would catch my spelling errors. But to my utter surprise and dismay, I soon learned I had the heroine of the story going to the panty to get peanut butter. Oops. Messy for sure and not something I want in a book. Thankfully, my daughter caught the error and my editor didn’t laugh too hard. Since then, I have come to realize mistakes like this happen more often than authors like to think and actually make it into published books.

Have you ever seen something like this when reading? If so, share it in the comments section without giving away the author’s name if you know it. Don’t want to embarrass them. I’d love a good laugh.

Show me the money…a writer’s expenses .

moneyIt’s cheap to write books, it really is. All you need is a keyboard or a notepad and pen. Selling them, on the other hand, is the pricey part. I am fortunate to write for Harlequin who does an incredible job marketing my books. Still, I need to do my share to help in that endeavor, so here are a few things I feel are worth the money.

1.  A professional author photo. Yes, you need one. That selfie you took in Disneyland is not going to send the message that you are a serious author.  Trust me.

2. A website and someone to design it. Yes, there are people so amazingly talented that they can design a professional website without paying someone else to do it. I am not one of those people. My website guru designed my site and updates it for me. If I have any more children, I am going to name them after him. This will be awkward for baby Jason, if she is a girl. but that can’t be helped.

3. Conferences. Yes, they can cost thousands included travel expenses. Yes, they are worth the money for the learning and more importantly, the networking. Be sure to pick a well respected conference that’s been around awhile.

4. Memberships. I belong to Romance Writer’s of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. I get neato magazines and internet access to all kinds of people and information. Well worth the money.

5. Giveaways. The jury is out on how cost effective these are, because mailing fees are a killer, but I like to send out books and goodies to people. I really am incredibly honored that folks read what I write, so sponsoring giveaways on blogs, Goodreads and my own FB and blog makes me happy. And there’s no price on happy, is there?

Outside of basic living expenses, what is something you spend a significant amount on? Do you recoup the value in dollars or in some other way?

Content edits? Calming breaths, everyone!

DaydreamingWhat’s the difference between content edits and line edits? In my case, it’s the amount of head banging required. Content edits are those overarching, big issue topics that your editor feels needs work in your manuscript. Perhaps they do not feel your characters have enough internal conflict. It could be that the theme of the story is somewhat vague, the romance lackluster, the resolution too insignificant. Then again, you might have a sagging middle or a plot turn that has derailed your story completely. In other words, these are the BIG things that don’t work. I often joke that this is phase where the editor doesn’t seem to like anything but your font! Can you hear the head banging? It’s the time to remind yourself that editing takes rough stones and buffs them into jewels. Jewels, I tell you!

Line edits come next. These are smaller scale tweaks that can be anything from misplaced commas to timeline issues, to words repeated too often. (In my last manuscript, I used the word ‘look’ and its derivatives more than any author should attempt in an entire career.) Line edits are the kinder, gentler edits that are much easier to fix.

Did you ever produce something that was heavily criticized? How did you handle that? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card this month.

The power of ‘STET’…use it wisely!

So you’ve written that heart wrenching, lyrical tome and packed it off to your editor. Whew! What a relief…until you get it back, covered with notes and editorial comments. Sigh. Now we’ve got some choices to make. Do we accept the changes to our exquisite manuscript? Or do we scribble STET, a word which literally means ‘let it stand’? In other words, STET is a way of saying to the editor, “No. I don’t accept your suggestions. Leave the silly thing the way I typed it!” Naturally, we writers feel as though our writing was fine the way we typed it, no? The temptation is to scribble STET all over the place, so our genius will not be diluted in any way. In reality, good editors will suggest changes not to alter the author’s message or vision, but to make that message and vision more impactful. Yes, I grumble all the way through my editing phase, but you know what? Most of the time, the editors comments are right. I eat humble pie, and I incorporate their changes. Infrequently, I disagree with an edit that alters my voice or changes an important aspect of what I wanted to say. Then I employ the powerful STET, but only in special cases. So respect the mighty power of the STET and use it wisely, young grasshopper! Heroes

Do you have a job or hobby where folks offer helpful criticism? How do you handle that? Giving away an Amazon gift card this month. All comments are welcome!

Writing Resolution #3, Follow that octopus!

Writing is an odd business. You never know where a story idea will take you. Some of my best writing has sprung unplanned out of an oddball interest, an intriguing fact. Resolution #3? Follow that octopus! This December we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took a behind the scenes tour. One aspect of the presentation enthralled me…the giant octopus. Did you know that octopuses (octopi? octopodis?) can tell the difference between two people by feeling with their suckers? They also learn by watching each other, and the only thing the keepers have found that an octopus cannot stick to is Astroturf. Why do I need to know this as a suspense author? I don’t know…yet, but one thing I’ve learned is that if I’m interested, fascinated, enthralled by something, it’s going to make for a great story someday. I might not understand it now, but down the road, that octopus is going to wriggle its way into a novel. My advice to writers everywhere? Follow what fascinates you. It will lead to a story, I promise.

So what are you passionately interested in? Posts get you entered in the January contest for an iTunes gift card. new year 2014

Resolution #2, Quit multitasking already!

It is certainly a comfort to know that I can make coffee, text a friend, walk on the treadmill and think out a new synopsis all at the same time. Bravo for me. I am also thrilled to have a six book contract with one imprint and two books brewing in a different genre for the other.  Blessings, truly. Having a lot of irons in the fire is excellent, in my view. I thrive on it. There is only so much brain capacity in the old cabeza, however.  Daily I need to remind myself of resolution #2. Be in the moment. Time to work on that suspense novel? Great. Sit down and do nothing else for an hour. Need to start prepping the next proposal? Set aside time to do that and only that, preferably later in the day after a walk or lunch break. It does no good to multitask while writing. Creativity and skillful  prose are going to require the full measure of mental energy.

Are there tasks you need to perform that require your full and complete attention? Do you find yourself multitasking frequently in your day to day? Would loveNew Years 2012 to hear your thoughts. 

Drop your reader into the action, post haste!

Open with a bang. Literally. A nice explosion on page one is a nifty way to catch those readers right away. Or maybe an unexpected find, someone running for their lives?A protagonist in a dire situation? Okay, I write suspense, but the “start off with a bang” premise, holds for all good writing. If you don’t catch your reader with something different, intriguing, exceptional, mysterious, hilarious, on page one, they aren’t going to move to page two. Patience is not a virtue of most modern day readers.The exception that springs to mind is literary fiction, but that genre is not exempt from the compelling page one rule either. If you’re writing a mystery, thriller, suspense type book, there better be some excitement coming soon, especially in this day and age when folks are used to immediate gratification. Don’t wait until the end of the chapter. Let us have it right away!mysterious eyes

Have you read a book or watched a move recently that grabbed you right from the beginning?

Finding time to write…when you don’t have time.

I know, I know. You’re busy! Really, I don’t know anybody who isn’t. Our lives are crazy, aren’t they? The day-to-day can really divert us from where we want to go. I thought it would be a good idea to offer a few handy tips for those folks who really yearn to write that book. Today is tip #1. Sit in the chair. I know you have five or ten minutes to spare today, so glue yourself into that chair and make a list of the story ideas that have been kicking around in your brain. Mine might look something like this:

Swamp, jewel smuggling operation, brother and sister pilots.

It’s not much, is it? It’s enough though, to get me started thinking about the type of story I might want to write. Okay. Now that your five minutes is done, feel free to walk about the cabin, so to speak, but while you’re meandering through your day, think about your main characters. We’ll talk more about them in the next post.

Have you always wanted to write a book? What genre would you most like to write?Christmas gift

Covers…yes, they do sell books.

I am going to take a moment to thank another group who rarely gets so much as an afterthought, the people who design our covers. Yes, I am blessed to work for a publisher with a top-notch art department who creates original covers for the Love Inspired Suspense novels. In my opinion, they are much more striking and eye-catching than covers which utilize stock art. (Not to knock anyone here.) How fortunate am I that they solicit ideas and imagery to incorporate so the cover really does tell the story. It also sells the book. It’s a fact that books with interesting covers are more likely to be purchased. So here’s a big “Thank you!” to the art department. blog motivational

Do you choose books based on their covers? What do you like in a cover, people or landscapes? All comments get you entered in the November Walmart card drawing.