Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Is This Writing Thing Worth It?

by Donna K. Weaver

We all have our own reasons for writing, and we have our motivations for seeking publication--whether traditional or indie.
I'm getting older, and I love to learn new things. I don't want to be one of those senior citizens who sees the world through a very narrow filter, unwilling to consider new things. I want to always be teachable. I want to be creative and make something that brings me (and hopefully others) pleasure.

Even now, with several books under my belt and four novels in various stages of editing, I find myself doubting what I'm doing. I wonder if all the time I spend on it is really worth the dream I gave up--of going back to college and getting my Bachelor's degree (I have an AA).

The wonderful Natalie Whipple posted a blog a few years ago that answered this question for me. Sometimes, I have to go back and read it for the reminder. She quotes Adam Heine who talks here about a writer's education. He hits the nail on the head. I especially love this part:
... But what kind of job demands years of uncompensated service before giving you even a chance at wages?

All of them, it turns out. It's called college.

College is 4+ years of work that pays nothing and (these days) doesn't even guarantee a job at the end. That's exactly what we're doing when we sit at our computer, typing a story nobody may ever buy.

It's better than college, because it's free. Better because it's easier to hold a job while writing than studying. Better because if we don't get a job with our first degree (i.e. novel), we can write another and learn more...

So long as you live life, working to get published is as valid an education as any other.

Keep writing. It's your education.
Nice, Adam. Well said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Writing is Hard!

This week writing is hard...

We're working on four stories right now: a republish of a short story, a rewrite on a full-length novel, an old west historical romance, and a time travel Victorian romance novel, but it's slow going on any one of them.

Things we do to get back in the groove of writing:
•do some brainstorming
•do some outlining
•do some character building
•do some marketing
•do some reading
•do something else

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chemistry in Romance

Just what is chemistry, anyway, and why is it so important?

Chemistry is when you can sense attraction zipping back and forth between two characters. It's when their connection is so palpable, you can feel it leaping off the page, and it's an important element in romance writing. People read romances because they want a really good love story, and a really good love story isn't really good without chemistry.

So how do we create that in a book?

The best way that I've found is to show everything the point-of-view character is thinking and feeling. Let me show two examples that I've just made up to demonstrate.

Example #1:

The new boy came in and took the desk next to me. He was pretty cute, with green eyes and a dimple. "Hi," he said as he sat down. "I'm Dean." 

"Hi," I mumbled, dropping my pencil. We both reached down to pick it up, and our hands brushed.

Example #2:

When the new boy came in the classroom, I couldn't take my eyes off him. There was something about the way he moved that made my stomach flip-flop. He walked over to the desk next to mine-holy cow, he had three other desks to choose from, and he chose the one by me-and I noticed his green eyes and his dimple. Green eyes. I love green eyes.

"Hi," he said as he sat down. "I'm Dean."

Did he mean James Dean, total hottie Hollywood icon? My hands started to shake, and I wished I knew how to stop them. "Hi," I mumbled, dropping my pencil. Oh, that was smooth. That was really smooth. I reached down to get it, and so did he. Our hands brushed, and it was like fire racing up my arm. Did he feel it too, or was I the only one?

Notice how in the first example, we read about everything that happened. In the second example, we read everything she thinks and feels about what happens. Which one allows us to start feeling chemistry? The second one, of course, because chemistry is largely emotional.

Allow me to show you a clip.

Click here

This is, of course, from Somewhere in Time, which is full of scientific flaws but is still one of the most romantic movies ever. Ever! Ahem. Anyway, notice all the nuances in this clip as you're watching.

First, as they're coming down the hall, they're both feeling awkward. This isn't because they don't like each other - it's because they like each other so much, they don't know what to do with themselves. When they enter her room, notice how he's looking at her back. There's so much he wants to say, but he's worried about messing it up. He takes some deep breaths. In the meantime, she's trying to control her own reactions. She knows she has feelings for him, but it's illogical. She's a businesswoman. She doesn't have time for this silliness, but he's Christopher Reeve, and he's so dang good-looking ...

When he reaches out and touches her, she gives a slight shake of her head. This can't work - it's impossible. Notice that he doesn't just grab her and plant one on her. He touches her cheek. He's trying to convince her, still giving her the chance to say no, but doing everything he can - while remaining a gentleman - to encourage her to share his feelings. She battles within herself, but then finally gives in to that battle, and then he kisses her.

And through the whole thing - the lead-up and then the kiss - the viewer's heart is in their throat. Will they kiss? Won't they kiss? And then they do, and it's awesome, and then dang. There's a knock at the door.

The point is this. We were allowed to see the build-up. The scene moved slowly enough that we could tell exactly what they were both thinking and feeling, and that's what made the kiss so awesome. If he'd just grabbed her and kissed her as soon as her door was closed, okay, it would have been a nice kiss, but that mounting chemistry is what brought it the power it needed, and movie buffs call that one of the most romantic kisses in cinema history.

Of course, I'm comparing a movie to a book, so they aren't the same thing, but we can create the same types of reader reactions through our writing. When there's an emotionally charged moment, slow down and give all the reactions and let the reader bask in the moment. And then they'll sigh and go back and read it again.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

6 Must-haves in a Suspense Novel

Check your suspense novel for these six things. If you include them, you will put your readers on a rollercoaster ride of adventure and suspense they won’t quickly forget.

1.     Race against the clock
Insert a deadline- like in Back to the Future where they had to get everything set up before the clock chimed a certain time or in Harry Potter 7 when Voldemort gives those at Hogwarts one hour to give up Harry Potter.
The reader will constantly be aware of the ticking clock as he/she scrambles to do everything they must in order to survive or accomplish their goal- and the reader will have the sense that it is impossible.

2.     Try and Fail Cycles
Characters must fail to reach their goal or the story is over. Make the characters slowly learn and grow through mistakes and failures to achieve the goal. This makes for an interesting character and creates a story. No failures/mistakes=no story.

3.     Correct movement/pacing
With suspense, the story must be kept tight and moving. This means cutting like crazy and often starting your final version with chapter two-where the real story begins. Each sentence need to do two things: give plot and setting as well as character and theme. Ex: Having characters rush through the city while discussing something important.

4.     A Dilemma
Present characters with dilemmas in the story. Ex: When the Green Goblin is holding Mary Jane and holding the tram and he drops both for him to rescue. Make the reader gasp and hold their breath while they scream…what will he do? How will he survive?

5.     Have characters face their worst fears
This is pretty self-explanatory. The trick, however, is in making sure to introduce the fear early and allude to it throughout the story until the character has to face it. This builds tension. The inevitability knowing it’s coming, makes for a nail biter.

6.     The danger must be real
Show that the danger is real. No false alarms-real scares with real suspense and no misunderstandings that could be solved with a five minute discussion between two characters. Ex: When Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter. This makes the reader realize anyone could die.

What book have you read lately that you thought was full of suspense?

Cindy M. Hogan
Read my latest book-Redemption Lost
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas!

At this time of year,
we'd like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season--
whichever holiday (or none) that you may celebrate.

Share the joy!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Call for Submissions--Cowboys

Spots are available for new (never published before) novellas to be a part of our next Sweet & Sassy Anthology releasing October 2017. 

Photo Credit- Pinterest

The theme is
 Contemporary Western

(meaning it must be a meaningful part of the story)
you must include a strong, clean 
contemporary romance element.

Our Market is: Clean & Wholesome category romance
No swearing. No sex. Nothing erotic please.

To submit, you'll need 
  • A full synopsis (tell all the plot points from beginning to end, including the ending)
  • The first chapter of your story.
  • Email to 2anthologies@gmail.com by April 30, 2017.                       
The purpose of this anthology is to help provide more exposure for the authors included.

Those who are chosen for the anthology will need to pay $20.00 for cover and formatting and $25 for promotions, agree to adhere to the schedule and word counts, critique for all members of the group, and pay for their own story to be professionally line edited prior to final submission. All other deadlines will be emailed out to those who are chosen.

The accepted stories only have a 90-day exclusive to the anthology, then the authors may publish them on their own.

You can find our previous anthologies on Amazon. The the link for the latest 
Stormy Kisses

Read a short article (written by Leigh Michaels) about what a contemporary romance is to see if your story might fit in the anthology:CLICK HERE

We are looking forward to reading your stories! 

Proposed Schedule

April 30: Submission of application (full synopsis and first chapter)
May 15 (on or before ): Notification to successful applicants 
July 20Draft (20,000-30,000 word count) sent to group for critiques
August 15 (on or before )Critiques back to all other authors
September 15 (on or before ): Professionally line edited final draft due
October 15Proposed publication date  

Feel free to email, FB or comment any questions you may have. :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Should I Donate My Services?

Writers are frequently asked to donate their time and services to various organizations or to individuals. Maybe they're asked to send some free books to a library. Maybe they're asked to write copy for a charity newsletter. Whatever the case may be, the question always comes up, "Should I be donating my services when I could be charging and making money? Will my worth be devalued if I donate?"

When I first started writing, some of the members of my writing community were very vocal about this. "If you ever want to be taken seriously, you shouldn't give anything away," they'd counsel. "You've worked hard, and you deserve to be compensated for what you've done."

This is good advice, and it's certainly true. And yet . . .

I've been in the industry since 2002. In that time, I've had many opportunities to donate, not only books, but editing services. I haven't given every single time I was asked, but I have quite a bit, and I have to tell you something . . . there really is something about that whole "pay it forward" thing, and also casting your bread upon the waters. I've been blessed with help when I've needed it, and I've also picked up paid jobs through contacts made as I've donated. I've seen many of my mentoring clients go on to become published authors, and that's so fantastic, I can't tell ya. Some of these rewards are things I couldn't have purchased with the money I would have been paid if I'd charged money.

Now, I do need to feed my family, so I can't do absolutely everything for free, and that's not fair anyway. My editing clients have helped put a roof over my head, put gas in my car, and paid for my kids' glasses. Money is a super-awesome tool to have, and I'm grateful for it. But I believe that I'm happiest when I look for ways to help others out just a bit, and I believe it's made my career even more fun. You can't buy respect, and you can't buy friends, and I've gained both as I've worked with those who have truly needed my help.

So, should you donate your services? That's a judgment call that only you can make. You'll probably want to take it on a case-by-case basis rather than making a blanket rule. You want to avoid over-committing yourself or being put in situations where someone's taking advantage of you. But I encourage you to consider it for all the sweetness it can bring into your life.