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
Join mybook club here.
Catch my deals here- just click follow

My books! Amazon, iBooksNook, Kobo

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Writing Advice to Read

Authors on Preparation

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King

"Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you." — Zadie Smith

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London

"In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it." — Rose Tremain

"Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever." — Will Self

Authors on Writing

“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.” ― Neil Gaiman

“You don't write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid's burnt socks lying in the road.” ― Richard Price

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” — Charles Baudelaire

“The first draft of everything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway

“You can fix anything but a blank page.” — Nora Roberts

Authors on Revision

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” — Neil Gaiman

"Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted 'first readers.'" — Rose Tremain

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” — Elmore Leonard

"Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear)." — Diana Athill

"The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." — Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How to Make your Blogger Site look like a Website in 11 steps

Do you already have a blog on blogger but want

#1 a website, too or
#2 do you want to ditch the blog all together in favor of a website, but don't want to start new? 

You CAN do both with blogger. YAY!
FReeDom AwaiTs. Grab hold of it.

I just changed my blog to function like a website using these 11 awesome and easy steps.

Here's my website that is linked to my blog. Just click HERE to see it. I love it. If you want it to be a static page without any buttons, you can do that too. The sky's the limit.
How did I do it?

Here are the 11 steps I took to make it look like a website. So easy.   Click HERE.

Cindy M. Hogan
Join mybook club here.
Catch my deals here- just click follow

My books! Amazon, iBooksNook, Kobo

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lay vs Lie

To lay or not to lay. That is the question.

Of is it lie?

Do you ever let Word's grammar checker tell you which to use?


A transitive verb (meaning it is always followed by a noun or a pronoun that receives the action of the verb).

It means to put or place.

Forms: lay, laying, laid, (have) laid

An intransitive verb that does not have an object.

It means to incline.

Forms: lie, lying, lay, (have) lain

Did you spot that? Lay appears as a form for both words! No wonder so many of us are confused!

It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Research Trips

Photo by Marc Weiland 

You've heard the old adage, "Write what you know" and in the past I've posted about things to do to branch out and expand what you know. You can read about that HERE.  Another way is through travel. Many authors I know like to go to the country or city their story is based in to get a feel for the culture, the lay of the land and even the food. I have taken a few scouting trips myself to nearby locations and the experience is always so helpful in making the world I'm building for the reader come alive. One handy thing to note is that as an authors, you can write off many expenses of your research trip as tax write-offs. I asked my accountant to give us a few tips.

1) You can take the trips for business, you just need to document the business purpose.  I would take pictures, make notes by date, document your research of the area/historical facts, the amount of time spent on research, etc.  You need to explain why it’s a business purpose. Be thorough. Keep receipts and file accordingly. 

Photo by Artem Pochepetsky

2) Canda and I are going with some author friends to Europe this coming year and according to the accountant, traveling with other authors is a good way to keep things crystal clear to the IRS that this trip is business and not a family vacation you want to write off. Any vacation type trip could be looked at.  If you are going somewhere that could have significant personal benefit they may look at it.  That’s why it’s important to document the business purpose.  
Photo by Yoosun Won

3) Write the book! The last step is showing that the trip was valuable to your success. Taking a trip to Thailand, then never writing the local into any book is a red flag to the IRS. The story needs to be written and in the process of publication, ideally within a year of the trip. 

So next time you're planning a new book, try a new location! Go see the Everglades, Grand Canyon or branch further out and go to Laos, or Iceland, just be sure to document it all! 

Happy travels! :)

Have you traveled for a story or have other tips you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

What is Past Perfect Tense?

The rules of grammar can be hard to understand. English grammar especially. But, believe it or not, there is a reason for most of them.

I've noticed a writing trend that bugs me. Bugs me a lot. It's when the author is writing in past tense (you know, the story is being told in the past) and fails to use the past perfect tense when referring to events that happened before the current scene in the story.

Past perfect?  What is that?

In English grammar, "perfect" means past. Don't ask me why. That's just the way it is. So, past perfect means past past. And, believe it or not, it's important for clarification. I hate when I'm reading a book and the author jumps into a scene from an earlier time but fails to inform the reader of the time change by shifting tense.

Here are some examples of past tense:
"The captain’s limp body slid to the deck." (past tense)
"He opened his eyes and saw her watching him." (past tense) 
"He pushed the muzzle against the man's throat." (past tense)
But what if you need to tell about something that happened earlier, perhaps even before the book began? If you just remain in past tense style above, the reader won't realize you've shifted.
"The captain’s limp body had slid to the deck." (past perfect)
 "He'd opened his eyes and had seen her watching him." (past perfect)
"He'd pushed the muzzle against the man's throat." (past perfect)
We do this automatically when we speak to each other. Imagine being interviewed by the police about a break in at your next door neighbor's house.
The cop leaned in. "Your fingerprints are on the frame of the window the burglar entered through. Why were you in the house?"
If you'd been there earlier in the week for a game night, you wouldn't say: "Yeah. I went over there." You'd clarify: "Yeah, I'd gone over to play cards on Tuesday."

With your desire not to be considered a suspect in the break in, you'd make darn sure the officer knew that your visit to the house had happened before the burglary.

So, why are so many writers not using past perfect tense if it's so important for clarification? I've heard this can be explained because so many unedited books are being self-published. That might be some of it, but I've recently read some traditionally published books that were almost devoid of the past perfect tense. And whenever the story jumped to a past past event, it was confusing. And distracting.

So. Word of advice. Understand the past perfect tense. There's lots online to help you. Like here.

Use the past perfect tense. It can be your friend.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


How to sign up for this retreat: 

FYI: All meals are included AND there will be mini-workshops/classes. 
Retreat Dates are: March 23-26th in Heber, Utah

See pics of the awesome accommodations for the retreat here. Sign ups open on Saturday, October 8th at 8am MDT- No Earlier

1. Pick which bed type/price you would like (see below)

2. Send an email to iWriteNetwork@gmail.com with:
    a) your first and second choices for bed preferences
    b) the email address of the PayPal account you would like to have billed
    c) the name your PayPal account is under, and your author name if different 
    d) if you would like to make 1 full payment or split the cost into 3 payments.
    e) add a roommate name if you have made plans to share a queen bed with someone, OR a name if you would like to be in the same room with someone. We will try to honor as many of these requests as possible.
    f) if you are reserving two spots in one queen bed, tell us

3. We will send you a confirmation email and a link to pay through Paypal- (You may choose to split your payment into three and send one-third immediately, the second third on November 15th and the last third on January 15th. You must pay in full by January 15th.) We must have your initial payment within one hour of when you receive an invoice from PayPal from us requesting payment or your spot will be given to the next person in line.

NO REFUNDS-thank you. (You can, however transfer your bed reservation to someone else if you discover you are unable to attend.)

The bed options:  If you are planning to choose a queen bed, you might want to find someone to be your roomie (if you care who is in the bed with you.) Otherwise choose one of the single bed options.

*There are only beds. There are no air mattresses in this cabin
**Anything not highlighted is available and are listed as prices for each occupant
***Anything highlighted in red is reserved/paid for
****Queens are $175 each if you share with someone else, or $300 if you don’t want to share.    

1    2

1    2    3    4    5
   7    8    9    10
11   12   13   14   15   16

1      3    4    

   2    3    4    5   
6    7    8    9  

There is a $30 late fee for registrations after December 1, 2016
(Sorry, that's what the home owner charges us.)

Have questions or want to register? 

Email us-

*group size is limited to 20

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Few Thoughts on Unforgetable Romance

Based on Rachel Ann Nunes' 
6 Steps to Unforgettable Romance & 
my examples underneath

1. Both main characters have goals outside of falling in love. 

          One of them is trying to get a promotion. Someone moved to a new town and is struggling to fit in. Their business is on the verge of failure than they are working nonstop to save it. 

2. The plot is relatable to the reader
          The reader might think, "I have those fears." "Something like that happened to my friend." "I can totally see that happening." (In the world the author is creating.)

3. Emotional reactions between characters create tension

          Something is out of their control, there is oppression, freedom limited, conflicting ideas of life and love, want the same thing--competing for it, ruthless antagonist, phobia, past failure

4. Intimacy feels real and earned

          See my blogpost from September of last year about Romantic Tension

5. Reader satisfaction
          Romances all end with a happily every after (HEA) or a happily for now. If it doesn't, it's not a romance.

6. Beta-readers to give feedback on reader's response

          The more the merrier! Everyone has a different perspective. Everyone will read the sentences you wrote and inject their own life and circumstances into the story and interpret it differently. It is worth reading each comment carefully, deliberately, and seriously.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Five Steps to Selling Your Book in Person

Five steps to selling your book in person.

I sell my books at a lot of live events. I perfected my approach selling books at Costco. I just finished a three day signing event at Salt Lake Comic Con. You'll have fans like the princess in the picture below come to see you to buy all your new stuff, but you'll also need to introduce your books to people who have no idea who you are. Here's what works for me.

Before you go:

comic con 2016
1. Memorize a killer one-liner to describe your books generally.
I say, "My books are Mission Impossible meets Bourne Identity."

2. Memorize a short description for each of your books that grabs their interest and makes them want to know more.
Here's what I say for the Watched Trilogy:
"Christy doesn't fit in. She never has. She decides she wants to and so she goes on a school trip to DC. Once there, she stumbles upon a murder. Voila. She gets her change of life only in a twisted way. Now she has to change into all these different people in the witness protection program in order to survive. And of course there are hot guys in the story. You have to have hot guys in every story."

I have a short description like that for each series. I have three and a few standalones.

When you get there:

Comic con 2016
3. As people pass, say one of these things, "Do you like to read?" "What do you like to read?" or "Are you a reader?" Smile. Act like you like being there and are happy to have met them.

4. Once they say they are a reader, then pitch them. Say something like, "Great. I'll quickly tell you about my book, then." (If you are with group, you could ask them what they like to read at that point- then you can direct them to the right author who writes the genre of book they like.)
You say your one liner.
If they don't walk away, then give them your short description and as you near the end,
hand them the book you just pitched and say, "You can read the back of the book if you want."

5. Once you can see they're done, tell them the price. "It's only $10 today and if you buy the whole trilogy, you get this short story for free--or it's only $27. That's almost a twenty dollar savings from buying it anywhere else."

Then be silent and let them speak next. Answer any questions they have and then sign the book.

Comic con 2016
P.S. Don't forget to come up with something to write above your signature. A lot of times, it has to do with the concept or theme of the book.

P.S.S. Make sure you ask if they want their name in the book. Some don't.