Saturday, January 30, 2010
As the critique coordinator and member of the FTH Critiquers for three years, I have critiqued a fairly large number of manuscripts. Add to these an impressive amount of contests judging over the years and the weekly exchange of chapters with my wonderful critique partners. Amazingly I’ve gathered almost as much useful information from critiquing as I have learned from books, workshops and seminars. In a way the latest taught me the theory but critiquing and judging showed me the mistakes I should avoid. The most important thing I learned was that the characters can make a good book or a mediocre one.
When I finish reading a book I really enjoyed, I remain in my chair, meditating for a few quiet minutes on the story I just finished. I often experience a strange mix of happiness and sadness, happiness for the heroine and hero who have succeeded in overcoming their problems or defeating their enemy, but sadness because I have to leave them, to say goodbye. Isn’t that why we love series? Because we can meet again the characters we liked so much and live again with them a part of their lives.
Don’t you agree that creating lovable characters is the most important part in making a book successful? To create believable characters, you have to know them well. Some writers interview their characters. I prefer to live with them. I keep them in my mind and talk to them while walking, driving, eating on my own. My heroine becomes a dear friend, another me. As for my hero, I always fall in love with him while writing his story.
Just describing a beautiful heroine or a macho hunk will not make them memorable. You need to dig deep into their soul and show the reader their real personalities, the side of them they don’t want anyone to see. Imagine a heroine who tries to hide her soft nature under a cold façade, to appear strong and professional in her job while dealing with a family, or a handicapped child, at home. Now we are talking. Add to that, a deception in her past, an attraction to her boss or a colleague that can jeopardize her career or affect her family. That’s raising the stakes.
Readers like to find similarities between themselves and the characters; an attraction that makes them share the characters’ suffering and struggles until the hero and heroine reach the HEA.
Let’s face it. Readers are a bit sadistic. They love to bite their nails and breathe fast as they watch the hero and heroine jumping from the pan into the fire and trying to get out of difficult situations. So don’t hesitate to torture your characters. Don’t make it easy for them. Conflict is the name of the game. Only conflicted people have a story. Happy people are boring. When you hero and heroine are finally happy, it’s time to type, THE END.
Also be careful about the pace of the story. Accelerate the pace with dialogue. During action, use short sentences, scarce descriptions. After a fast scene with high suspense, allow the reader to relax with an introspection that will slow the pace while the characters expose their emotions. Slow-paced scenes should be short to prevent the reader from getting too relaxed and bored. To keep a good pace, alternate short sentence and long ones. Short paragraphs and long ones. Short scenes and long scenes. Often a love scene may break a highly suspenseful situation and keep the momentum going.
No matter what genre you write, enjoy your story while writing it.
Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press,
To Love A Hero [The Romance Studio~ Sweetheart of the Week: Ms. Risk is one of those authors who puts together a tale that’s captivates from first page to last]
French Peril [Night Owl Romance~ Recommended Read~ Mona Risk’s characters will enthrall you as they all dance to their own personal tunes]
and medical romances for The Wild Rose Press,
Babies in the Bargain, [Readers Favorite 2009 Best Romance; The Long & the Short, Reviews Best Book of The Week~ This one will keep you on your toes and make you beg for more.]
Rx for Trust [Night Owl Romance~ TopPick Reading] and Rx in Russian.
All her books are available at Amazon.com
Long ago while doing researching, I ran across an obscure reference to the brother of Vlad Dracula. It was nothing more than a single sentence and yet I wondered about this mysterious brother, Radu. I never found much more than obscure references to his existence, so I decided to reawaken him into life in a futuristic setting. The idea was for him to reemerge because a thief has robbed the gravesite of his family and stolen the Draculesti Bloodstone.
Radu exists in a futuristic time where the world has been devastated by a world nuclear war, which has caused sterility and mutations. Radu meet Linea and as with most relationships, he never suspects Linea Kamiya will become his lover and he’ll lose his heart to her.
I wondered throughout the story what Radu would do about Linea since she’d been bitten by the evil vamp master, Desmondi. Radu is after all a vampyr hunter? I saw the connection between Radu and Linea beyond the physical lust, but I still feared for her. I didn’t know how she’d have a future with him.
Well like most enigmatic men, when you capture their hearts, they often love far more intensely and deeper than others. Radu was no exception and proved to be a hero any woman would love to call her own, even in a hellish future.
He released the moonstone and touched her shoulder. Soft feminine
skin, and the scent of sweet grasses, annihilated his willpower. He swept
her up into his arms and carried her to the bed.
He laid her down gently, following her down and lying by her side.
He listened for a moment to the loud thump of her mortal heart,
powered by desire and fear. In the hours she’d been unconscious he’d
watched her, memorizing every breath and expression that crossed her
It’s a quirk of mine that I love combining genres and finding unique characters that are unknown to most readers. Dhampir Passions is for anyone who loves anything paranormal, futuristic, erotic, or romantic. It is available at Eternal Press in ebook form or through Amazon in print.
Readers can contact me via my website: www.authormaryc.com
Friday, January 22, 2010
Mmm, the inspiration behind The Sharp Points of a Triangle. Hannah and Jamie’s story arose from a newspaper story I read about a man who tracked down a woman he’d never stopped loving and they married six months later after being reunited. Romantic? Yes. A little boring for a 70,000 word novel, yes! So what did I do? I dug deep and imagined what it would feel like to have an ex you still love turn up in your life but as the ultimate business rival – and he still has the infuriating ability to evoke the most tangible sexual need in you known to man…sparks people, sparks! The ‘triangle’ part comes in through the network of relationships running through the novel – there are ex’s, there are work associates, there are even sixty-year-old neighbours with a leather swing in their garden. The story is full of fun, laughter, tears and ultimately love on the truest level possible. Enjoy!
Here’s an excerpt…
I eagerly follow my boss, Mr. Baxter. Surely God would not be cruel enough to sit me within fifty feet of Jamie, so ahead of me is a night of getting to know new people and hopefully, ferret out some information concerning the
reason I am here ―Malcolm Jenkins. We walk among the tables, looking at place cards and company logos. Nothing.
“I can’t see our names anywhere,” I say.
“Oh, we’re sure to be here somewhere, dear,” Mr. Baxter murmurs.
And then my stomach tightens and my heart thumps hard inside my chest when I see Jamie standing not five feet away from me. Yep, God must love getting a kick out of watching me squirm. Hey, maybe I rose up against the Church in the fourteenth century or something and now he’s paying me back big time. He is standing by one of the tables, his hand on the back of a chair talking to a sickeningly gorgeous blonde. Her size six figure is sheathed
in a pale pink dress that glides over her body like a second skin, and falls to her ankles in soft delicate folds.
“Condom in heels,” I mutter.
“Did you say something, dear?” asks Mr. Baxter.
“No, no. I’ll bet twenty pounds this will be us,” I say, approaching
I walk closer to Jamie and his companion and peer at the name cards, purposely turning my back to them in an ardent display of disinterest. But then Mr. Baxter has no such qualms and comes bouncing up beside
me like a God damn jack in the box.
“Jamie! What a coincidence you should be seated between Hannah and me,” he gushes. “And who is this stunning, young lady? Your wife?”
Nausea rises bitter and unwelcome in my throat as my breath catches. Time stands still. I wait for his answer. Bastard. Why didn’t I consider the fact he could be married? Bastard. Who the hell does he think he is,
running his eyes over me like a bloody Casanova ready to pounce when he’s got a wife who looks like that? He gives a deep throaty laugh which immediately warms my body in places that have no right to be warm.
“No, no, I’m not married, Reginald,” he says, with a laugh. “Let me introduce Andrea Kingsley. She’s one of Lloyds’ top performing advisers.”
I sniff. Yeah, I bet. Performing is right―most likely on her back. But my relief rushes out on a breath. I move to sit down but realise the chair on which Jamie is resting his hand is mine. Damn it. When I look up, he’s watching me. In fact, all three of them are.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” I extend my hand to Condom. “Hannah Boyd. Pleased to meet you.”
She gives me a pinched smile and takes my hand. Her eyes linger on mine for a moment too long. “Pleased to meet you too, Hannah.”
I smile back and hope it doesn’t look as overdone as it feels. There’s a long silence and I wonder which one of us is going to fill it. But we are all saved by the bell, literally. The Master of Ceremonies asks that we all
be seated, and when I move to pull out my chair, Jamie gets there first. My eyes meet his and he winks. My heart gives a hard kick, but I merely nod my thanks and gracefully sit down. Opening my menu, I promptly hide behind it. How did this happen? How could I work so damn hard to pass exams and prove myself competent as an adviser, only to find myself sitting next to the one person I was always so bloody hot for. I’d even had to demand
he shove his respectful restraint up his arse, in order to lose my virginity with him, for crying out loud!
This is bad, really bad―I can feel an eruption of volcanic proportions brewing.
Blurb for ‘The Sharp Points of a Triangle’ - Hannah Boyd has been crowned the youngest Independent Financial Adviser in the UK. She has kicked out her boyfriend whose idea of romance is leaving a present of skid-marked boxers on the bedroom floor, or sharing a chilli-kebab in front of the football on a Saturday night. She is successful, single and about to secure the one of the wealthiest men in England as one of her clients. But then the one person she never wanted to see again reappears as her biggest competitor…and temptation.
Jamie Young never stopped loving her but is now competing against her in the cut-throat business world. He has to find a way to secure both the lucrative client and Hannah. Will she agree to work to him so he can keep her close and let him mend the heart he broke so badly? Or has he lost her forever?
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Creating a book trailer is one way to promote a book to readers. This type of promotion can make a sale, or hurt it.
When making the trailer, it’s very important to keep in mind a book trailer is like any marketing strategy, it should be carefully planned. The artistic skills and marketing talent are the foundation of creating a successful video that will present your book in a fascinating style.
Few points you should consider as you create your trailer:
While I create book trailers, it is important to make the trailer short, not more than two minutes, so the trailer won’t bore the viewers.
Words used are so crucial to the success of your video; it shouldn’t be more than one short sentence per frame, to be able to read it comfortably. I work with authors to come up with tweaked sentences or words to convey the right amount of information, enough to capture the reader’s interest.
How you construct your video is essential when you are marketing your book. If your video isn’t fascinating enough, it can hurt you more than help you sell your story.
The use of suitable video effects/pictures is essential part in making your trailer more professional, it’s not how many effects/pictures you use, but what and how you use these effects/pictures.
The trailer should give a different peek into the story, and compliment the blurb, not repeat it. One of the mistakes I see, in my opinion of course, is that some authors use the trailer as a blurb, and the mistake in using a blurb in the trailer is that you are giving the readers one chance in liking what they are watching, and if they didn’t find it intriguing, you lost them. From your trailer readers need to get to the blurb to learn more, then to your story to know the answers.
Using the trailer as stage one, and the blurb as stage two that’s two chances the reader may comeback and buy your book, which is the final stage you want the readers to reach. Just like a book cover, some readers if they were not attracted to it, they leave the book, some go to the blurb, and from there they will buy the book or not.
Same works for the book trailer, you must attract readers enough to get them to your story, and if the book trailer failed to attract readers, and wasn’t up to their standards, then you lost the sell. Cluttering the book trailer with many words will put readers off.
Book trailers and book covers fascinate me, and graphic design always drew my attention. And as an artist, I started one day and never stopped. To me, creating Book Covers and Trailers is an art, a passion. I created Book Trailer Design Company in 2009. Please visit wwww.design.suzannahsafi.com and check the videos created, I hope you’ll enjoy your visit.
I always welcome any comments, suggestions, or questions; please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Often when I write, my sleep is disrupted by visions of new stories. On one such morning, I arose early and watched from my deck as a palette of crimson and blue embraced the sky and reflected a spectrum of colors against the mirror of the lake. The predawn mist that frequents the liquid surface on chilly mornings quickly blanketed the cove and partially obscured the shoreline. The vapor cloud offered an eerie ballet as it swirled and danced to a solitary spectator. Eventually, as I sipped my third cup of brew, the ghostly figures disappeared into the canopy of the forest surrounding the cove and I caught the outline of several new visitors at the apex of a wake headed my way. The string of serene images flooded my thoughts as I studied a brood of freshly hatched ducklings trailing behind two mallards.
The serenade of a mourning dove enticing his mate in the cedar tree to my right was interrupted by a radio from across the cove. The blaring news report reminded me of a horrifying mystery still haunting the community near where I live. My peaceful thoughts became corrupted by visions of evil things that wait just outside our civilized world for the opportunity to reach out and destroy the innocent. At that instant, there was a splash in my cove. I turned and where there had been five sets of small paddling feet, now there were only four. Nature, with all her exacting reality, had taken a life from an unsuspecting family to feed the blind hunger of one of her beasts.
The parallel between what I’d heard on the radio and what was unfolding in the cove electrified my muse. The juices began to flow for a new story, one based on the hidden dangers all around us, but it had to be anchored in truth and blended with a romantic core.
Then it hit me. Sometimes deception is the match that burns love to a cinder. Whether it’s an attempt to deceive our mate, or a lie to fool ourselves, deception only fosters pain. In the same way, evil deeds are generally carried out through a VEIL OF DECEPTION, and the plot for a gut-wrenching romantic suspense was born.
I discussed the opportunity to collaborate with an author friend, Candace Morehouse. Our intent was to achieve realism by blending both gender views. Was the collaboration effective? Why not come on over to Davisstories.com and read a few excerpts and reviews. Here’s a little blurb to wet your appetite.
BLURB: Something suspicious is happening at Spenser Lake. People are disappearing and their bodies never found. The fear and uncertainty affect the tranquil community, but especially Kurt Hawkins. The guilt that he was responsible for his wife’s loss precludes any normalcy in his life until he meets Danielle Gillette, a reclusive author with skeletons of her own. When the mystery to the disappearances is revealed, they discover sometimes truth cuts deeper than a lie.
Authors' website: http://davisstories.com/
Saturday, January 9, 2010
WELCOME! THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO GET TO KNOW MY WORK!
NO MATTER WHY, my debut novel, will be available in digital and print from The Wild Rose Press, January 15, 2010!
A little background:
Trust and stability became empty words the day motherless, sixteen-year-old Carrie Norwell came home to find her brothers murdered. Within moments, her father arrived and his heart gave out at the scene. Five years later, is it any wonder the walls with which she's barricaded her heart are virtually impenetrable to anyone looking to get close and offer what she wants more than anything? The security only a loving family can give? Or someone with whom to build her own?
Carrie couldn’t drive home fast enough. She shifted into park and was barely through the door when the phone rang. She hadn’t noticed her aunt’s car in the driveway. Carrie quickly spread her saturated coat across the hooks and ran for the nearest handset. “Hello?”
"You’re out of breath. I should have waited another five minutes.”
“Who…?” Carrie recognized Billy Jay’s voice. The guy was resourceful. “Why are you calling me?”
“Just wanted to say hi. Talk a little. You know, get to know each other.”
“Didn’t you say I had time to think?”
“Thirty minutes wasn’t enough?” He gave her no time to answer. “Don’t shake your head like that. It might fall off.”
She stopped short. Billy Jay had already shown up at work. Why wouldn’t he stop by her home?
He kept talking. “Could you imagine all that wavy hair and those big green eyes of yours sticking out of the ground without the rest of you attached?”
She found her bearings. “You’re crazy.”
“Only about you, Angel-girl.”
The sweet words warmed Carrie. “Will you not call me that, please?” She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “Better yet, don’t call me.”
“Obviously, I’m past that point.”
Obviously, Carrie was getting nowhere. She remembered Jessica’s comment about Monica. “Since you insist on talking, explain how you excuse this behavior to your girlfriend.” Carrie’s hands shook, but she kept her voice steady.
Behind gritted teeth Carrie stifled a not so nice response. Had Billy Jay been there in person, she might have mustered just enough nerve to reach up, grab his oversized shoulders and give him a good hard shake. “Would Monica approve of you following another girl around and calling her at home?”
“Monica?” Billy Jay’s surprise sounded genuine. “What makes you think I’d even look at someone other than the girl I’m dating?”
Carrie struck a nerve. His persistence had already dug through her last one. “What else am I supposed to think? You were with her at the diner.”
A short silence prefaced Billy Jay’s whistle. “Amazing. Jess kept something to herself.”
His unexpected change in attitude threw Carrie off guard. “What are you talking about?”
“I broke things off with Monica the next day. I’m free to pursue any girl I choose.”
Carrie chewed her inner lip. “Lucky you. Choose somebody else.”
About the Author:
Joanna Aislinn is an avid reader whose writing roots stretch back to her early teenage days. Life got in the way until ten years ago, when the story playing out in her head insisted she put it down on virtual paper. She's been writing and honing her craft ever since. No Matter Why (The Wild Rose Press), Joanna's debut novel is now available in print and electronic versions! At present, she’s busy revising its sequel, learning all she can about promo, building her web presence and finding time to work a day job and manage a home along with everything else!
Order your print copy of NO MATTER WHY at any of the following:
www.thewildrosepress.com (digital copies available here, too, beginning 1/15)
Author's Website http://www.joannaaislinn.com
We’re talking craft and taking the time to go over a few tips! (Not looking to re-invent the wheel, just some basic, sure-to-get-you started and keep-you-writing ideas.)
Write what you know (rarely fallible, especially if you’re willing to tweak as needed :)
Get anything down on (virtual) paper: that’s exactly what first draft is for! Whatever doesn’t sound good can be fixed during revision/rewriting or (eek!) deleted if absolutely necessary. (Even what you delete can go into a ‘cuts’ file so you can revisit, maybe even use it later!)
Create a ‘scratch pad’ file. Use it to jot down ideas, dialogue, snippets of scenes that are just starting to formulate in your head. Review them periodically. Even chapters later, you’ll be able to go back for a detail; you can even check them off as you use them. (An alternate idea is to insert comments in the text as you go—under Insert, on your word-processing application’s toolbar—which you’ll see as you revise/rewrite your wip.) Or go formal: outline key points of your story.
Connect and network with other writers—they are out there. Find them in person (via a local writers’ group; some chain bookstores house a monthly group) or online (i.e., online critique groups, special interest writers’ loops, etc). You can use my links page as a springboard: www.joannaaislinn.com/event_info.html and you don’t have to live in a given vicinity to join!
Visit your favorite authors’ websites and blogs. Writers love to share about craft! You’ll find tips, tutorials and/or workshops at many of them, or links to some of their preferred sites.
Set time aside to write. I love getting up early (and/or staying up late), grabbing a cup of coffee and spending anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours—depending on the day—working on my wip. That’s usually when the rest of my family is asleep and I can work with few/if any distractions.
Believe in your story and that you can do this. Write, revise, rewrite and persevere! Visualize what your cover may look like, what the blurb on the back will say. Picture yourself standing at your monthly writers’ meeting and announcing your wonderful news that you’ve been offered (or, even better, awarded) that first contract! Then go back and write some more!