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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Author Edit Thyself!

Please welcome guest blogger Lex Valentine

I'm anal. No one I know would describe me any differently. I write a book and then take a couple of days off. I come back to it with rested eyes and I begin a self edit. I look for all the telling that I know I do. I insert all the dropped words I know are missing. I look for pet words and phrases. I look for weak spots in the storyline or plot. I look for places where I rushed and could have explained better. When I've done all that, I turn it over to another set of eyes.

When I write a gay romance, the next set of eyes usually belong to a gay or bi man. Most other stuff I turn over to one of three people whose opinions I value as a critiquer. None of the three pull any punches with me. They are hard on me. "You info dumped here, delete it." "Too much scenery here, not enough emotion. Shift the focus." "I really think you have overused the word PINK. You need to search on it and remove it." Sometimes when I worry about how something will be perceived, I get a new set of eyes, a true reader. For Ride the Lightning with it's attempted suicide scene, I wanted someone other than my normal critters and betas to tell me the book was fine with that scene in it. So I handed the manuscript to a fan of the Tales series who is an as yet to be published writer. I needed to know that the readers wouldn’t be squicked out by the scene.

My point here is that when you finish a manuscript... you are far from finished. In point of fact, the real work has just begun. Trying to polish something that is your baby can be very difficult. You've been looking at it so long, you don't see the dropped words and missing commas and hyphens. Having another set of eyes is IMPERATIVE. If you are doing it all on your own and subbing it to publishers you are probably going to get a rejection or at least a revise and resubmit.

And if you get a dozen rejections or R&R’s on a manuscript, don’t keep hawking it to publishers as is. Twelve editors are not wrong. Maybe one or two, but not a dozen of them. Something isn’t good enough in that manuscript and that means you should be looking at it with fresh eyes and seeking someone else, someone new, to look at it and you should take to heart the words of the editors who have rejected you. Did they say your voice is too passive? You have too many grammatical errors? That your plot is too implausible even for a paranormal?

If twelve editors are rejecting you for the same thing, don’t be so fired up to be published that you send off that same manuscript to another half dozen houses who are all on the suspect list at EREC and Preditors and Editors. Because you know, less scrupulous houses may take a manuscript that isn’t good enough for the houses that pride themselves on their products and authors. And do you want to be associated with a house with a bad rep? Or do you want a career that shows you care about your craft and want to be well-known one day? Take that manuscript with all the rejections and fix the things that got it rejected. Hone your craft and don’t assume those twelve editors are wrong because twelve readers in your crit group loved your story. The critters won’t give you a contract. The editors will, so you need to pay attention to their words, especially if they are from one of the houses that are well-respected.

How do I know this? I read submissions for Freya's Bower and Wild Child Publishing for a year. I've seen a lot of authors turn in manuscripts that could have been better if only they had critters, beta readers, and had learned to self edit. Missing periods and scrambled words just don't belong in a professional submission. You should not send your story to a publisher without someone else vetting it first. Even the best of us can miss a dropped word. In fact, most authors miss them because they've just been too close to the manuscript. The other set of eyes is pretty much mandatory for catching those boo boos.

Now, go ahead and crit my blog post. It's a blog post, not a manuscript for a publisher. At the same time, it's nearly 9 pm and I've worked OT today and I haven't been sleeping well. That means SOMETHING is bound to be wrong with this post! Will I see it? Maybe not. Will you? Well, you're more likely to than I am! And that right there is the thrust of my post.

As writers and authors, you should be self editing. But you should also have those manuscripts critiqued by someone who is knowledgeable and willing to tell it like it is. Sycophants need not apply for this job! (Don't know that word? Dictionary.com! GO. Go, now!)

If you are not self editing and you are not using critiquers who know what they are talking about... you are not ready to be published. You deserve all the stinging red marks an editor is going to fill your manuscript with. And if you receive a rejection, well, you may just deserve that too because I am here, telling you what to do to help avoid those things. If you choose to ignore my advice, you're courting the big R or the grumpy editor with the red tracking marks. If you don't believe me, ask the people who have to read submissions.

Avail yourself of the groups out there that can help you. Ask published authors or former editors to read your work. If you are a writer who has never been published, don't hand your manuscript off to a handful of other aspiring writers who are in the same boat as you. Give it to someone more experienced. If you are an author already, give the manuscript to another author or former editor. Perhaps someone who has been doing this longer than you or who has had more success. Don't sit on your laurels and turn in crappy, messy manuscripts to your editors thinking they will take it cause they took the last three... You may find yourself shocked right out of your complacence with a big, fat rejection email.

Go on out there and edit yourself. Then get someone else to crit it. Give yourself a fighting chance to win at the publishing game.

Have a great day!

Lex Valentine

Lex has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil and started her career as an author in the 3rd grade, winning a poetry contest at school. Born and raised in Salinas, California, Lex moved to Southern California in 1992. She lives in Orange County with her daughter Nikki and Rott, her long haired tattooed DH. She loves loud music, builds her own computers, and has a propensity for having very weird vivid dreams about Nikki Sixx.

Lex works full-time at a cemetery as the network administrator. Her list of publishers includes: Ellora's Cave, Pink Petal Books, MLR Press, Liquid Silver Books, Noble Romance, Freya’s Bower, Wild Child Publishing, MSF, and Cobblestone Press.


When wildling Corey Green discovers his mate is Seth Dylan, a tough as nails, dour werewolf from the McCallan clan, he thinks his life is set. However, Seth’s not out and doesn’t know if he wants to be. A pivotal sexual encounter between the men has Seth running scared and leaves Corey broken hearted. The men meet again nearly two years later and this time Seth’s out but Corey’s dark depression is about to send him behind the Veil of the Jewel Box to the fae world. Seth’s determined to make up for running out on Corey, but the wildling’s sunny disposition has gone so dark it may be too late for them to build a life together. With love on his side, Seth sets out return the sunshine to Corey’s soul.

Warning: Contains two hot gay men who love sunshine, sex that makes the plants and trees grow, and a big bad wolf who will do anything to win the man he loves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It’s All About The Writing—Or Is It?

Please welcome guest blogger Karen Kelley

Did you ever wonder why someone’s book is immediately snapped up by an editor? What was it that appealed to that editor?

You’re in the store and you read a back cover blurb that grabs you and won’t let you put the book down, but what makes it more special than all the others? What catches your attention? Why does one book take off like a rocket and another one just sit there?

It’s the hook that grabs the editor’s attention, the same one that grabbed you. The author has put a fresh spin on her story and made her book more marketable.

Everyone has heard of the “what if” game. If you’re a writer, you probably play it all the time. So how exactly do you come up with a twist for your story that will make it stand out?

First, start with the basics. There are five elements in constructing a story pitch that pops: Captivating characters, Inciting incident (what happens to change their world), the potential for conflict, a great title, and the hook or twist that will give your story that extra zing.

A psychic and a skeptic are stuck in a vacant hotel with two sex-starved ghosts.

That’s from an older book of mine, Double Dating With The Dead, but it’s my favorite pitch. In that one line, I’ve used all the elements.

Captivating characters: notice I didn’t use names. Tags can identify the potential for conflict more easily, especially if the tags are in direct opposition with each other—like a psychic and a skeptic.

Inciting incident (what happens to change their world). They’re stuck in a vacant hotel.

Great title: Okay, mine kind of sucked. Double Dating With The Dead came from the fabulous Kate Duffy who was the title queen.

The potential for conflict: a psychic and a skeptic stuck in a vacant hotel—talk about opposites!

The hook/twist: with two sex-starved ghosts.

What was the worse thing that could happen? I already had two people who were stuck in a vacant hotel together. I could’ve left it at that, but by adding the two sex-starved ghosts I gave my story that extra twist I needed to make it stand out.

See how short and concise a pitch can be.

I use snarky comedy a lot. I also showed that element in my pitch. If you’re going for a darker element create a more sinister image.

Here’s one for my current release, The Wolf Prince.

A sexy shape-shifting prince from a faraway galaxy arrives on Earth to save a woman who doesn’t know she’s part alien because rogues are killing off the impures. But when she clobbers the prince over the head, he gets amnesia, and both their lives are in danger.

Okay, I actually wrote that a few minutes ago for this article so it’s a little rough. This series sold to Kate on the first book, The Jaguar Prince (the second book is The Falcon Prince), so I actually didn’t have a pitch for it until today. But using those five elements I was able to narrow down my story idea.

Captivating characters: Sexy shape-shifting prince and a female who doesn’t know she’s part alien.

Inciting incident: the prince arrives and she clobbers him. (Note, I used clobber and not hit because clobber sounds more comedic)

The potential for conflict: rogues are after her

A great title: The Wolf Prince—again not mine. I really do suck at titles.

The hook/twist: What was the worse thing that could happen in an already downward spiral? I gave my hero amnesia.

Take your plot, then turn the screws just a little bit and give it one more twist.

Karen Kelley became very adept at how things worked in the publishing world. You write a book, you mail it off, you get rejected, you write another book. She did this for six years until one day she talked her husband into mailing her manuscript for her. She couldn't take one more look of pity from the postal workers. Being the loving husband that he is, he mailed Bachelor Party to Hilary Sares at Kensington to be considered for the Precious Gem line on a Tuesday. On Friday of that same week, Hilary called to offer a contract. 

Currently Karen writes for the Brava Imprint with Kensington Publishing and has the fabulous Kate Duffy for an editor. Karen writes full-time, and collects junk which she fondly calls antiques. Her husband can still be talked into mailing her manuscripts and also helping with her publicity. She has two grown children, one son-in-law and three grandchildren and a very spoiled Pekinese. She loves sitting on the patio on a warm spring day and procrastinating about her approaching deadline(s).

Check out the first chapter of the The Wolf Prince.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Mary Sue In Us All

Please welcome guest blogger Raven Corinn Carluk

Everyone here probably knows what a Mary Sue is. (For those who don’t, follow this link.) Briefly put, a Mary Sue is the perfect character, shoehorned into whatever situation is going on. The whole world of the story revolves around her. She’s perfect, unflawed, wins every challenge, and is often accused of being a puppet of the author.

I’m here to say there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself in your work. In fact, I’ll boldly state that putting yourself into your characters makes for better reading. You become their soul, and they will live for your readers.

Putting yourself into your story doesn’t mean you have to limit the heroine to your knowledges, nor that you become something you’re not for your antagonists. Think of your characters more as costumes; you put them on for a role, then put them back on a shelf. You’re the one who gives them life, who shapes and sculpts them.

Writers are supposed to write about what they know, but a lot of us are never going to know what it’s like to be a Broadway actress, or cross swords with an orc, or be a part of a jewel heist. But we’ve all done something that made us exultant, or scared, or nervous. We can apply those similar reactions to whatever we’re doing as our characters: the pride we felt at accomplishing something becomes the rush at the end of an excellent performance; the tension that comes over you from facing a vicious dog is what fills your warrior fighting the orc; waiting for an important job interview is the same thing you feel when lifting that royal crown from the display.

You know all of that, all the sensations, all the mental quirks and ticks. You’ve lived through it, been bathed in it, and grew from it. That’s all there for you to relive as your character. The way your skin crawled, your fingers twitched, your vision swam, your heart raced. If it’s intimate for you, it’s intimate for your character, and it will be intimate for your reader.

I cannot stress enough that getting into character is important because it brings them to life. You can learn all the show-versus-tell, all the great hooks, all the goal-motivation-conflict you want, and your story can still fall flat. Characters are what people care about, what they want to read, and what compels them to keep going. Poor story structure can be forgiven; boring characters cannot.

So, how do we do it? How does a Mary Sue become a star, something that keeps the readers coming back, and makes them fall in love?

I wish I could give you the magic answer, but there isn’t one. (Anyone who says otherwise is fudging the truth.) I can give pointers, get you in the right direction, and let you know how I’ve done it, but only you can do the work.

Ditch the archetypes Other than in broad terms, no one really fits an archetype. You’re not wholly a Waif, or a Bitch, or a Jock, or a Nerd. You’re a person, with different facets, which means you as a character should be faceted. Pick the traits that are going to work, and build from that. Mix and match to make a real person. Shy with a rapier wit once you get to know her. Fireman who can brave any heat level but can’t raise his voice to old ladies. If they happen to fit a mold, then they do. Just don’t try to force them.

Build the character separate of the plot Just as you didn’t shape the entirety of the real world, your character should be independent of their plot and surroundings. The story and world should be able to live without the protagonist, and vice versa. Only the worst kind of Mary Sue’s have exactly the powers needed to solve the exact problem that appears. Characters and story should fit and make sense (just like you wouldn’t raise peonies in a warzone), but design them as separate entities. You should be able to move your heroine to another story, and she should still stand.

Draw on your experiences I mentioned this before in my establishing remarks, but that’s how important it is to your characters. You may not have the exact experiences (depending on the character and event, I hope you never do), but you’ve had something similar. Harness that moment, recall everything, and put it into the scene. You’ve had an argument before, you’ve felt the first blush of lust, you’ve been hungry, you’ve been sad, you’ve been scared. Adapt and extrapolate to flesh out the character. You love pizza, but your character loves french fries; it’s not hard to let him talk about how he can’t get enough, and how it’s the best food ever, and when he first fell in love with fries. Your puppy died when you were eight? There’s heartbreak there that can be used for a fallen friend.

Build the character with you in mind You’re going to be wearing your character through multiple drafts and revisions. Possibly sequels and spinoffs. They’re probably not going to be an exact copy of you, so there will be unusual things you’re living with. Unless you really want to explore your limits, I recommend not giving your character something that you’re highly uncomfortable with. Grossed out by blood? Don’t write a vampire protagonist. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you might avoid writing about a Yankee player. Not to say you never do anything bizarre or outside your box; just think about what you’ll be working with, and what you’ll have to live with.

Don’t forget the flaws This is one of the biggest complaints for any Mary Sue. She’s just too perfect. Everyone has flaws, so our character must as well. And they need to be reasonable, believable flaws. A petrifying fear of dodos is no kind of flaw. Unable to speak in the presence of women is. You don’t need your antagonist to exploit it directly, but it should come up in the story. She doesn’t necessarily even need to be aware of it; she can be unable to walk on white tiled floors without realizing she’s OCD.

Most of what I’ve said probably sounds a lot like other character lessons. Good advice is good advice. I’m encouraging you to get into character. You must go deeper. Don’t fear a Mary Sue label, and end up distancing yourself from your protagonist. The more filters you strip away, the closer everyone can get to your story. You will always be the most dynamic character. Never forget that. Embrace it, and you will be embraced.

Raven Corinn Carluk is the author of All Hallows Blood and stories with bite o,.,o. Her site highlights many of her free stories and her artwork, and she spends quite a bit of time discussing movies and things that interest her on her blog. She wants to meet new people, and is quite friendly if you simply reach out to her.

All Hallows Blood

Mourning her mother on Halloween, Keila O'Broin, a psychic warrior and last of her line, isn't prepared for dead teenagers to ask her to avenge them. Compelled by her family creed, Keila combats the vampiric serial killer, despite her atrophied powers.

But defeating one killer is only the start of her adventure. Into her life walks Varick Eitenhauer, centuries old undead master of Portland. The vampire tells her she will now help him defeat his rivals in a battle to control the city, and he will accept no refusals.

Surrounded by her desire and danger, the only way to succeed is to rise from her past like a phoenix from its ashes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plot is a Four-Letter Word

Please welcome guest blogger Stacey Kade

Plot. Even the word sounds kind of scary and intimidating. You, the writer, are responsible for orchestrating every twist and turn of the plot, for making sure everything comes out correctly in the end…even when you may not be sure what the story is about, especially in the beginning.

How is that even possible?

It’s not! :) And that’s good news.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the basics.

First, what is plot? On the simplest level, it’s what happens in a story. But as we all know, it’s not everything that happens in a story. When you talk about plot, you’re referring to significant events that contribute to the development of a character or move the main action forward.

I would also argue plot is something that can only be analyzed, dissected, brought forth by an objective party—a reviewer, a movie critic, etc. However, your primary concern as a writer is the STORY, which is not the same as plot. Don’t worry about plot. From now on, plot is a four-letter word for you.

In every story, you have a guy (or a girl). Something happens to that guy/girl or the guy/girl decides to do something. (Usually something happens and guy/girl decides to do something in response.)

In the end of every story, some action has been accomplished. The case has been solved, the evil overlord has been defeated, the marriage fails.

Accomplished is the important word here in that it indicates our guy/girl has had some role in making it happen. Stories cannot be passive—events just happening to someone. It has to be about his/her response to what is happening.

As they say, “Sh*t happens.” :-) But the interesting part is how the characters deal or don’t deal with it. It’s not just discovering that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. It’s the question of how is Luke going to handle this? How will that change his perception of himself? His future actions?

In the end, our guy/girl is also fundamentally changed (even in a small way) by what he/she has experienced and said and done in response in the pursuit of accomplishing the main task.

So, looking at it this way, story (what we might have once called “plot”) is really just about your characters—what they want, what they’re willing to do to get what they want, and how that process changes them.

And you know your characters, probably even love them (I know I do!), and that’s all you really need, if you know how to use that information effectively.

Join me for more during Plot is a Four-Letter Word and learn how your characters will see you through the darkest, scariest plotting moments. :)

As an award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead.  From her first childhood scribbles about a magical necklace that would turn people into cats, Stacey has long been fascinated with what happens when the “ordinary” bumps up against “out of this world.” What if aliens landed on Earth? What if the afterlife is really just another dimension?  She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their three retired racing greyhounds, Joezooka (Joe), Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television with her Roswell DVDs, staring rapturously at Jason Behr.

Plot is a Four-Letter Word, presented by Stacey Kade, runs from November 1 through December 6, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Driving the Bus (a.k.a. Building your World)

Please welcome guest blogger Maria V. Snyder

I’ve been asked about my world-building techniques a few times in the past, and today I sat down and really thought about how I came up with the Territory of Ixia for my first book, POISON STUDY.

I realized that I didn’t invent my world ahead of the story or the characters. Many authors will draw maps and have extensive histories and politics before populating their worlds. Not me. Nope. I started with a character…Yelena, the food taster. And at first the world was going to be a monarchy, based loosely on the Middle Ages. But we all know…or rather all of us fantasy readers/writers know…that type of setting has been done to death. I had an unique character for fantasy, so I should have an unique setting…right? Right!

So if I wasn’t going to have a monarch, who was in charge of this world? I could have chosen a president, a sultan, a powerful magician, a council of elders, a mad man, a mad woman, a god, or a demi-god. Instead, I chose a military dictator and he is rather paranoid about being poisoned (otherwise, why have a food taster?). Why is he paranoid? He became the Commander of Ixia, by having the King and all his Dukes assassinated. It worked for him, so why wouldn’t it work for someone else unhappy with the status quo?

I really liked my military structure, it has a built-in ranking system, lieutenant, captain, colonel, etc.. I split the world into 8 Military Districts with a General in charge of each. I also liked having my characters..or rather all the citizens or Ixia wear uniforms that are color-coordinated to each district – a great technique for the writer who doesn’t like excessive description (i.e. lazy!). My Commander was also a big fan of utilitarian décor and no excess stuff around. So his officers all worked in one big room at clean/organized desks. (I’ll also note that I attended 12 years of Catholic school and wore a uniform for 12 years. I loved it – no worry about fashion, or making a decision at some un-godly hour of the morning—which is anytime before noon IMO).

Back to my food taster. Why would she want to be a food taster? She wouldn’t, unless forced or paid an outrageous salary. My Commander was turning into a pretty fair-minded gent and I couldn’t see him forcing a loyal supporter or risking one either. What if she was on death row, ready to be executed and the Commander offers her the job. She has a chance to live. That’s sounds good…except… What keeps her from running away at the first opportunity? And the other tricky question, Why is she on death row? I don’t think readers will be able to connect with a murderess. She would have to have killed someone to get on death row. Who does she kill? And Why?

Can you see where this is leading? My world grew from the answer to these questions. Basically, world-building consists of these three things:

-Asking questions

-Answering the questions

-Revealing the answers

Now back to the Commander – he is a black and white type of guy. You kill someone, you are killed…end of story. No, don’t try and tell him it was in self-defense, he feels human life is sacrosanct and won’t tolerate such weak excuses. So my girl is in prison for killing someone, perhaps in self-defense (readers don’t find out until page 346 or so ;), when she’s given the job. Now the tricky one – how to keep her in place? Poison her, was the answer. Make her show up for work to get a daily antidote to the poison in her body or she’ll die. Makes clocking in seem….lame doesn’t it?

And my world just kept growing as more questions arose as I wrote. Now this technique will not work for those writers who have to outline and make all these decisions before writing. Those unfortunate…er….plotters as we call them in the biz. I’m a pantser (as in seat-of-the-pants-dear-god-I-hope-this-works-out type).

Here’s the funny thing about my world. My sister had worked at a company that has a clean-desk policy, where they all wore uniforms (even the plant manager), where they all worked in cubicles (even the plant manager), and no one had a special parking space…sound familiar?? My sister read POISON STUDY and laughed. Seems my world of Ixia closely resembled her work environment. Guess I admired the fair way all her colleagues were treated and I subconsciously turned it into Ixia. (everything writers see, hear, and do are all fodder for that subconscious!)

Back on topic – for those who need to build the world first, good luck. Just kidding :) Some advice would be to not spend months and months or even years, perfecting your world, because what you’re doing is procrastinating. Yep, you are. Don’t argue with me, because I’m right about this. Writing is hard and using the excuse of needing a perfect world just won’t fly. So do a bit of research and then get the dam…er….story started. You can always fill in the blanks as you come to them.

Your character is driving the bus (so to speak) and you’re providing the roadway as he/she goes. As a pantser, the best part of writing is finding those unexpected surprises around the corners :)

Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria dreamed of chasing tornados and even earned a BS degree in Meteorology from Penn State University. Unfortunately, she lacked the necessary forecasting skills. Writing, however, lets Maria control the weather which she does in her Glass Series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass). Maria also earned a MA in Writing from Seton Hill University where she is now one of the teachers and mentors for the popular fiction writing program. Her latest novel, Inside Out is her debut young adult science fiction. The book is about a society living in a metal cube who has lost track of what is outside their world.


About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered a reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and she develops magical powers she can't control. Her life’s at stake again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Is Suspense?

Please welcome guest blogger JD Webb

I hope your chapter members are up for an exciting, beneficial workshop come December 6 through the 19th. I call it Adding Suspense to Your Killer Novel.

When I first started writing I never thought much about suspense. Suspense popped up, but much of the time by accident. I seldom analyzed what it took to make my work suspenseful. Reading and listening to authors who created it, I realized there was a trick to making it happen. I wanted to know how, so I began to study suspense.

In time I’d picked up tips and tricks to add to my writing. Then I was asked to be a presenter for the Muse Online Writer’s Conference about six years ago. So I worked up the courage to claim to have some knowledge and dove in. It must have worked because I’m still doing it today. And my class for your chapter is what I call my thesis on the subject. I’ve tried to refine and digest all the things I’ve learned so far. And I’m still learning as well. The day I think I have it all figured out has not yet arrived.

All too often authors confuse suspense with action. In fact they are opposites. Suspense delays the action. Once that action has occurred, suspense for that event is complete. We know what happens, and we don’t have to fret about it. What I hope to do in our workshop is provide some tweaking to our thinking.

Imagine a couple attending a dinner party. They’re late and their host asks what happened. The woman says, “We had a flat.” The man says, “We had a blow-out at 70 miles per hour. I wrestled the car under control, just missing two semis in heavy traffic, and jammed on the brakes when I steered the car to the shoulder.”

Which one has the suspense? It’s all in how you tell – no how you
show the story. That sentence could expand to draw out the suspense for a chapter or more with the driver trying to get his wife to safety.

We’ll look at ways to create, enhance, and heighten suspense. And it makes no difference what type of fiction an author writes. Suspense must be present in every genre. Conflict happens and the longer it takes place, the more critical the circumstances, the more suspense you have.

We’ll have practical examples of participants creating suspense and I’ll provide some critique tips. Along the way, we’ll have some fun and enjoy some mayhem. Hope to see you all there.

JD (Dave) Webb resides in Illinois with his wife (42years in Dec 2009 and counting) and their toy poodle, Ginger, losing all family votes 2 to 1. Dave served in the Security Service of the Air Force as a Chinese linguist and weather analyst in Viet Nam and the Philippines prior to spending 25 years in corporate management. A company purge promoted him to cobbler and he owned a shoe repair and sales shop for 11 years. During these careers he wrote short stories and suppressed an urge to write a novel. After making a conscious decision to live at the poverty level, those novels began forcing their way out.

Becoming a full time author in 2002, Dave has garnered several awards. A short story called The Key to Christmas placed third in the 2006 La Belle Lettre literary contest. His first novel Shepherd’s Pie won a publisher’s Golden Wings Award for excellence in writing. His second novel Moon Over Chicago was a top ten finisher in the 2008 Preditors and Editors Poll in the mystery category and was a finalist in the prestigious 2008 Eppie awards by the Electronic Publishing Internet Connection. He is also the Owner and Moderator of the Publishing and Promoting Yahoo group with almost 900 international members.

Creating Suspense, presented by JD Webb and Pepper Smith, runs from December 6 through December 19th, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jeri Smith-Ready’s Top 10 Signs You’re on Deadline

Please welcome guest blogger Jeri Smith-Ready

Thanks to FF&P and especially Jennifer for inviting me to guest blog today! I’ve done a number of posts lately about my YA debut Shade and about Bring on the Night, the third in my adult urban fantasy series about a vampire radio station (a copy of which I’m giving away to one lucky commenter).

But I figured since this was a writing-oriented blog, I would talk about my experience with my current work-in-progress—the fourth vampire book, Let It Bleed, which is due on Monday—thereby offering a glimpse into my oh-so-glamorous life as a full-time author.

There’s a special place we writers often refer to in our blogs, on Twitter/Facebook updates, and in our belated, cringingly apologetic e-mail responses: “Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, but I’ve been in….”

The Deadline Cave.

It’s a dark, lonely place. I’ve been here for months. Between June 1 and October 15, I will have turned in two novels, gone through three rounds of edits on one of them, written two anthology short stories (four rounds of edits between the two), and one anthology essay. I’ve had no more than a day or two of rest in between each deadline, most of which were overlapping, meaning I didn’t have the luxury of finishing one thing before starting the next. Crazy time!

So this list (updated from a June 2008 post written for the Maverick Authors blog) is close to my over-caffeinated heart:

Top Ten Signs You’re On Deadline

10. You fantasize about cleaning the bathroom.

9. Your hair comes in three alternating styles: ponytail, rat’s nest, and wet.

8. Th “E” has worn off your laptop’s kyboard.

7. Your Food Group Pyramid turns into a Food Cube, consisting of equal parts coffee, chocolate, frozen pizza, and Funyuns.

6. Sleep mostly comes in the form of long blinks.

5. You give the cat a can of food, but forget to open it.

4. Your garden weeds have been designated a National Forest.

3. Frightened by the snarling, your family approaches you only to slip food under the door.

2. Your neighbors call the police to investigate that smell.

And the Number One way to tell you’re on deadline (drum roll)….

1. You can’t remember ever having worn another pair of pants.

What’s your deadline cave look, sound, and smell like? Add to the list here, make a comment, or ask a question, and be entered to win a signed copy of Bring on the Night.

Edited to add: International Entries are welcome and the deadline for entry is 11:59pm Eastern time on Tuesday, October 12


What's Blood Got to Do With It?

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin seems to finally have it all. A steady job at WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll. A loving relationship with the idiosyncratic but eternally hot DJ Shane McAllister. A vampire dog who never needs shots or a pooper-scooper. And after nine years, it looks as if she might actually finish her bachelor's degree!

But fate has other plans for Ciara. First she must fulfill her Faustian bargain with the Control, the paranormal paramilitary agency that does its best to keep vampires in line. Turns out the Control wants her for something other than her (nonexistent) ability to kick undead ass. Her anti-holy blood, perhaps?

Ciara's suspicions are confirmed when she's assigned to a special-ops division known as the Immanence Corps, run by the Control's oldest vampire and filled with humans who claim to have special powers. To a confirmed skeptic like Ciara, it sounds like a freak fest. But when a mysterious, fatal virus spreads through Sherwood—and corpses begin to rise from their graves—Ciara will not only get a crash course in zombie-killing, but will be forced to put her faith, and her life itself, in the hands of magic.

Read an excerpt here: http://www.jerismithready.com/books/bring-on-the-night/excerpt1/


Jeri loves to hear from readers, so visit her at www.jerismithready.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jerismithready, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jsmithready. Her next release will be the short story “Thief,” in the YA vampire anthology ETERNAL: MORE LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, coming October 26. Her most recent release is BRING ON THE NIGHT, #3 in the WVMP RADIO adult vampire series. Her debut YA novel, SHADE, was released in May 2010, with a sequel, SHIFT, coming May 2011.