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What’s on Your Writer’s Wish List?

What's On Your Writer's Wish List? Jill Kemerer Blog

Are you making your list and checking it twice? No, I’m not talking about your Christmas list–I’m talking about your writer’s wish list! And you can make one whether you’re naughty or nice. *wink*

As we reach the end of another year, I like to take inventory of the practical (and a few impractical!) items I use on a regular basis. I also weigh in on if it’s time to try something new, upgrade existing equipment, or switch services. Sure, I replenish necessary supplies as needed throughout the year, but the once-a-year wish list gives me a valid excuse to spend a few hours thinking about how to improve my productivity.

Here are some of the items on my writer’s wish list, and, yes, I have categories!

Office Supplies

  1. Pentel EnerGel pens with purple ink. What can I say? I’m a pen nerd. I’m down to two pens, and that’s not going to cut it, my friends.
  2. Black and red Pilot G2 pens. See above–I’m picky about pens, and I like to have a variety of colors. I tend to blow through these G2s like they’re toilet paper. I should buy a fifty pack and call it good.
  3. Copy paper for printing. I buy a case at a time when it’s on sale, and, oh look! I’m down to only one full package left.
  4. A new office chair. The left arm of my current chair has lost its padding and the finish on it is crumbling. I lean on it a lot. The right arm seems fine. Sadly, this means I have the worst posture on the planet. I’m working on correcting how I sit. But in the meantime, a new chair has been added to the list.
  5. The PERFECT day planner. I have yet to find it, but the hunt is on and, my friends, the quest is real.

Last year, I stocked up on tape, staples, index cards, paperclips, mailing supplies, and manila folders, so I’m set on those for a while.

Computer Equipment/Software

Believe it or not, I have nothing on this list at the moment. I know, it’s shocking.

I bought a new laptop last year. My black-and-white laser printer is only a few years old. Last year I paid for plugin I’d been wanting for my website, and I hated it, so, thankfully, I have no stars in my eyes for other plugins at this point. I switched newsletter services a few years ago and am very happy with my current provider. So…I’m good. For now. Check back with me next year–this list will likely have something on it.

Oops, spoke too soon. Our internet provider is on my list to deal with. Our rates keep going up, but we have dead spots in our house and a lot of slow internet times. Guess I’ll be making a call soon. *sigh*

Creativity Helpers

  1. Gift cards for coffee shops. When I see a deal on them, I snatch them up. I love getting away for a few hours to explore ideas, and it’s less painful on the wallet when I can use a gift card.
  2. Pretty notebooks. I can never have enough.
  3. A super comfortable chair with an ottoman for my office. This is a long-term goal. I would love a comfy chair in my office to red-line my drafts, research, and dream. Someday…

Personal Items

  1. Hand lotion. Winters are dry where I live, and I keep a tube of thick hand cream on my desk. My hands thank me for it.
  2. Cardigans. I love cardigans or any garment that will keep me warm while I’m working. I bought a cape this fall to keep in my office. It’s easy to throw over my shoulders and it keeps my hands free to type.
  3. Candles. Lighting a candle makes the room pretty and it smells good.
  4. Candy. I can’t help it. Afternoons make me crave caramels. One or two can’t hurt, can they? Don’t answer that!

Research

  1. Books on the writing craft. There are always books to be purchased!
  2. Online classes. I recently found Udemy. Thanks, Kristina Knight and Tina Radcliffe, for sharing it with me! You can find tons of classes on a variety of subjects. The one I’m taking isn’t graded, and I can work on it at my own pace. It suits my needs perfectly.
  3. Magazines. I enjoy buying a variety of magazines throughout the year. They always give me ideas, inspiration, or motivation.

I’m sure there are tons of other things I could add to my list, and I’ll be jotting them down as I get more ideas.

What’s on your writer’s wish list? I love hearing about your ideas and favorite items!

Have a terrific day!

4 Tips to Start and End a Scene #WW

Scenes build stories. How you begin and end them can mean the difference between a reader finishing your novel or tossing it aside.

When you’re writing, it’s fine to put down whatever comes to mind so your brain can push through and get the draft on paper. But when you’re revising, it’s wise to analyze each scene’s hook and ending to make sure they’re pulling their weight.

Here are my “rules” for how to start and end a scene.

1. Don’t bore the reader.

Madeline slathered butter on the bagel. Stan had really crossed a line.

Whoop-dee-doo. Does any reader care if Madeline has butter on her bagel or not? I don’t think so. And while the second sentence gets more to the heart of the matter, the first sentence is what counts.

Try this:

She wanted to chuck her bagel at Stan’s head. The nerve of him, treating her like a five-year-old in front of her boss.

2. Give transition details early in the scene.

Readers need to know how long it’s been since the previous scene, whose point of view we’re in, the location, and any other pertinent setting information. Don’t make them guess!

She wanted to chuck her bagel at Stan’s head. The nerve of him, treating her like a five-year-old in front of her boss. Madeline peeked out of the break room but saw no sign of him. Good. After this morning’s humiliating meeting, she hoped he crawled back to corporate headquarters where he belonged.

3. Tease the reader at the end of a scene.

Stan handed her the report. “Verify your numbers with this.”

Stimulating. I, for one, don’t get excited over a hero handing a heroine a report and telling her to verify her numbers. YAWN…

How about:

“Verify your numbers with this.” Stan’s tone was as icy as his blue eyes. She snatched the report out of his hand.

 She’d verify them all right. And if he questioned her expertise again, she was taking the other job offer, even if it meant a cut in pay. No job was worth this.

4. Check scene hooks and endings.

A quick and easy way to make sure these openings and closings are doing their job is to copy/paste the first and last sentence in each scene in a separate file. When you have them pasted one after the other, it’s easy to spot the duds. Try it! I always find a few that need punching up.

What are you tricks to start and end scenes? I’d love to hear them!

Have a great week!

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Sugarplums and Second Chances by Jill Kemerer

Are some mistakes beyond redemption?

When former NFL star, Chase McGill, invites Courtney Trudesta, the widow of his former teammate, to spend Christmas with him and his son in Lake Endwell, he simply wants to repay her for the weekly letters she sent while he was in prison. He didn’t expect to fall for her.

Chase regrets his past and knows it will take more than sugarplums and wishful thinking to heal Courtney’s lonely heart. But with a dose of small-town charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, they might have a second chance at happiness…with each other.

Sugarplums and Second Chances is only $0.99 on Kindle. Purchase HERE!

 

Discussing Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Discussing Wonderbook, Jillkemerer.com/blog

I was at the library last week–shocking, I know–and came across a delightful book in the new nonfiction section. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer has an engaging, whimsical cover, and I had to pick it up. With stunning graphics, author essays, and entertaining chapter subheadings, Wonderbook was sure to be right up my alley.

I haven’t had a chance to dive into it in depth, but I’ll be taking it chapter-by-chapter until I finish. I have a feeling this will be one I buy for my writing-craft shelf. One of my goals this year is to consistently study and apply writing craft techniques. This spring I brushed up on several chapters of Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fictiona book I’ve read more than once. It’s really good. And I’m excited to find other craft books to return to again and again.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that more nonfiction books are being printed on thicker, glossier paper with ample photographs and illustrations. I’m drawn to these books. Visual aids always help me! Anything that breaks up the text keeps me engaged–bullet points, subheadings, graphics, charts, you name it. Wonderbook is full of them.

Here’s the cover of Wonderbook.

Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer, jillkemerer.com/blog

This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.

Purchase a paperback copy of Wonderbook: Amazon

 

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Since my laziness factor can get REALLY high, especially in the summer when beach reads are calling my name, I schedule study time. If a craft book has long chapters, I will tackle a portion of a chapter per session (I aim for three sessions a week). If the chapters are short, I study a chapter at a time. I write out notes on paper then type them into a digital notebook (I use OneNote) for easy access. Sometimes a book doesn’t grab me, and I give up on it, but most of the time, I get a lot out of the craft books I read.

One nice thing about Wonderbook is that it has a dedicated website with gobs of extras. You can find out more at www.wonderbooknow.com.

How do you study the writing craft? What are your favorite resources? Please share!

Have a terrific day!

Jill Kemerer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Researching Contemporary Settings Without Traveling #WW

Researching Settings Without Traveling, Jillkemerer.com/blog

On Saturday I gave a presentation at the Researching the Romance academic conference (#BGSURomCon18) hosted by the Browne Pop Culture Library at Bowling Green State University, which happens to be the official repository for Romance Writers of America (RWA). It was an amazing conference. I learned so much from professors, university librarians, archivists, grad students and others who traveled from all over the country. And, guys, Beverly Jenkins was the guest of honor. She blessed everyone with her insight, wisdom, graciousness and humor.

Since researching settings can be difficult, I thought I’d share my topic with you. Here it is!

Researching Contemporary Settings Without Traveling

A novel’s setting is important because it shapes the story and influences the characters’ thoughts and actions. Ideally, a writer will be able to visit an area before writing about it, but there are two big reasons why authors don’t always travel to research a setting. Time and money. We don’t always have time to jet off to Paris or drive to Georgia, and traveling can be expensive. But with the right tools, we can be confident we’re getting the setting right for our readers.

I take a three-pronged approach to researching setting–Internet, Print, People.  This method goes from big picture to small details.

 I usually have a general area or town in mind when I’m deciding where to set a new novel. The first thing I do is spend time on the internet and start gathering basic material.

1.Internet

  1. Print out a map of the area.
  2. “See” it through Google Earth/Google Images. Verify the images have been tagged correctly. Some images are clearly not what they say they are.
  3. Gather and print a year’s worth of weather data. It’s important to know typical highs/lows and precipitation.
  4. Find out what economics drive the area. Is it a dying town? Thriving? What are the demographics? What are the typical jobs? How much does it cost to live there?
  5. Read a brief history. Who settled it? What interesting facts emerge?
  6. Browse through travel guides/visitors info. What are the local attractions? These might trigger plot ideas.
  7. Check out homes through Realtor.com. What are the preferred styles? How much do they cost? Can I use this information as an area of conflict for a character?
  8. Search for blogs set there. For instance, when researching my Wyoming Cowboys series, I searched for “Wyoming ranch life” and found several blogs, full of pictures and rich details.
  9. “See” the area by searching YouTube—people GoPro everything!

 

At this point I have a good idea of the setting basics. I’m ready to narrow my research down to get “the flavor” of a place. So I move to print materials.

 

2. Print (Purchase or borrow from library)

  1. Memoirs set in the area (or general vicinity) will give you a more complete picture and plenty of details to make your setting come to life.
  2. Magazines. Regional magazines (Midwest Living, Alaska, Sunset, etc…) will give you fun facts and pictures.
  3. Ask librarian for help. Librarians know where to look beyond the travel section for information on specific places. Ask them!
  4. DVDs–documentaries and travel specials can be fun to watch!

 

Now I’m getting ready to write, but I usually have a list of picky questions I can’t find answers to. Example: How young is too young for a child to start riding a horse in Wyoming? Answer: Many children ride as soon as they can walk! How did I find this out? I asked people who live there (Thanks, Bree!!). How did I find these people? Social media.

 

3. People (Ask questions)

  1. Social Media. Get on Facebook, Twitter or even Google+ (there are communities for just about anything on G+) and ask specific questions “Hey, is anyone from X? I’m writing a book, and I’m wondering about Y.
  2. Put the word out to friends that you’re trying to find information about your setting. Chances are someone you know has a cousin/best friend/uncle’s first wife’s boss who lived there. Find out if they would be willing to answer a few questions. You can set up an interview (email, video, or phone) to pick their brains about the area.

 

Researching in person is ideal, but when finances are strained and you have no time, you CAN accurately reflect a setting if you work hard and DO sweat the details.

What are your secrets for researching a setting without traveling? Please share!

Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW

Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW Jillkemerer.com/blog

One thing I love about internal conflict is that a character recognizes she is emotionally protecting herself from something and thinks she knows why, but as the story progresses, she realizes the reason goes deeper. Until she’s willing to be vulnerable and admit the emotional walls she’s erected are stifling her, she won’t be able to emotionally grow.

Does it matter if she grows?

YES! When I’m reading a book, I fall in love with characters. I WANT to see them succeed. I want them to become their best selves and live full lives. If a character ultimately stays the same and shows no growth, I’ll be disappointed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the character starts off with massive flaws that turn everyone off. No one will stick around long enough to read about her growth!

Internal conflict starts with a deep emotional need. This need has been complicated by previous experiences. The character has convinced herself the need will not be met because of the past complications. Throughout the story, this belief is challenged until she chooses to be vulnerable enough to have the ultimate need met.

Here are some questions to dig deeper with internal conflict:

  1. What happened in the character’s past that caused him to erect emotional walls?
  2. What reason does he give himself to emotionally protect himself?
  3. What deeper fear underlies this explanation?
  4. How can the plot further challenge and develop his conflict?
  5. How do other characters force him to question if he needs to continue to protect himself?
  6. What will be the catalyst for him to acknowledge the deep fear keeping him from living his best life?
  7. What decision will the character make to tear down the emotional wall for good?

Let’s take an example. We’ll look at Lauren’s internal conflict in my book, Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

  1. A former social worker, Lauren feels she failed to protect the two boys she’d been assigned.
  2. She can’t forgive herself and doesn’t want to work with troubled kids ever again, lest she repeat her failure.
  3. As a former foster child, she was shuffled to different homes and as a result, grew a false belief that she had to be perfect to be loved.
  4. She is asked, refuses, and is finally convinced to babysit a kid who has been emotionally devastated. Being around Wyatt challenges her beliefs–at times she feels like she’s failing him, other times she knows she’s helping–and it confuses her.
  5. Drew, Wyatt’s guardian, thinks she’s amazing. And as they grow closer, she opens up to him about her regrets. He helps her see herself in a more accurate light, and as she spends time with him, she starts to realize her emotional walls aren’t just because she failed the boys. She unpacks her childhood and sees how she’s equated being perfect with being worthy of love.
  6. Wyatt vanishes. In Lauren’s mind this proves she was right–she should never have worked with a troubled child. And it reinforces her fears that this is the proof that will drive Drew away. He’ll see she’s not perfect. She failed him and Wyatt and is not worthy of their love. She pushes Drew out of her life.
  7. Lauren comes to terms with the fact she’s not perfect, never will be, and doesn’t have to earn anyone’s love.

Internal conflict is rooted in fear. The character doesn’t want to face this fear and often tells herself a half-truth to explain it. But as the plot progresses and her beliefs are directly challenged, she is forced to acknowledge the real fear holding her back. And ultimately, she chooses to be vulnerable, allowing this deep emotional need to be met.

How do you deepen internal conflict? I’d love to hear YOUR best tips!

Have a terrific day!

Teasing the Reader to Continue Your Book #ww

Teasing The Reader To Continue Your Book Jill Kemerer

Last Thursday was a bad writing day. After lunch, I threw my hands in the air and suppressed a scream. I knew where the story needed to go, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I had several scenes to write before my next “sure” scene. Everything inside me wanted to open a browser and get lost in Pinterest or Facebook or my Twitter feed, but that’s a no-no during my writing time.

I sat there. My eyes glazed over looking at the blinking cursor.

I will NOT have a soggy middle. I’m not going to write something boring just to meet my word count goal.

Soggy middles…I shuddered.

What could I do to tease the reader to continue reading?

Well…

What story questions remained unanswered?

I swiped a piece of scrap paper and jotted down all the story threads I hadn’t wrapped up at that point in the manuscript. There were a LOT of loose ends, but I couldn’t tie them up yet or the end of the book would be ruined.

So I popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and thought for a while.

Real life is messy. We don’t always get neat answers tied up in a bow. Instead we make impressions based on information we gather. Why shouldn’t it be the same for my characters?

I quickly brainstormed ways to provide the characters with answers that weren’t necessarily true. Two scenes jumped in my head to introduce misinformation to one character while conflicting information was presented to the other one.

Not only were the scenes fun to write, they make the book more fun for readers. They know two different answers exist for the same story question, and they can come to their own conclusion. This teases them to keep reading…to find out if they were right.

If you’re slogging through the middle of a story and not sure how to get from one major plot point to another, think about the story questions you’ve introduced.

  • Can you make the characters think they have a problem figured out while giving the reader clues the characters are wrong?
  • If you answer one story question, can you introduce another immediately?
  • If you’re not ready to answer a story question, can you lead the characters to believe they’re close to having the problem solved even if they aren’t?

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How do you tease readers to continue your book? And how do you combat the dreaded soggy middle? I’d love to hear your strategies!

Happy Valentines Day!!

 

 

Using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to Meet Writing Goals

Meet Your Writing Goals Using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

Last weekend I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Writers, Inc. Every January we have our annual goals discussion. The first half of my talk was about basic goal-setting: taking time to think about professional, health, emotional and personal goals for the year and deciding how and when to achieve them.

During the second half I shared how we can use Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to meet our writing goals.

We had a frank discussion, and I was thrilled to learn we had writers ranging in all four tendencies. I was surprised to learn some of the solutions I thought would work for one type clearly wouldn’t. And I loved hearing these writers share what would work for them.

 

Meet Your Writing Goals using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

 

If you’re not familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Four Tendencies, you can read about it HERE. Basically, Ms. Rubin studies human nature (she’s the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Happiness Project), and she divides people into four groups according to how they respond to expectations.

  • Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
  • Questioners meet inner expectations easier than they do outer ones.
  • Obligers meet outer expectations more readily than inner ones.
  • Rebels struggle against both inner and outer expectations.

In other words, Upholders tend to get things done that are important to them personally as well as what others expect them to do.

Questioners tend to get things done that make sense to them. If someone expects them to do something they don’t agree with or see the value in, it won’t get done.

Obligers tend to get things done when someone is depending on them. They find it difficult to meet personal goals.

Rebels want to do things in their way and in their time. Standard advice for meeting goals does not work for this tendency!

 

*If you’re not sure what tendency you fit in, take the QUIZ (linked). It’s short and sweet.*

 

Here’s what I loved about having this discussion with fellow writers.

Upholders are planner geeks, and we (yes, I’m an Upholder!) love time management tools. We can be rigid and too-rule-follow-y, but we get things done and that’s good. Setting daily/weekly/monthly writing goals works for Upholders.

Questioners who struggle to meet their writing goals need to keep asking questions about the goal until an answer clicks in that makes sense to them. For example: I’m going to write for one hour every weekday morning before work. You might then ask, why the morning? and you’d remember your nighttime routine is exhausting. But what if I wrote right after dinner? But you already decided to walk on the treadmill at that time. Face it, my creative energy is gone by 8pm.

At that point, you see the value in dedicating an hour in the morning. But you might have to keep questioning why writing every weekday is important until you get to your gold.

Obligers don’t want to let people down. If you fall into this category, you might put off writing until a hard deadline looms. Sure, you know you need to write or you’ll struggle to finish the book, but you struggle to feel the urgency. In this case, an accountability partner or group can make a difference. If you decide to physically meet someone at the library or a coffee shop to write for two hours, you’re much more likely to actually write at that time then if you marked those hours on your calendar to write at home.

As far as the Rebels out there, I urge you to throw out all the “expert” advice about planning and goal setting and do your own thing. Experiment. Get creative. And keep trying new methods of getting and keeping your butt in the chair until you find what works!

I’d love to hear how you find success in meeting your writing goals! Please leave a comment!

Have a terrific day!

A Tech-Challenged Author in a 21st Century World {Guest Barbara M. Britton}

Jerusalem Rising

I’m so pleased to have author Barbara M. Britton as my guest today! Barbara writes Christian fiction, and her new book Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey releases December 1! More information is below. 🙂

How a Tech-Challenged Author Navigates a 21st Century Marketing World

I’ll be honest. Technology scares me. I grew up with carbon paper and copy machines. My typing skills are hunting and pecking on steroids. Woe to the registrar who put me in freshman biology instead of typing class. Who knew I would someday be an author in the world of social media. How do I get the word out about my books? I work within my comfort zone and rely on friends to help me with the rest.

Remember the world I grew up in? We had phones, but we didn’t have texting or instant messaging. I love to talk on the phone. I use that to my advantage. I call reference librarians in my area and tell them about my books. If the library is nearby, I show up—in person. A local author in the flesh. As a youngster, I went door-to-door selling Campfire Girl mints. If I could talk to strangers when I was ten, I can do it now.

With my limited graphic design skills, I create a simple information sheet about my book. This sheet includes my cover art, blurb, ISBN, distribution channels, publisher information, and a short bio about me.  This sheet is something I can e-mail to a librarian or book store. I also carry them into places of interest. My sheet isn’t the fanciest, but it relays the necessary information about my book.

When I need swag (bookmarks, postcards) or advertisements, I hire my friends to create the designs. Some even do the printing. Does this take money? Yes, it does. I tell aspiring authors who have limited tech skills like me, to save those tax refund checks, or scrimp away funds for the day you will need some help. I wish I had the ability to change advertisement dimensions or place graphics and text on small bookmarks, but I don’t. The money I spend for awesome-looking graphics, saves me a technology meltdown.

Remember those Campfire mints I sold? My mom would wrap boxes for Valentine’s Day and take me to the BART station. We would sell chocolate to forgetful husbands. Did this increase sales? You bet. Today, I show up where booksellers and readers are waiting to hear about books. I find out about local book festivals or library conferences and reach out to see if I can show up and teach a workshop or talk about the publishing industry. We can call this skin-on marketing. Building relationships with people who love books is setting a foundation for future interactions—and possibly future sales.

I still engage in social media marketing, but I do the ones that I enjoy, and the ones that I have time to manage. After all, writing my next book is a priority. Staring at a computer screen, no matter how full of pretty pictures it is, eats away at my writing time.

Use the strengths God has given you to promote your stories. May you enjoy your writing journey and make new friends as you launch your books into this high-tech world.

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Barbara M. Britton

 

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

 

Jerusalem Rising

 

Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey

When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.

Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?

Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.

Purchase Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey  now! Click HERE

Check out the trailer for The Tribes of Israel series–wow!

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Do you consider yourself tech-challenged? What is your best marketing tip?

Have a terrific weekend!!

Reminder: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, the bestselling, four-novella collection of inspirational romance I contributed to, is only 99 cents! Click HERE to buy it!

2 Tricks for Pacing #WW

2 Tricks For Pacing #WW

You’re nearing the end of a writing session, and you’re in the zone. The words are hopping onto the page–it’s as if they’re writing themselves. Isn’t that the best feeling? Zone writing is fast and delicious. But it often lacks layers, and these layers affect the pace.

When I write fast, I’m typically writing action and dialogue, but scenes need more than words and actions. The reader needs the subtle clues in between to propel them to turn the page. Pacing that’s too fast will leave the reader unconnected to the characters. Pacing that’s too slow will make them stop reading the book.

Pacing isn’t easy to identify. If you want to check your manuscript for pacing, here are my top two tricks.

 

2 Tricks for Pacing #WW

 

1. Do the sight test. Skim a few chapters (or more) of your manuscript.

Are there long paragraphs with no dialogue for pages on end?

If the scene only features one character, make sure you’re breaking up her thoughts with movement. What is she doing in this scene? Show her doing it. And make sure the actions are furthering the story. Showing her brush her teeth will not rivet the reader.

If you’re writing any genre of romance, make sure the dialogue is interspersed with action beats, internal thoughts and sensory details to help the reader flesh out what is happening and feel connected to the characters.

If the scene seems dialogue heavy, how can you dot in sensory details, reactions and thoughts to make the story come alive for the reader? Just don’t overdo it, or the dialogue will fall flat.

Here is stripped down dialogue (which can be effective in small doses).

“I can’t believe you did that.”

“Why not?” Jane said. “You drove me to it.”

“Next you’ll be telling me I drove you to steal from me, too,” Sam said.

“You said it. Not me.”

Here is fleshed out dialogue (sorry it’s cheesy!).

“I can’t believe you did that.” Sam slammed the door of his truck and stood, legs wide, facing her. How could he have ever loved this psychopath?

“Why not?” Jane got up in his face. “You drove me to it.”

“Next you’ll be telling me I drove you to steal from me, too.” Snow flurries carried the scent of winter, reminding him he had better things to do than argue with the woman responsible for his frozen heart and empty bank account.

“You said it. Not me.”

Every scene has a rhythm, whether fast or slow. But scenes also need balance. Readers get bored with pages of a character thinking about a problem. And, unless they’re reading a genre such as suspense or thriller, they get whiplash with chapter after chapter of nonstop dialogue.

2. Are your scenes starting and ending with a hook?

  • When you begin and end a scene with a hook (something that entices the reader to keep reading), you automatically help the pace.
  • To check for hooks, copy and paste the first line and the last line of each scene into a new document. Read through them. If you were a reader would you keep reading based on these sentences? If not, rewrite them to give them more oomph.

I still review the opening and closing lines of each scene before submitting my work. I almost always change at least three lines. It keeps me from getting lazy.

I’ve  only touched on two aspects of pacing. If you’d like a more in-depth discussion, go to “7 Tools for Pacing A Novel & Keeping Your Story Moving at the Right Pace” by Courtney Carpenter at Writer’s Digest.

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Have you ever read a book you’d describe as slow? Chime in!

Yesterday I was the guest blogger on Seekerville. Check out “10 Ways to Balance Your Writing Life” (Linked) to learn how I’ve lost weight, increased my writing output and reclaimed time for things I enjoy!

Happy November!!

Writing Roundup: October 11

Writing Roundup October 11, 2017

 

Writing Roundup October 11, 2017

 

I’ve read several great blog posts about writing lately. I’m not always great about reading blogs, but when I do, I’m amazed at the timely content. I figured you’d be interested in them, too, so I’m sharing them here!

Amy Green, fiction publicist at Bethany House Publishers, was a guest on Seekerville Monday. She shares her “Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About.” While all ten are terrific, I was drawn to Writing in Community and Time Management. Both are dear to my heart. I’ve linked the full article below. And stop by Seekerville all of October for chances to win prizes. They’re celebrating ten years of blogging with a month-long party! (Happy birthday, Seekerville!)

“Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About” by Amy Green via Seekerville

 

Novelist Peter Leavell discusses how to find an adoring audience in “Gather a Flock” at Seriously Write. It’s a clever, true post, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. The link is below!

“Gather a Flock” by Peter Leavell via Seriously Write

 

And, last but not least, author Jody Hedlund shows how reviews–good AND bad–are helpful in “Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive,” at Inspired by Life and Fiction. I especially like Jody’s points about how readers need reliable reviews and how feedback keeps authors from growing complacent.

“Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive” by Jody Hedlund via Inspired by Life and Fiction

 

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Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels

Yesterday, I wrote “Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels” for Ladies of Love Inspired. Pop on over for a few book recommendations!

Do you read blogs? Have a favorite? Please share in the comments!

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