Monday, January 25, 2016

Simmering Time

I've just finished up revising a draft of a story that I think has the potential I want. It's not there yet, but it's SO much closer than it was.

It was fun going through this draft with notes from some crit buddies with specific goals in mind.

It was also fun coming across some lines/sections that made me smile. It's great when you come across something you'd forgotten about and you're able to think -- hey, that's pretty good stuff you've got there!

Now, I'll let this simmer for a bit while I do the same for another story.

How about you? Do you need that simmering time, or are you able to look at a story right away after you've done one round of revising/editing?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rachael Thomas & The Dreaded Synopsis

Please welcome Rachael Thomas back to the blog today!

Synopsis. It’s a word which can strike fear into just about every writer’s heart. How do you put everything from your story into between two and five pages? You don’t.

Wikipedia’s definition is a brief summary of the major parts of a subject or written work or story. It goes on to say ‘condensation of a work’.

What to include in a synopsis

The purpose of a synopsis is to show how your story is to go from the beginning to the end and the emotional journey or arc of your characters. It needs to show the voice or style of your book and be in the third person.
The first thing you need to do is introduce your characters and their main conflict. Then you need to show all the plot points they will encounter, their emotional journey and how they will reach their happy ever after.

Think of it in parts. I usually use five.
1. Introduce your hero.
2. Introduce your heroine.
3. Set out the story opening.
4. Show the emotional journey the characters are to go on and the main plot points which occur during that journey.
5. Set out the black moment and how this leads to the happy ever after.

What not to put in a synopsis

The synopsis is not a place to info dump the entire back story. Any important elements about a character’s past should be included in their introduction. Neither do you need every plot twist and turn or to introduce of every minor character. The synopsis is not the place to raise questions like will they ever reach their happy ever after? Keep your cliff-hangers for the story itself.

How long should a synopsis be?

The answer to this is a long as it needs to be. Check your submission details for this information, but once you have your synopsis you can either enlarge it or cut it back to suit a particular submission.

Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web:
Website         Blog        Facebook                Twitter              Goodreads

New Year at the Boss’s Bidding
Moretti's by midnight 

Jilted bride Tilly Rogers hopes her luck is changing when she's offered a prestigious catering contract for billionaire businessman Xavier Moretti's New Year's Eve party. But then she ends up snowbound alone with her boss…and at his bidding! 

It's the end of the year and the end of Tilly's contract, which leaves Xavier free to seduce her at his will. Hardly shy of a challenge, this notorious playboy makes it his resolution to have virgin Tilly crumbling by his experienced touch. 

Before the snow settles, Xavier is determined to have Tilly under a brand-new set of tantalizing terms!

Read an Excerpt

Amazon Kindle      
Amazon Paperback      B&N      Harlequin US

Enter this Goodreads Giveaway to win signed copies of New Year at the Boss’s Bidding.
Thanks, Rachael!

What about you? Do you love or hate the synopsis? Any more tips to add?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Editing Tips

Thanks to Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, I met a new Twitter Buddy the other day ... Nicole Singer.

That day, Alex posted several of Nicole's links. Some of them were round ups of helpful links, and there was one about editing tips entitled My Favourite Editing Exercises. I'm always looking for Editing tips so I clicked over.

Great tips! The one I put to use immediately was Nicole's suggestion to write
at the top of each chapter to let you see at a glance what the chapter is all about.

I never print anything out, so I wondered how to do this effectively. I use Scrivener and I realized I've never used the small Synopsis box in the top right hand corner of the screen for much. The box is there for every single scene, so in each one I plunked in the above with a small alteration...


I used this as I was doing a revising round of my latest story and it really helped me eliminate some extraneous stuff that was bogging down the story. With Scrivener, that synopsis screen is always visible, even as you're scrolling through the screen, so I wasn't able to ignore it!

I'm thinking for the next story I write, I'll use it as a plan for the scene before I write. Who knows? It might even turn me into a plotter! (Don't hold your breath!)

Thanks again, Nicole for the tips, and Alex for the intro!!

How about you? Do you do anything similar with your chapters? What's one of your favourite editing tips?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ringing in the New Year

A new year. Some new hopes.

Let's all try to:

  • bring a little peace to our corners of the world
  • find a way to help someone in need
  • believe in ourselves and our talents
  • be brave
  • be kind
  • find joy in the small moments
  • love with all our hearts

Wishing you and yours all the best for 2016 - let's make it fabulous!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Magic of the Season

'Tis the season!

I hope the 
Magic of the Season
helps you to 
brighten your days, 
& warm your nights.
I hope you connect with
friends and family,
eat lots of goodies,
& find time to relax & recharge!

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Best Wishes
to all!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby -- Friends by Choice. Writers by Committal.

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby to the blog today!
Friends by Choice.  Writers by Committal.
            I look at the clock now and wonder how it all went by so fast.  It was spring of 1996 when I answered an  ad on American Online—then the premier internet service--and met up with two writers who would define the concept of “writing partners.”          
It started fairly typical: “I’ll look at your chapter if you look at mine.” The trouble with us, though, is after awhile the who did what of “keeping it even” disappeared.
            We called ourselves SIN … Suspense and Intrigue Network.
            Cee was the leader, the rock. Kelly was the heart, the good girl. And me?  I’m the live wire.
            Cee beta-ed Bystander before it went to print. Kelly edited my proposal for The Dead Men.   Magic Man is dedicated to them both.
            We have been to conferences together, cheered through the years and wiped the tears when the rejections came.
            In 2005 we attended a conference in New York together. We hit the streets to see the sights on our off time and one of those stops was Tiffany’s. Seemed like a good place to visit though I got uninterested quick. They wandered around looking at the shinys while I spotted a salesman behind a counter. 
            “Are you bored?” I asked him.
            “You have no idea,” he said.
            Looking in the display I pointed at something that priced out as more than my car.
            “Can I try that on?” I smiled at him.
            “You bet,” he said. He got the velvet board, he told me about the diamonds, the make.  He gave me the whole shebang knowing I was never going to buy it.
            It was about then I got caught.
             “What. Are. You. Doing?  You are embarrassing me!  I can’t take you anywhere …”  All said with humor and a grin.
            What made this work?
            We met once a week for an hour online for more years than I can remember.  We created online exercises to tone our skills: You each have a character of your trapped in an elevator.  How do they react to the situation and each other?
            We did tandem writing, each one taking a set amount of a story, then rotating to the next person who added theirs, then moving along.  Made a great a story.
            We did a “round robin.” Let’s say I had a printed manuscript.  I sent it to Cee with all the postage it needed. She marked it up then mailed it to Kelly, who did the same. Kelly mailed the drawn up mess back to me. 
            Having a writing relationship will give you someone who will kick you in the butt and tell you to finish that project, enter that contest, and submit that book. More people with writing partners finish their projects than those that write in solitary.
            What benefits can you achieve in this relationship?
  • Writing is lonely. Now it’s not.
  • Brainstorming.
  • Accountability.
  • You are less likely to suffer from writer’s block with someone to help you.

How do you make it work?
  • Discuss expectations ahead of time.
  • Handle problems while they’re small.
  • Try to “keep it even” while understanding this spring maybe they have a huge project and need more of you. You can recoup that next fall when the roles are reversed.
  • But … You have to give as much as you take.  It’s a two way street.
  • Do not keep score.
  • Remember birthdays. Remember anniversaries … how many kids they have. Know the person you are working with. You don’t have to smother, but be aware.
  • Always look for ways to improve.

            Finding Cee and Kelly-- it boasted my morale and my writing.  We’ve had our ups and downs both in our stories and lives.  With writing and contests we entered…we’ve seen it all. We’ve had years when we were the best of friends. We’ve had others when had to remind ourselves to check in. Eighteen years is a long time with a lot of loops on that roller coaster. It wasn’t always good. But it was never bad either.
            I answered an ad in AOL in 1996.  And now I have two of the most influential people of my life in my history.
            Find a partner.  Share in their story.

Photo caption: Cee, me & Kelly. New York 2005
Jacqui Jacoby on the web: 

Website           Blog        Twitter        Facebook    Google +      Instagram     Pinterest

A man raised in the Hollywood lifestyle, Sean Branigan wanted to try something other than parties
and high maintenance way of life. With the birth of his son, Adian, Sean walked away from the glitz to try something new. He developed a television show that would keep him in one place long enough to raise his kid right. 

Beth Hardwick has worked on the set of Snap Shots since its premiere episode five years ago. A writer by hobby, a reader by trade, she knew her all about her boss's reputation and his pretty ladies and never thought t
wice that he would look in her direction. 

Just getting out of a short-term, tepid warm relationship, Beth never expected trouble from her ex. She certainly never expected she would have to turn to Sean for help. 

As the ex refuses to back down, each threat he throws escalates until fear is the only reaction. It’s not only makes Beth a target, but Sean and Adian, too. Under guard and terrified, they will have to trust each other to get them all to their new life.

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle  Amazon Paperback Amazon UK Amazon Aust B&N  iBooks  Kobo
How about you? Who are your committed peeps? Give them a shout out in the comments!!

Mine are Jean Oram & Cali Mackay - 2 of the best people I know!

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bystander by Jacqui Jacoby


by Jacqui Jacoby

Giveaway ends December 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kathy Stewart & A Writer's Journey

Please welcome Kathy Stewart to the blog today!
A Writer’s Journey
How did your writing journey begin? I’m sure every writer’s tale is different, just as every story we craft has a different twist, an added nuance, even if we’re writing on the same topic. 

I began my journey at the age of eight, when I wrote a Flicka-style novel about a horse called Shadow. I hadn’t read the Flicka series yet, so I thought my book was unique, born out of my passion for horses. 

When I look back now, any self-respecting cowboy would have pulled out his six-shooter and shot poor Shadow – thus ending his career prematurely – because Shadow was not an obedient or easy horse to have around. He bucked, he reared, and threw his rider numerous times. Then he released his corral-mates and led them off to consort with wild mustangs. What a pain he was! And yet he was the hero of my story.

Into my adult years I continued to write articles, short stories and novels, but increasingly found that life got in the way, so these manuscripts never progressed past first-draft stage until we sold our beautiful farm in South Africa and moved to Australia.

Suddenly free of the constraints of a very demanding previous life, I was able to get back to writing in earnest. The result is a number of articles published online and in magazines; short stories that have been shortlisted, some published in anthologies; a book on editing; a children’s book; and two novels. 

In 2010 I was lucky enough to have my manuscripts, the Chameleon Factor and Race Against time, shortlisted and longlisted respectively for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award.  

This fired my enthusiasm and The Chameleon Factor was later published as Chameleon, a story about a mysterious man who goes missing in 1914, leaving Eve, the girl who loves him, with a decades-long search to discover his whereabouts.

Both Mark of the Leopard and Chameleon are based on fact, derived from true stories that sparked ‘what if?’ questions in my mind. 

And isn’t that how all our journeys begin? That chance word, that chance encounter that sparks the germ of an idea which eventually grows to become your latest novel.


Kathy Stewart was born in South Africa, and she and her husband now live on the Gold Coast, Australia. She has published a number of books as well as numerous articles and short stories in magazines and anthologies. Her manuscripts, The Chameleon Factor and Race Against Time, were shortlisted and longlisted respectively for the 2010 Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in the UK.

Kathy Stewart on the web:

Website        Facebook      Twitter       Instagram

Mark of the Leopard 

From the author of Chameleon comes this historical fiction novel, Mark of the Leopard, the second in the African history series, a story of romance, mystery, danger and betrayal set against a backdrop of wild lands and raging seas. In 1703 Sabrina Barrington and her children are shipwrecked and presumed drowned off the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the present-day city of Cape Town.

Fourteen years later, an investigator tells Sabrina’s brother, Lucien Castle, that one of his sister’s children has been seen on the island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast. It is imperative to return the youngster to England before his twenty-fifth birthday, otherwise his grandfather, the corrupt and detested Robert Barrington, will usurp his rightful inheritance.

Castle is the only one who can confirm the young man is not an impostor. In order to do this he must leave the comfort of Amsterdam in Holland and embark on a journey into the unknown. Will Castle be able to overcome his demons and find his nephew in time? Or will he succumb to the perils that beset his epic expedition every step of the way? In a voyage that takes them from the untamed island of Madagascar to the storm-tossed Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, Castle and his companion must face innumerable dangers and battle not only rival investigators but also each other. 

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle    Amazon Paperback    Amazon UK    B&N     Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart

Mark of the Leopard

by Kathy Stewart

Giveaway ends December 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway