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This is your pitch, your foot in the door description of your article and/or novel that will allow the editor to understand the full concept from beginning to end without further explanation. This will give them a taste of your writing skill and must be as well written as your story.  This is a key component for any writer and must be done with all the talent and eloquence you can gather.

How long should your synopsis be?  It will depend on the submission guidelines.  If they only want 1-2 pages, then that’s what you submit.  If they don’t give any specific length, than a good rule to follow is, 1-2 pages per every 50 pages of your manuscript.  If you are submitting for an article, no more than one page should be sufficient.

Now the big question…how do I pack a 300-page manuscript into 12 double-spaced pages?  Here’s where you get to be creative.  The synopsis should read like your novel, telling the story, but just not as wordy.  Here are a few tips on how to summarize your novel.
  • Jot down a list of the ten most important scenes in your story, remembering the strong hook.
  • List your main characters, those with strong points of view, and try to limit no more than 4-8 characters.
  • Thread those ten important scenes together, showing focus through point of view and character reactions to what is happening in the story.
  • Try to build as much tension as you have in your story and eliminate those stale scenes.  Be sure to check for active verbs.
  • Heighten the emotion and include any motivation you may have missed for your characters.
  • End with a satisfying resolution; they do want to know how the story ends.
  • Simple is best – don’t try to use the thesaurus to sound fancy or extravagant.  Being concise is vital.
  • Be sure to entertain, all of the fun or fear should be included in your synopsis.
  • Add tension and focus action through emotion in every scene.
  • You want to make the editor care for your characters.  Even though this may be a fiction story, you want the characters to be believable.
  • Try to rid your synopsis of clichés and please don’t forget to let the editor know how to reach you.  Include your address, phone number, and email.
I hope these tips help you with your synopsis, and remember...Keep on Writing!
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courtesy: christinaconsolino.com
​Name or pseudonym:  Cheyenne Bennett

What genre/s do you write in, and why?
 
Fantasy. Daily life is stressful, and Fantasy provides an escape. It is a place where you battle ancient dragons or fall in love with someone from another realm. It lets you explore endless possibilities.
 
When did you begin writing, and was it something you’ve always wanted to do?
 
I have always been a writer. It has been a passion of mine since I was a child. I probably have hundreds of half-finished stories that I wrote as a child.
 
What type of research goes into your writing?
 
It depends on what I am writing about. If my story deals with a spiritual path, I will immerse myself into that culture and learn all that I can. If my story is about magical beasts, I take some inspiration from mythological beasts, but I also add my own flair to them.
 
How do you develop your characters, plot, and setting?
 
I just write, honestly. I try to keep a base plot and characters, but as you write, they get a personality of their own and evolve in their own way. There have been several times where I tried to force the characters to do what I want, but the end result is never natural feeling. It really is amazing how they get a life of their own and lead the story.
 
What is your creative process (i.e. inspiration, where do you write)?
 
My ideas come from that in-between space of being awake and sleeping. I believe it is because I don’t have the daily distractions that I have during the daytime. The ideas come in visual flashes, almost as if I am dreaming. Those are usually the nights where I get so excited and I stay up the entire night, scribbling in a notebook.
 
Have you ever dealt with writer’s block? If so, how do you find your creative flow again?
 
I have several times and it happens when I try to force my characters to do things my way. If I simply let them lead and write their story, the words flow. When I try to force it then it just gets blocked, sometimes for weeks. It is only when I relax and let them take charge is when I become unstuck.
 
Tell us a little about your Work in Progress (WIP): 
 
Title: The Goddess of Chaos
 
Blurb: With betrayal, mysteries, and untruths on every side, who can she trust and will she even make it out alive?
 
Victoria Wells’s life is blissful - if not a little dull. However, where ever she goes, chaos seems to follow her. Only her fiancé, Gerald, can keep her balanced. That all changes when Victoria Wells falls asleep in her fiancé’s car on the way to their wedding. Hours later, she is woken up - chained to a bed in a strange new world. An eccentric man she had a bizarre encounter with earlier, is standing above her.
 
From there, everything grows more twisted. The strange man tells her that she’s in the Underworld of all places. And what’s more, she’s the powerful and merciless Goddess of Chaos.
 
Could she be having a fever dream, or is everything … real? With forces vying for her powers, her fiancé - who is truly the God of Chaos - acting increasingly evil and the powers of Chaos itself growing more powerful and unstable in her veins, Victoria isn’t convinced that she - or the world itself - will survive an unbalanced Chaos incarnate.
 
Sorcerers, dragons, Gods and Goddesses, romance, and adventure, follow Victoria as she faces a terrifying truth and navigates an increasingly chaotic - and dangerous - existence
 
What inspired you to write this WIP?
 
The original concept for this came from when I was probably 12-year-old. I created this world, plot and characters in my head, and I would go inside it as a way to escape my daily life. I have kept that up for the last 13 years. The story itself has evolved beautifully from the original concept and I’m excited to finally invite people to come and explore that world.  
 
When will this WIP be published?
 
The release date is on June 8, 2019. It will be ready for preorder on May 22, 2019.
 
How will you publish this WIP, and why did you choose this route?
 
I will be self-publishing this book. I chose this route because it is notoriously hard to get a traditional publisher when you are still an unknown author. I wanted to prove my worth, first.
 
Will you market your own books? If so, what is your plan?
 
I will market my own books. My first book, The Goddess of Chaos, I am going relatively easy on it. This book is to show readers that I am an author worth reading. I have several large Facebook groups I am planning to offer my book for free in. Of course, I will also be advertising on Goodreads, as well. That should give me reviews and put my name out there. When I release my second book, working title is Emma Trappings and the Demon of Elderoge. I will truly market with Podcasts and sites such as BookBub, and others.
 
What advice would you give to wanna-be writers who are trying to get a book published?
 
Just do it. It is scary, putting something that you put your blood, sweat, and tears in to be criticized by strangers. But there is something magical when someone chooses your books out of all the other ones to read and they really fall in love with your characters and the world that you built. Don’t take rejection as a sign that you are not meant to do it. See it as a lesson and keep growing your skills as a writer.
 
If you had a chance to meet one of your favorite authors, alive or dead, who would it be? And what questions would you ask?
 
I think I would love to meet Poe. I’m not really sure what kind of questions I would want to ask. He was such a brilliant and unique writer; I would love to just talk with him.
 
List your book/website links: https://jwilddesigns.com/bestoffantasy/
 
Thank you for chatting with us today at RWS, we appreciate your time.
 
Thank you for having me! I really appreciate it.
If you have any questions for Cheyenne, please comment below. And remember...Keep on Writing!
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source: Kobo Writing Life
According to Just Publishing Advice, Amazon Associates states there is one new Kindle book published every minute and forty-two seconds on Amazon. Can you believe it? Did that get your attention? I hope so because this is an example of a hook, which is how you open the first sentence or paragraph to grab a reader’s attention and keep them glued to the very end of your story or article. Your hook can contain a statistic such as this, a quote, or a shocking anecdote. With so many books published, it’s vitally important to have a great first “hook” in your story because let’s face it; there is a lot of stiff competition out there to keep a readers attention and build a fan base. But you’ll also need more than that first sentence or paragraph to keep the reader hooked. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
  • What Makes a Good Chapter? Ideally, each chapter should contain a small dramatic arc within the larger dramatic arc of the entire novel. The story or article rises to its climax through peaks and valleys of dramatic tension formed by scenes within chapters. Every chapter should rise to a small climax and then relax at the end, which creates a bridge to the next chapter. Using tension through a problem of intrigue keeps the reader wanting more. It doesn’t matter how many scenes you have in a chapter, just make sure one peak should be larger than the rest.
  • Creating the Scene – A scene is a series of action that carries the reader from one point of view, during a particular period of time, in a specific place. It uses the same dramatic arc as discussed above in creating a chapter. A chapter could consist of a single scene or two or more brief scenes. Make sure every scene has a climax point, and the climax point signals a new scene. Be sure your peak doesn’t occur too early because the rest of the chapter can seem flat and excessively long.
  • The Three Rules of Creating a Strong Scene:
    • Advance the plot
    • Deepen characterization
    • Enrich the setting
You can have a scene with only two of these things, but it won’t be as strong. If it only does one of these three things, then you’ll need to revise to make it stronger. You can introduce your main character for the first time, describe the scenery, and convey where the story takes place. It may not advance the main plot, but it’s fine for the first scene in a novel and contains two of the three rules.

source: questgarden.com
  • Character, First and Foremost – While vivid description can hook your reader, characterization is what really matters. You want your readers to care and admire your character. Make them real and complex by giving them a health issue, or struggling with difficult childhood memories, or even someone diagnosed with PTSD. When they can relate to your character, they’ll be hooked and ready to read and learn more about their story.
  • Give Your Character Something to Do – While description is a good way to introduce your character and setting, you’ll want to add more action to make the ride exciting. An example could be a drunk who creates a disruption on a subway and confronts your character. Your character may stop the drunk from accosting another person. Maybe your character’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and he is incensed with anyone who drinks.
    • It’s all in the details – At first, the action, details of character, and the setting must carry your story. No matter what is going on in your character’s day, the details need to be vivid enough to engage your readers’ interest. The story may just be getting started, but readers are already making up their minds if the character is real enough to care about, and whether they’re going to continue reading the next 400 pages.
  • Invite the Reader Into Your Story – Let’s use the premise of your character and the drunk on the subway. Your character stood up to a drunk to protect another passenger. The readers will think not only does your character take care of himself, but he also comes to the defense of someone else. You’ve just created reader hooks and a good peak of tension with 1) an admirable character, 2) fast-paced with action, and 3) a warning of trouble brewing.
  • Develop Your Hooks – Introduce your story and the main character with an interesting, vivid scene. Create strong hooks to grab your reader. Show your character in some action so the reader can learn their personality. Let your imagination roam. You can open a scene with your character scuba diving on a reef and the regulator malfunctions, and they run out of air, or someone is about to walk down the aisle and has second thoughts of getting married. Just be sure your character is believable. Create something fun, exciting, or even dangerous. This is the fun part of writing, using your creativity to create a world for others to enjoy.
source: Pinterest.com

  • Who Is Telling Your Story? At some point, you’ve decided whether to write in first-person using the “I” voice such as I focused the lens of my Pentax-K 500 and saw the heaving creamy breasts bobble over the pink lace underwire push-up bra. Or third person using “he” or “she.” She lay like a battered rag doll with haunted lifeless eyes staring up into nowhere. That choice is entirely up to you, the writer. Whatever you choose, make sure your character’s voice is strong. A boring, monotone voice will lose the reader. If you’re having difficulty choosing which voice to use, try writing a few sentences in both. You’ll soon discover which voice resonates with you, and will work better for your story.
  • The Flashback – One possible “hook” in the opening of your story is to use a dramatic plot event, and then cut quickly to a scene from the past. However, be sure your flashback is critical in telling your story. Don’t include them unnecessarily. It could potentially stop forward momentum, pushing your reader backward. Your story should move like a steam engine: pushing forward with great speed. You also don’t want your reader to become more interested in the flashback. Make sure the flashback’s benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
  • Show, Don’t Tell – This goes without saying. There is much controversy over this method, but I for one, agree with showing instead of telling what’s taking place with your characters. I, as a reader, love being pulled into the story as if I was sitting right there having tea, or fighting for my life hanging on a cliff. When telling, you’re stating a fact. An example would be your character is old, short, sad, or happy. Whereas, in showing you help the reader see this in their mind’s eye by describing your character being short because others in the story are looking down at him. Sad? Your character’s eyes are puffy from crying, or their nose is red from blowing so hard, or simply a tear-stained face. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
  • Narrative Distance – Here are three examples of narrative distance:
    • Near-zero distance – This type of narrative is where you bring the reader inside the head of the character. They only see what the character sees, hears, and tastes, etc.
    • Moderate distance – The reader is standing back, not looking through the eyes of the character. As readers, we get more details, but we no longer share the character’s experience.
    • Extreme distance – This allows you to show the reader the larger picture without the limitations of a single character’s point of view.
I hope these tips have helped you with creating the hook for your story or article, as well as ways to keep the reader wanting more. However you choose to write your story, develop your characters, or use your hook, remember…Keep on Writing!
originally published: The Creative Penn
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With the ease of finding so much information on the internet, we sometimes forget that we need to be sure to cite anything we have obtained for our use in a magazine, book, or blog post. Many editors require a list of sources to help their fact checkers. It'll also establish your credibility. If nothing else, documenting your sources is important for your own records. The information found may not be there in six months.

The following are sample entries for citing Internet sources:

Basic form:
  Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Work." Title of Complete Work. Date of electronic publication <Electronic address or URL of source>.

Scholary project:
  Title of scholarly project/editor/date of electronic publication/sponsor/date of access /electronic address (URL)

Professional site:
  P​ortuguese Language Page. U of Chicago. 1 May 1997 <http.humanities.uchicago.edu/romance/port/>.

eBook:
   Author’s last name, First name. “Title of the chapter or section.” Title of the e-book, translated by or edited by First name Last name, vol. number, Publisher, Year of publication, page number(s). Title of the web site or database, URL.

Poem:
   Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Website Title. Date of poem published (day-month-year order). Publication Medium (Web). Date you accessed poem.

Article in a reference database:
   Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. Retrieved from https://www.someaddress.com/full/url/

Article in a journal:
   Flannagan, Roy. "Reflections on Milton and Ariosto." Early Modern Literary Studies 2.3 (1996): 16 pars. 22 Feb. 1997 <http://unixg.ubc.ca:7001/0/e-sources/emls/02-3/flanmilt.html>.

Article in a web magazine:
   Last, First M. "Article Title." Magazine Title. Date Month Year Published: Page(s). Print.

Posting to a discussion list:
   Merrian, Joanne. "Spinoff: Monsterpiece Theatre." Online posting. 30 Apr. 1994. Shaksper: the Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference. 27 Aug. 1997 <www.arts.ubc.ca/english/iemls/shak/MONSTERP_SPINOFF.tx.>.

Personal site:
   Last Name, First Name. Home page. Day Month Year <http://website url>.

Blog post:
   Author’s Last Name, Author’s First Name. “Title of Post.” Blog Name, Publisher (only include this information if it is different than the name of the blog site), Date blog post was published, Link to post (omit http:// or https://).

I hope this helps guide you along the way to cite your sources. And as always...Keep on Writing!

Sources:
Alphin's et al. Searching: A Research Guide for Writers. Writer's Institute Publications: 2008. Print.
© 2001-2018 EasyBib, a Chegg service. <http://www.easybib.com/guides/citation-guides/>
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Every writer has their own way to research for their story, article, or novel. I thought I would share some websites that may be helpful for whatever you're writing. Some will be obviously familiar, whereas, others may not. Also, some are free, whereas, others may require a fee. I hope this information is helpful, and if you have any you'd like to add that can be useful for fellow writers, please share in the comments. As always...Keep on Writing! Don't forget to sign-up to receive my blog posts in your email.

The List:
  • www.britannica.com - There is a TON of information on this website. Britannica.com makes searching for and finding facts easier and more trustworthy by bringing fact-checked information to the top right corner of your search results page. The Britannica Group serves students, families, scholars, community members, and educators around the world. While we may have originated in print, we have evolved into a powerhouse, multimedia educational brand to suit the evolving needs of lifelong learners today. A credit card is required to validate your free trial. You will not be charged during your free trial, and you can cancel at any time. If you decide not to cancel your membership, your service will continue at $1.44 a week (billed annually at $74.95) for your first year and renew after that year at the then-current rate annually. All memberships are billed annually. 
  • Merriam-Webster's Online - Free online source. According to Wikipedia - In 1996, Merriam-Webster launched its first website, which provided free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus. Merriam-Webster has also published dictionaries of synonyms, English usage, geography, biography, proper names, medical terms, sports terms, slang, Spanish/English, and numerous others. Consumers use the service to access definitions, spelling and synonyms via text message. Services also include Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day—and Open Dictionary, a wiki service that provides subscribers the opportunity to create and submit their own new words and definitions.
  • Your Dictionary - Free online source. Definitions, grammar tips, word game help and more from 16 authoritative sources. There's a dictionary, thesaurus, examples, sentences, quotes, references, and foreign language dictionaries.
  • Dogpile.com - A search engine that fetches information from 17 popular search engines at once in all formats, including text, images, videos, and audio.
  • Library of Congress Online Catalog - Contains 17 million catalog records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections.
  • WhoWhere - Whowhere has been the premier people search and yellow pages search engine, helping our users find the people or businesses they are looking for using the Whowhere people search engine.
  • Experts.com - Experts.com was established in 1994 to offer professionals a platform to showcase their expertise and specialized knowledge to millions of Internet users worldwide. Our members have direct control over monetizing their knowledge and expertise. In this day and age of connectedness, there is no need for a broker to mark up your fees or to increase the cost of retaining your services. Put your best foot forward with Experts.com.
  • Journalist Express - Free membership will provide contacts for expert sources and a home page you can customize according to your interests. Their home page contains hundreds of links to specific research topics and directories. This has a wealth of information!
  • Funds for Writers - FundsforWriters is an online resource for writers. You can be a thirty-year veteran or a part-time wannabe, but here at FundsforWriters (FFW), we consider you a writer none-the-less. We emphasize finding money to make writing a realistic career. Of course, you’d write anyway. That’s the way of a writer.
  • Writers Weekly - Freelance job listings and new paying markets are delivered to your email every Wednesday when you sign up at this site.
  • Absolute Write - Absolute Write is a comprehensive informational Website and community for writers of all levels. Absolute Write offers articles and information about fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, freelancing, and copywriting. In addition, they provide information about editing, publishing, agents, and market research. You’ll find links to resources and a large and active online community of writers and publishing professionals.
  • The Slot - Bill Walsh, of the Washington Post, keeps a lengthy list of style points and issues. This is a great site for the copyeditor in all of us.
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I am not going into detail to show you how to create your own website, because basically I am a novice in this area. I have some html experience and I was able to design one of my websites through Adobe® Macromedia Dreamweaver®, but not enough to teach you properly. If you use any type of a wysiwyg web builder, such as Weebly, it'll allow you to easily add the keywords or phrases in a simple designated section without really needing to know html coding.

If you have experience in html coding, then you are lucky enough to do this for very little cost. You will first need to brand yourself, another words, what will the name of your website be? In order to find a name, you can go out to any number of “hosting” sites and use their search engine to see if the name you wish to use is available.

The hosting company I use is HyperMart. I absolutely love working with them and I think it competes very well with other cost-effective hosting sites I’ve seen around. They can first register your domain name, which is the name you’ve chosen for people to find you (i.e. www.rookiewriterssolutions.com). It is a low yearly fee and worth having. They can host your domain name or website for a low monthly cost. They will also walk you through step-by-step in creating your website, if you choose to tackle this task.

I suggest you do a search for website hosting and use what best suits you. But I strongly suggest you get a website or at least a blog to get your brand name out there. You need to come across as professional and that you are serious about you as an author. The first thing anyone will do when they hear about you and your book(s) is to check out your website. You know we all do it, so it’s best you have a website to share your product and knowledge.

Now, the next thing I’d like to talk about are Meta tags and metadata, which when I first heard it I said, “Huh”? Here is a Wikipedia definition of a meta tag: Meta elements are the HTML or XHTML <meta … > element used to provide structured metadata about a Web page. Multiple Meta elements with different attributes are often used on the same page. Meta elements can be used to specify page description, keywords and any other metadata not provided through the other head elements and attributes.

The meta element has two uses: either to emulate the use of an HTTP response header, or to embed additional metadata within the HTML document.

With HTML up to and including HTML 4.01 and XHTML, there were four valid attributes: content, http-equiv, name and scheme. Under HTML 5 there are now five valid attributes, charset having been added. http-equiv is used to emulate an HTTP header, and name to embed metadata. The value of the statement, in either case, is contained in the content attribute, which is the only required attribute unless charset is given. Charset is used to indicate the character set of the document, and is available in HTML5.

Such elements must be placed as tags in the head section of an HTML or XHTML document.

Metadata is defined as a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.

You still may be saying “huh?”, but if you have someone else creating your website, they will know what is needed to place the Meta tag within the code on your home/index page of your website. This is basically any words and/or phrases pertaining to you, your genre, etc. It’s the art of having these descriptions or phrases placed in your website so it can be found when someone does a search that relates to you and/or your books. If you are writing about paranormal mystery, then this would be a key phrase you would want to include.

In the definition above about Meta tags, it states the use can be in the header (i.e. www.rookiewriterssolutions.com) or within the HTML document, which is the index page of your website. If you know code, these are strategically placed within the code, which took me awhile to figure out. If this is too much to take in, then have a website designer do this for you. 

Here is an example from my index page or homepage, when I used DreamWeaver, of where I placed the coding not only within the index page but also in the header or title of my website, which looks like this:

<title>Fiction Paranormal Mystery Author, Speaker, Women's Fiction,Travel Writer, Non-fiction</title>

<meta name="keywords" content="paranormal mystery, paranormal, ghost investigation, ghosts, psychic, psychic medium, murder, mystery, occult, satanic ritual, voodoo, New Orleans, French Quarter, spirits, spirit guides, guardian angels, serial killer, politics, kidnapping, detectives, author, book, fiction, writer" />

<meta name="description" content="paranormal mystery author, paranormal mystery book series, fiction writing, Sullivan's Secret, Secret of the Big Easy, Federal City's Secret, Washington DC, New Orleans, Sullivan's Island" />

Why do you need Meta tags and metadata? These keywords or phrases hidden that are within the code is what will bring your website up within the first three pages of a search. That’s right, once you have these tags placed in your website, after a month or so, go out to a search engine and type in one of the key words or phrases you added and see where your website results land. You can periodically do that search and see how the results change. This is key is to have someone who knows nothing about you…find you.

The other sections you wish to have on your site can be a page that tells a little bit about you (i.e. Robin's Works), your books, any events you are attending or have attended, a link to your blog, and of course a contact page. You can add anything you like that describes more about you because reader’s love to learn about their new favorite author.

I’ll also include, although I know you savvy writers have great common sense, to add “all” of the social media you belong to on your index/home page. It’s very important for readers to have the ability to follow or like you in those different venues. I do believe it’s important to have quick buying links to your books, along with any book trailers you’ve done, and awards you’ve won. You may want to include an option to give away the first chapter of your book free for reader’s to get a sample of your writing. From this, you will receive their email to use to contact for future books you publish. But please be mindful and respectful not to spam them with too much information. It will turn them off. It’s important to include anything that will prove your credibility and professionalism.

As always, feel free to purchase my book A Complete How to Guide for Rookie Writers for more detailed step-by-step guidance on writing, self-publishing, book-trailers, marketing and more...and remember to Keep on Writing!
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Excuse the shameless plug, but I'm thrilled to announce that Point and Shoot for Your Life is now on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon!

Here's a little bit about the book: 

Seen on NBC, ABC & FOX and voted one of The 50 Best Indie Books of 2016.

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite:

Point and Shoot for Your Life by Robin Murphy is a tale of mystery and suspense. Hannah Mills, local photographer, is struggling for work and to pay her rent. Great-Aunt Dorothy comes to the rescue from beyond the grave after she leaves Hannah a First Phase Indian Chief Navajo blanket, a very rare item worth at least a million dollars. That kind of money would set Hannah up for life. But, before she can take it to auction, her niece is kidnapped and a ransom demanded – the blanket. Hannah has to go to France to get her niece back, but she has no money to get there until she robs a bank. Arrested for the crime as she makes the drop in Paris, Hannah isn’t going quietly and she drags FBI agent Finn MacNally along with her for the ride. Can they find Mandy before it’s too late? Can they really win a fight against the biggest Russian human and drug trafficking ring or will their luck run out at the last minute?

Point and Shoot for Your Life by Robin Murphy is a funny book. A mixture of humor, murder, mystery, suspense and romance, it has all the ingredients of a rollicking good read and it delivered all it promised. I found myself laughing, cringing, and holding my breath at different points during the story as I hung on for the ride. This is a book with no let-up; it starts on a high and just keeps on going, action all the way. The plot was very clever, brilliantly written, and the characters really fitted the bill. This is a story that will leave you breathless and, by the time the end arrives, worn out and ready to let go. Really great story, well-written and good fun to read. Would love to see more of this.
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Whether you write books, newspaper articles, magazine stories, fiction or nonfiction, for children, young adults, or adults, you need to do your research. The smallest inaccuracy in your work will destroy the reader's confidence in your story. Eventually, they'll walk away and more than likely, not pick you back up again in the future.

It goes without saying to write what you care about or love to read. This helps when it comes time to research your subject. Whatever subject you choose to write about, having a passion for your topic will come through to the reader. Many writers take different paths when it comes to research but usually head in the same general direction.

One avenue is to find other books written on the period of time, important events, and facts on your particular subject. Try to skim, outline, and concentrate on the information you plan on gleaning from what you've read. Try to learn what was taking place in society during the period of your subject.

Another way to learn about your topic is to visit places that include your subject. I traveled to Sullivan's Island, SC because it was the setting of the first book in my paranormal mystery series, Sullivan's Secret. I was able to walk the streets and patron the establishments that are in my story. It felt as if I had literally stepped into my book. It was a great experience. I was able to explain the ocean air better, the smells and types of foods in restaurants, identify street distances, and get a feel for the people that live on the island. There's nothing worse than to describe a particular place or setting that is incorrect and have someone who lived there know it's wrong. They will more than likely lose interest and decide not to continue reading your book.

As you gather your information, be sure to categorize everything in such a way that you can come back to it as a reference. Do it either on note cards or a computer. Sometimes your research trail can go cold, and it will help to be able to return to a particular reference to see the broader context. Also, when help is needed, good records will help librarians help you. Librarians are our best resources. Don't forget to send a thank-you note. It'll be much appreciated.

You can also talk with professionals, professors, and hobbyists. Visit museums or clubs. Try to nurture a worldwide community of experts in the field of your subject. Read professional journals, search the Internet, note credentials, and build a community of contacts.

You won't always feel you have all of the needed research for your subject, but once the story is in your mind's eye and the fire is in you to write...then write. Some writers research and write at the same time. Others research first, then write. It's up to you what works best. There is no right or wrong way.

So, the bottom line is to really love your subject, read as much as you can about it, narrow your focus, create an outline, find your style of record keeping, ask for help from the experts, and then let the creative flow begin.

But always remember to...Keep on Writing!
source: Searching - A Research Guide for Writers
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In this post I'll continue sharing tips and options if you should to write a series. One such option could be a sequel. Even if you had no intention of selling a series, you may want to consider a sequel before you send your book off to an agent or editor. When something works, the movie and publishing industries are anxious to keep the golden goose producing.

While You Wait - Have Your Sequel Idea Ready - You may decide not to write a sequel to your story, but writing a rough treatment for your current project is a good exercise nonetheless. In Sullivan's Secret, the story ends with Marie in the hospital, but the crime has been solved. The second book, Secret of the Big Easy, will have new secondary characters, but will carry the readers forward as they discover Marie's new psychic abilities, as well as being pulled into another crime dealing with the occult and voodoo. Book two will also be a stand-alone story, with a dramatic arc that will be resolved by the end of the book.

Keep the Reader Current - You want to be sure that your plot does not require a reader to read your book series in sequence. If a reader realizes that a key to the current story was given in the last book, and that book is not available, they will more than likely give up and abandon you.

Try not to constantly refer to earlier events. You need to write it in a way that lets the reader know what happened in the previous book, but be careful not to "information dump". It needs to be written clearly and concisely. You can also use it in dialogue, as in the example below:

Brigitte leaned forward revealing quite a bit of cleavage. “How long have y’all been investigating as a team? André mentioned y’all helped solve a case involving a serial killer that was plaguing your island.”
Marie smiled. “Yes, that’s somewhat true, and we’ve been investigating together for about six months.” She glanced over at Cory and proceeded after his approving nod. “I’m not sure what information André filled you in on, but I have the ability to see and talk to spirits. I’ve had this ability since I was twelve, but squelched it for the last eighteen years. Up until about six or seven months ago, my ability began to come back to me in full force. Along with me learning to channel that ability with the help of one of our team members and my very dear friend and mentor, a serial killer began a killing spree on the women in and around Sullivan’s Island.”
“I remember reading the article André brought to one of our meetings. This killer was an old friend of yours?” Jason blew smoke right into Gale’s face and ignored her muffled cough.

This example starts to bring in certain elements that occurred in the first book of the series without dumping too much information at once. It also increases the readers' curiosity to possibly go out and purchase the first book in the series.

Carry Your Story on to Book Two - Bridge the Gap - By using subplots and secondary character conflicts, it can provide powerful bridges to connect your stand-alone series books to each other. If you're writing a single plot series with a strong overarching story, the story itself will carry your reader from book to book. Just be sure to have the first book available.

Be Sure Not to Repeat - If you have a following of readers who have read your first book, then you'll need to be careful not to bore your readers describing the same characters they already know. One method to help with this issue is to place your characters into a scene that reveals much of the story world and shows character relationships. Remember to have your first chapter orient the new reader into your world, involve plenty of drama, and create that strong hook sentence. Try to show, don't tell. You don't want to drone on about who these people are, how they relate to each other, and what has happened up until now.

Finally, Revise, Revise, Revise - This goes without saying, but I had to say it. Remember to revise for story, revise for craft, and revise for polish.

I hope this has helped you decide whether to write a series, or not to write a series. Whatever you choose, I hope you always remember to...Keep on Writing!

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Have you ever finished your story and then realized you missed your characters? That's what happened to me when I finished the first book in my paranormal mystery series, Sullivan's Secret (which is on Kindle promotion for .99 March 1-8) I realized that I could take it further, flesh out my characters, and develop a series. It sounded easy enough, but there are many determining factors that go into creating a series. I'm going to share some of them with you in this two-part post.

Stand-Alone Series - In a stand-alone series, each book is a story with the usual beginning, middle, and and end. It may continue for many books as characters grow and pursue long-term goals, but a reader who picks up the third book in the series will enjoy that book all by itself. Though it may refer to previous adventures, which may inspire a reader to rush out and buy those previous books, the book can stand on its own.

Slice of Bologna - Some series are written as a single, large story - broken down into several books. An example would be The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, if readers begin with book two, they will quite possibly flounder because early events impact the current story. First-time readers will have no introduction to the story world or its characters. This could be a benefit for the author because a reader will have to buy all three books to finish the story. But what happens if book one is out of stock? Readers probably won't buy books two and three if they can't begin with book one.

How to End the Story in a Series - You need to be able to entice your readers to continue with reading your series. They need to care about your characters. Are the characters real? Do they have ongoing concerns that are greater than one particular story? When readers get lost in the story, they're eager for more.

You'll need to figure out how to end the first book. The main conflict needs to be resolved, even if larger issues continue. But if you're writing a "slice of bologna" series, you'll only have one ending, which will come at the end of the final book in the series.

In my first book, Sullivan's Secret, my main character, Marie Bartek, discovers that her psychic abilities from an early age have returned. Marie has a great interest in the paranormal so she and her best-friend, Gale Winters, decided to organize a ghost investigation team, Sullivan's Island Paranormal Society, SIPS, to help those in need. During this process, a murder takes place on Sullivan's Island. Marie learns to channel her powers. When they find out that the spirits are trying to warn her of an evil presence on the island, Marie and her friends set out to bring a vicious serial killer to justice.

The book ends with a murder being solved, but the series continues with Marie's abilities growing, a new romance develops, the SIPS team continues to help those dealing with paranormal issues, all the while solving crimes. The immediate internal and external conflicts are resolved in the first book. Each story has an ending, but the series continues with a new adventure, characters grow in their own personal struggle, and conflicts change throughout each book, which entices readers to continue reading the series. 
Create a Roadmap for Your Series - If you feel like your book can become the first in a series, then it may be a good idea to sketch out a series plot before you begin. If you reach book three and realize you have the perfect plot event, but you killed off a certain minor character in book two.

The Coming and Going of Series Characters - You may be wondering if every character in your series should be part of every book. In my series, the SIPS team plays a huge part in every book and indeed need to be in every book, but others come and go depending on their role and the conflict. My main character, Marie, is the center of the action, but the team is still part of what drives the stories forward.

If You Should Choose the Single-Character Series - If you choose this method, you may or may not need to plot out the entire series ahead of time. If you're planning a strong overarching story, it's a good idea to rough out that series-long story at the beginning. If you're writing a mystery series where each book is a new adventure involving your character, an overarching plan is not necessary. The main character will carry readers from one book to the next.

​Stay tuned for next week's Part 2 - To Write a Series or Not Write a Series. Remember...Keep on Writing!
Marie Bartek & the SIPS Team Series (5 Book Series)

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