Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Outlines are Essential, Says James Patterson

When I found out that James Patterson, the most prolific and successful author of our time, was holding a writing class, I was all in. 

The outline is the most creative part of writing your novel, and sometimes, James says, he writes several different outlines for the same story before he decides how it will all work out. He can be working on an outline for months before he is happy with it.

Before you start the outline, you need the raw idea. This is a one-paragraph summary of your story, and if your story is to succeed, the idea has to be something more than a little disparate, create tension and conflict, and should grab readers' attention from the start.

Here's the idea for my upcoming novel, 'Virgo's Variant':

Cinematographer Lexie King is determined to break free from the drugs, and psychoses that haunt her as a result of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She signs up as one of the camera operators for a new reality show set in Africa, knowing that it will be totally out of her comfort zone. It is too late for her to quit the assignment when she discovers that one of the contestants is the man who abused her, The producer has dropped her and the other camera operator, with the twelve contestants, in a remote region somewhere in Africa with no means of communication. The producer dies, and the only person who knows where they are is the pilot who dropped them there, who is away on his honeymoon. Rumor has it that all the local inhabitants have abandoned their villages because a monster roams the region. Then the murders start, and the only person Lexie trusts is the cowboy, but could she be wrong? He is certainly physically strong enough to be the murderer.

So my next task is to write an outline. This is a summary of each chapter, with one or two paragraphs per chapter. Every chapter is a new scene, and should contain something that propels the story forward and adds a new twist. Here's the start of my psychological thriller 'Sheer Panic,' which is also a WIP.

1. Tori avoids Roderick, 'the Freak' as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here's where I know I should make a new chapter -- each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she's weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.

2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor's dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda's owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it's a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.

3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister's boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)

4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim .... etc.

Once the outline is all written up -- and typing it out in Word works for me -- you can go back over the scenes and experiment. Add new twists, reorganize the order of events, make notes for future reference, add something to create more suspense, and make a note of how the events affect the personal lives of each character.

Here you will edit, edit and edit again.

The one thing I did notice about the outline is that, without dialogue or the internal conflict and thoughts of the characters, it's pretty blah, but that all comes later, and James goes over the do's and don'ts of dialogue and creating conflict in some detail.

Only when you are completely happy with your outline should you start the novel, which will flow easily now that you know how the story progresses. I used to be a pantser, but now I know better.

If you are interested in taking the class, here is a link: James Patterson Teaches Writing





Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reading and Editing

Editing is an essential part of the publication process. Whether we like it or not, it is almost impossible for a person to see all of his or her errors. Everyone needs an editor--even the world's best selling authors, and I don't mean searching for typo's and grammatical errors--I mean content and development editing.

I belong to several online organizations, where writers share their work free, either in return for a guaranteed review, or just for added exposure. I usually select romantic suspense or suspense novels, and download them to my Kindle.

Every now and then I discover a new author whose work I love, and I give them a review and I buy their other books.

More often than not, though, I only read a few pages before giving up on a story and moving on to the next book. The problem I find to be the most common, is that authors have self-published without the aid of an editor, and their work just doesn't flow. I don't feel comfortable giving these writers a review, because negative reviews can cause terrible harm and discouragement. It's easier just to move on. The most common problem I see is head-hopping and author intrusion. A lot of writers don't know that in today's publishing world, fiction is written as if the characters are telling the story, and there is no narrator/author.

When I was ready to publish my first novel, the Internet didn't exist as we know it today, and I had to go the traditional route, and submit my manuscript to several publishers, knowing that rejections were part of the process. Since then, the Internet publishing business has taken off, creating exponential opportunities to those who want to write. I will always be thankful I had to submit my work to publishers, because even now I still prefer to go that route for a very good reason.

Reputable publishing houses, run by people who know the publishing industry, will always have at least one accredited editor on staff, who will work with each author to help hone their work, and make it best it can be before publication. (The downside is that not all publishing houses are genuine, and it is difficult if not impossible for a new author to recognize a scam.)

Jude Glad, my editor and a part owner of Uncial Press, has been a wonderful mentor, and has taught me more than I could have learned in a couple of years of college classes on creative writing. I will always be grateful to her. My Zodiac Series is published by Soul Mate Publishing, and owner/editor Debby Gilbert has added to my bank of knowledge in a very positive way, and I don't know where I would be without either of them.

I was so inspired by them, that I decided to pay forward and give back to other writers what I have learned, and I started my online editing business to assist self-published authors, and give them a better chance at achieving their dreams. I have made my pricing extremely competitive because I know most writers don't have a lot spare cash lying around. I wish I could do it for free, but editing is time-consuming, and it does take away some of my writing time.

I have done very little active promotion, but have always been busy since the inception of my editing business, thanks to word of mouth recommendations from some of my wonderful customers. I am only one person so I can only handle one manuscript at a time. I've had the privilege of reading and helping to optimize some wonderful stories, and fascinating non-fiction by some very talented authors.

My services include development and content editing, formatting for, and uploading to Amazon's CreateSpace and KDP Direct, and other online self-publishing platforms, plus cover creation, I've also recently been asked to write someone's memoirs, and I've added that. I also build websites or help create and format blogs.

Here is my address: Youselfpublish.com


Friday, March 27, 2015

Love and Marriage from Kid's Perspective

I got such a laugh out of this I just had to post it on my blog. These kids know all about love and marriage...


1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10

-No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10


2. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then..
-- Camille, age 10

3.
 HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. 
-- Derrick, age 8 

4.
 WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON? 
Both don't want any more kids. 
-- Lori, age 8 

5.
 WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
 
-- Lynnette, age 8 (Isn't she a treasure?) 

-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
 
-- Martin, age 10 


6.
 WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
-When they're rich. 
-- Pam, age 7 (Love her)

-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
-- Curt, age 7
 

-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
-- Howard, age 8


7.
 IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9 (bless you child)

8.
 HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is....... 

9.
 HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
-- Joe, age 10


Review of Aquarius Addiction by Rosie Amber

A huge thank you to Rosie Amber for her great review of Aquarius Addiction.


Aquarius Addiction is a romantic suspense set in and around New Orleans. Arlette Xylander is a psychic who helps the FBI in cases they cannot solve. She's just been called into a new case on the very day she's had bad news about her own health. She meets Andre Rossouw, older brother of a young missing girl. There is an instant spark of romance between the pair but with Arlette's health news and Andre being a client any future for the pair is a no-go.

Arlette lives in an old house inherited from her Aunt. She's left Arlette the house and a mystery to solve. The house is haunted, but Arlette isn't frightened.

video

Susanna is the missing girl that Arlette must find, she goes to the family home and hopes for some visions to give her clues. She gets a couple of glimpses and does a sketch for a photo ID fit, plus she has a couple of names to work on.

The photos cause trouble for Arlette when she's the victim of a hit and run that leaves her in hospital. However she believes she's got a lead as things soon start hotting up in the search for Susanna.

In Arlette's personal life the appearance of a Voodoo priestess has it's own mysteries and her Aunt urges her to find the women again.

I enjoyed this mystery particularly the links to New Orleans and the Voodoo, plus the sizzling romance between Arlette and Andre which was fun.

Happy to give this 4*'s.

Buy it Here

Follow Rosie here:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review - On Angels Wings by Heather Adams

This is a wonderful debut novel, and the first in a series. The author has a masterful way with words, and has woven true historical events into this period romantic suspense novel about a love that endures everything.


In eighteenth century Britain, a mother dies and leaves her child, Angela, alone and without anyone to support her. Her philandering and heavy drinking stepfather steals all the money and sells her to a brothel. Being a spirited young woman, Angela refuses to accept her fate, and in time, she meets Duke Monroe Enderby, and discovers the delights of falling in love.

The two are secretly married, only to be torn apart by injustice, war, and a jealous servant.

With Monroe away fighting the war, Angela gives birth to a son, Weylin. Years pass, and in time, they travel to the New World, where Weylin becomes involved with the Sons of Liberty.

This story is a must read. Follow the two lovers as they live their own Odyssey. Will they ever be reunited? And what is the secret of the wolves?


Here's the link to buy it. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway -- Capricorn Cravings

Capricorn Cravings was published in print format 10 months after it first hit the Kindle market, and with two new books being released over the holiday season I am only just now scheduling a giveaway.

Riley Shaughnessy has the perfect life. Her veterinary practice is thriving, and she loves living in the small town in the Colorado mountains, where no one knows the shocking secret of her past. She loves to gallop her palomino mare across the vast expanse of public land bordering the town, and after a long period of self-denial, she has even committed to a date with handsome horse wrangler, Randy Hansen. But now, she knows her assistant, Jamie, would never willingly abandon her child, so why has she disappeared? Something dark and sinister is taking place, and it all started on the day hunky Powell Stewart, with the piercing blue eyes, came into her life in a strange and unexpected way. Her inner voice tells her to stay as far away from him as she can...

Here are the details of the Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Capricorn Cravings by Trish Jackson

Capricorn Cravings

by Trish Jackson

Giveaway ends March 20, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day -- Dedicated to Romance

With Valentine's Day being just around the corner this seemed like the perfect time to write about my passion--romance. 


So what exactly is romance? 

Romance is a noun. Put an 'A' in front of it , as in they had a romance, it means a relationship or attachment that is usually between lovers, but it may also be used in an abstract way to describe someone's passion, as in she had a lifetime romance with historical homes.  

Valentine's Day has been so commercialized that people have lost its true purpose and today they give gifts to anyone they love, whether it be a lover, a child, a sibling, a parent or even a friend, but true romance between lovers is to do with the emotional side of love. It may include passion, excitement, allure, and desire among other things, but it is also encompassed in the little things lovers do to show their affection.

He may spontaneously pick a bunch of wildflowers and present them to her while taking a walk, or she may turn the lights down low and set the dinner table with candles and include a bottle of champagne with the meal. Little romantic acts show your partner that you care, and keep the romance alive in a relationship.

Here are a few ideas for putting the romance back into your life--or keeping it there this Valentine's Day.


  1. If you plan to ask her to marry you, get down on your knees (that is so romantic and never goes out of style) and pop the question some place crazy on Valentine's Day.
  2. Fill your Jacuzzi with something fragrant, and light some candles, or go skinny-dipping on a deserted beach. Or, if it's cold, light the fire and lay a blanket on the carpet in front of the fireplace. There's something very romantic about real wood fires.
  3. Take him to a wildly expensive restaurant on Valentine's Day night and pay for the dinner. Remember, a little champagne buzz does wonders for romance. 
  4. Send her dozens of red roses and a giant teddy bear.
  5. Get tickets to his favorite sporting event. It may not seem like a romantic idea, but it will show him how much you care about his happiness.
  6. Buy your special someone something that sparkles--like diamonds or any jewelry. 
  7. Chocolates have always been a favorite, especially for women, but be sure she isn't trying to lose weight before giving them to her. Chocolate covered strawberries go well with bubbly.
  8. Do something outrageously crazy, like skydiving, or take a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride in the moonlight.
  9. Send an anonymous Valentine's Card to someone you secretly admire.
  10. Buy a couple of cans of whipped cream and let your imagination run wild...

So how about some comments about what you do to make Valentine's Day romantic with that special someone. Don't forget to get your lover in the mood -- buy them a romance novel.

Get mine Here