Writing Business Tidbytes

TouringHope you’ve all had a terrific week. Been a busy one around here, for sure. I was part of some amazing meetings and community-support events that leave me in awe because of the caliber of people I get to work beside. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself – this is my life, really? LOL. It did wreak havoc with my writing and working schedule, however, so, this blog is going to be a bit brief, though beneficial, I hope! As always, take what fits for you and leave the rest behind. Found a few things of interest –

PUBLISHER LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Black Opal Books – until December 31. Check out the submission guidelines before submitting, as always, right? They have an online submission form. BLACK OPAL

POETRY COLLECTIONS SOUGHT: (TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE ON THIS ONE!)

TUPELO PRESS
Throughout the month of July, Tupelo Press will hold open submissions for book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (28-47 pages). The July Open Reading Period is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad, and regardless of prior publication history.

AGENTS LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Check out this awesome link – BOOKFOX! 

Keep writing, keep reading, keep submitting! See you next Sunday with a fun interview with EXHIBIT author, Dianne Neral Ell. Don’t miss it!

Nancy Q.

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SKYE TAYLOR: Meet the author

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Skye Taylor, St Augustine Author

Skye Taylor, mother, grandmother and returned Peace Corps volunteer lives St Augustine Florida, soaking up the history, taking daily walks along one of the prettiest beaches and writing novels. She posts a weekly blog and a monthly newsletter, volunteers with the USO and is currently working on a new murder mystery series. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Florida Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime. Her list of published novels include: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Healing a Hero, Keeping His Promise and Iain’s Plaid. Visit her at www.Skye-writer.com

 

 

NQ: Welcome SKYE TAYLOR. And thank you for taking the time from writing your current novel to spend a little time with us here at Words Count!

SKYE: Thank you for having me, Nancy.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

NQ: Let’s talk a bit about your books before we get to KEEPING HIS PROMISE. I enjoyed The Candidate as well as all of the books in your Camerons of Tide’s Way series and I think that’s because they are so relevant. Sort of “Ripped from the Headlines” if you’ll pardon the cliché. They are also uplifting and engaging, but I they have a depth to them as well. What role do “headlines” play in plotting your books?

SKYE: In a romance, the main conflict is always between the hero and heroine, what draws them to each other and what gets in the way of their happy ever after, but these two people are “living” in a wider world than just their own and for the story to feel real and relevant for my readers I need to include that wider world. In the action/adventure genre, the story is all about “ripped from the headlines” themes like espionage, terrorism, politics, and war, and the personal lives turn out to be the secondary plots.

Sometimes when I’m faced with a hole in my plot or a sagging middle, looking beyond the story I’m writing to what’s going on around me in the news gives me great ideas for how to fix it. An example of such a problem I had in Healing A Hero was that I needed to figure out how my hero and heroine could have realistically lost touch with each other after a whirlwind romance that both felt was the beginning of a lifetime love affair. My hero was a Marine, injured and currently out of action so I subscribed to the Marine Times while I was writing this book to understand what the Marines were doing right now, where in the world and what my hero might be wanting to get back to once he got his medical clearance. Quite by chance, I read about a ship that was being decommissioned. Two men who’d been stationed aboard her were interviewed: one of them a Marine who was stationed on this ship in 2001 when it docked in Darwin, Australia. Most of the Marines and half of the Sailors were given immediate shore leave, but before this guy who was being interviewed could eat his steak at a local pub, MPs were running up and down the street ordering all the Americans back to the ship. When the bartender turned on the TV they all watched in horror as the towers in New York crumbled into the ground. The USS Peleliu was ordered out of port immediately and sailed for the Middle East. The Sailors and Marines on board were under orders not to call or email their families. That was my “Ah ha” moment. For four months these men were cut off from all communication from home. It was a real headline about the ship and the events of 9/11, and it was just what I needed to explain how Philip and Elena lost touch. While the military would have reassured the military families of their loved-ones’ safety, there would have been no way for my heroine who was not yet family to know what happened and she would have felt completely abandoned.

In KEEPING HIS PROMISE, relevant headlines play a different role. Every day we read in the paper or hear on the Evening News about immigration issues, another school shooting, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty and neighborhood violence. Everyone wants solutions to these problems, but the sad fact is most don’t want that solution to be in their backyard. Kate and Jon find themselves on opposites sides of such an issue – recidivism and youths in trouble with the law, and before they can find their own happy ever after, they need to come to a compromise on a project to help these young men turn their lives around. I feel like this kind of “ripped from the headlines” secondary plot adds to the depth of the main story by placing it in a world we are all familiar with and by showing the character and integrity or lack thereof in the people who populate this fictional world.

NQ:  I get it.  And I agree! Now, tell us about KEEPING HIS PROMISE – is that the last book in the series or will we get to meet more Camerons either in the series or elsewhere? I heard something about a mystery in the works. Is that true?

SKYE: When I was writing KEEPING HIS PROMISE, I thought it was the last not counting one already written about Cam and Sandy Cameron – the parents of Jake, Ben, Will, Philip and Kate which will eventually get published, but while I was in the midst of writing Kate’s story, a totally unexpected character appeared. He was so intriguing that it was clear his story would be fun to write, too. So while he’s not a Cameron, Lucas Trevlyn lives in Tide’s Way and one day I’m sure I’ll be telling his story, but at the moment the whispers you heard were true. I do have a new project going on. This time it’s going to be a mystery, hopefully, a series, starring Jesse Quinn a female, Deputy Sheriff assigned to investigating violent crimes in northeast Florida.

NQ:  Well, I for one will keep a sharp eye out for the next Skye Taylor novel, I promise! Let’s chat a bit about you as a writer. Do your personal life experiences enter into your books or characters or is it all totally fabricated with no relationship to you and your life?

SKYE: My characters are mostly figments of my overactive imagination, but let’s face it, our life experiences can’t help but filter into the creation of our fictional characters. To start with, a new writer is often told, Write what you know.” Even in a historical, in a time and place the author can’t even visit, individual traits and humanity don’t change all that much. We still have family relationships, siblings we either get along with or fight with, co-workers, neighbors, parents, and kids, and a lot of that will color how we create our historical characters. I’ve had a more diverse career path than most but even I have to eventually start researching other jobs, and other lifestyles to keep my books from becoming the same old, same old. People watching is another way for an author to get ideas to make their characters different and fresh. Keeping_front Cover_5.22.18People watching while waiting for a flight at the airport or in line at a grocery store is a great way to get ideas about how different people behave under different circumstances. Just watch the reactions when a flight is seriously delayed or canceled! So, while I might not be outraged and blame the agent at the desk others do and the way they treat the agent says a lot about what kind of person they are. Maybe an author has never been a parent, but seeing a distraught mother trying to cope with an overtired or spoiled toddler that was told no in a grocery store can give that non-parent author an education they personally haven’t had. An author can use this kind of secondary experience to add color and variety to the people in their books.

NQ: Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books? Do you think that you’ll revisit them and see them in print someday or are they totally off the board for you? I have two that I really should burn so that NO ONE ever sees them because they are so bad, but I’m not sure every writer feels that way. How about you?

SKYE: The very first book that I wrote, back when I was devouring Georgette Heyer, was a Regency Romance. It was written on yellow lined paper in pencil (long before we all had computers on our desks) and those old pages still reside in a file at the very back of my drawer, but will likely never see the light of day again. I have a feeling I would be appalled at how back it really was if I ever got it out. But I do have a couple other books that deserve to at least be read and considered for revision and publishing. I know a lot more about what makes a good novel now than when I began and some of the ideas/plots I had were good and just need to be brought up to speed.

NQ: On average, how long does it take you to write a book? Do you write every day and if so, how do you write? For a certain amount of time or words or pages?

SKYE: That’s an interesting question. I am always working on a book at some level, nearly every day. Even when I’m technically on vacation, a book idea might be rattling around in my head and I’m mulling over how to pull it together. My MacBook goes everywhere with me, even when those trips are only a week long to visit kids for the holidays. Sometimes I actually don’t work on the book on the computer, but the project is always on my mind. When I’m home I work on my writing every day. Researching a new book, background for one underway or actually writing, revising or editing. Once the fire is lit and I start a new book, I can finish the rough draft in anywhere between 30 and 60 days, but then the revising and editing begins. When I first started writing I wrote an entire 100,000-word book in 30 days that I thought was “done.” Now I know better. I might still get the rough draft done in 30 days, but there are always a ton of holes to fix, impossible stuff to get rid of, sagging middles to shore up and often whole new chapters to write.

NQ: I’m sure readers can get your books wherever books are sold, right? Can they find them in any of the local stores? If so, which ones? And where can readers find out more about you – maybe sign up for a newsletter or blog so they can keep up with you?

SKYE: I’ve had books in local bookstores, occasionally even in Barnes & Noble, but mostly they need to be ordered online or have a local bookstore order print versions for you. I donate copies of my books to my local library so they should be available there as well.

I have a website:  www.Skye-writer.com where you can check out all my published novels as well as a series of non-fiction essays I wrote about my experience in the Peace Corps (2002-2004) that were originally published in my local newspaper while I was serving. You can also contact me via email on my website or sign up for my newsletter. I have a blog on my website where I write about writing and other things in my life – and I have a page where I review books I’ve enjoyed by other authors.

NQ: Thanks so much again, for being here with us today. And thanks for great books, too!

SKYE: It’s been a pleasure – and a lot of fun. Thank you for inviting me.

 

 

 

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LOG LINE: Power Tool for Authors

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Back in 2001, I read SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder, mostly because I’d read so much about it and how important it would be for me as a writer, even if I never intended to write a screenplay. The subtitle is The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need.

I’ve been writing for 17 more years. I’m sure I got something out of it the first time I read it, but I’m reading it again, having just found another copy in a library book sale.

What I’ve learned in these past 10 years of mostly editing works written by others, is that writing that is not powerful, tight, well-paced, and interesting is not going to sell to anyone other than friends and family members who don’t want to hurt our feelings. If there is anything that earmarks a good screenplay, it’s powerful, tight, well-paced and interesting scenes. The correlation is unmistakable to me now, even if it was vague in earlier years. (Like so many things, actually.)

One of the first things I’ve learned to ask my authors to do is to write their LOGLINE. Why? Well, for a few reasons. First of all, I know it’s going to take them a while. And they are going to struggle with it. And both of those things are good. One thing we need in this business, in large quantities, is patience.

Making it memorable instead of forgettable 

“So, Jim, what have you been doing? Ever get that book written?”

“Sure did! Going to be published, too.”

“That’s great. What’s it about?”

“Well, it’s sort of about a guy and he’s like been selling cars and he hates it, but because his father abandoned him, he decides to get a dog, and then ….”

At that point, Jim’s friend’s eyes glaze over and he’s mentally gone to Tahiti. If Jim had developed his logline, he’d have hooked the friend – and that friend would be sharing with other friends. Instead, Jim’s story sounds awful and the friend won’t remember a thing about the book – except maybe that Jim wrote it and that it sounded lame.

Reason # 2 –

Provides focus. Is the story powerful enough to hold up for a compelling novel? Is the topic broad – or narrow – enough to be a dynamic offering to that readership? If not, you may not have the right logline. But more importantly, you may not have the right story. Be great to realize that before putting in a year of your time writing, yes?

Reason #3 –

Confidence builder. When we are confident about things, we are excited to share them. Once you have that logline done and you know in your DNA that it says what the story is, clearly and concisely, you will not fear that question that so many dread: “What is it about?”

So, what’s a good logline need to have? Brevity for one thing. This is ONE LINE. And not a thirty-seven-word line, either.

Irony is the most important element of a great logline, according to Snyder. And isn’t that true? We are intrigued by the ironies. They keep us thinking about things.

  • “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.” (Pretty Woman)
  • “A cop comes from LA to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists.” (Die Hard)

It has to create a strong visual – and your word choices will be really important here. Screenwriters think in terms of visualizing the movie from the logline and don’t readers want the same thing? They want to be captivated and taken away. In fiction, this could include your timeline, too – is it one night, one week, one month? The shorter the timeline, the faster the pacing – works for all the genres.

Who is the audience? Again, your word choices and placement must be readership appropriate. The horror genre doesn’t expect a funny logline, right? A humor reader doesn’t expect to read a gory or terrifying hook. Irony is one thing but the wrong audience is another case altogether.

You need a killer title. Can the title lend to the irony? The genre? The visual effect? Often it can. Work at it. Hey, all of this is going to take work. Sometimes it takes me longer to come up with a logline than it does to do the outline and sometimes it comes from doing my outline.

Don’t take the easy way out, here. You have already invested – or you are going to invest – many months and maybe years of your time and energy to write a book. Nailing down your LOGLINE really is a power tool! It’s the difference between nailing 200 deck boards by hand or having a pneumatic nailer.

Get it right. Make sure that the focus of your book is right before you write for months and years, and you’ll be well on your way to training yourself to be a productive writer.

Keep reading and writing, my friends. See you next week. NQ

 

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4th of July

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Wishing all a safe and happy 4th of July, 2018. While today, we in the USA are celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the holiday didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1941.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain and on July 4th, delegates from the 13 colonies agreed to adopt the declaration and become a free nation. However, when hostilities erupted in April of 1775, and the American Revolution got underway, few colonists were in favor of complete independence, instead hoping for less taxation and representatives in the English Parliament. It would seem from the records available, that compromise was not feasible.

Some (probably) lesser-known facts about this auspicious date:

  • Three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4th, two on the same day: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (1826), and  James Monroe (1831)
  • Denmark has celebrated this holiday as well, since 1912
  • The nation has seen a 12,636 percent increase in population since 1776 (Washington Post, 2014)

A few thoughts from the founding fathers. They may be good thoughts for us to ponder, too:

  • “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
  • “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.” James Madison
  • “I’ve lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We’ve been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” Benjamin Franklin

I begin and end each day thanking the Lord for many things, including that I live in a nation where it probably will not cost me my life to worship in my local church with other Christians, though, in recent years, it has cost many their lives for doing just that, right here in the United States. The same situation now haunts our workplaces and our schools. It is not our government raining down this genocide as is the case in so many other nations, it is our fellow countrymen (non-gender specific use).

John Adams was absolutely correct in his assessment: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

For our nation, I pray for peace, God’s protection, and His many blessings. Feel free to join me if you’d like! Happy 4th of July.

Looking for some new summer reads? Check out Skye Taylor’s latest novel, KEEPING HIS PROMISE, on sale tomorrow, JULY 2! And, her publisher has got some terrific free offers on other Taylor books, too – check it all out at Skye Taylor’s Books

 

 

 

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MERCIFUL BLESSINGS – 90 day report

MercifulBlessingsFrontCvr  In March of 2018, writing partner and spiritual sister, Daria Ludas, and I, saw the first novel in our Christian women’s fiction mystery series, MERCIFUL BLESSINGS off to a great start. Two Stone Lions Press orchestrated the release for the big book festival that was part of the annual Liberty States Fiction Writers conference in New Jersey – and we sold out.

That was followed up by all the book sales that happened through Amazon after the book festival as friends, neighbors, and fellow authors continued the “buzz” for us via Facebook, breakfasts at the diner in hometown Jamesburg, and for me, here at St. Ambrose, my church home in Elkton, Florida.

The book took us over three years to write, edit, and polish to our satisfaction. It won the 2014 Unpublished Women’s Fiction category at the Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA) within a month of Daria’s open heart surgery. We shopped it around to several mystery houses who didn’t like so much of that “Christian” stuff, and several “Christian” markets that didn’t like so much of that “real world” stuff. Jeesh, what is an author – or in our case – an author team to do?

Keep the faith, I guess. We believed in the series, the messages, the writing, and that we’d be led to do the right things for the book. After all, the book – and the series – is all about Faith. And Hope. And Grace. Blessings, all. And so, I got word that a publisher that I respect a lot was looking to launch a new imprint – an Inspirational imprint. We talked about it and I submitted the manuscript to Two Stone Lions Press, and in a few weeks, we were discussing the contract.

So – what are we doing? How is it selling? Daria and I continue to speak with readers, and sell books. We’ve hand sold more than 200 copies to writers and readers at events. We continue to ask readers for reviews, and the Facebook fans continue to keep the word alive for us. Local news coverage for the book cover which features a photo of St. Ambrose taken in 1909 by a local family, helped us to sell a good number of books, but more importantly, it keeps people talking about it. That’s called “buzz.” And that’s a good thing!

We’ve cooperatively scheduled ads for readers and reviewers, sharing the costs with our publisher for any bills over $200. MERCIFUL is nominated for the Ben Franklin Award 2018 and the FAPA Award 2018. We’ll of course, have to wait to see if she finals or wins, but nonetheless, we’re doing some of the grass-roots things we can do to promote this first book in the Amazing Grace series.

Net net, I’ve seen my book sales for the Point and Shoot Mystery Series go up; we’ve not broken the 1000 copies (print and eBook) point for MERCIFUL BLESSINGS, but we will by end of the fall quarter, I suspect.

Most importantly, to Daria and me, as well as our publisher, we’re into writing the second  book for the series, OLD FAITHFUL, which, Lord willing, will be published in the spring of 2019.

So, as I’ve been coaching all for several years now, this is NOT a sprint – it is a marathon. A long-distance journey full of lessons, laughter, and love. And because it is not a sprint, it’s important not to try and do the trip alone. Build a good team around you – one you trust, admire, can rely on, and that will be loving, honest, and dedicated to your success. I recommend you put the good Lord at the head of that team and let Him lead the way.

Until next week, keep reading and writing, my friends.

Nancy Q.

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

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Sonora Smart Dodd is one of the legendary women credited with beginning Father’s Day, on June 19, 1910 to honor her father and all that he’d done for her and her siblings. She claimed that while listening to the Mother’s Day sermon in church a year prior, she wondered why there was no official day to honor fathers who did so much for their families.

Her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, was a single father to six children in Spokane, Washington, his wife having died while giving birth to their sixth child. He raised them on their farm and after his death, Sonora Smart Dodd petitioned the powers that be to celebrate Father’s Day on June 5, her deceased father’s birthday. However, due to a mix up, the honorary day was arranged for the third Sunday of June, where it still remains today.

Another legend credits Grace Golden Clayton, West Virginia, (1908) of petitioning her church minister to establish a memorial date in memory of all the miners who had perished in a tragic mining fire that killed more than 360 men. From that time forward,  many churches, states, and municipalities paid homage to fathers in June.

But despite recommendations by President Calvin Coolidge and later, President Lyndon B. Johnson, (executive order) it wasn’t until 1972, that Father’s Day became a National holiday in the United States of America while President Richard Nixon was in office . Many countries around the world celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June, but not all.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU FATHERS: stepfathers, grandfathers, adopted fathers, foster fathers, and spiritual fathers!

NQ

 

 

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ONE THOUSAND TEARS: Pauline Creeden

Among mermaids and humans, cruelty has many faces.

One secret Adelaide has kept for as long as she can remember—her love for Jonas. She is the daughter of the clan’s elder; he is a bottom feeder. As Mer, they can never be together. But as humans, it might be possible.

When Jonas’s reckoning comes, he must go to land during the cycle of the full moon. But when the next cycle comes around, he doesn’t return. Fearing what might have become of him, Adelaide follows and gains legs for herself. But living life as a human is much more difficult than she imagined. And finding Jonas is just as hard. To follow him to the underwater city, she must endure the Initiate’s Trial. Her strength and resolve will be tested if she wants to find Jonas and survive.

Adelaide must prove she’s more than just a mermaid princess.

Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited

Pauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

 

Follow Pauline Creeden:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

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