Sunday, March 31, 2013


Happy Easter Everyone:

My latest manuscript has been submitted, the stunning cover art is done, and Kim McDougall at Blazing Trailers just finished an awesome trailer for me.  I usually do my own, but she had a special running that was cheaper than I'd have to pay for pictures, so I went for it.   I'm so proud to share it with you today.  I'll let you know as soon as the book is released which should be shortly.  Those gals at Books We Love operate at blinding speed.  I should be half as fast. :)  Hey...this is totally out of my western historical comfort zone.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's Friday and Time for a Few Lines From...

On Fridays, for a while, I'll be featuring authors from Books We Love in a little blogging exercise called "A Few Lines From..."  Today, I'm happy to start the ball rolling with Jamie exquisite author.

A Few Lines From…Jamie Hill

This week enjoy a few lines from Books We Love author Jamie Hill’s novel, Family Honor

He pulled a bigger knife from his pocket. “I know you’re gonna be whoever I want you to
be. I’m gonna call you ‘Mama’, and you’ll call me ‘Dickie’. If you don’t like it, our little game will end a lot sooner. It’ll be disappointing for me, but I can live with it.” He smiled. “Not sure you can.”
Family Honor by Jamie Hill
Available here:
Find Jamie’s other titles here:

Come back next week for A Few Lines from BWL author Margaret Tanner


There is one thing that is almost more important than the first sentence of your book.  Can you guess what it is?  It’s the last sentence of your book.  If you end your book with a punch, with a satisfying thought, you reader will think about the story long after they stop reading ‘the end.’
It’s important to understand what you can and can’t do to write that successful novel ending that will entice agents, publishers and, more importantly, readers. How can you write a strong closer?
Characters or subplots - Don’t introduce any new characters or subplots within the last 50 pages, and if you do they should have been foreshadowed earlier, even if mysteriously.  Why?  You won’t have time to flesh them out before the end of the book.  You don’t want a red-herring either.  The last fifty pages should be tying all the loose ends together for a satisfying ending.
Over describing or explaining – Wouldn’t you agree that reading a book where the author has described everything to distraction is frustrating?  If the book has me otherwise ‘hooked’ I find myself skimming the details or explanations.  Keep description to a minimum, but maximize action and conflict.
A sense of surprise -  Don’t you just love it when the book you’re reading ends with that ‘ah ha’ or ‘I didn’t catch that’ or ‘yes – I had a feeling’ or ‘I never would have thought of that – I love it?”  The biggest surprise of the story will make the best ending ever. Readers love it when some early, slight detail becomes the great ‘ah ha’ moment at the end.
Involve your reader -  Make sure you reader is invested in the story and becomes so involved that she cannot put down it down; in bed, at work, or even in the bathroom.  Really, I was reading a book that had me so involved – I slipped it under my shirt at work so I could read just a few more pages in the bathroom!  I’m not proud of it – but it’s true!
Happy or not endings – I’ve read some no so happy endings – I’m sure you have too.  But even with the not-so happy ending, try to make it a lesson learned, or a future that looks brighter.  Not all endings have a happily-ever-after ending, but try to leave the reader with some uplift. 
Good in the end - We shouldn’t create perfect heroes or heroines.  They should have flaws and some should even make some mistakes along the way.  The story should allow the reader, and the character, to realize that in the end she has done the right thing.  That she has come a long way and has learned something from her mistake(s).
Loose ends? – Nothing is more annoying than something planted early is the story, and has stuck with the reader, only to find it’s never addressed or solved by the end.  Every question or clue you plant in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.
Final words reflect your opening - Some time ago a multi-published author stated; “I make a point that my final sentence of my book will mirror events in the opening sentence or paragraph.”  Wow, I had never thought of this before.  When you begin writing your book you already have established a purpose. By the ending, make ensure all the snags and hitches support that beginning. It’s often called the tie-back tactic.  Create a sense that the final words answer the foundation or beginning of the story.
Voice, tone and attitude – This applies to the entire story, but the ending even more so.  I’ve often read an entire book and the final paragraph is a narrative ending.  Say what?   Who is this person?  Why are you ending my story?  Never tack on the voice of a narrator to explain the ending.  It’s a real let-down.  It snaps us out of the flow of the story.  It truly will not suspend the disbelief.   
Gimmick ending - Please, if nothing else has grabbed you in this blog, please head this comment.  Don’t end your story with peculiar twists or trick endings. You’re reader has stuck with you to the end of your story.  She has participated, cared, worried, and rooted for the characters.  Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated. You want her to love the ending . . . and your book.  You want her to ask, “What other books have this author written?”  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Let’s face it, women and men are different.  If you’re a woman writer – you write like a woman.  If you’re a male author – you write like a man.  Hmmm, no big surprise there.  Why is that important, you might ask?
I’m sure you have male as well as female characters in your book.  Don’t you think it would help to understand how the other thinks, acts, even speaks when writing?  Creating characters of the opposite sex can be tricky.  Remember we want to be believable.  One mistake and the reader just might close the book for good.
Have you considered the impact of your own gender on your writing?  It’s time to start. By learning how men and women differ, you’ll be able to better understand your audience.  This could expand your writing appeal.  It will have an impact on how your handle language, story and style—no matter what you’re writing, or who you’re writing it for.
It’s back to the cliché, ‘walk the walk and talk the talk.’  When writing you have to consider your audience.  If you’re writing an Indian romance there’s a good chance your audience is primarily female.  If you’re working on the history of gun slingers of the old West, you’ll have mostly male readers.
While writing, we’re not thinking about what will grab a reader who finds the topic interesting. We haven’t considered how something as simple as choosing our words can attract or turn off prospective readers.
Gender-specific terms aren’t always immediately obvious; there are plenty of ordinary words and phrases that are used by either sex. A woman is three times more likely to use the word “gorgeous,” for example. And when a man does use it, it’s typically only to describe a woman—not a child, a jacket, or a centerpiece.
Consider this; if your intended audience is female, make sure to include plenty of personal pronouns—“I,” “you” and “we”—and descriptive terms. If your intended audience is male, exchange pronouns for articles—such as “a,” “the” and “that”—choose active verbs, limit adjectives and include concrete figures, like numbers.
Observe the stylistic differences between these two statements: “I’m sorry we’re late; we had to stop and let Suzzie potty on the way here,” and, “From now on we are taking a port-a-potty along when we travel.” Chances are you can tell right away which sex is talking in each one.
What should you do when you want to appeal to a mixed audience?  Start by  reviewing your writing with an eye for language that reflects your gender. Locate them and revise to include both genders.
It’s no secret that men prefer to see something done —a fight won, a horse broken, a murder solved.  Women tend to focus on the relationships and emotions behind the story—who is affected by the fight, how is the man changed when he breaks the horse for a child, does solving the murder bond the couple?  Sociologists suggest that the female focus on nurturing relationships and the male compulsion to get the job done not only affect what we’re interested in, but the way we use language—and, naturally, the style that appeals to us on a page.
So this is where style differences come to play.  Style differences are especially important to understand if you’re writing dialogue. One of the most difficult tasks we face as writers is making sure our characters say the right words. Distinguishing differences in the way the genders communicate can help you develop more convincing, appealing characters that believable to your readers.
Studies prove women are more likely to express likings rather than demand them (“I would like a single rose.”).  Start a sentence with a question (“What do you think about … ?”). Use apologetic dialog even when being decisive (“I’m so sorry, but I’m not going to have lunch with you.”).
The opposite (of course) is true with Men.  They use direct and actually aggressive language (“Grab me a bag of chips.”).  They fill the day with conversation with dialog less cooperative or helpful; sarcasm, put-downs or ‘guy’ references some of us refer to as crude.  Studies suggest that men don’t divulge personal information in everyday conversation, while women frequently do.
If you’re writing for a single gender—whether you’re penning an instructional piece or working on your novel-in-progress—don’t shy away from integrating these style differences into your work. They may seem subtle, but you’ll be surprised at how much careful attention to these preferences can boost your writing’s appeal to your audience.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all women think and behave alike, and neither do all men.  When you are writing male or female dialog, consider gender traits when typing dialog. When you do, remember these words, from Edward Abbey: “It is the difference between men and women, not the sameness, that creates the tension and the delight.”

A great book dealing with this subject is the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits By Dr. Linda Edelstein

     From serial killers and drug addicts to career professionals, blue-collar workers, and the rich and famous, this book, written by a practicing psychologist, profiles the mental, emotional, and physical characteristics of different personality types. New to this edition:   Over 400 easy-to-reference character listings that detail typical behaviors, thought processes, and common reactions to a variety of situations.  Sidebars and statistics on personality types not included in the previous edition.  Mix and match traits and quirks for a mix of flaws and strengths to make your characters unique and lively. Psychopaths, cult members, drug addicts, career professionals and philanthropists are all represented. Put your imagination and this instruction together and create characters your readers will never forget!

Monday, March 25, 2013


     What is meant when we talk about ‘balancing character traits’ in a story?  Imagine if you had a hero who is so full of himself that he’s almost unlikable? He needs a balancing character, one who can keep the hero from taking himself too seriously, one who ‘compliments’ the hero.  It can even take the path of humor or explain the reason the hero hides behind his façade.  Or consider you have a beginner detective who needs a mentor, someone he can look up to.  Or you might want to show a hard-boiled writer and show his softer side by giving him a daughter he’s devoted to. 
     We all will admit the most important supporting character in any genre is the sidekick. It seems every suspense protagonist has one. One of my favorites is writer Castle, who has his detective ‘friend’ Kate.  Think about your favorite and you’ll know exactly what I mean.  The ‘side-kick’ compliments the main character.  They are usually opposite and that has a way of making things interesting. 
     It’s the old cliché, opposites attract. Suspense protagonists and their sidekicks are a study in contrasts. Create a sidekick and watch the fun begin.   
     That takes us to the fact that every protagonist in a suspense needs an adversary, too. This is not the villain, but a good-guy character.  The adversary drives your protagonist nuts, pushes his buttons, harasses him, puts obstructions in his way, and is literally a pain in the behind. It might be a domineering co-worker, or a know-it-all best friend. It might be an ex-wife who wants nothing but to prove the protagonist wrong. It might even be the sexy neighbor who only wants to seduce the protagonist. 
     Conflict is the trigger that jolts your character alive.  The adversary can cause the protagonist all kinds of momentous glitches and complicate your story by putting up barriers to the investigation. 
     An adversary may remain stubborn and skeptical off the protagonist’s theory. Or an adversary may be intentionally disruptive. Let’s say for example the ex-wife may fail to forward information because she is jealous of the implications.
     When developing an adversary, remember it should be someone who can spoil, infuriate and generally get in your protagonist’s way. With an adversary in the story, your protagonist will get oodles of opportunity to bicker, struggle and in general show his grit and shrewdness.
     Although supporting characters give your character life, each one should also play a distinct role in the story.  We all consider the supporting character a bit of a stereotype, but don’t forget to flesh them out.  Turn them into complex characters who do things that surprise you—and, in turn, the reader.
     Never allow the supporting character to control the limelight, but weak and boring characters shouldn’t be allowed to take-over your story, either.  Also make sure your reader doesn’t become so involved with the supporting character that he/she takes over the story. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ginger's Takin' a Break!

Now that my eye is almost full healed and I'm feeling human again, I've reserved the next seven days at a camping spot I love.

I don't care if the forecast calls for rain, sleet, wind and snow...which it does, I'm going to get away from this mundane life I've created.  I've lost my mojo and have to get it back.  I follow the same routine every day, and instead of writing, I eat.  So, I'm removing myself from the refrigerator and pantry, stocking up with healthy snacks, taking my laptop and Iphone, and spending the next seven days trying to recapture my muse.

I have a book over that's gathering dust, awaiting the novel's finish, and I intend what's his name says...get 'er done!

See you after April 1st, and Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate...and that's no joke.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Author Perspective: Are Print Copies Worth the Effort?

I recently had a good friend and fellow author put four of my titles into print on Createspace.  Deciding to offer this option was more for me than anything else because of the small amount of royalties one makes on actual trade paperbacks.  The biggest bang for a reader's buck comes from digital downloads, and the money one can save is definitely worth investing in an e-reader like Kindle or Nook.  My benefit...I can order copies for my own personal use at a fraction of the cost.

There are those die-hard book lovers who refuse to give up the smell of a book...although the only smell I ever noticed was mustiness from sitting on a shelf too long, or being purchased at a garage sale. But...will those diehards pay the price Createspace suggests so that the authors make some sort of profit for their work?  For example:  I had my friend, Kathy, download my latest release, Destiny's Bride.  I had to list the book for $12.00 in order to make anything at all.  If someone purchases the book through Createspace's site, I'll receive $3.31--if through Amazon, I'll get a whopping ninety-one cents.  So as you see, money to be made is definitely not in print copies which is why the e-publishing route has become overrun with reading opportunities.

And speaking of making money...I, with mixed emotions, would like to announce that my current "By Invite" only publisher, Books We Love, is now open to new authors.  Although I've loved feeling like an exclusive member of an elite society, I definitely understand the reason for expansion.  The more authors we have on board, the more attention we garner to our work.  I have the utmost respect for the two gals, Jude and Jamie, who have given me an opportunity I had never expected to find.  If you're looking for a great publisher with a forward thinking team who makes their number one focus the authors, then look no further.  Here's the url for the submission's page.  *sniff *

But back to my topic, for those who want to have an actual book to hold, I now have Ellie's Legacy, Sarah's Heart, Sarah's Passion, and Destiny's Bride to add to my other print books available.  At Createspace, I can track the sales of print copies.  Woo Hoo, I already have two this month.  *lol*  Hope my digital sales continue to grow.

You can find all my books at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Deep Are Your Pockets? Ginger's nosy!

I found a slice of heaven when I discovered my current publisher.  Only "invited" authors are there, and most have taken advantage of re-writing books that weren't given the notice they deserved the first time around.  As I've mentioned before, writing is a never-ending journey when it comes to learning.  Rules change as often as my underwear (that's frequently, by the way), and to be able to apply newly-learned skills to improve a read is a joy.

As most of you, I've been signed for years with small publishers and know how many pieces of the pie get served up before I get my portion.  Suffice to say, my earnings have been slim despite the number of books I've published.

With my new publisher, I finally got the opportunity to feel like a true author.  Although I've always said I don't write for the money, I think the smile on my face when I received my first four digit paycheck made a liar out of me.  And that was for ONE book, but there was a catch....

Amazon has given many authors an opportunity to publish their own works, thus cutting out the middleman.  I haven't gone that route because I still cherish having an editor who goes through my work and finds mistakes even after it's been read by me a hundred times and passed through a critique group.  Still, I don't believe a book exists in which there isn't at least one or two errors of some form.  There just aren't enough eyes in the world to catch everything, and I believe our brains often read what we think should be there.  I've read some books lately that are fraught with mistakes that would never have been there if the author had taken an extra month and at least used a beta reader to solicit comments, but then, I know the feeling of being anxious to see your book for sale.  Still, the stigma of ebooks versus mainstream continues to sink our popularity because of some of these poorly written novels.

The KDP program seemed like an answer to a prayer, but I'm sure many are finding it was just a temporary shining star.  How do you fall from being in the one thousands in ranking to quadruple digits? Amazon has the power to change the algorithms at will, and we don’t have any say in the matter.   Amazon recently purchased Avalon and imported all of their books and authors into their pool. Wanna bet that sales are skewed in favor of in-house publishing ventures?  I think the KDP program as a ploy to get mainstream authors on board, and now that they've joined the ranks, we small press and self-pubbed people are at the back of the line again.  That doesn't mean we can't compete, it just makes it a little more difficult...and probably out of the financial reach of most of us.

 Amazon use to show our free rankings with the paid rankings, giving us an equal footing, but now that the big four pay for Amazon feature ads at around $50,000 per package, we cannot complete in their least in paid promotion, but we can continue to write the very best books we can, which is why I'm thrilled to have been able to offer improved versions of some of my stories.  I thought I knew what a novel was from years of being a reader, but until you actually write your own book, you have no idea what's involved.  I wish we could get that across to those who like to desecrate the works of some in nasty, unhelpful reviews.

You can find my latest releases along with all my other work at:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I found the following at my favorite Writers Digest site, and had to share it with you.  My favorite ‘piece of advice’ below is high-lighted in ‘red’  . . . because that’s exactly what I’ve done with my writing.  Oh, I’ve tried quitting once – but as my husband puts it, “You are happier when you’re writing.”  He’s right.  The one thing I do for me - is I write.  What is your favorite piece of writing advice or what keeps you writing?  What keeps me writing are the stories inside my head struggling to be written!  Rita
What is your top piece of writing advice?
“Read. Write. Read and write. Read. Then write.” —I.J. Schecter, author
“Give yourself permission to do what you’ve always wanted.” —Chris Guillebeau, author
“Good writers who pitch beat out great writers who don’t.” —Linda Formichelli, author
“Write something so painfully personal you pray nobody reads it.” —Chad Gervich, author
“Be prepared to market the heck out of your work.” —Wendy Burt-Thomas, author
10 words or fewer: What keeps you writing?
“I write for my daughter, to demonstrate having a voice.” —Christina Katz, author
“Fear of becoming homeless versus fear of all other jobs.” —Jeff Yeager, author
“Curiosity about new people, places. Also, need to pay bills.” —Matt Villano, freelance writer

Monday, March 18, 2013


     Nothing annoys me more than so many big words that I need a dictionary to understand the book.  On the other hand, nothing annoys me more than someone who is writing at a third grade level.  You see, there is a balance to be had here.  I don’t want to feel written down to nor do I want to feel illiterate.  It seems to be that many writers these days overuse that Thesaurus, thinking it makes them sound more literate and polished.  Actually, it does the opposite and I for one am saying ‘stop it!’
     So, the trick to accomplishing the middle-of-the-road is use straightforward language.  The basic way to simplify writing is to use simpler words, just don’t make it too simple.  Simple verbs, nouns or adjectives—tend to have broader meanings, while complex words have more specific meanings. What it boils down to is you have a lower margin for error when you use simpler words. Replace a ‘less common’ word with a more ‘every-day’ word . . . . and you’ll find your dialog will flow better and more natural.
     While we’re on the subject of ‘flow,’ let’s discuss long sentences.  I’m a stickler for shorter sentences.  Why?  Well, have you ever had to go back and re-read a sentence because it was too long and it became confusing?  Well I have.  That’s why I’m so conscious of those dreaded long sentences.  It’s a simple fact, your writing will be clearer if you remove long sentences.
     What is the easiest way to do this?  Take a long sentence and create two or more shorter sentences from it.  This will accomplish a couple of things.  First it is faster to read.  In the case of a scary scene, it will add suspense.  It removes the need for too many commas.  Using shorter sentences does not mean that all sentences should be short. That would do nothing but create a choppy writing style.   Learn to use short and long sentences throughout your story.  Learn as well how to use sentence variety.
     That leads us to the book where the writer repeats a word or idea over and over again . . . and you want to scream, “You know what, I get it!”
     Redundancy screams “beginner writer.”   It’s sad to say it rings ‘lack of experience.’ Redundant words or phrases are those that can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.
     The use of qualifiers is acceptable with restraint and will let the reader know you are a polished writer.  But using modifiers too often weakens your writing. In reality they add bulk without adding substance.  For example: There are very many reasons we should be careful of the very long sentence.  Take out the excessive qualifiers and write: There are many reasons we should be careful of long sentences.
     Well, there you have it.  A few things to consider when writing a story - so it   screams polished writer instead of beginner.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Happy St. Patrick's Day.  I'm scheduling this post on Saturday and celebrating a day early, but unfortunately just doing a happy dance with no green beer involved.

Thank Goodness for Amazon and the opportunity to improve old works.  A whole lot of years ago, my debut novel was released.  I thought I knew it all back then, and thanks to an historically oriented editor, I learned a valuable lesson about credibility.  Although I've read western historicals for most of my life...starting with the Little House Series in grammar school, I was a reader and not an author.  I didn't know the secrets for drawing the interest of the person holding the book, and more importantly, keeping it.

Historical readers want to be able to believe the facts in novels dealing with the past are true.  There is no quicker way to lose credibility as an historical writer than to use untrue events or muster up something that doesn't fit the era.  You can't have a microwave on a wagon train and have it go unnoticed.  *smile*

Although, my historical references were accurate, I believe my editor was an author who knew little more than I did about the mechanics of good writing.  I received a four-star review from Romantic Times, but if you can write a good enough story, you might detract from the obvious faux pas, because by today's standards the content was fraught with them.

Thanks to Books We Love, I've had an opportunity to re-write and rename by debut novel and I'm happy to announce that Destiny's Bride is available on Amazon as of today.  I'll have a video trailer soon, but in the meantime, I hope you'll check out the listing, and give my heroine and heroes (2) a try. I think you'll enjoy the ride because I've gotten good reviews even with less than stellar skills.  One thing's for sure, learning is never-ending when you write.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I don't know that titles play the number one role in helping readers select their material, but I do know that often, publishers point out changes that might better fit the contents.  I've never had an actual original title changed, but I enjoyed a recent article in Reader's Digest that shares the "almost" names of some classic books I'm sure we've all heard of or read.  So, how would the original title have affected your choices?

The Strike.......................................became Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The High-Bouncing Lover.............became The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Atticus............................................became To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Last Man in Europe ................became 1984 by George Orwell

Fiesta .............................................became The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

First Impressions ...........................became Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Catch-11 ........................................became Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Mistress Mary .................................became The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett

 If you want another surprise, go to Amazon and see how the covers have changed over they years and the different versions available.  Pretty amazing


Thursday, March 14, 2013


I think I’m really lucky because pacing has always come naturally to me.  Having said that comes the question, how do you know when to end a chapter?  Again, that just comes naturally to me.  I decide how long my book will be and how many pages I want in each chapter.  Let’s say that number is fifteen.  My style is to write from my hero and heroine’s point-of-view; one chapter hero, next heroine, etc.  I jot down what page (give or take) my chapter should end . . . and keep on writing.  The strange thing – when it starts feeling like the end of a chapter, that’s about fifteen pages. 
Now that I have the pacing down, I always keep in mind the chapter should end in a way that makes it nearly impossible for the reader to put my book down.  Yep, I want them reading into the wee hours of the morning.  I want the reader to struggle closing the cover.  So let’s discuss how to do just that.
Strange as it may sound, this is one area of writing you should not turn to the classics for help. In the days of Dickens, the first few pages of each chapter served to get the reader ready for the events to come. Let’s face it; today’s readers have less patience.
Creative chaptering is more imperative than ever. Think about it, by starting and ending in the right places, chapter breaks assist in building suspense and keeping your readers reading. Unlike sentences or paragraphs, chapter breaks can assist by producing intense pauses.
I have a tentative, pacing chapter break in mind.  But I never hold myself to that fifteen pages if the story isn’t unfolding or intensifying on that fifteenth page.  Don’t be so restrictive that your chapter break is forced, or not leading into the next chapter.  I believe the most effective chapter breaks are created by writing first, and evaluating as the chapters unfold.
As I mentioned earlier, only as you begin actually writing the novel should you give any thought to the chapter structure. As a chapter unfolds, I wait until I get to a point that jumps out as a good place for a break.  To me the chapter break feels right . . . it’s a jolt of excitement.  It’s a question or a statement.  It should make my reader ask; Really? Why? Could it be? or just plain leave my reader gasping.
Sometimes a chapter break serves the purpose of a changes of place or changes of time.  My chapter changes always involve a change of point of view.  But even though this is the case, they are also ending in suspense, drama, internal conflict, or a suggested change of some kind—of place, of perspective, of plot direction.
Not realizing it, chapter breaks offer stability and pacing—both of which are essential for balancing your story.  So how can you end a chapter so that the sleepy reader is forced to keep the light on?
If you want your reader to say; I couldn’t-put-the-book-down, the good old-fashioned cliffhanger is often the key.
But let’s face it, every chapter can’t end this way.  It becomes expected, which is something you don’t ever want anybody to say about your novel.  It’s obvious that after a while this tactic loses its punch. Suspension of disbelief can go just so far.  Never forget that any cliffhanger has to be an integral part of the whole story, not a superfluous red-herring inserted just for effect.
Another thing to consider is that a cliffhanger chapter ending doesn’t have to be an action scene. If you leave your reader “hanging,” you’re chapter break works for you.
Use techniques like these to your sleepy reader fighting to keep her/his eyes open all night, page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Conflict? by Rita Karnopp

     We all know that conflict is the difficulty between the hero and heroine that threatens to keep them from getting together. It’s as simple as that.
     What we need to decide is what will cause our hero and heroine to be at odds with the other? What inhibits them from being too content? It all boils down to, what are they disagreeing about? Another important question is, what does the hero and heroine have at risk?  Once you ask that question be sure to ask, why is this situation so critical to each of them?  Oh, but more important, why is it important to your reader?
     So many people believe we show conflict by creating intense arguments or shouting matches, but two people can be locked in opposition without ever raising their voices, and they can also dispute nonstop without ever tackling the issue.
If an event delays the hero’s or heroine’s progress toward a goal it is only an incident. Consider this, if another character distracts the heroine to resolve an unconnected situation, and this distraction keeps her from confronting the hero, that’s not conflict.
     The one I hate the most is the story that tries using the ‘misunderstanding each other,’ as conflict.  Think about it, drawing the wrong assumption, jumping to conclusions, or wrongly judging one another are not instances of conflict.  They are merely the hero and heroine’s failure to communicate and make themselves understood.
     There is also the writer that uses the problematic interference of another person. Keep in mind that if the intrusion of another character causes glitches, your hero might appear passive and unable to take charge or stand up for himself or the heroine.  This is not how we want to our reader to perceive the hero.
     I don’t know about you, but I think in a relationship the hero should always be attracted to the heroine.  Oh, he might not want to find her quirky and irresistible, but that’s part of the conflict.  The extreme of his unwillingness to admit that the heroine is attractive doesn’t work. Characters wrangling  internally to not admit there is attraction can work, but keep in mind with this conflict lies triggering motives why it seems wrong or reckless to fall in love with this person.
     So, you see, even when creating conflict you need to make sure it’s believable.  Just creating two people who do nothing but argue, disagree, quarrel, dispute, bicker, and fight attraction does not create believable conflict. Always keep in mind there has to be a reason the hero and heroine are disagreeing.  Be sure to address, what does the hero and heroine have at risk?  Once you ask those questions be sure to ask, why is this situation critical to each of them?  And never forget to ask, why is it important to your reader?

Monday, March 11, 2013


Don’t you just hate it when you are on that last paragraph of a really good book and the ending just falls flat?  What about the book that you are so into, but the ending doesn’t tie up all the loose ends – and you’re wondering – say what?  Did the author mean to do that?  Or what about the ending that absolutely needs that kiss and the couple just stare into each other’s eyes?  Ugh, you know the one!
Learning how to end your novel is every bit as important, if not more important, than writing the entire book.  It’s so imperative you know what you can and can’t do to write success novel endings that attract agents, publishers and, most important, readers.  Go back and look at the books you love, study how those authors used ‘a strong closer.’
Never introduce any new characters or subplots within the last fifty pages.  Think ahead and make sure there has been forewarning earlier, even if mysteriously, during those last fifty pages.  I would add, never introduce an important character in those last fifty page, no matter how much foreshadowing, it’s just not enough time for the reader to care about them.
I am a dialog girl.  I advise not to describe, ponder, clarify or theorize. Keep explanations and descriptions to a minimum, but maximize dialog, action, and conflict. You have loaded the gun, now run for your life!
Think about it this way – you must create a sense of breathless– what next? Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here. Readers love it when some early, trivial detail plays a part in the finale. One or more of those things need to show up here as decisive elements.
Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome. Get her so involved that she cannot put down your novel to go to bed, to work or even to the bathroom until she sees how it turns out.
DO Resolve the central conflict. You don’t have to provide a happily-ever-after ending, but do try to uplift. Readers want to be uplifted, and editors try to give readers what they want.
Do Afford redemption to your heroic character. No matter how many mistakes she has made along the way, allow the reader—and the character—to realize that, in the end, she has done the right thing.
Do Tie up loose ends of significance. Every question you planted in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.
Do Mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story.
Don’t change voice, tone or attitude. An ending will feel tacked on if the voice of the narrator suddenly sounds alien to the voice that’s been consistent for the previous 80,000 words.
Don’t resort to gimmicks. No quirky twists or trick endings. You’re at the end of your story, and if your reader has stuck with you the whole time, it’s because you’ve engaged her, because she has participated. The final impression you want to create is a positive one. Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

When is Enough Enough by Ginger Simpson

How many times have you picked up a book you are enjoying, but wondered, "God, when is this going to end?"  I don't care how many trees are on the property, it doesn't matter to me if the pond is bubbling in the back yard if it doesn't involve the character and further the story in some manner.

One of the reasons I've been turned off by some mainstream books is that they go on and on and on, giving you useless information and being repetitive.  This my dear friends is because most major publishers have "word requirements" and you must meet that magic number to be considered for publication.  I've always sucked at writing to word reqs because when my character says I'm done, I'm done.  Luckily, I've found small press, most who encourage you to write from the heart, and give you leeway to create stories of various lengths.  You know you've done something right when the worst review you get is, "It was too short."

  My blog partner here has done some awesome work in my absence, most of them dealing with common problems we all encounter as readers and authors.  If you haven't read them all, I encourage you to take a trip backwards and enjoy her shared knowledge.

Anyhow, the real reason for this post is to encourage other authors to be smart.  There is a niche for each of us in this ever-growing ocean, but just like I've always told my kids...take a few minutes and think about what might go wrong.  If something comes to mind, then plan a different approach.  Usually what you think will go wrong, will.

I believe e-publishing has flourished because of the popularity of the Kindle, Nook, and other readers which make downloading possible at a lower cost.  I also think the reputation of e-published authors has suffered because of so many first time authors self-publish without learning the most common pitfalls most of us know.  I've been writing for almost a dozen years now, at least seriously, and I still learn things from every editing session or every chapter critique I submit to my group.  To jump into publication without a clue, hurts all of us.  I encourage new authors who are writing their debut novels to take an extra month and find a good critique group of people who've learned the ropes.  Don't rely on your relatives for feedback, because most of the time, they don't know anything more about writing rules than you do.

It's funny, I was a reader long before I became an author, and I thought I would really know how to write my own novel.  I was in for a great big shock because although I read hundreds of books, I didn't realize why some were more entertaining and kept me turning pages more so than others did.  I had no idea how head-hopping, POV, cause before affect, and overuse of tags could draw me out of the fact, I didn't even know what most of the terms meant.  I'm happy to say, each book I write, at least in my opinion, is better than the last because writing is continuous journey of learning.  So, don't start out thinking you have everything mapped and ready for success.  If you suck, people will notice.  Sadly, they then won't want to try other e-published books because of one bad apple.  Don't be that apple!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


My eye is almost fully healed after my vitrectomy, and I can once again assume blogging.  Rita has done a wonderful job with very interesting posts in my absence and it's going to be hard to compete with her skills and knowledge.  However, my first blog today is one I'm borrowing (or as the term goes: blogjacking) but giving full recognition to the talented writer: Lauri B. Regan.  I'm having a hard time concentrating on writing novels when the state of the union is in such poor shape, and Ms. Regan has captured all my concerns in her post:
  With each passing day of President Obama's second term he continues to consolidate power and undermine any notion of conventional democratic governing norms.
Not only did Obama make history as the first black president, he made history by winning a second term despite less than optimal polling numbers, divisive tactics, failed policies, an abysmal economy with high unemployment and gas prices, and breaches of promises to the American people. Today he continues taking his campaign to the next level, further demonizing the GOP in the hopes of winning back the House in 2014. Americans from both sides of the aisle must begin to pay attention to the incremental power shifts occurring in the federal government.
While many Americans feared an Obama unleashed, most were not anticipating the federal government arming itself with massive amounts of ammunition (reportedly 1.6 billion bullets) while at the same time threatening the Second Amendment rights of ordinary citizens. Americans were not contemplating that, in the face of the sequestration's implementation forcing the scaling down of our military despite imminent dangers and the simultaneous push for Global Zero, the Obama administration would purchase almost 3000 Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) for domestic use.
In Obama's first term, his administration proudly touted its terrorist kill list as a means of keeping the country safe. And while many were angered about the use of drones to kill enemies abroad, no one considered the possibility that such tactics would be used here at home. The Washington Examiner recently reported, however the drone program might now be on steroids. In response to a question from Sen. Rand Paul as to whether Obama "has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial," Eric Holder responded:
It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.
Let us think about that statement. Yes, 9/11 would certainly constitute an extraordinary circumstance that would have justified Dick Cheney's order for the military to shoot down a hijacked plane headed for the White House, the Capitol, or other site that would have resulted in massive loss of American life. But that is not what is happening at the moment. At the moment, Department of Homeland Security is ordering that drones be adapted to detect a gun-carrying citizen at the same time that it is purchasing souped-up armored vehicles typically found on the battlefield. One report estimates that by 2020, there will be 30,000 drones flying in American airspace.
When approximately 8% of discretionary military spending must be cut due to sequestration, I fail to see why the purchase of armored vehicles for domestic use is a priority. When the Navy must cancel the scheduled deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman to the Gulf due to insufficient funds, how does the government have the funds to arm itself here at home? J.E. Dyer recently noted, "The level of carrier presence is insufficient today to execute a limited-strike campaign against Iran while containing the potential backlash." But we can afford to arm ourselves here at home in order to strike out against whom, exactly?
I feel frightened that my government is arming itself in a seemingly warlike fashion for the first time since the Civil War. After all, Obama is a man whose disdain for America and the Constitution has been worn as a badge of honor and whose policies of reaching out to terrorists, propping up Islamists, and inviting the Muslim Brotherhood into the White House is of grave concern. And I recall that in July of 2008 Obama stated:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.
Putting aside the fact that Obama has never articulated national security objectives for his administration, he has yet to explain why a civilian national security force is required to be funded with money the government does not have to face an enemy or threat that is nonexistent. Is it the millionaires and billionaires, corporate jet owners, and other successful Americans who will be forced to share their wealth at the point of a gun? Why in the world does the DHS need 1.6 billion bullets, over 2700 vehicles impervious to mines, and up to 33,000 drones?
As a Jew, [NOTE FROM GINGER:  I HAVE JEWISH RELATIVES] I fear the beginning of history repeating itself. The similarities in cultural transformations and domestic issues between America in 2013 and Germany circa 1933 are quite frightening. America's economy is a mess and anti-Semitism is on the rise. Throughout history, there is one group of people who provide the perfect scapegoat when difficulties in a community appear. The 21st century is no different. From Occupy Wall Street to the Department of Defense, the old stereotypes are back in full force. As Ben Shapiro reported on the OWS movement:
In New York, ralliers hold signs reading, "Google: (1) Wall Street Jews; (2) Jewish Billionaires; (3) Jews & Fed Rsrv Bank," "Gaza Supports The Occupation of Wall Street," and shouting ugly canards like "Jews control Wall Street." The American Nazi Party is supporting OWS, with leader Rocky Suhayda stating, "Who holds the wealth and power in this country -- the Judeo-Capitalists. Who is therefore the #1 enemy who makes all this filth happen -- the Judeo-Capitalists."
But the old canards have now infiltrated the highest offices in the land. While Chuck Hagel had his Jewish defenders, there is no question that some of his more abhorrent statements fall squarely in line with the dangerous stereotypes that Jews control the world. Bill Maher joined the fray in announcing, to resounding applause from his audience, "the Israelis are controlling our government."
On college campuses (many academic programs are funded by the Saudis), on the streets of our cities, on television and in movies, and in our newspapers, seemingly intelligent and well-respected Americans are comfortable spewing anti-Semitic views that were taboo just a few years ago. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is being pursued by some of Obama's biggest donors and supporters. And the President of the United States, disciple of unapologetic anti-Semites Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, has helped mainstream offensive bias in his selection of high-powered czars and cabinet members.
So yes, I am nervous when the federal government under the leadership of Barack Obama begins to arm itself for no apparent reason. One cannot convince me that we need these measures in order to protect us from terrorist attack. Waterboarding terrorists protected us from terrorist attacks but the Obama administration did away with that. Killing terrorists by drone strike without extracting information, while justifiable, is not optimal from a national security perspective. Claiming that al Qaeda is decimated and refusing to use the terms "War on Terror" and "Islamic Fundamentalist" is harming our national security. Withdrawing American power from the region where terrorists thrive and tanking our economy risks our national security. Stealthily ramping up a "civilian national security force" under the guise of Homeland Security provides no domestic purpose other than that which history has proven tragically destructive and lethal to society.
Alas, in the face of governmental attacks on the right of American citizens to bear arms, it is important to recall why that right is so precious. Guilio Meotti recently wrote an article entitled, "Jews, Hold onto Your Guns! Obama is Coming," in which he recognized:
The first thing Adolf Hitler did, once in power, was to pass a restrictive gun control law which forced most of the people to give up their guns. We know how the story ended... Imagine if Germany or Poland's Jews had been armed. Would rounding Jews up have been possible?
It is very clear that neither the police nor the army can provide adequate protection from sudden attacks perpetrated either by trained terrorists or individuals. Any attempt on the lives of Jews which results in killing or maiming will encourage repetition and will weaken deterrent power. That's why when terror strikes, Israeli Jews run for pistols.
Americans need to take notice of what is occurring under a man of questionable character, disdain for Constitutional limits on his power, a quest for transformational measures that have yet to be articulated and clearly defined, and a vitriolic reaction to those who do not abide by his rules. Now is not the time for apathy, it is time for heeding the lessons of history and speaking out to prevent future atrocities. America does not need a civilian national security force and it should be prevented from being assembled

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