Emerging Writers: Guest Post #18 How a romantic suspense writer dreams up her ideas

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Guest Posts

Arlene Kay has written a number if romantic suspense novels. As erotic fiction is doing so well these days I wanted to ask her a question, how sexy and steamy are your books, Arlene? Arlene — Actually they’re pretty tame. True, my characters make physical contact but the scenes tend to be sensuous, not smutty. After all, these books are ROMANTIC suspense. Besides, any sentient female would launch herself at the kind of alpha hunks that I dream up! . . Readers and writers of mysteries know that a well-constructed plot with plenty of twists is crucial. Here are a few resources that have aided me in accomplishing this task. 1. Newspapers. Trite as it may sound, I get some of my best inspiration from reading news accounts of actual crimes or things that should be. For instance, the main plot element from INTRUSION was gleaned from an article in the Boston Globe Science section about the vulnerability of implantable medical devices. Subsequently (well after my book was published), that same plot element was used in both NCIS and Homeland. Two accounts in the New York Times sparked my plot in DIE LAUGHING. One was a puzzling suburban murder; the other mentioned the recent sale of a high-end comic for over 1 million dollars! The point of course, is that by combining actual events with the writer’s imagination, good things can happen. I scan the NYTimes, Boston Globe and Washington Post each day and clip things that might be useful later. Confession time: I also read the obituaries to find unconventional names and/or life events that resonate with me. One of my favorites, Euphemia Bates, is featured in SWANN DIVE. 2. Internet bonanzas—at your fingertips. Time and money issues often prevent us from actually visiting the places we write about. Don’t worry—authors can find a wealth of detail right on the Web that will anchor their story. For instance, most restaurants feature menus, photos and other descriptors. Every town has its own website with a wealth of detail about the community. Check out real estate sites for virtual tours of the homes and neighborhoods your characters populate. Blogs and websites are often useful for capturing particulars related to your topic. Finally, when building my protagonists and fellow travelers, I find photos that portray these imaginary friends as I see them (they are impossibly gorgeous, frequently famous faces) and construct a poster-board. Using all these elements makes the creative process less onerous for me. Order  Intrusion Author web site & blog Author twitter feed +++++ Thanks Arlene for being our eighteenth guest post writer. I am very interested in where writers get their ideas from and I am sure other writers will be too. You are absolutely right about the internet being an amazing resource in so many ways for us. This guest post is part of an ongoing series in 2013 where I will be showcasing emerging writers on this blog. You can help by clicking through to their sites, buying their books, sharing this site...

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Emerging Writers: Guest Post #7 On selling out and tucked away gems

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Guest Posts

Daniella Latham is a senior writer for a global corporation and has spent her career in the advertising industry. She holds a B.S. in Journalism and English Literature from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and is currently working on her first novel. Take it away Daniella. *** Selling-Out, v3 1/21/13 Who Cares About Selling-Out? If you’re reading this now, perhaps you’re sitting in your office or taking a glance during the 11pm news – but the chances are it’s a way to get your mind off of the day. Maybe there’s an undiscovered voice that shines through and piques some type of interest. As it naturally unfolds with readers, we explore the narratives that appeal to us, and they may be a bit more delicious when the general public hasn’t honed in yet. Suppose your favorite indie author “hit it big”, signed with one of the major houses and sold millions…would that change your opinion of their talent? And if they stayed with the non-traditional publishing route, would you place a higher value on their work? But the question is: what’s really considered “selling-out”, since talent is talent, right? What I’ve uncovered from a completely non-scientific poll of my fellow book enthusiasts is that it doesn’t make a difference as to whether it’s an independently published novel that’s only heralded by the most cynical of literary critics –or a traditional blockbuster that made the author undeniably, filthy rich, but a pariah in “those” circles. It only depends upon how the words made you feel – something, anything. To love or hate is the ultimate compliment. At least it evoked emotion. When we’ve become enveloped in the thoughts of the character or the story, the author isn’t selling-out. They’re making us believe in something other than what we know, than what we’re used to; it may be unconventional or uncomfortable, but it‘s real. Sure, the mass-produced books from mainstream authors will always exist and nothing can be done about it. Entertainment for the majority, the “beach reads”, no matter what you call them, they’re not disappearing anytime soon. On the flipside, those tucked-away gems that keep you wanting more and guessing – they’re out there too, waiting for your unveiling and analysis. It’s really a win from either angle. And if reading this during a spare moment made you briefly forget about the high mortgage, the stressful job and what the future will bring, these random words just may have done their job. I’m currently crafting a novel and work as a senior writer for a global organization. Latest article at indieauthor.com Author twitter feed: @CopyByDee +++++ Thanks Daniella for being our seventh guest post writer. Selling out is a tricky subject! Deciding what we write about is part convention, part desire to be published and part personal voice. Each of us makes our own choices about the balance we want to strike. My question for readers here is this, what are the hidden gems you would like others to read? Please...

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Emerging Writers: Guest Post #2 A Cape Cod Cozy

Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Guest Posts

This is all about, DIE LAUGHING, a cape cod mystery, what they call a cozy, by Arlene Kay. Take it away Arlene! I’ve been a mystery buff since birth. I cut my teeth on Christie, sashayed through Sayres and worshipped at the well-shod boots of The Great Detective. Small wonder that I’m a mystery writer! My first published novel (INTRUSION) combined romantic suspense with a medical mystery. I switched to a third person cozy for my latest, DIE LAUGHING, and back again to first person for my next two. Odd as it may seem, my characters dictate which point of view best fits them. As a reader, I adore unearthing clues, evaluating motives and finding the murderer. Any author who deprives me of that pleasure is guilty of foul play! Each of my novels allows  astute readers to unmask the culprit. In the process, I want them to enjoy the ride while keeping their tongues firmly in cheek. Droll observations and wry humor are my weaknesses and strength. In the Christie tradition, I set DIE LAUGHING in a small Cape Cod town. It’s not St. Mary Mead but passion, greed and jealousy still abound. Now picture this: A Cape Cod village, a grisly murder, and a priceless comic book collection. Mix these ingredients, stir in a side of romance, and serve a cozy mystery that thriller author C.E. Lawrence calls, “a rollicking good story.” Die Laughing presents a cast of intriguing characters with secrets to hide and motives for murder. Author Kevin Symmons had this to say about Die Laughing, “Agatha Christie meets Susan Isaacs … on steroids!” I hope you enjoy it. A visit to Cape Cod is always interesting. Author web site & blog: http://arlenekay.com Author blog site: http://www.mysteryminx.com Author twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AKMysteries View video  Die Laughing – YouTube
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh-YgdzxBW0 +++++ Thanks Arlene for being our second guest post writer. Your story is very interesting. I want to visit Cape Cod, but they only way that will happen in the near future will be by reading one of your books! This guest post is the second in a regular series in 2013 where I will be showcasing emerging writers on this blog. You can help by clicking through to their sites, buying their books, sharing this site on Twitter or Facebook and coming back, or by Following this site (click the button above right), to see who is next in a few days. And  if you are a writer and want to be featured send me an email lob@yourasms.com and I will send you the submission...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: How to grab your reader’s attention!

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in On Writing

. A key aspect of writing for the 21st century, applicable to non fiction and fiction, is grabbing the reader’s attention. The number of distractions people have these days was covered in my last post. Here are some techniques for grabbing the reader up front: 1. Establish credibility. If you’re being published by a major publishing house this will help, but even if you’re not you can put your key credential up front. If you spent 20 years as a gardener and you’re writing a book on gardening I will want to know that. ‘Gardening from 20 years experience” is a good title in my opinion. So don’t be shy. Tell us why we should read your book. And tell us quickly. 2. For non fiction, make it practical. I am writing a guide to social media and making it practical is a key consideration. Two of the top five Sunday Times non fiction books this week are practical in some way. 3. Other favorite themes for non fiction, which grab readers are war, for the armchair fighters among us, violent crimes, to make us glad we’re safe, and cooking/homecraft. These areas make up most the remainder of the top non fiction slots. 4. Start in the middle of the action. This standard piece of advice for fiction writers, to cut out the long preamble, to go straight into the action, is also what non fiction readers want these days. In non fiction we want a quick way to move to the key areas of our interest. So let us get to the heart of it, fast. 5. Make a bold statement. In commercial fiction there is often a big scene right at the beginning. This could be a murder, a kidnapping, an interview or a disagreement. The purpose of the scene is to hook the reader in. Similarly, in non fiction you can make a bold statement. If you have something new to say offer it up early, then let us read the rest of your book to find out what’s next. Digital, whether through blogs, Twitter, Facebook or video/audio are all vitally important to success these days. Whatever you are writing, consider how you can build an online presence which will use the skills you have. The demand for online interaction is high and likely to get even higher. Publishing and being successful with just a printed book is becoming less and less likely. Other aspects of grabbing your reader’s attention include titles and keywords. Here is a post I wrote, on my social media blog, explaining key words in simple terms. Beyond key words is the whole area of titles. This is an art, which includes many elements difficult to distill. Taste, fashion and culture are all part of the choosing of titles. My suggestion is for you to consider the most popular current titles in your...

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From A to P – F – Frantic Editing

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in On Writing

This post was posted in September 2011. In July 2011 I put up a post here on editing my novel, The Istanbul Puzzle. I had spent six weeks doing a thorough edit based on suggestions from my publisher Harper Collins. I submitted my heavily edited version soon after and hoped that that would be it, bar a final check for minor problems. I was wrong. A few weeks later the manuscript came back. Another editor at Harper Collins had gone through it and had a number of general issues for me to consider, as well as cuts and suggestions for every page. At first I wondered was this unusual, was my manuscript in need of extra help because it was so poorly written. The monster of self-doubt doesn’t need much encouragement to come trampling across the garden! So, I called a long published author friend, with a dozen novels under his belt. He told me what was happening was more common that not these days and was called a “second pass” edit.  Slowly I learn the truth. And the thought that came to me as I scanned through all the suggestions was this; don’t ever get involved in trying to get published with a major house if you don’t want to work hard. Very hard. Like seven days a week 3 – 4 hours a day until your brain hurts and your patience frays atomically thin. But I’ve survived. And it’s over. I submitted the revised version yesterday. And I have to say that the suggestions from HC were really very good.  A much better novel is emerging. The changes are in the following areas: cuts for pace, there were many of these and every rambling paragraph or word has been spotted by HC, cuts in myths and legends. I had packed in too many. The new version sticks to the very best. Sean and Isabel, getting their relationship right, and describing Sean more clearly early on will help readers understand the main characters better. The ending. I have twisted the ending further, adding depth and a smoother ride to the bloody finale. The novel stands at 100,700 words now. About 7,000 have been cut. It is with my editor. I await her response. I am quite happy to have another run at it, if she feels it needs it, but with the date for publication fast approaching (Jan 19) and a self-imposed deadline for a first draft of my next novel in the series,  The Jerusalem Puzzle, coming up in January too, I do hope the next edit will be a little less taxing. For a first time published author with Harper Collins UK the big surprise for me in the past few months has been the level of hard work and the nitty-gritty editing that has been required. The editors at HC spotted every little thing that...

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