cj Sez: Authors’ showcase events are notorious for resulting in few book sales for the authors who participate. The main reason I like to attend these functions is to get my name out to new readers. On November 8-11, the Junior League of Mobile* sponsored a Christmas shopping market, also known as The Christmas Jubilee, held this year at the Mobile Convention Center.
In my time slot, I shared their Author’s Corner with Angela Quarles, whose novel Must Love Chainmail won the 2016 Rita Award. I really did have a good time eating chocolate kisses, and I happily sold a copy of the Christmas through a Child’s Eyes anthology to a new fan (I hope).
*The Junior League of Mobile is an “organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.” Was the Jubilee a success? Resoundingly so according to their Facebook page: “From start to finish . . . with over 400 volunteers, more than 110 merchants, and nearly 12,000 shoppers, together we raised over $200,000 for children in our community.”
My personal childhood memory (Dancing with Daddy) in the Christmas through a Child’s Eyes anthology and my novels were all published by an imprint of F+W Media in 2008, 2013, and 2015. I’m not sure how that happened. I didn’t submit to F+W media. Those books were submitted either to Adams Media or to Crimson Romance. It seems I have a “voice” (i.e., write in a style) that caught the eye of the editors of both publishers. Finding your voice, your personal style, I think, is one of the keys to good writing. I found mine in San Francisco.
My first interest in creative writing was in screenwriting. In 2001, I flew from Detroit to San Francisco to take a three-day seminar called Story from internationally renowned Robert McKee.
The experience was invaluable because I learned to visualize my story. I saw that I needed to create characters that are archetypes not stereotypes and write action/dialogue scenes that show their stories. I’m a work in progress because I still learn something new every day. How characters react and what they don’t say can speak volumes to readers who enjoy trying to solve the crime or mystery as the story progresses.
I’ve talked with writers who visualize some movie star or other playing a character in their books. Is that something you do? I can’t do that. I don’t see a specific person, I visualize the whole characterization—I’ll leave it to Stephen Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola (ha ha) to find the best mega-star suited for the role.
Most us, and I am very much included in that generalization, have an idea on a theme. A lot of us also know how we want the story to end, so that’s all set. It’s the middle that really gets us. It wants to sag. Like an old married couple, sometimes the excitement fades away. Unless we work at it.
Shoring up a saggy middle always requires a lot of editing.
To help me out in this process, I read the dialogue aloud as I go along. Does it sound natural? Are the sentences too complete and so full of blah-blah information that they slow the pace of the story? This can happen anywhere, but it very often happens in the middle part of a story when I’m trying to reach the word count I want/need. Sometimes, I have to change a character’s name, a story thread, a sentence structure, or, as was true for Deadly Star, the whole genre (which went from an action/adventure love story to a romantic suspense). I also might add another challenge or two (read that as “conflict”) for the protagonist in order to bring back the thrill.
What do you do to shore up the saggy middle of your story? And if you don’t ever suffer a saggy middle, don’t tell me. I’d feel so inept.
I’m throwing in the towel on NaNoWriMo. I haven’t come anywhere close to achieving the 50K word target, but it was worth the effort because I started a great story idea. Hope you were more successful.
Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
I believe that Christmas is best enjoyed through the eyes of a child, and the anthology, Christmas through a Child’s Eyes, is a collection of 70 true memories that capture the wonder of the season. The book is free today on Kindle Unlimited, and I have a personal stash of a few print copies available for sale at $8. If you drop me a note in the next week or so, I’ll be able to get a book to you before Christmas.
PS: Pray for peace; pray that our leaders.
PPS: Simon & Schuster acquired the Crimson Romance imprint in November 2016.
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“Bad Day at Round Rock” in The Posse Western anthology of 8 short stories @99 cents
Choosing Carter -- Kindle / Nook / Kobo / iTunes/iBook
California Kisses—10 book publisher’s bundle @ 99 cents (includes Deadly Star)
The Great Outdoors 8 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)
Bodies in Motion — 10 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)
Note: On the bundles, the “look inside” invitation gives you a taste of only the first book.