Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com cj

Sunday, August 1, 2021

No magic formula for writing

cj Sez: The following format for a romance novel is a composite of information I’ve gleaned from various sources over the years. 
I keep the following notes in front of me when I’m writing romantic suspense.

A likable heroine
   This character can’t be weak or dumb and must be actively involved in the plot. There will, and should, be some moments of angst in the story, but they should be fleeting. You want your reader to root for the lady rather than think she deserves what she gets because she’s too dumb to win.

A likable hero
   This guy should be strong (even if only emotionally), irresistible, smart, and actively involved. He does not have to be stereotypically handsome to be appealing. A well-developed personality can carry him into your readers’ hearts.

Emotional tension
   What’s keeping your heroine/hero apart? What threatens her/him? Making these decisions early on helps keep the plot on track.

A believable plot
   A twist on an oldie will work. According to some studies, there are only six (or maybe eight) possible plots in all of literature. Ergo every “new” story might today be called a trope. Example: Cinderella can be construed as a variation of the Biblical story of Esther, who was an orphan being raised by her uncle and who so charmed a king that he crowned her his queen. Julie Roberts was Cinderella in “Pretty Woman” as was Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Star-crossed lovers, ala Romeo and Juliet, abound. 

   It’s your unique “voice” that’s important in relating your take (spin, twist) on the familiar story.
 
A Happily Ever After ending
   A HEA is an absolute necessity for a romance novel. Love stories do not have to end happily, but romance stories, in all its subgenres, must have a happily ever after or at least the promise of one.  

  Three of those points are romance-writing specific, but it’s my belief that at least two of them—emotional tension and believable plot—can be broadly applied to all genres. Even a memoir needs a bit of tension and a plot to make it an appealing read. But you can help me out here. As a reader and a writer, can you think of a genre that wouldn’t use those two points.

  By the way, there is no “magic formula” for writing a novel in any genre, but with a lot of reading, analysis, and/or luck you might find a format to follow, kind of like Anne Lamott’s ABCDE formula for short stories (Action, Background, Conflict, Development, and Ending).  
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Writerly/Readerly quote:
“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”    —E. L. Doctorow
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And now a few words from my sponsor:

   Hurricane Season is heating up along the Gulf Coast, and that brings to mind HOMETOWN HEROES, the Christmas anthology that gifts a portion of the benefits to the “Cajun Navy.” The Navy is that magnificent group of volunteers who help (on their own nickel) people in hurricane-stricken areas. This anthology may have been released at Christmas, but the stories are enjoyable year-round, and (big plus), it’s on sale.
                                             §§

   THE DAWGSTAR is available as an eBook  https://books2read.com/u/3LRRG5
and as a paperback  Amazon Buy Now

   DEATH ON THE YAMPA is available as an eBook https://books2read.com/u/bxe1AP
as a paperback  Buy Paperback Yampa
and as a #SCREAM, series phone app. There are a lot of authors and their mystery/suspense stories available on #SCREAM. All you do is load the app and search for the author’s name.
§§
   You can ask your local library to order my eBooks for you. You’ll need to give them the ISBN number of the title you want to borrow.
THE DAWGSTAR … ISBN 978-17369146-0-1
DEATH ON THE YAMPA … ISBN 978-1-7369146-1-8
§§
   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Stay safe, hear?

cj

P.S. TO ORDER any book of your choice on-line and support an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us

   If you’d like me to autograph or personalize one of my books for you, be sure to tell them, and I’ll run by the shop.

   The Haunted Bookshop has re-opened to limited hours (and they have an awesome bookstore kitty, Mr. Bingley), so if you’re in the Mobile area, you can stop and shop, too.

Follow me . . .     
on Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
on Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

 

 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

My friend Fen and his friend, Elmore Leonard

cj Sez: When I worked in Chrysler’s Employee Communications Department, I met an ad man who was an honest-to-gosh World War II American hero (served with General George S. Patton in France and Germany). Fen became a dear, dear friend, and we stayed in close touch until his death at age 97 this past January. It was Fenton Ludtke who introduced me to Elmore Leonard’s writing discipline.

(Out of Print)

   Fen had worked with Elmore Leonard at an ad agency for a time and had great admiration for his writing and his discipline, as I came to appreciate also. But I appreciated Fen most of all: a gentle man with great wit, sensitivity, and quiet earnestness who unflaggingly supported and encouraged my feeble first attempts at writing a novel.

   Back to Elmore Leonard: I wish I could have begged, borrowed, or stolen some of the man’s discipline for writing. What started as necessity for him (his job required it) turned into habit when he became an established writer.
“To support his family, he worked as a copywriter at an ad agency, where he developed his aversion to adverbs, and also his knack for brief, punched-up prose. He began a habit of waking at five a.m. and immediately starting to write -- not even putting the water on for coffee until he had something down on paper -- then going to work at the office, first in advertising and later writing educational films for the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
(Source: http://www.biographile.com/a-capital-crime-elmore-leonard-deserves-a-definitive-biography/22523/ ) 
   It used to be that I worked better when I had a short-term deadline, as was always the case in my job in Employee Communications. After I retired and began to write novels and short stories, I thought if I gave myself a deadline to meet, I’d knock out stories in no time flat.

  Found out that’s not true. I manage to bury any self-imposed deadline under weeks of procrastination that I call “research.” (Elmore Leonard paid others to do his research.) It seems that the more I research, the less creativity I have. I get lost among the fascinating facts in those research rabbit holes, and my story suffers. I am learning a lot of stuff, though.
 
   Unlike Mr. Leonard, I’m not usually such an early morning riser after I retired. Six-thirty is about all I can manage and still stay awake the whole day. However, occasionally, as was the case a couple of mornings ago, at four a.m., I will make a note about one of the WIPs I have in my computer and promptly crawl back into bed. I sometimes get good ideas just before I fall asleep or when I’m dreaming. That’s why I keep a pad of paper and a pencil on the table next to the bed. Some ideas I use, others don’t turn out to be the good idea I thought they were.

   I’m not a believer in writer’s block. When I get stuck, I think I just need to take a break from my WiP, and I will read some other author’s fine work. It doesn’t make a difference the genre. It might even be a book of poetry. 

   I find that an escape into someone else’s work almost always provides the nudge I need to send one of my characters up another proverbial tree so I can throw rocks at her in the middle of the manuscript.

   How about you? When do you get your best ideas? How do you conquer the blank page in front of you?
§§
Writerly/Readerly quote:
“My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” - Malcolm X
§§
And now a few words from my sponsor:

   Someone said, it’s never too soon to start your Christmas shopping. (I think it was one of my kids.) 

   These anthologies make wonderful gifts, filled with timeless stories that are wonderful reads all year long. Bonus points: Part of the proceeds of three of them benefits charities.


   THE DAWGSTAR is available as an eBook from the etailers listed here... https://books2read.com/u/3LRRG5
and as a paperback  Amazon Buy Now

   DEATH ON THE YAMPA is available as an eBook from multiple etailers...  https://books2read.com/u/bxe1AP
as a paperback  Buy Paperback Yampa
and as a #SCREAM, series phone app. There are a lot of authors and their mystery/suspense stories available on #SCREAM. All you do is load up the app and search for the author’s name.
§§
   Draft2Digital tells me that you can ask your local library to order my eBooks for you. You’ll need to give them the ISBN number of the title you want to borrow. I’ve listed mine below.
THE DAWGSTAR … ISBN 978-17369146-0-1
DEATH ON THE YAMPA … ISBN 978-1-7369146-1-8
§§
   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj
 
P.S. TO ORDER any book of your choice on-line and support an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us
   If you’d like me to autograph or personalize one of my books for you, be sure to tell them, and I’ll run by the shop.
   The Haunted Bookshop has re-opened to limited hours (and they have an awesome bookstore kitty, Mr. Bingley), so if you’re in the Mobile area, you can stop and shop, too.
 
Follow me . . .     
on Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
on Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

AGATHA AWARDS WINNERS

cj Sez: Applause and congratulations to the 2021 Malice Domestic* Agatha Awards Winners!


   When the pandemic necessitated cancelling the in-person Malice Domestic in 2020 and then again in 2021, the Malice Board of Directors decided the second cancellation gave the organization an opportunity to try something new . . . ergo, MORE THAN MALICE, a virtual Malice Domestic Festival, was born. The idea was to fill the in-person conference void “by allowing their community to gather in a virtual environment for a fun and informative weekend.”

   And it worked. This year’s winners were announced July 17 at “More than Malice,” the virtual Malice Domestic Festival.

   For your reading enjoyment, here’s a list of the winning stories and their award-winning authors (maybe your favorite is among the winners):

Best Contemporary Novel
   All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Best Historical Novel 
   The Last Mrs. Summers, by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley)
Best First Novel
   Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)
Best Short Story 
"Dear Emily Etiquette," by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Sep/Oct)
Best Non-Fiction
   Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)
Best Children's/YA
   Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, by Richard Narvaez (PiƱata Books) 

 (*Established in 1989, Malice Domestic is a fan convention that takes place each year in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Malice celebrates the Traditional Mystery, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries which contain no explicit sex, or excessive gore or violence.)
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Writerly/Readerly quote:
“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.” - Louis L’Amour.
§§
   After you’ve read a book—whether mine or another author’s—please leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon or wherever you can. It shares your joy of reading with others and means the world to the author. Please and thank you.
§§

And now a few words from my sponsors:
   Someone said, it’s never too soon to start your Christmas shopping (I think it was one of my kids). These anthologies make wonderful gifts, filled with timeless stories that are wonderful reads all year long. 

   Bonus points: Part of the proceeds of three of them benefits charities.

And new for 2021...

   THE DAWGSTAR is available as an eBook 
https://books2read.com/u/3LRRG5
and as a paperback  Amazon Buy Now

   DEATH ON THE YAMPA is available as an eBook https://books2read.com/u/bxe1AP
as a paperback  Buy Paperback Yampa
and as a #SCREAM, series phone app. There are hundreds of authors and their mystery/suspense stories available on #SCREAM. All you have to do is load up the app and search for the author’s name.

§§

   Draft2Digital tells me that you can ask your local library to order my eBooks for you. You’ll need to give them the ISBN number of the title you want to borrow. I’ve listed mine below.
THE DAWGSTAR … ISBN 978-17369146-0-1
DEATH ON THE YAMPA … ISBN 978-1-7369146-1-8

§§

   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj
P.S. TO ORDER any book of your choice on-line and support an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us
If you’d like me to autograph or personalize one of my books for you, be sure to tell them, and I’ll run by the shop.
 
   The Haunted Bookshop has re-opened to limited hours (and they have an awesome bookstore kitty, Mr. Bingley), so if you’re in the Mobile area, you can stop and shop, too.
 
Follow me . . .     
on Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
on Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6