Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday’s Snippets: First Pages: Resort to Murder

@GlenysOConnell
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  I’m always intrigued by the way story ideas come to writers. It seems to be different for everyone. Novels are born from dreams, from snatches of overheard conversations, from newspaper articles, magazine articles, real life events – indeed, all sorts of different things.

The writerly mind – a twisted thing at best! – plays games with these topics. The What If? game, and soon a plot starts to appear, characters sneak in and hide among the neurons of the brain and begin to whisper…and voila! A Book is born!

That’s been my experience, anyway. Resort to Murder, published by The Wild Rose Press, came in pieces, dribs and drabs turning into a full flood as I played the What If? game. I was working in England at the time and read in the local evening newspaper, The Lancashire Evening Post, that a woman police officer had just been appointed to a Chief Constable’s position. That’s like being Top Dog in a county police force.

This officer was the first female to get that job, and in the article were several comments about the ‘glass ceiling’ and the difficulties a woman law enforcement officer can face in seeking promotion.
And out of that came Ellie Fitzpatrick, a wrongly disgraced officer who had been on the fast track to high rank after solving the case of The Sunshine Slasher, a vicious serial killer who attacked women in vacation resorts around the English coast.

Ellie had been hot on the trail of a criminal gang when she was accused of taking bribes and placed on suspension pending investigation. The criminals had done their work well, planting money in Ellie’s bank account and doing everything they could to discredit her.

Ellie was in love with another officer, a man who was her junior. But when she needed Liam Reilly the most, he was nowhere to be found. Unknown to her, Liam was on a secret assignment in Ireland and knew nothing of what was happening to Ellie until his return.
One day, walking on the beach near Whitby in Yorkshire, Ellie literally stumbles across a dead body…

BLURB:

Falsely disgraced police detective Ellie Fitzpatrick is prepared to face a vicious killer to redeem herself but is she also brave enough to make peace with the man she loves? When her meteoric career crashed and burned after she was accused of accepting bribes from thugs running a protection racket, Ellie is suspended from the job she loves and believes herself abandoned not only by police colleagues but by her lover, Detective Liam O'Reilly. She is called back to work when a biography of a serial killer she arrested suggests the man may be innocent. Reilly vows to protect Ellie from the gang who tried to frame her and the vicious killer who's stalking her. Can she trust him with her life?

FIRST PAGE:

A cry was stifled in her throat as the dead woman began to move. Her empty eyes opened. Her dead mouth widened in a terrible silent scream as the white fingers began to claw at the hem of Ellie's coat, pulling her down, down, into a cold embrace. She ran from the nightmare figure until she was caught by strong familiar arms…...
Ellie woke from the dream, her heart pounding in fear and yet with desire flooding hotly through her veins. Her dream rescuer had been Liam Reilly. Cursing demons she couldn't vanquish, she climbed out of bed and pulled on a soft silk robe. Her face was pale in the bathroom mirror, dark shadows under her eyes testament to the early hour. But she wouldn't sleep now, not when the faces of all the dead women would drift through her dreams. She wondered if other police officers ever got used to the sight of the murdered dead. She knew she wouldn’t.
She made a cup of rosehip and orange tea laced with honey, and slipped through the double patio doors onto her terrace. Below the cottage, the restless muttering of the sea, gathering its strength for another tidal assault on the shore, echoed her mood. Ellie leaned against the narrow wooden rail that separated her terrace from the cliff edge, and sucked in a deep breath of salt-tanged air, closing her eyes as she basked in the magnificent silence of the pre-dawn world.
And there he was again, as surely as if he'd materialized from her dream. Liam Reilly. His presence haunted her waking days as surely as the nightmares haunted her nights, because they were inextricably linked. They were opposite sides of the coin of her life.

REVIEW:
From TRS: "I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic romantic suspense. The plot was swift and the complex story line was enhanced by the wonderful characters. Beyond the hero and heroine the supporting cast was fabulous with almost no one being quite what they appeared at first. The pace enhances the two main mysteries of the story. The time frame is not dragged out as Ellie tries to separate the bribery charges from the serial killer case and it makes for an intricate puzzle. Liam and Ellie have a complicated relationship that is due mainly to lack of honesty and communication. Both characters were constantly at odds with one another and down right antagonistic. They were forever revealing their true feelings in their private thoughts and denying them out loud. If it were not so skillfully balanced with the suspense this could have ruined the whole story for me. I found the mystery itself to be top-notch all the way from the first paragraph to the ominous ending. I can't wait to see what else this author has in store." - Theresa Joseph

Resort to Murder is available at The Wild Rose Press, or through your Amazon site



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday’s Writing: Hook Your Reader!

 
@GlenysOConnell
womanwritingMost people understand that a book has a beginning, middle and end. Good writing has a flow that leads your reader on from chapter to chapter, scene-to-scene, in a seamless way.
"I just couldn't put your book down!" is a reader statement that's always music to our ears, and we get that by keeping the reader's interest as we lead her from page to page..

We use what I call hook beginnings and cliff-hanger endings, which keep the flow going in your story and keep the reader, well, 'hooked' into the story. This creates the 'waves' of action-and-rest that help your reader get excited and then take time to digest the story, all the while knowing that the next wave of activity/tension/action will be crashing ashore any moment now! When you begin your book with an intriguing paragraph, the reader wants to find out what it's all about.

The most intriguing first line hook I ever saw was: "I wasn't there when I died." I can't remember the name of the author or the title of the book, but that one line impressed me enough to remember it several years later - and to take the book home to read! If anyone out there knows the title of this book, please leave me a comment and let me know what it is!

So, we all know that your story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end, but did you know that this applies to each scene and chapter, too? This means your book would have twenty or more of these, depending on the number of scenes and chapters you have!

That's not as daunting as it sounds. You see, beginnings and ends are magical as far as your reader is concerned: they are the promise that keeps her reading from one chapter to the next, maybe even all night until she finishes the book.And isn't that a wonderful thought, that someone would say to you: 'Your book was so good, I just couldn’t put it down…' ?

How do we do this?

We start with hooks.

Fisherman

A hook is usually short, snappy and intriguing - usually no more than the first two paragraphs. It is written in such a way that it arouses the reader's curiosity, prompting her to read on to find out more. 

On a more pragmatic note, think of the 'loss leaders' in your local supermarket's weekly advertising flier. The bargain or 'special' lures you into the store, and before you know it your cart is overflowing with other purchases as well!

In our terms, the hook is like a 'special' - it lures the reader in and persuades her that she wants to read the entire book or chapter. Of course, unlike the supermarket's advertising, the rest of the 'goods' you're offering your reader are all high quality and great value!

The hook beginning grabs attention and leaves your reader asking questions such as who is this? Why is this happening? What comes next?

The opening hook for my romantic suspense, Another Man’s Son, from The Wild Rose Press, goes like this:

The growl of the powerful engine turned heads among the early tourist crowd as Ben Asher rode the Harley hog along the waterfront. It was early evening and the sun was just slipping down below the ocean, tickling the quiet wavelets with pink and purple and painting the sky rich shades of rose and crimson.

Who is Ben  Asher? Where is he? What is he doing? Why are people looking?

Another Chapter has one of the main characters, Ket Morgan Junior, declaring as the hook:

“No, Kathryn, dear – the boy has been kidnapped, but not by me.”

A kidnapped child, a frantic mother, an uncaring father? Don’t you just want to know what’s happening next?

And a later scene starts with this hook:

“Well, son, you’ve sure made a mess of everything as usual.I’m getting tired of having to clean up after you.”

Isn’t there something sinister about this? What was the mess that had to be cleaned up? And isn’t there a threat in the words?

The middle of your chapter or scene, like the middle of the book, will flow from the hook along the outline action that you have drawn up. The keyword is motion - keep the story moving along. As you will have seen from the writer's journey, or Hero's Journey, there is a flow to storytelling similar to sound waves through the air - the story starts off on an upward slope to a high tension event, slows down to let everyone catch their breath, then up we go again….with the lows getting slightly higher with each high until the final dénouement at the end of the book, where we tie up all the loose ends and let everyone relax again.

Each chapter and each scene start with a hook, flow through the middle, towards the end. And next Wednesday’s Writing is going to be about ‘cliffhanger’ endings that will have readers eager to get to the next hook beginning!


Partly excerpted from Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book!




















Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday’s Inspiration: Quote from Walter Mosley, Award & Grammy Winning Author.


@GlenysOConnell

“We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky. “ Walter Mosley

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This quote, which came to me through Goodreads Quotes, really touched me. I confess to being a romantic at heart, and my books all have fair dose of romance in them.

But I also love the idea that we are not static, that we can change, and that we can change the situations around us. If we love ourselves, we can also change the way we live and view the world around us.

But most of all, if we can love another person, or several other persons, or extend compassion to everyone we meet, surely in doing so we can change the world – one kindness at a time?

Walter Mosley is a mystery and thriller writer, and has won numerous awards. Included in his awards are the O. Henry Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Follow the link with the quote to learn more about Walter Mosley.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday’s Snippets: Happy Valentine’s Day: Legends and Book Deals


@GlenysOConnell
Tulips

I’d love to send everyone a huge bouquet of flowers to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day! Here are a few tidbits about St. Valentine that I wanted to share for fun – you can check out more on hhtp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day

lovebirds* Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry, but St. Valentine carried out wedding ceremonies for some soldiers with their sweethearts – and got himself imprisoned for it.

* He is said to have cut out parchment hearts to give to the soldiers and others he helped, to remind them of God’s love.

*He was accused of ministering to Christians, when Christianity was forbidden by the Romans and its followers were persecuted.

*When he was in prison, legend says St. Valentine healed the sick daughter of one of his jailers. He was to be executed, and before going to his death he is said to have written to the girl and signed the letter ‘Your Valentine’ .

* The tradition of exchanging candies, cards, and gifts on February 14th started in 18th century England during the Romantic Era, as a way of proclaiming one’s love.

* The busy, business-minded Victorians took the tradition from handwritten notes to commercially manufactured Valentine’s Day cards.

* Sadly, even though we love the hearts, flowers, cupids, and candy, whether the legends are true is a moot point. There were a number of saints in the Christian Church with the name Valentine, and we’ll probably never know whether the saint we celebrate actually existed or is a myth created by the actions of several martyrs.

Even so, here’s wishing everyone a wonderful Valentine’s Day. And remember, you don’t have to have a sweetheart to celebrate – celebrate yourself by doing something nice for the day!

print cover no sex clause (2)JudgementstaplesAnd as a little gift from me, you can get my two romances, The No Sex Clause and Judgement By Fire, for just 99c each for a limited time! And don’t forget, you can get a bundle of ten great stories, including my Saving Maggie, for just 99c, in Running to Love, from Crimson Romance. Enough to bring a smile to any Valentine’s face!Running to Love

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wednesday’s Writing: What if an Editor Wants Major Changes to Your Manuscript?

@GlenysOConnell


hardest decisionWhat would you refuse to change about your manuscript?

Okay, imagine this scenario. You’ve sent your query letter to the A list publisher of your dreams. An editor there has asked to see the full. You send out your carefully polished, shiny, hopeful, manuscript. 

Hopes were high. Time passed. Hopes dimmed, fingernails were bitten.

And then it happens. You get the call!

They want to publish your book! (pause for writerly happy dancing).

Except for one tiny wee problem. The editor wants you to make changes.

Well, no problem, right?You know it's true that editors want to make your book the best it can be. Still...

She sends the ms back to you, and you gasp a little at the sight of all that red ink. Still, closer inspection shows a lot of it is grammar, so you blush a bit and resolve to refresh your grammar skills. Still no problem.

Then you look further. Uhmmm, there are some publishers’ style formatting. That’s no problem, either.

What’s this? How can she possibly ask you to do this?

Your hopes plummet.

Blog Graphic 29th

The editor has just asked you to rewrite or delete a part of your story that’s dear to your heart.

When you started writing this book, sure, it was fiction. Entertainment. But there was a little core message you wanted to get across to your readers, too. Something you simply had to say. An issue that you felt strongly about. It may be your characters’ ethnic backgrounds. Their line of work. A social issue that you touched on because it means a lot to you.

Maybe a theme of domestic violence. Maybe a whisper about child abuse. Perhaps a company which pollutes, or a crooked politician. Maybe the destruction of an indigenous culture.

All things that make headlines and you feel the message adds relevance to your book. After all, you don’t just want to write fluff, do you? You’re a serious writer and feel your social observations are relevant.

Not that you’re beating your readers over the head with your views, just skating over a topic that might make someone think, or even change a life. Or perhaps it’s something that you cherish from your own background that you feel others might benefit from considering. 

Whatever, that reference means a lot to you.

And the editor wants it out. And she makes it plain that this is a deal breaker.

Oh, the pain of that decision. Do you back down and accept the decision that your feel robs your work of serious relevance? Is it, in your eyes, reducing your carefully crafted story to fluffy feel-good?


Time to sit back and consider. Understand that this is probably not a personal attack on you and your values, but a cold-blooded decision based on company policy. 

Your decision may well be informed by how desperate you are to be published. Some writers decide well, okay, I’ll go along with this until I have some sales and readership clout, and then all bets are off. Nothing wrong with that, if you’re happy to take the chance.

Most editors have one eye on their publisher’s market. Whether they think something will offend or turn off their potential buyers. Her request to cut a reference from your work may simply be business, not prudery or a right wing conspiracy. Most issues come down to economic considerations, in my view.

Second, maybe there’s some misunderstanding. Think about the reasons she has given for this deletion. Don’t be afraid to email or call and ask why she thinks this should be gone. Then decide if those reasons are something you can accept.

Consider if there is some more subtle way you can rewrite and slip your message into the story. A big question that’s usually asked in these cases is: Does this move the story along? Is it an essential part of the plot? If you had to labor and wriggle to bring your special interest into the story, then maybe you are using the wrong platform.

I know that this is a dilemma many writers ponder, wondering what they would do. Yet it is something that you can’t possibly decide in advance, because you simply don’t know what issue you’d be dealing with. Catch 22, no?























Monday’s Motivation: Failure Into Success?

@GlenysOConnell

Quote: ‘Failure stretches your edges. Excellence takes you deep within a narrow pool, but failure grows your breadth.’ - Jennifer Boykin, 'Life After Tampons'.

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  I ended last week feeling just like this – stop the world, I want to get off! Oh, to go back to childhood and worry about nothing more than whether to crayon the sky blue or green…

Of course, that’s a myth. Personally, I think we’re not intended to come out of childhood unscathed. After all, what growth would there be in  that? How would that fit us for being adults?

Still and all, last week was a bummer from start to finish. Began with news that a project I was keen on might be permanently stalled, went on to drag in some totally unrelated but very vexatious issues, and ended with two projects still in limbo.

So I spent the weekend vacillating about when it was time to simply let something go, something that’s not working and looks like it is getting worse, rather than better. And wow, did that encourage that nasty feeling of failure to creep in.

Now, as a writer I know that perhaps the number one success requirement – after talent, that is – is persistence. Keeping on going when it looks like all is lost. Hanging on by the fingernails to your belief that this really can work. But also, there is a moment in time when you choose between giving up and going on. Ever heard that old saying: It’s always darkest before the dawn? Well, gee, I’m sure we’ve all seen those dark moments, and sometimes chosen to give up right before the moment when dawn’s light was beginning to brighten our horizons.

We’ve been taught that failure is a bad thing, something that indicates weakness and a whole range of moral deficiencies. I’ve never really subscribed to that theory, because I know that sometimes things happen that are outside our control.

But the idea of failure leading to success? That’s a hard one to take in. I’m happy to say I found some comforting advice on a blog I read often, called Life After Tampons. Jennifer Boykin, who owns the blog, is a sweet and sassy woman who mentors others with kindness and wisdom.

In her blog, A Word About Failure, she made this statement that really spoke to me: ‘Failure stretches your edges. Excellence takes you deep within a narrow pool, but failure grows your breadth.’

Failure, she says, brings wisdom, and perhaps it is possible that wisdom can’t arrive without failure.

I thought about this a lot. Wisdom is vital in understanding yourself and what you’re trying to achieve. And with that understanding, such wisdom can light the path to success.

In other words, screw up enough times and, if you learn from those screw-ups, success could just be within your grasp. Interesting take on  it all, isn’t it?

Thanks, Jenn – I needed that.

Do call over and visit Life After Tampons. Even if you’re not a woman ‘of a certain age’ you’ll still value the sass and sense you’ll find there!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Snippets: First Pages: Another Man’s Son


@GlenysOConnell

Lobster Cove Logo
So, last Saturday I put up the first page of my very first romantic suspense novel, Judgement By Fire. Never one to work to a system, this week I’m giving you the first page of my most recently published romantic suspense, Another Man’s Son.

Another Man’s Son is one of the delicious Lobster Cove series being published by The Wild Rose Press #TWRP. It’s the first time I have worked with other writers to create a series, and it’s been, well, an experience! There are very talented writers working on this, with a wide variety of book genres from sweet to paranormal to quite risque indeed! 

Something for everyone, really – and all set in this neat little Maine town of Lobster Cove. The place, if it existed, would be everyone’s dream of a small town seaside paradise. If you could get over the murders and strange happenings, that is! But love is certainly always in the air in Lobster Cove.

Here’s the blurb for Another Man’s Son:

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Another Man's Son
Kathryn Morgan broke Ben Asher's heart when he returned from military service in Afghanistan to find she'd married her boss, wealthy banker Ket Morgan Jr. 

Ben vowed he’d never return to Lobster Cove but now, seven years later, he is back as an undercover FBI agent sworn to expose the Morgan family’s criminal activities. Will his vow to bring down the notorious Morgans extend to the woman he still loves? 


When Kathryn’s son is kidnapped, she is forced to swallow her pride and reveal the secret of another man's son. Can Ben protect Kathryn and her son from Ket and his sinister friends, or will And the First Pageold hurts and secrets destroy them all?


And the First Page:

The growl of the powerful engine turned heads among the early tourist crowd as Ben Asher rode the Harley hog along the waterfront. It was early evening and the sun was just slipping down below the ocean, tickling the quiet wavelets with pink and purple, painting the sky rich shades of rose and crimson.

He let the big bike drift to a stop near one of the piers, pausing to let the familiar essence of the tourist trap town wash over him—the smells of hot dogs and pretzel stands, the salty tang of the sea, the screams of laughter from people and the squawks of gulls.

The beauty of the coastal town made little impression on him as he started up the motorcycle again and, making a sharp turn from Main onto Pine and out into the countryside, finally slowed to pass through an ornate gateway into the parking lot of The Club. He cut the engine and, in the sudden silence that followed, gulls squawked at the intrusion from the rooftops of the elegant country club. Music and laughter spilled out from the upscale establishment as well dressed people came and went from the celebration inside.
Celebrating was not something Ben planned to do tonight. This was a command performance, his presence having been required by the town’s councillors to introduce him as the newly-appointed sheriff, even if it was a temporary situation while Sheriff Lawton was on her honeymoon.

He straddled the bike for a few minutes longer, putting off his appearance with the town’s movers and shakers. He unzipped his leather jacket, enjoying the nip of the cool evening air Seven years had passed since he’d shaken the dust of Lobster Cove from his feet, and he wasn’t happy to be back.
****
Kathryn Morgan gripped the smooth wood of the low balcony rail to steady herself as she surveyed the glittering crowd swaying rhythmically to music on the small, crowded dance floor below. She’d drunk champagne on an empty stomach to bolster herself for this evening and already the bubbly brew was taking affect, making her light-headed and manically happy.

She had balked at coming here tonight; knowing it would be too painful to bear. He was going to be here. Pain and anger had ambushed her when they’d told her the town was holding a special celebration dinner for homecoming hero and new acting sheriff, Ben Asher. How she once had longed to see his face again, and then later prayed she never would.

Under the crystal chandeliers in The Club’s ballroom were the same familiar faces. People she’d known all her life. No, not known, she corrected herself. Kathryn Fitzgerald had been too lowly to actually be friends with these folk who even now tolerated her only because she was Ketler Morgan Junior’s wife. These were the upper echelons of this small town society, people who nodded acknowledgement of her because of her place at the top of the heap. But friends? No, her friends weren’t here tonight. Kathryn sighed. She’d done what she had to do for all the right reasons. What a pity the outcome was so wrong.









Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday’s Inspiration: Quotes From Writers

@GlenysOConnell

095 (640x427)It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” – Gabriel García Márquez.

Have you ever read or heard a quote and wham! you get that funny feeling in your breastbone? The one that speaks directly to you? I often put the ones that appeal to me in that way up on this blog, like the one above by the late Gabriel Garcia Márquez.

I hope youy enjoy them, maybe even find inspiration in them. If so, you’ll probably really like the collection of quotes from writers here: Fifteen Powerful Quotes .

It’s quotes from ‘writers we lost this year’ (2014) and is compiled by BuzzFeed. I found it on the Book Baby Blog. Both are interesting blogs to follow.