Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Power of Emotion by Connie Vines

In my opinion, all successful/popular novels, no matter what genre, have one key element: emotion.  Emotion lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, reaction, and motivation.  All of which drive the story. A character’s personal journey does not exist without emotion—it would be pointless. The plot would be made up meaningless events that a reader would not invest any time to read.  Why?  Because above all else, the readers choose a novel to have an emotional experience.  Be it a wild roller coaster ride of pure terror in a horror novel; reliving the sweet courting experience of an inspirational romance; discovering a new unexplored, heart-pounding world of a sci-fi; the pleasure of solving a who-done-it; or, pure laughter and fun in a read-it-at one setting comedy—readers want to connect with your characters.  With this connection to characters, who provide entertainment and whose trials and experiences may, in turn, add meaning to their own life journeys.

We are emotional beings.  Feelings propel us. Drive us.  Define us. Moreover, while it may seem that most of those exchanges happen during conversation, studies show that 93% of all communication is nonverbal.  Even in instances where we try not to show our feelings, we are still telegraphing messages through body language.  Because of the, each of us is adept at reading others without a word being uttered.
    Readers have high expectations.  Long done are the long intros: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.  We had been wander, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating”.  . . I am certain you recognize the first sentences of my favorite classic novel, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  A delightful read, rich in detail and thick with emotion—but not a read easily consumed during a pause in a workday, or after getting toddlers off to bed.  Readers no longer wish to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves.
               This leaves the writer with the challenge of ensuring that our characters express their emotions in ways that are both recognizable and compelling to read.  Personally, I find that less is more.  I am always aware of the pacing of my story.  Too many clues to describe a character’s feelings can dilute the reader’s emotion experience.  Backstory is only pepper in to allude to a ‘trigger’ emotion.  Example:  Marty, in the BACK TO THE FUTURE series of movies.  A cliché, but calling Marty ‘chicken’ worked every time—the viewer knew and expected ‘something’ to happen. Not that I have ever, I hope, have resorted to a cliché, but my characters have a ‘fatal flaw’.  I cannot divulge any that I have used because it would ruin the storylines.  But we all have our ‘trigger’ emotion.  If you have siblings, undoubtly, you were tormented with it on numerous occasionally.  Our ‘characters’ may or may not recognize a personal tigger emotion.  This is writer’s preference in relationship to plot and character development.
               One emotion that I find fun to watch (in young children) and it easy to work into a YA story is amazement.  To a toddler everything is new and amazing.  The child’s eyes widen.  The child becomes suddenly still.  May suck in a quick breath/hand covering one’s mouth. Stiffening posture.  Rapid blinking followed by open staring.  Reaching out and touching or taking a step back. I am certain you could add to the list my recalling your personal experices or observations.
               Now how would that young child feel, internally?  A heart would seem to freeze, the pound. Tingling skin. Adrenaline spikes. The mental reaction in the amazed person could be disorientation, momentarily forgetting all else, or wishing to share the experience with others.  Now say your character is a shy or too cool to give anything away.  How could this emotion be suppressed? Self-hugging, jerky, self-contained strides, Eyes widening a bit before control is asserted, mouth snapping shut.  The clues are always apparent. 
               I like to get to know my characters, savor my scenes, and always dig deeper for the right word. The right motivation.
               I enjoy the journey to discover my characters, their hopes and wishes.  I feel blessed to tell each one of their stories.  And I hope that my novels, in turn, bring hours of enjoyment into each of my readers’ lives.
               In closing I’d like to share a bit of my past.
               When my first YA historical novel was published, I was honored at a Red Nations Powwow.  The tribal elder, Jacques Condor, told me I was being honored as a StoryTeller.  We both knew this was a great-honor among the tribes. He reminded me, always, to be humble, because it is the Story who chooses the StoryTeller to bring it Life. 
               My mandella hangs my living room wall, and my hand-tooled silver ring is worn to remind me of both my gift and my duty.
               Thank you for taking the time to read my entry to my publisher’s daily blog.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Constantinople, the Gate to the Orient - by Vijaya Schartz

While researching Constantinople for my novel Beloved Crusader, Book 6 in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, I came upon some fascinating details, and decided to write for this blog a description of the ancient city as it must have appeared to the First Crusaders, when they reached the famed city in late December of 1096 AD. Enjoy.

From the vantage point of a hill, one could see over the ramparts in the distance, the seven hills, the imperial mound with its white palace, and the cupolas of the Hagia Sophia basilica. Constantinople, the jewel of the orient, shone like ivory and gold in its protective stone case. Red and yellow pennants, boasting the two-headed eagle of Byzantium, floated atop the massive, square watchtowers. The salty sea breeze carried the faint scent of spice and roasting lamb.

The front rampart walled the entire width of the peninsula, defending the city from an attack by land. The fortifications, almost as thick as they were tall, gleamed white in the bright sun. Elegant horizontal stripes of red and ochre bricks decorated the length and the edges. Square merlons crenellated the top, revealing the wide path atop the wall, where archers and soldiers in pointy helmets and short armor gathered, like an army of yellow and red ants, watching the legion from a distance.

The city gate, ensconced into the thick rampart, and protected on both sides by protruding walls, seemed impenetrable. The fortifications also surrounded the ancient metropolis on all sides, jutting out from the sea along the entire coast, forbidding invasion by an enemy fleet. Emperor Constantine the Great, seven centuries ago, had designed his fortress to be impregnable.

A wide open space fronted the fortifications. No doubt, past emperors had stripped bared this strategic area to gather and move their armies at will, and control the road in times of unrest. In case of enemy attack, it also provided an open battlefield, and a perfect killing ground, exposing the attackers.

Other, well traveled paths converged toward the city gate. A long line of carts and loaded camels, donkeys and bleating goats waited to be granted entry, alongside Bedouins in strange desert attire, with swaths of cloth covering their heads and most of their faces.
Above the gate, hung a monumental golden effigy of the two-headed eagle. The paved streets inside the city teemed with the traffic of merchants, horse carts and camels. Display tables, like an open market, overflowed with silks and spices from the orient, amphorae of wine or oil, and olives. Chattering monkeys stole fruit from the displays. The aroma of incense and perfume wafted in the air, along with so many enticing scents.

An enormous creature walked by, led by a turbaned man. An elephant. The beast trumpeted, causing the merchants to hold on to their wares, least they might fly away. A little farther, in a large bamboo cage, a big feline paced, tail twitching. A yellow-eyed tiger with black stripes. Close by, several alley cats feasted on the remains of the tiger's meal, a bloody pile of steaming entrails.

The calls of merchants in many languages mixed with animal sounds and smells, and the faraway toll of a church bell added to the strange music. The architecture of the city evoked the streets of ancient Rome, with colonnades, and balconies on the flat roofs of the two-story villas, so close together, they almost touched.

Varied people in colorful garb attested to the presence of many tribes from the confines of the known world. Some had flat, golden faces. Tribal women with shiny dark skin, wore scant clothing and many multicolored necklaces and bracelets... along with amulets and Shamanic symbols. Some had intricate markings on their hands and faces. Others hid their hair and body under long, silky veils, and black lines emphasized the contour of their eyes. Others yet wore anklets with tiny bells that jingled with each step like the tinkling chimes of a tambourine.
Further along, on a square, a large group of richly attired men surrounded a platform, where a few pale-skinned women stood, cowering as they attempted to hide their nudity. The sturdy blond man with a fur hat, who harangued his customers to examine them closely, looked like a Viking.

"Interested in some quality slaves from the land of the Russ?" The Viking trader winked at his customers from the height of the platform. "These beautiful Slavic girls and women, are all fertile and ready for hard work or pleasure."

The Egyptian obelisk still stands
Farther inland, stood a monumental theater of elongated shape. The hippodrome, used long ago for chariot races. The center strip was occupied by tall columns, statues of ancient Roman gods, unknown heroes and magnificent horses. An Egyptian obelisk, was mirrored by another square obelisk, covered with inscribed metal plaques that reflected the blinding rays of the afternoon sun. At the end of the central row of statues and obelisks, stood a disturbing pillar, entirely wrapped by the coils of a gigantic serpent. At the very top, the three heads of the serpent held a large golden vessel.

And crowning the hill, the white marble palace and the domes of the basilica, on a backdrop of deep blue sea.

Vijaya Schartz, fiction author
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The road to publication-Tricia McGill

Ah, what a rocky road it is. There aren’t many writers who can tell you their first completed manuscript was picked up by an editor at the first attempt. I fear that if they do tell you this they might be telling fibs.

Each writer’s personal journey is different in so many ways from their fellow authors. In each journey there are many hurdles to jump and lessons to learn along the way to publication.

The hardest to take at the start are those pesky rejection letters. But then we learn that each one is really just another stepping stone and when all is said and done they just reinforce our desire to write and our determination to pass the publication milestone (that depends of course on the level of our desire to see our books read).

While sorting through old letters and papers the other day on one of my spasmodic tidy-ups I came across my first valued critique. This four page document was written by a lady I never had the good fortune to meet, but her words of wisdom set me on the road to eventual publication. Her name was Leticia, and unfortunately although I have hunted high and low I cannot find the personal letter that accompanied this critique so cannot recall her surname. If by any chance Letitia should happen on these words someday I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for the encouragement she gave me to keep going along my rocky road. The wording went something like this: “Unfortunately I am not a publisher of fiction but when your husband walked into my office with your manuscript in his hand and asked me if I would be kind enough to read it, I could do nothing but agree to his plea. He assured me you were a wonderful writer and had been disillusioned by one or two harsh rejections. I can see why you are a romance writer as you have your own love affair going.”

Not word for word, but you get the picture. Leticia actually worked for a medical journal publisher but that didn’t deter my husband who had more cheek than I would ever possess. To him a publisher was a publisher, so that was that. So, some time later the critique arrived. I can’t remember if my husband picked it up or if it came by post. Leticia went into the marketing problems I had with this novel, then went on to give me her honest opinions on each character and how I could improve them, how I could change my story to make it more marketable. As I said at the start, this was over four full pages. But it was the words mixed in with the first few paragraphs that were uplifting.

“Well, in line with my remarks, serving the bad news first, the good news for you at this moment is that I found your writing very impressive. You show a real talent and the ability to become an even better craftsman as you go along.”

Well, that was all I needed. I was off, scribbling like mad (I had not acquired typewriter or computer at that stage). Of course there were many more hurdles to cross and mountains to climb but that one letter was my personal catalyst. 

Next step was to join a reputable critique group. One of these groups and the best was the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, where I met fellow Books We Love authors Margaret Tanner and Cheryl Wright along with many other talented writers who taught me so much.

In case you are wondering which of my books was that first scribbled manuscript, it never did get published in its original state, but ended up with many changes so that it was unrecognizable from my first effort which was called “Trip to Paradise” and as Leticia warned me the title was the books' main marketing problem. I notice on looking through published books on the internet there are currently many books with that name or Paradise in their titles, but I guess times have changed and my characters’ mildly romantic trip to Far North Queensland way back then is not what they mean by paradise now.

The sad part is that my husband died before my first book was published but I dedicated it to him. Without his perseverance on my part and his faith in me it might never have happened. He was the wind beneath my wings.

You can find all my Books We Love books here: 
Or read excerpts on my web page:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Find Half Priced Titles in Book's We Love's eBook Outlet Store

Choose from a great selection of titles in pdf, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBook formats. Payment is by Paypal or Credit card. Shop now, click the banner to visit the store.

Now available: 

Angel's Flight by Juliet Waldron
Angelica is a Patriot heiress, stalked by a brutal, fortune-hunting British officer. Forced to trust Jack, the mystery man who pledges to take her on a dangerous war-time journey up river to her Albany home, she expects to encounter brigands, Tories and Indians. What she doesn’t expect is to lose her heart along the way.

It's quite a journey. If you like detailed historical novels, road romances, and war stories, then Angel’s Flight is for you. ---IRRS

This story has heart… Linda, Romance Studio

I found Juliet Waldron's attention to detail and historical accuracy refreshing and entertaining...a unique voice … Readers will be transported to a time of peril, divided loyalties and intrigue as Angelica triumphs over threats and danger. -- Southern Gal

…deftly written and well researched, concealed under a layer of romantic frosting.. Celia Hayes

Previously published as Independent Heart
$1.49 $2.99

Living in a Make Believe World by Roseanne Dowell

I live in a make believe world. Okay, not literally, but vicariously through my characters.  I decide where they live, name their towns, or sometimes I let them live in a real city/town.  I prefer small towns, maybe because I’ve always wanted to live in one. I especially like towns with Victorian houses and apparently so do my characters, because I use them a lot.  I often say I must have lived during the Victorian era, probably as a mean old nanny. I’m sure I wasn’t the lady of the house, and by house I mean mansion. Queen Anne Victorian homes are my favorite. I love the round turrets, all the gingerbread, and wrap around porches. It was always my dream to buy one and restore it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be and I’m past the point of wanting one now.
Back to my make believe world. I’d like to say I choose my characters, but truthfully, they choose me.  Although I do get to name them, but if they don’t like the name, well believe me, they misbehave until I change it. And, yes, that’s happened several times. Just because I like a name doesn’t mean they do. The last time it happened it wasn’t even a main character. She was only in the story for a short time, but boy was she stubborn. She refused to talk to me and anything I wrote was garbage, better known as dreck in the writing world.
As I’ve said previously, I write many different of genres, from Women’s Fiction to Romance to Mystery and even Paranormal. Most of my books are a combination of romance and another genre. As a reader, I’ve always favored mystery and romance, so it only made sense to combine them.  Mine would be classified as cozy mysteries. I also love ghost stories – not evil mean ghosts though. One such story is Shadows in the Attic and another Time to Love Again. I’ve always been fascinated by ESP, hence my story Entangled Minds – previously published as Connection of the Minds.
My character’s ages range from their mid-twenties to middle age and into their seventies. Yes, seniors need love, too. Geriatric Rebels is a favorite.  It’s fun working with different characters, and I especially like when they add a bit of humor. I really form an attachment to them. Once a character chooses me, I make a character worksheet. I need to know everything about them, not just what they look like.
I love creating them, picking their careers, anything from housewife, authors, teachers, floral designers and interior designers. Sometimes their careers play a part in the story, sometimes not. The character in my work in progress (WIP in the writer’s world) is a former teacher. It’s not a big part of the story, but it’s something I needed to know. She’s a real character in the true sense of the word. She came into being in a previous story, All in the Family. It started out with her having a small part, but Aunt Beatrice Lulu (ABLL) grew into a big part of the story. Once I finished that book, she popped up again and demanded her own book. Problem is, she takes fits and goes into hiding every so often, which is where she is at present. Sometimes she pops up for days of writing. Other times, I get a paragraph or two. I’ve never had a character do that before.
Oh, I’ve had writer’s block a time or two, but once I’m over it the writing flows. Not so with ABLL.
  It’s also fun describing my characters, their hair and eye color, height, even their weight. I usually know the beginning and end of  my stories. What happens in the middle is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers. ABLL is full of surprises. What that woman doesn’t get into. So even though she goes into hiding, it’s generally worth it when she reappears. I’m not sure where she came from, but I’m sure enjoying working with her. Okay, I’ll be honest, a little bit of her is me, a little bit my sisters, and even my mother. She’s a combination of all the people I love and it’s so much fun living in her make believe world.

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