Sunday, September 22, 2019

Writing a Series Backwards

I never would have thought so before trying this crazy experiment, but writing backwards has its advantages.
Let me back up and explain…
I have 2 dragon shift series which are set in the same world and crossover into each other. Where Fire’s Edge features the dragon shifter Enforcers in the American colonies, Inferno Rising is all about the kings and clans of the same world. This will include characters that hop series, plot lines that are mentioned in both, and some situations that will impact both series.
Here’s the tricky part though… I wrote the first book in Inferno Rising,The Rogue King, first out of everything, despite it being the 4th book released between the two series. I did this for a few reasons.
The idea for The Rogue King was originally supposed to be a novella in a different self-pub’d series (Legendary Consultants). Each book in that series features a different kind of paranormal creature—a demigod and nymph, werewolves, psychics, ghost and seer, and this was going to be my dragon shifter and phoenix. Just a quick little thing I’d knock out between books (30-40k words tops). But as soon as Brand and Kasia made it onto paper, and the world started building out from what I’d already established in that series, I knew it needed not only a full-length book (it ended up at 100+k words), but its own series.
So that’s what I started writing and what I pitched to my editor at Entangled.
I was already discussing a dragon series with Heather, and we loved the concepts behind both. So we decided on the crossover series concept, allowing us to place both series in the same world. However, during the proposal process, we decided that the first books to come out would be the Fire’s Edge books because they are ebook-only. This decision was for two reasons. As ebook-only these books take less time to release, so we could get the out sooner. Also, we wanted to build momentum and interest in the world before releasing The Rogue King
So that's what kicked off the writing backwards. After I finished The Rogue King, I wrote The Boss and the prequel novella to that The Mate. Which come sooner in the timeline and were released first.
We had to continue that pattern because of timing. The Inferno Rising books are in print (in book stores) while Fire’s Edge are ebook only. Print books take longer in publication--about a year--vs. ebooks which are closer to six months. This means Inferno Rising has to be written sooner to account for the longer production process/timing.
That is basically the long explanation of why I’m writing the two series in backward order. I write a print book (Inferno Rising) and then the ebook (Fire’s Edge) that will release before it. Meanwhile, imeline-wise in the world, the publication dates are the order the books move.
But guess what!?
This process has been hugely helpful from a continuity and series building perspective, particularly for the eBooks. As I write each ebook, I already know every detail of what happens in the book that will come out after it. While I have a (admittedly complicated and convoluted) both-series-wide-plan, this process has allowed me to incorporate details, lay a few Easter eggs, plant some hints, and set up the next books in the series better than I would just writing in straight order.
On the downside, it means I wait a while to see each book come out after I’ve written it, but it’s worth it for the results in the end. I might do this for all future series. Lol.
By the way, each book is a different couple with their own HEA and stands alone. But, that said, you might want to read in release order to get the full experience. Now that The Rogue King is out, you decide! Should you start with Fire’s Edge and the Enforcers? Or try Inferno Rising and the kings?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

How to Make Readers Feel Strong Emotions by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

What makes you love a book? Usually it’s connecting with the characters on an emotional level. Writers who make readers step into the character’s world and actually experience that world let them feel beyond their everyday emotions and live vicariously through the events and experiences of those characters.  They may be fictional, but the writer has made them become real to the readers, to make them into authentic people.

The stories might not be real, but the emotions the reader experiences must feel real. So how does a writer do this?  How do they make readers experience emotion?

1. Show Don’t Tell: how many times do new writers hear this? What does it mean? It means to show the character’s feelings through their actions and reactions to events rather than announcing to the reader what the character is feeling. There’s a time to write tight, and a time to invite the reader to live the story.

Here’s an example of telling: Jessie stood next to the car, but was too afraid to open the door. She knew what was inside and she didn’t want to see it.

Here’s showing emotion: Focus.  Steady. I can will my hand to stop shaking. I can walk over to the car door. Carl’s favorite CD. It's playing his favorite song.  His pride and joy’s motor is purring softly, so innocent and familiar as it fuels a steady stream of exhaust that's clouding around that slumped head, with those thick dark curls, soft, silky. No.  A hard swallow. So much shaking. It feels like earth tremors under my feet.  No! Please God, no!  The door handle feels cold. Or is it my hand?

The garage door jolted as the mechanism engaged and it began to rise. Screams. Make them stop. I need to focus, to get Carl. Wait. It's me, isn't it? 

2.  Realistic characters who elicit empathy.
Readers relate to shared human conditions, so characters who have realistic experiences (even if those experiences are fiction-based) that elicit realistic emotions. The reader first understands or identifies with a character before they can connect emotionally. The writer must build to the climax by developing a three-dimensional character the reader can identify with, can feel empathy for. By the time they reach the climax, the reader should be so engrossed with the character’s life they react to the character’s deep emotions with such realistic empathy they themselves experience emotional reactions to the character’s plight. Think about how different it is so hear about the death of a stranger, versus hearing about the death of someone you know well and care deeply for.  The character must become that someone the reader knows well and cares deeply for.   Characters, no matter how fictional their world or setting, must be believable and sympathetic. The reader must want to be that character, to live their life, fight their battles, experience their victories for the entire story.

3.  Villains are so much fun to hate!
A bad guy/gal solicits an emotional response very quickly. This character is so destructive, so vile and selfish or hateful that they torture the protagonist or someone close to him/her. When the beloved protagonist reacts to the villain, the reader will too.

4.  Writers don’t wimp out!  If they want to reach the reader’s emotions, writers  create emotion-evoking scenes. They may even kill off the main character’s child, pet, loved one, or destroy whatever means the most to them. Writer’s don’t have to be murderers. They can also have the beloved character experience betrayal or some other form of treachery.

5.  Anticipation causes tension. Great writers feed the reader hints of what’s to come. Foreshadowing versus announcing.  Foreshadowing is a thread of anticipation that keeps the reader in suspense while making them realize something is coming. Announcing, is telling the reader what’s going to happen and then it immediately happens, without any anticipation or tension, and absolutely no surprise. It doesn’t really even need to happen if you tell instead of showing.

6.  What’s in a word? Many words carry connotations. The use of them makes the reader expect something, assume something, or realize something. A character who never swears suddenly sounds like an angry dock worker. The reader immediately knows something is wrong. Some words create a mood, convey humor or passion or fear. Writers choose words carefully in order to elicit emotion in the reader.

7.  Situations or events that are vital or life-altering. Good plots create situations for the characters that threaten what they want, need or seek. The characters have to have high stakes motivation and drive. That helps keep the reader engrossed in the story and empathetic to the character’s plight, thus soliciting an emotional response.

8.  Time is of the essense.  Putting a time frame on the character’s goal achievement increases tension by causing the character to react with uncharacteristic decisions and/or adventurous even risky behavior. This sets the reader on edge, and solicits, you got it, an emotional response.

9.  Do you want the bad news or the worst news? If a character makes bad decisions the reader knows it. They realize the characters is creating more problems for themselves and there will be some dire consequences.

10.  Keep up! Writers have to move the pace. They can’t dwell so long on one scene or situation that the reader loses interest in it.

11.  Even fantasy must seem realistic. Characters, even supernatural, fictional characters must seem believable. Their problems must be realistic to their time, place and situation. Even if the world is made up, the events and rules for that world must be logical, in order for the reader to believe the characters problems and motivation are true and realistic.

12.  Plot twists add excitement and surprise. They keep the reader off balance, and guessing, adding tension and eliciting emotion.

13.  Conflict, both inner and outward add tension and emotion. Characters can have conflict with other characters or themselves (inner conflict), but they need to have conflict, something that gets in the way of their goal, in order to solicit emotional response from both characters and readers.

14.  Plot effects the rhythm, the movement of the story, and the reader’s emotional response. Tension is added to action scenes by using short sentences and paragraphs. It picks up the pace, making the reader’s eyes move more quickly down the page, increasing their pulse, their sense of importance or anxiety that the characters are experiencing. It creates suspense, even fear. Longer sentences and paragraphs slow the pace and let the reader take a breath and relax.

15.  Where it happens matters. If it’s a tense, spooky scene, it doesn’t add much suspense or anxiety to have it take place in a sunny garden. A rainy evening in a cemetery sets a dark setting and adding the sound of coyotes howling or owls screeching can make it even more atmospheric. Each scene should be in the setting that’s perfect of the reader, to help them get into the mood of the story line, and to feel they are actually experiencing the character’s lives.

18.  Make sense. Good writers know that no one lives in a vacuum. The characters are surrounded with sounds, smells and sights and they have reactions to these elements. Incorporating all the senses heightens the reader’s reaction and emotional engagement with the character’s world and the events taking place in it.

Play with all five senses to keep your readers involved, maybe off balance, but always interested in what’s coming next.

19.  Whose point of view is it? One of the most powerful tools a writer uses is deep point of view. It's not just about using 3rd person versus 1st person (used quite often in YA books). Deep point of view involves making the reader become so engrossed in the character's life, their hopes and dreams and goals and motivations that they feel as though they are actually experiencing it first-hand. The writer eliminates word such as wondered and thought and knew, tags like she said or he said. Instead, they anchor the point of view to one character at a time and stay as much as possible in the main character's point of view.  They show the reader what the main character sees, hears, smells and feels. Their narrative style develops the main character's voice so well they are not writing about the main characters but as them. The main character's beliefs and world views become an integral part of the story.

Using all of these methods (not just one or two) makes for a great adventure. The best writers know this, which is why their fans love their stories. Think about your favorite story and what made you love it so much!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Nothing from me...Check out Blog below!

I hesitated to push down Diane's fascinating post, so there's nothing from me this month except to refer you to the post immediately beneath!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Replicators ala Star Trek in Medicine by Diane Burton

credit: Wikipedia. Star Trek replicator (left); 3-D printer (right)
In the science fiction arena, especially the Star Trek and Stargate series, whenever someone wanted something to eat, they used a machine called a replicator that created the dish/drink "out of thin air." How did they do that?

Would you believe we're doing that now? With a 3-D printer, manufacturing companies can make the parts they need quicker and cheaper than the old-fashioned way. 
credit: The Medical Futurist

The medical field is finding ways to use the 3-D printer. For instance, finger splints. My first thought was "big deal." That's pretty common. Well, it is to us. But in poor countries where splints have to be ordered from overseas and in bulk, a 3-D printer can custom make a splint in 10 minutes and is a whole lot cheaper.

credit: The Medical Futurist

The printer can make organs--hearts, lungs, kidneys. Waiting lists for patients needing replacement organs might be a thing of the past.

credit: The Medical Futurist

The ease and low cost of making prosthetics mean patients can have a limb that's customized just for them sooner and cheaper. The printer can also make joint replacements last longer. 

credit: bio-printed heart 

The next item made my eyes pop. Using bio-printing, researchers at Cornell can fabricate living heart valves with the same structure as the original valve. So, why was this of interest to me? My husband needs to have his aortic valve replaced. Soon. We were hit with this info a week ago. On Monday, he had a heart catharization where we found out for sure what the echocardiogram indicated. Severe aortic stenosis.
credit: Wikipedia

While the idea of a made-to-order heart valve using a 3-D bio-printer sounds fascinating, we'll find out more next week when we see the surgeon. Will they use metal or plastic or a valve from a cow or pig? Not sure when one made by a replicator will be available. 

Isn't it amazing what seems like science fiction is already a reality?

If you want more in-depth information on 3-D printing in medicine, here's a link:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Starting A New Chapter

 I’ve finished a few really good books this summer. 

Ones that I couldn’t stop turning the pages, pushing through the story as fast as I could to see what happened next, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. 

But if I didn’t keep reading, I wouldn’t get to enjoy the next chapter, and see the characters evolve and grow.

It’s kind of like life. Although we often try to start a story in the middle of the action, or that moment when something significant changes, but in real life we might be more reluctant to turn the page.

Enjoy the moment, they said

The start of the story
Time goes quickly, they said. Sometimes it didn’t seem like that, but in reflection it always seems to be true. I’ve always found the passing of time to be bittersweet, and desired to bottle up certain moments and memories to freeze or relive again and again.

This year has felt as if the chapters were too short, and going by too quickly, and at times I wanted to go back and reread the story, even though it wasn’t done. One turn of events seeming to spur the next and gathering momentum as it went. 

My twin daughters sped through their senior year, getting their driver’s license and then starting a new chapter in their life this fall by moving into college, thus forcing my husband and I to start a new chapter of our own—whether we wanted to or not.

The Characters in Our Story

As each of us write our own, our stories impact the other characters in our life. Most times we can only go along with the story and then turn the page—and see what happens next.

Start a new story, and find out how Hope meshes with her new quirky family members in Destiny Calling.

Are you Ready for a New Chapter? Or Do You Prefer to ReRead the Story? 

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four
seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Single or Muliple Genres? by Diane Burton

In Nancy Gideon’s post a few days ago, she talked about what to write after her 15-book series was done. She’s written contemporary romance, suspense, horror, historicals, but mostly paranormal romance—vampires and shifters. So, she asked our advice on what to tackle next.

Each time I finish a book, I wonder which genre should I write next. When I started writing twenty-plus years ago, I wrote contemporary romance. I’d read a lot and (arrogantly) thought I could do that. Hah! I tried writing a romantic suspense. And then, for fun, I wrote a science fiction romance. The last was my first published story. I then wrote four more sci-fi romances.

My family has always been supportive, but neither of my sisters like science fiction. I had an idea for a contemporary mystery series featuring a female detective. I knew they'd like that. I loved writing Alex O’Hara’s adventurous mysteries, with a little bit of romance to keep things interesting. I’ve written three cozy mysteries, two romantic suspense, and in between two more science fiction stories—one a romance, the other a middle grade adventure.

My writing reflects my reading tastes, a hodge-podge of genres—romantic comedy, mysteries, suspense, and, of course, science fiction. I love reading MG and YA stories. Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), and others fascinate me with their stories for younger readers. (Where were these books when I was growing up?)

Looking back on my writing career since 2011 (when I re-released my first published book, Switched), I wonder if I made the right decision changing genres. From a creative aspect, I’ve enjoyed writing mysteries, suspense, and sci-fi. Career-wise, maybe I should have stayed with what I started—science fiction romances.

That’s the dilemma—writing what I enjoy as opposed to sticking with one genre.

What do you think?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Brought to you today by the words "free" and "books", and by the number "2"

You know that moment when you realize no matter what you do, you're screwed?

I came out of my editing cave late yesterday afternoon only to realize that the 30th is mere hours away and I need to do something for my Paranormal Romantics blog—time to throw together something fast, and what’s better than FREE BOOKS?!

BUT, as if karma senses my panic, my internet was behaving badly all evening. It was pushing 11:00 p.m. my time when I finally admitted defeat. After all, no one wants free books, right?

Okay, okay! I'm kidding! Thankfully, this morning the internet is back and all of you get a shot at the free books I have for you.

First book is my short story, All of Me. It’s free through August 31, 2019, so hurry! (Note: The buy links weren't working at first, but they are now. Because of this, I've extended the free sale or All of Me through Mon. Sept. 2, 2019.)

(Universal Link)
(B&N, iTunes, Kobo)

Garrison "Gunner" Reed thought the Anferthian invasion of Earth was life-changing, but that was nothing compared to rescuing April Buroski from the invaders' slave ship. Now, he can't get the petite, honey-blonde woman out of his mind. But, April's pregnant with her deceased boyfriend's child, and there doesn't seem to be room in her life for another man.

April will never forget the man she lost in the invasion, her first love, Dave. Yet, when the chips are down, Garrison is there for her and her baby. The emotions stirring in her heart for the former Army colonel war with her feelings for Dave. Can she let go of the past and embrace her future before it's too late?

Second, my short story, Space Ranger, first appeared in the original Pets in Space anthology a few years ago. On September 24, 2019, it’ll make a reappearance as a solo act. However, why wait when my newsletter subscribers can already get it…for free?

Just sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of Space Ranger, now.

Graig Roble, Matiran Senior Security Commander for the Guardian Fleet, is an expert weapons specialist and combat master. Protecting others is what he was born to do. So why has his focus wavered since returning to duty aboard the Atlantis? All he can think about is the enticingly brilliant human woman he walked away from.
Simone Campbell uses her experience as a botanist to help Terr recover from the devastating Anferthian invasion. Yet she can’t seem to immerse herself deep enough in her work to expunge the memory of one blue-skinned hunk-of-an-alien. What is it about Graig that keeps pulling her attention, and her heart, away from her job?

One thing’s for sure, their bond runs deeper than either of them realized—but can Graig convince Simone of this before he loses the best thing that’s ever happened in his life?

See you on September 30th with a real blog...and a shorter blog title!

 <heads back to the editing cave>


USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, or reading about dragons, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

She is currently working on two short stories and the fourth book in her series.