Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | By: Lynn

What Gets You Out of Bed?

I heard a line on a television show, probably a CSI of some sort since those shows dominate programming, that made me think. The cop had just charged through the door and had a gun on the suspect. The cop said, “So you hook children on drugs and murder people for money?” The man raised his hands in submission and said, “Isn't money why we all get up in the morning?”

At first I dismissed his statement as shallow. But after another moment’s thought, I told my husband, “He may be right. Is he?” We all get up to go to work and make living. I had to ponder that.

If someone asked me what gets me up in the morning, I’d say coffee. The idea of a hot cup of that dark elixir gives me a reason to get out of bed. The sheets and blankets are so comfortable in the morning and my cat is always snuggled nearby. That’s a lot of happiness to overcome just to get out of bed. That first movement of feet on floor is motivated by the reward of coffee. I work as a freelance writer and editor, so there is no time clock to punch in and no boss standing at the door waiting for me to arrive. It’s all up to me to meet my deadlines and not procrastinate. So beyond that first cup of coffee, what drives me to perform my job and do it well? Money, right? I want to get paid.

It’s not actually that simple, according to many experts. One, Walter Chen, the owner of iDoneThis, a work productivity tool, presents an argument that money is the reward we all want and need. It’s a survival element in our society. But what keeps us motivated to soldier on every day is a short list, he writes at Buffer Social.

“(T)here are in fact just 3 very simple things that drive nearly each and every one of us to work hard:

· Autonomy: Our desire to direct our own lives. In short: 'You probably want to do something interesting, let me get out of your way!'

· Mastery: Our urge to get better at stuff.

· Purpose: The feeling and intention that we can make a difference in the world," Chen wrote.

Our brains, Chen suggests, have a connection to these three elements. And though we’ve all been programmed not to let our emotions go to work with us, it’s our emotions that help us tackle obstacles and trudge on with more spring in our step.

“Emotions play a leading role in how to succeed in business because they influence how much you try and this is widely misunderstood by bosses and managers. …The components of the inner work life — motivation, emotions, and perceptions of how the above three things work together — feed each other,” Chen wrote.

Not only do our emotions inform our daily decisions, according to Chen and his expert sources, the quality of the emotion can improve our creativity and zeal or interfere. He quotes from a study by psychologist Alice Isen to prove the point.

“Negative emotions like fear and sadness can lead to brain activity and thought patterns that are detrimental to creative, productive work: (a) avoidance of risk; (b) difficulty remembering and planning; and (c) rational decision-making.”

We have to feel our feelings, whatever they are. Negative emotions inform us just as positive emotions do. We have to process them and not be stopped by them. But sometimes simple things, like talking to a friend or exercising, can boost our mood.

Oversimplified, if coffee makes me happy, it helps to put my inner work life into a more positive state. I can move from that positive state with courage and self-confidence a little easier and work toward autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These are the underlying reasons to get out of bed. These infuse us with energy to go after what we want, whether it’s creating a book, a new phone app, or a harmonious home.

Please share your thoughts. What gets you out of bed?
Friday, September 26, 2014 | By: Cafe
Every author's fairy godmother should provide him not only with a pen but also with a blue pencil.
- F L Lucas in Style
Thursday, September 25, 2014 | By: Cafe

Open Velocity or have you HOOKED your reader today?

Writers need to excel at writing a good hook. The Write Way Café welcomes today an expert at that, author Carol Malone.

This material first appeared as a course I taught within the Group Coaching Program for Novelists where I work as an assistant mentor. Click here  for more information about the program where we help novelists write, edit, publish, and market their books in with joy, love, enthusiasm, and smarts.

“Thomas had to die. There were as many ways to kill the man who raped her – nails guns, pneumatic cutters, craftsmen shears, and huge rolls of fabric that could easily slip from their precarious slots at the top of very tall pallets – as there were reasons. Else just needed to get him in the plant – alone.” The Game of Dating by Carol Malone

Did those sentences grab you? 
Were you hooked in? 
Do you want to read more? 

What you just read was my attempt at an opening grabber, hook, or what’s called “opening velocity” in my suspense romance novel.  

Opening Velocity or can you hook the reader with your first few sentences?

What is opening velocity?

It is that writing device or skill with which every writer wants to grab hold of their readers and not let go. We want to start off with a bang and keep the momentum going so the reader won’t be able to put our novels down. In order to accomplish that task, we have to snare our readers from the very first words.

Why is opening velocity or a great opening hook important to a novel? 

How many of you have read stories that begin with a narrative dump? Have you read on and on about the weather, the setting, non-essential characters, yet aren’t getting involved in their story enough to care? I once read the novel from a very famous writer. They had twenty-five pages of narrative about the countryside of Spain as their opening. Needless to say, I skipped a lot of detail to get to the meat. 

Don’t you want a book to jump out at you, hook you by the throat and not let go until you’re reading, “The End.” 

How do we do this? There are a number of ways to write a great hook, or rev up the opening velocity:

1.  Some people start their novels with a few lines of dialogue. It begs the reader to ask, "What just happened?" and they will continue to read because their interest is piqued:  
"Do we go to our death—or worse?" Malkom Slaine gazed over at his best friend, Prince Kallen the Just, wishing he had a better answer for him, anything to ease the apprehension in Kallen's eyes.”
-- Opening line from Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole 

2.  Open with emotion. And don’t just tell the reader your character is angry, you have to SHOW this in your creative way of writing: 
“Charlene Braddock slammed her laptop closed and hurled it across the bedroom.” 
-- Midnight Lies by Ella Grace

3.  Start with something that will scare or excite your reader. “I’m sitting on a cold metal slab, and there’s blood all over my shirt.” Opening from Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters.

4.  Use a contradiction to start you story. This works well with stories with more emotion:  
“I started walking to the canal one day out of boredom. It's not that I'm particularly fond of canals;” From Lee Rourke, The Canal

5.  Try to find an interesting description. (No long treatise on nature, please!):  
From J.D. Robb’s, Treachery in Death:  “The old man lay dead on a scattered pile of candy bars and bubble gum. Cracked tubes of soft drinks, power drinks, sports drinks spilled out of the smashed glass of their cooler in colorful rivers.” 

6.  Introduce a fascinating character. The more intriguing a character, the more you pull your reader in to see how the story will play out:  
From Stephen King’s, Full Dark, No Stars: “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:  My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession. In June of 1922 I murdered my wife, Arlette Christina Winters James, and hid her body by tupping it down an old well.”

Any one of these devices would add great POP to the opening of a novel and HOOK the reader from the start. As a great author, we want to hook with a great opening. 

Start your novel right at the moment when our characters are going through a crisis or at the very least, a compelling problem that will engage and hold the interest of our targeted audience. 

Try choosing one of these opening velocity devices and use it to revise an opening line or two from one of your own stories. See how much better your opening line and/or lines can become if you put a little effort into crafting an opening with a BOOM!   

Stephen King instructed authors in his article featured in The Atlantic magazine, July 23, 2013; “How can a writer extend an appealing invitation – one that’s difficult, even, to refuse? … An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” http://theatln.tc/1rngTEj

Put in the time and effort to perfect your entire story, then think deeply about the opening line or couple of lines. 
1. Will they reflect what I want the reader to know in one sentence? 
2. Will it grab their attention and not let go? 
3. Will it create interest and set the stage? 
4. Then will you spend months, like Stephen King, or maybe even years perfecting your opening? Hopefully, it won’t take that long because you’ll all be experts. 
It is my hope you will get something from this discussion on how to write with opening velocity. Creating memorable openings is essential. Try choosing one of the above opening velocity devices and use them to revise an opening line or two from one of your own stories. See how much better your opening line and/or lines can become if you put a little effort into crafting an opening with a BOOM!  


“It was a dark and stormy night.” –Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time OR Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1830, OR maybe Snoopy?

“When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” –Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

“It was the best of times and the worst of times.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.” – Joe Brainard

“Not every 13-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.” –Avi, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

“You’ve Been Here Before.” Douglas Fairbairn, Needful Things.

“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” –E.B White, Charlotte’s Web

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1

“You better not never tell nobody but God.”–Alice Walker, The Color Purple

“They shoot the white girl first.” Toni Morrison, Paradise

“They threw me off the hay truck about noon.” James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice

“This is what happened.” Douglas Fairbairn, Shoot

About the author:  Carol Malone successfully combined her three passions – romance, sports, and writing in her highly rated book, “Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night.”  With her love story “Ladies Night,” she became the first woman to punch her way into the male-dominated genre of pulp boxing. Her stories to entice readers to scramble into a front row seat for a thrill-ride of romance and sports. When not hammering out new tales, Carol is reading, watching sports or the Food Network, or hanging with her sci-fi author husband.

Carol can be found at her websiteFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Amazon.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | By: HiDee

Connecting with Readers and Writers

Last time, I wrote about my love/hate relationship with technology.  Today, I’d like to share some of the reasons I love technology – particularly the internet.

The Internet Society offers this definition of the internet:  What is the Internet? While it may seem like a simple question, defining the Internet isn’t easy. Because unlike any other technology, the Internet can be whatever we make it. We can shape it. We can mold it. But most importantly, we can use it to connect people, communities, and countries around the world.

Here are some of my favorite internet sites – sites connecting me to other readers and writers.

www.writerspace.com – Monthly contests offer readers the chance to win autographed books, Advanced Reader Copies of upcoming releases, gift certificates and more.

www.freshfiction.com – Monthly contests for autographed books, gift certificates and other fun items.  This site also offers book reviews.

I've won several giveaways from these two sites, including books and chocolates! 

www.likesbooks.com – All About Romance offers reviews, author interviews, blogs, and more. 

www.onceuponaromance.net/romancelinks.htm  – A whole list of links for romance readers of all genres!

www.fantasticfiction.co.uk – A friend recently introduced me to this site.  This site allows you to search by author, book, or ISBN.  Many of my favorite authors write continuity series, and this site is especially helpful for following which books belong in which series, and in what order.

www.writerbeware.com – Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with support from the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association.  Their website states: Writer Beware’s mission is to track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry.

www.wow-womenonwriting.com – An ezine promoting the communication between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers.  They offer articles, writing contests, and classes.

http://www.dailywritingtips.com – Visit the website or subscribe to receive a daily email.  Every day they publish a new article, with topics ranging from grammar to punctuation, from spelling to usage and vocabulary.

http://writersinthestormblog.com – Great articles and writing tips for writers.

www.writersdigest.com – I subscribe to the magazine, but I also spend a fair amount of time on the website.  They have tons of articles, writing prompts, editor blogs, writing contests, and writing resources, in addition to their store.

But I think my favorite of all is Critique Circle on Facebook.  They share terrific articles, and fun cartoons and graphics. 

What are you favorite sites?  Maybe you've discovered something I've missed.  Please share!

Friday, September 19, 2014 | By: Cafe
Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending. 
- Carl Bard
Thursday, September 18, 2014 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Rebekah Ganiere

The Write Way Café welcomes author Rebekah R. Ganiere, whose creative thinking takes her into the world of fairy tales, where she turns the classics into new gems.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
For the Fairelle series I originally had the idea of self publishing and then I tried very limitedly sending it out to see if I could get a publisher. But in my heart I knew I wanted to self publish it because this was going to be a big series I wanted to be able to release on my own schedule. So I got the other series I am writing under contracts with publishing houses and then went with my gut to self publish this one. As far as research, I did a lot of research on Medieval Earth and then tweaked and toned it the way I wanted it to make it my own fairytale world.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
Well this entire series is twisted fairytales so I started with the fairytales I really liked and went from there. Red the Were Hunter was the first book in the series. The idea for that one came because I had seen the movie Red Riding Hood and just felt it lacked something and I wanted to do it my own way. Snow the Vampire Slayer came about because I thought, well, if she has seven brothers what could they all do? They could be vampire slayers! And what if she falls for a vampire? And it grew from there.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I wanted something totally imaginary and my own. Several years ago there was a TV miniseries called Tenth Kingdom which had a bunch of fairytale characters in one world and then I heard Into the Woods and thought both were so cool that I wanted to make my own Fairytale world that all my characters lived in.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Uhm... both I guess. The hero, Sage, is kind of modeled after Tom Hiddleston, but it's my interpretation of him as a hero Loki character. And Snow is like me in some ways and in some ways she is like what I wish I was. 

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
In this one I didn't. The book flowed so nicely. It was awesome! Sage and Snow just talked me through their entire story! My characters aren't always that nice though. I have a couple right now who are being down right stubborn! I find that happens usually when I have characters that I try to write one way and they are actually totally different. They don't like being forced into models I create. So I find I will go back and tweak them and let them go their own directions and before I know it, they are talking me through their stories again :)

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
I think the biggest surprise was that I've had so many people tell me how much they love the relationships between Snow and her brothers. I had no idea people would love them so much! Which is why each brother is getting his own novella now. People just love them and want to see them each get an HEA. 

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about brothers, vampire slayers, and creating your fantasy world?
Well Snow the Vampire Slayer is the second book in my Fairelle Series and not the first book I've written, but one thing I learned was how to make characters stand out and be different from each other. For instance, Snow has 7 brothers. All of them needed to be unique in his own way so that you could tell them apart. I also learned how my relationship with my wonderful brothers was able to help me write the relationships between Snow and her brother. 

What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working the first Novella in the Fairelle Series which is releasing in December. It's about Snow's brother Jamen. I'm also working on the third book in the series that is releasing in early 2015. It is called Zelle and the Tower and is about Rapunzelle and Snow's brother Flint. And I'm working on the second book in my series The Society, which is under contract with Kensington Lyrical and the first book in that series will be out on Nov. 17th.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I already have my dream job! I went to college for theater and I love theater but I gave it up to be a mom and now I think I'm too shy to get up in front of that many people. So if I wasn't a writer I would be a mom. I love being a mom. It is totally my dream job!

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Plotting.  I hate it. I'm bad at it. And I don't like to be boxed in. I am a plotzer. I took a plotting class by Cherry Adair and LOVED it. But found I felt too confined by plotting everything out in detail so now I plot major chapter points and that's all. Then I let my characters do what they need to. 

Rebekah R. Ganiere is an Award Winning Bestselling Author. Her novel Dead Awakenings, debuted in January 2014. Red the Were Hunter, the first in her Farielle Series, released in May. The second book Snow the Vampire Slayer will be releasing in September 22, 2014. And her trilogy The Society will be released Nov. 17th 2014 by Kensington's Lyrical Press.

Rebekah is the VP of Communications of the RWA FFP Chapter as well as a member of her local Los Angeles and Orange County chapters. In her spare time when she isn't writing you can find her moderating on SavvyAuthors.com or hanging out with her husband, four children and her English Bulldog, rabbit, two tortoises, and two bearded dragons. The escaped snake has yet to be found.

Buy Snow The Vampire Slayer

Rebekah R. Ganiere - Books with a Bite
Dead Awakenings & Red the Were Hunter
Snow the Vampire Slayer Coming Sept. 22
Reign of the Vampire Coming Nov. 17 by Lyrical Kensington
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | By: Cafe

Making Time

I write for a living. I also edit for a living. I love my work and am grateful to have it. But it keeps me busy and it is hard to carve out much time for my romance writing. I have to contribute regular income to my household and there is only so much time in a day, week, month. Only so much physical and emotional energy within me to put out. However, there is nothing like getting a book contract for renewing my commitment to my stories.

I Got, Got, Got, Got No Time
I’m weary of talking about not having enough time. I'm kind of bored but not surprised with myself that I’m writing about it again. I wrote a post about it last summer and discussed how those of us writers who also work jobs and take care of families need to be creative, something we're good at, in finding time to write. And here I am again, reiterating the topic.

I'm open to suggestions for how to put time on my side. Here's a thought from Hope Clark in one of her Funds for Writers newsletter and website. She suggests taking a hard look at life's demands.

"We have to give up something else to make writing happen. We have selected a crazy hobby/career path/dream that is one of the most time-consuming interests on the
planet. It starts as a whim, then a dream, then an urge that grows. You have to do this. You NEED to do this . . . this . . . writing. … So, for every new hour of writing, what other hour of something else will you sacrifice? Give it a name. Cleaning? Jogging? Sleeping? Gardening? Lunch?" she writes.

The P Word
Clark makes a good point, because there really is only so much time to work with. It's a likely conclusion that I have to set my Priorities to, well, Prioritize working on my books. It seems that even though, as Clark points out, we as writers often glow when we talk about what it means to us, we don't do it. And according to Jennifer Blanchard on Better Writing Habits, being too busy to write, another way of saying not having enough time, is the number one reason writers give for not being productive with the thing they love. She, too, attributes this situation to not Prioritizing.

"Most likely you’re making time for non-productive things, like watching TV or surfing the Web. That means you actually do have time to write, you’re just not making it a priority to write," she writes.

It seems a good, stiff shaking of myself is in order. As Clark, author of Lowcountry Bribe and The Shy Writer, noted and what we all know, we can't do everything. We may have to stop doing something we feel has greater importance than our writing. She's found this out by becoming more successful with her writing.

"As my writing grew, as I had to promote a novel I never had to before, the demand for my other hours grew ravenous for my attention. How could I find more time? There went some of my gardening . . . I saw my chickens less. The house is definitely not as clean. I stopped going to the gym."

It seems obvious but nonetheless mindboggling—I have to pick what I'm going to spend time on. And if I seldom pick writing fiction, I'll not produce books. I have already cut back on housecleaning, so what can I cull? I'll have to figure it out. It's time.

Any suggestions?

*This post has been adapted from its original version posted on The Write Way Cafe in October 2012.