Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Call to Action

I try to keep the Writing Without the Drama stream and blog about you... the writer.

Today, however I am going to make it about me.

Well, not actually about me, but about my book and what it can do for the indie market, and therefore for you too.

You see I also founded the Indie Book Collective to help any author whether self or traditionally published learn how to use social media to its fullest potential to sell their books.

Today (2/28/11) is a huge day for the IBC and for myself.

Why? Because my controversial historical thriller, "30 Pieces of Silver" is up for "Bestseller for a Day."

This is an event where the selected author and the Collective join together to drive an indie title as far up the Kindle charts as possible.

And today is my turn. I could not be more thrilled. #seriously #Iamdoingthepeepeedance

I have practiced what I preach.
I have written the best book I could.
I had it professionally edited (twice, but that is a whole other blog).
I obtained a blurb from thriller-great James Rollins.

I have even lined up my 'dream' agent to be watching the results of today's sales. If I can hit it out of the park, I am represented by an A-list agent. If not... well, let's try to dwell on the positive.

What do I need from you, my precious blog reader?

All I ask is that you spend 99 cents of your hard earned money and go to "30 Pieces of Silver's" Kindle page and purchase my novel. #likerightnow #prettyplease

Then watch my kindle numbers rise, baby!

Not only will you be doing me a favor and potentially changing the trajectory of my writing career, but if you ever hope to publish and/or sell you book as an indie, this event and my level of success can only help your career too!

Oh and did I mention if you purchase "30 Pieces of Silver" today and go to the website you can enter to win a FREE KINDLE?

My little way of saying 'Thank You.' :-)

Also don't forget that my Patterson-style thriller with a dash of Hannibal, "Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware" is the "Bonus Buy" today (find out more at

Yep, if you purchase "30 Pieces of Silver" along with "Plain Jane" you can head on over to and get a full rebate for your purchase price of "Plain Jane!"

That's 2 amazing books for the less than $1!!!

Again, thank you so much for your support and next week we will go back to our regularly scheduled program...

The topic "Is That Your Tentpole... or are you just glad to see me?" Yes, you can start making the jokes now :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To Theme or Not to Theme

First off, not all novels need a theme.

As a matter of fact if a theme doesn't naturally bubble up from your subconscious, you probably don't want to try and wedge one in there just because it sounded cool to have a theme.

We have all read those books where the author thought the color chartreuse was awesome and found some way (usually not a very pleasant way) to interject it freaking everywhere.

If you are going to have a theme it really should be subtle.

A theme is the perfume of writing.

Its essence should be pleasing and help create an overall ambiance, but not be overpowering.

A light hand is usually called for.

You also can't really say that you have theme and introduce the notion mid-way through your book.

That is like saying you have a rooster themed home (which how awesome would that be), but when you walk in the house, not a rooster in sight. As a matter of fact, no roosters until the second floor. What a let down! You could not charge for that admission.

The same goes for your theme. Subtle but consistent.

For the most part you want that theme introduced (or at least hinted at) from the get go.

Again, if you aren't organically feeling the need to paint your first few chapters with your theme's brush... um... it probably isn't a theme. You can certainly have reoccurring elements to a story but unless they are woven deeply into the fabric of your story, they are not a theme.

Why did I devote an entire blog to this subject?

Um, because I see a lot of new authors tout their amazing 'theme' and present it as a high point in their artistry, yet the book does not live up to the hype.

Again, so much of the reader's experience is about fulfilling their expectations.

Do NOT set yourself up for that kind of fall!

Your assignment...
Decide if you really have a theme or not.
If not, go write some pages.
If you do, make sure that it spans the entire novel and is pleasing without becoming overbearing!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Romantic Tension - A Valentine's Day post!

Whether you write mysteries, historical fiction, or straight up romance, you need to know how to generate romantic tension.

Notice I did not say sexual tension. Sure, if you write erotica you probably are going to focus more on the physical attraction, but for just about every other genre, we are really talking about the emotional attraction, the romance of it all.

Even in more male oriented genre fiction, the more crackle you can create, the better it compliments the other 'action' in the piece.

Now many people's first instinct is to go to the "opposites attract" model. You know, the "Moonlighting" or "Romancing the Stone" type of romance where the couple bicker the whole time.

Now if the dialogue is witty enough and the story moves along fast enough you can pull this off, however not all romantic tension has to take the form of confrontation.

The sideways glance or accidental brushing of the shoulder can go a long way to building up tension without all that annoying arguing. Not to say that your couple should be all lovey-dovey and agree on anything. That is on the other end of the spectrum... boring.

So somewhere between annoying and boring is an entire land of romantic tension just waiting to be generated.

The single most important factor to generating true spark is you must have some reason why the couple doesn't just fall in love and spoon constantly.

Because if you do your job and show the couple's attraction, you now must create a reason to keep them apart. Obviously bickering can do it. The two can't get over their pride to show their true feelings.

But what about it you don't want them bickering? There are an infinite number of other ways such as...

One or both are in another relationship or promised to another (although you need to be careful on this one because disloyalty is a major sympathy-crusher for a character)

One or both are afraid of commitment

One or both knows or holds a horrible secret about themselves or the other and fear if they are too intimate, they will spill the beans

One or both have a body issues that make it difficult for them to feel intimate

One or both of them have a task or quest that feels like it does not allow for romance

One or both of them have either parental or mentor related interference to the romance. (Romeo & Juliet)

Now that was a very short list of a very long set of techniques that can be used to distance your lovers.

There should be a yearning (or awakening to yearn) with an equally strong reason they can't get together. That is what creates the tension part of romantic tension :-)

Join me on Saturday at 2pm PST on my LIVE radio show as we discuss all the various forms of romantic tension and how you can ratchet yours up!

Want to see romantic tension in action?
Then check out Amber Scott's romantic comedy "Play Fling." This is her "Bestseller for a Day" event 2/14/11 so "Play Fling" is only 99 cents today!
Click on "Play Fling" to go to her Kindle page and help her march up the charts.

There are also two "Bonus Buys" associated with "Bestseller for a Day." Basically if you purchase "Play Fling" at the same time as Amber's erotic novel "Love Lust" and/or my contemporary romance "Indian Moon" you can get your full purchase price of "Love Lust"/"Indian Moon" completely rebated.

That's right, if you work it right, you can get 3 amazing V-day reads for less than a buck! #awesome. Just had over to the site for more details!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turning a Phrase

In fiction we hear that term a lot... "Wow, that author really knows how to turn a phrase."

You probably think, ya for them!

But unless you are getting spontaneous compliments about how you turned a phrase well, you probably... um... you know... aren't turning them well!

For any new writers out there wondering what in the heck I am talking about, here's the dictionary definition...

A sequence of words intended to have meaning.
a. A characteristic way or mode of expression.
b. A brief, apt, and cogent expression.

Okay, ya, that didn't help me out either. In my world "Turning a phrase" is when you take a fairly routine notion such as folding laundry and find a way to say it so much cooler.

Ex: Elizabeth sighed as she folded yet another towel.

Not a bad sentence. We've got sighed in there so we know her emotional state and the 'yet' adds to our characterization of Elizabeth.

However, that is not turning a phrase, I simply wrote the sentence well.

The towel was her nemesis. The hamper... her Everest.

Is that the best turned phrase I have ever written, no (give me a break , it's 5 in the morning)! But it does show you the basics of what I am talking about.

Usually turning a phrase means taking your point off the nose and flowering it up.

It is when you read something that is not action or dialogue related and think "That was so freaking cool."

I know I am being by far more vague with this blog but that is because we are not talking structure here, we are talking art.

How 'well' you have turned a phrase is completely subjective. Some people may love it. Some people may not.

The point of this blog is to bring your mind to the subject. We have all 'felt' when we needed to turn a phrase.

You wrote something down, but the words just aren't rising to the occasion. You know you could make it cooler somehow, but just don't know how.

That is when you instinctively want to 'turn the phrase.'

So when those moments happen and your fingers stall on the keyboard remember that you want to 'turn' the phrase. That means actively doing something to it.

Look at what you just wrote as a place holder. Now describe in your head all the things you wished you had said. Ramble. Riff. Think far afield. Go for it.

You will usually have 3-5 ideas in there and usually the next to last or last one is the best or closest to the essence of what you wanted to say.

Now re-write the sentence. If you didn't hit it out of the park, no worries. Many times I will come up with the best turn of phrase hours later on my walk or in the bathtub.

Also don't let a 'turn of phrase' stall let it stall your writing for the day. Sure, take a few moments and ponder how you could improve that section, but if nothing comes to you, then move on.

That's what editing is for :-)

All right, that is it for the day.

Your assignment?
Go forth and find some phrases to turn!

And don't forget we will be taking about this subject and answering any questions you have about any aspect of writing craft (which you can leave either here, on my twitter stream @writingnodrama or call in LIVE) on this week's radio show on Saturday at 2pm PST!