Or, A Short Excerpt from my Upcoming Paranormal Romance Spell of Binding!
The man on his knees said one word, “Constringo.”
Fricking necromancers and their hard-ons for Latin. Regardless of the word’s definition, his spell hit Dani hard, burning from her fingertips to her elbows. A dark spider web tattoo crawled up both forearms.
Or, How to Fine Tune Scenes During the Revision Stage
There are dozens of types of scene cards and twice as many ways to use them to improve your writing, either in pre-writing or in the editing stage. I took ideas from different sources and designed a scene card that suits my style perfectly. If you’re having trouble visualizing how each individual part of your story works together as a whole, try this.
Each scene gets its own card. Each POV (point of view) character gets his or her own color. Blue for my hero and pink for my heroine (to make it simple). Purple or green for my villain or any secondary character with their own POV. Then, because my novel, Spell of Summoning, is a paranormal romance I also wanted to track how often magic was used or how often a character communicated with a spirit. So I taped a yellow card behind any scene that had magic in it.
Now comes the time consuming part of this exercise. Starting from the beginning of your manuscript, read each scene and note the following details:
The chapter number / the scene number;
The date the scene takes place in the story;
The POV character;
A quick summarizing title for the scene;
The POV character’s goal in the scene;
The POV character’s motivation for that goal in this scene;
The conflict that keeps the POV character from reaching their scene goal;
The main characters’ clothing or hair style in this scene;
Here is an example from Spell of Summoning:
I included notes on costume because I never want to forget my hero wore a charcoal gray suit and black tie in the morning and then pulled off a black suit and red tie at the end of the day. Keeping the information on my scene card makes it easier for me to track costumes through multiple scenes in multiple locations.
The GMC (Goal-Motivation-Conflict) on each card is simplified. In my more elaborate pre-writing notes I have written both external and internal GMC for each character in each scene, but the size of the card does not allow me to express all this. Instead, I jot down easy to remember notes that trigger in my head the more complex workings of my characters. However, even having to fill out a simplified GMC chart for each POV character was extremely rewarding.
For example, I got to one scene around the middle of the book that had no conflict at all. I had written a cute little scene where Rebecca is flinging witty dialogue at her receptionist as she marches through her office. When I tried to write her GMC I had quick answers for her goal and her motivation, but I couldn’t think of a single hint of conflict. To give the scene more punch I re-wrote it, took Rebecca’s employee out of the office, and added an awkward phone call, instead. After the re-write, Rebecca doesn’t get what she wants and a new layer is added to her overall arc.
If I hadn’t practiced this scene card exercise I might not have found that scene and I imagine anyone who read the original would have skimmed quickly over it to get to something more exciting.
Finally, because I’m a visual learner, I made space on my bedroom wall and taped each scene card under its chapter heading to see the whole story. Posting the scenes helped me see which characters were getting too much attention and which weren’t getting enough. Plus, I could see how often my villain popped up with his own POV and whether I was using too much or too little magic.
This is a note-taking and scene tracking system that worked for me, and I will use it again on the sequel, Spell of Binding. If I was very organized I would be able to write out scene cards before I started writing the manuscript and lay out every scene, every chapter, and every act exactly as it needs to be in the finished novel. But I’m not. Maybe that will be my next writing goal.
I didn’t think anything would come of sending press releases to my local and hometown newspapers, but I’m thrilled to say my story was reported in the Hesperia Star Newspaper in my hometown of Hesperia, California today.
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. She lives in southern Indiana with her husband and son in a cozy little house stuffed full of books and games. She’s a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. She has twenty short stories and five novellas published.
Anna Abner: First, thank you so much for stopping by on your blog tour for the third novella in the 13th Floor Series, Dragonslayer. Can you start by telling us about your writing schedule?
Christine Rains: As a stay-at-home mom, I have no specific writing schedule. If my son naps, I’ll get an hour or two in the afternoon. I might get an hour at night if I’m lucky. My son also goes to preschool twice a week, and I use those few hours in the morning to write. That is the only time I can be certain I’ll get to write.
AA: Your hero and heroine in 1301 are old enough to have a few wrinkles and a little gray in their hair. What made you choose to write slightly older characters?
CR: I read a lot of paranormal romances. There are a lot of young and rash characters. Even if they’re thousands of years old, they still behave that way. I wanted a couple who were more set in their personalities. I wanted strength through wisdom, and besides, a little gray hair can be sexy.
AA: I agree! Speaking of rash, supernatural characters, do you feel like your writing is more character or plot driven?
CR: Definitely character driven. I focus much more on my characters and let them propel the story forward. One of my idols, Stephen King, has amazing characterization skills. I strive to bring the people who live in my head to life on paper as brilliantly as he does.
AA: I’d say you’re doing a great job. Up to this point you’ve written about demons, vampires, and werewolves. What characters do you have planned for upcoming stories in the series?
CR: In my newest novella, there are dragons. Modern day dragons who are still hoarding and seeking power. The next book will feature a harpy who works for Zeus, and you’ll see my twist to the Greek pantheon. The vampire will return in the fifth story narrated by a banshee named Harriet. Poor girl has a rough life!
AA: 1301 and 1302 take place in Carmine on the same night. Will all the 13th Floor stories take place around that same time?
CR: Yes. All the books will take place around the same time period in the city except for the fourth book which will mostly take place out of this realm of existence. It will still be during the same time as the other stories, though.
AA: How do you develop new characters and story ideas?
CR: A lot of my ideas come from dreams and simple wonderings about the world. I like to play with ideas and characters in my head before I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard. I’m a pantser, so all I need is one good character and I can start writing.
AA: When you’re not writing what do you enjoy doing?
CR: I love to spend time with my son and see the world anew through his eyes. I’m an avid reader and movie addict. I also love the outdoors and would happily spend my days walking in the woods if the weather was nice.
AA: What advice would you give to struggling writers just starting out?
CR: Don’t be intimidated by everything you read. Write what you love and don’t stop writing. Not for anything. Never give up on your dreams. Perseverance will see you through.
AA: Finally, what can you tell us about 1303: Dragonslayer?
CR: Dragons have not gone extinct. They have taken on human form and blended in with our society, hiding in plain sight as famous and powerful individuals. While the dragons use their influence to gain more power, dragonslayers are forced into the shadows and deemed outlaws. In my novella, a dragonslayer named Xan misses his target and incurs the dragon’s wrath. He also picks up an unwanted passenger in the form of hard-edged reporter Lois King. She’s a skeptic and won’t believe him, but he must convince her or else they both could die.
AA: Sounds exciting! Thank you again for the interview, and good luck with all your future projects.
Or, A Short Excerpt from my Paranormal Romance Spell of Binding!
(Book 2 in the Dark Caster Series is a romance between the witch Daniela Ferraro and David Wilkes, the man she can never have. However, this scene I wrote for the novel in Cole Burkov’s point of view excited me so much I wanted to share it first.)
Cole drew the knife across his forearm, avoiding the raised scars laid out like tally marks. A running count of accessed power. Necromancy had never belonged to him, just lived in his veins.
Blood bubbled up from the new wound and rolled down the length of his arm. Power sizzled into his fingertips.
I’m a new indie author with a book to promote, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing. So, I’m all about free easy ways to get my name and novel out in front of a lot of different people. Here is a list of things (in no particular order) that have worked for me.
I’m assuming you have a website or a blog already set up.
Write a press release with a “local girl (or boy) does well” spin and send it to your hometown newspaper.
Reach out to book clubs and offer your novel for them to read. Be prepared to visit the group for a Q&A.
Set up an author page on each of the sites you publish on. And don’t forget Goodreads!
Write an article and be the guest speaker on a blog. Invite other authors to guest on your blog.
Write interesting and topical blog posts at least three times per week.
Post an interview with another new, indie author on your blog. Ask if they will reciprocate.
Give away a free copy of your book through your site or on Facebook.
Or, Photos of the Sweetest Labradors in the Whole World
Can you picture Buster in these two beautiful dogs? Change one’s fur to blond and give him a bit of a jumping problem, and it’s Holden’s little buddy in my new release, Spell of Summoning.
Below is the view I imagine Rebecca had moments before this scene: (Sorry, Becca!)
Buster’s ears perked up. Holden dug in his heels, but Buster was eighty-five pounds of overgrown puppy. He launched himself at Rebecca full force as if he had springs for feet. The leash jerked out of Holden’s hand, and before he could stop him, his dog scratched both her knees, untucked her white blouse, and slammed her against her car.
Spell of Summoning pg. 2
As a bonus, here is the (fictional) Bull Dog Inn in (the very real) Jacksonville, NC–external staircase and all. This is not Rebecca’s favorite place. 😉
What I imagine the Powell House looks like. Just picture a bigger tree in the yard and missing roof tiles.
Holden’s stripped down 1979 Jeep. Can’t you see Buster sitting in the front seat?
When you’re a small-time, self-published author like me you have to be your own PR department and take over everything from running a website to convincing bloggers to review your book. Throw into that list writing your own press releases.
Unless you’re super famous or have a topical book to promote you probably won’t see any stories in national newspapers and magazines about you or your book. But, just maybe, your local newspaper will be interested in printing a story about a local girl (or boy) who followed her (or his) dreams to publication. I believe it’s worth your time to write a press release and email it to your local journalists and news desks.
1. Start your email with your full contact info and a friendly greeting (personalized, if possible). You can find the appropriate editors and email addresses on the newspaper’s website.
2. Print FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE at the start to signal the journalist when the actual article begins and that it is news ready to be printed.
3. Write a catchy headline. This is the first impression most people will have of the article and, by extension, you and your book. I followed the same rule of thumb for billboards–7 words or less. And capitalize the first letter of each word.
4. At the beginning of the first paragraph print your location in all caps and then the date.
5. The first paragraph should have the most important information about you and your story and the reason you’re both interesting or topical enough to warrant printing the article. Think about the 5 W’s of journalism. And don’t forget quotes or snippets of reviews (if you have them). End with a hook. But you knew that one already!
6. The next one or two paragraphs give more information on you, your story, and your book. But keep the whole thing short and snappy. Shoot for between 200 and 500 words.
7. Include where the book is available and add a link to your website or blog.
8. Attach your cover art or an author photo.
9. End the press release with ### to let journalists know the article is finished.
10. Final reminders: Write the release in the 3rd person and the way a non-partial professional journalist would write it. It should look like other, similar stories printed in that publication. And don’t be afraid to send a new press release out if your novel suddenly becomes topical or you can link it to a current event.
If you’re a new author and you’re not sure how to get the word out about your book, a nicely worded press release to the local paper can wield positive results.