Thursday, August 28, 2014

Delia Latham: Reviving an Old Title

New cover (2014)

Your book is old news. It may have been a “new release” two years ago…or four…or even longer. That particular novel’s time is over and done. No point marketing it anymore, right?


Why do certain books “make it”? Why do some fail to gain the attention they deserve? Explanations vary as widely as the north is from the south. Sometimes, however, it’s simply a matter of timing. Yours, your publisher’s, your readers’…God’s.

A couple months ago, my publisher informed me Goldeneyes would be listed in “Ereader News Today.” What? I was shocked. Goldeneyes was one of my first published titles, and remains the book of my heart, being set in Weedpatch, California where I grew up. But it released in 2008. Six years ago! I was sure it had done all it was going to do. I would treasure it in my own library, but certainly didn’t expect to see much more activity as far as sales.

But I jumped on board. On the day the book was mentioned in “Ereader News Today,” I also conducted a Facebook event, “Celebrating Goldeneyes.” I invited everyone on my friends list.

Old cover (2008)
No one showed up.

That’s what you expected to hear, right? But it isn’t true.

The turnout was unbelievable. By end of day, Goldeneyes had reached #1 in its category on Amazon. I watched the book climb from somewhere in the millions all the way to the top as the day progressed. Seeing that “Bestseller” ribbon beside my cover felt amazing!

Goldeneyes remained at number one for almost a week. Today, over two months later, it’s still hanging in the Top 100 in the Kindle Inspirational Romance category. And all it took was a little marketing.

You can do it too. Pull out one of your old releases and see what happens when you spotlight it again, as if it just released today.

1.      If you can get the book listed in a popular online reading/writing magazine, all the better. Ereader News Today has a readership of over 200,000. That helps tremendously. Do your part. Submit the book for consideration. Mine was given a simple listing, and my publisher dropped the eBook price to $.99 for that day and the next.

2.      Start talking about the book again. A lot of times, we promote our books only for a certain timespan…then forget it. Start posting to Facebook and Twitter: quotes from your book; snippets from reviews; things readers have shared with you that they gleaned from your book, or its impact on them. Start putting the cover out there in front of folks again. In other words, start a buzz.

3.      Choose a day to conduct an all-out promotion, featuring that book alone. Invite everyone you know, and ask them to do the same. Then talk up the event for at least a week prior to D-day, and offer giveaways during the event. I don’t suggest giving the book—you’re trying to sell that. But something that correlates with the book’s content.

My heroine has striking golden eyes. I sought out tiger-eye jewelry on eBay – things I could purchase at really good prices—inexpensive, but still good quality. (No one appreciates receiving an obviously low-grade gift.) An angel moves through the storyline, so I also gave away angel-themed items. You’ll figure out something that works for your own book.

I did give away a few of my other titles in eBook format. This allowed a bit of promotion for those titles and let readers know that my writing career didn’t end with Goldeneyes.

4.      Be accessible during the event. Chat it up with attendees. Share short excerpts from the book. Have quote graphics made, or make your own. They provide visual impact and a peek into the storyline. Keep the event active, so attendees don’t get bored and go away. Give them a reason to stick around—and a reason to purchase your book. Aside from the giveaways I announced during the event, I also had a drawing at the end using the names of all those who purchased the book that day. (They simply ordered on Amazon and forwarded their purchase confirmation to me.)

This was the “biggie,” where the prize was something nice enough to make them want to be in the drawing. You don’t need to break the bank, just make it something worthwhile. I offered a $15 Amazon gift certificate.

5.      Keep the excitement going after the event. I made sure to repeatedly thank everyone for helping my book make it to #1—and kept them informed of its current status on Amazon. As it dropped lower in the Top 100, I still kept them informed and let them know they were appreciated for keeping Goldeneyes “up top” for such a long time. Even now—two months later—I share the Amazon ratings every few days, along with quote graphics, new reviews (and I’ve had several since the big event), reader comments, etc.

You can do it. Pull out that old title—the one that deserved more of a “day in the sun” than it actually received—and let the sun shine on that awesome novel once again.

Delia Latham

© 2014


Give new life to an old release. @DeliaLatham tells how she did it for her 2008 release, Goldeneyes.

Create a new buzz for an old title. @DeliaLatham did it for Goldeneyes, a 2008 release. See how on Write Right!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Holly Michael: God has called me to write. What next?

Holly Michael

God has placed a story on your heart, a tale you must tell, an essay you must write, an article idea that you’re sure will benefit others. The idea creeps into the creases while you’re folding laundry, spills over with the milk you pour into your child’s cereal bowl. You know you have been given a mission. What do you do?

Answer the Call
No, not the phone call that interrupts your inspired thoughts. Honor God by answering the call to write. Never ignore the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Don’t be like the servant who buried his talent, like in the Parable of the Talents. In Matthew 25:14-30, three servants were given talents. The first two acted responsibly, but the third one did not.
The Bible says, “…for to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:29-30

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth
So, you said yes to the call and now, overwhelmed with the looming task of writing the story, you’re weeping and gnashing your teeth. What do you do?

Look for help and encouragement from others. Join a Christian writers group. Do an online search. You’ve found high school friends on Facebook, you can find a writing group. Christian writer’s groups are everywhere and learning from others is vital.
The Bible says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

So, you sought knowledge, but your wise ears are itching and you know there’s more to learn about the craft of writing. What next?

Spend time reading books or articles similar to what you want to write. Study the greats. There are also many good books, websites and blogs on writing, like this one. Read, read, read. That means staying in The Word, too. The Bible says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

You’re on your way now, getting words on paper. Good job! Maybe you’re closing in on having a completed project. There must be a next step. There is!

Join a Critique Group
The criticism of others, especially critiques done in the spirit of love, will make you a better writer. Psalms 29:1 says, Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”

You’ve come this far. Don’t be destroyed! Accept those critiques meant to assist you in becoming a better writer. Every writer writes junk, even the greats. Writing means rewriting and rewriting and sometimes completely trashing our cherished words. Don’t love those words to much. You may have to kill them. Writing is a craft. It must be learned. 

So you’ve listened to others, you’re learning the craft. What’s next?

Keep Plugging Along
Don’t give up. Keep writing to completion. Keep at it! The Bible says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

How can we give up with the Lord beside us? We can’t!

Okay, so think you’ve got it all covered. You don’t. The learning process never ends, but with diligence, you’ll reach that goal, finish that project, and be on your way to publication (another overwhelming process, but you can do it.)

Want a final tip?

Wherever your writing path leads you, always pray. If God has truly given you the talent and the story idea, nothing matters more than remaining close to Him in constant prayer for His continued guidance. Pray and seek His will. Sometimes He might even tell you to take a season off writing. Wherever the writing journey takes you, bring God along and you’ll never go wrong.  The Bible says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

About the author:

Holly Michael, published in various magazines, newspapers, and in Guideposts books released her debut novel, Crooked Lines. She and her husband, an Anglican Bishop (from India) live in Kansas City. She has three grown children, a lovely daughter, Betsy, and two sons, Jake and Nick. She enjoys watching football, especially when her sons are playing—Jake (NFL-San Diego Chargers) and Nick (Univ. Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns). She and her son Jake have a devotional book contracted with Harvest House.

About Crooked Lines:

Two continents. Two cultures. Two souls seek hope and a future.

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace.

Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers. 

Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…and buried memories, unearthed.

Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.


So you're called to write. What now? Find out from Holly Michael on Write Right! @HollyMichael @DeliaLatham

What comes after the call to write? See what Holly Michael thinks on Write Right! @HollyMichael @DeliaLatham

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Delia Latham: Why Writers Should Read...

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time—or the tools—to write. Simple as that.

~~Stephen King

Whether you’re a reader of Stephen King or not, you have to give the man his due—he’s doing something right. Highly successful, critically acclaimed, instantly recognizable, and a one-of-a-kind voice. Not to mention mega-sales.

We should all be so “lucky.” (I hope you recognize the dripping sarcasm in that word. No one gets where King is by pure luck. The man worked his rear off to become the success he has become. Kudos, Mr. King!)


Yes, there always is one of those. Amidst all the work…and joy…and frustration of writing, the master of horror makes time to read.

And so should anyone who wants to write.

A writer’s toolbox that does not include “reading” contains a big empty space—and only one thing fits it. Reading.


What made you want to be a writer in the first place? I’d be willing to bet that one hundred percent of writers—if they’re truthful—will say it’s because they love to read, and that love of a good book spawned a desire to write on of their own. Or they read a book and thought, “I could do that.” Or they read a book, and wanted to change the ending, or the beginning, or the desperately drowning middle. So they did.

Core truth: Reading inspires writing.

If you think you don’t have time to read, make the time and read anyway.

Seems pretty clear-cut to me, but for those who think anything important should have a “list” to validate’s your list.

Why Writers Should Read...

1. Reading inspires writing. We all need steady doses of inspiration. Getting lost in a riveting storyline triggers something in a writer’s psyche. It flips the “want to write” switch. Who doesn’t need that extra bit of “oomph” now and then?

2. Reading improves vocabulary. While journeying through the pages of a good book, you’re learning new words even without knowing you’ve learned them. It’s like having a dictionary and a thesaurus open in your brain, and flipping through the pages while you’re caught up in a compelling storyline.

3. Reading teaches writing. While you’re exploring the world between the covers of a book, you’re also absorbing a number of valuable lessons. Subconsciously, you’re noting narrative structure; absorbing the use of dialogue; checking out the development of tension and tone; picking up new ways to describe body language and expression…and so on.

4. Reading keeps a writer aware of what’s already out there. No one wants to create a copycat novel. More importantly, publishers don’t want to publish one. Reading widely keeps a person informed on current publishing trends—and eliminates the frustration of writing what’s already been written.

5. Reading teaches how not to write. It’s a fact…some books are poorly written and/or edited, and force a reader into farming—meaning they have to plow through each page. But for a writer, even those books can be beneficial, by showing the wrong way to write and increasing his/her determination to never produce a book that will teach writers how not to write.

6. Reading is great practice in evaluating/analyzing others’ work. Noting their good points and bad ones. Picking up on new techniques. I inevitably find myself mentally “critiquing” while I read—especially if the writer hasn’t managed to hook me into the story. When you’re asked to critique for a writing partner, you’ll find you already know a little about how it’s done.

7. Reading widely familiarizes a writer with various genres. How can you know what you really want to write if you’re not familiar with more than one writing direction? I write romance, and yes, that’s what I love to read, as well. But I also read mysteries, suspense, horror, fantasy—and anything else that strikes my fancy when I’m choosing a book. And I learn something from each of them. If I had to pay Stephen King for everything I’ve learned about writing from reading his books, I’d go bankrupt. Laughing through the pages of Cathy Hake’s and Mary Conneally’s books shows me how to weave humor into a tale. Mary’s novels, along with Vickie McDonough’s, make me think maybe I could write an historical romance. But I’d never consider those things if I refused to read outside my own genre.

8. Reading educates. Even “fluff” books can contain information and knowledge that is new to you. Because it is new to you, you’ll take mental note of it and file it away for future reference, even if you don’t realize you’ve done so. One day, for some reason, you’ll remember it, pull it out and dust it off with some vague comment, like, “You know, I read something about that…somewhere. If I remember correctly, this is how it works.”

9. Reading helps develop a person’s “self.” We are what we read. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it like this: “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

And last, but far from least...

10. Reading is an escape. When writing becomes a chore, and each word is “delivered” with all the blood, sweat and tears of releasing a child from the womb…read. It relaxes the brain, takes the reader to a different time and place, and opens up the avenues of imagination.

Writing isn’t always a pleasure, but reading almost always is. As a writer, you need that bit of pleasure…and the escape into another world will renew and revive your imagination so you can write again—with pleasure.

Delia Latham

© August 2014


I'm a writer...why should I read? Find out on Write Right! @DeliaLatham

DELIA LATHAM is a born-and-bred California gal, raised in a place called Weedpatch and currently living in the lovely mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband and a spoiled Pomeranian. She enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She has a "thing" for Dr. Pepper, and loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website or send an e-mail to Find her also at the following online locations:

Living the Write Life (blog)
Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Carrie Padgett: Lessons from TV on Plotting & Creating Novels

Carrie Padgett

 The Gilmore Girls. And Veronica Mars.

I’ve been re-watching GilPmore Girls from the beginning in syndication and ended up buying the first two seasons to watch at my leisure. It occurred to me that the structure and story of the Gilmores and Veronica make great primers on how to plot and create novels.

Writing secondary characters: 

Mrs. Kim: Stereotypical Korean woman. Hard working. Tiger mother. Ethnocentric. But—not a Buddhist or Shintoist or Muist. Mrs. Kim is a devout Christian, a Seventh Day Adventist who insists Lane attend church camp every summer and date only other Korean Seventh Day Adventists.

Write a stereotype and then give it one twist. And don’t clutter the story with characters who don’t serve the story. 

Mr. Kim: Non-existent on screen. He’s referred to in early episodes. Lane mentions “… my parents,” and Mrs. Kim says, “Lane’s father and I …” But he’s never seen. By the later seasons, he’s not mentioned any more.

On Veronica Mars, Dick Casablancas is the total air-head frat boy, chasing girls and beer, though not necessarily in that order. But about once a season, he lets his hurt show through and reminds viewers that he’s not a total screw-up. Just mostly. 

Backstory: Dribble it in. We don’t know for the first couple of episodes why Lorelai is estranged from her parents. But it’s clearly shown when Lorelai visits their home in September and the first thing both her parents say (but at separate times) is, “Is it Christmas already?” Brilliant. We know right away that they are accustomed to only seeing their daughter once a year. Give or take. 

In another episode, Rory asks Lorelai if her father Christopher is going to attend a function. Lorelai says, “He said he’d be there, he 100% guaranteed he’d be there.” Rory responds, “So … 50% likelihood he’ll make it?” The viewer immediately gets that Christopher is full of promises and good intentions, but not quite so good at follow-through. 

Setting: The setting has to be an integral part of the story, its own character. Would Gilmore Girls work anywhere except Stars Hollow, Connecticut? I don’t think so. Could Veronica live anywhere except Neptune? The movie answered that question with a resounding “NO!” 

Stars Hollow’s cast of quirky characters and festivals and town dynamics make it a real secondary character, as real as Mrs. Kim. Where else but Stars Hollow would you find a Knit-a-Thon to raise money to save a bridge. Not every element has to make sense. For instance, if every person in town is knitting, who’s left to pledge and give the money? But it works.

Neptune’s class war of the haves vs. the have nots is a classic trope, yet setting the battles in that most horrid of war zones, high school, puts a new spin on what could be a tired cliché.

Trust the reader/viewer to get it: Gilmore Girls is notorious for fast-paced dialogue sprinkled with multi-pop culture references. Maybe once a season does a character question a bon mot and an explanation is offered. Otherwise, the audience is expected to get it or let it go.

The repartee between Veronica and her father is some of the funniest stuff ever written for television. The other characters are just as quick witted. The audience is never talked down to.

Do you have a movie or television show that you look to for examples of or lessons in storytelling? Please, share them with me!

Carrie Padgett writes sweet contemporary stories about people who have a perfect life—from the outside—and what happens when their fairy tale is interrupted. She lives in the middle of California, miles from Hollywood and the beach, although Yosemite is her backyard. She’s a Romance Writers of America ® 2014 Golden Heart® finalist, and an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis winner (2007) and semi-finalist (2012 & 2014). Her collection of short romance stories can be found on Amazon. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached at cpadgett59 (at) Comcast (dot) net.


Learn writing techniques from The Gilmore Girls. @CarriePadgett @DeliaLatham

@CarriePadgett shares writing lessons learned on favorite TV shows - on Write Right!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Terri Main: Showing Up

There is a statement that has been attributed to a number of people that goes, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” This is no less true of the writer than it is anyone else. For the writer, “showing up” means applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair in front of the keyboard writing.

Yet, how many of us say we don’t have time to write. There are many reasons for this. I discuss several of them in my new book The No-Excuse Zone: A Writer’s Guide to Productivity in the Real World. One of the most common though is the misconception that one has to spend hours at the computer at one time in order to get any work done. This is just not true. Writing in short, but consistent, sessions will be more productive than writing in long, but infrequent ones.

I discovered this a few years ago during a Nanowrimo event. In case you don’t know Nanowrimo, it’s a month of craziness during which people from around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just one month. I had “won” (meaning completed the 50K words) several years in a row and was trying to do the same again. However, I got sick half way through the month. I could only work in 15 minute sessions before I had to lay down and rest.

I did this off and on throughout the day. To my surprise, I was not only keeping up with my normal word count, I was actually exceeding it. That was an eye opener for me. When I thought about it, it did make sense. The longer you write at any one setting, the more tired you get. The more tired you get, the slower you write. Writing in shorter sessions, I was always writing at my peak.

You might not have an hour or two hours a day to write. Few of us do, but do you have four 15 minute sessions? Or even one or two? You might be saying “What can be done in just 15 minutes a day?”

Okay, let’s say you write at about 15 words a minute. That’s pretty slow actually. If you sit down and just write with no soda, no adjusting the computer, no stacking papers. Sit down and start writing and not stopping until the timer rings, you will have written 225 words. Let’s call it 200 for easy figuring. Doing that every week day for a year is 50,000 words. That’s a short novel. And it’s 50,000 words more than you would write waiting for two hour sessions that you never have.

Also, you would be surprised how much time you find you have when you actually start writing. In one group we began a 10-minute a day club. Write for just 10 minutes a day. It was just writing. Not good writing. Just putting words on paper. Many people reported that even though they intended to just write 10 minutes, they ended up writing longer. “It’s like potato chips,” one person said. “Once you start you can’t stop.”

Yes, ninety percent of success is just showing up. Have you showed up to work today?

Terri Main is a retired college professor who has spent more than 40 years in publishing at one level or another. She has written everything from newspaper and magazine articles to video scripts to books and even one radio drama. She lives in Reedley, California with her five cats. When she isn't writing, she is teaching online writing classes through her Wordmaster Academy.


Have you shown up to work today? @TerriMain @DeliaLatham

Try timed writing. You'll be amazed. @TerriMain @DeliaLatham 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Delia Latham: Is Writing Taking Over Your Life?

Writing…take over your life? Believe me…it can if you let it.


Any career should be controlled by its owner, not the other way around. So let’s talk about ways to keep writing within acceptable bounds, so you can still have a life in the real world.

Keep to a schedule. Only you know what “office hours” (writing time) you prefer to keep. Decide what they are, and adhere to them. Some people value free weekends, and that’s fine. Exclude weekends from your writing schedule, if you’re one of them. Some prefer to write in the evenings—I do. Being a night owl has its benefits. Run your “office” at night, if that’s what works for you.

The important thing is, whatever hours you set, stick to them. As with any job, there will be the occasional “overtime” hours, or unpredictable last-minute deadlines or unexpected kinks in the plan. Don’t be so rigid you can’t work with those things, just don’t allow them to happen too often. That’s how schedules become obliterated and writers find themselves at their desks every waking hour. And that’s the kind of schedule that inevitably saps all the joy out of writing.

Know when to say ‘no.’ We all love to help others when we can, and you’ll always find someone needing a hand. It’s important to reach out to those looking for insight, advice, mentoring…whatever. But it’s also important to know your limits. If all your time is given over to others, your own writing suffers—and so will your attitude. Help when you can. Give. You should. But know when it’s time to say ‘no.’ Say it kindly. But when you need to say 'no,' say it, and mean it.

Know your limitations. Some writers are quite comfortable working on half a dozen writing projects simultaneously. Others can handle only one or two at a time. Neither way is wrong. But if you’re most comfortable working on one project at a time, don’t take on two or three. You’ll find yourself less productive—not more, if you stretch yourself too far. 

Going outside our comfort zones now and then is not a bad thing…but common sense says when we do so, we shouldn’t go so far outside the zone that we can’t find our way back. If trying to write two novels at the same time steals all your free time as well as your sleep, stick to one at a time. 

What can you handle within the “office hours’ you’ve set? Take on that much and no more.

Don’t take your work “home” with you. Most of us write in our homes, so this one seems a little weird, but you get the picture. Once you’ve set your office hours, respect them. And when you walk away from your desk, try to leave your work-in-progress there—at your desk, in your office.

This one’s a bit touchy, because as writers, we’re constantly on the lookout for a great story idea. We’re writing even when we’re not writing. But your family deserves to have all of you during designated family time.

That’s why you’re reading this post, right? You want to find a way to keep writing from becoming your whole world. Writing is important to a writer, but God and family are more important. Keep your priorities firmly in place.

Things that “take over” in a physical garden are thought of as weeds. No matter how pretty they might be, when allowed to, they quickly overrun the good things - the things that are supposed to be growing there.

For instance, farmers hate morning glories. To them, they're weeds, because they tangle themselves into crops and choke out the thing that's supposed to be growing. Then the farmer has to invest extra money and manpower to eradicate them.

I, on the other hand, love morning glories. They're beautiful...when contained to a specific area and not allowed to over-populate a yard (or garden). I derive a lot of pleasure from watching them climb over my back yard fence. But hubby and I are aware of their propensity to take we keep them to a very specific area. If we gave in to the natural inclination to let them grow wherever they pop up, because we so enjoy their simple beauty, before long they would take over.

And we, too, would begin to think of them as weeds. Wouldn't that be terribly lose the intense pleasure I find in the morning glories adding that electric burst of color to my yard, because I fail to keep them in their place?

If writing is important to you, create boundaries for it and keep well within them. Otherwise, one day you'll discover you no longer want to longer take pleasure in creating fictional worlds...because it has taken over your real one.


What do writing and morning glories have in common? Find out on Write Right! @DeliaLatham

Is writing taking over your life? Find out how to set the boundaries you need.  @DeliaLatham

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Linda W. Yezak: Novel Starts and Stops

Linda W. Yezak

I recently finished two novels written by two authors with timing trouble. One didn't know where to start the story, and one didn't know where to stop.

The first, written by a newbie, opened with the main character on a walk. During that walk, she reminisced over events that had just occurred. I've done that before–a paragraph or two devoted to action that occurred before the book's "page 1." I got dinged for it, too. When I fixed it, I discovered that going back to present the action instead of just telling about it gave the reader an opportunity to get to know the character before disaster struck.

The newbie's story would benefit from moving time back, too–particularly since he'd devoted far more than a paragraph or two to the event. If he'd begun his novel with the action the character now ruminated over, he could've presented the setting better and grounded the reader into the era. And he could've presented the event far more powerfully than by telling the reader what had happened before. Yes, he had us in his character's head, but the character told us about her emotions instead of letting us experience them with her. A cheater's form of deep POV—the author is still "telling," he's just telling from inside the character's head.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about opening your novel with backstory. The event I'd skimmed over and the event the newbie avoided were both the key incidents that kicked off the action in our novels. I should've known better than to present the action through the character's memory because I've dinged other authors for the same thing. As for the newbie, I can only hope he'll learn in time.

Start/Stop Lesson #1: If you find yourself explaining an event before you actually get to the action, you probably ought to start with that event.

The second book I read was a mystery. It opened with the dead body being discovered, and the rest of the novel was devoted to finding the killer. Typical mystery.

In developing the characters, the author deepened them by presenting some of the baggage they carried into the novel from their backstories, events that didn't affect the plot, but rounded out the characters and made them more realistic. Having the characters dump their baggage and heal from old wounds became a subplot that had to be tied up for the reader to have a satisfying experience with the novel.

Problem was, once the murder was solved and the bad guy got his measure of justice, the novel should've been over. The primary point of a mystery is the mystery itself and getting it solved. This author continued the story to illustrate how each of the other characters managed to deal with their problems and heal from their wounds.

As I tried to decide whether to finish this book, it dawned on me that I'd listened to an audio book by this author before, and she did the same thing in that one. Her point, I suppose, is that her characters were more important than the event that brought them together. My point is, she ended her novel in the wrong place, because once the mystery was solved, I was ready for the book to be over.

It's not that I didn't care about the characters—I did. She did a good job with them. But certain genres dictate when a book is over, and Mystery is one of them. The whole point of Mystery is the mystery. The point of Romance is getting the guy and gal together. The point of Action/Adventure is accomplishing the goal the characters set out to do. Once the point of the story is achieved, the novel is supposed to end.

Solving backstory issues belongs in different genres: Women's Fiction or Literary—any genre where the point of the story is the character's inner journey. This is where the main plot is to bring your characters from "damaged" to "all better." In virtually any other genre, such a journey is a subplot.

Start/Stop Lesson #2: Tie off your subplots before you settle your main plot. If you're a chapter or two from ending your manuscript, you should bring the subplots to a satisfying conclusion. The author of the mystery had ample opportunity to settle her subplots before solving the murder and capturing the bad guy, she simply chose not to. And I chose not to finish reading the book. My new one had arrived and I was anxious to start it. Once the previous author confirmed my "whodunit" guess and dealt with him according to his sins, I was ready to move on.

Knowing where to start and stop your novel is just as important as avoiding the bad stuff: sagging middles, cookie-cutter characters, bland settings, and so forth. Knowing where to start will keep your readers reading; knowing where to end will keep your readers anxious for your next release.

About the Author:

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound  and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels.

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About The Cat Lady's Secret:

Emily Taylor loves to help people, loves to ease their burdens and make their dreams come true. But when a conman ruins her reputation, she discovers that helping others is safer and easier from behind the scenes.

When one of Emily’s gifts captures the attention of an avid journalist, her identity as the town’s anonymous benefactor—and her renewed relationship with her high school sweetheart—are threatened.

As her private life begins to unravel, she realizes the one hope for regaining control lies behind prison walls.