Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Medium is the Message - Are your books running hot or cold?

Tried and True-In Bookstores Now! Or Click to buy online

Welcome to a very special POST LABOR DAY edition of SEEKERVILLE.

Read all the way to the bottom for a chance to win two DIFFERENT BOOKS by two DIFFERENT WINNERS.

and find out how to sign up to get your name in a contest with a prize, a Kindle HDX.

Now, welcome to Part 2 of my series on emotion.

Find Part 1 here: Putting Emotion on the Page

I’m going to talk about a book I studied in college.

(No the books were NOT printed on papyrus scrolls, shut up)

I studied a book by Marshall McLuhan and, well, this was long ago, so I’m not going to go look at what he actually said and wrote about, instead I’m going to talk about what I remember, what I took away. I wonder now if I completely missed the point, but I’m doing it anyway.

What I remember from that book is that he described different types of information delivery. He called it the Medium. And he talked about Movies and TV and Radio and Books.

I was a broadcast journalism major so that figures, right?

And what he said was the fewer of our senses required to be involved with gathering information, the hotter the experience.

So by that standard, a movie or television is supplying the sight, supplying the sound. It requires very little from the viewer.

Something on radio is supplying the sound so it’s a little hotter than television.

And books supply nothing. A reader has to supply it all.

Because of this reading is an extremely hot medium.
We have to conjure the image.
We have to hear.
We have to taste and smell.

I can’t encourage an author enough to include the five senses and that’s for a very good reason. These things touch a reader, who is in a very hot environment while reading. All their mental energy engaged to be in the book. And senses are familiar. They are touch stones.

You talk about smelling and tasting a chocolate cake and your reader knows what that means. They are there with you, smelling and tasting.

And here’s where emotion comes in, because a reader isn’t a distant, detached, cold participant in your book. They are running hot. They are in your world.

They aren’t watching a fist fight on TV, they are in there swinging, they smell the dust of the frontier town street as your hero is slammed face down on the ground.

They feel the pain of a blow. They taste the blood.

That’s one of the reasons we talk about writing that stops the action dead. Or author intrusion.
These things draw the reader out of the world they are so engrossed in. It's like throwing a bucket of cold water on someone.

You don’t want your reader to see the heroine kissing the hero. You want them to feel his lips on theirs, feel his arms go around her, feel her own hands slide up his chest, hesitantly because she knows she shouldn’t but she can’t resist. Feel her reluctance, her desire, her love. 

One of the things I revise for is emotion words that leave me cold.

I hunted around for a scene in Tried and True that shows Kylie, who climbed on the roof to fix a lose shingle and now is caught in a rainstorm and frightened and struggling to get down to safety.

She had to get down off this roof.

One more inch. Still no toehold. Her weight shifted and she slipped. A screamed ripped from her throat and she clutched the pipe with only her fingertips. The pipe groaned under her weight and began to bend.

Finally her toes touched the chair, but her feet skidded on the wet back-ladders. She flailed with her feet to get her balance and managed to kick the chair. She heard it fall to the ground.

Her fingers loosen . She lost her grip with one hand and felt her nails scraping on the other and lost her hold and fell.

Hard arms closed around her legs. “I’ve got you, Miss.”

She slid over the edge.

The rock solid hold on her legs stopped her. Whoever had her rapidly lowered her to her feet. Her knees buckled. She sank toward the muddy ground. He swooped her into his arms and carried her up onto the porch out of the icy rain.

Shining blue eyes met hers and echoed with strength and kindness. Looking into those clear, brilliant blue eyes, she felt safer in that moment than she had since she was eighteen and had put on her britches, sworn her oath and picked up a musket with her fellow soldiers. Fellow being a particularly important word.

She threw her arms around his neck. The only solid thing in the whole wide world. And she cried.
It’s so easy to just tell what’s happening, much more difficult to make Kylie come alive on the page. While Kylie is struggling I want the reader to be on that roof with her, clinging, frightened, so alone. I want them to be screaming (well, maybe internally, we don't want to frighten the children or cause the neighbors to phone 911).
I want her tears to burn your eyes. I want her rescue to be a wave of relief, gratitude and glory.

No escape.
No excuse.
No cooling off.
Give the reader no excuse for being allowed to escape from the hot medium of your book.

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of Cheryl St. John’s Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict.
And winners choice of any one of my books (that I have a copy of!)
All except Tried and True. I'd really appreciate it if you bought that one, which you can do by clicking HERE.

Go HERE to send an RSVP to a Facebook party, September 23rd for the launch of Tried and True.
Prizes include copies of Tried and True, gift cards and the grand prize, a Kindle Fire HDX.
Lots of fun. Lots of prizes. And judging from the word WEBCAST,
I'm supposed to record myself again.
(May God Have Mercy!)


Monday, September 1, 2014


Seekerville is closed today to celebrate the American "Labor Day" holiday. With summer winding down, we'll be relaxing with friends and family (and probably sneaking in a little writing time, too!).

Please stop by again tomorrow!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Weekend Edition

Happy Labor Day Weekend, Seekerville

 Seeker friends have an open invitation to join us for the last blow out beach party of the summer on Unpublished Island.

We Have Winners

 Be sure to contact us if you are a winner (send an email to seekers@seekerville.net with your snail mail address unless email is specified). We don't have time to track you down. Do let us know if you don't receive your prize in 6-8 weeks. Rules are located here, on our legal page.

On Tuesday Montlake Romance and Indie author Sandra Leesmith talked about how a rejection letter can be a great thing.  Yes, there are such things as wonderful rejection letters. Join us and lets discuss how that can happen.For comfort (and thanks to Walt's suggestion) she is offering a $25.00 gift certificate for Sees Candy to winner, Becke.

Multi-published author Pamela Tracy joined us on Wednesday with the suspenseful thriller,  "Curious Case of the Rabid Reader." Winner of an ebook copy of Pursuit of Justice is Cindy Regnier.  Elizabeth is the winner of a copy of A Broken Lullaby. 

Thursday we talked setting with Love Inspired author, and 2014 Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus, in "More Than a Setting." Winner of her September release, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, is Pamela Tracy.

Seeker and 2014 Carol Award finalist Tina Radcliffe was back in rehab on Friday. Writer Rehab. Her series continued with: "Salvation for the Plotless Wonder." Winner of The Hero's Two Journeys on DVD is Sherida Stewart. Winners of Stranded with the Rancher are Jackie Smith, Sandy Smith and Donna Phillips. Winner/sof the CD version of The Hero's Two Journey's will be emailed.

Next Week in Seekerville

Monday: Seekerville is closed for the Labor Day holiday.

Tuesday:  Today, Mary Connealy will be continuing her series on emotions with "The Medium is the Message - Are Your Books Running Hot or Cold?" Mary will be giving away YOUR CHOICE of any of her books (that she has) and a second (and probably BETTER prize) a copy of Cheryl St. John's  Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict.  (This second prize is just in case Mary is making no sense and teaching you NOTHING. You still have a chance to learn from Cheryl.

Wednesday: Abingdon Press author Lisa Carter returns to Seekerville with her post, "Settings So Real You’ll Be Tempted to Pack a Suitcase." Two commenters will receive a copy of her latest release, Under a Turquoise Sky.

Thursday: 2014 ACFW Genesis Double Finalist Candee Fick will be talking about how to keep going when the writing journey feels like a never-ending story. Stop by for a much needed dose of encouragement.

Friday: Time for the September Contest Update and the crowning of our September Contest Diva/Divo! The prize vault is open!

Seeker Sightings

Mary Connealy's newest release Tried and True is in bookstores NOW! 

Tried and True---Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future? 

And...Catch Mary Connealy,  on Lena Nelson Dooley's blog on Wednesday, September 3rd, to talk about Tried and True, and whatever other mad questions, Lena asks. (She's diabolical!) 

On sale now at Amazon.com, Ruthy's 5-star rated "Try, Try Again", a beautiful, heartfelt and humorous marriage reunion story! .99 for your Kindle or Kindle app, stop over and grab a copy (if you don't already have one!) or gift it to a friend. Such a beautiful story was meant to be shared! And yes, here is your link! Try, Try Again - Kindle edition by Ruth Logan Herne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


Debby Giusti will attend the Writer's Police Academy, in North Carolina, from Sept 4-7, and  promises to share information she learned in her September 17 blog.


Random News & Information

The September calender is up! Find it here, and check out our amazing line-up!

Going to a conference or retreat and need WiFi? If you have an iPhone you can turn your phone into a personal hotspot. Details here. (BTW, you can increase your provider data allowance for the time you are away. It will still end up cheaper than a daily room internet charge.) 

Publishing Advice I'd Give My Younger Self (J.A. Konrath)

Amazon to Give Out Scholarships to Students (GalleyCat)

Can I Use That Picture?: INFOGRAPHIC (GalleyCat)

Pelican Book Group is seeking submissions of inspirational romance novellas for its Harbourlight Imprint. Pelican will publish three novellas for its Easter Lilies series, to be released at Easter in 2015. Stories should be between 15,000 and 25,000 words, and  may be historical or contemporary romance. The heroes and heroines should be between ages 25 and 35, and Easter Lily symbolism must play a role in the story. In addition, each story must use as its basis the scripture verse Solomon 2:14. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2014. For all the details, go here. (Cindi Myers Market New's Blog)

 Guest Posting & Hosting Guest Bloggers: Strategy Or Time Suck? (Molly Greene:Writer)

An interesting blog post to revisit-Can You Plagiarize Yourself ?(Steve Laube Blog)

 MH 370: When to Publish? | A Simple Case Study (the independent publishing magazine)

10 Words With Difficult-to-Remember Meanings (Mental_Floss via Shelf Awareness)

 Top Ten List: What authors need to know before publishing. (LuLu Blog)

Details here.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Holiday!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Writer Rehab Series : Salvation for the Plotless Wonder

I'm continuing the Writer Rehab series today-(Overcoming Goldilocks Syndrome & Writers Who Don't Write 'The End.' ). 

I've spent my share of time in writer rehab, so always know that I speak from having been there and yes, I have the t-shirt.

I've written and been stuck in the middle or sometimes the end of many a plotless wonder.

 No mandatory testing in this rehab, but if you can count any number of manuscripts you have started and abandoned or you have manuscripts that have been rejected due to lack of a viable plot, you need to be here. 

Get comfortable as we dissect this problem.

 Does your story have plot? 

First...what is plot?

Plot consists of the internal and external story goals, and the sequence of events as the protagonist/s moves toward those goals.

 Those goals are the destination of your character's story journey. The destination must be specific-you must be able to verbalize when your protagonist will arrive at their destination. You cannot arrive someplace without a map and a location.  Can you verbalize the internal and external destination?

 Conflict consists of the obstacles that are in the way of reaching their destination. What are the obstacles on your character's road? They must be threatening enough to make the reader worry right along with your character.

Sure you know the rule: Emotion on every page. 
But how do you get that emotion on every page?
By creating conflict on every page.


The truth about Episodic Writing: This phenomena occurs when there is a lovely scene is in your story which fails to advance the plot. See Janet Dean's post, "No Tea Scenes Allowed," if you need a better explanation. 

Episodic Writing occurs for two reasons: 

1. The internal and or external goals, motivations and conflicts are weak or missing.

2. You are missing scene goals that move each scene toward the external and internal goals. 

The Solution?

1. Create strong internal and external goals with believable motivation and conflict (obstacles to those goals.)

If you have serious problems with  internal and external goals and charting them, re-read Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

Author Shawntelle Madison has created a GMC Wizard for you to use.

 2. Scene goals

Scene functions to create emotion, move the story forward and create interest. Think of them as units of conflict. Several units of conflict make a chapter.

Structure of Scenes:

  • Goal->Character wants something
  • Conflict ->2 characters with incompatible goals
  • Disaster->hook & unexpected development at the end of the scene

Yes, you need Goal, Motivation and Conflict (Disaster) in your scenes too. Many of you already do this without thinking by ending on a hook or an internal.

The Journey.

Michael Hauge (our therapist for this part of rehab) breaks down the journey toward the destination into specific turning points. The formula is called the Six Stage Plot Structure of the internal and external journey.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hauge, the internal journey is the character growth arc. The growth as he defines it is from identity (how the character defines himself to the world to) to essence (their full potential that they are avoiding out of fear).

 Let me recap: six specific steps toward the destination. You can find a handy form here.  

The following is my translation of the Hero's Journey for a short romance. Adjust as needed for a novella and a longer novel.

The External Journey is in Black-The Internal Journey in Red:

 Act 1 Stage 1 (living fully in identity)
 0% Set Up
Introduction and identification. The character’s everyday life.  This is who the character was YESTERDAY.

10% Turning Point 1.
Opportunity-An opportunity presents itself. The opportunity is not your character’s desire or goal. Sometimes opportunity is simply new geography.

Opportunity creates:


Act 1 Stage 2  (50 page point  based on a 300 page story) (Glimpses, longing or destiny. Character gets a peek at living in their essence but shrugs it off)

25 % New Situation-A new situation arises. The hero learns the rules of the new situation. Generally, the character thinks this is going to be fun.

Turning Point 2-Change of plans. (50-100 pages in)
Structurally, this is the most important turning point. The finish line is established here at the 25% point. THIS IS YOUR EXTERNAL GOAL. Notice how nicely it corresponds with the end of chapter three hook?

Act II Stage 3 Progress (100-125 pages in) (Moving toward essence without leaving identity. Starting to accept the possibility of essence. Starting to pursue their longing.)
New Plan seems to be working. Obstacles are bypassed or overcome or delayed. Then things begin to be a lot tougher than the character bargained for.

50% Turning Point 3 –The point of no return. The midpoint.  (around 150 page point)
This when the traveler is closer to the destination than the point of origin. The character is so committed to the goal, that there is no turning back. There is no return to the life they were living –all bridges are burned. It is when the character’s life they have been living previously is over.

They are forced into:


Act II Stage 4 Complications and higher stakes. (at 175-200 page point) (Fully committed to essence, but fear is escalating. The protagonist is so frightened by internal conflict they retreat.)
Two things happen as a result of the character's full commitment:
1. It becomes more difficult to accomplish the goal.
2. It becomes more important to accomplish the goal.
Stakes are higher. Obstacles are greater.

75% Turning Point 4 Major Setback (at approximately 200-250 page point)

It must seem to the reader and the character that ALL IS LOST!
The character is left with very few options. The original plan is gone. But they can’t give up as their bridges have been burned.

Their only choice is the final push:

90-%  Act III Stage 5 Final Push (around 250 pages in-flexible)(Character is living their true vulnerable self, (the mask is off) with everything to lose. They realize that the old identity doesn’t work and they must be true to themselves and find their essence and thus their destiny.)

Everything is at risk. The character gives it all to achieve the goal or die trying. Everything must be at stake.

99% Turning Point 5 Climax- The journey is resolved and all goals tied up. (Climax is not only the moment of achieving the visible goal, but it is also the moment of fully realizing the character’s essence.)

Where the climax occurs (page count and percentage point) depends on how much time you need to reach Stage 6.

100% Stage 5 Aftermath. The journey is complete.   (The character’s new life in essence.)

The reader must see the new life, or if the character dies, they must be allowed to experience that emotion. The character can fail or change their mind, but the ending must be a resolution.

Optional Epilogue

For your convenience I am sharing my S.S.P.S handouts. This is how I plot. They are in  in PDF format here. The spaces are for you to enter your hero and heroine information. Here is a clip of Michael Hauge's The Hero's Two Journey's, where the Six Stage Structure originates.

As always, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. One commenter who admits to needing rehab will win a copy of the DVD version of The Hero's Two Journeys. 

Additionally, because writer friends shouldn't let writer friends write plotless, I have another giveaway. Nominate a writer friend who would benefit from this and I will send one nominee the audio version of The Hero's Two Journeys. If you're in a critique group, nominate each other. The winner will not be announced publicity. Instead they will receive a private email announcing their win. Send your nominations to seekers@seekerville.net with NOMINATION in the subject header. You only have until midnight tonight (that's Friday by 11:59 PM EST) to get your nomination in.

And two readers can win a copy of my latest release from Love Inspired, Stranded with the Rancher (print to USA and Canada, ebook release September 1 to international. 

(And all those waiting for a copy to arrive, note I have completed my mailings and they are all on the way.)

The Doctor and the Cowboy

Stranded at single father Dan Gallagher's ranch during a Colorado blizzard, Dr. Beth Rogers is counting the days till the roads are clear. She can't wait to leave for her exciting new life in New York. But suddenly the big-city doctor is delivering babies in log cabins, helping to feed newborn calves and teaching Dan's little girl to play hymns on the piano. No-nonsense Beth even throws a snowball or two at the handsome, love-shy cowboy. She thought she had her heart set on leaving, so why does she dream of Dan asking her to stay forever?

Tina Radcliffe writes fun, inspirational romance for Love Inspired. She is a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award finalist in the short novel category, with her first Paradise book, Mending the Doctor’s Heart. Her latest Paradise book, Stranded with the Rancher is a September release. She also runs My Critique Partner service.

And if you liked this post, parts of which are from my online class, consider signing up for the Self-Editing for Beginners in October in Seekerville’s Night Classes

And one more note, if you're hungry, I'm serving Burrito Bowls today in the Yankee Belle Cafe AND, you can have another chance to win Stranded with the Rancher if you will please and thank you, go  say hi and happy birthday at Stitches Thru Time Blog and grab some birthday cake. They're celebrating their blog birthday over there.

P.S. Don't forget that it's Freebie Friday at eHarlequin. Buy three books and get the fourth one free.

P.S.S. I am not the only Seeker who has been in rehab. Check out this photo of Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens and Janet Dean (R) with Michael Hauge.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More Than a Setting with Guest Blogger Mindy Obenhaus

Despite what some people may think, stories don’t just happen. They’re comprised of many different components, such as plot, characters and setting. Yet every writer writes differently.

Some start with plot. Others start with characters and then create a plot that will generate the most conflict possible. Then there are those of us who start with a setting. 

When my mother-in-law first introduced me to Ouray, Colorado, I knew I had to write a story set there. The town was so beautiful and so unlike any place I’d ever been. I wanted to tell people about Ouray. Better yet, I wanted them to experience Ouray. But how do I do that? 

 Give at least one character a job or hobby that is unique to your setting

 In my debut novel, The Doctor’s Family Reunion, my hero is a doctor. He could have been a doctor anywhere. But my heroine…she owned a Jeep tour company. Why? Because Ouray is the Jeeping capital of the world and Jeep tours are big business during the summer months. 

 In my current release, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, my heroine is a mountain guide and avid ice climber. Okay, she also works in a store—a store that’s a one-stop shop for outdoor

Think about the setting in your manuscript. Are there any jobs or hobbies that are unique to your setting? Put your setting to work for you. I have to be careful here. Don’t want to accidently insert any spoilers. 

 When I was writing The Doctor’s Family Reunion, I knew that something potentially dangerous was going to happen to a particular character. I researched diseases and ailments until I was blue in the face before I finally decided what was wrong with them. But when I told my husband, he said, “Well, that’s silly. Why not use your setting?” Don’t you hate it when normals start to sound like writers?

But he was so right. I was trying to contrive something that could grow organically out of my setting. Which, in the end, made a much stronger story. Going back to your manuscript, how can your setting wreak havoc with your characters? 

Get to know your setting 

 As I said earlier, I wanted my readers to experience Ouray. To do that, I had to highlight the uniqueness of the town. What makes it special? If it’s a real place, how do locals view things versus how the town’s guests view them? Having a waterfall within walking distance of Main Street is no big deal for people who live in Ouray, but a photo op in front of those same falls is Christmas card worthy for guests. Whether fictional or real, think about what makes your setting special. The added bonus for fictional settings is that you can always create something special. 

(Yes, that’s my son behind Cascade Falls) 

 Explore your setting 

Because Ouray is a real place, I had to get to know it not only as the guest that I usually am, but also through the eyes of the people who live in Ouray. In other words, I had to learn what they might do or where they might go. While all the tourists are flocking to Yankee Boy Basin, the locals might head to some little known place like Clear Lake. Had it not been for my friend Brandy who owns a Jeep tour company in Ouray, I wouldn’t even know Clear Lake existed. 

Setting can be a powerful tool. With a little thought and planning or research and exploration, it can be more than a setting. Done well, it can be a secondary character. What’s your first step in creating a story? Plot, characters or setting?


If you’d like to win a copy of my latest release, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, be sure to leave a comment. 

 Rescuing the Texan’s Heart

Cash Coble is desperate for a change. 
After working in the family business for ten years, he's stressed
out and overworked. When he heads to Colorado to visit his ailing grandfather, he finds his mood lifted by the beautiful woman living next door. After a troubled past, ice climber Taryn Purcell isn't looking for love. Especially not with a charming Texan who's consumed by work. But there's something about Cash that captures her heart. Never one to back down from a challenge, Taryn promises to show Cash how to carve out a happy life—one that includes her.

 Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and two of her five children. Her debut novel, The Doctor’s Family Reunion, is a finalist in ACFW’s 2014 Carol Awards and her second book, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, is a September release. When she’s not writing, Mindy enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her grandkids.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


with guest Pamela Tracy.

It was a dark and stormy night as the rabid reader climbs the trellis outside the inspirational romance novelist’s home. Looking right and left, Rabid Reader assures herself that she hasn’t been seen. Good. She’s trained for this day: hours of lifting heavy books, crunching numbers to be able to buy all the books she wanted, and bending page corners to keep her place in such wonderful books.

Dressed in black, she feels a bit like a cat burglar. Only it isn’t jewels she wants; it’s information.

After she climbs through the conveniently unlocked window and lands quietly on soft carpet, she tiptoes across the bedroom and looks down the hallway. There, two doors down, comes a soft light. That's the room! The office where Pamela Tracy works, writes stories, stories that have driven Rabid Reader to tonight’s deed.

Pamela: Ouch. Hey, what’s with the rope?

Rabid Reader: I’ve tied you up. Now you won’t be able to type another work until you tell me all your secrets.

Pamela: Secrets? Me? I’m on deadline? I’m too tired to have secrets.

Rabid Reader (waving the cover of Pamela’s last Harlequin Heartwarming titled What Janie Saw) : It’s all your fault. I start these stories, and I have to read them in one setting because I have to know whodunit.

Pamela: And you’re telling me this why?

Rabid Reader: So I can finally wake up in the morning with more than five hours sleep, so I won’t be looking at my clock all day and thinking when can I get back to the book, so I won’t be at work and wondering if I’m – just like the heroines in your book - just one step from the extraordinary, so…

Pamela: I get it. You’re wondering how a romance writer, one who pens suspense, works? Specifically how I, a wife, teacher, mother, friend, come up with these plots that keep you guessing until the end?

Rabid Reader: Yeah.

Pamela: Untie me and I’ll tell you.

Rabid Reader (picking up a bookmark and aiming it at Pamela): No, I don’t trust you.

Pamela: Good, never trust a inspirational romance novelist. We just might put you in a book.

Rabid Reader: That would be grand. I love all this characterization stuff you guys do. Just what do you do?

Pamela: My heroines are always 1/3 me, 1/3 someone I know, and 1/3 spunk. My heroes depend on the book I’m writing.

Rabid Reader: What are you working on now?

Pamela: Well, right now I'm writing a 70,000 word Harlequin Heartwarming.  It doesn’t have a title yet.  I’m calling it Yolanda’s Legacy.  I’m sure the name will be changed to the Secret Cowboy’s Pregnant Bride or something like that.  (Just kidding.  It’s not about a cowboy.)  I’m waiting for revisions for a Love Inspired contemporary. It will be out in April and is called Finally a Hero. Not very suspensy.

Rabid Reader: No, not very suspensy.

Pamela: You want me to talk about my next book?

Rabid Reader: Yes.

Pamela: Well, it’s called  Holiday Homecoming.  My hero is Jimmy Murphy, a journalist/maker of documentaries about animals and their plight. He doesn’t believe animals should be penned... ever.  He’s a Matt Damon type.  (Yes, yes, I watched the movie a hundred time and soon couldn’t get the man out of my book.  Me, I wanted Johnny Depp.  Matt said, Nope, my turn.) My heroine Meredith Stone works at an animal habitat and has felt the sting of his prose.  She’s also the girl he left behind ten years earlier.  Now, he’s in Scorpion Ridge, Arizona, because his little girl needs a place to call home.  Soon, he realizes home is with Meredith.  And, yes, there is a mystery.

Rabid Reader: Oh, I wish I could meet him.

Pamela: Buy the book online.

Rabid Reader: I will. Hey, you have a television in your office. Way cool. What are you watching?

Pamela: Bones.

Rabid Reader: Is that your favorite show?

Pamela: No, I do like it, but I watch it for mood only. You can’t trust it for fact. See, the investigators on the show have way too much freedom with crime scenes. When I write, I have to pay attention to what my readers will believe. Personally, I don’t believe all I see on Bones. I actually am really into The Gilmore Girls right now. On DVD, of course, during their heyday I was much too busy meeting deadlines to get to watch.

Rabid Reader: Judging by your books, I’d not take you as a Gilmore Girls fan.

Pamela: My critique group actually made me stop watching the Gilmore Girls. They said I was starting to put cutesy stuff in my suspense novels.

Rabid Reader: Where’s your critique group now? If they were loyal writer buds, they’d be here rescuing you.

Pamela: They’re too busy to rescue me. We all have a three pages a day goal. Then, we meet once every two weeks for critique. They’re brutal, which a suspense writer really needs.

Rabid Reader (Finding the pre-order for Holiday Homecoming on her Kindle and waving it around): You mean, you wrote this book at just three pages a day.

Pamela: Well, I wish I’d written it in three pages a day increments. But really, I have a full-time job (college professor), a husband, a son (in elementary school) and so many other things to do (clean house, attend church, judge contests) that I’d start with my three pages a book goal (Did you know that at three pages a day, you can write three books a year?) and eventually I’d be behind and start trying for five pages a day until I’d be really behind and writing ten pages a day for ten days. It works. By the time I get to the last 100 pages, I’m flying.

Rabid Reader (frowning at book): Wow, a college professor. Do most writers have day jobs?

Pamela: Yeah, I’m pretty sure.

Rabid Reader: Do you get your ideas during your day job?

Pamela: No, my all-time favorite book, Pursuit of Justice, came to me when I kept noticing the same homeless woman in my old neighborhood.  She was about my age and size.  I got this “What if” idea.  A whole book idea came from that moment.

Rabid Reader: A whole book idea!  The idea came complete, all you had to do is write it?

Pamela: No, I had to write the synopsis, which is never easy for me. I always know my beginning and my end, but the middle is pretty much a mystery. I have four papers with two columns on them. I label the first column with the heroine’s name and the next column with the hero’s. Then, I starting coming up with at least three harrowing events per chapter that will happen to both. In one of my books, a Love Inspired Suspense, Fugitive Family, there’s warnings posted on doors, flattened tires, tornados, corpses. Oops, I’m telling you too much. I need you to buy the book and then read it. Oh, and I also research. I found a bank manager and investigated what his life was like because I made the hero a bank manager. The heroine is a lawyer. Then, I also researched things like fallout shelters and go-go boots and stalkers and-

Rabid Reader: Stop, all of those things are in here! In one little book. See, that’s why I broke in tonight. You put all these great plot points in a book, and then I buy it, and pretty soon I’m losing sleep because I try to read it in one setting.

Pamela: I think you lose sleep because you’re reading and training to be a cat burglar when you should be sleeping.

Rabid Reader: Do you have a cat?

Pamela: Yes, his name is Tyre.

Rabid Reader (suddenly studying the walls and pictures in Pamela’s office): Do you have any jewels?

Pamela: Hey, I thought you were here to find out how I wrote books?

Rabid Reader: Yeah, but you just told me that most writers have other jobs. I’ll be a cat burglar by night and a writer by day. Thanks for helping me out.

Pamela Tracy is an award-winning author who lives with her husband (He claims to be the inspiration for most of her heroes) and son (He claims to be the interference for most of her writing time.) She was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and started writing at a very young age (a series of romances, all with David Cassidy as the hero. Sometimes Bobby Sherman would interfere). Then, while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, she picked up the pen again only this time, it was an electric typewriter on which she wrote a very bad science fiction novel.)  First published in 1999 by Barbour Publishing, She has written more than twenty-five books/novellas/devotions and has sold more than a million copies.  She's written contemporary, historical and suspense - all in the romance genre.  Her 2007 suspense Pursuit of Justice was a Rita finalist.  Her 2009 suspense Broken Lullaby won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol award.   

Sandra again to thank Pamela for such a fun and informative post.

So to summarize, you:
1. Design a third of your character's traits after someone you know  (Beware friends of Pamela)
2. Watch suspense shows to get in the mood.
3. Use a critique group to keep you in line.
4. Have reasonable goals like 3 pages a day, but don't freak out if you don't meet them. You just find time somewhere to make it up.
5.You make a chart for hero and heroine and list three harrowing events per chapter.

These all sound like great tips for a busy working mom.  And folks, on top of this, Pamela keeps her marvelous sense of humor.  I'm sure that plays a big part in her success in juggling all of her commitments.

Do you have any questions for suspense author, Pamela Tracy?  For those who comment we will put you in the doggy dish for a drawing of a kindle copy of Pamela's Rita finalist novel, Pursuit of Justice and another winner will receive a copy of Carol Award winner, Broken Lullaby.

Pamela loves Irish shepherd pie  (we shared some at Desert Dreams conference )  so I have put out a huge casserole dish of Irish Shepherd pie for all to enjoy.  You don't have to cook tonight so watch out for that cat burglar.