Tag Archives: writing novels

What a Headache . . .

Theatrical masks

Oscar Wilde said he took out a comma in the morning and put it back in the afternoon.

Long before I devoted endless hours going back over and over what I’d written, I laughed at that quote.

No longer.

I’d recently completed another chapter in my wip and begun another, but something nagged at me.

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Filed under Craft of Writing, My Blog, The Publishing Process

P & E Readers Poll Results

P&E Top Ten NovelFor those of you who’ve asked for the results, thank you for your interest. I’m flattered you care enough to inquire.

So for you, and also to share my excitement, The House on Serpent Lake finished at #5, and all the top ten winners earn nice icons/banners to proudly post on their websites. It wasn’t exactly a horror novel, nor a romance; instead, it was a combination of the two with heavy tones of reincarnation.

Now that this contest is over, I need to get back to my novel and actually work on it. Now that we’ve begun the new year, it’s time to do something constructive instead of thinking and planning. Time to get it done.

I’m still holding workshops in the Redlands, CA area. On the third Thursday of each month, I discuss publishing – commercial, online, and self-publishing, and offer pros & cons of each. For the first Thursdays, I’m starting a critique group. And I’ll be presenting two workshops at the Ovitt Family Library in Ontario this April. So I’m still busy, always busy, but I love it, love being around writers, love the air of excitement we seem to garner when we discuss our hopes and dreams. As one good writer friend says, “Writing is a fantastic journey,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Harlequin WorldWide Mysteries will be sending their paperback version of With Full Malice to their mystery subscribers at any time, but for those of you who are not on their list and would like to read it, it’s currently on a bargain price of only $.99 for a few more days. SO if you’ve ever wanted to read it, how’s the time.

With Full Malice

Thanks, y’all. Until next time,


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January 17, 2015 · 6:34 pm

U.S. & U.K. Readers

BQ 200 orig pic monkey copyThe differences between US readers and those in the UK are astonishing. Of all the novels I’ve written, Beyond the Quiet was my favorite until I wrote Serpent Lake, but of course they’re two completely different genres.
Readers in the US either love BtQ or hate it, and according to the reviews, most seem to hate it. But the UK reviews are much better, so when I feel down and need encouragement, I read them instead:





September 27, 2014 · 8:51 pm

Manuscript Evaluation


L. Cooper Press is pleased to announce our manuscript evaluation service.

Many writers, especially new ones, wonder if their manuscripts are ready for publication. If they rush to publication with a weak manuscript, what will the reading public think? Often they voice opinions by scathing reviews and later revisions may not help.

So before you publish, check our service and take advantage of our OPENING SPECIAL:

Evaluation of the first 3 Chapters of your novel for only $50!

Manuscript evaluation:


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August 10, 2014 · 9:21 am

The House on Serpent Lake Video

The House on Serpent Lake

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June 24, 2013 · 7:08 am

Book Club Speaking Engagement

WithFullMaliceFront4Website100Since my mystery/thriller, With Full Malice, was set in Yucaipa and the SoCal Inland Empire, a local book club asked me to speak at their meeting.

What a memorable day. Not only did the hostess provide an excellent buffet, but she decorated her living room entrance with crime scene tape for the event. When it was time to leave, she presented a beautiful plant to me, plus a rose she had placed by the sign-in area.

The entire club made me feel special and very honored. Thank you!

Book Club Crime Scene250

Book Club plant

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February 21, 2013 · 6:39 am

New Book Trailer

The book trailer for With Full Malice is finished, and I’m thrilled. The creator, local writer and artist Arial Burnz, did a fantastic job of capturing the high points of the novel. And the video is so creepy that I love it. Please watch it and let me know what you think. It’s in the sidebar, or feel free to click on the link below. The hardback book will be released approx April 11, 2012 from 5 Star Gale/Cengage.

youtube – With Full Malice:


Filed under My Blog, The Publishing Process

Let’s Welcome Author Victoria Howard

Victoria Howard is the author of three romantic suspense novels, The House on the Shore, which was a contender for the 2009 Joan Hessayon Award, Three Weeks Last Spring, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and Ring of Lies, as well as a number of short stories.

Born in Liverpool, Victoria is a member of Romantic Novelists’ Association and currently resides in South Yorkshire, UK.

Manuscript Makeover – The inner critic

You’ve finally reached the end of your 120,000 word novel and typed the words ‘The End.’  What’s next?  Do you print it out, parcel it up and send it off to the first agent on your list, then immediately start researching another book?  Well, you could, but the fact is the manuscript you’ve slogged hard over and written to the best of your ability, still needs work.

Before you all start screaming at me, take a deep breath and relax. Ask any agent or publisher and they will tell you that first, second or even third drafts are rarely ready for publication let alone submission.  There’s always that little something that could be added or a sentence improved upon and that’s were careful revision or editing comes in.

So where do you begin and how do you make those improvements?

Different authors have different techniques.  Because your manuscript is your baby, it’s all too easy to be lulled by familiar words and phrases into thinking it is error free and perfect.  I suggest you put your manuscript aside for a week or two.  Focus on something else, and then return with a clear mind and fresh eyes.

Print a copy of your manuscript, as it’s easier to make notes in the margin and mark sections which require revising.  My first revision is always for content and here are a few points to consider:

  • Does the story open with the main protagonist in conflict with the antagonist or someone else in the story?
  • Can the reader easily identify who the main protagonist is?
  • Have you described the initial conflict/event in such a way that it draws the reader in and makes them want to continue reading?
  • Are your main characters realistic/strong/well-motivated?
  • And the villan.  Is he or she a real person or just a device to push the plot along?
  • Is your plot realistic or too far-fetched?
  • Does the setting come alive for the reader?
  • Do you write the stimulus before the response? Remember, for every action, there is a reaction, so don’t allow your characters to react before the reader knows what they are reacting to.
  • Is there too much back story, resulting in poor pacing and long, boring narration?
  • Does the middle of the story sag or does the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist escalate to the point where both are willing to sacrifice almost everything to achieve their goals?
  • Has your protagonist grown emotionally during the story?
  • Have you closed all the sub-plots before the climax?
  • Is there sufficient suspense/mystery in your story?
  • Is the ending emotionally satisfying for the reader?
  • Is the dialogue realistic?  People rarely say, ‘I do not…’ but rather, ‘I don’t…’
  • Do you remain in the correct point of view and is it clear to the reader who is speaking?
  • Do you ‘head hop’ – switch POV from paragraph to paragraph?
  • Have you fully explored your characters emotions and tactile sensations?
  • Is your story written in the right tense?
  • Have you withheld or repeated information which will annoy or bore your reader?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does give you a basis from which to work from.  The secret is to revise slowly, scene by scene, chapter by chapter.  Make notes in the margins or in a notebook.  When you’ve finished reading the whole manuscript, go back and revise any sections as necessary.  It’s never easy to discard your work and rewrite a scene or chapter, but more often than not, your manuscript will be better for doing so.

My second revision is always for grammar and typos. Read slowly and carefully, you’ll be surprised how many typos, missing periods or commas you’ll pick up.  Also read aloud – this will enable you to find jarring transitions, discordant dialogue and clunky sentences.   This is also the time when you revise for style.

  • Are your sentences of equal length?
  • Are they simple or compound?  Too many simple sentences and your work can sound amateurish.  Too many long sentences and the reader may become bored or lose track of what you are attempting to tell them.
  • How times on a page do you start a sentence with the same word?
  • Does your sentence have impact? Short, punchy sentences create pace. One-word sentences have power and act as a brake, making the reader it up and take notice.
  • Does your manuscript include clichés? If so, remove them, and rephrase the sentence using one of your own making.
  • Create and employ metaphors to increase imagery.
  • Do you use strong nouns and verbs as opposed to adverbs (-ly words), which are weak? If so, re-write the sentence.

And don’t forget.  The same principles should be applied to your synopsis and query letter.

Victoria Howard

Be sure to check her website for book excerpts and ordering information:

Victoria Howard


Filed under Guest Blogger, My Blog


I just received the news that Beyond the Quiet has hit Amazon’s top 100 Bestsellers in the Kindle Suspense genre.

And I’m thrilled. I’m going to take a screen shot so that no matter what happens from here, I’ll always remember the thrill I’m feeling right now.

I’ve received quite a few reviews in the past few days, some good and some pretty darn terrible. And that’s ok. I know not everyone will like my stories. I don’t like everything I read and I’m even disappointed at times by my favorite authors. When we make our work available to the public, we put ourselves at risk. Par for the course.

But most of the bad ones refer to the sex scenes and I’m surprised. I’ve seen graphic sex in some of the major publisher’s books, so I didn’t realize how many people were still offended by them. One said it was ‘gratuitous sex’ but on that point I have to disagree. I gave a lot of thought to those scenes and decided to go all the way – no pun intended. I wanted to show my character’s ‘flowering,’ in every way and that even a woman who has been married over twenty years can still be awakened by someone who loves her.

Maybe I’m a romantic at heart, maybe I still believe you can find true love while finding yourself. And this is the journey my character undertakes. Most of all, she’s on a journey to find herself.

I love this story, and no matter what I’ve written since or will write in the future, Beyond is still my favorite. Perhaps because, as a few readers have guessed, I put a lot of ‘me’ in the story.

I just haven’t found my Terry O’Neal yet, but Lisa’s story gives me hope.

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Internet Radio Show

Well, it finally happened. The day my radio radio was to air finally arrived. I was going to play it cool and wait until the next morning to listen, but as soon as it was available just before midnight my time, I anxiously went to the website, not sure what I’d find.

And there it was! A small snapshot of me and of my latest release, Beyond the Quiet, a novel about a repressed widow learning to live.

I didn’t have to click on anything; the show automatically began. I was almost as apprehensive as the day I actually did the show, my first. How would I sound? After the interview, I had no memory of the questions the host, Don McCauley, asked, so I’ve been a bit nervous about listening. Was there a way to stop it if I sounded ridiculous?

But I listened, then listened again. Of course I wished I’d said many things. For instance, I wished I’d mentioned the basic – my website –  with writers’ tips, book information, excerpts, and links to short stories, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad.

click here to listen

click here for my website


Filed under My Blog