Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monique DeVere's Secret to Great Dialogue #MFRWauthor #MFRWorg #WriteTips #Authors

Over the years, one of the compliments I often receive is for my dialogue skills. While contemplating the subject for my column this month, I decided to share my "secret" for writing great dialogue. I would love to unveil some amazing trick that I alone have uncovered. 

Alas, it is not to be. 

My simple trick is to write the dialogue first. I write in scenes and chapters. I never view the book I'm writing as a whole until I reach the end. Therefore, each day I sit to write my scenes and sequels, I visualize only the scene/sequel I'm about to write. Like all authors, I see my characters in conversation, what they're talking about and whether it's what I need them to talk about in order to fulfil my requirements for that part of the story. At this stage, I'm not worried about what my character is thinking, feeling, smelling, eating, seeing or anything else.  I just need to know that they're involved in dialogue that excites me enough to make me want to write it.

I've found that writing dialogue first, so you have only dialogue nothing else to start, gives me a clear indication on whether what my characters are saying is worth listening to AKA reading. Then I can turn my attention to fleshing out the scene with introspection, emotion, the senses, internal conflict, traits and everything else I need in order to create a rounded and complete scene. 

I'm sure you know dialogue in romance has five main functions. When we write dialogue first we're able to see at a glance if we've achieved the objective. 

Five Functions of Dialogue

1. To move the plot forward. 

2. Create conflict. 
3. To inform or reveal something pertinent to the plot.
4. Reveal character.
5. Create tension--sexual/emotional.

I have found that by writing dialogue first--think talking heads--it allows me to see if I've left questions unanswered, taken a side road in the conversation or have fallen into the trap of writing pointless conversation--think boring bits when people talk about nothing. The sort of yakety-yak that goes nowhere.

"Hi, how are you?"

"I'm fine. How are you?"

That sort of thing.

Dialogue is my absolute favourite part of a book. I just love the way we can create situations that pit two characters against each other in wit and banter. The way the characters can argue even while we let the tension simmer underneath. The way we can let them just say whatever they're thinking and see how it creates fireworks. Even letting the characters dodge questions is pretty fun to write. I love cheeky heroes who say the most scandalous things, and sassy heroines who gives him back just as good.

Dialogue is the heart of the novel. Without good dialogue, the most thoroughly planned out and executed story can become a drag to read.

So the next time you sit down to write, take a good hard look at your dialogue. Picture or write only the dialogue and see if it makes a difference to your end result. Then take a look at your character's introspection and see whether you're hiding some of your best dialogue in your character's thoughts. Why not let her/him say what s/he's thinking and see if you can't up the conflict a little.

Do you have any secrets on writing great dialogue? I'd love to hear them. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to reading and learning new dialogue tricks.

Until next time, write with clarity and style!

Author/Screenwriter Monique DeVere currently resides in the UK with her amazing hero husband, four beautiful grown-up children, and three incredible granddaughters. 

Monique writes Romantic Comedy stories some call Smexy—Smart & Sexy—and others call fluff. Monique makes no apologies for writing fun, emotional feel-good romance! She also writes Christian Suspense with a more serious edge.  

Monique loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her by visiting her http://moniquedevere.blogspot.co.uk to learn more about her and check out her other books.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Author-to-Author: Using Goodreads @HelenaFairfax #MFRWauthor

How to use Goodreads as an Author
Earlier this year Harper Collins and Harlequin held an online Romance Festival (http://romance-festival.com/) in the UK. One of the topics discussed was how to make better use of Goodreads as an author. I already have a Goodreads author page  - CLICK HERE. Feel free to friend or follow me. I list all my books read. I have over a hundred reviews of my books with an average rating of 4.5, which “isn’t too shabby,” as my nephew would say. I also love adding and rating books I’ve read myself, too, and checking out other listings and reviews. Apart from that, though, I don’t connect with people as I should, and I’m sure I could make better use of Goodreads.

During the Romance Festival, Cynthia Shannon, marketing co-ordinator at Goodreads, answered questions live in this post on Facebook - CLICK HERE, and Goodreads librarian, Julie Whitely wrote an excellent post on Understanding Goodreads for the Romance Festival blog.

What I learned from both was invaluable, and I’m determined to start using Goodreads much more productively.

Here are the main facts/tips I came away with:
Goodreads is used by an incredible 25 million readers. That’s a phenomenal audience of people who love books, who are looking for great books to read, and who are discussing and debating new releases.
Goodreads has had a bad press in some quarters for allowing trolling and author bullying.  In my limited experience so far, though, people have reached out to me and been willing to make friends and discuss books. Of course there are the exceptions, unfortunately, but as Julie Whitely points out, “Any site that encourages readers to read more and get involved can’t be all bad.”
Goodreads is a reader site – it’s not there for author promo. But if I want to promote my own book, how do I go about it? One suggestion was to choose a few reader groups, join them, and more or less promote by stealth. I feel quite uncomfortable doing this! I’d sooner just join reader groups and be me – a reader who writes romance novels. So if anyone reading this post has any suggestions for groups I’d enjoy, I’d love to hear from you!
If you do join a group, read the guidelines about promotion. Julie Whitely says “Nearly every single genre specific or discussion group has a folder for book promotions. Find that folder and use it to tell readers about a sale, a promotion, a new release or whatever else you want to share. Post in that folder only.” I hadn’t realised this about the folders. I’ll check this one out, as I feel more comfortable doing this than promoting in front of an actual group. But do people actually read the entries in the folders? I suppose it’s worth a try!
You can link your Facebook author page to Goodreads. I already have a Goodreads tab on my FB page. Whether anyone has ever actually clicked through from the tab to go to Goodreads is another question. You can also add a Goodreads widget to your FB page, but I’ve struggled to understand how to do this. Is it worth the effort of working it out, I wonder?
You can also add Goodreads author widgets to your blog.
You can add your blog feed to your Goodreads author page
You can add an “Ask the Author” box to your Goodreads author page, which is there to invite readers to ask you any questions they like. I have done this a while ago. So far, no one has asked me anything. Please go to my Goodreads page and ask me a question! :) Even what did I have for tea. Just so I can know it was all worthwhile!
There’s also a section called Listopia, which enables you or your fans either to create or add one of your books to a list. That doesn’t mean add your book to a list that says “Best books of the 21st century” – no one likes a braggart – but a list that tells the plain facts is OK.
For example a long while ago I added my novel The Silk Romance to a list of romances set in France/ Belgium/ Luxembourg. Since then – other readers have voted for it! It’s now 1st out of 239 books. I only realised this when I went to check the list right now. So exciting to see it top of the list! But has anyone bought my book because of it, though? This is what I don’t know. But again, it can’t hurt, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort to add your own book to a list.
The most important tip of all I learned was the importance to authors of listing your book in the giveaway program. LEARN HOW HERE.  Authors who host a giveaway of their books can expect to receive on average over 800 readers entering their giveaway.
So from the Festival I’ve picked up quite a few tips – some I knew already, some were news to me. I’ve also learned just how much reach Goodreads has.

Do you use Goodreads as an author? As a reader? If so, which aspects do you use and like? Is there anything you don’t like about it? What other advice would you give?

If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
Contributed by MFRW Author Helena Fairfax
Helena was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, in the north of England. After many years working in factories and dark, satanic mills, Helena has become a full-time writer of contemporary romance. Her first novel, The Silk Romance, was a contender for the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme Award and a runner-up in the Global Ebook Awards 2014. A Way from Heart to Heart is her latest release.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/helenafairfax/
Blog: www.helenafairfax.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082986.Helena_Fairfax

Helena's newest book is A Way from Heart to Heart, a Young Adult Romance, with Accent PressA knock at the door shatters Kate Hemingway’s life when she’s informed of her husband Stuart’s death in Afghanistan. She struggles to care for their young son George with only Stuart’s aloof best friend Paul as emotional support.

Piece by fragile piece, she tries to rebuild her life, realising Paul and her son have formed an unlikely bond. When Paul agrees to accompany Kate and a group of disadvantaged teenagers on a trip to the Yorkshire moors, he finally reveals something he’s kept secret for years. Kate’s own scarred heart begins to open up … but can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#MFRWauthor -to-Author: Who Am I? Author Branding @Kris_Bock

Who I Am: Author Branding
Walk through a grocery store. Chances are you can spot your favorite products from the colors and style of the packaging. Drive down the highway. Does your stomach rumble when you see the familiar Golden Arches of a fast food restaurant?  That's successful branding.

Branding authors seems like more of a challenge, but the basic principle is the same. You want readers to have an instant reaction to your name and cover style. Authors can also take advantage of genre branding by matching the kinds of titles and covers a genre typically uses.

Developing your brand helps readers find you. It lets readers know what to expect when they pick up your books. And whether you like it or not, you already have a brand if you are anywhere on the Internet. People get an impression when they browse your website or Facebook page, or read your tweets. Why not control that impression?

Study other authors in your genre. Look at the colors, imagery, language, and fonts on their social media sites and publicity materials. What impression do you get? Can you identify the genre and target audience? Does it fit the work?

Studying other authors' sites should give you ideas for your own branding. Then it's simply a matter of being honest about yourself and your work. If your books are humorous, your social media presence should be playful. If your work is lyrical and poetic, take the time to make sure your Facebook posts and tweets have the same feel. If you write nonfiction, use keywords that people will search for if they want to find something like your work. For fiction, come up with a good tagline to give people an impression of your books.

If you write in a variety of genres, or for a variety of ages, look for common themes. Do you always have strong female characters? Do you bring humor to everything you write? Do you explore history in fiction and nonfiction?

You may also want to focus your brand on only some of your work. For example, I do a lot of educational nonfiction on a work-for-hire basis. I don't promote this, since I don't get royalties. I also teach writing workshops and offer critiques. One tab of one of my websites focuses on that, but the rest of my branding focuses on my fiction.

In some cases, you might be better off creating more than one brand. I write romantic suspense novels for adults as Kris Bock, and children's books as Chris Eboch. While maintaining two websites and two Facebook pages is a hassle, I didn't want young readers accidentally getting my sexier adult books. The separation also allows me to brand each persona differently. My Kris Bock website’s mysterious red background suggests danger and passion. My tagline ""Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures"" hints at my characters and plots. For my Chris Eboch children’s book site, an antique paper background references the past, appropriate to both my historical fiction and my ghost stories. On both sites, I use travel and outdoor photos, branding myself as adventurous.

If you are newly published, don't tie your brand too closely to your first work. Think about the elements that are likely to reappear throughout your career. In addition, look for elements that people will enjoy or find useful. If you write cozy mysteries about a caterer, offer recipes on your blog. If your children's books are suited for classroom use, provide free materials for teachers. If you write inspirational romances, share inspiring news stories or blog about maintaining a happy marriage. Give people a reason to visit, rather than focusing on ""buy my book.""

This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, at the beginning. But once you have figured out your brand, you can use those elements across social media. Get an appropriate, professional-looking headshot and use it everywhere. Use the same color scheme, tagline, and keywords for business cards, post cards, bookmarks, social media networks, your blog, and even your e-mail signature. Collect all the material in a convenient place, and you can quickly create an author page on whatever new media site comes along.

Branding comes down to a simple principle:
Know who you are and share it with the world.
Questions to help you develop your brand:
  • Who is your ideal audience?
  • What is your message? What themes do you address? 
  • What is your attitude? 
  • How do you want to be known? 
  • What words and phrases would you like people to associate with you? 
  • What colors and images suit those elements?
  • Where do you hope to be in five years? Ten years? How will that affect your branding?
  • How do authors with a similar genre/audience express their brand?
Contributed by MFRW Author Kris Bock
Kris writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Counterfeits features an art theft that brings danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark follows a young archaeologist who stumbles into peril as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure features two friends and a handsome helicopter pilot hunting for a long-lost treasure in New Mexico. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.

Kris Bock's latest book is The Mad Monk’s Treasure, a Romantic Suspense, with Pig River Press.
The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is the handsome pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch really a hero, or one of the enemy?

"Oh my wow! You've heard people say you gotta read this book...well for this one, it's true!! The story is worth the read (not a page turner, but a page burner) and the characters are awesome! Can't wait to read more from this author!" – Kathia 


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