Earlier this year Dr. Meg and I wrote a little novella together. I have been preparing it for publication on Amazon, and since I had some formatted copies (no cover art yet), I sent some PDFs to some of my friends. One of them sent it to one of her friends because it is so AWESOME.
Her friend devoured it and sent her back this text:
If you want to get a copy of the PDF for yourself, just click here to get on our “Insider’s List” and we’ll send you one tomorrow.
Are you doing it this year? If so, cough up your username, title and synopsis in the comments below. Could be fun to do it together.
Don’t know what it is? Click the link above and check it out.
Margaret had wondered for most of her adult life why she seemed so male in her thinking. Her female friends bored her too often with their over-emotionalism. She wanted facts, to fix things, to do things. Like a guy.
She wondered why she had a tremendous desire to visit England, Ireland and Wales as often as possible. Her husband’s job took him their periodically and it gave her a chance. In some ways she felt more at home there than in the states.
Liam tried to concentrate on his maths as the teacher wrote on the board, but his mind was on the new “cat’s eye” he had just traded Fabian for before school. He had wanted it for weeks and couldn’t wait for the bell so he could play with his friends.
Pantglas Junior School was an integral part of the small hamlet of Amberfan, Wales. The school was home to over 160 children who worked on their maths, spelling, reading each day.
Liam was not a studious child. For that matter, he wasn’t a good student at all. His father, a supervisor for the National Coal Board, chided him often for his marks. But Liam was an active boy of 12 and sitting still for lessons was a chore at best and an impossibility at worst.
Liam wanted to play football or marbles or wrestle with his friends. His “da” had all but given up on his goal for Liam to be the doctor he hoped for. Well, at least the Coal Board was always hiring.
As Liam looked out the window, day dreaming about marbles, he noticed something strange. A shadow was climbing down the hill next to the town. Strange, he thought, it was a sunny day, but the shadow was black. It almost seemed as if the ground itself were turning black and flowing into the town.
The coal slurry buried Liam, crushing him and filling his lungs with black goo. There was no air. Fortunately his end was quick.
At the same moment, half a world away, a baby was born.
“What will you name her?” asked the obstetrician.
“She’s Margaret” was her proud father’s reply.
Have you ever wondered how it all began?
Fictional Kevin and Dr. Meg
FK: Several months ago I had been bantering about with several new WordPress friends: Dr. Meg, Dr. Shell and Jason. In my typical snarky fashion, I touted my superiority, made fun of their posts and was generally a nuisance.
They all loved me (of course.)
Jason made a serious post about how he was NOT accepting guest posts on his blog. I, of course, took that as a challenge. I decided to write a short story featuring him and my new blogger friends. It was compelling, so he decided to repost it on his blog. Win for the Fictional Boy.
If you read The Post it is, like most of my fiction, concerned with death and gore. Dr. Meg read it and made some comments. The online love was obvious…
M: I had a new follower… Fictional Kevin. His first comments had been on my post about Elmore Leonard’s ten rules of writing. “Seems like a pretty funny guy,” I thought. Ok, I’ll follow back.
I visited and commented on his blog a couple of times and then this happened…
On a post about sending himself text messages to remember ideas while he’s out and about, here is our exchange:
Meg: Funny!!!! I use notes on my phone too. How is that harder than sending yourself a text, Kevin? Are YOU sober?
Kevin: Don’t mess with my mojo this morning, Meg. I will cut a bitch. And I am mostly sober. Well, sort of. Remember: Hemingway said “write drunk, edit sober.” So I’m just like Hemingway. He was an American writer.
Meg: Fine, ‘Ernest’ I will leave you to your scribbling! *Stomping out the virtual door in a huff* “Bitch indeed,” she muttered.
Kevin: Shouts after her: “and put on something nice for once, geez!”
The came The Post. Seriously, go read it and ask me why the hell I stuck around. I can’t explain it myself. I barely knew this guy and he slaughtered me (in the story) in a most gruesome way after insulting me, my blog and my writing. For some reason I didn’t run screaming, I responded:
There he was, on the park bench, waiting for her. It was strange that he’d suggested they meet in the park on such a dreary day. She hadn’t given it much thought. She was too excited to see him. After all Kevin was one of her few writer friends. He of all people would be happy that her book had made the best seller list. As she approached, he looked up at her smiling.
“Hey,” she said, returning the smile.
He rose and offered her the spot where he’d been sitting since it was dry. Instead of sitting beside her, he picked something up from the ground and stood to face her.
“You smug bitch,” he muttered, before landing the first blow.
The first one didn’t kill her, neither did the second. Through the physical pain, her heart was breaking. She thought he’d understand. She thought he’d be happy for her. She thought he was her friend.
Kevin’s response? “This is perfect.”
It apparently was the beginning of a beautiful relationship…
FK: Dr. Meg responded almost positively to her untimely demise in “The Post”. I didn’t find out until later even her hubby, Harry, was concerned.
We continued to banter back and forth on our blogs and eventually she was able to see past my rugged good looks and charm to the real me.
For some years I had considered writing fiction. I make my living writing non-fiction, but I wanted to expand my horizons. Writing fiction is far different than writing non.
Reading Meg’s blog, I realized she is far more competent at fiction than I, so I paid close attention to the things she was writing, trying to learn. It helped. I wrote a couple short stories and also wrote more on a couple longer-term pieces I was working on.
After we got to know one another we exchanged emails.
I began to realize I needed help to be able to write fiction well. I struggled to write dialog and deadlines were an issue – with fiction, I had none. After getting comfortable with Meg and with her writing style, I proposed a limited collaboration. A mid-length story, 14 chapters around 1,000 words each, written alternately as a serial with each chapter appearing on our blogs weekly.
Foolishly, she fell into my trap.
M: Kevin thinks he’s so smart, doesn’t he? Well, he is, actually. And I immediately recognized what a great opportunity and challenge this would be for me. It would push me to write out of my comfort zone. Even though it was not without some misgivings, I left the basic idea for the story up to him, since he had suggested this whole escapade. I even let him write the first chapter, knowing that would give me the final word. And thus, more control over the story.*evil laugh*
You see, originally we thought we’d keep our alternating chapters secret from one another so that we’d have to “respond” to one another’s writing. But as the story progressed we realized that a true collaboration was going to have to happen if this tale was going to be any good. And THAT’S when I foolishly fell into his trap!
FK: Writing the first chapter was easy for me, but it lacked “something.” I am good at identifying the psychological makeup and backstory for characters. I had that down cold. I can even write a compelling bit of narrative if I work hard and hold my mouth just right.
When I got done, there was something missing. That first chapter was all “tell” and no “show.”
I sent it to Meg for her input. She agreed. She helped me craft some dialog that showed David “being” David, rather than simply me telling the reader about him. It improved the chapter dramatically (pun intended.)
This is one of the best reasons to get a writing partner: He/she can fill in the gaps in your own ability.
M: I have the same habits as Kevin in creating backstory for my characters. Write a little biography on them, things that won’t necessarily be included in the narrative, but information that helps you shape their behavior. Up to this point though, I hadn’t written a character into a situation as dangerous and psychologically manipulative as the one Dr. Melody Rivers was in with David Twichell. The difficult part was that I had largely based Melody on myself. I now had to really imagine how I would react in those circumstances. I had a mini freak out at one point. It was unnerving to put oneself in the crosshairs of a potential killer. Thus, being able to talk it through with my writing partner was invaluable. The experience of collaboration has made both of us better writers.
FK: After 14 weeks, we finished our story at 17,000 words or so. Our readers enjoyed it and we enjoyed creating it. We’ll be putting it up at Amazon and will do a free weekend if you want to pick it up. You can join our announcement list here.
Some things we learned from the process:
- A writing partner can help you have deadlines for your writing
- A writing partner who has strengths you do not have can make you a better writer
- A writing partner can help you see your characters and their thoughts and actions in a different light
- A writing partner can brainstorm plot and character ideas with you and help you both create a more compelling story
- A writing partner can act out dialog with you to give it a more “real” feeling for the reader
- A writing partner can become a good friend – this was the best part for me.
Once we got the story completed, Meg and I along with our significants met in Gatlinburg for a meal and beers. It was fun and I think Meg and I will be friends for many years to come.
If I don’t murder her.
M: Or I murder him first… See? I always get the final word!
Selling Your Book Once Your Mom and Friends all Bought
OK, you got your book done. Edited. Up at KDP and CreateSpace. Your mom bought it. A few of your Facebook friends picked it up as well. (What’s with Doris? She is such a cheapskate! Couldn’t part with $2.99 and asked for a “complementary” version. Just unfriend her, she’s kinda a bitch anyway.)
To sell your book effectively, you want to do many things: Get people to help you promote, get “noticed” on Amazon as a best seller in your category, get placed in bookstores like a “real” book. One of the first things, however, is to create a synopsis or “blurb” for the back cover and for Amazon’s description.
Your Synopsis Should Be Carefully Thought Out
For many self-published authors, the “blurb” is an afterthought, a necessary evil in putting up their book online. But you’re smarter than that, right? Yeah, I thought so.
Dr. Meg is in the process of publishing her fourth book. Over the last few days she has been writing and refining her synopsis. She even wrote a funny blog post about creating a book synopsis here.
Here is the blurb she settled on for her new book, Tainted Inheritance:
Why would anyone want to kill Olivia Sutton? Her life was finally coming together after her divorce. She's come into an unexpected inheritance, found new love with contractor Leo Donovan and made a fresh start in a new home. When she becomes the victim of one too many random accidents, she realizes a killer is stalking her. Has something in her past come back to haunt her? And can she and Leo discover the killer’s secret before it’s too late?
Let’s break this down to show you how to create a compelling synopsis for your own book.
Your synopsis or “blurb” should create a mystery in the mind of the prospective buyer that can only be answered by reading the book
Meg’s blurb does a good job of framing the main conflict in the story: Someone is trying to kill her and she has no clue why. She has to find out before it’s too late – before the killer succeeds.
When you write your own synopsis, you should look for what some people refer to as “open loops.” Humans’ brains are “programmed” to look for answers to mysteries. That’s why you keep seeing those headlines like:
“This Indiana man found one weird trick to curing hemorrhoids –
proctologists hate him!”
You think: “Hey, I have hemorrhoids, and I hate going to the proctologist! What could this simple trick be?” and you click the link.
If your book is about hemorrhoids, that might work for you. On the other hand, your book is probably a story about sparkling vampires who are also professional soccer (football) players or a sorcerer with an elf fetish (I don’t judge.) Your synopsis should summarize the major conflict of your book without giving the reader resolution.
In Meg’s case it would have been a mistake to end her blurb by saying “but she eventually figured it out and lived happily ever after.”
Your synopsis should appeal to the prospective reader’s interests
Know your intended audience. Think about things they are looking for in your story. (You already figured that out before you started writing, right? RIGHT?)
Meg’s readers are looking for a little romance along with a compelling mystery/thriller. Her synopsis has an extremely important single word: “Contractor.”
Olivia’s love interest is a contractor. When I think of a contractor, I think of a smelly, pot-bellied man who bends over and shows your his hairy butt crack. But that’s me. When it comes to romance novels written for women, they picture a guy with tan skin, tall, heavily muscled with a strong jaw – and maybe a beard.
That one word gives the prospective reader a picture of this hunky guy. Who, surprisingly, looks much like I do in real life (I know you were wondering.)
Your synopsis might want to define the genre
It’s clear from Meg’s blurb, her book is a thriller/mystery as well as has some romance. It doesn’t mention it’s present day. If your book is present day, you don’t have to say that in the blurb. But what if you are doing a different era or setting?
For example: If Meg were writing historical fiction and this was set in the Civil War, a reader interested in such would probably pass it over unless she mentions that. Likewise, if it were set in the “boom-boom” 80s, she might want to mention that as well. John Grisham writes about lawyers and mentions that in his blurbs.
If you are writing for a specific genre, make sure to mention it…
“In the times of swords and sorcery…”
“At the close of World War I…”
“Caught up in the world of BDSM…”
You get the idea.
What’s Your Synopsis? Write one or paste one you already have done below – you can even link to your book in the comments
So write your own synopsis (or pull one you’ve already written) and share it below along with a link to your book or blog…
Plus…Meg is giving you a sneak peek of her book – click here now to get it send to your email.
Cheesy marketing banner aside…
For a while I have been talking to Dr. Meg about starting to collect names and email addresses so we can notify folks of cool things we’re doing, free and discounted books, writing tips, reviews, etc. We even thought we’d use the list to promote some of your books (if you write.)
Starting today you can sign up to receive email updates. It’s simple, it’s free and it’s only mildly annoying.
You can join the list by clicking here (or not, I’m not the boss of you.)
What will you receive:
- A courier will come to your door and present you with $100,000.00*
- You will get my thoughts about the pieces I write. Why I wrote them, what inspired me.
- Free and discounted book promotions.
- A trained, dancing monkey.*
- The opportunity to promote your own book – free.
- Since I own a publishing business I will give tips on how to self-publish and market your own work.
- Original fiction and non-fiction I don’t post to the blog.
- Advance copies of stories for your feedback and input.
- Anything else I think you might find interesting.
All that for the low-low-price of FREE. You can’t beat it.
Click here and join the list. It’s only mildly painful.
(*These offers are only available in Sri Lanka. Please allow 28 years for delivery.)
So, met up with Dr. Meg this past weekend…
Remember how I was on vacation last week? It was a fabulous break from the routine. My husband, however, is convinced that I was trying to kill him. Now where would he ever get that idea?
Yes, the Fictional One, the threatener of my life, serial collaborator, and Waco, his girlfriend met us on Sunday at The Smoky Mountain Brewery for lunch and a couple of beers. It’s true, Waco is real! I even have photographic evidence which you will have to take my word for, as I’m sworn to keep their identities a secret. I know, I know… Take it up with, Kevin!
Not only did we survive the encounter, meeting them was a blast. It was like hanging out with friends we’ve known all our lives. We spent about two hours together before they had to head back home. Next time, they get to come…
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