Whoopppeeee! Doing a Happy Dance! Was just contacted and both Blue Coyote Motel and Coyote in Provence are finalists in Chanticleer’s prestigious CLUE AWARDS contest! Made it thru three rounds of competition! Couldn’t be better timing because the third in the series, Cornered Coyote, will be out soon. http://ow.ly/ue0Ck Yeah!
James Moushon contacted me and several other authors regarding input on book launches. I will be putting his study on this blog for the next couple of weeks. If you want to read all of it right now, here’s the link: http://hbspublications.blogspot.com/2014/03/your-book-launch-marketing-methods-and.html
Your Book Launch: Marketing Methods and Ideas Used by Outstanding Authors – A Study
2. Cover design- thumbnail
3. Front matter
5. Ebook format check
7. Publishing your book on-line
All the major retailers allow authors to upload their novels on-line including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords. Unlike the paper version, these are digital files that can be update at any time.
For example, if the your website address changes, you could update their digital copy and upload the new version on the spot. The same with other live links included in the ebook. And of course, if you found an error, you what to change the cover or you want to add something to the front matter that can all be done on-line.
8. Buy Links
Enjoy the tips!
Hope you can join us!
This Friday’s Indie Books show features Author Dianne Harman. Live at 11AM EST.
Hope you can take a break and join me as I talk with Will Wilson on his acclaimed radio talk show, Indie Books. We’ll be exploring the process of writing, what works, what doesn’t, and how to make your book a best seller.
I’ve published four books, three of which have been on Amazon’s Best Seller lists. Additionally, one of my books, Blue Coyote Motel, was a quarter finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Awards contest and the Book of the Month for e-thriller and the Goodreads group, Psychological Thrillers!
I certainly don’t know everything, but I have a few thoughts on writing and marketing!
A few weeks ago I asked readers to give me their opinion on descriptions in a novel. Is it necessary? When is too much? I received answers that were all over the board. However, the one thing that came up consistently was: Is the description relevant to the plot and/or the character? Below you’ll find a number of snippets I received regarding the use of descriptive writing. Enjoy and heed! The readers and writers have spoken!
“I think there is a lot of difference between genres, for my own efforts it has been up to the story and characters. Even in the same book the amount of description has varied, for key scenes I might add more for others less so. In one of my books I have a very emotional scene on a beach, which stays with the lead character forever. I describe the setting extensively and the feeling and sights the characters see. For another scene the lead just walks past a building with almost no description.
Does the descriptive writing add to plot, characterization or conflict?If it doesn’t, it’s out of there no matter how brilliant I think it is.
The other criteria for descriptive passages and dialogue – if my own eyes cross after 2 pages I’ve done something wrong!
Readers aren’t stupid, they will notice if a world is unconvincing.
Hm, honestly I think it depends on the pacing of the scene. While writing I find there’s a time and place for descriptions and it’s up to the writer to decide when it is.
I find descriptions tend to slow the pace down a bit. It adds feeling to the scene and can really allow the reader to enter into what the character is experiencing. Sometimes it’s beneficial to add the description of the wall color because maybe that soft lilac contributes to the mood of the scene. However, this being said, you probably don’t want to describe that soft lilac if you’re character is in the middle of a high stakes chase.
Though, as a reader, I don’t like reading full page after pages descriptions. I find them a little dry and I find myself going…. WHY?
So,I dunno. It’s up to you and your style.
I believe it is too much when the reader notices it. In The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett spent a full paragraph describing an ash tray that had nothing to do with the story, but it flowed so smoothly as to be unnoticeable.
Well, take Dickens for example, excellent writer. He got paid by the word. It shows. I don’t need to know a whole page on how you got the name Pip…
Write as much you want as long as its interesting. Too little can be too much too if it’s boring.
I guess I fall into the less-is-more category when it comes to descriptive work. I have no interest in knowing the color of paint on the walls and the pattern on the drapes unless it’s significant to the story somehow. I feel the same when it comes to character description. I’ve read some books where the hero was said to be handsome but then a detailed description was given of things I didn’t find handsome at all! For me, more general terms work best–eye and hair color along with height and build. If he has tats or scars or facial hair then that’s fine, but a head-to-toe description isn’t necessary, for me.
I also think too much description can ruin an intimate scene. I recently read a book where the author described a couple kissing. For some reason she thought it was necessary to tell us all the things the guy’s tongue touched in the girl’s mouth, with dentist-like terminology and I thought that was completely gross and unnecessary. THOSE type of details ruin a story, in my opinion. So, yes, I’m definitely a less-is-more type reader when it comes to descriptions.
The Harry Potter books–and too much fluff and padding. After wading through a few I stuck to the movies.
It all depends on its placement. I enjoy some descriptive background, but right at the apex of a suspenseful or dramatic scene is not the place to pull back and insert a paragraph about what the protagonist is wearing, or her difficult childhood. That’s just going to make me mad. You’d be surprised how many authors do this!
I don’t mind a little “stage direction” myself. A simple statement can be read in so many different ways. “Tell me about it,” for instance. Did she say it sarcastically? Was she sympathizing with the person? Was she demanding an explanation? Ideally, the reader can tell from the context, but if not, if the author can’t SHOW me the inflection, I don’t mind a little hint: “Tell me about it,” she said with an air of resignation.
Description, in the right places, and if not overused, adds flavor and depth to a story.
Descriptive writing, to me is like dialog. If it is natural and conveys with clarity what the author is trying to communicate it is not overdone. For a reader, it is done right if it does not draw attention to itself. That is to say, it should not break the illusion that what one is only reading is actually happening. The good writer makes me forget that he’s the wizard behind the curtain. His descriptions make me “live” the scene. Descriptive words are the spice, so they can easily be overused. Like spices, the strong (make that unusual ones) can be all one tastes.
Perhaps I am not the usual reader. When I enjoy a book (or a series,like Dune), there is never too much description. I hate it when the story finally ends. I suppose it’s all a matter of taste.
I once did a blog post comparing Hemingway and Faulkner. Faulkner’s style is very descriptive with beautiful flowing sentences while Hemmingway’s style has been described as a complete absence of style. The vast majority of writers today copy the style of Hemmingway.
Description has to draw pictures for the reader. Has to be colorful, interesting and brief. One of the things I do when I take my wife to shop. is visit a good bookstore – I don’t buy books, I just read the first two pages. I look for good opening paragraphs and how they introduce characters. A lot of times I’m disappointed by beginning paragraphs followed by what I call FILL.
It’s too much when the reader notices it, meaning s/he’s pulled out of the story world and is back in the real world of reading a book and admiring the phrasing.
When the descriptions become too wordy and don’t really add anything to the story. If the reader begins skimming over pages to find a spot where the story finally begins to move forward, the author has lost the reader’s interest and possibly the story’s focus.
Slowing the pace down. I like that. And it’s a good benchmark. Thanks!
Interesting what you said about attention span. I read somewhere that because of twitter people’s attention spans have significantly reduced. That may be true and if so, may be the death of description!
Coyote in Provence (Coyote Series) by Dianne Harman (Nov 15, 2013) – Kindle eBook
- #1 Best Seller in Museums & Art Collections http://ow.ly/tESEd
How fun is it to wake up and find your book is a #1 on Amazon? I’ll tell you. It’s fantastic!!!
I want to share how it happened. You can do this.
Coyote in Provence is a mystery set in Provence with lots of food and art. It’s the second book in the Coyote series, a continuation of the best seller Blue Coyote Motel, a quarter finalist in the ABNA contest as well as a Book of the Month for e-thriller and the Goodreads group, Psychological Thrillers.
Provence has done well over the months. I played with a few different categories on Amazon, knowing mystery was a huge one. I put it in cozy mysteries>culinary which helped it get listed as a best seller from time to time. I recently had a friend tell me that she had put her book in some obscure categories and it had risen to the top ten in three categories.
I pulled up Amazon and spent a lot of time looking at the number of books in various applicable categories. Obviously mystery was huge. So what to do? I thought about the elements of the book: art, food, mystery and Afghanistan orphans. I found the Museums & Art Collections category and decided my book fit into that category, plus there weren’t that many books in it. Then came the challenge of getting it on Amazon in that category. Went back and forth with emails and Kindle was very obliging. After several days, it went up in that category. It immediately went to #3. Then this weekend I decided to do a $.99 promotion. Within hours of putting it on my facebook site, tweeting, and google+ sites, it started going up. When I got up this morning, it was in the 6,000 Amazon paid and #1 in the above category and #21 in Cozy Culinary.
These are legitimate categories in which the book fits. If I’d kept it in just mystery and broad categories, it never would have achieved #1. The book is darned good, but I don’t delude myself that my name has the clout of Michael Connelly, Sandra Brown, or any of the other superb mystery writers. But I do have a gold banner next to the book on Amazon as a #1 Best Seller, just like Connelly!
Take some time and look over the categories where you’ve placed your books and where you could place your books. When you get to #1, I’d love to hear about it. Good luck!
Wanted to share a recent article I wrote for the Huffington Post. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, the United States is one of the few countries in the world which holds little reverence or respect for their elders. Other countries honor them, take them into their homes as they age and seek their wisdom. The Native Americans valued their counsels of elders, but today, we tend to warehouse family members when they get older.
What a loss! There’s so much we can learn from them. They’ve experienced the very things we’re often struggling with. They’ve seen the world change and learned how to adjust to it. Can you imagine not having an airplane to get on when you want to go somewhere? Can you imagine not having Google when you needed information? Can you imagine only being able to contact someone by a dial telephone, and often with a party line of other people listening in on your conversation? Can you imagine needing cash and having to wait until the bank opened? Can you imagine hearing that men were going to land on the moon? And one of my personal favorites, being out of books to read and having the library and book store closed. What? No Kindle? Our elders have seen all of that and more.
We recently had some neighbors over for dinner and one of them commented that one of our guest’s lives would make a great novel. Naturally, my interest was piqued! When she was 14, she’d taken a train from Berlin across Germany during WWII to see her newly-born nephew. Her story was fascinating. She told of having to get out of the train two and three times a day because of air raids. 14? And traveling by herself! Can you imagine? Today, we have apps on our smartphones so we know the exact location of our children. Many parents won’t let their children out in front of their house unless an adult is with them. 14? And traveling by herself? That’s a book in the making. And to think I’ve been waving to her and meeting her at the mailbox on a daily basis for over 20 years and yet really knew nothing about her. My loss!
There’s an elderly man who comes to our house once a week to pick our papers up and recycle them. He’s had a stroke and I’ve admired him for years for doing this. I’m sure it would be a lot easier for him to stay in his house rather than walk up to people’s side yards and get the papers. It can’t be easy to be in a body that only half responds. When he didn’t come for three weeks, I realized I knew nothing about him. I’d been far too busy doing the “stuff” in my life that I’d never taken the time to connect with him. Naturally, being a writer, my mind began making up stories about where he was. Of course I wondered about his health. Then I wondered if he’d gone back home, to Mexico. I’d heard him speak in a very heavy accent, so I assumed (and it was an assumption) that he’d come here from Mexico. But no matter how many stories I conjured up, none made up for the fact that I had not made the time to find out anything about him. He returned and I took the time and wondered why it had taken me so long. The stories he told took me took me to other places and captivated me. I think he enjoyed it as well. Now when I wave to him, I feel I know him, at least a little bit. It was a lesson we all need to learn — to take the time to connect with people.
Are we missing out on our elders’ stories because we get so caught up in our busyness and don’t take the time to listen? We have every time-saving device known to mankind, but do they really save us time? Seems to me everyone’s a whole lot more hurried trying to do as much as they can in the shortest amount of time possible.
I recently spent a few days in Montana. People actually wasted (as many would say) an afternoon just sitting around a picnic table talking and telling stories. One of the older women told how she would sing to the wild horses at midnight in the mountains when she was younger and they would lay down at her feet. Can you imagine? If I hadn’t been able to take the time to sit around that table, I never would have known about the wild horses in the mountains and it would have been my loss!
The next time that older person starts to talk, listen and ask some questions. You might get some firsthand knowledge from someone who’s experienced what you’ve only read about!
Follow Dianne Harman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DianneDHarman
Love it when you get up and one of the first things you see is a great review. Thanks Norma Budden! Here’s her site and well worth your time:http://www.normabudden.com/blog.html
The Mystery at Blue Coyote Motel
Dianne Harman drew me into her story from the first page of Blue Coyote Motel. Having grown up in a less than ideal environment, Maria had three goals in life: to remain beautiful, to marry a rich man and to get out of the barrio. She achieved all three when she met and, later, married a scientist named Jeffrey.
Jeffrey was responsible for creating an anti-aging hormone and, because his wife was so preoccupied with maintaining her beautiful appearance, he began giving her monthly injections to ward off signs of aging.
The secret was discovered and he lost his job. Shortly afterwards, they bought a run-down motel and fixed it up with the intention of Maria being occupied with guests as Jeffrey continued his experiments in his lab.
Because Maria was also subject to mood swings, Jeffrey wanted to create something to help her in hopes that she wouldn’t have to suffer from bouts of depression any longer.
Well, he was successful – but, between them, they crossed the line of administering that drug to others without their knowledge – people who seemed weak, exhausted or down on their luck.
Each of the six people mentioned left the Blue Coyote Motel feeling refreshed and energized, with a new lease on life.
It was Jeffrey’s hope to become God-like – to be a saviour to the world because his drug would put an end to wars, fights and other unsavory occurrences because people would get along well, feeling more free as individuals and as a nation.
It would be several months before we are made aware of the ramifications – before we learn of the horror which takes place, not only in the lives of Jeffrey and Maria but in the lives of their previous visitors.
It was definitely an intriguing story which took me to many parts of the globe, lending the impression that Harman is a well-traveled woman who has first-hand experience about the places and some of the events shared in Blue Coyote Motel.
On a personal note, I don’t know if I will ever hear the word freedom again without thinking of this story. It has made a huge impact – not because I feel someone may poison the air around me without my knowledge, but knowing how easy it is for someone to do such a thing (should they choose) is a scary concept I’d rather not ponder.
I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. I have to know what happens to these characters, how they manage to pick up the pieces of their lives.
If you would like to learn more about this title, just click on the book cover to be taken to The Blue Coyote’s page on Amazon or you can purchase it here: http://ow.ly/tmc8S
Well, it’s finally time to pick my Top Ten list for last year’s books. Noteable non-indie books were Zamyetin’s We, John Varley’s Blue Champagne, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, and Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream. (On an unrelated note, wow, I read a lot of sci fi this year. My only regret is not reading more.) I’m not what you’d call a proper book reviewer, but I do like sharing my opinion, and I always like to share the word about my favorite books from each year.
So, let’s not beat around the bush. Here’s a list of the best things I read in the last year. You can find my full reviews on Amazon, of course. In approximate order of awesomeness, behold! The best of 2013!
10. Divorce Hotel
This was just fun. I had heard good things, but I didn’t expect to be laughing as much as I did. It reminded me of Sideways in some ways; it’s not quite as bitter, though. If you’re looking for a light read that doesn’t involve turning your brain off, this is the one.
8. Lame Excuses
7. The Northman
This was a really challenging read. It was funny, too, but the breadth and depth of the work, and the extent to which it is based on real events, can only be described as terrifying. I don’t want to mention any spoilers, but I will say that a very conservative Christian friend of mine couldn’t get through the first two pages. That probably speaks for itself. That said, it’s well-written, on point, and made me extremely aware of some of the horrifying legislation currently in effect or on the books in the ‘home of the free, land of the brave’. Ever notice nobody calls America that anymore? Moving on…
So there you have it! Now go give that credit card a workout.
Lately I’ve been devouring books by Sandra Brown. I particularly like her descriptions of people and places. I mentioned her to someone and that person’s response was that she describes too much. I know that not every reader is going to appreciate or like the works of every author. Obviously, that’s one reasons there are so many genres!
I’m in the middle of rewrites on my third Coyote book. For ease, I’m calling it Calypso Coyote, but I see where I can embellish scenes and people with more descriptions. The thing I don’t want to do is have a reader feel that I’ve gone overboard and be thinking “get on with the action – enough details.’ Of course the obvious answer is to make it appropriate to the novel one is writing. In my first book of the Coyote Series, I put in a lot of descriptions. Some people said it gave it a richness, others said it was too much description.
The reason for this blog is to ask you, the reader, how much descriptive writing works for you? At what point do you think, ENOUGH ALREADY! Rather than ‘he said’ I do like ‘he said, sneering.’ I have a far better picture of the character when things like that are added. If the character’s dress and physical looks are described (and I don’t mean in a boring way), I find I can picture them much more readily and they become more meaningful to me. Same with settings and times of the year. To me it adds depth. However, with descriptive writing come a backing away from the action.
Please, let me know your thoughts on this subject I really am interested to hear what readers have to say about descriptive writing.
I invite you to read this interview Susan Noble of Into Another World, http://wp.me/p2Dhbj-ZX published. She really asked some interesting questions! Timing couldn’t have been better since Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy is free through January 27th!
Today’s Featured Author: Dianne Harman
Today I have author Dianne Harman on my site for a quick Q&A session about her latest book Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Tacoma, Washington, grew up in Kansas City and have called Huntington Beach, California my home for many years.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I have always been a reader, really from the time I had a library card before kindergarten! I was an English major in college many years ago. Never thought I had the necessary credentials to write – hadn’t attended workshops, critique groups, etc. My husband gave me a copy of Stephen King’s book, On Writing. He more or less says, “Just Do It” and so I did.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
I don’t think you can be a writer of contemporary fiction and not have some of your thoughts and experiences in them. In Blue Coyote Motel, I write of a character who treks to Nepal to attend the Mani Rimdu Festival in the Himalayas. I did. In Tea Party Teddy I write of a political wife who has a woman come up to her when she’s sitting at the head table of the Boys & Girls Club Dinner and tell her it’s wonderful to see a politician not married to a “trophy wife” and who is even wearing the same outfit she wore to the event last years. Swell. That happened to me!
Please tell us about your current release.
My fourth book, published this month, is a novella, a sequel to Tea Party Teddy. The name is Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy. I never planned on writing a sequel, but so many people asked what happened to Nina and Bob, characters from Tea Party Teddy, that it demanded being written. It’s a short political thriller exposing greed and hunger for power in the political world.
What inspired you to write this book?
My husband was a California State Senator and I spent most of the twelve years he was in office in Sacramento, California entertaining Governors, Congressmen and politicians from both parties. I was “an insider” and had first-hand knowledge of just how much greed and corruption there is in politics
How did you come up with the title?
It’s the sequel to Tea Party Teddy, really the legacy he leaves. There’s a strong element of romance and family life in the book as well as Teddy’s legacy of greed and corruption.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
Love Bob and Nina. Can’t stand the reverend. My favorite character in probably all of my books is the PI, Slade Kelly. He’s a reprobate, but I find him irresistible.
Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
Sure. It will probably be easier if I just quote a few lines from the back of the book: “Will Bob and Nina be able to hold their family together? Will Slade Kelly, the well-known private investigator, be able to protect the Silva family from the reverend’s criminal plans? And just where do those babies come from that the reverend ‘places’ with families? And why is every television station in California and across the nation featuring Bob Silva as their lead story on the evening news?”
If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?
I spent some time in a small cottage in a small village in Provence very similar to where Elena lives in my book, Coyote in Provence. I loved the little cottage, the countryside, and the people.
The Sequel to Tea Party Teddy…
What happens when Bob Silva, who is married to the ex-wife of Tea Party Teddy, decides to run for the California State Assembly against the Reverend Jim Thurston, a devout Tea Party member? Will Reverend Jim seek revenge for the death of his friend, Tea Party Teddy? Will the Dear Reverend resort to criminal acts to try and win the election?
About the Author
Dianne Harman draws her stories and characters from a diverse business and personal background. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, leaving that industry and opening two yoga centers where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors. Dianne has traveled extensively throughout the world, most recently dividing her time between Huntington Beach, California and Sacramento, California, where her husband was a Senator. A gourmet cook, she has entertained Governors, Congressmen and numerous other political figures in her homes. An avid reader, Dianne brings the richness of her life experiences to her novels, Blue Coyote Motel, Tea Party Teddy, Coyote in Provence, andTea Party Teddy’s Legacy.