Saturday, September 21, 2013


So you aspire to be a writer?  What is the first step?  Start with determining your goals.  What?  Well, it’s not all that complicated but goals will be the most important step you take to becoming a successful writer.  What are your expectations and how are you going to accomplish them?  Map out your path to success.

Next would be to decide what genre you want to write and study the guidelines.  They are different for most genres and I’ll even add the best advice I was ever was given is from NY best-selling author, Kat Martin.  She said, “Write what you love to read.”  That advice is worth your weight in gold.

Many people study writing before typing that first word – I’m not saying that’s bad, but I will say it can be a form of procrastination!  If you have three books on writing . . .  great . . . more. . . also great.  But, don’t turn this stack of book on your office desk or on your Kindle Fire your top priority.  I’m a firm believer in diving in and learning as you go. I have books on writing - don’t get me wrong – we always should be open-minded and willing to learn how to become better writers.  I’m just saying reading about writing should not take the place of actual writing.

Have a good idea what you want your cover to look like.  Most publishers will ask for your input, and you should be prepared.  Take advantage of your publisher’s expertise and advice, but also be professional and know what your vision is.  Before I published I created book covers every time I finished a book.  Each cover represented my vision – and I had my name on them, too.  I posted them in the middle of my cork board in my office.  Did that excite, inspire, and fire me up to keep writing?  You bet it did!

Be prepared to promote your books, and start building that platform and fan base.  Know your market and be ready to be the promotional service that will send your sales soaring.

So have a vision . . . imagine that book cover with your name on it . . . set goals . . . write that book . . . and be ready to sell books.

Please watch for my fifteenth book, a suspense,Thunder. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Few Lines From . . . VIctoria Chatham

A FEW LINES from  COLD GOLD by Victoria Chatham


“Well, look ‘ee here!” The first rider grinned at her, revealing a mouthful of stained and crooked teeth that reminded her of broken tombstones. “New blood in town.”

“Hello, fancy lady,” the second rider said. “You goin’ to share a drink wi’ me before we share somethin’ else?”

The other riders dismounted and gathered around her, jostling Serena until her back flattened against the wall of the saloon. Her mouth quickly dried up. Her heart pounded. She smelled their sour breath and sweat-stained clothes, felt their anticipation and wished she had paid more attention to Sheriff Johnson’s warning.

“Oy, you lot!” Every head turned at the strident tone of a woman’s distinctly English voice. “Jasper, you idiot, you don’t know a real lady when you see one. Cal, you wouldn’t know what to do with one anyway. Tom, Walt, Clarence, stand back and give the lady some room. Clear off, the lot a’ ya.”

Grumbling, the men turned away and walked into the saloon. Serena closed her eyes and sighed with relief.

“Are you stupid, or what?”

Serena pushed off the wall and faced her rescuer. The force of the expression in the woman’s blue eyes almost caused her to take a step back again.

“I...I wasn’t thinking,” she stuttered.

“That was perfectly obvious,” the other woman retorted. “Come on, we need to get you off the street. This way.”

The woman took Serena’s arm in a strong grip and hurried her along the boardwalk in the opposite direction to the Eldorado.

“In here.” The woman opened a door and pushed her into a store redolent with the warm and wonderful aromas of coffee and fresh baking. “Go on, straight through that door facing you. I’m right behind you.”

Her rescuer’s hand, firm on her back, gave Serena no choice but to go where directed. The moment she passed through the second door, she spun on her heel.

“Just who are you?” she demanded. “And what gives you the right to push me around?”

“Well, pardon me for breathing.” Anger spiked the woman’s voice and blazed in her blue eyes. “You’d rather be pushed around by a bunch of randy miners, would you?”

“No, of course not. And I do thank you for coming to my aid, but who are you?”

“Someone you shouldn’t be seen with, that’s for sure.”

“Why shouldn’t I be seen with you?” Serena looked her rescuer up and down and might have been looking in a mirror, so similar were they. The woman was her height, dressed in clothes as fashionable as her own. Tendrils of hair, blonde rather than dark brown, framed the woman’s face and, just like Serena’s own skin, the woman had a fresh, clear complexion.

“Because I’m Lorelei Sutton and I own a brothel just outside of town.”

Visit Victoria Chatham at

Join us next week for A Few Lines from Diane Bator

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ten Things Ginger Learned About Writing

For someone who has been seriously writing for the past dozen years, I've absorbed a thing or two..  The very first thing I learned is the vast difference between telling a story and being a novelist.  You must engage the reader and make them want to become part of your story, and here are a few things you can do to insure that:

1.  Hook the reader from the beginning.   It's a proven fact that if people are bored with the opening of your story, chances are they aren't going to even finish the first chapter.  Your story must be engaging...yang the reader in and hold them fast with a desire to find out more.  Make them want to put on the character's shoes and walk in them.  Don't make them guess whose POV they're reading from, make it clear, and if you change to another, make that even clearer.

2.  In order to accomplish number one, there are few more fundanmentals you need to apply.  Don't TELL the story, SHOW the reader what's going on.  The difference:  If you've amply displayed emotions, the reader is going to feel them.  Don't just TELL the reader  the heroine is crying, SHOW them the pain shooting through her heart, the emptiness in the pit of her stomach...give them someone with which they can identify.  Make them remember what it felt like to lose their first other words, let them experience the pain.
3. Avoid redundancy.  The reader doesn't need to be told on every page what color the characters eyes are or that the courch is on the far wall.  As an author, I know it's easy to duplicate information you've already shared, so reading your story aloud helps you discover places where you've echoed words or information.

4.  Speaking of words echoes...this is one of my pet peeves.  I detest reading the same word over and over in the same paragraph.  I realize there are instances where the word is duplicated for a definite purpose, but most of the time all word echoes do is indicate to the reader that you're a lazy writer who doesn't want to take the time to find another word with the same meaning. 

5.  My newest "learn" is to avoid unnecessary verbiage.  For example, if you are firmly in someone's POV, it is not necessary to tell the reader who is doing the feeling, hearing, seeing, etc.  As in using word echoes for emphasis, sometimes, you will need to stress the obvious, but in most cases, using "he heard, he felt, he saw, he watched" can be eliminated. See the difference:
She watched him unfasten his belt and saw him drop his pants to the floor.
He unfastened his belt and dropped his pants to the floor.
If you are in her POV, then we already know who is watching and seeing, so why expose the obvious?

6.  Watch your apostrophes.  It's and its aren't exactly used the same way as other possessive words.  Your and you're also take on entirely different meanings.  Their and they're are another great example of two meanings, and then if you add in "there" then you have a triple threat.  These mistakes are hard to catch even if you proofread till the cows come home.  As an author, our mind reads what we think should be there, so another important tool in writing a great novel is having an aswesome critique group or beta readers.

7.  Using "that" in sentences where you don't need it, is common place. This simple mistake was the main reason "that" a very good story was rejected.  If you read the sentence again, you'll notice "that" "that" is not even required.  The rule of the sentence without "that" and if it makes perfect sense, then delete "that."

8.  Avoid "ly" words when possible.  Sometimes they are a necessity for emphasis, but usually, if you try, you can find a stronger verb to use.  Example:  She stepped loudly across the floor, can be She stomped across the floor.  Or how about, he spoke softly can be he whispered.  Get the idea?
9.  Spell checker won't help in instances where you've used a correctly spelled word.  Like the apostrophe dilemma above, hear/here, there/their, to/too, then/than, and a thousand other examples.  The English language is one of the most difficult to learn, and even if you know it, it's still a challenge.

10. Don't go crazy with punctuation.  I've discovered that house rules are what dictate commas, semi colons, and exclamation points.  I was surprised upon re-releasing oneof my novels to find the editor for the current house put back in every comma the previous house had removed.  Even though I was advised semi-colons are not appropriate for fiction, you'll find them in my current version.  House rules rule, and that's not being redundant.  :)

Just for your information...some of us dislike internal thoughts, especially in third person, unless they are done extremely well.  For me, because of the sudden tense change, they pull me right out of the story and make me wonder why the author didn't just paraphrase.  See what you think:

Jasmine craned her head to the side, allowing Damon's lips to trail his lips along her throat.  Boy, does that feel good.  I hope his kisses are this good.

Jasmine craned her head to the side, allowing Damon's mouth to trail along her throat.  Her body tingled in anticipation, warmness gathering in her very core. Would she be as impressed once their lips met?

Oh, and one last tip...Avoid unnecessary tags.  If there are only two people in the room, the reader can usually figure out who is speaking.  Mary said, John said, Mary said, John whined, become boring after a while.  If you feel you must use a tag, use one showing action.  Have the character do something to identify them before or after the dialogue.  Mary crossed to the sofa...John lit his cigar...Mary moved to the window, admiring the bounty of color in the garden.  Instead of boring tags, you can add visual scenes that enhance the story.
If you want to check to see if I truly have learned anything, all my books are listed on my author's page at Amazon.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Points to Remember AKA Dying Brain Cells by Ginger Simpson

Writing can be a joy and a pain at the same time. Of course, when you're in the middle of writing a story, you have no idea the challenges that await you at the end. I can honestly say I've learned tons since my first book was accepted by publication, but you can never assume what you learn is set in stone. Guidelines for publishing vary from house-to-house and what an author believes is a well-written story may fall victim to the editorial red pen from hell. *lol*

There are some things you can truly believe will enhance your story if you avoid them, and I'd like to share a few with you. I have the 'whip marks' to prove that I previously engaged in using these unsavory writing practices, but no more... or at least I'm trying to train my feeble brain to avoid these pitfalls:

Avoid over use of the word 'that.' You can delete 95% of them from your story without changing the meaning of your sentence. It actually helps with the word count, but does little else to enhance your story.

Avoid prepositional phrases at the end of your sentences
. To her, at him, etc., are usually implied and the reader can figure it out. Another tendency to weaken your writing if you engage in this practice.

I tend to be the queen of "Seem." This has been a hard one for me to break. For some reason, everthing 'seems to' rather than actually does something. Now I'm learning to search and eliminate these instances. Rather than saying, "his musty smell seemed to fill the room," I'll use, "his musty smell wafted upward and...." 'Seemed to,' 'tried to,' and 'began to' are considered 'stall' phrases and prevent showing the action as it unfolds.

My good friend, Marie Higgins, has kept me on the straight and narrow with her critiques when it comes to Cause and Effect. I've learned you must have a cause before you can have a reaction. Cause and Effect...Action/Reaction. If someone jumps, something has to happen first. Simple rule, but one I never thought about before it was brought to my attention.

Overuse of 'it.' Using a noun over a pronoun to strengthen the sentence is a much better idea. Of course, you have to try to avoid word echoing in the same paragraph, and you don't want to have too many names back to back. Confusing, but sensible when applied effectively. Example: If I had written the second sentence...It's a better idea to use a noun over a pronoun to strengthen the sentence.  "It" is a mystery sometimes...clarify for the reader.

Predicting dialogue.
What the heck is that, you ask. I've recently learned myself. Don't place tags that describe the person's voice before they speak. Simple. Here's an example of predicting: Her voice trembled. "Shouldn't we stop?"
Should be: "Shouldn't we stop?" Her voice trembled.

Sensory details. Another good friend from my critique group, Diane, keeps me on my toes by commenting in my chapters, "what does it smell like?" I'm pretty good at describing scenes, but I often forget to include smells. Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, Sound should all be included when you write. Reader's want to sense it all.

And my latest discovery, last but not least...Avoid 'to be' verbs. These include is, was, are, were. I wondered most about 'was,' but learned when I use 'was' with an 'ing' word, I'm telling rather than showing. Same with could, would, should. These words make the narrative past tense. Example: was hearing or could hear is better written 'heard.' Could see, was seeing, is better written 'saw.'

There's tons more to share, but I'll save it for another day. By then, I'm sure I'll have even more tips for a well-written manuscript. :) Whatever you do, don't forget to put the punctuation marks inside the quotes. *lol*

Brides of Banff Springs by Victoria Chatham

AVAILABLE HERE   VICTORIA CHATHAM is a young-at-heart senior who has written short stories, newspaper and magazine articles on a...