Monday, July 23, 2012

Hallee Bridgeman and her Jewels



I'm hosting Hallee Bridgeman this week on my blog. Hallee writes edgy Inspirational Romance. What makes Hallee's books edgy is that her characters have had hard pasts that have required them to make tough decisions. Their paths to faith haven't been easy. Because faith, just like everything, has to be worked at. And unlike most inspirational romances, her characters' physical awareness and passion for each other is acknowledged, not just referred to in the abstract or tiptoed around. Though there isn't physical consummation, there is an understanding that passion inspired by love is a gift from God, just like all things in life.

Hallee's written a wonderful trilogy. All of the books are great, but the third one, the one she's talking about today, is my absolute favorite.



Hallee thank you for being on my blog today.
Tell us what inspired your story?   

This series was originally a traditional romance and was submitted to a traditional publisher.  As soon as it was out of my hands and in the mail, I was strongly convicted to change the genre to inspirational.  The stories and characters were already really good – I loved them and most people who read the books before submission loved them, too.   When I sat down to adjust the story, to change the characters and add an element and a story line of faith, I discovered three books that were, surprisingly, so much better than before.  I couldn’t believe how much characterization improved just by adding the element of faith.  I knew when they were all done that I’d written the books God wanted out there, not what I wanted out there.


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?   

In Christ, we can all be new creations.  It doesn’t matter who or what we once were.  It only matters who we are now and what we can be with the presence and power of God. 

If you’re writing a series, have you kept the same characters throughout?
And what through line or theme have you used to tie it together?   

This is book 3 in a series of three sisters, so obviously the sisters and the husbands from the first two books are in it.  But, there is also an underlying theme that whatever our circumstances, past, and backgrounds, we are all worthy of God’s love and redemption.

Is what you’ve written based on your own experiences someone you know?  

Strangely, I just went with feeling when writing them.  The three sisters come from a tragic background filled with poverty, drugs, and sexual abuse.  I had a happy childhood with wonderful parents who are still married, and three amazing siblings.  I’ve had readers approach me who said that they felt safe sharing their stories with me because I’d obviously experienced that kind of life and they knew they had a sympathetic ear.  They’ve said that only someone who had lived it could write it with such emotion.  That has really encouraged me and I hope that in some way, I can provide encouragement back.

LINKS:
Find Hallee's books:
Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads
Find Hallee online:
Her Blog -- Facebook -- Twitter -- Google+

BLURB:
The very moment Derrick meets Sarah, he realizes he has a reason to live. Sarah sees only an unshaven tough kid covered with tattoos and shuts down every advance.

Sarah Thomas has no memory of her broken young life leading up to the tragic murder of her mother. Her memory begins the morning she wakes in the home of her loving adoptive parents. She doesn't even know her sisters exist until her 15th year. She learns to love her siblings, but always feels a little out of place in their presence.

A benevolent billionaire offers Derrick DiNunzio a home and an education. Fresh off the streets and rescued from a criminal future, Derrick sheds his old life. He trades his ripped leather jacket for silk suits; dealing drugs for mentoring "at risk" youth; lock picking and back door jobs for the rigors of mountain climbing and hotel management.

Sarah cannot seem to see beyond the past Derrick left behind … until one day she does. When they finally come together, an indictment threatens their future. Now the heat is on. Will Sarah finally set aside her prejudices and open her heart to true love or will the long forgotten past tear them apart forever?


SAPPHIRE
You can purchase each one of Hallee's books separately in print and in ebook format.



EMERALD









TOPAZ
























Or you can purchase them all in one volume, which I think is fantastic!!!



THE JEWEL TRILOGY

Hallee's book covers were designed by Debi Warford. Check out her new website at Debi Warford Design.


Read On,
Teresa J. Reasor

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Breaking Through THE BLURB

Yesterday I went to a Kentucky Romance Writers meeting. I had the best time. The meeting was about blurbs. Well, I've been working on mine for several days now. How anybody can sit and stare at the same four paragraphs for two days is beyond me, but that's what I'd been doing. STARING, TWEEKING, ADDING, PARING DOWN, READDING. Well you get the idea.

Blurbs are sooooo important. They sell the book to the customer. Thus all the work and agonizing I've done over mine.

With the help of some new friends and some old from my KYRW chapter and my wonderful crit loop Lethal Ladies, I hammered out my blurb. So, here it is. This will be on the back of my book when my book is released at the end of August. That's a tentative date. The book has taken on a life of its own, and I have four stories to tell all at the same time.
But excuses aside, I'm making good progress because I HAVE MY BLURB!!!



What happens when a Navy SEAL wakes from a month-long coma to discover he’s being investigated for murder?

Ensign Brett Weaver knows he’s innocent of the crime he’s accused, but how can he prove it with NCIS breathing down his neck? A chance meeting with reporter Tess Kelly, offers him an opportunity to get the press on his side. But can he trust Tess to keep his other secrets off the record?

Tess is working hard to live up to her father's expectations. When Brett offers her information about SEAL training in exchange for an introduction to her award-winning journalist father, she jumps at it. The situation Brett lobs into her father's lap is a major scoop.  But the secret she discovers about Brett is just as newsworthy. Will her feelings for this wounded warrior win out, or will she release a story guaranteed to destroy Brett’s SEAL career?

When Tess’s father is kidnapped, Brett’s team is deployed to find him. At the same time, a leak in the investigation puts Tess and Brett’s lives in danger. Will Brett be able to break through the lasting effects of his injuries and prove he’s a battle-ready SEAL? Or will he and Tess lose everything at the whim of a vengeful killer?


 Let me know what you think.


Teresa Reasor


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stay On Top of Your Story With Story Boarding



Story Boarding  by Teresa Reasor 



 What is a Story Board?

A story board is an aid used to help the writer both brainstorm and to visualize the different elements of their plot.

It can be used to insure the character arcs are realized, the turning points in character development are reached, and also monitor the forward momentum of the plot.  

With the use of brainstorming, post-it notes, colored markers, or the computer, you can plot an entire novel, tie up all your loose ends, and insure your plot doesn't falter.

The Different ways to construct a Story Board.

You can construct a story board the old fashioned way and use a desk calendar and five different color markers.

You can use a laminated desk calendar for teachers you can purchase at Office Depot or any teacher supply store. And three to five different colored Post-it notes.

You can use a laminated desk calendar and three to five Vis-à-vis markers. (these are markers used to write on overhead projector film and can be purchased at any office supply store.)

Or you can use your computer which is the easiest way to make changes.


Setting Up your Story Board On The Computer

Using word, open a blank document, go to table, hit insert, slide over to table and click on the word.

A box will come up with options for you to set columns and rows. Set three rows, and three columns and hit okay.

Select the whole grid with your cursor.  Do not use the select all function in word. Hit the right mouse key while everything is highlighted, keeping your cursor on the highlighted table, and a menu box will appear.

Go to the bottom and hit table properties. Select the row tab and check the box specify row height.  Use the up or down menu to set your box at 2.8  The columns are flexible and will expand as needed but this size will allow you 9 boxes on each page.

I type in everything in black font, then change the different elements to color. 

I use red for romance.
Blue for Suspense
Purple for introducing characters.
Green for turning points  and important rising stakes developments.
I’ve also added POV to my story board with a fuchsia to insure my POV is balanced.
And I add black to remind me of the character arcs that are being met.
You can also change font size or underline so it points out turning points for your characters.

Important Tip
Save a blank copy of your story grid to copy and paste and you won’t have to build one each time you need it.

My stories are usually 100,000 words and I know they’re going to be at least 32 chapters long so I just go ahead and paste in 36 chapters.

Example of my story board

PROLOGUE
Suspense Hook
Adam “Hawk” Yazzie goes back into a building about to explode to rescue one of his men. He discovers Brett Weaver unconscious and stuffed behind a cabinet. He carries him to safety.
Who is responsible for Brett’s injury and how can he find out what happened?
Hawk’s call to action (suspense)
SEAL team introduced.   

Hawk
Chapter 1
 Romantic Hook
Hawk and Zoe at Langley Marks barbeque. Zoe introduced. Zoe is not receptive to any of the guys flirtations but finds she’s drawn to Hawk.  Zoe’s  internal conflicts introduced.  Hawk offers her and her mom a place to stay until Brett is better.
 Hawk’s Call to Action. (Romance)
Zoe questions Hawk about what could have happened to her brother and like a good SEAL he can’t tell her.
Zoe, Hawk
Chapter 2
Katie Beth, Clara, and Sharon introduced.
Hawk goes to the hospital with her to see
 Brett and realizes how badly Brett is hurt
Zoe’s Call to action (suspense)
Angela, Brett’s  nurse, and Doctor Connelly
 introduced. 
Hawk talks Zoe into moving in with him with
her mother.
Zoe
Hawk

 
Pros and Cons of each method. 

The Pros
One of the major pros of all the methods is that, in writing everything down on a board, it forces you visualize all your plot points.

It also makes you aware of whether or not you are maintaining the forward momentum of the plot.

It insures that you’re not creating an info dump in any of your chapters so the story unfolds at a normal pace. 

It helps you visualize and maintain a balance among the many elements of your plot.  Say for instance you are writing a romantic suspense. If you have one whole chapter that is romance then you know you’re going to have to put something in the next that has to do with the suspense element of the book to balance things out.  (Mainstream romantic suspense runs about 70-30, or 80- 20 with the suspense being heavy. Certain category romantic suspense lines read more like 80-20 heavy on the romance. ) You need to know your market so you’ll know which element you want to expand and carry the most weight.    

You want to give each of your characters equal billing so the reader maintains interest in them both. If you’ve stayed in one person’s POV for a chapter, then you probably need to mix it up and change POV in the next scene/chapter. Also these switches  give you time to explore their internal conflicts about the relationship and to develop the character traits and emotions that will trigger a connection to the reader.  

Whether you do your story boarding on a physical board or on the computer, you can leave spaces for pictures to inspire you along the way. Say you’ve run across a picture of a really handsome hunk that reminds you of your hero. Stick it in one of the slots of your story board to remind you of how he looks. You can always print it off your computer if you want to do a physical board.

The computer board can be printed out and glued, or taped, to a physical surface if you need or want it in front of you. (as I often do)  Or you can print it off and carry the pages around with you to study and tweak.

It acts as a physical reminder of where you are in your plot so you don’t waste valuable time going over and over the same ground.

It helps you track an intricate braided plot, or parallel plot structure and follows the course so all the elements are addressed and nothing’s overlooked.

It insures you’ve included all your plot points so you don’t have to do so many rewrites.

In short it helps you remember to cover all the bases and acts as a  physical prompt to get the damn book done!!! 

The Cons

Doing a physical board is more time consuming because you have to physically write everything down and if there are any changes to make, you have to erase everything and put it back in. Unless of course you use the post-it note method and then you just move your notes around.

On the computer, it is of course just a matter of cutting pasting or deleting which makes it much simpler.

  
My Process

Let me say that I have not always been a plotter. But I have always been a story boarder.  And when I moved away from story boarding, my writing didn’t hold the dimensions that a story board allowed me to maintain. In other words, I left out elements that should have been in the book and I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t included them, until I allowed someone else to read it. Big mistake.

My process in plotting may be totally different than yours. In fact, I can guarantee that it will be because no two human beings on the planet ever think alike.

Story boarding has turned me from a pantser to a plotter. But it has also sped up the process of my writing. In fact, once the stories through, I don’t have to do any major rewrites, or plug any holes. All that’s left is line editing for repetitive phrasing, missed punctuation, typos, extra spaces, and all those pesky little quirks we have.     

So, I begin with a premise, my hook, the event that will totally change two peoples lives forever. I write Hook in big bold letters then I write a brief summary down on my story board. I may even write the Hook chapter so I can get it down on paper and wait to expand it later.

The second part of my process is to do a character grid. I need to know the two main characters who are going to be a part of my story. I work out what their concrete goals are and what barriers those goals may create to their starting a relationship. I usually have a suspense element in my book so the suspense element may be what triggers the whole story, but the relationship still has to have a barrier to overcome. This is usually a major internal/emotional thing (character flaw) that will keep them apart along with the suspense. This is also important because you have to know your characters in order to know what kind of choices they will make. Those choices will drive your plot.

Once I’ve gotten to know my characters really well, I start fleshing out my story.

So I’ve written my hook down on the board then I start to write on the board,  to just keep my vision focused--- on the turning points my plot needs to follow. I usually use the Stairway to Suspense.  
Stairway to Suspense
1st step: The hook (the Call to Action.)   
2nd step: The decision that turns the story.
The decision or choice the heroine/hero makes that turns the story in the direction it will travel. This choice is based on some character flaw that guides the character’s motivation for the choice.  
Romantic call to action.
3rd stepThe choice creates obstacles to solving the situation.
First Kiss
4th stepAnother choice, More problems, situation worsens.
The character makes another choice which causes more problems and the situation worsens.
First Time They Make Love
5th stepMore choices ,more obstacles.
The more choices a character makes, the more obstacles will fall into his/her path. 
Gray Moment
6th stepThe climax.
The greatest obstacles are faced and the greatest attempts are made to overcome the situation created in the hook.
Black Moment
7th step: The resolution.
It’s short, sweet, and should tie up all the loose ends and leave the reader feeling completely satisfied. 
Romantic Resolution
I don’t know where I got the stairway so I can’t give credit where credit’s due, but this is the one thing I use every time I write a story. I keep a copy printed out to remind me of the steps I need to make during my writing so I’m constantly looking for ways to up the stakes and drive in more conflict.

I write each short-handed step at equal distances on my story board (in order of course) to remind me what I’m working toward.  Then I also write in the romantic elements like First Kiss,  First Time they Make love, The Gray moment, The Black Moment, The Romantic Resolution in red.  These are just different enough that you’re able to keep the two elements of your plot, the suspense and the romance self-contained yet working together. Most of the time, your gray moment, black moment, and romantic resolution will mesh and will be resolved as part of your suspense elements. Because all the plot components are interlocked.  

At this point I make a Name Grid to list the names and descriptions of all the people who will be part of my story. I usually have a cast of thousands (just kidding--MAYBE), so this is important to me. It’s an aid created so I don’t misspell someone’s name or get character descriptions confused.      

I print out my character grids, my name grids, and my story board and put them all up on the wall next to my computer. It’s at this point I get the post it notes out, or if you’re doing it on the computer you can type it out.  I start saying, “What if?  I try to list about twenty-five things I want to happen at the beginning of my story for both the romance and the mystery. Twenty-five things that would be fresh, new, and spark interest in my readers. No details just possibilities. Once I’ve made my choices, I write or type them on the story board. This helps you see what you are working toward and provides you, and your characters, a concrete goal to shoot for.
The brainstorming process is on going all the way to the end of story and the end of your story board. So I have twenty-five possibilities for each step of the Suspense Stairway. And if I get stuck I go back and do twenty-five more to jump start me. The choices I make will have to reflect my character’s personalities and hopefully endear them to the reader so that, by the time I reach the end of my story, they’re pulling for them both.      

Then as you write your story, you’ll take out those possibilities you’ve listed and put in a brief summary of what happens as you write it, using the color components I mentioned earlier. That process will help you track your plot points, romantic elements, character developments, and POV all laid out at a glance.

 Whatever process you use, you may be able to use components of story boarding to help you brainstorm. Or make certain your story contains all the elements essential to a well developed plot. Or to insure all those elements tie together into a cohesive whole.

It is a great deal of work, but it’s well worth the effort if it keeps you focused and insures your plot maintains the forward momentum essential to writing a successful story.

And just another tip you may want to try. With each book, because my characters may live in an unfamiliar place, or they may have jobs that I have no knowledge of, I start a three ring binder in which I organize all my research. I put in divider headings of setting, time, clothing, travel, and of course their job information, Archaeologist, FBI agent, Saturation Diver, and ect. In that manor, I compile all the information so the next time I need it, I have it all printed out and at my finger tips. And if you write a series where all your characters spin off, you may use all this information multiple times. But that’s another blog.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor


Monday, July 2, 2012

INDIE PENDENCE DAY BLOG FEST FEATURING DANCE WITH ME


I'm participating in the first annual INDIE-pendence Day Blog Fest.

The Indie author I'm recognizing is Hayden Braeburn with her new release DANCE WITH ME.



Hayden Braeburn packs a great deal of suspense, romance, and conflict into her 40,000 word book DANCE WITH ME.

Katerina Nemecek  has financial problems, and the bank is breathing down her neck just waiting to foreclose on her dance studio. Mason Everett, the love of her life, is the banker who’s been put in charge of foreclosing on the property. When Mason proposes, Kat wants to say yes more than anything, but she’s concerned Mason and his family might think she’s marrying him for his money.   

Mason knows Katerina loves him and that his family will accept her. Well, most of them.
But Mason has been keeping his feelings for Katerina under wraps— not because he’s worried that his family won’t accept the woman he loves, but because someone from his past is determined that if she can’t have him, nobody will.

I found Dance With Me, fast paced and entertaining. The love scenes were sensual and hot. And the situation Mason finds himself in a surprising reversal. Most romantic suspense books put the female character in jeopardy. I thought that by putting the male character under the gun, the author, Hayden Braeburn, dusted off  an old writing device and made it into something new and interesting.

I enjoyed Dance With Me very much and give it a five star rating!!

You can find more information about Hayden and her other projects at her website: http://haydenbraeburnweebly.com

Read her blog: http://haydenbraeburn.wordpress.com/

Or contact her at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/HaydenBraeburn/235335549867566 
or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5989571.Hayden Braeburn

If you want to learn about upcoming events about the Everetts of Tyler releases here's another link
 http://haydenbraeburn.wordpress.com/the-everetts-of-tyler/

And buy her book DANCE WITH ME at Amazon
Barnes and Noble or Smashwords 

IF YOU'D LIKE TO GO CHECK OUT OTHER INDIE AUTHORS BEING RECOGNIZED IN THIS BLOG FEST HERE'S THE LINK:  INDIE-PENDENCE DAY BLOG BASH

Read on,
Teresa J. Reasor