How to Write a Bestseller and Feel Good While Doing It

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don't want.

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don’t want.

Act as if it has already happened. Focus only on the end result. For example, “I have written and published the first in a series of island-based mysteries, and I feel (insert emotion here, such as elated, powerful, satisfied, ‘on my way’). Repeat this practice often, feel imbued by its exhilaration, surf the blue-green waves of happiness and send any dark-eyed doubts packing.

Be not bashful – gleefully share the news with your loved ones and tell everyone you know of what you have begun to create.

Thoughts become things. Visualize the book gracing your mother’s proud coffee table, seeing its YouTube trailer go viral, or pitching the debut novel everyone is talking about on your favorite talk show.

As the saying goes, “It is not enough to stare up the ladder, one must take the first step,” so map out a game plan of action steps to bring your goal(s) to fruition and do them. Carry a symbolic reminder such as a crystal in your purse or wallet, tape notes on your bathroom mirror or photos of what will be, and BELIEVE it can happen.

You create your own universe as you go along.~Winston Churchill

Building Suspense as a Mystery Writer or How to Carry Around a Bomb in your Lunch Pail

Crime Scene PhotoA cardinal rule for mystery novels is that the reader must know everything the sleuth knows and the reader and sleuth must realize who the culprit is at the same time. Cheat the readers and they will dig under the fence like a new puppy and never come back. Yet, telling all without telling too much, like a lot of things is easier said than done.

So, the author must continually juggle escalating tension while judiciously parceling out of a plethora of clues – all of them forming a bridge to the villain, but not doing so, until the last page when all the other nefarious suspects have been eliminated, maybe even literally.

As for this avalanche of evidence, is this yellow brick road of threads paved by clues hidden innocuously in a to-do list found at the scene, or on a movie ticket found in the victim’s pocket, or awash in an office aquarium filled with piranhas that have not been fed?

The phrase, pick your poison, could not be more apropos. Simply put, the possibilities for an author to include something that at first glance appears quite ordinary to Susie Sleuth, but which later blooms into a crucial piece of evidence, are as endless and as varied as fish under the sea and not formulaic in the least.

Also, how the murder is perpetrated, and the where can create tension for the reader and reveal clues about both the victim and the perpetrator. Perhaps the murder occurred in an ice plant where a hard icicle was driven into the victim’s brain through the eardrum and the weapon subsequently melted. Perhaps the body of the victim, a member of the jet set, polo crowd, was found splayed like a macabre double-jointed acrobat in a seedy alley strewn with skinny two and four-legged cats and smelling of foul living and gutters leading straight to Hell.

And perhaps most important to the reader is the reason why Susie Sleuth cares about solving a murder of someone she has never met. Maybe the victim was the town’s most hated citizen and one that few will miss, but Susie has a gut feeling (which never fails her) that the killing will not stop with this one bloodletting, that her new lover is next in line and that she (Susie) is the only one who can stop the carnage.

Happy Writing! Until Next Time.

R.R. Harris, author of Double Take, an Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal and which is available for Free Kindle download on May 6-8, 2014.

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

 

DOWN LOAD NOW

http://amzn.to/1iVXb8I

 

 

Now I have got a Plot, What’s Next?

 

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Natalie Goldberg says, “There is no separation between writing, life and the mind,” and I agree with her, at least on most days.
So, let’s turn your wonderful and amazing plot ideas into a first draft.

First, keep your hand(s) moving. Do not pause to reread, revise or attempt to wrest some control over what is pouring from you. Let it flow unfettered and undammed. Simply put, just lose control, no matter how hard that may be. Your writing will thank you for it.

Stuck on how to begin? Start with “I remember…” and keep going. The past, present and future, as well as your dreams are all fair game. Visit them, invite yourself in, get acquainted and sit down for a spell. Listen to their tales without judgement or censorship. Learn from them as you drink them in.

Next,  a caveat – you should not be editing or crossing out at this stage. Leave it, even unbelievable mush will still be there later and ripe for trimming or deletion.

Also, leave your inner dictionaries and style books closed, your spell-check off. Rampaging typos, dangling modifiers and sordid syntax can be corralled during the revision process. Go for the kill shot. If something leaks out that scares the hell out of you and makes you want to delete it before the light of the world shines on it, savor it for such nuggets may be rare but always treasured.

Happy Writing.

“Till Next Time.

R.R. Harris

Author of Double Take, an Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal, available on Amazon.Double Take Kindle Cover

Writing a Mystery Novel – Plot 101 or Where to FInd Ideas

Writing DeskToday, we will begin a series of short blogs on how an author can craft and sell a novel, beginning with where a writer can find plot and character ideas.

Most simply, just do what you are already doing, such as reading other books. Of course, do not plagiarize but use these readings of the famous and not-so-famous as a springboard to build your own unique images, situations, dialogue or characters.

Next, close your mouth and listen. The world is not a still nor a silent place. In most public areas, some action or form of conversation is going on, from the hair salon, the checkout line at the market, at church or a little league baseball game, in the queue at the movie theater or yes, even sipping a double-mocha skinny latte at the dank coffeehouse where the one-armed guitar player hangs out. (Bet she has some tales to tell.)

Got Texts? Everyone is on the phone these days, playing games, tweeting, reading books or just clutching their devices like their lives depended on them. Maybe you overhear one-sided conversations and your imagination fills in what you don’t hear – sobs, cursing, yelps of joy, utter disgust, or just breathing because you have stumbled across a couple in love.

Maybe the boob tube keeps you warm on those rainy winter nights, or awake on those lazy Sunday post-brunch afternoons. The medium is a 4-season, ripe for the plucking, tree of ideas, from reality shows, interviews on talk shows, news reports, crime dramas, soap operas and dare I say, even sporting events. Think of a crowded stadium with 90,000 in attendance – a body is found in a bathroom after a match or game. How many suspects will there be? How many witnesses and how does a resolute crime-solver even begin paring down the list? Suppose a human flies to the ground from an upper balcony, was it suicide or murder, or just someone who had too much to drink?

Look around your neighborhood. Become privy to the backyard gossip and drama that often courses just below the surface of even suburban areas with well-manicured lawns, 3 SUVs in the garage and two cats in the yard. Maybe Jane’s gardener does takes twice as much time with her yard as he does with everyone else, or that Bob is always loading golf clubs into the trunk of his car – at night, or that often the Smith’s house sounds like a carnival shooting gallery in the wee, still hours after midnight, when dishes break on the Mexican tile floor with no regrets, and shadowy figures crash hard against ivory balloon shades and bold epithets hang cocked like shiny copper skillets in the tense kitchen air.

Or, maybe you live in the woods in a tent with no modern conveniences and your only burglar alarm is Fido and a ring of tin cans, begging to be kicked. Yeah, beyond that natural realm at the end of your grimy fingertips, is a world filled with your unique forays though life. It has been repeatedly said that authors create from what they have experienced. Perhaps you remember as a small child venturing beyond an unlocked door into a world of wonder that teemed with danger (at least to the adults searching for you) or the first time you drove a car by yourself and the pride you felt in returning home, with you and the car in one piece..

There is nothing wrong with digging a little deeper too. Why not mine your subconscious by keeping a pad and paper, recorder or your cell phone handy to record your dreams when you awaken. Use these inner glimpses as building blocks, tunnels or apertures for your ventures into a forbidden fantasy world. Keep a notebook of these dreams, put them on a flash drive, or on note cards and file them as fodder for those hopefully few times when you are searching for writing inspiration.

Above all else, enjoy the journey. Treat this process as absolutely necessary for your writing to grow and evolve, but delight in it, roll in it as if it were a field of your favorite wild flowers and be happy to be alive.

‘Till next time. Happy Writing.

R.R. Harris, Author of Double Take: An Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal.       http://amzn.to/1l4uFak

Double Take Kindle Cover

How to Jump Start your Writing

If we were to modify a popular expression, we could say, She who hesitates gets no writing done.  Natalie Goldberg exhorts writers to “burn through their first thoughts, coming to a place where you are writing what your mind sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see and feel.”

If the act of starting to write is hard for you, begin with I remember and keep going. If you get stuck, repeat the phrase and move forward again.

Keep your hands moving. Don’t re-read the line you have just written or try to wrangle control of what you are saying. Don’t revise as you are writing. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Don’t edit, censor or cross-out.

Don’t correct typos, punctuation or grammar. That too can happen later AFTER your first thoughts are on paper.

Don’t think or try to be logical. If the naked and the scary and horrible emerge, invite them in for a cup of tea and take down their stories.

Now…that your first draft is down on paper, literally or digitally, let me know how it went, and share your tips and tools for plowing forward.

Thanks for visiting and come back often.

R. R. Harris, author of Double Take, a romantic mystery-thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii and soon to be available on Amazon.

THE MARRIAGE OF BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND ENGAGING SETTINGS

Screen shot 2012-04-16 at 5.23.25 PMWhat makes a character come alive in a news report, work of fantasy, memoir or mystery-thriller?

Readers say they enjoy their lovers and villains, mothers and neighbors to be complicated, passionate, painted in vivid hues, believable and consistent, even if being constantly inconsistent is the character’s only consistency.

“Sitting in black revolving chair, my chin in a rest, my forehead against a strap, and facing an intense light about to be shined on my inner eye, while the doctor at his illuminated glass counter made entries into my record, I turned pessimistic.” ~ Harriet Doerr

The reader could cut the palpable tension in the narrator’s mind with a dull scalpel. Why is Ms. Inner Eye even in the doctor’s office? What conflict(s) might be poised to leapfrog from languorous lounging on a lily pad to violently and irreparably shatter the pristine surface of the pond that has pooled her mundane and entirely matronly 57 years?

We simply have no choice – we must keep reading. We care what happens to this woman. Indeed, she has entered the open door of our hearts as brazenly and uninvited as Goldilocks, is getting comfortable in our heads and is warming her size 10-AA feet on the crackling fire of our curiosity. She is no longer a character in a story, she is someone we either know, or must get to know. Now!

READ ON

Please enjoy the following examples, chew them slowly, savoring every intriguing bite.

“I opened my eyes to the sound of new people brushing past my aisle seat. And looked up to see a colored woman holding a large sleeping baby, who, with the heaviness of sleep, his arms so tight around her neck, seemed to be pulling her head down. I looked around and noticed that I was in the last white row.” ~Grace Paley

“They sat at the Martinique Café, a café frequented by mulattos, prize fighters, drug addicts. He had chosen dark corner of the café and now he bent over and began to kiss her. He did not pause. He kept his mouth on hers and did not move. She dissolved in this kiss.” ~Anais Nin

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked outside of the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming from the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.” ~ Jeannette Walls

“Did Will love Emma? I’m certain he did. The memory of his hand wrapped around my arm and his whisper, this part of her makes you want to hold on, still makes me shiver sometimes when others touched me there, because I remember the longing in his voice to touch his wife there when he was touching me.” ~ Sarah Blake

“I was coming back from the grocery store with two bags of groceries when I saw her there with her dirty-faced toddler. I offered her an orange, then my loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. I nearly croaked then I heard the sound of crying coming from the cooler on the ground behind her, looked inside to see a baby.” ~ Yvonne Daley

“Blond hair and anorexia were passed down like family jewels to my sisters, but not to me, the brown-haired blob. I did not know who I was or wanted to be, but then again, neither did my parents. My grandparents anglicized their names and left their Jewish heritage behind when they fled Poland to America years before. And don’t even ask me about my immediate family. They just mimicked the Long Island losers they befriended at the WASP Country Club; no, that wasn’t its name, but it should have been.” ~ Becca Chopra

Thanks for visiting. Please come back often and tell all of your friends and colleagues about our Editing Services.

 R. R. Harris

Author of Double Take, a mystery set on the Big Island of Hawaii and set for publication on Amazon, Fall 2013.

Info@Indie AuthorCounsel.com

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Always Walking Toward the Setting Sun

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of my favorite bloggers wrote that Adventure = Risk plus Purpose, and suggests as many have, that if something scares the beejesus out of us, then “it” is something we should probably be doing. That leads me to wonder, is the way we live our lives mirrored in our style(s) of writing, or never the twain shall meet, or sometimes yes, sometimes, no? Do we crawl snake-belly up under the barbed-wire fences hemming in the confines, and thus the safety of our minds, or do we do the Star Trek thing and go beyond to worlds we have never explored, visited or perhaps even imagined? Is the sky the limit, or are there no limits to the Universe? Do we feel more secure beginning our writing journey with an outline of our story, however sketchily drawn – an end in sight, or do we rely on our characters, fictional or real, to guide us where they want to take the reader. Or is that all literary hogwash and do writers write what and how they want to write, and do they alone deserve the credit for astonishing some readers, disappointing some others and wrestling with the unrest that visits like Scrooge’s ghosts in the thick of night, creaking the boards and causing the author to wonder what if, should I or maybe even, I don’t give a damn if they like it – my writing is my therapy and if it is published, that’s just frosting on the cake? Please weigh in with your comments and visit again soon. R.R. Harris author of Double Take, soon to be published on Amazon

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: What is Your Fodder for Writing?

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

Double Take, a mystery thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

CSI, Law & Order, Criminal Minds and NCIS are all shows that have thrilled, enraptured and captivated audiences and garnered ratings and the all-important advertising dollars, but as a budding writer of thrillers, I don’t watch them. Am I making a mistake? Could they provide me with who-dunits and how-dunits and the all-important why-doits?

I just served as a criminal trial juror on a case in U.S. District Court that was 2 ½ years in the making. Not a capital murder case, there were no bullet-riddled bodies growing fish at the bottom of the bay, no double-crossed drug deals, no vengeful ex-lovers with long memories and arsenic on their breaths and definitely, no smoking guns – only an empty magazine for an elusive automatic weapon that was never recovered.

Instead, even in a short, four-day trial, there were reams of transcribed phone conversations, dozens of photos of suspicious individuals at crime scenes, a hard-working, flat-footed waitress with a floor safe bulging with $171K in tip money, exhibits of boxes, briefcases and bags in the hundreds, some damning, some almost peevish in nature. The only knife in the case was an all-pink one (I am not making this up) brought in by a well-meaning juror to cut the red velvet cake that she baked to share with the jury members and court staff.

In short, it was not a front page case, especially since during this trial, a nationally notorious, fugitive ex-policeman was holed up cross-country in a mountain lodge, perhaps with hostages and seemingly bent on suicide by cop. So, no bleached-blonde reporters in dangerously high heels lurked outside our hulking courthouse, no helicopters buzzed insistently overhead or satellite trucks dotted the manicured lawn like mushrooms after a rainy spell. Inside Courtroom #6, a usually smirking defendant twirled his caterpillar of a moustache and pulled up his mismatched socks, the harried public defender’s neckties were more convincing than his arguments, the spit-n-polished prosecutor suffered not even the tiniest detail out of place, and a note-jotting jury hoped their kids made it home from school and that their forgetful spouses remembered Valentine’s Day.

Food for fodder? Write and tell me what sparks your mystery-writing juices? What are your ideas for getting ideas?

Thanks for stopping by.

R. R. Harris

Author of Double Take

Bad Covers = Bad Sales or Why it is very important to Hire a Professional Cover Designer

                                                                                                                                        

LoveSin_SmallLilith's Secret_SMALL

While writing your novel, you are a creator. A wordsmith. An artist. But, as soon as that novel’s finished, you’re about to take the next step in publishing business. Yes, you’re becoming not just an author, but an entrepreneur. You are creating a product that has to contend with literally thousands of other products.

Our guest blogger today is Jeanine Henning, whose extensive professional background includes 15 years experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, as well as console game design and writing. Her work with editors, authors and artists on many continents has added to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. In addition to her Indie Author clients, Henning continues to work closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

Recently Jeanine published her 1st Kindle book on Amazon – Nhakira “Chosen” – 4 more books are soon to follow!

Can you, as author, afford for your product – your work of art – to be any less than visible or desirable? No.

What is one of the key selling points of any product? The packaging.

What is a book’s packaging? The cover.

So, what’s the purpose of a cover? Many writers will say: “To get customers to pick up the book, or click on the download button.” This is true. BUT, if the customer is to pick up or click and read the book’s summary, and realize that the cover and story have nothing to do with one another, then back goes book to shelf, or, the next eBook is clicked on. You lose a sale.

Yes, the cover must entice the customer. But the full purpose of a book’s cover is to:

  1. Get the customer to notice the book;
  2. Pick up or click on the book;
  3. Buy the book;
  4. Read the book;
  5. Talk about the book;
  6. Repeat for next customer.

If your name is “Stephen King”, then that book can have a blank cover with his name, and it will sell. But until you reach such status, your name is not yet known, so your book’s title and cover art alone carries the day.

So where do you start? You start by pretending you’re telling someone why they should buy your book. Point out the book’s strengths, its genre, its core, what it’s about and what makes it tick. These elements are your unique selling points, and should be conveyed through your title and cover art. And the ultimate purpose is to precipitate an emotional response from your customer. And the outcome? A sale. This is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Starting to re-realize the importance of your book’s cover? You should. Because it’s not just about a pretty cover anymore, is it?

A good cover will reinforce the customer’s initial attraction. We also do this by adding blurbs – which will tell the customer; “Yes, you have made a good choice, and this blurb rewards your decision, as the book is THAT good.” Every detail on a cover must be thought out and planned. Even the placement of the title and writer’s name is extremely important. Again, this is exactly why a professional designer is needed.

Look at your current book’s cover. And if you don’t yet have one, then think about book packages that work for you. Are all the elements of the cover presenting accurately, attractively and powerfully the appeal of the book?

So, in designing your product’s package, or, framing your work of art, realize the importance of your book’s cover. You must not just want a pretty cover – your book deserves a professionally designed package that will represent you, your story and product congruently.

And YES, you can get an exclusively designed cover by an industry professional for your book:

 JH ILLUSTRATION & COVER DESIGN offers:

  • Cover design for any genre including mystery & suspense, thrillers, horror, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, young adult, non-fiction and poetry.
  • Illustration and digital painting for exclusive and one-of-a-kind special covers.
  • Young Adult Fantasy & Fiction cover design and interior art.
  • Children’s book illustration and cover design.
  • Graphic novel cover design.
  • Different file formats and sizes of covers to assist authors with their marketing strategies.

And perhaps most important of all, Henning, still believes in “the personal touch” when working with clients, and creating covers that represent the true story of the book

Visit http://jhillustration.wordpress.com/ to view book cover samples and illustrations.

And for more information on Jeanine’s background, testimonials and main art gallery, visit her site at: http://www.jeaninehenning.com

Connect with Jeanine on Twitter: @JenVinci

Thanks for stopping by. Please consider Indie Author Counsel for your Copy Editing, Manuscript Critiquing and Proofreading needs. We offer professional service with a quick turnaround at reasonable prices!

R. R. Harris, Editor and Author of Mystery Thriller, Double Take

info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

‘Twas a few days before Christmas and Five Top Authors Rock the House

Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. But I don’t just wait for ideas. I look for them constantly. ~Peg Bracken

I’m still learning what it is about the past I want to write. I don’t worry about it. It will emerge. It will insist on being told. ~ Frank McCourt

Slow down now, touch what is around you, and out of care and compassion for each moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write. ~ Natalie Goldberg

Suppose instead of the Three Wise Men, Peg, Frank and Natalie came bearing nuggets of wisdom to inspire you to craft a work that someone other than your Grandmother will care about. Do you have what it takes? Nora Roberts says the essentials are drive, discipline and desire and that talent alone will not get anything done.

So that holiday gift buyers (including fellow authors) may know what wonderful reading choices they have this year, I am participating in a blog hop started by visionary author, Gary Markwick. To keep it going,  I am going to answer the questions below, tag a new set of 5 Authors, who will then answer, tag 5 more authors …

What is the working title of your book? Double Take 

Where did the idea come from for the book? From Hardy Boy mysteries to Edgar Allan Poe to Hitchcock, James Bond and Maya Angelou, to people I have known or heard, or wished I had known or heard.

What genre does your book fall under? Mystery Thriller.

Which actor would you choose to play your protagonist in a movie rendition? Matt Damon would be great as my Sleuth.

Could Matt Damon be cast as the dashing Carter Woods in R. R. Harris’ Mystery Thriller, Double Take?

Elevator Pitch: Double Take, a suspenseful action thriller with more twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii and loosely defined by a Cain-Abel fueled love triangle; a budding romance goes horribly sour and devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and betrayal.

P.S. I am looking for Beta Readers for this work, after the Proofreading phase has been completed, so if you are interested in participating in my creative journey, please write to me at: info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

Must-Read Authors (Hint: Think Holiday Presents)

Marcie Brock, Book Marketing Maven, blogging at: http://marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com/

Gary Sanders, author of Work in Progress, Love Ya Baby, Five Modern Noir Short Stories, blogging at: http://thegarysandersshow.com/

Jeff Mazza, writing a story of love, loss and life at http://www.cognitivecompost.com/

Alisa Singa, author of Unparallel Worlds.