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

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

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

‘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.

Three Quick Tips for Writing Mystery, Suspense and Thriller Novels

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.

Let’s (including me) spend less time dreaming about writing our books and more time constructing and writing them. We all know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Why not craft a well-thought out stew of emotions, chocked full of juicy motivation and lip-smacking conflict and topped with a generous dollop of intrigue with just a twist of red herring, the maelstrom of flavors melded in such a way that readers pant for more?

I am nearing completion of my first draft on Double Take, an action adventure set on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is loosely defined by a love triangle that devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and anger.

Point of View: What captivating character in each scene has the most to gain or lose? For several scenes, I chose a third-person narrator, a travel writer cum-detective, who happens to be on-island researching a magazine article and is sucked into the sides of the triangle unwittingly.

Sparks: What would intrigue a reader about this story? For Double Take, a tragedy that occurs early in the novel lights a fire and ratchets up the suspense while a romance between the narrator and a single, (both literally and one not in a relationship) family member of two sides of the triangle kindles, yet muddies and sustains it as the story unfolds. And still later, as loose ends are stitched up, and all is right with the world, oh $#$@ …I hope that you read to find out.

Setting: Be it the musty library where mustachioed Colonel Mustard did the deed with a well-polished candlestick or maybe, a spider-webbed graveyard backlit by a full moon of terror, settings must be cohesive with, drive and enforce the characters, conflict and suspense, as well as provide fertile ground for them to flourish. Yes, a tall order indeed, but instead of being just mere descriptions, settings are used to up the ante on the story, to bring it to center stage, to showcase what matters most to the character who is describing the scene. Double Take takes place on several actual, mostly, well-visited places on the Big Island and the character’s verbal descriptions are buttressed by photos and fast facts in a quick and entertaining style.

By the way, I will be looking for Beta Readers once Double Take has completed the Final Draft stage, so if you are interested in being part of my creative writing journey, please write me at Info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com and visit http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Writing!

Sincerely,

R. R. Harris

SIX SUPER INGREDIENTS TO PUBLISHING SUCCESS

Into your literary cauldron, throw locally-grown talent (raw, fresh or seasoned in with the right dash of character traits and a generous dollop of opportunity, stir in a finely diced cast of characters or a paste of must-know, how-to. Cook over a carefully tended, dancing flame of desire until it’s “ready” and you’ve got a stew that may be the Brunswick or Irish Stew of books or…

1) TALENT

“Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

 

2) RESPONSIBILITY

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.” ~ William Faulkner

 

3) PERSONAL EVOLUTION

“The truly wise know that what is behind them could just as easily be in front of them. What successful people possess in abundance is the ability not only to survive adversity but to be transformed by it.” ~ Jeff Herman

 

4) PLANNING

Once I planned to write a poem entirely about the things in my pocket, but I found it would be too long and the age of epics is past.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

 

5) SHOWING UP

“Many writing books advise writers to figure out their most productive time of the day and to set out to write during that time or times. Experts also say to find the place you are most comfortable when writing and match time and place. Great. It does work for some. Not all.

“I do have a place where I write. It’s my local coffee shop. I write at different times during the day: morning, afternoon, evening. So, I do the conventional writing with time and place matched.

“But. Yes, there’s a ‘But.’ Many of my poems, and a short story recently, have been written in bed at two in the morning. I spring out of bed sometimes to write down an idea, or a rough draft of a poem or story. I keep a notepad with a pen resting on it near my bed. No coffee, no table, no laptop, and very little light.

“Some of the poems I’m most proud of have been written on the subway, in parks, in stairwells, and on my bed. No specific time, no specific place.

“Be flexible. Set your time and place, have no time and place, just write.

Show Up: read, re-read, write, re-write, submit, publish, and do it all over again.”  ~ published by Blackcoffeepoet.com

 

6) PASSION & INNER ALCHEMY

“The fire of one’s art burns all the impurities from the vessel that contains it.” James Lee Burke

 

(Adapted from Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents: http://amzn.to/L1px0G)

 

Happy Writing!
Roger Harris, editor and consultant

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

 

 

Writing a Mystery or Suspense Novel – Suppose, What if and Why?

“Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.” Paula Danzinger

One of a writer’s most precious resources is the world that lives beyond the creaking gate, borne in a fog of ideas that seeks the low places. Here, sometimes in the din of dank recesses, other times in bright, golden light, march a legion of the hopelessly lost and unceasingly forlorn. They bang their dented tin cups so that we might notice them. Their tatters of spirit overpower and wrest control of the rules of engagement we have posted in our heads and tattooed indelibly across our common sense. Yet, we ensnare and assail them without conscience. The meat of their souls will sustain us until we have had our fill.

Pen and paper, recorders and our brains are the simple tools we have packed for this hunt. When we return from the fray victorious, our prey in hand, chafed but unharmed, the camp is pitched with sturdy folders, and staked in neat rows by organizational software. Lieutenant Scrivener cages our captures, tarping the rough edges with a well-stitched backstory, calming, nurturing, grooming them. No meal tonight, only a fortune cookie that teases, promising ultimate release into the light of day. Cynics among the group argue that this is largely hot air and not to be trusted.

Suppose they escape while we go about our daily affairs? It simply will not happen. Resolutely prepared for their struggles, we observe them unnoticed, peripherally, boldly, one eye to life’s knothole. They huddle as if to gain strength by association and we hear their whispers, indistinct and largely unintelligible. We bait them to be more forthcoming and revealing by releasing a few of them at a time. Wary of yet another trap, at first, they peek out with pinpoint pupils. Once they see the fire-breathing dragon is only papier-mache and has human feet with yellowed toenails, they rush out pell-mell, leaving behind a boneyard of dangling participles, split infinitives and tired cliches. Their fires of determination are stoked with dreams of literary stardom, their tickets punched on express trains to glory.

It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: “If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.” Stephen King, author of 11/22/63: A Novel

Need Marketing, Editing or Proofreading Services – Professional Quality, Quick Turnaround, Reasonable Prices? Doors open early at our May Madness Sale.

Happy Writing!

R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Building Your Author Platform – Part Two

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, most recent book by Barack Obama, with Loren Long

An Author Platform is a way to quickly communicate your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction. Here are additional suggestions on how to achieve an “Expert Author” status:

1) Grab a Partner or Two – Find a few friendly authors in your niche or social media circles and reach out to them. Find them by replying to commenters on your blog or those how have opted-in to your menu of scrumptious freebies. You can help each other by reviewing each other’s books, doing guests posts on each other’s blogs, and participating in each other’s promotional activities.

2) Invite Guests Over for Tea – List a series of questions being asked on forums and blogs. Then, entice media pros or top-selling authors to guest blog with their thread focusing on the interests of your list. Ask them to share in advance with their readers where they will be blogging that day. The advice they leave behind will not only set up your blog as a repository of memorable content in the reader’s mind but your work will be introduced to the guest’s following, hopefully luring some of them to join your ranks too.

3) Ask, Don’t Tell – Use a poll to get your readers involved by querying them for an answer to an obstacle you have faced, perhaps even one you have already solved. Publish a summary of their submissions, and include what worked best for you.

4) Wind the Clock – “Host” a contest on a regular basis with a writing prompt specific to your genre. Frame the contest rules with a firm time deadline and give away a prize related to your niche, or a book bag, workout shirt or coffee mug imprinted with the cover of your book. Ask the winner to send you a photo of them with the item and publish it to gain momentum for the next contest.

5) Get a Second Opinion – Use the free tools at www.grader.com to optimize your website, author ranking or SEO. For example, the analysis may conclude that your website/blog needs more content or inbound links or that your Twitter presence is weak.

6) Be a Gatherer, Not a Hunter – Compile a list of resources such as websites, free downloads, social media, publishing or marketing advice and share it. Ask your readers for their reviews and experiences.

7) Save Yourself – Know that building your platform will take time and effort so decide how much of both you are willing and able to expend, then create a schedule and stick to it. Being a successful Indie author is a marathon, so save some energy for Heartbreak Hill and your run to the finish line.

If you’ve started writing, it’s never too early to start building your Author Platform. Download your Free Book Marketing Checklist from Indie Author Counsel.

Happy Writing!

R.R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

 

HOW TO GET YOUR WRITING DONE!

“Treat every day like it’s the day before vacation, and you will get more work done!” ~ Zig Ziglar

Have a writing deadline facing you? Or just procrastinating on finishing your book?

Follow these tips to help you treat every day like you are leaving on vacation tomorrow:

  • Be organized. Do you have your outline done? Be organized in your writing and in your life, as if you were leaving on a jet plane tomorrow! Make a checklist of everything you’ve got to get done today —then see exactly where you can fit your writing work in.
  • Delegate. When you go on vacation, you probably leave other people in charge of things, like taking care of your pet or getting your mail. What time-consuming, non-writing activities are you doing that you can delegate to someone else, a family member or an intern or colleague that could help you with things like updating your website, research, and other business tasks?
  • Let the unimportant stuff slide. Don’t get sidetracked cleaning out the garage, shopping for a new swimsuit for your vacation – turn the 80/20 rule around (that 20% of your efforts will bring you 80% of your reward). Spend 80% of your time on the 20% of your activities that will bring you success.
  • Do the hard stuff first. Face the stuff you don’t enjoy first – editing that first draft that sits in a pile of dust, or writing a guest blog to promote your book, for instance. Then, you can get to the more fun, creative writing of your next book.
  • Unplug. It’s a good idea to unplug appliances when you leave for vacation and an even better idea to unplug from social media and your phone during scheduled work time. Prolific writer Jennifer O’Neill said she works on her writing and completes her goals before checking emails, returning phone calls and blogging.
  • Get serious. Make a commitment to tackle your daily to-do list. If you were really coming to visit me in Hawaii the next day and wouldn’t be back for a week, you’d have to get it done, right?

If you have a writing goal, set your intentions down on paper – 1,000 wds/day on your new novel; two blog posts or articles each week; 5 Tweets/day; 1 post on Facebook. Ask yourself, are they realistic? If not, prioritize, get more help, and keep in mind the goal of lying in the hammock out in the sun after your work’s done.

When you do, you’ll not only get more done in a shorter amount of time, but you’ll also experience less stress and find yourself with more free time to do the things you want.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in and write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here: http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

Happy writing!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com