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

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

Why do I write? Advice from Pearce, Hemingway, Capote, Maugham and Goldberg

Their surnames might adorn an oak-panelled wall where back-room deals are consummated over hearty handshakes and cognac-infused cigars, a place where billable hours litter the hardwood floors like so much confetti but, instead, these authors will help us answer our burning question of today, our raison d’etre as writers.

 

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ Truman Capote

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“A writer need not devour a whole sheep in order to know what mutton tastes like, but he must at least eat a chop.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

“As writers we live twice, like a cow that eats its food once and then regurgitates it to chew and digest it again. Slow down now, touch what is around you and out of care and compassion for every moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

The following is an excerpt of a poem (untitled, I think), by Laura Pearce and partially answers our Topic’s question for me. Namely, because I want literary magic like this to gurgle forth from my keyboard and scribble pad.

When the gypsies came, your grandmother

made me promise not to go to the woods

where fires blazed and music played

and dark-eyed women danced in coins.

She said they’d steal a girl like me

with golden hair and flower skin

and make me beg in filthy clothes

and feed me scraps of moldy bread.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris, editor and marketing consultant

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

TAKE THE WRITING CHALLENGE – BOOK IN A MONTH!

I spent three years writing my first novel, The Chakra Diaries. Then, a full year on the sequel, Chakra Secrets, which I can happily say is now finished and on the way to the editor.

Now, I’m ready to write the book my students and readers around the world have asked for – Chakra Healing Simplified. I have the title ready, Balance Your Life, and my enormous pile of information at the ready.

I want this book written quickly. So, I decided to jump into a new way of writing for me – an organized routine and structure for writing. I was introduced to this program, NOVEL IN A MONTH, when joining Indie Author Counsel, and I’m going to see if the system works to use both my left and right brain to complete my self-help guide.

Now, are YOU ready to write as well? Laptop at the ready, a rough story outine lying pent-up, cramped into the folds of your brain, awaiting glorious release through your fingertips?

Anton Chekhov suggested that every sentence should spend two days in the brain, lying perfectly still and putting on weight. But using that principle, your work might be completed by the time you are 98 years old.

If you want to join me in the challenge of writing a book in a month, try the program along with me….

Learn how YOU can write your own book in just ONE MONTH, by visiting the official website:

http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

I’ll be posting my progress as I move through my outline this week. If you try the program or have other writing advice, please share your comments as well.

Happy writing,

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com