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

Now I have got a Plot, What’s Next?

 

hammock

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

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.

‘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

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

Novel in a Month – Day Two, Character Sketches

Today, let’s talk about character building. We will start with identifying the main characters, and color in their personalities, challenges and individual attributes.

Before you proceed any further, you will need to decide whether you are following an outline or not. It will help if you have both primary and secondary characters. Too many may turn your work into a Shakespearean play and you may lose the reader by page eight.

Introduce characters into your story plan by listing their name and role in the story. Think ahead to ways you will let the reader inside their heads by showing their fears, vanities, quirks, flaws, hobbies, even secrets that can help mold your story.

“I am going to write about people with faults, with nasty tempers, men and women of all classes and conditions, with love and hate and fears and gripes against each other. People I can believe in because I know and understand them.” Leigh Brackett

Maybe the kill-without-a conscience mob assassin has a soft spot for kids because when he was four, his own father’s blood crimson-stained his just-finished sand castle at a family beach outing. Now he has an unwritten rule never to hurt a parent in front of their child.

In The Chakra Diaries, Rebecca is the main character but she introduces and is enveloped by a cast of sub-primary characters who are participants in her Chakra Healing workshop.

All of the characters in The Chakra Diaries need to build a strong Root Chakra foundation before they move on to achieve what they want in life. Yet, Estrella, a young woman from Long Island, especially experiences the frightening feelings of isolation and abandonment by those who profess to love her. In response, she grows a thick outer shell literally by gaining weight to physically push others further away and emotionally by trusting no one and fearing everything. Every minute of every waking day and, often in her dreams, she searches for the safe haven within herself that she never found growing up.

Blond hair and anorexia were passed down like the family jewels to my sisters, but not to me, the brown-haired blob… My carbon-copy mom and sisters all followed the Atkins Diet, exclaiming with drooling delight over blue cheese bacon burgers (buns aside – too many carbs). I had to supplement family meals with goodies I hid in a stash under my bed to keep my ethnicity – the zaftig curves, remnants of old-country Europe and appropriate only for my grandmothers… My father refused to accept my collect call, screaming, “Star made her bed with the bus boy, let her lie in it.”

Julie is the poster girl for an unbalanced fourth or Heart Chakra, a noxious cocktail of anger, depression, grief, despair, jealousy and sadness that is neither shaken nor stirred. She so desperately needs to learn forgiveness in the course of healing her chakras, and to free her life from the suffocating restraints of negativity. Her tainted soul lies bruised and sore, cast away from the mainstream of life and out-of-reach of her body’s innate healing energy.

A sense of peace washed over me as I imagined the cool, dark, soothing embrace of the ocean’s depths. Depths where this earthly pain could not exist… The doctor said the cancer had spread way beyond the lump on my thigh. Far beyond the scope of simple surgery or mainstream chemo… It’s probably a blessing that Mark confessed to sleeping with Rebecca.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here:

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

Becca Chopra

www.TheChakras.org

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