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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Home > Monthly Archives: July 2017

What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

July 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze, Writing tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

What is the publisher/agent attitude towards including a prologue in a romance novel? In ALL my writing classes, workshops, etc (other than romance), the prologue is hated and absolutely discouraged, yet it seems routine with romance.  So . . .

What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I started my career I wrote in a genre I had never read, pitched with a partial and made simultaneous submissions to multiple editors and agents.  In other words, I broke every ‘rule’ in the book so I might not be the best one to ask about the prologue rule. That being said, I’m happy to give an opinion – of which I have many if you ask anyone who knows me.

I believe that ‘they’ are not as good a judge of your work as ‘you’. I believe that if there were hard and fast rules about what editors like we wouldn’t have books like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or genres like chic lit. I believe that if a prologue turned off editors/readers the following books would never have been published or become profitable.

  1. “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan
  2. “The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason
  3. “Montana 1948” by Larry Watson
  4. “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco
  5. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
  6. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  7. “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham
  8. “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane
  9. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
  10. “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber

Yes, prologues are often skipped but if an author wishes to write one then it is the author’s job to make it a compelling piece of the whole. The question is not just is it necessary, but is it critical?

P.S. I have used prologues in three out of my 30+ books. All were published with the prologue intact.

P.S.S. Harry Potter also has a prologue.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 

From a publicity point of view, I care an inordinate amount about the cover of your book and the description of your book; less about whether or not you have a prologue. The only reason the prologue matters to me is if it helps sell the story.

That may sound shallow and even annoying to the craftsman who created the work, but it shouldn’t offend you. The most important part of the PR job depends on the cover and the description…if the first few pages can’t make that cover and description come to life, get rid of it. The first few pages need to pull readers in and keep them engaged in the book. As a creator, if the devise you choose to do that monumental task is a prologue, I support your choice. Just make sure it works and it’s as finely crafted as you can make it. I suspect that somewhere along the way the prologue got a bad name for itself because of shoddy work by writers who didn’t know how to use the device.

If you want to use a prologue, study finely crafted prologues. I want yours to dovetail with your story and with your cover and your book description. It’s all about craftsmanship. In that way, books are like furniture…I only want drawers in furniture if the drawers are constructed properly with joints that dovetail, instead of joints that are cheaply glued or tacked together and fall apart. Books or desks with drawers, If they are made well and work, they do exactly what I need for them to do.

 

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Prolog: Greek -before, Logos – word

Prologs are out of vogue. Maybe that’s because we want to jump right into a story, not mess about with seemingly extraneous details. More likely it’s because
Prologs have been abused. So often they’re just an info dump – more of a distraction than a component necessary to enjoying the story. I suspect that’s why publishers and editors dislike and discourage Prologs.

Contemporary Romances are stories in the here and now. That’s an aspect of the genre I really love. I want to walk right in and meet the players and watch the love story as it plays out. There really isn’t any need for a set up, a prolog, an information dump. I want to be living the story as it unfolds for the protagonists and the details should be woven into dialog and narrative and keep the story in the active present.

If you must include a prolog first ask yourself:
•Can the reader understand and enjoy the story without this info
•Is it compelling
•Can the info included in the Prolog be conveyed throughout the story in dialog or narrative
•And the question I think is most important for a Prolog: is the information contained so important that the reader must keep that in mind as the narrative unfolds if we are to understand the story. That’s the only reason I can see for a prolog.

But you are the author and this is your story. If a prolog will strengthen the work, then by all means include one. The creative process should not be subject to the whims of fashion. Just be absolutely certain that prolog is necessary.

Let us know what you think about prologues. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you read them?

This month’s extra squeeze topic was suggested by APRYL MOHAJERRAHBARI. Thank you Apryl, we hope we answered your question. 

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle, please use this contact form.

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Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh … I Celebrate an Amazing Lady

July 27, 2017 by in category Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh ..., Writing tagged as , , , , , , ,

Things that make me go mmmrrh ... | Geralyn Corcillo | A Slice of OrangeI am a very lucky duck to know book reviewer and entertainment journalist Tracy Miller  Tracy is also a gifted and prolific poet who has published over 20 books of poetry! After working diligently for over two decades as a lawyer (after winning full scholarships to Temple and University of Pennsylvania Law School), she is now fulfilling her life-long dream of writing full time. And Tracy doesn’t just write poetry and reviews of books and television – she uses her talent to write birthday poems for people she knows, admires, remembers, as well. On July 4, she and her twin sister Stacy celebrated their birthdays, so I wrote Tracy her very own birthday poem and pasted it all over Facebook this past July 4 . And Here is the birthday poem I wrote for her:

 

 

A peculiar Lady stands in line
At Whole Foods and the bank.
And if you try to suss her out,
You’re sure to draw a blank.

She speaks into a hand-held mike
And says the strangest things
Of plots and tropes and characters
And poetry that sings.

Her mind’s forever active
And her heart’s always replete.
She’s composing all the live-long day
Her demons to defeat.

She celebrates the lives, the art,
The love both here and gone;
The memories she yet holds close
Their might she pushes on.

She’s like a warm and searching poker
Stirring ashes ‘neath the grate
To find the embers burning there
And make them glow. But wait-

No, not a piece of iron
To grow cold when set aside.
But a lively torch that catches flame
To light the air on which it glides.

Like a Firefly she bops along
Brightening the dark,
Building fires or fanning flames, or
Nurturing a spark.

That well sprung magic of her own …
Oh! Such poetry transports.
To be precious, mentioned, known so well ..
Or just to read these dear reports!

It’s not just about her poems though
That makes her heaven-sent.
The prose she writes in her reviews
Is truly incandescent.

To know that someone’s work reached out
And lit another fuse …
To share the secret, bounding joy
Of audience and muse!

When someone’s efforts speak to her
She tells it to the world
In such detail you’ve never read
Creation is unfurled.

Writing is her full-time gig
After decades of the law.
She made her precious dream come true.
Tracy Miller I applaud!

Tracy, Girl, I know that life
Has hurt along the way.
But know that I am grateful
You and Stacy have this day!


Enjoy Tracy’s work on the website she’s dedicated to her mother, Arlene Miller Creative Writing and read her reviews of books and television in the online magazine The Nerdy Girl Express.


When she was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo dreamed of one day becoming the superhero Dyna Girl. So, she did her best and grew up to constantly pick up litter and rescue animals. At home, she loves watching black & white movies, British mysteries, and the NY Giants. Corcillo lives in a drafty old house in Hollywood with her husband Ron, a guy who’s even cooler than Kip Dynamite.

 And she loves to connect with Readers! Check out her monthly post here on A Slice of Orange and drop by to see her daily posts on Facebook and Twitter where she would be thrilled to comment back and forth with you. And you can sign up for her RomCom Alerts emails to get access to exclusive content, deals, freebies, contests & more!

 

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Monster Revision & Deep POV: Suzanne Johnson – OCCRWA August Online Class

July 23, 2017 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , , , ,

I’m excited about the August OCC/RWA Online Class, Monster Revision & Deep POV, with instructor Suzanne Johnson, who also writes as Susannah Sandlin. I have a manuscript in mind I want to tackle.

Monster Revision graphic

Pull out that WIP, ready-to-revise manuscript, or even a chapter from an already-published book, and get ready to dive into “Monster Revision,” an intensive one-pass revision system that’ll take you from Draft Zero to Done.

In this 30-day workshop, we’ll cover a one-week overview series of lessons, followed by three weeks of techniques that will leave you with a lot of tools in your revision toolbox. You’ll get individual feedback on your posted homework (yes, homework!), and I’ll work on a revision of one of my WIPS as we go through the course as illustration.

Part One:

* The Monster Revision Process: It’s easier than you think. Not fast, but not rocket-science.

* The Opening Scene Test.

* The Action-Reaction Test.

Part Two:

Warning: There will be color-coding. Take a deep breath and pull out those highlighters.

 For the remainder of the class, we’ll take a sample chapter or two from your manuscript and massage it till it hurts. (You can try doing a whole manuscript during the class but it’ll be more effective to do the techniques on one or two chapters.)

We’ll be covering:

  • Methodology and color-coding, and why deep POV is an important part of revision.
  • Setting and description, including timeline, continuity, and backstory quicksand.
  • What’s important to show, and what is better told.
  • Dialogue as Action, and isolating character voice.
  • Internal dialogue: pace, voice.
  • Emotion: raw, ugly, visceral, internal.
  • The color wheel.
  • Read to the dog.
  • DIY Toolbox: manual and online.

About the Instructor:

Suzanne Johnson was happily ensconced in New Orleans as a university magazine editor when Hurricane Katrina sent her adopted hometown underwater. She took her Katrina experiences, added wizards and magic (and the sexy undead pirate Jean Lafitte), and began what has become the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series published by Tor Books. Writing under the name Susannah Sandlin, she also writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series for Montlake Romance, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou, also for Montlake.

Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author.

Enrollment Information:

This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.

Enroll here: http://occrwa.org/classes/august-online-class/

Linda McLaughlin
OCC/RWA Online Class Co-coordinator

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The Character Must Die

July 22, 2017 by in category Write From the Heart tagged as , , ,

That Character Must Die | Veronica Jorge | A Slice of OrangeI killed one of the characters in my novel.

(It was more like two, but I have no qualms about the second one.)

I came up with a death scene I really liked and just had to use it, so someone had to “go.”

I’m still not sure if it was in the best interest of the story, or if I’m just stuck on having to use a particular description.

As I reflect on the sequence of events and the wording, and debate the character’s fate; to live or not to live? I think about language in general and the nuances contained therein.

The English “goodbye”, like the characters in a book, can be so finite. Here today, gone tomorrow.

In contrast, parting words in other languages encompass a world of possibilities of that which is yet to be experienced. Whether it’s, auf wiedersehen in German, arrivederci in Italian, or hasta luego in Spanish, each expresses the probability, and the hope, that we will meet again. Even the Japanese rarely use sayonara, unless it really is “the end.”

Write from the Heart | Veronica Jorge | A Slice of OrangeIn life, as in writing and in reading, I prefer the meanings that other languages provide for that interim we call separation. And I would like to think that the characters we create in our imaginations, that eventually inhabit the pages of a book, continue on, not only in our own minds, but in the minds, and perhaps the hearts, of our readers.

So, if I must terminate one of my characters, I’ll think of them as an old soldier who has faithfully served, and comfort myself with the words of General Douglas MacArthur.

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

And I realize that no matter how wonderful a story may be, as we grow and change, some of the characters we loved best as writers and readers do fade away and/or are replaced by others.

But, they never really die.

We meet them over and over again in the ways they have touched us and changed us, and have made us different and maybe, even better, for having met them.

 

See you next time on August 22nd.

 

Veronica Jorge

Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York.  Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.

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