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Now & Then: An Author Looks Back

March 15, 2018 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I am updating my early romances and contemporary women’s fiction novels with the intention of re-releasing them. I am excited because these books were my training ground. In these pages I can hear the first tentative sounds of my distinct ‘author’s voice’. I see that I instinctively had a good grasp of what makes a story work (don’t all voracious readers have that instinct?). There is one more thing I see in these books that is hard to embrace: my major author ‘dork’. I have no other word for my early writing stumbles. Some of them were mistakes of publishing fashion and others were born from an untrained sense of drama.

Since hindsight is a wonderful thing, I thought I’d share my top three ‘author dork’ mistakes.

1) Hysterical dialogue: This is not an industry term so don’t use it with an editor. Sill, I think it perfectly describes my use of long sentences, harsh words, and huge banks of exclamation points to get across a character’s anger, distress, fear and passion.

Solution: In my later work, I learned that proper scene set-up, thoughtful exposition, and spare and realistic dialogue give me a lot more dramatic punch.

2) Fad over fashion: Within the first few pages of Seasons (a book I really love) my heroine appears in Laura Ashley dress. If you’re old enough to know who Laura Ashley is, you’re cringing at the image. If you’re not old enough to know then I have made you stumble as you try to figure it out. I have no doubt I will also run across references to big shoulder pads and power suits.

Solution: I now describe clothing generally – jeans, slacks, blazer, leather jacket – to allow the reader to fill in the detail blanks. I use color to underscore character. I never use a designer name or a fad because this dates a book. The only exception is when I need the fad to assist in a plot point. For instance, a label in a corpse’s clothing might call out a specific designer.

3) Overwriting: When I first started writing there seemed to be an accepted rule of thumb that a chapter was twenty pages, that women’s fiction and romance were not worthy unless the author lingered over love scenes and dialogue was drawn out. If there is purpose to long stretches of prose or dialogue then go for it, but if during the edit the author can’t remember what happened in the last three pages of a book then the reader won’t remember either.

Solution: Tell the story. Do not write to word length. Either the story is solid and will move along at a good clip or it won’t, either it will be 100,000 words or it won’t.  The readers won’t stick with you.

The good news is that I am happy with these early books and will not fundamentally change them. I will, however, make them better by applying what I know now to what I wrote then. If only we could do the same thing with our high school yearbook pictures the world would be perfect!

Happy writing.

Don’t forget to check out my latest release, Secret Relations, book 3 in the Finn O’Brien Thriller Series.

Here’s where you can find me!




Author page:

Twitter: @Rebecca_Forster


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Is Your ‘Plate’ Too Full? by @Rebecca_Forster

November 15, 2017 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as , , ,

Is Your 'Plate' too Full? | Rebecca Forster | A Slice of OrangeToday my November plate is officially too full.

It has been piled high with cold, flu conferences, a last minute, out of country speaking engagement and now a medical screening that needs a follow-up. Of course, there are also everyday things that pile on to the plate: bills, calls from my sons, the tennis league I belong to, dinner to cook and bathrooms to clean. I’m not complaining. This is all just life and good stuff if you take the cold and medical appointments out of the equation. Still, filling out my calendar and trying to figure out how I’m going to fit quality writing time in the schedule made me think about the craft of writing a novel. The question on my mind was how much is too much before a reader throws up her hands and pushes the literary plate away?

As a thriller writer, I love to go over the top. Unfortunately, I can get a bit too energetic and take the technique to crazy extremes. It’s a fault. No, it’s worse than a fault. It’s a sin to be so involved with own words that I forget my job is to entertain not challenge someone to wade through my excesses. When I do go overboard, I am giving my readers a reason to push away the literary plate I have served them.

Luckily, there are remedies for ‘too much’ writers like me. In real life we say no to many things, so let’s start saying it in our fiction. Here are three ways to figure out if you just served your reader a plate that is too full.

[tweetshare tweet=”Three ways to figure out if you just served your reader a ‘plate’ too full by @Rebecca_Forster” username=”A_SliceofOrange”]

Echo: A particularly inspired turn of phrase, description or character quirk is a thing of beauty. Constant use of the same phrase or description or a continual reminder of the quirk is an annoyance. Readers are smart and imaginative. They will get it.

Blow-by-Blow : No pun intended, but sex scenes are more effective and dramatic if they are evocative rather than clinical. The same rule of thumb applies to shootouts, character travel or any scene that stops the reader and forces them to linger without a point. Move the story forward using varied sentence structure and only critical physical descriptions.

Cast of Thousands: Have you ever tried to find a friend in a crowd? It’s impossible because all you can see is a blur of humanity. The same thing happens to a reader if there are too many characters populating your book. Think of your book as a play. Characters may come and go but the ones we care about should always be center stage.

While you edit look for the echo, the blow-by-blow and the cast of characters and adjust the emphasis, streamline the structure and your literary plate will go from too full to too fabulous.


A Finn O'Brien Thriller


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The Write Way……….

May 17, 2009 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as , , ,

My turn to blog, so I’m thinking…a little shameless self promotion!
On June 9, my Desire SEDUCED INTO A PAPER MARRIAGE will hit the shelves. This book was a lot of fun to write for a couple of reasons.
First, well I love writing Desires, anyway! But secondly, it’s the final book in the Hudson continuity. In this book, all of the story lines are wrapped up, we see where the whole family is and everybody leaves satisfied. We hope.
The thing about continuities…You get to write a long throughline with five other writers. Silhoutte gives you the ‘bible’–character descriptions, where they all live, what the family is like and what the storylines for each book in the series is. Now there’s a lot of room to play around, but you have to maintain the stories that the editors have come up with for this particular in line series.
Oh, you can change your character’s name, or description. You can even finesse a few other small things, though you’ll have to talk it all over with the editor who wrote that bible. And you for sure have to keep the other authors in the loop.
And the email loops can get crazy as we all define the characters we’ve been given. Is your heroine crabby? A smart aleck? Does she dress well or live in jeans? What’s her dog’s name? All of these tiny things that add up to a living breathing character have to be kept track of–because trust me when I say, readers will call you on any mistakes!
In SEDUCED INTO A PAPER MARRIAGE, Devlin Hudson and his wife Val are already well known by the people who’ve been following the series. Silhouette did something fabulous in this continuity. They had me write four extra scenes–sort of prequel scenes to my book. These scenes have been at the back of all the other books in the series……. So hopefully, everyone will rush right out to see what happens to Val and Dev!
Continuity series are fun AND challenging. And isn’t that why we all wanted to be writers in the first place?
Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. At the moment, she’s trying to break in a brand new computer who doesn’t seem very friendly….
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The Write Way

February 17, 2009 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as , , , ,

What could be better than FREE BOOKS??

That’s right! To celebrate 60 years of bringing romance to the world, Harlequin/Silhouette is giving away 16 books, FREE.

Just go to this site, and download them!

I’m pleased and honored to say that one of my books, BABY BONANZA is one of the books offered.

But why is this good for writers? That’s easy. Harlequin/Silhouette publishes 72 books a MONTH. That means even when the economy is rough and other publishing houses are being cautious, Harlequin/Silhouette is always looking for writers!

Why shouldn’t that be YOU??

So go to the site, get some free books and study them. Figure out which line your heart leans toward and then sit down and write. Polish. Perfect. And then submit.

Who knows?? Maybe the next time Harlequin/Silhouette gives away books, yours might be one of them!

Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. At the moment, she’s hard at work on her next Silhouette Desire.

Visit Maureen at or

Her most recent titles are:
BEDEVILED, NAL, January 09
AN OFFICER AND A MILLIONAIRE, Silhouette Desire, Jan 09
VANISHED, Silhouette Nocturne, February 09

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The Write Way…….

January 23, 2009 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as ,
I missed my regular posting day on the 17th, since I forgot about everything but finishing my book that day! Anyway, here I am, making up for it!
I was thinking about First Steps the other day and it occurred to me that first steps happen everywhere in your writing career. There are writers like Kate Carlisle, who are taking their First Steps in seeing their book on the shelves. First book published. Nothing more exciting really. And Homicide in Hardcover is sure to do fabulously well! It’s a great story.

Then there’s our own Jennifer Apodaca, who’s taking a First Step into a whole new genre. As Jennifer Lyon, she’s got the first book in her new Witch Hunter series coming out. And Blood Magic is going to be amazing. It’s a great book with a terrific story and characters. Still, it’s a First Step and that can be terrifying.
And then there’s me. Bedeviled is the First Step in a new paranormal series for me. Yes, I’ve done paranormal before. I’ve started series before and no, this is really not anywhere close to my first book.
But it’s still scary. Every First Step is intimidating and filled with doubts and worries and CAN I PULL IT OFF moments.
No matter where you are on the publishing road, those First Steps are terrirfying.

The only way to get past the fear is to take the step anyway. So finish the book you’re working on. Send in that proposal. Enter that contest. Every First Step brings you that much closer to the NEXT First Step. And that brings you closer to your goal.
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