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OH HORRORS! Storytelling that goes bump in the night

October 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , ,

My job as a thriller writer is to keep the reader on the edge of her seat, but when it comes to jump-out-of-your-skin storytelling horror is the cardio workout for the imagination. The writer in me is in awe of the imaginative details; the reader (movie-goer) is in love with the unpredictability of the genre.Here are three of my favorites.

FINAL DESTINATION – MOVIE FRANCHISE

The premise is basic, the acting just decent, but the writing was so darn inventive. Just when I thought the writers couldn’t surprise me again, scenes became more elaborate, unpredictable, and downright delightfully terrifying. This is a great lesson in taking the time to kick your writing up a notch.

MISERY – STEPHEN KING

We’re all suckers for a good plot, especially when it pumps with plausibility. An obsessed fan, a writer who is her captive, and the life and death struggle between them makes this a great look at how a writer can create a nail biter when the characters are locked into a single location.

NEEDFUL THINGS – STEPHEN KING (again)

The slow burn makes the horrific climax in this book incredibly satisfying. King uses multiple characters and their motivations to keep the reader off base. This technique creates a literary funnel that feeds into the one person the reader should have been paying attention to from the beginning. Psychological horror becomes physical and the swiftness of the climax is chilling, and the reader doesn’t even know they are being led down a path until it’s too late.

So, I’ve got the pumpkin carved, the candy bowl is on the table, I’m waiting for the doorbell to ring and before those trick-or-treaters descend I’ve got just enough time to open my book and scare myself silly. What about you? What’s your favorite Halloween-horror page turner?

The Witness Series

HOSTILE WITNESS

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HOSTILE WITNESS

SILENT WITNESS

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SILENT WITNESS

PRIVILEGED WITNESS

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PRIVILEGED WITNESS

EXPERT WITNESS

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EXPERT WITNESS

EYEWITNESS

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EYEWITNESS

FORGOTTEN WITNESS

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FORGOTTEN WITNESS

DARK WITNESS

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DARK WITNESS
LOST WITNESS: A Josie Bates Thriller
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Perfume: what you never expected to find in a World War II novel set in Occupied Paris by Jina Bacarr

October 11, 2021 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I’ve had a zillion jobs in my career.

US Army rec specialist in Europe, AM/FM radio commercial artist, traveling cosmetic saleslady for a French company, club dancer, soap opera player, writer for kids’ TV…

And perfume model.

So, what does a perfume model do?

The gig started when I got a call from the modeling agency I worked for asking me if I was available to introduce a new perfume. Since I was freelancing for a travel magazine company in Beverly Hills back then, I jumped every time the agency called me with a perfume job.

The pay was good. The hours ranged from four to six hours a day. The location was always a posh department store (remember Bullocks, I Magnin’s?), and occasionally, I’d get to wear wardrobe from the couture department to complement the color scheme and theme of the perfume.

I felt like a film star.

After a session with the perfume rep explaining their marketing campaign, off I went. Sashaying around the store like I was walking on the red carpet. I’d engage customers in small talk and introduce them to the perfume.

I’d spray it on their wrist – or mine if they preferred – and then gave them a sample. It wasn’t easy. I was snubbed by snooty women, hit on by male customers, and constantly asked, ‘Where is the ladies room?’

By the end of my shift – toes squashed in three-inch heels – my feet were killing me.

But I loved it. The customers were enchanted by the quick whiff of a new fragrance and loved being whisked away for a moment of glamour. I’d regale them with my stories about Paris and the Belle Époque department stores I visited along with the history of perfume.

And the different notes of the perfume. Top, heart, base.

I soon discovered you didn’t sell the steak… perfume, that is… but the sizzle. The mystique, the mood. I had to evoke an emotional response in the customer and I did it by storytelling and learning as much as I could about perfume. How it’s manufactured, the ingredients, what that perfume can do for that customer to make her happy, feel sexy. Powerful. Loved. I became an amateur ‘nose’, learning about the different scents and essences and how they configure in varying ratios to make up a lovely new fragrance.

I used that perfume experience to create parfumier Angéline de Cadieux when I wrote ‘The Lost Girl in Paris’.

How a girl from a controversial upbringing becomes a famous perfumer during the war when she comes to Paris in 1940 to escape the Gestapo. Then how she uses perfume to do her part to win the war…

THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS is up for pre-order – and my just-revealed cover is on Amazon!

Release date: November 30, 2021

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09B1QDRVW/ 

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Photo credits:

Jina Bacarr: Laura Burke Photography

Background: ID 137251284

© Viktoriya Panasenko | Dreamstime.com

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Nearly 500 ratings on Amazon UK!

The Resistance Girl

Juliana discovers her grandmamma was a famous French film star in Occupied Paris & her shocking secret…

UK https://amzn.to/3bU18Qv 

US https://amzn.to/2FoKKeS

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Babies, Books and Autumn?

October 10, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as ,

It’s October! Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love the crisp autumn air, and the anticipation of the holiday season. This year is especially special. Our new grandson arrived and will experience his first autumn, first Halloween, first Thanksgiving and for Christmas. I hope you’ll forgive my absence the last few months, we’ve been totally captivated by Milo.

Milo Porter was born on April 9, to my oldest son Gerrod and daughter in law Kristina. And he has absolutely stolen my heart. Did I mention that he was named for me? Porter is his middle name, and my maiden name. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get a full name from my son before he was born, then when they were leaving the hospital (because of the pandemic we couldn’t be there) he sent me a picture of the discharge papers, and there was his name.  Okay, I might have cried (sobbed). They named their baby for me.

He’s beautiful, charming and has both GrandPaul and I wrapped around his little finger.

We all read to him, but I think the first to read a book to Milo was his big brother Isaac. Yes, this is a family of book lovers.

I do have some writing news. #SilverBracelets Book 2 in my #HermosafortheHolidays series is finally out in paperback. We had some glitches along the way, but it’s available on Amazon, and I’m so excited to finally have print copies!

And if you haven’t read #HauntedHermosa yet, this is the time! It’s a sweet little Halloween romcom. It’s available in ebook on Amazon.

I’m off to convince my son that Grandma needs zoom time with Milo and Isaac.

Happy October everyone!

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Are You Leaving Money On The Table?

October 5, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,
the pink pad

Happy October and Fall.

I recently listened to Joanna Penn’s How To Make A Living With Your Writing and Productivity For Authors. I highly recommend both books, no matter what stage or level you are in your writing career.

I have been a published author since December 2014. However, it wasn’t until the past few years that I realized I wasn’t a very good steward or caretaker of my writing career. I often tell people I’ve written several books. Instead, I should have been saying, “I’m an author as well as a small business owner.”

Listening to Joanna’s books just emphasized my poor caretaker skills. As writers, we’re storytellers first, then business people. However, if we don’t understand the business side, we’re simply hobbyist. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a storyteller who gets paid.

Let me take a few moments to chastise myself. I’ve not been as focused as I could be. I set goals and fall short. I used to create a production schedule, which I probably should go back to. I tried a Kanban board system in 2019. I liked it, but then COVID hit and I didn’t give Kanban a second thought. I tried sprinting and writing blocks, but failed to stay consistent. I’m also guilty of not having a daily writing time. Instead, I’d wait for the muse to visit me. I’m also guilty of letting distractions run rampant in my life.

It was sort of funny how I came to listen to Joanna’s books. I was sitting in the drive through at Raisin’ Cane waiting to order dinner. Don’t judge. I’m a healthy eater, but a girl likes some chicken tenders and fries every now and then. If you know anything about Raisin’ Cane, the line is always long. I didn’t want to listen to music, and I had just finished the Kevin Kwan Crazy Rich Asians series . . . the books are so much better than the movie. I was going to listen to a podcast and saw Joanna Penn’s name and thought, why not read or listen to one of her books. I downloaded How To Make A Living With Your Writing. There’s so much good information about goal setting and time management.

Joanna asked a question that really stood out: Are you were leaving money on the table? I had no idea what she was talking about, because there was no way I could be guilty of such a thing. I replayed the chapter so I could catch all of her statement. I was shocked to discover she was talking about the different ways to monetize your book. She listed the many formats she uses for her books: ebook, paperback, hardcover, large print paperback and audio.

Hold up. I know about audio, I’m not there yet. So I gave myself a pass. However, I was guilty of not doing half of the other formats. When I publish a book, I generally only do ebook and paperback. I thought about doing a few limited edition hardcovers for some of my books, but hadn’t made the move. For large print paperbacks, I have to be honest, it never occurred to me to offer them, although some readers asked me about large print.

Joanna shared that her large print paperbacks account for a huge chunk of her print sales. My mind raced as she spoke and then she said the magic words . . . “Formatting is easy with Vellum.” I was hooked. Then she said there was a large market for large print paperback. I went to Amazon and found several large print romance books available.

Back to my question, are you leaving money on the table? Did you know large print books fetch a higher price for very little work? I created a large print version of The Good Girl Part One. I love how it turned out, but there were two minor issues . . . I forgot to include my website on the back cover and I had the wrong cover dimensions. I made the corrections and put my first large print paperback up for sale. I’m also strongly considering large print hardcover. Did you know there are still quite a few people who like hardcover books? I may not be doing audio books yet, but I can expand my revenue streams by offering two versions of the large print format: paperback and hardcover.

So here are the revenue streams for my books: ebook, regular print paperback, large print paperback, regular hardcover and large print hardcover.

Let’s take a deeper look at the proposed revenue streams (before royalty split) for The Good Girl Part One.


ebook – Free
Regular Print Paperback – $7.99
Large Print Paperback – $8.99
Regular Hardcover – $20.99
Large Print Hardcover – $25.99

The hardcover prices are estimates. Looking at the possibilities, means I’ve been leaving $55.97 (before the royalty split) on the table, because I’ve only been doing ebook and regular paperback.

Imagine if I sold ten of each of these formats for this book daily. (Use your royalty split to calculate a more accurate number.) Whatever number you came up with is correct and shocking. Now multiply those numbers by your entire catalog. I did my catalog number based on my royalty split. I wanted to kick myself.

Of course, hardback copies may not be for you. But why not offer a few as collectibles–that’s still a nice piece of money. Here’s another thought, maybe you do a series hardcover. I’ve seen them on Amazon and they fetch a nice sum. The possibilities are endless.

I hear you saying, “What about audio?” I’m not ignoring audio, it’s just not time for me yet. My plan is to do audio in 2023, but until then, I’m adding large print paperback, hardcover and large print hardcover to my inventory.

So I’ll ask again, How much money have you been leaving on the table?

See you next month.

~Tracy


Books by Tracy Reed

A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN

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A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN

DESPERATE DESIRE

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DESPERATE DESIRE

FIRST ENCOUNTERS OF LOVE

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FIRST ENCOUNTERS OF LOVE

GENERATIONAL CURSE

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GENERATIONAL CURSE

GIRLFRIENDS & SECRETS

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GIRLFRIENDS & SECRETS
GOD’S BOMBSHELL: LIVING A BEAUTIFUL SINGLE LIFE

INTENTIONAL CURSE

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INTENTIONAL CURSE
LOVE NOTES

MISS MATCH

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MISS MATCH

UNEXPECTED LOVE

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UNEXPECTED LOVE

THE FIX UP

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THE FIX UP

THE FLING

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THE FLING

THE GOOD GIRL PART DEUX

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THE GOOD GIRL PART DEUX

THE GOOD GIRL PART ONE

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THE GOOD GIRL PART ONE

THE GOOD GIRL Part Trois

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THE GOOD GIRL Part Trois

WHAT MY FRIENDS DON’T KNOW

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WHAT MY FRIENDS DON’T KNOW

WHAT MY FRIENDS NEED TO KNOW

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WHAT MY FRIENDS NEED TO KNOW

THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE

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THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE

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Prolific Mystery Author Emily Brightwell Reveals Her Writing Process

October 2, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

Emily Brightwell was born in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Her family moved to Southern California in 1959 and she grew up in Pasadena. After graduating from California State University at Fullerton, she decided to work her way around the world and took off for England. She didn’t get any further than that because she met the man who would become her husband in Leeds, Yorkshire, married in 1976 in California, and later had two children.

While working in international shipping in Long Beach, she decided to pursue her dream and become a writer—which, of course, is the best job ever. To date, Emily has written over fifty novels in three genres—romance, young Adult and of course, mystery.

Emily lives in Carson City, Nevada and is currently working on “Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win” the 41st book in the series.

I’m excited to have multi-published author Emily Brightwell here with us today. The 40th novel in her fabulous Mrs. Jeffries Victorian London Mystery Series will make its debut on November 16th!! Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders has Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon hot on the path to solve their latest murder case.

Jann: As a multi-published author, is it hard to keep the books fresh and engaging?

Emily: Keeping a long-running series fresh isn’t easy, but it’s loads of fun. I’ve written forty “Mrs. Jeffries” books and I’m currently working on number forty-one. Where does my inspiration come from? It comes from everywhere, from newspapers, books, social media, magazines, and most of all real life. I’m a news junkie and lest you think that the news of today couldn’t possibly provide any insight into how the Victorians lived, loved and murdered, you’d be dead wrong. People haven’t changed.

Whether we live in Victorian England or modern America, we’re driven by the same emotions today as we’ve always been; love, hate, envy, greed, fear, jealousy, obsession. Every emotion they had, we have. When I sit down to write, I pinpoint the underlying emotion that drives my killer and work from there. For example, take the idea of ‘greed’ as a motive for murder. There are hundreds of ways that ‘greed’ can be used in any time period—from a Victorian wife who murders her husband for his money to a tech company billionaire who wronged his original partners so he could have it all.

Jann: What is your writing process and has it changed with all the new writing programs?

Emily: My process hasn’t really changed and I don’t use any of the ‘new writing programs’.  Here’s how I do it. Once I have my motive, I then branch out to other aspects of the manuscript; characters, milieu, sub plots, red herrings, identifying internal as well as external conflicts for everyone, including the killer! As I said, it’s loads of fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I believe effective writing requires conflict in every scene…you’ll notice I said ‘conflict’ not confrontation. Constant arguing is just tiresome, but conflict, done properly, carries the reader through the scene and leaves them wanting more. Conflict can be argumentative, but the most effective use is to give your characters goals in opposition to one another. For example, Phyllis, Inspector Witherspoon’s housemaid, is saving her wages to open her own detective agency. When she learns that another character, Wiggins, is planning the same thing, there is immediate conflict between them. Phyllis feels someone she trusted has stolen her idea. A typical alpha male’s behavior! She now has a goal in opposition to him—mainly beating him at every turn in the search for information. Wiggins, on the other hand, feels that wanting the same thing would bring them close—as partners. When he realizes it hasn’t and that she’s working extra hard ‘best’ him, he develops his own way of dealing with the situation. It’s a double ‘goals in opposition’ as Wiggins is just a bit in love with Phyllis. Man versus woman—a cliche but it works!

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Emily: I often get asked what is the first thing I do before starting work on a new Mrs. Jeffries manuscript? I indulge in the one ritual I’ve had since the beginning. I call it “The Ritual Cleaning of the Office.” Yup, by the time one Mrs. Jeffries book is finished and I’m on to the next one, my desk is covered with notebooks, stacks of paper, piles of research books, sticky notes on every surface and usually cat hair on my chair. But once my office is cleansed, I get to work.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? Why?

Emily: Over the years, I’ve experimented with a number of different writing processes and I’ve finally hit upon one that works well for my personality. That’s a process I think every writer has to endure before finding what works for them. Maybe some have the gift of plotting an entire book in their head before page one but I don’t. Anyway, I digress so back to my process, which begins with me coming up with a theme. It isn’t one that you had to write in high school English. It’s something real and personal to you, the author. It can be something simple: the truth always comes to light or old sins have long memories. But it has to be something meaningful to you—a topic that illustrates what you want to tell the world. Before you say ‘but isn’t it just a story?’ Of course, it is. The main function of genre fiction is to entertain your readers, but stories also need to have a point of view about the world you’re creating. A POV that you genuinely believe in and that has some universal validity. But I’m digressing again, let’s get back to my process. After the theme, I do a character list with age, social class, physical description and a motive for wanting the victim dead. This list isn’t written in stone and frequently changes as I work through the manuscript. Then I do my favorite part; the crime-line. This is single spaced, often many pages long and follows the killer from the moment he/she decides to commit murder to the steps he/she takes to do the actual deed. It is an important part of my process and like the character list, can change as I write the book. Once those bits are completed, I dive onto page one, cross my fingers and hope readers will like it.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block?

Emily: Once I’m in the book, I try to write at least five pages a day—sometimes more, but occasionally, if I’m stuck, less. Yes, I do get stuck sometimes…I don’t know any writer that doesn’t. But I’ve never had a full-blown case of writer’s block (and hopefully never will), so I’m very grateful to be spared that misery. I know writers that have endured the dreaded block and sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years to get back to work. Writing is the best job in the world but there are some days when your characters simply won’t do what you they’re told! That’s when I go for a walk. I love being a writer and I can’t think of any other job that would give me so much joy…except maybe being a zookeeper for penguins. That looks like a great job too.

I love my characters and how they have grown and changed, how they have surprised and astounded me but one day, I want to expand a bit and do some other projects. Okay, I’ll admit to another guilty secret. I have a ‘fun book’. It’s a thriller, a romance, a science fiction saga and totally non-commercial as it doesn’t fit into any marketing or publishing niche. But I write in it every day and it helps me to keep the “Mrs. Jeffries Series” fresh. It lets me stretch as a writer and that’s a good thing (to paraphrase Martha Stewart). I’ve done romance, mystery and teen angst but there are always great ideas and stories out there waiting to be told. I’m hoping to be able to tell some of these tales for a long, long time.

Jann: Emily, thank you for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange. Congratulations with your 40th book!! What an amazing achievement. Wishing you many more.


MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE MIDWINTER MURDERS
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