Friday, September 16, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 7 Internal Dialogue Editor's Notes

by Elva Cobb Martin

Today I am sharing some internal dialogue notes from the Prism editor of  my romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, which is to be released in March, 2017.

What do you think the characters in the pictures below might be thinking?





Secret: My hero for my next novel. Ethan Wentworth. He's begging me to tell his story.


Internal Dialogue and Italics – Notes from Susan Baganz, Editor, Prism Book Group


   Internal dialog is the way someone talks to themselves in their minds, it’s not just mere thoughts)

1) Just plain thoughts are not italicized.  
     
     Was this a manipulation?  
     Good gravy. Was this the way the Marines landed?  
    
2)When the character is actually talking to himself, that should be italicized. 
   
      It was just a nightmare. It was just a nightmare.
      Get out of my way, please.
      Not expecting her?
      A pleasing fragrance emanated from her. Musk or lavender?

3) Silent prayers are italicized.
     God help me.
     Lord, thank You for this wonderful summer position, but I’m going to need Your help big time to sit at table with this man every day.

4)  Third person past tense versus first person present tense in thoughts. (This was an eye opener for me)
         
     Incorrect: Wipe the silly smirk off your face. (Simple thought of character I had in italics)
    Corrected: She longed to wipe the silly smirk off his face.
    
     Incorrect: Yes, what is preventing me?
     Corrected: Yes, what was preventing her?

      Incorrect: So you don't care a thing about Morgan, Mr. Barrett? And you think marijuana shouldn't be legalized, but you've stashed a fortune in cocaine in your attic.

     Corrected:  So he didn't care a thing about Morgan. And he thought marijuana shouldn't be legalized but he stashed a fortune of cocaine in his attic. 

Please share any tips you have about internal dialog, and do share this blog on your social media if it proved helpful.

Elva Cobb Martin

Friday, September 2, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 6 Deep Point of View

by Elva Cobb Martin

Part 6 - Master Deep Point of View (DPOV)
I highly recommend you purchase a copy of Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson! It is a small book but a great help in mastering DPOV.

DPOV draws the reader into the arms and head of your character.

Mastering DPOV often eliminates most problems with show/don’t tell and italics.

Here are some quick pointers:

♦  Never say he/she thought, felt, knew, wondered, realized, decided. 

Simply write what it is.
    Wrong: He understood how much this would mean to her. He knew she’d be worried.
    Right: This would mean a  lot to her. She would be worried.

♦  Don’t name the emotion, describe it instead.
     
     Shallow: Jealousy flashed through me.
     Deep: Heat boiled my insides. If that wimp could win a trophy, where was mine?

♦  Describe physical effects on the body: 
         Anger: His hands formed into fists.
       Nervous: Sweat popped out on his palms. His throat closed.

♦  Ditch Prepositional telling phrases (of, with, in)
     
     Shallow: Desiree’s skin prickled with pleasant excitement.
      Deep: Shadows deepened. The place reeked of ancient secrets.   Desi's skin prickled.

♦  Don’t use he/she saw, tasted, smelled, heard. Simply state what he saw, tasted, smelled or heard.
     Shallow: He could see the tip of the dog’s nose peeking out of the                            closet.
     Deep: The tip of the dog’s nose peeked out of the closet.
     Shallow: He tasted bile. 
     Deep: Bile rose in his throat.

Do you have some tips to help master DPOV? Please leave a comment and share on your social media if this blog helped you.

Elva Cobb Martin



Friday, August 26, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 5 Show Don't Tell

by Elva Cobb Martin

Show/don't tell is a biggie for us writers to master, and I keep working at it, believe me. Randy Ingermanson has helped me a lot. Here is an excerpt from his blog archive at https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com

How to Show/Not tell 
by Randy Ingermanson

 1) Action: Anything your characters do, shown in real time. 
  • Jake swung the bat into the kidnapper's head.

 2) Dialogue: Anything your characters say, shown in quote marks.
      "Take that, you scurvy dog!" Jake shouted.

3) Interior Monologue: Anything your chracters think, whether a verbatim record of the thought or a mere statement of it. Verbatim thoughts are often shown in italics, whereas indirect thoughts never are.
    And if you ever touch my daughter again, you're dead.
    What were these idiots thinking, to mess with the daughter of a Navy Seal?

4) Interior Emotion: Anything your characters feel. This is best done by showing direct physiological reactions which can be interpreted as emotions.
      Another rush of adrenaline boiled up in Jake's stomach.

5) Description: Anything your characters can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.
     Two gunshots range in quick succession. The bare light bulb in the basement exploded in a curst of darkness. Cold air rushed over Jake like a river. He smelled gunpowder so strong he could taste it. The small red dot of a laser aiming device raced across the floor toward his feet.

What has helped you show/not tell? Please leave a comment and share this blog on your social media by clicking on the icons below.

Elva Cobb Martin


Friday, August 19, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 4 Master GMC and MRU's

by Elva Cobb Martin



We continue "My Journey to a Book Contract" and honing your craft. This is Part 4. You can access Parts 1-3 in our archives.



Master “Goals, Motivation, and Conflict” 
(check out a great book with same title by Debra Dixon)

Your hero, heroine and even other characters should have a:
        Goal – What they want
        Motivation – Why they want it
        Conflict – The why not (what stands in their way)
   
   Internal and External Needs evolve into Goals, Motivation, Conflict which drive the story.
           Carolyn Greene says inner conflict is what gives characters’ something to think about.
           External conflict propels the plot and gives characters something to do.
           Inner needs can be universal and intangible: respect, acceptance, security, safety, love
           External needs should be tangible and resolvable:  justice, revenge, the truth, job promotion   

Example: Kirsten Arnold wrote on a Seekerville blog comment her idea at Internal and external GMC & logline.

Log Line/Pitch: A rugged Alaskan hunting guide must save the younger brother of the woman he loves while learning to accept the forgiveness that can set him free and open the door to love and life. 
    
Who: Cooper Maitland: Alaskan outfitter/hunting guide

External GMC: Cooper wants to help the FBI catch drug traffickers operating as Alaskan fishermen, and save Bryce Wallace the kid brother of McAye Wallace the woman Cooper loves.
Internal GMC: Cooper wants to forgive himself and accept God’s forgiveness for the terrible mistake he made that cost McAye’s sister her life. His love for McAye stands in the way, because it serves as a constant reminder of his past and keeps him mired in guilt.


Master MRU’s - Motivation Reaction Units

(Should be in this order but don’t have to include all 4)

  1) Physical or gut level
  2) Thought
  3) dialog (can be combined with action)
  4) action

Incorrect Order (example from my draft of Summer of Deception)

Rachel looked at him for a long moment. First the housekeeper, now this man. Wasn’t anyone expecting her? A sting shot through her empty stomach. But she shook off her uneasiness. Everything could be cleared up in two seconds. She dug in her handbag. “Mr. Barrett offered me a summer position. I have his note here.”

Corrected Order
A sting shot through Rachel’s empty stomach. Wasn’t anyone expecting her? First the housekeeper, now this man. She looked at him a long moment and cast off her uneasiness. Everything could be cleared up in two seconds. “Mr. Barrett offered me a summer position. I have his note here.”
She dug in her handbag.

What helped you master GMC or MRU's? Please leave a comment and share this blog on your social media by clicking on the icons below.

Elva Cobb Martin

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Five Vital Steps (Part 3 Theme)

Howdy Writer Friends, 

Today I continue my series on "My Long Journey to a Book Contract - Five Vital Steps."
You can get the full blogs in my archives on Part 1 and 2 but here is a fast review:


Here are the five steps I listed in Part 1:

1) NEVER give up!
2) Keep Honing Your Craft
3) Importance of Conferences and Writing Groups
4) Help Other Writers 
5) Learn how to Submit to Editors and Agents


In Part 2 I covered four ways I've learned to plot a novel. 

Today, in Part 3, I continue with "Honing Your Craft" and important things I learned that helped me on the way to a contract. 

Plug into a Theme - A story’s most basic element
The author’s worldview, their core values and outlook on life, drive the theme. Here are 10 central themes in film and books constantly repeated which describe an opinion about society, human nature, God, or life in general.

1) Good vs. Evil   - Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia,
         The War Room
2) Love Conquers All   - The Notebook, Love Comes Softly                      series, The Passion
3) Triumph over Adversity – The Blind Side, Facing the Giants
4) Individual vs. Society – Schindler’s List, The Elephant Man
5) The Battle – Braveheart, The Patriot, Attila
6) Death as a Part of Life – The Shack, Driving Miss Daisy
7) Revenge – Cape Fear, Revenge of the Nerds
8) Loss of Innocence – Sixteen Candles, Toy Story 3
9) Man vs. Himself – Gone with the Wind,The Godfather
10) Man vs. Nature –Jaws, Armageddon, Jack London stories,               Survivor shows

A quick check of stories in the Bible will reveal many universal themes. In fact, the Bible hasn’t left out any nitty-gritty issues mankind faces.

■ Husband and wife join in wrongdoing (Adam/Eve, Ahab/Jezebel, Ananias/Sapphira)
■ Jealousy/sibling conflict (Cain/Able, Rachel/Leah,                       Joseph/brothers)
■ Love/hate triangles (Abraham/Sarah/Hagar;                                     Jacob/Leah/Rachel)
■ Arranged marriages (Isaac/Rebecca, Jacob/Leah/Rachel,               Christ and His Bride
■ Rape (Dinah and Shechem; Tamar and Ammon)
■ War and its mighty men (Joshua, David, Gideon, Samson)
■ Women’s rights (the daughters of Zelophehad Joshua 17:3-6)
■Adoption vs. Infanticide (Moses)     
■Adultery/Murder (David/Bathsheba) (Hosea)
■ The perfect love story – Ruth and Boaz
■ The Wrong Kind of Sex  – Sodom & Gomorrah, the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19), Samson & Delilah
■ Redemption and Forgiveness – (the Prodigal Son and                        numerous stories)

Because I'm an inspirational writer, I want my novels to reflect my Christian worldview, core values and outlook on life, through whatever theme I choose. That's the legacy I want to leave with my readers and future generations.

Can you discern the writer's worldview in the movies and/or books you have read recently? So much being written and filmed today is in a secular worldview, but I do love to read and view stories with a strong Christian worldview. How about you?

What is your theme in your current WIP? Can you add to our theme list? Please leave a comment and share this blog on your social media if it helped you.

Elva Cobb Martin

          

Friday, July 29, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Five Vital Steps (Part 2)

by Elva Cobb Martin

For a long while my dream of securing a book contract seemed like an impossible goal- like reaching for a castle in the sky.

If you missed Part 1, you can find it in the archives.

Here's a quick list of the Five Steps that helped me finally land my first book contract. It is with Prism Book Group for my inspirational romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, to be released in 2017

Drum-m-m ROL-L-L! I have recently signed a second contract with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas for my historical, In a Pirate's Debt! So now I am into edits on TWO books at the same time. (Yes, that's a prayer request in the subtext). Selling the second book has been quicker maybe because I started writing it before I sold the first one. ( : 

Here are the five steps I listed in Part 1:

1) NEVER give up!
2) Keep Honing Your Craft
3) Importance of Conferences and Writing Groups
4) Help Other Writers
5) Learn how to Submit to Editors and Agents


Part 2  Keep Honing Your Craft!


Learn how to Plot a Novel  - 4 Ways I’ve Studied               


A) The detailed Authors Boot Camp Manual can be found at
     There are tons of links compiled for every aspect of plotting and writing a book! And it’s all free—the best articles from some of the best authors you’ll find. 

B) The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson. Find his 10 detailed steps under Products at  http://www.advancefictionwriting.com
         
Randy, a former software architect, lists 10 Steps that he compares to a snowflake in building a novel. He has a software program on it and a detailed book you can purchase on Amazon.)

   Here are the first 4 steps briefly which he covers in detail on his site and in his book.
      Step 1 - Take an hour and write a one sentence summary of your novel idea.
         Ex. “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the Apostle Paul.”
      Step 2 - Take another hour and expand that sentence into a full paragraph describing the story setup, 3 major disasters, and the ending.
      Step 3 – Characters: Write a one-page summary for each character telling their name, their storyline, their motivation, goal, conflict, and epiphany (Details on site)
       Step 4 – Expand each sentence in your paragraph summary into a full paragraph each. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends.

End each chapter with a cliff hanger!

C)  MaryLu Tyndall’s basic method for historicals: Starts with research
           1) Do detailed main character sketches with photos and index cards of main characters
           2) Write synopsis of basic story line and chapter by chapter summary
           3) Write the first draft down fast in creative mode. No editing or checking research details. Get the main plot points down, about 40,000 words
           4) Rewrite/Expand adding the polish, research details, DPOV, five senses add more tension/conflict, and end each chapter with a cliff hanger.
           5) Edit for final draft
           6) She keeps three docs pulled up in computer when writing:

              a)Chapter by Chapter summary which she uses to write the first draft, (I have a Scene List doc for each chapter as I write the scenes)
              b) A To-Remember Doc which lists things she needs to keep track of like dates, back story, ancestry, research items
              c) Add-in Doc – lists all the extra ideas that she comes up with while doing other stuff that she wants to add in later
                       (In editing to cut my novel word count, I added a “Cuts” document to paste in all cuts which I may want to use later in blogs.

              Find MaryLu’s other Writing Tips at http://www.crossandcutlass.blogspot.com

D) Prescription for Plotting Notebook by Carolyn M. Greene (Pass it around)
   
       A fantastic 3-ring binder with 75 pages of worksheets, forms and easy instructions to help plot your novel. Order it from:
           Carolyn Greene, P.O. Box 412, Powhattan, VA 23139 
      Send check or money order for $25 plus $5 for shipping.  Check out her site at    http://carolynpd.fortunecity.ws/
       (I highly recommend this notebook, if still available.)


Three “plots” I worked up for Summer of Deception
           
The main romance plot between heroine Rachel and hero Luke.

The suspense/mystery subplot of who is smuggling drugs on the Charleston coastline and what really happened to Rachel’s brother declared dead by the DEA.

The spiritual subplot of Luke’s struggle to regain faith and the testing of Rachel’s faith

The Spectrum for Spiritual Plots for Inspirational novels from Ron Benry’s Writing Christian Fiction

    ♦ At the High End: A conversion/redemption scene of a main character, grace in action
    ♦ The Middle Ground: Jesus at work in the lives of one or more characters  
    ♦ At the very least: Show progress in a lead character’s Christian walk or reaffirmed faith.
          OR: Challenge your protagonist’ moral beliefs. Judith Rolfs in a new mystery release by Prism Books, Never Tomorrow, has a scene in which the heroine’s moral belief in chastity is challenged by a character she has begun to think of in a romantic way and the heroine gives a great “No” answer.

My take on all this is: Weave in the spiritual plot through “parable/story style” not preachy style.

Don't miss the next blog(s) when I will share other writing skills I had to gain mastery in: Goals, Motivation and Conflict; MRU's; and How to Show not Tell. 

What has helped you most in plotting or planning your book? Please reply by leaving a comment and click and share this with friends on Twitter and FB.

Blessings on your day,
Elva Cobb Martin





Friday, July 22, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Five Important Steps (Part 1)

by Elva Cobb Martin


As some of you might know, I signed my first book contract a few months ago with Prism Book Group, for my inspirational romantic suspense, Summer of Deception. What you may not know, is how long it took to come to a contract. 

Here are what I consider five important steps to that elusive contract. I will be sharing them in detail in future blogs:

1) NEVER Give Up!
2) Hone Your Craft - a big, continuing step
3) Importance of Conferences and Writing Groups
4) Help Other Writers
5) Learn How to Submit to Editors and Agents 



Step 1 - NEVER GIVE UP
I researched and wrote the first draft of Summer of Deception thirty years ago after attending Yvonne Lehman's first Christian writers conference in Black Mountain. I didn't even have a computer and wrote it on a Selectric typewriter. The next year God called me and my husband into the ministry and I stashed the big box of research and first draft up in my attic for the next twenty years where the typed pages turned yellow. After we retired from full-time ministry, I pulled that box down and began rewriting. After I started submitting it to publishers and agents, it was rejected 26 times. I studied craft, revised and rewrote after every rejection. Finally, after submitting the full ms to a Prism editor I met at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers' Conference in 2015, I received the following email from Prism Editor Susan Baganz:

Dear Elva,
    Paula Mowery met you at Blue Ridge and asked me to look at your ms Summer of Deception. I did and I couldn’t put it down. I loved it!  Attached is a publishing contract that includes eBook, print as well as audio publishing with Prism Book Group.
Susan Baganz, Editor
Prism Book Group

Many may reject your ms, but someone will love it, if you don’t give up. Make up your mind you are committed for however long it takes and whatever it takes to get your book written, polished, sold and marketed or indie published. Carve out praying time, writing time, reading time in your genre and honing your craft time.

And here's a scripture promise for you that I often used to overcome discouragement  Phil. 1:7  “Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus’ Christ.”

Don't miss the next steps in future blogs!

What advice do you have to help someone who feels like giving up on their novel dream? Please leave a comment and share this blog by clicking on the Twitter and FB button below.

Blessings on your day,
Elva Cobb Martin