Friday, December 8, 2017

Writing with Spiritual Impact - Part 2 Jacob's Stone Legend

By Elva Cobb Martin

In Part 1 we defined "Thin Places" as where heaven and earth seem closer due to the prayer and worship that has taken place in that area. Click here for Part 1 http://bit.ly/2i7YP13  

In my research into "thin places" I found myself studying again the story of Jacob in Genesis 28:11-12. If there ever was a thin place, surely where he slept on a stone as his pillow and dreamed of the ladder between heaven and earth with angels descending, this place would be one.

Remember when Jacob awoke, he was afraid and declared, "How dreadful is this place! It is none other than the house of God,and this is the gate to heaven."

Then he set up the stone and poured oil on it and called the name of that place Bethel, meaning house of God.

Now this is where the "rest of the story" related to that stone gets interesting. 

Did you know there is an unfounded tradition related to it? The legend says this stone was finally brought to Jerusalem, later taken to Spain, then to Ireland and finally, to Scotland. On what is supposed to be that very stone, the kings of Scotland were crowned. Later, Edward I of England had it brought to Westminster and placed under the chair on which kings of England have been crowned for centuries.

Along with this stone tradition is the Anglo-Saxon theory that the British and American people are the ten lost tribes of Israel.

For much more information and research about this topic and where the stone is today, click here: http://bit.ly/2izOpLB

Whether the stone legend or ten lost tribes theory are true or not, thin places we started out discussing continue to intrigue me, especially my own thin place of daily prayer and worship. It is from time spent there that I can write with greater spiritual impact. How about you?

Do you have a "thin place" where you feel closer to God and heaven?

Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment and share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin

Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI





Friday, December 1, 2017

Thin Places - Writing with Spiritual Impact Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin


Iona, Scotland, place of early Christian prayer
My favorite legal thriller author, Robert Whitlow, really snagged my interest in a new term to me, "thin places," in his book Water's Edge. He brought this spiritual principle in by having the heroine describe the hero's deceased, godly, father's law office. The hero Tom had just told the heroine Rose that even though he came to clean out his father's office, he'd actually found himself reading the Bible at his father's old desk more than doing the clean up. 

The heroine glanced around the room,then up at the ceiling and said, "That's because this is a thin place. It's what the ancients called a place where there's less separation between heaven and earth. It allows easier communion between the Lord and His people."

Then she went on to ask if he had heard of Iona or Lindisfarne which are known as thin places in Scotland and northern England where the early Christians established places of prayer and worship.

That prompted me to do some research not only Googling those two famous places people visit every year, but looking in the Bible as well.

Two "thin places" in the Bible that came quickly to my mind were Jacob's dream of the ladder between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:11-22) and New Testament Lydia's place in Philippi Paul discovered down by the river where "prayer was wont to be made." (Acts 16:13)

As Christian writers I believe the best spiritual arcs we can hope to create in our novels will be inspired by time spent in our personal spiritual thin place, our prayer closets. Do you have a "thin place" of your own where you've prayed and worshiped God so regularly, there's less separation between heaven and earth?

In Part 2 I will share something astounding I uncovered in this research into "thin places" that has to do with Jacob's experience and the stone he slept on and anointed with oil.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you know of a special thin place where you feel closer to heaven and inspiration? Please leave a comment, if so, and share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin


Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin

Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI




Friday, November 24, 2017

Blackbeard the Pirate - Part 2 Charles Town's Revenge

by Elva Cobb Martin


If you missed Part 1 "Charleston Held Hostage" you can find it in my archive.

After holding Charles Town hostage until his demands were met, Blackbeard sailed away. He had to be gloating over the fact that not only had he taken the most valuable loot of his career, he had, as one writer put it, “reduced to total submission the proud and militant people of South Carolina without firing a single shot.”

What Blackbeard and his cohorts did not count on was that in the South, revenge rides hard on the heels of humiliation.

Once the pirate squadron sailed out of Charleston Harbor and Samuel Wragg and the other hostages had replaced their clothing, if not their dignity, white-hot Southern dander rose to the surface in the Charleston waters.

It was just the stimulus needed for the difficult task of subduing the hitherto fashionable vice known as piracy.

History records the results.

The courts of Charleston, in November of that same year of 1718, tried, convicted and caused to be hanged in the period of one month a total of 49 pirates.

The pride of South Carolina was certainly restored in great measure by these successes against piracy. Blackbeard, however, was not among those executed in Charleston.

He died on November 22, 1718, at the hand of Lt. Robert Maynard. Maynard and his crew, sent by Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood of Virginia, challenged Blackbeard near his Ocracoke, North Carolina, hideout. After being wounded an astounding 25 times, 20 cutlass wounds and five gunshot wounds, Blackbeard succumbed.

Maynard reportedly chopped off Blackbeard’s head and attached it to his mast and sailed home. Legend has it that when they threw the body over board, it swam around the boat seven times before sinking.

So goes the story of Blackbeard, Colonial terrorist.

In England the last pirate of this era was strung up in 1840, and in America the last one was hung in 1862.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a favorite pirate story? Please share in the comments and share this on our social media by clicking on the below small icons.

Blessings,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to her romance novels, Summer of Deception and In a Pirate's Debt, and a Bible study, Power Over Satan on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI




Friday, November 17, 2017

Blackbeard the Pirate Part 1 - Charleston Held Hostage

by Elva Cobb Martin

November 22, 1718, is the anniversary of Blackbeard's death at the hands of Lt. Robert Maynard. So I decided we'd take another look at this most famous pirate of all.

Pirates had their greatest days in our Atlantic waters in the 1600-1700’s. The success of piracy and its particular form of terrorism in the colonial period were due in part to the laissez-faire attitude of heads of state and some colonial governors. Unpardoned acts of piracy were often condoned by officials as long as the acts were perpetuated against one’s enemies or the loot was shared. England and other nations issued “letters of marque” which gave their own “privateers” as they called these type captains, permission to attack and plunder ships of their enemies.

But piracy became so prevalent at times that honest sea trade almost ground to a halt. Then governments withdrew letters of marque, tracked down the pirates, and hanged them in public.

The history of Charleston, South Carolina, records such a story involving Blackbeard, one the most notorious pirates of all who roamed the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean.
Blackbeard was more than an adroit leader of men, swashbuckling and fearsome; he was also a skillful navigator and a competent naval tactician. According to Rod Gragg, a University of South Carolina professor of history, Blackbeard once fought and won a naval battle with a 30-gun British man-of-war, becoming perhaps the only pirate in the western hemisphere to defeat the British Royal Navy.

His method of attack was similar to that of terrorists today. He struck quickly, raided, then ran. His favorite place to run was Ocracoke Island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. His attacks, of course, were always at sea.

In May of 1718, Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard, sailed into Charleston with his fleet of pirate ships. He blockaded the harbor, captured and plundered nine ships and took several hostages including Samuel Wragg, a member of the South Carolina legislature. After interrogating the hostages about the remaining ships in the harbor—their cargoes and destinations—the victims were then thrown half-naked into the dark hold.

In exchange for the prisoners, Blackbeard demanded of Governor Johnson something the pirate did not find on the plundered ships, mainly a large supply of meds used to relieve a pirate’s recurring nightmare—syphilis. Blackbeard warned that if his demands were not met, he would execute all the hostages and raid and sack Charleston. And Charlestonians knew he could do just that.

The Charles Town legislature complied. It seemed that shame, indignation, and revenge were outranked by fear. Actually, it was wisdom that outranked the lot, with revenge simply being reserved.

Thanks for stopping by. Don't miss the Revenge of Charles Town next week! Please leave a comment and share on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to her romance novels, Summer of Deception and In a Pirate's Debt, and a Bible study, Power Over Satan on Amazon http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI








Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tips for Creating A Villain

by Elva Cobb Martin

Villains are important in most  genres, and I've studied quite a lot about how to write about these bad guys (or gals). 

A writer friend, Katherine McDermott, wrote:"In creating romantic suspense the "bad guy" is just as important, if not more important, than the hero and heroine. He must be a "real" person with legitimate motives and his own back story; otherwise, you end up writing a melodrama with stock characters like Dudley Do-right and Snidely Whiplash."

I created a powerful villain by the name of Byron Pitt in my novel, In a Pirate's Debt available at http://amzn.to/2i61Z5P . I gave him a terrible scar on his face that occurred in a sword fight with the hero captain. He was also jealous of the captain and wanted revenge for the scar. I gave him motive and opportunity to seek revenge, increasing the conflict in the story.

In my contemporary romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, available at  http://amzn.to/2f0y2SB I wrote in a mercenary, immoral, cowboy villain, Dakota, who had it in for the hero Luke, but I gave this bad guy a piece of a heart. He dropped his girlfriend when she refused to get an abortion, but he also sent money to her regularly and had an account set up to pay for the hospital and doctor for the baby's birth.

In my study I found a great description for a villain written in the Bible. Check out Proverbs 6:12-14, here in the Amplified Bible version. Do you see the body language described?

A worthless person, a wicked man, is he who goes about with a perverse (contrary, wayward) mouth. He winks with his eyes, he speaks by shuffling or tapping with his feet, he makes signs (to mislead and deceive) and teaches with his fingers. Willful and contrary in his heart, he devises trouble, vexation, and evil continually; he lets loose discord and sows it.

Do you have a tip for creating a good villain? Leave a comment.
Thanks for stopping by and please do share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva 



Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to my romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI







Friday, October 27, 2017

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Part 3 the Main Components

by Elva Cobb Martin

You can review Part 1 and Part 2  of this series by clicking on my archives. We covered the differences between Mystery, Suspense and Horror novels in Part 1.
In Part 2 we defined what a Cozy Mystery is.

Today let's talk about the Main Components of a cozy we will need to plan.

The Amateur Sleuth
Unlike regular mysteries (detective stories, police procedures) a cozy has an amateur sleuth protagonist working to solve the mystery, although there may be trained law officers also working on the case. Think of Father Brown on Netflix, who solves the case right under the angry inspector's nose who tries to keep Father Brown out of the picture. Think of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Poirot. I love these amateur sleuths. And I love Sherlock Holmes, but can't class him as amateur. He's too much a brain.

Location/Setting
One reason I like Father Brown and Agatha Christies' series is the English village setting. Don't you love the stately old manors, churches, modes of travel, and the dress? I'm probably going to need to consider writing an historical cozy since I love historical stuff.

The Murder Victim and Crime
Eddie Jones, CEO of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, says in his Cozy Mystery Workshop that the body must appear very soon in the story, definitely by the end of Chapter one or sooner. The crime must capture the reader's imagination and give enough information about the victim to make the reader care that justice will prevail.

Great Plotting
Like any other type story, we have to have a well-thought out plot. Plot usually has three main stages:

1) Beginning - getting to know the protagonist and set up for the conflict/crime
2) Conflict/Problem/Journey
3) Resolution

These are broken down into many parts. For a mystery it must also include clues, red herrings, and many twists until the very end. The end does not have to be happy but it must be satisfying.

Are you thinking about writing a mystery? Do you have a question? I look forward to your comments and please do share this on your social media by clicking on the below small icons.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin
Link to all my books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI











Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Launch of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus & Five Steps to Overcome Writing Rejection


By Elva Cobb Martin
Hi everyone! Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward. I love their books!


You can find out more about this book and all the links to purchase it and others here: http://writershelpingwriters.net/bookstore/

To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through these challenges to keep writing, I wanted to post about it too. Here's my story!

I wrote the first draft of my first novel, Summer of Deception, a romantic suspense, thirty years ago. It was rejected 26 times before I finally landed a contract. Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas released Summer of Deception in May, 2017, and it's spent time on Amazon's 100 Best Sellers List for Women's Religious Fiction. Earlier, I've written a 9-part blog series on "My Long Journey to a Book Contract - Five Vital Steps"  Click here to start Part 1   http://bit.ly/2yLohlW

However, here are the Five Vital Steps in brief. I know you will love me for giving them here! To get much more detail and craft information check out the series in my archives. Maybe what was holding my contract up is holding yours.

Step 1) NEVER GIVE UP! Check out Philippians 1:6 and be confident God will complete a good work in you.

Step 2) Keep Honing Your Craft -with every rejection I learned something. I     studied plotting, deep POV, and Goals, Motivation and Conflict, and                      most important, how to show/not tell. Study craft books and writer blogs.

Step 3) Attend Writing Conferences. Join a writing group and look for critique                      partners. Good critique partners are a blessing.

Step 4) Help Other Writers. Four years ago I helped found the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers and have served as president. This great group has been instrumental in helping my writing craft and perseverance keep moving forward. I enjoy helping other writers on their way. Sowing good seed helping others, brings needed help to you. That's a Bible principle. Here's a link to our S.C. ACFW Chapter's latest blog by Edie Melson, our VP:   http://bit.ly/2gzFQLV  Check out the top list of pages for more info. We meet the 4th Saturdays at 2:00 PM in Anderson, SC. Oct. 28 our speaker is a law officer who will share investigative procedures and weapons info for writers.

Step 5) Learn How to Submit to Agents and Editors - How critical it is to READ and FOLLOW Guidelines posted on their sites! 

Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere.  Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!
There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at  http://writershelpingwriters.net/2017/10/help-us-celebrate-the-incredible-strength-of-writers-and-a-new-book/
I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!
The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!

So glad you stopped by. Do leave a comment and share this post on your social media by clicking on the small icons
below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin
Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both are spending time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com, on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to my romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI


















Friday, October 20, 2017

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Part 2 Definition

by Elva Cobb Martin

In my last blog we defined Mystery and Suspense and reviewed the major differences between Mystery, Suspense and Horror novels. You can find that blog in my archives. Carolina Reckoning by Lisa Carter is a great mystery I enjoyed.

What is a Cozy Mystery? --by Eddie Jones, CEO, Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas (LPC):
A cozy mystery features an amateur sleuth solving a murder within the confines of a controlled setting (think train, mansion, small town). Most of the suspects know each other and thus know each other's secrets. This leads to lots of accusations as to whom the killer might be.

Another definition I like is: A cozy mystery is a sub genre of crime fiction that gives readers a chance to delight in vicariously solving a murder--without graphic violence or sex. As a Christian writer this is what makes a cozy mystery my favorite kind of mystery and the kind I will want to write.

Others have said: "Cozies offer readers the kind of escapism that harder-boiled detective stories simply can't deliver."

"The abiding appeal of the cozy owes a lot to our collective memory, true or false, of simpler, sweeter times."

Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers are two cozy authors who have inspired several generations of cozy writers.

According to Brian Klems, Writers' Digest editor, there are four things a writer should know if considering venturing into cozy-mystery writing today:

1) Cozies have evolved since Christie and Sayers in faster pacing and more driving action with a broader range of subject matter.



2) Series are the way to go - virtually all cozies published today are part of a series with recurring characters and may be anchored around a hobby or craft--or even cats like the Lilian Jackson Braun series, which I have also enjoyed on tape as I exercise.

3)  Sales are steady, but moderate.

4) Genre-specific support is available - like Sisters in Crime writing group
(sistersincrime.org) one of the leading networks for mystery authors. It offers
a Guppies program that provides help for new mystery writers.
http://sinc-guppies.org/


Who is your favorite cozy author? Please join the conversatoin and share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin

 Link to all my books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI  



Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Part 1 Mystery, Suspense or Horror?

by Elva Cobb Martin

I've had a cozy mystery novel on the back burner for quite a while and have just decided to pull it up to the front burner. You are invited to trek along with me as I refresh my thinking about mysteries in general and this cozy book idea specifically on my next several blogs. Of course, my cozies will always have a good dose of romance!

To start with I've refreshed my understanding of the difference between Mystery and Suspense novels, and also Horror novels.

Here's a fave mystery writer's definition of Mystery: 
A Mystery is a story that has a crime already committed (preferably violent like a homicide) and the suspect is unknown until the end of the story. Mysteries can be broken down into sub-genres like Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedure, Detective Stories, Cozy Mystery, Legal or Medical Mysteries, etc.

A Suspense novel is where the suspect may be be known to the reader, but the thrust of the story is the protagonist's attempts to catch, stop, or overcome the antagonist before a murder or mayhem can be committed.

Another interesting break down I've seen is the difference between Crime/Mystery, Suspense, and Horror stories relating to four aspects:

1) The Murder 
2) The Secrets 
3)  The Question
4) The Appeal

The Murder:
Crime/Mystery: The body is discovered close to the beginning.
Suspense: We anticipate the murder.
Horror: We see the murder happen in real time.

The Secrets
Crime/Mystery: We know none of the secrets until later.
Suspense: We know half the secrets; the characters know none.
Horror: We know all the secrets.

The Question
Crime/Mystery: Who did this and why?
Suspense: Will the character live or die?
Horror: How and when will the character die?

The Appeal
Crime/Mystery: Intellectual Curiosity.
Suspense: Worry and Concern
Horror: Gut Reaction

So now that I've gotten that review freshened in my mind, I will be ready next time to delve into the specifics of Cozy Mysteries.

Do you like mysteries? Do you  like to read Robert Whitlow's legal thrillers? Many of us call him the Christian version of John Grisham. WHO doesn't like Agatha Christie or Perry Mason, Monk, Colombo, Murdock, or Father Brown?  My husband will watch most of these series with me on TV. There are several good mystery series, but my favorite are cozy mysteries. In my next blog I'll tell you why and define what makes them "cozy."

Would love to hear about your fave mystery writer. And please do share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin
Link to all my books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI









Friday, October 6, 2017

Six Things the ProWritingAid Editing Tool Taught Me That Might Help You

by Elva Cobb Martin


I finally bit the nail and bought an editing tool before sending out my latest novel proposal. I checked out several editing tools but ended up buying ProWritingAid for an annual fee of $40.

One of the best things about it is that I could buy the version that integrates with MSWord. ProWritingAid is now right up in my Word top menu bar that I can click on after I pull up any document I want to edit. I can click on "Full Edit" or any of 25 individual edits. You can check out the program and get a sample edit at ProWritingAid.com   And no, I am not receiving any kickbacks!  ( :

Frankly, it's like having a highly skilled editor looking over your shoulder.

Six Edits That Are Making My Manuscripts Shine:

1) Repeated Words  --it's amazing how often I repeated without realizing it.
2) Cliches and Redundancies- - we all have favorites that slip in
3) The Dialogue Tags check - use action beats instead
4) The Sensory Report - helps you write using all five senses
5) The Pacing Check - very good to know if this is going well
6) The Grammar Report - catches everything besides spelling--including two             periods or even an extra space between words that pop up in my writing.

One of the first things I was glad to find out was the Reading Level of my ms.

ProWritingAid does much more--The Writing Style Report (very comprehensive), Thesaurus Check, Diction Report, Vague and Abstract Words Check, the Plagiarism Report, Sentence Length, Transitions, Consistency, and Sticky Sentences full of glue words that can be rewritten for greater clarity.

Needless to say I am happy I now have this "editor over my shoulder" to help hone my writing.

Have you found a great editing tool? Would love to hear from you. And please do share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin





Friday, September 22, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 10 The Fiction Proposal

by Elva Cobb Martin


Have you writen a fiction proposal? It's good to start work on this before you finish your final novel draft. The first place you need to check is the submission guidelines for whatever publisher you're thinking of sending your proposal to. Publishers and agents usually have a proposal form or template on their sites and guidelines to follow. 

I recently sent a proposal out for the new historical series I've showcased in this series of blogs. In my email cover letter I notated the different sections in my attached proposal which included the first three chapters of Book 1, Spanish Rose, all in a single attachment. Here is the list I gave in my email cover letter so the editors could skip to whatever sections they were more interested in.

My Proposal sections include:

1) Working Title and author basic information for Spanish Rose
2) Premise
3) Pitch
4) Back Cover Tag
5) Back Cover Copy
6) Author Bio & Photo
          (all the above is on page 1 for quick perusal)
7) SYNOPSIS (at least one page single-spaced)
8) Web and Social Media Presence (numbers)
9) Marketing Strategies
10) Potential Readers for Spanish Rose/Inspirational Romance             (Primary and Secondary audiences)
11) Market Comparative Analysis
12) Hero/Heroine Character Descriptions and Motivations for                Spanish Rose
13) Projected Book 2 blurb, 1760 Charles Town and the Barbary             Coast
14) Projected Book 3 blurb, 1780 Charleston
15) Spanish Rose, first three chapters


It might not be necessary to include this list in a cover letter, but I decided I would this time. I've always liked numbered lists. This way the editor can quickly check what she might want to look at first.

One point to remember about the synopsis. Unlike back cover copy, this should show the major turning points of the story, the climax, and how the story will end. We never want to leave the editor or agent in suspense about how the story ends. But we will want to do this in the back cover copy to hook readers.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a suggestion for a better proposal? What helped you do a successful proposal? Do leave a comment and share this on your social media by clicking the below small boxes.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin








Friday, September 15, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 9 Choosing the Best Opening Scene

by Elva Cobb Martin


How are you coming with your dream novel you want to write? I hope this series of blogs describing my journey helps you. We've covered eight other topics you can find in the archives. Today I want to share about what may be the most important scene to plan in your entire novel--that opening scene you hope will hook editors and readers.

I do a lot of thought and planning and getting advice from other writers about my opening scene. Trust me, it gets changed a lot. ( :

Here are the three different opening scenes I polished up over the last months of planning.Can you guess which one I have used in my final work?  Just yesterday I sent my proposal and first three chapters to my agent to send to editors, and breathed a sigh of relief after working all summer on this. Do pray God will divinely connect me to His best choice of editor and publisher for this projected inspirational historical series.

Here are the three opening scenes from which I chose one to send out in my proposal. I am also giving you the premise, pitch and two back cover tags lifted from my proposal to get you into the scene. You can find articles on each of these in my recent archives.

Premise of Spanish Rose
Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most appalling experiences and poor choices when God is invited into the equation.

Pitch: Marisol Valentin flees the murder of a Spanish nobleman who molested her by sailing to the New World only to realize no one but God can turn good out of evil when her exposed past threatens to destroy all her dreams of love and security.

Back Cover Tags:  1) Loving Her Can Wrap the Chains of the Inquisition Around His Neck.  2) Can Love Overcome the Past and Ignite a New Beginning?

Beginning #1

Chapter 1       Charles Town 1740

Cloaked in the early morning shadows of the cemetery, Marisol Valentin watched Captain Ethan Becket place flowers on his wife’s grave. Her heart hammered so hard she feared he might hear. He had left Charles Town as the grieving minister of the small Presbyterian Church and returned as privateer captain of his own ship.

       His bronzed face, thicker arms and chest only hinted at the greater change she sensed beneath his seaman’s demeanor. How had this gentle man
become what many would call a pirate?
Ethan turned and she shrank behind a monument.
“Marisol.” His deep voice rooted her bare feet in the dew-laden grass.
He strode toward her. “I’m glad you followed me. “I have something to tell you.”
Trembling, she looked up into his bearded face and startling grey eyes.
“You must know how much I appreciate your care for  Joshua these past few weeks. A smile tugged at his thin lips beneath his mustache.
She nodded and heat climbed her neck at his closeness. A scent of sea, leather and spice tantalized her senses.
“My parents will be immigrating to Charles Town, along with my Cousin Emma. They will take over Joshua’s care.”
Joshua. His child she’d grown to love. Her heart fell and the blood drained from her cheeks. What was he saying? Was he selling her indenture paper?
He searched her countenance and his forehead furrowed. Then he laid a broad, warm hand on her shoulder. “But in no wise are you to fret about your future, Marisol.” His frown relaxed. “I am going to arrange your freedom from any indentured obligation, and I’ll help return you safely to your home and family. Wherever that is.”
Marisol averted her face and tried to swallow, but her mouth dried up like a potsherd. She could never return home. 


Beginning #2
Chapter 1   Charles Town, 1740  

Hidden deep in the ship's hold, Marisol Valentin rocked her sleeping charge on her lap. If only she could keep her one-year-old Samuel quiet and their presence secret for a few more hours. Once they were well out to sea, surely Captain Becket would not turn back to Charles Town. Would he be furious she’d stowed away and with her son he had adopted?

Reverend Ethan Becket, now Captain Becket of his own ship, a French merchantman. Just thinking her indentured master’s name, not to mention his new status, caused Marisol’s heart to jump in her chest and her breath to catch. But the next moment, moisture gathered in her eyes and her shoulders slumped. Her secret past weighed like a sack of stones on her back.
       Samuel whimpered and awoke. Shaking aside her troubled thoughts, Marisol looked down into the bright eyes of her toddler, his rosy face and dark hair a perfect blend of her English and Spanish heritage. Thank God no resemblance of her attacker showed up in the child's looks. That face she longed to forget.
 “Good morning, little man,” she whispered and kissed him on the cheek. “We’re on an adventure with Captain Becket. You’re on a real ship. Feel the movement? Hear the waves lapping the hull? Isn’t it wonderful? You’ll get to be with your adopted father every day.”

And so will I. But what chance would a soiled piece of goods like her ever have with a man like him?
                                      ***         

Beginning #3

Chapter One    Cadiz, Spain, 1740   
Marisol Valentin fought her way to consciousness on the barn floor under her attacker. Managing to free one hand twisted behind her, she wrenched the knife from her boot and thrust it deep into the man arched over her. He uttered a curse, then his eyes glazed over, and he fell forward. She spit out the cravat he’d stuffed in her mouth and pushed his heavy, lifeless form from her. Her hands came back wet and sticky. The acrid odor of blood replaced the sweet scent of hay and horses and her stomach roiled. She groaned and sat up, holding her palms outstretched. She wiped them on her torn skirt and struggled to stand.
 After pulling her clothing together as best she could, she peered at the still form lying beyond her. Diego Vargas, nobleman of Cadiz, would never harm another maiden. But that would not help her now. He had ruined her for life. Tears coursed down her cheeks. Then her lips curled and her fists clenched. He got what he deserved, and she was not sorry. Even if she hanged for it. But la policĂ­a would have to catch her first.  

Marisol pressed her wet face on the neck of her beloved mare and said a hasty goodbye. She stumbled across the dark stable yard, and up the back stairs of the hacienda. Bursting into her bedchamber, she shoved the door closed, and leaned against it.

 “Oh, my lady.” Her maid dropped the gown she was laying out on the bed and hurried to her side. “What has happened?”

                                    ***

Which opening do you like the best?  Thanks for stopping by. Do leave a comment and share on your social media.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin