Friday, 31 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden: Be-Witching Halloween

The Hauntings in the Garden anthology is an excellent way to study the variations in length, story style and genre you can fit into a short novella.
The next step is to plan your own.

Outline Your Novella

An Internet search will produce hundreds of documents, all aimed at helping you outline a novel. I spent years following the 
Snowflake Method. It is thorough, effective, and works, but in order to produce a novella in a limited time, I felt the need of a simpler step-by-step plan.

Searching for this article I found the helpful resources page from annie neugebauer and liked the pared-down novel help sheets as they outline the steps to take one by one.

I have never been able to master the ups and down of story arcs, the graphs, the long explanations. I just want to get on with the writing but I needed a flexible plan to keep me on track for the days I get stuck. No, it's not writer's block. I just write myself into a hole that I can't dig my way out of :-)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden:Brighten Your Blog

And for Day 5 in the Hauntings in the Garden series of posts featuring the nine mini-novellas from The Wild Rose Press, an unfriendly ghost is all set to make an appearance.

Award-winning author Alicia Dean is the motivating force behind this series of Hauntings in the Garden posts. This is her first ever ghost story and it's a cracker

A year after her husband’s death, Emily Tillman is ready to start dating again, and hopefully, find what she’s always wanted—marriage and children. But the man who broke her heart five years ago is back. And he’s anything but the marrying kind.

Confirmed bachelor Reese Caster is perfectly content with his life—and he’s finally over Emily, the one woman who almost made him commit. Now, his world is rocked when her dead husband shows up, demanding that Reese pursue Emily to keep her out of the clutches of her latest suitor—a jerk who is only after her money.

Being around Emily again has made Reese reconsider his bachelor life style. But now that the threat of the other man is gone, the pesky ghost wants Reese to break things off. Can he and Emily find the love they were denied, or will the ghost of her dead husband destroy their chances?
Rating: Sensual
Page Count: 67
Word Count: 15385
978-1-62830-569-2 Digital

Find more about Alicia and the other stories and authors at her website, and read her take on the books in the series with fun facts about authors in her blog here

Using the Hauntings in the Garden banner for this series has given me a taste for brightening my blogger headings by using more banners.
To brighten your own blog, have a look at The Cutest Blog on the Block, where I found the heading for this post, and browse its selection of goodies for Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. A helpful tutorial section has guides to improving and personalizing the appearance of your blog.
Vikki Kestell is offering her short story The Christian and the Vampire free until November 3. Readers in the UK should access it here.
For other giveaways you may have missed:
Day 1: Planning and Purpose with download link to Lazette Gifford's free 130 page ebook on preparing for NanoWrimo
Day 2: Writing "small": analyse blurbs for style and content.
Day 3: Covers and Blurbs:with download link to small ebook on good book and cover design.
Day 4: Inspiration and Motivation with download link to creative teaching pack based on the work of Niki de Saint Phalle.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden: Finding Inspiration

Halloween Reads and Discounts

This is a very special day. It marks the birth date of artist Niki de Saint Phalle, as Google doodle fans will have noticed, as well as Day 4 of the Halloween celebrations for Hauntings in the Garden--the series of nine mini-novellas from The Wild Rose Press.

For those of us looking for an inspiration or motivation, the Tate Liverpool has a downloadable pack on the work of New York born video artist, painter and sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle.
Not only does it explain her life and her work with illustrations but it also suggests exercises and activities which could cross-fertilize your own creative activity. It's a teacher's pack so, with care, you could also adapt many of the activities to keep the children entertained over the half-term break.

For other giveaways you may have missed:
Day 1: Planning and Purpose with download link to Lazette Gifford's free 130 page ebook on preparing for NanoWrimo
Day 2: Writing "small": analyse blurbs for style and content.
Day 3: Covers and Blurbs:with download link to small ebook on good book and cover design.

Day 4: Inspiration and Motivation
To continue with thoughts of dreams and inspiration, the Halloween novella by Linda Carroll-Bradd featured today is a tale to recapture the pleasures of sea and sail.

Click the link below to read an excerpt:

Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart her family and then her engagement.  When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion—sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?
Rating: Sweet
Page Count: 67
Word Count: 15820
978-1-62830-602-6 Digital 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden: Covers and Blurbs

Day 3 of the Halloween celebrations for Hauntings in the Garden--the series of nine small seasonal novellas from The Wild Rose Press.
And each day gives another chance to win the Rafflecopter prize--a £25 gift certificate for the Wild Rose Press. Wth all the great discounts that might mean up to 25 new books :-)
Day 1:Planning and purpose with link to Lazette Gifford's free ebook on preparing for Nanowrimo.
Day 2:Writing "small": analyse blurbs for style and content.

Today, I'm featuring the fourth of the mini novellas, Lara Parker's The House and my own ShriekWeek.

Paranormal suspense
Unexpectedly, Leslie Harrison inherits a sprawling horse farm in Florida from a distant relative. She packs up her life and relocates to the Sunshine State with no idea what awaits her. Upon her arrival, she meets the farm manager, Preston McClay and, to her chagrin, he isn’t happy to see her. Quickly the cantankerous, but rather good looking, farm manager becomes the least of her worries when things start to go bump in the night. Will the sinister activity in the house chase Leslie away, or will she prevail in the struggle between good and evil?
Rating: sweet
Page Count: 55
Word Count: 12900
978-1-62830-570-8 Digital
Click on the link for more info and to read excerpt.

Cozy Mystery
Events organizer Maggie Ballater has a new career, a new Island home, and a new life, and intends to make the most of it. But two things stand in her way. One is the dangerously attractive guitarist who brings back memories she’d rather forget. The other is the inexplicable murder of the lead actor in her ShriekWeek pageant.

Bram Jenkins wants to clear his name after being imprisoned for a crime he swears he did not commit. He has no time to be distracted by an opinionated woman he  suspects of working for his enemy.

Solving the ShriekWeek murder means they must both face up to the past before they can lay their ghosts to rest, and find out where their future lies.
Rating: Sweet
Page Count: 69
Word Count: 15280
978-1-62830-563-0 Digital
Today, think about covers. What is different about the covers above compared to the covers on Day 1 and Day 2? Do covers matter for e-books? Do you prefer to have people on the covers--look back at the past two days. Which cover do you like best? Which is more important to you, the blurb or the cover? Why do you buy the books you buy? Why should people buy your book?

For some help with thinking about book and cover design, try Thinking With Type's interesting downloadable pdf on Beautiful Books with sections on fonts, layout and covers. The download for me took a long time to happen but it was worth the wait.

And here are nine authors' views of great cover design
Comments below the rafflecopter giveaway please and remember to enter the giveaway for a chance of winning that £25 gift certificate, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden and Writing "small."

Halloween is almost upon us and, in celebration, the Wild Rose Press has brought out  Hauntings in the Garden, a set of nine mini-novellas on a Halloween theme. I'm celebrating the occasion with a series of posts looking at the art of writing "small." I won't pretend it's easy but judging from my own experience, it's the ideal way for a slow writer to catapult their fiction into the publishing marketplace.

Some of these I have read and shall review, some of these will also be mini-novellas by friends that I have read in the past and shamefully not reviewed. As a newly published writer, I now realize the importance of reviews and the understand the anguish of waiting to see what readers might say.

Today's post focuses on the blurbs. Analyse what features they have in common. Decide what makes them successful. Would they intrigue you enough to buy the book? 

Firstly are the three books out this week: click on the links for full details and excerpts at TWRP. The first is a sweet romance with a private eye  hero.

Caper Magic [d9137] - $1.99 : The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
P.I. Nick Forrester comes to Cape Brendan ostensibly to assist with Caper Madness, a month-long celebration of everything Halloween. In reality he is tracking a woman on the run. Within days he is confronted by Annunciata Doyle, a vivid reminder of a pain-filled past.

After retreating to Cape Brendan in defeat and humiliation, Nunie Doyle's only hope was to make the best of forced retirement. There, in this quaint tourist town on the shores of Lake Ontario, she earned the love and respect of new friends and neighbors—and put her talent for helping women to good use.

With the mutual goal of making Caper Madness the best ever, Nicke and Nunie fight tooth and nail on the personal level, each discovering a new side to the other, sides that make them consider making drastic changes for the rest of their lives.

This attraction: Is it complete madness-- or sheer magic?
Rating: Sweet
Page Count: 60
Word Count: 14880
978-1-62830-656-9 Digital

And now for something completely different-- a spicy New Adult suspense.

What Carrick County’s powerful Phelan family want, they usually get, whether that’s land like the Fitzgerald farm, or women, like the Fitzgerald girls. Handsome Liam can’t tempt Ranalt, whose heart belongs to neighbour Colin Sweeney. But his older brother Rory attracts her sister Lacey like a magnet draws steel.When the boys and their father Patrick visit Joe and Sheila Fitzgerald with a mysterious offer, all hell breaks loose. A furious Joe orders the Phelans off his property and away from his daughters, warning he knows what to do about ‘their kind’. Soon afterwards, Fitzgerald fences are slashed and cattle lie torn apart. Coincidence or cause for fear?There are secrets in Carrick County people don’t dare reveal. But Ranalt will risk everything to protect her family, the man she loves and the little girl she adores. Each turn of the summer moon brings danger and in the shadows, something waits...
Werewolf, New Adult, suspense
Rating: Spicy
Page Count: 57
Word Count: 14500
978-1-62830-564-7 Digital

And again for werewolf lovers from Dayana Knight.

Breanna McShae is a practicing green witch—harm to none, do as you will is the mantra she lives by. She must seek a familiar as her powers have reached peak and grounding does not pull enough of her magick back.  After performing a ritual asking the Goddess to provide her with her given familiar, she finds she has two animals vying for her attentions—a wolf and a raven.  The catch is one of them is the love of life and the other devastating trouble—a sikkqui—a creature that can assume any shape and sucks the very essence of human spirit and soul out leaving none but death and destruction behind.  The only way to destroy it is too perform a dark ritual, which is taboo for a green witch.  Her biggest problem is to figure out which animal is the sikkqui and then go against her very nature to destroy it without destroying herself and the shifter who has captured her heart.
Rating: Sensual
Page Count: 46
Word Count: 12320
978-1-62830-565-4 Digital

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Hauntings in the Garden:Planning and Purpose.

Halloween and Nano Wrimo are fast approaching. In celebration of the first, The Wild Rose Press has brought out Hauntings in the Garden, a set of mini-novellas on a Halloween theme. 

I'm celebrating the occasion with a series of posts looking at the art of writing "small." I won't pretend it's easy but, judging from my own experience, it's the ideal way for a slow writer to catapult their fiction into the publishing marketplace.

Writing "small" is one way for the slow writer to gain publishing/self-publishing credits. And if you're a Nano entrant this year, you could produce at least two if not the statutory three books to reach the 50,000 word target. And in celebration of the writing month, I'm adding the link for Lazette's Nano e-book which I found through Darcy Pattison's Weekend Notes.

It's a value-filled 130 page e-book with a spooky front cover and lots of helpful information and links.

All week long I shall be celebrating the Hauntings in the Garden. The novellas--about a dozen of them--are all under 15000 words and ideal if you're studying how to write "small."

Some of these I have read and shall review, and I shall also, as time goes on, review mini-novellas I have read in the past. As a newly published writer, I now realize the importance of reviews and understand the anguish of waiting to see what readers might say.

I have given The Wild Rose Press links but the Amazon link found on the book page does go to , readers elsewhere will have to use the search feature to find the books in the Kindle store.

A Romantic short: Stacy Dawn

One little book that, for me, fulfills every one of the criteria for a satisfying read is Stacy Dawn's Love Her Like the Devil. It's under 3000 words but every word counts and her skill in creating characters that jump off the page is breathtaking.

If you like Westerns and/or Halloween spookiness, it's great. If you're reading it as a writer studying the craft, it's a strong example of a well-written short story.

It's rated as sensual--(PG, PG13) 

The blurb sets the place, tone and the problem: where, when, who, and what's the challenge?

A chance meeting in a honky tonk on Halloween finds Luke in the arms of a brown-haired beauty. But if the stories he overhears are true, she may be far more than she seems...and he's more than ready to find out.

Too many blurbs end with a question that any self-respecting reader can immediately answer. Will the warring couple get together? Of course. It's a romance isn't it?
This tag leaves us intrigued--What are the stories? Who or what is she, really? What's he going to find out?  Perfect.

Short excerpt
Halloween sure brings out the characters, don’t it?
Luke Santana chuckled at the group of college kids clamoring past him to get into the Double Deuce Honky Tonk. Half of them wore ridiculous outfits he couldn’t even begin to understand and the other half traditional fairs of caped crusaders, masked phantoms, zombies and sexy maids. He quite enjoyed the latter.
As he moved to the bar, his gaze caught on one particular blonde in a baby blue corset tight enough to overfill the small cups. The lights behind the bar glistened off Bo Peep’s pale breasts, and he instantly became hard. Luke grinned. This was his rare night away from the family-run business…and he planned to enjoy himself.
He adjusted his Stetson and sidled up to the bar, tossing a leg over the stool next to the buxom beauty. A heady breeze of cheap perfume plumed around him as she turned and graced him with a perfectly wicked smile.
Paragraph 1: Place setting through name of venue and the bustling characters thronging it. Character inserted deftly through mention of the outfits hero doesn't understand and they're ridiculous because he doesn't understand them--why is he so out of touch?--and the traditional outfits that appeal, the sexy maids.

Paragraph 2: Reinforces Luke's intentions in being there and answers the question of what he does, and why he seems a bit out of touch with some of the other revellers. (Note for those of you who love ladling in back story--this is all I need as a reader.)

Paragraph 3: We really see the characters here, him with traditional Stetson and macho style, her doused with perfume and the contrasting juxtaposition of perfectly and wicked. Her attitude is revealed in the verb. She graces him with her smile. 

The precision in the choice and juxtaposition of vocabulary convey a wealth of meaning in a minimum of words. The reader is caught up in one point of view and deciphering meaning from the start.

You can find Stacy Dawn, her offer of free reads and her contact form at

Her blog: