Posts Tagged ‘novels’

I have habits, some good some bad, which structure my life and determine how I spend my day. For example, every morning before I get out of bed I pray. As soon as I get up, I straighten the covers and pillows so the bed will be ready and welcoming when I need it again. Next I turn on the coffee, feed the cats, and sit down to read my favorite blogs. From that point on, I’m usually at the mercy of whatever life throws my way.

One activity I want to add to my list of habits is writing. Oh, I write every day—lists and letters and reminders—but that’s not the kind of writing that will achieve my dreams. Like millions of others, I aspire to complete a novel. A good novel. To do that, I need to improve my writing habits. There are many changes I could make that would probably help me be more productive, but my research suggests that there are certain habits that are essential for someone who hopes to make writing a profession. I read many suggestions, but the following 4 seem the most crucial to me.


1.      Read everyday

Read a wide variety of books, not only for pleasure but also to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Immersing yourself in the written word will add to your knowledge, increase your vocabulary, and improve your understanding of how language is used.

2.      Learn new things

You’ve probably heard the advice to “write what you know.” The wider the range of your experiences, the more realistic you can make your writing. Often it’s the little details that you include that help readers visualize a scene. Enrich your life and acquire a goldmine of information to use in your stories by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things.

3.       Make writing a priority

Productive writers work a regular writing routine into their lives. The amount of time devoted to it varies widely, but there needs to be a commitment to writing. Continually placing writing at the bottom of your priority list makes it difficult (or impossible) to achieve success as a writer.

4.      Finish what you start

It’s common to work on more than one project at a time. A problem arises, though, when writers skip from one manuscript to another without ever finishing what they start. Or when they try to attain perfection, or avoid failure, by working on one project for years…and years…and years, and never submit it. At some point you have to say it’s as good as it’s going to get, and send it out.



Are you satisfied with your writing habits? What helps you be productive, and what interferes with your productivity? Do you make an effort to learn new things in order to add spice and authenticity to your writing?

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Romance novels consistently represent one of the most popular genres, with over a billion dollars in sales each year. There are two basic types of romance novels—category, and single-title books.


Category Romance:

Some publishers release several books in a particular line each month, with strict guidelines as to their word count and structure. This format must be followed for every book in the category, regardless of the author.

Single-Title Romance:

These books are sold individually rather than as a group. The page length is not fixed, and the author has more control over the structure of the story.


In every romance novel, the growing relationship between the heroine and the hero is the most important element of the book. There must be believable conflict causing them to change and grow closer, but subplots must not take on more importance than their romantic relationship. Conflict, both internal and external, should increase emotional tension, but readers expect things to end with the hope of the couple living happily ever after.

The setting and time period can be anywhere, anytime. There can be elements of suspense, mystery, fantasy, etc., but the couple in love must be the main focus of the book. If it isn’t, it isn’t a real romance.


 Resources for the Romance writer:








For Romance Readers:

Harlequin ebooks 16 free category romances


Reviews and News for Romance Readers



Why do you enjoy/hate romance novels? Do you prefer the category romances or single-title books? What’s your favorite romance author or book?

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The massive snowstorm blanketing the Midwest shut down all the roads in our county several hours ago. Plows won’t even be sent out until sometime tomorrow due to the hazardous weather conditions. Since we installed a backup generator in December, I wasn’t concerned until my husband suggested that we should take showers early tonight in case the power goes out.

“But I thought you said all the important stuff would still work off the generator?” said I.

“It will. The pump will work so we can flush toilets; there just won’t be any hot water.”

“So I can’t wash dishes or do laundry?”

“You won’t need to do dishes because you can’t cook; the stove and oven aren’t on the generator. And why would you want to do laundry if the power goes out?”

It turns out that the things my husband had the electrician hook to the generator are the things he thinks are important: the coffeepot, refrigerator, television, computers, furnace, well, garage door opener, and all the outlets in the bedrooms. While I’m happy to have heat and water, I like hot water. And I think the freezer, washer, dryer, and stove are pretty important, too.

I had certain expectations when I agreed to spend an outrageous amount for a backup generator, and they’ve not been met. As a reader, I also have expectations when I buy a book. If it’s in a particular genre, there are elements I assume will be included—that’s why it’s a genre book.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to discuss a few genres I enjoy reading. I’ll talk about the main elements of each of them, and list some helpful references for writers of those genres. I started this series over a year ago, and have already covered children’s books and steampunk. I’m currently working on a post about the romance genre, but haven’t decided what to write about after that. Any requests?


Has the winter weather affected you this year? What’s the one thing you’d most hate to be without if you lost your electricity for a few days? What’s your favorite genre of books?

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Women’s fiction is a term that refers to stories where the female protagonist deals with situations and relationships that challenge her and affect her emotional growth.

The subjects and themes of these books can cover a wide range of issues that women face. Relationships with other people are important, and are an integral part of the story. Though there is often a love interest, it isn’t the central focus.

What’s most important is the woman’s emotional development as she pursues her dreams, fights her fears, or overcomes obstacles life throws her way. These stories touch the emotions, and don’t necessarily have a happy ending. Like any book, though, women’s fiction does need an ending that satisfies readers.

Women’s fiction tends to be more commercial than literary, but doesn’t fit the narrower restrictions of genre fiction. It appeals to a wide, mainstream audience and generally will be shelved with general fiction in a bookstore.

Examples of books considered women’s fiction (per Barnes & Noble) are:

Picture Perfect, by Jodi Picoult

Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner (this one is also listed under Literary on Amazon, and Commercial Fiction on Free Book Friday)

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen



What other books can you think of that would be considered women’s fiction?  What, if anything, appeals to you about this type of book?

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My kids have given me many gifts to treasure. One I’m appreciating this morning is a nail buffer my son got me for Christmas last year.

On the rough, dark green side, in big print that I can read without my glasses, it says ATTITUDE. Underneath that it says: ULTRA NATURAL SHINE BUFFER. Farther down it lists the instructions for each side of this handy little tool:

1. Aqua—remove ridges

2. Light green—buff

3. White—miracle shining

I have a tendency to neglect my nails, not noticing the condition they’re in until I snag something or rip the end off one. A quick trim with the clippers can improve them but it takes the 3-step buffing process to make them look their best.


Does Your Attitude Need Polishing?


The same is true with writing. We start out with the basics of an idea, but if we want to share it with others we need to remove the rough ridges by putting our thoughts down on paper and refining them into something recognizable. Then we buff that rough draft, shaping it into a coherent, interesting manuscript. The last step turns our manuscript into something special—a polished, unique expression of the original idea. Leaving out any of those 3 steps keeps that great idea from reaching its full potential.

Our attitudes toward writing will determine how much polishing we’re willing to do, and will affect whether or not we attain our goals. If we write simply to satisfy our own desire to put our thoughts on paper, we can stop at step 1. If we want to share our thoughts with others, we need to proceed at least to step 2. For us to stand out from the crowd of writers hoping to attract readers, we have to complete step 3.

Tomorrow (or the next day, depending on how long it takes to polish my idea) I’ll post some tips on how to turn an idea into a rough draft. Steps 2 and 3 will be covered in subsequent posts.


What do you do when you get a great idea—jot it down in a notebook, put it in a file on your computer to work on later, or start working on it immediately? What’s one of the most helpful gifts you’ve received? How’s your attitude today—rough, buffed, or brightly shining?


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According to the Encarta dictionary:

Chapter: one of the main sections of a text, usually having a title or number as a heading

 Scene: a short section of a play, movie, opera, or work of literature that presents a single event

Chapter breaks are generally used at crucial points in a story in order to build tension. Scenes show what happens during a specific time period, or in a specific location. A long scene might make up a whole chapter, but sometimes chapters include several short scenes.

Scene breaks are indicated by leaving an extra line, usually with a special symbol—such as #–centered on that line to clearly signal the reader that something is about to change. It may be a switch in the point of view character, a move to a different location, a flashback, or the return from one.

Short chapters and scenes can build suspense and increase the pace of a story. However, quickly switching back and forth between point of views or settings can also be confusing. Rather than “head hopping” or using lots of short scenes, you might consider using a narrative summary of certain events, or an explanation within dialog, to make the story flow more smoothly.

Approximately how long do you think a chapter should be?  Does it depend on the genre of the story? Do you prefer point of view changes to be done with new chapters, or does it matter to you?

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In a novel with a typical story arc (an inverted checkmark), there’ll be rising action, a major climax, and a denoument.  Sometimes, though, there are still questions that need to be answered about what happens after the story ends.

In the same way a prologue shows what happens before the main story begins, an epilogue is a separate section showing events that happen later. It may jump ahead months or even years, and will give extra insight into the characters’ lives.

Not every story needs an epilogue, but it can be useful to give the story closure. This is fairly common in romance novels, where readers may need additional information about the main characters to satisfy their expectation that they will live happily ever after. For example, it might show the protagonist married and with children. In suspense novels, it can show the outcome of previous events.

Have you used an epilogue? Do you think they add to the story, or do you prefer to have the events that occur after the main story ends left to your imagination?

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