Researching to Write a Contemporary vs a Historical Romance

Today, Denise Weimer returns to share some helpful insight into research. She writes in both historical and contemporary romance which means taking a different track to gather background nformation for each genre. Take it away Denise.

 

Hi, readers! I’m delighted to be visiting on Cindy’s blog, sharing about my TWO novels that release this month through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, one a contemporary with Candlelight Romance imprint, and one a historical with Smitten Historical Romance imprint.

 

Fall Flip, Candlelight contemporary romance, set in the river town of Augusta, GA

The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost a second chance at love? https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645261883/

The Witness Tree, Smitten historical romance, set in Salem, NC, and Cherokee Indian Territory (now NW GA)

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. (https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/)

 

As you can imagine, researching for these stories looked very different.

 

For a contemporary romance:

  • My research emphasis falls heavily on the careers of the characters or things that happen during the course of the story, like home renovation. Sometimes I interview experts or visit job sites.
  • A trip to the setting proves imperative. Where do the locals eat? What smells and sounds predominate? How do the people talk? And what do the neighborhoods look like? When researching for Fall Flip, I’d picked out online a specific historical neighborhood to be the upscale spot where the parents live, only to discover in person that the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair.

 

For a historical romance:

  • I tend to start with the real history, poring over web sites, books, and microfilm, funneling pertinent facts into a timeline. From what really happened in history, I salvage bits and pieces into my fictional plot. I need to know what’s realistic before I can begin to picture the story.
  • I add to that timeline maps that help me figure distances, terrain, and travel time.
  • And I add portraits and drawings of real historical figures, fashion plates, and buildings. And yes, sometimes the handsome actor who helps me picture my hero just right.
  • A visit to the location can be extremely helpful, though it’s important to remember that time may have significantly changed the landscape. Even with a building, like Chief James Vann’s house in The Witness Tree, the elaborate interior trim-work was only added after my story by the chief’s son. You can’t assume anything. The other people in my tour group were probably rolling their eyes behind my back at my many questions by the time we reached the detached kitchen. LOL!
  • I’ve also been known to attend or participate in the select living history event. Great for sparking sensory detail.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction (imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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Cyle Young and Serious Writer One-Day Writer’s Boot Camp

Need a booster shot to keep you motivated as you pursue your writing career? Serious Writers have fabulous One-Day Boot Camps. There is one coming to the Chicagoland Area that has me excited. My Word Weaver Aurora, Illinois group is co-sponsoring this event. Writers at all levels will benefit from what Cyle Young and Michelle Medlock Adams will be sharing about writing and marketing. Word Weavers will be overseeing a critique session on Saturday and hostng a Meet & Greet on Friday night at the venue location, Hampton Inn in Aurora, Ilinois.  All the details will follow this interview with one of the presenters, agent and award-winning author Cyle Young

Tell us a bit about your writing journey

I started writing again after my daughter was still born on her due-date. I needed to get my thoughts and emotions out and the written medium was the best option for me to communicate to family and friends. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. That terrible time in my life reignited my passion for writing in various genres and for different age groups, and I haven’t looked back since.

Who do you most admire in the writing world? Tell us why?

Debut authors who have not yet made it. The struggle to becoming a published author is real. And for some it can be very long. I admire people who are resilient and keep trying even in the face of rejection and adversity.

 

Why one-day boot camps?

We want to create affordable options for people that are around 6 months from other local conferences. These one-day events are to be like booster shots for the authors, to help them stay focused, improve their skills, and achieve their goals.

What do you hope attendees will gain from these One-day boot camps?

Encouragement to keep writing, learning, and building platform. Also, excellent opportunities to further their education to become better writers and marketers.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to new writers?

Don’t wait for tomorrow and don’t give up. You can do this. You can be a published author and you can learn to market!!

More about Cyle:

Cyle is a multiple award-winning author who has two master’s degrees from Liberty Theological Seminary. His Selah Award Finalist book, Belly Buttons and Broken Hearts, will delight your heart and split your belly with laughter. He is co-founder of Serious Writer and an agent with Hartline literary Agency. Learn more by visiting at http://www.cyleyoung.com.

All the information and links to sign up for this fantastic event here.

If you’re within a two hour drive this is a wonderful event to revitalize your writing muse. Hope to see some of my readers there.

Michelle Medlock Adams and Serious Writer’s One-Day Writer’s Bootcamp

Serious Writer’s Academy has one last stop for it’s one-day writer’s boot camp and that’s Aurora, Illinois on Saturday, october 12th. I’m excited to hear the amazing teacher and award-winning author Michelle Medlock Adams present at the event. I’m over-the- moon that the Aurora, Ilinois Word Weaver’s chapter not only co-sponsors the event but will be overseeing the critique session on Saturday afternoon. We’ll be sponsoring a Meet & Greet Friday night , October 11th at the event venue the Hampton Inn, in Aurora. I took some time to interview this amazing woman. At the end of this post is all the information you’ll need to register for this One-Day  Writer’s Boot Camp.

Michelle, tell us a bit about your writng journey.

When I was in first grade, Mrs. True made an announcement that would forever change my life.

“We’re having a poetry contest this week,” she said, “so use today and tomorrow to come up with your best poem.”

We had just studied the various types of poems, and I decided I really liked the ones that rhymed. In fact, I had checked out every book of rhyming poetry I could find from our school library, and I’d read them all—twice.

As my classmates wrote about their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, I carefully crafted the words to my poem: “I Love Penny.”

Penny was my 7-year-old wiener dog and my best friend in the whole world.

My poem went a little something like this: “Penny is my very best friend. I’ll love her to the very end. She’s a very special wiener dog. I love her though she smells like a hog…”

OK, so I wasn’t exactly a first grade Dr. Seuss, but my poem was good enough to earn first prize. (I guess the other first grade poets must’ve been really bad.) At any rate, I won a few sparkly pencils and the honor of going first in the lunch line that afternoon.  Mrs. True also displayed my poem in the front of the room for all to see. I stared at my winning poem all afternoon.

That’s the day I became a writer.

I wanted to write all the time, and so I did. I wrote during recess while other kids played tag and climbed on the monkey bars. I completely fell in love with words.

I wrote a play in fifth grade that we performed for all of the fifth grade classes; I was editor of our sixth grade newspaper “The Panther Paw”; I wrote short stories in junior high for a literary magazine; and I wrote many articles for my high school newspaper before majoring in journalism at Indiana University.

Though I began my career writing news stories for a daily paper, my career path took an unexpected turn when we moved to Texas so I could write features and personality profiles for an international ministry magazine. After a little while, the editor came to me said, “You have kids, right?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Great, you can write some kids stories for our children’s outreach.”

I remember thinking, “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I know how to write for them.”

But I was a journalist so I began researching the world of writing for children, and I once again fell in love. Head over heels. That was more than 20 years ago, and I’ve been lovesick ever since. Creating stories for children—stories that teach, entertain, encourage and inspire. But I also still love writing nonfiction books for women, and I love ghostwriting books for celebrities, politicians and ministers.

As a fulltime freelance writer, I’ve often joked that I will write anything that isn’t illegal or immoral, but seriously, I do enjoy writing in different genres. I simply love to write, and I’m thankful that God has enabled me to do so.

Who do you most admire in the writng world? Tell us why.

My old boss Bob Bridge at the Bedford Times-Mail Newspaper in Southern Indiana. He was and still is the best writer I’ve ever read. I always say that I received my degree in journalism from Indiana University, but I learned to write from Bob Bridge. I am so grateful that I was able to spend a few years under his direction. Bob has won pretty much every award you can win in writing—so many he can’t even remember them all—but that’s not why he writes.

He writes because he loves to tell stories in a way that causes others to feel something. I have studied the way he turns a phrase for years. He makes me a better writer.

Why a one-day boot camp?

This is probably more of a question for Cyle, but as “the Chairqueen,” I will offer my two cents. I think these one-day workshops are amazing because the cost is low, the energy is high, and the information is overflowing. Those who can’t take off a week of work to attend a full-blown writers event can still keep up on industry happenings, network with other writing professionals, and hone their writing skills at a one-day Serious Writer bootcamp.

What do you want attendees to gain from these one-day boot camps?

I hope they will gain whatever it is they are seeking, and I hope they will leave with a renewed energy and excitement about their future writing and marketing endeavors, armed with new ideas and lots of practical information.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to new writers?

I would say—just do it! Sit down and capture those thoughts on paper. Don’t worry about the details—if every word is spelled correctly or if it all flows perfectly—just get those creative juices flowing. You can go back later and fix the spelling and grammatical errors. Allow yourself to write freely. You have to have a “sloppy copy” before you can put on your editor’s hat and begin finetuning.

 

More about Michelle:

Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, earning top honors from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association.

 

Author of over 90 books with close to 4 million books sold, Michelle has won more than 50 industry awards for her journalistic endeavors, including her most recent Golden Scroll first place award in the Best Children’s Book category for Dinosaur Devotions (Tommy Nelson), and four 2019 Illumination Awards, including a first place in the Holiday Category for her book, C Is for Christmas (Little Lamb Books).

 

Since graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University, Michelle has written more than 1,500 articles for newspapers, magazines and websites; acted as a stringer for the Associated Press; written for a worldwide ministry; helped pen a New York Times Bestseller; hosted “Joy In Our Town” for the Trinity Broadcasting Network; blogged twice weekly for Guideposts from 2013 to 2015; written a weekly column for a Midwest newspaper; and served as an adjunct professor at Taylor University three different years. Today, she is President of Platinum Literary Services, a premier full-service literary firm; Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Serious Writer, Inc.; an online instructor for the Serious Writer Academy; and a much sought-after speaker at writers conferences and women’s retreats all over the United States.  When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites articles, blog posts, and books for celebrities, politicians, and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.

 

Michelle is celebrating the recent release of her books, What Is America?; How Much Does God Love You?; Platinum Faith (co-authored with Bethany Jett); and They Call Me Mom (co-authored with Bethany Jett). And, she is excited about her 2020 releases Cuddle-up Prayers; The Perfect Persimmon; and I Love You Bigger Than the Sky.

 

Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff, and they have two daughters, Abby and Allyson, two sons-in-law, one grandson, and two granddaughters. She and Jeff share their home in Southern Indiana with a miniature dachshund, a rescue Shepherd/Collie mix, and two cats. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys bass fishing and cheering on Indiana University sports teams and the Chicago Cubbies.

 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

www.michellemedlockadams.com

 

 

Here is the link to register for this one-day writer’s boot camp. Here.

 

 

 

If you live within a two-hour drive of Aurora, Illinois this is well-worth the price of admission. Hope to see some of you there.

I don’t need no stinkin’ edits

Red marks are good. It shows the things the writer missed. Some editors still edit by hand. most use track changes in ord documents and send you their edits via email.

Writers pay out funds to market their books. We pay venue fees and buy more books to sell while paying for advertising for online sales. Self-published authors pay to get their books in print. Writing is more than an artform, it’s a business and as such dollars that come in from sales tend to go back out for marketing.

Why pay for an editor

So why would I pay for an editor when I pay to be part of critique groups, (yes, that’s plural, three to be precise.) Why pay when my husband is the grammar king? He makes sure my manuscripts are properly formatted too.

Experience has taught me over the years that paying for professional edits makes your work shine. Times are changing, publishers are looking for well-polished manuscripts. Gone are the days of a good story being whipped into shape by publisher’s editors. Those editors do a bit of fine-tuning not drastic developmental edits.

Even best-selling authors use editors. Paying an editor doesn’t mean your words aren’t good enough. It shows you’re not afraid to have others double-check your work for those things that could get you a rejection from the publisher.

When is it time to get an editor?

After you’ve worked with critique partners and traded edits with other authors then your work should be in a place where your cross-eyed looking at it. That is when you engage an editor.

There are three types of edits that you need to consider. Depending on where you are on your writing journey you may need only one type or all three.

 

Developmental or Content edits

This type of edit focuses on the big picture. Is the plot flowing? Are the characters believable and are their inner conflicts and external struggles well- defined? Do your characters have depth or are they just one-dimensional? Is the story structure strong?

A developmental edit strives to make the storyline flow seamlessly with no rabbit trails. The editor tracks the theme to be sure its clear and strong with no deviation. This is where you kill your beauties for the good of the story. Chapters may be rearranged or deleted so the flow of tension heightens to keep the reader engaged. Correcting these things makes your story so much stronger and less likely to be rejected by publishers.

Copy/line edits

Here is where the grammar and sentence structure is corrected. If your research isn’t solid they are often caught in this type of edit if not the developmental stage. Repetitive words and phrases are caught such as just, that or he wiggled his eyebrows. Those pet words and phrased can now be changed to something stronger or different. The story flow can also be caught at this time to some degree.

Proofreading

Editors are looking for typos, grammar and punctuation.

For me, my husband can do the proofreading easily enough. He could probably do a fair amount of copy editing because he’s a writer himself. But if my story needs developmental edits and I don’t bother because it costs more. That’s just bad form. All my work will be for nothing if the story structure isn’t strong. As an author I don’t always catch my own mistakes. It’s so much easier to catch others. Even editors hire editors for their own work.

I can testify that my books have won awards because of having all three types of edits when needed. Many editors do all three types. They often reformat and make sure you have a clean copy after you’ve corrected things and returned it to them. I love my editor friends.

Finding an editor

How do you get edits? Who can you trust? Ask others who they use? Contact the editors and ask for sample edits. Give them the first page and see what you think of their edits. Red marks are good as are comments in the margins. Even the best writers in the world have editors cleaning up portions of their pros.

When you balk at spending money for edits on your book after you’ve had your critique group go over it, you spouse or English teacher fix grammar errors and you’ve read it through several times, do it anyway. You won’t regret it.

Have you paid for edits? Share your experience in the comments.

 

Tips for a Successful Facebook Book Launch party

I just had my third book launch party on Facebook and as with every experience I learned a few new things. This time I shared the spotlight with three other authors. And each of them has multiple books out. Sharing the time is much different than doing it all my lonesome. We get the advantage of the other authors fans coming to our shared party. The Cowboys is a four-author novella collection.  We divided the party in four parts. Each of us taking an hour. We all provide prizes for giveaways and purchased a grand prize together.

Whether you’re part of a group or it’s your lone book the launch is focused on here are a few tips.

Choose a date

When planning your facebook party decided on the date you want to celebrate and allow time to post the upcoming event all over your social media.  Create an event page. (more on these below).

Talk it up

I went live on FB to chat about the book and what we would be doing at the party. (Facebook live is new for me.) The more I do it, I’m bound to get better. It helps people to see me as more than just print on the page.

Create a banner

Canva and PicMonkey have templates specially for FB so your banner is sized correctly when it’s created. You can ask or hire someone with more experience to create the banner for you. Use a version of the banner to create an event on Facebook. The event template is self-explanatory. Take time to peruse it before you start putting the info in. I’ve miesed it up getting in a hurry. Once it is created post it on your author page. Add links to other groups (if allowed). People can RSVP right on the event.

Time

Choose a time that will give you maximum exposure. I’ve done Wednesdays and Fridays. This last one was a Thursday evening. Depending on your target audience you want the time to be easy for others. 3-5 or 6-8 for a single book launch. (This is my choice, but others may prefer a different time.) An afternoon for a multi-author party. Make sure you clarify the time zone as well. Talk to others who write in your genre for their suggestions for times.

Prizes

Purchase fun prizes and post pictures online of those prizes ahead of time. This builds excitement. In choosing gifts consider how easily the item will be to ship. I had to find an odd-shaped box for a plaque I mailed. Some people stick with gift cards. You can offer your book in either e-book or paperback or both as prizes. It’s up to you. The prizes are to stimulate platform growth. The chances to win increase as the party goers subscribe to your newsletter or social media. My novel Secrets & Charades, happen to be free on Amazon in e-book the day of the book launch for The Cowboys. One woman immediately jumped on that opportunity.

 

The party is about more then your present book.

If your visitors interact that is awesome. I posted about the background for my book and the what if moment. Readers love to know what brought you to your setting and plot. Asking open ended questions can get a string of convo going. Linda asked if anyone had ever lived in Kansas. Jen asked for people to share a memory about their siblings after she share her own. We posted pictures of the characters and asked for feedback.

 

These types of questions give the participants more chances to comment. I like to ask multiple choice questions about my story. That gives people a chance to give a guess even if they’ve never read it, and sparks interest in the book.

 

Get your Street team involved.

Your street team is a group of readers who want to support you and step in to help where they can. Have them jump in to start conversations. once they do others will follow. Those who have read your book can mention how much they enjoyed it. They might ask their own questions that give you a chance to respond.

Share a portion of your book

I chose to read my first chapter at the last two parties. I went live rather than record it. That’s my preference. Jen did an excellent job recording hers. Recording would make me more nervous.  Offering the first page as a post works too, if reading live or recording is way out of your wheelhouse. Nothing says you can’t  get a friend who reads well to do it for you. People love to be read to, they really do. It sparks interest in finding out what happens next. We sold copies during the party based on the readings for sure.

And one thing I’d recommend is posting before the event on the event page are a few simple instructions. Remind them to click the discussion bar to see the event unfold. Then add a line about refreshing the page often. Otherwise people won’t stay long because they get frustrated when they can’t see all the posts. Or if they came later they may not know the party takes place in the discussion area.

A final note for after the party

Leave the party page open for 24 hours and encourage anyone who missed it live to go ahead and read through the posts. They can add comments and still be put in drawings. No one needs to lose out.

Hope what I shared helps you in your future Facebook launch parties. Have any of you done Facebook launch parties? Share in the comments things you’ve learned.