Six ways your manuscript gets buried in slush piles and rejected

Recently, I got another author submission for this blog with the title Cindy Ervin Huff’s interview on the attachment. I usually download it to Word and rename it with the writer’s name and subject. I don’t get hundreds of submissions a day. I have time to download and rename. Editors don’t. This led me to the list of reminders I’ve seen repeated at conferences and in articles that bear repeating.

Manuscripts get reject and lost faster than fast and this can often be avoided if you follow these familiar guidelines.

  1. Pubs don’t pub that

There are still authors who use the shotgun method they shot their manuscripts out to several publishers or magazines without doing the research to find out what they publish. Just because the magazine is called Muscle Cars doesn’t mean you can send a random article about cars to them. Most magazines have a theme page. Each month is a different theme with suggestions of what they are looking for.

I write Historical Romance and there are several publishers who don’t accept anything by Contemporary Romance. They have specific guidelines that must be followed about content. In some cases, the structure of the story needs to follow a certain outline. I would be wasting those publisher’s time if I submitted it there. Go to their website and read the blubs about their books. Order a few of their best sellers to see what they publish before submitting your manuscript.

  1. Bad Titles for Attachments

You title your manuscript Gone with The Wind final draft. But if you leave that title when you added it as an attachment the editor may not be able to find it later. A better title is Margaret Mitchell manuscript Gone with The Wind. Even the title on your email should be Margaret Mitchell’s submission you requested Gone with The Wind. Submission requests mirror so many other emails. So be sure your name is clearly in the email subject line. This is also true for articles.

  1. Wrong formatting

Times New Roman 12-point font double spaced is the industry standard for manuscripts of any kind. A few publishers prefer single-spaced. Some asked for your scene breaks to be notated differently. And although this can be an easy fix, it is time that the publisher doesn’t want to take. Again, read submission guidelines and be sure your formatting is correct. A big problem can occur if you make corrections in your novel and it skewers the formatting or there are additional spaces between paragraphs and sentences. Copy/paste can create issues as well. Use find and replace to fix those yourself. Clean formatting shows professionalism. Ask for help if you don’t know how to fix it.

  1. Typos and grammar issues

A great story will often get rejected if there are typos and grammar errors. Publishers get great submission clean of errors. Why bother to correct yours? Even the best of us don’t see our own mistakes. The spell check on your Word program is limited- if it’s a word but not the word you want, it doesn’t know that. Use Grammarly or ProWritingAid to comb your manuscript. Then ask someone else to read through it. Fresh eyes catch typos so easily. Be especially careful that the first page is error-free. Editors are busy people and they read manuscripts all day long. Typos and grammar errors distract them so much they can’t focus on content. Rejection will be inevitable.

  1. Not reading submission guidelines

I’ve already mentioned this. But it bears repeating. If your manuscript is formatted, clean and fits the theme of the publisher, it can still get rejected if you miss any points in the guidelines. Women’s World still takes their fiction by snail mail with a SASE. Chicken Soup for the Soul only takes submission attached to the form on their website. A few magazines prefer the article in the body of the email although most prefer them attached. Check submission times. There are publishers who only look at submissions from January to June, for example, others have even shorter windows. They want all their submission for the year in that timeframe. So read the guidelines carefully and read it again.

  1. Mediocre writing

Publishers are looking for great writing. Correct grammar is important but if the story isn’t awesome, it won’t matter if you’ve followed the guidelines to a T. Read best sellers in the genre you want to write. Study what made it a great book. Take classes at conferences or online, read writing books. Keep honing your craft. Make your words shine.

What other things get manuscripts rejected or buried in the slush pile?

Meet C. Kevin Thompson and get a peek at The Letters

Today I welcome suspense writer C. Kevin Thompson to my blog. He gifted me with an Arc copy of his latest novel and I’m happily reading his interesting story and can’t wait to learn more about how he it came to be and a bit about Kevin as well.

Welcome Kevin.

 

Tell us about your upcoming novel?

My latest book is The Letters, and it is now out in e-book pre-order on Amazon. Its official release date is Feb. 18, 2020. I’ll just leave the backcover copy piece right here…

THE WORLD IS A CRAZY PLACE

WHEN THE LIVING ARE DEAD

AND THE DEAD ARE ALIVE.

Rachel Hamar—a Manhattan bank teller—lives nothing close to a Manhattan lifestyle. Residing in Washington Heights, NY, the only thing keeping her in The Big Apple is her mother—a long-time patient in a local psychiatric hospital. It’s December 2014, and the twentieth anniversary of her high school sweetheart’s tragic death. She’s not sure how much more heartache she can endure, especially after being told earlier in the day she no longer has a job at the bank. A casualty of downsizing.

In the midst of spiraling depression, Rachel receives a mysterious letter in the mail. When she opens it, she becomes cautious and skeptical of its contents and discards it as a mistake, concluding it’s simply addressed incorrectly or a postal worker’s faux pas in the midst of a busy Christmas season. But another letter arrives the next day. And another the day after that. Before long, she is in possession of several letters. Each one more puzzling than the last.

Thinking that someone may be playing a cruel game, she contacts the police, and this propels Rachel and the two detectives into one of the most bizarre cases they’ve ever encountered. Is it a friend’s cruel joke? Is it some stalker’s perverse idea of manipulation? Or is it something more?

 

Kevin, what inspired you to write your book?

For The Letters, it started with a conversation I had while in seminary years ago about abortion in an ethics class. This was coupled with a conversation I had with someone about heaven and how John Wesley believed it would be somewhat of a continuation of this life, just minus all the things that bring heartache and sin into our lives. Yet, other people have more of a greeting card/comic strip perspective about heaven, complete with pearly gates and St. Peter as the gatekeeper. The rest find themselves somewhere in the middle, I suppose. Other conversations found their way into the formulation of this novel as well, such as talks around verses from the Bible about how far God’s love travels into the sinful world we live in day and night, and what it looks like when it does – A love that weaves the spiritual and physical world together into an existence many of us, even Christians, try to separate, compartmentalize, and downplay—even rationalize away—so we can somehow fathom it with our finite minds.

 

It was all these thoughts, verses from Scripture, theological discussions and more that suddenly came together into what has been described by one of my readers as a “Christmas Carol-esque” kind of story. As Rachel, the main character, describes it in her little prologue,

 

Where did it begin?

Or where did it end?

That is the better question.

For somewhere in the heart, during a time filled with turmoil,

A story emerged.

It’s an account that will baffle the imagination of many.

A story no one will want to believe.

It will be dubbed a legend by some.

A fairy tale by others.

A lie by most.

However, what you are about to read is a story of passion…

And a story of deceit.

A story of rejection…

And a story of redemption.

Ultimately, however, it is a story of love.

For this is my story.

Interesting prologue. You definitely have my attention.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Romans 12:1-2. After Paul writes the first eleven chapters of the Book of Romans, he then says in so many words, “Now that I’ve said all these things in the first eleven chapters, do this and be this. If you do, you will be all that God envisioned.” For me, it is the most succinct description of Christian living, apart from Jesus’s “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this, and you fulfill the law and the prophets.”

 

I must ask my favorite question.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start earlier and don’t stop! I had the itch way back in high school, but I never pursued it until much later in life. Had I started writing then, who knows where I’d be right now.

Every writer needs a support system to keep them pressing forward.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

I have several support systems. One is my family. My wife is a great encouragement to me and helps keep me centered on what’s important when I travel the roller coaster that is being an author. My daughters, my sons-in-law, my grandchildren and my extended family are my cheerleaders, keeping me motivated. Another support system I have is my critique group family. I want to give a shout out to my Word Weavers of Lake County, FL, group. Every month, it’s so good to meet and encourage one another as well as keep in touch in the days and weeks in-between. Another support system is my agent and his agency. Jim Hart and Elizabeth Kim have been so helpful in giving advice about the world of publishing. Then, of course, each publisher and their team are always so helpful. You can always learn a lot from all of them.

 

I always like to know where is your favorite place to write?

I have an office (a converted bedroom, actually) where most of the magic happens. However, if I had my wish, I’d be on the balcony of a condo, overlooking the beach, with a laptop desk in front of me, a cool breeze blowing off the ocean, and a drink sitting next me on a table. Between naps, who knows how many words a day I could write in that environment. J

It has been fun getting to know you better. And I hope my readers are curious about The Letters and preorder it. Click here to preorder.

 

More about Kevin

KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?  Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever.

The second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available! The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out as well. Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, are now available! Book 5, A Pulse of Time, is coming Memorial Day 2020! Book 6, Devil of a Crime, is coming fall 2020! And, his new standalone novel, The Letters, available in e-book to pre-order, and will release on February 18, 2020! The Letters is a “Christmas Carol-esque” book that will haunt your family pleasantly for years to come!

Visist Kevin at:

Website:                 www.ckevinthompson.com/

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:      www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/

Facebook:              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page

Twitter:                  @CKevinThompson

Instagram:             ckevinthompson

Pinterest:               ckevinthompsonauthor

Goodreads:                  C. Kevin Thompson

BookBub:               C. Kevin Thompson

 

 

 

Stimulate your Writng Brain though other activities.

A few days ago, I sat down with one of the coloring books my grandchildren bought me for Christmas and spent a few hours coloring and listening to music. The combination of the two opened my mind to creative thoughts about my current WIP. It was awesome to relax and then grab a pen and jot down those things that came to mind as I freed my brain from thinking about words and enjoyed the creation of color on the page. I felt refresh and invigorated after I complete my page.

Writer’s minds get blocked and creativity stymied from time to time. Stepping away from the keyboard and finding a few other creative outlets can restart and unblock creativity.

Coloring is a great outlet for me. I’m not always staying in the lines and I’m sure my color choices would not win any art prizes, but it doesn’t matter. I’m coloring for me alone.

I have friends who doodle-a lot. The simple act of scribbling seems to pull the solution to a plot twist to the front of their mind.

Some prefer puzzles whether Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw these activities stir a different part of the brain allowing the writing part to relax.

Writing a chapter with pen and paper stimulates the mind in a different way than pounding on your keyboard. It slows down the thought process as you write the words legibly on paper. That is a challenge for me as my penmanship is atrocious. But often handwritten chapters have the most interesting lines in them. When I type them into my manuscript I’m impressed with the creativity I achieve with pen and paper.

Music stimulates the senses and many writers find it helps put them in the mood to write. Historical authors may play the music of the period the story is set in. Some find specific styles of music set the mood for the scenes they are writing. For me music loosens tension and relaxes me. I usually prefer typing in silence but a prelude to the creative process I love music.

I have friends who knit, work in the garden or exercise allowing the mind to focus on something else while the subconscious is plotting scenes.

Pegg Thomas knits a shawl to represent every story she writes then she gives it away at her book launch. She even produces the wool from her own sheep. Boy does she get her creative juices going.

Another option to getting those manuscripts finished is dictating your words. There are software programs you can use. Some writers like to use the dictation app on their phone and then transcribe it. There is a dictation app in Word that makes it easy to plot your story out loud. (It’s in the Home tab.) I find the Read Aloud app (Review tab) in Word helpful as well. Anytime you hear your words read it helps you see what needs fixing.

A key to keeping your creative juices moving is finding those things outside of your hands on the keyboard that keeps your mind engaged with the story.

Coloring may sound like a waste of time or writing longhand and transcribing is time you could have used to type a complete chapter. All these things are not a waste of time but a stimulus for creativity.

Writing is hard work and leaving your computer chair on occasion or having your manuscript read aloud can refresh your creativity should be on every writer’s schedule.

What do you do refresh your mind and get the creative juices flowing?

 

Simple Goal Setting for 2020

The New Year is just hours away, and I wanted to talk about setting goals. I know, again, lots of blogs and articles appear today on this very subject. I apologize and hope my thoughts are of value and perhaps freeing.

Goal setting for me gets complicated. It’s supposed to help set a course and give direction. But for me, goal setting ties me up in knots, because I can’t keep it simple. Which means I set myself up for failure before I begin.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a list maker and they can get quite long and exhausting. Unfortunately, that is the way I approach goals. If three goals are good six is better and four hundred nineteen are optimum.  I exaggerate. Well, maybe a bit.

Let me explain. I can’t make myself settle for a few specific goals. I must grab as many as I can, like a child who doesn’t want to share any toys. They fall out of my hands and into the hole of failure. Can any of you relate?

This year I want to strive to keep my goals simple: write, social media and sell books. Only three. Sounds reasonable, right?

Now, I’ll break those down into more specific goals. Again, my list-making gene comes into play and I must be careful not to micromanage each goal.

Writing words:

  • Write 1,000 words on my novel a day.
  • Write two blogs a week.
  • Write one guest blog a month.

And then take my hands off the keys before I add write five articles a week and fifteen devotionals a month. Some writers can do all these additional things handily. I am not one of them.

Social media:

Next, I’ll break down social media into manageable bites. I have a marketing person who does much of this, but I still need to interact personally on social media. Overthinking content makes this a hard area for me. (An excellent idea for another post.) I often place my hands on my keys and can’t think of anything earth-shattering to post, so I post nothing. When I post a picture of my elderly mom or share, I’m ill that often produces more responses than clever prose. This year I want to try to be more fun and spontaneous and see if that doesn’t promote more interaction.

Book Sales:

Sell books is a large category with lots of sub-goals. I need to decide which book events or local festivals I want to devote Saturdays to and add them to my calendar now.  Find book clubs, talk to bookstores about book signings. (There aren’t that many in my area anymore.) Decide where I’ll invest my money online to make sales and look for podcasts and radio opportunities. And write a compelling newsletter every month that keeps my readers eager for my next book.

Few goals still take time

I think even these simple goals will take more time than I expect so I’m going to tie my hands behind my back least I’m tempted to add writing three novels at once while editing four others.

I’ll let you know if I kept it simple in 2020. I’d like to know your thoughts on goals setting and what you hope to accomplish this year.

May you have a productive writerly 2020, my friends.

 

Booklovers Gift Suggestions Part 2

Tuesday’s post was only a tiny portion of the books I’ve read this year and there are so many more I can recommend. I wanted to introduce you to some awesome authors whose books are praise-worthy. Today I thought I’d list some novella collections. That way your book lovers can discover a favorite new author or two as they read the collection. For me finding new authors is thrilling. The book lovers on your list will enjoy these.

I’ll start with a collection I’m a part of because the other authors are wonderful writers and I hope you like my story Healing Hearts.

The Cowboys (Historical Romance)

Taming the west—one heart at a time.

Healing Heart

Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Becoming Brave

When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—and his heart—screech to a halt.

Trail’s End

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

Loving a Harvey Girl

Eva Knowles can’t imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls—women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth, and home!

Click here to order.

The Highlanders (Historical Romance)

Never underestimate the heart of a Highlander.

Night Fox

After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ heads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead.

A Tender Siege

Pontiac’s War, August 1763: “I beg Ye to take me.” Wounded in battle in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers near, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.

The Year without Summer

Shoved off his family’s land in Scotland in 1816, Grant Cummings looks for work in Ulster, Ireland. He needs money and a home to raise his young brother. Molly MacGregor loses her father and his income, but she has no time to grieve as she sews and spins to earn enough to keep her and her young brother alive. Renting out the hut on their land might be the answer, but only if she can overcome her prejudice against the handsome Highlander who moves in. Her heart might soften toward him, but not when he plans to set sail for America.

The Violinist

In 1915 Idaho, homesick lumberjack Callan MacTavish despairs of ever seeing his Scottish homeland again. With kindness and patience, music teacher Rose Marchmont reaches a part of Callan’s heart he’d long ago locked away. She sees beyond his rough exterior to the artistic heart beneath. He longs for more than he can offer her, but she doesn’t know about the secret trauma that keeps him from crossing the sea.

Click here to order

Coming Home a Tiny House Collection (Contemporary Romance and more)


Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection. Click here to order.

 

 

 

 

The Backcountry Brides Collection: Eight 18th Century Women Seek Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Travel into Colonial America where eight women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love? Click here to order

 

 

 

A Southern Season: Four Stories from the front porch swing

Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing.

Ice Melts in Spring by Linda W. Yezak When Kerry Graham’s boss forces her to return to the Gulf of Mexico where her husband drowned years ago, she feels only spring’s chill and not the warmth of the Texas sun. Can the joy of a reclusive author and the compassion of a shrimp-boat preacher thaw Kerry’s frigid heart?   Lillie Beth in Summer by Eva Marie Everson With the untimely death of his wife, Dr. James Gillespie believes God has abandoned him. He also believes he’s never met anyone like the young widow Lillie Beth, whose beloved Granny lies dying at home, and who sees a God who sweeps hope through a farmhouse window. Can a young woman whose husband died in Vietnam restore a faith that is all but dead.   Through an Autumn Window by Claire Fullerton Because her larger than life mother Daphne Goodwyn is dead, forty-year-old Cate returns to Memphis with one thought in mind: something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral. But surrounded by the well-mannered society that raised her, the nostalgic rites of a three-day, autumn mourning bring the unexpected gift of the end of sibling rivalry.   A Magnolia Blooms in Winter by Ane Mulligan With Broadway stardom within her reach, Morgan James returns home in winter to help an old friend. Maybe its just nostalgia, but when she sees him again, an old flame rekindles. When she s called back to NYC to take the lead in a new musical, will fame be worth losing the man she loves? Click here to order.

There are so many more wonderful collections and so many more authors I could introduce you to that are worthy of adding to your Christmas giving list. If you love YA or Suspense Aaron Gansky is awesome. Mary Connealy is my favorite Cowboy writer. She writes both historical and contemporary cowboy stories.  All of the books I recommend mostly can be ordered and arrive in time for Christmas. Have a blessed Christmas and take time to read a book or two, or three, or four.

 

Laying a new floor is like Writing a novel

We are finishing up some major rehab on our home. The latest project was installing hardwood floors in the whole downstairs. I’d visualized what it would look like and was excited to see the finished project. The whole process reminds me of writing a novel. Each step in the process of installation took much longer than I anticipated, even with my wonderful son bringing all his great tools over to make the job easier. My hubby, grandson and my son’s brother-in-law all had a part in giving me my beautiful wood floors.

We had lots of insulation and carpet bits to remove from the subfloor. That reminded me of all the repetitive words and unnecessary phrases in my draft.

Rough draft/ subflooring

Once the yucky old carpet was removed we discovered that the subfloor was threequarters of an inch below the wood floor already in the kitchen. We could have laid the wood floor and left a nice trip zone between the family room and the kitchen. That short cut would have saved time but made it less than I envisioned. Less professional looking and an even flow of flooring from room to room.

The subfloor is the rough draft, the time to get the story on paper. Nailing down the story arc is the key to giving your manuscript a good subfloor.

Short cuts early on in a manuscript create problems later. If your idea for a scene isn’t working because previous scenes don’t lead up to your present scenario you will trip up your readers. Don’t leave those uneven parts in your novel. Early in the process, you can fix them.

Stripping the area down to the subflooring revealed a problem. The previous owner left the linoleum when they laid the wood floor. To be sure the finished floor had an even flow required an additional layer of three-quarter-inch subfloor on top of the original. It leveled the floor to the perfect height to install the new flooring.

Rework those early drafts until the story arc moves as it should. Be sure each scene seamlessly flows into the others.

The first draft, even the second is that subfloor stage.

What a difference adding the extra layer of subfloor made. Tweaking your manuscript at this phase adds depth and makes it better.  Although the new subflooring looked clean and fresh I still wasn’t about to invite guests over. The same is true of your manuscript at this stage—don’t rush to send it to a publisher.

Proper layout

My husband and son taking a break from laying the floor. The bare floor is beautiful but there is so much more that needs doing before we can reveal the finished product.

The bare wood is beautiful and to remain so there is a specific way it needs to be laid. Each new row of planking must be laid so the seam of the previous row of planking is met with a solid surface. The patterns make the flooring firmer.

At this point in your story creation, you need to go back and layer your scenes. Check to see your character arc is moving along. Look for show vs tell areas and checking your POV.  Be sure surprise twists in the plot make sense, otherwise, the reader will be irritated. The pattern of your story arc and character development must be a thing of beauty to keep readers engaged.

The new and old flooring had to be sanded before the final step can take place. The stain had to match throughout, and it had to lay flat with no bubbles or imperfections. At this stage, you may gut an entire scene from your novel or rearrange sentences or even chapters.

Turning good to great

It took a weekend to get the floor laid properly and it still wasn’t entertainment ready. This step pairs with the polished final draft. But there are still things to transform the manuscript from good to great.

After the stain and varnish are added, the true character of the flooring comes to life. Then you wait a few days before furniture can be placed on it. This step in your manuscript is the polish your prose stage. You scour it for overused words, correcting punctuation and grammar (errors you missed the first ten times you read through your work) and tweak your character arc. Anything to make your novel shine.

Trim and final touches

The trim pieces are added and then the floor is complete. Your publisher adds the trim pieces and gets it ready for release.

The time from ripping out the carpet to completing the floor was several months. We had other rooms that need to be finished first. My son has a full-time job so he came when he could fit it in.

A book can take up to eighteen months after you sign a contract before it sees the light of release. During that time editors work with you to rework and polish to perfection, the right cover is chosen. The front and back copy added, and the font is selected. Not to mention the proper layout of the e-book edition.

My hubby looked over the finished floor to see if there was any touchup needed. We discussed the type of lightening we need and the furniture placement to set off the floor to its best advantage.

Shortly after receiving your paperback copies in the mail it’ll be release day and your beautiful novel is ready to share with the world.

Now that my floor is complete and my furniture in place I am ready for holiday gatherings.

And additional thought

The hardest part of this whole process was the waiting. Walking around on subflooring for months was frustrating and embarrassing. As a writer, the hardest part of novel creation is the edit and rewrite stage. The initial story and the final product are the most fun. Somewhere during the process discouragement sets in. That’s when I seek out others to remind me the finish line is just over the next hill of edits. By the time we got to the stain and varnish stage, I was more than ready for the final reveal. Don’t miss a step in the process and you’ll love the final result.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? What is your favorite part?

 

Suspense Author Leann Sain shares her journey and her latest release

Today I welcome suspense author Leanna Sian to talk about her newest release Hush. Her writing journey intrigued me. I’ll let Leann tell you.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My mother told me I was constantly making tiny books with illustrations. That carried over into adulthood. I was an art major in college with an English minor…the best of both worlds: drawing pictures and writing. But I’d never written a novel, never dreamed there was one inside of me. But that all changed on Halloween, fifteen years ago, and it was all because of a gate.

We were at a friend’s farmhouse for a Halloween party and after dinner we hiked out a gravel road to a spooky cemetery nearby. On the way back, my flashlight glanced over to the right, landing on an old wooden gate. Yes, this was a farm, so a gate shouldn’t be a shock. They sort of go hand in hand. But this one didn’t have a fence attached. It was just a gate, sitting at the edge of a pasture. It struck me as so unusual that I asked my friend, “Lisa, why is there a gate with no fence?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “It was there when we bought the place.”

“Dum, dum, dummmm,” I replied in my spookiest voice. “The gate to nowhere…”

She laughed. “Sounds like the name of book.”

“Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?”

“Why don’t you write it?”

“Maybe I will.”

That conversation marks the beginning of my novel-writing life, resulting in the trilogy, Gate to Nowhere, Return to Nowhere, and Magnolia Blossoms. Hush is my seventh novel, its sequel is almost finished and I have two more manuscripts completed. And the ideas keep coming. It’s like a cork has been pulled from a bottle and stories keep glugging out. As it stands now, I’ll have to live forever to get them all written.

 

What’s your latest writing project?

My latest book is entitled, Hush. It’s a suspense novel set in the north Florida coastal town of Fernandina Beach. A serial killer is using the verses of the lullaby, “Hush, little baby” as a blueprint for murdering young women. My main character, Lacey Campbell, dreams the murders before they happen, but only in bits and pieces, not enough clues to be able to stop the crimes before they happen. Detective Ford Jamison is called in to help the local police and he soon has a working theory: the killer is targeting women who look remarkably like Lacey. This knowledge doesn’t slow the killings, and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep because the next face she sees in her dreams might be her own.  Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before he reaches the end of the lullaby?

How do you research for your book?

If I can, I like to visit the setting…get a good feel for the place, take lots of photographs, and do tons of online research. I strive to make any history in the book completely accurate; same with street names, directions, landmarks, etc.… It’s important to me that everything is correct. Yes, it’s a fictional story, but the setting is real.

What inspired you to write your book?

The idea of a serial killer using the lullaby as his blueprint had been knocking around in my brain for a while, but I didn’t start writing the story until my mother really started going downhill with her Alzheimer’s disease. Watching my mother struggle through the final stages of this disease was awful. There was a lot of anger and frustration, as well as the sadness of watching the amazing woman who was Pattie Hewitt, disappear. Alzheimer’s isn’t just a death sentence. It’s the worst kind of death. The disease slowly steals away all that makes a person who they are, leaving an empty shell. First it takes memories, and if that isn’t enough, it steals abilities, like dressing yourself, brushing your teeth, speech, and even the basic ability to swallow. By the end, you’re praying for God to take them home.

I used writing Hush as therapy, a way to release those negative emotions. I made Lacey’s mom have Alzheimer’s, which was a mean thing to do, but it allowed me to weave some of the things my mom said and did right into the story. It helped me to have that small element of control at a time when everything else seemed out of control. I dedicated the book to her, but wanted to do more, so I’m donating my book royalties to Alzheimer’s research in hopes that they’ll find a cure for this terrible disease and that others won’t have to go through what my family did.

 

My father died of this horrible disease. I can so relate to your need to get the negative out.

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

John 16:33. “These things have I spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing sooner. Great advice.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is my number one fan and best critic. He always points out things that I never see. Maybe it’s the way a man’s mind works, but I depend on his input.

I’m also in two different writer’s groups. I think it’s important to have several pairs of good eyes on my work to help me polish it into the best that it can be.

I love to hear about supportive spouses. I think men do have a different view and it does help. My hubby is a great support too.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love the magical realism of Sarah Addison Allen, Mary Kay Andrews’ quirky, laugh-out-loud books, Jan Karon’s Mitford books, and Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries. It makes me sad that she didn’t get to give us the “Z” book before she died.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

There’s a little one-room cabin up in Maggie Valley, NC  where I’ve been going for a week at a time, by myself, for years. It’s isolated, quiet and magical. The words just FLOW when I’m there. Although I can write almost anywhere, I’ve found that the “magic” doesn’t kick in until I’m somewhere alone and isolated, with no distractions. That’s not easy to find at home. There’s always something that needs to be done.

How wonderful to have such an isolated place to get the work done. I’m envious. Thanks so much for joining me today. I found the story more than interesting. Here is a link to my review. It kept me from working on my own novel I was so intrigued.  I love the cover. Click here to order.

Back cover copy

Hush – by Leanna Sain

She dreams a murder before it happens.

A young woman is strangled while her killer sings the words from the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby.”

Lacey Campbell’s life is full, but not idyllic. As head chef for a chic restaurant and primary caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t have time for the nightmare and at first she tries to deny it. But the next day, she discovers it’s a disturbing reality. When she dreams the second heinous murder she knows it’s time to tell the police.

Detective Ford Jamison is called back to the little coastal town to help with the case and soon notices an alarming trend: the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey. This doesn’t slow the killings and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.

As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?

 

More about Leanna Sain:

North Carolina author, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, before moving back to mountains of  NC. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. Her writing accolades include: Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year; nominations for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the Global Ebook Award; and the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the NC Society of Historians for her time travel trilogy (Gate to Nowhere; Return to Nowhere; Magnolia Blossoms.) She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her, visit: www.LeannaSain.com

 

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain/dp/1645262502/ref=sr_1_1?

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leannasbooks

Twitter: https://LeannaSain@Leannasbooks

Website and blog: http://leannasain.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LeannaSain