Thanks for stopping by at our blog. We wanted to lend voice to a collaboration of writers who are at different stages in their careers, from published down to those penning or editing their first novels. So wherever you’re at in your writing, here’s a place to stop and refuel, find information and get retrofitted with new ideas.

Be passionate. Be bold. Pick up a pen. Find your journey in ink.

Write us at inkiesrus@yahoo.com

May 11 marks a year since I’ve been writing on that blog. I’ve done a lot more reading than the reviews reflected there, but anyway, I thought I’d do something special to mark my upcoming anniversary.

I’m giving away some books I’ve read during the past year or so. I have a couple in there that I haven’t read in that time and I keep adding to the unread pile each time there’s a past-their-use-before-date (aka slightly shopworn) sale at the bookshop. Rather than letting them gather dust, I’m throwing them in too.

What do you need to do to win one of these books? Add yourself as a follower of The Readers’ Suite.

  • Ensure you comment on that post so I know you’re in the competition. Please let me know if you’re interested in any particular book.
  • Help me spread the word by tweeting this post for an additional entry. (Not a requirement)
  • Or you can grab the badge in the sidebar for your blog, which gives you another entry.  Just let me know if you do. (Again, not a requirement, simply a goodwill gesture.)

Without further ado, here are the prizes.

If you need help making up your mind as to which book you’d like, I’ve added a little information on each at The Readers’ Suite so hop on over there now.

Stay tuned for my next giveaway, which will run concurrently with this one as at May 1, 2011.  My second book Dissolution will be released on May 20, 2011. I’ll be giving away copies @ The Character Depot.

Good luck to all!

Planning a Blog Tour

The last time I posted here I was talking about my virtual book release party for Secrets of Eden (Solstice Publishing Aug. 2010). When that book came out, I tried a gimmicky approach to getting sales. I offered a free book with each purchase and even a drawing for a free Kindle. Well, now that it has been a few months, I can officially declare that venture a failure. I didn’t even have one person enter into the drawing. Not one! I still don’t know how book sales went that month but they probably weren’t great.

But, I’m not out of sorts about it. I just took a step back and analyzed what went wrong before planning the release of my new book Priscilla the Great (WorldMaker Media Dec. 2010). My first mistake with Secrets of Eden was trying to plan a book release party for a book that was only available as an ebook. Many people do not want to buy ebooks. So many review sites I went to said specifically that they do not review ebooks. It’s hard to get the word out about your book when it’s in a format that many in your audience do not read. Instead of targeting traditional readers, I should have been trolling kindle boards and other electronic book sites. That’s where my readers were. Those were the people who would actually buy an ebook.

I’m not giving up on Secrets of Eden, I’m just going to wait until it comes out in paperback and try again. By that time, I should be almost an expert at marketing after what I’m doing with Priscilla the Great.

So what am I doing? First of all, I’m working very closely with my publisher in marketing the book. They are sponsoring a contest that will be featured on several website in which the prize is an eReader. Newsletters about the release of the book went out to my subscribers, plus they will be sending it to theirs as well. But I think my biggest endeavor with this book is my blog tour. In researching, I found that these can be very effective. But they have to be wide reaching. A small blog tour will not be very successful.

I considered paying a company to plan my blog tour for me, but I decided against it. For one thing, I didn’t have an extra $400 to throw away. Yes, I said $400. I did find another company who offered a blog tour service for $50 but I decided against that too. Having someone else contact each blog seems impersonal. Plus, I think it’s a good idea to only go to blogs that will be genuinely interested in your book. With a predetermined blog tour, what happens if a stop on your tour is not to enthusiastic about your book?

So, I decided to plan this tour myself. This was a huge endeavor. I found a website that listed over 300 YA blogs. I just started going down the list and contacting each one individually. First, I check out their blog to see if it would be a good match for Priscilla the Great. I am still no where near through the list, but I’ve had some great responses. Thirteen blogs have agreed to review the book and I have another 18 stops on my tour for guest posts or interviews. I’m aiming for 50 total blogs. Here is my schedule so far.

Dec. 10th – The Mortal’s Library
Dec 12th – YA Bookie Monster
Dec. 13th – MarjoleinBookBlog
Dec. 14th – Write Like Authors Do
Dec. 15th – So many books, So little time
Dec. 16th – The Bookish Type
Dec. 17th – Books From a Shelf
Dec. 18th – Closet Space Musings
Dec. 18th – Book Speak Blog

Dec. 19th – To Life!
Dec. 20th – Grace Elliot
Dec. 21st – Manga Mania
Dec 22 – Books are Like People

So, hopefully, the blog tour angle will be more successful than my virtual release party. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a story idea, an idea that seems compelling and interesting but could never be grand enough for a novel, try condensing it into a bite-sized flash. Take that story idea, build it as you would, then burn and carve away anything unnecessary. The basic structure should remain. Choose words and sentences that say much more than what’s written. Every word must be essential. The fewer the words, the greater the impact.

The purpose of flash fiction is to deliver the basic elements of a story—main character, conflict and resolution—all with an economy of words and a punch at the end. This final punctuation can be a twist, a chord of irony, a humorous note. The story can appear to be one thing only to be illuminated in the finale as quite another.

This blink-of-an-eye exercise forces you to create a snap shot in time and build suspense and the element of surprise with harnessed language. If you can wield tension powerfully in a flash fic piece with 500 words or less, just think what you could do in long fiction.

Try it out, be creative, have fun and aim for a knockout. The bloodshed and thrashing of your work, though brutal, will produce a beautiful piece of art.

My publisher sent out a letter not long ago. They were contacted by Hollywood a few months back asking them to provide romantic suspense novels to be used as props in their upcoming Bruce Willis movie, RED. The movie has a great cast, including Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich,  Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine. So The Wild Rose Press sent out their entire Crimson Rose line — what they had in stock, anyway. And since my novel is a Crimson Rose, and was most likely in stock, it is quite possible that Sleeping With Skeletons has been on the set of a Bruce Willis movie for the last few months.

In the movie, Bruce Willis’s girlfriend likes to read romantic suspense novels. And if you watch trailer #1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMCh4etBbkU, you’ll see Sarah reading one of our books in the scene where Bruce Willis calls her at work. Unfortunately, the title can’t be seen, so I have no way of knowing if it’s my book, but the odds are only 1 in 160 that it is.

It looks like a great movie. I intend to go see it when it comes out, which will be October 15th. If you go see it, I hope you’ll help me look for my title, Sleeping with Skeletons.

You can read more about this and see another one of the trailers at my publisher’s website. http://www.thewildrosepress.com

The other day I watched a free webinar about How to Make Your Book a Bestseller. Though by the end of it they were just trying to sell me an expensive seminar, I was still able to take away some valuable information. The most important thing I learned was the need to have a book launch party. Now the theory behind this is to have a giant party celebrating your book in order to get the sales rolling. Hopefully, once the sales get going, they’ll continue to grow because you’ve written such a great book.

The strategies addressed in the webinar were for nonfiction books. Things are somewhat different when trying to publicize a fiction book. Even within the genre of fiction, I have a more difficult job because I write YA. It’s hard reaching a young audience online without feeling like a pedophile.

My book, Secrets of Eden, is being released with Solstice Publishing in the next few weeks. It is a small publisher and I have to do most of the marketing. Thus, I have started to plan my Virtual Book Launch Party. Each day I add to the list of things I want to do in order to create buzz for my book. This is what I have so far.

1. Freebies.

Everyone that buys my book within the first two days will receive as many awesome prizes as I can think of. So far I will be offering a free copy of my book AIN’T NO SUNSHINE which I will be publishing on Smashwords and Amazon in the next few days. I will also give away some free downloadable music from my musician friends. Anyone who buys the book in the first two days will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an autographed CD from a very well known singer whom I will name later (gotta keep some suspense) and a Kindle. Yes, a Kindle. I’m going all out. I’m using my couponing ways to get one really cheap. (In case you didn’t know, I’m a couponing fanatic. I talk about it sometimes on my blog Writer’s Lounge. Check it out.)

2. Blog tour

I plan on developing a list of thirty to forty blogs where I can provide a guest post and then slip in something about my launch party.

3. Email lists

I plan on sending an email to as many lists I can think of including newsletters from all the former schools where I was a student or teacher.

4. Former students

This is just an idea and I don’t know if I’ll do it or not, but I have hundreds of former students who still love me and chat with me on facebook. I was thinking of starting kind of a chain letter type thing entitled “Help Ms. Nelson Be a Bestseller” that they can forward to all their friends to advertise my launch. (Of course, it would probably have to be titled “Help Nelly Be a Bestseller” since they have given me the nickname Nelly. Not sure if I want to do that or not because I’d feel like I’m exploiting my students. Maybe if I only do it on facebook. I’d feel less like a stalker. Oh, I could start a page! And the ideas just keep flowing.

Well, that’s all I have right now. What do you think? Once I have a specific date, I’ll post all the details and then let you know how it turns out.

Finishing a novel is a great feeling. I just finished my sixth novel.

Unfortunately, only the last two or three have been any good.

There’s a lot of editing to do once that first draft is out of the way, but the hardest part for most writers isn’t the writing or editing, it’s the search for an agent or a publisher.

Here is a small list of publishers that you can submit to if you don’t have an agent:












A great place to find information on an agent or publisher is http://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php. They can teach you which ones are good and which ones to avoid. 

The next two will help you find literary agents — who accepts queries and what genres they work with. Also, you can find some publishers at the second one below.



If you’re in need of help with your query letter, this site offers some great samples.


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this. But don’t. It’s not as hard as it looks. Just do a little each day, and you’ll have a good idea where you want to submit and what they expect from you and you manuscript.

What are some of your favorite resources as a writer?

Happy submitting.

Congratulations to our resident blogger Sybil Nelson for winning The Strongest Start Competition at TheNextBigWriter.com with her middle grade entry, Priscilla the Great. She also has a movie deal for it. Now all she needs a publisher to realize the awesomeness of Priscilla The Great.

To get a sense of Priss’s voice, check out her blog Prissy Fit and the way-cool Priscilla The Great website. You can also get Twin Shorts FREE, a short story collection about Priscilla’s devil twin brothers written by Priscilla via the masterful pen of  Sybil The Great Nelson.

~ CV

Please welcome our guest blogger, K.L. Brady, author of The Bum Magnet. I asked her to share her story, since she has such a cool one.

K. L. Brady is a D.C. native but spent a number of her formative years in the Ohio Valley. She’s an alumnus of the University of the District of Columbia and University of Maryland University College, earning a B.A. in Economics and M.B.A., respectively. She works as an analyst for a major government contracting firm and is an active real estate agent with Exit Realty by day—and writes by night (often into the wee hours of the morning). She lives just outside of D.C. in Cheltenham, Maryland, with her son, William, and two pet Betta fish, Spongebob and Jerry, and lives to eat chocolate, shop, read, and write.

How My Publishing Deal Found Me…

Some say luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I probably wouldn’t consider myself “lucky” any other way.

A few short months ago I was offered a two-book deal with Simon and Schuster on the first novel I ever wrote. Authors go years and years waiting for the fortuitous “break” to happen—sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. So, I’m often asked what was the secret ingredient? Karla, how you did get an editor to notice your novel? The easy answer is, “I dunno!”
The complex answer is I prepared like hell for opportunity, and when it came, I was ready.

For those who may not be aware, I self-published my debut novel, The Bum Magnet officially in October 2009, after fruitlessly trying to find literary representation. By February 2010, an executive editor at a publishing house had expressed interest in my book. A month later, I had an agent, and within another month I had a deal.

So, how did I prepare?

1. I wrote a pretty good book. It’s commercial which, in short, means the editors think it has the potential to sell a lot of copies. In all the letters I received back from editors, rejections or expressing interest, nearly every single one said they are looking for good commercial fiction and asked my agent to send it the moment he got his hands on it.

2. I also workshopped it and had it proofread and edited pretty well. Not perfectly mind you, but pretty well. I quite frankly could not afford to get the line edit from a former editor at a publishing house like I really wanted to do. So, I opted for the cheaper manuscript review in which she read the entire manuscript and gave me tips on plot, structure, pacing, etc. The suggestions she made were VERY minor, she was surprised that it required so little—but this was after it had been workshopped on TheNextBigWriter.com.
3. I designed the book so that it looked professional, that includes ensuring that it had a catchy book cover. Feedback has been about 70-30 in favor of the design. Can’t please everyone…but you can try to please as many as you can.

4. I designed and implemented a comprehensive marketing strategy.
The ebook versions on Kindle and Smashwords were as much a part of my marketing strategy as they were a part of my sales strategy. I sold them for 99 cents and got them into A LOT of hands. My Amazon rankings shot up high and remained there for a long time. My priority was getting my work out there, not profit.

I promoted my book like CRAZY. Every single day, I did at least 3 to 5 marketing activities. Posted it anywhere they would allow you to post a book. Promoted everywhere I could, including on the Amazon Discussion Boards which is where I think I had the most success. I also marketed heavily to book clubs.

5. Got it reviewed. I sent it out to book blogs, book clubs, and review sites and requested reviews. Among the most helpful were the book clubs and the Midwest Book Review, at least I believe that’s where I got some attention.

Along came Luck…

Fast forward to sometime in early February 2010. To this day, I don’t know how she found me, but the editor from Kensington sent me an email and said that she was interested in talking about my book. Needless to say, I was over the moon. We spoke the next day for about 45 minutes or so.

The details are foggy now. I just thought it was surreal to be talking to her. She has a number of African-American NY Times Bestsellers on her list (Carl Weber, Mary B. Morrison, Mary Monroe). I knew exactly who she was and I knew the publisher well. As a matter of fact, I had sent a partial in mid 2009 but never heard from her. (For those of you not aware, you can query Kensington editors directly. You don’t need an agent.)

So, she asked me about how I got into writing, how I went about publishing my book, what kind of marketing plan I’d put together, etc. In one of the funnier moments in the conversation, she asked me if I’d queried any agents or editors. I said, “Well, as a matter of fact I sent my partial to you.”

She got quiet and I heard her fish around her desk. She had my query sitting in an envelope right in her overhead. Ha! How’s that for coincidence? Of course, she was mortified. I told her not to feel bad. I truly believe that things happen for a reason. There was a reason that she didn’t read it back then. So, she suggested she’d be making me an offer. She asked me for a copy of my manuscript and to see my two works in progress. So, I sent them to her.

I was advised to get an agent and sent a note to the editor asking if she minded. She said no. As a matter of fact, she referred an agent to me.
At that point, I knew she was serious.

I queried a few agents, including the one she recommended for me. I went on Publisher’s lunch and found agents who worked with author in similar genres. I wanted someone with experience in selling African American (AA) fiction. Within a few days I had a few that were very interested. I ended up picking the agent who represented two female best-selling AA authors who write in different genres than mine. He had great credentials (a former editor for big houses) and he knew how to sell AA fiction. I couldn’t go wrong.

He asked me to make a few edits to the manuscript. Admittedly, I was reticent only because my book was already out there. But it came down to the fact that, even though I’d sold a couple thousand copies (ebook and paperback), I hadn’t sold enough to the point where changes to the manuscript would impact millions of readers.

So, I got over myself and my few measly sales and I made the changes he suggested. He sent it out wide—meaning submitted to all the major editors at the major publishing houses that he thought would be interested. He submitted it just as he would an unpublished manuscript but in the accompanying letter, we let them know that it had been self published, received great reviews, was building word of mouth, yadda yadda yadda.

So, two weeks go by and the rejections start rolling in. After about 4 or 5 I asked if I should get depressed and he said we had a long way to go. Finally, an editor from S&S said she liked it and was passing it around. The original editor who expressed interest from Kensington was still interested and waiting on her boss to return from vacation. Then another editor from Grand Central (Hachette) expressed interest. After all the offers and counteroffers, we finally accepted the one with Pocket.

That’s pretty much the story.

To answer some of the questions I received, no one ever asked about my sales numbers until after the offers were made. I did not query anyone after I published the book. I queried before I published but not after. So, I can’t really say whether trying to query an agent or publisher after you’ve self-published will work for you. I didn’t have to query.

How do I think she found me? Well, my book had been reviewed on several sites where her authors book were also reviewed. Mine was one of the few self-published books to get a 5-star rating, “favorite,” or “top read” status. My book also stayed in the Top 100 African American fiction list on Amazon. I went through the list at the time, and I was the only book on the list that didn’t have a publisher. I’d also been reaching out to book clubs and stuff like that. So, there are a lot of ways she could’ve found out.

I was also asked why if an author, such as myself, was doing well in distributing my book and getting good reviews, why would I relinquish control and sell my rights to a publisher?

Without a whole lot of work, there is no way I could reach the audience that S&S or another major publisher could reach. It was not about the advance for me. It was about the opportunity this deal offered to build my author brand and I plan to take advantage of every perk the brand and affiliation with a house comes with to market and sell more books. As a new/first-time novelist, I also wanted the chance to work with an editor so that I can improve my craft.

So, the long and short of this story is, I didn’t really find this deal, it found me. Your deal is waiting to find you too, and it all starts with writing a good book. When opportunity knocks, just make sure you’re ready!

Thanks, K.L, for sharing your story and what worked for you. Check out the synopsis and trailer for The Bum Magnet.


Real estate agent Charisse Tyson seems to have it all-a great job, a dream car, and a McMansion in high-and-mightyville. Everything in her life is just right…except the Mister. While lamenting the break-up with her most recent “the one” during a holiday meltdown, Charisse realizes she has a type when it comes to men—players, players, and more players. A magazine article motivates her to swear off men and examine the complex roots of her romantic fiascos.

Just five simple steps to turn her life to the stuff of legends, right? Life is never that easy…  Charisse commences her do-it-yourself therapy project and barely cracks open her emotional toolbox when she encounters the monkey wrenches: an irresistible new beau, two persistent ex-flames, and an FBI agent with life-altering secrets threatening to turn her world upside-down.  A tug of war ensues and Charisse is dead center, trying her best to distinguish the Don Juans from the Romeos. As her love life is propelled into unpredictable twists not even she could imagine, will a twenty-seven-year-old secret keep Charisse from finding the right “one”?  Laugh loud and often as Charisse discovers whether her choices in men reflect more than a penchant for good looks, great sex, and bad judgment.


Thanks so much, K.L. Very informative post. I especially enjoyed the marketing aspect, which included things I hadn’t thought of.

Swing by K.L. Brady’s blog and website if you’d like to connect or learn more about her upcoming novels.

~ CV

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a few short stories from the point of view of Priscilla the Great called Twin Shorts. Then, last weekend I self-published an ebook just to see what the process was like. I have to be honest with you here. Since Priscilla the Great has over 450 fans on facebook and nearly 900 Twitter followers, I really thought that all of her fans would jump at the opportunity to read more about her. Not so much. After four days, I’ve only sold 16 copies and 26 people have downloaded samples. But you know what? I’m happy with that. It’s a start. I’m not going to let it get me down. I obviously have to work harder to get the word out. It’s perfectly possible that those 450 fans on facebook haven’t seen my posts about the release. I know there are tons of posts I miss every day. And on Twitter it’s even worse. I miss 90% of the posts from the people I follow. I just have to keep plugging away.

This experience has helped my put things into perspective about publishing and marketing. It takes a lot of work and you can’t expect results immediately. I plan on being constant and consistent in this process. I’m going to work on my marketing a little every day. Each sale is a victory and a success.

You can read Twin Shorts for free at Smashwords. Use promotion code YK76D to get the book for free.

Layers & Colors

Have you ever read a piece of fiction that felt incomplete?  You wonder what’s lacking, but can’t pinpoint the missing pieces of the puzzle?  Chances are, the author overlooked some vital bit of craft.

Fiction never comes out right the first time, unless you’re a genius.  It takes several drafts before all the elements needed to complete a good story are in place.  Some call this process layering, which includes essentials such as setting, sensory details, emotional depth and character movement.

Countless people use fiction as a means of escape; they’re armchair adventurers who steep themselves in the quests undertaken by fictional characters, and it is the writer’s responsibility to ensure this escape materializes.  One the ways of doing this is through setting.

Before my final draft of any story, Jamaica is invisible.  It is where I grew up and where I live, nothing exciting about it, right?  Not so for a non-Jamaican.  It’s an exotic location; somewhere he’d/she’d love to go on vacation.  For those who can’t travel, the next best thing is a story that familiarizes them with the island.  A vibrant setting lends authenticity to the tale being told.  Each reader will take something different away from your descriptions and that’s fine; we all create unique mental pictures as we read.

Setting is bigger than mere location.  Your story may be about an isolated village in the Blue Mountains, but it speaks to the bigger picture – values and norms of Jamaican society.  The dialect in that remote village perhaps contrasts with how the people in the nearby town speak.  In your story locale, families may intermarry, but that isn’t the norm outside those surroundings.  Life may differ in the capital city, fifty miles away.   Setting creates a bigger canvass against which the reader outlines the pictures painted for him by the author.

The setting also reflects the mood and theme of the story.  Say your story is about a woman with mental problems.  Unexplained things happen around her.  She starts doubting her sanity, but suspects her estranged husband is orchestrating the weird occurrences.  She’s confined to her house and starts seeing shadows and wispy images of long-dead people.

What would send fear chasing down your spine?  Seeing her indoors on a sunshiny day, jumping at shadows, or watching her alone in the house on a stormy night, thunder rolling, wind outside, rain beating against the windows and doors?  After a crack of thunder, the electricity supply goes.  The shifting shadows merge into terrifying shapes. By this time, your protagonist is shaking with fright, and so are you.  This is how setting enhances the mood of the story and places the reader in the picture with the character.

Sensory details allow us to delve under the character’s skin.  We experience their interaction with the environment unconsciously and take sight, taste, touch, hearing and the sense of smell for granted.  We only miss these background details — which enhances the reader’s experience — if the writer neglects to include them.   An expert will weave details seamlessly into prose.  Note the following examples.

Veronica walked to the edge of the verandah and sat down in the creaking patio chair.  The sun blazed outside and the leaves shook on the fruit trees in the yard.   Bruised mangoes lay under a tree.  Veronica decided to see if any of the mangoes could be eaten and got up, scraping her elbow against the edge of the chair.

The example above has to potential to involve all the senses, however, as written I only experienced sight, sound and touch.  Consider the example below.

Veronica strolled to the edge of the verandah and slumped in the patio chair.  It squalled like the damn cat did whenever she caught its tail in the door.  The sun warmed her skin, and she squinted when the glare off the burnt grass hit her eyes.

The wind tumbled through the trees and set the leaves chattering.  Mangoes hurtled to the ground, as though thrown by invisible hands.   The overripe fruit under the tree stared out of blackened eyes, their aroma heady on the breeze.  Veronica salivated; she loved East Indian mangoes. Might as well collect a few before the dog got to them.  She dragged her hands along the chair arm and prepared to rise.  Something sharp clawed the back of her right arm.  She cupped her elbow and peered at the angry red line that marred her skin.

The second illustration used more words, but it also painted a vivid picture of the same scene, using all the sensory elements.

Months ago, I read a report that said sales of romance novels were on the increase in America, despite the harsh economic climate.  Some sources put this down to escapism, and there are always the emotional junkies, who buy into love stories.  Romance novels do exceptionally well at dropping the reader into the character’s headspace.  To make this happen, the writer has to get inside the hero/heroine’s skin and live there for the duration of time it takes to complete the novel.

This smacks of role-playing, and it is.  You must live the experience of a character to be able to pull someone else into that character’s life.  A critique partner of mine commented recently on a scene I’d written where a man agonized — and this is a strong description for what I originally wrote — over whether he’d go to jail on a murder charge.  She noted that I had to inject more internal monologue to show the man’s agitation and fright.  She was right.

How can a storyteller write about a prostitute’s humiliation at the hand of a client, the loss of a child, or the motivation of a woman who’s killed her sister, without being in that position? As dramatic as it sounds, I’ve shed tears over my characters, having placed myself in their situation while seeking solutions to their challenges.

If the emotional depth of your characters is akin to the skimming motion of an egret, as it ruffles the surface of a pond, then your story is going to lack life and verisimilitude.  Think of the last novel or short story you read that stayed in your mind for days or weeks afterwards.  I’m sure it was because you fought the same battles and tasted the victories as if they were yours.

A little less important than emotional involvement is the movement of your characters – not from place to place, but within their current setting.  Sometimes, due to the intensity of a discussion, we forget that the individuals who populate our stories are living, breathing people.  They walk, wave, grimace, roll their eyes.  In short, they interact with their environment.

I don’t always fine tune this aspect of storytelling until the last pass.  At some point during the revision process, I wonder what people are doing as they speak.  Avoid ‘talking heads’ syndrome at all cost.  Picture yourself, or study friends, relatives and co-workers at home and in the office.  Do they gesticulate while talking?  What does their body language say? When agitated, do they pace, clench their jaw, smooth their hair, shuffle their feet?  Now imagine your hero in the same situation and fill in the necessary touches.

Our life experiences carry over to our writing and the best stories I’ve written are those in which the setting was vivid and the story involved all the senses in some way.  I identified with the characters and established clear pictures of them, in scene.  It takes practice to combine all these elements for fluid storytelling, and it’s more challenging on the scale of a novel.

Writers will acknowledge that it’s not possible to insert all these layers on one edit, so if it helps, jot these notes somewhere close to your computer and ensure you’ve included each element while you proofread.