Monday, February 08, 2016


I never give writing tips. I figure everyone has his own personal style. Plus some people are just naturally good. But I do think there are a few things authors can do to sharpen their work. Here are some of the things I think about when I am writing a novel.

1. Start with a hook. Make your first sentence or at least your first paragraph compelling. Make the reader want to read the book! In INTO THE FURY, my newest Romantic Suspense, the first sentence reads,

SINNERS, SLUTS, and WHORES--BEWARE. Your TIME is at HAND. Standing next to the long mahogany table in the conference room, Ethan Brodie re-read the note he’d just been handed.
Everyone who sees this paragraph recognizes the threat in that note. Someone--probably a woman--could be in grave peril.

With any luck, this opening will intrigue the reader enough to keep reading.

2. Enter late and leave early. In the above example, we’re starting in the middle of the scene. We’re not in the conference room waiting for Ethan to show up. We aren’t there until after he receives the note. From there we start charging forward, finding out what’s going to happen next. Just remember the reader isn’t interested in “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, and you?”

At the end of the scene, get out.

3. Make sure there’s conflict in every scene. This doesn’t necessarily mean violent conflict. It can be man against nature, man against man, man against himself, anything that makes the reader interested in continuing.

In my example, the conflict in the opening scene of INTO THE FURY is mostly Ethan’s battle with himself. He doesn’t want to take a job bodyguarding what he thinks will be a bunch of air-headed models. He’s had too much woman trouble lately, but it’s a good job that pays well. They need his skills and so he decides to take it.

4. Stay in the active voice whenever possible. Try not to use the word was too many times. Here’s an example. A rumble of thunder in the sullen gray sky blotted the reverend’s next words. I could have written, The sound of thunder could be heard in the distance. The sky was a sullen gray. That’s passive voice. It’s important to stay active.

Personally, I have to work at this. I often go back and change from passive to active after I write the first draft.

5. Write characters that grow and change. Writing a character arc, it’s called. It means your characters learn something or do something that changes them. During the time Ethan is working with the La Belle lingerie models, he learns how difficult their job is. He comes to admire their work ethic and their brains.

It changes some of his thinking about the female sex and helps him realize the kind of woman he really wants in his life.

There are lots of great tips to writing. The five above I learned from studying very successful authors. Dean Koontz has a wonderful book called Learning To Write, but its out of print and hard to find.

All the authors I’ve studied, all the books by other authors that I’ve enjoyed through the years, have helped me immeasurably. I hope these tips will help you, too.

Best of luck with your writing and all good wishes for a terrific 2016.

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.
Kat has written more than sixty-five novels. Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.
Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains.

Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, and AGAINST THE TIDE her latest release, took top ten spots. Visti Kat at the following:




Saturday, February 06, 2016

I'm Late!

by Linda O. Johnston

Sorry, but I'm posting this late.  I let the beginning of February get away from me. 

And unfortunately, not only did I miss the first OCC meeting of the year, thanks to a wonderful family visit, but I won't be at this month's meeting either.    

Why?  Well, I'll be in New York City that weekend at the Dog Writers Association of America's seminar and awards event.  My first Barkery & Biscuits Mystery BITE THE BISCUIT is a finalist in the fiction category for the Maxwell Awards presented by the DWAA.  I've got some fierce competition, but whether or not I win I'm thrilled to be a finalist.  Plus, I look forward to meeting even more people who love to write about dogs.   

The event is on Valentine's Day.  Guess I won't be spending a special and romantic day with my husband this year, but he fortunately understands. 

So--will I be at the March meeting?  I certainly hope so!  I miss OCC this year.  And I have registered for RWA National in San Diego in July, so I'm sure I'll see a lot of you there, too. 

In any event, have a wonderful Valentine's Day--a very special holiday to all of us who write romances.

Friday, February 05, 2016


I've been so exhausted, that I haven't had the energy to write. Thank God for mothers. My mother sent me an email she received and it's adorable. It made me wish I had done something similar.

Who remembers the day they received their first book proof? More specifically, who remembers the emotions they experienced the day they received their first book proof? I remember sort of camping out at home waiting on a call from the UPS Store, saying the package had arrived.

The day my life changed, my mom and dad were out running errands when I got the call, saying package had arrived. I called my mom and asked her to pick up the package for me.

When she got home and handed me the package, it was like Christmas and my birthday at the same time. Then I opened it and I was instantly deflated because the cover was horrible. My disappointment was short lived and quickly replaced with excitement, because it was my first book. The tangible proof that I was an author.

This post by NICKI KOZIARZ, resonated with me, because it was a reminded me of everything I experienced when I received my first book proof. I hope this story brings back or reminds you how it felt the first time you saw your hard work come to life.

Here's the link.  Nicki Koziarz [It's a sweet story.]

Tracy Reed
Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys  

Monday, February 01, 2016

February President's Message

Hello Again OCC!

What a lovely meeting we had in January! The room was filled with so many smiling faces and I loved every bit of it.

It is now 2016! Can you believe it? I wanted to take this time to thank each one of you for your dedication to OCC. Our chapter continues to thrive and grow and it couldn’t do that without our dedicated volunteers and members in general. Thank you for allowing me to serve another year as your president. I am honored and very appreciative.

January’s speakers were Anne Cleeland in the morning and Penny Sanseveiri in the afternoon. I’m happy to report that both sessions provided lots of helpful information for our members.

This month we have Cherry Adair doing an all day workshop with us! The morning workshop will be “Backstory: Your Characters Life & Future” and the afternoon session will be “12 Tips to Building 3D Characters.”

We will also be raffling off a Valentine’s Day basket so do come prepared to buy tickets! I look forward to seeing you all!

Once again, my fellow authors thank you for all that you do and your commitment to OCC RWA where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”

Happy New Year and may we all have a prolifically blessed year!


Nichelle Scott-Williams

Aka Nikki Prince

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I’ve always loved to travel. I’m fortunate to have married a man who enjoys it as much as I do...or maybe being adventurous was an unspoken quality I was looking for in a man.

Since I live in rural Montana, a twenty five miles to the nearest movie theater--I especially love going to the city.

INTO THE FURY is set in Seattle. When ten of La Belle lingerie’s most beautiful models receive death threats, its bodyguard Ethan’s Brodie’s job to protect them. Ethan goes toe to toe with bombshell blonde, Valentine Hart, in a fast-paced novel of action, adventure, and steamy romance.

I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I needed a starting point. From where we live, Seattle is the closest place I can go to get my “city fix.” Plus it’s a gorgeous place to visit, surrounded by the ocean and dozens of interesting islands, wonderful restaurants and great hotels.

Since Nick Brodie, my hero in AGAINST THE SKY, had moved to Seattle at the end of the book to get married and take a job with Brodie Operations Security Services, I decided to set my next three books there.

Ian Brodie owns the company the guys call BOSS, Inc. Nick’s cousins Ethan and Luke also work there, an office just chock full of hunky guys.

One of the things that made Seattle ideal for the trilogy was the interesting diversity of the people who live there, which also means different sorts of crimes.

I knew the area, since we go there often. I was able to use hotels we had stayed in and restaurants like the gorgeous El Gaucho, where we’ve dined and is very romantic.

Along with the trips to Seattle, I researched the criminal activity in the area and also used Google Earth to refresh my memory or help with locations I was less familiar with. Traveling for research can bring excitement, adventure, or just simple insight into a place different from where you live.

INTO THE FURY hit bookshelves on January 26, 2016 and is available in all e-book formats.

I hope you’ll watch for INTO THE FURY and that you enjoy it. Next up, INTO THE WHIRLIND out May 31, followed by INTO THE FIRESTROM.

Till then, all best and happy reading.

 Warmest, Kat

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels. Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains.

Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, and AGAINST THE TIDE her latest release, took top ten spots.

Visit Kat's website at

Or look for her on Facebook at Katmartin/author.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's all about....

In Europe, there's a kind of oval black and white sticker people put on their cars to indicate their country of origin:  CH for Switzerland (fooled you, ConfÅ“deratio Helvetica), NL for the Netherlands, D for Germany (Deutschland) etc.

This became a fad in the US with various stickers sporting state, airport and place abbreviations or codes.  

So when walking down the street in a lovely town in Maine, the souvenir store showing a while oval with the black letters ME on seemed very much in keeping with the zeitgeist.  But what was thee tiny additional lettering at the top...?  It read: 

          — it's all about — 


That pretty much sums up the default response to most of the human condition. It's why people were burned alive for sharing the information that the earth revolved around the sun, and the universe did not, actually, revolve around us.

This realization has helped explain the advocacy for "Intelligent Design" over Evolutiona position that was basically incomprehensible to me.

Evolution is a system based, more or less, on meritocracy.  Those that survive have adapted most successfully to meet whatever challenges they face. In this perspective, the universe does not revolve around them; they must adapt to the 'universe.'

So if people are uncomfortable with the uncertainty that vision espouses, or they aren't sure they would rise to the top of a meritocratic ladder, or they can't accept the uncomfortable acknowledgement that they are not the center of the universe, or they need a sense of certainty, it's a problem. 

If for any reason they believe they would not measure up, or want to skip the uncertainty and just move to the front of the line, they need to believe that Someone Out There will Favorite them (their definition of intelligence, of course).  In a family context, basically, it's the happy belief that "Dad" likes them best (or whatever all-powerful deity you choose). Thus "Intelligent Design" addresses these uncomfortable-for-some issues.

And while this explanation may not be true for everyone, trying to understand the underlying needs for a belief can be a helpful tool in trying to understand when those beliefs that seem to fly in the face of established knowledge.  Stop and consider: what are the often powerful emotional needs that may dictate that belief system? Reason, rationality, science has nothing to do with it. Indeed, if you ever want to appreciate the lack of "intelligence" that has gone into the somewhat random process of evolutionary "design," do take a look at Neil de Grasse Tyson's article in Natural History Magazine.

Simone de Beauvoir articulates the male and female roles of Self and Other in The Second Sex. And for me, one of the most powerful aspects of a romance is the evolution the characters undergo in the process of the story.  The heroine often developing a stronger Self. The hero's realization that without the Other, he is not complete.  

That it's really not all about ME.

Isabel Swift

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Do You Triberr? #Blogging Promotion Tips

A lot of friends make comments to me like, "You're always on Twitter." Well, the truth is, I'm not really on Twitter all the time. My Twitter feed is mostly the result of me sharing the blog posts of fellow tribe mates on a site called Triberr.

If you're not familiar with, I'll try to explain, though there are people who can do a better job of it. Triberr is a website where bloggers band together in tribes to share each other's blog posts. Once you get your blog registered and join a tribe or two, your posts automatically appear in the Tribal Streams of your tribe mates where they can share your post on their Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook feeds. What it means is that your blog posts will get tweeted a lot more than you could manage on your own. (Most people primarily use Twitter for their feeds, as Triberr can quickly overwhelm a Facebook timeline, and I don't recommend doing so.)

So how do you get started?

First step is to set up your account, which you can do using your Twitter user name and password. This is what my profile looks like:

As you can see, I'm now in 7 tribes, with a total of 198 Tribemates and a total reach of 1 million. And I've passed on invitations to join additional tribes. This is all I can handle at the moment.

Once you have your profile set up, go to Account >> Settings >> My Blogs to add your blogs. For this you will need to know the URL for your blog's RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it's the way your blog gets shared over the Internet. If you don't have one, you can easily acquire an RSS feed address using and other similar services. Once you've added the information, your account settings look like this:

If you find that Triberr isn't picking up your blog posts in a timely fashion, you can go to this page and click on Check Feed to update the site. The blue button on the left is to Assign a Tribe to your blog. If you have more than one blog, you can only assign one to each blog. Before I consolidated my websites and blogs into one site, I had to split up my tribes by blog. Now the Reading Room Blog goes to all my tribes and the old Flights of Fancy has none, though I haven't deleted it, just in case I ever need it again. Yes, I even hoard blogs.

Next step is to add your Social Networks to your account. I chose to only use Twitter, but Facebook and LinkedIn are also possible.

How do you join a tribe?

Triberr says:

Start by following the tribe. As a follower, you'll be able to participate in the community and share member's posts.

After a week as a follow we'll email the Chief to let them how much content you've shared.

The Chief can choose to promote you to a full fledged member, then your content will be shared by the rest of the tribe.
But first you have to find the tribe. You can try searching at Triberr, but it really helps if you know the name of a tribe or a tribe sponsor. Frankly, I haven't found Triberr's search function to be very helpful.

You might start with our Southern California Writers of Romance tribe, of which I happen to be the chief, and which happens to be open to new members. If a tribe is filled, the page will advise you of that fact. You can still Follow the tribe, and if an opening comes up, it will usually go to someone who has been following the tribe and sharing their posts. 

This gives you an idea of what a tribal stream looks like. Each blog post appears with the avatar of the blogger at the top. Use the green Share button to add a particular post to your Twitter feed. You can schedule posts to go out as often as every ten minutes or as slowly as every 24 hours. Something in between is probably best. If you hover your cursor over the blogger's avatar, Triberr will tell you how many posts that blogger shared and wrote in the last week, including whether or not that person shared your posts. If someone isn't sharing regularly, you are not obligated to share their posts. You can use the little blue Hide button to make their post disappear from your stream. If someone is really bad about not sharing, hit the Mute button and their posts won't appear in your stream until you undo the Mute. (This is on your Tribes Overview page.)

I hope this explanation is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.

Linda McLaughlin
Twitter: @LyndiLamont