Saturday, December 17, 2016

Prologue and Epilogue—Do They Have a Use? By Connie Vines RR# 12/17/16

Victoria Chatham suggested this topic: Prologue and Epilogue. Do they have a use? Should they be used? Can you have one without the other? This topic was suggested by one of our group, Victoria Chatham. Be sure to check out her blog.  

pro·logue ˈprōˌlôɡ/
1.     a separate introductory section of a literary or musical work.
"this idea is outlined in the prologue"

It’s an interesting topic. While critique partners and other authors seem to ponder the pros and cons, frequently.  I’ve used both in my historical and romantic suspense novels.  While my contemporary romance novels have an epilogue so that my readers know it truly is a happily-ever-after story.
My prologues are short and to the point.  I have an action event that sets the tone of my romantic suspense novel.  I find this effective because it doesn’t leave ‘dead time’ so to speak.  I can hop into the action/ skip ahead in time/ or open my story the a different POV.

However, a writer must be selective, I believe.  You need to make certain that your story still opens with an inciting moment, perhaps for the hero (Brede, Rodeo Romance, Book 2).  Or to set a historical tone for a novel (Whisper upon the Water).  Does the prologue change the story?  I use my prologue to intensify the emotional connect between my character(s) and my readers.

1. a section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment on or a conclusion to what has happened.

Epilogues tie up all the loose ends.   I like to jump forward and show a wedding or have a toddler in the picture.  The reader is satisfied, knowing all is well in.  Isn’t that what stories are all about?
I also make use of diaries; which, in my experience, editors seem to love or hate.  Though in a contemporary novel, I suppose, I would make use of email, twitter, and blog/snapchat.
So, I am pro epilogue, pro prologue.  And, I am also, pro Oxford comma!

Happy Holidays!

Connie Vines

Please Blog Hop and see what these participants have to say:

Margaret Fieland
Skye Taylor
Dr. Bob Rich
Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire
Victoria Chatham
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Beverley Bateman
Rachael Kosinski
Kay Sisk
Rhobin Courtright

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month by Connie Vines

National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo, "na-noh-RY-moh"), is an annual Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

To win you must write a 50,000 word novel—from scratch—in one month. To break it up, you have to write 1,667 words a day, every day, for thirty days straight.

That’s a lot of words. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, how do you win? Here are five suggestions.

1. Write With Friends

Community can provide positive reinforcement.  I belong to Romance Writers Of America and my Orange County Chapter and others have this contest every year.

2. Write Fast

Today, writing fast is the most important thing you can do. Quantity begets quality, so write quickly today.

3. Don’t Edit

Editing is essential. Don’t be one of those writers who submits their unedited NaNoWriMo novel to publishers on December 1. But November isn’t for editing. November is for writing. The Oxford Comma and misuse of your/you’re  can wait for December.

4. Use a Timer

Your inner procrastinator may try to convince you otherwise, but there are only so many hours in November. Spend your time wisely by using a timer.

Set it for thirty minutes and see how many words you can write. Take a five minute break. Then, set it for another thirty minutes and see if you can beat your word count from last time.

5. This Isn’t Just About 50,000 Words

This is about mastering the craft of writing. Intrinsic motivation is always more powerful than extrinsic rewards, and becoming a master at something like writing is intrinsically good.

Every time you feel your energy flagging and procrastination taking over, ask yourself, “How can I get better today? What can I do to become a great writer today?”

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Please post a comment and let me know how you are doing. If you have any writing tips, please share.

I must confess that my day job prevents me (yes, it is an excuse) from meeting my daily word count. UNLESS unless I am writing a novella (this year's personal challenge), or a YA novel.  I know this keeps from participating in an actual contest but that isn't my real reason for participating.  I participate to complete my stories.

Happy Writing!


Please visit our Sunday Snippets Blog Hop members:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween for Skittish People by Connie Vines

We all know my Zombies (Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow) are not The Walking Death type of
Zombies.  Everyone who has attended my yearly Spooktacular Dinner, know it’s not at guts-and-gore type affair.  I’m not a scared cat, exactly.  I simply have the gift of a very vivid imagination.  The type of imagination that produces a nightmare when I watch “Meerkat  Manor”, “Fantasia”, or any war movie.

So what movies are recommended for skittish people?

1. Hocus Pocus
2. The Addams Family
3.  It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
4. Ghostbusters
5. Frankenweenie
6. Halloweentown
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas
8. Little Shop of Horrors

What move do I always watch?  It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  I love, love this movie.  Snoopy in the pumpkin patch always makes me smile.

What Halloween movie is your favorite?  What movie frightens you out of your wits?  What movie give you nightmares?

Well, Frankenweenie did it for me.  With The Nightmare Before Christmas came in a close second in the ‘giving Connie a nightmare’ category.

The crazy thing is, I can read and re-read the novel Dracula by Braun Stoker and watch the 1990’s movie version of Dracula and I am fine.  (Dracula, like The Phantom of the Opera, falls under the umbrella of tortured hero and love story –in my mind anyway).

I’ve posted pictures of a few party ideas and treats I’d like to share. (visit my Pinterest Boards: novelsbyconniev).

Please ‘treat’ yourself to a book from BWL this Halloween!  Remember to visit the other member of out weekly Blog Hop!

Order Connie's Books HERE!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How Important is a Title? # 10/23/16 Round Rhobin

Topic: How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book? 

Thank you Rhobin for another excellent topic!

I believe the  title of your book is–by far–the most important book marketing decision you’ll make.

 There’s little good guidance out there on the right way to think about titling your book. The few blogs that address this decision offer advice that is:

Trite – “Go with your gut!”
Superficial – “Browse bookstores for ideas!”
Actively harmful information – “Don’t spend too much time on it.”
They’re all wrong.

Just like companies spend millions on naming new products, and blogs spend hours testing different titles for their posts, you should spend serious time and energy finding the right book title.

This is a very important decision, one you need to think about and get right to ensure your book has the best possible chance of success.

Debbie Macomber, New York Times Bestselling Author, has spoken a number of times at The Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers meetings (I am a long time member).  When Debbie was writing serial romances for Harlequin/Silhouette she came up with her book titles by reading the names of race horses in the Sunday Newspaper.

Janet Daily, 1944 - 2013, began her writing career also writing for Harlequin Romance.  She set each one of her novels in an U.S.A. state.  Each title was often the state's motto.

Why Do Book Titles Matter?

The title is the first piece of information someone gets about your book, and it often forms the reader’s judgment about your book.

Let’s be clear about this: A good title won’t make your book do well. But a bad title will almost certainly prevent it from doing well.

Based on loads of empirical research and our decades of experience in the book business, we have a pretty clear picture of what happens in the mind of a potential reader when evaluating a book. They consider these pieces of information about a book, in this order (assuming they come across it randomly in a bookstore or browsing on the internet):

The title of the book
The cover of the book
The back cover copy (the book description copy, if it’s online)
The flap copy (or the reviews, if it’s online)
The author bio (depending on where it is)
The book text itself (or they use the “see inside” function to read a few paragraphs)
The price

The title is the first thing the reader sees or hears about your book–even before the cover in most cases–and getting your title right is possibly the most important single book marketing decision you’ll make (even though most people don’t think about it as marketing).

The 5 Attributes Of Good Book Titles

A good title should have all of these attributes:

Attention Grabbing
Informative (gives idea of what book is about)
Easy to say
Not embarrassing or problematic for someone to say aloud to their friends
Attention Grabbing

This should be pretty obvious. There are a million things pulling on people’s attention, and you need a title that stands out. A bad title is one that’s boring, or seems boring.

There are many ways to grab attention; you can be provocative, controversial, exciting, you can make a promise, etc. The point is your title should make people stop and pay attention to it.

Remember, a book title is not only the first thing a reader hears about your book, it’s the one piece of information that a reader has that leads them back to the book itself. If your book is recommended to them by a friend, and they can’t remember the title, then they can’t go find it in a bookstore or on Amazon.

A good test is to ask yourself this question:

If you were to tell someone the title of your book at a party, would they have to ask what it’s about?
If so, that’s probably a bad title.

Also, don’t out-think yourself on your title.

By using a word or phrase that is either not immediately understandable by your desired audience, or doesn’t convey the point of the book, you are putting a huge obstacle in front of your success.

Easy To Say

 Tongue twisters and hard to say phrases reduce the likelihood that people will engage the book or say it out loud to other people.

This is a concept called cognitive fluency–to make it simple, it means that people are more likely to remember and respond favorably to words and phrases they can immediately understand and pronounce. We don’t want to go too far into the psychological explanations here, but the point is this: Don’t try to be too sophisticated at the risk of becoming obscure. It will only hurt your book.

Step 2: Brainstorm

This step is simple.

Spend at least a few days writing down every single title idea you can think of.

Telling someone to brainstorm is like telling someone to “be creative,” meaning that it’s not an easy thing to describe. That being said, we will will list every possible way we know of to find a good book title, complete with examples (remember, these techniques are not just for your main title, they will be the basis for your subtitles as well).

Use clever or noteworthy phrases from the book: This is very common in fiction, and can work well with novels. It also works well with non-fiction books, where the concept of the book can be summed up quickly or with one phrase.


The Black Swan
Lecturing Birds On Flying
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell
Use both short and long phrases: We usually start with a really long title and work our way down to much shorter phrases. The goal is to have the main title be as short as possible–no more than 5 words (genre fiction varies)–and have the subtitle offer the context and put in important keywords.

Use relevant keywords: For non-fiction especially, searchability matters. You want to make sure that when someone searches for the subject or topic of your book, it will come up on Google and Amazon.

If you are unsure of this, go look on Amazon and see how often subtitles and titles are use additional keywords to attract more search engine traffic.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Use Amazon/Goodreads/Wikipedia for inspiration:

Wikipedia’s list of the best-selling books of all time
Goodreads list of best book titles
Amazon’s current best-selling books

Try Random Title Generators: I’m not going to tell you these are great ways to find book titles. But sometimes people get desperate, and this is something you could try if you ran out of other options:

Finally: Make Sure The Title Is Not Already Popular

No, you cannot copyright titles. Technically, you can call your book “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Lord Of The Rings” or even “The Lion,The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

That being said, copying a popular book’s makes it VERY hard for your book to stand out, and pretty much guarantees a lot of negative reviews from people who are not getting the book they expected to get.

Happy Reading & Writing,
Please visit the writers who are participating in this month's Round Rhobin!


Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Judith Copek 
Helena Fairfax
Heather Haven
Dr. Bob Rich 
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosinski
Rhobin Courtright

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow, Sunday Snippet #SundaySnip

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow is  the first novella in my Sassy and Fun Series.

Do you go all out for Halloween?  I sure do.  I serve my Spooktacular dinner the weekend before Halloween.  Complete with 'Dead-man over Worms", "Bloody Fingers", "Frankenstein's Brain".  Well, you get the picture.  So here is a snipped from my Zombie Romance.  It's Sassy. It's Fun.  And, best of all, Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow is FREE with Kindle Unlimited at!

Here's my Snip:

Meredith didn't recall much about the accident, nor who or what, reanimated her.  She remembered and over-hearing a security officer informing a pungent-smelling zombie that he couldn't purchase an alcoholic beverage (apparently he didn't match up with his photo ID). Within moments, a shoving match between the two men ensured, quickly escalating into zombie chaos:  shouting, running and chomping.


At the time, Meredith thought it was all part of the festivities, perhaps a little odd and definitely crazy.  Just like the cornstarch-based zombie-vomit and fake blood, everyone had globbed and smeared on themselves; but hey, it was an Arts event.  Even after finding herself wedged in the center of the zombie mob, lunging and bumping along until they were in site of the pier, Meredith. . .

Visit to read "Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow"!  FREE is a  great deal.  And a great gift filled with Halloween Fun!  (click on the book cover).

Happy October, everyone!


Stop by and visit the talented authors participating in this week's Sunday Snippet Blog Hop.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sensory Details in Your Story by Connie Vines

Every writer knows how important sensory details are to a story.
Here is one way to keep track of those details that make your stories come alive for your readers.

Sight (the most utilized sense in writing; don’t forget the others!)

- flash of lights in the night sky
- deep blue of the ocean
- the roads had begun to glisten underneath headlights
- the sun was setting behind low, gray-blue storm clouds
- a heavenly hue to the layers of ice and snow accumulating on rooftops and tree limbs.
- her shadow shaky behind a slight flame stemming from a candle she carried
- sparks lit up the dusk of day
- a blinking red light from the truck’s turn-signal illuminated our darkened home


- The walls shook and vibrated like the tail of a rattle snake
- Ice crackled and pinged against the family room window
- Wind swirled around our beach house whistling loudly to a terrible tune
- The television buzzed as it shut off, and the furnace sighed one last time before the house
fell silent.
- The cracking of wood splitting punctuated each burst of fire like an exclamation point.
- the sounds of emergency sirens awakened the still roads
- the howling of wind and branches creaking under the weight of ice


- sweet aroma of baking corn bread
- cinnamon-scented candle
- pungent odor of smoke.
- salty beach air
- rotting leaves and crispness of air


- We sat still, huddled underneath the quilt
- Car tires gripped the ice with fearful intensity
- The power lines, heavy from the thickness of ice had snapped
- soft tufts of fur
- stick my toes in the warm and grainy sand


- ice-cold strawberries
- tall, frosted glass of sweet yet bitter lemonade
- salty chips
- juicy tartness of orange
- rancid butter

Think about your life experiences; good and bad..  The places you've lived. Your childhood.

See what you can do to add sensory details to your stories.

Happy Reading and Writing,


Join in today's blog hop!  Stop by and see what these other  BLW authors are sharing!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Act as if What you do Makes a Difference #SundaySnippets

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.  -- William James

As writer I tend to think in scenes and storylines.  I know that every story makes two promises to the reader: an emotional one, and an intellectual one, since the function of a story is to make you feel and think.  However, there is also a beginning to each day, where I, as a human being, must function in the act of day-to-day living.

As part of this day-to-day living, I am very much aware of how actions, words, and attitude have either a negative or a positive effect on others.

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.

In addition, if you are aware of Native American Culture, the Lakota know that what you choose to do at any given time, be it a good deed or an evil one, the consequences of that deed impacts seven generations.  Seven generations!

This is why in both my writing and my living, I try to take the high road.  I am not saying I always succeed, but I at least aim for the target.

 I also strive to keep my characters in check.  Even when my villains do truly terrible things (Sister Enid to Tay in Whisper upon the Water), I show motivation and life events so that the reader understands why this event took place; but I never paint the behavior as acceptable.

Beginnings to a story should give the reader a person to focus on, yet in your life's story: you are the main character.

Look at some of the beginnings in your own life.  What have you learned, what stories do you have to share?

Ummm. . .what have I learned?  I've learned that gators can run. . .very fast.  I learned that on a family vacation to a South Georgia swamp.  While that did not make a particularly wonderful life event (especially at the beginning of the day), but it will make a great scene in a novel or short story.

I also strove to set an example.
1.  I did not scream as I ran. I prayed that my sons would not witness their mother being chomped on by a bellowing alligator.
2. I explained that my actions (going down to the water's edge) weren't very wise.
3. We discussed what we might watch for so the event was not repeated.
4.  After we left the swamp we stopped at a local eatery for fried gator tail. Yes, not taking the high road here.  We called it 'regional food' and left it at that!

If you have a moment or two, please download my Rodeo Romance Series:
Lynx (contemporary romance), Brede (romantic suspense), or my YA novel, Whisper upon the Water. 

Also, visit my friends and wonderfully talents authors:
Connie Vines