The Last Techniques I Learned Before Selling Fiction

I’m excited to announce the publication of my newest book:

The Last Techniques I Learned Before Selling Fiction by Victoria M. JohnsonNow Available!

Paperback

ebook on Amazon

ebook at Smashwords

Read a SAMPLE at Amazon or Smashwords

Discover techniques to write with focus and purpose. Learn essential craft tips. For beginners or pros, this is a tip-filled little book that will help you improve your storytelling skills and propel your writing to the next level. Don’t waste years on the wrong book idea or floundering in writer’s block. Learn secrets to avoiding writer’s block and write your great novel once and for all!

Writing Techniques That Work!

When Victoria M. Johnson’s first novel finally sold to a New York publisher, she took some time to evaluate what made that story different than what she had written and submitted before. Were there specific techniques she had used for the first time? Could those techniques be taught to others?

She discovered that yes; she had applied elements that propelled the story to a new level. With The Last Techniques I learned Before Selling Fiction, readers can use these same techniques to enhance their stories and boost their chances of making a sale. Topics include…

  • Visceral idea
  • Conflict
  • Emotion
  • Voice
  • Theme
  • and More!

Paperback can be ordered online and retailers. Use:

  • ISBN-10: 1611701651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611701654

Now Available!

Paperback

ebook on Amazon

ebook at Smashwords

Read an EXCERPT

View the TRAILER

Power of Three guest post by Marjorie Bicknell Johnson

Power of Three

No, not a Roman triumvirate; not 3, 9, 27, 81; and not the witches in Macbeth—but the power of three in writing.

The “power of three” in writing means using a series of three words, phrases, or ideas. Using a series of three helps the reader understand what you are writing, helps him or her organize the information mentally, and creates a sense of urgency. Using a series of more than three becomes cumbersome and less easy to understand. Using a series of two ideas simply doesn’t have the same impact.

The number three has a magical importance in cultural and spiritual practices around the world. It’s no accident that the number three is pervasive throughout some of our greatest stories, fairy tales, and myths. It’s no coincidence that some of the most famous quotes throughout history are structured in three parts. It’s no surprise that the rule of three works wonders in the world of comedy—set-up, anticipation, and punch line.

It all comes down to the way we process information. While I don’t pretend to understand why, the brain seems to be hard-wired to group information in threes. We have become proficient at pattern recognition, and three is the smallest number of elements that can form a pattern. Comedians exploit the way our minds perceive expected patterns to throw the audience off track—and make us laugh.

Information presented in groups of three sticks in our heads better than other clusters of items. Orators use the power of three: “Blood, sweat, and tears”; “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”; “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Politicians know the rule of three: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”; “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country.” Real estate has “Location, location, location”; safety posters advise, “Stop, look, and listen;” movie titles include “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.”

Things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. Have you ever wondered

  • What the three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, and the three wise men have in common?
  • Why the three-act structure is the dominant approach to screenwriting?
  • Why three bullet points are more effective than two or four?

Think in terms of three when crafting your content, and you’ll likely end up with a more engaging outcome. If at first you don’t succeed, remember—the third time’s the charm.

Power of Three guest post by Marjorie Bicknell JohnsonBio: Marjorie Bicknell Johnson has a master’s degree in mathematics and taught high school mathematics for thirty years. Her 89 mathematics research papers on topics in number theory—recursive sequences; sequences within Pascal’s triangle; and the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio—have appeared in several academic journals. She has served on the editorial board of the Fibonacci Quarterly since 1963. But research related to Fibonacci numbers doesn’t make good cocktail party conversation, so she started the new century by joining a creative writing class to learn how to write a good story.

Marjorie and her husband Frank, both pilots, live near San Francisco. Marjorie drew upon her experiences as a pilot to write Bird Watcher: A Novel. While visiting Mayan ruins with archeologists, she found that “really good story,” the basis for Jaguar Princess: The Last Maya Shaman. The book was carefully researched and edited; in fact, it placed in the top 50 out of 5000 entries in the young adult division of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Both books are available on Amazon. Visit Marjorie’s website at: mbicknelljohnson.com

Bird Watcher by Marjorie Johnson   Jaguar Princess by Marjorie Bicknell Johnson

 

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Creative Spaces

I find I can write pretty much anywhere, but these days, since I am writing full-time, I tend to do so at home.  I am meant to write in my home office, but I get caught up with emails in the morning and Twitter/FB /blog posts etc and before I know it half the morning has disappeared and I am still sitting on my sofa with my feet up on the coffee table, laptop resting on my cushdesk, writing the next installment.  But, I have very bad posture, as I spend so much time at the computer, so I HAVE to write in my office sometimes. When I’m in my office, I have a view.  When I’m on the sofa, I am facing the TV (which is off).  So it would make sense to be in the office, looking out at the rain/snow/very occasional sunshine.  In our old flat, I used to sit at the dining table in the bay window, as we were on the top floor and the window looked out onto woodland, which was very pretty and I could see a little family of foxes occasionally.  Now, since I live on a new estate, I am more likely to see diggers and articulated lorries!

I think the main thing my office means to me, is a) it’s mine – I had to chuck my other half out first, though! b) it’s my retreat – although I don’t always write there, I know I can.  I have the freedom of writing wherever I like at home, because my partner is at work during the day.  However, when I want to write in the evening, as I need complete quiet, barring a little classical music, I know that I have that special place within the house, on a different storey, where I can go to get peace and quiet.  I think I would struggle now, not having that space. I am so used to it and probably take it a little for granted.  I love the whiteboard where I can put up all my ideas, or scribble down things I know I need to correct, additional items I need to do specific edits for, continuity checks, appropriateness of names, etc.  And I love the map (I have three actually, but two of them wouldn’t fit in the office – they are in my library – where I go to read, relax on my massage chair and chill out)  The maps help me decide where the next adventures abroad will be in my books.  Combined with my having been fortunate enough to visit forty-five countries so far in my life, plus twenty of the US states, I have plenty of material to work with.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan adjusts her writing habits during her pregnancy

I wrote Sign of the Times in our flat and The Dating Game in our new house.  What If, my next novel, due for release in November 2013, was mainly written from the home office.  I am 6 1/2 months pregnant, so really need to work on my posture (she writes, as she sits on the sofa again) What If is a mix of chicklit and manlit.  It has a male protagonist and tells the story of what would have happened to him if he’d made different decisions in his life.  Of course a great part of the novel will centre around his various relationships, but also on his extended family.  The main challenge I had with What If is that being pregnant, I was so much more tired, so I found it difficult to stick to my usual writing schedule – which is quite frankly, usually pretty intense. I can still reach the keyboard, but bending down to turn my computer on etc, is becoming more and more difficult, plus writing for any length of time is a no-no.  Maybe that’s why I have not been writing from the office so much recently either – the refrigerator with all my goodies in it is further away!  When I came up with the idea for What If, I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t have any children, although I have three nephews whom I adore.  However, since becoming pregnant, I probably am thinking a bit differently about the children in the book and about parenthood in general, so it will be interesting to see if readers note any difference in the style and content of my writing.   I wonder if there will be a grumpier note in my writing – I certainly feel grumpier with all the aches and pains!  My beloved telling me he feels like the little yellow duck in the Silentnight mattress advert, sharing a bed with the Silentnight hippo, doesn’t help this. Thank God I’m a pachyderm and can take it.  He has a problem with my taking up eighty percent of the space – personally I think he’s lucky to get twenty percent!

I am relatively but not 100% organised. I am not formulaic when I write and although I do chapter plans and character plans, so as not to forget any details, if I am writing a scene and another idea appears in my head, I run with it.

Personally I think a creative environment exists in your head. I had some ideas for the sequel to Sign of the Times today, as I walked to the supermarket in the freezing cold to buy milk.  I do, however, prefer to be alone to write.  When I am home alone, the TV is off, whilst often classical music plays in the background, as that soothes and focuses me, but doesn’t distract me. But everyone has to find what works for him or her.  I sometimes find I get great ideas when I am in the shower.  Unfortunately I don’t have a pen and paper in there – it’s about the only place in the house I don’t have.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan               Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Bio: Susan Buchanan grew up in Scotland, although she has also lived in France and Spain. She now lives with her partner, Tony, near Glasgow.  She is about to become a mum for the first time.

She graduated with an Honours degree in French and Hispanic Studies from the University of Glasgow (although Italian is actually her most fluent language) and put her languages to good use in various European and International sales roles over the years.  Before turning her hand to writing full-time in February 2012, she worked in IT, electronics and the test and measurement industries. Her jobs and her passion for travelling took her all over the world, so she has plenty of fodder for her novels, which although set partially in Scotland, always have a portion set overseas.

Susan has been writing since she was seven, but started seriously writing novels in 2002. She even took a year off work to finish Sign of the Times, her first novel, which was published in March 2012.  The Dating Game is her second novel, released in November 2012 and after a break for maternity leave, her third novel is due for release in November 2013.

Here Susan speaks about her reading habits: ‘When I read, I love to read books about foreign parts that I have visited – it immerses me more in the story. I wanted to do the same in my own novels. I love reading, always have – romantic fiction, crime, contemporary drama, pretty much everything.’  Find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

Shopping For Writers (Or Anyone Else)

Wondering what to ask Santa for this year?  Or uncertain what to buy for your dearest writer friends?  I started compiling a visual shopping list on Pinterest to help friends who asked what they should buy for other writers and to assist those who were stumped when their spouses asked what they wanted for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or their birthday.  101 Gift Ideas for Writers and Book Lovers is my compilation of awesome literary gift ideas for anyone who wants suggestions to give to their loved ones, or find something unique for a writer or anyone who loves books, or to buy something special for yourself.  Are you the kind of writer who rewards herself for making a deadline, or for completing a first draft, or for kicking butt during NaNoWriMo?  If so, look to this list for that amazing reward.

I included practical items for those writers who are like me and are buried under mounds of paper.  We long to free ourselves of paper clutter.  I know others must also want to be more productive so I added a few gifts to aid a writer’s productivity such as Dragon dictation software.  What writer doesn’t want to be more creative?  I recommend fun items to stir the creative juices like a Shakespeare love pillow, a banned books bracelet, and typewriter tote bags.  Then there are health and well being suggestions such as a gift certificate for a soothing massage.  Count me in!   Any woman, whether a writer or not, wants to look and feel good, so I included a couple of  jewelry and beauty ideas, too.  But, most of the items work for men as well.

Writing Prompts and Story Cubes

Now, I do mention gift cards like iTunes, but it’s not a cop out.  Some friends love to buy apps or ebooks.  And if you include a printout of a specific app like the Note Taker HD as a suggestion, then that makes the purchase more personal.

I’ll continue adding to the list on http://pinterest.com/byvictoriaj/gift-ideas/ as I do my shopping and providing the links so you can easily locate each item.   If you have any suggestions for a great gift, let me know and I’ll add them to my growing ‘Shopping for Writers’ list.  What are you asking Santa for?  Let me know in the comments.  I hope this post and board will make Santa’s job easier this year.  Happy shopping!