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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reverse Engineering a Hit Novel or How to Write a Best Seller

I open the forum to all writers of all genres. 
How do you go about planning to write the next mega hit novel?
As writers, we all strive to create the best-selling novel. What is a major component of the best-seller?  I believe it is the initial idea which will eventually become the plot. There are a number of reasons people pick up books: the cover art or the familiarity of the author. But I surmise it is the idea which is the ultimate hook. It is the concept which allows the novel to endure because reviewers and readers will criticize or applaud the book’s ideas. It is the substance which will bring about additional readers once marketing campaigns, cover art or the catchy title becomes dissected further.
Using this premise, how does one create the hit idea? This is an elusive endeavor because there is no formula. Possibly, an author could borrow on the idea of the latest best seller. This is probably least commendable but has certainly been done.
So, without ‘borrowing’ how do we find the hook which will entice the literary agent to pitch the book to the publisher? This question, if answered, would be an author’s goldmine.
As indie authors we go about the process without much of a clue. We must write our entire manuscript and edit it over the course of months or maybe years to find if it has marketable acceptance. It is not a very efficient way to create art if your intention is to market it on a mass scale. We cannot get inside the heads of literary agents who often send us rejection letters saying ‘this idea doesn’t excite me enough to offer representation’ or some equivalent phrasing that I’m sure we’ve all had the fortune to receive in our inboxes at least one (or possibly hundreds…thousands?) time or another.
It is suggested we test our ideas out on other writers in workshops. This would provide a litmus test but would it be effective? How many different opinions might we receive on our idea? And, if the idea is a sound and marketable one, might we be afraid of having our idea stolen?
I do not have an answer to this dilemma. So I birth a novel through its inception and send out a query microencapsulating it in a paragraph or two, hoping I got my idea through to the literary gatekeeper. Maybe I did – or didn’t. Regardless, more often or not, the agent will respond enigmatically. It’s not the premise they want or can get behind. But we still do not know what it is ‘they can get behind’ do we?
The dilemma continues. Without borrowing an idea or two from the current best seller, what else could we do to find what the publisher and reader wants without resorting to complete guesswork or reverse engineering the best-selling novel?
I open the forum and welcome your ideas on this never ending quest!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

January Bain Launches 'Forever' Series

I'd like to welcome January Bain to the Writers' Blog, a published author with Champagne Books. She is among some other great fiction writers from Canada who have appeared on this blog recently.

July 1, 2012 THE BIG DAY AKA The scariest day of my life…
My name is January Bain and I love to write. There, I’ve confessed my addiction! And now my first book has just been released and I would dearly love to share my storytelling journey with you.

Where did the idea come from? I remember it as clear as if the moment had just happened: I was watching The Green Mile, and was mesmerized by the idea that the gentle giant, imprisoned unfairly in jail for a crime committed by an another, could heal others by taking on their illness and then just letting the evil flow back into obscurity by exhaling through his lungs. I coveted that gift with every fiber of my being. I had just lost two beloved brothers to cancer and had to stand by and watch it happen. My heroine, Ellie Hightower, was going to have it so much better than me! She was going to have the gift of healing and save those she loved. I know why I write romantic stories—the happy, guaranteed ending.

It’s been an interesting journey, this getting a book polished and ready to be published. Though the learning curve has been pretty steep, I have had the blessing of working with great people who have made the journey a whole lot easier. A special thanks to my wonderful editor, Judy Griffith Gill and her expertise. She has made me a far better writer.

And to all my wonderful friends at The Writers Vineyard, your support and friendship has meant more to me than you can know!

I would also like to thank J. Ellen Smith, my esteemed publisher for her invaluable guidance in getting my first novel to the public.

And most of all, my very own “Forever Man”, my wonderful husband, Don, who has made the journey of life the best it can be!

Pure evil waited, hushed and cold in the perfect darkness. The steady drip, drip on the coffin lid above was soundless next to the crashing waves of the sea. But the creature within was aware and knew what the substance was: life-giving nourishment.
The blood was pooling, seeking a way into any tiny fissure that it could search out with thin hungry fingers. The resurrection was painstaking. Each life-giving drop dripped onto the needy beast which absorbed each molecule like a monstrous sponge as it built up, layer by layer. The vampire waited patiently—certain of its imminent resurrection.
After all, it had already waited centuries, what were a few more hours to recover what had been lost…

Excerpt Two:
Please God, let this beautiful creature be okay.
A surge of pure power seemed to drive through my hands into the dog as I concentrated my thoughts on it and then all I could see and feel was hot, white light surrounding me for a few brief incredibly thrilling seconds. The light blinded me, its power as strong as the noonday sun. A sense of pure aliveness electrified me, as if I was at the pinnacle of my strength and could rise up and fill the world with goodness and healing. Then, just as suddenly, the floodgates in my mind closed and the white hot energy retreated back into my hands that began to shake violently with the excess energy.
The sensation left as abruptly as it had come and I fell back exhausted from the effort. The dog whimpered, shook itself and sat up. It looked at the two of us as if nothing had happened, its brown eyes shining and its tail wagging as if it didn’t even remember the last few minutes of its life.
The woman, her eyes huge in her round face, looked at me with complete wonder. “How could this be? One minute I thought it was dying, then you came along and now it’s up and fine? It doesn’t make any sense.” The woman shook her head, unwilling to believe her own eyes.

Best regards,
January Bain
The Forever Series
Forever Man
Forever Woman
Forever Clan

Short Bio:

January Bain hails from Manitoba, Canada. Married to the love of her life, her husband Don, she has combined her love of romance with her interest in the paranormal and vampires to produce the FOREVER SERIES of books. She teaches English and Computer courses during the day, and writes at night. She hopes to touch your heart with this third book in the series, Forever Clan and would very much enjoy hearing from her readers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012