Posted by: nancycurteman | April 14, 2014

Where is Sare? France That Is.

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Unknown-1Sare is a small village in the province of Labourd in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in south-western France. It is situated deep in Basque country only about 2 miles from the Spanish border. In fact, Sare residents like to say they can have breakfast in France and lunch in Spain.

Sare is known for its festivals, its love of tradition and its great food. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Cradled in a ring of Pyrenees foothills, the village seems to doze in the shadow of steep, craggy Rhune Mountain. The area surrounding Sare is pastoral with cows and Manech, red-faced sheep, lounging on the green meadows. Wild pottok, small sturdy Basque ponies, graze in the distance. A two-lane country road replete with roundabouts every few miles leads into the village with its large pelota court, shaded streets and fine 17th century Church of Saint Martin with its wooden galleries. Seventeenth century houses in Sare are built in the traditional style of the region, with shutters painted in the red and green of the Basque flag.Unknown

Sare is a major prehistoric site. Though the most ancient traces of human activity in the Basque country date from 200,000 years ago, prehistoric humans stayed in the Caves of Sare from 35,000 to 10,000 BC. Less than 4 miles south of Sare you will find the Grottes de Sare, filled with evidence of prehistoric inhabitants. Basque mythology has it that to this day lamiaks, little siren-like creatures, still dwell in the caves.th

For an unforgettable experience, take a 35-minute trip on the Little Train of the Rhune. At the breathtaking speed of 9 kilometers per hour it puffs up to the summit of Mount Rhune where you will see views of the seven provinces of the Basque Country, the peaks of the Pyrenees, the outstretched beaches of the Landes region, and the Basque coastline from Biarritz to Saint-Sébastien. There are a couple of restaurants and souvenir shops at the summit as well. This authentic vintage rack railway train dating from 1924 takes you through the countryside where you will be able to discover the specific fauna and flora of the Basque mountains. 
Look for the huge Griffon Vulture, an emblematic bird of prey of the Pyrenees.

So, where is Sare? It is the place you want to see. Put it on your “bucket list.”

More travel tips:

5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Nice

Avignon’s Boutique Hotel Montmartre Shouts and Whispers

Au Lapin Agile: A Place to Frolic With the French

Posted by: nancycurteman | April 3, 2014

Write What You Love

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There are as many reasons to write as there are writers. I find interest in something is a compelling reason for writing. If authors can tap into something of personal value to them, they will never run out of topics. In other words, write what you love.

I love research, travel and reading mystery novels. So, all my books are mystery novels set in interesting places I’ve learned about and visited.

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Murder in a Teacup is set in southeastern Montana. An important part of the novel deals with the modern-day life of the Cheyenne tribe living on the reservation near Lame Deer, Montana. Through research and on site visits I learned a great deal about this Native American tribe while writing my book. I incorporated the information into my story line.

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Murder Down Under is set in Australia. While puzzling through the murder plot readers are introduced to life in both Sydney and on an Outback sheep station. They also learn about the culture and history of the Australian Aborigines. Australian foods and customs run through the novel.

Murder Casts a Spell Final

Readers travel to Cape Town, South Africa in Murder Casts a Spell. They spend time in a township and gain insight into the sad and dangerous conditions in which the residents struggle to raise their families. A characters excursion to Namibia provides a peek at another African country.

The novel I’m writing now is set in France. My readers will walk the streets of Paris and travel to Basque country in the Pyrenees with my sleuths as they work to solve their murder case. I’ll share the unique Basque culture and the exciting Parisian lifestyle.

I never tire of writing what I love.

Posted by: nancycurteman | March 26, 2014

How to Use Dialogue to Add Tension to Your Novel

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th-1Dialogue is an excellent vehicle for adding tension to your novel if written with care. You must write powerful dialogue, not just idle conversation. As Morrell puts it, write “…conversation’s greatest hits.” Consider the following points:

• If your dialogue is rehashing events that have already happened or is commenting on events that are happening instead of showing them, then it will dilute tension rather than build it.

• Write dialogue that is a power struggle where there is a winner and a loser.

• The way you craft conversations between characters can effectively elevate the tension in subtle or overt ways. If your protagonist wants something from the other character but doesn’t want that character to know, tension underlies the seemingly innocent conversation. Maybe another character wants information from your protagonist, who sidesteps the issue. Or, make the dialogue openly confrontational.

• Tense dialogue contains lots of short sentences,  and fragments. Leave lots of white space on the page..

Lee Child is a master of tense dialogue. Here’s an example of his strategies for adding tension using dialogue: His character, retired M.P.Jack Reacher encounters two tough rednecks in a small town adjacent to an unpopular Army Base.

“Hello Soldier boy.”

“What you been doing this morning?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Yes, we do.”

“No, you really don’t.”

“You’re not welcome here.”

The guy took a step forward.

Bang

I crashed my forehead into his nose. No one expects a head butt.

Your job as an author is to create dialogue that raises your readers tension to a boiling point.

More Writing Tips:

What is Tension in a Novel?
7 ways to add tension to any kind of novel
How to Use Natural Disasters to Keep Readers Reading

 

Posted by: nancycurteman | March 15, 2014

How to Write Novel Scenes That Are Novel

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shinyA novel is constructed of scenes. An interesting novel is constructed of novel scenes. In other words, your scenes need to be unique and fresh not ho hum. Here are some ways to write novel scenes that are novel:

• Every scene should include indicators of time and setting either stated directly or implied. Don’t wax poetically. Be specific and brief.

• Effective scenes must provide change that moves the plot forward. Think conflict, tension, suspense, emotional stress.

• Page-turning scenes present a goal the protagonist hopes to accomplish then tortures him with both internal and external obstacles and failures. The obstacles may be large or small but they must be frustrating to the character.

• In each scene the protagonist must react to the dramatic action. This reaction may be emotional or physical or both.

• For a strong action scene the protagonist must act not spend time pondering.

• Signal a new scene by the start of a chapter or by a break of four lines between the last paragraph of one scene and the first paragraph of the next one.

• Think of each scene as a mini story with a beginning, middle and ending.

Write novel scenes that are novel.

More Tips:

7 Story Structure Weaknesses That Collapse Your Mystery Novel

How Subplots Enrich Your Mystery Novel

How to Create a Plot for a Novel

Posted by: nancycurteman | March 6, 2014

Why Novels Need Love and Sex Scenes

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th-1Most novels need love and sex scenes. These scenes add a bit of romance and spice to a book. They put a reader in touch with the humanness of story characters. The purpose of love and sex scenes is to move the plot of a story and show character growth the same as all scenes.

Love scenes are about characters and their relationship to each other. Character background, personality, needs and experiences determine the kind of love scene you write. Your characters should decide the level of intimacy. Your readers will expect love and sex scenes that are compatible with the personalities of the characters you created.

The build up to love and sex scenes is as important as the scene itself. It should be gradual, but not too long, so it will provide the reader with the anticipation needed to hold his attention. Build up begins with the first eye contact and continues with the first words, the first touch, the first kiss and the final intimacy. During the build up, establish the feelings, motives, and attitudes of the characters involved. You need to set the stage for love scenes. There must be strong attraction between your characters. The emotional impact needs to be conveyed through their every encounter until the sexual tension reaches the breaking point.

The most romantic love and sex scenes are best hinted or implied, not described in boring, repetitious detail. Love/sex scenes in a novel are all about feelings and emotions, not mechanics. Let your readers’ imagination fill in the details.

The heart of a love scene should be the emotional bond between the hero and heroine. The scene itself should involve all the senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Show the characters reaction to every touch. Stay in the point of view of one character and use interior dialog to show the emotions and sensations of the character and her responses to what’s happening.

Love and sex scenes add excitement and warmth to most novels.

More tips:

How to Write Love Scenes that Generate Emotions Not Giggles
How to write Emotion into Love Scenes

Posted by: nancycurteman | February 27, 2014

How to Market Your Novel

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Periodically I write posts about ways to market your novel. One strategy is to do presentations. Here is an example of an upcoming presentation I plan to do for a branch of the California Writers’ Club. I will bring along a few copies of my novel to sign and sell to interested participants. Presentations and book events also get your name out to book lovers.

FAW Flyer 3-22-14 final

More Marketing Tips:

How to Market Your EBook Mystery Novel

14 Suggestions for Creating a Marketing Plan

Free Book Marketing Using Email

Posted by: nancycurteman | February 17, 2014

5 Ways Readers Find Books

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thumbnail-2.aspxMarketing a novel takes almost as much time and effort by an author as researching and writing the book. To do an effective job of marketing, it’s essential to determine how readers find books they want to read. With this knowledge an author can plan a marketing strategy. Here are 5 of the ways readers find books:

Amazon or Barnes & Noble. These days millions of readers use online book sellers as a source for finding books. Amazon is probably the number one resource. The site provides efficient access and allows several research paths—title, author, genre, topic. Amazon also provides reviews, ratings and allows readers to explore inside the books.
Author marketing strategies:
-Get your book on Amazon
-List it under more than one genre (mystery, romance, suspense,travel).
-Create an Amazon fan page

Internet search. Readers can find books on the Internet by searching by title, author, genre as on Amazon. In addition they can search using numerous other keywords.
Author marketing strategies:
- List your novel under as many keywords as you can when writing about it on your blog or social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.
-Example: For my novel, “Murder Down Under” I list the following keywords-mystery, travel, Australia, ANZAC biscuits, recipes, Alice Springs, Sydney, Aborigines, Uluru, Outback, camels etc. You get the idea.
-Go through your novel and list every keyword that could possibly fit.

Recommendations from friends.  This is important because readers are inclined to read a book about which their friends are raving.
Author marketing strategies:
-Start by encouraging your own friends to mention your book to their circle of friends. Sometimes they just don’t think to do this until you let them know how important it is to you.
-Don’t forget to ask your relatives to share your book with their friends.

Author Events. Most people enjoy attending free author events at which authors share information about themselves and their books.
Author marketing strategies:
-Contact libraries, book clubs, church groups, community clubs and colleges and ask if they would like you to do a free author event.
-Take along copies of your book and have them available for sale on request. Consider signing the copies you sell.

Browsing Bookstores. Many people love browsing book stores in search of books. Sadly, brick and mortar bookstores are not as prevalent as in the past. Still, there are some stores out there. Small local stores will sometimes provide a “Books by Local Authors” shelf.
Author marketing strategies:
-Visit small local bookstores and ask if you can place signed copies of your books on their “Books by Local Authors” shelf.
-Ask if they would allow you to do an open mike along with a couple of other authors. At open mikes, writers read excerpts from their books. Bookstore shoppers can stop and listen if they choose.

Think about the places readers go to find books. Then be creative about how you might get your book in the path of those shopping for books. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose but something you didn’t have in the first place so go for it.

More Tips:
Free Book Marketing Using Email
How to Market Your Mystery Novel
How to Increase Readership of Your Writing?

Posted by: nancycurteman | February 8, 2014

Writing Craft Rules: Never Say Never

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60293-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Confused-3d-Blanco-Man-Character-Looking-At-Large-Question-MarksWhen considering many writing craft rules: Never say never. Many rules that govern writing craft are situational not set in stone. Yes, there are some basic grammatical structures that must be adhered to. But there are many rules that vary according to the author’s purpose, content, context, style and genre. Here are a few examples:

 Never use a semicolon. There are times when a semicolon is needed.
• I rang the doorbell; no one answered. Separates two complete clauses.
• The team played in San Jose, California; Buffalo, New York; and Nice, France. Separates items that contain punctuation.

Never split infinitives. Sound and impact may dictate splitting infinitives.
• Star Treks Mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Application of this rule would destroy the impact of the motto: to go boldly where no man has gone before or worse: to go where no man has gone before boldly.
• The teacher offered to personally write a recommendation that the boy could take to the job interview.  This sentence is clear.
If you rewrite the sentence  without a split infinitive it is unclear whether the offer or the writing was personal : The teacher offered personally to write a recommendation that the boy could take to the job interview.

Never end a sentence in a preposition. Sometimes ending a sentence in a preposition is more efficient.
•  As HW Fowler observed: “The power of saying ‘people worth talking to’ instead of ‘people with whom it is worth while to talk’ is not one to be lightly surrendered.”
• On a memo criticizing a document for committing this “error,” Winston Churchill allegedly wrote: “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

Never use passive voice. Passive construction should be used judiciously. There are certainly appropriate places for the use of it. Case in point: when the subject is less important than the action.
• The child was kidnapped from her bed.
• The earthquake was the worst one in the city’s history.

In considering rules like the ones I’ve listed, the only rule to remember is, Never say never.

More Tips:

Use Editing Tools With Caution
Revising and Rewriting a Novel is no Mystery

Posted by: nancycurteman | January 29, 2014

Free Book Marketing Using Email

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You can market your book for free using email . In fact, you can do a much better job promoting your book using your personally developed email lists than commercial marketers. Why? Because you will target recipients who are interested in your specific type of novel.

This is not the case with commercial marketers. Most of the email campaign services you’re likely to encounter are not targeted at all, despite what they may claim. Even if you pay big bucks to purchase an email campaign, the origin of the list was probably grabbed off the Internet. It is likely the emails will go to an unsorted group of recipients who have no interest at all in your novel and your press release will end up in their spam box.

Do-it-yourself is better and free. Here’s how to do it:

• Develop your email list from people who know you: networking partners, past customers, family, friends, business associates, organizations, social groups and clubs to which you belong.

• Develop your list from groups that have an interest in your genre: Specialty book clubs (mystery, sci-fi, romance, history), special interest groups that have interests that relate to some element in your novel (travel, history, cooking, gardening, animals).

• Join organizations that promote authors and request permission to access their email list: writers organizations like California Writers Club, genre organizations like Mystery Writers of America or Romance Writers.

• Add to your list at every opportunity by asking people you meet everyday if they would like you to place them on your email list. Many will consent.

• Once you have your email list, use it conservatively. Use it to announce your new novel or that your novel received an award. I can’t stress enough that you mustn’t email your contacts frivolously. Use Facebook or other social media for casual comments.

• Develop a short, succinct and interesting press release about your book including a cover image. Add links to your website and sale pages, e.g. Amazon.

• Finally, send out your email blast.

You will see that do-it-yourself email campaigns are much more effective than commercial ones and much cheaper. In fact, Free.

More tips:

4 Ways to Use Blogging to Promote Your Mystery Novel 
Market Your Novel For Free
How to Market Your Mystery Novel
14 Suggestions for Creating a Marketing Plan

Posted by: nancycurteman | January 18, 2014

Murder Casts a Spell Voted Number One Mystery

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predlogoHi Everyone,
A big thank you to all my readers who voted for me in the 2013 Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. I’m thrilled to announce that because you took the time to vote for me, my novel, Murder Casts a Spell, came in number one in the Mystery category. Click on the link below to see some of the comments about my book. I’m having a great time working on my next Lysi Weston mystery set in Paris. I hope to have it published before the end of the year.
Preditors & Editors Poll Results

Official Results


Standings for Mystery Novels

1. Murder Casts a Spell, Nancy Curteman, Solstice Publishing, [link][comments]

Another big thank you to June Goodwin for the Five Star Review of Murder Casts a Spell that she posted on Goodreads.

June Goodwin‘s review

Jan 17, 14

Another excellent book Nancy, thank you ~ your books have my interest from beginning to end ~ loved the ending with Lysi ~ now waiting patiently for another continuation … … …

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