Posted by: nancycurteman | October 4, 2015

7 Ways to Make Your Writing Clear and Concise

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akillerideaGood writing is clear and concise and gets to the point. It uses the fewest possible words without sacrificing meaning. Here are seven strategies to help improve your writing:

Remove clichés. These overused expressions are unnecessary and only take up space. If you can remove clichés and still make your point, do it. Phrases like the following add nothing to your novel:  innocent as a lamb, following the footsteps of, sacred cow, save for a rainy day, no skin off my nose.

Practice brevity. If you can say it in fewer words, do it.
Wordy: Based on my many past experiences as a recipient of her invitation I have been aware of his presence.
Better: Every time she invites me, he’s there.

Eliminate redundancies. A redundancy is an unnecessary repetition. It’s saying the same thing more than once, sometimes in a different way but still boringly repetitious.
Redundant: You have to get rid of that dog. That dog has to go. No more dog.
Better:         Get rid of the dog.

Choose concise nouns:
Not:                                           But:

youth                                       juvenile, child, teenager
woman                                    mistress, matron, femme fatale
house                                      mansion, castle, cabin, cottage

Use vivid verbs to create clear images:

Not:                            But:

Leave behind              abandon
Light up                      ignite
Said                            screamed
Walked                        trudged

Choose simple words:
Not:                                        But:

has the capacity to                  can
on the occasion of                   when
in reference to                         about

Eliminate modifiers that do not enhance meaning such as:
very, actually, quite, really, much, totally, already

With careful editing and an eye for simplicity and brevity you can write a clear and concise novel that will enable your readers to enjoy your story rather than stumble through a mountain of unnecessary verbiage.

Revising and Rewriting a Novel is no Mystery
Writing Craft Rules: Never Say Never
5 Elements of Writing Craft

Posted by: nancycurteman | September 25, 2015

How to Use Social Media Marketing Sites to Promote Your Novel

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thAs authors, you know that these days you need to market your novel yourself. Social Media is a great marketing vehicle. There are a number of ways you can promote your novel on the top social media sites, such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

To begin, you need to set up pages on all your media sites and post links to them from your blog and website. In addition, post links from your social media sites to your blog and website. Lets take a look at how to use these media sites.


Facebook is one of the most popular sites. The purpose of Facebook is to create relationships with people. Your goal is to create relationships with readers.

  • Interact with your users, engage them in conversations.
  • You may offer rewards to your Facebook fans—special sale on your books.
  • Upload images. They can attract interest and traffic.
  • Write content often.

Pinterest is a website that permits users to share images by “pinning” photos or videos to pinboards.

  • Register using your author name.
  • Like your website and Amazon sale page to each “pin,” to encourage traffic to these sites.
  • Upload images of your book covers and ask viewers to comment on them.
  • Upload images of you and your activities.
  • Follow other people’s boards that interest you and “re-pin” their images.

Twitter is a popular site for quick exposure. Tweet comments about topics that interest you and that are treated in your novels.

  • Create an account using your author name. Include a visually striking profile.
  • Follow other tweeters with whom you share similar interests.
  • Retweet other users posts, comment on their tweets and answer their questions.
  • Become an expert in your area of interest, especially as those interests relate to the subjects of your novels.
  • Offer helpful links, resources and general information on your special topic.
  • Ask questions.

LinkedIn is your first line of introduction to people who may have an interest in your writing genre.

  • Create a complete profile emphasizing your writing genre to attract interest.
  • Make your profile visible to others.
  • Upload a clear photo of yourself. Readers love to see what their authors look like.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Post and answer questions within the group.
  • Check out LinkedIn Answers located under the “More” section on the top toolbar. Browse the questions and answer the ones that relate to your expertise.

Google+ is similar to Facebook and provides another vehicle for visibility.

  • Share images of your book covers.
  • Post status regarding book sales and book events.
  • use the unique video chat feature offered by Google+ to foster relationships.

Include your social media site addresses on your emails, bookmarks, business cards and other marketing materials.

Make it a habit to market your novels. It took time and effort to write them. Now you need to put time and effort into marketing them.

More Tips
4 Ways to Use Blogging to Promote Your Mystery Novel
Market Your Novel For Free
How I Use Social Media to Market My Mystery Novels

Posted by: nancycurteman | September 13, 2015

12 Elements Needed to Write Strong Character Relationships

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th-1Story people like people in real life do not exist in their world alone. They relate to and interact with both principal and secondary characters. These relationships influence character behavior and development. Here are 12 elements needed to write strong character relationships:

1. Relationships begin with roles such as family—mother, father, daughter, son; and Community or work-related roles—boss, employee, small business owner, professional. Define these roles.

2. Have your characters act differently around different characters. A successful college professor may lose all control in a classroom of kindergartners. A strong executive may turn to a gelatinous mass when he encounters a character with whom he’s infatuated.

3 Provide a reason characters come together and stay together. Shared interests or goals or opposing interests or goals.

4. Give your characters a common bond that brings them together such as a job. Their approach to the job can be completely different causing conflict between them, but they stay together to complete that job.

5. Just as there is a bond that keeps characters together there should be conflict which threatens to pull the characters apart. This could be anything from a minor difference of opinion to enemies in a war. The conflict in relationships provides the drama.

6. Give your characters contrasting personality traits. They can be total opposites but complement each other in a way that enables them to accomplish a goal.

7. The relationship could transform both characters – for better or worse. Make both characters in the relationship tend to blend, and become more like each other. The conservative character loosens up while the risk-taker becomes a bit more cautious.

8. Give your characters conflicting emotions. People can both love and hate at the same time–a character can love a child/spouse/relative, while at the same time they irritate him.

9.Characters should need each other but one should not be too dependent on the other.

10. Look at how characters benefit each other as they struggle with inner fears and grapple with problems.

11. Create a complex network of relationships. An author wants her readers to love her, but also wants her son to be impressed with his mom’s dynamic writing; she wants her husband to understand her passion for writing.

12. Use relationships to reveal character traits. You can tell a lot about characters based on what other story people have to say about them.

Important: These rules must apply to the relationships of the non-main characters as well.

Relationships between characters should be as interesting and dynamic as the characters themselves.

More Tips:

5 Ways Negative Traits Make Mystery Novel Characters More Interesting

Perfect Characters are Paper Characters


Posted by: nancycurteman | September 5, 2015

How Safe is Your Child at School?

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41XWv6GB6EL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_-1In my novel, “Lethal Lesson,” I deal with two important school-related topics. The first one describes how schools handle danger on campus. The second with how they deal with death. In my book I present both the procedural and emotional impact of the two types of occurrences. Having been an elementary school principal, I’ve had to deal with both kinds of incidents. Here is how I handled these events at my school.

Danger on campus refers to any kind of threat proposed by an individual or group. Since these threats are unpredictable and could happen at any time including in class or at recess, all students are provided with a code word for impending danger. This simple word is announced over an all-school loudspeaker. Upon hearing the word, every student knows to enter the nearest shelter including classrooms, office, cafeteria and staff rooms. Police are called and district administrators are informed. Within minutes all staff moves into “lockdown” mode. “Lockdown” is maintained until the principal announces the danger has passed. Parents are informed of the incident as soon as possible. “Lockdown” drills like earthquake drills, are practiced during the school year so children know exactly what to do.

The off campus death of a teacher, parent or student is one of the most painful events that can occur. In this case, the district office is alerted immediately. Counselors are sent to the school to comfort staff and students in need. The principal visits the classrooms that are most seriously affected and provides information, support and assurance that students are safe. Teachers provide opportunities for students to share their feelings about the deceased and write sympathy notes if they wish. Parents are informed of the death as soon as possible so they can help their children deal with anxieties.

In my novel, “Lethal Lesson,” the school has to deal with an angry, baseball-wielding parent and the murder of a teacher. The story provides realistic insight into how schools manage these kinds of incidents.

More Lysi Weston Mystery Novels:

Murder in a Teacup

Murder Casts a Spell

Murder Down Under

Murder on the Seine


Posted by: nancycurteman | September 1, 2015

Lethal Lesson


Posted by: nancycurteman | August 31, 2015

Lethal Lesson

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Solstice Publishing has released “Lethal Lesson,” the second novel in the Lysi Weston Mystery series. The novel is now live on Amazon in both print and ebook formats. The story tells about Lysi’s earlier period when she returns to her former profession as a school principal.


Posted by: nancycurteman | August 25, 2015

How to Write Accents and Dialects

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th-2Your treatment of accents and dialects can make or break your mystery novel. The ability to accurately write accents and dialects is important because your characters come from all over, and their particular dialect or accent can reveal differences in ethnicity, geography, demographics, class, education, and culture. Here are some strategies for writing accents and dialects:

• Nonstandard grammar and spellings must be used carefully. It’s more effective to use standard spelling and describe patterns of speech when introducing the character. “His background revealed itself in his lazy Texas drawl.”

• Pay attention to differences in word choices. When it rains, Americans duck under an umbrella while Brits open a brolly.

• Note syntax (word order). The French say, “He goes often to the movies.” Americans would say, “He often goes to the movies.”

• Every language has unique idioms that pertain to a character’s geographic location or time in history. Americans cough when they have a “frog in their throat.” The French cough when they have a “cat in their throat.”

• Have your character use foreign words that are universally familiar or can be understood from context. “Merci, adios, danke.”  ”’Au revoir.’ He waved goodbye to her.”

• Use standard English dialogue but describe how the character spoke the words. “‘What is poker?’ The Frenchman asked. He pronounced the word poker like poke air.”

Writing accents and dialects can provide vivid character description but it must be done carefully.

More Tips:

Interior Dialogue: A Great Tool for Mystery Writers
How to Solve the Interior Monologue Mystery
Dialogue: Body Language Communicates More Than Words

Posted by: nancycurteman | August 17, 2015

Fleur de Lis: Legend and History

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thThe Fleur de Lis is one of the most recognized symbols across the world. Early on France embraced the symbol as its own. Over the years the Fleur de Lis has adorned French architecture, paintings, royal crowns and even flags. The history of this beautiful symbol has its roots shrouded in obscure facts and legends.

The Fleur de Lis has been used as an ornament or an emblem by almost all civilisations of the old and new worlds. The oldest examples of Fleur-de-Lis have been found on Assyrian bas-reliefs from the 3rd millenium BC. It appeared on coins and seals from the 10th c.

One legend states that the French or Franks, before entering Gaul itself, lived for a long time around the river Leie in Flanders. Yellow irises grew in abundance along this river and still do. Some historians theorize that the modern Fleur de Lis is patterned after these iris and the name, Lis, was adapted from the river’s name, Leie.

Another legend tells that an angel presented Clovis, the fifth century Merovingian king of the Franks, with a golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity and that the golden lilies on an azure background were miraculously substituted for the crescents on Clovis’ shield.

In the twelfth century, history records that King Louis VII became the first French King to use the Fleur-de-Lis on his

France adopted the Fleur de Lis for its coat of arms when all other sovereigns of Europe chose animals for their symbol.

Joan of Arc carried a Fleur de Lis on her white banner when she led French troops to victory over the English in support of Charles VII, in his quest for the French throne.

Traditionally, the Fleur de Lis has been used to represent French Royalty, and it is said to signify perfection, light, and life. The Roman Catholic Church considered the lily as the special emblem of the Virgin Mary. Due to its three petals, the Fleur de Lis has also been used to represent the Holy Trinity.

Legend or fact, the Fleur de Lis is a treasured symbol of France.

More French History:

The Arénes de Lutèce: A Roman Amphitheatre in the Middle of Paris
The Mysterious Link Between Paris and an Ancient Fishing Village
Where is Sare?

Posted by: nancycurteman | August 7, 2015

Polish Cuisine Plays a Big Role in “Lethal Lesson”

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Polish cuisine plays a role in my novel, “Lethal Lesson,” soon to be released by Solstice Publishing. In doing research for my book I discovered some interesting facts about Polish cuisine. I learned that it shares many similarities with other Slavic countries. Typical meals are very hearty. It is rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef; vegetables especially cabbage and cucumbers; various kinds of noodles; and eggs. Rich thick cream and lots of herbs and spices are mainstays.

In my novel, Detective Josef Molanski introduces main character, Lysi Weston to his favorite Polish traditional dishes. They dine on Bigos, a seasoned “hunter” stew made from sauerkraut with chunks of various meats and sausages. th-3They savor Gołąbki, cabbage parcels stuffed with meat and rice. They wash these calorie-laden dishes down with good Polish vodka which the Poles claim they invented. They say the first production of vodka took place in Poland in the 8th century. The first written mention of the drink was in 1405 by Akta Grodzkie, recorder of court documents in the Polish Palatinate of Sandomierz. Whatever the case, the Poles enjoy good quality vodka.

In “Lethal Lesson” Polish cuisine plays an important role in the mystery puzzle.

More on Poland:

5 Must See Sites in Warsaw, Poland

Posted by: nancycurteman | July 19, 2015

How to Prop up the Middle of your Mystery Novel

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Killer IdeasThe middle of your mystery novel is the longest story segment in your book. Don’t allow it to sink into a sea of insipid verbiage. I’m referring to what occurs when the prose that fills the large space between your novel’s opening and its climax fails to hold your reader’s interest. The most important strategy to prop up the middle of your mystery novel and prevent a disaster is to increase tension. Know your story goal and don’t let the reader lose sight of the goal or the consequences of failure. Try some of these strategies to prop up the middle of your mystery novel.

  • Each time the hero takes a step closer to achieving the story goal have the villains take a step closer to thwarting it.•
  • Consider how a minor character you introduced in the first part of your story might have a bigger presence in your protagonist’s life.
  • Frustrate your protagonist. Everything she tries seems to worsen her position.
  • Add some humorous or romantic scenes.
  • Have your protagonist discover new things about herself—some good things, some bad things.
  • Deluge your protagonist with internal conflicts that impede her conquering external challenges.
  • Introduce a second dead body. Now your protagonist has to deal with two murders. Will there be a third?
  • Vary your chapters and scenes by writing them from different points of view—the sleuth, the murderer, a supporting character.

Make your mystery novel middles interesting enough so your readers will not skip large segments but will savor the scenes as much as they savor the climax.

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