Workshop: Character Driven Plotting, Pacing to Maintain Tension

Writing RomanceThis Saturday I’ll be giving a day-long workshop for the Romance Writers of America’s Vancouver Island Chapter. If you’re in the Nanaimo area, come along and join us in an exploration of character-driven plotting, and pacing your novel to maintain story tension.

Workshop Details

When: November 2, 2013, 9:00 to 4:00 (registration from 9:00 to 9:30)
Where: Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street, Building 255, Room 170, Nanaimo (Campus Parking Map)
Cost: $40.00 if registering after October 19th or at the door. Lunch, coffee, and tea is included.

Session 1—Character-Driven Plotting
In this workshop, Vanessa explores character-driven plotting, and the technique of using the hero and heroine’s personal territory to build a bridge between character and conflict. We all want the magic formula to work: characters + conflict = a great story. Sometimes, we need a little help, and adding a territorial imperative to the mix could be exactly what your story needs.

Session 2—Pacing to Maintain Tension
Pacing a book involves finding the balance between showing and telling, between emotional intensity and distance, between slow and fast. Vanessa makes this complex technical subject clear with graphic examples. Topics include time and the writer: story time, reader time, and writer time; the simple rule that covers it all; and how pacing relates to viewpoint and narrative style.

I’m looking forward to a great day with this group of enthusiastic writers!

Vanessa

Workshop Handout

Lifelines: Kate’s Story – a new women’s fiction suspense novel from Vanessa Grant

Lifelines: Kate's Story

Kate Taylor hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since her husband David died. It doesn’t help that David’s dog, Socrates, watches her constantly as if he expects her to bring his master back; that her personal life is a series of telephone conversations with her evasive adult daughter and her demanding mother; that working as a family counselor she regularly faces a client named Rachel, a narcissistic woman who evokes Kate’s most painful memories.

Kate is exhausted: tired of coping, tired of listening, tired of life. Then one night on an icy road, she goes into a treacherous skid. A razor’s edge from death, she realizes she wants to live.

She makes plans. She sets goals. She takes a lover. She copes with her daughter’s newest crisis and her mother’s financial foolishness. But then Kate discovers the truth about her client Rachel, and she’s thrown into an ethical nightmare.

Her career could be destroyed.

… so could her life.

Book Recommendation – Killing Bliss by EC Sheedy

Killing BlissKilling Bliss by EC Sheedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book when I read the initial release in 2005, and I’m loving it all over again now reading the Kindle edition.  Wonderful story, great characters, and I can’t write a better blurb about it than the author’s own, which starts:

One night. Two bullets. Three runaways.Addy Michaels, living her careful life on a forgotten back road, thinks she’s safe–that the past and its corpses are long buried. Surely after fifteen years the cops have quit looking for the street kids believed to have kidnapped a baby and killed their prostitute foster mother¬, Belle Bliss.Addy couldn’t be more wrong.A cold case.Hot again, when the missing child’s grandmother hires renowned profiler Cade Harding to find her grandson. Cade tracks Addy to her safe haven in a remote area of Washington state. Their attraction to each other is immediate, dangerous, and badly timed because…Cade isn’t alone.

A twisted killer

Faceless and unknowable, a murderer follows in Cade’s footsteps–on the hunt for anyone who can tell the truth about killing Bliss.

All roads lead to Addy.

 ~~~

EC Sheedy has a wonderful knack for a beautiful turn of phrase that has served her well in romance. In her romantic suspense novels, EC reveals a talent for spooky atmospheres and gritty, street-wise characters.

The author is one of the Pen Warriors, a group including myself and 4 other writing friends. At our regular writing retreats, I have the great pleasure of hearing scraps of her stories before they come out. That wets my appetite for the real thing – and I’m heading back to my eReader right now to read a few more pages before my family come for a Sunday night dinner.

Vanessa

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Book Review: Sinners and Saints, by Elaine Dryer

Sinners and SaintsSinners and Saints by Eileen Dreyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Digital books are wonderful. Wander into a Web site, browse through a screen or two, stumble across a title I haven’t read by an author I admire, and – presto, it’s on my ereader.

Sinners and Saints is classic Eileen Dreyer, with a plot that twists through multiple layers and secrets, and arrives breathlessly at a very satisfying ending amid a New Orleans hurricane.

This book has Eileen Dreyer’s signature on it, which is just as distinctive as Johnny Cash’s voice singing The Man in Black.  No spoilers here. For those of you who are fans of Dryer’s dark mysteries, you’ll recognize her touch in the heroine – a forensic trauma nurse; the setting, evocative and danger filled in a perfect-for-the-story stormy, darkly magical New Orleans; and a damaged hero who is darkly perfect.

Read Saints and Sinners yourself – if you like mysterious tales with memorable characters and dark twists, you’ll be glad you did!

I’m an Eileen Dreyer fan from years back. Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m about to start reading my new copy of her If Looks Could Kill. I read this shadowy, pulse-pounding Elaine Dreyer years ago, and can’t wait to revisit Dryer’s Pyrite, Missouri, and the heroine of If Looks Could Kill.

Vanessa

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THE HIT – by David Baldacci

The Hit (Will Robie #2)The Hit by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a definite fan of David Baldacci’s Will Robie series. I read this book on the heels of Baldacci’s first Will Robie book. The Innocent. Both are excellent, although I connected more deeply with The Innocent, and loved its character-driven plot.

The Hit is an exciting read, and I will be watching for the third in the Will Robie series. Baldacci is a skilled craftsman when it comes to writing thrillers peopled with vibrant, believable characters. My favorites are some of his early titles, particularly Absolute Power and Absolute Power The Winner The Winner.

Vanessa



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A very enjoyable read! NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN

No Role for a GentlemanNo Role for a Gentleman by Gail Whitiker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a pleasure to read!

I just finished reading friend and fellow writer Gail Whitiker’s new historical, NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN. The author’s prose is beautiful and evocative, but the true beauty of her novel lies in the creation of characters with warmth, integrity, vulnerability, and a passion for life that brings them vibrantly alive.

Thank you for a warmly enjoyable visit to the past, and the companionship of Lawrence, Lady Joanna, their families, and the colorful world of Regency theatre and archeology, which is woven seamlessly and intriguingly throughout the story.

NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN features characters from its predecessor, NO OCCUPATION FOR A LADY – also a very enjoyable read. No Occupation for a Lady

Vanessa

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Wool places author Hugh Howey among Science Fiction’s greatest authors!

Wool Omnibus, by Hugh Howey
I just finished reading the Wool Omnibus, and I’m floating. WOOL is everything a great Science Fiction should be – amazing, visceral, delightful story filled with powerful characters caught up in an epic search for meaning!

The birth of a great science fiction author is a very special event, and WOOL puts its author up there with the greatest Science Fiction writers – those who write (and wrote) books about real characters, searching for meaning, searching for their own truth, fighting and losing and winning and – above all – grabbing readers by the throat and carrying them on an amazing journey.

Wool goes up on my electronic bookshelf, along with a few select read-them-again-and-again-over-the-years Science Fiction novels, right between Alexai Panshin’s RITE OF PASSAGE and Robert Hienlien’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.

Thank you, Hugh Howey!   (and thank you @versoe for recommending this book!)

Vanessa Grant

If You Loved Me – Kindle version free Dec 8 and 9

Cover art by AngieOCreations.com – I love this cover

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of certain settings to wield control over so much of our lives. When the universal themes of survival, love, and the dreams that drive human men and women interact with extreme environments, lives can be transformed in unexpected ways.

In IF YOU LOVED ME, I plunged a busy Seattle doctor into a remote wilderness in a desperate search for her son.

When the setting is remote – like the northern waters where my heroine Emma’s son Chris and his friend have disappeared, and men and women are stressed by life and death issues, there’s not a lot of room for pretence or hesitation.  And when people go missing in the remote, largely unpopulated coastal forests of the North Pacific shores, everyone knows it’s a matter of life and death.

And sometimes, love.

This weekend, join me in an journey of love and adventure, in the Pacific Northwest that I love.

If You Loved Me – free on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

Vanessa

A Powerful Memoir of Healing and the Spirit of Survival

Tonight I finished reading one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time – M. J. Adam’s Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen

I met the author at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference a few weeks ago, and talking with her was a pleasure from the first moment. How could it be otherwise when she told me that she’d once learned something very important about writing from a workshop I presented in Surrey – that when you’re writing about relationships, there must be personal growth for the characters.

Learning that I’d helped a developing writer made my day, and before the conference ended I had the pleasure of sharing the special kind of conversation that writers treasure. I went home with her memoir and promised myself I’d read it soon.

Well, I’ve  just finished reading Unforgiving, and I want to tell everyone what a great thing M. J. Adam has done.

Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

M. J. Adam has crafted an inspiring book, a definite must-read for anyone who has, knows, is, or was an Asperger’s teen. I highly recommend it for anyone who cares about child survivors of any kind of trauma, or for teens struggling to understand themselves and the world they live in.

The events that happened to Margaret Jean should never happen to any child. Yet they did happen, and each page of Margaret Jean’s memoir rings with love, the amazing power of healing, and the spirit of survival.

I cried. I laughed. I cheered Margaret Jean’s indomitable inner strength, and felt honoured that she had shared herself so deeply with this reader.

Buy this book. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Vanessa Grant

Thinking About Love

Today is a special day for me. Think About Love is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon!

This one is special for a couple of reasons.

Think About Love was the first of my books to be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly. My editor at Kensington sent me the review before I saw a copy of the printed book. I was thrilled that to be mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, and pleased that I got a pretty decent review. I hoped to see good sales for this title, but unfortunately, hardly anyone got to see the book because the publisher discontinued the Zebra Bouquet line, and Think About Love was published in one of the final months. The publisher printed so few copies in the line’s final month, that I didn’t even get the copies I’d ordered directly from the publisher for friends and family. I generally refer to this book as, “the one they printed 10 copies of,” although I admit that’s a (slight) exaggeration :)

Now, thanks to the marvels of Indie publishing, Think About Love is available in my own Indie edition. And, because independent authors get to choose their own cover artists, I’m lucky enough to have the perfect cover, designed by my daughter, Angela Oltmann of AngieOCreations.com.

And this is a marker day for another reason – I’ve now published all of my backlist (with the exception of Pacific Disturbance, my very first book. That one needs a lot of work, and I may never get to it. Just reading the first page, it’s obvious to me that this was a writer learning her craft.)

My next project is a new book, the story of a counselor named Kate, who makes a decision that throws her into a counselor’s worst nightmare and sets her on a collision path with disaster. I’m in final revisions for Kate’s book, and one of my challenges is finding a title. I love it when titles come to me while I’m writing the first few chapters of a new story.  These early titles provide a focal point for my writing, and I escape the nagging frustration of trying to find the perfect title. I know almost everything about Kate, except the name of her story.  Somewhere around chapter 6, I came up with the title Lifelines, but it feels too tame for the storm Kate finds herself sailing into. 

In any case, I hope to release Kate (AKA ????) before Christmas this year.

Have a great day

Vanessa Grant

Think About Love – available at
Amazon.com
* Amazon UK * Amazon DE