June Rodriguez
JUNE: A couple of week’s ago I started a new novel. A new idea and new content. As an unpublished author the novel I was working on began to feel out of my reach. The complicated plot became more and more unbelievable. My frustration with the project increased until I was unable to write any further. I made the decision to write a contemporary with a smaller word count and a more straight forward plot. The past two weeks I have worked on research and the story setting.

The setting is a very important part of any story. There are many facets to any setting. Being able to search high-speed internet has opened so many doors to finding the information you need. Not only does the web cut down on the time it takes to find the information but it also broadens the type of info you can use. And as they say “one thing leads to another.” Deciding on the location (New Jersey), the big city (Trenton), the type of house (real estate), and the time of year (spring) can be googled, binged or yahooed. I have found excellent sites on names for both Italian and Irish. I tracked down country clubs in northern New Jersey and the perfect BMW car for the hero to drive. His and her occupation and the current housing market in the area. With all this information all I need to do is add the words.

SARAH: Ha! You missed your calling, June! You should have been a P.I.!!! Having authenticating details to back up a MS is always a good idea. Kind of like using a little pepper to season up a story.

JACKIE: Good one Sarah! But what June has learned are the tools to build a story. You're right, just add the creative "stuff" and you have a story built with a firm foundation. I am learning the same writing my novel. And you know what, it is a lot of fun. The IDEAS you come up with when doing "P.I." work is just amazing.

DORI: If anyone wants to volunteer to do my research, I'll gladly take the help. I find it a necessary evil. Know I'm odd, but I have so little time to write that any time spent doing research seems like a waste of precious time. That's one of the reasons I switched gears, like June, and now I'm writing a novel where there is less research needed as it's something I have more real world experience with.
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JUNE: With the new story I am writing I brought a copy of the first chapter of a book for you guys to use as an example of the genre I am working on. I have read a lot of this type of book and selected several to learn from.

SARAH: I enjoyed the read and thought it was an wonderful example. Next week, I'm hoping to flavor you ladies with some Regency reads.

JACKIE: Same here. Thanks, June. Sarah, is it chocolate flavoring? I too, need to do the same. I keep trying to think of the perfect book that incorporates all the ingredients I am using in my novel, but I think what I will begin with is simply the book I am reading now. It is not exactly a representation of my story type, but it is of the basic writing style, strong description, poetic narrative. With me, of course, a big splash of fantasy and adventure.

DORI: Can't wait to read it. Sorry I had to miss Friday night, but my writing conference (Left Coast Crime) was well worth the time and money. Can't wait to tell you all about it.

Think it is great that we're getting to be more familiar with our various writing styles. Can only make us better critique partners.

JUNE: Looking forward to hearing all about your conference Dori. And to have you back at the table.
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SARAH: I recently found an internet translator. It's a very handy tool to have in a writer's arsenal. Now, should I feel the need to add in a foreign accent, I'll have the answer in seconds. As long you double check what you've written to what's come out, you're in like flint! Here is the link: http://www.microsofttranslator.com/

JUNE: That sounds like a great link to have for working on my current book. I could use a few Italian and Irish words for what I am working on.

JACKIE: Definitely sounds like fun. I wish I needed it right now, but you never know...

DORI: How fun. I need Spanish phrases, foods, mannerisms, etc. for my protagonist's sidekick.
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SARAH: I entered a contest on a historical author's blog this last week. The 'what-to-do' was entering the first 5 lines of your MS. The prize, should your entry make it to the final round, was the opportunity to have an agent read your first chapter for possible consideration. With 5 finalists being picked each week for three weeks, if selected, there would only be competition between 15 other entries for the grand prize. Kind of worth it, huh? Excellent way for an author to bring activity to their site AND most importantly, pay it forward!

Those first lines of a book are quite hefty. Whether it's a snazzy zinger of a first sentence or an intriguing lead-in paragraph, an author has to deliver the punch that pulls the reader into the story. Kind of like speed dating in a way. First impressions are either do or die!!

DORI: Good luck!

JACKIE: I am fascinated by that. The very idea that someone is utilizing so much creativity and effort in a rather complex contest set up, lets me know that they are truly interested in what is "out there" in terms of talent and potential sales worthiness. Very cool.

JUNE: Count me in. I have at least one first five that I could enter. It's free and a great opportunity to boot. Up for a little competition Sarah?

P.S. Good luck Sarah on your selection as a finalist for the first five contest!
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