Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Big news for book clubs!

"Powerful, moving and emotional ... a great read for book clubs." 

Would you liked to be thanked in the Acknowledgments section of my next book?

I'm thrilled that so many readers are choosing THE OTHER LIFE for their book clubs. And what better way to thank people than to, well, thank them.

So I will publicly thank book club readers by name in the acknowledgments section of my next published book! All you have to do is click here and fill out the guestbook form. That's it!

Thanks! Happy reading ...


To learn more about THE OTHER LIFE, click here • To hear me answer questions about it on NPR, click here for the podcast.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writing Tip of the Day: Keep Your Reader Engaged

A few suggestions on how to hold your reader's attention ....

• As Alfred Hitchcock said, shoot for suspense, not surprise.

• Remember that there should be at least some amount of tension on every page. If your character is drinking coffee and navel gazing, your reader may be tempted to turn on the TV.

• Don't follow your character's every waking moment. Allow lapses in time. (Don't over-think this. The simplest way to show time passing is usually best. The next day ... Later that afternoon ...  On Friday ... etc.)

• Use active verbs. "The protesters stormed the capital" is far stronger than "The protesters were storming the capital." Death to gerunds!

• Avoid too much info dump/backstory all at once  ...especially in the opening.

• Have your character behave badly/do the wrong thing.

• Consider condensing the time period of your story. Stories that take place over a few days/weeks/months tend to be more suspenseful than those that span years. (Nothing wrong with sagas, but it's easier to build tension if there's a ticking clock.)

•Your main character should have an inner journey as well as an outer one.

Hope you're enjoying these tips! To learn more about me or my books, visit my website, ellenmeister.com

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Writing Tip of the Day: Dashes

We all love using dashes in our prose, so here are tips on using the right kind.

To begin, here are the three types of dashes:
The hyphen: -
The en-dash: –
The em-dash: —

The hyphen is used to connect words.  Ex: mother-in-law.

The en-dash is used to indicate a range of numbers.
Ex: My finished manuscript will be 75,000 – 80,000 words.

The em-dash, according to Strunk and White, is used to "set off an abrupt break or interruption and to announce a long appositive or summary." It is "stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than a parentheses."
Ex: My Sunday writing class—taught by a copywriter-turned-novelist—is full of useful info.

How to type dashes

En-dashes and em-dashes are both typed by using two hyphens. However, your PC will automatically turn your hyphens into an en-dash when you leave a space before and after.
When you type: My finished manuscript will be 75,000 -- 80,000 words.
Your computer changes it to: My finished manuscript will be 75,000 – 80,00 words.

When indicating an em-dash, leave no space before and after the double-hyphen.
When you type : My Sunday writing class--taught by a copywriter-turned-novelist--is full of useful info.
Your computer changes it to: My Sunday writing class—taught by a copywriter-turned-novelist—is full of useful info.

Note that you can also insert an em-dash by holding your alt key and pressing 0151 on your numeric keypad.
For an en-dash, hold alt and press 0150. 

Hope you're enjoying these tips!

(With apologies to Mac users, I have to idea how any of this works for you. Sorry! I'm a PC gal.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Writing Tip of the Day: Character Names

A quick Do and Don't for fiction writers ...

Give your characters similar names, as this can confuse the reader. In fact, try to avoid using the same first initial for any characters within the same gender.

Also avoid default names. If your story has a little boy, don't call him Timmy, Tommy, Billy, Bobby or Jimmy. This kind of obvious choice takes the reader out of story because it feels so written.

Use various sources for names ... your Facebook friends list, the phone book, obituaries—anything is fair game.

A lot of writers refer to baby name websites for ideas. My personal favorite is this one, which lets you see the 100 most popular boy and girl names for any particular year, from the 1880s through the present. It's a great resource for historically accurate inspiration.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

News: THE OTHER LIFE in paperback!

I'm thrilled to announce that on December 6, THE OTHER LIFE comes out in trade paperback with a whole new look! I'm excited, because the new cover and lower price will draw a fresh set of readers ... including book clubs.

I'm also thrilled that it will be in stores in time for the holidays!

I want to send you a free bookmark!*
To celebrate the new release, I'm sending free signed bookmarks to the first 100 people who pre-order the paperback and forward the e-receipt to me at this email address. (Don't worry--your credit card number doesn't show on the receipt.)

Whether you're buying THE OTHER LIFE for yourself or someone else, you'll have both the book and the bookmark well before the holidays.

You can pre-order right now from any online bookseller, including:
Powells  •  Target  •  Walmart  

Watch the video
THE OTHER LIFE is about a woman who has the ability to slip between her life as a wife and mother, and the life she would have lived if she had made other choices. To learn more, you can listen to the NPR interview, visit my website  ... or watch the book trailer.

THE OTHER LIFE by Ellen Meister from Ellen Meister on Vimeo.

My darling son made that video for me and I hope it convinced you to buy the book. It was a labor of love for both of us! Thanks so much ... and I look forward to sending you a bookmark!

*U.S. residents only

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Writing Tip of the Day: Beware of Infodump

Make sure you don't bog down your first chapter with backstory. Engage the reader with your character first, and work in the backstory in later. Just be sure you don't dump all the info at once. Find relevant places to insert it so that the reader barely notices.

Have a good writing day!