Nancy's Notes From Florida

Story Dream – Mysterious Village

June 22, 2021

Have you ever been blessed with a story dream? I consider myself fortunate when this happens and write it down first thing in the morning to preserve the memory. You’ll think you might remember it but the scenes fade as the day wears on.

Dreams

I’ve been lucky to have dreams that have inspired some of my stories. That’s how Circle of Light, my first published book, began. The dream ended and it was too good to let go. I had to finish the story. Scenes for Silver Serenade came from a dream, also. I can’t say that this has happened for my mysteries, but perhaps this recent one will be the start.

The Dream

I have recently moved to a small village and am exploring the environs. Nearby is a big city that I’m eager to visit. I walk around the urban center, gawking at the tall buildings as though I’m in Manhattan.

While there, I am inside a department store several stories high when I notice white smoke billowing from a window below. Fearful that I would get trapped if there was a fire, I hurry down the interior stairs praying the exit door wasn’t locked. I get out and overhear a conversation between two officials. There was no fire, but they believed it was an act by a subversive group to cause confusion.

I go home to my new house, glad for the peace and quiet. My daughter comes to visit and we decide to take a walk. I haven’t found any paved walking trails nearby, so we hitch a ride down the main avenue to a bustling flea market. We can walk and shop at the same time.

We dump our coats on a chair to shop unburdened. As I browse the colorful wares, I don’t see anything I want to buy. We’re at one booth when I get worried someone will steal my fur coat. I scurry back to the chairs where we left our outerwear and observe with relief that I had only brought a cheap cloth jacket. It doesn’t matter if I lose that one. I tell my daughter I’m going home and will take the coats. It’s warm and we don’t need them. I’ll return shortly.

At the village, I notice a dirt walking path I hadn’t seen before. It borders woods on one side and a field on the other. I walk a short distance down the trail and come upon a gunship on a landing. What is that weaponized transport doing here? I am not quick enough to take a photo with my cell phone before the engine revs up and it’s gone.

Remembering the conversation I’d overheard earlier, I wonder if this vessel belongs to insurgents in the area. I should tell someone but I have no evidence.

I go back to the flea market but my daughter isn’t there. I take the bus home and call her during the ride. To my great relief, she answers and is safe. And that’s when I woke up.

Story dreams can be inspirational. #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

The Aftermath

Fantasy Dreamer

What do you think? Is there a germ of a story idea in here?

Sometimes it’s the emotions from a dream that can be useful in creating a scene. The fear of being trapped in a high building, losing touch with a loved one, or making an ominous discovery are feelings I can glean from this dream.

What part of this story would you want to see developed? Have you had any interesting dreams lately?

 

 

 



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How to Create a Box Set

June 16, 2021

Setting out to create a book box set can be a daunting task. Join the online writing community and gather data on this topic as soon as you think you might go in this direction. Lots of great advice is out there and it will help you with these steps to create your own book bundle.

How to create a box set

Series Title

You’ll need to invent a series title for your box set that is different from your actual series. It helps to include the words “box set, boxed set, collection, or omnibus” to show that it’s a bundle. Avoid the word “anthology” because this has come to mean a collection of works by different authors. You’re doing a same-author set. I went with The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set for my new series.

Then you must give each individual book a title. For me, this became Volume One, Volume Two, etc. The subtitle is Books 1-3 and so on. Go to Amazon, put in the search window any of the terms above along with your genre, and study the titles. For example, put “cozy mystery box sets” and see what pops up. Note how those authors handle the series title and subtitle. 

Manuscript Preparation

For each book, strip out the front and back matter. Decide if you will keep the individual title pages or will insert a book cover photo instead.

Format each book the same, i.e. single space, one-inch margins, chapter header styles, indent first line, etc.

Compile the set. At the end of book one, copy and paste book two. Repeat for book three if this is a triple bundle.

Front Material

Add a title page to the front of each boxed set.

Create a blurb page with a story blurb for each individual book title. Here’s where you can mention any awards a book has earned. I include a review quote for each book as well.

Obtain an ISBN number and assign it to your box set title at MyIdentifiers.com. [See my previous post for instructions.] Add this to the copyright page for your box set. Put the copyright info for the box set volume at the top, followed by the original copyrights for each individual title. I put the credits here also for my cover design artist and my professional formatter. 

Back Material

Include one Author’s Note with a Call to Action (i.e. Request for Review, Newsletter Signup) at the end of the box set.

Add an “About the Author” page with your bio and social media links.

If you wish, present a Book List at the end with all your titles in series order. Don’t forget a buy link. I send readers to the books page on my website so as not to run into conflict with distributor policies. For example, you can’t have an Amazon link on a book you upload to Apple.

Cover Considerations

Hire a cover designer to create an overall theme that carries through from volume to volume. This may include a new logo for your box set series. (Credit to Kim Killion at The Killion Group, Inc. for my designs). Consider placement and fonts for series title/logo, subtitle, and author name for consistency. Choose a color scheme (i.e. bold colors, tropical hues, pastels). Decide on a background image. Note all mine take place in the salon with small variations. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, is on each cover holding a drink or item related to one of the stories.

Order both 2D and 3D covers for each set. The book distributors will have different policies in this regard. I use 2D covers at Apple and Kobo, and 3D covers at Amazon and BN. Having both types is also helpful when marketing your work.

   The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Two         Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Two

Get Ready to Publish

Format for your distributor(s) of choice. I send the assembled manuscript to my formatter, who makes sure any errant coding is removed, checks chapter headers for consistency, inserts book covers in place of individual title pages, and converts the set into my choice of ePub format. You can also upload to Draft2Digital for free conversion.

Marketing Tips

Decide on a release strategy. How many volumes will you be releasing? How soon together do you want to launch them?

Create a short blurb for each set to use as part of your book descriptions. Examples:

Set 1

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In her debut case, the brazen beautician unravels a shocking murder that’s making waves all over Palm Haven, a small southern town where almost everyone has something to hide. A coastal fundraiser and a murder at a fitness club round out this trio of fun, light reads.

Set 2

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of adventures, Marla helps her ex-spouse solve a murder, searches for her missing pet-loving neighbor, and stumbles across the body of a rival hairdresser.

Set 3

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of cozy mysteries, Marla stays at a haunted hotel, has a blast at a beauty trade show, and sails on a Caribbean cruise with a killer onboard.

Create several memes at BookBrush.com for the first volume in your series.

Once you have the cover and blurbs, begin a page on your website for volume one and save as a draft.

Upload to the distributors and collect your buy links. Add these links to your web page.

Write blogs in advance for pre-order and for launch date.

Prepare a newsletter to announce the new book.

Write a page of tweets and FB posts that you can use with your memes.

Plan a Launch Party and decide upon giveaways.

Determine if you will seek reviews for this volume or let them populate at will.

Think about ads to attract new readers to your series via your box sets.

Consider applying for a BookBub deal for volume one after volume two launches.

How to Create a Box Set #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

Want to get started reading The Bad Hair Day Mysteries? Check out my Box Sets at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08ZDVH1VW

GIVEAWAY

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Transition Scenes

June 8, 2021

Transitions are some of the hardest scenes to write in a novel. Your hero has to go from Point A to Point B without boring detail or abrupt shifts of any kind. If you’re like me in racing through the first draft to get the story down on paper, then doubtless your critique partners may say, “Needs a better transition” in more places than one.

Transition Scenes

These scenes provide an opportunity for you to expand on the hero’s reflection of recent events or for him to decide on his goals for the upcoming scene. Another option is simply a time transition with a space or chapter break.

Here’s an example from my work in progress, where my critique partners pointed out a rough transition. The italics are for demonstrational purposes only.

Original Version

They’d bought a house without a pool, an anomaly in South Florida, but Marla couldn’t bear to have a backyard pool after the tragedy in her past. Images still haunted her of little Tammy’s body. That awful day when a toddler drowned while under her care as a babysitter was forever imprinted in her mind. No way she would tempt fate with a swimming pool on their property. Instead, Dalton planned to hire a landscaping firm to plant a formal garden they could enjoy.

Speaking of plants, April flowers provided splashes of color amid the regal palms and manicured lawns at the Broward County Convention Center. Dalton searched for a parking space in the adjacent garage. It was ten-thirty and already mobbed but he found an empty spot. Marla appreciated the water view as they exited and headed toward the massive white building. Sunlight gleamed off the Stranahan River where Marla caught a glimpse of a cruise ship over by Port Everglades.

A faint chemical smell pervaded the lobby as they entered along with dozens of other guests. She paused to admire the towering walls of glass windows and the turquoise and coral patterned carpet. Its seashell designs, along with a series of potted palms, added to the bright and airy tropical ambiance.

Revised Version

They’d bought a house with enough land for an elevated garden in the backyard. Marla hadn’t wanted a pool after the tragedy in her past. Images still haunted her of little Tammy’s body. The toddler had drowned while under her care as a babysitter, and it had taken years for her to come to terms with it and move on. No way would she tempt fate with a swimming pool on their property. Instead, Dalton hoped to hire a landscaping firm to create his dream vegetable garden.

The arrival of their son had put a halt to those plans. Between the baby, their two dogs, and a teenager in the house, they had enough to handle for the moment.

As they approached the parking garage at the Broward County Convention Center, Marla considered her goals for the day. Caroline was sure to be present at the design company booth, since she ran their office. Would Brad or Nadia accompany her? Either way, Marla hoped to learn more about their operations.

She put off these thoughts as Dalton found an empty space. He retrieved the stroller from the trunk while Marla grabbed their baby supplies. [Baby] was happy to get out of the car and into the fresh air.

April flowers provided splashes of color amid regal palms and manicured lawns on the path leading to the convention center. Sunlight gleamed off the rippling current from the waterway in back. From her vantage point, Marla glimpsed a cruise ship docked at Port Everglades. She remembered her own voyage to the Caribbean with a pang of nostalgia. It would be a long time before they’d be able to travel in luxury again.

A faint chemical smell hit her nose as they entered the convention center lobby. She paused to admire the towering glass windows and the turquoise and coral carpet. Its seashell design, along with a series of potted palms, added to the bright and airy tropical ambiance.

Don't skip over your Transition Scenes #amwriting #writetip Click To Tweet

It’s helpful when you learn what isn’t working so you can fix it. Don’t skip over your transitions. In your first round of revisions, review these scenes to ensure they roll smoothly from one setting to the next. Some scenes may need to be lengthened and others will need to be trimmed. Either way, you’ll want your story to flow like warm honey and taste just as sweet to your readers.

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More Deals and Steals

May 25, 2021

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Wekiwa Springs State Park

May 18, 2021

We enjoyed the trails at Wekiwa Springs State Park in Central Florida where you can picnic on the grass, eat at the concession stand, rent boats, hike along twenty-five miles of wooded paths or swim in the seventy-two degree natural springs.

   

Forty-two million gallons of water flow each day from Wekiwa Springs into Wekiwa Springs Run. The run joins with Rock Springs Run to form the upper Wekiva River. Since its discovery in the 1860s, Wekiwa Springs has attracted visitors. It had a hotel and bathhouse in the 1890s. The Apopka Sportsman Club bought the land in 1941 from the Wilson Cypress Company, which had logged the area. In 1969, the club sold the land to the state of Florida to become Wekiwa Springs State Park.

   

Near the main parking area, a grassy slope leads down to the crystal-clear water where the natural springs provide a swimming hole. Further along are boat rentals. The scenic beauty makes you pause to absorb the sights. It’s a popular place to visit with limited capacity, so get here early.

After viewing the springs, we followed a wet-to-dry trail through the tropical hammock and fortunately came out at a place we recognized. This was a lovely walk through the forest. It was an easy trail to follow.

We grabbed lunch at the concession stand and sat on the elevated deck overlooking the woods. It was a delightful setting for a meal while soaking in the scenery. Leafy trees provided shade and there weren’t many insects around this time of year before the summer humidity sets in.

 

The landscape here is very different from our former home in South Florida. The natural attractions of Central Florida have their own beauty with hills, tall trees with Spanish moss, lakes and fresh-water springs. It brings home how diverse Florida is with so many varied regions, from the sunny, sea-kissed Keys to the subterranean caves in the northern part of the state. Each area should be appreciated on its own. Look beyond the theme parks and come visit the natural springs and numerous lakes that grace the central part of this state.

 

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