Tag Archives: Cathy Tully

Release Day – BEAUTY AND THE CURSE

image002What do you get when you cross an author who writes humorous, sweet contemporary romance with an author who writes darker, steamier sci-fi and paranormal romance? You get a humorous adult fairy tale, BEAUTY AND THE CURSE.

My critique partner and author, Cathy Tully, and I had a blast writing this novella together.

It’s only $1.99 on Kindle. Please check it out & if the spirit moves you, we’d love a tweet, Facebook mention, or a Goodreads TBR add!

Cursed by a jealous witch, wealthy recluse Anabel Charming is destined to grow uglier with each passing year. Only by having sex before her twenty-first birthday can this virgin’s spell be broken. Yet no man will agree to sleep with the humpbacked, pockmarked, one-leg-shorter-than-the-other “Freak of Park Avenue.”

When handsome Chase Singleton shows up on a quest to retrieve his grandmother’s long-lost talisman, which Anabel now possesses, Anabel is willing to give up the jewel…if Chase agrees to break her curse. With two days left before her chance at a normal life is lost forever, Anabel and Chase discover the reality of beauty, the power of sexual healing, and the meaning of love.

“With engaging characters, witty prose, and a surprisingly sweet romance, Beauty and the Curse delivers a thoroughly entertaining and heart-warming read.” —Melinda Leigh, bestselling author of She Can Run

~K.M. Fawcett

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No More Bookstores?

The mere title of today’s blog sends me into cold sweats because I am a lover of books. I shudder to think what a life without bookstores would be like. A few words that instantly come to mind are: cold, sad and depressing.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, so I didn’t venture into a bookstore until I got my first job in Manhattan. Entering that store was an out of body experience for me. I spent more lunch hours than I care to admit, surrounded by books, than living breathing colleagues.

As a writer, it’s important to keep up with your genre, and the quantity of new releases can add up quickly, and I was running out of shelf space. So, my husband gave me a kindle last year. I find it extremely helpful especially when traveling, instead of packing five or six books, which take up a lot of room, I can pack more clothes.

Now, a few year’s later after the battle of the big bookstore’s, I find it ironic that after putting all the small bookstore’s out of business, these large conglomerates have also put each other out of business, leaving us with one bookstore chain. One.  And I can’t help wonder how did this happen?

I talk to a lot of people who don’t buy ebooks. They want a print version. Not everyone has a computer, not everyone is going to buy a computer, and not everyone orders books on-line. So I think its always going to be important to supply readers with what they want. To do this, Amazon just isn’t going to be enough.

And one bookstore chain? Nope. I don’t think so.

Last week, a very good source told me that B&N closes twenty bookstores a year in the U.S. Call me an optimist, but I think it’s time for the re-emersion of the small bookstore. It’s time to get back in the game, boys. Whether they offer a little bit of everything, or specialize in certain genres: Children’s books, Romance, Mystery, Thrillers, Suspense, etc. I think people would welcome them back with open arms.

What do you think? Do you miss your local hometown bookstore? I know I do.

Best,

Cathy Tully

The Synopsis

The other day an editor I know asked permission to use my latest synopsis as part of a talk she had to give. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, because up to now, I always thought I stunk at writing synopses.

Who knew : ) She went on to say that it was the kind of construction she looked for but rarely received, so I thought I’d share the steps I take to write a synopsis with you.

When I began writing I was a pantser who  believed that plotting  inhibited my creative process. That’s probably why it took me a year and a half to write my first book, which I never sold.

As time passed, I began to realize that if I wanted to write more books faster, I needed to plan more and if I planned more, writing the synopsis at the end of a project might just be easier.  I’ve played with a few variations of my process over the years but here’s what I’ve found works best for me:

1- Before I start to write a book, I write a character analysis for my hero and heroine because the more I know about who they are, where they’ve been, and what they want, the easier it is to move onto the next step–

2-  I write down my hero/heroine’s goals/motivations & conflicts. Keep in mind, it’s very effective if your hero/heroine’s goals oppose each other (ex: he wants a stay at home wife and she wants a career).

3-Once I’ve established their goals/motivations & conflicts, I write a  chapter by chapter outline. Sometimes this is a bare bones outline, sometimes it’s in depth.  Now I can begin to write the book.

Once the book is finished, I pull out the chapter by chapter outline I did months ago. I pinpoint the most important plot points in the finished book, (only those events and motivations that moved the story forward in a major way), and incorporate them into the outline. Don’t forget to reveal the character’s emotions and motivations. (Leave out secondary characters, you’re only using bare bones here.)

Once I’ve tweaked the outline, I begin to write the synopsis (in present tense) by picking up all the important elements from the outline. I introduce the hero/heroine each in their own paragraph. As they’re introduced, I identify their goals, motivation and conflict in as few words as possible, 1-3 pages maximum.

Wow, talk about pressure.  But take heart. Writing a good synopsis is tons of work but you’re also creating a valuable marketing tool. A good synopsis may even help you discover your blurb or pitch, and in the end, you’ve honed your writing skills too.

Best,

Cathy Tully

Write What You Know

At an RWA national conference a few years ago, I sat in on a workshop that helped me understand what ‘write what you know’ means. In this workshop, we were all asked to write down every job we’ve ever had and the roles we’ve played in life throughout the years. I listed: Administrative Assistant to NY Fortune 500 Executive, Secretary in a pool of thirty, College student/graduate, receptionist at a veterinarian hospital, retail associate at a design store, owner of my own Interior Design business, Substitute teacher grades K-12, Girl Scout Leader, bridesmaid, maid of honor, mother, sister, wife, daughter, godmother, friend and aunt.

The speaker asked us to think about how we could use the professions we’ve spent time in as part of our books. Can our hero/heroine work in a field we’ve worked in? Can he/she be a parent? A scout leader? A teacher? An Admin? Instead of all those billionaires/tycoons in a lot of romances out there could we make him/her someone our reader could relate to so they could come to life on the page? The speaker then went on to explain that if you took what you know and incorporated it into your books, your writing voice be more genuine.

She encouraged our group to think about how our hero/heroine might become more relatable–more three-dimensional–and how it would be easier for your reader to sympathize with because they’re so real? Long after this workshop I thought about what the speaker had said and something clicked. It was my light bulb moment. So, I took her advice and incorporated a part of who I am into my next book, and like they say, the rest is history : )

My first book, All You Need Is Love features, Little Man, my family dog, who we lost to illness. It is the biggest tribute I can pay him and his cuteness jumps off every page. I love dogs, always have, and through no planning of my own, a dog pops up in every book I write. Dogs are better than secondary characters because they make people vulnerable without saying a word. We’re allowed to be our true selves around them without any judgment and their unconditional love brightens the darkest day.

Marrying Mr. Right’s heroine, Missy Modesto, is similar to a good friend I’ve known my whole life. Missy is a strong, tough, yet loving woman with a heart of gold and although years may pass between visits, when we do meet, it feels like yesterday : ) Training Travis is about a divorced dad who gains custody of his fifteen year old daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death. And even though I can’t personally relate to being divorced, I am the mother of two girls, so I can relate to Travis’ fifteen year old daughter and the mood swings of a teenage girl. My first women’s fiction, Pieces Of Candy, is about a menopausal, mother of two. Candy is a substitute teacher and decides she’s wants a real career of her own. So begins her journey into interior design : )

The speaker at that conference knew what she was talking about–and I wish I’d heard her speak many years ago.  Still, it’s never too late and once I took her advice my writing voice has been with me ever since.  I think it’s really about being true to yourself and who you are as a writer….and this probably isn’t something that can be used for every genre to the extent that I’ve gone. Yet, I can’t help but think it would be hysterical to read a book about an interior designer who dies, comes back as a ghost and keeps rearranging the furniture, sending the people she left behind literally flying!

Best,

Cathy Tully

Writing Supporting Characters

Supporting characters can come in all shapes and sizes, as well as, a variety of forms depending on the genre one writes: think elf, sprite, monster, you get the jist : ) They can range from loving family members to enemies that want our hero/heroine dead or want to destroy everyone and everything in our character’s life. In order for a supporting character to have relevance in a story, that third character must have a significant impact on one or both of the hero/heroine or they must influence the rest of the story. Otherwise, they don’t belong in the story.

In romance, many stories contain a certain kind of third character. This character is almost like a third main character. This third character can be the cause of the story or the point around which the story revolves. This character can be a child, a parent or a grandparent. They can be a best friend or confidante. Whichever works best for the story : )

In my first book, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, I used the heroine’s Gram as my third party.  I made this quirky, sweet, senior the reason the heroine came to town in the first place. I gave my heroine a close/loving relationship with her Gram and created a grandparent reader’s would love to have for their own : )

I love using a third main character in my stories. Most times it’s a person, although I must admit in MARRYING MR. RIGHT, my third character is an adorable dog named Hugo. He may not be able to talk to my heroine, but his loving ways and deep insightful eyes give her all the support/guidance she requires : )

This third character usually acts as a buffer, or someone the main character can bounce things off of. Better yet, someone who is truthful/honest to the end and tells the hero/heroine what they need to hear even if they don’t want to hear it. After all, isn’t that what a good friend does in real life?

The difficult part of writing third character’s is that they often become too big for their own good.I know when I write a third character, I have to pull he/she back and remind myself who the story is really about: The hero/heroine. Third character’s can become larger than life and that’s fine, if one is writing women’s fiction, not romance. So, when I outline these third character’s I must decide how the actions/choices of the third character affect the actions/choices of the hero/heroine without letting them take it too far.

Noone said writing was easy : ) And my books would probably be written faster if I didn’t insert a third main character. But every time I finish another book, I find that these third characters mirror so many real people that it would have been a shame to not include them in my story : )

Have you ever written a third main character? Do you find it hard to keep them on track and not allow them to “break out”?  Do you have a certain way you keep them in line? I’d love to hear your comments.

Best,

Cathy Tully

Moving Your Story Forward

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about forward movement in fiction. A good story starts at the beginning, moves through the middle, and ends at the end. But this isn’t as simple as it may sound because without forward movement, even good characters get stuck in dull stories. If your characters are reflecting, wondering and thinking a lot, be wary. Odds are all that thinking and wondering aren’t getting them from point a to point b.

Characters must do things, say things, go places, and interact with other people. A young man thinking about death isn’t a story. A young man digging his own grave is. Don’t ask who your character is; ask what your character does. Trust in your skills as a writer. Your character will reveal who he/she is once you’ve undertaken the task of describing him/her through their words or deeds. This happened to me while I was writing my first book, All You Need Is Love. A secondary character I created, the heroine’s Gram, wound up becoming the real life Gram I wished I had while growing up. Reviewers even mention the quirky senior citizen as endearing and memorable. Go Gram!

When your character’s personality and motivations emerge, this revelation may be so deep you might have to make changes to your plot when you’re done with your first draft. Gram’s constant knudging, made me change her from a one scene character to a six scene character. Quite a difference.

Our characters often reveal themselves to us when we least expect it and this is what makes being a writer, at least for me, so much fun ☺ These aren’t just voices we hear in our heads urging us to write their story down, they become real people we can relate to through the process of writing their story, and in some instances we hate to say goodbye to when the story is over.

Plot turns into story when we convey emotional information to the reader. A woman discovers the end of her marriage. A young man is left at the altar by the love of his life, a child realizes his mother isn’t coming back. Use these emotional discoveries that make real life interesting, horrifying, and beautiful.

Once you entwine them into your story, you begin to mesh plot and character together. Your reader will experience real heart break, loss or joy. Through this process of meshing you’ll feel the difference because the emotional information you convey will create a memorable three-dimensional character that might just grow his/her own fan base : )

Best,

Cathy Tully

Details…Details…

Details, Details…

Writing is hard work, a never ending process of learning and applying. I’ve been writing for fourteen years and am still learning how to improve my skills. Today I’d like to talk a little about details in a story.

A detail is a word/phrase/image that enables a reader to “see.” Instead of telling your readers that Sam “looked sad,” describe the shape of his mouth or the lifeless slats of his hair. Avoid details that call to mind anybody and use the specific ones that call to mind your character because these are details that stay with your readers through the book.

Sometimes it only takes one or two details to bring your character to life for a reader. These are the telling details that stretch beyond observation to give readers a larger, richer sense of character or place.

When I was asked to do revisions for my first book, All You Need Is Love, my original opening line was: “Stepping inside the local veterinarian’s office, Ginger bellowed.”

A specific directive from my editor was: “Don’t just tell me I’m in a veterinarian’s office, show me, make me hear it, see it, feel it.”

Here’s what I added:

Stepping inside the local veterinarian’s office in Promise, Massachusetts was like stepping into a half-price sale at Macy’s the day before a holiday. A Doberman barked repeatedly while a Pomeranian, eyes wide, ran in circles piddling on herself and the floor, frantic to escape the din and chaos.

Ginger bellowed, along with a German shepherd across the room that had jumped into a chair with the woman trying desperately to clean the Pomeranian’s urine from her heels. The shepherd, easily one hundred pounds, bounded back onto the floor, sniffed once at the yipping Pomeranian, then raised his leg and doused the little dog.

My editor was delighted with the details and replied that she felt as though she was in the veterinarian’s office, heard the chaos and, being a pet owner, could smell the urine. No, not the best memory, but vivid just the same : )

The right details at the right times allow your readers admission into your character’s inner peculiarities, fears, and compulsions. It’s one thing to explain the veterinarian’s office was utter chaos, but when I added the details that helped the reader experience the scene, I enriched my story.

Best,

Cathy Tully

Indie Publishing—Is It For You?

I’m reposting this blog, which was supposed to publish in April, but due to either my error or that of wordpress, it posted only for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes and then it disappeared into syberspace. How? I haven’t a clue. But I got some very good feedback and was hoping for more, so here goes:

Following the blogs of quite a few indie published authors has become a recent hobby of mine. A few of my favorites are: D.D. Scott, Theresa Ragan and Jen Talty. Their stories are enthralling, their enthusiasm contagious and their willingness to share their knowledge openly with other writer’s is inspiring.

They’ve also helped me sit back and review my own writing life, something I kept telling myself I’d find them for, and finally did.  This hurry up to wait lifestyle called publishing has me more than perplexed. It’s frustrating trying to write a book that will fit a certain house; it feels like I’m trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

It’s a true waste of energy, and I can’t help think spending the time writing my next book, the book I want to write, is more productive than worrying about whether my story will fit the specifications of a particular publishing house.

Every hour, every week, every month that I wait to hear whether a book of my sold is time I could have spent having another book professionally edited, the cover designed to my specifications, and uploaded to Amazon when I choose.  So this year, I’m going to dip my toes into the indie publishing pool and feel the water : )

Here’s what I’d like to know. Do you indie publish? How long have you been doing so, and what are some experiences, positive and negative, that you’d like to share?

Best,

Cathy Tully

Write What You Know

About seven years ago at an RWA conference, I sat in on a workshop. In this workshop, attendees were asked to list every job we’ve ever had and the roles we’ve played in life throughout the years. I listed: Administrative Assistant to NY Fortune 500 Executive, Secretary in a pool of thirty, College student/graduate, receptionist at a veterinarian hospital, retail associate at a design store, owner of my own Interior Design business, Substitute teacher grades K-12, Girl Scout Leader, mother, sister, wife, daughter, godmother and aunt.

The speaker asked us to think about how we could use the professions we’ve spent time in as part of our books. Can our hero/heroine work in a field we’ve worked in? Can he/she be a parent? A scout leader? A teacher? An Admin? The speaker then went on to explain that if we took what we know and incorporated it into our books, not only would our writing voice be more genuine, but our hero/heroine would be more relatable.

Long after this workshop was over, I thought about what the speaker had said and something clicked. Yup. It was my light bulb moment. So, I took the speaker’s advice and incorporated a part of who I am into my next book, and like they say, the rest is history : )

My first book, All You Need Is Love features, Little Man, my family dog, who we lost to illness. By filling the pages of this book with his cuteness and adorable ways, he literally jumps off every page. I love dogs, always have, and through no planning of my own, a dog pops up in every book I write. It’s funny how the subconscious works, isn’t it? My critique partner says having a dog in all my books is part of my ‘brand’ and I suppose she’s right. All I know is that dog’s allow us to be vulnerable. We’re allowed to be our true selves around them without judgment and their unconditional love brightens the darkest day.

Marrying Mr. Right’s heroine, Missy Modesto, is similar to a good friend I’ve known my whole life. Missy is a strong woman with a heart of gold and although years may pass between visits, when my old friend and I that based Missy on, do meet, it feels like days not years have passed: )

Training Travis is about a divorced dad who gains custody of his fifteen year old daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death. And even though I can’t relate to divorce, I am the mother of two girls, so I can relate to Travis’ daughter and the mood swings of a teenage girl : )

My first woman’s fiction, Pieces Of Candy, is about a menopausal, mother of two. Candy is a substitute teacher and decides she’s fed up and wants a career of her own. So begins her journey into interior design.

All of these characters/stories parallel my life in one way or another, and it isn’t by coincidence. I took the speaker’s advice at that conference long ago, and I didn’t just find my writing voice, I found out who I am as a writer because I write what I know.

Do you write what you know? And if so, how do you think your writing process has changed since you’ve started to write what you know?

Best,

Cathy Tully

Finding Your Writing Voice

I began my writing journey over ten years ago and from the get go I submersed myself in learning and refining my craft. Even then, I heard talk about ‘finding your writing voice,’ but didn’t pay it much attention. I mean, I was too busy trying to learn how to write a book : )  I read every romance and women’s fiction that I could get my hands on, and joined a critique group.

Then I started to attend conferences and saying I was overwhelmed, well that’s putting it mildly. A few years passed, and I found workshops no longer exhausted and overwhelmed me. Instead, I actually began taking away information that I could apply to my own writing projects. I thought, hey, my book is good, but it can be so much better, so I used what I learned. I entered contests and received some great feedback. I pitched to editors and although they rejected my projects, I often received nice, detailed letters encouraging me to revise and resubmit.

On some of the revision letters I was told to take my writing to the next level—the story flows, now add some personality and give the book flavor. Now, some writer’s sell their very first book, or even their second. Some go on to win awards and become NYTimes bestsellers right off the bat. I’m not one of those writers. Everything I’ve ever wanted I’ve had to work hard for. Ahhh, but that’s another blog for another day : )

Anyway,  I wondered about what the editors had said, what it meant to take my writing to the next level, so I talked to as many published writers as I could and they all told me the same thing. Relax and trust in your skills, it will happen. But I was still frustrated. It doesn’t help that I’m the kind of person who hates to wait. What did they mean, relax? I kept thinking, when will it happen? Where is this voice I’m supposed to have and why is it so hard to find?  Not until I pushed the thought from my mind–when I said enough of this frustration and trying to find something I don’t know how to find, did I truly relax. And what do you know…

I had my ‘aha’ moment a few weeks later when I was reading a chapter I’d written out loud to myself. I liked what I was hearing and somehow it seemed different than my other books. My dialogue was more conversational–my characters witty and real. I caught myself laughing at these people I’d written–what they were doing, and why.

I added my personality, made my characters endearing, quirky and appealing, and it was then, not until I was well into my fourth book, that my writing voice took form. I found that by giving my characters the opportunity to become real people reader’s want to relate to, my writing voice flowed freely.

It’s funny, I’ve heard that when you read your book, the emotions you feel are the emotions the reader will feel, but somehow I didn’t get it until it happened to me. Right there in the quiet of my own little office on a day I will never forget, I found the voice that had probably been there all alone. I just didn’t know how to coax it to come on out and play : )

Best,

Cathy Tully