Why read on the beach?

beach umbrellas

I spent the weekend at the beach with my husband.

We trudged two tons of stuff from the car to the sand, spread out the towel, planted the umbrella, opened the chairs, sprayed on sunscreen and I opened my romance novel.

The perfect day. For about 5 minutes. I love to read, but my husband does not find any enjoyment in it.

“You want to go in the ocean?” husband asked.

I peered over my sunglasses. “No thanks.”

You want to take a walk?

I marked my place with my finger, peered over my glasses and shook my head. “No thanks. I’m good.”

He sighed. Heavily. “I’m bored.”

Without looking up I said, “Well, you can go into the water. Feel free.”

And then he said something that has perplexed me for days. “Why do you bother to go to the beach, if you just want to read? You could do that at home.”

“But I like to read.”

He repeated, slowly…”You could read at home. And we wouldn’t have to lug all this stuff. Look around. What is everyone doing here? No one’s in the water.”

I was ready to snap out a snarky response, when I looked around…and everyone had their faces buried in paperbacks, tablets or magazines. Still as statues, hiding under umbrellas, coated in sunscreen, totally clueless as to their surroundings.

Why WERE they there? Really. Most people never touch the water. They cower from the sun’s dangerous rays. They don’t talk to anyone, except when unloading or packing up their gear. And they read.

A few adults, usually ones with children, will head out into the waves to cool off or perhaps body surf. Others will help build sand castles. Or toss around a ball of some sort. But the vast majority strive to ignore everything more than a foot and a half from their face.

Is the beach just a giant babysitter, allowing parents some well-earned hours of quiet, while their kids burn off energy? Do we as humans have a natural pull toward water? Or is it a learned behavior–summer equals beach reading?

When I was younger and sun worshipping was still a thing, we would read, slathered in baby oil, while baking our skin to a golden brown (or in reality a prickly, painful crimson). Reading was a device to pass the time.

Now that the sun is a cancerous cur, why do we continue to foster this love/hate relationship with it?

I don’t have any answers…and I’m not going to stop reading at the beach. But I will take a break every so often and wade into the water. Isn’t that why we’re there?

 

Remember to order Dare to Love, an historical romance by Alleigh Burrows. It’s a perfect beach read. :0)  

 

 

editing a document

3 Writing Tips for Novice Authors

editing a documentThe complexities of novel writing

I recently participated as a judge for a romance writers contest. Entrants provided the first 20 pages of their unpublished novel. To evaluate the submissions, judges were provided a scoring sheet with twenty characteristics to evaluate.

That really drives home the challenge of writing a good novel. For novices out there…or even experienced writers who may need a refresher, I thought I’d summarize a few of the characteristics that seem to trip us up.

1. Showing, not telling

You’ll hear this a lot, and it takes some time to master this concept. Good writers work details about their characters’ backstories into their scenes seamlessly, without a “data dump” of narrative text.

Learn to weave the description of the location, characters, and time period into the  story like you’re seasoning food. Sprinkle a little here, a little there, and let the reader discover what they need at a natural pace.

Example from my WIP Counting on Him:

First draft using narrative text

Gabby couldn’t believe David wanted to talk to her. She’d broken up with him because he’d been so controlling. Sure he seemed like the perfect guy, handsome, smart, confident, and Jewish, which was something her mother insisted upon. But he always thought he was right, disregarding her opinions. It drove her crazy.

He’d been surprised when she ended it. And now he was telling her he wanted to get back together. That he was sorry. She didn’t know how she felt about that.

Revised using dialogue:

“I’ve been thinking about you.” David reached for her hand and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “I hate the way we ended.”

He locked eyes with hers. They were the color of the Mediterranean Sea, warm and blue. It was what first drew her to him. Her chest tightened. She wasn’t ready for this conversation.

But he was. Flashing her an apologetic smile, he said, “I know it was my fault. I always think I’m right.” He shrugged. “But I’m the only son of a Jewish mother. I can do no wrong.”

Gabby couldn’t hold back a smile. She’d met his mom. It was totally true.

“Why didn’t you tell me you found me controlling?”

She pulled her hand away and wrapped her arms around her stomach. “I didn’t realize it myself. Then, once I noticed, it drove me crazy. I couldn’t let you control my life.”

2. Settings set the mood

Use the setting as another character in your book. Include descriptions of the sounds, scents, lighting, etc. to convey a mood–the ominous hum of computers in a deserted office, a salty ocean breeze reinvigorating a tired soul, or the soft inky blue of twilight bringing the end to a perfect day.

Weather can be a very effective tool, adding emotion to a scene – rain pounding against the window when depressed or the searing heat of the summer sun making an anxious situation even hotter.

The only sound Gabby heard was her sneakers pounding along the trail, echoing the refrain in her head, “Now what? Now what?” As sweat dripped into her eyes, she swiped at her forehead, dragging her a hand through her unruly hair. Stupid humidity. Stupid sweat. Stupid Sean.  

Be strategic when developing your characters as well. Convey their personality through your descriptions of their clothes, car, home, job and accessories. Instead of writing  “David was determined to be successful and  always dressed to impress.” convey that through his description.

David pulled up in his Audi. Naturally, he angled it to take up two parking spots. Climbing out of his car, he pulled off his Montblanc sunglasses and tucked them into the pocket of his crisp lime-green Hugo polo. Everything David owned had a logo.

 

3. Writing natural-sounding dialogue

There are three things to remember when writing dialogue. People talk in short bursts, they frequently interrupt the speaker, and they usually stick to one subject in each statement. I’ll explain.

Uninterrupted speaking 

“Joe, I know you said you’d pick up my car for me, but the repair shop called and said you didn’t show up. So now I have to catch a ride with Sally tomorrow. What happened? And why didn’t you clean up your breakfast dishes? You know I hate when you leave them in the sink.”

Add action tags and Joe’s reaction to make conversation more natural

“Joe, I know you said you’d pick up my car for me, but the repair shop called and said you didn’t show up.” Gabby threw her purse on the counter and glared at him. “Now I have to catch a ride with Sally tomorrow. What happened?”

Joe didn’t look up from his laptop. “I forgot,” he mumbled.

That made Gabby even more angry. Didn’t he care at all? Obviously not, she fumed, noticing the sink was still filled with dirty dishes. Storming over to him, she flicked the laptop closed. “And why didn’t you clean up your breakfast dishes? You know I hate when you leave them in the sink.”

Editing quote by Don RoffI hope these tips help.

It’s amazing how easy it is to spot these unwieldy examples in someone else’s writing, while being totally oblivious of them in your own work.

Don’t be afraid to let others read your work. Tell them what to look for, so they know the type of critique you are asking from them.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Getting published is HARD work

I’m a romance writer. Most people seem to think that’s a fun and frivolous habit.

Sure, writing a “real” book is hard, but romance novels are written by flighty, slightly perverted women who live in silly dream worlds. We sit down, pick out a pair of ridiculous names for our wildly attractive couple and tap out a fantasy.

And because romance novels “are all the same”, we can submit our work to any publisher we choose, and bam, two months later, have a racy cover sitting on our coffee table.

HA!

This is a crazy cut-throat business. And it is a business. Each publisher has very specific requirements, requiring an author to carefully identify the imprints that most closely align with their story. (I found this trope list with over 50 variations! So much for all being alike.)

Once we’ve picked our publishers, we have to twist our writing into very specific pretzels to meet their submission guidelines. This requires an amazing amount of organization, making sure each publisher gets the three or four uniquely crafted pieces they’ve requested.  For example, when I submitted Catching a Pixie this weekend, I had to develop a:

  • crazed writer4-sentence blurb
  • 200-word summary of book
  • 2-page synopsis
  • full synopsis, including ending
  • query letter listing the trope the book will satisfy
  • first 3 chapters
  • 1000 words capturing the best scene
  • full manuscript
  • marketing plan
  • social media experience
  • publishing history
  • summary of future books in the series

Imagine trying to condense 37,000 words down to 200. Or picking one scene that conveys the heart of the book, the emotion, the humor, the creativity, while still making sense when it is read completely out of context. Gah!

Hopefully, I got all the right pieces to all the right places. And it dazzles the publishers so much that they start a bidding war and I wind up making millions!

But I’ll settle for one email, saying “Hey, we’d like to work with you. Give us a call.” Then I can jump into the rest of the 397 steps to getting published.

Frivolous habit? Definitely not. But fun? ABSOLUTELY!

woman writing with turkey

4 ways writing a book is like preparing Thanksgiving dinner

woman writing with turkeyWriting a book is a fairly complex undertaking. You don’t just get an idea, then sit down and tap it out.

In honor of NaNo and November’s holiday, I decided to compare writing to cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Just like people have different cooking styles, writers approach their craft with varying degrees of preparation.

At one end of the spectrum are the Plotters. Plotters prepare everything up front. They follow the recipes, measure the ingredients and clean up as they go.

At the other end are the Pantsers (i.e. Seat of your Pants). That’s my strategy, or perhaps lack of strategy. Pantsers cook as they go–throw in a pinch of this, a glop of that, taste, adjust, and serve once you have enough inspired (or edible) offerings.

Regardless of your style, I think every author goes through four basic steps as they cook up their masterpieces.

1. Decide what to serve.

First things first – plan your menu. You make up a list of everything you want to include–keeping in mind what your family likes to eat, how much food to prepare, what dishes are required, and what new things you want to try.

When writing, an author starts with a story idea.

That’s the easy part…the fun part, at least for me. This is when you get to be creative, living in your imaginary world. You start to sketch out a plot based on what your audience likes, what elements are required and include any new twists you hope will keep things interesting.

At this stage, there are no right or wrong answers. If you tell your favorite Aunt Lynn you’re serving beets and she suggests yams instead, maybe you throw in some yams.

2. Research your topic.

Are you going to stick to family favorites or add a new flavor to the stuffing? How many pies do you need for 12 people, what is the difference between shortening and butter, how do you use a Dutch over? This is when you hit Google, call your mom, ask for suggestions on Facebook or talk to friends.

Writers usually spend an awful lot of time on the internet, researching the most bizarre subjects–how long does it take to bleed to death, how many periods in a lacrosse game (it’s 4 quarters, in case you care), and what is the proper way to address a duke in 19th century England?

Even if you’re “writing what you know,” chances are you will need to research something. In my latest book, my characters are a nutritionist and a state trooper. I needed to know how their schedules would conflict over holidays. Luckily, through friends of a friend, I found people who could answer my questions. The trick in this stage is to not spend too much time researching and forget to write.

3. Gather your ingredients and get to work.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, you begin preparations. Will you special order a free-range turkey or a frozen Butterball? Get boxed stuffing or use fresh bread? Do you have enough time and space to cook it all? Once you’ve figured all that out, it’s time to get cooking! Your mission is to create a well-balanced, delicious meal.

Write, write, write. Once you’ve drafted an outline and blurped out the important scenes, the hard part begins. You have to look at everything you’ve written and decide if it all fits together. What’s missing? Are the relationships believable, does the pacing seem right, is the dialogue natural?

After all your work, you may find you’ve got some great scenes, but they don’t advance the plot. Too many desserts and not enough vegetables. It’s painful, but this is when you have to be ruthless and hit that delete button. Your primary goal is to create a satisfying treat for your readers.

4. Time to clean up (Ugh)

After weeks of preparation, you’ve cooked an amazing meal. You set it on the table, family digs in, and hopefully the response is positive. You are savoring that last bite of pumpkin pie, when you turn around and realize the kitchen looks like it was hit by a level four tornado.

It’s time to clean up your manuscript. If  you thought writing a book was hard–editing it is killer. The Find and Replace function is an author’s best friend and most dreaded enemy. You’ll discover your manuscript is littered with filler words, echoes and poor punctuation.

Words like just, look, and that will leap out at you by the hundreds. The same phrase appears over and over in a paragraph, mocking your ridiculously limited vocabulary. He smiled at her, she smiled back and they smiled again. Couldn’t you have thrown in a smirk, a grin or an eye twinkle?

Don’t worry. You’ll get through it. At some point, you’ll look up and discover everything is in its proper place. Giving the counters a final swipe, you’ll heave a contented sigh, and shut off the lights…until next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!


 

Alleigh Burrow’s first book, Dare to Love, includes a duke, marquis and a few earls. Her second manuscript, Catching a Pixie, needed the state trooper’s holiday schedule. And for some reason, her current WIP includes extensive lacrosse references. To date, none of her characters have bled to death, but there’s always a next time.

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meditation image

A zen tip to better writing

meditation imageListen to the sounds outside of your head.

I was overly stressed this summer, but the book gods took care of me and sent me a boon. There, on the giveaway book table at work, was “Everyday Zen.”

I’m open for anything, so I scooped it up and stole away for a few minutes at lunchtime to see what I could learn. It didn’t take me long to figure out zen required too much time and effort to change my life. But it did suggest one particular exercise that I found very beneficial, not only for my nerves, but for my writing.

Stress, anger, and even pleasure are all just manifestations of your brain. They are not real. They don’t exist. If you clear your head and let the thoughts dissipate, you can become…enlightened, free, a lamp unto yourself (that’s where they lost me.)

BUT to do that, they suggest turning off the noise in your head and become one with the universe. You do that by listening outside of yourself. Sit still and listen…to traffic, the birds, the rest of life that is happening around you.

It’s a fascinating exercise. I had no idea the cicadas were so loud this summer. They buzz like an alien lifeforce day and night.

No matter where I sat, air conditioning units hummed in and around every building. Clocks tick, the cat snores and on a good day, I could hear the marching band practicing two miles away.

I never gave much thought to sounds before, but all of this can be remarkable fodder for books. Sitting in a grocery store, I now know the cash registers ping with every sale. The loudspeaker crackes like a potato chip bag and the lottery machine plays a tune. How much richer and more vivid my scenes will be with that sort of detail?

I’d like offer a hearty shout out to the Buddha dude, for providing some great inspiration.  😉

Dare to Love cover art

DARE TO LOVE – on sale for $1.99

Dare to Love cover artGet it while it’s hot!

Dare to Love, my regency romance novel is on sale for a limited time. It has earned 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so don’t even think it’s being “put in the back on the discount rack, like another can of beans” (thank you Billy Joel).

Nope. It’s a charming, amusing, challenging novel featuring Lord Dare Landis, a handsome heartless rake, and Nivea Horsham, the sweet plump sister of Landis’ best friend. She has worshiped him since she was a young girl, but he knows better than to trifle with an innocent. Especially since the Horshams are the closest thing Dare has to family.

Much like Johnny Depp in The Libertine, you will not like Dare Landis in the beginning. He is a right bastard, cold and arrogant toward everyone–friend or foe. But there’s a reason.

And once Nivea discovers that reason, she is even more determined to win his love.

Don’t be concerned that Nivea is nothing but a wilting wallflower. She is surprisingly strong, secure in her own beliefs. Her only weak spot, being the unattainable Lord Landis. Unattainable, that is, until the fateful trip to her family’s country estate.

Please take a peek and let me know what you think. Reviews are always appreciated!

Thank you to Lyrical Press/Kensington Publication for believing in me. While this was my first romance novel, it will not be my last!

How I envision Matt Quinsy

Catching a Pixie

I just finished my second manuscript–Catching a Pixie–a contemporary romance novella.

Can I tell you, it is awesome?!Matt Quincy

Trust me, I’m a professional writer, so I know. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll stay up way past your bedtime to finish reading about the romantic adventures of Matt and Lindsay.

There’s still a few rough patches I have to fix. And then I need to find a publisher who will want to print it… but then you’ll see what I mean.

Let me summarize:

Lindsay, a graduate student at Roselle University is pulled over for speeding by a handsome NY state trooper. Turns out he went to Roselle too and he lets her go with a warning. A month goes by and who does Lindsay see at Roselle’s homecoming tailgate? Officer Matt Quincy. Best of all, he drove down to Delaware, just hoping to see her. Despite living four hours apart, they decide to see if they can make it work. Busy schedules and the spector of an old flame threaten to pull them apart, but the magic of love–and a little pixie dust–lead them to a happily ever after.

Excerpts (2)

First a little heat:

He reached for me and I took a step back, shaking my head. “I changed my mind.” Thinking I was kidding, he went for my arm again. I dodged away.

Realizing I was serious, he raised his hands in surprised surrender. “What do you mean?” 

“I can’t do this. I mean…just look at you.”

His hands still raised in the air, he lowered his eyes. “What?” I followed along with him and we both stopped when our gaze reached the growing bulge in his pants. “Is there something wrong?”

“Uhhh, yes,” I squeaked, dragging my eyes upward. Then I glanced down at my ridiculously paltry mosquito bites. “Your chest is bigger than mine.”

He chuckled. “Aww, stop,” then flexed his pecs, the big jerk. “I spent a ton of time at the gym this month. I’ve had a lot of nervous energy, thanks to you.”

“Even so, you are absolutely gorgeous. You can’t want to be with me.”

His mouth dropped open. “What are you talking about?”

I swept my hands down in front of me. “Look at me. I’m built like a twelve-year-old boy.”

He reared back a little, to give me a good, long look. Then tipping his head to one side, he said with complete sincerity, “I think you’re beautiful, Pix.”

It took all I had not to snort. I stared longingly at his pecs covered in a light dusting of hair, his obliques bracketing impossibly defined abs, the happy trail just below his navel, disappearing in the waistband of his sweats. Hell, even his belly button was sexy.

Then my gaze returned to his eyes. They were hungry. Craving.

“Seriously?”

He tugged me into his arms, holding me flush against his obviously appreciative body. “Seriously.”

Clearly the man had no sense, but who was I to argue with him. After a month enjoying the most erotic thoughts ever, I’d be crazy to let him slip through my fingers. So, I launched myself at him and we locked lips like he was my last source of oxygen.

And then a little humor:

Let me just pack it all up into a cooler bag for you.” Matt’s mother reached into the cupboard.

And as soon as her back was turned, I wiggled my butt at Matt. He growled and gave me a quick swat.

“Here you go.” She waved a brightly-colored insulated bag at us before tucking the food and utensils into the compartments. “I know it’s not a long trip, but this way you’ll have something to eat when you get there. Mattie’s always hungry and this will tide you over ‘til you get to the grocery store.” She winked at me. “We don’t want him to be cranky, do we?”

Mattie? That was hysterical. I would never have thought my giant, imposing boyfriend would have a nickname like Mattie. Or that his mom would talk about him like a three-year-old. I loved it!

Apparently, Mattie did not. He strode forward and grabbed the bag off the island. “I’m standing right here, mom. And I don’t get cranky.”

Which was funny, because he certainly sounded cranky. I glanced at his mom and she sent me a knowing look. But she reached up to pat his face. “I’m sorry, dear, you’re right. That was mean. I just want to make sure you both have a nice trip.”

If it sounds intriguing, let me know and maybe I can post a few more sections. Until then, it’s back to editing… now what’s another word for ‘love button”? 😉

Novelrank – another cool author’s tool

untitled“So, how’s your book selling?”

Any author will tell you, that sentence can drive you crazy. Know why?

Because we have no bloody idea how it’s selling. At least I didn’t. My book came out December 1 and my publisher said I wouldn’t get initial sales figures until February.

FEBRUARY! That means over two months of uncertainty, panic, self-doubt and frustration. I begged and pleaded but they wouldn’t give me so much as a hint. As a data-fiend, this was unacceptable to me. During one of my rants, a writer friend told me about Novelrank.com. I signed up immediately.

You click on the link, register your book, and voila! They show how many books you’ve sold on Amazon in US, CA and UK. It also provides sales rank and reviews. I have no idea how accurate their data is (I won’t be able to tell until I get actual sales figures…in FEBRUARY), but it’s nice to have some gauge.

The downside is, they only track from the date you register. Since I didn’t learn about Novelrank until a few weeks after my book launched, I couldn’t track my initial figures. And they only track Amazon, not Barnes & Noble, iBooks or anyone else. But still.

Super cool. Thanks Novelrank!

 

Update (March 23, 2015):

I was finally able to get a rough estimate on my book sales from my publisher…on March 20!

It turns out, Dare to Love has been selling pretty well.

While I expected to strong-arm about 100 copies to friends and family, my publisher said I’ve sold around 650 (all book channels, Dec. 1 – Jan 31). Novel Rank credited me with about 300 sales (Amazon only, Dec. 16 – Jan 31). So, I’m thinking it’s a pretty good tool.Screenshot (5)

Fifty Shades of Great Entertainment

220px-50ShadesofGreyCoverArtI’ll admit it. I am one of the millions of women who tore through the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy like a bride at Filene’s Basement. They were silly, redundant, romantic and shocking…not to mention a lot of fun (not good, clean fun, but definitely fun).

It is now five days away from the movie’s opening day and I am giddy with anticipation. (UPDATE: It’s now only one day away…24 hours to be exact! I wish I had a countdown thingie like the Irish bars do for St. Pat’s Day) Will they be able to capture the intriguing allure of Christian, accurately portraying the torrid, tormented soul that both attracts and repels the innocent Ana? It’s a tall order.

To be honest, I don’t expect it to live up to the hype. But a girl can hope, right?

Follow up 

As you can tell, by my second post “5 reasons why the movie was better than the book,” I was not disappointed. I wouldn’t give it 5 stars, but it was not the soul-crushing, society-destroying, domestic violence promoting, women’s rights bashing, end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it travesty that seemingly EVERY reviewer is proclaiming.

So, to support those few brave reporters who watched the movie and took it for was it was–a fictional/romantic/sexy/fantasy/love story–I’m going to post your reviews here. Thank you.


If you’re as obsessed as I am…finding yourself watching trailers over and over, even clicking on the Lego video just to get your fix, let me offer you an alternative.

**Shameless self-promotion alert** My romance novel, Dare to Love is what I call “Thirty Shades of Regency.” While he’s not quite as damaged as Mr. Grey, Lord Landis is a handsome, heartless rake who goes to great lengths to hide the scars of his childhood. Nivea Horsham is a sweet, spinsterly wallflower who has loved him since she was a child.

Can Nivea shatter Dare’s carefully crafted facade and show him how to love? Just click here and you can find out!

Now available through Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters make millions

A lesson for writers…from the guy who sold $10 million in ugly sports sweaters

Ugly sports sweaters

Sorry Tom, my fav Patriot, but this sweater would make even you look ugly.

I read an article in Inc. magazine that began, “Thirteen months ago, Michael Lewis, founder and CEO of Forever Collectibles, didn’t even know that ugly sweaters were a thing. A concept. A fun, dorky theme for holiday parties.”

Yet this year he sold $10 million in sports-themed holiday sweaters. And yes, they are U.G.L.Y.

What struck me most about this article wasn’t his success, but rather his wise, yet incredibly simple marketing philosophy.

See, he’s in the sports collectables business. He started out selling plush teddy bears ($10 each), decked out in officially licensed MLB gear. But when bobbleheads hit the market, he quickly realized that there were more lucrative licensing opportunities…and he just had to be nimble and creative enough to adjust to changing markets.

Here’s the quote that prompted me to write this blog:

At the All-Star Game in Seattle, Lewis, who never went to business school, realized Forever Collectibles was not necessarily in the business of making plush bears. “We’re in the business,” he says, “of making emotionally connected products for people tied to sports.”

Lewis realized people were so invested in their sports teams, they would want to invite them into their holiday celebrations. Make them part of the family, so to speak.

That’s the lesson every single person in business should learn and remember. Whether you’re an author sitting in your tiny office/closet/bedroom, CEO of a company, or president of a university, you need to figure out who your customer is, what they want–emotionally–and how you can adapt your product to give that to them.

Your customers have to want your product…crave it…ache for it. Otherwise, they will fill that need somewhere else.

If you’re an author, you may think that’s too commercial a viewpoint. You want to write whatever speaks to you, and if people want to buy it (and of course they will, because you’re awesome!) then you’ll be successful. But if you’re a novelist, you need to make your characters so compelling that your readers feel their emotions–cry for them, cheer for them, worry over them–that’s why they buy books. To feel, on a visceral level, what is happening in a story.

Margie Lawson offers an entire writing seminar on writing viscerally, helping authors create three dimensions characters. I’m not promoting her specifically, I just know that she provides great tips. Note the difference in this ‘before and after passage’ from my Dare to Love manuscript:

1. Nivea was too shocked to speak

2. Nivea crumpled onto the bench, her head bowed. He’d shocked her well and good. She didn’t move until the sun ducked behind a cloud and she shivered, breaking the spell.

Can’t you picture her sitting there, bereft, physically paralyzed by his revelation? (Sorry, no spoilers. You’ll have to read the book to find out his secret.)

That’s the emotional connection. That’s what you need to strive for in your writing. Good luck!  May the muse be with you!

Happy holidays!

Alleigh