Thursday, September 20, 2018

Planning Your Novel Part 3 "Pitches and Book Tags"

by Elva Cobb Martin


In Part 2 we talked about "Premise" and how it will actually help you write your pitch. Never mind pulling your hair out. You can access Parts 1-2 in my archives.

So what is a pitch (or log line) and how does it differ from a book tag?

A pitch is a one or two sentence nutshell that explains what your book is about. 

Imagine someone asking you, "What is your book about?" (Some one like an editor or agent that you may run into at a conference and you only have a few moments to tell them about your book). 

Here are some examples of pitches:

1) Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' father, only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

2) Rachel York determines to unearth the truth about her brother's reported death by taking a position at an historic tea plantation, only to realize the truth may destroy her new found love and could even cost her life.  (This was my pitch for Summer of Deception which helped snag a contract and can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071L28PHH )

Want to try your hand at a pitch?  Here's a simple template that has helped me:

(Your protagonist) _________MUST __________(critical plot goal) BY ______________(action or conflict)  
ONLY TO REALIZE __________________(what the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during journey of book

Tags are a briefer hook, like back cover copy first line or byline in a movie. You'll need this for your book cover and tweets.

To boldly go where no man has gone. (Star Wars)
Don't go in the water (Jaws)
Collide with destiny (Titanic)
Power comes with a price (The List by Robert Whitlow)
Can love survive a summer of deception? (for my novel Summer of Deception)
Falling in love with a pirate was never part of her plan. (for my novel, In a Pirate's Debt).

My Premise for my current wip helped me write my Pitch. Of course, it's an inspirational romance.


To recap, my tweaked premise for my wip is: Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when God is invited into the equation.

Here's a rough draft of my pitch:

"Marisol Valentine flees after murdering the Spanish nobleman who sexually assaulted her only to find herself caught in a net of kidnappers for the King's colonization of the New World which threatens to derail her forever from love, security and decency until she discovers a God who can work good even from evil."

How's that for a long sentence? But it gets the job done--for now. ( :

Thanks for stopping by. Please do leave a comment and a sample pitch, if you have one. And share this blog if it has been helpful.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Planning Your Novel - Part 2 "Premise"

by Elva Cobb Martin


Planning your novel can get that dream you have (like an illusive bubble in your head and heart), down on plain white paper or on your computer screen.

In Part 1 of planning a novel, we talked about:

a) Reading/immersing yourself in your genre and time period


b) Jotting down your initial storyline
c) Researching and more researching

You can find Part 1 in my archives.

Today, I want to talk about the first of three important "p's" in planning your novel: Premise, Pitch, and Pictures.

Stavros Halvatzis has several good blogs about Premise that helped me. Click http://stavroshalvatzis.com/story-design/how-to-create-a-strong-dramatic-Premise

To recap, he says: 

The story or moral premise is a short description of the entire story in its essential form. It's the essential core or meaning of the story and the chief theme of your story.

A unique premise contains a strong set-up and pay-off, it generates dramatic questions, and gives the writer a blueprint for writing a successful story.

It can be thought of as the two-part genetic code of a story: one part identifies the virtue which leads to victory, while the other identifies the opposite, which leads to defeat.

Here are some movie examples he sites:

1) The Ten Commandments, Braveheart, The Firm, Gladiator
    "The hero must do the right thing to eventually achieve the goal (carry the day, save the world), even if it sometimes means he has to sacrifice himself."

2) In There Will be Blood  
      "The pursuit of wealth and power, at the expense of love and family, leads to loneliness and defeat."

After studying premise this is what I came up with for my work-in-progress, an inspirational historical romance.

"Love, forgiveness and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices."

Can you see the two main parts of my story? (Terrible experience & Happy Resolution) Can you see that it will be an encouraging story for those who have suffered from bad experiences or poor choices? Does it bring to mind dramatic questions like: What horrible experience did the heroine endure? How will she find love and forgiveness to overcome the effects? Does she have enough determination to move forward to a HEA? My heroine, Marisol Valentin, will find what she needs to overcome! She will illustrate my idea of a strong, determined woman who will not let circumstances destroy her or keep her down. And, of course, she will have to discover the great power of Christian faith to do this.

Do you see that from my premise, I actually have my beginning, middle and end of my story? 
     The Horrifying Experience (and all it entailed)
     Working to Overcome (risk, hindrances, conflict, people)
     Accessing love, forgiveness and determination to a HEA

Sound like the 3 acts? Maybe so.

Can you come up with a premise for your novel? It will help you write your story, and keep you on track to your planned ending.
Please share it in the comments. I'd love to read it.

Premise is different from the Pitch which I will discuss in my next blog. Premise will help you write your pitch!

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and share this blog on your social media if it was helpful.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Planning Your Novel - Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin


Are you planning your first novel or trying to get started with your next one? I give God the glory for two novels recently released by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas, Summer of Deception and In a Pirate's Debt. You can check them out on Amazon at this link: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

This summer I am researching and planning my next novel which will become a series, I hope. Here are the steps that have helped me in the past and, I believe, will assist me again.


1) Read, Read in Your Genre --and Time Period if Historical.
I find it very important to immerse myself in the genre I'm hoping to write. In your genre, find the best, most successful authors you can and read and study what makes their novel interesting to read. I often take notes and write in the margins!

If writing an historical, find books in your time period. Since I'm planning an historical series set in the 1700's like my pirate novel above, I am reading novels of established authors set in this century. It's amazing how many great ideas come to me as I soak up stories set in my chosen time period and place. Reading a contemporary novel,or one set in the Regency Period, or during World War II won't help keep me on target, so I save those novels for another time. I also look for movies set in my time period and save them in my TV groups. I take notes on setting, dialog, dress, conflict, historical tidbits, etc. 

4) Jot Down Your Initial Storyline
My basic story idea is of a heroine, an indentured servant, who has a bad past she's carrying like baggage, even after she becomes a Christian. (See the "lie" she believes and the spiritual plot possibility of her overcoming?) After a terrible incident in Spain she fled for her life to the New World as an indentured servant. She falls in love with her master after he becomes widowed, but she feels like soiled goods he will never be interested in. She desires to find respect, security and love and will go to some lengths to find them. (See the motivation and goals unfolding?) And, of course, I will give the widowed hero problems, conflicts, and goals to complicate the romance possibility we will pursue from Charles Town to the Spanish Main. Of course, some of these details will likely change as I write the story! (More on characterization, lies, motivation, and goals in Part 2.)

3) Research and Research Some More
Having the Internet has made research so much easier. Seldom do I have to make a trip to the library for research. This novel will have a heroine who is an indentured servant. Yesterday I googled "Indentured Servants in America" and came up with great information. I printed some articles and saved some to my computer. I already know this story will be set mainly on the Spanish Main in Cartagena so I googled that and came up with some great articles and maps.






























How do you plan a new novel? I would love to hear your comments. Next time I will share Part 2 that works for me.

Blessings,
Elva Martin

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Creating a Hero Part 4 - Man of Steel and Velvet

by Elva Cobb Martin


If you missed Part 1-3, click here:
http://bit.ly/2IDQ5hY

My definition of  a man of steel and velvet is one who may have great physical and mental attributes, but who also has received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. And everything in his life is influenced by this relationship and his love for God's Word.

William Wilberforce (played by Ioan Gruffudd in the movie, Amazing Grace) was a definitive man "of steel and velvet."
This one man's passion and perseverance changed the world. His courageous quest ended the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade in the British Empire in May, 1807, in England, and in the U.S. in January, 1808. (Then our Civil War followed in 1861 to bring freedom to the slaves already here.)


Our Bible has several heroes who might fit this bill. Some of my favorites are Joseph, Gideon, and a lesser known one, warrior Jephthal, who was born of a prostitute and turned out of the family by his half siblings. But in war they ended up begging him to return to lead them in battle. His prayers for God's guidance are recorded in Judges 11-12.

Aubrey Andelin authored the book, Man of Steel and Velvet. He lists six qualities of steel and six velvet qualities of men. Find it on Amazon here https://amzn.to/2jObsyV

These 12 characteristics are great to consider when building our memorable heroes.

Steel Qualities

  • Guide, protector, provider
  • Builder of society
  • Masculinity
  • Character
  • Confidence
  • Health
Andelin says the steel side of a man makes women and children feel secure.
Arouses admiration of all. Makes a woman feel womanly.
Velvet Qualities
  • Understands women
  • Gentleness
  • Attentiveness
  • Youthfulness
  • Humility
  • Refinement
The author says the velvet side of a man promotes good human relations among people and awakens love in women and children.



I believe only a man who has chosen to be led by God's Holy Spirit can hope to excel in these characteristics.
Our culture vitally needs to be reminded of these qualities as some  increasingly work to erase man's masculinity, blur the roles of men and women, and redefine the family.
Who is your definitive "man of steel and velvet?" History, movies, and novels evidence quite a few. Some of us even have the great pleasure of being married to one. ( :
Thanks for stopping by. Have a blessed Mothers' Day, all you dear mothers and grandmothers.
Here's a pic of one man of steel and velvet--and a little "steel and velvet" growing up. (Our  Christian law officer son and grandson we'll be seeing this weekend.)



Please Click to tweet this blog: https://ctt.ac/3R5r2

Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Creating a Great Hero - Part 3 Horatio Hornblower


by Elva Martin

What makes a great hero? Click here if you missed
 Part 1 - Atticus Finch  http://bit.ly/2HFDkD3
 Part 2: Captain Blood  http://bit.ly/2KfpHc9

We've covered several characteristics of great fictional heroes and today we'll look at Horatio Hornblower, the wonderful British Royal Naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars era created by C.S. Forester. The eleven-volume Hornblower Saga follows an English seaman, Hornblower, as he rises from Midshipman to Admiral in England's Royal Navy. This historical series and hero has thrilled generations and become the subject of films,radio and television programs. I'm told even Winston Churchill read these novels on his way to Royal Navy meetings during WWII.



Two fave actors of mine who have played Hornblower are 
Ioan Gruffudd                                     and Gregory Peck.
So what has made Horatio Hornblower a great hero to so many?
Having read the books, listened to audio, and seen movies of several in this series, my first thought is that here is a man who possesses all the other qualities of heroes we've talked about but adds certain other interesting qualities.

1) He is man of the strongest principles, especially those relating to British Royal Navy Protocol

In the West Indies Admiral Hornblower is suspicious that the American ship Daring has been hired by Napoleonic former soldiers and supporters to rescue Bony from his St. Helena island prison. 

Sharpe, consul-general at New Orleans warns Hornblower,
"Daring's an American ship, my lord."

That was an important point, a very important point. Daring had an ostensibly legal errand, and she flew the Stars and Stripes. He (Hornblower) could think of no excuse for taking her into port for examination. His instructions had been very strict regarding the treatment of the American flag.

So the during the rest of the book Hornblower chases the Daring to stop her rescue of Napoleon, but he does not cross British protocol in doing so. This brings up the next unusual quality possessed by this hero.

2) He is possessed with amazing ingenuity and finesse to carry out his job as British Admiral of the West Indies

Hornblower has confirmed the French captain of the Daring is on a secret mission to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena Island but how can he stop him without firing on the American flag and causing an international incident? He comes up with the Big Lie (at least he thinks it is a lie). He apprehends the much larger ship, the Daring, and goes aboard. The French Captain, who is also a Count, has to allow him aboard and show him proper honor as he is the English Admiral of the West Indies. Here's the amazing dialog.

"Ah Count Cambronne," said Hornblower, (to the French captain) and then made himself speak French. "It is a pleasure to meet you again."
"And to what do I owe this pleasure, milord?" asked Cambronne. He was standing very stiff and straight, his cat's-whisker mustache bristling out on either side.
"I have come to bring you the very worst of news, I regret to say," said Hornblower. Through many sleepless nights he had rehearsed these speeches to himself. Now he was forcing himself to make them naturally. "And I have come also to do you a service, Count."
"What do you wish to say?"
"Bad news."
"Well?"
"It is with the deepest regret, Count that I have to inform you of the death of your Emperor."
"No!"
"The Emperor Napoleon died at St. Helena last month. I offer you my sympathy, Count."
Hornblower told the lie with every effort to appear like a man speaking truth. 
"I received the news two days back in Port of Spain," said Hornblower. "In consequence, I cancelled the arrangements I had made for the arrest of this ship."

Hornblower suffered mentally by telling this lie because the Count would not believe him until he gave his word of honor as a gentleman. But he did give it, believing it was for the peace of the world in peril from a renewal of the deadly war with France they had just won. And the Count believed him and called off his mission. In the next port, Hornblower learns the shocking news that Napoleon had, indeed, died on St. Helena three weeks earlier. He recouped the honor of his word.


3) Though a mighty warrior who will give the enemies of England no quarter, he is still a compassionate forever true lover of Lady Barbara and needs healing of jealousy of her first husband.

In the last volume of the Hornblower series, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, he has finally married Barbara when she became a widow after her arranged first marriage. Something she says to him, when death seems imminent for their whole ship during a hurricane, heals his old jealousy.

She not merely said that she loved him; she had said she had never loved anyone else. Hornblower, huddled on the deck of a waterlogged ship with a hurricane shrieking round him, was suddenly aware that an old hurt was healed, that he would never again feel that dull ache of jealousy of Barbara's first husband, never, as long as he lived.

4) He is a great leader of men who will follow him to prison and even to death. . .

In most of the Hornblower books the reader sees this heroic characteristic carried out in many situations.  

Don't miss the next part in this series as we hone in on "The Man of Steel and Velvet." --Heroes, who not only display most of the characteristics we covered so far, but who also have a life-changing, empowering, relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thanks for stopping by. Would love to read your comments, and please do share this blog by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings and Happy Mother's Day coming,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin

 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Crafting a Great Hero - Part 2 Captain Blood

by Elva Cobb Martin



Click here if you missed Part 1 - Atticus Finch
 http://bit.ly/2HFDkD3

In the 1935 movie, actor Errol Flynn played Captain Blood and it launched Flynn's career. The book was written by Rafael Sabatini.

Here's the brief story line if you've never read the book or seen the Turner Classic Movie: 

Arrested during the Monmouth Rebellion and falsely convicted of treason when he treated a wounded follower of Monmouth, Irishman Dr. Peter Blood is banished to the West Indies and sold into slavery. In Port Royal, Jamaica the Governor's daughter Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland) buys him for £10 to spite her uncle, Col. Bishop who owns a major plantation. Life is hard for the men and for Blood as well. By chance he treats the Governor's gout and is soon part of the medical service. He dreams of freedom and when the opportunity strikes, he and his friends rebel taking over a Spanish ship that has attacked the city. Soon, they are the most feared pirates on the seas, men without a country, attacking all ships. When Arabella is prisoner, Blood decides to return her to Port Royal only to find that it is under the control of England's new enemy, France. All of them must decide if they are to fight for their new King. The surprise ending is great.

The story and this character continue to inspire and entertain new generations over the world.

What makes the character Peter Blood so unforgettable?


1) He is courageous

Who, but one with great courage, can escape slavery in the late 1600's in the Caribbean and lead a crew of slaves with him, then capture a Spanish ship and become its new captain and a feared pirate?

2) He is compassionate

Peter Blood first got arrested in England for treating an injured follower of Monmouth who was rebelling against the king. Many other times his compassion is shown toward his fellow man, including the Governor of Jamaica, whom he treats for painful gout.

3) He is a composite --the very essence of the swashbuckling trickster hero every generation loves.

This type hero reaches back to Samson and other Bible heroes.

Fictional prototypes are Ivanhoe, Zorro, The Scarlet Pimpernel and the contemporary Superman, Bat Man and others.

The swashbuckling trickster hero is able to defy social expectations and rise above social class. He has a keen wit that stands him in good stead in crises. He is a master of disguise and deception when necessary. He is able to baffle his enemies and defeat his opponents. By his wits and fortitude he's able to overcome terrible adversity and establish himself as a noble leader of men. He demonstrates that nobility is innate. It is achieved by chivalrous behavior, not by aristocratic birth.

Peter Blood's personal journey from slave to governor of Jamaica inspires the dreams of men and women on every continent to aspire beyond their present circumstances.


I crafted my In a Pirate's Debt hero after the swashbuckling prototype. Captain Lucas "Bloodstone" Barrett faces many forces of evil with courage before he finds a happy life within the law and with the plucky heroine. Here's the link to this novel http://amzn.to/2i61Z5P

Thanks for stopping by. Who is your fave fictional hero and why? Would love to  read your comments. And please do share this blog by clicking on the small icons below.

Blessings,
Elva


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin

 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Friday, August 10, 2018

Crafting a Great Hero - Part 1 Atticus Finch

by Elva Cobb Martin



Who doesn't like a great hero?

Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame is one hero I love. I don't know whether my fascination is more with the character Harper Lee created or  for the actor who played his part in the movie, Gregory Peck. Who doesn't know and love Gregory Peck? Okay, spoken like a grandmother.

For those, hopefully few, of you who are unfamiliar with this great novel, it is the story of a small town lawyer (Atticus) who defends a black man accused of rape of a white woman back in Depression days long before the civil rights movement. The setting is a 1930's southern town but the book was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize. It has become a classic of American literature.
One reviewer says "To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely-read book dealing with racism in America and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism. Atticus serves as moral hero and a model of integrity for lawyers everywhere."


Let's take a look at hero Atticus, and I give credit to a blog by Brett and Kate McKay who also see great manly lessons in this character. What can we learn from this character to help us  construct an unforgettable hero for our novels?


1) A real hero lives with integrity every day.

In Maycomb County, Atticus was known as a man who was "the same in his house as he is on the public streets." He did not have one set of morals for business and one for family or one for different days of the week. He tells his young daughter, Scout, "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."


2) The most important form of courage is moral courage.

Atticus certainly possessed physical courage. When Tom was in jail, he sat outside all night reading and faced down an angry mob intent on lynching the prisoner. And he also faced down and shot a rabid dog threatening the town.

But his moral courage was amazing. When Scout asked him why he continued to press on with a case he most likely would lose, he answered,"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is not a reason for us not to try to win."

3) A real hero does the job no one else wants to do.

Atticus is assigned to be Tom Robinson's public defender by a judge. He earns the townspeople's anger in his determination to really defend the accused, honorably and fairly, to the best of his abilities. He does the job that other people are unwilling or afraid to do. After facing the town's taunts and threats for his defense of Tom Robinson, Atticus is once more elected to the state legislature--unanimously.

4) A real hero lives with cool dignity. . .

After the trial the real villain, who was father of the girl, threatened Atticus's life, grossly insulted him, and spat in his face. Atticus simply took out a handkerchief and wiped his face prompting the attacker to ask: "Too proud to fight, you nigger-loving bastard?"

"No, too old," Atticus replied before putting his hands in his pocket and walking away.

At one point in the story, Jem and Scout feel disappointed in their father who at 50 doesn't seem to know how to do anything "cool." But they change their minds when Atticus takes down a rabid dog with a single bullet and they learn their father is known as the "deadest shot in Maycomb County."


I crafted my romantic suspense hero in Summer of Deception, Luke Barrett, after this type of hero. Luke fought in the Middle East and lost an eye. He is a widower, his wife was killed in an auto accident and he battles bitterness. He has a young daughter he is trying to rear while managing his Charleston Tea Plantation. In the course of the story he demonstrates his integrity and his physical, moral, and intellectual courage in various cool ways before he finds a happy ending with the summer nanny heroine, Rachel.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a characteristic of your fave hero to add to our list? I would love to hear it and may include it in Part 2 of this series on Constructing a Hero. I'll be taking a look at another favorite fictional hero. Please share this blog by clicking on the icons below.

Blessings,
Elva 


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
        Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI