Name the Novel contest

Farm scene with tractor, hay, and sheds

My current work-in-progress is a historical fiction novel with elements of romance and mystery. Here’s a brief synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old OLGA TYMCHUK, a newly graduated teacher, looks forward to marrying her fiancée, VIKTOR in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Gillmore, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

Olga feels deserted when Viktor leaves for Ontario. He promises to write often and gives her a ticket so she can visit him at Christmas time, but Olga feels like she’s losing Viktor. Olga still needs to work through the loss of her father, who died in a tragic tractor accident when she was fourteen. Olga’s afraid she’s going to lose Viktor just like she lost her dad. She’s still angry with God over her father’s death and doesn’t know what she’ll do if Viktor is taken from her too.

Teaching is more of a challenge than Olga thought. Although Olga misses Viktor, her work keeps her motivated. Olga develops a strong relationship with many of the students in her class. However, one student, little JIMMY, seems determined to cause trouble no matter what Olga does to reach out to him. Olga discovers sometimes her students teach her more than she teaches them.

A week before Christmas, Olga and her brother, STEFAN, use the tickets Viktor provides and take the train to Ontario, their first trip outside Alberta. When Olga tries to contact Viktor, she discovers he has been involved in a serious accident at his workplace. Olga and Stefan spend most of Christmas vacation at the hospital visiting Viktor. Olga and Viktor have time to talk through many issues and discuss wedding plans. Although Viktor received severe burns, his body is healing well. Olga and Stefan say goodbye to Viktor and return to Gillmore.

The train arrives back in Gillmore and Olga is handed a telegram which contains information that turns her world upside down and sends her on a quest for truth about what happened. In the process she discovers many things about herself, God, and true love.

My working title for this novel is Olga’s Discovery. The publisher I’m working with has indicated I need to come up with a more captivating title. Some other options that have been suggested are: Enduring Love, This Fierce Love, Unending Love, Undying Love, When Love Abides, All My Love Olga, Forever My Love, and Love That Won’t Let Go.

Please help me name my novel by commenting with your choice of title. If you have an original title idea, share it. I’ll send everyone who participates by August 31, 2014 a free electronic version of the first chapter. If your title choice is used by the publisher, I’ll send you a free autographed paperback copy of my novel when it’s published (hopefully in 2015). I look forward to your feedback 🙂

 

 


Shadows and Sunshine cover

Cover Reveal – Shadows and Sunshine: SFWP Volume 6

Shadows and Sunshine coverI’m excited to announce my next novella will be released early in July. Here’s a sneak preview:

 

Heather and her crew are determined to pull off the wedding of the year for their high profile client. The stakes have never been higher—this single event could make or break the business. The venue is set, decorations are ordered, and the menu is one-of-a kind. Two days before the event, one thing after another goes wrong. Mario knew he should have made back-up plans, but he didn’t. Bryan thought his past was behind him, but it reappears at the worst possible moment. Heather is forced to deal with personal issues while responding to the challenges of running a business. Does the wedding planner team have the resources and creativity to bounce back and pull off the perfect event?

This is the last volume in Series I. The other five volumes are currently available on Amazon.

Stay tuned for the official release!


Guest Post – Jen Cudmore with Tips for Balancing Rhythm and Pace

Jen CudmoreToday I’m privileged to host Jen Cudmore, one of my fellow authors for the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series. Here’s what she has to say about rhythm and pace in writing:

How does a writer keep a crime novel exciting and full of suspense? How are sweet stories told in a way that inspires the reader?

It’s not just the words the author chooses; it’s the positioning of each one in a place that best portrays the attitude of that particular scene.

When it comes to writing a novel, rhythm and pace are a big factor in creating a compelling story. Rhythm and pace are controlled by the length of each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter. There are a few techniques which help the story move faster or slower, depending on your intent.

Here’s a simple formula to follow:

Short sentences, paragraphs and chapters = faster pace.

If you’re writing a scene with a lot of action or energy, use shorter sentences and paragraphs. When your character is being chased by the bad guy, you want the reader to feel the sense of urgency. One or two word sentences raise intensity, as does a paragraph with only one or two sentences. But be careful; too much can annoy the reader. I once read a book by a famous author with multiple one sentence paragraphs on each page, and it made the story harder to read.

Long sentences, paragraphs, and chapters = slower pace.

Readers sometimes find long paragraphs and chapters daunting. Long blocks of wording give a feeling that extra effort is required to read that particular section. However, there are times when the author needs to insert these fuller sections to calm the pace of the story after a high energy section.

The trick is balance.

Too much action and the reader will become exhausted. Not enough action and the reader will get bored. Keep it varied. You don’t want the reader to pause because they got lost, or to skip a section because it was too tedious. Each sentence, paragraph, and chapter must flow smoothly into the next.

You don’t want every page to look the same. On my first manuscript I worked hard to keep the chapters all the same length. Then I realized it was not only okay to vary the length, it’s actually beneficial. So give your manuscript a quick skim and see how you did at varying your structure.

Jen’s Bio: I grew up on the Columbia River Gorge in a tiny cabin built by my father. My family attended a little Baptist church where my mother played piano and my father led the music program. I left the Gorge area to attend Northwest University, where I graduated with the first group of students to earn a Bachelor’s of Psychology. Newly married with a baby on the way, I decided to put off graduate school to devote my time to learning how to be a better wife and mother. After my husband received a job offer, we relocated to Alaska, where we currently reside with our two children (as well as two boxers and two cats).

During the day I work for a large orthopedic clinic. I serve in both the AWANA program and bus ministry at my church. I’m a member of the Christian Writers Guild as well as the local Alaska Writers Guild, where I’m currently serving a fifth year on the conference committee.

Willow Ridge-website-summary


5 Ways to Effectively Market your Book

Book Marketing Blog Hop

For the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about book marketing from many different authors. Dvorah Lansky put together The Book Marketing Challenge with a diverse cast of authors who took turns sharing marketing ideas which have worked for them. Some of the strategies I knew about, but having access to specific “how-to” posts was very helpful. My only regret is that I haven’t had time to try them all out. Here are five of my favorites:

  1. Host a blog hop – this is a great way to share information and increase your audience. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several blog hops over the past few months. If you want some tips, check out my previous posts on hosting a blog hop and creating a button for your blog hop. You can also use a blog hop to run contests or have people enter for a free copy of your book.
  2. Create something of value to give away – This sounds counterproductive; why would you spend time creating something of value and then just give it away? If you want people to BUY products from you, they need to trust that you have something that will be valuable to them. Most people are willing to give you their contact information (name and e-mail address) in exchange for something free. I’m currently in the process of updating my blog/website. When I launch my new site, I’m planning to give away Twitter Tips and Tricks for Writers as a way of building my contact list.
  3. Create graphics to share on social media sites – Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, you can find quotes or snippets to share. Go through your manuscript and highlight what you want to share. Then, create graphics using software like The Logo Creator or Logo Design Studio Pro. This can be as simple as using a plain background and placing the quote on it or pairing the quotes with pictures you’ve taken. Make sure you include the title of your book and the link to your website so that it’s easy for people to find more information. Once you have a graphic, you can share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  4. Interact with your audience on your Facebook Author Page – This is a strategy I’m just starting to experiment with. (You can connect with me at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder). If you haven’t set up an author page yet, check out this tip page offered through the book marketing challenge. Facebook Pages give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience, “boost” posts you want more people to see, and receive stats that will help you determine how to use the page most effectively. If you want more information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing on Copyblogger.
  5. Use press releases – I’ve found this to be a very effective way of letting people in my local area know about my books. When my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, was released I put together a press release and sent it out to four local papers. Three of the four responded. One paper printed an interview, another paper printed the information in the press release almost word for word, and the third paper highlighted the release of my book. For more ideas, check out Connie Dunn’s post on Marketing Your Book with Press Releases and 4 Tips for Creating the Essential Press Release by Sandra Beckwith.

What have you found effective in marketing your books? Please share 🙂


Putting your best foot forward: preparing for a writers’ conference

Girl taking a tentative step forward

I’m preparing to attend Write Canada in Guelph, ON from June 12-14. This morning I jotted down items on my “to do” list under “Prepare for Write Canada”. Here are a few things I’m preparing with an explanation of why and how:

  1. Business cardIt’s a good idea to have a business card that you can hand out to other writers, interested agents, or editors you meet. That way they have your contact information and can easily follow up with you. Check out sample business cards on the Tinyprints site if you want some creative ideas.
  2. One Sheet – a basic overview of who you are and what you do. Some people will want more information about you than a business card provides, so a one sheet is a good thing to have with you. The Writer’s Alley gives a good overview of a one sheet and examples for you to see. Jennifer Beever shares some helpful do’s and don’ts from a marketing perspective.
  3. 30-second elevator pitch – This is a 50-70 word description of a book or magazine article idea you want to pitch to an editor. Check out “What’s an Elevator Pitch for Your Book?” for a good overview and links to examples.
  4. Unpublished work for Blue Pencil Review – Holly Case explains, “Back when copy-proofs were still manually cut, pasted, and photographed before printing, a blue pencil was the instrument of choice for editors because blue was not visible when photographed. The editorial intervention was invisible by design.” Some conferences offer an opportunity for you to meet with an advanced writer or editor who will read a sample of your work and offer unbiased suggestions.
  5. 5 minute piece to read – Participating in a reading session allows you to give people a sample of your writing. Make sure you select a reading that is able to stand on its own, but also leaves the reader wanting more.
  6. Published books – Often there is a bookstore at the conference where you’re able to leave your books on consignment. There is usually a fee associated with this service (e.g. at Write Canada the bookstore keeps 25% of the sale price).

Do you have other suggestions to help writers who are preparing for a conference? It’s time for me to get down to work. Maybe I’ll see you at Write Canada.

 


Blog Tour for the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour LogoIn preparation for the official launch of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas paperback on Thursday, May 29th, many of the 12 authors are participating in a blog tour. I invite you to come along as we get to know other authors who participated in the collection. Here is the blog tour schedule, along with links to the authors’ blogs:

Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour

May 19 – Ruth L. Snyder at http://ruthlsnyder.com/

May 20 – Anne Baxter Campbell at http://pewperspective.blogspot.com/

May 21 – Marcia Lee Laycock at www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca

May 22 – Mishael Witty at http://bluebrownbooks.com/

May 23 – Christine Lindsay at www.christinelindsay.com/

May 24 – Sheila Seiler Lagrand at http://sheilalagrand.com/

May 26 – Jessica Ferguson at http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com

May 27 – Kathy Bruins at  http://www.kathybruins.com/writing-speaking-and-other-interests/

May 28 – Peg Phifer at http://www.whispersinpurple.com

May 29 – Jeanette Hanscome at http://jeanettehanscome.com/

What Does Christmas mean to you?

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Snow? Turkey? Family get-togethers? Gifts? Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Decorations? Sleigh Rides? Church? Caroling?

Sometimes we don’t stop and think about what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in a different country, on a different continent. In Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, my main character, Cecile, is spending her first Christmas in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. There is no snow. In fact, the temperature is hovering in the high 30 degree range (Celsius). She is hot, and sweaty and dealing with bugs and poverty and corruption. There is no air conditioning. There is no turkey, or family to get together with, or decorations. Obviously, without snow, there are no sleigh rides, and many of the Christmas songs she grew up singing don’t fit. Well, maybe I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas does. Although the people she serves have strong beliefs, most of them don’t believe in Jesus Christ because they’ve never had the opportunity to hear about His birth, life and death. They have no Bibles. In fact, many of them don’t know how to read.

Here in North America, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Often we get caught up in the commercialism of pretty wrapping paper, exquisite decorations, expensive gifts, and lavish meals. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. However, we need to remember who and why we’re celebrating. Jesus Christ, the God-man was born in a humble cattle shed and laid in a manger. He left the splendor of Heaven and laid aside His rights to take on the form of a servant. He walked this earth, ministered to people, and lived a sinless life. Then, He chose to walk the road to Calvary where He willingly gave His life as the Lamb of God. He took my place and yours on the cross. He accepted our punishment so that we can have a personal relationship with God. Then He rose again. Some day He’s coming back to earth to gather all who believe in and follow Him so that we can spend eternity together in Heaven.

It’s my hope that Cecile’s Christmas Miracle will show you what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in a different country. It’s also my hope that you will remember people you know who are overseas, whether in the military, as missionaries, or for work. Make time to send them a care package, or schedule a Skype visit with them. Better yet, go visit them and take a “walk in their shoes”. The first Christmas was about giving. Will you follow in Jesus’ footsteps and give what you can to make the lives of others better?

Enter a comment below for your chance to win a free paperback copy of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas. I will be making the draw on Thursday, May 29th and will announce the winner on my Facebook Author Page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder. NOTE: You must be 18 years or older to participate in the draw.


Expectations and Cecile’s Christmas Miracle

Book Cover for Cecile's Christmas Miracle by Kathi MaciasWe all have expectations, whether we realize it or not. Here in North America we expect, even demand, comfort, food and water whenever we want them, freedom to choose where we go and what we do, money to spend on our whims, and the list goes on. In many other countries, people do not have the same expectations. In fact, in some countries people expect to die, expect to do what others tell them to do, and expect very little in the way of human comforts.

With access to information on the internet, we understand more about what life is like in other countries. We hear about airplanes going missing and not being found. We advocate for girls kidnapped from school in places like Nigeria. However, the adage that we don’t really understand someone until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes, is still true.

My main character, Cecile, from my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, has expectations too. She, like many of us, doesn’t realize what some of her expectations are until they aren’t met. She knows she volunteered to serve people in a third world country, but she doesn’t expect the ignorance of basic hygiene. She knows she’ll be away from her parents and other family members, but she doesn’t expect the overwhelming feelings of loneliness, especially when she’s surrounded by many people. She knows the culture and language will be different, but she doesn’t grasp how different it will be spending her first Christmas in the heat and dust of the Kalahari Desert. One of the reasons I wrote this story was to show people in North America how different life is overseas and to remind all of us to think of others while we are celebrating Christmas with our lavish feasts and expensive gifts.

Paperback cover for Kathi Macias' 12 Days of Christmas which includes Cecile's Christmas Miracle by Ruth L. Snyder

Cecile’s Christmas Miracle has been available in e-book format since early December 2013. (You can purchase the e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.) This month my novella is being released in paperback, along with 11 other Christmas stories in the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas. (You may purchase your copy on Amazon or by contacting me at sun dot beam3 at Yahoo dot com.)

To celebrate the release, several of us who have stories in the 12 Days of Christmas collection are participating in a blog tour. At the end of the tour there will be a draw for some free copies of the paperback collection. I’ll be posting details of the tour and the draw later this week. Stay tuned!


Plot: What makes readers turn the page?

Flower Pens
Centerpiece at His Imprint Conference created by Jenna’s steapin’ Party

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be involved in the His Imprint Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. One of the sessions I attended was about plot. Tammy Wiens did a great job of helping us think about what makes readers turn the page. Here are some of the thoughts that were shared:

  1. Conflict – There has to be conflict, or there’s no story. Conflict hooks the reader; they want to know how the conflict is resolved. Tammy reminded us that over 300,000 books were released last year. She challenged us to know our competition, be better, stand out, and be unique from the very first word.
  2. Characters – Your characters dictate your plot. Stories need well-developed characters, so make sure you do a thorough character sketch before you start. Tammy shared about a “scary guy” who lived in the town she grew up in. He was the person all the kids told each other to stay away from, but at the same time dared each other to knock on his door. One day Tammy’s mother took her to meet the “scary guy” and she discovered that he was a talented gardener who had grafted different fruit trees together. She challenged us to make sure our characters are well-rounded.
  3. Dialogue – Use dialogue tags to break up the monotony of “he said, she said”. For instance: “Stop!” Jack reached across the table. Remember that every speaker requires a new paragraph. Be careful to keep your point of view consistent and make sure the dialogue matches the character.
  4. Setting – Starting a novel with a long setting description is a waste of everyone’s time. Setting should be woven into the story.
  5. Ebb and Flow – Having ebb and flow in your plot is what makes your story keep moving. There will be “rapids” in the stream as well as quiet, gently flowing water. Our plots should be the same way. The reader needs to rest every once in a while, so balance tension with release.
  6. Editing – Tammy encouraged us to find someone from a different walk of life than ourselves to edit our books. She shared an example of her story which appears in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. Tammy used the words “grid road”, which are well understood in Saskatchewan. However, the editor was from Ontario and had no idea what that meant. A whole paragraph describing the gravel grid roads was added to help readers who weren’t from Saskatchewan understand what Tammy was talking about.

Are there other points about plot that you’ve found helpful? Please share in the comments below.