Tag Archives: Phyllis Smallman

The Power Of A Great Opening

Lips, lips pressing down on hers. Kate’s eyes fluttered open and she found herself looking into soft, brown eyes that were liquid pools of concern. Kind eyes. Without thinking her arms went up around his and she found herself responding to him. Applause burst out from the bystanders around her.

Opening from: Amsden, Pat. “Lost In Vegas.” Lost in Vegas Cover

Hopefully that makes you want to read further. In a short presentation on writing best selling novels earlier this year, Phyllis Smallman said “great writers are great readers.” We all nodded sagely. Then she clarified. You not only have to love reading but you have to read to learn how others write. Oh.

She suggested going to the nearest library and reading the first paragraph from best selling novels. I’d like to think the above example from Lost In Vegas works. It has at various times made it into the top 100 books on Amazon. Below you’ll see an opening line from one of Phyllis Smallman’s books. It definitely draws me in.

Do you think you can catch crazy? In Dutch’s, where I mix martinis and pull drafts, some nights a madness swirls through the air, like a virus infecting everyone.

Opening from: Smallman, Phyllis. “Jack Daniels And Tea.”

Then start to think about how books you love are constructed. Chances are none start with a page on botany. Chances are you’ve met at least one of the main characters in the first page and there’s been an inciting incident within the first thirty. Whether it’s romance or mystery there’s probably a giant problem in the way that makes a neat resolution impossible and makes you wonder “how on earth will they solve that?”

That’s what makes you keep reading. Maybe the botanist is trying to save a plant in the middle of a proposed logging site. Conflict! The life blood of books everywhere. If the botanist is gorgeous and the logger a testosterone soaked version of man candy even better. Switch it up and make the botanist a male version of sex on a stick and the logger a pissed off blue eyed blonde who’d look more at home in a women’s magazine than at the job site decked out in steel toed boots. Excellent!

Depending on size you may have a sub plot or two. Maybe three. They should tie into the main story line, adding depth to the story and characters.

Then think about the ending. You want to end with a bang, not a whimper. There should be resolution that leaves the reader feeling emotionally satisfied. They should close your book feeling that the ending you wrote was the only way the book could have ended.



A Sherri Travis’s Valentine’s Card

Margarita Nights coverSo, really, do you still believe in fairy tales? Not me. For me, Cinderella is dead and the prince is gay. I’m so over romance. These days the only men that I have relationships with are the dudes slapping down their money on the bar.
My name is Sherri Travis and I’m a bartender out at the beach in Jacaranda, Florida. And just in case you think my attitude is sour grapes, let me add that nature was kind to me, thank you very much. No, my cynicism is the product of my god-awful husband, Jimmy Travis’s, low down ways. He started cheating on me at the rehearsal dinner and as soon after the vows as he could organize. I can put up with the drugs and the gambling but the other women? Not likely. After I kick him out he keeps trying to sneak back in until his boat blows up and Jimmy’s gone. Or is he?
When I’m charged with Jimmy’s murder Clay Adams steps into my life. Dark and handsome, I would have sworn Clay was more interested in money than romance. Turns out I’m wrong. Cinderella may still be dead but the prince certainly isn’t gay. Mmmmm…mmm…mm, I’m so glad I got that wrong. Now if I can just keep from snooping in other people’s business, keep out of jail and stay alive, life will be good.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada after and was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the U.K. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Florida Writer’s Association awarded Champagne for Buzzards a silver medal for the best mystery of 2012 and her fifth Sherri Travis novel, Highball Exit, won an IPPY award in 2013. The Sherri Travis mystery series was one of six chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read in 2010.
Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea.
To read excerpts from her 6 published novels visit her website at www.phyllissmallman.com

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Maxine’s Valentine from Death By Chocolate Series

Maxine here. I've been asked to say a few words about Valentine's day. Firstly, I have to say it's fabulous for business. Really, with all the chocolate I've been making, as well as romantic dinners and cake I'm exhausted.

And for all my friends who have been lucky in love and are now enjoying a special day with their loved ones Happy Valentine's Day! I am truly happy for you. Really!

If you're single like me you may want to pretend Valentine's Day doesn't exist. Or read a romance while drinking a glass of wine and some chocolate. Possibly Better Than Chocolate. And then dream about next year...

Last year my creator spent the day writing a murder scene in Chocolate Worth Dying For. Then she went out and had dinner with a girlfriend. Drinks may have been involved. She claims she doesn't remember. But I certainly remember the murder scene. Shiver!

This year she's not telling me what she's up to though I do know she's working on another chocolate mystery along with a medical thriller. She's left me in charge of the blog though so I've invited a few friends to drop in and share their thoughts. Belle, from a Beastly Scandal, will be sharing her thoughts. And then Sherry Travis from the Sherry TravisA Christmas Wedding To Die Forcover mystery series will be stopping by.

There may be chocolate involved...

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