Category: News

Writing Chapter One: The Hardest Part

Now that I’m writing my second book, a continuation of the the first, I’m realizing I have stadium-size writing hurdles to leap over. The biggest challenge? The first chapter.

In Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters, my initial stab at Chapter One was autobiographical. I was presented with a speeding ticket on the 405 freeway in Huntington Beach, California on the way to my first day of work at the only movie studio located in Orange County.

“BMWs should only be driven in the fast lane, but that’s not what I told the nice officer,” was the opening line of the original Chapter One. The rest of the chapter involved heroine Corrie trying to weasel her way out of the ticket (which was not exactly what happened to me, but the nice officer did lower my projected speed). I couldn’t get that chapter going anywhere but in the round file. It was rubbish.

Attempt two involved a prologue. As any semi-seasoned writer knows, prologues are a no-no when crafted by a wannabe author. I loved my prologue like I love my pie crust when it turns out perfectly formed and flaky and light and not too sweet and without any aftertaste. But no amount of my prologue love made it work in that spot. So I moved it to the final third of my story.

My next rendering involved a flashback of Corrie with her dad. It was her first swimming lesson and established their strained relationship. Her parents were newly divorced and Corrie was not exactly adept in her swimming skills. As she says, “I have the swimming skills of a snail.” That chapter was out of line with the tone of my book, so it had to go.

Finally, my last attempt put her where she is today. Near home, late one Sunday, jogging on the wood chip trail in Hermosa Beach, on her way to buy a snack from a convenience store. She was trying to settle her nerves on the night before she was to start her new job at the movie studio. This chapter set the stage for the fact that Corrie has a tendency to walk, run, or jog into precarious and sometimes dangerous situations. Her reactions and interactions revealed her strengths and weaknesses. And I finally had a chapter that worked.

The Two Minute Interview: Author Tena Stetler

Please join me in welcoming Tena Stetler to my blog to talk about her latest release, A Demon’s Witch – A paranormal romance. I’m already excited to learn more about it!

I want to know more. Who is Tena Stetler?

Tena: Tena Stetler, Author, Dreamer and Fantasy Creator

Fantasy Creator sounds fun. What’s your book about?

Tena: Bruce, a demon overlord is attracted to a powerful witch, Angie, that breezes into his salon one rainy afternoon. The problem is she’s little sister of Bruce’s long time enforcer/assassin, Tristian. When he finds out about the romance all Hell breaks loose.

I feel the ground shaking beneath my feet! When is the moment that matters most/turning point in your book?

Tena: When Angie’s brother discovers the romance between his little sister and his boss the Demon Overlord. Then they are forced to work together to save her.

Sounds serious, all right. Where is the setting?

Tena: The story begins in a upscale hair salon in Washington DC, then travels to the surrounding areas until they flee to Tahiti.

From DC to Tahiti – a wild ride! How did you come to write this book?

Tena: Started with a discussion about a rock song that was popular in 1964 about a hairdresser and became a ‘what if’ game. What if the hairdresser was a demon overlord in Washington DC with his finger on the pulse of the DC’s power players. What if a powerful witch spun his world. You get the picture.

I sure do and it is an intriguing one. Which character is your fave?

Tena: I love my hero, Bruce, heroine, Angie, but Willow, the heroine’s best friend has become my fave. She’s a fairy, you know, and will stop at nothing to protect Angie.

I have a soft spot for fairies. :) Why should I (or any reader) read your lovely creation?

Tena: To be transported from reality to a place of magic and romance. Where paranormal characters touch our deepest, and sometimes darkest desires while using their abilities to obtain happily ever after.

And that’s exactly what good books do to the reader: transport. Thanks so much for joining me today, Tena!

About Tena:

With the Majestic Rocky Mountains just outside my window, I sit at my computer with Vampires, Demons, Witches, Faeries and a variety of paranormal creatures gathered around telling me their stories! I am an author of Paranormal Romance Suspense novels and currently working on a Cozy Mystery with magic spark. The everyday world is mundane, but sprinkle a little magic and you have fantastic.

Colorado is home. I share my life with a wonderful husband of many moons, our brilliant Chow Chow, a terribly spoiled companion parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. We enjoy hiking, biking and camping, also love water sports including kayaking and whitewater rafting, especially on the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge.

Another passion of mine is reading a good novel. You can find me any winter evening curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn.

While growing up if I didn’t like the ending of a book, I’d rewrite it, which led to writing my own books. To the chagrin of my mother and delight of my friends, I wrote my first vampire romance before I was thirteen. Now, after years of working as a Paralegal and then an Office and IT Manager, I am a freelance writer and author of fiction novels.

Buy Links:


The Wild Rose Press

Learn more about Tena here.

Book Signing: Newbie Prep

There is something thrilling, terrifying and somewhat off-putting about a debut author’s debut book signing. At least for this author.
Thrilling because it’s a dream come true. Terrifying because it’s an unknown. And off-putting because I’d rather be writing. Terror and off-putting feelings should be shoved aside – buzz-kills are NOT permitted on such a red letter day.

I’d attended a few book signings first hand and read of my Sisters in Crime experiences, and realized that advance preparation would be my salve. To prepare for my home town bookstore appearance, I:

– Contacted the local newspaper to request an interview. To my delight, a wonderful, nearly full page piece appeared days before my event and proved the biggest factor in promoting my appearance;
– Provided a press release to the bookstore who sent out an email to their customer list. This mailing was the second successful promo tactic, as those who could not attend ordered copies. I was asked to leave five signed copies at the store;
– Sent 100-200 postcards/letters to local residents announcing the signing. The physical result was negligible. However, this may have stimulated sales (I hope); and
– Memorized a short presentation about how I came to write my novel in case an impromptu speech was in order.

I brought along treats (my heroine snacks on mini jelly donuts in my novel), bookmarks, and postcards. After a few deep breathing exercises, a reality check that involved a lot of pinching and cheek-slapping (my own thankfully), I was ready to roll.

Wisdom dictates early arrival, say twenty to thirty minutes before showtime. Channeling Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, war strategy, and arts & crafts (I’d say most of my bases were covered here), I arrived nearly an hour before start-time. With all that talent channeled, I had work to do. With staff help, I placed myself just outside the front store entry. A spot that faced the only major street in the little village rural town where I lived.

And little by little, people came, ate donuts and bought books. I had a ball!

– Ask your venue if snacks are okay
– Check with your post office for the most efficient, economical way to send postcards announcing your book and the signing
– Smile
– Move around. If there was down time around my table, I strolled, bookmarks in hand, and stopped to talk to passers-by, handed out bookmarks, waved to cars, and visited the nearby Farmers’ Market.
– Above all else, have fun! It’s the law of attraction. Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is thoroughly enjoying herself?