Friday, June 13, 2014

Opening a Book with a Hook

Hi Everyone, Debra Clopton here and so very happy to be at Seekerville once more! I brought my flip flops, my manuscript drafts to edit (because it seems I can’t go to the beach without having a deadline due lol) 

I also brought along some Key Lime pie straight from Key West because I just got back from Marathon Florida on Sunday night. It’s the middle island in the Keys, the one right before the 7 mile bridge and Key West. We go there every year so the guys can fish and I get to hang out in the boat some and write on the beach most of the time. And for the last 2 years worked on edits that were due. Oh and I ate Key Lime Pie! 

The beach is a great get away though, even if I am working part of the time and I always come back refreshed. I mean with all that blue water surrounding me how can I not? It also gave me great ideas for my novella that comes out in August called of course AN AUGUST BRIDE. In that novella I got to mix beach, cowboys, weddings Tarpon fishing all together for what I believe is a very fun, entertaining read. More on that later! Now I need to teach something…and talk about my new release that I’m crazy about!

I really wasn’t sure what learning twist I wanted to use in this blog post since I have really had an amazing, fast paced, crazy 8 months of writing frenzy which has blessed me with 6 releases from Jan 20014-Jan 2015, did I mention crazy, really crazy. So there is a lot to talk about and as you can see I NEEDED a vacation in the Keys.   

What I’ve settled on is talking about opening a book with a hook. Lol yes, I’ve been fishing for a week and hope you fall for this hook, line and sinker!

I LOVE openings. They are so important and I for one don’t read a book if it doesn’t hook me instantly. So it stands to reason that I always strive to hook my reader immediately while also making my openings different. It needs to stand out from the rest.

For me, this comes naturally since many times this is how I first meet my main character. He or she pops into my mind doing something odd or involved in something that I need to get them out of. And this hooks me. I figure if it hooks me then it will hook my reader…the only problem is that the characters don’t always fill me in on what exactly is going on. Which for the reader is a good thing because it keeps them reading. For me, the author, it leaves me trying to figure out what’s going on and thus the process begins. And as a pantser who does very vague plotting before a book this is what stirs my mind.

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So, today, I’d rather show a little now instead of tell. My new novella A COWBOY FOR KATIE is in this month’s release FOUR WEDDINGS AND A KISS anthology with Mary Connealy, Margaret Brownley and Robin Lee Hatcher and it just got TOP PICK from RT Magazine and was a joy, joy, joy to be collaborating together on. We were looking for “unlikely” brides. And I’m pretty good with unlikely but I wanted something really unlikely for this historical. And I thought of Crazy Cora from one of my favorite movies, QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER. I loved the backstory that drove that character, the emotion, heartache and pain and the longing for love and redemption. And I knew I wanted to try in some way to create a similar character. Instantly Crazy Katie Pearl popped into my head as if she’d just been waiting for me to acknowledge her. And here is how she hooked me. This is the opening scene of A COWBOY FOR KATIE. This is all she gave me when she appeared in my mind. I wasn’t even sure I should actually open the book with this scene because I thought readers might think she was a little too odd. But this is what hooked me and so at the last minute I included it as the opening when I sent it in to my editor and she loved it. What this scene does is draws us into this character—at least I believe it does, you tell me. Here we go:


She might be as crazy as they said but Katie Pearl had learned that most men were light between the ears. She wondered which one of them she was gonna have to shoot today.

It wasn’t as if she wanted to, but if they came snoopin' around , she was willin’ to oblige them. 

“There ain’t no sense pretending you like this, Katie Pearl, no sense at all,” Katie told herself. From her perch on the wagon seat she could see the dusty buildings of town. And as Myrtle May pulled the wagon round the bend in the road Katie’s insides tensed up.

“You’re a good horse, Myrtle May. Yes you are.” She was glad to have the comfort of her old horse with her as the fire in the pit of her stomach informed her trouble was near.

Town was trouble and there was no getting around it.

Most folks in town crossed the street and walked on the other side these days when they saw her. At least if they were smart they did.

Especially if it was any of them sodbusters who’d recently come callin’ for her hand in marriage. “No siree, Katie Pearl,” she spoke aloud again, her words reassuring to her. “Them sorry no goods have seen your fingers itchin’ on the pearl handles of your Colt and some seen the end of the barrel pointing at them too.” It was true, fools. “You don’t take kindly to none of the hogwash they’ve been trying to sell you.”

Sighing long and hard she shook her head. “No, I don’t. Ain’t that so, Myrtle May?”

Myrtle didn’t answer, which didn’t surprise Katie. Her horse was a little on the quiet side. And that was okay. Katie didn’t mind the quiet—though she sure missed conversations with her pa. She just plain missed her pa.

It was just her now. And though things were fuzzy in her head since the tornado, she was making it.  If only she didn’t have to go to town for supplies.

She tugged her pa’s hat low over her eyes and gritted her jaw down tight.

“You can do this, Katie Pearl. Yes you can,” she assured herself, then mumbled, “Long as you don’t have to shoot somebody you’ll be just fine.” 

Okay, what do you think? This was how Katie came to me. I knew nothing else at that point. I didn’t know why she thought she was going to have to shoot a cowboy. I knew her pa was dead from a tornado and I knew that town made her nervous and folks walked on the other side of the street. And I knew that she found comfort in talking to herself and her horse. Why?

It was something that I had to find out. I included it as the opening because it made me care about this character and I knew something had happened to her and I wanted to find out what it was and I wanted to fix it. I am after all a self-described “fixer” that is what drives me. I love this story and Katie Pearl is a character that will go down as one of my all time favorites and I hope you’ll want to read her story. Reviews have been great so far and I’m so pleased.

Now, in my upcoming AN AUGUST BRIDE a similar experience happened. I knew I was writing a story set in Corpus Christi, Texas and I needed a cowboy and a fun premise and a beach wedding. That was all I knew. Well, I had recently been at an event and there was a woman wearing a tight, gold sequined halter top evening dress that made me think of a mermaid. Obviously, that dress stuck in my mind because when I put beach, cowboy, and damsel in distress together I saw “mermaid.”

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Kelsey Wilcox hated weddings.

But, she loved her cousin. Loved her enough to endure a weekend of wedding torture.

Leave it to Tiff, though, to drag out the agony, opting for two days of wedding fun, starting with this fancy rehearsal party, complete with music and dancing. And romance. 

Funlike a toothache.

Kelsey tugged at her gold sequined dress and struggled to readjust her attitudethe floor length dress wasnt helping. Shed found it on the seventy-five percent off rack, refusing to pay more for something shed never wear again. The thing itched, weighed a good ten to fifteen pounds and was totally not Kelsey.

But Tiff had loved it.

So, here Kelsey stood feeling like a total fake.

Come on, Kels, attitude adjustment, remember.

Right. Kelsey fixed her gaze on the vivid, orange sun beginning to lower over the sparkling, blue Corpus Christi Bay. She loved balmy August evenings.

Loved walking barefoot across the beach, the touch of the fading sun on her skin and the soothing  sensations of warm sugar sand sifting through her toes. She drew on that nowneeding every ounce of calm she could find before heading into the wedding party.

Good girl, calm, relaxed. Better, much better.


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Debra here again, so this was how I met Kelsey and I hope that she draws readers in like she did me. We as readers each have our own preference on what hooks us though. So what hooks me might not hook you. But what you learn is that your openings will be true to your voice. And that is what builds your readership because they recognize your voice in the first sentences of your books. 

Do you see the similarities of these two openings? One is historical and one is contemporary but both heroines are involved in something that is causing them angst and building conflict. 

Okay, so I so wanted to show you my heroes and how they react to these heroines but space won’t allow it. I will tell you that Treb Rayburn is about to be totally confused when he meets Katie. And Brent Corbin is about to believe he sees a drowning mermaid when Kelsey gets in trouble. Both were so fun to write.

So this is what I know:

1.                          I’m not the greatest teacher in the world because I do fly by the seat of my pants so much, but readers do tend to enjoy flying with me so it works and I am hoping I have conveyed something here that might help you.

2.                          Start your book with something that hooks you. These two openings did that to me. And the action that came in finding the answers drove me as a writer and I believe will pull my readers all the way through to the end. (of course I know story structure so even if you fly by the seat of your pants you must learn the bones of a novel too)

3.                          Make sure that when you hook the reader that there is enough there to set the hook so that the story reels you all the way in to the end. If not, ad more.

Okay, hope I helped, hope you are enjoying the Key Lime Pie and I’m here to answer any questions you might have—in between bites of this tangy, good stuff. 

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Four Weddings and a Kiss.

Please sign up for my newsletter so you’ll get in on my contest and all the new news and new releases I have coming up. 

I’m working on revisions of my new single title for Harper Collins that comes out Jan 2015 and will be sharing the fantastic cover soon. Also some exciting news coming about An August Bride that I hope to get to share. 

So come on join me at to join the newsletter. And “like” me on facebook and twitter.  

Now I have to get back to the first draft of book 2 in my New Horizons series, I have a heroine who is wearing a fluffy white rabbit suit in July heat and struggling with a flat tire on the side of a lonesome Texas road. How she got there I do not know…but I am about to find out and so is my hero Rafe Masterson…Did I mention that I love my life, this is the best career ever!!!



  1. Debra - love that gold sequin dress! Years ago I had a gold and purple sequined dress and it weighed a ton. Your story opening brought a smile to my face.

    My heroine in the novella I just finished came to me in a similar fashion. Glad to know I'm in such good company.

  2. Love how your characters come to you and everything comes together...I have read the first one, and enjoyed it...and am looking forward the the August Bride!

  3. Thank you Terri! I think we are in the company of a lot of great writers because I think our characters are so real to us that often they appear this way for many writers. Its a really cool thing.

  4. Marianne I'm glad you enjoyed A Cowboy for Katie! And I hope you enjoy An August Bride.

  5. I enjoyed reading this post. I loved loved your book And Baby Makes Five.

  6. Hi Debra,
    You drew me into those stories. Of course I want to read them now.

    What you said really clicked with me. Two of my stories came to me with an opening scene. One I've written, and the other I'm taking notes and trying to figure out. I'm really excited to hear this is your method, and I'm not crazy.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  7. One more thing Debra,

    Amazon has the Kindle and Audio available for pre-order, but not the book. Your cover is so beautiful I'm sure most people will want the book.

  8. Debra, this is a fun post—It's neat finding characters in odd places and then going for the long ride with them.

    I like learning and discovering about my characters as I go along. It's kinda like when you meet a 'real' person for the first time—you learn about that person as friendship develops—small steps one at a time.

  9. Classic Clopton

    And that is why I love your work, you make the characters leap off the page, into my heart and your heroines aren't whiny-pants or fuss-budgets, they're women who do what has to be done, even if it flies in the face of their nature...

    GREAT OPENINGS!!!!! And I see the reflectivity in them, the different eras but the similar angst.

    (Note that I used a high-falutin' word to make me sound like a writer, I coulda just as easy said, "Yep. They sound alike" and youse would all know what I meant, but I tossed a B-I-G word in just to make it sound all official-like)

    I've done virtual beach retreats, but never a REAL one, Debra, so I might have to see about that one of these long, cold, upstate winters. Take ol' Dave down fishin' and I get to sit and relax and drink diet tea....

    In the shade because I'm a sun-wuss!!!!

    Thank you for being here, I always jump up and down and clap when you visit, kind of like my 4-year-olds when somethin' good's about to happen!


    Fresh coffee and NYC CRONUTS are served!!!!!


  10. Oh, and I pre-ordered Four Weddings and my daughter informed me yesterday that it did, indeed, download on my Kindle that happens to mostly live at her house...

    But since she gave me three adorable grandsons, I can't begrudge her first reading rights!!!! :)

    Can't wait to read that 4 1/2 STAR COLLECTION!!!!!

  11. Debbie, I just love those openings! You're a master at this! I'm dying to keep reading each of them. I can't wait to do so! Will be fun to see those poor guys who meet your heroines. :)

    Now you've inspired me to go work on my opening hooks.

  12. BTW, I just got back from the beach, too. It's my favorite place to write!

  13. Also… I shared a few beach photos at the Yankee-Belle Cafe blog today! Come by for a virtual retreat. :)

  14. Debra, what a fun post. And thanks for the Key Lime pie—one of my absolute favorites! I love how your characters introduce themselves to you. Mine don't always do that. Sigh.

    Thanks for the reminder that having tension in my characters in the opening lines is muy helpful!

    I especially enjoyed your gold sequined dress opening. Looking forward to reading An August Bride!

  15. Goodmorning everyone! Jackie, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! And NO you are not crazy. lol well, not really, but if you are a writer then maybe just a little :) we are all. But its great.

    You reminded me! An August Bride is and ebook only this year. BUT next year it will be released as book in an anthology collection called SUMMER BRIDES with Beth Wiseman and Marybeth Whalen. It has a beautiful cover its just not up yet.

  16. Hi Debra!!!!
    Welcome to Seekerville!

    Getting to know you, Robin and Margaret better was the best part of the novella collections we did.

    Great post.

  17. I want to read both books now.
    And Crazy Cora is one of my favorite characters. I can just hear her calling Tom Selleck, "Roy!

    Thank you for this reminder. I've had to revise the opening of my current book hadn't noticed how blah I had started the hero's pov in the rewriting.

  18. Mary
    Thanks and yes, discovering a character is just as you said, like meeting a friend and finding out about them as we go like we do friends.

  19. Hey Deb!
    So fun to have you in Seekerville today. Love your openings and the way you hook the reader.

    You've made me want to be a pantser instead of a plotter. The story unfolds as you write. That's got to be exciting.

    I felt that excitement and energy in the excerpts you provided, which make me want to read more, more, more.

    Congrats on your success! Hope to see you at RWA!

  20. Ruthy! Thanks!
    lol you did sound quite writerly (not sure if I spelled that right but you sounded it anyway.)

    And you made me sound kinda smart too--I really like that. I think I want a smart button to wear on my shirt today!!!
    And I don't envy you those winters. My son lived in Ohio for a couple of years and I have never been so cold as when I visited them.


  21. Connealy was being NICE!!!!! Film at 11:00!!!!!

  22. Oh Missy I'm going to see your pictures. I was going to share one here too but my computer was acting up and it wouldn't let me send Mary the photos so I couldn't get one in the post. thankfully computer is behaving this morning.

  23. Deb,

    You mentioned publishing SIX books in TWELVE months. A new release every TWO months! That has to be a world record!

    Super congrats!

  24. Hi Jeanne T. Yes tension and conflict in the opening starts driving the story immediately.

    LOL So glad you enjoyed the gold dress. I loved it. Its another example of how our writer brains are always storing things and then pulling them from the files up there and plopping them into a book when we need them. God is amazing in how He thought of everything even how a writers brain needed to work. lol

  25. Oh Connie so glad to help you see this. I love opening books with the Hero's pov. They are usually in a real bind when I intro them. So do jump in there and really ramp him up! I adore Crazy Cora, and the writer was brilliant in how she called Tom S. Roy. I loved how they worked that through the story development.

  26. Welcome back to Seekerville. I will have pie for breakfast! I'm exhausted at your writing deadlines. Good for you. Congratulations!!!

  27. Hi Mary, thanks for having me here girlfriend. Yes I have loved getting to know you Robin and Margaret. FOUR WEDDINGS AND A KISS was such a fun project as was A Bride For All Seasons. But in Four Weddings the 5 romance that ties the book together was a creative idea. I think most of the time in our conference calls I was just sitting there being amazed by how creative all of you are. I've never been in a collaboration before so it was new to me but oh so lovely!!!

  28. Great openings and the mermaid twist sounds just way too cute! lol

    Love it!

    Now I need to go polish off an opening that needs a bit more oomph.

  29. Hi Deb! And you to Tina!
    Thanks for having me on Seekerville all you Seekers.

    YES it was a killer deadline that just kind of happened and just kinda almost killed me!!! lol I do not recommend it. Seroiously, HOW does Nora keep that pace up on her release schedule year after year. Four books is a killer but SIX whew, thankfully 2 of those were novellas but then one of the books was 80,000 and required far more plotting so it took up the space the novellas didn't. I committed to that because we as writers sometimes have to commit to some really hard work in order to make a change. And for me, I wanted to continue to write for Love Inspired plus I wanted to write for Harper Collins (Thomas Nelson) and I also wanted to dip my toes into the indie market. So I had to tighten up my belt (around the back of the chair I was sitting in) buckle my shoes tight and set to work. I still don't recommend it, lol because I literally had no life, but I am so happy now that i have all these books and they are a mixture of publishing venues! And, I can honestly say I'm very proud of each one. Though I was writing all the time, I put everything I had into making them be as good as I could.

    Thanks again!

  30. DEBRA!!! Sooo nice to see you here, darlin', and with one of my favorite subjects too!!

    I love, Love, LOVE first lines, and both of yours listed are WONDERFUL ... hooking me right in!

    I'm in a rut of sorts, I think, because every single one of my books that I have written begins with an internal thought from the heroine. For some reason THAT'S what comes to me first like your scenarios come to you. First lines are generally all I need to skip off onto the rabbit trail of a new story. :)

    And six books in eight months??? HOLY COW ... and I thought Mary Connealy was fast ... ;)

    Fun post!!


  31. Hey Pam, yall me and Pam were Golden Heart finalist together! Pam won--which I thought was fantastic, lol I was just grateful to be in the pool with her. I'm so glad about your success Pam!

    Pam brought up an important HOOK tip!

    The mermaid twist was fun, and looks good on the blurb that they've come up with. Which reminds me of an important element in HOOKing a reader--when you are thinking of your book and trying to come up with a hook, foremost think about an element that will look good in a blurb. When you do that it helps hook the editor because it helps her see MARKETING possibilities and she has to see that. Its fresh, its a twist and that's sets your book apart.
    I studied blurbs for years and for hours and hours. I still do. I go to the book store and stand there and look at covers first and then figure out why I reach for the ones I reach for. Then I study blurbs and determine what makes me put the book back on the shelf and what makes me open the book to read page 1.
    NOW see, that's the bad part about our work. We write the book but normally we don't get to write the back blurb!!! So we don't get to write the part of the book that is most important and makes the reader read on to our brilliant prose on the 1st page :( that is so wrong somehow. SO the way I remedie this is by thinking about marketing in my synopsis and hooks. I can honestly say that most of my books have my words on them or a close variation and I give credit for that to this info I've just shared. My goal and it should be everyones, is that your hook shows marketability in a creative way that makes the editor AND the marketing department see selling possibilities.
    Ok, thanks for reminding me of this PAM!

  32. Thanks Julie!
    Girl--I've done the first line bit too, and love it! And I think our minds do sometimes get us in ruts as you say.
    I don't always start internally like I did in these two, but I found it interesting when I went back and pulled these two intros up and saw the similarities. But, though they are similar in some ways they are not similar in story line. So I don't see a problem with ruts :) but do like to shake things up sometimes. My girl in a bunny suit scene starts in the hero's pov and quickly becomes a verbal scene. This book is book 2 of my indie series and is giving me a run for my money and having me second guessing my opening, but I'm determined to keep her in that bunny suit!! Dag-nabbit! Which gets me out of my rut of internal openings :)

  33. A drowning mermaid? I love that! Great examples. I've always enjoyed your Mule Hollow books, so I'm sure these will hook me. :)

    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  34. OH!!! Pam I just read your post on eyes from yesterday. Great!!! I needed that for the edits I'm starting this evening. I am so bad about letting it be about the eyes. lol eyes and butts (with two tt) but the end of the book I have tons of butts and eye descriptions.

    Changing them around sounds so easy, and looks so easy when you showed the tweaks you made to the examples. BUT lol it does take concentration to eliminate them.
    Great post!

  35. Thanks Courtney! You're entered.
    Courtney reminds me to mention that AN AUGUST BRIDE isn't a Mule Hollow Book however (notice I didn't use but)the Matchmakin' Posse from Mule Hollow are in this novella for the first half of the book! The heroine and the bride in the book are Esther Mays nieces and so the ladies come to Corpus for the wedding and a little matchmakin'

  36. OOPs so funny. I just realized in my post to Pam about eyes and buts that I said I had to eliminate too many buts then added the kind with two t.
    lol can you tell I'm tired--I meant the kind with ONE t. I was talking about too many but not butt
    sheese, need sleep!

  37. Good grief Debra, You really did need a beach vacation.
    Thanks for taking time to join us in Seekerville also. What fun hooks. Thanks for reminding us to get those down.

    Have fun today. Maybe we should open one of our huts on the island for you to hang out on and recuperate. And write. smile

  38. Debra, wonderful to see you back in Seekerville! Thanks for sharing your life and those two wonderful excerpts. I always enjoy your books and humor but just marvel at your productivity!

    Crazy Katie Pearl absolutely hooked me! I love historicals and this is a must-read. Fun that she popped into your mind and you gave her life. I got a recent character this way. A gift for sure.

    Marathon is a long hike. :-) Thanks for the pie. Key Lime is a favorite.

    Hope to see you at RWA in San Antonio.


  39. Debra, writing can get so bogged down with all of the many, many things that we are to remember.
    Your post has reminded me how fun it can be!
    I sometimes loose that along the way. Thank you!

  40. Hi Sandra and Janet
    lol yes I was saying Good Grief several times last year as I was in the midst of all those deadlines. But I got her done and would love to spend time in one of Seekerville's huts!!!

    Janet, Marathon is a long hike. 21 hours from my home in central Texas. We drive so we can bring back the fish ;)
    Can't wait to see you and Deb and everyone at RWA. Its in San Antonio and that's a short hike of 2 hours...I got that in the bag.

  41. Hi Donna,
    YES, creating is fun! And when we get caught up in the work of it we can lose sight of the fun. But it is. Its such a joy.

    Its hot here in Texas and I went to town yesterday and saw the guys doing roadwork they were so hot and tired looking and it just reminded me again how blessed I am to get to do what I do...though it took me 13 loooong hard years before I sold it has so be worth the struggles and the joy I went through learning my craft and waiting on the Lords perfect timing in my life.

  42. Debra
    Crazy Cora is one of my favorite characters in film ever. (Quigley Down Under is on my top 10 list).

    This post is absolutely awesome. I love the hooks and now feel an urgent need to read your stories. Please put my name in the hat for an opportunity to win Four Weddings and a Kiss. Will definitely be looking for August Bride as well.

    so many good books... so little time. i'm going to take the info in this post and see how i can apply it with my WIPs.

    thanks for sharing!!!!!!!

  43. Hi Debra:

    I loved your marketing lesson. I’ve been telling authors for years that marketing needs to go into the story before they write the first word. Authors need to give the marketing people, like me, some help in selling the book.

    For years I’ve been told:

    1) That’s not the book I want to write.
    2 ) I pantser. I don’t know what is going to be in the book.
    3) That’s not the book of my heart. If editors don’t like it, then that is their loss.
    4) Marketing does not work. By the time the book is published something else that’s hot will be selling books.

    You don’t know how rare an author you are! With an attitude like you have you’re going to be worked to death writing books that are selling.

    Great job!

    You have the happiest simile BTW I’ve seen on any author photo and it is reflected in your voice. I’ve read your books for years and what you see is what you get. However, I do think you are spending too much time with Mary Connealy with a heroine who thinks little of men but thinks a lot about shooting them.

    Lesson 2: don’t get in too deep with Mary! :)

    I'd love to win any of your new books.

  44. Hi Debra,

    You're one of my top ten authors, meaning I read everything you write, but you're putting out stuff so fast I'm getting behind. As I read your hook for Cowboy for Katie I had a light bulb moment. It occurred to me that the heroine in my Regency is much like Katie Pearle. She hates men and just about everyone, and they run to the other side of the drawing room when they see her coming. I need to bring that out up front because it defines her problem exactly.

    Thanks so much for this post and the insight about hooks. I'll be at the beach next month with a lot of books to read, including A Cowboy for Katie and August Bride.

  45. Hi DebraH
    Isn't Crazy Cora a deep character. She's funny, she has great depth and there is an element about her that MAKES you root for her. And the scene toward the end when she stands on the porch wrapped in the blanket and Tom is riding off and then turns and looks back at her...awe sigh sigh sign--that is romance. What more can I say. It just gets you in the gut. That is what I wanted to do when I created Crazy Katie Pearl and she helped me, though I know, I know I have really set myself a very lofty goal. But I do believe that Crazy Katie Pearl will have readers rooting for her. :)
    Thanks ~

  46. Hi Vince!
    SO great to see you here. Awe, thanks for what you said about my smile and what you see is what you get! I do try to be transparent and love my work...both the creative side and the business side. And I think that can be the difference in how I think about the marketing.
    I forget you are a marketing guy so it makes me feel good that I stated all of that well. And I do believe it is that process of thinking about marketing that has in part kept me busy busy.
    But as you know, after thinking of marketing the book itself has to come through with the promise so I'm always so glad to see when people consistently keep coming back for more of my books :)
    Thank you, always a joy.

  47. Oh Vince! I almost forgot, Mary has been pretty nice through out this process. She talks a big talk but is a marshmallow on the inside. lol

    And I have to admit that writing these historicals really gave free reign to my instincts to let my heroines really get feisty! But believe me, Katie has a very very good reason to waving around that gun lol.

  48. Elaine!!! YAY so glad I helped. and I'm so honored to be on your top list. I still have to pinch myself when I hear things like that.

    I think that's cool that we have characters similar :)

  49. VINCE!!!

    I love my heroes. I only shoot the bad men.

    Well, wait...sometimes someone shoots AT the good ones. The hero of Stuck Together for example....VINCE!

    He did get shot in the head.

    But he shook that off.

  50. I'm not sayin' all men should get shot....

    But I'm not sayin' the thought of which should be set aside as nonsensical.

    And since VINCE was able to shrug it off after a fashion, I would think our very real VINCE would see the rugged manliness.... why it only made him stronger, right????

    That which does not kill you....

    I'm relegated to my porch.

    There are children in every upstairs room. And half the downstairs rooms.

    You know those pretty author pics of the author on the genteel porch with the flowers just so and everything freshly painted?????

    Erase that image ASAP.

    And deer flys are attacking me.

    Wretched beasts.

  51. Debra -
    Six releases in eight months?
    I am off to take a nap for you, now.

    So nice to know that an author with with your success often flies by the seat. And your openings have spurred me to rethink some of my ideas. Thanks for a great post!

  52. Debra, how fun to have you as our guest today!

    Actually, you had me at "Katie Pearl," since the heroine in my novel Pearl of Great Price is named Julie Pearl! Just love the way those names roll off the tongue!

    I can really relate to your seat-of-the-pants writing style--"meeting" the main character and then figuring out what she's all about as you write. It's a fun, fun journey of exploration, and usually my characters are very good about keeping me informed on a need-to-know basis. ;-D

  53. Mary and Ruthie I'm laughing so hard! Funny people.

    Lyndee!!! Please take a good nap for me I really need it lol.

    Myra, its a really fun gig getting to "meet" them like that. I always love hearing how other authors meet their characters.
    I think Deb G is a plotter and I've tried and tried and just cant do it. I do it some...but not to the point that a true plotter would think much of it lol. But especially when I write a bigger book I had to force myself to plot some and it was a really painful experience :) I needed Mary to shoot me or something...

  54. Mary and Ruthie I'm laughing so hard! Funny people.

    Lyndee!!! Please take a good nap for me I really need it lol.

    Myra, its a really fun gig getting to "meet" them like that. I always love hearing how other authors meet their characters.
    I think Deb G is a plotter and I've tried and tried and just cant do it. I do it some...but not to the point that a true plotter would think much of it lol. But especially when I write a bigger book I had to force myself to plot some and it was a really painful experience :) I needed Mary to shoot me or something...

  55. Debra, you know I've read every one of your books! Can't wait to read the ones coming up! They sound terrific! I wait for them anxiously from the teaser you just gave us! I always enjoy the humor you put in your stories! Life needs a little humor - so does romance! thanks for your always-entertaining books!

  56. Yay Deb! Looking forward to seeing you and everyone at RWA! And I'm so excited to visit San Antonio! I've never been there. This is a long way for me so I'm flying. No fish to bring back but lots of books I'm sure.


  57. Oh my stars, I've waged war against the deer flys, conceded the battle and am now supervising the history of Kazakhstan through the eyes of an adolescent....

    Your prayers are appreciated.

    Back to ROMANCE....

    Love it.

    We call one of our granddaughters "Pearlie May" because it fits. There's just something about her that makes you want to call her "pearl" and tuck her into an Antebellum gown. It's ridiculous, because she hops like a frog and she's half rugged individual, and half sweetness and light, so you'd think we'd be calling her Freddie or Charlie...



    The name connotes the spirit even more than the appearance, you know?

  58. Debra,
    You hooked me! A great take away for me is that you used the characterization for your hook instead of an external incident.

    Thanks and best of luck--although with your talent, luck would just be icing.

  59. Debra, thank you for the post. I loved it. I am signing up for your newsletter.

  60. Hi Debra - what a fun post! Can't wait to read Katie Pearl's story. Please include me in the drawing.

  61. Valri thank you!I love mixing humor and deeper issues.And there were especially both of those in my Four Weddings and a Kiss novella A Cowboy for Katie.
    Thank you!

  62. Yay Janet you will enjoy San Antonio and the river walk! I actually havent been down to the river walk in over 20 years so it will be a neat trip for me and Chuck. We've been to SA just not the river.

  63. Ruthie, you are so brave with the Deer flies! And you are so right about the names, when we choose them they should reflect something in our heroine. IN this case it reflects her attitude but also it just sounded good with Crazy!!! haha

  64. Thank you Beck! Yes, these two were all about character hooks. I love external too, but even then show character. You got to hookem with the character :)

  65. Wilani so glad you are signing up for my newsletter! YAY

    Loves to Read thank you for stopping by. You are in the drawing :)

  66. Hi Debra! Besides being great examples, those openers are definitely attention-grabbers!

    And talk about a hook. I have to wait while you figure out the rest of this? :-)
    I have a heroine who is wearing a fluffy white rabbit suit in July heat and struggling with a flat tire on the side of a lonesome Texas road.

    That is going to be a fun read!

    Nancy C

  67. LOL Chill N You are the first person to mention my bunny book! That is the second book in my novella collection about the 5 new owners of the Horizon Ranch, 1 cowgirl and 4 cowboys who were left the ranch by their rich boss when he died. The 1st book is Her Mule Hollow Cowboy and this will be the 2nd book. I'm hoping to have it done before Christmas. That bunny suit is causing me a lot of trouble lol its hooked me but I can't totally get the book figured out but soon.

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  69. I love a story that hooks me right from the beginning.

  70. Oh goodness, I don't think I could take wearing a fluffy rabbit suit in July heat! I live in the South so I know how hot it can get. Love your writing!

  71. Hi Debra,

    Absolutely I agree a good story should open with a great hook. If I don't get hooked right away I typically toss the book aside before finishing the first chapter. When I think of great hooks my minds eye drifts to action movies and how they start. Think about the opening scene of most any James Bond Movie for instance. That would be the initial scene that comes just before the music while looking down the gun barrel and the naked lady silhouettes. Yes those opening scenes! Often times the hook is better than the entire movie but so important in getting it launched. The action slows down after the hook and then builds towards the final climatic scene that better be as good as that all importain opening hook. Hmm, this is good I better write it down.

    Thanks for taking the time to write. Great encouragement and excellent examples.
    Thanks, Mark