The Lure of Words by Tara Fox Hall

Tara Fox Hall Guest Blogging at aecurzon.wordpress.com

I am very happy to introduce once more, the delightful Tara Fox Hall, with her thoughts on the possible pitfalls of writing a series. Welcome back Tara and lots of luck with your new book – Taken in the Night.

We authors usually began writing because we love stories. What can compare to losing yourself for a few hours—-or longer!—in a superb novel that makes everyday hassles fade into dust? Readers love to discover new worlds. We writers feel compelled to create them, to make our own alternate reality of good and evil, conflict and compromise, passion and betrayal. Yet there is also a pitfall here lying in wait for authors that readers never have to learn to avoid: the lure of words.

When creating a rough draft of a manuscript, authors usually do their own thing. For me, it’s jotting down all kind of ideas on where the plot should go (or might go), as well as the key events or period of time I want to cover in the book. As I write, I check my notes for ideas on what comes next. This usually results in several ideas not being used in the final draft, as they—for whatever reason—have nothing to do with the central plot of the given work in progress. This is not to say that the ideas aren’t good, only that they aren’t relevant to the ideas the book presents (or don’t work to move events along in a series work). These “N/A ideas” get put aside. Taken for His Own - Book CoverAfter the final draft is complete, I again read through the book several times for content, answering questions left hanging (ex: how did character X get home for the next scene, where did character Y get the gun he’s got in Chapter 4, etc.). This is done to make sure that everything flows evenly and the action moves right long. But there is also a final step I do, which is read through to make sure that every word I’ve used is necessary. As I read, if I begin to skip sections out of boredom, I take a hard look to make sure those sections need to be there. Anything that is superfluous is deleted, like a sentence whose subject is restated from the one previous. Passages of merit that don’t belong are cut out and saved for a possible later use in a future book.

This drive to be concise as possible might seem extreme to some, especially as there is no tight word count on novels as a rule. Writers could also argue that most readers want the books they love to be long, to draw out their reading enjoyment as long as possible. While that’s true, most any reader at some point in their lives read a tome that was verbose and overly long. I see this most often in fantasy, but lately in other works as well, especially series books. There are sections—and sometimes chapters—that could be summarized by a page, a paragraph, or sometimes even be left out…and the book itself still remains whole and complete. Writers who do this have fallen victim to the lure of words. 

Succumbing to the lure of words is a gradual process. The first stories a writer pens usually are short, or at least direct. Few words are wasted in the telling of the tale, and there is likely little elaboration or false clues (in mystery writing circles, this used to be known as a red herring: an informal fallacy that leads the reader to a false conclusion, making the story more exciting than a straightforward plot). But the more books a novelist produces, the harder it becomes to rein in a work, especially in a series. More and more characters come on the scene, each with their own histories. Landscapes evolve (ex: a world which before comprised of two cities and the land between them now adds on a sea, several other cities across the sea, and five most cities inland from the initial two). Some of this happens because the longer a story is, by necessity the more complex it must become to sustain the ongoing action. There is also possibly an unconscious desire by the author not to end the series, especially if it’s popular. So early books which held lots of action and suspense give way to sequels where not much happens, even as the books themselves get longer. This complication of the story along with “plot drag” tends to upset the reader and leave them unsatisfied. In this, a writer must always remember that they are telling a story not only for themselves, but also for their audience.

Resist the lure of words, series writers. Your readers will thank you for it!

Taken in the Night Book CoverBlurb for Taken in the Night: When Theo disappears, Sar is left bereft, the uncertain guardian of Theo’s newly born werecougar daughter, Elle. As months pass, clues emerge about Theo’s disappearance, yet the twisting trail ends repeatedly without answer. In her grief, Sar turns to Danial and hesitantly begins to build a life with him and Elle.

Excerpt: Lying on my pillow was a small box of Godiva Chocolate. I picked up the card beside it.

“To my Love, on our third Christmas, Danial.”

I put the chocolates beside my bed, resisting the urge to eat one. The next thing I knew, it was Christmas afternoon.

Danial was gone when I awoke, the rumpled bed the only testament that he’d come to bed. Worried he was up, I wrapped a robe around me, and went looking for him. Opening the bedroom door, I stepped into flowers.

There were vases everywhere, with roses of all colors: red, white, yellow, blue, pink, and multi-colored. The sweet fresh scent of roses wakened my senses. I took a deep breath.

“Here’s another one,” Terian said with a grin, handing me a bucket filled with water and more roses. “We’ve run out of vases.”

I took it from him, taking a deep breath in the silky petals. “How many did he order?”

“One for each day we have spent together,” said Danial from above me.

I looked up to the loft, meeting Danial’s eyes. “Danial, that is over five hundred flowers!” I said, shocked.

“Five hundred, thirty-three,” he replied with a loving smile. “I’ve been listening for you to get up for hours, hoping you’d delay long enough to get them in position. There are four hundred and eighty here so far, so it was pretty close.”

“I can’t believe you did this,” I said slowly, looking around me in wonder.

“This Christmas called for more than a box of chocolate,” he said, leaning over the railing, his dark hair falling forward. “And I know you like flowers.”

“I love them,” I said, burying my face again in soft fresh petals.

“Here’s another,” Elle said, carrying in an armful. “There are no more containers.”

“I’ll get another bucket,” Terian said, rolling his eyes, and we all broke into laughter.

Buy links for Taken in the Night

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Melange Books – (HTML and PDF)

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Guest Post: Donating Dignity by Tara Fox Hall

It’s hard to miss the current global campaign for the fight against cancer, which makes this blog, by my wonderful guest Tara Fox Hall, all the more important.  Tara tells us how we can help in a way that is simple, and for most of us, easily doable.  Welcome Tara, and thank you for being my guest once again.

In my recently published book, Broken Promise, heroine Sarelle cuts off her hair the morning after her breakup with her lover, the vampire Danial. She mentions earlier in the book that she had planned on doing this, but puts it off, as Danial Tara Fox Hall at Letchworthloves her long hair. But once he severs their relationship, she decides to go through with her decision, in no small part as a symbol of her being on her own again. She then puts the braid in an envelope to send to Locks of Love.

This scene was included in the book deliberately to increase awareness of Locks of Love, and other charities that take donated hair and make wigs that are given to those who have lost their own tresses to medical issues. I personally have donated my hair three times now, and intend to keep doing so, as this is a cause I believe in. It’s not difficult to do, if you have a supply of hair ties, barrettes, or headbands to keep lengthening tresses out of the way while they reach the required length. Probably the most difficult Tara Fox Hall before donating her hair to cancer charities  Tara Fox Hall after having her hair cut for cancer charitiespart of the donation process is the one that takes the least amount of time: adjusting to the loss of 10”-12” of hair. I confess I still reach for mine at the small of my back, then panic slightly when there’s nothing  to touch!

Here are several sites to visit, if you are interested in hair donation. Even if your hair is highlighted or colored, as mine is, there are still places that will take it; it just may be sold for cash to help finance the wigmaking, instead of being used for actual wigs. Bear in mind that almost all places below want at least 10” ponytails, 12” and longer being preferred!

Locks of Love  (no processed hair)

Pantene Beautiful Lengths  click on link, then see Donation Form for rules.

Angel Hair Foundation  (will take ANY hair in good condition)

Wigs 4 Kids  (this place will take grey hair)

Don’t feel comfortable losing so muck lock length all at once? Bald yourself, but have a pet? Like to craft, or have livestock? You can still help by saving hair of any length, pet hair, old nylon stockings with or without runs, waste wool, feathers, and natural fiber donors. and sending them in (if your salon does not) to help with oil spills. Details are here

Blurb: Shocked at Danial’s betrayal, Sarelle returns to her old home to consider her options. Yet even as Sar plans a reconciliation with Danial, Terian arrives, confessing his desire. When Theo witnesses Terian and Sar kiss, he angrily confronts Sar, leading to startling consequences. Will Sar’s heart choose Danial, Terian,…or Theo?

Excerpt from Broken Promise:

Danial smiled sadly, and kissed me. He nodded once. “I said I’d let you go, and I will,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I release you from your oath, Sarelle McGarran.”

I felt the tears start to come. Just like that, he’d dissolved us. He paused, and looked at me one last time. Tears were on his face, too.

“Good-bye, Sar,” he said softly. “Take care of yourself.”

He grabbed the clean clothes from my hands and left, the door closing behind him. I heard him grabbing his jacket, and the front door shutting behind him as he left. The sound had all the finality of a gunshot. My legs buckled, and I sank to the floor. My dogs whined, licking my tears as I began to cry.

I don’t know how long I stayed there, sobbing on the floor. It was long enough to feel like I couldn’t get up.

Finally, some time later, I climbed to my feet. I felt better, but all the crying had left me feeling empty, closed off. I felt only fear now, fear I’d made a mistake in letting him go, fear that I’d never feel again what I felt with him.

As I went into my room, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked awful; damp, red and swollen-faced. But I saw the choker still around my neck, the fox eyes winking at me, and felt a rush of hope.

There was still time. I could go to him now, tonight, and tell him I’d changed my mind, that nothing else mattered but being with him for as long as I could.

But I would be lying then. Because I still had reservations and they weren’t insignificant. Besides, I had only told Danial the truth. And he hadn’t heard it, as he was too afraid of my rejection of him.

I looked at myself in the mirror again, and made a decision. Then I went and got a pair of sharp scissors. I put my hair into a long braid, and tied both ends of it. Then I sawed through the braid. I put it aside to send to Locks of Love, as I’d planned to all those months ago. I undid my bobtail; it was too short to be a ponytail now. It hung to just below my shoulders, curling softly. I cut a few shorter pieces in front for shape, and pushed it back. It had a lot more bounce and curl now. The best thing was it would be much easier to take care of.

Buy Broken Promise on Amazon

Buy Promise Me on Amazon

Broken Promise by Tara Fox Hall - Book cover

Promise Me by Tara Fox Hall - Book cover

The Chalet by Tara Fox Hall - Book coverFor info on my recently published book The Chalet, click here:  All other works are listed on Amazon as well!

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