Friday, March 19, 2010

The Perfect Excerpt

At left: Possibly the World's First Excerpt!
Excerpts—we love them, don’t we? There’s no better way to sample an author’s writing style than to read an excerpt. One entire Yahoo Group is devoted to “Excerpts Only for Romance Writers and Readers,” and many authors and readers post there on a daily basis.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to post the perfect excerpt. Many writers have their own methods, from very long, to very short, somewhere in-between, at times concise, and at others, rambling. What is the best method of selecting a sample of your writing? How can you entice a reader to read your full excerpt? Choose one that contains dialogue or action, not just narrative, and keep it short and simple.

Consider the short story. The guidelines are: limit to a specific time, place, event, interaction, or character’s evolution. It is, in fact, a mini-novel, complete with a beginning, middle, and an ending, i.e., an abbreviated novel.

Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. Continuous involvement without any lapse at all is as short as eight seconds. The average adult who is engaged in an interesting activity or topic will remain focused for twenty seconds. People are also capable of longer periods up to two and a half hours when they are doing something enjoyable or motivating, such as watching a movie. Researchers have found that the modern adult’s attention span shortens as time goes on. The phenomenon of instant gratification in our technological world deters the attention span even more.

Now consider the excerpt. The guidelines are perhaps the same as those for a short story: one idea, one interaction, in one short time frame, wrapped up with a beginning, middle, and an ending, approximately three hundred words—a mini-short story with a hook at the end.

Here’s a test for you. How many words are in this article to this point? (310) How long did it take to read it? (Average adult-one minute.)

From a short novel for the Wayback, Texas Rodeo Series-Title: Showdown in Southfork.

Excerpt: Cody and Marla

Smiling lazily, he looked her up and down, at her short white shorts, pink stretch T, and red flip-flops. With that salacious grin, he continued back to her hair, hanging to her shoulders in a tangled mass of curls, but right now, there was no time to brush it properly. Some day she would just get it all whacked off and stop worrying about it.

“Stop staring,” she demanded.

“Well, I can hardly keep from it since you’re standing right in front of me.”

“Oh,” she muttered, straightened, and moved to the side.

Cody kept staring at her even though she’d moved out of his direct line of vision.

He drawled, “You know, if there’s anything I like in this world, it’s a woman with red hair.”

“It is not red. And if there’s anything I hate in this world, it’s a man saying my hair’s red. For your information, it’s strawberry blond.”

“Strawberry blond. Whadda you know? Now, I like that even better.”

Narrowing her eyes at him, she said, “Well, I’m just as pleased as punch.”


This short excerpt has three parts: Beginning: Cody stares at Marla while she watches him. Middle: they have a short argument. Ending: She has the last word. It contains 260 words. Reading time: 20 seconds.

Celia Yeary
Book Titles:
All My Hopes and Dreams
Showdown in Southfork
Texas Blue
The Wild Rose Press

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nacogdoches, Blueberries, and Texas Blue

My newest historical romance, Texas Blue, is set in 1880 Nacogdoches, Texas. I had created a young woman who lived in isolation deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas. She became Marilee Weston, the heroine of the novel, and my plot included a hero, Buck Cameron, who found and rescued her. She allowed him to transport her and her small daughter by horseback to his hometown, Nacogdoches.

The entire story takes place there, in the “Oldest Town in Texas,” named for the Caddo family of Indians who once lived in the area. In 1716, Spain established a mission in the Caddo settlement. By 1779, Nacogdoches had become a “pueblo” or town, with the central point of present-day downtown as an intersection of El Camino Real and El Calle del Norte. The town became the eastern gateway to Texas.

Mr. Partain from the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce gave me a link to photos of Old Nacogdoches. When I saw the first one, chills of excitement ran down my spine--there was my created old town! Also, I found a photo of a lovely white church. Again, a white church plays a big role in the story. I couldn’t have imagined it any better.  

Why did I choose Nacogdoches? Because I planned on writing more books about the Camerons, and members of the family would migrate across the state. How would my future characters find their way? By traveling along the Old San Antonio Road, or El Camino Real, The King’s Highway. One branch of the old road is today’s State Highway 21, which runs through Nacogdoches to San Marcos.

The “blue” in the title, Texas Blue, comes from the sky-blue eyes of Marilee and her little daughter, the Texas bluebonnet, and Texas’ famous bright-blue skies. And now I’ve learned Nacogdoches is also famous for…what else? Blueberries! In June, Nacogdoches hosts the Texas Blueberry Festival. What a great tie-in to the title of the novel!
 A friend gave me a recipe some time ago for a blueberry dessert. I’m sure you can find many ways to use the delicious berry, but I promise you’ll love this one.


Combine: 1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs; ¼ cup sugar; 6 tablespoons melted butter. Press all but ¼ cup crumb mixture in an 8-inch-square baking dish.

Mix: ½ cup sugar; 1 envelope unflavored gelatin; and ½ cup cold water in a saucepan. Heat on low and stir until gelatin and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat.

Combine: 1 cup dairy sour cream; 1 8-ounce carton blueberry yogurt; and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Blend into the gelatin mixture. Chill until partially set.

Whip: ½ cup whipping cream. Fold into yogurt mixture. Stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

Pour into crust. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top and chill until set.

I thank Mr. Bruce Partain, President and CEO of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce for the links, for providing information about the past, and permission to use the festival logo.

Thank you for visiting!
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print
Published by: The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Meet Indie Author Loraine Hunsaker

This week my guest is Loraine Hunsaker who uses LK Hunsaker as her author name. I consider Loraine a pioneer, a courageous author who made a choice to forge her own way, by-passing traditional publishers. This is a woman I admire and respect, and I wanted her story told one more time. Her writing and methods are unique and challenging, but she enjoys the gratifying feeling of accomplishment and success.

Without further ado, I introduce Loraine, and she will explain her career path and philosophy. Celia
Hi Celia! Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my books and publishing experience on your blog this week. I appreciate what you’re doing to help spread the world about indie publishing.

In the vein of indie musicians, who have been making their mark for decades by adding so much more to the music scene than what can be handled or will be accepted by big traditional music companies, indie authors are now coming into their own.

I’ve been publishing my books independently since 2003. I decided to go this way after months of researching the publishing business while finishing up edits of my first-to-finish novel. The traditional method of self-publishing (paying a printer to do a run of books I would have to store and distribute on my own) was too expensive and more work than I wanted to take the time for. I’m a writer first. So to jump in and get my feet wet, I went with a setup company who would do the actual printing and distributing and help with the text and cover creation. There are a lot of these, and I did plenty of comparison shopping before I chose Infinity Publishing ( to handle all those details for me. They’re a wonderful small company, one of the only “author originated” companies to do their own printing and to have a representative pick up the phone when an author calls and answer emails almost immediately. I’m very happy with their service and by this time, they’ve become one of the top two names in the industry for combining print on demand (POD) technology with file assistance plus distribution.
My first three books are from Infinity:

Finishing Touches
Jenna Rhodes escaped her mother's idea of a successful, elite life with an early marriage to an unknown artist, but her husband's eventual success has catapulted her into the midst of another world in which she feels she doesn't belong. Now, in her early twenties, she finds herself alone with a young baby and fighting against her overwhelming artistic desires. With memories of the past and the rekindling of an old friendship, Jenna struggles to find her own world. Rejecting her impulses becomes impossible, though, when a handsome magnetic force begins to pull at her spirit.

Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
Susie Brooks is a nineteen-year-old dance teacher whose main stability through an uncertain childhood was her best friend, Evan Scott, a guitarist with a flair for the business world. Evan’s other best friend is Duncan O’Neil, also a guitarist, but with a flair for attracting women’s attention while hiding his past. When Duncan moves into Evan’s world, he changes the dynamics not only within the band, but within Susie and Evan’s relationship. The three friends find themselves struggling with love, loss, and secret passions during the turbulent Seventies. A Different Drummer is the first of a series of four.

Rehearsal: The Highest Aim
With rising fame comes rising tensions and decisions that build relationships or destroy them. Susie, Duncan, and Evan lead Raucous through the music world jungle heading toward the top. Along the way, family secrets are revealed and new additions come along, and the friends must redefine themselves within their new roles. While making sacrifices and reconsidering relationships, they’ll have to choose between clinging to their current worlds and letting go to explore new possibilities. The Highest Aim is the second in a series of four.

With my most recent, I decided to become an actual publisher, as well, which means more work on my part and a lot of learning, but I was already creating my own covers (using my art education) and setting up my own files (self-taught), so much of the learning curve was already done. I went through LSI ( for the printing and distributing. The benefit was a larger distribution, since LSI has UK distribution and Infinity so far only distributes in the US, plus my own company name on my books. I had been putting out eBooks and Hardcover editions under my company for my first three books, but my new book is entirely from Elucidate Publishing:

Off The Moon
"Riveting" Ryan Reynauld is immersed in a world of music, parties, and temporary companionship. Having risen to the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern is objecting to the way his music is produced. That is, until he finds a young woman standing on a window ledge. Against the advice of family and friends, and through media attacks and fan protests, Ryan determines to care for her himself, making a promise that threatens to destroy his career.
Convincing the skittish girl she can learn to trust again comes with a steep price. Sometimes the path to recovery begins by allowing your world to implode.

For my eBooks, I have an account at I love Smashwords because there is no cost to the author, which means I can set lower prices for my books than if I had to pay setup fees, plus they convert it to whatever file a customer wants. They also distribute their premium line to and other major retailers. All four of my books can be found at Smashwords and BN, plus free read short stories. I’m also part of Operation eBook Drop through Smashwords which distributes free books to deployed service members.

This is a real quick summary of my publishing experience. I run an indie publishing group on that’s closed to members and have a branch of it on Myspace, but I’m in process of putting up indie pub info on my blog to make it accessible to everyone, so be sure to stop by and watch it fill in:

If anyone wants discount codes for my eBooks from Smashwords, they’ll go out in my next newsletter in a week or so. Sign up on my blog or on my website:
Info about how to read Rehearsal: A Different Drummer free! will also be there.

Celia, thanks again! I’ll try to be around to answer questions for the next few days. It may be intermittent, so check back.

LK Hunsaker
~ Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist ~
And thank you, Loraine.
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print



Published by: The Wild Rose Press