Author Archives: Ruth Ann Nordin

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to or check out

Writing a Compelling Story

This is perhaps the hardest part of writing.  We deal mostly with fiction in this video, but if you write nonfiction, your main goal should be to pinpoint a problem and solve it.  The solution to your problem should be achievable by your target audience.  If you can do this, then the people you help will want to tell other people in similar circumstances.  In other words, word of mouth will do its magic.

In fiction, however, the rules different.  The goal of fiction is to entertain.  So below, Janet Syas Nitsick and I share tips on how to write a compelling story.

I’ll sum up our points below for your convenience.  Okay, I added some more ideas as I was listening to the video.  So consider the stuff below a bonus. ;)

An Exercise to Try

Think about your favorite book or movie.  What is it that makes it your favorite?  What emotions does it stir up within you?  Fiction should arouse an emotional response.  Compelling stories arouse a powerful emotional response.

An exercise you might try is to sit down with a notebook and a pen and write out specifically what stirred you most in your favorite scenes?  What was said?  What actions took place?  What emotions did these things make you feel?  What were the characters feeling?  Remember, the setting is just a backdrop.  It can enhance the scene, but the focus is on the characters.  Characters are the ones who experience feelings.

Focus on the Characters (Esp. the Main One)

The setting is neutral.  It can’t feel.  It can only add or detract from the center stage (which are your characters).  I find authors who tap into the emotions of the characters are better able to pull off writing compelling fiction than those who rely too much in the things around the characters.  You use external factors in your characters’ world to enhance their experience.  Those external factors should never take over.  Always keep the characters at the focal point.  Your reader is intimately engaged with the characters.

Consider your Genre

One of the things that can help as you look at writing your own book is what genre you’re writing in.  Readers of your particular genre are looking for a certain emotional experience.  They have an expectation going in when they pick up your book.  Now, the question is, will you deliver on that expectation?  Will you give them what you’re promising them?

If you’re writing a thriller or horror, your reader wants to be on the edge of their seat.  They want to be scared.  Their blood needs to be pumping as they read your book.  Those little creeks in the house need to start making them jittery.  Your fictional story should be impacting them in real life.  They need to be spooked.

A romance reader wants to experience that “falling in love” feeling.  They want that wonderful butterfly in the stomach sensation as they join the character in talking to that one special person who’s bound to be their soul mate for the rest of their life.  That first kiss needs to take their breath away.  When the character learns their love interest loves them, the reader needs to experience the joy of requited love.  It’s an uplifting emotion and leaves the reader feeling warm.  This is the takeaway the reader needs to have to be satisfied with the book, and this is why romances must have a happy ending to be in the romance genre.

Think about the genre you write in.  What are the emotions your readers expect when they pick up your book?  You need to tap into that.

Character Types

What type of characters are you attracted to?  I see a lot of alpha heroes in romances, but as a romance reader, I prefer beta heroes, so I write beta heroes more than any other hero type.  Think about the kind of characters that you naturally lean toward when you write.  I have a friend who loves strong, independent women and men who aren’t threatened by them.  She writes compelling stories, though her characters are a different type than mine are.

There is no one way to write a character.  Let your characters be themselves.  Be true to them.  If something is uncharacteristic for them, don’t have them do it.  Real characters have a way of reaching readers on an emotional level.  Don’t force your characters to follow the script you set out for them.  Let them develop as they want.  If you force the character into a box, it’s going to show.  The reader is going to think your story was forced to go in a certain direction, and they won’t believe the premise of what you set out your character to do.  Allow the characters the freedom to make their own decisions.

Another thing, when I was in high school I was a minor role in a play.  At the time I didn’t understand what the director (aka teacher) meant when she said, “The key to acting is to react.”  As a writer (years later), I get it.  What this means is that characters need to react to the things going on around them.  Something happens, and this makes the characters do, think, or say something in return.  Even if the characters choose to say or do nothing, this is still a reaction.  So when you’re writing in your character’s point of view, remember to react to things happening.  Don’t have the characters impose what they think should happen onto the scene.  (Not sure if that’s clear or not, but it’s the best way I can describe it.)


What do you think?  Do you have any tips on how to write compelling fiction?

What about your favorite movie/TV show/book?  What emotions does it stir up in you?  Has this impacted your writing in any way?

Categories: Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Announcing a Conference Dedicated to Indie Authors!

I just found out about this in a Facebook group and am passing it on.

expo for indies

This is from Feb. 12-13, and it’s only $135. (The price includes Friday reception, 2 meals Saturday, and info-packed syllabus.)  This is a great deal.  I’m not sure if I can make it, but I wanted to pass it along in case anyone happens to live around NE Texas.

Click this link or the picture above for more information!

Categories: Marketing & Promoting | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Promoting A Pre-order

This is not an exhaustive list on things you can do to promote your pre-order, should you choose to do one.  These are a couple of ideas I’m using.  If you have any ideas you can add, please share them in the comments.  The more ideas we have, the better. :)

pre-order promotion blog post

ID 37497865 © Melpomenem |

Make a Page For the Pre-Order Book

This can be through a Book Launch page or a page on your blog or website.  The idea is to have the cover image, the description, and links where someone can buy the pre-order.  If you can add something unique or fun to the page, even better.  This page can be the central hub to direct people to your upcoming book.

Here’s an example of one of mine if you want to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Like I said, you can do this on your blog or website just as easily.  If, however, you would like to sign up for a book launch account, here’s the link.  (I love this tool a lot because it simplifies all the information I need to post about my book.  Plus, it will allow for a video and an email sign up if you want to use those features.  I don’t do those, but some people do.)

Use the Back Matter of Your Already Published Book to Advertise the Pre-Ordered One

This is especially powerful in a series.  If you have Book 1 out, you can do a link to the pre-order for Book 2 at the end of the Book 1.  There are several ways you can do this.  One, you can link to your book launch page (or a page on your blog or website) where you have the book info, cover, and links to pre-order the book.  Or you can do a direct link right there to each of the places the book is on pre-order.

The reason I like to direct people to the book launch page is because I have the characters chime in on that page to say what they did or didn’t like about doing the pre-ordered book.  So even if the reader decides not to click the pre-order button, they might still enjoy looking at the page.

But you do what’s in your style.  We all have our own unique approach to how we can make something interesting.  Maybe you want to do a video talking about your book or a special scene to give them a preview of the book.  Get creative and see what works best for you.  Even if they don’t pre-order the book, maybe they’ll remember it and pass along the information to someone else.

As a quick side note, when I was at a writer’s conference, a couple of readers told me they love seeing a book cover for the book that is next in the series.  There is something about seeing the cover that makes them want to click the link to check it out.  So when you’re linking to the pre-order, I suggest having the book cover image with it, if you know how to put one in.  If not, then your link will take them to it anyway.

When On Social Media, Use Fun Posts to Talk About the Upcoming Book

My favorite form of social media is blogging.  I asked my readers half a year ago what kind of posts they enjoyed, and a lot of them enjoyed updates on what I’m working on.  I thought for sure this bored them, but some actually like it.  So once in a while, go ahead and mention how your current work in progress is coming along.  Then, while you’re doing that, add the link to the pre-order page or give the direct link they can pre-order the book.  I like to do this will the book cover to stamp the visual cue in their mind.  So when they see the cover, they’ll automatically know, “Oh yeah, that’s the book with Character X in it … or That’s the book where X happens.” This is why I like to have the book cover before I even start writing it.  Because then when I mention it on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog, I can attach the cover with it.  (Don’t worry.  You can always update a cover.  Nothing has to be set in stone.  Just let people know it’s a new cover reveal.  I have yet to have anyone jump on me about this.)

Other fun things you can do to promote your pre-order books are….

  1.  Letting Your Characters Tell The Reader What They Think of the Book They’re In (This is my example if you care to check it out  Note I use the book cover image with the caption under it to let people know if they click the link, they can go to the pre-order page.)  This is where a character can write a letter to you or the reader.
  2. Character Interviews.  This is an off-shoot of the above, but it will be a place to get your characters to reveal something fun and interesting about the book that the reader might not otherwise know about.  In this one, you can also use multiple characters and let them banter back and forth between each other.  It’s always fun when characters don’t get along.
  3. Inspiration for the Book.  This is where you share how you got the story idea, came up with character names, how you decided on setting, etc.  It can be anything you want.
  4. What you Learned While Writing the Book.  Maybe your audience really enjoys something specific about history, and you want to share some new tidbit of information you found while researching it.
  5. Video Where You Share Something Special about the Book.  You can always do a video and upload it to You Tube and share it on all the social media places you belong to.  It can be inspiration for the story or something you learned while writing it.  Or, if you’re inclined, you can dress up as the character and tell the reader what you’re thinking of the author or the story or the other characters you’re stuck with.
  6. Share some pictures of what the characters look like, where they live, or some object that is important to the story.  I could see this being big on places like Pinterest or Instagram.

Ideas 1-6 can be done on any social media platform.  I like to make the blog post and link that to Facebook and Twitter so it goes out to all my main social media platforms.  You can do it this way or link it directly to the social media platform of your choice.

Only Bluntly Come Out with your Pre-Order Announcement Once In Awhile

Don’t spam with the pre-order info.  Yes, I do think when you first get the pre-order up, you should announce it.  Maybe do it a couple of times in case someone missed it at first, but space this out so it’s not coming up all the time.

After a while, though, it’ll be ineffective and people will block it out.  I suggest using the pre-order link that will go directly to your pre-order page or the link where the book is on pre-order at.  That’s another reason why I love the pre-order book page.  You can use multiple retailer links on those.  That means you just have to link the book cover to one place, and people can go to the retailer of their choice from there.

You can be discreet with the pre-order page by using the following techniques:

Use the book cover as a widget to the side of your blog and link that widget to the pre-order page.  (To see what I mean, you can check out my blog.  Look at the right side to see the book covers.  If you click on one, you’ll go to the book launch page I set up for it.)

When you make a blog post, have the cover of your book at the top of your post (when you are mentioning your book) and have the cover link to the pre-order page.  Use the caption under the book cover image to let people know they can click the link to find the page.  (I just used this technique in this blog post.  I also linked to this above when I posted #1 under fun things you can do to promote pre-order books.  So check the book cover image and see what I wrote under it.)

Have a pre-order page on your blog or website for all your pre-orders, so people can go to it if they want.  In addition to this other stuff, I do have such a page on my blog and website.

It’s okay to use multiple avenues to promote the pre-order.  I think the key is not to mention it all the time in your Twitter, Facebook, or blog post feeds.  Just as you wouldn’t want to keep saying, “I have this book for sale.  Check it out” all the time, you don’t want to do this with pre-orders.

Categories: Uncategorized

Blog at The Adventure Journal Theme.


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