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Tag Archives: Writing Craft

Scene Song Saturday–Nice Flirt

I’m always looking for new tunes that get my heart pounding and push me deeper into my characters’ emotional end. I fell in love with this song from first play.

“She Said” by Plan B. I find it so flirty and with “Soul Search” set in 1930, it gives me a full visual of a smoke-filled speakeasy and the pull between Grant and Leigh growing too strong to resist any longer.

The video itself is a ton of fun, too. I’ll be shimmying my hips and humming this song all month long.

What’s your favorite new tune this week?

:}Amber Scott


Most Romantic Movie Line?

Part of my “Red Carpet Writing: Hook Your Reader Hollywood Style” workshop is focused on dialogue. Our favorite movies always have those stand out lines, during those key moments that embed into our hearts and memory. How often do we remember lines from our favorite books though? Particularly, dialogue. I’m challenging myself to create more memorable lines in key moments in my books now. Since it takes a village, I’m hoping you can help.

What are your favorite romantic movie lines and why?

Here are some of mine:

“Aaaasssss yoouuuu wiiiissshhhh.” -Princess Bride

“…that no one in my whole life will make me feel the way I feel when I’m with you.” -Dirty Dancing

“I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” -Notting Hill

:}Amber Scott


“Red Carpet Writing”: A Success?

Today, I presented my first “Red Carpet Writing: How to Hook Your Readers Hollywood Style” workshop at the Scottsdale Civic Library. I decided to focus on giving the attendees an energetic experience, involving them through questions and answers as much as possible, in order to create a lively and interactive workshop. With this in mind, I prepared by studying notes and the books in the series Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder, which inspired my workshop theme. I also brought my easel and some markers because I read somewhere that I cannot for the life of me recall now that an audience enjoys and retains more when the speaker draws. The drawings don’t necessarily even need to relate to the topic. Thankfully, mine did.

I count today’s workshop as a success and here are my criteria for measurement:

1. I involved the attendees and each seemed at ease. At least half offerred a question or an answer and every head in the room nodded at least once.

2. The attendees took notes.

3. Two attendees stayed after to further discuss the topic.

4. I found, when imaginary books are in the room, I do an excellent Vanna White style demonstration of them.

5. I got some laughs and did not run out of things to share.

6. I made two errors, both were corrected by an attendee. Though I was thoroughly embarrassed over having made the blunders, I believe I handled each without defensiveness. What were my errors? First, that a line of dialogue in a screenplay does not equate with a minute of film but that a page does. Yes, that makes far more sense. Also, I forgot to say this is a do, not a don’t, on one of the tips from the Snyder books.

7. As a workshop Goodie, I brought door tags with slogans on one side and my promo material on the other.

Door Tags

“Have you seen my muse?” “Do Not Disturb (except for chocolate, cocktails, or ‘the call’)” “Shhh…this is the good part.” “Shhh…author at work.” and “Will Write For Food” each went over really well. I even ran out and got asked for more. I am happy to mail a tag to anyone who would like one. My email is

8. I left feeling energized.

I vote, a success. How about you?

I feel so grateful to have been a part of the workshops today, to be a Desert Rose RWA member, and to be a writer. My biggest hope today is that my ideas helped energize every writer who attended and that maybe I shared a tip that will make their road a bit easier, a bit more fun, to travel on. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m happily getting there.

Thank you so much,



Devil in the Details

Alright. I admit it. I’m the hare, not the tortoise. I don’t always look before I leap and am not generally the least bit tentative in putting myself out there. I can’t help it. I get excited. And impatient.

So, it is my own fault. I misunderstood a couple vital details in the Dorchester Next Best Celler Contest. One, I marked my entry as complete, thinking, yes, by golly, it is a completed manuscript. Not what they meant. They mean, has it’s little run completed. As in, is this a new item to subscribe to or an old, completed one. Well, at least I was able to change that little detail. Next, proactive little bee that I am, I entered all my chapters up front. Then I found out that this is not recommended. Again, the subscriber thing. To remedy, I’m adding more than the minimum required chapters, one at a time over the remaining contest days. Then there’s the blurb. I thought I had only 100 characters in which to hook a reader with my brilliant quip. Not at all. It’s a hundred minimum. Again, fixed, elaborated, hopefully more hooking.

The thing is, better late than never, except had I a few mommy brain cells left and more sleep (excuses, excuses), I’d have more thoroughly understood how the thing works.

Another lesson learned.

In other news, I’m digging the latest Weezer release. I’m a huge fan!


Interview: Erin Quinn, Haunting Beauty Author

Hi all! I’m thrilled to share Haunting Beauty author Erin Quinn’s interview with you today. HB_Cover

EQ: Hi Amber, thank you so much for hosting me on 1st Turning Point!  I’m really happy to be here.

AS:  Erin, you’re a ‘pantser’ by nature. How organically do your intricately woven plotlines, such as Haunting Beauty, occur?

EQ:  Hmmm, interesting question.  I would have to say 100%.  It drives my critique partner absolutely nuts the way I write.  She doesn’t write Word-One until she’s plotted her story to nth degree.  Me, I just need to know where to start, have some concept of a mid-point and perhaps a shady idea of the end.  Through the writing and research I’m doing simultaneously, I end up getting there.  It’s often painful, but it is what it is—they way the story comes out of me.  I laughed until I choked the first time I read a review of my books and they called it “brilliantly plotted.”  Truly, I don’t know what I’m doing until I’m done.  I always feel like it’s an accident that I have any plot at all, though after 5 books, I’m starting to believe it must be intentional on subconscious level that guides me without ever letting the working part of my brain know it.

AS:  You’re descriptions are wonderfully dense and original. What is your process in creating them?

EQ:   Ah, this one I can answer without sounding like an idiot . . . I hope.  Because I don’t know where I am until I get there in my stories, I have to ground myself in the scene.  As soon as it opens, I need to take stock of where I am, who’s there with me, and then what’s going to happen.  With that in mind, I start typing, often making my character do a 360o of their surroundings.  While they are doing that, I am doing a checklist of all my senses.  What do they see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch?  If they aren’t using one of those senses physically, I build my metaphor around it.  (The breeze whispered against her skin, salted with the sea and heavy with coming rain.)

AS:  Being a ‘pantser’, what does your revision process look like? How much of your first draft gets left on the editing room floor?

EQ:  Another timely question, because I spent much of my bar time at RWA Nationals asking others about process.  With my last book, a lot of it ended on the floor and since I was writing under a deadline, this was a problem.  I spew the story out in a few months, using a spreadsheet to track my productivity and goals.  I’m very disciplined with that first draft.  But when the second draft comes around, I’m all over the place.  I can spend weeks on a single scene, writing, rewriting, changing, rewriting.  It’s taken me until book #6 to realize this is counterproductive.  Often the rewrite is no better than the original—it’s just different.  And since the draft was written under such a tight and furious schedule, it is usually cohesive, whereas my rewriting at times veers me into directions I hadn’t expected and then I have to spend a good deal of time figuring out how to get back on track.  I am going to work on incorporating rewriting into my original creation process with this book—perhaps spew the scene the first day and rewrite it the second so that by the time I move on, I’ve got a solid chapter behind me instead of just a draft.  Only time will tell if this works for me or completely screws me up.

AS:   What actors would best play Haunting Beauty’s characters and why?

EQ:   Clive Owen is Sean.  He was Sean from day one and still is in my heart.  There’s something about him that just flips all my switches and I used Clive Owen’s picture to build from when creating Sean.  Danni was harder for me to picture, although I do see a younger Jennifer Anniston in her.

AS:   What is your most oppressive writing fear and how do you conquer it?

EQ:  I think I should be lying down and/or drinking a martini for this one. Honestly, I’m afraid I won’t have enough ideas.  I’m not one of those writers who just comes up with a billion ideas and picks one to write.  I have to really work to make an idea big enough for a book.  I know this is a ridiculous fear, because of course I’m always going to have enough ideas.  I just need to stop worrying about it and go with the flow.  But this business is so competitive and fear is a natural part of that I suppose.  I wonder if athlete’s fear they won’t have the juice to finish the race when they know they always will.

AS:  I rely heavily on my iPod while I am writing nowadays. What one tangible thing do you most depend on in your creative process.

EQ:  I do all my writing on a laptop or on real paper with a pen.  What I depend on isn’t tangible but it’s a big problem for me—alone time.  I need quiet.  I need time.  Between the job, the husband, the kids, and school, I never have enough.  I have to squish an entire career into about 15 hours/week (if I’m lucky) which puts me under a lot of pressure.  These past few months have been particularly challenging because while I’m trying to write the new book, I’m trying to get word out on Haunting Beauty.  Plus I just sent my oldest off to college and am trying to juggle my youngest’s busy social schedule.  It’s crazy in my world but I think that’s true for most writers.


Haunting Beauty by Erin Quinn

A Mysterious Stranger . . . .

Sean Ballagh comes to Danni Smith early one morning and changes her life forever.  He tells her she is from an ancient family with special gifts . . . gifts that manifest as she follows the compelling man into the mist and lore.  In a journey that crosses oceans and time, to an island where the mystical and the occult are as vivid as the emerald fields, Danni arrives at a past that is about to be altered and faces a future filled with the unknown.

A Terrifying Legacy . . . .

Sean recognizes Danni as the woman he is destined for and he will stop at nothing to make her his.  But Danni faces an evil of unbelievable power and to protect her, Sean must be willing to sacrifice everything.   Caught in a passion that spans time and place, battling both her heart and her body, Danni must choose between everything she’s ever wished for and the love that will make her whole again.


Thanks so much, Erin! For questions or comments or just to say hello, click on “comment” at the bottom of this post. Or find Erin directly at