Pinging Back . . .


Kathryn Jane’s post from January 8th, The Magic of Story, resonated so much with me that I just had to “ping back” to that topic today. I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts (okay, so she’s my idol, I’ll admit it), and I begin each day by posting one of her quotes on Twitter.

Nora says story is magic. I, like Kat, agree. And it is brilliant.

Many of my own story ideas came to me in the middle of the night, just like the one Kat talked about in her blog here–including my present almost-finished work in progress, CIVIL HEARTS.

In fact, one of the first story ideas I ever had came to me on a sunny, Sunday morning about twelve years ago, when I was lying in bed. Floating in that place between waking and sleeping, the plot, the characters–everything came into my head. I jumped up and ran to my laptop to outline the story before the idea went away.

Unfortunately, this story idea has not yet come to fruition. I say “not yet” because it’s still alive, in multiple forms and variations, in my thoroughly backed up computer files. I’m just not good enough a writer yet to do it justice. It will be, when it happens, my “magnum opus.”

art-2000984_640I hope.

As for CIVIL HEARTS, the story came to me in the wee hours of a restless night when a memory from my distant past came drifting into my brain like an errant cloud. You see, many years ago we toyed with idea of following some close friends of ours who had moved to Birmingham, Alabama. We even went so far as to go around with a realtor and look at homes in the area.

One of those we visited was an 19th-century antebellum-style home that had been left empty for many years. The house spoke to me. (Was it the house? Or the spirits still living there?)

Now, decades later, those spirits finally found me in Massachusetts, a mere 1200 or so miles away, in the middle of a sleepless night. They whispered in my ear, bringing back my visit to that house, complete with visceral, crystal-clear details: sights, sounds, smells, and a presence.

A “presence” that became the ghost of a Civil War soldier who still lives there . . . in my imagination, and in CIVIL HEARTS.

Coming soon.

Yes, Kat, story is magic. And magic is supernatural. I have another confession to make: sometimes, I get a little creative help from my supernatural friends.


Claire Gem is an award winning author of contemporary romance & supernatural suspense. You can find out more about her work at her website & on her Amazon Author Page.


Filling in The Blanks

One of the maladies—and joys—of being a “pantser” novelist is that the story’s not over until it’s over. The raw, clay model of a novel can be reshaped, added to, and trimmed at any point in the process. Just like a sculpture.


There is no outline. No rubric. Nothing written in stone. Anything, and everything, can change at any point along the way.

I am a devout, committed pantser: can’t write by an outline if my life depended on it. It would be like feeding hemlock to my muse. But the novel I’m working on now has been giving me fits. Why? Because I veered off my path of “purist pantser.”

First, because unlike many of my previous works, I actually have a working synopsis. Did I work long and hard on this? No. It’s a pantser synopsis. It sort of came to me, all in a jumbled lump of 4000 or so words, right after a coaching session with my favorite writing coach of all time, Joanna D’Angelo. Before that, all I had was a premise, and a general idea of characters and plot line. Very general. That’s how most of my novels are born.

But after a lengthy Facebook discussion with Joanna, the smoke started to clear and the mirrors came into view: the magic with which I could create this masterpiece. The manuscript sat for few weeks, while summertime activities and medical issues and life in general got in the way. My muse spent a few weeks in Tahiti (wish I could have gone with her). In fact, once I guilted myself into getting back “at it,” for the first few sessions, I had to cajole myself into even opening the document that held my raw beginnings—about 10,000 words or so—and force the words onto the page.


They weren’t good. They weren’t even mediocre. They personified that legendary “shitty first draft,” a la Stephen King.

Then suddenly, the magic began to happen. All on its own.

The problem is, my magic muse gets in a hurry sometimes. She frantically whips my fingers around on the keyboard, moving the story along at breakneck speed. Often leaving gaps. Omissions. Holes in the plot line. Skipping over the waves like a water skier. Like a stone across a peaceful stream. Like a restless dragonfly flitting across that stream to light briefly on a reed or a rock along the way.

I am not one of those people who can blast through an entire 80,000-word manuscript, call it the “shitty first draft,” and then go back to “lick my calf over” (can you tell my husband is an old cowboy?). No. These gaps and omissions and plot holes haunt me, waking me up in the wee hours of the morning, declaring their existence at screaming decibels. They insist—demand—that I go back, right now, and fill them in.


Which is why, at 3:30 a.m. this morning, I climbed out of bed, my brain throbbing from their rants. Somehow, by some magic of the muse’s wisdom, the plot holes had made themselves known to me at some point in the night. And once I knew they were there, well . . . you know the rest of the story.

But now, 2000 words later, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Because I know, now that the omissions, the gaps, the plot holes are filled in (at least some of them), the writing of this novel will progress much more smoothly. Much more rapidly.

Until Ms. Muse again takes possession of my fingertips and races forward at warp speed. Only to pause some tens of thousands of words down the line, at which point she will find something else for which she feels it necessary to disturb my slumber.



Claire Gem is an award winning author of contemporary romance & supernatural suspense. You can find out more about her work at her website & on her Amazon Author Page.


Getting to Know My Cast

Happy Friday! What better day than this to share some writing inspiration—and perhaps inspire us to make use of some the weekend to further our works-in-progress.racehorse-152697_640

I would have made a bad racehorse. My writing on a new project tends to start out like hellfire: I get a fabulous idea, a great premise for a story, and there I go—bang!—out of the starting gate with all the speed of Affirmed or American Pharaoh. I’m banging away at the keys in a fevered frenzy, the first ten thousand words or so flowing out of my imagination with effortless exuberance.

But then I get to page fifty or so. My burst of writing energy gets winded. And just like a racehorse who leads the pack until he reaches the first turn, I find, sadly, I’m out of gas.

Why does this happen to me? Because although I began with a great story premise, I never really had a story to begin with. Just a story idea.

This doesn’t happen to plotters, who carefully outline their projects and know exactly (or pretty close to exactly) what’s going to happen in Chapter Two and Chapter Fifteen and at The End. I’ve never been able to write that way: out of a box. I’m a confirmed pantser. Perhaps because the other side of my life, my day job, is in scientific research. There I am ruled by outlines and protocols. I find them confining. They are a quick kill for my creative muse.cube-1002897_640

The same muse who finds herself scratching her head around page fifty. We both (she and I) know how the story ends, but getting from that first turn and on toward the finish line is like trying to cross the Rocky Mountains on horseback—with no guide, limited rations, and in January.

This time, I’m trying a new tactic. I’ve acquired some help. I figured, who better to help me write my story than the people most closely involved in it: my characters?

So before I began writing my current WIP, I selected four of the most prominent characters in my book and decided to interview them. I didn’t use a template of pre-determined questions I found in some writing book. I just created an imaginary scene, in the place where my book is set and where my characters live, and met them at various places. I started by taking my heroine out for lunch at a lovely cafe in downtown Tampa overlooking the waterway.

And you know what? A funny thing happened. First, I got to know her—I had no idea she had a Southern accent! She also seemed the very reserved, nervous type—what is she hiding? She exhibited some character-unique tics and mannerisms she will carry throughout the book.

When I followed my imaginary heroine back  to her place of work, a strange man walked in and encountered us in the lobby—not the hero. This guy was sort of sinister-looking, not terribly warm, and looked at my heroine like she was lunch. He was her coworker and superior, but I have the feeling his intentions will become much more intense as the story progresses.bat-2029809_640

My story has an antagonist. One I never planned on.

It’s either an amazing trick of the imagination, or a mental illness, but by simply creating a scene in which to interact with one of my characters, an entirely new facet of my story revealed itself. I highly recommend the practice. You never know who will walk in on you as you get to know your character.

I can’t wait to see what happens when I interview my hero.

This time, I think I may just make it to the finish line a whole lot easier.



Claire Gem writes supernatural suspense and contemporary romance. She recently released an Author’s Resource Book, The Road to Publication, which you can find along with all her other books on her Amazon Author Page.

The Magic Of New


Several years ago, I did a blog by this very same name. No, I’m not recycling blogs, because there is, definitely, magic in something new.

img_1015Back then I was awed by my Floridian, then-toddler grandson’s reaction when he saw snow for the first time. This time, I’m wallowing in my own wonder of something new—a brand new story idea, a brand-new manuscript.

Well, it’s not a manuscript yet. This book hasn’t even reached toddler stage, but is still embryonic in form. I’m at the part where I have a story concept, and I have my main characters. I’m interviewing them, which is about as fun as making brand new friends—even more fun, because I get to make these people just about any way I want them.

What I’ve decided to do is to introduce my fans—my mailing list—to these new characters first, as a reward for sticking with me book after book. So I can’t share much about these characters with you, except to say that they threw me a few curve-balls when I was interviewing them!

What I can share is the magical, wonderful setting for my book, which is about my favorite spot in the whole world. It’s the grounds of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. I first visited this gorgeous property in March of 1983, shortly after we relocated from New York state to Florida. My daughter was three years old, my mother had come down to visit, and we attended a Renaissance Festival that used to be held on the grounds.


Alas, the Festival is no longer held there. But the wonder of that day has never left. Stepping through the gates onto acres of pristinely manicured lawn abutting picturesque Sarasota Bay has never left my memory. It entrances me still, every time I visit—which is often. Even though I now live in New England, it is a family tradition to visit the Ringling at least annually. There is a fantastic restaurant in the new building they’ve constructed there called, aptly, The Muse. It’s my daughter and my lunching spot each and every time we go.rerun

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you visit The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL, where you’ll find not only The Muse (pun most definitely intended), but a treasure-filled gift shop, an art museum, a circus museum, the historic Azolo Museum, and the Ca’ D’ Zhan, the original Ringling Brothers home. The Venetian style masterpiece is largely constructed of materials imported from Italy. And acres upon acres of the most beautiful scenery in all of this wondrous world.

And it’s where my next book, Pigments, is set. Stay tuned! Something “NEW” is yet to come!img_0422



Claire Gem writes sexy contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. You can find out more at her Website and Amazon Author Page.



Chasing the Elusive Butterfly: Theme


Merriam Webster makes it sound so simple.

“Theme is . . .the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing . . .”

Then why is it so evasive, almost impossibly difficult to define in my own writing?

Going in, I always think I know my theme. After all, my novels all follow a basic premise, which has become my tagline: Strong Women, Starting Over – Redefining Romance. Some elements are staples: there will be two people, a man and a woman, each facing their own challenging situations. Each with their own goals, and their own reasons for choosing those goals. There will be suspense. There will be mystery, and turmoil, and angst. There will be a love story.

I spend weeks, sometimes months, creating these characters from the ground up—what they look like, where they’re from, what their family lives were like. What baggage are they carrying? What do they want out of life?

That’s the key to any engaging piece of fiction, right? In the words of Ray Bradbury, “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”sidewalk-1924670_640

Well, that’s how I started out my latest novel, the one to which I triumphantly added two, glorious words a few days ago: The End. I thought I knew my hero and heroine well. I thought I knew what they wanted. And yet, it wasn’t until I went back through and started at the beginning, reading the book as though I’d never seen it before, that the ah-ha moment snuck up and whacked me on the side of the head.

No wonder I struggled with this book more than the last three I’ve written. I had a pretty good handle on my hero. I knew what his baggage was, what his motivation was, what he wanted. But until this morning—at the ungodly hour of 5:23 in the morning, sitting in front of my monitor in my pajamas with my hair sticking up like Woodstock on Peanuts—I had no idea what my heroine’s real problem was. What she really wanted.

And how did I find out? Her father told me.

During this first pass through the completed, rough draft, I’d gotten only about fifty pages in when I detected a chink—a place where something was missing. Something needed to be added. I knew my heroine loved her father dearly, though she did have issues with her new stepmother. But the scene seemed incomplete. So I took a deep breath, tucked my brain inside my heroine’s head, and stuck her in a room alone with her father.

The five sentence conversation they had, which flowed directly from their mouths through my fingers, summed up the meaning of my 100,000+ word novel. I finally had my theme.

The lesson here? To an author, a story is not always a willingly malleable partner. Sometimes, you just have to place the characters you created, and who you think you know well, down on the game board and let them play out their own lives. Press blindly forward when you’re not sure where they’re headed, or why.

Just type. Listen, and play transcriptionist.

Just freaking

Because the important thing is this: you have to keep going. Get to The End. Sometimes, it’s not until the entire story has played out that the characters will be willing to give up their secrets—and to share with you, the author, the story’s true theme.

Now how crazy and messed up is that?


Claire Gem writes intensely emotional romantic suspense. Visit her at

Anticipation? or Suspense?

Anticipation: the action of anticipating something; expectation or prediction.

Suspense: a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen.


The line between the two terms is very fine. They almost intersect at some point. Yet the term “suspense” definitely carries a more ominous tone.

I pride myself as being a sister of the Sisterhood of Suspense. I write about people in situations where they are experiencing “anxious uncertainty.” The outcome could be bad. Yet, as potential love partners, they also feel a positive expectation. Hopeful uncertainty.

That’s what the holidays always hold for me. Hopeful uncertainty. I’m never sure of exactly how the days will play out: what there will be more of—smiles and laughter, or painful, reminiscent tears. Because that’s also what the holidays conjure up: memories of times past, when loved ones now lost are no longer able to participate in the festivities. Yet I hang onto the anticipation of joy in the revisiting of old traditions. There is a certain comfort there.


And so here I sit, on the threshold of a brand new year, a brand new, promising beginning. A chance to make resolutions for change. To start anew. To revive old dreams. To ignite enthusiasm for dreams still in their infancy.

This year ends for me with much anticipation, but also with some suspense. In recent months, a scary medical diagnoses has thrown my life across the threshold from anticipation to suspense: from hopeful expectation to anxious uncertainty. The “someday” I’ve always set my sights on has suddenly become hazy on the horizon. My own future, instead of lying hidden, hopeful, somewhere just beyond my line of vision, has zoomed frighteningly—possibly—closer.

But I remind myself: I am a writer of romantic suspense. Yes, there is anxiety, even trepidation in my stories that everything may not turn out alright. But as a romance writer, I know in my heart, there will be a happy ending. That’s the very definition of a romance. There will always, always, be a happy ending.


That’s the other thing I love about being an author—I have complete control over what happens just before those two little words: The End. So, I’m going to take advantage of my authorial license to declare, right here and now, that my story, as well as all my fictional stories, will end happily.

And you know what the other term for that sentiment is?





Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romantic suspense. You can find out more at her Website Amazon Author page.


Birthdays & Such

writer-1421099_640You’ve spent months toiling away at your keyboard. Maybe years before that planning your plot, interviewing your characters, scoping out your settings, getting the local lingo just right. You’ve edited and proofread. Sent it out for copy-edits, and proofread it again. Agonized over designing just the right cover. And the day is finally here. Release Day. Your book’s birthday.

And now it’s all…over. Your book is out there, your baby is on display, open for praise—or criticism—by the whole wide world. Or, maybe it won’t even get noticed at all.

One thing I’ve learned on this, the release day of my fourth novel, fifth book, is this: your big climax doesn’t mean as much to anybody as it does to you. Even the hero IN your book cares more about his beloved’s climax than anybody does about your book’s entrance into the big, bad sea called “Published.”

So, is it worth it? Are all those midnight hours spent staring owl-eyed, fingers hovering over the keyboard, with a “well, what’s next?” expression on your face, really, truly worth the anti-climax of Release Day? When you jump out of bed before even the sun’s alarm clock goes off, expecting to hear a marching band warming up down the street? Tune into the radio in your car waiting for the DJ to say, “And today is not only Thursday, the 29th of September, but it’s also Release Day for author blah-blah-blah’s new, smash hit romance novel, blah-blah-blah.”marching-band-30354_640

No. None of that happens. But now you know why I always choose a very special date to release my books. Because they remind me that there are bigger, more important events in my life than a book birthday. They keep me humble.

Today, September 29th, is not only release day for my women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome. It’s also (and more importantly) my daughter’s birthday. My firstborn. The one I carried around (along with 50-odd extra pounds) for nine, long months. Toiled in labor with for over twenty-four hours. And then pushed out, looking for all the world like Mr. Magoo.

magooanddogWas there a marching band warming up down the hall? Not really—just a very tired husband & set of parents who were relieved the ordeal was over (THEY were tired? Seriously??). Did the DJ on the radio announce, “Today, at 6:03 a.m., a very special baby girl was born to Mr. & Mrs….” No. None of that happened.

Why? Because all of that work, that waiting, the planning, was only the preparation for the REAL work—helping my brand-new progeny develop into something, someone, the world would notice, admire, & respect. The long, hard road was just beginning. The work, even after what seemed like a monumental accomplishment, had just begun.

Was it all worth it? You betcha.

And so today, I wish a very Happy Birthday to my daughter, Susie Stich, the little girl who, although she was born looking like Mr. Magoo, is now the most gorgeous woman I could ever have hoped for—inside and out. An accomplished teacher. An adoring mother. A devoted daughter. And someone who truly deserves a marching band warming up down the street on her birthday. An announcement on the radio celebrating yet another milestone in her life.

Now you know why I birth my books on special days. To remind me of the blessings in my life, even against the anti-climax of release day. And I am so, so very grateful for each & every one of them.


Claire Gem’s first women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, is available now in paperback & ebook on Amazon. And it’s her daughter’s birthday. A special day, indeed. Hear, hear!

Version 2

Picture of Mr. Magoo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Key Tips for Awesome Book Signings


location-162102_640Internet marketing is by far the most targeted method authors use to promote their books today. Tweets and Facebook posts are free. Blogging can be free. And there are many, many direct email promotions that can be purchased for little cost. And yes, it’s true—online sales—particularly for eBooks, have defined the future of the old-fashioned “bookstore.”

But I believe authors are overlooking the good, old-fashioned way of selling books—in person, at a signing. Nothing beats the face-to-face (okay, this is my door-to-door salesman dad training talking here.) But trust me, you don’t have to land a spot in a Barnes & Noble. In fact, a major bookseller signing does not guarantee a successful event. My first two books, a memoir and a paranormal romance novel, both came out in February and March of 2015. (And just for the record? My big, Tampa, Florida B&N signing was a bust).

Since then I have hosted about a dozen signings in various locations. I’d like to share my experiences and what I’ve learned. One tip: LOCATION IS KEY.

  1. Think about where in the world there would inherently be readers who might be interested in your book. One of the best events I have held to date was in a tiny museum in a tiny town in a remote location of upstate New York. Why was it a success? Because that’s where my book was set. Locals love to read about their part of the world, enhanced in a work of fiction. I sold seventeen books (OMG. I’ll bet I captured 10 percent of the population!). And before I left town, I booked a second signing at a local pub up the street for later this fall.bookstore-688461_640
  2.  Don’t overlook your own backyard. There is a small bookstore in the town where I live, and I’ve held four signings there so far, every one of them a success. Plus, the shop owner carries my books on consignment, and is always asking when my next book will come out so she can book me another event. Locals love to meet authors from their hometown, and each time I do a signing, I add at least one fan (in reality, many more) to my reader base.
  3. So there’s no bookstore in your town, or the place where your book is set? Think outside the box. My first book launch was held at a New Age shop—mine was a paranormal romance, and many of the clientele who visit the shop have an interest in the paranormal. Since then the shop has hosted another event for my second paranormal romance. The author also keeps books for sale on consignment. So, what’s your heroine do for a living? Hairdresser? Check out local salons. Hotel desk clerk? Ask about a signing in your local chain hotel—on a big holiday weekend. Find the link—the key to finding your perfect audience.boat-658626_640
  4. My newest series is called the Love at Lake George Novels, set in Lake George, N.Y. Unfortunately, there are no bookstores in the area, nor could I find a library or a gift shop interested in hosting an event. There is, however, a cruise line that does tour and dinner cruises. I contacted the management, and they were thrilled to host a signing on one of their dinner cruises during a very large car show event the village is holding. I then got a call from the gift shop owner across the street, who wants me to do a signing in her shop for that afternoon before the cruise! She also wants to carry my books (both the Lake George book and the paranormal) in stock. “Bring about a half-dozen of the ghost story, but I’ll take a dozen of the Lake George books.” The best part about this is that every time one of the series comes out, I have a pre-determined market.

So yes, travel may be involved. (Caveat: travel expenses are tax deductible.) And what better way to get to know and gather new readers than in the flesh? Telling your story, and your story’s story, than in person?

Camera shy? Get over it. A recluse at heart? Get over that too. The name of the game in today’s competitive market is to show your face. Shake those hands. Smile and mean it. Trust me—in the long run, it will be well worth it.


Claire Gem write extremely emotional contemporary romance. Visit her at or at


A Lucky Eight: Thoughts on the Book Trailer

love-1560817_1280Do you have a trailer for your latest book? And what’s your opinion of the medium, in general? Seems there’s some controversy as to whether book trailers have a place in the market at all. Some sources even suggest that the very notion of a book trailer is in direct opposition to a book’s innate function, that is, to force the reader to use their imagination.

When you turn black and white words on a page into images, combine them with more words and music, does this lessen the value of reading? Is it cheating?

I don’t believe so. Ever since designing my first book trailer, for my debut novel, Phantom Traces published by Soul Mate Publishing, I’ve been hooked. Statistically, my YouTube link has had almost four times as many hits as has the Amazon page. I definitely believe the one-minute, four-second video has helped generate interest in that book, as well as others I have written since. And it’s also a fact that Facebook and Twitter posts with images get many more hits than those without. Adding a video increases that number even more.

Because let’s face it: in today’s visually oriented world, it sometimes takes more than a back-cover blurb to catch a new reader’s attention.

As an author, I must share with you what designing a book trailer does for me. Truth be told? I completed two of my trailers before the book was even finished. And the process of converting a story concept into images, a chosen few words, and adding mood-inspiring music has actually helped me finish writing those books.

To start, I am a visual learner. I absorb and assimilate ideas much more quickly if I’m shown illustrations of the concepts. So when I was having difficulty wallowing through the “mushy middle” of my latest work-in-progress, I decided to take a break and start working on the book trailer instead.

collage-1323417_1280What an amazing writer’s block buster! The same way a storyboard might work, as soon as I began choosing images to illustrate my general storyline, a natural progression emerged. Once I had a sequence of images in place in my iMovie project timeline, the next scene—one that had refused to reveal itself in words on the page—jumped out at me. The process led me to write the ending scene of the book, and once I knew where I was headed, the path to get there revealed itself clearly.

But, what if the book is done, you have your back cover blurb written, and your cover is finished and ready to go? It should be easy to design a book trailer at this stage of the game, right? In designing the trailer for my upcoming release, The Phoenix Syndrome, I discovered it’s not nearly as easy as I’d once thought.

The average book trailer is between one and one and a half minutes long. Much of the clues about the story are revealed in film or images, and it’s true, a picture is worth . . . yadda yadda. But there has to be some sort of script to go along with those images. You thought condensing your 96,000 word novel into a 200-word back cover blurb was hard? Hah! Try distilling it down to less than thirty.chemistry-161575_1280

One thing for sure: I now not only have a book trailer, but I also have that one-sentence elevator pitch we all struggle so hard to develop.

If you do decide to create a trailer for your novel, or hire someone to do so, here are some rules of thumb I have gleaned from watching dozens of trailers, good and bad. And also from designing four of my own, and one for a dear friend:

  1. Don’t make it too long. I have found book trailers that last longer than 90 seconds lose my attention. And if I don’t make it to the end of the trailer, what makes one think I will want to read the book?
  2. Search until you find pictures of your hero and heroine. I know this sounds ludicrous, since they only exist in your mind. But either on a royalty-free site like Pixabay, or on paid licensing sites such as Depositphotos, spend some time searching for your main characters. You will be amazed at how they will be there. And you’ll know, from the first time you set your eyes on their face—he or she is the one.
  3. It’s helpful if, once you identify your hero or heroine (whomever will be the main “star” of the trailer), there are multiple pictures available of this particular person. I haven’t been lucky finding these on free sites, but on Depositphotos you can actually choose an option to see other photos with the same model. This gives you the flexibility to show your character in a few different stages of the story, i.e., varying states of mind.
  4. A word about music—there are several royalty-free sites, like or, where you can download and use music for your trailer free of charge as long as you make sure to provide a live link in the YouTube description crediting the source. I also mention the source in the last frame of the trailer.
  5. Don’t tell the whole story! What we’re after is breadcrumbs here, Hansel. Lead the viewer up to the point where they’re wondering, “what’s going to happen next?” and end the trailer there.
  6. Ditto for subplots. There’s no way you can cover every nuance of the plot in thirty words or less. Stick to the main conflict.
  7. Begin the trailer with the title and author name, but don’t bother with links—they won’t be clickable within the trailer itself anyway. You can place links in YouTube’s description screen.
  8. End with an image of your book cover, not a reiteration of the title and author. Visually oriented society, remember? If the last image your viewer sees is your cover, they will automatically link it in their minds with the “story” your trailer told, and the cover image will imprint on their brain. Their eye will be drawn to it when it shows up as a thumbnail on Amazon or wherever it’s posted for sale.

So whether you decide to create your own trailer or hire it done, keep these eight tips in mind. If you are a Mac user, iMovie has premade trailer templates as well as a very versatile project program, relatively user-friendly once you get the hang of the software. Should you be hiring someone else, be sure you go into the agreement with your 25-30 word “story nugget,” a main conflict plotline with a list of key scenes. Also, have at least one photo of your hero and/or heroine to provide to the “cinematographer.”clapper-board-152088_1280

And have fun bringing your story to life in a cinematic way!


Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romance novels, sometimes with a ghostly twist. You can find out more about her work at, and view some of her trailers here:

Phantom Traces

Hearts Unloched

A Taming Season

Indigo Sky (by fellow author/great friend, Gail Ingis)



A Launch Day Tribute

June 16th. A very special date for me, because today I’m launching the first Love at Lake George Novel, A TAMING SEASON. But I chose this date for another, even more special reason. Today was my father’s birthday.Frank Anthony Del Negro was born on June 16 over 90 years ago. I lost him in 2001.


They say time heals all, but I don’t think I ever really got over the loss of my Dad. In fact, I have lived every day of my life in his shadow, always wondering “what would Daddy say?” when I had a big decision to make. The day I got the contract on my very first published book, I actually picked up the phone and almost dialed him—his name and number were still in my contacts list, even though he’d been gone over ten years when that happened.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have his number in Heaven.

You see, my father holds a lot of the responsibility for my writing career. He was not an author, but a businessman, an entrepreneur with a Master’s degree who could speak five languages. He was brilliant, and his vocabulary never ceased to amaze me. I can clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table as my father would dictate an important letter to a client or colleague while my mother transcribed it into shorthand. Yes, shorthand! I was equally amazed at how she could later transform the series of squiggles and dots on the page to words on a typewriter.typewriter.keys

But listening to my father craft sentences was magic. Even at the tender age of six or seven, I can remember sitting there, mesmerized, listening as he formulated a logical, yet poetic message with words I mostly didn’t understand. I knew better than to interrupt him. But afterward, I would often ask, “Daddy, what does that word mean?”

He is the reason I fell in love with words, and the intricate, artistic craft of putting them together in a special way. And it’s truly a shame I didn’t decide to pursue writing as a career until after he slipped away. I think . . . no, I know, he would be very proud of me.

So here’s to my Dad, just a few days before Father’s Day, on his special day. On my special day. Happy Birthday, Daddy.

And Daddy? I could never have come this far without you. Thank you. For everything.


Claire Gem writes contemporary romance, with or without a paranormal twist. Today she releases A TAMING SEASON, the first Love at Lake George Novel. Join her at the Facebook Launch party here, going on from 3-6 p.m. EST. You can find out more about her new release, as well as her other works, at