Runaway hits the beats


Last weekend Alicia Dean, Amanda McCabe, Kathy Wheeler and I met for a retreat weekend to work on our next installment for the Martini Club series. It was a very productive meeting as we nailed down the personalities of our characters, researched what was going on right after World War II and plotted our stories. While we were all sitting around the table bouncing ideas off each other, it got me thinking about the writing process. There are some writers out there comfortable diving into a story perfectly fine with allowing the story to unfold as they write. They are called pansters. I am not one of those. I am a plotter and need to know every event that will take place before I set pen to paper.

With my first two novels, I developed an outline for every scene that would be in my novel all the way to the end. But even with the outline, the stories meander and lose focus. They didn’t have enough structure. There are a lot of books out there on story structure. But I had yet to find one that worked for me. Then I walked into to a seminar by Blake Snyder called Save the Cat. After his lecture I voraciously devoured all of his books. When I plotted Runaway, I used his beat sheet. Runaway was my first story using this method. Below is my beat sheet for Runaway.

Opening Image: Felix Noble investigates a murder and locks eyes with a woman he wants to reassure. The woman is Charli.

Theme stated: In order to get ahead you need to stick up for yourself.

Setup: Charli waiting on customers, clearing tables, passing out drinks with patrons slapping her on the butt and getting too friendly. This is not the life Charli wanted when she ran away. Introduce bartender, Slick, Meggie, Jess, Eliza, Mrs. Carter, Geoff and Felix.

Catalyst: Geoff finds her. Slick kills him. Charli is convinced she needs to keep quiet.

Debate:  Will she bow to Slick’s demands or stick up for herself.

Break into Two: Charli hands slick bloody clothes. Slick disposes of the body.

B-Story: Felix investigates the murder.

Fun and Games: Felix questions Charli. Slick harasses Charli. Felix wonders about Slick’s involvement and can’t believe Charli is truly a murderer.

Midpoint: (False Victory) Charli get an offer to be a baker for Mrs. Carter. Charli dances with Felix and learns the he has secrets of his own.

Bad Guys Close In: Slick is more threatening. Charli wants to reach out to Felix but not sure she can. Slick carries out threat and plants bloody clothes in Charli’s cupboard at Club 501.

All is Lost: Felix confronts Charli about her bloody clothes.

Dark Night of the Soul: Charli confesses. Felix and Charli devise a plan.

Break into Three: Charli should have trusted Felix all along. They carry out their plan.

Finale:   1. Gather the team: Felix hides as Charli waits for Slick.

  1. Executing plan: Charli tries to get Slick to confess. He is obstinate.
  2. High Tower Surprise: Slick turns his back on her and walks away.
  3. Dig Deep Down: Charli risks Slick’s anger by attacking his Achilles heel.
  4. Execute New Plan: Charli hones in on Slick’s belief he’s a gentleman. In his rage he finally confesses.

Final Image: Felix and Charli at Meggie’s wedding. Charli wears her engagement ring given to her by Felix.

So there it is. I’m not going to claim that the beat sheet was perfectly executed. But it helped me keep my story in line. That’s all I have for now. Thank you for reading my post.




Martini Club 4 Does Dallas


Ahem…now that I have your attention… 

The Martini Club 4 group traveled to Dallas this past weekend for a writing retreat. Our little jaunt wasn’t quite as titillating as the title of this blog post might lead you to believe. We were there to work. Seriously. I promise! Although, we did goof off a bit. One of the things I love to do almost as much as writing is to, in the words of the Cleaver boys ‘give people the business.’ And, when my poor MC4 friends are stuck with me on a road trip, business-giving ensues. Kathy was so pleased at my antics on this trip, she thought I should share them on this post, so, here’s what happened…

We stayed at the Market Center Renaissance Hotel in Dallas, and it was an excellent place to stay, really nice and offered a lot of extra amenities. We had access to Club Level, where they served breakfast, snacks, and dessert. In the room was a conference table where the four of us could spread out our notes and laptops and work on our stories. On Saturday, Kathy and Krysta were upstairs already, and Amanda and I were in the room. (We had adjoining rooms, so that was really nice. I roomed with Krysta and Kathy and Amanda roomed together).  Anyway…Kathy texted and asked if… Well, I’ll just show you:

Kathy: Can one of you grab that tour book and map when you come up? It’s of the Northeastern States.

Me: If I can find it

Kathy: Thank you. I think it’s on the desk.

(I located the tour book and map quite easily, although it was NOT on the desk. It was on the nightstand. I’m just a really shrewd detective, because I STILL found it.)

Me: This?

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Kathy: Yes

Me: I can’t find it

Kathy: That’s it. The tour book. If you don’t find the map, don’t worry about it.

(See how patient and calm she is? I was impressed. I mean, if I couldn’t find it, how the hell did I send a pic of it, right?)

Me: Is this the map?


Kathy: Yes

Me: Is this the way I go to get to where you are?

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(our hotel room door)

Kathy: Smart ass

(It appears she’s run out of patience.)

Kathy: Look for us here

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🙂  (The ‘in’ door to the Club Level (that’s Krysta Scott hard at work)

Besides all the tomfoolery, we also had a productive weekend. We pretty much nailed our story lines for the Martini Club 4 1940’s series, although, before I can write that story, I have a few other books I need to finish. Krysta helped me brainstorm Isle of Fangs 3, so maybe I can get that one wrapped up so I can work on Northland Crime Chronicles 3. Then, I’ll be ready to dive into the 1940’s story.

Oh yes, and about the teaser of a blog title, if you’re still in need of titillation, maybe this will help. I spotted this on one of the hotel doors:

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Hahaha, pretty funny, right? I guess we weren’t the only ones giving people the business!

Be sure and check out our MC4 stories while they’re on sale for only 99 cents each!


Click here to purchase

Cover Process for MC4 ~~ Kathy L Wheeler ~~ Giveaway!


There are so many things that go into creating a successful project. I’ve shared a few already (wow! has it been 3 months already?)  The process I’m going to share regarding the cover is the for the print version of the Martini Club 4 Series – The 1920s.

The first thing we had to do was decide on the size of the book. Createspace offers several options. The most popular being 6″x9″. So I had to download the proper template.

This tells me what size the page needs to be set to in whatever program I opt to use for creating the cover. I tried two different applications before deciding which direction to go. CorelPaint and Microsoft Publisher. While Corel had more flexibility, the learning curve was steeper as I was running short of time. So I went with Publisher. I created a new 19″ x 13″ blank page as the template below show. Then inserted the image you see below as a guide..6x9 specs

The next step was boxing off all three areas of the template, the front (located on the right hand side), the back (located on the left side), and the spine. In the real world you would not have the pink lines showing. Those are guide lines used to show you where to keep your image within. Also, you have to be careful not to cover the yellow area because that is where the publisher (in this case Createspace) places the bar code with the isbn number. Look on the back of any print book and you’ll see what I’m referring to.  MC1

From the next photo you can see how I was playing with the pictures. We’d already decided that we wanted to use portions of each of the four covers. So it was a matter of arranging them. I tried several different things–different angles, placing the title in various areas.MC4_cover5.This one did not fly because our names were not on the cover. I thought it looked good and would work because our names were on the back, but like I said, it’s a joint collaboration.

I really liked the next one because I was able to skew the pictures into something unique and fun. But I was using Corel, and when I had to go back and make changes, it involved recreating the entire thing. That ‘s when I moved to Publisher, though as I said, it didn’t have the same flexibility. It did allow me to make changes more easily.mc4cover

So the final I came up with included angling the girls pictures a degree and and then using the titles as images on the back. Publisher was much easier to deal with when it came to adding and modifying text. The titles on the back also added pizzazz which, if anyone saw Chicago, The Musical, knows that’s what the 1920s are all about.

5x8 mc4 cover

There was one last modification (two, if you include the typo on the front portion in Malena Lott’s “Downton Abbey” quote. I spelled “Downton” … “Downtown”. So kill me…). I thought to use the gray bubble for the quote by Diane Gaston but was afraid the text would fade into it too much and not be readable, and as I mentioned before, time was quickly running out. Our book launch was a couple of weeks away and Createspace requires 24 hours to review the uploaded version before allowing you to order copies.

By the time we had everything completed and reviewed, we still didn’t have time to order a proof copy and still get them back in time for the Martini Lounge Book Launch, so we ordered 48 without seeing the physical version, and–voila–sold every one!


So what do you think of the process?

For every person who follows our blog, you have the opportunity to win a print copy featuring the Final Cover and a signature Martini Club 4 martini glass with it.

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Once you’ve followed, drop me a note at kathy(at)klwheeler(dot)com. Look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Reading! ~~ Kathy L Wheeler