Pace Your Story for Maximum Reader Engagement (Seven Tips to Keep the Pages Turning)

Have you ever received a rejection letter where an editor or agent said there are problems with pacing in your story? Pacing problems can be hard to analyze and fix. The whole concept seems much more abstract than, say, characterization or plot.

So what, exactly, is pacing?

Pacing is the rhythm of a novel and the speed at which the events unfold. It’s what propels the story forward and pulls the reader through each new scene. If the pace is too fast, characters seem shallow and the story lacks depth. The reader doesn’t connect on an emotional level, which leaves her feeling unsatisfied. If the pace is too slow, the story drags and the reader becomes bored.

For the rest of this post, go to Seekerville.

My Experience With a Natural Disaster…Or Three


We’re back for another edition of Writer Wednesday. This month’s prompt is to tell about a natural disaster we’ve experienced. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life, but up until 2004, I never took hurricane warnings that seriously since I live in the center of the state. After all, Polk County hadn’t had a serious hurricane since Hurricane Donna in 1960.

But in August of 2004, Hurricane Charlie was headed right for us. So we boarded up the windows, stocked up on supplies and hunkered down to wait it out. We can get some hefty wind gusts during some of our thunderstorms, but this was like nothing we had ever experienced. When the eye moved over us, everything was eerily still, so we went outside to check things out. All six of our huge oak trees were still standing, but there were branches down all over the yard. The cedar trees that lined the north side of our property were all leaning toward the house. When the storm had finally moved past us, the wind coming from the other direction had stood them all back up again.

The accoutrements of cooking–no, not the microwave, the camp stove

For the next five days, we were without power. Not pleasant in Florida in August. But since we lived in the country and were on a well, we also had no running water. That was harder to do without than the lights and air conditioning. After five days of sponge baths, I was ready to pull my hair out.

Three weeks and two days later, Hurricane Frances arrived, again barreling right through

With the second storm on its way, my husband got creative and inserted Plexiglas panels into some of our plywood so we could see the stuff flying across the yard.
With the second storm on its way, my husband got creative and inserted Plexiglas panels into some of our plywood so we could see the stuff flying across the yard.

the center of the state. Less than three weeks after that, Hurricane Jean was chugging upward in the Atlantic, paralleling the coast. We were so relieved it was going to miss us. Then it made a complete circle and also came through Polk County, three weeks to the day after Frances. By that point, I was feeling as if someone had painted a big bullseye over us.

Two days after Charlie, I waited at a stop sign while 10 or 15 power company trucks from somewhere up north drove past, here to offer us assistance. I sat there and cried. For months, everywhere we went, mounds of debris lined both sides of the street and blue tarps covered roofs. Everywhere was chaos. One weekend, I couldn’t deal with it anymore, and was determined to take a day trip to somewhere that was still pretty. But every place that came to mind had been in the path of at least one of the storms.

That summer, I saw a lot of crushed cars and oak trees in people’s living rooms. But my husband and I were blessed. No trees fell on the house, and other than losing shutters and needing new roofs on the house and workshop, we didn’t sustain any real damage.  Thankfully, we haven’t had a season like that since.

This map shows the paths of all three storms.
This map shows the paths of all three storms.

What about you? Have you been through any natural disasters? Check out some of my writer friends’ experiences at the links below. Coming from areas all around the country, their tales are quite different from mine. (For future Writer Wednesday topics, see the calendar at the bottom of this post.)

Kay Hudson – Kat Cantrell – Kristen Ethridge –

Jean Willett – Natalie Meg Evans – Priscilla Kissinger – Wendy LaCapra

This month, two of us have new releases. Check out award-winning author Natalie Meg Evans’ newest book.

The Milliner's Secret coverLondon,1937. A talented young woman travels to Paris with a stranger. The promise of an exciting career as a milliner beckons, but she is about to fall in love with the enemy…

Londoner Cora Masson has reinvented herself as Coralie de Lirac, fabricating an aristocratic background to launch herself as a fashionable milliner. When the Nazis invade, the influence of a high-ranking lover, Dietrich, saves her business. But while Coralie retains her position as designer to a style-hungry elite, Paris is approaching its darkest hour.

Faced with the cruel reality of war and love, Coralie must make a difficult choice – protect herself or find the courage to fight for her friends, her freedom and everything she believes in.

A breathtakingly beautiful and evocative tale for readers of The Book Thief, One Lavender Ribbon, and Suite Francaise. Available in ebook at Amazon.



Also, the second book my Cedar Key series released this month.cover-hi

After becoming caught in a web of blackmail and murder, Meagan Berry escapes by faking her death. She finds anonymity on Florida’s Cedar Key until, while out in her boat, she witnesses a small plane go down and rescues a state senator. Her face is plastered on the 6:00 news, and the nightmare begins anew.

Something tells Cedar Key police officer Hunter Kingston that Meagan is not who she claims to be. But the fear in her eyes and the vulnerability beneath that aloof exterior reach out to him. When he learns the truth, he is determined to protect her, whatever the cost. Because at least one person is trying to see to it that the next time Meagan “dies,” it’ll be for real.

Available for purchase at Amazon, eHarlequin and Barnes and Noble.






Review of Hidden Identity

Iola’s Christian Reads did a review of Hidden Identity:

“I’m always a fan of a good romantic suspense story, and this one ticks all the boxes: intelligent heroine with a secret, handsome and godly cop, and more twists than I usually find in a full-length novel, let alone a shorter Love Inspired Suspense. Even better, I didn’t see the twists coming …”

To read the full review, click here.