March 23, 2017

Logline, Tagline What’s the Difference?

Some people call it a tagline. Are they the same? Well, apparently they are not. Both of these “lines” are short descriptions of your book, and yet they are different. Let’s look at how.

Book marketeers took the concept of tagline used in film to help market or sell a book. In the film industry, a tagline is a piece of

marketing copy designed to go on posters to sell the film, or in a writer’s case, to sell the book. These short pieces of copy are crisp, clear and catchy. It doesn’t need to capture the entire book, but it must capture the main theme.

Here are a few examples from the film industry:

The Toys are back in town. (Toy Story 2)

He lived the American Dream…With a vengeance. (Scarface)

Notice how short these loglines are. And notice, how they capture the essence of a 2-hour film.

So, what’s a tagline?

Usually they run 20-30 words. In marketing circles taglines are also called an elevator pitch. That term comes from the idea that you have just a few seconds while the elevator travels between floors to pitch your product. In this case, a book. In those few seconds, you need to say enough to entice a reader to purchase your book and then read it.

Taglines are also marketing tools, but they give more information about the book than loglines.

Again, here a examples of taglines from two of my books: First the e-Murderer and second Murder on Moonshine Hill. One fits the definition and one does not.

 The e-Murderer describes one woman’s race to catch a psychotic killer before he kills again.

A secluded mountain wedding turns deadly when murder interrupts the festivities.

Now, let’s examine these using the guidelines from a story consultant. That consultant developed steps for writing taglines.

The subject of the sentence describes an imperfect but passionate and active PROTAGONIST.

The verb depicts the BATTLE.

And the direct object describes an insurmountable ANTAGONIST

The Antagonist tries to stop the protagonist from reaching a physical GOAL

The STAKES, if the goal is not reached.

So, the e-Murderer had a perfect tagline. The subject (one woman) the verb depicts the battle, a race to catch. The antagonist, a the psychotic killer and finally the stakes– if the killer isn’t caught, more deaths.

The “tagline” for Murder on Moonshine Hill is actually a logline rather than a tagline.

For books, it’s helpful to have both a logline and a tagline. Not knowing this, I wrote a tagline for one book and a logline for the other. My new job is to write a logline for e-Murderer and a tagline for Murder on Moonshine Hill.

Now, that I know the difference I can create the two marketing tools and use them while pitching m books.

Take a look at this book trailer from e-Murderer. Maybe you can come up with a great logline for me!




Finding the Time to Write When Life Gets in the Way

Whether they have full time jobs, whether they are retired, whether they are stay-at-home parents, finding the time to write is a problem. When writers sit at their computers at their desks at home, others do not understand that they are working. You might be right in the middle of a chase scene. Your hero or heroine is running for their lives or about to get caught doing something dangerous. Perhaps a bomb is about to explode. Your fingers are flying across the keyboard, trying to keep up with the images forming in your head. And then, you hear, “Mom, can I borrow your blue shirt?”

Imagine what that does to a writer’s concentration. Suddenly everything stops. The momentum is lost. Later, when you sit down to that same scene, it may take hours to get back in the rhythm. Sometimes you may never get it back and the scene has to be completely re-written.

  • Leave your home. When I first started writing, I thought it would be wonderful to work at home. I could do the laundry and work at the same time. I could take care of the yard crew and work at the same time. Wrong! What happens is I do the laundry and take care of the yard crew and my writing doesn’t get done. When I leave home, go to a coffee shop or to a quiet office or to the local library, I can write and write. I get more done in a couple of hours than I might in a full day at home.
  • Close your doors. Some people can’t leave home. Perhaps they have a small child or a sick parent or spouse. Close your doors to alert your family, friends, and others (even the dog), that you will be working. I’ve even suggested putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
  • Turn off the pesky distractions on your computer. If you leave home, but continue to get email or text notifications, your writing will not get done. Turn everything off for a few hours. Believe it or not the world will survive.
  • When all else fails, take care of life’s demands. Do everything you can to finish whatever is calling you away from writing, and then settle in to write. Don’t try to mix them together. Constant interruptions will only cause frustrations.

The Challenges and Fun of Writing a Murder Mystery

As a writer, you must first figure out what kind of mystery you’re gonna write. Believe it or not, there are lots of sub-genres to the mystery world. Once you make that decision, you can start developing your work.

Joan has written two kinds of mystery: 1) A general mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight 2) A series amateur sleuth mystery– e-Murderer and Murder on Moonshine Hill.

Take 3 minutes and watch this video where you’ll gain an understanding of what mystery writing is all about.


New Contract for New Book Means More Work!

But, I find all the little things that come after the writing even harder. In fact, most writers will tell you that the creation of the story, the evolution of the characters, the movement of the plot, all spell great fun and are full of surprises. Of course, it’s hard to sit down every day at your computer and make yourself get started. But, once you do, inevitably things just roll. That’s what keeps us going.

It’s edited and edited some more. It’s been read by Beta readers, corrected, massaged and clipped and nipped. Out it goes to the publisher.

Now, we sit back and wait. While waiting, I’m usually working on a new manuscript. Often it takes several months for the contract to come through. Never one to waste time,  I’m creating new stories, new characters and new plots. Then one day the contract lands in my inbox. Yikes! I’d forgotten all about that story. I’ve been so engrossed in my current Work in Progress or (WIP) as writers call it.

With my mind whirling, I put aside the WIP and begin plowing through the new tasks. Tasks I consider harder than writing the novel:

  • Your publisher wants to know what you’d like the book cover to look like. What do you, as the author who knows the story, suggest. Yes, I’m the author, but I’m no artist! I struggle to answer the questions and to find sample book covers that I like. All the while I recognize how very important the book cover is.
  • Next, your publisher wants a blurb, a 200 word description of your book that captures the reader’s attention. It’s what will go on the “back jacket.” It’s gotta grab. It tells the story without giving too much away. Work on my book blurbs takes as much time as writing the novel itself. I run it by potential readers for feedback. I write, re-write, sweat, and ponder.
  • If that’s not enough, you publisher then asks you for a logline. This is a 20-word single sentence that captures the essence of your 82,000 word book! OMG. Can you imagine doing that? Moreover, this logline must also attract readers. So, it has to be catchy and fit your genre. I won’t tell you how long it takes me to write the logline. In fact, I’m still struggling with that part.

So, if you think writing your novel is hard, just wait. It gets even harder once the novel is finished!

I got my contract from MuseitUp Publishing last week for A Painting to Die For: Jenna Scali Mystery Series Book 3.

An Author Talks about the Value of Book Reviews

I’ve written many a blog post about writing book reviews.

Without reviews our books don’t get noticed. If you loved a book, write a review. That way others will notice it and read it. Why not?

After all, we took the time to write the book just to give you a few days entertainment. Why not say thank you with a review?

#RRBC Author Spotlight! Welcome to RHANI D’CHAE

Today we are excited to welcome RHANI D’CHAE as the Rave Review Book Club Spotlight member. She’s written an exciting new mystery series beginning with, Shadow of the Drill which tells the story of…

A brutal experience transforms an unproven young tough into a ruthless killing machine. For 15 years he waited, building his body into an unstoppable weapon so that vengeance would be had through the strength of his will and the power of his hands.

Click to order on Amazon

We are thrilled that she agreed to share some of her thoughts in a guest post.

Getting The “Thirst”

About 30 years ago, I had a conversation with one of my heathen kids, Timothy. Timothy was a huge fan of all things Anne Rice and a lover of vampires in general.

This was back in the late eighties, and AIDS was a concern from coast to coast. In the early days, there was no treatment, and certainly no cure. To be infected was to be given a death sentence, and though there was always talk of someday finding a cure, that day seemed unlikely as the number of deaths continued to rise.

Timothy and I were chatting about the Anne Rice book that he was reading, and he asked me what I thought would happen if a gay vampire drank the blood of a person with AIDS. I said I wasn’t sure, and we chatted about it for a few minutes before returning to Anne Rice. But the idea stuck in my head, and a few days later I went to my word processor.

Soliloquy of the Damned was a short story about a gay vampire who was worried about drinking infected blood. In my story, the result you of doing so was unending sickness that left a vampire facing centuries of half-life and longing for the true death.

I was pleased with the story when it was done, but it was received with skepticism by those who read it. The line of thought was that since a vampire was undead, he couldn’t possibly be susceptible to illness or disease. I grudgingly agreed, and put Soliloquy on the shelf.

Fast forward to 2013. HBO’s vampire series True Blood is in its sixth season, and Hepatitis V is responsible for an increasing number of vampire casualties.

This was what I’d been waiting for! Thanks to True Blood, the idea of a vampire being susceptible to a virus was no longer ridiculous. But while Hep V had been created specifically to kill vampires and was therefore fatal, the AIDS virus was natural, and would not lead to death.

So I dusted off Soliloquy, gave it a bit of a rewrite, and changed the name to A Perilous Thirst. When I put it on Amazon, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. It’s very different from my full-length novel, Shadow of the Drill, and I was afraid that the people who liked that book would be disappointed by this one. Aside from that, it’s a different kind of story in general. There is none of the throat biting, bloodsucking stuff that is usually present in a vampire story. But I put it out there and hoped that it would be accepted.

And it was! I have been shocked, and totally thrilled, by the positive response that it has received so far. I plan to write a sequel, and if that is successful, I may give my vampire his own novel.

Timothy was a heavy smoker for decades, and lung disease took him on May 25, 2014 at the too-young age of 50. Thirst would never have been written without him, and I know he would have been so excited to see how far it’s come since that long-ago conversation. I think he would have seen much of himself in my vampire, though any resemblance was not intentional. But his was an indomitable, creative spirit that could find a way around almost any obstacle, and that part of him does live on in the pages of Thirst.

What a great story! And, the fact that Rhani persisted even when her first story was rejected tells us a lot about this author. 

Rhani D’Chae is a visually impaired writer, reader, and lover of cats. She is currently working on the second book in the Drill series, about an unrepentant enforcer and the violent life that he leads. 

Follow her on Twitter @rhanidchae and Facebook at and also take a look at her website to learn more about her and her books. Website –

As for me, I’m excited to learn of a new mystery series and can’t wait to start the first one.



The Freedom to Write

As I sit at my computer and watch many of our nation’s freedoms being threatened–freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to congregate–I begin to wonder, when will our freedom to write come under attack?

People said it couldn’t happen in the United States. They said we had too many checks and balances for our basic freedoms to crumble under tyranny. In 2017, I beg to differ. Today the White House blocked three of our major news outlets from attending a Press Conference. What’s with that? How about elected officials all over the country refusing to meet with constituents? In other societies ruled by dictators, the writers kept writing. Many were imprisoned for their writing, but that didn’t stop them. Some were exiled, but they kept writing.

It’s our way to fight back when all other avenues are barred. The Nazi’s burned books, but people kept writing. There are more oral histories from that era than from any other time. It’s time for all writers to put their pen to paper and to write, to document, to record the memories of this time. There’s never been a time in our history when so many values have been challenged. Even the value of truth versus fiction is under scrutiny. As a writer, I’m going to take the time to record these events. Who knows, someday it might help others understand how we got where we are.  Maybe it will record how the pillars fell and hopefully how the pillars got re-erected.

Are Book Stores Failing Us?

For the sake of confidentiality, I won’t mention the name. I will say, however, that the customer service at that store left my friend frustrated and angry. He told me he would never go back there. He had been a loyal customer.

Meantime, Amazon is offering all kinds of deals to their customers. Furthermore, if you make a mistake and order the wrong item, the return policy is golden. In fact, that same friend found he could not return an item he brought as a gift. Amazon told him, “Keep the item. Give it to another friend. We will credit your account for the purchase.” Wow! I recall when Macy’s had the same policy. Now, Macy’s is going out of business. Instead of catering to their customers, they are pulling back.

Recently I tried to order a book online from another major outlet (not Amazon). The book was only offered in that company’s e-book format or hardback. No paperback version. Frustrated I turned to Amazon which offers the book in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats, not just Kindle.

My answer is yes. We have a small independent book store in my community. It is thriving because it caters to the customer. Perhaps the future will open doors for the little guys who were put out of business. Perhaps this will happen because if you want to succeed with sales, you must remember the most basic axiom: The Customer Is Always Right. Treat your customers with respect. Surprise them with your courteous generosity. And, guess what! You will succeed.


When Books Don’t Seem to End

From the title of this post, you may have thought I’d be writing about books I’ve read. Indeed, there have been many a book where I’ve wondered when will this book end. The author seemed to be toying with us–drawing everything out, teasing, until we toss the book at the nearest wall. But, actually I want to talk about the problem I’m having with my current work in progress.

I can’t seem to figure out the ending. I have all the characters developed and moving right along. There’s a murder and a mystery surrounding it. Things progressed nicely through the early writing of the book. I had a vague notion about who committed the murder and why. But the notion was vague. When I close to the the ending (in that character’s mind), things got murky. Everything seemed to fall apart. The motive for killing, the killer, everything was in a mixed up mess, more tangled than my leash when I walk two dogs.

Here’s what I decided to do.

  1. Keep writing even if I had to go back and change everything. If I could just keep going each day, then my hope was everything would work out.
  2. Don’t try and force what I vaguely thought might happen. In fact, I had to try and keep an open mind. Perhaps the person I thought had committed the murder, didn’t. Perhaps the original motive was something altogether different. In fact, I had to be ready for surprises just like my readers.
  3. Get away from the work. Stop writing and start thinking. Go to that place where my imagination runs free. Let go of everything and see what happens next.

With these three goals in mind, I began again. This time, I wrote and re-wrote. I allowed the characters to play out the scenes even if I realized that scene might have to go or one previously written might be trashed.


Eureka! Yesterday it all came to me. The loose ends tightened and things started to fall into place. Nonetheless, I’m still working on it. But, today I believe I might really be able to end this book.

If so, what tips do you have for me and for my readers? Share!

MJ LaBeff’s New Thriller will Put the Scare in You! Check out #Last SummersEvil

MJ LaBeff’s newest thriller promises to keep you up late at night. Last Summer’s Evil book 1 of the Last Cold Case series.

Click to order on Amazon

A fearful city lies in wait. Summer is here. The solstice is near. Each time the serial killer strikes there are two more victims. One woman has already disappeared. It’s only a matter of time before another woman is murdered.

Homicide Detective Rachel Hood, a psychic empath, feels every ounce of a victim’s pain but is powerless to save her.

Psychic FBI Agent Nick Draven is a skilled profiler, specializing in occult crimes. Together, they must race against the clock to capture the psychopath terrorizing Snug Harbor, Ohio. Only one victim has escaped, but she can’t ID her attacker. What they do know is the sick signature the killer leaves behind. A handmade ragdoll crafted out of the previous victim’s clothes is found in the clutches of the deceased women.

Rachel’s obsession with the case deepens, and she devises a rogue plan to outsmart the killer. The risky plot puts her life in jeopardy. The serial killer has had years to master the crime. Nick only has hours to track down the killer and rescue Rachel before she dies in a ritualistic sacrifice at the hand of a knife wielding, blood thirsty murderer.

In this interview with Rachel Hood, for the show: What’s Happening Cleveland, Jordana Wesley asks the probing questions a community in fear want to know. the case files of homicide detective Rachel Hood, written by Jordana Wesley, transcript from ‘What’s Happening Cleveland’ show recap June 20, 2011.

I’d like to welcome my guest homicide detective, Rachel Hood from the Metro County Sheriff’s Department in Snug Harbor.

Thank you.

I’ll get right to it, detective. Snug Harbor is in the middle of a man hunt for a dangerous predator, who has abducted and killed several women over the past four summers. This maniac’s killing season is upon us. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re scared. I know you want to protect our community. That’s why you agreed to come on the show. But before we get started, give us a little background. The public deserves and wants to know the truth. 

Take me back to the Rusty Barnes case. It’s 2008. Your sister is missing. A woman has been murdered. You’re in the thick of multiple investigations when you encounter Russell “Rusty” Barnes. How did your paths cross?

After my sister was abducted four years ago, I began spending a lot of time surfing the net searching for the person responsible for her abduction. Amy was a budding journalist who liked to torment me about my cases by asking a lot of questions about the investigations I was working. Everything is tied to the Internet these days. Criminals aren’t always tech savvy enough to cover their crimes. That’s where I discovered Barnes, a man with obsessive compulsive disorder who stalked several women.

But Barnes wasn’t the typical stalker we think of lurking in the shadows was he? Tell our viewers how he invaded these women’s privacy? 

He worked as a security camera installer, giving him access to the women’s homes. Barnes installed hidden cameras throughout their private residences. He was a cyber voyeur.

How did you learn this about him? 

I was suspicious about comments he had posted on social media and then I discovered he only had female friends on his account.

What kinds of comments so we can be aware?

There were multiple times he’d ask ‘how are the security cameras working out’ or ‘do you feel safer’? He had made the mistake of disclosing the name of the company he worked for so I contacted the owner. As I’d suspected, this kind of engagement with clients wasn’t acceptable. Any time you have a professional coming into your home for a repair or install they should never contact you personally. It’s one thing if they inform you about a follow up call, email, text or visit but otherwise they shouldn’t be engaging with you socially the way Barnes was on social media.

Why weren’t these women suspicious of him? 

He created a false persona of security. The women didn’t think twice about his social media engagement, assuming it was normal and something the company did. He gained their trust and then lied to them. The women had no idea he had installed cameras in the walls above their showers, tubs, beds, walk in closets and anywhere else he thought they might be in stages of undress or being intimate, but he also installed a camera in one other room where he guessed they would spend most of their leisure time.

How did you catch him? 

One of the women he cyber stalked was murdered. She had contacted Barnes via a direct message asking about a camera she discovered in the bathroom. He insisted the company he worked for didn’t install it, but that he’d come over and take a look. He then asked her if she’d contacted the police or security company. She messaged him back that she hadn’t and then asked him if she should. Barnes told her the company would just tell her they didn’t install the camera and that the police wouldn’t do anything about it. It’s easy to understand why she would have contacted him and not the security company. Paperwork for the installation had all of his contact information and he told her and all of the other women to contact him directly through his company social media page. Lies, lies, lies all of it, but how were they to know? Most companies use social media to promote their business. Oftentimes employees are encouraged to have their own accounts too. Barnes was a voyeur who stalked multiple women and got away with it for a long time. What he didn’t get away with was murder. He’s serving time and will most likely die in prison.

Do you still believe he’s innocent of your sister’s abduction and Theresa Waverly’s murder?

Yes. There isn’t any evidence to suggest otherwise, neither of them had security cameras installed or had any contact with Barnes.

Tell me about CAM?

You have done your research. CAM is short for Crime Alert Monitoring System. After we captured Russell Barnes, I was determined to start a local registry where we alert the public about convicted felons. I’d rather CCU handle it.

Isn’t that more work for the cyber crimes unit?

I’d work overtime without pay if meant uploading the information about convicted felons myself to keep the citizens of Snug Harbor safe.

Detective, it’s been four years since your sister, Amy disappeared and Theresa Waverly was murdered. Three more women, Karen Eaton, Juliette Burns and Beth Schwartz are missing from Snug Harbor and the murders of Theresa Waverly, Meredith McKinney and Sue Carmucci remain unsolved. Women are afraid. I’m afraid. Each summer another woman disappears without a trace and another is murdered. How can we remain vigilant? What can we do to protect ourselves?

The abductions are happening at night. If you can, stay in and lock your doors and close your windows. I know we’re having a hot summer. If you can afford a box fan, buy one. If you have to go out, travel in pairs, and pay attention to the people around you. If you feel like you’re being watched or followed blend in with a crowd or go into a public place. Carry pepper spray. Brush up on basic self defense moves. When you’re walking to your car keep your eyes peeled and check beneath your car from a distance. We still haven’t recovered a car one of the missing women was driving.

How close are you to closing in on the Summer Time Slayer? Are there any new leads?

No comment. The investigation is ongoing.

Thank you for joining us on ‘What’s Happening Cleveland’ detective. Ladies be safe, remember to travel in pairs or in a group, carry pepper spray, and if possible stay home with the doors locked.

Check out MJ’s newest release Last Summer’s Evil and learn if Rachel Hood succeeds in capturing the killer before he targets her.

You can learn more about MJ at her website or on her Amazon page