Another point on plots:
Make them realistic. Well, if you're writing fantasy stories in which magic trolls ride unicorns over rainbows, then realism is out the window. But for those writing realistic fiction, the plot needs to be realistic. As examples of this:
Characters can't be perfect. Every real person has faults. You can't make a character who has no faults, and who is invulnerable to every attack. If you try, your story will be very dull. Real people are afraid, or irrational, or weak, or near-sighted. Fake characters -- carboard cut-outs -- are not.
This also means that if your characters are modeled on real people, as writers sometimes do, then you have to know that the real people have flaws. You don't have to give the characters the same flaws that the models have, but they should have a similar type and degree of flaw.
The ancient Greeks had a name for everything, including the flaw in a character. They called it Hamartis. In the case of Achilles, in the Iliad, his hamartis is Hubris (a great pride that rules over everything else). Patroclus' hamartis is impatience and impulsiveness. Agamemnon's hamartis is to place his own desires above the good of the whole. And so on.
Characters need hamartis. It makes us able to identify with them and to vicariously participate in what they do.
Do not defy the laws of physics. There is a famous essay by Mark Twain, in which he lambasts James Fennimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales. The name of the essay, fittingly, is The Literary Abuses of James Fennimore Cooper. Twain particularly objects to a passage in which three native Americans are sitting on a branch over a river, hoping to attack a passing canoe. The first leaps and misses, because the canoe has already passed. The second, seeing the failure of the first, leaps and misses as well. But the third leaps and lands in the very end of the canoe, and thus is able to steal forward and attack the canoeists.
The passage in question rings hollow because we know better. If the first man to leap is too late, the second will not leap; he knows that he will miss as well. And in no case will the third succeed where the first too are already too late.
This speaks to a broader principle: Know what you're talking about. There is a passage in Jack London's Call of the Wild in which a gardener on a San Francisco estate sells the family dog because the gardener is a gambler. He has lost a lot of money playing "Chinese Lottery" and needs cash to resume playing his system.
No one alive has lost a Chinese Lottery. It is not a gambling game, as London supposed. It is a form of insurance, also called a Tontine, in which the last person alive receives the pool of money. To lose at a Chinese lottery -- a "Dead Pool," if you will -- , the gardener would have to have died, thus losing his stake in the kitty. And to have a "system" for playing... Well, unless he was killing the other players, no system would really help him.
London didn't know what he was talking about. A bit of research might have saved him a lot of embarassment. Let this be a lesson to us all.
I'd still prefer to try one of the more compact versions rather than US trade this time.
A5 is comparatively compact, and you can get more words per page than Pocketbook, so fewer pages, making the book cheaper to create, and therefore to sell. The example I gave you was based on one of my A5s.
I admit I don't sell a lot of print books, but when Lulu offer free shipping, as they do from time to time, I alert friends to this. Would I be right in thinking that even if the pocket and A5 sizes are only printed in the US that any free shipping offer is still on?
I have no idea to be honest, I don't live in the USA! But my A5s and Pocketbooks (before I dropped that size) are printed in the UK where I live. I think it's just Standard Paperbacks and the Hardbacks that are only printed in the USA.
And yes I am in the UK (my spelling of 'colour' is a dead giveaway!)
What a talented man you are Ron. I visited Velma's website and watched one of her films. I will bookmark the page. You have created a character that people will really believe exists. I look forward to reading your book. I don't normally read detective fiction; I read true crime stories, which we were obliged to study, for our course on the psychology of crime. (I took the course after I retired) Thank you for your posting.Did you say your daughter was the model for Velma? Was the voice in the movie that of your wife? Velma is very beautiful.
Sorry for the misspelling of the interesting Velda.