Suspense Author Ninie Hammon’s Blog for Writers

I spent decades upon decades writing every day and I figured out some things along the way about the process. I’m certainly no expert, but I think I can save other writers a lot of trial-and-error time by sharing what I learned.  It’s a way to “pay it forward.”

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Ninie’s Blog Archive

Popcorn String Christmas tradition

It's likely that a fair number of the people reading these words are experiencing post-NaNoWriMo flashbacks, recognizable by uncontrollable bouts of splitting infinitives and seizures in which you roll on the floor crossing out every third tile in red ink.Even those of us who didn't try to write a novel ...more

One Simple, Easy Way to Promote a Book

A NEWBIE'S GUIDE: NOVEL MARKETING FOR DUMMIES PART 4 If you can manage to make it all the way to the end of this blog post, I have some GOOD NEWS for you. But first a bit of a review of Driftwood Marketing. When I first started to study how to sell ...more

Welcome to my NEW WEBSITE!

               WELCOME TO MY NEW DIGS!                   I have a new website. But you knew that—if you’re reading these words, then I’m telling a fish, “Hey, dude, look around. You’re in water.          To those of you who are first-time ...more

Ranked #1 on Amazon Kindle Top 100 List! (So What?)

  I have to write this REALLY fast. Please pardon hte typos; don’t have time to edit. Things change QUICK on Amazon and I have to post this while it’s still true.   In the newspaper business, we used to call stories like this a “Hey Martha.” That’s defined as: a story so ...more

Five Days in May wins Mom’s Choice Award

May I have a drum roll, please? A little louder…building …. louder… now a final Boom! And in the silence that follows, a small voice says: …uh…did I tell you guys that my inspirational suspense novel Five Days in May JUST WON A 2014 MOM’S CHOICE AWARD! See me bust out in the Ninie ...more

Three ways to lead Amazon search bots to YOUR book

A NEWBIE’S GUIDE: NOVEL MARKETING FOR DUMMIES PART 3 Whenever my husband and I have time to kill in London, we pop up out of the Knight’s Bridge Tube Station (like prairie dogs checking for coyotes) and step beneath the big green awnings of what is arguably the world’s most famous department ...more

Two Things You MUST Get Right: Categories and Keywords

 A NEWBIE’S GUIDE: NOVEL MARKETING FOR DUMMIES PART 4   You spend hours thumbing through the catalogue and finally find a picture of exactly what you want—a pink dress with orange stripes and no sleeves in a size 8. So you flip to the order page. But the dress isn't there. In fact, you ...more

The One Thing You Have to Get Right To Sell Your Book

A NEWBIE’S GUIDE: NOVEL MARKETING FOR DUMMIES PART 3 A man sits down on an airplane beside a stunningly beautiful young woman and knows instantly they were made for each other. “So tell me,” he asks, “what kind of men do you like?” “I’m very attracted to native American men,” the bombshell gushes, ...more

Driftwood Marketing: A Newbie's Guide to Selling Books

 A NEWBIE'S GUIDE: NOVEL MARKETING FOR DUMMIES PART 2 In last week's post, I said that what I’ve dubbed “Driftwood Marketing” is a method of chopping book marketing into bite-sized pieces. Don’t believe it. I lied. Unless your mouth opens wider than the San Andreas Fault, none of these pieces ...more

A Newbie's Guide: Novel Marketing for Dummies

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I swallowed hard, put on my big boy pants and offered to purchase from my publisher the rights to all seven of my novels. They weren’t selling as well as I believed they could and I was frustrated with the publishing company’s method of marketing them. I ...more

Stephen King's Pet Sematary: A Textbook on Creating Suspense

TEN WAYS TO CREATE GUT-GNAWING SUSPENSE  #1 IN MINIATURE          Out on Route 15, a tanker truck droned by, one so big and long Louis couldn’t see his house across the road. Written on the side, just visible in the last light, was the word ORINCO.        “One ...more

Ten Ways to Create Gut-Gnawing Suspense

I checked the door - locked, just like it'd been the other four times I checked it - and with a final quick glance into the dark corners of the room, I crawled between the cold sheets, grateful for Aunt Margaret's assurance that I wouldn't be disturbed. "Don't you worry, ...more

There's ONLY ONE WAY to create unforgettable characters

TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS  This is the final in a ten-week series about characterization. We’ve talked about all manner of techniques and skills but here, at the end of it, we need to get real. How do you create unforgettable characters? You might not like the answer to that ...more

One Critical Tip From Professional Gamblers Will Make Your Characters Unforgettable

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done. If these words don’t instantly conjure the image of a ...more

One Question: Answer It Well And Your Characters Will Be Unforgettable

TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS #8 WHAT DOES HE WANT? To find Nemo. To save Jews. To go home to Kansas. To kill the great white whale. To destroy the ring. To catch the one-armed man. To get back to Andy’s Room. Every good story begins with a character ...more

Four Ways to Reveal Your Character's Personal Boogie Man

TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS #7 FEARHer thoughts stopped spinning so abruptly they slammed into the back of each other like train cars crashing into a stalled engine.This wasn't about her! It never had been."That's just scared talkin'," Princess said aloud. Her husky voice sounded shaky, but she kept ...more

Three Ways to Use Thoughts to Create Unforgettable Characters

TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS #6 THOUGHTS   “Have dinner with me and we can talk about what Karen said.”  I was too thunderstruck to speak. “My intentions are honorable. I’m not inviting you to go snipe hunting or cow tipping or back to my place to see my etchings.”Don’t do it! Make ...more

Three Ways to Use Dialogue to NAIL Great Characters

  TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS  #5 DIALOGUE “One psycho with a nuke—that’s all it’s gonna take,” Steve said.“Armageddon, huh?” Andrew rolled his eyes. “You’re an idiot.”“Hey, no reason to get nasty,” said Jonathan. “You need to apologize.”“When pigs fly.”“Go on now, tell him you’re sorry.”“Bomb-Making for Dummies—that’s a website!" “Who appointed you ...more

Three powerful ways to use action to create memorable characters

  TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS #4 ACTION True story. No, I’m serious, this really happened. Four teenage boys go to a crowded movie. The house lights dim. The movie begins and Roger, the dude farthest from the aisle, feels a call of nature. He stands  and edges down the ...more

The Three Best Ways To Physically Describe Your Characters

  TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS   #3 PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION   “You had a visitor while you were out.” “Who? “Didn’t give her name.” “What’d she look like?” “She was about as tall as a five-foot, four-inch mop handle, with a windblown look—that look you get from standing outside in the wind. ...more

Don’t Make These Four Mistakes When You Name Your Characters

  TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS   #2 NAME   It’s clear that from the outset my parents never intended for me to amount to anything. How could I? With a name like “Ninie?” Please. Fame and fortune do not come to people named Ninie Bovell (My maiden name.) Gabriella Bovary? You could work with that. Even ...more

I FINISHED My Novel So Why Do I Feel Like Crying?

Two events on different sides of the planet happened at exactly the same instant on Monday, August 11, 1969. One of them was in the Vale of Amberclewydd, Wales, where it was 10:33 a.m.   Alastair Shelbourne stopped in his daily trek up the mountain to the ridge when he heard voices rising out of ...more

The BEST--and WORST--ways to use back story

 TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS#1 BACK STORYIt was a dark and stormy night. Ellen felt her way across the room in the shadows and reached out to turn on the light. Someone else's hand was already on the switch.Ellen had been afraid of storms ever since her grandfather went ...more

Ten Ways to Create Unforgettable Characters

TEN WAYS TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS My oldest son and his friends used to play Dungeons and Dragons back when it was a game that came in a box with dice, a game board and little metal game figures - a pre-digital version. (We painted pictures of it on the walls ...more

Every Writer Has One--What's Yours?

Every writer has one. From Tolkein to Stephen King and every scribe before or since. We all have a story about what it was that made us decide to become writers. Mine isn’t a what story. It’s a who. * * * From the first of October every year until the ...more

Looking for your writer's voice? Here's how to find it.

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #10 AUTHENTIC VOICE I spent a blessedly brief period of my journalism career as the news director of a radio station. Less than a week before my third child was born, I was forced to heave my rotund body out of the sound studio to ...more

One Thing You MUST Do After the Climax of Your Novel

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #9 RESOLUTION No, wait,what about the little dog? What dog? The dog you introduced in Chapter 5. You remember, Sparky. The mutt the kid found at the rest stop and the kidnapper thought it would calm the boy down so he let him keep it. Did ...more

There's Only One Door into Your Story--Build It RIGHT!

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY  #8 INCITING INCIDENT  You and your date snuggle down into comfy seats. On the screen in front of you, the Pixar desk lamp comes hop, hop, hopping into its spot between the P and the X, looks at you with its inscrutable light-bulb eye ...more

What's Lurking Deep in the Guts of Your Story?

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY  #7  COMPELLING THEME Elevator doors open. Woman gets in. Elevator doors close. This woman's got to be a literary agent! She looks like an agent, has that agenty thing going on, you know what I mean. Or a publisher. Yeah, agent or publisher, one ...more

Three Basics Will Revive Dead Dialogue

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #6 GREAT DIALOGUE"You ate my cookie.""No, I didn't!""Yes, you did!""No, I didn't.""You did, too.""I did not.""Did, too.""Did not.""Did, too.""Not.""Too.""Not!""Too!""Not, not, not, not, not, not!""I'm telling!" This exchange illustrates the first requirement of great dialogue, it must sound like people really talk. Unfortunately, it also violates ...more

Do the Unexpected: Twist & Turn Your Plot

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #5 TWISTS AND TURNSzzzzzzzzzzzzz snort, cough Oh, hello. It's you. Sorry about that. I was reading a novel where everything turned out exactly like I thought it would and I dozed off. #5 in the Ten Elements of a Dynamite story is "unexpected twists and ...more

Three Ways to Grab Your Reader's Heart

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #4 GENUINE EMOTION Granny Sparrow's quiet voice got so soft it was almost a whisper. "I took to the closet. There in the beginnin', I had to. The house was so quiet I could hear my own heartbeat. I'd turn on the television loud as it'd go ...more

What EVERY writer MUST tell EVERY Fan

This blog post is for readers, not writers. But it's one EVERY writer will love. It's the post every writer wants to write and certainly needs to write, but usually doesn't. I suspect my writer friends will post links to it on their blogs, so their readers get to hear ...more

Heroes & Villains: You Need Both

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY#3 GOOD GUYS & BAD GUYSWhere would Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? Harry Potter without Voldemort. The Three Little Pigs without the Big, Bad Wolf? Black hats, white hats; good guys, bad guys; heroes and villains. Protagonists and antagonists. Each plays a particular role in a story. ...more

Conflict: there are only four kinds

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #2 CONFLICT For the record, I don't entirely agree with what I'm going to tell you about conflict. You could say, I suppose, that I'm in conflict with conflict. It is the common wisdom in literary circles that there are only four types of conflict, that ...more

Three Roles of Setting in a Novel

10 ESSENTIALS OF A DYNAMITE STORY #1 SETTING Why is setting so important in a novel? Because it defines your characters. Or exemplifies your characters. Sometimes, actually becomes a character. Setting both affects characters and is the effect of characters. (Yup, I know the difference between affect and effect. But lie/lay/lain, not so much. That's ...more

10 Essentials of a Dynamite Story

JOB DESCRIPTION: NOVELIST You have to reach up out of the pages of your book, grab your Loyal Reader by the lapels and yank him out of his world into a place he's never been, where he'll be introduced to engaging people, both good and bad, who are in big ...more

Three Ways To Draw Pictures In Your Readers' Heads

I suspect it'd be easier to sneak a pipe bomb through security at the Tel Aviv airport than to get any three authors to agree on a job description. Exactly what is it we get paid those megabucks to do? Toss that question out at a writing conference and watch ...more

Three Things Every Novelist MUST Do

I spent a lot of years telling rooms full of just-out-of-J-School reporters to "picture groceries." For a decade, I gave up a few days every summer to teach at state press association "boot camps" where the goal was to whip the newbies into pros over the course of a single ...more

Don't Break Your Promise To Your Readers

I spoke to a group of fledgling suspense novelists last week and loved their fire and enthusiasm. I tried hard not to dampen that fire when I answered the questions they'd submitted. A dose of reality can be a bit of a downer, but a clear view of the way ...more

How To Survive Success As a Novelist

STEP FIFTEEN I considered adding a subtitle: I'll Let You Know As Soon As I Have Some and then leaving the space below blank. Might have gotten a chuckle, but it's not accurate. I have had success as a novelist and hope/plan to have even more in the future. Want ...more

If You Have A Song to Sing, SING IT!

STEP FOURTEEN Perhaps this should have been the first post instead of the 14th out of 15. It is, after all, foundational to everything I have come to understand about writing in general and the writing of novels in particular. It has to do with music. Sort of. Let's have ...more

Set It Free! No Little Dogs.

STEP THIRTEEN My mother was an artist. Though she passed through water colors, oils and acrylics on the way, she found her home in pastel chalk, not an easy medium. So many of my childhood memories center around my mother creating form and beauty on a blank, white page. On ...more

Watch Your Novel Go From Caterpillar to Butterfly

STEP TWELVE It happened to me with my very first novel. I got it in the mail, shipped to my house in Godalming, Surrey, southwest of London, and for a full half hour I did nothing but stare at the cover. Not the art or the title, MY NAME on ...more

Label 'Em or Lose 'Em

STEP ELEVEN So you're going to write a novel. You sit down and type the title: "The Greatest Book Ever Written". You slug it, "By Ninie Hammon," and you're off to the races. First day 500 words. Second day 750. After a few weeks, you've cranked out 35,000, maybe 50,000 ...more

The CFD--Crappy First Draft

STEP TEN Years ago, a famous columnist from a big metro daily and I co-taught a session on column-writing for the Kentucky Press Association Boot Camp. His approach to the craft and mine could not have been more different. Bob described how he worked on his lead, probably spent a ...more

All Great Stories Are About Change

All Great Stories Are About Change   Posted: April 30, 2014, 11:16AMSTEP NINE As the story opens, Gandalf the Gray provides the entertainment for Bilbo's birthday party. He sets off fireworks, his specialty. Three books full of outrageous adventure and 1,000+ pages later, the bearded wizard emerges as Gandalf the White, fearsome, ...more

One List to Rule Them All, One List to Find Them

STEP EIGHT:"One list to rule them all ... One list to find them ... One list to bring them all and in your novel bind them ... In the land of fiction where the writers lie." I guess I owe an apology to a certain J.R.R. Tolkein, but the imagery was too good ...more

What Were They Doing When?

STEP SEVEN: I've said it before but it bears repeating. Starting a new novel is a front-loaded activity. Every novelist does it differently, but only a handful sit down at the keyboard and type: "It was a dark and stormy night..." without a clue where the story's going after that. After you ...more

Five Strangers Stare At Me

STEP SIX: As I type these words, five people stare at me from the other side of the room, four grownups and a little red-haired girl. One of the grownups is a soldier. His name's Grayson, a young man, but his face is worn and haggard, his eyes older than his years. ...more

Line Up The Pearls

STEP FIVE: In my head, I see each scene of a novel as a pearl. A pearl is born in conflict. Something, some irritant, a grain of sand or a tiny piece of grit somehow gets inside the clam. Once it's in there, it causes instant problems, irritates the soft, ...more

Take Your Reader On A Journey

STEP FOUR: In my first blog for December, we talked about seat-of-the-pants writers, that rare breed of writer who sits down at a keyboard, and writes a novel, with little or no planning. I said they are rare, and later heard from a whole herd of them that they absolutely are ...more

Always Always Language

STEP TWO: It's always, always on my computer desktop and the top Note in my IPhone. I keep it handy because my Always, Always Language List is very important to me. The double "always" is to remind me of two things: how often I should listen for great language usage and ...more

You Need A Book For Your Book

STEP ONE: The one for Sudan got lost when we moved from Surrey to Buckinghamshire. But I remember it. It had a soft, brown leather cover. Dignified, befitting the seriousness of the subject matter. The rest didn't reflect the content, though. They were just cool books. That's the first thing I do ...more

Fifteen Steps to Get Novel On the Page

Sit down. I'm about to save your life. Ok, maybe not your life, but your sanity for sure. I'm about to tell you how to get that novel-the one that's been roaring around in your head for years on a custom Harley -out of your head and down on the page. The ...more


"Oh, and about the 9 and the e beside my name. Say it fast, emphasis on the 9. That’s how you pronounce my first name -9e. (Think “rhymes with tiny and shiny, NOT with skinny and penny.”)

Suspense Author

I have soooo many stories I want to tell you, so many worlds I want you to see, so many people I want you to meet. People in trouble, most of them. Big trouble they didn't ask for but there it is. Ordinary folks like you and me who are forced by circumstances to fight for their lives. And then, smack in the middle of their everyday worlds they encounter the unexplainable. It's always the game-changer.

Welcome to my world. If you'd like to know more about me, I'm easy. Click on Meet Ninie and you'll see. My life isn't really an open book; it's more of a pamphlet, and you are cordially invited to read it. I'd love to interact with you on Twitter, Facebook Fan page, and Goodreads. Or come visit with me at 9e's Kitchen Table, a Facebook group where readers and I hang out. I think you'd like it.