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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interview with Krista D. Ball


Hello Krista D. Ball, and welcome to Kitty’s Inner Thoughts. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. Tell us a little about yourself.



What were your feelings when you first learned that Road To Hell had been accepted?

Having Road to Hell accepted was amazing. I'd written that novel originally as a short story/quasi-script. It was nearly all dialogue, and was really just me writing during a time when I was working a lot of hours and was feeling down about the main series I was working on at the time. Along the way, that short story evolved into a novel. As luck would have it, it was accepted two months before Tranquility's Blaze, my epic fantasy novel, so I have two novels accepted within as many months.

What inspired Road to Hell?

Lots of things...and nothing. I wrote it while I was working a lot of long days on my feet at a homeless drop in, I was frustrated with my epic fantasy novel, Tranquility's Blaze, and needed to stop and write something new. So, that's where it came from. Originally, it was supposed to be a short story, but instead it became a novella...and then a short novel.

Do you prefer writing sci-fi over writing paranormal?

I can say that science fiction comes a lot easier to me story-wise, but paranormal is a hell of a lot easier to write once you got the story. There's no world building; it already exists! After writing epic fantasy and science fiction, doing a paranormal was easy. But I wouldn't call it my first love.

What was your favorite part about writing Spirits Rising?

Not answering to anyone. I wrote Spirits Rising (and indeed, will be writing the entire series) for me. I grew up in Newfoundland, and I wanted a story where the only person I wanted to impress was me. I knew going in that I would self-publish it, would do little promotion for it, and that this was really a for-fun project.

For-money projects are great, don't get me wrong. I love those! They pay bills. But every so often, a girl needs to spread her wings for love projects, too.

What are some of your favorite elements of writing paranormal?

Less world building! Oh wow. Going from science fiction and epic fantasy to writing a contemporary story like Spirits Rising was such a brain release. People could use cell phones! People have cars and wear jeans. It was such a relief for me and it wasn't until I was writing these things that I realized how great writing today could be.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay inspired during revisions?

Alcohol should never be underestimated.

I have a schedule board, where I note what projects I should be working on by month. That way, I can tell at a glance if I'm behind schedule by just looking at the board. Besides, I never get too bored because I can see when things will change.

Right now, I'm putting the final touches on the second of my Tranquility series, and also writing a non-fiction book. That one is due in by August 15 to the publisher, so I'm definitely feeling the pressure!



What are some of the difficulties you run into with the world building aspects?

Not getting bogged down. I have a history background, so it's so easy with epic fantasy (especially) to just get all tangled up. I try to use the rule stick of: am I doing this because it's needed or because I want to show off? I've discovered it's usually option 2 ;)

What is something your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

This is a tough one. I don't know, actually. I don't have any really weird hobbies. Well, I do, but I try not to let anyone know about those!

How do you balance writing with your ever day life?

I am asked this question a lot, and I have no good answer for it. I ensure those around me respect my schedule, weird hours, and deadlines. Kids who scream when I have a galley due in 12 hours get grounded and send to their rooms. I think many of the problems people have with balance have to do with respect:

Share with us the different platforms you use to sell your book (bookstores, signing, affiliate programs, website etc.).

I'm pretty lazy about these things. For my trade stuff, the publisher handles all that. It's really glorious and I love it! For the self-published stuff, I generally just let folks I have new stuff out and tweet about it every so often.

I do plan to do some book signings and such later this year. But right now, I'm really too busy to organize those things. Convention season is coming up and I'll be at a couple of cons locally. I often speak and such at those, so I'll do signings and whatnot then.

Right now, I'm just trying to get stuff in by their deadlines!

What would you do differently with the publishing of your next book?

Nothing, to be honest. I'm very good going into projects with figuring out what I'm going to do with them. I am going to *try* to go slower for the next year, however. I've had a mad push to finish stuff this year for some personal reasons. But I'm nearing the end of the two major projects I need to finish (the last deadline being August 15), so I hope to take things slower for the rest of the year.

Do have any future projects you’d like to tell us about?/

My epic fantasy series debuts with book1 called Tranquility's Blaze. That'll be out April 17th. My history guide for writers called What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Author's Guide to Food and Drink will be out toward the end of the year, possibly November. Of course, I have my web serial, Collaborator, that I am working on that folks can read on my website.



Thank you for spending time with us today and sharing some of your experiences with us. Hope to hear from you again, Krista!

Bloggers, be sure to check out her website, and books. You won’t be disappointed. This lady is a master of creating new and exciting worlds. In fact, you can read my reviews for Road To Hell and Spirits Rising and see how much I enjoyed them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shape Shifting


One of the biggest parts that goes into writing a book is research. You can either view it as a boring, chore, or as an exciting new adventure. Either way it's often a requirement for pretty much any book. You can spend hours, weeks, or months depending on the subject and how much you need to know to make your book seem authentic.

I've spent the past several days scouring the internet for research on the many aspects of shape shifting all over the world. Asia in particular, has some awesome mythology behind shape-shifting.

For instance did you know that shape shifting comes in three main forms?

Mental (M-Shift) - A change in psychological state, where a person thinks and behaves more like their animal. This form is rarely used, because let's face it, anyone acting like this would be committed. Right? But it could be fun to play with if you have the right setting for the characters.

Spiritual (S-Shift) - A change in spiritual state, often broken down by type (astral shifting, auric shifting, etc). The spiritual self, astral body, or aura change to resemble the animal. This is the form that Native American and Indian tribes lean towards the most. It could prove a fun aspect to play with for just about any kind of plot.

Physical (P-Shift) - A change in physical state, physically changing to become more like, or entirely like, their theriotype animal. Controversial, and largely thought to be impossible {except in books, movies, and animes}. This form is the most widely used and therefore widely recognized form. Who doesn't want to change into a real animal right?

Three main forms of shifting leave us writers a whole lot of room for creating legends for our characters to explain how they transform.

However, depending on where in the world your characters are located, will determine the extent you can play with the legends. In my opinion were-wolves while good, are way overdone these days. So, let's take a look at were-cats instead. {Who doesn't love those affectionate balls of fur?}

In India the were-tiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock, who might at any time turn to man-eating.

Chinese legends often describe were-tigers as the victims of either a hereditary curse or a vindictive ghost.

In both Indonesia and Malaysia there is another kind of were-tiger, known as Harimau jadian. The power of transformation is regarded as due to inheritance, to the use of spells, to fasting and willpower, to the use of charms, etc. Save when it is hungry or has just cause for revenge, it is not hostile to man; in fact, it is said to take its animal form only at night and to guard the plantations from wild pigs.

In Africa in reference to were-cats who turn into lions, the ability is often associated with royalty. Such a being may have been a king or queen in a former life, or may be destined for leadership in this life.

European folklore usually depicts were-cats who transform into domestic cats. Some European were-cats became giant domestic cats or panthers. They are generally labelled witches, even though they may have no magical ability other than self-transformation. During the witch trials, the official Church doctrine stated that all shape-shifters, including werewolves, were witches.

As you can see there are many different versions of were-cat {aka Ailuranthropy = human/feline transformations.} Some say they are good, and non threatening to natives, others say they are dangerous to everyone. It leaves authors a lot of play room when developing legends to suit their novels or movies.

Move over were-wolves and make room for the cats to come out and play.

Which legend is your favorite? Which transformation is your favorite? Why do you think P-shifting is the most popular form used in novels and movies? Feel free to respond in comments. I'd love to hear your insights and opinions.

This is another awesome post about Ailuranthrophy you should check out.

Reference Materials: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werecat and http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Therianthropy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Interview with Evie Balos


Hello bloggers. I have a surprise for you. Today I'm conducting my first blog interview. Please help me extend a warm welcome to erotic romance writer Evie Balos.

Hello Evie, and welcome to Kitty’s Inner Thoughts. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. You are a traditionally published author, so tell us a little about your experiences.

What are some of the ways you stay inspired during the grueling process of writing and revising your books?

Writing has always been a highly enjoyable experience for me and, believe it or not, I actually like editing too. The only time I feel the need to draw extra inspiration is when I hit writer’s block. I step away from the story but eventually, my characters call me back to finish the work.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted and when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

A whole mix of emotions—from relief and elation to anxiousness about marketing the book. Mostly, I was proud of myself; the hard work had finally paid off.

What are some of your favorite elements of writing paranormal?

Although I write other subgenres, paranormal gives the author the flexibility to create just about any type of world and this is what I enjoy the most.

What are some of the differences between writing romance and writing erotica?

The main differences are heat level; explicit sexual scenes, and these are a focal point in erotica, whereas in romance, the focus is on the romantic relationship. Also, true erotica can lack “romance” altogether and often does not involve traditional relationships.

Do you blush when writing the steamy scenes?

Rarely. Writing erotic romance and erotica is part of my life. However, I won’t let my parents near my books, lol.

What is something your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

Oh my. I don’t know...maybe that I’m almost sure I was a cat in another life?

What inspired Wicked Angel? What are some of the tricks you use for creating sexual tension between your characters?

When Cobblestone Press launched its Blue line (erotica), I instantly wanted to write a story for it. Very short, very hot. Somehow, I knew I’d go with a paranormal angle, and as I love law enforcement, the idea of creating a warrior angel popped into my head soon after.

I create sexual tension mostly through the general challenge that the two characters face, whether it’s a taboo relationship, or there’s animosity of some kind. I never make it easy for them. Mix in some sizzling physical attraction that can’t be immediately satisfied, and there’s the sexual edge.

What are some of the difficulties you run into with creating alpha males?

Well, certainly some headaches, since all of my heroes are alpha, lol. I’d say that I have two challenges with this. One is not going overboard with the alpha personality because the hero certainly can’t be cruel or obnoxious. The other is the need to create different types of alphas for each story, so that means coming up with a variety of heroes that are intrinsically different, yet still alpha.

Share with us the different platforms you use to sell your book (bookstores, signing, affiliate programs, website etc.)

As far as marketing goes, I try to keep it simple to be honest, because it takes up a lot of time. I use my website, blog, Twitter and Yahoo group as basic networking tools. I advertise at a few review sites and my publishers take care of book reviews for the most part. I participate in various online chats and author/reader events as much as possible, as well as doing fun interviews like this. I hope to be able to attend a Romantic Times Convention one of these days!

What would you do differently with the publishing of your next book?

I have considered some self-pubbing in the near future, so my next book might be available exclusively at Amazon and its affiliates.

Anything important or special you would like to add?

If your followers are interested in erotic romance, I’ve got two paranormal titles with Cobblestone Press that have received rave reviews, (Dhampir Desire series) and a contemporary title with Total-E-Bound called Give it to Me Spicy.

Thank you for spending time with us today and sharing some of your experiences with us. Hope to hear from you again, Evie!

Kitty, I’ve really enjoyed your questions, and thank you for having me!

Bloggers, be sure to check out Evie's Website, Evie's Blog, and books. You won’t be disappointed. You can read my review for Wicked Angel too.

You can also follow Evie on Twitter.

Next week we will be joined by Author Krista D. Ball. A master of world building. She writes sci-fi and paranormal romances.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Never Forget


To let my readers see who I am, I've decided to share a short story I wrote, of when I was fifteen, on the brink of losing faith in mankind as a whole, until one event changed my life forever. I'm a bit nervous because this is based on real events and comes from my heart. So I'm very nervous about how people will respond to it. But readers need to know who is behind the writing,. So here it is. I hope you will enjoy it. I humbly request to hear what you think about it. Thanks.

Never Forget:

I stood leaning against the wooden rail with my pole in my hands and wiped the sweat running down my forehead with the back of my sleeve. Humidity was thick in the air. It tasted salty because of the sea that spread out as far as the eye could see. Twenty feet to the rear lay a beach with Starfish and, sea shells, and sand crabs dotting the shoreline, all but abandoned by humans. Strange since it was summer vacation. My family and I stood in the middle of a half a mile long, shabby wooden pier that was sturdy and had a lot of splitters along the edges.

Mama and step dad stood on one side, my two brothers on each side of them, and my sister and I on the right side. I looked down the beach and scowled at the slide in camper that the family, along with two dogs: One a Pomeranian, the other a red Doberman, had lived in on the beach for a full year.

My Doberman lay beside my feet acting lethargic and panting. I reached over and scratched behind her ears as I stared at the pale, cloudless sky. When we first arrived I'd loved the idea of living at a real beach and looked forward to swimming in the ocean at any given time I chose. Lately the swimming bored me. I did it for exercise and to stretch my legs. I scowled at the thought of going into the water again because of the many sunburns I'd received. My skin ached in remembrance of the last one I'd received two weeks ago, with blisters the size of quarters and skin as red as a hot poker made it hurt to be touched.

Thank God that finally healed.

Still, getting outside to fish on the pier, or play at the beach beat being cooped up. More than once I'd gotten sick from being too cold at night because my bed was the hard, unforgiving floor and my blanket always ended up sprouting legs. As for bathing, we had to go into the bathroom and use the public showers. Who knew when a stranger might walk in, so of course we’d go in our bathing suits, not an easy feat by any means. We couldn't adjust the water either.

"Let's go jump in the water." My youngest brother suggested.

I balked. "Are you insane? There is glass over there. Besides, it's too damned hot." My eyes narrowed at him. "I don't want another stupid sunburn." I huffed.

"Trina, leave your brother alone." Mama warned and went back to watching her pole.

Sure, I'm the one who gets yelled at. I sighed and pulled a sliver of glass out of the bottom of my worn out shoes. I winced when it pricked my finger and stared at the tiny drop of blood forming on the tip. Stupid thoughtless bums. I huffed and flicked it into the water.

Every morning about a foot from where the water rose, broken beer bottles and broken glass shards scattered across the ground. We had to be careful where we stepped and always keep our shoes on. Especially when we played in the water, so that we could scare away the sting rays that loved to burrow into the sand at the bottom of the water by dragging our feet as we entered the water.

Ridiculous

I listened to the waves crashing against the shore and stared at my shoes and then rolled my eyes. I didn't want to be like the five year old boy from last week who stepped on one and ended up having to get the razor sharp, splinter laden barb surgically removed from what remained of his foot.

Poor thing. He'll never be the same. I scowled. His parents should have paid more attention. Now that poor kid will pay the price. My jaw tightened and my hand closed around the pole till my knuckles turned white.

Seagulls’ cries filled the air as they flapped their wings circling above the water. I feel for you, kid. Only fifteen and I'd already survived having my world ruthlessly ripped apart by the ultimate betrayal once. I winced and tore my mind away from the unwanted memory crowding into my mind as my heart ached. Life gets better. I scoffed. Yeah right that’s easier said than done.

My stomach growled demanding my attention and I stared at it. "Be quiet." I mumbled and turned my attention back to the water, spotting a couple of sailboats gliding through away from shore. I watched a fish jump out of the water in front of the pier and released a long exhale. Day in and day out it had been fish, shark, crabs and shrimp. Sure it was a variety but still seafood.

I'm sick of seafood! I shifted on my feet. A Peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be a God Send right now. Too bad we only get them twice a year. Mama, my stepfather, my sister, and continued to fish. My two younger brothers sat on the pier cross-legged, blank eyes staring out over the water, listless, bored.

What else can go wrong today? I grit my teeth and my free hand balled into a fist, slamming against the top of the railing. I looked around the pier and saw there was only three other people, besides us. One of them, an old man, stood down at the end, watching us. He looked at the bucket and then smiled at me.

Sorry pal, you will have to get your own fish. That’s our dinner.

The smell of seaweed and algae reached my nose as the wind picked up just enough to tease me.
My skin tingled in warning as his gaze intensified. Stop staring will you? I turned my back to him and grit my teeth as unwanted memories crowded in. What did I do to deserve that? I tightened my bulky plaid button up around me to protect myself from the stares I felt on me and tried to make myself as small as possible.

I guess the whole world has to take a shot at me. I used one hand to rub my tight shoulder and stomped on a bug, grinding it under my foot. Go away you nasty thing.

My shoulders hunched and my chin fell to my chest. I closed my eyes feeling a heavy stone settle in my belly. Great, now I'm attacking little critters? I swallowed trying to hold back the tears stinging my eyes and my heart felt like a vice grip closed around it. My free hand gripped the splintered edge of the wooden rail to keep me from falling to my knees.

Please God, there has to be at least some decency out in the cruel, harsh world. I can’t take it anymore. Help me be rid of my bitterness. I don’t want to be angry all the time.

I huffed and kicked the bucket. And please, no more seafood. Just a simple break that's all I ask. Only for a little while. Tears clung to my lashes despite trying to keep them at bay as sadness washed over me like the waves crashing against the shore. Why do things just keep going from bad to worse? Is everyone cruel?

My hand tightened on my shoulder and I winced. I took a deep breath and blinked my tears away. I gazed back at the sea, watching the waves ripple. Maybe the world doesn’t care anymore?

Everything rested on my shoulders weighing me down as the waves of sadness and pain continued to batter at me like a twig on a turbulent sea. I pinched the bridge of my nose. If it has to be seafood, then I at least want a shark that we can fry in the pan. It’s been two months since we had shark. Anything but more fish.

Everyone at school griped about how boring fishing was. I didn’t have any friends, but that didn’t bother me. As long as people leave me alone, I don’t care.

I stared at my rod and grimaced. Even fishing started to lose my interest. My skin prickled in warning and I felt a heavy stare on me. I looked around and saw the old man watching me again. Why is he so interested in us and that stupid bucket of fish? I shifted and my knee bumped the top of the bucket./br>
A few minutes later Mama’s pole bounced like crazy. “Hey guys, I’ve got something!”

The five of us went over to find out why her pole bounced so hard as she fought to reel it in. When she pulled it up out of the water, my eyes widened in shock.

Okay, that's something that we haven’t eaten yet.

My seven year old brother jumped up and his fist pumped the air. “Alright! Finally, something besides fish.” My jaw hung dropped as I watched him hug our five year old brother and they jumped up and down. I blinked. What no fighting? Weirdos. I shook my head and looked at Mama. My step dad reached over lifting the line and grabbed the eel. He walked over to the other side and laid it on the pier and then knelt down and pulled out his knife.

“You’re not going to feed that to the kids, are you?” The old man walked over and frowned.

“It’s this or fish, and they are sick of fish.“ Mama stared at him.

“Why eat out of the ocean?”

“We’ve been doing so, for over a year. My wife and I both have no jobs, despite her nursing degree.” He Huffed. "Nobody around here will hire us. We're collecting aluminum for money, but we're barely able to make rent for our camper.” He shrugged. “We even had to put the fishing licenses as a priority just so we can eat.”

"Put that eel and the bucket of fish away. You can have that stuff tomorrow night." The old man set his pole aside. He winked at my mother and draped his arm over my step dad's shoulder. "You, come with me and I'll tell you why."

With a puzzled expression my step dad nodded and allowed the old man to lead him away.

Mama looked at us kids and bent over adding the eel to our bucket. “Don’t get your hopes up.” She frowned as the boys ran up and down the pier.

“No fish tonight, hooray!” They cheered in unison.

I stared out to nowhere, not seeing anything. Why do I always seem to meet the worst people? Not even guys, just people in general. I felt the heavy weight of depression closing in again.

After a while the old man and my step father returned. Their arms were loaded with stuff from McDonald’s. My mother's jaw dropped when she saw the food and she shot a questioning look at my step dad. He gave her a nod.

“Thank you.” She smiled at the old man.

He nodded and handed each of the boys two ice cream cones. He passed us girls one each. “Don’t spoil your dinner, but eat this before it melts. Okay?”

We stared at our step dad. He nodded and we accepted the ice creams, finishing them off before they had a chance to start melting. I Inhaled a deep breath drawing in the chocolate scent I'd missed so much and felt my mouth water in anticipation. My tongue swirled over the sweet, cold treat and my taste buds danced with pleasure. My heart sank when the treat was gone. The old man passed each of us cheese burgers, French fries and drinks; real sodas. We'd had water, milk, and when we were lucky, kool-aid, so that was an extra special treat.

I picked up my burger and grinned."Thanks mister." I sank my teeth into the meat and savored the ketchup on my tongue. I chewed the lettuce and tomato and felt some of the darkness in me fade away. Delicious. I’ve missed having tomatoes. I grabbed a handful of my fries and shoved them in my mouth.

The old man ate with us laughing at our antics.

After devouring my three burgers and all of my fries I danced around the beach, spinning in circles with my hands stretched out beside me and grinned. So did my thirteen years old sister. My brothers bounced up and down and ran around playing with their new toys they'd gotten in their happy meals. My step father chuckled and walked off to put the bucket of fish away.

Mama stood up and slapped her arm, flicking a mosquito off. “Okay kids, let’s get our stuff and head in for the night.”

I gathered the poles and tackle box and then turned around to ask my mother a question, but stopped when I noticed the old man was still there. I placed the tackle box in front of me as if to use it for a shield.

“Have your husband meet me here in the morning and by tomorrow evening he will have a job.” He looked at my mother.

My mother’s face lit up. “Thank you sir, I will.” She followed my step father and I finished gathering the poles from their pier.

The old man walked over to his gear.

I stood there and frowned. Why is he so kind? What does he want? I felt the wind pick up and shivered. I snatched the last pole up and followed my family. We all went inside and settled into bed for the night. I closed my eyes and said my prayers, pulling my blanket up to my chin. Thanks God. We needed that break. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

Two days later my stepfather worked as a welder. My mother even had a job nursing and we moved into a three bedroom house located two hours away in a small town that was only two miles wide and two miles long. I grinned as I ran to check out my new bedroom, with the dogs at my feet. I hugged my Doberman in my excitement and she licked my face, making me giggle. No more cramped camper on a beach for us.

We girls had a room, the boys had a room and my mother and step father had a room. We had plenty of room for the dogs inside, but also had a screened in porch. My hand traced the railing of the porch and I smiled. I stretched my leg in front of me. Man, it feels so good not being cramped all of the time.

After helping us move everything into the house and showing us where everything was, the old man walked back out to his pickup truck. He stood outside by the driver’s door and all six of us went out to thank him.

My mother smiled at him. “Thanks again for everything. How can we possibly repay you?”

The old man grinned at us kids and then smiled at my mother. "Simple, next time you see someone who needs help, don’t hesitate. Do for them like I’ve done for you - help however you can and ask nothing in return." With that he climbed into his pick up and drove away.

We never did see that old man again. Years later {after I was married and had kids of my own} I found out that house was his summer retreat. We lived there four years and never paid any rent. All that he asked in return was whenever the yard, front or back, needed tending we’d do it and we did.

I'll never forget that day, or everything he did for us, for as long as I live. That kind, generous old man completely restored my faith in mankind and gave me a reason to keep meeting life's challenges with my head held high. I know a lot of you don’t believe in God, but I do. I will always think that was God sent him to remind me that not everyone is bad, selfish, mean and cruel.

I want to make it clear that I never lost my faith in God, just in mankind as a whole. But, I feel that God used this event to show me there are still good people out there and that I shouldn't lose hope in humanity, even in the darkest of times.

It was a powerful lesson: One old man’s kindness changed my life forever. Even to this day I try to help others every chance I can, even if it gets me kicked in the teeth. I just remember what he said and how his kindness made me feel and I try again.

Through the years when I've hit hard times or started wondering if there is any good left in the world, I think back to that day twenty years ago and smile knowing that somehow, some way things will work out.

First Chapter


First and foremost. Welcome new members, thanks for joining and following me.

I remember when I first started writing how I couldn't believe how serious people were about the first chapter being vital. I always thought they were nuts. it's just the beginning, right?

Wrong!

That first chapter is so much more than just "the beginning" of your story. It's one the two most important chapters in a book. The other being the climax {which will will discuss in a later post}. Next to the climax your first chapter is the most important one of the book.

Why?

Because that little bugger has a lot of important jobs to carry out in order to succeed.

One: It must grab the readers attention immediately. Something, be it an action scene, or a problem your character needs to resolve, or even a bit of dialogue about the problem your character is facing, has to quickly snag your reader's attention before they put the book back on the shelf and reach for another one. {this goes back to my post about how vital the first sentence/paragraph is and why.}

Two: Ground the readers in the setting. The reader needs to know immediately when {what time period, future, past, present?} and where {location, location, location} the story is taking place. Please use specifics here. Specific sensory details should cue the reader to the exact location.

Three: It sets the tone for what kind of book they are reading and gives a glimpse at the over all style of the writer. Readers need to be clear about what genre the book is by the end of the first chapter, or they will get confused and likely walk away feeling cheated. Make sure you know what genre you are writing and the rules that apply to it, so you can follow those rules specific to the genre and not disappoint your reader's by "cheating them" {pretending it's a sci fi action book when it's really a romance fantasy} and leaving them unsatisfied.

Four: It introduces readers to the main character{s}, but not too many at once. Personally, I like to stick with just the hero and/or heroine in the first chapter. That way readers don't feel overwhelmed by too many characters and can get a chance to "bond" with your main character{s} If a reader cannot bond with the characters, why should they continue reading to see what happens to them?

Five: It sets the stakes, letting the readers know exactly what is at risk for your character{s} and what they must do to overcome it. The first chapter should satisfy the reader's need to understand what the story is going to be about, while posing a question that makes them want to stay with your character{s} and see what happens. Arouse the reader's curiosity and they will want to keep reading. Fail to arouse their curiosity and they will put it back on the shelf unread. Sad, but true.

Six: It establishes the narrator's voice and Point Of View, which will help you cut down on the dreaded "head hopping" and enables you to avoid confusing your readers. Make sure your narrator's voice is clear, or you will confuse your readers. Confused readers = lost readers = lost sales and lost future sales and/or lost contracts.

Seven: The first chapter should be a teaser, one that creates a question in the reader's mind and creates suspense to keep them wanting to learn about and thus turning the pages, to follow your character's through out the book. Only give the details necessary to firmly establish your character's situation and what is at stake, while immersing your readers in the setting. It's a good idea to avoid as much back story as possible within the first one hundred pages. But it is absolutely vital to keep it out of the first chapter. If your readers already know everything, why should they continue reading your book? Keep them guessing and you should keep them interested.

In conclusion over the years {and a plethora of revisions} I've learned the hard way everything I mentioned above. Don't make the mistake of starting just to start. During the revision stage pay special attention to your opening chapter and check for the key elements listed above. If you're missing them, add them. After all, that's what revisions are for, to help us clean up our mistakes, tighten prose, and add in what we've missed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updates!


I finally settled on the official book blurb for my upcoming novel.

*side note* Cover Art coming soon.

Book Blurb for Dangerous Temptation:

After losing her father in the line of duty, the last thing seventeen year old Kaitlin Sinclair wants to do is fly halfway around the world to live with an uncle she's never met. She certainly doesn't want to get to know the locals… That is until she's enchanted by some of the legends about the natives. Armed with her camera she heads into the jungle and makes a startling discovery that could put both her heart and her life in peril.

Cadmon Quinn is a Borneo shifter, charged with the task of keeping his people safe from the local hostiles who have been uncooperative in the meetings to try and establish peace. To say he's unhappy when he discovers one traipsing about his people's land is an understatement. Too bad no one warned him she would prove to be more of a challenge than he'd expected. One that could jeopardize his people's existence and his heart.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Just Starting Out


I remember when I first started writing and how scary it was.

It can seem pretty overwhelming at first huh? Worried about whether or not other people will like your writing. How "mean" they will be in the reviews or critiques.

It takes a lot of courage to post any of your writing up for others to read. So, to have them write "mean" reviews telling you things aren't right and you need to get them right... that can really crush a new writer's spirit. Especially if it seems like a "flame" in the case of fanfiction.

The good news is that you can learn some valuable information from those harsh reviews and critiques.

The truth is most of those "mean" reviews aren't meant to hurt your feelings at all. They're actually meant to help you become a better writer.

A word to this wise: Keep in mind that if you can't handle harsh reviews, you won't be able to handle the harsher critiques, which are what help writers grow into better writers. It's that simple. As a writer we need to remember most of what is said is directed solely at the writing not the writer.

If someone flat out calls you a bad writer, then yeah, that's directed at you and it's simply them trying to undermine your confidence in yourself. Don't let them. Take those "flames" and pitch them aside. Ignore them. Most times flamers are just trying to get a rise out of you. Don't react and they will usually go away. If the flamers become too bothersome simply block them and let that be the end of it.

You must learn to have confidence in yourself and your writing. Because without it, you'll never get over the fear of "not being good enough" to get published, and you won't enjoy writing anymore. What's the point in doing something if you don't enjoy it?

Writing should be an adventure for you. Exciting, fun, sometimes frustrating {especially during revisions} but it should always be an adventure to you. Your taking something and pouring your heart and soul into it. Like it or not every author pours some of themselves into their stories. There is no way of getting around that. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Never give up!

How do you handle mean reviews or harsh critiques? What do you learn from them? Have they helped you improve over the years? Feel free to comment and join in on the discussion.

One last note: There is a fabulous celebration going on at The Bookshelf Muse Make sure you stop by and help these two talented women celebrate their hard earned milestone of reaching over 3000+ subscribers. They've earned it! Don't forget to enter their awesome contest too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Crucible


This is often a touchy subject with writers of all kinds. But it is a key ingredient to writing a successful novel.

So, what is a crucible?

To quote Stein On Writing:"Author James Frey refers to a crucible as: The container that holds the characters together as things heat up." - end quote.

Why is having a crucible so important?

To quote Stein On Writing again:"The key to the crucible is that the motivation of the characters to continue opposing each other, is greater than the motivation to run away." end quote.

It's my understanding that the crucible is your characters' driving factor, the one reason they simply cannot stop. It will be the motivation that pushes them to the climatic battle.

Take a married couple for instance. After say a dozen years of being together, having two kids together, and countless years of stress and arguments, what could possible kept them from splitting apart?

The motivation that keeps them together would obviously be the strength of their love for each other, and for their children.

However, their marriage would be their crucible. It ties in with their motivation and keeps them together as the arguments heat up, no matter how rough things get.

I chose that example, because to me marriage is a sacred union and so I felt this example would be the strongest one to get my point across. But crucibles can be an inclosed area, an emotion that is so strong they can't walk away from it, like love, ect.

What are some of the crucibles you've used in your novels? What is your crucible for writing novels in the first place? I'd love to hear your ideas and thank you for listening to mine.

Reference Material: Stein On Writing by Sol Stein.
Make sure you check out This wonderful opportunity for writers and join in the celebration. These ladies have worked hard to achieve their success. http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/2012/02/3000-thank-yous-giveaway.html

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scenes


Have you ever been told that writing things one scene at a time will make the whole novel process easier?

I remember how confusing that statement was when I first started out writing my novels, and how when everyone who tried to explain it only confused me more.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told this by other writers and editors over the past few years.

So, what makes a scene a scene? That is an excellent question and one than can be very confusing, as every person has their own ideas about it and most conflict with others opinions. Today I'm going to attempt to simplify it for those of you still confused about it.

Here are a few quotes from a book I've found infinitely helpful about it.

"For one thing it takes place in real time. Your readers watch events as they unfold rather than it being described after the fact." - end quote.

So, what exactly does that mean? It means you show the action, rather then describing {aka telling} it.

Telling: She kicked her foot and spun around, walking off angry.

Showing: Layana kicked the rock, sending it across the ground with a muffled curse. Her mouth tightened into a thin line and her hands balled into fists as she spun around, and stomped away, kicking a second stone out of her path with a huff.

Scenes usually have settings as well, specific locations readers can picture." - end quote.

Now let's add that nugget of advice to the prose. Shall we?

Layana stood near the river. A branch fell from the tree, smacking her in the face and knocking her on her butt. She kicked the rock, sending it across the ground with a muffled curse. Her mouth tightened into a thin line and her hands balled into fists as she spun around, and stomped away, kicking a second stone out of her path with a huff.

Scenes also contain some action, something that happens. More often than not, what happens is dialogue between one or more characters." - end quote.

Now to add that last nugget to our prose.

Layana stood under a tree, listening to the nearby river flow and relaxed her shoulders. A branch fell from the tree smacking her in the face and knocked her onto her butt.

"Damnit!" She jumped up and kicked a small rock, sending it across the ground with a muffled curse. She watched with little satisfaction as it sunk into the water with a loud splash.

"Why can't I catch a break today?" Her mouth tightened into a thin line and her hands balled into fists as she spun around, and stomped away, kicking a second stone out of her path with a huff.

The final product transformed our first sentence into an entire scene. Hard to believe it, huh? But, it meets all of the criteria.

1.} It has a specific location: by the river.

2.} It has a specific character: Layana.

3.} It shows us what happens as the events unfold: Getting hit by a branch and growing angry enough to kick a rock and then storm off.

4.} It contains plenty of action: Jumping to her feet, kicking a stone, complaining, stomping off, ect.

5.} It also shows rather than describes her emotions. Instead of simply saying, "she walked off angry." I've shown her anger, through the tightening of her mouth, balling her fists, her huff, her curse, and her storming away.

I even added some brief dialogue, and went a step further by hinting through the dialogue at the fact that she's had a lousy day.

Three paragraphs created an entire scene. Amazing huh?

Please note that some scenes can take several pages and even a full chapter to come out right, others can be brief, yet vital to the plot, such as the one I did above.

Reference Material: Self Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Good News!


After weighing the pros and cons very carefully, I have decided to to take a risk and release an e-book Novella {basically the first five chapters} of Dangerous Temptation, before the full novel is finished. I had to change the title of Double Trouble, because I did a search and found thirty seven books titled "Double Trouble" and most were eroticas... Not the impression I want my title to give since it's a Paranormal Romance.

Tentative release date early June 2012.

The differences between the two are as follows.

Obviously the Novella will be a condensed version, containing a partial story, and will be available for free You heard right. It will be free.

The full length novel scheduled for a late 2013 release, will contain the entire story, beginning to end and be much longer, as it will have the plot completely fleshed out. It will also cost to buy this one.

Everybody says "You must promote your book before it's released." Well, this is the strategy I've come up with to do so.

Why am I doing this? I want to test the waters among Fantasy/Romance readers, to see what kind of following this book will actually have.

Is it risky? You bet! However, I'm confident enough that once people read the Novella, my readers will anticipate the release of the full novel. I'm also confident enough in the quality of my writing, to put it out there for others to see.

Am I being egotistical? Not at all! I strongly feel this is a great way to help promote the book. I mean, who doesn't like getting stuff for free, right?

It could either a: promote my book, in effect letting the content "sell" itself, gaining a wide interest, or b: destroy my chances at getting the full book taken seriously. I'm well aware of how either outcome can affect my future writing endeavors and I'm prepared for whatever the outcome will be.

I'm taking all the risks. Is it smart? That is debatable. Many authors will say "You're crazy!" What can I say? I'm a risk taker. Anyone not willing to take a risk, will never know if they would have failed or succeeded.

Should you take the same risk? That is a choice every author must make for themselves. You must weigh all options, pros, and cons, included very carefully before deciding.

What kind of marketing strategies have you decided to use or used? DO you pay for advertisements on other websites? Use your own website? Spam twitter with promos? What are your opinions on this idea? Are you for or against it? Why?

Be sure to check back often, for regular updates and further details

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shows Of The 1980's.


Ever get tired of everything being about business? Where is the fun in that? Well, this week we're breaking from blogging about writing to discuss something else. Let's discuss and era gone by that had a huge impact on the world of today.

I'm talking about the 1980's.

How many of my readers actually remember the 80's? Probably not many. Chances are you'll still find this post entertaining, or at the very least enlightening. Because most of what you enjoy today has roots that go back to the 1980's.

You're probably asking yourself: "How is that possible?" Am I right?

Ever hear of Thunder Cats? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? How about G.I. Joe? Guess what? The original cartoons of those series are from the 80's. Back then cartoons had a huge following that extends into today's marketing of the modern versions. The same goes for Transformers.

Fun Trivia Fact: Did you know that Hasbro changed the television industry for toy advertisement through G.I. Joe and Transformers? Want to know how? Animated commercials to sell toys were forbidden back then, so they went to Marvel Comics to get them made as comics and then made the cartoons of the comics, which helped sell the toys.

And it was a marketing strategy that worked! Both industries sold billions of toys from those "cartoons" alone. Not to mention they went on to make movies about them and several spin off series, such as the ones kids see today. G.I. Joe Extreme and Transformers Cybertron and Universe and Energon, ect.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Bright, Teddy Ruxbin Adventures, and Care Bears all originate from the 80's. Now a days before a movie even hits DVD and most times before they even hit theaters, there is an entire toy line filling up the shelves.

Personally I miss how wholesome the TV shows were back in the 80's. Like MacGyver. He was a crafty guy and every episode he faced some kind of peril, whether it was saving the few people he let close enough to matter, or saving the world, or a small village. Every episode had a strong life lesson behind it.

What about Dukes of Hazard? It stressed the importance of family values, teamwork, and taking responsibility for you own actions. Each episode instilled a sense of enlightenment and was very entertaining at the same time.

How many of my readers have heard of or seen Gundam Seed or Zoids? Even they have roots in the 80's. How? Simple: they are patterned off of a series called Robotech, which is patterned off of Voltron, both of which are from the 80's.

Sure each series has its own little quirks and different plot lines and various spin offs, but they all involve mechs, often times combining to form more powerful mech. Power rangers {from the 90's} follows this pattern as well, despite the deeper plot lines. All have a group of people working together to save their worlds.

The 80's had a slew of great shows including Alf, Airwolf, The A-Team, Dynasty, Dallas, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I., Miami Vice, Different Strokes, The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, The Cosby Show, Murder She Wrote, 21 Jump Street, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Night Court, Who's the Boss?

Family Matters, Quantum Leap, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne, Full House, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Growing Pains, Family Ties, Seinfeld, Tales From The Crypt {which lead to tales from the dark side}, Ghost Writer, R.L. Stein's Goosebumps, The Simpsons and Married... with Children.

All were family centric shows that touched on a variety of subjects. Everything from dealing with family stress, peer pressure, to growing up and becoming adults, politics, racial issues, ect. But all had wholesome values behind them and most were kid friendly. Something today's "entertainment" sorely lacks.

Double Dare for instance was a family game show where even the parents participated as part of the team. It really brought parents and their kids {usually young teens or preteens} together. Keeping them a tight knit unit and making them work together to complete the challenges. Family Feud did the same thing, minus the icky slime that Double Dare was famous for.

What about American Gladiators? Now there is a show that really encouraged everyone to stay in shape, because the challenges were all physical activities, like dodging the huge rubber balls, or running in the large metal balls that reminded me of a hamster wheel, or even facing the gladiators themselves, all of which were tough as nails. And what about the obstacle course?

MTV debuted August 1st 1981. It revolutionized how people watch music videos, not to mention it spun off many sister sites. MTV also owns Cartoon Network, which has brought popular animes such as Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, Bleach, and Death Note to a wider audience and helped to make them some of the most popular animes in America.

Some of you are probably sitting there thinking enough about the shows already. Right?

Okay, how about music?

Many new genres and sub genres of music were born in the 80's as well. Such as: Pop music, which gave birth to the sub genres of Thrash Metal and Dance music. Rock gave birth to the sub genres of New Wave, Soft Rock, and Glam Metal.

Other less popular genres such as Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm and Smooth Jazz gained popularity. Several major electronic genres were created in the 80's as well. Such as Electro, Techno, House, Freestyle, Eurodance. It gave us great bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Metallica, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, ect.

The 80's gave us talented musical artists such as Michael Jackson, and Madona. Two of pop's biggest stars. It also gave birth to teen pop which gave us the wonderful vocal talents of New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Tommy Page, New Edition, Stacey Q, The Bangles, Olivia Newton-John.

Artists like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi, Prince and Janet Jackson all went on to receive worldwide fame. The 80's also brought us new talent in the form of Early American alternative bands such as R.E.M. It even gave us very talented guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. Other older bands like The Beach Boys and The Kinks made large comebacks.

The 80's also gave way for trends like the hair bands, parachute pants, Nintendo, which took over 90% of the American Video Games market. And... you guessed it personal computers.

PC's went from being a toy for electronics hobbyists to a full-fledged industry. By the end of the 80's almost every middle school and high school in America used computers and had classes just for computers.

Granted they weren't nearly as advanced as today's models. Back then a "lap top" was completely unheard of and games were still played in Basic and DOS, where pictures were done by a bunch of boxes and graphics totally sucked.

Ever heard of or used a microwave oven? They were just starting to become a household item in the 80's. Until that point they were too bulky and way too expensive for your average American family to afford.

In fact only 25% of American household had them even in the 80's. These days they are practically how a lot of American eat any food. TV dinners have sky rocketed in popularity today, where as in the 80's home cooked meals were the popular way to eat.

Of course there are some parts of the 80's that aren't as fascinating and in my humble opinion we seriously could have done without.

Like the fact that in 1984 crack cocaine reached American cities and marked the start of the crack epidemic. Which in my opinion, was a major catalyst for the word we see today. I personally think our country would have been much better off without the crap.

Guess what? The 80's is making a huge comeback!

Think I'm crazy? Look at today's popular sales of music, DVD shows, Movies, Books, ect, chances are most of them are from the 80's. Tripp pants are based off a mix of 80's style pants, mainly the parachute pants.

Recycling had a big explosion in the 80's that lasted half way through the 90's and even lingers on today. All that "go green" stuff started with recycling.

Believe it or not most teenagers these days are disgusted by modern music and prefer to listen to the songs from the 80's, if you pay attention to their comments on YouTube videos about today's "music".

More and more teenagers are getting sick of the mindless blood lust and sexual frenzies that infest today's entertainment as well.

They're turning to vampires, werewolves and other paranormal shows to get away from the truly horrific gore fests today's movies have become. Granted there are some decent new shows for teens like The Vampire Diaries, and Merlin, but those are pretty rare.

What are some of your favorites shows, bands, or songs from the 80's? For those readers old enough to remember them, what are some of your favorite moments or memories from the 80's?

Were you teens getting into the Pepsi and Coca-Cola phase? Were you a parent watching your kids play with their chia pets or pet rocks? Or maybe you dragged around a cabbage patch doll while you and your friends fed them those disappearing milk and orange juice bottles? How many readers remember the Easy Bake Oven? What about Glo Worm? How about Light Brite?

Feel free to comment on whether you agree or disagree with what I've said above. Along with any other comments you may have or stories to share. We all enjoy sharing stories at some point.

Reference Materials: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980s and my own childhood memories.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Family Movie Night.


Warning! This post contains slight spoilers for the movie "Adventures Of A Teenage Dragon Slayer" Read at your risk, preferably after watching the movie.

Weekends are family togetherness time at my house. Tonight's activity a family movie night. And boy did we chose a strange one.

Oldest child's reaction: "Hey! It's a blue Piccolo!"

Youngest child's reaction: "He sounds just like Gollum!"

This movie is by far one of the strangest we have ever watched. Honestly, I'm experiencing more fun watching the kids reactions, especially their facial expressions, than paying attention to the various engaging plot twists, which , trust me, there are a ton of. Kids truly do say the darnedest things. -grins-

Cops are freaking out after pulling over a car load of invisible teens.

A "science teacher named Mr. Baggins? Seriously? Someone definitely had an LOTR influence in mind for this movie's script.

A rated T for teen date? Wow! That's one I've never heard before.

Note to self: Butt, Fart, Burp... Okay never let teens play scrabble unsupervised. This movie is a total trip...

Note to self again: Trolls love to eat candy according to this movie.

A blue troll that is an alchemist? And a dog is the fearsome dragon king? Okay this movie is now officially at the top of my weirdest movies ever list.

A kid taunted the dragon with a nerf ball? Arthur {the main character} traps the fearsome dragon king in a bottle? Really, since when can a bottle trap a dragon?

Anyone want to buy dragon in a bottle on ebay? What an ending... 0.0

Over all it was an enjoyable hour and a half. Lots of twists and turns, some that even I never saw coming. Lots of laughter too. An enjoyable family movie night. If you're in the mood for an out there, yet hilarious movie, this one would be my recommendation.

What are some of the strangest things you remember about thew movies you and your families have watched together? What are some of the most memorable phrases or facial expressions your kids made while watching a movie?

Opening hooks.


Now that I have your full attention, thanks to that little picture... Have you ever wondered what an "opening hook" is? It's something that grabs your readers' attention so that they feel compelled to read on. Kind of like I did with the opening picture.

When I first learned the term several years ago I was confused as hell! But after researching it and asking my crit partners about it, I found out it's not nearly as daunting as I first thought. Hopefully this post will help clearly explain it to my fellow writers who don't understand it.

A strong opening hook could possibly be the key that makes or breaks your manuscript. Most often it comes by the end of the first chapter. However according to several agents, you really only get the first paragraph to "wow" them, before getting placed into the rejection pile. Sometimes only the first sentence.

Why? It has been explained to me by several agents, that agents receive thousands of manuscripts per week and go through hundreds per day. They don't have time to read through everything ever sent to them. If it's not up to their standards, why should they bother?

To quote Stein On writing:

"The ideal goals of an opening paragraph are: 1. To excite the reader's curiosity, preferably about a character or a relationship. 2. To introduce a setting. 3. To lend resonance to the story." - end quote.

Your first sentence is absolutely vital. So make sure by the time it's finished you have a strong hook. Here is an example of one I have used during the process of writing my Nano novel.

Example One:

A large dark wolf loomed over the sea of mangled body parts, strewn across the blood soaked ground, head thrown back, howling at the moonlight, with blood dripping from its wide, thick, fangs.

Right away it's got readers wanting to know more. Like why is it attacking? Who did it attack? Is anyone still alive? ect. I even took it a step further and built a bit of tension in that single sentence. It starts out very dark doesn't it? It's still not perfected, but it is a solid opening hook.

Here is another one, from various stages of my Double Trouble manuscript.

Example Two:

The sound of a machine starting up, quickly followed by a scream on the other side of the door, caused the tray in her hands to tremble. Red hot, needle-like pains shot through her arm. She closed her eyes, focusing on keeping her breathing even.

Again it leaves readers wanting to know more, and that my friends is the key to creating a strong opening hook. It needs to leave your readers so eager to learn more that they have no choice but to keep turning the page to find out.

For a hook to be effective, it should do at least two of the following: 1. Appeal to the readers’ emotions. 2. Raise questions about what will happen. 3. Reveal something that isn’t anticipated. 4. Indicate that something is about to change.

If it doesn't do at least two of the the things listed above, it's not a solid opening hook. Do your best to stand out from the slush pile {rejection pile} by having a solid opening hook in the first paragraph of your manuscript and you'll be ahead of the game.

So, what are some the opening hooks you've used for your manuscripts? Feel free to share your stories below. I love hearing about other writers' stories as much as everyone else.

Reference Material: Stein On Writing, by Sol Stein.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Burnout and Inspiration


Have you ever gotten a really good start on your writing project, only to suddenly be forced to stop between scenes, because something feels off? And even after hours of trying to figure it out, going over it from every angle, you still come up with nothing? That's what I call "burnout" and it's a major pain in the neck.

Since last Wednesday I've been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why something felt off about my current scenes. I finally realized Monday night that it had to be that dreadful burnout. Because it wasn't a writer's block. I know where I'm going and have a rough idea mapped out of how I want to get there. But something still felt off.

Talk about frustrating! Not even walking away from it for the entire night helped. Every idea I came up with sounded lame. Reading other books to try and shake loose the creativity didn't help either. I spotted several mistakes in the book I read. Amateur mistakes that any editor could have caught, and this was a published book. I'm saving that rant for another post.

Back to the topic at hand. Burnout. How do you handle situations like this? What are some of your tricks that help you shake off the cobwebs and open your eyes?

I put the books away. Shut my computer off, intending to just let it lie for a while. Then while I was cooking dinner, and cuddling with my husband. Bam! An idea smacked me in the face. I couldn't grab my notebook and jot down the notes fast enough. Weird huh?

Where are you when inspiration strikes? In the shower? Outside hanging laundry? It can strike anywhere, and when we least expect it. I cannot stress the importance of keeping a pen and paper {preferably a notebook} handy for times just like this.

Thanks to my breakthrough, I've started on the next scene, incorporating my newest idea and everything finally seems to be smooth as glass again. Talk about relieved! I'm back in my groove and the MS is shining with allure once again.

Not only that, but I had a huge revision run through my head for my Nano novel as week, from plot structure, to deepening the characterizations. I even noted some scenes I want to add. I quickly grabbed my notebook and pen and scribbled down half a notebook of notes. Talk about shocked!

I haven't even looked at or thought about that thing since the end of December. I'll have to stock up on ink pens and new notebooks soon, but I'm not complaining. Quite the opposite. I'm thrilled it's all coming to me. My only worry for now is running out of ink and paper.

I can always go through later and expand on those ideas, delete some if need be, but for now I'm just glad to have them tucked away.

So, how do you keep track of your multiplying plot bunnies when ideas strike? Do you type them up or jot them in a notebook? Do you just hope to remember them later and risk losing them forever? Don't be shy to share your experiences and ideas with me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Show vs Tell


What are some of the topics you would like to see discussed here during the upcoming weeks? Feel free to leave your responses as comments below.

This week let's look at something that has been a huge factor in my own writing experiences and I'm sure it's something the rest of you have at least heard of.

Show versus tell.

Some of you are thinking "What's that?" right? Let me give you an example of each and then I will explain them.

Example A: He boiled water.

Example B: Shawn filled the pot from his faucet and placed it on the stove top, lighting the fire beneath. He watched the bubbles dance, before adding in the noodles.

So which is show and which is tell? Anybody?

The first one tells us what is happening. It's a secondhand report, with no specific character or setting. It's general and very boring. Leaves a lot to be desired, huh?

The second one shows what is happening. It adds action to the scene, and gives a specific character and setting, making it an immediate scene. Instead of simply "boiling water" he's filling the pot, placing it on the stove, lighting the stove, and watching the water boil. How I described the bubbles also makes the visual come alive with more action.

Here is another example:

Example A: She blushed. tell

Example B: Sally's cheeks bled crimson as the heat filled her face. Matt winked at her. She scuffed her foot and the color deepened. show

Again the second one adds action to the scene. That my fellow writers is the key behind showing.

Both have the same emotion behind them - embarrassment. But the second one shows her blushing and scuffing her feet. It adds action to the scene. The first one only tells us what is taking place. See the difference?

Okay now if you are still confused, here is one directly from Stein On Writing:

Example A: He took a walk. tells.

Example B: He walked as if against an unforeseen wind, hoping that someone stop him. shows, because it gives the reader a sense of what the character wants.

Again the example above was a direct one quoted from Stein On writing. No one can argue with that.

I'm telling you straight up, there is no "secret formula" to mastering show vs tell. As the author, you need to use a combination of each in order to keep the prose {writing} fresh and keep it engaging. Too much telling makes for a very boring read. Same for too much showing. You have to find the combination that works best for you and your style of writing.

Bored readers most likely won't buy anymore of your books, which equals lost sales, and lost contracts. Ah you get the point.

When writing the bottom line always has to be:

"What do my readers want or expect to see?"

As authors it is our job to entertain the readers. That means giving them a story that feels original. As authors we need to be able to predict how our readers will react and then surprise them, instead of giving them what they expect will happen. But, that's for another post later down the road.

Back to the topic at hand. Practice with this and see what you can come up with. Maybe take a week off your current writing project. Then take one scene, be it one you quickly make up, or one that is really be a pain in the neck. Take your scene and practice showing the actions and then tell to describe the scenery. You'll be surprised how well the writing will improve.

As for me, I'm waiting for another book that was suggested to me by a crit partner. It's supposed to arrive tomorrow. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I'll be spending the weekend reading it and maybe read a book or two just for fun.

All work and no playtime makes for a bored writer. and bored writers simply can't produce their best work. Seriously, if you try to force it, your writing will come out terrible. Trust me. The age old adage "been there, done that" applies here. It will show in the quality of your writing. So when you find things aren't taking shape like they need to, you need to take a break.

What are some of the way you like to show rather than tell? What are some of the moments where you feel telling is better than showing? Feel free to respond in your comments below. Come on. Don't be shy. You know you want to. XD

Reference Material: Stein On Writng By Sol Stein.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dialogue


For those interested, you can also follow me on twitter now.

Have you ever wondered what they keys to writing good dialogue are? Here are some things I have learned about it during my years of writing and am still learning to perfect.

It's not what is said that counts. It's the meaning behind it.

Take a minute and let that sink in. The meaning behind it. I know, some of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about, right? Let me break it down for you.

When you're talking to your friends, you talk right? But what do you feel? Therein lies the first secret to good dialogue - emotion.

For example:

"Hey Eva, how are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine."

What does Eva's reply tell us? Anybody?

"Oh," usually means someone is distracted. But, why is she distracted? What is bothering her? Is someone ill? Is she upset?

It can also mean she is ignoring the person. But why? Is she angry with them? Does she not like them?

"Oh" can also denote sarcasm. "Oh, it's you again." That doesn't sound very friendly now does is?

One simple word can have a variety of meanings, and bring to mind a dozen different questions and possibilities. The context in how it used, will show us the emotion behind it.

The emotions behind what is said, can tell a reader everything they need to know. Pretty awesome huh?

Now for my second tip. Speech markers. I've discovered that this is an all important key to giving each character a unique voice. So what are speech markers? Things like:

Vocabulary- which can be polysyllabic words {such as intricate, oxymoron, ect.} or professional jargon. {such as interpersonal relationships, instead of relationships, ect.}

Throwaway words and phrases- things like actually, basically, perhaps, you see, I dare say, I don't think you see, it occurs to me, ect. Thing like this usually are only used in dialogue to show a character's specific speech markers. Otherwise they are just wordage and of no real value.

Tight wording- such as beat it, scram, ect.

Loose wording- such as I wish you would go away and leave me alone, ect.

Sarcasm can be a speech marker as well. So can poor grammar and even omitted words. Believe it or not, run-on sentences can also be a speech marker. But only for one character. Too many characters with run-ons can get confusing, fast. So try to limit that to say the chatty character.

Such simple things can drastically improve the dialogue of any story, and will help to give each character a unique voice, without even having to resort to giving them accents. Amazing isn't it? Now to continue practicing it myself. I'm not an expert. I never claimed to be one. Like all of you, I'm still learning as I go, through trial and error mostly.

Another secret to good dialogue is to cut out the echoes of the question. What do I mean by that? Look at the example below and I will bold the echoes found in regular speech.

Example one:

"Hot out today, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it's very hot out today."

"Want to grab a bite to eat?"

"Sure, I'd love to grab a bite to eat."

See how the second person repeats what was asked each time?" Now let's see that written as dialogue, shall we?

Example Two:

"Hot out today, isn't it?"

"Yeah, very."

"Want to grab a bite to eat?"

"I'd love to."

Talking is full of echos. Dialogue shouldn't have any echos. It allows for tighter writing and sounds better to me. What about you?

What are some of the neat things you have learned about writing dialogue? Feel free to share them in comments below. Come on now, don't be shy. You know you want to.

Reference material is Stein On Writing by Sol Stein. A great book for any writer who longs to hone or improve their craft. It was recommended to me by one of the people from my crit groups and I highly recommend it to all of my fellow writers. There is a variable treasure trove of information out there, if you're willing to look hard enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Other blogs I highly reccommend checking out.

The Bookshelf Muse

Have Confidence.


If you don't show confidence in your own work, then chances are no matter how good the writing, or plot is, no one else will think it's worth the spit you polish your boots with.

Last night I received two compliments on the first page of my Double Trouble manuscript.

"Your writing is clean and crisp. {thank you!}"

That made me smile. I've worked hard to make my writing look professional and it's nice to see that hard work is paying off.

"Great job setting up such high stakes and grabbing reader interest from the get-go."

Hearing this let me know that my opening hook does indeed do it's job. Which is something else I've worked hard to achieve.

I was also given several tips on how to tighten the prose as a whole, and how to better draw the readers into the story and keep them immersed, rather than unintentionally pulling them out of it. Which is not an easy task to accomplish, especially in the beginning. Yet is vital in order to write a compelling story.

My point is that D.T. is finally shaping up into an exciting read and is starting to "feel" like a real book.

In my opinion, that is the best compliment any writer, striving to get a manuscript turned into a published novel can ever receive.

However, none of this would have been possible if I hadn't been confident enough to keep at it, or if I hadn't been confident enough to let a professional read it.

Over the past couple years I've learned to trust in my writing voice and in my writing in general. To trust in the story I need to tell. Throughout the countless revisions {and trust me there have been at least five on the opening scene alone} I've striven to stay positive about the story I'm writing and the way I'm writing it.

Now I'm not saying it's been easy. In fact, many times I've been tempted to pitch it in the trash-bin and start a fresh one. But, I'm too stubborn to just give up after putting so much blood, sweat, and tears into it over the past few years.

Ask anyone who actually knows me and they will tell you: "She's nothing if not stubborn." My husband is sitting beside me shaking his head yes. *grin* It's the truth and I'm not ashamed of it either. Being stubborn has seen me through some harsh times, in and out of writing.

Bottom line? Simple If you don't believe in what you're writing, why should anyone else? Patience and confidence are two key components that all the great writers have in common.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Silver Linings


Have you ever felt like the whole world is crashing in around you all at once? That's what this week has been like for me. One thing after another has gone wrong. The weather was wretched, the animals were loud, even in the dead of the night, things kept breaking, ect.

Remember that no matter how bad things get, there is always a silver lining.

Mine for the past week is that I reached my goal of completing the first three chapters of the newest story treatment for my Double Trouble MS. I worked each scene one at a time, until they were smooth and then went to the next one. The over all result is an easy to read and follow along set of chapters. Everything makes sense, readers can picture everything in their heads and "feel" as if they are in the MC's shoes.

It may be a small achievement, but to me it's my silver lining in an otherwise rough week.

If we, as writers, and people in general, look for only the bad things happening, that is all we will ever find.

Instead, try looking for just one good thing that happened, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you at the time. Chances are you will be a much happier person if you remember to look for your silver linings. I know I am.

For next week I intend to get to know my MC's and villain much better, so I don't have to write a scene and say: "I didn't know that..." It gets so annoying, and to me at least, is very distracting, because it pulls me out of the story and I loose my muse more often than not.

For insistence, until two nights ago, I didn't know that my MC has an ex-boyfriend. It came up during one of her thoughts about the current situation. I've recently discovered that my villain also has an ex-wife, who the MC kind of reminds him about, and they went through a nasty divorce.

I don't like learning basic life things about my characters mid writing. They're my characters, from my imagination. I should know everything about them and for some reason, I don't. Not yet, which means I cannot properly represent them or do them justice in the story. I don't like that at all. So they and I are going to sit down and have a long heart-to-heart this week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow, chills, and wrting.


Have you ever had a night that was so bitter cold that heating with wood, and burning two or three pieces at a time, every two hours, barely managed to keep the chill out of the air? That's what I went through last night. Why on earth it was that cold, I have yet to figure out. It's not like I live in Alaska or anything.

As for my writing progress, I have ironed out most of the villain's back-story and even started fleshing out the first few scenes in my Double Trouble MS. However, I find myself growing attached to the characters and even the currently written scenes. The attachment is necessary for writing, but for editing it's a big red flag.

So before I do anymore editing on it, I think it's time to focus purely on writing it out. I plan to write out the first few chapters and from scratch by next Friday evening.

You have to be emotionally attached to the characters in order to put yourself in their shoes while writing the story. If you're not emotionally attached, it will show in the quality of each scene.

However, having a clear perspective is vital when editing your MS.

Which is why writers and editors alike will stress that you must place the MS aside until you are no longer emotionally attached to the characters or writing, in order to properly edit any MS.

Otherwise, you can't give your MS the TLC it desperately needs, from a clear perspective.

Being too emotionally attached makes a writer unwillingly to part with pieces, or scenes that took days, weeks, months, or even a year to get right. Even when you find it really adds nothing to the plot. You have to be able to suck up your courage and cut the dead weight. Otherwise the MS won't shine like the true gem that it should be.

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One hurdle crossed. Many more to go.


I'm taking baby steps with my MS. I have to finish ironing out the villain's back story. By Sunday evening I should have it finished. That wasn't my targeted finish time, but at least I am getting somewhere with it.

Small bits of progress are still progress. No matter how insignificant they may seem at the time. No matter how frustrating it gets when you don't reach your intended goal. Every step leads to an overall stronger and richer MS.

Think of each step of progress as a single brick. You have to layer the bricks in order to build a sturdy foundation, and then you can build the house.

If you don't reach your intended goal each week, then chances are you're setting your goals too high. Take it one step at a time, just like when you were learning how to walk. Remember that you have to crawl before you can learn how to walk. After you learn how to walk, you can learn how to run.

I didn't reach my intended goal this week, but I still made progress.

I ironed out the character's profiles and personalities. While doing that I came up with some interesting new twists for the plot to take, added a few sub plots and a major change to the ending.

I ironed out most of the character's back stories. I even started revising the first couple of chapters from the original idea {where the protagonist is actually a teen.}

So, all in all I consider this a productive week.

My goal for next week is to completely map out the character arcs. I'm also working on improving my writing technique by fiddling with one of my deleted scenes. It should be fun. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Talk about an eye opener!


I've recently combed through my files for the Double Trouble characters

"What was I thinking?"

I spent over three years writing it half way out, and then set it aside for over six months, because I made the colossal mistake of starting to edit it before I finished writing it out.

Big mistake!

I ended up getting myself into a huge writer's block because of that. Take my advice and finish writing your MS out, then worry about the editing process.

After setting it aside for so long I've definitely grown detached from the MS and characters. I can see everything crystal clear now. People aren't kidding when they say 'Set it aside until you have a clear perspective.' That absolutely is vital in order to properly revise it.

Today I spent two hours comparing the character sketches for all of my male characters and I realized there are too many similarities in them. They're not completely alike, but not near as diverse as they should be.

Has this ever happened to any of you before? How did you feel about it? I feel like a total amateur for making such a mistake.

I spent the rest of my writing time today going through each of the characters profiles and giving them completely different descriptions. Too many had long hair, and most were the same archetype. Talk about boring. I've decided what each character's dominant strength and corresponding flaw will be. Those vary depending on their personalities.

As for my female MC, I've completely redone her character sketch from scratch. I've vetoed the conflicting character traits, decided what her goals and driving factors are, and have cut back on her strong suits. I've defined the conflicts she will have to face. I still have to iron out a few kinks for her character arch, like fleshing out parts about what her mother was like, but otherwise she's good to go.

I've decided that every character, no matter how small a part they play in the story, will be a different archetype. I've finally figured out which archetype suits each character best, even the minor characters, and have tweaked the details to iron them out.

I can't believe how little has actually been accomplished in the four years I've worked on this MS. I've put just under three years of actual writing into this MS, but I started planning it and drawing up the outline a year before that. Today I realized that I still have a long way to go before it'll be publishable. Talk about depressing.

I just have to remind myself that I am making progress on it. Not as much as I'd hoped for by this point, but progress none the less.

Today I made a major improvement in the characterizations, but I still need to fine tune each character's back story. Having the character-arcs ironed out will allow me to finish writing out the story and fine tune what's already written out.

I hope to have to have all their back stories completely charted out and start on ironing out the kinks in my plot line by the end of the week. I'm slowly learning how to self-edit my MS. I still intend to have a professional editor look it over before it is queried or published, but I like the idea of being able to catch what they look for myself. We will see how it goes.

I pretty much live like the pioneers did, minus the hunting, and with the added technology of electricity. We heat with wood, we lug water, tend animals, burn our trash. It's a bit rustic and sometimes harsh, but so invigorating and rewarding too. I love it and so do my husband and kids. It keeps us active and in shape. It allows us to bond as a family, gives us strong values, which we live by and permits us to be surrounded by nature's beauty.

With winter here my day starts with lugging in wood and tending the fire, then my children, then house cleaning, laundry, ect. So my writing time is limited. I'm not able to write as often as I'd like to anymore, but I wouldn't change my life for anything in the world.

I'm hoping to update this blog once a week, preferably on Friday evenings. So keep an eye out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Have you ever


Had a headache so bad that just getting up to go to the restroom nearly sent you into a nauseous fit, with your head spinning so bad you could barely take a step?

Talk about a memorable way to begin the new year.

That's how 2012 began for me. I had to stop and let the dizziness pass after ever single step, and I don't drink. My fever jumped up and down all day and most of the night. Needless to say I wasn't on the pc for the day, or night yesterday. I haven't had a headache that debilitating since around the year 2000.

I'm well rested and ready to continue revising my Double Trouble novel.

My New Year Resolutions

1: Exercise more with my family

2: Return all of the crits I still owe at my crit groups.

3: Finish writing out the MS for Double Trouble

4: Finish planning out my handful of unfinished fanfics

5: Get my first book published

Happy New Year fellow bloggers. Here is to hoping this year is a progressive one, for all of my fellow writers.