Warmest welcome to all of my visitors. Feel free to comment on anything that piques your interest. As well as to browse through the archives and of course to visit the links to other great blogs for writers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


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.