Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Insecure Writer and the Month of December

Today is December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?


Two Decembers ago, I told myself I’d have my story finished by the end of 2014. Last December I made a similar promise for 2015. Guess what I’m promising myself this December? Arg! My writing pace has certainly increased over the past twelve months, but thank goodness I have a day job.

The IWSG question for December is: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there? 

Based on the previous paragraph, the obvious answer would have to be: The same damn place I’m in right now—trying to finish the *%@* story. Seriously though, if I haven’t finished my story in the next five years, it’ll be because I’ve given up. 

Not that I’m ever going to let that happen. 

The real answer: In five years, I’d like to have a couple of books out, along with an established author platform that will direct people to those books. It’s not a fancy plan, but it’ll do. I also hope to have been accepted into Hogwarts as their Potionsmaster by then too. I still haven’t decided whether the odds of that happening are greater or less than my chances of me finishing my story.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Young


In more positive news, Tara Tyler's new book, Cradle Rock, has been released and she's having a party to celebrate. So read on and check it out. And don't forget the raffle at the end of the post.



Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Here is the list of wonderful CRADLE ROCK RELEASE PARTY POST HOSTS:

12/5 Patricia Lynne Nerds Rule
12/5 Heather R. Holden Vampires
12/7 Juneta Key author spotlight interview
12/9 Julie Flanders Teenagers Now vs 80s
12/9 Elizabeth Seckman Beast-themed Recipe
12/12 Lori L. MacLaughlin Merfolk
12/14 Sharon Bayliss Ogres
12/14 Tyrean Martinson 5 Reasons to use Chapter Titles
12/16 Michael Di Gesu Craziest Spring Break Trip
12/17 Cathrina Constantine Teen Dating
12/19 Christine Rains Hiking Faux Pas
12/19 Alex J. Cavanaugh Beast vs Monster - terminology
12/21 Ann Noser CR Quotes
12/21 Heather M. Gardner Discrimination - joking vs hurting
1/4 Ken Rahmoeller Dragons
1/4 L. Diane Wolfe Marketing Tips - Live & Online
1/9 C Lee McKenzie Grownup Stereotypes
1/11 M. J. Fifield Crazy Road Trip
1/25 Crystal Collier Poetry & Songs in Stories - Writerly Wed

Tara is also giving away signed copies of Broken Branch Falls and Cradle Rock, some Beast World swag, and a $20 GC! So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Much Of A Post Today

Another Wednesday, another round of laser surgery.  Sigh.

Those of you who've been reading my blog recently know that I've had two surgeries for tears in  my retina in the last couple of months.  So I wasn't completely surprised when I went in to the ophthalmologist this morning for a followup and learned I now had two more tears.  Yep, so more laser surgery for me this morning.

This time, though, instead of just sealing the tears, he went along the entire periphery of the retina and sealed it down to stop any more tears from forming.  He seems rather optimistic about this procedure, since my next followup isn't until March, but I'll be watching for any changes to my vision in the meantime.

As a result of this extra long procedure, I have a headache and my eyes are still so dilated that I need sunglasses inside the house, so this post will be quite short.  Stop by again on Friday for the Writing links.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm especially thankful to have all you supportive writers as friends to help keep me writing.

BTW, once the tryptophan wears off, I promise to get some writing done tonight. I swear it this time!

For those of you in charge of cooking the turkey this year, here's a video you should watch.

How to Fry a Turkey (Without Burning Your House Down)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 149

None much progress on the writing front this week. Still struggling with the same scene I've been stuck on for an embarrassingly long time. Usually my problem has to do with pacing, but this time I think it comes down to me not really knowing what needs to happen in the scene. I have a bullet list of things I want/need my characters to say and do, but putting it all together in a coherent fashion just isn't working. It might turn out I have to dump some of those items on my checklist, but deciding which of my darlings to kill and which should stay is hard.

Either way, I'm REALLY tired of working on this chapter.

Some of you might recall I had laser surgery to repair a small tear in my retina a couple of months ago. Well, I went back to the doctor for a followup and while the original tear was fine, a new one had developed, which meant I had to go through the laser procedure again. Oh joy! It only took a few minutes, and this time I was prepared for the discomfort, so it wasn't too bad, but I'm praying no new tears show up when I go back in a few weeks.

And if you haven't already seen it, be sure to check out Crystal Collier's post from Wednesday

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


5 Ways to use Facebook Groups to Build Book Buzz

Ask the Story Genius: What Does ‘Likeable’ Really Mean?

6 Ways Grammarly Can Improve Your Writing And Editing

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Two

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Three

How I fell for The Good Wife…Elements of a Stellar Opening Scene

When It’s OK to Listen to Your Inner Editor

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Creating Balanced Prose: A Guest Post By Crystal Collier

Today, Crystal Collier has stopped by to share info about her new book and to provide some writing tips! Take it away, Crystal!

Creating Balanced Prose

Thank you Ken for having me here today!

Purple prose. Passive voice. Stagnant sentence structure. Rambling. Lackluster language... There are so many ways to go wrong with our writing, it's a wonder we ever get it right.

So how do we get it right?

Every writer is different. You are going to develop your own "voice" if you haven't already. It won't necessarily be like your favorite author's. (It had better not be!) It will be a reflection of your SOUL. But on the less creepy end of things... Your voice will come from your personal understanding of the world, your interpretation of the genre you write, and your inner thoughts.

In order to develop this voice, you need to write BUT also read. Read everything--especially the genre you're writing. Be sure to include books outside of your genre. You'll find beauty in every field, even if you don't love the story conventions or characters.

Now that we're done with the touchy feely, let's talk about mechanics.

Purple prose. This is poetic language that can occasionally become overwrought, overly dramatic, or so poetic that readers scratch their heads. (We don't want head scratching.) The modern trend is to go simple. To ax this pretty stuff. Keep that in mind as you develop your style, and watch for where it appears in your genre. Dean Koontz writes thrillers, but his descriptions are so beautiful they would totally fall into the purple prose arena (according to some). Yet he's a best seller. Know the rules, don't let them crush you. I employ some of this in Moonless and Soulless, because they're both written in a time period where beautiful language prevailed. It's reflective of the era, and thus the filter I chose for telling these stories.

Passive voice. How do we identify it? Passive voice is reactionary. It's distant. It might even be vague. There's something (time, space, another person) between us and the action of the sentences. Ex: The room was cleaned by Angela. (See the distance between the character and the action?) In active voice: Angela cleaned the room. Now people tell us passive voice is NEVER acceptable. Most of the time, that's true. There are rare instances when it's necessary like in SHORT stints of exposition. (Quick backstory or summary to get us from one active scene to the next, or one active thought to the next.) To overcome passive voice, focus on the action of the moment and bring it to the front. Shove it in our faces. Throw the rest away.

Sentence structure. I'm not talking noun/verb. I'm talking variation and length. If you start five sentences in a row with "He", you're due for some revising. If you start each paragraph with sequence clauses (Before he ate dinner, he...), you should probably examine your method. And length. As readers, we like change. We like diversification. We need a break from long rambling sentences for sharp, single-word statements. See? The same goes for paragraph structure/length. The biggest thing I learned from script writing was not to fear white space. White space on the page gives readers a subconscious breath of fresh air. Some authors even apply this concept to chapter length. (Ahem. *points to self*)

Overwriting or rambling. Awesome writing is tight. Don't bore us with details that won't further the story. We know the character walked across the room because we see he is now looking out the peephole of the door. No need to tell us he walked across the room UNLESS you are using the action to show the character's emotional state. Tags are also not necessary when you have action beats that point us to the speaker. Likewise, examine your descriptions. Make sure every one of them points us to the MOST important aspect. The box may have four sides, but what can the character see and WHY are they focusing on it? Make your description purposeful. For instance, you may wish to describe a starry sky, but what the reader wants to know is that it's night, and the mood of that night. It could be terrifying, suffocating, awe-inspiring, or filled with jittery anticipation. Whatever it is, use language in your descriptions to bring out the mood. Another quick tip--don't repeat dialog in thought processes. And lastly, avoid adjectives and adverbs. They don't strengthen sentences. They bog them down. A great way to practice tightening up your writing is by trying your hand at Flash Fiction.

What advice do you have for writing balanced prose?

Thanks again, Crystal.  And if you guys enjoyed what she had to say, why don't you consider checking out her latest book? And don't forget to spin the scary-looking wheel at the end of this post.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 148

There was no Wednesday post this week. Like a lot of people, I was distressed by Tuesday's results. The last time we elected someone for president whose qualifications were suspect, we found ourselves mired in a disasterous war (the cost of which is estimated to have paid for Obamacare for the next 50 years) and our economy cratered.

And Trump makes Bush look like a genius.

What really distresses me is that exit polls revealed that a significant number of people who voted for Trump admitted that they believed Hillary was more qualified to be president, but thought that sending a loose cannon like Trump to Washington might just shake things up, hopefully for the good.

Be careful what you wish for.    All the reports out there so far are that, instead of surrounding himself with experts, Trump seems intent on surrounding himself with echo chamber buddies like Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrich.

Any bets as to how many wars we're going to get into this time? Sigh...


(NaNoWriMo Day 9): 8th Key Scene: Tests & Trials

Getting Middle Grade Voice Right

3 Ways to Improve Your Storytelling

Can Social Media Really Sell Your Books?

Mastering Stylistic Tension

Nanowrimo: Act I questions and prompts

Not a writing link, but I thought this post by Chuck Wendig seemed appropriate.

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