Friday, January 20, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 155

My cold is mostly gone. Yay!  Unfortunately, the wife and kids now have it. I won't even bother to predict how much writing occurs this weekend.

Check out the following Dilbert cartoon.  Writers will appreciate the humor.  Due to IP concerns, I'm only providing a link instead of embedding the cartoon into this post. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the writing links!


Story Structure and The Hollywood Formula

The Ultimate Guide to Pitch Writing

Free Books: The Dilemma

The Craft of Characterizing on the Page

Why I Launched a Secret Pen Name

The Triangle of Likability: How to Make Your Characters Come Alive

4 Core Components of an Awesome Sidekick Character

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 154

Question:  When is the worst time to come down with a cold and chills?

Answer:  The day after your furnace breaks down.  

It's not quite as bad as it sounds.  The furnace is partially functioning, so the house is holding somewhere around the low 60's.  And we have a gas fireplace that helps keep the family room warm.  

Last night I attended my monthly critique group meeting and received some positive feedback on my story.  That's the kind of thing that fires up my creative writing juices and I usually attack my manuscript the next day with a vengeance.  Right now, however, all I feel like doing is crawling under an electric blanket and sleeping for a day or two.   Hope this cold goes away soon.  

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Creating a Print Book Box Set

The Perfect Back Cover Blurb

Crafting a Powerful Set-Up

How to Use Instagram As An Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically

Planting the Clues and Hints in Your Story

Negotiating Options in Publishing Deals

How to begin a novel: 7 steps to captivating first chapters

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Silly Ways to Pull Me Out Of A Story - Example #1

The other day I came across the following advertisement for a book. 

 Earth Has Been Found 
by D F Jones 

From a world far beyond our own, the ultimate invasion is here. Earth has been found by a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent – sinister parasitic creatures that took to their human hosts with deadly speed and bloodthirsty precision. 

Note the words I italicized: “a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent.” Hmmm… If that's true, then how on earth did Mr. Jones invent them?  Is he from another planet, perhaps, one that has these creatures running around for him to see? 

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Mr. Jones. This is only an advertisement and one expects a certain amount of hyperbole in sales copy, but it reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. 

How many times have you watched a television show (or read a book) where the main character is questioning a suspect about a crime they’re accused of committing, and after the suspect fervently/tearfully/dramatically protests his innocence, the main character turns to his partner and says, “This guy must be innocent. No one’s that good an actor.” Of course, that suspect is an actor, so not only does the statement strike me as ridiculous, it reminds me that I’m watching a television show instead of experiencing it as a spectator. 

Or how about when a character announces that he believes someone else’s crazy story because “no one could dream up a story like that.” Uh, you mean besides the person who wrote the show in the first place? Makes me wonder what a writer feels inside when he makes a character say “you have to be a genius to have come up with this idea.” 

Perhaps this doesn’t bother anyone else, and I’m happy for you if it doesn’t, but lines like this pull me right out of the story. It’s like the writer is kind of bumping up against the fourth wall without actually breaking it. 

Anyway, that’s my lame rant for today. 


PS, if these kind of lines didn’t bother you before, but they do now after reading this post, I'm sorry.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 153

It's cold up here in southeast Michigan. 

Now I'm sure people in the Upper Penisula might scoff at this, along with people living in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, etc., but I don't care. January is just too early for the really cold weather to be upon us. 

You'd think this kind of weather would keep me indoors as much as possible (and you'd be right) and that my writing production would increase proportionally, but you'd be dead wrong. Between the cold temperature and the early onset of darkness, I find myself thinking about how nice it would be to crawl under the covers with my Kindle long before bedtime rolls around. Sitting in front of my computer and typing just doesn't give me the same warm fuzzy feeling. 

I'm sleeping late tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see if I manage to stay up and write tonight, or if I cave and go to bed early. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Using Amazon KDP Ads to Sell Your Ebook on Amazon

Using a narrator character to create a mythic story

Backstory isn’t Character

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Master Plan?

Surprise me

Tips for Weaving Romance into Your Novel

Selecting the Right Sentence Structure for the Right Emotion

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Being Positive

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

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Perhaps this isn't an appropriate attitude for an IWSG co-host, but I don't care.  We're only four days into the new year, and my plan is to meet the new year with unbridled optimism.  No worrying about being a slow writer.  No worrying about whether my words are good enough.   Heck, I even found an inspirational quote for you.  

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

But wait! There's more!  The winners of the IWSG Anthology are being announced today. Woohoo! And if that's not enough to get your writing juices going, Tara Tyler has stopped by to talk about her love of dragons! How much more inspirational can you get? 

But before we get to Tara, let's tackle January's IWSG question.

What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

For me, it's the rule that says showing is always better than telling. Showing does have its place, and when applied correctly, has made my stories much, much better. However, the time I've spent stressing over whether a minor phrase is or is not telling has cost me too many sleepless nights and brought my productivity to a standstill.  Experience has since shown me that readers just don't care about details like that.

Now that that's out of the way, take it away, Tara.  

I <3 Dragons!

I've been enamored of dragons since I could read. Sorry, not the scary Chinese dragons, but the dashing, dangerous dragons that knights went out to fight. I enjoyed reading many dragon stories such as the Anne McAffrey series and Piers Anthony's  Xanth series had loads of diverse dragons. I also adored many dragon movies - Dragonheart, Dragon Slayer, Desolation of Smaug, HP and the Goblet of Fire, and my favorite favorite - How to Train Your Dragon!

image courtesy of Cartoon Bros
I was crazy about dragons - so of course I collected them... This is my room during my senior year of high school. I was a complete nerd!

It just makes sense that I would write about dragons! In Broken Branch Falls, the beasts befriend a dragon prince, become dragon friends, and ride dragons. In Cradle Rock, Flora is on the cover and she's an integral part of the story - innocent and shy, but strong-hearted, and she has allergies making her sneeze fire at the worst times...

I still dream dragon-size. I even dressed up as a dragon for a sci fi con this summer...

How about you? Do you like dragons? Have a fave? Remember any collections from when you were a kid?

Thanks so much for having me, Ken! I hope you all had a great holiday and are starting off the year on a good note! La!

Thanks again, Tara.  I don't know anyone who doesn't like dragons.  
By the way, the other co-hosts for this month are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardnerso be sure to stop by their blogs and thank them.


CRADLE ROCK, Beast World Book Two
by Tara Tyler

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!

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

Talk to me!
Author Blog ~~ @taratylertalks ~~ Facebook ~~ Housewives Blog

Sign up for my quarterly newsletter if you'd like to find out more and you could win something!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 152

 A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the spinoff movie from the Harry Potter franchise. It was good fun and kept me entertained, but I'll have to admit that it didn't capture my imagination nearly as much as the Harry Potter movies did. Perhaps it had something to do with the movie taking place somewhere other than Hogwarts (which I always thought was the best part of the franchise), but I suspect it might also have had something to do with the fact that the story was never in book form. In the original Harry Potter movies, the screenwriters and directors had plenty of material from the books to work with, allowing them to pack a lot of content into those movies. But this movie came directly from a screenplay, and so it seemed a little lean at times, depending more on special effects than an engaging story. At least that's the way it seemed to me. My daughter will be seeing the movie this weekend, so I'll be interested to see what she thinks.

In any case, the movie did cause me to set aside the story I've been struggling with working on lately and spend some time working on the Hogwarts' story that started me down the path of writing many years ago. To be honest, working on that fan fic is kind of a guilty pleasure. Since Rowling did a fair amount of telling in her books (and since I'm doing my best to match her style), I don't feel as constrained to follow the so-called "rules of writing" as I do when working on my "real" story.   It's like taking a deep breath of crisp, clean, cool air.

But it's more than just not stressing over the rules.

When I work on my Hogwarts' story, I allow my own voice to come out (since it's rather close to Rowling's) and the words just seem to flow. But when I'm writing my "real" story, the one I'd like to sell one day, I try too hard to make it sound like a "real" book instead of just having fun with it. And so the words, while functional, just seem kind of bland.  So tonight I might try sitting down in front of the computer with a bottle of wine and write whatever pleases my muse, no matter how silly it might sound, and see where it goes.

What can it hurt?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Make Settings Come to Life with Sensory Details

Formatting Print Interiors for Self-Publishing

Merchandising For Authors

10 Tips For Writing Short Stories That Sell

How to Find Your Agent Match

How to Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters

Business Musings: The Hybrid Learning Curve

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adding Emotions to Your Stories

One facet of my writing that I’ve been focusing on lately is injecting more emotion into my chapters. I rarely think about this kind of stuff when I’m writing, at least not in the early drafts, so it’s no surprise that my prose is often little more than a flat recounting of the scene. Kind of a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to the words. So I’ve learned that it’s important (read: mandatory) for me to go back over my scenes and amp up the emotions. I don’t need (or want) to make every scene an emotional rollercoaster, but I do want to enhance the natural emotions that are already present.

Sometimes the emotional tone of a scene is self-evident—for example, when the main character is being chased by someone with evil intent. In those instances, even I can figure out how to add emotional cues that show the character is afraid. The hard part is working with scenes that don’t have an obvious emotional component. Consider a scene where a simple conversation takes place between two friends where necessary information is being exchanged. Where’s the emotion in that? Boredom?

In cases like this, the trick is to ferret out whatever small bits of emotion are present and finding a way to amplify them. Does one of the characters have a slight beef with the other because of some past event? Does one of the characters think the other is crazy for taking too many risks? Just because they’re friends doesn’t mean they can’t be mad at each other every once in a while. Bring those conflicts to the fore, even if they don’t have anything specifically to do with the conversation at hand. Your reader will thank you for it.

And if the characters don’t have a reason to be upset with each other, then give them one. That's what subplots are for. Whatever you do, make sure the reader feels some sort of emotion in every scene, no matter how mundane the scene is. In fact, now that I think of it, the more mundane the scene, the more important it is that you find a way to inject emotion into it.

In science fiction and fantasy, one of the most important emotions to evoke is “wonder.” It’s what keeps readers of those genres reading. So when my main character recently arrived at a strange mansion in the middle of the forest for a meeting, I went back through the scene and played up the “wonder” aspects, letting the MC marvel at all the strange things she sees. And if that wasn’t enough, I also had the character worry about what she might have gotten herself into. Just because I know there’s no danger doesn’t mean the reader shouldn’t be worried.

So what do you do to make sure your stories have plenty of emotional content?


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