Monday, November 15
Some people write their entire story straight through before they even think about breaking out the chapters. Others use chapters to create a rhythm in the story, to control the pace. Some authors use chapters to separate POV shifts. There are writers who set their chapter breaks so they don't exceed a maximum number of pages or maximum reading time. Personally, my scene shifts are my chapter breaks, and I always end my chapter with some sort of hook, like a mini-story. I have twenty chapters in my 87,000 word manuscript.
Where do you put your chapter breaks? Do you set them while you're writing or afterward? Is there such a thing as too short or too long when it comes to chapter length? Do you prefer titled chapters or numbered?
Don't forget to enter my Mad Lib Contest. Email or comment with your words for the Mad Lib any time today.
Tuesday, November 2
For those of you who write romance, if you haven't heard already, Harlequin is hosting So You Think You Can Write, an editorial week, all week long on the Harlequin blog. It's free and educational and gives you lots of opportunities to get your writing in front of the editors.
Don't forget to enter my Mad Lib Contest. Send me your words by November 15 and win some books!
Sunday, October 31
1) AdjectiveOh yeah...
2) Verb ending in -ed
3) Plural Noun
5) Plural Noun
6) Famous Person
11) Opposite Sex Celebrity
13) Opposite Sex Friend
14) Plural Noun
For you movie and TV lovers, I also have Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead and Burn Notice: The Giveaway. There'll be posts to come regarding NaNoWriMo (yes, I'm gonna do it!) and some big contests from other blogs and such coming soon. Thanks everyone for sticking around. Also, if you know anyone who likes to beta read or is looking for a crit partner for romance, please send them my way. I'm actively looking for some critters!
Saturday, October 2
In this scene, Rainee's waiting for Sen to get out of a meeting and wants to spend time with her fiance, Tom, while she waits.
Aw, it's alright, Rainee. It's not so terrible. It leaves the door wide open for Sen, a man who's truly good all the way to his core, even when he's bad! ***When he asks about making the wrong choice, he's recalling an earlier conversation when he'd asked her about love:
“I know it’s hard to understand this, Sen. It’s different with Kindred because you know. You feel it right away when you bond. You don’t have to go through all we do to find out how we feel. All we can do is hope we get it right. You hope you make the right choice.”
Monday, September 27
This month covers *gasp* Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (adult and YA). The top three winners all get a critique of the first 10 pages of their work by the agent judge and a free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com.
Yes, it's right up my alley and, yes, I've sent my entries. Well, it mentions: "no 'high fantasy' with dragons, elves or other planets please." It was tough for me to decide whether to enter because my books involve another planet, but it's not high fantasy nor is it high sci-fi. It doesn't read much different than a paranormal set on Earth. The science fiction's a backdrop.
Oh, well. Too late 'cause the entries are off. What's the worst that can happen? Nothing? Oh, I guess that's what's going on now anyway. Can't get anywhere if you don't take a chance, right?
Anyone else entering these or any other amazing contests? How about the Golden Heart??? How do you feel about submitting to contests? I've heard some writers and agents say winning contests doesn't help an author get an agent or publisher. Do you think it helps your chances, hurts them or makes no difference?
Check out my Blogfests page if you want to get in on more of them next week. They're a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Next up are the Mash-up, They're People Too, and the Bad News Blogfests all scheduled for next week. I might do one. Maybe. It was crazy this last week. Oh what the hell. I'll do one at least. I'll flip a coin...
Friday, September 24
Keep in mind:
Readers want to like the characters but don't expect or want perfection, just believability. They want to identify with the characters. Even antagonists need both. Most don't believe they're bad at all.Real people act, live their lives. They don't wait around for things to just happen.
Real people are fairly consistent in how they talk and react to situations.
Know your character inside and out. What motivates him/her/it? How does the character deal with obstacles? What flavor would your character order at Baskin Robbins and why? Paper or plastic?Real people are reflected in their surroundings.
Physical attributes, body language, clothing, setting and even a name or nickname can reveal character.Real people grow as they learn and experience new things.
Some don't change, but the ones that really rock do!Many writers suggest a character analysis or character interviews to get to know the character better. One piece of advice above all others that helps me the most is to think about how your other characters would describe your character. What makes him/her stand out from the others? How well do your other characters know each other? I hope something in this post will help someone in the blogosphere! Thank you all for coming by my post.
Thursday, September 23
So my dish features Sen and Rainee, who have survived a crash. They're seeking shelter to wait out the night. Sen's an alien Kindred who doesn't really need food in the human sense of the word, but Rainee's human and needs to eat on a somewhat regular basis.
She made no sound save her labored breathing as she clambered over boulders and downed trees. At least they were leaving the mountainous area for the easier terrain of the forest. Of course, the forest had its drawbacks, too—namely the Vamphyri. She didn’t relish the idea of ending her life as vamp fodder. The thought of food in general sparked pangs in the center of her stomach. Now was a bad time to remember she hadn’t eaten dinner before they left the docking bay. She promised herself to never skip meals again if only she could live through this.
“What is it?” she asked as Sen stopped at last.
“You need to eat and you need water.” The water had lasted about two hours, even with her conservative consumption and his lack of the need for water altogether. Her body had worked so hard, she’d lost much more than what was in the flask to begin with.
“Of course. You’re always fine. Wait here and I’ll get you something to eat.”
“No. Don’t leave me here.” He hesitated at her tone. “Please let’s just get somewhere first.”
“Not much further.” She nodded. They’d hiked another half hour when Sen stopped again. He turned around and walked back a short distance.
“What are you looking for?”
“This.” He pulled back the vines along the steep embankment. She frowned at the yawning darkness behind the natural curtain.
“Ugh. In there? Bugs, snakes and Ursula dogs. No thank you.”
“This is it. Take it or leave it.”
“You’re going to leave me here by myself?”
He nodded. “It’s empty. Pretty much,” he added, smiling down at her.
“Come on.” He led her inside, pulling out his illuminator. “Here. This is dappled moss. It loves caves and water, two things we needed right now. Feel it.” The stuff felt like a plush couch cushion. “Also good to sleep on.”
“You should be a ranger.”
“Perhaps, but that would waste my murderous nature.”
“When I look at you, I don’t see a murderer.”
“I was born to be one.”
“Let me guess—'it’s what you do.'” He laughed, his flawless white teeth flashing in the dim light.
“You don’t need to worry about that. Hurry though.” So he did. He couldn’t have been gone longer than a half hour before he returned with a large cavy, shoving the cream-furred rodent's still-warm body into her hands.
“Awww. I can’t eat this poor thing. It’s cute and fluffy.”
“You’d prefer something scaly and slimy?” Her nose wrinkled. He tapped it with his fingertip.
“Very well. I’ll dress it for you, Princess.” He ducked out of the cave, leaving her standing in wonder. He’d uttered a dreaded pet name. Where was her fury? Missing along with many of her other usual tendencies. His tone had been playful. Playful!
What he brought back wasn’t much more appetizing, though he’d thoughtfully placed it on a wide, cut leaf. She pondered solemnly over the poor thing’s bleeding remains. At least it didn’t have its head, its pitiful eyes looking up at her as she bit into its flesh. Rainee shuddered. Sushi was difficult enough for her to consume. Years of social grace conditioning explained her ability to get that down. After all, a grand gathering wasn’t truly upper-class unless it served sushi and caviar. Ugh. Dead fishy flesh and unborn baby fish.
“Can’t we cook it?” He ignored her, stretching out full-length on a thick pad of dappled moss, his fingers interlaced behind his head. It was probably a relief for him. Too tall for the cave, the colossus had been hunched over as he checked the perimeter and covered the entrance to their hideaway. It was a bad idea, she knew, to have any kind of fire. The smoke would draw the vamps right to their doorstep, the harsh scent powerful enough to travel miles on the night wind.
“You’re thinking about it too much,” he said finally, his eyes still closed. “Just eat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you act like such a baby.”
Rainee bristled. “Some people around here aren’t barbarians.”
“Cut strips from it and pretend it’s soft jerky.” She wanted to throw the thing at his head but admitted to herself he'd had a good idea. Besides, if she didn’t eat soon she’d shrink and wither away. Her stomach cramped like someone stabbed it, and she had the worst headache from not drinking anything.
“Did you find water, Sen?”
“In the flask. It’s full.”
“What would I do without you?”
“You’d be just fine.”
Slicing the meat from the cavy, she did as he suggested. Tonight it was a lovely Carpaccio in a bloo—er, burgundy sauce. With her angry belly assuaged, her thoughts turned to their current circumstances. It never crossed her mind until then they might not be found, might not make it back to a settlement, and might not even survive this strange situation. Somehow the thought didn’t really bother her. It seemed so damned unlikely. Her life wasn’t over yet, and she knew it.
Wednesday, September 22
What picked me up a bit afterward was a very incredibly timely and thoughtful blogger award from http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/. She sent me the Versatile Blogger Award. Much appreciated, JC!
I had a hard time picking bloggers for this list. There are soooo many great people here, but I tried to choose those who I think haven't received this award before. In no particular order:
1. Brad Jaeger - Aspiring Author
2. Damyanti @ Writing on writing : Amlokiblogs
4. Ellie Garratt
8. Justine Dell
And don't forget The Blogfeast is TOMORROW! I can't wait to see your posts. If you haven't signed up yet... well, why haven't you??? Or you can swing by here tomorrow anyway and check out all the awesome bloggers and their appetite-stimulating (or appetite-supressing, mwahahaha) posts tomorrow.
PS-About the wall... yeah, I know I'm supposed to keep running through it, and I suppose I will.
Monday, September 20
So a little background: I grew up in the boonies, middle of nowhere surrounded by forestland, in the time of no satellite tv or cable that far away. We got one channel pretty much, so my choices were limited. Fast forward to now when I really don't watch tv. Still I think my list is amazing and will bring back fond memories to those of us who've been around for a bit. In no particular order (couldn't bring myself to rank them):
1) "I wanna do bad things with you..."
|True Blood - Sep 7, 2008|
Created by Alan Ball
|South Park - Aug 13, 1997|
Created by Trey Parker & Matt Stone
|Dexter - Oct 1, 2006|
Created by James Manos, Jr.
|Top Chef - Mar 8, 2006|
Created by Magical Elves Productions
|M*A*S*H - Sep 17, 1972|
Created by H. Richard Hornberger
|Married...with Children - Apr 5, 1987|
Created by Michael G. Moye & Ron Leavitt
|Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Nov 24, 1988|
Created by Joel Hodgson
|Seinfeld - Jul 5, 1989|
Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
|The Sopranos - Jan 10, 1999|
Created by David Chase
|The Greatest American Hero - Mar 18, 1981|
Created by Stephen J. Cannell
Saturday, September 18
So my friend and co-worker, Graham, brought in some pretty darn superb brownies made from one of the greatest substances on earth--beer! And of course, they were all gone by the time I found out he brought them. Rly? I am so thoroughly disappointed. Graham will never hear the end of it until he brings more in and specifically has one available with my name on it. Don't these look luscious???
Wednesday, September 15
They say "no man is an island," but young fighter-pilot-in-training Byron is putting that theory to the test. He arrives on the Guaard moon base for his final phase of Cosbolt pilot training with a cocky attitude and an underlying need to prove himself and immediately falls under the watchful eye of the decorated senior instructor, Bassa.
At first, Bassa sees in Byron an uncanny likeness to his own deceased younger brother, another brash, rebellious pilot, and he's determined not to let this skilled young pilot meet the same fate. After discovering a rare hidden talent (not to be spoiled here!) giving Byron's already ace piloting skills an edge, Bassa takes Byron's training under his wing.
But the last thing Byron wants is Bassa's attention. Though he yearns for recognition, he also clings to his solitude, finding it hard enough to link telepathically with his friend and navigator, Trindel. When Trindel decides he no longer wishes to be a navigator, Byron feels betrayed. He has to choose now to open himself up to a new navigator or lose what he'd worked for all this time. Ultimately, he completes the training driven by his desire for accomplishment.
When he arrives at his prestigious first new command, his jets are cooled by the discovery that Bassa has secured orders as his new navigator. He resents the man's presence, seeing it as intrusive and controlling. Their relationship is rough, but to survive the rigors of combat and work well as the skilled team they are, they have no other choice than to rely on each other. With war against a deadly foe brewing, Bassa must trust Byron's judgment and Byron must open his mind to true communication and trust in their friendship.
Byron expects the worst from people but learns that others can and will surprise you. Assuming Bassa's interest in him is fed by guilt over his younger brother's death, Byron is stunned to discover the man's genuine affection for him. Bassa might have initially seen Byron as he saw his brother, but I believe he later saw a reflection of himself, another soul like him having trouble making real connections with others.
This friendship is at the heart of CassaStar. The story drives home that to experience true acceptance and friendship, you have to open up and share yourself, to even be vulnerable, but you'll become a stronger person for it. This character-driven story will widely appeal to even those who don't read sci-fi. The descriptions give the readers a picture to color in with their own imaginations, not overly-detailed like many sci-fi novels and the action scenes are edge-of-your-seat. I'd recommend CassaStar not only to adults but also to fans of YA.
It took a few pages to get to know Byron, but the more I learned about him, the harder it was for me to put the book down. Byron's a great guy who came from a hard life and grew his defenses well, but still managed to stay out of trouble and always perform at his very best. I really identify with his fear of opening up. Who hasn't been there before? Now when's the sequel coming, Alex?
Saturday, September 11
|After the fall...|
We spent weeks cut off from our families, from any communication, so when the orders finally came to bomb away, it was almost a relief. I later found out my husband and children were scared for my well-being, but I never felt like I wasn't safe. I was worried for them. In my mind, after seeing the attacks, they were a likelier target than my battle group armed more heavily than most countries on Earth.
What I took away most from all of it afterward was an unshakable confidence. Despite any horrible events we may face, I know our strength as a country comes from all of us together. You could hit our Pentagon, our major economic centers, even our White House or all of Capitol Hill, but that's not where the heart of America is at. We wouldn't crumble, and we wouldn't weaken. We mourn, and then we rebuild...
|...we start anew.|
Saturday, September 4
After much agony, I spent two and a half hours of blood, sweat and tears to pump out 2500 words. I saved it after each paragraph because I’m anal about preserving my work. I was about to upload it to my Dropbox and hit Ctrl+S one more time and my document crashed. Yep, crashed. Irretrievable. My heart deflated in my chest and I felt like crying and throwing up all at the same time.
Why couldn’t it have crashed the other document I had open, my entire manuscript? At least that was on Dropbox, all safe and sound. Well, after trying to recoup it for about half an hour, I started rewriting the chapter all over again, uploading to Dropbox every two minutes in a fit of paranoia. On the bright side, it was only a chapter rewrite and I have a tendency to read back over and over again as I progress, so I remembered about 90% of what I’d written. I still mourn for the lost 10%.
My thought process about this as I walked back to my ship feeling crushed and dejected was ‘why does this crap happen to me?’ I had to remind myself shit happens. I pulled out my own words I’d offered to a coworker, a shipmate, who was young, getting a divorce, having financial and roommate problems, and having Mom’s boyfriend conflicts.
It seemed pretty rough, but I looked back at the rough times in my life and everyone else around me and it wasn’t any rougher. She asked when it would ever end and just settle down. I said it won’t. It’s LIFE. It’s like this for everyone. There’s always a challenge or an obstacle. Whether it crushes you or not depends on how you deal with it. Can you accept the challenge, handle it, and move ahead?
I dealt with my obstacle last night by rewriting the chapter all over again before it wasn’t fresh in my head any longer. So what if I was up until 3 AM doing it? I feel so much better now that it’s done that the initial loss doesn’t hurt so much any more. I had to work at it instead of throwing my hands in the air and giving up.
Some obstacles are harder than others, obviously, but when it comes to the day to day grind, you have to pick your fights. I won’t be crushed by anything as small as the dog eating my work. I’ll save my breakdown for something big.
So how do you deal with life’s challenges? What carries you through? What advice do you give to those who are struggling? And how long should you have a thumb drive anyway before you replace it with something new that won’t eat your manuscript???
PS, off the subject, head over to Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog and join his Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest! And don’t forget to sign up for my Blogfeast on Sep 23. I've also updated my "Books" page to better reflect what books I'm working on. You can check that out in the upper left corner. Yep, waaaay up there. Have a great holiday weekend!
Tuesday, August 31
Tuesday, August 24
I'm very excited to host my very first blogfest. For our theme, I've chosen something we've all loved and hated at some point in our lives. Something we indulge in on a daily basis. Something we cannot live without. Yes, I'm having a BLOGFEAST on September 23, 2010! Not only is it a blogfest of food, but it's also a feast of blogs. Please join me in sharing a post regarding anything *food.*
It can be a scene where food is central or just happens to be in the scene. It could be a poem about food. Heck, it could even be about a character named after food, i.e., Powdered Toast Man or Cheeseboy (might wanna ask them if yer thinking of writing a lil story about these guys, lol). If you end up simply posting a recipe, I'll be sorely disappointed if it's not at least presented in some way resembling creative and literary, something we've not seen before :)
I suggest shooting for around 500 words or so, but if you end up over by a few hundred, we won't beat anyone up over it. With this 'fest, it shouldn't be too difficult to keep it fairly short. Please sign up by September 23 on the linky thing, and if you do sign up, remember to post with a link back here so everyone can find all the blogger links in the Blogfeast. Thanks, all, for reading, and I hope you get a chance to join the fun!
Friday, August 20
Sunday, August 15
I’ve traveled an incredibly long learning curve over the past few months, and what’s helped me the most along the way has been—hands down—the bloggers I follow. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re unpublished or have no agent yet or already have books out or deals made. Even teachers can still be students and vice versa.
This business of getting published is pretty darn tough so to me being unpublished alone says nothing about the writing, although I love to see writers I follow get their agent or their book deal. What counts to me most though is the step up you offer freely to your fellow writers with no signs of backstabby bitchassedness to be found (in public anyway, lol). I’ve improved my writing incredibly because of what you guys give.
I haven’t even begun to talk about what I’ve learned about agents, querying, publishing, synopses, pitching, etc., but I’m out of space for now. What's been most valuable to you? Does a blogger's advice carry more weight if they're published or agented or does it depend on what the advice is? How do you feel about offering writerly advice yourself?
Friday, August 13
While I'm on here, I also want to publicly congratulate Matthew Rush at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment for winning a major-cool query contest at WriteOnCon. Here's to you getting your stuff out there. *raises drink to you--cough, cough, it's a lil' strong*
For those of you who may have missed WriteOnCon, it was truly amazing. Lots of great stuff. I didn't really get to participate much since I was underway for almost all of it, but I'm still planning on going over the posts now that I'm back in San Dog. Well, also I don't write YA/MG/PB, but what I've read was educational anyway.
If you're interested in attending an online writer's convention, a different one is scheduled for October, but registration is ending very soon for The Muse Online Writer's Conference. Check out my sidebar to get more information.
One more thing: Happy Friday the 13th!
Tuesday, August 10
After a crazy weekend of blogfesting my brains out (and no, I’m still not done reading some of the posts), I’m eager to get roaring on my current WIP so I can get around to finishing the biggest edit ever on my first MS. Yes, I have some great ideas to get myself in a happy place with it. Finally—whew!!
My second WIP seems to be in better shape than my first and I think it may be that I actually incorporated a little—and I mean teensie—bit of outlining this time. The story arc and character arcs are all improved. Now that I’ve worked out this method of plottsing (or is it pantsotting? It all sounds weird.), I know how I want to edit my first MS.
I noticed a few blog posts from writers who were having some trouble finding a system for outlining or organizing their scenes, and though I’m a big fan of the old bullet list, I don’t think anyone else is all that enthusiastic about it. So I thought I’d look at some creative writing tools to try out.
I found plenty of programs to choose from. The most pricey was Dramatica Pro at $200-$220. From what I read, this software could just about write the story—well, if you can figure out how to use it. It asks you about a few hundred questions and then maps out the story for you down to the bitty details. It has just about every feature available in a writing software program including structure templates, brainstorming tools, outlines, reports, conflict, plot and character development tools, and a built-in word processor. I thought I’d laugh when I read it has no spell check or word count capability. Sounds like some geeky engineer student oversight to me.
If you want to save a bit, but still keep most of the features, Power Structure has just about all the same features at $149.95 except it’s reportedly a lot more difficult to use. It doesn’t come with tutorials so you’re on your own with it.
If you want to save even more, $29-$99 or so will buy you WriteWay, Power Writer, or StoryWeaver. These programs give you nearly the same number of features as the other two programs, but for under $100, although the features lean more to the word processing side than to the story development side. They’re also easier to use for the less experienced writers (like me!) as well. On the down side, the first two programs don’t work with Mac. For Mac, Scrivener looks pretty darn good and at such a low price.
If you’re anything like me and flock to anything that’s free, you could try an open source program. I’ve found a couple with some good reviews. Storybook can help with structuring your book with tools to manage chapters, scenes, characters and locations. It offers several different views of your work and instantly saves data as it’s entered. You can also export in a variety of formats, txt, pdf, html, rtf, etc. yWriter is another one developed by a writer and earning positive remarks. Rough Draft is no longer being updated, but the software is still available for download. I personally have Celtx, an open source screenwriting program that allows storyboards, etc., but all I ever do with that is play around with it.
The basic thought behind these programs is that a simple word-processing program is inadequate for longer pieces of fiction and stories with complex plots or characters. After looking at a bunch of the screenshots, I can see how some of the views might be beneficial, but I’m at my best when working simplistically, often with just a pen and paper. Maybe I haven’t found the right program for me yet.
How about you? Do you have a favorite program you use or do you just prefer a basic word-processing program like Word? Or is it pen and paper, too? What’s in your writer’s toolbox?