Showing posts with label Tips for Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips for Writers. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.

As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.

As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.


As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Best-Seller Hopes for Authors

Almost every writer has a dream about breaking out—or achieving best-seller status. Many of us think it's an impossibility, but recently I read something to change all of that.



I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA), and one of the two significant positives I've gained from belonging to the organization is their monthly magazine. In the March issue, five authors who have recently broken out are interviewed. The crazy thing—no one author could offer a single specific strategy that caused her book to break out.
Brenda Novak says she didn't do anything particularly different with Trust Me, her seventh single title.
Robyn Carr broke out with her 25th novel, Virgin River Christmas, 30 years after selling her first book. She had embarked on an aggressive marketing promotion when she started her Virgin River series, but she didn't do anything to focus on that particular book, the 4th in the series.
Susan Mallery broke out 16 years after her first book was published with Accidentally Yours. She didn't do anything different to promote it, but attributes her success in part to likeable characters.
Marie Force's 25th published book, Waiting for Love was book eight in the Gansett Island Series. She self-published the book, and spent a lot of time building a Facebook following. She believes the world she has created in the series is what readers responded to.
Kristan Higgins made the best-seller list with her fourth book, Too Good to be True.
The information I got from all five interviews was this:
―You must keep writing. Like everything else, it takes practice to hone the craft.
―Create likeable and memorable characters.
―If the setting is unforgettable, readers will want to visit it again.
―Most importantly it is the readers who make your book a best-seller.

If you write romance, it probably wouldn't hurt to read all of their books and learn from them. Even if you don't write romance, I hope if you are an author, you'll find this info useful and accept that writing a best-seller takes time and experience. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Petiquette -- Teach Your Kids to Treat Pets Kindly

Last night I watched an episode of  'My Cat From Hell' that was of particular interest to me. Teaching kids to treat their pets with respect. 


The episode showed a family with two cats, one that was so laid back it didn't seem to care what the kids did with it. It just flopped about in their arms and allowed them to tip it upside down and one kid ever tried to put it into the refrigerator. Basically, the child treated it like it was a stuffed toy. The other cat, understandably, was terrified of the kids, and scratched and spat whenever anyone reached out a hand toward it--or a foot as one of the children did, threatening to kick it.

My peeve is that some parents don't seem to notice, as was the case with this family. I don't imagine for one second that they would deliberately be unkind to animals. They're just uninformed. The cats or dogs either submit to a life of hell, or rebel, and get sent to the shelter or euthanized because they are considered dangerous.


I commend the cat whisperer, Jackson, for his patience and consideration in this episode, in which he admitted he knew nothing about kids or how to get through to them, but he did, in fact, achieve this. He even took the time to visit the children's school and teach their classmates how to treat animals--what to do and what not to do and how to pet them. By the end of the episode the problem cat had gone through a surprising transformation, and obviously realized the children were no longer going to hurt her.

Writers who do research on psychopaths will often include an episode in which their antagonist does something to hurt an animal, although it is not recommended that you go into any great detail. Readers find it easier to read about people being tortured than animals. Perhaps our empathy for animals comes from their innocence--and the same goes for children. No animal--or child--is born with a cruel and nasty temperament. If they become aggressive, it usually has something to do with the treatment they get from the humans around them.

If ever I visit a home in which children don't seem to understand and have never been taught how to treat animals, I am quick to take them aside and explain to them that animals have feelings too. I hope you guys reading this will do the same.

(I am an incurable animals lover, and always try to include them in my stories. In the Redneck P.I. Series, Twila's rescue dog, Scratch rides on the back of her Harley with her in a special metal basket fabricated by Twila's Pops. In Aquarius Addiction, Arlette Xylander's crazy black cat, Marbles seems to know what's going on when the Voodoo queen performs a ceremony to find out what secrets the old mansion holds in its walls.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Importance of the First Line

Good writers understand the importance of the first line in their novels. Readers these days don't have a lot of time, and they don't spend more than a few minutes evaluating  a book. If the first line is boring, they may not continue reading.

I'm currently participating in an assignment to send two alternative first lines to James Patterson. He will choose the most popular -- the ones that get the most shares and re-tweets.

Here are mine, from my upcoming novel Virgo's Vice, which is the third in my Zodiac Series:

1.) I bend down to stroke Allan Dockery's dog, wondering if I actually hit the ground too hard and died, and none of this is really happening. ‪#‎JamesPattersonCritique‬
2.) I'm shaking so bad I can hardly breathe and I think I'm gonna throw up. I glance back at the others, not really expecting any help from them—they have to all be nuts. #JamesPattersonCritique

Anyone who cares to share this post will be my BFF for ever! I don't have an Instagram account, so if you do, and you feel like sharing, please go ahead. Thanks very much.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

More About What I learned from James Patterson

I'm thrilled to have just finished writing the first complete draft of my debut psychological thriller, and novella, "Sheer Panic." Although I had already started writing this story with no outline, and not knowing how it would progress, I decided to stop and get the outline down.

Here's the start of it.

1. Tori avoids Roderick, 'the Freak' as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here's where I know I should make a new chapter -- each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she's weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.

2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor's dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda's owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it's a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.

3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister's boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)

4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim .... etc.

Once I had completed the outline, it was easy to write the story, although it's still in the first draft rough format. I found that I deviated a little from the outline when I came up with a better idea, and as I went along, I changed the outline at times. I love the finished draft.

Here are some other things James talked about in his videos:

  • First lines -- We all know it is essential to capture your audience right away, yet so many writers start with something mundane and boring. Mine is:                                                          "I just don't get why your love life is such a total mess," Janet said.  "It's just not right. It's not that hard. You must be the only nineteen-year-old in the whole school who isn’t getting laid."
  • Be yourself. Imagine you're sitting across the table from your best friend telling them the story of a movie you watched. If you wouldn't use pompous and puffed up language and fancy words when speaking to them, you shouldn't be using them in your writing.
  • Try writing a couple of different endings. Make them as outrageous as you can. I did this and absolutely loved the new one I came up with. It was far more exciting than the original ending.
  • Try writing the same piece in the POV of more than one character. You could fall in love with a version you never thought about before.
  • Don't be afraid to break the rules. Whatever works for you is okay. We're all different, and so are our readers.
  • Do your research. Don't just wing it. You must know what you are writing about to build credibility.
  • Don't be afraid to rewrite if it doesn't feel right to you.

More in my next post.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What is Your Myers Briggs personality Type?

According to the paper written by psychologist Carl Jung, and the conclusions drawn by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, there are sixteen basic categories into which humans can be typecast.


Known as the Jungian Type Scale or Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, the theory is that every individual has a primary mode of operation within just four categories:

our flow of energy
how we take in information
how we prefer to make decisions
the basic day-to-day lifestyle that we prefer

The scale uses four basic personality dichotomies:


  • Introversion (I) vs. Extroversion (E)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
  • Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

  • We "prefer" to be either:
    Extraverted or Introverted:
    Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
    Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
    Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
    Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.

    Sensing or iNtuitive: (nonrational feelings)
    sensation—perception by means of the sense organs;
    intuition—perceiving in unconscious way or perception of unconscious contents.

    Thinking or Feeling: 
    thinking—the function of intellectual cognition; the forming of logical conclusions;
    feeling—function of subjective estimation

    Judging or Perceiving
    judgingstructured and organized decision-making
    perceivingkeeping the options open and putting off decisions

    The sixteen basic categories are as follows:
    Extraverted Sensing (ESFP, ESTP)
    Introverted Sensing (ISTJ, ISFJ)
    Extraverted Intuition (ENFP, ENTP)
    Introverted Intuition (INFJ, INTJ)
    Extraverted Thinking (ESTJ, ENTJ)
    Introverted Thinking (ISTP, INTP)
    Extraverted Feeling (ESFJ, ENFJ)
    Introverted Feeling (INFP, ISFP)

    The tests available on the Internet are quite diverse, but fun to take.


    You might want to try a couple of them to get an idea of how you are perceived by others.

    If you're a writer, you can take the test as your character, and thereby get a good indication of how that character might develop. A lot of writers use this method of character development, to make their characters as human as possible.

    Try itit's fun and a great tool. Here are some sites where you can take the tests for free. The first one is good for writers because it has a long form test and a short form if you want to take the test to determine someone else's personality type. 








    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    Every Writer Needs a Good Editor

    "Trish is the corner man every author should have in the publishing ring." I was thrilled to get this wonderful review from Canadian Kevin Zdrill after I helped him with his newest novel Crazy Mixed-up World. (Click here to buy it on Amazon.com.)


    "I found Trish by chance while searching the web for an individual who could provide my fiction novel a critical and polished editorial assessment. My chance discovery with Trish was an author’s dream. Trish is a caring, passionate individual with profound editorial skills, a tremendous depth of knowledge in the publishing industry and possesses an amazing warmth to go the extra mile teaching and assisting me with my book to bring it up to industry standards. Having Trish involved with my book validated it had reached its potential as a creditable novel.
    A tremendous distinction that separates Trish from so many other editors is that she is a highly accomplished author. Her insight into the industry is timely and relevant.
    Any author who has the ambition to elevate the polish of their novel will achieve this goal under the guidance of Trish and her services. My experience with Trish exceeds any university course on writing, marketing and publishing. Trish is a one room classroom that will teach an author on all the aspects required to help in the success of a challenging publishing world. Like any champion boxer, Trish is the corner man every author should have in the publishing ring."

    :-)

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    Great Pictures for Writers

    Don't you just love the pictures on Facebook?  I don't know where people find them but I've been sharing them like crazy with other writers recently, and I thought why not share them on my blog?


    This is the first one I really like. It hints at the power we hold in our hands--or should I say in our heads?




    I liked this one so much I made it the header on my Twitter page. @trishajauthor 



    This is particularly true when writing romance. You're far less likely to meet anyone in a salad bar. We all know alcohol does tend to make people bolder than normal. It also makes them do crazy things. And who wants to read about normal stuff?




    Most writers I know are avid readers and I'm no exception.



    Isn't this one SO apt? Once you're a writer, everything takes on a totally new meaning and you see things in a different light.



    And this call to action is great. Life is such a blessing.  There are only three kinds of people in this world--those who make things happen, those who wait for things to happen, or those who wonder what happened.
    Which one will you be?


    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Are You Using Pinterest?

    Pinterest use is growing exponentially, which makes sense because humans are predominantly visual creatures. We use our sense of vision much more than any other of the five (or six) senses. I've done quite a lot of searching on Pinterest, and I found not many authors are taking advantage of the exposure it offers. That's good for me, because I have created several boards showcasing books, including mine, naturally.


    I think a lot of people are scared to use Pinterest because it works a little differently and it takes time to learn how to create boards and pins.  Basically, it's like hanging a cork board on your office wall, and pinning photographs or articles of interest from glossy magazines onto it. Others can repin your pins (select something you have pinned on your board, copy it, and place the copy on their board.) You couldn't ask for an easier way to advertise. Also, because it is digital, you can add videos.

    I'm still learning, but I love what I've found out so far. Here's a screenshot of my profile, showing some of my boards. 


    I will be happy to pin anyone's books onto my boards or help them create their own. 

    The titles of mine:

    Sizzling Romantic Suspense
    Really Funny Romantic Comedy
    Awesome Books Set in Africa
    Books Worth Buying

    I also have a board showcasing each of my own novels, plus a couple of other interesting topics. 

    Now I'm starting a board to highlight and link back to my blog postings.

    To follow me or access my boards, click on the Pinterest icon at the top right hand side of this blog.

    I'd love to include everyone's books on my boards, so please comment with your Pinterest link or contact info.

    More info on how to use Pinterest:

    http://www.theyummylife.com/Pinterest_tips

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtmmGA0M_yk


    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    My Writing Process - Romantic Suspense

    I was invited by Marie Lavender to take place in this Writing Process blog tour.  She is a romance writer who focuses on historical romance. Her Heiress in Love series is a must read for all romance readers who enjoy reading what was once known as 'bodice rippers'. Here's a link to her books.


    What am I working on?
    Romantic suspense is my genre and I usually write about small towns and country folk, and their pets -- and often my stories are set in Africa. 
    Capricorn Cravings was released in February 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing. This is the first on my Zodiac Series where each heroine will belong to a different star sign and display the characters associated with that sign of the zodiac. 
    The second in the series, Aquarius Addiction, is completed and I've entered the manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. So far I've made it to the second round so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
    I'm currently working on the third, working title 'The Reality Show'. I originally planned to keep the series in the order the zodiac signs are usually presented, but Lexie King is most definitely a Virgo and she wouldn't let me make her anything else. Lexie is a camera operator, and when her boss, producer Allan Dockery pushes her out of the aircraft with the other contestants she knows something is wrong. Okay, so she has a parachute on, and she signed up to work on the show in Zambia in Africa, but she didn't think she would be treated the same as the contestants. Then she discovers the monster who abused her as a child is one of them. When people start being killed, the only thing that keeps her sane is the comforting presence of the cute cowboy Billy Murphy.

     How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
    I don't think anyone has ever done a series using the signs of the zodiac in romantic suspense. 

     Why do I write what I do?
     I grew up in Zimbabwe, where life was an adventure and there was a time when I had to keep a loaded UZI by my side at all times in case of an attack by armed insurgents. I think this probably helped to create my love of suspense and thrillers. I'm also an incurable romantic--hence romantic suspense. 
    I also write a series about Twila Taunton, a redneck private investigator, which is a little crazy, politically incorrect and definitely in bad taste. Why? It gives me freedom of speech.

      How does your writing process work?
    I am a 'pantser', which means I write by the seat of my pants. An idea forms in my head. I mull it over for a few days, then I sit down at the computer and start typing. No careful plotting or planning. That comes later when I need everything to work out in the timeline I've created. 
    There is no greater adrenalin rush for a writer than to sit at a computer and start working on the next story.

    Here is a link to my books on Amazon and my website www.trishjax.com 

    These are the wonderful authors who will follow me on this tour:


    http://www.petersavagenovels.com/

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

    The Audio Sense in Writing

    As writers we try to use all the human senses to help make our words more real to our readers.


    It is a known fact that the human race uses the sense of sight more than any other of the five (or six) senses. In fact, statistics show that around 83% of us use sight as our primary sense.  Next is hearing at around 11%, touch at 3.5%, smell at 1.5% and taste at 1%.

    When we write, we primarily paint word pictures. We describe how people look, what they are wearing, and the scene around them. A good writer will also incorporate the other senses as much as possible. Let's take the next most commonly used sense, hearing.

    A good exercise is to always ask yourself, what are the typical sounds you hear when you step outside or stand at an open window? Do you hear the distant hum of traffic? The deafening roar of traffic? A train whistling? People yelling? Sirens? If you are way out in the country you may hear the wind whispering through the pines or a coyote yipping.

    How about complete silence. Have you ever experienced a place where absolutely nothing is stirring? I've only felt it once, in the Namib desert in Africa, in a place called Sossusvlei (meaning dead end) where the highest sand dunes in the world rise from a sandy, dry salt pan. We were standing at the edge of the narrow Sesriem Canyon one morning and the cliche term "silence is deafening" came to mind. Absolute silence really is quite an awe inspiring experience.


    Sesriem Canyon

    http://www.andbeyond.com/journey/africa/where-to-go/namibia/destinations/sossusvlei/overview/ 

    I now live in rural north Florida, so when I go into my yard on any given day, the most typical sounds are dogs barking, horses neighing, cattle lowing and roosters crowing. Our property is thickly treed so add birds singing or a woodpecker tapping on a rotting tree trunk, and leaves rustling in the breeze. We have a pond, and the frogs here make a whistling noise--they don't croak or say "ribbid". Crickets often chirp, and cicadas scream in summer when it's hot.

    Typical human sounds in my neighborhood include shouting, loud country music blaring from external speakers, and on most days, someone in the neighborhood fires a gun. Traffic is distant and intermittent, but may include the hum of a car or truck, the roar of an eighteen-wheeler, or the rumble of a motorcycle gang.

    I'd love to hear your comments about the sounds where you live.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Pitch Perfect - Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

    I stayed awake until midnight to enter my latest manuscript, "Aquarius Addiction". That's when they started accepting entries to the Amazon ABNA competition. 

    Since they were only accepting 10,000 entries I figured they would be inundated and I would be lucky to get in, but it seems there hasn't been that much interest after all. When one thinks of the millions of authors who must have published their work with Amazon on CreateSpace.com I would have thought they would easily get 10,000 entries the first day.


    Upon reflection, I realize not every author has a completed unpublished fiction manuscript available, but anyone who has self-published and retains all the rights to their work can also enter. Entries close on March 2nd, 2014, so there is still time.


    There are five genre categories and each author can only enter one novel. They are: General Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, 

    Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror,  Romance,  and Young Adult Fiction.
    To enter, one has to submit a pitch (300 words or less), the first 5,000 words, and the complete manuscript.

    The first elimination, results announced on March 17th,  is judged only on the pitch, judged on originality of idea, overall strength of the Pitch, and the quality of writing. . That means it has to be really compelling. Only 2,000 out of the initial 10,000 will remain - 400 in each genre category. 


    The second round is judged on the excerpt, specifically 

    a) Overall Strength of Excerpt, b) Prose/Style,
    c) Plot/Hook, d) Originality of Idea. 
    The top 100 from each genre will advance to the quarter finals. These excerpts will be posted where Amazon customers can download them, read them, and write a review on them.
    To get down to the semi-finalists, Publishers Weekly will read, prepare a review, and rate each Manuscript on a scale of 1 to 5 on the following criteria:
    a) Character development
    b) Originality of idea
    c) Plot
    d) Prose/style
    e) Overall strength of submission
    Their reviews will be posted on each semi-finalist's Createspace account on May 23rd, and finalists in each genre will be chosen by Amazon's panel of judges by July 8th, 2014.
    Finalists will be posted on Amazon and members of the public will vote to choose the grand finalist. He or she will win $50,000 plus a publishing contract with Amazon.
    Genre finalists win $15,000 advance and a publishing contract with Amazon.
    Quarter Finalists get a Publisher's Weekly review that they can use in their marketing efforts. Others who made the first cut will get a review of their excerpt.
    I think it's well worth the effort and I'm glad I entered. Here's where you go if you also want to try. 
    https://www.createspace.com/
    If you don't have a Createspace login you can create one there. 



    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Reviews

    Although I love to write, reading is also one of my most pleasurable pastimes. 


    I try to support Indie authors by downloading a new author's work whenever I have time to read.  I always write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads if I think they're good. But... rather than write a bad review, I just don't do any review for the books I don't think are up to standard. I think readers will all agree there are many books out there that are just not ready for publication and need a lot more work.

    I love editing and my hands itch to get hold of some of these books and help whip them into shape, but it is very time consuming and for that reason I have to charge people for editing services. (http://www.youselfpublish.com).

    The most common mistake I find is verbosity. The author babbles on and on, often about the same thing, and eventually I (and I'm willing to bet other readers) just get bored and stop reading the story. Example-- when your characters are on the phone, nobody wants to read about them exchanging pleasantries;
     "How are you?"
    "I'm fine, how are you?"
    "I'm okay. I went out to dinner last night."
    "Lucky you."
    Please get to the meat of the conversation. Tight writing people!  Don't use two words when you only need one. Use strong verbs. Don't be repetitive. Don't spell everything out for your readers--give them credit for some intelligence to work things out for themselves.

    Am I the perfect writer? No, of course not. I've thought of self-publishing, but am lucky enough to have had my manuscripts accepted by two different publishers so far. The downside of this is that one has to wait a year to get published, but the upside far outweighs that for me, because I've had the services of a couple of wonderful editors. They have pointed out the flaws, shown me when the timeline doesn't gel, and helped me re-craft each story, and I will always be indebted to them.

    One thing that bugs me more than anything are the so-called POD publishers -- Publish America and iUniverse are two that come to mind. I think they are evil because they lure unsuspecting writers into thinking they have written a masterpiece. They make them sign a contract giving away their rights for years, and then they don't offer any editing help. Grrr! I was shocked and embarrassed when someone told me my first book, Way Out of Line was sorely in need of editing. I stopped promoting the book and waited seven years to get my rights back from Publish America. As soon as I did, I submitted it to Uncial Press, and with the help of my wonderful editor Jude, reworked it and made it into a story I could be proud of.

    I'd love to hear what other readers and writers do about reviews. Do you think it's your duty to write a bad review to warn other readers not to bother with a book, or do you just pass?






    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Goodbye Writer's Block

    Every now and then, when I tell people I am a writer, they ask if I have ever suffered from writer's block. Until now, I didn't think it was ever going to be a major problem for me.


    Until now. The book I'm currently working on, Aquarius Ardor, started wonderfully and the story just flowed out of my head and onto the pages. I'm a pantser, so I don't typically plot my stories, but rather I write by the seat of my pants.

    Then I had to turn my attention to Kick Assitude, the novel that is going to be released by my publisher on March 15th. There were final edits to be done, a book trailer to be created, and promotional and marketing considerations.

    When I got back to writing Aquarius Ardor, the story had disappeared. Try as I might, I wasn't able to pick up the thread. Writer's block had got me! I went online and did some research, and discovered this wonderful plotting method called the HCM Plotting Method, (HCM = Heart-Clutching Moments) and thank goodness it is working, as I still have many distractions to work on, including trying to find an agent for my next completed manuscript, Capricorn Cravings.

    Here's how it works:

    Get yourself some index cards – yes, there is still a use for them.

    1. Use a new card to write down each Heart-Catching Moment you've already figured out. You know, the things that change the story and make the reader turn the pages.
    2. Think of more and write each one on a new card. 
    3. When you sit down to write and experience writer's block, choose one card and write the scene.
    4. Once you have them written, even if you are a pantser, now is the time to plot. Shuffle the cards around and when you get them into a logical order, build your story around the HCM's you've created. 
    Examples of HCM's:

    Murder or death
    Instant attraction or a seduction
    A huge moral lapse
    Betrayal
    A savage or cruel act
    A change of heart for good or bad
    A revelation
    A discovery
    An act of grace or forgiveness
    A battle or fight
    A frightening act of nature – hurricane, tornado, etc.

    Here's one plotting method that works for me:

    PART 1: The setup:
    • Page 1 – the hook – what your primary character wants - consciously and deep inside. This is the engine that drives your story. His/her goals can change during the story, but there must be something very emotional making him do what he does. 
    • Insert an inciting incident or crisis to lead you into act 2. (This is called the first turning point.) 
    PART 2: Development of the story: (the body of your manuscript)
    • After a few pages, insert a really important HCM. This is called a focus point.
    • Halfway through the story, add a crisis that is the point of no return. The character commits to something and cannot go back from here. 
    • At around 60% of the manuscript, the second focus point occurs and leads up to... 
    • The end of Part 2, where the climax or moment of truth happens. This is known as the second turning point. 
    PART 3: Resolution of your story occurs, where you tie up all the loose ends.

    • Final climax occurs near the end. (In my genre, the culmination of the romance.)

    Other tips on how to keep readers turning pages:

    --Avoid repetition -- it gets boring.
    --Put chapter breaks just before or just after HCM's.
    --Make certain there is internal and external tension.
    --Show your characters internal emotional struggles and give them a human non-perfect element.
    --Use dialogue for tension, not boring conversations over dinner.
    --Delay some action to create tension. 


    Happy writing everyone!

    P.S. If you found this useful, click on the "Tips for Writers" link to the right and take a look at some of the other posts. The posts other writers have found particularly helpful are:
    POV - Who's Telling the Story? http://romanticreviewramble.blogspot.com/2012/04/pov-who-is-telling-story.html
    Author Intrusionhttp://romanticreviewramble.blogspot.com/2012/04/author-intrusion.html
    Show, Don't Tellhttp://romanticreviewramble.blogspot.com/2012/05/show-dont-tell.html
    Tight Writinghttp://romanticreviewramble.blogspot.com/2012/04/tight-writing.html












    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Another Right Brain/Left Brain Quiz

    So many of you enjoyed the previous quiz that I decided to find another one.

    Some people say there is no such thing as left/right brain dominance, but from the people who took the previous test on my blog, I see a pattern that shows it really does exist.

    The people who mainly use their left side are definitely more organized, while those with right brain dominance are the crazier ones. (By their own admittance.) Then there are those who are close to evenly balanced, who exhibit a little of each side's attributes.

    Have fun and click on the little link at the bottom of the table to take the test. (My results below show I use my left brain more, but I do have some right brain traits.)



    Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
    The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
    Left Brain Dominance: 11(11)
    Right Brain Dominance: 6(6)
    Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

    This is the previous post with the picture of the dancer that spins in different directions depending upon which side of the brain you are using. 

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Words for Impelling Oneself

    As a writer, the words you use for impelling the people you write about can tell the reader a lot about them. 

    "Walk" is such a generic term, and there are so many descriptive words you can use in place of it. 

    Does the agitated mother walk to her children who are fighting with one another again? Or does she stride?

    Does the killer walk slowly up to his unsuspecting prey, or does he stalk them?

    Would a laid back man walk along the road, or should he amble?

    Did the terrified girl walk quickly away or did she bolt?

    The following list is a gift my screenwriter sister was given by Screenbrokers (http://screenbrokers.com/) and I'm passing it on to my fellow writers to show how much I appreciate you all. I'm confident you'll reciprocate somehow, sometime, by sharing a tip of your own.

    Ambles
    barrels
    bolts
    Bounces
    bounds
    bowls
    Canters
    clambers
    coasts
    Cruises
    dances
    darts
    Dashes
    dives
    dodges
    Drifts
    edges
    flies
    Flits
    gallops
    glides
    Hightails
    hikes
    hobbles
    Hoofs
    hurdled
    hurries
    Hustles
    inches
    jaunts
    Jogs
    locomotes
    lumbers
    Maneuvers
    marches
    moves
    Navigates
    oozes
    paces
    Plows
    prances
    promenades
    Races
    rambles
    retreats                       
    Roams
    roves
    rushes
    Sashays
    sails
    saunters
    Scampers
    scoots
    scuttles
    Scurries
    shambles
    shoves
    Shuffles
    sidles
    slogs
    slip/slides
    slithers
    skipped
    Snakes
    sprints
    squeezes
    Squirms
    squishes
    staggers
    Steamrolls
    steams
    strolls
    Stomps
    swaggers
    sweeps
    Swishes
    toddles
    traipses
    Tramps
    travels
    traverses
    Trots
    trudges
    veers
    Waddles
    walks
    wanders
    Weaves
    wends
    wiggles
    Worms
    wriggles
    zigzags

    Here are some more offered by Betsy Riley who said she couldn't comment: angles, blasts, careens, detours, escapes, floats, gyrates, hurtles, insinuates, jets, kicks, lurches, meanders, nitpicks, oscillates, parades, quivers, rolls, scuffs, tiptoes, undulates, vectors, yaws, zips
    Thanks!!