Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pointing in the Right Direction

It's been awhile, but I thought a refresher on helpful websites might be in store. Maybe one or both of them will work for you.

In the market for a class to brush up on your craft? Then this course offered on the Writers' Village site is worth a look. This 14 week course is a free introduction to the Writers' Village Master Class. Learn to add energy and suspense to your stories, build characters, and so many more effective strategies. With several weeks of modules emailed to you along with a writing manual, you have a great start. -- Writers' Market Class 

If you don't like to travel the path most taken or follow the herd or, in other words, you'd like to find a way to self-publish, but not through Amazon Kindle or Smashwords ... then this might be for you. Indie Isle will help you publish, sell and promote your stories free of charge. They provide the ebook formats and the promotional tools to market your work. One of the most attractive features is that you get 90 percent of the profit. Yes. I said 90. Not 70. Once you've published your books, you get a web page to promote them. Nice. So, check it out: Idie Isle


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Road to Publication is a Long One ...

Almost ten years ago, I had this dream. Someday, hopefully in the near future, I'd write a story good enough to be noticed and wanted by a reputable publisher. That was in 2004. Fast forward to 2012, and I made the dream a reality. I had queried before on other work, submitted to publishers and agents alike, by the hundreds. Some wanted to see more. Some gave me a polite rejection. None wanted what I had to offer.

Then, I had this idea. I would write a story in the most unique fashion, using any particular skills/knowledge I had to make it different. The result: Dying to Dream, a mystery with paranormal and romantic elements. But that wasn't all. I wanted to make the characters and setting something special. I know French. So, the story takes place in Louisiana. Tante Louise, a peculiar old aunt who dabbles in voodoo, doesn't hesitate to blurt out a phrase or two in French. The street names of my imaginary town, Saint Toulere, are in French, such as Tant Pis, which means "too bad" and is an appropriate label since the street's buildings have a certain history. And I didn't stop there in creating this unique nature for my work. Each chapter has a quote from classic poets and authors about ghosts. After all, there are ghosts in my story. Marin, the main character, dreams the dreams of spirits who need to communicate a message to her. In other words, she becomes them.

So, I had my story completed. Next, I wanted to query some small, independent publishers, and I really expected to be bogged down with querying to dozens and dozens before any resulted in a contract. However, I did feel strongly about the work and that it certainly would eventually have its moment in the limelight. Maybe in another ten years! And then ... it happened ... so very quickly that I was stunned. First, one and then another offered a contract. I actually had to choose! That amazed me even more. I decided to go with Mainly Murder Press. It seems like a good fit.

So ... Dying to Dream will make its debut in June, 2013. I can hardly wait, but have much to do beforehand. It's been a long struggle with lots of heartbreak and perseverance on my part. Still, I made it and life is good. And if you have time, head on over to check MMP out. They have many really cool books! And they even undercut the prices on Amazon. An extra plus :-)

Monday, July 16, 2012


A year ago I published a post about eBooks and Kindles and Amanda Hocking. It sparked a discussion, and now, I guess, it sparked a nomination for Most Fascinating Blog in 2012 for the Creative Writing category. (Look to the right. -->) It's nice to be recognized. In fact, every once in awhile, to receive those pick-me-up moments, no matter how big or small, makes me feel goosies and the push to trudge along in my writing endeavors.

So, I say thank you as I rub my arms to smooth away the goosies and put myself back in front of the keyboard, fingers flexed, WIP in front of me ... and ... WE'RE OFF AND RUNNING!

P.S. If you are so inclined and would like to read the post, here is a quickie link to get you there.

To Kindle or Not to Kindle - That is the Publishing Question

And then, if you, too, feel the "spark" of excitement, inspiration, or whatever your spark is, please consider raising your hand or glass or flag or ... you get the idea, and vote for me :-) BUT NOT UNTIL JULY 23RD ... because they won't let you before then.

** Update ... obviously there was a glitch in the voting process and it has been extended until August 10th. Still a bit tricky to do. You need to create a Google+ account and then click on comments under the Creative Writing Award post where you will find a list of the nominees. The rest of the directions are there. I personally think people should get a prize just for successfully navigating there way through that maze to vote!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Life is Good ... A Celebration

Life is good ... at least most of the time. Recently, our older daughter got married. It was a beach wedding in Florida, and it was beautiful. Perfect ceremony, perfect weather with perfect sunrise walks on the beach, just a perfect weeklong stay. It was a moment -- as my husband puts it. A moment you get to share with people ... friends, family ... who you may never see again, or at least not for a long time, and you think to yourself, "I want to hold this brief time in the palm of my hand and never let go".

Obviously, as we get older, we get a little sappy sometimes about these memories ... or at least that's what our kids think as they smile and shake their heads at us. They will get it someday, how every minute of every day is not wasted, if you choose to take the opportunity. I know this. And I regret every one of those precious minutes when I choose to waste them. Of course, when it's not up to me ... like waiting in the doctor's office, going to a meeting that seems so pointless, and so on, I always think of the many things I could be doing.

So, yes, life can be good, but only if you seize the opportunities layed out before you and make them special, taking those richly filled moments and carry them in the palm of your hand. Sorry, if I do sound sappy, as my kids describe it. It's what I do. And I'm proud of it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to writing this great story I'm working on ... just taking advantage of the moment.  Reminder to self: keep the television turned off, don't touch that button to open Facebook. Write, darn it, write!

Alice in Realityland

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Potato Chip Theory ... or Some Such Nonsense

After taking inventory of my reading history over the past ... hmm, let me think ... I'll say forty some years, I made a curious observation. I make my choices in reading like craving potato chips. I couldn't read just one gothic romance (circa my teen through early adult years). I had to devour them like that bag of chips. One scrumptious bite of syrupy, sappy love scenes after another, until I satiated my appetite ... or gained too many pounds of love calories.

And then a new flavored chip came along during my late twenties to late thirties. One with lots of bite to it, i.e. stories of horror and nightmares, ala Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and the rest. The adrenaline rush that those scary monsters, ghouls, and ghostly creations gave me couldn't have been more satisfying. The scarier the better, even if they did keep me up nights, along with every nightlight I could manage to turn on without my husband griping!

But soon, I had my fill, the last gory scene of blood and guts splattering everywhere. Nausea set in and I experienced indigestion. Time to move on. That was nearly twenty years ago. The moment to launch the newest, latest, greatest tasting chip ever! Mysteries ... suspenseful ones, forensic ones, romantic ones, heroic ones, anything with the familiar mysterious taste. And to the present, I still enjoy those chips! The flavor is addicting, probably some ingredient I'm meant to crave. Whatever it is, I will keep reading ... or eating ... every word of every page of every chapter of every ... ah, you get the picture.

So, then, I began to wonder if my reading habit imitated my behavior with other things, like my favorite television shows, music, restaurants, etc. Let me think another minute ... nope. At least not as noticeable as with reading. For example, I enjoy American Idol and The Voice, but I don't care for those other music competition shows (and I won't mention the names).

Still, it does make me consider how producers, publishers, and all the other powers that make important decisions, choose what's coming out next. Television back in the fifties and sixties could not get enough western shows on the air. In the seventies, it overflowed with detective shows like Mod Squad, Hart to Hart, McCloud, Columbo, and I refuse to go on. In publishing YA loves vampires, and readers sure like to chomp down on gossipy morsels of the celebrities and politicians. Anyway, I'm sure you get my drift. Potato Chip Theory? Maybe not such nonsense after all.

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Alice in Realityland

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Finding Inspiration and Characters in Odd or Obvious Places

This is Milo, aka Lou. He was a big part of my inspiration for writing Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes, and I just had to include him in the story because of it. So, for me, it brings up the topic of where do you find your inspiration and how do you come up with the characters you write about in your stories?

In my experience, it's usually a subconscious process. But sometimes it is very obvious, such as Lilly's aunts -- Millie, Sadie, and Fran. I had exact relatives in mind when I created and developed those characters. All of them were aunts on Mom's side of the family, but of course for obvious reasons, I won't say which ones! Funny, entertaining, all of them with their own quirks, made them perfect candidates to include in Lilly's zany, kooky world. Her life wouldn't be the same without them. They are the ying and yang of her existance, and she wouldn't be the Lilly readers learn to know and love otherwise.

But now back to Lou, aka Milo. Do you ever just sit and watch your pet, if you have one, and think, if only I could put him, or her, on a television show as the star, wouldn't it just be so entertaining? Well, Milo made me think that, and more! Besides, Lilly needed an ally who would be totally supportive, totally loving, who wouldn't give her any of those critical moments she gets from others. And that's Lou. Of course on the other hand, Lou is (and so is Milo) just feisty enough to give Lilly trouble and near-heart attack moments! But enough about Lou.

What about your inspiration and/or characters? Do you find them in those odd moments or weird places? If you're not looking there, you probably should. For instance, stop and take a moment to watch those around you. You might be surprised what you'll find. I know I did :-)

Have a great day, and happy writing!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
A Date to Die For

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When Worlds Collide ... or Fantasy Versus Reality

I wonder how any author of science fiction, or specifically of fantasy, feels when writing a script with a fantasy world setting. How comfortable are they when creating those details of setting, like how the "world" looks, or the way people dress, or even more daunting, putting them in action, i.e. what they may do that's so illogical compared to our way of doing things. Obviously, there must be some point in the writing process where the creation becomes familiar and comfortable ... but when?

The reason I am dwelling on this lately is because of the story I am working on ... Alice in Realityland. Alice must bounce back and forth between her reality and a fantasy world. Creating that fantasy world is totally mindbending! And I haven't reached a point where I'm thinking it's comfortable. So, of course, I start to doubt my creative ability and rethink what I'm writing. But I am ignoring the itch to change it, figuring to just plug along, waiting for that everything-will-click moment, and praying it will come.

This is a totally different experience from writing Not So Snow White  which has some magic in it, along with witches and fairies, but still taking place in our world. So, I wonder about all those other fantasy writers and how they think it through. Any of you reading this, please chime in with your thoughts. I'd love to hear them!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Cinderella Geek

Friday, February 17, 2012

Posting Pot Pourri ... a Little of This, Little of That

My mind is rambling with its thoughts. So, I'm going to plant some of them here and see what grows :-) One website that's "wordy" and just for fun ... Wordle Clouds where you can create cool designs by placing a series of words in the box. Change the font, the color scheme, etc. to tickle your fancy and ... voila! You have an artistic creation of your writing creation to enjoy.

Actually, my only gripe about it was if you put in too many words, it only spits back a visual with the most used words. Huh ... don't get that. Maybe I just need more playtime to get better results. Anyway, enjoy!

Best time to write ... I always wonder how other people do this. I personally think my creative juices are going at warp speed first thing in the morning and then again very late at night. No rhyme or reason to it. How about you?

Nightmare of writing ... I have it. Everytime I finish a book, I fear I can never do it again. And then I do. Grrrrr. And I don't think I will ever get past this. Even if I manage to get fifty books under my belt (don't think I have enough time in this world to do this, though), I still will have that fear. How about you?

Short but sweet, that's it for now. Good luck with your writing and keep those fingers tapping on those keys!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pointing in the Right Direction: The Open University -- Try It for Free and Other Things

Just wanted to share a couple of sites that might be of interest to both writers and everybody else!

1) This is a free-to-try item. The Learning Space writing course posted on Open University.
Read about how to set up (or improve) characters and settings, and learn the differences between various genres (and how to make those differences work for you). The nominal time for taking the course is 12 hours, but you're free to work at your own pace. You can find a printable word version of the entire course here on the site too. (ePub and html print versions are also available--right under the course contents you'll find a "printable version" link, with a little arrow underneath saying, "alternative formats".)  -- Writing World
I am always looking for new information and when it's free to try ... makes it all the more inviting! Anyway, I am definitely going to take a closer look. Maybe you will do the same ;-) Let me know what you think.

2) And then ... for those who haven't heard of Dropbox, it's an online ("cloud") storage service that allows you to easily share documents, photos, and other files with friends. You can also sync your files over multiple devices (currently, the service also
supports iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Blackberry phones). Think of it as your invisible flash drive that goes everywhere with you. Free accounts start with 2GB of storage, but you get additional free space for every friend you refer.   -- Writing World

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Using the Past Perfect ... i.e. What Happened Before the Other Thing Happened

A few months ago, I received feedback from an editor on a manuscript I submitted. She asked if I would change at least half of the highlighted passive verbs and replace them with more active, descriptive verbs. To my overwhelming dismay, I found over 1,000 highlights and realized I really faced an eye-popping, finger-cramping task.

Now, the thing is that a good many of these involved the past perfect and wouldn't be necessarily labeled passive, but can make writing a bit cluttered when overdone. This is where I move on over into my teacher mode and say that if used wisely and sparingly, the past perfect is an effective tool.

It can introduce a flashback without using trite, boring phrases such as "It was several weeks ago" or "I remember the time when". For instance, "Mary had buried the shoebox under the oak tree. She died the next winter and we realized that her secret might never be told. But then, Max dug a hole to bury his bone and found the box, which he carried proudly in his mouth to the front door..."

Note, I only used the past perfect -- had buried -- once, and then the rest of the verbs remained in the past tense. It does the job and remains clear and tight.

Now, if you are using the verb "to have" -- I have, I have had, I had had; or "to be" -- I was, I had been, then you probably want to change all or most of them to more descriptive and concise verbs. For example, "he had the answer to her problem" could easily be replaced with "he discovered the answer to her problem." Or ... "the bird had a wingspan of at least five feet" could be changed to "the bird carried a wingspan of at least five feet."

I think that it takes practice to defeat the use of "lazy" passive verbs. Sometimes, like in my case, you might not even realize you are using them. Do a word search and tally them up, then toss a good deal of them out! Your writing and stories will thank you :-)

Happy writing!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Oklahoma's Gold
Not So Snow White
Cinderella Geek