Friday, October 31, 2008

A Halloween Wish for Big Kids

May your treats be sweet
And your tricks be spooky
And no one will care
If you act a bit kooky

This is the night
We get to be kids
And run around silly
Like we once did

So have a good time
Be safe, but make scenes
You must live it up
'Cause it's Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everybody's A Critic

Over the weekend, I had my son to myself, as the DH was working. We spent part of the day in the kitchen, baking and getting dinner ready. While it was cooking, I picked up my almost-two-year-old son and danced around the kitchen with him, singing along to a CD of INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart." (Love that song!)

"No song!" declared my cherubic little boy.

"Why not?" I asked. "I like to sing to you."

"No song!" he insisted.

"What's the matter? Mommy's singing isn't that bad, is it?"

At this point, my adorable little boy looks me in the eye, gives me a solemn nod, and says, "Yes."

Ouch. Well, that's probably why I entered into a writing career instead of a singing one. *grin*

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Words, Words, Words

Words are just as important to success of your manuscript as plot and characterization. Knowing which words to choose can be a big boost to your career. Why say ran when you can say barreled, plunged, rushed? Don't pick the first words off the top of your head. Don't be satisfied with typical. Whenever you feel a lull in the flow of your book, look at the overall plot, etc--and then look at your choice of words. Are they vivid? Fresh? Do they evoke the right picture in your reader's head?

It's true that you could spend a lifetime polishing your manuscript and forget to get it out the door. Obviously, you should take a breath at some point and send it out--but be sure it's the very best you can make it, right down to the words you put on the page.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Going For The Goal!

Click me to learn more!

REACH THE GOAL!

Even though I'm not published yet, I am strongly committed to using a portion of my earnings to give back to the community ... and since I'm a writer, literacy was one of my first picks. Available on my CafePress page is a T-shirt any writer will appreciate - the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict of a writer! I will donate 20% of the profits from the sale of this T-shirt to ProLiteracy, a worldwide organization dedicated to improving lives through the power of reading. Click the picture above to go to the link where you can purchase this T-shirt, and spread the power of the written word!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Read, Read, Read

You've heard it said a million times. I've said it myself. One of the best ways to become a writer is to read. Pick some of the bestsellers in the genre you love, and read them thoroughly. A couple of times. First, for enjoyment of course. Then, when you've finished, turn on your internal editor and note how the story is constructed. Dissect the book into the Inciding Incident, the Turning Points, The Black Moment, and the Resolution. (In romance, we look for the meet, the first kiss, the love scenes, any plot twists/turns, the breakup moment, and the happily-ever-after.)

Also, pay close attention to the way the writer uses words - not to copy, but to understand the way a bestselling author strings them together. It's not average.

For example, you'll notice that most class-act writers do not go for the obvious similes and phrases. "Light as a feather." "Strong as an ox." These are the ones that come right off the top of your head, and they're so familiar they're boring. For a good movie example, I like "Under the Tuscan Sun." The narrator is talking about her trip to the open-air market, where the scent of grapes permeates everything. She tastes one and says, "It even smells purple." You know exactly what she's talking about in four words. Readers love a good verbal surprise, something vivid and fresh. Unexpected. Those are the books we come back to ... and the writers we buy more books from.

Take a trip to the bookstore and spend some money. Write it off as research material! Who knows? You might find a new favorite author.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Website Update - EARTH Added!

I've uploaded a section on my Books page including the information for my latest manuscript, EARTH, as well as an excerpt for those of you who are interested in learning more about the first book in this new series. Feel free to write and tell me what you think about it. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Characterization

It's been a while since I did an entry on craft, so today let's focus on characterization. This is the sum of all your character's traits, good AND bad, that make her who she is on paper. It's important to keep your character from sounding "cookie-cutter." Anyone can write about the jilted woman who's afraid to love again. But if you pay special attention to rounding her out, humanizing her, THEN you've got something special.

What are her flaws? Everyone's got some. Don't love your hero and heroine so much that you make them perfect. That makes for dull reading. And make those flaws INTERESTING. Not just "She's too kind," or "She works too hard." Maybe she's an impossibly nosy person who eavesdrops and then overhears that her straight-laced politician boss is having an affair with HER ex. Maybe the two are involved in a huge money-laundering scam. Maybe your heroine's nosiness gets her in so deep that she thinks she can solve this herself. Now you're getting somewhere - strong characters can sometimes help you carve out the plot just by being who they are. (Pick the worst situation that can happen to them, and drop them into it. Works every time!)

But you've only scratched the surface. Maybe she bites her nails when she's nervous. Lots of us do it and can relate. This kind of stuff endears your reader to your characters, because they have foibles just like us. Little flaws can be as important to characterization as larger ones.

It's easy to give your heroine superhuman abilities and talents, because you like her. But it's more meaningful to give them the bad stuff, because it opens them up for us to jump in and fall in love with them. So give some thought to your characterization even before you write a single word of the book. Your characters may write it for you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

"The End" - Really!

I did it! *happy dance*

I finally reached "The End" in my manuscript, EARTH - the first of four books in a "new" series targeting The Wild Rose Press. This book has been just over two years in the making, so it's more "resurrected" than "new," but I am giddy to have finished the first intallment. I feel happy and exhausted and relieved, as if I lived through all the adventures and trials of the hero and heroine. Never let them say writing is easy!

I'm now going to take a little time to edit and polish it, while wading through some editing projects for The Wild Rose Press. I will then put some info on this book up on my website and focus on some side jobs as a web designer for fellow authors. After that, I might need a nap. ;)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

"The End" - Almost! / Contest Entry

This weekend I am focusing on getting to the end of one of my current manuscripts - one that's been waiting for The End for about two years now! The book's working title is EARTH, and it's been a long, long road to get where it's at now. While it has Western elements, because of the nature of the hero's power (the setting is Montana), this book is firmly within the realm of Paranormal. You should see more about this book soon on my website, so stay on the lookout for it!

In the meantime, I have entered my short story, FINDING HOME, in a locally-held writing contest just for fun. I'll keep you posted on how it does!