Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Links - Volume Six

Not as many links this week. I was too busy following Melissa Maygrove's Follow Fest and making new friends.

I joined the bloghop in order to force myself to focus more on social media, but I quickly discovered I was in worse shape than I thought. It had been so long since I used Tweetdeck, for example, that when I tried to fire it up, I was informed that my version was so out of date a new version needed to be installed. Yikes! And I'm still re-familarizing myself with how Facebook operates these days. Talk about ignoring social media.

Anyway, I'll start picking up the pieces of my social media life and you can have fun with these links. Enjoy the weekend!

Why is it so hard to find an agent?

Open Up! Writing the Opening Scene

What Do Your Characters Falsely Believe?

How One Successful Indie Author Marketed His Work Up the Bestseller Lists

Monday, September 23, 2013

Follow Fest BlogHop

Today marks the first day of the Follow Fest Bloghop - a hop dedicated to developing social media  connections among writers.  It's the brainchild of Melissa Maygrove, who realized she (and many other writers) need to take our social media connections a bit more seriously.  And that includes me -- big time.  So I'm using this opportunity to make my blog more social media friendly over this coming week.  In fact, I added a twitter Follow Me button this weekend!

The hop is all week, so if you're interested in joining the hop, go to Melissa's blog for information on how to join.

Here's a little information about me

Name: Ken Rahmoeller (aka. ChemistKen)

Fiction or nonfiction?  Fiction

What genres do you write? MG and YA paranormal fantasy

Are you published? No.  I'm presently working on a MG fantasy about a freshman boy in high school who discovers an underground city of wizards.

Do you do anything in addition to writing?
 I've done some line editing on a part time basis.  I also teach an evening class in chemistry at a local college.  (No, not Hogwarts.  At least not yet.  I'm expecting my invitation to teach potions to arrive any day now.)

Where can people connect with you?
Right now, this blog is probably the best way to connect with me.  I've had both a Facebook page and a Twitter account for years, but I tend to be bad about keeping up with them.  That's something I hope to change in the near future.



Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I'm a member of the SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators.  I'm in two critique groups, but I'm looking for both CPs and beta readers who enjoy fantasy with a whimsical flair.  I also enjoy beta reading and critting for others.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I'd love it if you followed me.  I'm looking forward to hearing all about you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Links - Volume Five

It's Friday again (thank goodness), so time for more links.  The first link is a special one.  Melissa Maygrove is hosting a blogfest dedicated to increasing writers' awareness of social media. It runs all next week, and I've signed up for Monday. The link takes you to a post that not only explains how to join the blogfest, but also has lots of information on how to add social media buttons (and other widgets) to your website.  So by Monday morning, you should find my website much more media savvy.

Enjoy the weekend!

Suspense Versus Action

Why Do Libraries Have That Smell? a very short article in Popular Science

Pricing for Launch: Book 1 in a New Series, Go High or Low?

Formatting: The Easy Ways 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Even Engineers Understand Piracy

I came across a Dilbert cartoon today that I thought would be appreciated by the writers among us. I can't post the comic directly because of copyright restrictions, but the following link will take you right to the strip.  I'll wait here while you read it.

Dilbert and Piracy comic

At some point, all writers have to deal with the question of whether or not to add DRM to their ebooks. As I have yet to finish my first book, I don't have to worry about piracy... yet.

But one day I will. I promise.

Someone who does have to worry about such things is Alex Cavanaugh, founder of the Insecure Writers Support Group.  His third book, CassaStorm, has just been released.  Those of you into science fiction should hop on over to your favorite bookstore and check it out.  Congratulations, Alex.

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure
Print ISBN 9781939844002
E-book ISBN 9781939844019

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Links - Volume 4

This week was dedicated to recovering from last week and preparing my lectures for my chemistry class.  So despite having several ideas for blog posts, I didn't have time to write them this week.

At least I make a little progress on my story.

Here are the links.  Enjoy the weekend!

Make Readers Appreciate The Wait

How To Start Your Novel

Five Misconceptions About Your Story's Normal World

How to Write a Tagline for Your Book (And Why You Need To)

How Searchable are Your Book’s Title and Subtitle? 

A Cautionary Tale: 3 Writing Rules that Can Derail Your Story

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Links - Volume 3

It's been one busy week around here.  Came back from a five day trip to Missouri.  Helped co-host Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group bloghop.  Survived the first night of a college chemistry course I'm teaching this fall.  Whew!

Who knows, maybe I'll actually get around to working on my story this weekend.  No promises, though.  Anyway, here are this week's writing links.  Enjoy the weekend!

How to Make Your Readers’ Heads Explode

Your Editor is Your Friend (Really)

Telling Yourself the Story

Avoiding Hesitation

Social Media Tip of the Century

4 Big Pitfalls in Story Openings

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Insecure Writer and Co-Hosting the Insecure Writers Support Group

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

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of the awesome responsibility of being one of the co-hosts for this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group.

For those of you new to this group, the IWSG was created by Alex Cavanaugh as an outlet for writers to express their insecurities to other writers, almost all of whom have their own anxieties. It’s an incredibly supportive group, so if you’re an insecure writer, click on the link above and join up. We meet the first Wednesday of every month.

The other co-hosts this month are SL Hennessy, Michelle Wallace, and Joylene Nowell Butler! Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello.

Again, many thanks to Alex, both for creating this bloghop and for inviting me aboard.

Three Steps To Finding The Beginning Of Our Story

I have a special treat for my readers today.  I recently won a contest over at Jami Gold's blog, and for my prize, opted to have Jami do a guest post.  If you don't already follow her blog, you should.  It's chock full of useful information on the craft of writing.  I've also taken her course on building a WordPress blog (something I plan on doing in the near future) and was happy with the experience.

So without further ado, here's Jami.

Three Steps to Finding the Beginning of Our Story
Thanks for inviting me over, Ken! I’m excited to be here for your win in my Blogiversary contest and grateful for the opportunity to share some (hopefully) useful information with your readers. *smile*
Shortly after Ken’s win, he posted about a problem he was having with the story he’d started during last year’s NaNoWriMo. He was stuck on the first chapter and couldn’t come up with a beginning he liked.
Like Ken, I’ve also struggled with story openings. We have to accomplish so much at the beginning of stories it can be difficult to cram all the must-do’s into those first pages. It doesn’t help if we can’t think of the right place to start the story or what we want the beginning to accomplish.
Let’s see if we can break down the steps to figuring out our story opening…

Step One: Discover Where Our Story Should Start
Unless we’re pantsing our story (writing by the seat of our pants) with almost nothing in mind, we’re usually going to have an idea about our story’s premise (“It’s about a man who has to save his wife from kidnappers.”). Our premise usually contains clues about the ending of our story. In our example, the man will save his wife from kidnappers (unless we’re writing a tragedy).
Stories are about change, so once we know something about how the story ends, we know what kind of contrast to set up at the beginning. We can think about that ending and brainstorm ideas about what sort of beginning would show the change we want for our theme.
If we want a story about not taking things for granted, we might show a beginning where the couple snipes at each other for nitpicky things. If we want a story about finding our inner strength, we might show a beginning where a mean boss bullies the man at work.
We can start our story thousands of ways. To narrow down our choices, we need to figure out the big picture of what we want to accomplish: What impression do we want the reader to have from our beginning?

Step Two: Discover When Our Story Should Start
Those examples above give us a concept for our beginning, but we need to decide how that scene ties into the rest of the story. A story opening with a bullying boss will fall flat if it goes on and on and is followed by ho-hum grocery shopping on the way home from work.
Instead, we want that beginning scene to occur just before something happens to the protagonist that forces a change or decision. Many stories will end the first chapter on an Inciting Incident. Inciting Incidents can be a hook or twist to start setting up the main conflict, or they might act as a bridging conflict to keep readers interested until the main story conflict begins.
Our goal at this step is to tie our beginning scene into the rest of the story. Maybe our bullied protagonist is deep into a high-pressure work deadline the boss gave him when the kidnappers call with their demands. Or maybe our sniping protagonist is at the grocery store when his wife’s cell number displays (“Yes, I remembered the milk, Deanna! I’m not stupid.”), and he discovers it’s not his wife on the other end of the line.
Once we know the opening scene and how it ties into the rest of the story, we’ll typically have anywhere from the first tenth to the first quarter of our story planned. Now we just have to write it. *smile*

Step Three: Discover How Our Story Should Start
We know the concept of the opening scene, the impression we want readers to have, and the story direction for the opening. With all that in mind, we’ll draft those first pages.
Our draft doesn’t have to be perfect. It won’t be perfect.
We don’t have to come up with the perfect first line now. We just have to get our opening scenes close enough that we can move forward with the rest of the story. The way to get close is by focusing on the conflict.
Beginnings aren’t about setting up the character and their situation. Beginnings are about setting up elements of the story’s conflicts. Readers will learn about the character and their situation along the way.
Show a choice the character makes that demonstrates how they’re sabotaging themselves from reaching their potential. Or show a problem the character has to deal with that gives readers the impression we want about some of the character’s traits. Or show a problem that gives readers hints about the main conflict. The point is to show conflict.
Too often we skip right to this last step and obsess over the “perfect” first line. But if we’re focused only on the first page, we might lose sight of what impression we want the reader to take away from our beginning.
(Note: Blogger extraordinaire Janice Hardy has some great posts on this topic as well: where to start your novel and what to do with that first page.)
This “going from the big picture to the specific” method forces us to know our goal before putting our fingers to keyboard. Or worst-case scenario, we could use this method during revisions to come up with a new beginning that won’t lead readers astray. *smile*
If you’d like more insight into how pantsers can use this method to prevent tangents and pointless scenes, check out my upcoming workshop on how to plan our story just enough. Ken’s readers can use Promo Code “gopants” to save $10 on registration.

Have you had problems with a story beginning? What step do you have the most trouble with? Do you have other suggestions on how to figure out the right beginning?

About Jami
After her potion to become as smart as Hermione went horribly awry, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.
Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.
Find Jami at her blog, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.