Friday, August 26, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 137

Wednesday's post was late, as usual, but at least this time I had an excuse. I underwent laser eye surgery Wednesday morning.

It all started on Monday evening at a crit group meeting, when I noticed a large shadowy object hovering around my field of vision. At first I though it was just my body's way of responding to my crit partner's comments, but when it was still there the next morning, I called the eye doctor. After a short examination, the ophthalmologist explained that the vitreous (the clear stuff inside your eye) had pulled away from the retina (not all that uncommon), but it had torn the retina slightly in the process, so he walked me next door for a little laser surgery.

This was not totally unexpected outcome, but what surprised me was when he told me the process would cause some discomfort and sometimes made his patients cry. I'd always heard that laser surgery was painless because the retina doesn't have any pain nerves. Turns out the heating caused by the laser still has an effect.

The procedure turned out to not be all that bad, although each time the laser pulsed, it felt as if someone drummed my eyeball with their finger. Not too bad really--except when it continues nonstop for ten to fifteen seconds and you feel the pressure building up inside your eye. It was over quickly and I didn't cry, although I did have a headache for the next several hours. So while you're enjoying the weekend and this week's links, be sure to savor the ability to see clearly. It's  all too easy to take that kind of stuff for granted.

Hmmm... Character undergoes eye surgery and discovers he can now see supernatural entities others can't.  Sound like a story premise to me.

BTW, be sure to check out Wednesday's post if you missed it.  M. Pepper Langlanais describes how she came up with the character names for her new book, Manifesting Destiny.

Until next week...


How to Use Amazon Categories, Themes and Keywords to Sell More Self-published Books

How to Create a Newsletter

Creative and super simple ways to grow your list

Print is Still Important

Indie Choices: Writing in Multiple Genres or Specializing

Creating Mood In A Scene Using Light and Shadow

Is This the Single Best Way to Write Powerful Themes? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cee Cee Bo Bee: The names in Manifesting Destiny

Coming up with names for our characters is sometimes almost as hard as writing the story itself. Everyone has their own ways of doing it. I tend to use placeholder names until the right name pops into my head, usually by accident and usually way past the halfway point of my story.   Thank goodness for the "Search and Replace" function. 

Today, I'm privileged to have M Pepper Langlinais stop by and share how she dreamed up the names for the characters in her new book, Manifesting Destiny.  Take it away, Manda.


Sometimes character names just come to you. That was the case with my main character in Manifesting Destiny, whose name is Cee. I don’t know where that came from. Maybe my kids were watching Sesame Street.

Later I added the surname Klinger as Cee’s foster family’s name. I recall walking to my kids’ school one afternoon, and I was answering a TV quiz about old shows on my phone. M*A*S*H was one of the shows and I remembered Klinger and thought the name suited, especially given the theme of Cee having trouble letting go of her best friend/crush.

Cee’s foster parents are named Erwin and Lynne. Erwin was the name of one of my college professors. Lynne is my best friend’s mom’s name; I’ve known her since I was eight and she’s been like a second mother to me. She spells it without the "e."

I’ve always liked the name Marcus. Maybe I’ve been influenced by my love of Indiana Jones movies, but I also always loved the Babylon 5 character, and my Marcus inherited some of that Marcus’s chivalric tendencies. Doyle was borrowed from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I picture Marcus as looking like Nicholas Rowe in Young Sherlock Holmes, and I started my writing career with Sherlock Holmes stories too, so this seemed like a fitting tribute.

When I wrote Rand Corbin and Guin Dacre, I didn’t originally think they’d be anything more than background characters, but their roles grew and grew. Rand means “shield” and Corbin means “raven.” As for Guin, I’ve always simply liked the name and particularly that spelling of it. I fell in love with Arthurian legend at a young age, and Guinevere remains a highly romantic and beautiful figure in my mind. In Manifesting Destiny, Guin is at first timid, but she grows in strength over time and will even more in the sequel. I don’t recall where I got the name Dacre except that I remember looking at lists of surnames online and that one sounded like a good fit.

Livian is a masculine take on Livia who was the ambitious and scheming wife of Augustus in ancient Rome. I first became acquainted with her character when seeing I, Claudius at a young age, and she fascinated me. I kept with the semi-Latinate naming for the Magi Clan when I created the name Diodoric and Valentian, twists on Diodorus and Valentin. My minor as an undergrad was in Classics, and I like the music of the names. Even Marcus was a common name in ancient Rome. Sabine, leader of the Magi, also has a name derived from ancient days.

I am the kind of writer who cannot be satisfied until the names of my characters are just right. I find it impossible to write unless I have everyone named correctly. I won’t go back and make a name change later. It’s as if I can’t know my characters, not truly, until they share their names with me. And I can’t write them until I know them. Sometimes they’re forthcoming and introduce themselves with no trouble, just as Cee and Marcus did. Sometimes, however, the characters are coy and play Rumpelstiltskin with me, demanding that I guess and guess. They may give me a hint—sometimes I know the letter the name starts with and that it’s, oh, one syllable—and then I’m able to narrow it down from there. But it can still take me days if the character is making it difficult for me.

None of the characters in Manifesting Destiny were particularly problematic, thank goodness. They all wanted to be known, each stepping out at just the right moment. I hope you’ll get to know them, too, through this book and the sequels.


Thanks again, Manda.  And now that you know how she came up with her character names, why don't you check out her book and see if you agree with them.

Sixteen-year-old Cee has a hopeless crush on her best friend Marcus. Unfortunately for her, he’s gay. In the wake of Marcus’s older brother leaving home to join the Aerie, Marcus has become increasingly distant. When Cee discovers she has a troublesome dragon named Livian living inside her things grow even more complicated. 

Marcus urges Cee to go to the Magi to have Livian removed, but the more Cee becomes attached to Livian, the more she questions the decision. Should she change her natural self for the crush who will never love her anyway?

M Pepper Langlinais is an award-winning screenwriter, produced playwright, and author. She is a Master of Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing (Emerson College) and a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film (University of Texas at Austin). M has performed and taught Shakespeare, interned on movie sets, and worked for Houghton Mifflin and Pearson before deciding to devote her full time to her own writing. She lives in Northern California with her family, a charmingly evil cat, and a hamster she's sure is trying to tell her something if only she could understand. Find her at her website, Pepperwords.

Buy Links:
Evernight Teen


Friday, August 19, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Release Announcement - To Hunt A Sub

To Hunt a Sub, Jacqui Murray's debut novel, has been released and is available on Amazon.  If you're into thrillers, click on the Amazon link and check out the first five chapters.

Pertinent information:

Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray 

Release Date: August, 2016 by Structured Learning 

Genre: Thriller 

Preview: Available on Kindle Scout 

Cover by: Paper and Sage Design

About the book:

The USS Hampton SSN 767 quietly floated unseen a hundred fifty-two feet below the ocean’s surface. Despite its deadly nuclear-tipped arsenal of Trident missiles, its task for the past six months has been reconnaissance and surveillance. The biggest danger the crew faced was running out of olives for their pizza. That all changed one morning, four days before the end of the Hampton’s tour. Halfway through the Captain’s first morning coffee, every system on the submarine shut down. No navigation, no communication, and no defensive measures. Within minutes, the sub began a terrifying descent through the murky greys and blacks of the deep Atlantic and settled to the ocean floor five miles from Cuba and perilously close to the sub’s crush depth. When it missed its mandated contact, an emergency call went out to retired Navy intel officer, Zeke Rowe, top of his field before a botched mission left him physically crippled and psychologically shaken. Rowe quickly determined that the sub was the victim of a cybervirus secreted inside the sub’s top secret operating systems. What Rowe couldn’t figure out was who did it or how to stop it sinking every other submarine in the American fleet. 

Kali Delamagente is a struggling over-the-hill grad student who entered a DARPA cybersecurity competition as a desperate last hope to fund a sophisticated artificial intelligence she called Otto. Though her presentation imploded, she caught the attention of two people: a terrorist intent on destroying America and a rapt Dr. Zeke Rowe. An anonymous blank check to finish her research is quickly followed by multiple break-ins to her lab, a hack of her computer, the disappearance of her three-legged dog, and finally the kidnapping of her only son. 

By all measures, Rowe and Delamagente are an unlikely duo. Rowe believes in brawn and Delamagente brains. To save the America they both love, they find a middle ground, guided with the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.

Author bio: Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Her debut novel, To Hunt a Sub, launches this summer. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 135

Two days ago, I whined about having trouble finishing a scene that I needed to turn in to my crit group. The crit meeting is next Thursday, and since our requirement is that submissions must be submitted via email one week before the meeting, that meant the scene was due yesterday. So on Wednesday night, I settled down in my writing chair, caffeinated drink in hand, determined to have that scene finished on time. Then it occurs to me that I'll be out of town next Thursday, so there's no point in submitting anything until next month. Arg!!!

On the bright side, I'm pretty sure the scene will be in better shape by then.

Enjoy the links and the weekend!


Programs for Indie Publishers

Create A Simple Single-Author Boxed Set

How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book

Vital Craft Lessons for Every Writer

The Power of Pinterest in Novel Promotion

How to Put More Drive in Your Plot

128 Words to Use Instead of "Very"

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Being Stuck

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

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of a lack of writing progress.

Okay, who am I kidding? I have that insecurity every month. What really makes me insecure this month is that I’ve been stuck on the same scene for the past five weeks. And it’s really beginning to bug me.

I’m not talking about writer’s block or anything like that. The bones of the scene are all there—it’s probably 80% done—I just have to keep banging my head against the keyboard and rearranging the words until they flow well enough I can show it to another human being.

The usual advice is to move on to the next scene and come back to this one later when my brain is fresh, but my crit group is reading my story in chronological order and the scene is due this week. Actually it was due last month, but I made some lame excuse about computer problems and didn’t submit anything. I’m not repeating that scenario this month.

It’s not that I think I’ll never finish the scene. I know I will, but when I look up at the calendar and realize another month has disappeared, I get an antsy feeling in my stomach.

This month’s IWSG question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? 

I once wrote a short story back in high school that was a complete ripoff of Star Trek, but I wasn't aspiring to be a writer back then, so that probably doesn't count.  And I was probably a quarter of the way through my Hogwarts fanfic before I realized how much fun I was having writing fiction, so I guess that story would be my answer.  It's still sitting in the computer, and every chance I get, I go back and work on it.  After nine years and counting, I'm only a few chapters away from calling it finished.