Friday, December 16, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 152

 A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the spinoff movie from the Harry Potter franchise. It was good fun and kept me entertained, but I'll have to admit that it didn't capture my imagination nearly as much as the Harry Potter movies did. Perhaps it had something to do with the movie taking place somewhere other than Hogwarts (which I always thought was the best part of the franchise), but I suspect it might also have had something to do with the fact that the story was never in book form. In the original Harry Potter movies, the screenwriters and directors had plenty of material from the books to work with, allowing them to pack a lot of content into those movies. But this movie came directly from a screenplay, and so it seemed a little lean at times, depending more on special effects than an engaging story. At least that's the way it seemed to me. My daughter will be seeing the movie this weekend, so I'll be interested to see what she thinks.

In any case, the movie did cause me to set aside the story I've been struggling with working on lately and spend some time working on the Hogwarts' story that started me down the path of writing many years ago. To be honest, working on that fan fic is kind of a guilty pleasure. Since Rowling did a fair amount of telling in her books (and since I'm doing my best to match her style), I don't feel as constrained to follow the so-called "rules of writing" as I do when working on my "real" story.   It's like taking a deep breath of crisp, clean, cool air.

But it's more than just not stressing over the rules.

When I work on my Hogwarts' story, I allow my own voice to come out (since it's rather close to Rowling's) and the words just seem to flow. But when I'm writing my "real" story, the one I'd like to sell one day, I try too hard to make it sound like a "real" book instead of just having fun with it. And so the words, while functional, just seem kind of bland.  So tonight I might try sitting down in front of the computer with a bottle of wine and write whatever pleases my muse, no matter how silly it might sound, and see where it goes.

What can it hurt?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Make Settings Come to Life with Sensory Details

Formatting Print Interiors for Self-Publishing

Merchandising For Authors

10 Tips For Writing Short Stories That Sell

How to Find Your Agent Match

How to Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters

Business Musings: The Hybrid Learning Curve

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adding Emotions to Your Stories

One facet of my writing that I’ve been focusing on lately is injecting more emotion into my chapters. I rarely think about this kind of stuff when I’m writing, at least not in the early drafts, so it’s no surprise that my prose is often little more than a flat recounting of the scene. Kind of a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to the words. So I’ve learned that it’s important (read: mandatory) for me to go back over my scenes and amp up the emotions. I don’t need (or want) to make every scene an emotional rollercoaster, but I do want to enhance the natural emotions that are already present.

Sometimes the emotional tone of a scene is self-evident—for example, when the main character is being chased by someone with evil intent. In those instances, even I can figure out how to add emotional cues that show the character is afraid. The hard part is working with scenes that don’t have an obvious emotional component. Consider a scene where a simple conversation takes place between two friends where necessary information is being exchanged. Where’s the emotion in that? Boredom?

In cases like this, the trick is to ferret out whatever small bits of emotion are present and finding a way to amplify them. Does one of the characters have a slight beef with the other because of some past event? Does one of the characters think the other is crazy for taking too many risks? Just because they’re friends doesn’t mean they can’t be mad at each other every once in a while. Bring those conflicts to the fore, even if they don’t have anything specifically to do with the conversation at hand. Your reader will thank you for it.

And if the characters don’t have a reason to be upset with each other, then give them one. That's what subplots are for. Whatever you do, make sure the reader feels some sort of emotion in every scene, no matter how mundane the scene is. In fact, now that I think of it, the more mundane the scene, the more important it is that you find a way to inject emotion into it.

In science fiction and fantasy, one of the most important emotions to evoke is “wonder.” It’s what keeps readers of those genres reading. So when my main character recently arrived at a strange mansion in the middle of the forest for a meeting, I went back through the scene and played up the “wonder” aspects, letting the MC marvel at all the strange things she sees. And if that wasn’t enough, I also had the character worry about what she might have gotten herself into. Just because I know there’s no danger doesn’t mean the reader shouldn’t be worried.

So what do you do to make sure your stories have plenty of emotional content?


Friday, December 9, 2016

Goodbye, Jasmine.

Last night, we said goodbye to one of our cats.  We hadn't known Jasmine long.  We'd found her wandering around outside our house last April and we took her in, much to the displeasure of our other cats.  She was really skinny and ready to eat whatever we gave her.   She wasn't the most affectionate of cats, but she allowed us to pet her sometimes, and often slept on the kids' beds.

It was totally unexpected.  A blood clot had lodged in her lungs, and we didn't have much time to say goodbye.  Our two children, both of whom were at school functions at the time, didn't have a chance to say goodbye at all. Not a great way to start the holiday season.

Goodbye, Jasmine. You'll be missed.

Jasmine, 2016

Here are this week's links.  Enjoy the weekend.


Editing Your Zero Draft

Creating Single-Author Box Sets: Part Two

Helping Your Characters Make a Great First Impression

Three Ways to Make Your Writing Come Alive!

How to Use Fiverr to Create a Book Trailer

Archetypes for the Supporting Cast in Your Novel

A Surefire Way to Add Conflict to Your Story

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Insecure Writer and the Month of December

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

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?


Two Decembers ago, I told myself I’d have my story finished by the end of 2014. Last December I made a similar promise for 2015. Guess what I’m promising myself this December? Arg! My writing pace has certainly increased over the past twelve months, but thank goodness I have a day job.

The IWSG question for December is: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there? 

Based on the previous paragraph, the obvious answer would have to be: The same damn place I’m in right now—trying to finish the *%@* story. Seriously though, if I haven’t finished my story in the next five years, it’ll be because I’ve given up. 

Not that I’m ever going to let that happen. 

The real answer: In five years, I’d like to have a couple of books out, along with an established author platform that will direct people to those books. It’s not a fancy plan, but it’ll do. I also hope to have been accepted into Hogwarts as their Potionsmaster by then too. I still haven’t decided whether the odds of that happening are greater or less than my chances of me finishing my story.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Young


In more positive news, Tara Tyler's new book, Cradle Rock, has been released and she's having a party to celebrate. So read on and check it out. And don't forget the raffle at the end of the post.



Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Here is the list of wonderful CRADLE ROCK RELEASE PARTY POST HOSTS:

12/5 Patricia Lynne Nerds Rule
12/5 Heather R. Holden Vampires
12/7 Juneta Key author spotlight interview
12/9 Julie Flanders Teenagers Now vs 80s
12/9 Elizabeth Seckman Beast-themed Recipe
12/12 Lori L. MacLaughlin Merfolk
12/14 Sharon Bayliss Ogres
12/14 Tyrean Martinson 5 Reasons to use Chapter Titles
12/16 Michael Di Gesu Craziest Spring Break Trip
12/17 Cathrina Constantine Teen Dating
12/19 Christine Rains Hiking Faux Pas
12/19 Alex J. Cavanaugh Beast vs Monster - terminology
12/21 Ann Noser CR Quotes
12/21 Heather M. Gardner Discrimination - joking vs hurting
1/4 Ken Rahmoeller Dragons
1/4 L. Diane Wolfe Marketing Tips - Live & Online
1/9 C Lee McKenzie Grownup Stereotypes
1/11 M. J. Fifield Crazy Road Trip
1/25 Crystal Collier Poetry & Songs in Stories - Writerly Wed

Tara is also giving away signed copies of Broken Branch Falls and Cradle Rock, some Beast World swag, and a $20 GC! So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway