Friday, August 31, 2012

This Week In Favs….And the Winner of The Emotion Thesaurus PDF Giveaway!

 The winner of The Emotion Thesaurus PDF giveaway is *drumroll*……… *more drumroll*……..


Congratulations, Susan! *throws confetti*

Angela will send over your winnings soon! :)

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now, onto this week’s weekly round-up of writerly blogs!

Playing on the Zune: All In by Lifehouse

**As promised, because I’ve missed the last two weeks of round-ups, we have an extra, extra, extra helping of writing blogs on the round-up this week!!!


Social Media and Author Websites

 20 Economical Book Marketing Techniques on Self-Publishing Review

13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog by Rachelle Gardner

Thoughtful Blog Reading: Habits and Perks by August McLaughlin

Should You Preschedule Tweets? by Meghan Ward on Writerland

8 Tips for Promoting Your Book Online by Rachelle Gardner

‘Social’ Media: Author Ignorance by Porter Anderson on Writer Unboxed

Top Five Creepy Social Media Marketing Tactics by Kristen Lamb

 On the Craft  
Great Characters – The Beating Heart of Great Fiction by Kristen Lamb on Warrior Writers

Spotlight on Subtext: When Characters Are Liars, guest post by Angela Ackerman on Jami Gold’s blog

Michael Hauge’s Workshop: Are These Characters the Perfect Match? by Jami Gold

Michael Hauge’s Workshop: Combining Emotional Journeys and External Plots by Jami Gold

The Inner Struggle: Guides for Using Inner Conflict that Make Sense by Janice Hardy

How to Outline a Story by Lynda R. Young on W.I.P. It: An Author’s Journey

5 Reasons Why Your Opening Scene is Like a Blind Date by Marissa on Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing

25 Things You Should Know About Metaphor by Chuck Wendig

Writing Lessons Learned from WHERE IT BEGAN by Julie Musil

Character Arcs? by C.S. Lakin on Live Write Thrive

8 Ways to Write Without Every Touching the Keyboard by Marissa on Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing

Folks Talk About a Writer’s Toolbox, but Do You Actually Have One? by Angela Quarles

Too Many “Cooks” In Our Fiction: The Biggest Lesson I Learned from Book One by August McLaughlin

The Uncomfortable Pantser: When Your Method Doesn’t Fit Your Personality by Roni Loren

Obstacles in Stories: 3 Ways to Turn Hills into Mountains by Jody Hedlund

Beware of This Sly Writer’s Enemy by Jody Hedlund

What is Keeping Your Heroine and Hero Apart? Is it Enough? by Scott Eagan

Finding Your Novel’s Theme and Your Universal Theme by Roni Loren

2 + 5 = 5 – Adding Up by Lynn Price on the Behler Blog

Make Your Reader Uncomfortable by C. Hope Clark

How Does Your Villain Grow? by Lynette Labelle

12 Lessons Learned from 12 Years of Writing by Demian Farnworth on Copyblogger

How to Create Conflict in a One Character Scene by Lynette Labelle

Ask a Writer: “How Do I Write What the Audience Wants to Read?” by Chuck Wendig

5 Basics About Dialogue You Need to Know by Marcy Kennedy

You’re Reading It Wrong: How to Not Treat Your Readers by Daniel Swensen

The Power of THEME, guest post by Dr. John Yeoman on The Bookshelf Muse

 Writerly Inspiration

I Believe I Am Really a Writer by James Scott Bell

This Product Prevents Literary Wedgies. Good for Multiple Users by Jan O’Hara on Writer Unboxed

The Care and Feeding of Writers by Lynda R. Young on W.I.P. It: An Author’s Journey

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Find Great Ideas for Your Writing by Ali on Aliventures

The Writer’s Golden Hour: Making the Most of Our Time by August McLaughlin

Start Doing What You Love Right Now! by Jody Hedlund

Michael Hauge’s Workshop: You’re the Hero of Your Life by Jami Gold

 On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

The Publishing Process in GIF Form by Nathan Brandford

Bookstores vs. Backlist: A New Decision by Jami Gold

Book Signings Beyond the Bookstore by Joan Rhine on Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People

What it Feels Like When Your Writing is Rejected – and How to Bounce Back by Ali on Aliventures

Tips to Indie Success by Tonya Kappes

Staying Balanced in the Confusing Modern Industry by Jody Hedlund

Common Reasons for Rejection by Scott Eagan

How to Use Brainstorming to Edit by Ava Jae on Writability

5 Key Qualities of the High-Value Writer by Jenny Hansen

 Indie Author Advises to “Just Do It”, guest post by Dan Holloway on Live Write Thrive

If You Can’t Say It Succinctly Then Don’t Say It At All by Lydia Sharp

When to Stop Fine Tuning by Lisa Gail Green

 Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

Photo by Lynn Kelley via WANA Commons

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Emotion Thesaurus: Got Fear? – Guest Post by Angela Ackerman

Ever wondered if your characters are showing their fear the right way? Well, you’re in luck! ‘Cause today I’m incredibly excited to present to you The Emotion Thesaurus entry of FEAR, brought to us from the wonderful and amazing Angela Ackerman!

There just aren’t enough words to describe Angela! Hmm…. let’s see… she’s one-half of the The Bookshelf Muse (which is another must-follow blog for me), she’s incredibly kind, awesome, so much fun to chat and work with, funny, full of all sorts of writerly information… OH! And she’ll do anything for bacon! *grin* And that doesn’t even begin to cover it! (Psst! She’s even brought a goodie for a giveaway with her today! Did I mention she’s awesome?)

So without further ado, please welcome Angela!


Hi everyone! The fantabulous Melinda kindly invited me to her blog and I am ever so happy to hang out here today. I brought with me the entry on FEAR from The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression, because I know how hard it can be to show our character’s intense experiences without always reusing common fear indicators of shivering, shuddering, racing heartbeat, rasping breath and sweating. There’s nothing wrong with using these of course, as long as we apply them in moderation. So, to get your head into brainstorming gear, we’ve created seventy-five emotion entries just like this one below. Enjoy!
DEFINITION: to be afraid of; to expect threat or danger

Face turning ashen, white, pallid
Hair lifting on the nape and arms
Body odor, cold sweats
Clammy hands
Trembling lips and chin
Tendons standing out in the neck, a visible pulse
Elbows pressing into the sides, making one’s body as small as possible
Freezing, feeling rooted to the spot
Rapid blinking
Tight shoulders
Staring but not seeing, eyes shut or crying
Hands jammed into armpits or self-hugging
Breath bursting in and out
Leg muscles tightening, the body ready to run
Looking all around, especially behind
A shrill voice
Lowering the voice to a whisper
Keeping one’s back to a wall or corner
Shaking uncontrollably
Gripping something, knuckles going white
Stiff walking, the knees locking
Beads of sweat on the lip or forehead
Grabbing onto someone
Eyes appearing damp and overly bright
Stuttering and mispronouncing words, tremors in the voice
Jerky movements, squirming
Licking the lips, gulping down water
Sprinting or running
Sweeping a hand across the forehead to get rid of sweat
Gasping and expelling one’s breath as if pained
Uncontrollable whimpering
Pleading, talking to oneself
Flinching at noises

An inability to speak
Shakiness in the limbs
Holding back a scream or cry
Heartbeat racing, nearly exploding
Dizziness, weakness in the legs and knees
A loosening of the bladder
Chest pain
Holding one’s breath, gulping down breaths to stay quiet
A stomach that feels rock hard
Hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound
Adrenaline spikes

Wanting to flee or hide
The sensation of things moving too quickly to process
Images of what-could-be flashing through the mind
Flawed reasoning
Jumping to a course of action without thinking things through
A skewed sense of time

Uncontrollable trembling, fainting
Heart giving out
Panic attacks, phobias
Substance abuse
Withdrawing from others
Tics (a repetitive grimace, a head twitch, talking to oneself)
Resistance to pain from rushing adrenaline

Keeping silent
Denying fear through diversion or topic change
Turning away from the cause of the fear
Attempting to keep one’s voice light
A watery smile that’s forced into place
Masking fear with a reactive emotion (anger or frustration)
False bravado
Over-indulgence in a habit (nail biting, lip biting, scratching the skin raw)
A frozen or shaking smile
A joking tone, but the voice cracks
WRITER’S TIP: Prime readers for an emotional experience by describing the mood of a scene as your character enters it. If your character is antsy, the reader will be too.
As you can see, there are many ways to show a character’s fear, and this list is only a starting point! Think about your character, and what types of expressions will be unique to him or her. This will bring you one step closer to creating fresh body language and really pull the reader into your character’s emotional experience.
PSST! If you would like to see which seventy-five emotions the book covers and find out more about The Emotion Thesaurus, there’s a generous sample on Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Also, we have a free PDF on our blog called Emotion Amplifiers, which offers lists like the one above for fifteen conditions like Attraction, Stress, Hunger, Pain, Exhaustion, etc. These amplifiers can alter a character’s mental and physical state, ensuring bigger emotional reactions. You can find the download button right in the sidebar.

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Angela Ackerman is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression.  Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with seventy-five different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion.

Melinda here! Okay, so now we all know that when we write to convey the fear in our characters we’re supposed to include smiles, squees, and booty dancin’, right? *snort* Just kidding!!!
My favorite thing about this particular entry – and ALL the entries in The Emotion Thesaurus, actually – is how Angela and Becca captured the smaller nuances a character shows when experiencing an emotion. With fear, it’s the rapid eye blinking and/or eyes appearing damp and overly bright, and dizziness and hyper-sensitivity. They’ve got these emotions down, and those signs I just named may be small, but they are POWERFUL when they’re on the page in a high-tension scene!
And in order to help you bring that power to the page, Angela brought with her a PDF version of The Emotion Thesaurus as a giveaway today! How awesome is that?!?
To enter, all you need to do is complete a little information in the Rafflecopter section below. The giveaway will end tomorrow night at midnight. Be sure you not only get your first entry by leaving a comment, but your additional entries by following The Bookshelf Muse blog, following Angela and/or me on Twitter, adding The Emotion Thesaurus to one of your shelves on Goodreads, and liking The Emotion Thesaurus’s Facebook page.
The winner will be announced on Friday’s This Week in Favs… writing links round-up post!
Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 24, 2012

Update: Week #2 Without a 'Week in Favs'....

Happy Friday, everyone!

Okay, so I know I said we'd definitely have a Week in Favs... post this week, however, I underestimated how I would feel after having gobs of dental work done on Thursday (they put me under, and I'm still recuperating).

Next week we'll have a round-up post with TONS of links - PROMISE! :)

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Media Sign-Up: Okay, Now What?–Guest post by Tina Moss

Woo hoo! I’m back from an Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson, and my brain is is so stuffed with all kinds of writerly goodness, I just don’t know what I want to start on! *smile*

So while I’m playing catch up from being away, I’m very excited to have one of the first people I met when I began blogging: Tina Moss! Tina is and has always been incredibly helpful, and one of the first people I know I can go to when I’m struggling with a scene or a plot issue. I love, love, love her and I’m so happy that she agreed to come over today and talk to us a little about social media and what happens after you hit that ‘create account' button.


You signed up for Twitter and Facebook. You tweaked your blog or website design until it is more colorful than a rainbow. You setup your author page on Goodreads. You even dabbled with Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Triberr, etc. Your accounts are linked, activated and ready, but one question what?


Each social media site offers a slightly different cup of tea.
  • Twitter allows for instant communication with people over a variety of topics.
  • Facebook lets us sort our friends, view their updates, and post all kinds of information.
  • Goodreads lets us interact with a community of readers, both in discussion groups and through reviews.
However, the common thread amongst all of these social media platforms is...interaction.
To help you navigate the murky waters of the social media oceans, here is a list of seven important points to remember for writers interacting on social media venues.
1. Don’t be a self-promo spam bot. If all of your updates, blog posts, tweets, etc, encompass a link to your newest book or a post about your work-in-progress, you’re missing the point. Limit those types of messages. You can certainly put it out there, but if that’s all you put out there, no one will be listening.
2. Don’t beg. Sticking your tongue out and panting only works for dogs. It will not win you bonus points. Likewise begging people to like your page, follow you, or buy your book will not help your cause. As in #1, you can have this some of the time, but if the majority of your feed is begging, you need to change it up.

3. Keep your clothes on. Remember that the internet is a BIG place with lots of prying eyes. Would you take your clothes off in the middle of a public place? No (and I hope the answer is no)? Good, then don’t do it on the web either. Be careful what you share. Privacy is important.
4. Trolls and bullies belong under bridges. Don’t engage in flame wars. You are a writer - either already published or pursuing a career. Maintain a professional demeanor. Don’t yell at reviewers. Don’t respond to negative comments. Be the bigger person. You don’t have to be a pushover, but be respectful. When you can’t engage on a civil level, stay out of it.

5. Give more than you receive. Ever hear the expression, “Do unto other as you’d have them do unto you”? This applies largely in social media. If you want someone to feature you on their blog, blurb your book, like your page, retweet your post, then you’d best be doing these things for others. If you don’t want to help others, don’t expect their help.
6. Form true relationships. Don’t be a follower, be a friend. You cannot do this for everyone as your followers grow, but make the effort to talk to people. If someone messages or tweets you directly, respond to them. Get to know people and allow people to get to know you.
7. Be yourself as long as you’re not a jerk. You can be a ballsy, out-of-the-box, zany writer, but don’t be the person to hate. Chuck Wendig is a great example. He tells it like it is with direct and humorous language. Not everyone will like his style, but he’s honest without being cruel. No one likes the bully, and most people can tell when you’re phony. So get out there, interact and be your best self.
What do you think are the key points for writers engaging in social media? How do you interact on the web?
Tina Moss is a writer of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical romance. She lives in NYC with a supportive husband and alpha corgi, though both males hog the bed and refuse to share the covers. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching cheesy horror flicks, traveling, and karate. As a 5'1" Shotokan black belt, she firmly believes that fierce things come in small packages.
Melinda here! Tina hit every single, important point about social media here. The one point I’d like to reiterate is #5: Give more than you receive. That is my #1 personal rule, and I always strive to give more and be more, and I truly expect nothing back in return. As long as I know I have been there, and am there for my fellow writers, that’s all that matters. When my name is mentioned, I want the following to be said right behind it: “She’s so incredibly sweet, kind and helpful.” That’s something I think we all should strive for in this day and age.
Thank you again to Tina for joining us today! Please leave a comment and take advantage of this chance to ask her anything social media or writing related! She’s a well of incredible information, and like I said, she’s always willing to share!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Update: No This Week in Favs Today…

Happy Friday, everyone!! Greetings from Colorado! :)  So sorry I’m so incredibly late in posting this! Talk about being a bit travel and altitude exhausted!

Given that I am in sunny, beautiful Colorado until next week, there isn’t a This Week in Favs post today. But don’t worry, I’ll be back in time next week to load you up full of writing links next Friday – enough to make up for missing this week! ;)

Have a fabulous weekend!

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mixing Genres? In-Depth Worldbuilding? How to Manage Reader Expectations–Guest Post by Jami Gold

Squee! So, while I'm traveling from to Colorado today to begin an Immersion Class with Margie Lawson, I am totally excited - once again - for another awesome guest post about world-building! And this one comes to us with some insight into mixing genres and reader expectations! This is something I know everyone can relate to and has possibly struggled with at one point or another in their writing career.

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce our guest blogger today, Jami Gold! Jami is one of the very first bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting when I first ventured into to blogosphere/Twitterverse. There are many, many, many amazing things that I can say about Jami, but I shall limit myself to only this: If you are not following her blog – in which a new post is up every Tuesday and Thursday – you should be. I couldn’t tell you how many story-saving, save-the-character, thought-provoking, inspiring, fun posts I’ve had the pleasure of reading and learning from by this amazing author. Her blog is a must-read in my world (as in I pull up her site at 8am every Tuesday and Thursday morning at work. Religiously. Seriously.)! Jami was also recently given the honor as a Writing Hero by The Bookshelf Muse blog (another must-read blog, by the way), and it was well deserved!

I do hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!


Mixing Genres? In-Depth Worldbuilding? How to Manage Reader Expectations
Thanks for having me here, Melinda! Today I want to talk about worldbuilding, genre, and expectations.
When we read a vampire book, we have certain expectations about the rules of the world. At the very least, we expect there'll be blood involved.
The same goes with werewolf stories (where we expect shape shifting), dragon stories (where we expect flames), and mermaid stories (where we expect tail fins). We also see this in other genres, such as romantic suspense, where we expect a bad guy to chase the characters, or thrillers, where we expect the good guy to save the world from the bad guy.
Some readers have very particular expectations about certain genres or story worlds. If we read a book without the expected elements, we might be disappointed and possibly give the story a bad review.
So how do writers balance coming up with unique stories and yet fulfill reader expectations? And how can writers come up with new worlds or mix genres and still give readers the best understanding of what they’ll find in the story so they're not dissatisfied?
1: Start with the Right Labels

We can partly head off issues by making sure we’re using the right labels in the description of our story. When we’re dealing with the publishing industry—sending queries to agents or editors—we have to use their labels because they want to know what shelf the story would sit on in a bookstore. These descriptions are very broad: romance, science fiction/fantasy, mystery, fiction, nonfiction.
However, when we’re writing a description blurb for our story (whether for the body of our query/pitch, synopsis, or a back-of-the-book description), we can use whatever labels we want. Our goal should be to give readers a sense of the type of story it is—and possibly, what type of story it’s not.
We want to attract readers who want to read that kind of story. And the first place we can head off disappointment is before the reader ever opens the book, by using the right labels in the description.

2: Use Worldbuilding to Direct Reader Expectations

The other main technique we can use to manage reader expectations is within the story itself. The details we select for our worldbuilding, the aspects we focus on, the “rules” we explain, all help to lead the reader down a path of understanding our unique story world.
Just as Stephenie Meyer convinced her readers that in her world vampires sparkled, we can convince readers that our vampire (werewolf, dragon, mermaid, kidnapper, terrorist, etc.) rules are a bit different from usual as well. The opening line of George Orwell’s 1984 (“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”) told us this world was different from ours. They still had clocks, but they “bonged” thirteen times.
Word choice (one of my opening lines includes the words “hornet’s snuggery”), internalization (thoughts reflecting that the point-of-view character is not human), setting details (starship bridge), etc. can all be used to give readers the heads up that the story world is not the same as the world around them. The story world should be hinted at as soon as possible to anchor the reader. If you’ve seen the movie From Dusk Till Dawn, you know how disconcerting it can be to have the normal world yanked out from under us halfway through the movie.
By using small building blocks of worldbuilding details, we can gradually build up a strong sense of this world for the reader. And even if our story veers left when the reader expected it to veer right, if the new direction makes sense for what the reader knows of this story world, they’ll be more likely to accept it.
A Case Study with a Mixed Genre Story

I’ve been struggling with this issue for my novella. I originally described my story as a dystopian romance with steampunk elements. However, some readers—who love the idea of steampunk—latched onto that aspect and were disappointed by the fact that “steampunk elements” meant the steam engine technology wasn’t the main focus of the story. Also, some readers thought the story premise was too dark for a romance.
Er, yeah, the world the heroine lives in is misogynistic to the extreme with sexual slavery and alluded-to rapes, so those readers have a point. But it has a happily ever after ending. Yay! Um, so how do I get that across?
I’ll probably mess with the description more in the future, but I’m currently thinking of this story as a post-apocalyptic fairytale. Disney has trained us to think of fairytales as colorful and musical, but the original fairytales were often quite dark. I’ve lost count of how many of the Grimm fairytales end with the main characters eaten alive by a wolf and (if they’re lucky) cut out from their stomach. As for the romance aspect, the storyline is quite Cinderella-ish—without the shoes. *smile*
Does that work? I honestly don’t know yet—I didn’t run the idea by anyone before this post. However, I think a description of “post-apocalyptic fairytale” does a better job of capturing the tone of the story. As far as what genre label I’d use in a query, one editor suggested I look at science fiction publishers.
Coming up with the right labels and worldbuilding details isn’t an exact science by any means, but being aware of how our choices influence the expectations of readers can help us experiment until we find the right approach.
Do you write stories that mix genres? Do you struggle with how to describe your stories? Can you think of worldbuilding details you’ve read that helped immerse you into a story world? What hasn’t worked for you? What do you think of “post-apocalyptic fairytale” for a description? What type of story would you expect from that?
After dancing with the Devil in the pale moonlight—and accidentally tripping him—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 making her 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, and Goodreads.
Melinda here! Similar to last week’s post on worldbuilding by Teresa Frohock, I had one of those moments where it was like, “Hmm…. well no wonder I got those types of comments back!” Similar to Jami, I had one of those moments where I ‘marketed’ my story as a paranormal romance. But come to find out, it’s not that at all. It’s actually an urban fantasy with romantic elements. And that makes a world of difference! Because when I told someone paranormal romance at first, they then wanted to compare my book, and my main character, to the Sookie Stackhouse books, and that’s not at all what my story’s like, nor my main character. So I had to go back and tell them, “Well, it’s more like A Discovery of Witches meets Black Dagger Brotherhood meets 1984…but with a dragon and a few other creatures.” So now I know how I should classify the story for agents and the publishing world, and what I need to do to ensure I’m not misguiding and possibly disappointing my readers. ;)

I really do hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to pick Jami’s brain! She’s such a watering hole of writerly information!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

This Week in Favs…..

Playing on the Zune:  Dear Prudence by The Beatles, but the version from the Across the Universe movie

Social Media and Author Websites

Putting the “Social” Back in Social Media by Jody Hedlund

Want Private Inspiration Boards? Alternatives to Pinterest by Roni Loren

11 Places to Get a Free and Legal Photo for Your Blog by Caitlin Muir on Author Media

How to Legally Use Your Own Photos on Your Blog, guest post by Melinda VanLone on Marcy Kennedy’s blog

Writers, Why It’s Time to Renew Your Love Affair with Pinterest by Kristen Lamb on Warrior Writers

On the Craft

7 Ways to Use Brain Science to Hook Readers and Reel Them In by Lisa Cron on Write to Done

Five Ways to Boost Creativity by Manon Eileen

Warming Up Before Writing, guest post by Paul Carroll on Brooke Johnson’s blog

Michael Hauge’s Worksop: An Antidote to “Love at First Sight” by Jami Gold

Three Signs Your Process Might Not be Working by Michael Haynes on Write Every Day

Hidden Emotion: Telling What Characters Don’t Want to Show, guest post by Angela Ackerman on Strands of a Pattern

Novelists: 10 Great Reasons to Write Non-Fiction (Too) by August McLaughlin

5 Ways to Make Your Characters More Thee-Dimensional on Writer’s Relief

21 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Melissa Donovan on Writing Forward

Writerly Inspiration

Unlocking Your Great Future – 5 Keys to Writing Success by Kristen Lamb on Warrior Writers

The Dark Knight Rises: Is Your Safety Net Hurting You? by Marcy Kennedy

Start Doing What You Love Right Now by Jody Hedlund

25 Ways to Survive as a Creative Person by Chuck Wendig

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone? by C.S. Lakin on Live Write Thrive

The New Publishing Paradigm, Part Two: What Value Do Publishers Add? by Jami Gold

The Rejection Reaction by Keith Cronin on Writer Unboxed

The Value of a Word Census by Michelle Ule on the Books & Such Literary Agency blog

Why the Reclusive Writer Needs People Skills by C. Hope Clark

Synopsis Writing 101 and Query Letters 101 by Scott Eagan

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

This beautiful picture is by Lisa Hall-Wilson via WANA Commons

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Your Character is Your Story’s World: Characters Build The World–Guest post by Teresa Frohock

I am so very excited to have Teresa Frohock on the blog today! Not only is she an amazing author and incredibly kind person, we have actually met in person…and she lives less than hour away from me. Just to give you a quick breakdown of our meeting, Teresa stopped by my great-grandmother’s wake back in March to support my great aunt (who she worked with in the library of a local community college). My mother actually told Teresa that I was a writer as well, and thus the writerly conversation began! I asked if she was self-pubbed or traditional, and needless to say, my mother gave me a confused look. It got even funnier when I told Teresa that at the time, I was on my eight-or-so round of edits. Teresa gave me one of those understanding nods – which I totally fell in love with her for – while my mother, God love her, gave up and greeted the next person in the receiving line. *giggle*
But what Teresa said during our first mini conversation night is what intrigued me. When I asked about her book, she said they were waiting on book #2 due to the religious themes in Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Naturally, I wanted to check that one out. Anything that pushes the boundaries of religion is something I’m totally up for because having an open mind is what it’s all about, right? 
AND IT WAS AMAZING. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is dark fantasy at its best! And because of her fearlessness with religion/belief systems AND her incredible Woerld building, I asked her to stop by today and give a quick lesson on both of these topics!
Your Character is Your Story’s World: Characters Build The World
I would like to thank Melinda for having me here today. It’s always such fun to find new blogs and meet new people, especially with someone like Melinda.
Melinda asked me to talk a little about world building and how to use belief systems in your work. World building should move on two levels: the big picture (the culture itself, the history of that particular society, customs, etc.) and the smaller, more intimate picture of how the characters fit into this giant scheme of reality. Rather than replicate the big picture advice that is already out there, I thought I might discuss the smaller picture of character building within the world, primarily because world building and character building are inexorably intertwined.
Your protagonist, for all practical purposes, is your story’s world. Everything revolves around that one individual, and that individual’s actions are usually governed by their environment. When I get ideas for stories, my inspiration begins with a character. Sometimes I have a face and a name, sometimes just a face, but I always begin with the individual, and I construct a character biography.
The character biography is really where I begin world building. I consider the type of relationship that my character had with his/her parents. Then I consider whether that type of relationship is normal for the culture. From there I launch into questions about how the specific character fits within this particular world. For example a few such questions would look like this:
  • Is the protagonist loved, scorned, witty, dull, royal, or poor? Is there a middle class and if so, how did it come into place? Does this individual accept the circumstances of his/her birth within the society’s constructs?
  • What kind of music do people listen to? Does my character like this kind of music?
  • Can everyone read? If so, what kind of books does my character enjoy? What types of literature or art is important to this person?
  • What was the darkest, most horrible thing that ever happened to that individual and by contrast, what was the most wonderful thing that ever happened?
  • What about the character’s moral compass? How do these morals fit in with society as whole?
Lucian was immersed in religion as a child, so having faith and discussions of God were as normal to him as breathing. Rachael and Lindsay were from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries respectively. Neither of them lived in a society immersed in religion, so they approach the concept of God from an entirely different angle. How each of them interprets the events on Woerld will be slightly dissimilar given their respective backgrounds.
As you can see, by answering some of these questions, you bring the more intimate aspects of your world right to your character’s doorstep. I do this for each of my characters. Once I’ve achieved the foundation, then I start fleshing out the big picture by answering questions about the world and society as a whole.
When I constructed Woerld, I relied heavily on the questions posed in Patricia C. Wrede’s excellent series of posts on world building at the SFWA blog (The World; Physical and Historical Features; Magic and Magicians; Peoples and Customs; and Social Organization). The questions in these posts focused me on the big picture that grew from my small foundation. I kept up with everything and maintained a series sheet with dates and character biographies, which of course, leads me back to the characters.
Never lose sight of the fact that the story is about a personal journey of some kind. Let your world enhance your characters and their actions, but don’t let your world building overwhelm the story.
Then be fearless. I think that is the hardest part. If you decide to use an existing religion, take the time to understand the core concepts of that religion. You can’t possibly comprehend what rules to break until you appreciate why those doctrines exist in the first place. Become familiar not just with rituals, but why those rituals exist, and what they mean to the adherents of a particular faith.
And finally, don’t forget to give yourself flexibility too. Stories change, they flow and sometimes take unexpected routes, don’t be afraid to modify details as you go along. Nothing is ever written in stone until you reach these magic words: THE END.
Raised in a small town in North Carolina, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. Teresa is the author of the dark fantasy, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. She has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
You can find out how to contact Teresa on her website.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale 

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen's hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven's frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn't so easy to escape.

In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen's hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven's Gates.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.


Melinda here!

Okay, so I have to say that when I first read this post, I had one of the biggest ‘A-Ha!’ moments ever! As in, “No wonder that particular character wasn’t working in this story!” I was trying to make this new character – one that popped into my head a few months ago – into this world that I had built up in my head. What I really should’ve done is scrap the world I thought she would’ve lived in and created my world by beginning with the questions Teresa’s listed above. Maybe then I wouldn’t have this knot on my head from pounding it against the wall. ;0)

So how do you approach world building? Do you begin with character or world building? Do you let the world enhance your characters? Does your world building possibly overshadow the characters themselves? Are you flexible? Do you listen to what the story calls for?

Please feel free to ask Teresa any question you’d like! She’ll be available starting on Monday. She’s always uber kind and helpful and more than willing to answer any craft question you throw at her. *smile*

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This Week in Favs….

Playing on the Zune: Waking the Demon by Bullet for My Valentine

Social Media and Author Websites

Are You’re a Blogging Warrior or Wimp? by Stanford on Pushing Social

Social Media: An Introvert’s Secret Weapon by Jami Gold

Do the Wrong Thing: The Benefits of Writing Unconventional Headlines, guest post by Ollin Morales on Write to Done

WANA Commons – Beautiful Blog Images Without the Worry by Kristen Lamb

On the Craft

The Fuel that Drives Extraordinary Content on Write to Done

Creativity Under Pressure: How to Write Your Way Through Storms by August McLaughlin

High Concept Plots – What Are They and Why Do I Care? by Sally Apokedak on Novel Rocket

How Long Should It Be? by Arthur Plotnik on

In the Beginning: Which Type of Opening Works Best? by Janice Hardy

Why Counting Words May be Hazardous to Your Health by C.S. Lakin on Live Write Thrive

Finding Strong Metaphors by Linda Gray on Write of Passage

5 Reasons to Write Your Scenes in Order (and 3 Not to) by K.M. Weiland on Wordplay

Writing Lessons Learned from 50 SHADES OF GREY by Julie Musil

Fridays with Agent Kristin: Episode 8 – Three Reasons Why Prologues Don’t Work, a vlog by Kristen Nelson on Pub Rants

Forget He Said, She Said – Three Easy Tricks for Better Dialogue, guest post by Tiffany Reisz on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

The Good Seed IV by Donald Maas on Writer Unboxed

Writerly Inspiration

Where to Find Inspiration: 50 Quotes for Writers on Write to Done

Perseverance – Writing Lessons from the Olympics by Julie Eshbaugh on Pub(lishing) Crawl

Four Ways to Untangle Your Writing Life by Karen Jordan on the Wordserve Water Cooler blog

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

3 Reasons to Keep Business Secrets by Janet Kobobel Grant on the Books & Such Literary Agency Blog

5 Tips for Making a Living as a Writer by Shawn Smucker on Rachelle Gardner’s blog

How to Choose an Excerpt to Showcase Your Novel by Roz Morris on Nail Your Novel

After the First Draft: Part 2 by Mooderino on Moody Writing

The Top Ten Query Mistakes by Rachelle Gardner

Remembering Gore Vidal: 10 Quotes on Writing by Zachary Petit on Writer’s Digest

Self-Editing for Self-Published Fiction by Randy Ingermanson on Advanced Fiction Writing

Critique Partners vs. Beta Readers by Tina Moss

The New Publishing Paradigm, Part One: It’s Not About eBook vs. Print by Jami Gold

Publishing Perils – Making the Choice, Part 5 by Susan Spann on Writers in the Storm blog

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

This unique photo is by: CC MacKenzie via WANA Commons

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Having a Unique, Strong Voice is Important & How to Find Yours

My beautiful signed copy of Shadow of Night 
I waited 16 months for the release of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I clung to the weekly updates she gave her fans every Friday, I read the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, four times, and I often listened to a playlist I compiled based on the music that inspired the author – ‘cause in turn, it inspired me in my own work. So it’s no surprise that when Shadow of Night came out earlier this month, I read it in 2 days (which meant I got no sleep and was practically a zombie *cough* useless at the day job that week).
But A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night are more than just fantastic stories about a witch named Diana and a vampire named Matthew. These two books hold valuable writing lessons that all writers can benefit from learning, as long as we’re open and ready to absorb and learn them. I’ll preface this by saying that after I read the first book in March 2011, I went out and bought the hardcopy (I had the ebook), highlighted my favorite passages/scenes, and made notes in the margins. And now that I’ve finished the second book, I plan on buying another hardcopy (the original hardcopy is signed by the author, so I don’t want to mark that one up) so I can do the same with it.
This isn’t something I normally make a habit of doing, but I find myself learning more from these particular stories than so many others because they have:
  • Amazing worldbuilding
  • Rich details
  • Writing rule-breaking from time to time, and it works!
  • Great plots (the plot in the first book is subtle, whereas the plot in the second is obvious and you’re reminded in almost every chapter)
  • A heartfelt, touching theme throughout the trilogy
  • Backstories that leave you wanting more
  • Great inner conflict with the main characters
  • And a strong and unique voice
Today I wanted to address the final bullet point: strong and unique voice.
Often we think finding and putting the voice of our characters out there is easy. But then we get back comments from Beta Readers and find out, “Ruh roh, voice ain’t strong enough. Darn!” ß Yes, I take bad news and say it in my best Scooby-Doo voice. It makes it easier to swallow. ;-)
So why is it that one element so gosh-darn important anyway?
Having that strong and unique voice:
  • Draws your target audience in with a voice they can relate to. Not just a character, but the voice of the main character(s). There’s nothing better than picking up a book and being able to relate to it because the main character is conveying her thoughts and feelings in a way that makes me feel as though I’ve simply been having a long conversation with someone sitting right beside me. So the next thing I know, I’ve devoured that book within two or three days and I love it.
  • Sets your story apart from every other book on the shelf. Only you can write in that voice for your characters. Only you can tell their story the way it should be told: in their voice! And because you’re the only person who can do that, this means you have something truly unique and different from everything else on the shelves today.
  • Keeps your readership coming back for more! Without it, you might as well kiss some of your readers goodbye. Nothing’s worse than reading a book and feeling as though every word is coming out like the teacher from Charlie Brown: “Wom, wom, wom, wom, wom.” And you feel like that because there’s nothing there to relate to, nothing there to feel as though these characters and that setting are right there in front of you.
So how is it that a writer can get – or find – that strong and unique voice?
Pshaw! That’s easy! *wink* Give these tricks a try:
  • Sit down and have a one on one conversation with your characters. Ask ‘em some fun stuff to get a feel for how they communicate in an everyday setting. Go on for about 5 or so questions, then suddenly get into those deep, not-so-easy-to-answer questions. This should give you a good feel for how they think and how they would convey the story you are putting on the page for them. It also helps with writing dialogue tags because now you have a sense for exactly how a character would say, “Dag-nab-it, Judy! I told you not grab that thing’s arse!”
  • While revising, read internalizations and dialogue aloud. Don’t include the descriptions or dialogue tags, read only the internalization and what’s between the quotation marks. Read these aloud separately. You’ll discover those areas where the words seemed forced and don’t have that flow. Like your character isn’t relatable, or maybe they sound more like a robot who speaks perfect English. Mark those areas then come back to them when you’re ready to rewrite them.
    • One way to easily mark these for easy read-through is using Margie Lawson’s EDITS system: highlight the internalizations yellow, and highlight the dialogue – just the words between the quotation marks – blue. In class, Margie suggests reading only the dialogue aloud, but I prefer to also read the inner thoughts of the character too because they’re just as important as the dialogue, and they’ve got to sound natural and free flowing as well.
  • While writing the first draft, or rewriting the second or third draft, write with this singular thought in mind: You are simply the vessel to their story. For me, sitting down at the computer with this thought in mind keeps my voice from getting in the way, ‘cause when the voice of the author and their characters begin fighting for dominance, that’s when you’ll either end up with a weak voice, a normal, not-so-great voice, or you just might lose the voice altogether. So write with the thought in mind that what you think, you believe and how you’d react don’t matter. Hang those thoughts and beliefs in the closet when you sit down to write, and open yourself up. Let those characters write through you in the truest voice you can possibly convey: theirs.
For more information on voice, here are a few of my favorite/bookmarked posts on the subject:
Can You Hear Me Now? Developing Your Voice by Janice Hardy
Do Your Stories Match Your Voice? by Jami Gold
How about you? Do you pull lessons from some of your favorite novels? Are there a few that you can learn voice from? How else is having a strong and unique voice important? Do you have any other tips or tricks for getting that voice strong and unique enough?
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