Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Blogging Break!

I’ll be taking a blogging break for the holidays, but I’ll be back on January 2nd to start the New Year off right with a new Song of the Week!

Merry Christmas to you and yours and here’s to a prosperous New Year! *raises glass*

Happy Reading & Writing!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Week in Favs…..

Playing on the MP3:  First Class from the X-Men: First Class Original Soundtrack <— If you’re looking for an awesome writing soundtrack, here you go!

This week we have a bit of an extra dose of ‘Favs’ – the writing blogosphere has been absolutely incredible over these last two weeks, so I could not resist sharing as many favorite posts as possible!  Here they are in no particular order (along with additional links at the bottom):

15)  “Laying Clues and Adding Twists to Our Story”, guest post by Elizabeth S. Craig on Paranormal Point of ViewWeaving clues has to be one of the hardest tasks that I’ve come across when it comes to my own personal writing experience, and that may mostly be because nobody seems to do it better than mystery writers and, of course, JK Rowling.  Elizabeth has really laid out some of the best tips I’ve read in regards to leaving clues for the reader: distraction.  She’s even laid out a bit of a ‘how to’ for her fellow writers so we can learn how to incorporate this technique ourselves.  This particular article is one for the ‘writing tips’ book!

14)  “Are You Playing to Your Strengths” by Jenny Hansen on Writers in the Storm blog.  I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to read yet another post on playing to your strengths and understanding that not everything you write is going to be publishing gold.  Jenny has written a well-post on those topics here and I really enjoyed how she used a corporate-world example in the beginning before moving toward how that relates to our writing – which is one of the best ways to convey a message such as this to everyone. 

13)  “7 Keys to Writing Without Stress” by Jurgen Wolff on Time to WriteI’m sorry, but anytime you tell me how I can write without stress, I’m 100% IN!  The crazy thing is that most of these tips are things that we already know, we just fail to realize it when we’re in the middle of writing a difficult scene, or editing and/or re-writing part of a MS.  One of my favorite tips that Jurgen has listed here is, “Take a to-minute break before you start your writing session.”  <—Never thought of that before, but I’ve tested it out and you know what?  It actually seemed to help a bit – the words flowed a little better. 

12)  “The Twelve Most Dangerous Words for Writers” by Kim Wright on Writer UnboxedThis is such a great article!  This one actually pertains to what we should be doing – besides writing – in regards to a publishing contract, contacts, and marketing.  So in regards to those twelve little words – no, there are other things we should also be concentrating on in this day in age.  Great read and I always enjoy hearing from other writers who have been there, done that, and are willing to share their experiences for the rest of us to learn from. 

11)  “25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection” by Chuck Wendig on Terrible MindsThis is why I love reading Chuck’s blog:  his lists are in your face and he tells is like it is.  Sure he’s a bit crass, but still, sometimes that’s how you need to hear it!  Well, at least for me, that is.  *wink*  Once again we’ve come across another great posting on how we should be handling rejection, ‘cause let’s face it, we’ve all been rejected and we’re still going to face a bit of rejection even after we’re published.  Great post, Chuck!

10)  “I Prefer My Rubber to Meet the Road” by Jan O’Hara on Writer UnboxedJust like Ms. Hansen in her post above, here is a real-life example and how it rings true to our writing.  In this case, her real-life example was one of surviving after an horrible accident and realizing what lessons that story has for our writing such as listening to you gut, staying healthy, and reveling in the simplest of joys as you’re writing. 

9)  “How Rebecca Skloot Built The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by David Dobbs on The Open NotebookHow here’s an article to sink your teeth into:  Rebecca’s interview travels into story structure – how other books have modeled structure for her and how she handled the task of structuring her book.  This is thoroughly enjoyable and personally, I have taken a lot away from reading through her interview very carefully. 

8)  “10 Things I Learned About the Publishing Biz the Year My First Novel was Published” by Kameron Burley on The Night BazaarWhat a great post!  Once again the writing community never ceases to amaze with how open and honest everyone is – from those just starting out in their writing journey, to those that have been published.  The best takeaways from this particular post would be that writing conventions are totally worth it, realizing that your family is a lot more supportive than you may otherwise think, and knowing when to fold.  Great read here!

7)  “How to Survive WAITING” by Natalie Lakosil on Adventures in AgentlandHere are some great tips on how to keep your wits about you while stuck in the limbo otherwise known as waiting.  I don’t know about you, but I really do hate waiting.  I’m one of the most impatient people on the planet, and my husband wouldn’t tell you any differently.  With these great tips, I believe we can all learn and find a way to fill that time, such as starting a new project and being proactive. 

6)  “Killer Log Lines” by Stina Lindenblatt on QueryTracker.netYes!  I love when queries, synopsis's, and log lines are broken down and sort of ‘made easy’ for us writers.  It’s not that we haven’t already attempted to write these on our own, but sometimes you can get stuck in trying to figure out exactly what is needed, what’s not really needed, and how to link it all together – especially when you feel as though you’re leaving out some of the best details of your story. 

5)  “10 Writing Truths – Part 1 & Part 2” by Ava Jae on WritabilityIt’s always great informative fun to learn from fellow writers, isn’t it?  Ava’s lists of ‘writing truths’ are 100% right on the money in regards to what it truly means to be a writer – there’s the good, the bad and the ugly, but the love of the craft is what keeps all us going in seeing each story through to the end.  Ava’s definitely written two great enjoyable posts here, and I can almost bet that everyone who has either read it, or is about to read it, will be nodding their heads in agreement with each point.  If you’re not, you will be soon as you learn and grow in your writing journey. 

4)  “The Meaning of Persistence” by Rachelle GardnerOnce again, Rachelle has written an inspiring post for all aspiring published authors out there.  This is, yet again, another article that I feel I cannot do justice for when describing why it is a favorite of mine, so I really really encourage everyone to get over there and read this particular post so you can inspired as well to keep trucking through the hard times.

3)  “Write Fiction?  Why You Should Try a Short Story” by Jami GoldWhat a great list of reasons for us to try our hand at writing a short story!  I’d never actually thought about doing this until recently, and here comes Jami’s post on that very topic.  What perfect timing, Jami!  Jami has pinpointed exactly why every fiction writer should give this a shot: we will understand, learn and strengthen our novel-length writing/planning/plotting in a way that possibly no other avenue could do so.  The best part about this particular post?  The editors from Entangled Publishing will be visiting Jami’s blog early next month to take pitches for short stories! Wee!!  What a great opportunity for everyone to start writing (or polishing) over the holiday break in preparation for a possible request! Get over there to read the details, and good luck!

2)  “Raising the Stakes” by Lynette LabelleI know most of us have heard this before from either our CP’s, Beta Readers, or even an agent in a response to a query:  “The stakes just aren’t high enough.”  Lynette has laid out exactly what stakes are and has explained, in plain writerly english, exactly how you can achieve raising the stakes in your own MS. 

1)  “Creating a Story Bible” by Suzanne Johnson on Roni Loren’s Writing Blog: Fiction GroupieNow here’s a must-read post on creating a bible to the world you’ve built so that they are easily accessible as you write further stories that take place in that world.  This is really great advice for those of us who write paranormal stories!  I’m going to be starting on my story bible next week, so thanks, Suzanne, for sharing your ‘lesson learned’ this week!

Here are some Friday giggles to start your holiday weekend off right – Enjoy!

Additional ‘Fav’ Writing Links from the past two weeks

Happy Reading & Writing!!!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: On 50th Anniversaries and Writing Novels….

My Grandparents on their Wedding Day
I recently undertook a large project, and if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have heard me mention it a few times over the past month or so. My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past Saturday, and in celebration of this amazing fete, I gathered over 500 photos taken throughout the 50 years that they have been happily married (plus some from their childhoods) and created a DVD video. That’s a lot of photos, right?! Any-who, needless to say I had this grand idea in my head of what I wanted the project to be, what I wanted it to look like, how I thought it should come together, and I was also very naïve in thinking how easy this project should be.

And as in all things in life, nothing is ever as simple as it may seem…..

Countless hours were put into scanning photos before I could even begin to sit down, edit the pictures and put them into a nifty program called Magix Photostory. Beginning in September and not finishing – completely – until last Wednesday (and the event was on Saturday) speaks volumes for how hard a project like this can be, especially when we have high aspirations for it.

It wasn’t until I sat back and watched through the entire thirty-five minute PhotoStory video that I realized how similar to writing a novel this entire process was:
  1. Kernel of an Idea: Every story – whether a short story or full-fledged novel – begins with a tiny kernel, a mere idea that you’re eager to expand on, that you have the highest expectations of. Making a PhotoStory DVD is about the same – you get a grand idea in your head, but putting it together is another story entirely.
  2. Expanding the Idea: Once you have the idea/plot of your story written down, it’s time to set out on the journey of bringing it to life, breathing into it the characters, worlds, locations and relationships while you plot (or pants) your way through the twists and turns your story will take. This is where the kernel of an idea begins to grow into something with a backbone that you can expand upon later. Picture DVD’s are much like this – you do the ground work in scanning/selecting your pictures, editing/cropping them, and uploading them into your program of choice.
  3. Editing the Idea: This is where the real work begins. You’ve taken your idea and fleshed it out, created characters and scenes, built your world and plotted when/where every twist and turn is going to happen. But now you have to go back and take another look at your work, examining the words, descriptions, cutting scenes that aren’t needed because they don’t do anything to further the plot, adding more to the scenes that are a bit ‘meh’ and possibly rearranging and rewriting some scenes here and there. The same can be said for creating a PhotoStory DVD: you’ve uploaded your photos and put them in an order that seems to make sense, but then you come across a few photos here and there that, while you really want them to make the ‘cut,’ they’re not really needed and are just adding to the ever-increasing playing-time of your video. So you cut those, and maybe rearrange a few photos here and there, and maybe you also add some picture-in-picture collages (which are really cool animations by the way, and a great way to cut down on a few seconds here and there). At times, you may even find yourself going back and scanning some photos you initially didn’t think you needed. :0)
  4. Adding those Finishing Touches: You’ve run through your MS countless amounts of times, now it’s time to add a few finishing touches. Maybe now it’s time for you add in chapter breaks, maybe a little extra fluff here and there (AKA: descriptions, action dialogue tags, etc) in places that you didn’t notice before, send it out to your CP or Beta Readers, write a query letter so that your newly polished MS is ready for submission requests after you’ve made the changes your CP or Beta Readers have sent to you. With a PhotoStory DVD, once you have the photos in order and the animations and transitions added, this is when you go back and add the music that will accompany your beautiful photos! :0)  This part is so much fun, especially since you can see the end in sight. With this particular project, I searched far and wide for music as far back as the 50’s, and I carefully selected each song, ensuring that the words fit for the section/decade they were representing. This part was actually fairly easy, but you also have to remember that you will continually second guess yourself when make those decisions – which is much like it is in writing when you make those last-minute edits.
  5. Sitting Back and Seeing Your Baby Enjoyed: Though I have no idea what it could possibly feel like, I can only hope that one day we will all be published and we can take a moment to relax and enjoy seeing our hard work as it sits on a shelf in a bookstore (if we’re really lucky, it won’t be there ‘cause it sold out!). Yes, there’s more work to do with marketing and signings and blog tours, but you’re finally able to enjoy the fruits of your labor as you read through what I’m sure will be rave reviews of your work. What I can speak from experience on is how good it felt to see my grandparent’s faces as they sat down and watched the entire video. That in and of itself was the best feeling in the world as they kept asking ‘how did you do that?’ and ‘I love that graphic there!’ They laughed in the places where I was meaning for people to laugh, and they were silenced in the spots where I hoped they would as well. And seeing the large amount of people in the fellowship hall as they came by to celebrate with all of us on Saturday, and watching them watch ‘my baby’ as it played on loop throughout the entire gathering, was a feeling that I rather enjoyed and hope to replicate with a published book one day.

Overall this experience was one that I learned a LOT from and am extremely grateful to have as I truly believe that my writing process has benefited from the lessons learned throughout this process. Dare I say it, but I believe that I may have turned a bit into a plotter *gasp* since I found myself writing scenes on index cards (due to the lack of writing time I’ve had) for a new idea I got, and eventually placing them in order for when I’m ready to get back to writing – which looks to be much sooner than I initially thought. :0)

What other non-writerly activities have you participated in to where you realized, maybe after the fact, that the process you followed for it mirrored that of writing a novel or short story? Did that activity make you a better writer in the end, or did your process remain the same?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Tiresome, Writerly Holiday….

Happy Friday, everyone!! 

The closer we get to the holidays, the even more busy, stressed, and all-around crazy our surroundings become.  Case in point:  I have been in an all-day meeting today for my day job, and I am writing this from a very comfy hotel room before I head out for our annual Holiday work party.  I have also been working tirelessly – everyday for the last three weeks – on a 40-minute anniversary video for my grandparents 50th Wedding anniversary this weekend. 

So, with that said, it is with deep apologies that I say there will not be a ‘Week In Favs’ post this week….however, I would like to direct you all to four of my favorite weekly round-up posts that also come out on Fridays so that you can be sure to get your fill of the ‘best of the best’ in writing blogs from this week:

Roni Loren’s ‘Fill Me In Friday’
Adventures in Children’s Publishing
Stina Lindenblatt’s ‘Cool Links Friday’
YA Highway’s Friday Road Trip

Again, I do apologize for falling far behind, but as we all know, it’s just that time of year where our attention and time is spread waaaay too thin.  But rest assured, there will be a weekly round-up post next week – as well as another dose of Writerly Wednesday as well.

Happy Reading & Writing Everyone!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: More Dialogue – On Tags, Sensory, Details & Gestures

Photo Credit

Last week I addressed how knowing your characters can have quite an impact on the dialogue you write. This week I’d like to address some more on dialogue, but this time, I’d like to focus on what I lovingly refer to as the ‘fluff’ that cushions the dialogue: tags, sensory, details and gestures.

Dialogue Tags

Tags are what guide the reader through a scene. Even though a character may have a unique cadence or rhythm in your story, without tags the reader can become lost in conversation. But what should you use as a dialogue tag?

This is a personal reminder of mine that I have posted beside my computer screen: “When in doubt, use said.” As writers, we have read more than enough posts out there in the blogosphere that advise us to keep it simple and use said as a dialogue tag.

Easier said than done, huh?

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to use ‘said’ when writing because sometimes there are moments when you *think* that that word just isn’t enough. And I think that what we should realize is that it’s okay to use other words when writing the first draft because here’s what’s going to happen during the editing process: every single one of those other tags will end up either being replaced with ‘said’ or removed entirely because they’re not needed.

But what else can you do to spice up the ‘fluff’ around your dialogue?

Take said and make it unique to your work. When you’re writing and/or editing, add descriptive detail – cushioning – around the dialogue itself. Not every line of dialogue needs to be followed by a ‘said’ – especially if you’re in the rhythm of the characters and the reader is able to follow along fairly easily.
Sensory, details and gestures are great fillers that add a little break in the dialogue when needed or help give the reader a bit of visual of the scene as it unfolds and comes to life in their imagination.

Sensory – smells, tastes, emotional or physical feelings, and the sounds that surround the characters in the scene are great to weave throughout a scene – especially one where a heated argument is happening. Here is an example from a class exercise I did back in September:

“I’m not having this discussion with you, Matthew.” Liv leaned against the burnt-red brick wall. Her face scrunched as a cloud of exhaust blew past her.

“Well, too bad, Liv. We’ve got an eleven hour ride back to New Orleans.” Matthew pulled a pair of sunglasses from his shirt pocket and pulled them over his eyes.

“And I plan on spending that time catching up on some paper work. Not talking.” Liv crossed her arms over her chest and looked up, wishing she could hop a flight back home. Her attention instantly came back down to earth. In front of the station, a black suburban had a near-miss with a pedestrian. Liv pushed her body off the wall and watched an elderly woman walk, unharmed, into the parking lot.

If you’ll notice, there isn’t a single ‘said’ in that entire clip, but yet you can still tell that Liv and Matthew are the ones arguing and they are standing outside amongst exhaust and sunshine and they’re in front a train station at what is apparently a very busy intersection.

Details – What do you notice around you when you’re in deep conversation with someone? Or what about when you’re having a group discussion? Do you notice the way the sun is beating down on you? Do you glance around the room and notice that there’s a crack in the ceiling? Details – large and small – are another way to break up dialogue when/if needed. Here is another example from another writing exercise:

“Let me ask you something, Agent McKinley,” he shook his head in an effort to move the long dark strands of hair from his face, “when you left your sweet, quaint little one-bedroom apartment this morning, did you remember to lock the door?”

Liv had to keep herself from laughing. “What does that have to do with you pulling a gun on that waiter? Or much less the jewelry store you robbed back in New Orleans last night?” She crossed her arms over her chest then squeezed her hands into fists.

“Oh, it has everything to do with it. Take a look around the next time you go home.” His eyes darkened. “I left something special for you. I just hope you find it pleasing.”

“You’re so full of shit.” Liv leaned against the burgundy wall of the sleeper car, keeping her eyes locked on the man. From her peripheral, she could see they were starting to move into the more populated areas of Georgia. Only another hour to go and we can send this bastard off in a squad car, she thought.

Once again, notice that said was never used, but also take note of the details weaved within the dialogue – from the strange man getting his hair out of his eyes to Liv noticing out of the corner of her eye that the train is getting closer to its destination. The details broke the dialogue up a bit while also adding to the overall scene.

Gestures – This is my personal favorite because I’m one of those people who tend to talk to with their hands, especially when I get heated up. *smiles* In all seriousness though, have you sat back and actually watched two people in conversation? If not, I highly suggest that the next time you’re sitting at the coffee shop, the waiting room or standing in line at the grocery store, watch people’s movements as they talk. A small nod, wave of the hand, or an all-out-tossing of their hands in the air says way more than what their words can possibly convey. Here’s one last example with Liv – one of my MC’s – and another mysterious character who’s been trying to have a conversation with her:

“What is it you do, Alistair?” She raised her voice above the rackety noise coming from the tracks beneath them.

“Many things, actually. But Atlanta poses a new adventure for me.”

“That doesn’t answer my-“

“-I answered it the best way I can at the moment. I can’t give away a secret to someone I barely know now can I?” His lips pulled into a wicked smile. “What do you do?”

“I think you have an idea about what I do or else you wouldn’t have been pining to speak to me since we set foot on this train.” She uncrossed her legs and prepared her body to either grab the knife hidden in her right boot or run to the next car if needed. No need to bring out the gun in the left one unless he pulled his first.

“Ah,” he pointed a finger at her, “you would be correct.”

Liv’s movements in preparation to pull her knife shows the reader more than her words can tell: she doesn’t trust the man she’s speaking to…and she’s packing. When Alistair points his finger at her, the reader sees that not only does he already know Liv’s a federal agent, but he’s comfortable enough in this conversation to know and accept when he’s being called out on his BS.

‘Said’, sensory, details and gestures bring a type of cushioning to dialogue that could otherwise feel bland or boring.  Make your scenes and conversations feel real to the reader so they will become lost in the story and the characters you’ve created.   

What other words or types of tags do you use in dialogue? Do you add a little ‘fluff’ around your dialogue to break it up or add a little *spice* to the scene? What about details, sensory and gestures? Are you mindful of these items when you’re writing and do you weave those into your scenes to help them come alive for the reader?

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Week in Favs….

Playing on the Zune: Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band. This is sort of my anthem… my roots are about as southern as they come though I don’t listen to country music all that often.  :0)

10)  “Gentle Reminders Beat a Slap to the Head: Why Refreshing What You Know is a Good Thing” by Janice Hardy.  This particular piece highlights exactly why we surf writing blogs: to learn more about the writing craft.  Even though we may know how to create believable characters or how to structure our stories, it doesn’t mean that there still isn’t more out there that we could learn.  A writer is forever learning, forever a student, and forever evolving – no matter how long they’ve been writing.  Thank you, Janice, for hitting the nail on the head with this one!

9)  “The Three Dimensional Character” by Nicole Steinhaus on YA Stands. I enjoyed the breakdown of first, second, and third dimensions that Nicole provided here.  It’s like peeling an onion – the first layer is the surface traits, the second layer is the ‘why’ of the character, and the third is where you find their heart.  This is a post that will get you thinking about those characters you love so much and how to turn them real people for your readers.

8)  “Emo MCs” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of ViewIn this post, Lisa answers an incredible question from Laura Pauling in regards to keeping your MC from being too emo, and let me just say her answer is pure awesomesauce!  Sometimes, without realizing it, our MCs can get too whiney and repetitive, and Lisa has provided some great tips in her response!  :0)

7)  “Write with Authenticity” by Julie MusilWe’ve all heard this before, and it’s as true today as it was when we last heard it, but nonetheless, Julie’s take on this was refreshing, enjoyable and inspiring.  The one thing that we as writers have got to remember when we’re writing, is that we absolutely must writer with authenticity.  If all else fails, write what’s in your heart.  Thank you, Julie, for the awesome reminder!

6)  “A Note on Breaking the Rules of Writing” by Charissa WeeksYes!!! I know that most of you have read a book – or two or three or a fifty – where the author broke quite a few rules.  But like Charissa so clearly states is that those authors knew the rules before they broke them.  So, let me ask you: are you an intentional rule-breaker?  ;0)

5)  “Learning to #EpicFail…with Style” by Kristen LambThough this post may seem to be a bit non-writerly at first, the message Kristen sends to her followers towards the end is absolutely 100% inspiring.  Learn to #EpicFail with your writing…it’s the only way to learn and grow in this craft.  Write.  Fail.  Write again.  Fail again.  Write again and again and again.  Fail again, but wait! There will be a moment where you will not fail and you’ll be thankful for all those times you did because those were the stepping stones that brought you to that moment. 

4)  “Breaking Into Publishing” by Rachelle GardnerEvery aspiring author should read this post and absorb the list of possible obstacles Rachelle’s listed here.  The more you know about what may be in your way of publishing success, then the more you can educate yourself and grow so you can kick every one of those obstacles down. 

3)  “How to Make the Most of a Scene” by Jami Gold, guest post on Girls with PensHave I mentioned recently how much I enjoy guidelines?  No?  Well, I do, and Jami’s guidelines for creating a scene that isn’t just ‘fluff’, but a scene that advances the plot in some way, shape or form.  This is yet another post that should be printed, saved and referred to often as your editing and trying to decide if a particular scene is really needed. 

2) “Beware of Your Own Voice in Your Head” by Shelli JohnsonI truly don’t think anyone is immune to the inner critic.  If you say you are, then I seriously call a foul because we’re all human, therefore we all second guess ourselves.  Shelli gives quite a few tips here on how to get that inner voice to shut up so you can continue to do what you love without that inner Snape muttering in your ear.

1)  “Write What You Fear” by James Scott Bell, guest post on Donna Galanti’s blog.  This post ties into the one above and I honestly couldn’t say enough about James’ post here to do it justice.  Every time he writes about the fear of a writer, I get goosebumps because it feels like he’s speaking directly to you.  This is yet another bit of writing inspiration for all of us!  Enjoy!

And here's a bit of Friday fun for you:
This is a video mash-up of all the movies 2011 had to offer.  It's a bit long, but quite enjoyable.  And I must say, if you can name almost every movie from the short clips in this video, then you are definitely a movie-fanatic...and we need to talk since I can too.  :)

Happy Reading & Writing!!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: Dialogue - Knowing Your Characters

Photo Credit
One of the best ways I’ve learned for how to get to know my characters is by sticking them in a room with another character then sitting back with a little popcorn and listening to their unique voice.  But I’m not just listening for that.  I’m also listening for how they choose their words, what they choose to reveal and also what they feel their purpose is within their world.  Though the conversations you witness and the character’s history you learn from those scenes are purely for research purposes - and I know it's hard to write a scene like this and not use it in the story, but it should only be included if it is vital to the plot in some way, shape or form.     

So how is this related to the dialogue within the story? 

Knowing your characters is the backbone for your dialogue, not just the story.  The dialogue won’t stand unless you know your characters.  Ever had one of those moments where you’re writing a scene and you type/write out that your MC says something a bit contradictory to who you’ve come to know?  But at the same time you’re incredibly excited to read it because you knew it was a long-time in the making based on the research you did in getting to know your character?

That’s what I’m talking about and this is exactly where getting to know your characters plays into dialogue. 

A contradictory remark would definitely throw the reader for a loop, but how else were you going to get their attitude towards that day, time, place, situation or even something that vital to the character’s arc across unless it was expressed via dialogue?  

Telling the reader that your MC is extremely stressed over an incredibly important, life-changing decision they have to make is vanilla and could be the difference between your MS getting published or being tossed into the slush pile.  Instead, you need to show it: 

Todd waved his hand in front of Emily’s face.  “Hey, Em,” he said, snapping his fingers, “I asked if you planned on being at the team dinner tonight.”

“Snap at me like that again and you won’t be going anywhere tonight,” Emily said as her eyes shot daggers in his direction. 

Now, what the reader already knows by now is that Emily has a life-altering decision she has to make and she must do so soon.  But so far she’s handled the stress of this decision fairly well, so the reader would think that her normal response would have been: “Huh?  Oh, sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind.  Sure, I’ll be there tonight.”

Instead though, through dialogue, the reader has been shown, for the first time, that the weight of this decision has finally settled against her shoulders and she’s beginning to crack.  And because the author knows their character, they knew this was not only an abnormal response, but it’s one that was bound to happen and they were ready for it – heck, they might’ve been rooting for it. J

Another way your dialogue improves by knowing your characters is their cadences.  I took an advanced dialogue workshop via Savvy Authors back in September and our wonderful teacher, Devon Ellington, defined a character’s cadence like this:

“Every character has a unique voice, a unique speech rhythm.  Find your character’s cadence and use it.  That doesn’t mean delving heavily into dialect.  It means letting your character’s unique rhythms shine through so the reader knows who is speaking without tags.”

In our first exercise, Devon went on to explain how we truly do learn a lot about our characters by their speech rhythms.  Don’t you know someone who says ‘um’ a lot when they’re explaining something?  Or what about that person who loves sprinkling in the word ‘like’ when they’re telling you a story?  That's a part of their unique speech rhythm, and there’s many more out there to be discovered and invented as you work your way through getting to know your characters via dialogue. 

As an example, when I first learned the term cadence and how it defines a character and makes them unique, the first fictional character that came to my mind was Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  His speech was unique, so you never really needed a dialogue tag to know it was him. Lennie had a particular rhythm that was adhered to throughout the book and is rememberable to the reader no matter how long it's been since they first read that story.   

I’ve learned a lot by experimenting through dialogue, but there's one thing that remains true every time: it is one of the best ways to show your character’s strengths, flaws and what it is that makes them unique and unforgettable.

What are some of the challenges you run into when writing dialogue?  When you’re showing within your writing do you tend to show more with the dialogue between characters, or do you lean more on the character’s inner thoughts?  Do you reflect a character’s history in the way they communicate with others?   What about their unique cadence, are you conscious of this while writing dialogue? 

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Week in Favs….

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!!

Playing on the Zune: Winter Wonderland/White Christmas by MercyMe.  Yeah, I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit…MercyMe’s holiday album, ‘The Christmas Sessions’ always seems to do it for me. :0)

15) “Something to Think About” by Suzanne Johnson on Roni Loren’s blog, Fiction Groupie.  This was such a good article for those of us who are so busy running from one task to the next – be it the day job, cooking dinner, working out, writing, editing, reading, or sleeping.  I recently discovered the ‘stop, slow down, and think’ idea myself.  This is great read if you’re feeling as though you don’t have enough time to plot or come up with ideas on how you’re going to get from point A to point B in your current WIP.

14) “Write with Fire” by Beth Hill on The Editor’s Blog.  Ah, yes….bring the passion to your story! Beth has truly written a great post here!  We all work on our craft, polishing our skills and focusing on getting everything exactly right.  But Beth’s article is wonderful because she looks to remind writers to “bring passion to those stories….write with abandon and pleasure and giddiness….write without restraint.”  Click on this link, read and be reminded of exactly how we should be writing!

13) “We are Our Own Protagonists” by Dawn Simon. I thoroughly enjoyed being reminded that we are our own leading characters in the story of our lives – the story in which we journey from aspiring to published author.  I found Dawn’s post here to be refreshing and enjoyable, especially when I stopped in the middle of reading and thought ‘Damn, she’s right!’  ;0)

12) “How to Write Horror: Writing Tips for Dark Fiction” by Shelly SouleNo matter is you write horror, these are great tips for several other genres as well.  Even in Christian fiction, you’d need to write about what scares you, which just goes to show you that what scares us varies by person, but it is still universal advice, not just reserved for horror.  These are all tips that we have seen and read before, but I wanted to include this particular article since it never hurts to be told, once more, what exactly it is that you need to do in order to write good fiction.

11) “Writing Advice” by Kat Zhang.  I’ve always enjoyed Kat’s blog, in particular because she shares insights into the world of becoming a published author and the lessons she’s learned.  This particular article is no exception.  Do you want to know a fresh take on exactly why we should taking in all of the writing advice we can get our hands on? Why we should gobble it all up but not let it force us to pull our hair out?  Read this short, sweet and simple post.

10) “Top 5 Writing Tips the Grinch Stole” by Darcy Pattison on Fiction NotesThis was such a cute, original and holiday-themed post that I just could not keep myself from including in this listing.  It’s amazing to me how the simplest and oldest of stories, those that we grew up with, are the ones that can teach us not only the very basics of good story-telling, but also teach us how to make out stories and characters stand out among the rest. Enjoy!

9) “Believability or Bust” by Stina Lindenblatt on Blog.  There are many deadly sins in writing; enough to where there are just too many to name right here, but at the top of my list is believability, and I’m sure it’s right up there on yours also.  Nothing’s worse than getting vested into a story or a character only to have something happened that makes you think ‘there’s no way in hell that would happen.’  Stina has some great tips on how to keep believability in mind as your writing so this one has definitely made the infamous ‘writing tips notebook.’

8) “Called to Write” by Rachelle Gardner.  Here’s a great dose of inspiration – or better yet, a reminder of why we keep trucking through every word, every edit, and every keystroke, even when we’re feeling every now and then that it’s just not as much fun anymore.  I’ve got this one bookmarked for those moments when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps so I can be reminded of why I’m writing and that the fun will be back the next day and I just gotta push through the present first.

7) “Antagonists – The Alpha and the Omega of the Story” by Kristen Lamb.  I’ve never heard of writing advice that advised we create our antagonist first, but there’s a first time for everything and this is an amazing read that’ll get your brain turning on that new idea you’ve got written down waiting to be fleshed out.  Don’t pause to think about whether or not this a good a idea.  Instead, click on this link and read the entire article and be open to the idea first before you think to shoot it down because it’s actually some of the best advice I’ve come across in a while. 

6) “Writing: It’s a Numbers Game” by Ash Krafton on BlogAre you good at math?  No matter since Ash has practically done the math here for you.  Within this article are all kinds of links to ‘top 10 lists’ or ‘10 secrets’ that are all related to writing, but wait! Ash makes a good point once your head starts to spin from all of those numbers that are flying around on the page.  Check it out as I will not give a spoiler on this one.  :0)

5) “What Writing Skills Do You Suck At?” by Jami Gold.  Yuck! Weakness is a bad word.  But it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, we all have weaknesses that we must hone in on and strengthen if we expect to make it to publishing success.  I enjoyed the absolute honesty that Jami had in this post with sharing her own weaknesses (or as I like to call it, opportunity) as it opened up the door for a lot of blog followers to confess their own weaknesses.  Please check this one out and share your own areas of learning opportunity.  You’ll feel great afterwards, promise!  ;0)

4) “10 Ways to Make Our Characters Stronger” by Keli Gwyn.  Strong characters go hand-in-hand with making your character likeable and your story believable.  I have a list of 4 characteristics of a strong protagonist, but that has just grown into 10 thanks to Keli’s post.  This is another one those lists that you’ll want to keep handy for reference as your getting to know your characters.

3) “Five Reasons For Agent Rejections of a Manuscript” by Kerry Gans on The Author Chronicles.  Before you think about querying, read this list first.  Keep it in mind as your doing a final read-through of your WIP to help ensure you have the best chance possible at getting an agent for that MS you’ve been slaving over for the past year (or two).

2) “The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers” by Jami Gold.  Raise your hand if you dread coming up with a gift list to give your family?  Raise your hand if you always tend to not be able to come up with anything that you want for Christmas?  No worries, Jami’s got us all covered here.  Just print this post, make copies, and start passing it around to those who ask what you want for Christmas.  There’s plenty of options there that no matter what the person’s budget is, they’ll be able to find a perfect gift for you – the writer.  Thanks Jami for making my gift-list-creation much easier this year!  ;0)

1) “Top 90 Top Secrets of Bestselling Authors” by Jessica Stawser on Writer’s Digest. Don’t let this listing overwhelm you. Instead, take it slow, reading through one section at a time and allow the advice from one quote sink in before moving onto the next. This is such an awesome article that you absolutely must check out now!!

And our ‘Friday Fun’ for the week is….

A NEW Simon’s Cat! This one was posted last week and it’s entitled: ‘Catnap’


Happy Reading & Writing!!!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: How to Achieve the Big ‘O’…

Photo Credit

Had you goin’ there for a second, didn’t I?

But no, I’m not talking about that – I’m referring to that place of Zen for every writer that is commonly known as Organization!

While there are many ways to get yourself organized in your writing and the journey to become published, I’m only going to address 3 particular aspects of writerly organization today:

1. Research/Outlining: So you’ve got this killer plot – or a killer character – and you’re ready to start banging it all out on the keyboard…but wait, you have to organize your thinking a little before you move any further. Sure, there are those moments where the dialogue is swimming in your head and you absolutely must get a scene out first, but after you’ve done that you’ll want to take a step back and think about the basics. The following three questions are the first ones I ask myself when a new character or plot pops into my head. I answer each of these and save all of the information I’ve compiled into a folder on my desktop (I also print everything out and keep it in a small accordion file in case anything should happen to my trusty computer), and I enter some of the highlights of my research onto the handy little index cards in Scrivener. By answering all of these and doing a little research, you’re able to write the best first draft possible (just remember that it’s still the first draft, so it’s going to be messy regardless, this will keep it ‘less messy’):
    • Where is the story taking place?
      • Is it taking place in Real Town, USA, or is going to be in Fantasy Land? Once you decide where, you can begin to research/create that location. Even if you’re a pantser, feeling as if you know more about where your story is going to take place will help tremendously when you’re writing your way through the first draft. If it’s a fantasy land that your story takes place in, then it may be good to go ahead and set some ground rules before writing any more words (this creates less work for you during the editing process).
    • Who is going to tell this story?
      • Will we be following a single character, or several? Even though I like to mainly consider myself an ‘organic’ writer (that’s a fancy way of saying ‘pantser’), I still like to sit down with my main characters ahead of time and get to know them. Completing a questionnaire on each of your main characters is a great way to get to know them better (and there are some that this does not work for, so be prepared to leave a gaping hole on their stats until you’ve written a few scenes with them in it).
    • How are you going to tell this story?
      • This is an important decision since your voice is what’s going either make or break this novel. And not only should you think about the voice, you should also consider the POV from which this particular adventure should be told. Is it first POV as we follow a single character and her journey, or should it be third POV since there are several characters you’re eager to follow throughout the plot?

2. The Actual Writing: Now that you know the who, what, where, when, how of your story, it’s time to get crackin’ writing! First things first: keep in mind the Three Act Structure as you write – this will save you some headache when you’re revising (Alexandra Sokoloff has some great posts on story structure and the elements)!

Some writers write their entire first draft in a Word doc – start to finish – and this is totally okay as I this is exactly what I used to do. However, I have recently learned a more organized way of getting that first draft down, and I couldn’t be happier now that I’ve found it: Scrivener (or a similar writing program).

Given that most first drafts mainly consist of scene after scene after scene – in which you will go back and add a little ‘fluff’ – I’ve learned that Scrivener is awesome for this process. You’re able write those individual scenes into their own little section for you to go back and flesh out individually if you’d like, or you can compile them all at the end and attack them all at once. Yes, you’re breaking down your work as you truck through it, but you can give each scene a short title in case you ever need to refer back to it later in the novel (who else hates having to scroll through fifty pages to find the one scene you need info from?).

3. Editing/Revising: You either just groaned or said ‘Eh’ when you read this one, and hopefully you’re not groaning because your editing process is disorganized. Before you begin editing, print out your entire MS. Yes, I know that most of ours are going to be 300+ pages (double spaced), but words look and feel completely different in print than they do on the computer scene – trust me! Once you’ve done that, make a plan for how you’re going to attack the editing process. You don’t want to go all out during the first pass – you’ll be way too tuckered out to continue after about a week or so. Here’s a sample of an organized plan:
    • First Pass: Grab your trusty red pen and check for plot holes, flow, and inconsistencies as you read through the entire MS (which will be the first time *hopefully* in at least two weeks). Ask yourself through each scene, “Is this really needed?”, “Does this move the story forward?” If your answer is no to either of these, make a note to cut and paste that scene and save it somewhere safe in case you want to come back to it in the future. If you find plot holes or areas where the words or scene just doesn’t seem to flow, attack each area, one at a time, until you’ve reached a point that you feel as though you can bare leaving it (even if for the time being).
    • Second Pass: Grab your pen again and check for grammar, spelling, missing/confusing dialogue tags, repetitive words, etc. Go ahead and get *most* of that dirty work out of the way. *smiles*
    • Third Pass: Take a break before reprinting your MS with all of the changes you made in passes one and two, then dive back into reading through it – which will be your second or third time out of, oh say, maybe a hundred – once again, checking for plot (remember the Three Act Structure), flow, inconsistencies, etc., etc. This is also a good time to add in some of that ‘fluff’ (i.e.: incredible descriptions and transitions) I referred to earlier, especially now that you’ve worked on or fleshed out most of the scenes. I personally tend to wait until the second or third pass to do this since by that time, I’m a little more comfortable with where the scenes are placed and how the story’s developing.
    • Repeat
    • Repeat
    • Repeat
And so on and so forth – remember I called this a *sample* organized plan. Your story will require you to add many more items to check for as your editing (more than I could really name in what’s supposed to be a blog post and not a novel in itself).

Keep in mind that everything I’ve listed is just a guideline as there’s still so much more you can do to obtain that ‘Big O’ within your writing journey – such as being organized with receiving and incorporating your critiques, being organized when you’re about to start querying agents, organizing your rejection letters partial or full requests….
Have you achieved your writerly place of Zen? How do you manage to stay organized through the chaos (also known as the writing life)? Do you have a process that you’d like to share?

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo Check-In & The Song of the Week: Glycerine by Bush

Hello and 'Happy Monday' dear friends!  With two days left of NaNoWriMo I can *officially* say that I have surpassed the 50,000 wordcount goal with 51,130 words - and it has been validated!  *throws confetti*  Now I just have another 40,000 or so words to go before this draft is officially completed and ready to be run through the ringer - otherwise known as the editing process. *smile* *bites nails* *tries to smile again*

Without further ado, I can officially say that the 'Song of the Week' weekly post is back up and running!

This week's song comes from a little band called Bush.  You've heard of them I gather? Good, 'cuz this has been on constant loop all morning as I added another 3,000 words to my WIP this morning. 

Hope you enjoy this week's song and be sure to come back on Wednesday for a new day of weekly postings that will be starting this week - Writerly Wednesday - where I will share either what I've learned or am learning within my own writing.

Happy Reading & Writing Everyone!!! 


Friday, November 25, 2011

Due to the holiday week and the overall craziness here at casa de Collins, 'This Week in Favs' will continue on its regular schedule (Fridays) beginning next week and it will include posts from this week and next.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that each and every one of you are keeping safe and warm today :) 

Happy Reading & Writing!


Friday, November 18, 2011

This Week in Favs…..

Playing on the Zune: Feel It In My Bones by Tiesto, feat. Teagan & Sara

10) “The Power of the Past” by Becca Puglisi on Sherry Soule’s Fiction Writing Tools blog. Ah, backstory! It can be incredibly hard to decide on which scenes/information you should divulge/detail and which ones you shouldn’t. Becca gives some really great advice here to assist you with those sometimes-difficult decisions, which I’m sure that we can all say we will be forever grateful for.  :0) 

9) “What Rejection Can Teach You” by Shelli Johnson. This particular post is actually from 2 weeks ago – and somehow I missed it! But now that I have found it and feel a little better about rejection and how it should be looked at, I just have to share it to ensure that we each look at rejection as a lesson instead of failure.

8) “Imitation as Inspiration: An Exercise for Writers” by Sarah Baughman on Write It Sideways. What a great and interesting exercise Sarah has put forth here: writing in the style of another author as a way to either break through writer’s block and/or build on your own personal style and/or voice. Check this out then put this exercise on your to-do list – or save it for when you have a bout with the ‘block’-that-shall-not-be-named!

7) “The Five Levels of Procrastination” by Alivia Anders. *snicker* All of these levels sound pretty familiar, don’t they? I enjoyed Alivia’s take on this – it felt fresh and different from other articles/posts I’ve read in the past….and the Harry Potter fan video she’s shared truly amazing!

6) “Stop That Fighting! Conflicts Aren’t All About the Punches” by Janice Hardy. Who doesn’t love conflict? Well, if you’re a writer and we’re talking about your story, then yes (otherwise I’m sure that all of us could do without some conflict in our personal lives, right?). I enjoyed Janice’s breakdown of the different types of conflicts that force our characters to act. I also especially enjoyed the questions she’s given in regards to looking at your scenes to find where you might be able to add some conflict to improve them.

5) “A Checklist for Deep POV (in 1st or 3rd person!)” by Julie Wade on TalkToYoUniverse. Now I don’t know about you, but I do enjoy a good checklist every now and then, and this one is no exception. Sometimes when you’re writing, you’re already inside the character’s head, knowing what they’re thinking, feeling, etc., so having a Deep POV checklist is very handy to help ensure that you’re conveying that onto the page for the reader. Julie even gives examples of each tip in case, which is always helpful when/if your brain feels like mush.  ;0)

4) “What You Have to (Un)Learn to be a Writer” by James Killick. I’ve never thought of this before, but James really has some great points here. And some of them are things in which I have finally started to unlearn a *little*. James shares with us the advice that he would’ve told his younger self – beginning first with the items he should’ve unlearned and the ones he should’ve learned from the get-go. Go check this one out and see if you agree with these then share if you have a bit more advice that you would’ve told yourself way back when.

3) “Character Beauty in Imperfection” by Ava Jae on Writability. Imperfections: we all have them, and they’re beautiful. They’re what makes us different, unique. So why should our characters be any different? Ava makes a wonderful point here by stating that: “The most memorable characters to me…by and large are the ones with imperfections.” <—And she’s absolutely correct. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are prime examples of memorable characters that were imperfect, but their story lives on in the hearts of millions of readers. Great post!

2) “Writing Out of Order” by Veronica Roth. Now, I’m one of those OCD writers that *used* to believe that I should be writing my story in order. However I have learned, fairly recently, that this is a habit worth breaking, and Veronica illustrates exactly why it’s OK to write scenes out of order. This is great advice for all writers and I highly suggest checking her post out then giving it a try for yourself. ;0)

1) “Story Climax: The Whole Point” by Victoria Mixon on Jami Gold’s blog. I do believe I scared my cat when I read this post – cause I jumped a little and said ‘Oh. My. God.’ before slamming my head against the desk. Needless to say he jetted out of the room, but he did come back…eventually. Now back to this post in which I have to say that this is a must read for every writer! Then, after you read this post, be sure to not only follow Victoria’s blog, but also check out her new book – which I have just purchased and cannot wait to devour!!

In case you’ve missed it (and if not, I’m sure you’ll want to see it again, and again, and again):

An ‘Official’ Hunger Games Trailer (not another teaser, thank goodness) was released earlier this week! Squee!!! Now we just have to wait another 3.5 months for the movie to be released! *tries to smile*

Happy Reading & Writing!!! 


Friday, November 11, 2011

This Week in Favs….

**It’s nearing the end of Week #2 in NaNoWriMo – I do hope that everyone’s pounding away on their keyboards (or making their wrists hurt with all that writing)!  Speaking of which, I’m a little behind, so this will be extra short and sweet today!

Keep it up, everyone! We’re *almost* half-way there!! :0)

Playing on the Zune: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

10) “A Dangerous Side Effect of Becoming a Writer” by Roni Loren. When I started writing, there should’ve been a site that listed the side effects of becoming a writer. Side-effects that include: becoming introverted and partially isolated, spending way more time at home than usual, and thought intrusion by characters who need to stay locked up during day job hours. Roni’s pinpointed a major bad side effect here, which is why it’s extremely important that we make time to enjoy and immerse ourselves in a book – at least once or twice a week (more than that when we’re not in the middle of first drafts). You can’t be the best writer you can be without making the time to read.

9) “Writing When You’re Sick, Tired, or Just Hate the World” by Daniel Swensen on SurlyMuse. Daniel’s put together some great advice on how to make sure you’re writing…even when you really don’t want to. We’ve all had days where we didn’t even want to look at a computer, but the most important thing we can learn and instill in ourselves about our writing is that we must write everyday no matter what! Even if it’s just 500 words, we need to learn how to do it even when it feels like our world is falling apart. Great post, Daniel!

8) “How to Use Allusion Like Taylor Swift” by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice. This was an incredibly interesting article that I discovered this week – even more so because I never knew this about Taylor Swift’s writing skills. I just thought this one was rather interesting and it does make you want to dig a little deeper with your own writing.

7) “A polishing Till it Shines Checklist from Mia Marlow” on Roni Loren’s Writing Blog, Fiction Groupie. Ah…a much needed checklist for every writer. And this will be even more important for all of the NaNo-ers out there when it comes time for editing those fast drafts within the coming weeks.

6) “Using 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy to Build Tension in Your Novel” by Jenny HansenI loved these tips – ‘nuff said! :0)

5) “Can You ‘Fast Draft’?” and “What Makes a Story Feel Unrealistic” by Jami Gold. I had never heard of Candace Havens – much less the “Fast Draft” method – until I read this post from Jami (which is one of the reasons why her blog is a must-read – I always learn something new from her). Jami has summed up ‘fast drafting’ so good here that I’m honestly thinking about signing up for one of Candace’s workshops so I can learn how to silence the inner editor while getting down that first draft. Another great article that Jami posted this week – which is something I feel is very important to get down either before or during the first draft – is making sure your story feels real, that it’s something others can not only relate to but something they can believe in.

4) “Cliché’s…Safe to Use?” by Angela Ackerman on The Bookshelf Muse. This is a great take on the cliché argument: instead of going after the fact that we shouldn’t be using cliché’s, Angela focuses on when it’s actually okay to use them. This is extremely helpful for those moments where you’re torn between using the cliché or being original – bookmark it!

3) “On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part One & Part Two)” by Janice Hardy, guest post on The Bookshelf Muse. This is exactly why I love and enjoy Janice’s blog – her posts are straight-forward and extremely helpful to her fellow writers. Marketing is one of the most important tasks we will all undertake (sooner or later – the contract must come first), and I think that no matter what stage you’re in – querying, represented, awaiting that offer – this post will help to open your eyes and give you a good direction in marketing your work.

2) “A Love Affair… With Index Cards” by Julie Musil. I love Julie’s reasons as to why she uses index cards! It’s been a while since I’ve pulled the index cards, but you can bet I’ve started making friends with them again this week. If you don’t have one already, will you begin an affair after reading this? 

1) “Be a More Confident Writer: 5 Choices That Might Be Hurting Instead of Helping” by Annie Neugebauer, guest post on Writer Unboxed. Wow….. this was an absolutely fabulous and inspiring post from Annie. All 5 choices that were listed as hurting us rather than helping us are spot-on – and one or two can really hit home for some of us. Thank you for this great article, Annie!

**Bonus Link**
This was posted last week on The Huffington Post: NaNoWriMo: “Advise from the Fastest Writers Ever”

Seeing as how most of us have been engulfed in getting those words on the pages, I’m sure that some of us have missed seeing this post – and hearing the encouraging advice from these amazing writers.

Happy Reading & Writing!!


Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo Song of the Week: Spotlight by Mutemath

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting several fellow NaNo participants at a write-in. Now, for those of you who know me know that I have a weekend routine that I like to stick to – part of that being the fact that I prefer to stay home on Sundays and write while doing the laundry. But I figured, what the hell….I’ll be going for three hours and will be doing exactly the same thing I’d be doing if I was home (minus the laundry), so why not go and see what it’s like.

Well, we met at this café called The Green Bean, and I have to say, it was a great experience! The café itself was great, very hipster (as my sister called it) and low-key with an awesome selection of tunes. I enjoyed the location just enough to where I might actually decide to make some trips there on my own so I can write away from the house for a couple of hours.

When I walked in the door, ‘Spotlight’ by Mutemath was playing. This song in itself set the tone for my time there which is why I wanted to share it with all of you.

For fans of the Twilight movies, you might recognize this particular song since it was on the first movie’s soundtrack.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy Reading and Writing!!!


Friday, November 4, 2011

This Week in Favs……

**Due to NaNoWriMo, my Friday round-up posts are going to be fairly short, sweet and to the point – at least until December 2nd. To all my fellow NaNoWriMo participants:

Photo Credit

Playing on the Zune (MP3): In My Head by No Doubt <— Lurve this song!

10) “Guest Author Cheryl Rainfield: Bringing Tension and Conflict to Your Novels” on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy. For newbies and veterans alike, it’s always good to be reminded to start your story with some tension and ensure that you not only have conflict, but good conflict that will keep the reader until the end. I rather enjoyed reading Cheryl’s tips for creating both within your writing. 

9) “Stop, Collaborate and Listen: Plot Building for the Character Driven Writer by Ashley March” on Roni Loren’s Writing Blog, Fiction Groupie. Ice ice baby too cool, too cool…. okay seriously, every time I’ve looked at the title of this blog, I couldn’t help but sing a little Vanilla Ice. These are some of the best tips I’ve come across for the character-driven writer. But these can also be good for the plot-driven writer – for example: “…listen for ideas from your characters for scenes you might want to include. If you come up with a great idea for a twist of the ending, be prepared to ditch it if the characters don’t lead you down that route.” <—This is incredibly true for the plot-driven writer because who’s to say that you’re characters won’t start dictating your plot once you’ve gotten to know them better?

8) “Scaring Your Readers” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens. Even if you don’t write horror (and there are some UF & PNR novels with a small element of horror in them), you could still learn a little from this post. Regardless of the fiction genre, your plot might could do with a little scare for the readers, especially if you just want to make sure they’re really paying attention. ;0) But in all seriousness, when I’m reading a book, what scares me the most is the honesty, and the fact that what I consider to be the worst possible thing that could ever happen is happening to this character that I’ve come to know and love.  Go forth and read this one and realize that it’s okay to scare your reader a little…or a lot!

7) “Bad Dialogue – Bad, Bad Dialogue” by Beth Hill on The Editor’s Blog. Want some examples of what not to do in dialogue? Well, here you go! Some of these had me snickering a little since I totally got busted doing one or two of them in my own dialogue. :P

6) “The Publishing Biz: Will it Break You?” by Rebecca L. Boschee on WordServe Water Cooler. I’ll let the following quote from this post do the talking: “You can be paralyzed by the changes of today and uncertainty of tomorrow, or you can refuse to dwell on the reasons ‘why not’ and learn what works and what does from trial and error and from those working alongside you – those who keep putting themselves out there so others can keep dreaming.” ‘Nuff said? Go read it then decide that you won’t let it break you.

5) “Backstory: A Lesser Known Reason Why Not to Dump it Upfront” by Jeannie Campbell on The Character Therapist. What a great, real-life example of why it’s best not to have the backstory up front and center! “It can be off-putting or color the reader’s entire perception of the character.”

4) “Writing: Mastering the Balance” by Ava Jae on Writability. I rather enjoyed this post about balance…mainly because it didn’t talk about the balance of the day-job, home life, family life, blogging and writing – instead, Ava addressed the tricky balance of the author having a voice while allowing the characters to have their individual personalities. In other words, finding the sweet spot where you don’t have the wicked author intrusion. 

3) “When You’re Too Close to the Book” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. Grrr…… this is something I still have a hard time doing: putting the novel in a drawer for a few weeks. But you know what, Lisa is 100% correct when it comes to why we absolutely, positively put the novel away for a bit! I think I’ve found the best way to ensure I put it away though – pass it onto my CP or Beta Reader and busy myself with their work instead. ;0)

2) “How Deep if Your Department of Mysteries?” by SP Sipal on Harry Potter for Writers. Need some tips or questions to get you thinking about the world of your WIP? SP Sipal selects a great excerpt from the Harry Potter Series to show exactly how world-building can be weaved into your story in a way that doesn’t take away from your plot but at the same time, adds to your story by allowing you to see through the character’s eyes. Once you start answering these questions, the weaving will become easier to execute.

1) “Five Ways to Stay Motivated While Writing a Novel” by Nathan Bransford. Just last night, in my Facebook NaNo group, someone was saying that they not only had writer’s block already (2 days into NaNoWriMo), but they were de-motivated. Well, Nathan has some perfect timing if you ask me! As soon as I read this, I posted it on our group page as a not-so-subtle-way to remind everyone how to stay motivated, especially when we’re working on a deadline such as NaNoWriMo!

And here’s our giggle for the week:

This Simon’s Cat cartoon came out about 2 years ago, but it’s still pretty funny. Can’t you just imagine your pet doing something like this to your computer or notebook when you step away? Makes you wish you could never want to walk away when you’re in the middle of writing, huh?

Happy Reading & Writing!!

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