Wednesday, May 30, 2012

05/30/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again and sorry for the late post. I had an interview/screening thing today, so I was a little distracted. I hope it all went well, I've sent my appreciation e-mail and now begin the process of waiting and fidgeting to see if I get called in for the next step in the process. Until then I suppose I should write something.

I wanted to look at something that some authors have a difficult time at, and that's conveying emotion. Understandably it is something rather difficult to do, since you're trying to do that with only text (unless you're writing a comic book or something, then you're cheating). Conveying emotion with only words is something that today's society has started revolving around, and more often than we'd like to admit things just don't come across the way we'd prefer. For some people it is incredibly difficult to tell what someone's actually thinking when they typed 'I had a bad day.' unless there's a caps-lock button involved.

The way you convey emotion is with a combination of dialogue and exposition that tells the reader exactly what's happening to the character.Hand gestures, description of heart-rate, what the person is physically and emotionally going through while saying it gives a great window into their personality. It helps build character background and also as a person as a whole. Simply saying something like 'he cried' while does give you an idea of what's happening to the person, is a little too surgical. Changing it to something that's a bit more built will give the reader something to be attached to, and they will feel with the character.

Being able to get an emotional response from the reader is something that, if you manage to accomplish it, means you've done something right. If they finish your work and shrug, wondering what they're going to do with their time next. If, once they're done, they close the book slowly and start contemplating everything that happened, then start excitedly wondering if there's more to go onto, you've done something right. 

Thanks for stopping by again and I apologize for this seeming a bit rushed. I wanted to make sure that I got the post up today after missing Monday. I love holidays, but they always seem to throw things into a strange mix that just confuses me all week. I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday. have a good rest of the week!

Friday, May 25, 2012

05/25/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope this week has seen you all well. I think this weekend will be good for me, since it will be time to relax and such. More people have started floating away at work, going to either new locations or new jobs, and I know that as June starts and progresses that will only happen more frequently. It'll be different, but for now let's focus on something nice.

Today I have 'When Fate Dictates' by Elizabeth Marshall. It is about a young woman named Corran MacDonald who manages to escape from her home during the Massacre of Glencoe. Having made it out of the initial pillaging, she is given a second chance at life by a Highland Stag. Seeing that her home and family are gone she puts her trust into a defector Red Coat named Simon, and together they must find their freedom.

You all know me by now well enough to know that taking history and playing around with it is something I very much enjoy. This is nothing different, especially because it takes some of the myth from that area and tosses it inside. Myths from Scotland and Ireland have always been fascinating to me, but sadly not ones that I've done nearly as much research as I'd like. I do know about the Highland Stag though, as they were seen as creatures of power, protection, and hope, so the idea of someone using one in their story makes me happy, especially since I don't remember the last time I've seen one.

'When Fate Dictates' is available on Smashwords for absolutely free, so there's no reason not to go check it out! It's always my hope that these posts help authors get their stories out at least to a few more people, so please, for this, and for any others that I put up, let your friends know. Getting your information out there is one of the hardest things in the world, so let's help out these authors by telling everyone we know!

Thanks again everyone for stopping by this week. Remember you can still get 'The Light Rises' for $1 when you use coupon AW99C, but only until the 30th, so after next Wednesday it will go back up to $2.99. I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Monday! Until then, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

05/23/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and good morning! I hope this week so far has seen you well. Today I have a big pot luck at work sponsored by one of the other centers. This is the first of many things that are coming up the different locations have given us. A bunch of presents telling everyone that we did a good job and will be missed. It's bittersweet, and makes me feel appreciated. I hope wherever I go it'll have a similar culture around the place.

Today I wanted to take a look at dialogue. Now I know what you're all saying, ironically I hope, that we all know how to handle people having conversations in our stories. If that's the case, then you are awesome and I would appreciate your assistance with comments later! The reason I wanted to look at it was because dialogue also has a habit of breaking up the page, and sometimes taking esthetics into account when writing is also rather important.

Think of the times you've been reading, let's use Nathanial Hawthorne as an example, and you turn the page and see nothing but one solid continuous paragraph, maybe there's two, but you've also just gone through two pages of the same thing. Getting to dialogue is a breath of fresh air because it looks different. When people see a wall of text the first thing they think is how long is it going to take to get through all that. It's a little intimidating, so dialogue is used in place of exposition to give description and progress the plot. It's a beautiful and wonderful thing.

When it comes to dialogue, Word and I sometimes have some disagreements. Your spell and grammar check-er will want to make sure that everything is a complete and perfect sentence, however people don't always talk like that, especially if you're writing out a part for a child. People use pauses, hand gestures, body language, and all sorts of things in the process of talking that should be put into the dialogue line in order to fully get information across to the reader. People also don't always use proper grammar when they are talking, and if you're trying to get an accent across Word will absolutely lose it. I know there will be points when you will stop and try to correct it. Maybe the sentence looks too short, and there's that pale squiggly line under it, it will haunt you until you do something to correct it. Many people get around this by disabling spell/grammar check. I'm not a fan of this mostly because I can't tell you how many times I've meant and thought I typed something else and I see there's a completely wrong word there. Or also I wasn't sure on the spelling of something so I went for phonetics and hoped for the best.

When you're working with dialogue pieces it's important to remember how people actually act. You've already gone through the process of character creation and made the person speaking into a 'real' person, so why make them talk like a robot? (Unless they are a robot. If that's the case, then please, carry on.) Making sure the dialogue points are realistic will help people relate and also grow attached to the character, which is what's going to get people reading your other works as well. If they can see you handle characterization well, they will be excited to see new books by you because of the people you introduce them to.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again this week. I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Friday for our normal review. Another reminder; "The Light Rises" is still $1, but for one more week only, so please check it out and tell your friends to go to Smashwords and use coupon code AW99C! See you Friday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

05/21/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope the weekend saw each and every one of you well. I'm sure that a lot of you spent time playing a certain PC game about descending into hell, I heard it was kind of a big deal. For myself on the other hand, my big weekend thing was a purchase! I have replaced my over-heating and falling apart laptop with one that actually works! Is it bad the thing that's making me happiest is the fact I can use the keyboard without having to smash the keys repeatedly to get what I want. (Working shift key I love you.)

Now my initial plan was going to be to wait until July (if the laptop made it that far, I understood that situations might change that would cause the equivalent to a technology emergency situation.) when I knew for certain that I would have the money to get it. Not to say I didn't now because obviously I purchased it, but I honestly couldn't pass it up. Through the manufacturer's website I had speced out a new laptop that I thought was reasonable, and also reasonably priced, however when I went shopping with my other (who was also looking at laptops) I came across a deal that I would have been an idiot to pass up. Also, it came with Office Home & Student for free, so that was also an incredibly high selling point for me.

Having this new laptop makes me hope I'll be more motivated to get work done, since honestly being a writer and having a shift key that might work sometimes was not helping. I got everything moved over last night and have started wondering exactly what this little thing is capable of. Even if most of what I'll be doing on it is using Word and listening to music.

I'm also working on what I'll be doing once my current place of work closes at the end of June, besides being a little depressed. My hope is that I'll have a job lined up that would start in August, so I'd be able to take the entire month of July off. If that ends up being the case the only people that would benefit would be my readers. I plan on getting so much work done my doctor will likely yell at me for it. I mean, I'll also do good things for me like go on walks and try not to melt in my top floor apartment, but my primary focus will be on writing. Here's to hoping that's what happens!

Thanks everyone for stopping by to visit again. I'll be back on Wednesday to take a lot of another writing topic. Hopefully it won't be another mini-rant, but we'll see what the Internet has to show me before I get there. Another reminder, 'The Light Rises' is still on sale for $1, but only until May 30th, so that means you have just over a week before it goes back to being more than that. So please, go to Smashwords and use coupon AW99C so you can get it at the discounted price, also tell your friends so they can too! I'll see everyone here Wednesday!

Friday, May 18, 2012

05/18/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone! My cat Alik and I welcome you back for another visit. We've all managed to make it through the week to Friday and as a thank you I have for you another story to look at.

Today I bring you 'Rainfall' by V.A. Jeffrey. It's a short story about a man who has been sick and put on paid leave from work. He hears voices and sees things, but only after and when it rains. Everything changes right as he goes to call his doctor, and a cat comes to his house and begins to talk.

One of the things I like about this story is how dark is actually is. There is hope for the main character Jonah, since his suffering will be at an end, but the implications of what that means are far greater than something one would generally imagine. Since it is short I won't go into details here, because spoilers are mean, but let's just say Jonah is not alone in his sickness and everyone is going to have to see why.

'Rainfall' has some strange formatting at times, so I'm not sure if it will qualify for the premium catalog, but for now you can get it for free at Smashwords for your enjoyment. I recommend picking this up to check out for anyone that wants a nice read that makes them think afterward.

Thanks everyone for stopping by for another week. I look forward to seeing you all back next week as well. As normal, if there are any comments/questions/concerns/emotional outbursts, feel free to contact me or put them down as a reply to the post. I would love discussions and/or recommendations and think it would be a great way to add something to this blog. Also, remember that 'The Light Rises' is still $1 when you use coupon AW99C through Smashwords until May 30th! I'll see you back on Monday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

05/16/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope your week so far as seen you well. Mine has been spent trying not to melt as the weather gets warmer. Living in the top floor apartment has the disadvantage that is 'Good luck keeping cool!' which is not exactly enjoyable.

Today I have a couple mini-topics that are kind of like refreshers, but at the same time they are important enough to be repeated a little. The first is going to be a reminder to do your research. This goes for pretty much everything from writing an article to a full-blown novel. Especially if you're putting the up on the Internet, since the Internet is a place full of frightening individuals that will stop at nothing to find any weakness and tear you down. If you don't believe me to go any forum or comments thread about any specific item, topic, or other such thing and you will find them. Sure there are some that will give the polite comment with the correct information, and this message isn't to protect you from them specifically, but it's more the people that will say hurtful things because they are so proud they found a mistake. I don't want to let anyone go through that, and I just wanted to stress the importance of making sure your information is correct so they don't see something to go after in your work.

My 'for real' topic for today was going to be talking about character names. I've mentioned this before, but I wanted to bring it up again because of just how important the names of people are in stories. Now if you are writing a satire or comedy study having a ridiculous name is just fine, and I'm not necessarily talking about those genres. The ones I'm looking at today are ones that show the character is a blatant Mary Sue.

For those that might not know, a Mary Sue character is one that is special in all ways, everyone loves them (or sometimes everyone hates them, but at the same time they have a group where everyone loves them more), and are usually a method for the author to make the story about themselves. Now in defense of what I'm likely about to hear; it's impossible to write something about a character without putting some aspects of yourself into them. I completely understand that, and it's not what I'm talking about.

One way to avoid this is to give your character a name that sounds like a normal person. There was an article on that mentioned naming your characters (and love interests) and some of those are just pure gold. However if you are trying to avoid making your character look like they were plucked out of the river of special-awesome, please try to give them a name that seem remotely normal. Not to say all characters need to be named Sarah, Mary, John, or Michael Smith, but something like Lilith Deamonsbane is kind of a give away.

Also, another thing that is not targeted by this post are characters with assumed names. If their name is different/special and there is a reason behind it, such as they're protecting the people they love from bad things learning who they actually are, that's perfectly fine. It's an understandable thing that someone would do in order to keep someone safe. Also not being mentioned here are characters in the Superhero subgenre or the faerie. Those names are SUPPOSED to be a little different because on one hand you have someone who is likely trying to do the thing where people (and themselves) are safe from retaliation, and on the other you have creatures that are pure magic and somewhat crazy. Again I'm bringing this up because having your main character be named Elvira Lovecrest and they are just an average high school student doesn't make it like they're very 'average' at all.

I'm sorry about the mini-rant, I don't usually do that, but seriously. Please PLEASE stay away from Mary Sue characters. That's all I ask. Well...that's not true, I also ask that you go check out 'The Light Rises' for $1 when you use coupon AW99C. That would make me a happy person. I'll see everyone back here on Friday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

05/14/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone! I hope your weekend saw you all well. I got to see friends and also a concert by the Seattle Rock Orchestra. They did the entirety of the Beatles 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver' which was super fun. You may remember that a couple months ago I saw them do a tribute to Muse, and this had a very similar set up. 

Things are starting to actually warm up around the Pacific Northwest and each day I remember how much I dislike being too warm. Our apartment is rather difficult to keep cool, since it's on the top floor and the windows are in awkward locations for the air conditioner. I usually have some kind of fan setup that allows for some airflow, but that doesn't always make it perfect. Also, having two medium-hair cats that love to be on my lap at all times make staying cool a challenge sometimes. I know one solution would be to push away the cats, but they're so happy!

I have purchased a new notebook for me to use at work. The problem I'm having right now is that I have absolutely no idea which story is going to go in it. I have really two options; start 'The Pantheon War' (working title, it may change to 'Pride of the Pantheons' depending on how I feel later) and finish out that trilogy or 'The Magicians' War' which takes place between the two story blocks and fills the gap about what happened to magic between the stories around 'The Light Rises' and 'Daughter of the Shackled King'. Whichever I decide to work on, I'll be excited either way because that means I'll be down to two left, which is something I'm fairly certain my wrist is happy about.

I've started looking through the large file of stuff I have to try and figure out something short and fun to publish. My problem is finding something I think people would be interested in. I know that everything I decide on will need heavy editing, which is fine, it's a matter of settling on one or a few. Nothing is too terribly long (especially compared to 'Rending the Seal' because apparently I hate myself.), and whatever I put up will likely be free (yay!) I just need to pick something and just run with it. So I will pose this question to you all: Is there something in particular you'd like to see? Most of what I have is fantasy/science fiction, and the genre likely won't change during editing. I have a variety of sub-genre's so there is that as well.

Thanks everyone for stopping by once again. I look forward to seeing you all back here throughout the week. Remember, if you go to Smashwords and use coupon AW99C you can still get 'The Light Rises' for $1, so if you haven't checked it out already, please tell your friends. It will make me smiley. See you Wednesday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

05/11/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone, I hope your week has seen you well. Mine has been interesting, and I'm hoping for another relaxing day. Right now though, let's get right to business shall we?

Today I bring you 'Dark Heirloom' by J.D. Brown, it's the story if a young woman in her early twenties trying to figure out why and how she became a vampire. She isn't a member of the undead, and she was never bitten, but she is most definitely a vampire and doesn't know why. She's already had someone try to kill her, saying she should lead them to her nest, but she doesn't know what they're talking about. Not even her mother will give her answers, so it's up to Ema to figure things out for herself, and of course try not to be killed along the way.

This story is done in the first-person perspective, which is a narrative style I both like, and also fail at completely when trying to do it myself. So, whenever someone manages to actually handle it appropriately I do enjoy it. Now, I've said this also before I'm not the biggest fan of Vampires, but when someone takes them and does something interesting with them; like in this case it's a girl who's mysteriously a vampire. It's different, it's interesting, it has nothing to do with sparkles. (I'll probably catch hell for that, but that's fine.)

'Dark Heirloom' is available on Smashwords for $5.95, a bit pricey, but a good story. I believe the price is partially because it's published by a company, and they set the prices, not the author. I still recommend checking it out though!

Thanks everyone for coming by this week again. I look forward to seeing everyone back next week as well. Also remember 'The Light Rises' is still $1 when you use coupon code AW99C at Smashwords, so check that out as well! Have a good day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

05/09/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Good day everyone! I'm glad to see everyone back for another day, and I hope this week is seeing you well. So far this week has not been meant for sleeping well, but that's an acceptable loss when not having constant headaches from stress. For now though, let's talk about something nice shall we?

Today I wanted to look at scene changes. Now this may seem like something rather simple, but to the reader if this is done wrong it can be incredibly jarring. Aside from dialogue, scene changes are most likely going to be the most frequent thing in whatever story you write. This is where your descriptions and your exposition come into play, and there is a delicate balance that must be made in order to do this correctly.

One of the most frequent scene changes are going to happen between chapters, for example when at the end of chapter 5 the characters are on a train somewhere, and chapter 6, they make it there. (Unless of course you wanted to have some kind of running gun battle on the train, if that's the case, then by all means, be my guest.) What you'll need to do at the very start of that new chapter is to show the reader the characters are somewhere else. Think of it like you're looking at a picture, just tell them what's in the picture and how the people are interacting with it, but you also need to give them some kind of build-up because if a scene change is too drastic/sudden it can cause the reader to be confused and fee like they missed something.

Some good practice to handle scene changes is actually to work on Dream Sequences. These are going to be sudden changes, at least very likely, but they're also going to be very different between whatever the dream is and the waking world. This helps you work on descriptions, interactions with the world, and if you want to have some fun throw some symbolism in there too! Dreams also help with backstory, like if your character has flashbacks, or there's some kind of event they don't particularly want to talk about with the other characters, but you want to show that it has affected them greatly.

There's also the flip side where if you put in too much description your reader will fall into the TLDNR (Too Long Did Not Read) mentality. A good example of this is really anything by Nathanial Hawthorne, not to say I don't like his work, but there are times when you're on the third or forth page of a description of a dress you start wondering how much is really necessary. There is a sweet spot, and finding it is really going to depend on your writing style. It's going to take practice and work, but this is a thing that exists, not like dry land at all.

I hope this was helpful, and that I didn't fall into the TLDNR category. Another reminder that 'The Light Rises' is still $1 until the end of May when you use coupon code AW99C at Smashwords. Please check it out and tell your friends! I'll be back on Friday for my weekly review!

Monday, May 7, 2012

05/07/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a fun weekend. Today starts a new week of hopefully progress and work, though I would much rather have the day off to rest a little. My friends and I drove down to Oregon on Saturday, which was a rather nice drive and the place we stayed at was really neat.

We stayed at McManemin's: Edgefield, which was an old hospital (asylum) that the company changed into a vineyard, brewery, spa, and hotel. The art around the building certainly gave the feeling that people had lost their minds there, and possibly still do sometimes. There was also a wedding behind held there that weekend, and it was also Cinco de Mayo, so things were a little crazy, but it was fun overall. Especially for the lady in the room next to us, also the walls were not soundproof.

It was also a pedigree moon, or Super Moon as some call it. It's when the side of the moon that faces the earth during a Full Moon is closest to the earth, so it was brighter and larger than normal. My hope was that we'd get to see some of the reported activity because of that, but we didn't see or hear anything of supernatural origin. (Though if you ask that lady...) We also got to play some more Mage, and playing in a hotel is rather fun to do sometimes. The only problem I had was the thin blankets and the fact that three out of the five people that went with us snored. Needless to say, much caffeine was consumed yesterday.

All in all I'd say it was a successful weekend. Next weekend should be fun too, and hopefully I'll have more news to share and such. Not sure about what, but any news is good new, right? For now, just remember that you can still get 'The Light Rises' for $1 by using coupon code AW99C at Smashwords. I'll see you all back on Wednesday, and if anyone has a topic they'd prefer to see, let me know!

Friday, May 4, 2012

05/04/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back and I hope you've all had a great week! I took a bit longer finding this one, so I want to get right to the review!

Today I look at 'Dead Sexy' by Sharonna Johnson. It's a free short story available on Smashwords about what it means to be true to yourself. I mean, the overall plot is about a girl who wants nothing more than to live up to the model (literally) that her mother was, but no matter what she does she is faced with constant rejection.

It's an example of what the modeling industry wants; blonde, non-existent size, busty, and fake. Here we have Angela, a little red-head who wants to be just like that, but any agent she tries to visit won't even let her open her mouth before they reject her. Now, I'm a little hurt because I'm a red-head and think that all of us need to stand together and be awesome, but I also understand that there is a kind of stigma there. (Whatever, we're still cool.)

In the end, Angela makes a desperate move and asks for help by selling her soul at a Crossroads. Instantly her life is changed forever, but is it really worth it in the end? That's the question that 'Dead Sexy' poses to its readers, and frankly anything that makes you think is a win in my book. What I took away from it is that being true to yourself is more important than what people who only think they know what the world wants say, but as with many things that is up to interpretation.

Thanks for stopping by again! Remember you can see get 'The Light Rises' for $1 until the end of May using coupon code AW99C when you visit Smashwords. Tomorrow I get to go on a mini-trip down to Oregon, I'll let you know if we get murdered by ghosts while down there! I have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

04/02/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone! I hope your week has seen you well so far. I had an interview yesterday and another one today, so let's see how that goes. I hope you all had a chance to check out 'The Light Rises' using the coupon code AW99C so you can get it 75% off! That coupon runs until May 30th, so tell your friends!

After going over in my brain what to talk about today, I have decided to look at preparation. Now you may wonder why that gets its own post, since many people think preparation is a two step process, that being; Get an idea for a book, followed by, write that book. While those are important steps they aren't really anything prep-wise, they're essentially what you're doing.

No, the first step in preparation is simply getting the idea. Once you have that idea you need to take it apart and figure out if it's something that you are able to build and expand enough to make a cohesive story. That goes for both short and full-length stories. Your idea can be anything from a boy walking his dog to the park to a group of resistance fighters trying to stop the spread of an alien invasion that's working with the government in order to take over the world. If you can't expand on that enough to make the story compelling and make sense, then it either needs to be shelved for now or worked on further before going to paper. (Or computer, if that is your preferred medium)

As I mentioned before, once you get your basic plot idea, then it's time to get some characters in there. Since I've gone into this before, I won't elaborate too much on that step. Just remember your characters need to fit in and also expand the plot; if they don't seem to fit right nothing's going to feel natural in the scenes with that particular character.

Something that must also be considered is how far you want to take, not just the characters, but the overall plot. Is this a one-shot story? If it is, are you planning on making a sequel with the same characters again later? What sort of loose-ends are you going to leave the reader asking questions about so the sequel doesn't feel forced? Something that I have found is one of the hardest questions to answer is the one asking 'how much time has passed between these books', since you will also need to advance the entire world by that. Now, to be fair this does work easier in stories that are sent in the real world, since you already know how, for the most part, how technology advanced and such. If you've created your own, things become a bit more difficult because you have to rip everything from your own head to decide how far things have advanced and changed.

If you are planning on writing a series, you also need to decide how many books there are going to be. You can do a three book trilogy, or a seven book epic, or anything in between. What's important at that point is to make sure the characters are growing with the times as well, and also with the reader, since it's not like people in the real world are stuck in non-progressive time (right?). If you write an eight book series and a whole two weeks have passed from book one to book eight, not only is that a little hard for a reader to believe, but, depending on what's happening in them by the fourth book at least one of the characters has to have some kind of breakdown because obviously they're living in some 24-like universe where something terrible happens every single day, and not everyone is Jack Bower.

I appreciate everyone stopping by again! Please come back on Friday for the weekly review. If there are any questions/comments/emotional outbursts, please contact me or put them in the comments. I'd be more than happy to see some! Have a good week!