Monday, June 20, 2011

New Direction For Blog

After quite a bit of research into the matter I have decided to make some changes here on my blog.  To throw out some credits, I took some advice from both Rachelle Gardner and the folks at Author Tech Tips.  I've been following Rachelle at her blog for some time now and just love all the great advice she doles out.  So if you are not following this wonderful literary agent, I suggest that you start, you won't regret it.  Then Author Tech Tips is a site I have just recently been turned onto and again there is a tremendous amount of information there.

The main issue with my current blog is a similar error many authors make.  Many of us omit the very reason we should be using the social media in the first place; to introduce or hype up our work in progress.  The pitfall is that the author designs the website to be more about them and their life, which of course will not attract followers to well.  Instead, it is suggested to make the blog or website more dynamic consisting of content honed more on the work rather than the author.  Sure give the site some of "you," but also include info about your work.  If you can, it would even be smart to have new content that will actually drive folks to come back.  For example, create a side or back story to your novels and then present it in your blog in issues sent out weekly or some other time interval.  

So with this in mind, I'll first roll an introduction to the world of Diar.  This will let readers know a little bit more about the setting for the novels.  I will also develop a small plot line for one of the more fun characters, Fardea Panthrex, and make it available to readers. So stay tuned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Small Update

Power is out at the house, and I'll post a pic of the why it is out when I get a chance.  Let us just say I had a small bit of storm damage.  At any rate, so that I stay connected to the internet I'll make a quick entry to the blog with a little bit of an update for the Chances Are novel.  Currently I am in the rewrite of chapter seven, but the first six are now complete. The chapter titles in sequential order are: Untouchable Dreams, Replacing the Fallen, A Touch of Luck, Fleeing Echos, Dreams and Prophesies, Eshendown Gardens, Troubles Aloft, Hell's Holler...  More to come of course.  Hope you all have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A team

What was it Hannibal use to say on the A Team?  "I love it when a plan comes together."  Well I kid you not I've been contemplating a certain direction for my book for nearly a year now and it is just now finally coming together for me.  I have been struggling with splitting up my original manuscript into a series and quite frankly hadn't completely figured out how until now.  The intertwining of all three, heck maybe even five books has projected itself out before my mind's eye.  Thank goodness, because I was going insane with all of it jumbled up in there.

So here is the deal I believe the first draft, what I had originally thought was a complete novel was in fact the backbone of an epic fantasy series.  I had written the novel before I understood how to write a novel, if that makes any sense.  So much of the book is great conceptually, but it spanned over to much content without enough depth.  Again I hope that makes sense, if not check out my brainstorming formula post.

Okay so that isn't fair for many of you, since it comes off a bit gibberish.  So imagine instead you want to craft the perfect wedding cake.  Each tier would need to be baked separately, stacked, and decorated.  Then you would place that center piece on it as the final touch, right?  Well making a book can be like that as well, only in my case I flubbed it the first time.  I took one cake and doused it with icing, poured on a whole can of sprinkles (ummm, sprinkles), then pressed , no maybe shoved the center piece deep into the pile of goo.

So now I am sorting through it all.  I've baked a few more cake layers which will tier the story better hefting that climatic final book high into the air.

So my question for the day is, how have you set yourself up for sequels or do you bother?  Do you have it all planned out ahead of time and make book one and two interlaced, foreshadowed with items that will easily breadcrumb the readers on into book three?

In other words are you planning on making three distinct wonderfully made cakes? 

Or one magnificent multi-tiered epic piece of literature? 


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our children

The darn editing process can be rough, don't you agree?  We writers create such great proses, at least in our minds, that it becomes difficult if not not impossible for us to let them go.  The attachment is akin to when children run off to college and the parents just don't want to let them leave the nest.  Alas, we must let them go in order to bring our manuscripts to fruition.  Our documents must be culled of paragraphs or even full pages, in some cases, that just do not fit the overall scheme of the book's plot. 

It is hard though, I admit this trouble has found its way to me as well.  I will create a whole backdrop and later have to refine or discard it due to newer ideas that pop into my head.  Ideas that truly do fit better, and drive the story to the climax I have envisioned.  This is not to say that my original idea was bad, but that it no longer adheres well to the flow or line I have developed for the story.

So what do we do with those old discarded pages?  We cut and paste the best of the phrases; we cherish and savor them.  The combination of words that we had sewn together will get adopted as we do our best to squeeze them into the new passages and ideas.  It becomes an adaptation of the orginal concept.  If you had a great fight scene in a bar, but the bar no longer fits as a proper locale, then you keep the fight sequence and place it into another scene like maybe a warehouse.  I know I'm not alone in this concept.  Afterall it is not plagiarism to copy and reuse one's own work; nor is it wrong to covet our 'children' to never get thrown away.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Dreams are a tricky subject for some as are internal dialogues.  How do you bring them into the fold of the manuscript and do they even add to it?  Does it distract the reader to be trucking along reading in the present and then have to shift into some alternate past life the character wants to reflect upon?  Lots of questions and as always it is in the writers best interest to make sure that they first know their character well enough to take such a journey, but also that the writer understand the current standard on how to make that transition.  The most important thing I believe must be to establish a smooth movement from one state to the other, otherwise the reader will be left jarred or worse outright confused.

So first do you or do you not introduce the dream or internal aside?  The first question you should ask is of course does this do anything to help drive the story forward?  Also, will the reader eventually get a pay off for reading the information?  I once read an entire series of books, seven I believe, where I was able to literally skip every passage that was italicized.  It became obvious that each of them added nothing to the story and were there merely to add word count, or extra background to character development.  So be careful on this because it is easy to slide into this pitfall, writers love to give back-story to their characters, but at some point this diatribe must help drive the story.  Meaning it has to be a reason for the character to want to grow, to develop, to escape his past and be better, etc.

So now you have accepted that you are going to put the dream, the internal dialogue, or the passage of 'five years earlier' into the book; now what?  A consistent method must be formed that will signal the reader that you are about to enter such a new time or altered state of mind.  Some writers straight out type out the time of the event they are about to describe, others indent.  For dreams I tend to indent or italicize, but this is currently my preference a publisher I suspect will have a hand at the final look of this.  Other methods include physical separation of the stories via page breaks, asterisks or dashes.  There can also be unique ways of showing past thoughts by your character uncovering notes, letters, or media from the long lost reletives or lovers then clipping the excerpts from these finds into your story.  In any event, make sure the reader knows where they are headed and why.

Show not Tell

I'm not sure it would classify as a debate or not but have you ever heard an agent, or maybe read somewhere that your writing should show the reader the world you are creating and not just tell them about it.  I find there is a lot of truth in this precept.  For instance, how would you describe the moment when the iconic baddies such as Jason and Freddy Krueger (in movies), or maybe Voldemort and Matron Baenre (in books) enter the scene.  When such important characters such as these make their appearances I think it is of utmost importance that they leave a reader with a lasting memory, heck even chills would be nice.

This would be an easy example though, what about the other parts of the book.  Do you think it is important to describe the scenery in such a way that "shows" rather than "tells".  Take for instance a simple romantic stroll on the beach between your two love birds.  How many pages would you dedicate to describing the ocean, the sky, the sand?  Would you have a small aside that tells about the origin of a tiny dark shell that protrudes out of the surf or would that just distract from the moment?  I guess the amount of detail should be kept in balance so long as there is enough to help put the reader in the scene with the characters.  Help the reader smell the salty air and feel the squish of the damp sand beneath their toes.

Some writers use a good bit of dialogue to achieve much of the meat in their manuscript.  A lot can be said about this particular style and of course their are a lot of readers that enjoy a good exchange of verbal cues to tell them what is going on in the book's world.  She pointed down, "Sam look at that shell over there, why do you think it is so dark compared to the others?"  Kaylie asked.  Sam dipped down and scooped up the broken conch and examined it.  He brushed the loose sand off the surface and looked up searching for a good explanation.  She loved his extravagant tales and off the wall whit.   "A long time ago this shell was the home a little mollusk named Onivia.  She was no stranger to adventure..."  And so Sam would give his dialogue.

I guess the moral of this little blog is take a look at your writing, a hard look.  Read it to yourself, heck have others read it to you.  Then close your eyes and picture the scene, can you do it?  Were there to many gaps in the sentences that keep you from picturing it well.  Don't be afraid to rewrite and expand on some of your descriptions and dialogues to achieve this.  Your reader should never have to reach to far to get 'there.'  Where there is that place you are trying to take them to whether it be the next state over or some distant fantasical world.  Yes of course they need to have some use of their own imagination to help along the journey, but don't push it to far.  In other words don't just 'tell' it to them so they think they are reading an encyclopedia entry on the locale, "show' them the place through great use of your words.       

Monday, June 6, 2011

No One's Perfect

So here's the deal you aren't the best writer out there.  I know it stinks to hear it but you aren't and neither am I.  Okay now that we have that settled lets dive into why it is important to know and accept this fact.  I would expect that many other writers and I feel the need to be recognized at some point for my life.  I will not stay in the shadows forever and plunk away on this keyboard hoping no one will ever notice what I'm writing.  I write for purpose not obscurity.

Having said that, I know deep down I battle with the notion that what if and hopefully when my manuscript is read it turns out to be the best thing ever written.  It is a struggle all people feel at some point in their lives have as they fight the forces of making a mark in history.  So back to where we began, I am not the best and neither are you.  Again why is that important, to keep rubbing in. 

If in your mind you feel like you are the best, then you would then not be open to new ideas or ways of doing things.  Why would you be, you are the best and nothing anyone can show or tell you can possibly help you.  You are immaculate with your strokes of genius.  You are impeccable with your awe inspiring words.

Truth be told though, even if you were at the top of your game someone out there is not going to like your work.  So take it from another imperfect writer, there is room for improvement.  There is so much room that you should keep your mind open every day for new opportunites to expand in what you know.  Never stop asking questions of that which is going on around you.  Take it all in with fresh perspectives and discover new ways of expressing it into words, don't be afraid to experiment with our wonderful language.       

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seeing Manuscripts

It was eighth grade and the teacher needed to move me to the back of the room for some reason.  If memory serves she needed to split up some disorderly students.  Who would have thought such a mundane act as that would have such a huge impact on my life.

I sat there for many days watching curiously as the teacher would scribble on the blackboard not quite understanding why she expected me to be able to see what she was writing.  The fat and crumbly yellow chalk she used seemed to run together. I found myself having trouble keeping up with the class as I did my best to hear rather than see what was being taught.  Turns out I was blind as a bat, not as bad a some folks I've met in my lifetime, but bad never the less.  Let us just say you would not want a feller like that behind the steering wheel or operating some sort of heavy machinery.

The question of course comes up, how could no one have ever noticed?  Why did it take till eighth grade to discover this out.  Only thing I can come up with is that the topic never came up.  I had probably just grown up that way and learned to adapt, not knowing that seeing better was an option.

Thankfully my mom caught on to my difficulties and whisked me off to an eye doctor.  A couple hours later I was seeing the world literally through a new set of eyes.  My whole life experience exploded before me as those thick rimmed glasses were slid on.  Everything was crisp and sharp edged; who knew that trees had leaves and were not just green blobs in the distance.  In modern times folks would equate the revelation as going from analog/RCA cabled TV to High Definition LED Blue Ray/ HDMI cabled TV.  It was that dramatic of a change, trust me on that.

So why on earth do I ramble on about all this and how does it tie into this blog.  For me there is a time in every writers career, heck for some lucky individuals it probably happens more than once, that an epiphany moment occurs.  It is when the plot lines explode off the pages and the drab text becomes more than just a bunch of words.  It is when the characters grow beyond the words and touch a writer's heart.  The manuscript is forever changed leaving behind dull one sided meanings and exchanges them for deep cranial experiences the writer can not wait to share with their readers in the hopes that they "get" the hidden meanings and references.  So I wish to all my fellow writers that your manuscripts find their crisp, sharp edges and that their readers can easily say 'that book had substance, I felt it.'  Or as I discovered and was happy to admit when I was young wore those glasses for the first time, "That tree has leaves and it isn't just a green blob."