Writers are told they will become better writers if they are also readers. While I’m working on my supernatural, new adult novel, The Knight in Tights, and the sequel to my supernatural YA/new adult sequel to Reno Red, I’m also reading…and listening.
I’m listening to an awesome podcast of a YA drama, Lyric Mother of a Faery Tale. The podcasts will be approximately 15 minutes each—perfect to listen to on the exercise bike, treadmill or anywhere really.
I highly recommend it. Click HERE for the link.
This is Lyrics summary:
Lyric is a 16-part YA audio drama about Ashley Scott, a college student whose life is magically transformed when her family legacy falls on her young shoulders. She planned to survive the summer working odd jobs around Eden College campus, but when mystical beings and reality collide, she’ll settle for keeping her sanity.
Besides the podcast, I have been reading, too. I like paper vs. tablet. Call me crazy.
I just finished Kelley Armstrong’s Visions book 2 in the Cainsville series. I loved Omens book 1, and book 2 is even better. I will be starting Deceptions book 3, soon. The Cainsville series is adult modern Gothic.
I also just finished Hear the Wind Sing (100 pages), and the second book of the trilogy Pinball, 1973 (135 pages) by Haruki Murakami. I don’t know how to describe the works, kind of like the Seinfeld show that was “about nothing,” but the books held my interest—and isn’t that what books are supposed to do.
Next up, Louise Penny’s Still Life, a Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery. Her series was recommended to me by a friend who read it in her book club.
I recommend any books/podcasts above. Please share what you have been reading. I’d be interested to find more good series.
Most people may make a list of resolutions—that’s boring, and in most cases, useless. This is a list of things I’ll never understand. Maybe you can relate. If so, leave some feedback—it’s free.
The “Just Why?” List
Floating soap. Ewww and why?
Empty toilet rolls. Apparently, nobody wants to risk it.
Tags in a tagless society. These jeans practically had a book inside. By this point, just include an instruction manual.
Hard to read or non-existent expire dates on food. If I can’t read it, I don’t buy it. Here’s a hint for marketing departments:
- Black on blue or red is hard to read.
- Imprinted dates on foil get crushed and ruined.
- Dates stamped on plastic bottles smear.
- Stamping dates in black ink over black writing is ridiculous.
RETHINK YOUR PACKAGING. Please and thank you.
Dog owners who don’t pick up dog poop when they walk their dogs. I’ve observed people walk away after watching their dog dump at the park. This is not acceptable. Your dog is embarrassed for you. Some bags are free and even give instructions on how to use it. You can argue that nobody picks up after the geese and coyotes at the park—or bears in a forest—or lions in Africa. Don’t be ridiculous. Your dog, your responsibility.
None of this takes rocket science, just common sense. If I did have a New Year’s resolution, the top of the list would probably be to help people get a little more common sense in 2020.
Welcome to the Fluffy Bunny, an adventurer’s bar, named after the blade used to slay the ancient dragon Thorenoak. The Fluffy Bunny is a place where tales are spun. Pull up a chair and join in on the adventure.
Among the wonderful tales about unusual names are A Pirate’s Dragon Tale. Find out what or who Puddles is and why the moniker.
Anthology available April 6, 2018.
Visit WolfSinger Publications.
The right pairings of anything can make a spectacular combination. Mouth-watering combos that prove the point include pretzels and ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate, and apples and caramel. Duets that combine musical artists of different genres, such as country singer Kenny Chesney with rocker Pink (Setting the World on Fire), can create wonderful results as well. In writing, plot points are also paired, and the combinations can make or break a story.
Winning and Losing – A Game of High Stakes
Well-defined plot points, or plot elements, are what give a story depth and stir emotions in a reader. The most important element that a character needs is a goal or problem, which must be resolved by the story’s end. A goal cannot stand alone. It is paired with another element, consequence. Failure to attain that goal or solve a problem leads to the consequence. If a character is willing to do anything to avoid failure, a story will have high-stakes tension. Life and death situations are an example of a high-stakes goal/consequence.
A Good Rollercoaster Ride
Along the way to conquering a goal, a character must have smaller successes and failures. These plot points are called requirements and forewarnings. The combination of these is what gives a story the rollercoaster effect—humps to get over, picking up speed downhill, sharp turns—the fun stuff that leaves a rider (and reader) on the edge of their seat. Requirements give readers a sense of relief that the protagonist is well on his/her way. Forewarnings are setbacks that make a reader turn the pages to see if the protagonist is going to get out of another jam.
Pairings: Dog Quiz
Now for the fun stuff. Speaking of things that go well together, some pairings in the dog world can make adorable pooches. Take the following quiz to see if you can determine what these hybrid canines are. Answers are at the bottom of the blog. No cheating, and yes, there are duplicates.
On a side note, most of the pictured dogs were rescues. Rescued does not mean damaged—it just means a wonderful dog hasn’t met the right person. Consider a rescue when you are ready to adopt. I can personally give you five good reasons why, and four of them are pictured here.
A Jack-A-Ranian (Jack Russell Terrier/Pomeranian)
B Aussiedor (Australian Shepherd/Labrador Retriever) looks like an Aussie
C Aussiedor (Australian Shepherd/Labrador Retriever) looks like a Lab
D Chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund) Also known as the Taco Bell dog meets a Weiner Dog, no her ears aren’t Photoshopped!
E Morkie (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier)
F Doxiepoo (Dachshund/Poodle)
G Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever/Poodle) A large, standard poodle and light golden mix
H Chiweenie (version 2) This one looks more like a dachshund
With the arrival of fall, the 110-degree temperatures have passed in Vegas. It is time for my annual ritual of planting fall flowers to liven up the outdoors. A dozen flowers are a cheap hobby, great therapy, and make the yard pretty. If you thought this was a blog about cannabis, it’s not.
A Thought Steamrolled into a Blog, #amwriting
As I prepared the soil in a large plastic pot, I had a thought—several thoughts actually, but I frequently can’t stay on task. I’m supposed to be working on my website right now, so don’t tell my husband I’m planting and writing a blog instead. Anyway, the pot of dirt didn’t serve any purpose. It was plain, boring, and didn’t do anything.
I chose to plant three different flowers in the pot. I could’ve put only one type of flower, and the pot would’ve been pretty; however, the chrysanthemum, morning glory, and geranium are very different in shape, size, and color, and mixed together, they made the pot more interesting and beautiful.
Flowers Are Cool
The flowers do their own thing in the pot, regardless of what the other flowers do. They have plenty of room to grow to maturity and will provide a great service while they thrive. They will grow just as well in a $5 pot as they would in a $100 pot. Pots may look different on the outside, but it’s what goes on the inside that makes the difference. The flowers are what make the pot beautiful, and not the other way around.
Bees and hummingbirds will stop by the pot for food. Ladybugs, mantis, and other bugs will probably visit for shade and protection, too. The flowers will give off oxygen to benefit everyone. Of course, my friends and family will enjoy the beauty of the flowers when they visit, and I’ll take pictures of the flowers to post on ViewBug.
Fun Tip, Ceramics Idea, #OffTopicAgain
If you don’t know what to do with all those little ceramic pieces your children or friends’ children made and gave you, they add a little something extra to flower pots. They are weatherproof, so they won’t get ruined, and it makes them functional.
When the sizzling 110 temps return, it’ll fry their leaves, and they’ll shrivel up. Sometimes, they leave seeds behind, and the seedlings take over the pot. Until then, the flowers will wave in the breeze, lift their heads to the sun, and dance in the rare Vegas showers. It doesn’t matter to the flowers if some people do not see their beauty or their contribution to nature. The flowers will continue to do their own thing in their own space and make the yard a better place while they’re in it.
If you liked reading about my flower pot, you may like to read one of my books. I’d really like that. If horror and paranormal is your preference, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell will be on sale for .99 on Amazon from Oct. 5 – Oct. 9. That’s a bargain you shouldn’t pass up!
Writing tips and bearded men in one blog—just go with it. To make a fictional story come alive, writers need to create meaningful and memorable characters. The best characters, bearded or otherwise, are the ones that make the readers feel emotion while they read. If a protagonist is well-written, readers will want them to overcome conflict. They will feel heartbreak at a character’s misfortune. Readers will turn pages in hopes their beloved protagonist wins in the end. Unless, or course, the reader doesn’t like the protagonist.
Characters need a variety of traits. A character who is courageous and humorous could also be obnoxious and selfish. Antagonists shouldn’t be perfect, just like everyone else. Tony Stark saves the world and is likable, but he is a bit egotistical, too. However, egotistical people may not see a big ego as a flaw. Creating characters with a mixture of different traits allows readers to decide for themselves if they like a character or not.
Hunk, Babe, Troll
Creating a great character takes a lot more effort than describing what they look like. For example, “the older man with a beard” could describe many guys, including the band ZZ Top and Santa. To add a little fun to this informational blog, here’s a history lesson that involves older men with beards. The answers will be at the end of the blog.
Men with Beards
See if you can name all the bearded men. Getting all of them correct would be amazing. A score of five, six, or seven is impressive. Two to four correct answers is probably average. One correct answer is bad.
Writing that is done well takes a lot of hard work. Many people underestimate what a good writer can do to make a story come alive, sway opinions, or make a company look good. It is a craft. It takes time, effort, and multiple revisions for writers to get an article, essay, or story from an idea to a finished product. Yet, many writers get paid .01 per word for their effort. This article would be worth $4.29.
A. President Rutherford B. Hayes
B. Edmund Gwenn (Santa from the original movie Miracle on 34th Street)
C. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula
D. President Ulysses S. Grant
E. John Harvey Kellogg inventor of Corn Flakes and other breakfast cereals
F. John C. Fremont, American explorer
G. Buffalo Bill Cody, American scout and showman
H. President James A. Garfield
Credits for photos: Hayes – biography.com; Grant – quotesgram.com; the rest – Pinterest
Employers often compose job descriptions for a multitude of positions to include qualifications such as “You look forward to the challenge,” “You are a great communicator,” “You have strong organizational skills and attention to detail,” “You’re good at overcoming challenges,” “You are creative, self-motivated, and able to take constructive criticism.” After running those qualifications by the potential candidate, employers get to the nitty-gritty and list about a thousand things they need to be skilled in—along with several years of experience. Usually, typos are in many of the job ads. “Proficiency in using a spell checker” should be included as well as utilized.
Writers may not realize they have all these qualifications, but they do. It’s a given that successful writers self-motivate. Words won’t appear on the paper/screen unless a writer puts them there. They draw inspiration from many sources, and it’s imperative. A writer needs to find what inspires them to overcome writer’s block and procrastination. A writer’s skill set can easily match the above list.
Up for the Challenge—Ideas, Grammar, Content, Acceptance
Writing is a challenge. Coming up with ideas and finally finishing a poem, short story or novel is a challenge. Tweaking it until the writer feels it is perfect—challenging. Getting it published—greatest challenge of them all. Writers look forward to the challenge of creating something new, researching material to make their work complete and finding a new and creative way to get as well as hold a reader’s interest. They must overcome rejection of their work—tons of it, mostly in the form of agent rejection letters—or they will never succeed. Writers can’t give up if they want to become published authors one day. This is a driving force for many.
Communication—Persuade, Inform, Entertain
Whether to persuade, inform or entertain, writers need to communicate with readers. Material must be well-written to sway someone into taking a side or to teach them a concept. Even if material is purely for entertainment, a writer does their best to captivate the reader. The characters, setting and plot is communicated from the writer’s imagination to the reader through word choice and attention to detail. Writing isn’t easy, and not everyone can or wants to do it. That’s why companies hire writers.
What exactly is constructive criticism? Definitions.net sums it up perfectly. “Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.” In other words, all writers need to be open to feedback to grow and improve. A first or tenth draft can be improved. Successful writers learn this. After presenting material for feedback from critique groups, agents and reviewers, writers toughen up if they want to remain writers.
Writing is an art. It takes creativity, time, patience and a lot of other skills. Writers are artists who enjoy their craft because it’s a creative release and good therapy. A side note: If someone makes an impression on a writer–good or bad–there’s a good chance they’ve just given them inspiration for more material.
I love wolves. They are my favorite animal and are pretty amazing when you take the time to learn about them. Unfortunately, they have received a bad rap for centuries. Fairy tales, other literature, and movies portray them as bloodthirsty killers. The creation of werewolves didn’t help their cause either.
Years ago, I wrote a story that would make wolves the good guys for once and educate people on some wolf facts. The story is too long to be a picture book and too short to be a book, so it has stayed in my laptop. Target stores is hosting a short story contest through Wattpad, looking for modern-day stories that involve a fairy tale or myth. It is perfect for my story, so I submitted it.
Since my following on Wattpad is small and only votes will push the story to the next level, it doesn’t stand a chance right now. If you would like to help me give wolves the voice they deserve, check out Wolves Don’t Play Dress Up. If you think it’s deserving, give it a vote. Thanks so much!
When I first starting my writing endeavor over nine years ago, it was exciting, and I had a blast creating and learning. I bought and read the book, The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard, and it sent me on my way. The author suggested joining a writing group, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which I did, and finding critique groups to bounce around ideas and share material with other writers. I did that as well, and it was a great piece of advice. It was the best step I took to improve my writing, meet great people, and have lasting friendships with people who support what I do.
Ways to Improve Writing Skills
I’ve been to many conferences and lectures to hear authors, agents, and writers’ advice on how to improve my writing. I’ve also paid to have agents critique my manuscripts at these events. All of these steps have improved my writing tremendously—or so I believe. I’ve always learned something from any writing event I’ve attended. If you do the research, you can find free and low-cost events as well as big conferences.
So Where Are the Big Bucks?
Good question. I went into writing knowing children’s authors overall don’t make much. I’ve actually spent more money than I’ve ever earned from book sales. I’ve bought more of my own books and given away for promotion than I can count. I don’t write just for the money because I have yet to see any. If anyone has tips on this, I’d like to hear them.
The Joys of Getting Published
I had my first book, Pirates Off the Deep End, published in 2013 by Short on Time Books, a small publisher. I was beyond thrilled to see my work escape the jammed-packed folders of my computer and sit on a shelf with a beautiful, glossy cover. I still am thrilled. Although I don’t have a huge following or really even a small following, many people have enjoyed my books, and it makes me happy. Good reviews make me even happier.
That’s the bottom line for me—writing makes me happy, and I want my writing to make others happy as well. If you’ve read this far, you’re now going to get the best advice I have to offer.
The Old Man, Boy, and Donkey
If you don’t know the Aesop’s fable with the old man, boy, and donkey about trying to please everyone, it’s worth reading. It ends with the old man and boy carrying the donkey over a bridge because someone shamed them into it. The donkey fell off the bridge. Use its moral in your writing, too. Getting a critique is great, but you can often wind up with contrasting opinions: too much detail vs. not enough; too much dialogue vs. not enough; etc.– you get the picture. You can change your manuscript back and forth forever, and not everyone that reads it will be satisfied. At some point, stop changing it when YOU’RE happy with it.
The “It Takes Over 100 Query Letters” Rule
I’ve read time and time again if authors haven’t sent out at least 100 query letters to agents for a single manuscript, they haven’t given it a chance. I would agree with that statement. Persistence is the key to getting published, but it can be frustrating.
For instance, I write children’s books specifically geared for boys but the majority of agents seem to be women. Thus, my dilemma is I have to “sell” manuscripts to women that have humor meant for little boys. Little boys and women don’t have the same taste in “funny.” Let’s do the math:
Subject + Boys’ Reaction – Agent’s Reaction = Accept/Reject
Alien blue fart bubble Laughs hysterically Grimaces No thank you.
Alien ninja skills Laughs hysterically Moans Doesn’t reply
I think I could send 10,000 query letters, and Aliens at Camp will reside in my computer. I’ve read it several times and laughed out loud. It makes ME happy. All I can do is keep trying to find that one agent who shares the same sense of humor and wants a wacky boy’s book. In the meantime, I keep writing because I enjoy it.
Bottom line, I can’t lose sight of the fact that writing is fun for me, and when bad critiques, agent rejections, and non-existent sales get me down, I need to take a step back and rewind. My favorite quote came from a very wise man, Captain Jack Sparrow, and it applies here. “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.”
The object of the game Guess Who is for two players to guess which of the 24 characters their opponent has selected and visa versa. The first one to guess right wins. Players narrow down the field of “suspects” one question at a time such as “are they male or female” and “do they have brown hair.” After several rounds, many of the “suspects” are still standing because they all fit the same descriptions. The bottom line, physical descriptions given in great detail are wonderful for a police sketch artist but not for characters in a fictional story.
Physical Attributes Just Scratch the Surface
A character’s hobbies, habits, gestures, likes and dislikes will give a reader a more in-depth look than a running list of physical descriptions. In The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door, my young adult/safe for middle grade adventure, the main character is 14-year-old Goldie Jean Rich.
Goldie’s physical attributes are petite, curly hair and young-looking. The rest I’ve left up to the reader’s imagination because it is not an integral part of the story. It doesn’t matter if Goldie is a blonde or redhead nor does it have any bearing on this story if she is of Hawaiian descent or Italian. The same goes for her best friend, the eccentric and fun-loving Rita, and their classmates, Jonny and Blake, who hang around the girls because they have crushes on them. Goldie is also adopted and may/may not look like the rest of her family. That’s up to the reader.
Characters Need Problems, and Goldie Has Her Share
The problems a character has and the way they handle them add to their personality. Entering high school is scary and exciting. Shy Goldie is anxious to be a freshman because of how she sees herself. She confides in Rita “I’m going to look like an eight-year-old when I start high school in three months” to which Rita replies, “Get over it, Goldie. You look at least nine.”
Gema, Goldie’s adult sister, is watching her over summer break while their parents are on vacation. The sisters butt heads constantly. After catching Goldie reading a book about voodoo, Gema asks her sister if she plans to make a voodoo doll in her image. Goldie fumes silently, “Obviously, she (Gema) didn’t know me that well. I couldn’t sew, make crafts, and I didn’t fare well with pointy objects. My last experience with a serrated knife left a permanent scar on my hand from the three stitches I received at the emergency room.”
Goldie’s teenage attitude sneaks out here and there. When she and Rita are plotting to hide a video camera in Gema’s house, Goldie has the situation under control. “Gema has all this stuff already, and I know exactly where she keeps it. It’s in her art studio that I’m not supposed to go into, locked up in a file cabinet that I’m not allowed to look in. But I know where the key is hidden, so we won’t need to pick the lock.” She added, “It didn’t hurt that gadgets and computers had become a hobby of mine since I’d joined the computer club at school. It wasn’t as geeky as it sounded. Or maybe it was. At least, I was putting the knowledge to good use now.”
Habits, Hobbies and Gestures Make a Character
Goldie blushes constantly, especially when she’s around her crush Blake. But, as usual in teenage drama, the guy she doesn’t like, Jonny, is the one who shows interest in her.
The tennis court seems to be the only place Goldie isn’t a walking disaster. She falls down more than a bowling pin and is in double trouble when she doesn’t have her glasses on. “I jumped backwards and stumbled over my own feet. My cellphone flew out of my hand and zoomed through the air. It smashed into my flimsy, green aluminum lamp, knocked it off my nightstand, and it crashed to the ground.”
She is a horror movie addict, watching everything and anything scary—especially zombies. With a big bowl of buttery popcorn, her little dog, Chanel, on one side and Rita on the other, she’s a happy girl. When the zombies are in real life and not on the TV screen, however, Goldie doesn’t find them as fun, but it’s exciting for the reader.
Goldie has a definite personality, which I hope readers find likable, and her image will vary from one reader’s imagination to another. I keep in mind something I read a long time ago that fiction writers shouldn’t force their opinions about the characters on the reader. Lay it all out there, and let the readers decide.
If you like mysteries, a short, fast-paced read, dogs, and, of course, magical zombies, give The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door a try.
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