|artwork by Gabriel Hardman|
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Autumn is coming to where I live and the flowers are bursting forth in a purple and yellow display that’s breathtaking. I can see them from my office window which makes my office an exceptionally nice place to work this time of year as the temperatures begin to cool.
It’s also a great time to take stock and figure out what’s coming next for this writer. After all, we’re heading into winter – the traditional time for hibernation, and for writers the perfect time to curl up with a computer and really put out some great stories and more while the fire crackles on the hearth and the hot chocolate steams in the mug.
First and, these days, in the forefront is the Planet of the Eggs Comic series brought to you by The Egg Chronicles, that I co-create with creative partner Charlene Brash Sorensen. Yep, we’re working on #6 – the final story in this first volume of the comic series, titled Worlds Collide. Its great fun and our readers are going to love it. Don’t forget you can visit the Facebook page where we keep folks up to date on what’s happening and where you can sign up for our monthly newsletter – or you can just sign up for it HERE. You get the first Planet Of The Eggs Adventure, Cracked Open FREE when you join enthusiastic readers on the newsletter list.
That’ll wrap up this first series of adventures, but there are more to come. Got any ideas for these brave an intrepid warrior, scholarly and medic eggs? Go ahead, post ‘em in the comments section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
In that same vein, also under The Egg Chronicles banner, we’ve beguncreating our new line of Children’s Read-to-Me Picture Books! The first one is Look At Me! Look At You! Now available as digital release for your Kindle and in paperback as well on Amazon. Share them with your kids and grandkids. We’re thinking of creating coloring books as well – what do you think?
On another note I’m working on converting my vampire western (titled
screen script to novel format. That’s going to take me into early spring since
we’re doing so much work with our Eggs. It’s back to novels on that front and
it’s also great fun to do even if I do have to keep my nose to the keyboard to
keep up. The two styles of writing
(novel and script) are pretty far apart, so there’s a lot of detail to fill in
and small errors to catch as the writing continues.
Come on over and visit me at my facebook page and webpage as well. I’m delighted to welcome new followers and read comments my readers share.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The first chapter of your book is important.
It doesn’t seem like such a big thing, the first chapter, or does it? It’s the beginning, that which should tantalize your readers, draw them in and hold on tight. So full of promise – what adventure lies ahead?
That first chapter shouldn’t be the thing to set terror fluttering in the heart of the writer, but rather to be exciting, invigorating, fun! That first chapter can lead to so much. It can grab readers. It can hook a bored editor who’s looking for the kind of book you’ve written. It can keep a browser on Amazon reading that Kindle edition and asking for a full sample leading to that coveted sale because that reader is hooked and just can’t stop reading.
So, NUMBER ONE: don’t succumb to terror. Don’t let the white of the screen before you intimidate you. There are all sorts of warnings out there that are a trap to intimidate writers. “In the beginning,” they say, “grab me from the first sentence!” or “Don’t waste a single word!” or “get it moving, start your story somewhere after the first couple of chapters and skip the intro altogether.” Heard this? Read this? Between writing coaches, teachers, editors, agents and script readers it feels like all they’re out there to do is to intimidate writers and scare them into giving up before they even start.
Okay, you, as a writer, don’t need all that tension. The truth is, they’re all looking for that great book and you just might have it. So relax. They aren’t actually expecting perfection from writers. They’re looking for originality and powerful. So breathe in, breathe out and get those first words up on the screen; just let the words flow. The bad and the good. Editing time will be the time to sort it all out. Oh, and by the way, as a general observation, it’s just fine to want to write a book to entertain. It doesn’t have to have a great and deep message or some thrumming theme. Write what your inner writer wants to write.
NUMBER TWO: have a light touch with description. Yes, yes, I know, you can see it all in your mind, every blade of grass, every cricket chirping at a window, every hair on the black dog’s head. Sounds, sights, emotions, textures and colors. The story you’re writing is so powerful you want the readers to be right there with you, to be immersed in the story.
But don’t feel you have to spill it all in those first few sentences in that first chapter. Sketch out the bones with enough details to give it some punch. Your readers don’t want to hear about the weather, every detail of the hero’s street and how long he’s lived there all in the first few sentences. Readers always trust writers to fill in detail as the story moves forward. What’s needed in the beginning is those few details, just a taste, just enough to give a feeling of place. Then trust yourself to add the needed information along with the forward movement of the story.
Now turn that blank white screen into a writer’s chapter to be proud of.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Are you a writer of any type? Do you strive for perfection? Are you slowing yourself down beyond belief?
Yep, well consider this. Sometimes there is just the need for speed. If you watch a bike race like we saw in the Olympics you’ll see it’s not the perfect, cautious rider who wins, it’s the reckless idiot willing to throw it all to the wind and push it to the limit.
Yes, we saw that young rider wipe out on a curve, but that rider was in the game. And if there hadn’t been that wipe out, if the ride had continued on beyond the point of control what would have happened? Thrown off course? Yes. But on a track not taken before, perhaps faster. Maybe better.
Are you in the game?
Perfect will never get you fast and in the end, when applying this to writing, it’s fast that counts for the first draft. Get it out there like word vomit on paper. Really, just toss it out there. Get yourself on a roll and let those written words loose – 1,000 words, 2,000, maybe 5,000 or more in a day. Don’t trip up your hot streak. Don’t risk tossing aside a ‘wow’ moment when you, as writer, look back over the day’s work and find you’ve gone way beyond your usual abilities.
Yes, you’re going to have to edit whether you’re an author who waits until the end to go through the whole script in one go or another kind of writer who edits what was done the day before prior to continuing. You’re just (most of you) are going to have to do some clean up. Or someone is going to have to do it for you and believe me it won’t be an editor or a producer.
BUT - Don’t let the magic of that full throttle day disappear. Don’t chance killing the spark that ignited. Your writing begs for you to be reckless. Perfect slows you down. My advice is don’t go for perfect…especially when in the midst of a creative storm.
The other side is the obvious. I’m sure you’ve all heard various complaints about books with typos, misspellings and all sorts of grammar mistakes that throw the reader off and end up causing them to put the book aside. Same can happen with any other writing. What if you’re a technical writer and hand in a paper filled with errors.
I’m not saying the driven writer shouldn’t be bothered with such, we have to be. We even have to read galleys with a professional eye to catch the errors the editors at major houses miss. However you accomplish it, do it.
But when it comes to your story, don’t go for perfection, go for the speed and power that make your words sing. You never know what new demon might emerge out of the mist.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
As a writer I decided to have some fun and use a cartoon Avatar on my Facebook page for now. I like changing occasionally.
I’ve always had some picture or another of myself on my twitter and Facebook pages associated with my writer self, and just in case you’re one of the people who don’t, let me say it kinda makes you less human, more of a non-entity if you don’t have a picture up there to represent yourself. If you’re just you, it’s not very personal. And, if you’re a business or the site is the representative of your business (like being a writer) then not having a photo can really kill your business (as in not having people move to your writer's info).
It may seem silly, but that blank image is what your customers would be associating with you. So if writer equals blank space what does that convey to the readers who stop by? It also makes it look like you’ve something to hide and that makes people think you may be a spammer. So it’s best to put SOMETHING up there.
For me, it was fun using Cartoonize http://www.cartoonize.net/ to create the picture and easy as well. Just upload a picture to the site and a couple of clicks later you have it – there’s even a choice of styles. See what you can do with it. Use a picture you like and see the results in moments.
But there are lots of other alternatives.
If you don’t want to be a cartoon there are a number of free resources on the web where you can create an Avatar of yourself from scratch using bits and pieces they provide.
Here are a few I’ve run into and explored just a bit. Create a new you and have fun doing it.
Build Your Wild Self is one of my Favorites, but that’s me, others may suite you better. http://www.buildyourwildself.com/
Here are some others:
Face Your Manga
Visit and see what might work for you – or go ‘googling’ for Avatar creators or another creative keyword and if you find something unusually great go ahead and share the link here. It would be greatly appreciated.
It’s time to stop being a mystery person and face the crowd – or at least let your Avatar do it for you.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Namely – mine!
Some writers pretty much stick with what they began with whether it’s novel writing or scriptwriting or journalism for an entire career. That’s great for them, or, if you’re a writer and that’s the way you go, for you.
For me, things keep on a’changin’. It’s not that I move away from one type of writing to another and leave the ‘old’ behind, it’s more like I add to what I’m doing. That can get a bit crazy, but it’s the way I Iike it. Spices things up for me, keeps the fresh and the new ideas rolling.
I began with novels, published with Doubleday, Harlequin and others.
Then I added script writing and I loved it. Had a wonderful mentor in Larry Brody of TVWriter.com (for whom I'm a Contributing Editor), sold a script, optioned some others and am still working with scriptwriting having completed one a short time ago. All I had to do was know how to type and be creative...and learn the formatting.
But that’s not where it stops for me. I’m also creating a novel from a previously written script. Its great fun and I intend to publish. I have a romance novel I’m working on finishing up as well. Still typing, still milking the creative juices.
What’s the newest? Comic books. Kid’s books. Yep, an unusual undertaking for me. I’ve partnered up with a great friend and we, together, write and illustrate the comic series Planet Of The Eggs with five adventures published so far and more in the works. As an off-shot we’re now creating our first ‘read-to-me’/’young readers’ picture book based on the fun characters of Planet Of The Eggs. The first is celebrating the differences in us all, as well as what brings us together, and is as yet untitled, but that’s coming!
The learning curve was pretty steep on comic creation. We’re still using a combination of photoshop, powerpoint and comic life software. Now we’ve also thrown in the free photo manipulator from Paint.net and got a couple of special effects packs so we can create cool pen sketches and other kind of amazing effects.
The results so far is the near completion of the first volume (six issues) of the Planet Of The Eggs comic book series. But wait, there’s something afoot! The series is about to find itself in a reboot as we evolve from the very young adventurous eggs to the more confident, determined Superhero eggs and their friends, companions and arch enemies. We’re on the very cusp as we complete the first picture book and dive into plotting for the sixth adventure to complete our first volume.
Oh, and the fifth, Planet Of The Eggs-Eruption 2, Saving Dot has just released in Kindle format and paperback will follow in the next couple of weeks. Want to keep up with it all?
Go to our facebook page for Planet Of The Eggs, tell us your thoughts, which heroic egg is your favorite, what villains you would like to see, whatever comes to mind. We love to hear from fans. Oh, and there’s a monthly newsletter as well – just click the sign up button near the top of the page and get access to the first adventure in PDF FREE! Or sign up directly here.
So, my personal writing career has become a fantastical juggling act and I love it. Yep, I’ll be finishing that romance novel, probably creating more novels from scripts and the reverse as well as finding new and exciting things to pursue with my writing. I’ll let you know what I come up with next. Meanwhile, happy reading and writing.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Have you ever been asked that question? You know, the one about which books, if you could take only three, or one or five, would you take with you to a desert island? Ah the seriousness of it all, the conundrum. Which books to take? Rack your brain. Think, think, think.
Well, I’m a long time reader and writer and I have an answer. Nope, not a list of which books I’d take and a lengthy explanation as to why I chose those particular books. It’s much simpler. I’m not big on clutter or complications.
Here it is.
I’d take along an Ebook reader – and a solar charger. In my case that would be a Kindle Fire, but for others it would be something else. Whatever. The Kindle plus solar charger would take up less space (if that’s an issue) and provide a whole lot more than the basic few books. In fact I could load it up with my old favorites that I like to read more than once and then hit Kindle for lots of freebies I could add to the memory and catch up with discovering new authors. That’s not to say I couldn’t purchase a number of books I’ve been meaning to read along the way as well. How about Game of Thrones, the complete set? That would keep me busy for quite a while and take up little space on the reader. Whohoo! Just don’t hit any ‘delete’ button accidentally. There’d be no recovery.
And the reader, if it’s more of a tablet, would let me take a few downloaded movies and/or music along as well. Ah, the modern age. The wonderful world of digital. The other nice thing is I could read in the dark. Most screens are backlit so I wouldn’t be forced to attempt to ready by torch light or candle or something.
Only downside is if anything happened to the reader/tablet/Kindle/whatever, or the solar charger, there would be no ‘hard copy’ books or anything else to read, listen to or watch.
Sigh. Well, we can’t have everything (though I’m not quite sure why not…it’s just that my Grandmother said…well, you know). Maybe I could then pound palm leaves into some sort of paper and use charcoal from burned out palm stumps to write my own books. It’s a thought.
Anyway, that’s my answer. I’d risk it. Hopefully if it was a castaway situation I’d be rescued before something untoward happened to my electronics.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. Even if you aren’t both I’m sure there are things about the beginning of a book, the very first sentence that just bug the heck out of you.
Seriously. Me too.
So I’m going to talk here a bit about beginnings – specifically the very beginning – the first sentence of a novel which ideally is supposed to grip the reader by the eyeballs and not let them go.
Um, yeah. So here are five ‘do-nots’ from my perspective as both writer and reader.
First, it’s the beginning. I know nothing of what’s going on so let’s not start with a really long sentence. Those usually aren’t too good anywhere in the book, but at the very beginning they can be killers. A long sentence provides just too many ideas and bits and pieces of information all randomly connected for the reader to make any sense of by the time the sentence is finished. And this, as the very first sentence…not a good idea. Way to turn off the reader. Come on! It’s the first sentence.
Second, I’m not wild about books that start right out with dialog. I mean at this point, need I reiterate, it’s the beginning. The reader isn’t acquainted with any of the characters, knows nothing about the plot, where they’re at or what they are doing or intend to do. So why would the reader care what someone is saying at the very inception of the book? When I see a start like that I suspect it’s a sort of a gimmick the writer learned somewhere. I know I know, “it’ll all make sense later”. Probably not for me because that second sentence better be a doozy to keep me reading beyond that first, “So you wanna go to the park?” dialog bomb at the beginning. A beginning like that doesn’t tweak any questions or raise any interest in my brain. Just lost interest. On to something else.
Another thing (I guess this is the third) that gripes me is the revelation the whole opening was a dream or maybe a flashback or maybe a visitation from another dimension. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather keep on track. Diversions can occur later, but I want that first sentence hook to really give me something. It’s supposed to be a hook, remember?
Okay, next. The fourth gripe on my list. Since this is the beginning and I as a reader have no idea what is happening, why would I care where it’s happening? I mean a writer showing off some purple prose in the first sentence without connecting how it’s relevant to the story is probably going to lose readers. Fast. Readers are in it for the story, not a detailed description of the scenery. As the story evolves the reader might well enjoy a vivid description, but please, make that description relevant. This is not a showcase for the writer’s vocabulary.
And the fifth and final frustration on my novel beginningslist is the excruciatingly ordinary start. You know, something like: At six in the morning, on March 2, the start of his thirtieth year, John Snow climbed out of bed. There are exceptions of course and writers who can pull this off, but mostly what is there about an introductory sentence like that that would catch the attention of a reader?
So those are my gripes. Have you got any novel gripes that really bug you? Either a beginning or something else? Things that might make you just close a book and forget it. Toss in a comment below if you do…or if you disagree with any of my complaints. Go ahead, you know you want to.