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.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”― Jorge Luis Borges
Don’t you love quotes from people you respect – or quotes that are just fun? Do you look at them and contemplate any deeper layers of meaning? Or does it just tickle something within you that responds and makes it your own?
Like the quote above. I’m not saying it has many deep layers of meaning, but isn’t it fun to contemplate? I’m a writer and a reader. I can’t help it, it speaks to me.
Have you thought of such a thing? I mean I’m not really into gold-paved streets, etc. I’d be much happier with a great library. A wonderful library complete with all the books of the world and including the fabulous Ereaders on where there are stored even more books!
Ah, yes, paradise. In heaven or on earth, it must be well stocked with books and scripts. And since we’re talking paradise here, they must be well-written fiction books and scripts packed with gripping tales and/or non-fiction with mind-boggling information I would have never considered on my own. You too?
Mind-expanding fun. I mean libraries are the repositories of books, knowledge and these days, much more with access to electronic books, the web, music, TV, movies and pretty much everything else.
The other wonderful thing about libraries is that anyone can go. Wow. Really. I mean what forethought the ancients and then the more moderns had when libraries came into being. Never ending education and entertainment is available within those walls. It’s peaceful. It’s fulfilling. It offers up worlds we haven’t even dreamed of.
Seriously, if you haven’t been to your local library in a while, it would be very much worth your time…that is until paradise library actually exists.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Are you addicted – or not?
If you visit Pinterest frequently, on a scale of 1 to OMG I’ve gotta stop, where do you fall?
I admit I enjoy Pinterest and I visit, but only on a ‘I have the time’ basis. And when I do I enjoy sharing other people’s pins as well as adding some of my own such as these:
|http://bitly.com/POECrackedOpen http://bitly.com/BookSpells http://bitly.com/MummifiedEgg http://bitly.com/POEEruption|
Along with a whole assortment of other pins having to do with trees, dragons, books, authors and other loves. Go ahead, visit my Pinterest page.
Social media of all types can be great fun, but they can also be a time-sucking monster. I’m a great proponent of ‘everything in moderation’. Since I’m a working writer I can’t let myself spend the whole day at the computer checking out interesting/cute/inspiring pictures with equally catchy captions.
So, what do I do? What I do makes my time on social media such as Pinterest, twitter, Facebook and others unpredictable. I have no particular time I can dedicate to those areas. I pretty much pop in whenever the time and spirit allow. Sometimes it’s between projects for a few minutes. Other times it’s in the evening after dinner and chores when I can spend a little longer perusing what’s new and adding some of my own. It might be a weekend with a bit of spare time not writing or joining friends. Or I might just be taking a break from working. Another great time to enjoy social media is when I’m traveling…providing I can get a good WiFi connection.
And that’s why I have so many books loaded on my Kindle – I never know if that connection will exist and I love the Kindles and tablets for allowing us to have more than one kind of media close at hand. Music, books, magazines, pdf documents, videos and web access all crammed into one convenient package. Seriously, if you commute (and don’t have to do the driving yourself), what a great addition to our lives have been these amazing electronic devices.
Yep, mildly addicted to Pinterest, but addicted to so much more these devices offer.
Tell me, are you addicted to Pinterest? How addicted -- is it your ‘go to’ when looking for distraction and fascinating material? Or some other social media?
Share below your favorites and don’t forget to include links to your twitter, facebook, linkedin, pinterest…. Whatever social media you enjoy. And if you're into Facebook - head on over to our Planet Of The Eggs page at www.facebook.com/PlanetOfTheEggs and join the group & get the newsletter with the Sign Up button at the top.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Seems like a Writer's work is never done! But that's a good thing!
This week I'm talking a bit about what's coming next for me --
There are a number of irons in the fire as usual. I have a romance novel that needs finishing - I'm about 3/4 of the way there.
Work continues at a slow pace for the conversion of one of my movie scripts, Bloodlines, into a novel companion. It's a vampire western full of the paranormal. I hope to have that complete by late fall or early winter. No promises though!
Why is progress on Bloodlines script to novel slow? Because Planet Of The Eggs, the comic book series I partner in with Charlene Brash Sorensen, is taking priority - we have four books in the comic series out now with the fifth to be released later this summer. The fifth is nearly finished in first draft form. Here's the first page from that new adventure - tentatively titled Saving Dot. We'll let you know of any changes in title and the release date. Check it out here or visit our Facebook page.
And, in addition to the new book, the fifth of six in the first volume, there are big changes coming to our series as our characters evolve and mature. And Volume Two is already an evolving idea.
But as to the next adventure, Saving Dot, what do you think? Do we save Dot? She's hanging on to a dragon and the flight is bumpy. Her egg friend, Sala is in the dragon's clutches and the rest of the gang, Cyrus, Nightfist, Twilight, Smudge and Skink along with Dot's human companions, Smith and Dave are laying plans to get them back! The girls are strong, it may not be them who need rescuing!
There's mayhem and tragedy ahead - stay tuned, keep reading, and let us know who's your favorite character and where you might like to see them go next in space and time.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Throw your hero off a cliff.
Yep, that’s the ticket. Think about it. Are you boring your reading audience with wonderful Mr. Nice Guy who may be a bit shy, but so darn good looking he’s irresistible?
Okay, he can be all that, but does he spend his days at the lake faithfully with his one true love and have nothing more exciting than crossing against a light to spice up his day?
Readers don’t want to follow a perfect hero or heroine as he or she goes about her day and everyone is subjected to every boring detail from tooth brushing to hailing a cab.
Really, if that’s your character you might sit down and have a talk with yourself about why that is.
So how about this. Your hero remains your hero but you toss in the woman he meets and falls in love with, a kick-ass martial arts champ, crack shot markswoman with a questionable past and a sarcastic wit. Now we’re talkin’! How would they work out their differences? How would he react to her, aside from loving her? What about her past, is that about to come back and bite them both? I don’t know, do you have a clue? A few elements like this and the reader doesn’t know from one page/moment to the next if the hero is going to have to jump off a cliff to save himself/her/ or out of total frustration.
Now that I’d like to read. Done well it would be a great page-turner or possibly the plot of a hit movie.
So, are you thinking like that, writing like that? No? Why not? We all have pasts and wounds we can draw on that we can present to our characters and really identify with.
If not, why not?
It’s scary out there for writers. They really need to plumb the depths and dig deep.
Unless…wait, there is no unless. It’s what a writer needs to do in order to hook readers. Sure, the fictional people are, well, fiction, but we put a little of ourselves into every character we create. Heroes, villains, it doesn’t matter.
Sinister? Painful? Dark? Yep, and we can throw in some sunshine and lollipops, but it originates within us. And we can’t make readers or movie goers feel if we can’t feel. Open up to yourself, admit your flaws and dark corners.
Dig deep, raise the bar for yourself and don’t stop exploring every emotion we all possess. Your readers will thank you and admire you for it.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
First - an update for our readers:
Our latest comic in the Planet Of The Eggs Series, Eruption, is now available in paperback as well as Kindle editions. The latest newsletter just released as well. Join the fun at www.facebook.com/PlanetOfTheEggs - tell your friends and click the sign up button to be sure to get your copy of the next newsletter filled with character interviews, freebies, contest notifications and more!
And now on to the pros and cons of writing tips:
Writers seem inclined to want to learn. That’s why writers, both newbies and old hands, are always on the lookout for tips to help improve the writing, speed the writing, promote the writing, create compelling characters – pretty much any aspect of writing.
But here’s the problem. There are tons of tips and instruction out there. Some of it is really good, other, not so much. In any event it’s tough to tell which can be chucked and quickly deleted from the brain bank and which is worth keeping. It’s so overwhelming the studious writer can end up simply wasting time…lots and lots of time. And time is where the true value lies for the writer for the amount of time to write for most is limited. Sometimes tucked into neat segments at designated times.
But some things learned are so valuable they’re not to be missed. You’ve learned to fine tune your adjectives. You’ve reduced your adverbs. You’ve brought more emotion to your writing.
Right – all that’s good and writers generally have a mental inventory of writing tools and techniques they regularly employ. Problem is a writer can reach maximum saturation with so many tips and teachings flowing through the brain cells that it throws everything off. It can even cause writer’s block (I’ve never experienced this, thank goodness, but I can see where it could happen).
So what’s to be done? Probably less than one would think. The trick is to codify all that learning into sturdy, straight-forward techniques that work for you (and you is certainly a broad audience – each writer sees things differently).
Think about the many hats of creativity. Walt Disney was said to have claimed to wear many different ‘hats’ when he attended creative meetings. There was the dreamer, the critic and the realist. The dreamer creates, the critic picks things apart and the realist pulls it all back together in a powerful way.
When I break my thinking down that way I can see my ‘dreamer’ comes up with the ideas, extrapolates them and creates, infusing characters with life and the story with energy. I give my dreamer full rein in the beginning. Anything goes.
My critic then does a dandy job of picking at all the lose threads, finding things that don’t work and criticizing sentence structure, story ending and everything else. All the while those tips and teachings I’ve picked up over the years are on alert, watching out for floods of adjectives, verbs that just lay there, repetitive words and a whole host of other details.
Until the end when the critic is told to shut up and the realist within takes over to slap on the last polish, pulling it all back together into the comprehensive story it was meant, from the beginning, to be.
So, the moral is, don’t toss out the tips you come across as a writer, but don’t allow them to swamp you in a sea of bits and pieces either. When a new idea on how to create the perfect story comes along let it join the others in your toolbox and see how it improves your writing. If it doesn’t, let it go. There is not right and wrong way to write the story.