Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just Published - The New Grown Ups Disney World Guide book

Yep, I just released it - a brand new guide book I wrote after my latest trip to Disney World - one geared toward "big Kids" (aka adults!) fun.  

Lots of web links to restaurants, menus, places to stay, attractions in the world, discounts and (yes, it's true) a whole lot more. All aimed for the big kid in us all to go have a great time. Learn from my experiences and take advantage of all the research I've done.

Come check it out.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Writers & Readers Websites Wednesday - Writers Pets

Check out who Mark Twain, Hemingway, Charles Dickens and Raymond Chandler (among others) embraced and allowed to rule over their lives. 

And By the way, it's no secret Hemingway loved cats - if you're interested in learning more there is a book, Hemingway's Cats by Carlene Brennen, an excellent read. 

And of course my own pets, three rescue dogs: 
Briget & Hans


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Begin At The Beginning Of Writing And Know Where You’re Going

Ah, the beginning, the blank page, the quiet keyboard, the notebook tossed aside. Every writer knows about the beginning. The idea. The rush. 

But what about the rest? 

The trick is, whether you’re writing a screen script or a novel or something else, you have to begin, but there’s also the need to have planned to finish and that means you kind of have to know where you’re going. 

I know, I know you have this great idea and you have to get going on it. Yes, you do. Have to get going on it I mean, but give yourself some time to sort things through first. 

Fan the flames of that great idea – lay your groundwork. Know where you’re heading. 

There are things to help you do this, things you need to know. 

For example. The background of that great idea. That means research. Might be a little. Might be a lot. You’ll have to determine that. But it does apply to every story, not just thrillers, historical novels or SciFi. To bring your story to life in your head as well as on the blank page details are important. The research necessity for SciFi or historical setting is obvious. Not so obvious is the need to add detail and color to a family saga set on the streets of your home town. Detail enriches a story. 

For example, in your home town, are the streets paved with asphalt or are there still some brick streets? Is it prone to flooding every time it rains? Is there a river or a creek nearby? Are there malls or neighborhood shops? More detail? Stop by the local cemetery and read some of the old and listing headstones. Check out what birds are common to your area. How old is the oldest house and what neighborhood is it in? Who’s the local builder, or do they come in from out of town?  Think about the trees and the flowers – or lack thereof. Look around like you’ve never seen the place and pick out the details. Even if you don’t use it all, your knowing breathes live into your story.

Think about the great novels you’ve read, the movies that stick in your mind. It’s the small touches, the intimate knowledge of place that brings it all to live. 

Your characters are also of paramount importance. Know them. Know what makes them tick, what quirks they have, how they’d react in awkward, dangerous, or humorous situations. There’s more to developing character than grabbing a baby book and looking up names (or creating one online with one of the fab new name generators). Make your characters so real to yourself and your audience that they take on a life of their own and stubbornly refuse to do something you want them to do when it gets crossways of who they are. And don’t do that just for your main characters – spread the love around to supporting characters as well. 

Conflict – yep, there has to be a conflict or there isn’t a story. It’s the engine that drives it all. Focus in on your conflict, know what it is. Perhaps write it out and be specific. Know what yours is.
And embrace a theme. Understand for yourself what theme your story covers. Is it love conquers all? Maybe good versus evil? Now that’s not to say you’re locked in like cement overshoes, but if you don’t know where you’ve begun, you won’t be able to control where you’re going. Your theme might begin as one thing and then shift to another. That’s okay. More than one theme is okay to as the story evolves. But know that theme is to begin with or you’re going to find yourself way off track. 

So begin at the beginning. Give yourself time to learn about the world you’re creating ~then gift the world with your genius. 

Have a favorite way of accomplishing this? Let other readers and writers know - post a comment below. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writers & Readers WEbsites Wednesday - No Rules Just Write

Following up on my "Forget The Rules, Just Write" I stumbled on CJ Lynos' site "No Rules Just Write".  She offers a lovely assemblage of free and at a cost items. Why, after all, do we think we should get everything free?  

Dig around a bit, you'll find a helpful, brief video on formatting for Kindle, CJ's Writer's Toolbox, and Writer's Resources among other things. What the heck, why not?

And if you have some undiscovered gems of websites I haven't yet unearthed, be sure to comment and add them below.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gifts For the Writer In Your Life

---Or Just For Yourself

There are many occasions when you might want to get a gift for the writer in your life, or maybe you want to get him or her a gift for no reason at all. Or maybe you’re a writer and just want to be nice to yourself. 

Whatever the reason, occasion or person, I thought I’d ponder a few gift suggestions for the awkwardly stuck. It’s so very easy to run into a stone wall when trying to think of what’s right in front of you, so I’ll spell it out; even break it out into categories – sort of. All you need is a bit of time, some thoughtfulness and some money (whether a little or a lot and in a couple of cases no cash at all). 

Books on writing often come to mind. They’re good too. There’s “Writer’s Market” both hard copy and online subscription for when one is looking for somewhere to sell his or her work. A new edition comes out each year. 

Also the “HollywoodCreative Directory” which provides lots of leads on where to market a screenplay (this baby is moderately expensive) . Then there’s Larry Brody’s Television  Writing From theInside Out, Jason Surrell’s “Screenplay by Disney” and Stephen King’s book “On Writing”  And if you’re looking for lots of other book ideas you can visit my Writer’s Emporium on Amazon where I’m always collecting stuff for writers.  There are a lot more and don’t forget the possibility of buying your writer a novel in his or her genre to read. 

If you’ve got the budget, a new thin, flat screen for the computer system incredible blessing. No flicker, much less eye strain for those who sit in front of it for hours at a time. Can’t believe everyone doesn’t have one yet, but you never know. And don’t forget the more basic things a writer needs like cartridges for that printer (or a new printer if the one he or she already has is dying. 

Thinking of software? Look into Movie Magic’s “Screenwriter” for the script writer. If you’re short on cash yourself you can collect some links to free software for scriptwriters such as Adobe Story or Celtx (and there are others).
There are a number of magazine subscriptions appropriate for writers. There’s “The Writer” magazine, “Writer’s Digest”, and “Book” to name a handful. Dash down to your local magazine shop, buy a copy of the magazine and send in the subscription card. Wrap the magazine with a note indicating the subscription. 

On a tight budget? Don’t let the little things pass you by. Make up a small basket filled with any combination of things like good pens (black and colored), paperclips, paper (8 ½ X 11) and envelopes, post it flags and notes, eraser, note pads small and large, highlighters, fine-line Sharpies, staples & stapler. 

Other supplies needed by most writers are things like three-ring notebooks and plastic sheet protectors. Plastic expanding folders are good for storing bits and pieces of a developing or ongoing project. Plastic file boxes hold archived projects and old files.
For the journal keepers on your list think about a really nice journal. They come in everything from clothbound to leather to metal.  You can find them ‘remaindered’ or at fancy full price. 

And speaking of storage, most writers would welcome thumb drives. Most would also welcome a small rolodex for desk top. I have mine divided into two sections: professional contacts and web information. The first section is obvious. The second contains an alphabetized area where I store information regarding websites, passwords, virus protection, software registration and tech support numbers. 

So, there’s your list if you’re buying for a writer. Or, if you’re a writer and want to give hints to get something you really need, print this and post it on your family or friends’ refrigerator or maybe email it. Happy gift giving – and receiving throughout the year! 

Take a moment and tell me what you'd add to my short list in the way of gifts for writers. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Forget The Rules Already - Newest Writing Advice

Today I’m going to give some advice that’ll make some people sit up and spit.
It’s this – Forget the Rules Already and Write.
Yep, that simple.
I could stop writing right now and leave it at that, but of course I won’t.
We humans seem to be constantly in search of advice, guess that’s why “self-help” books sell so well. But really, do we NEED all that advice? Can’t we rely on our own abilities and instincts once in a while – or most of the time? And don’t many of those ‘rules’ just tie writers up in knots  trying to ‘do it right’?
Now, I’m not saying we don’t need to know things in order to write well, such as grammar and some decent spelling (though we do have spell checks and grammar checks these days). We do need to know how to format the manuscript or screen script for submission so it doesn’t get trashed upon receipt. The once-upon-a-time of an editor at a publishing house doing all the grunt work of cleaning up a manuscript are long gone. You absolutely must present a clean, readable manuscript or screen script in the currently accepted format.
But those aren’t the kinds of rules I’m talking about. There are lots and lots….and lots of places on the web, in person, at writer’s groups, where you can hear ‘rules’ recited. Don’t to this. Do that. Nobody’s doing it that way!
Hmmm. Here’s the way I see it. Writing is an evolving craft, always has been. If you look back at what others have written, the classics and the ‘penny-dreadfuls’ and compare it to novels, literature and pulp books along the way up to now you’ll see just how writing has changed. Not really because of ‘rules’ but more because of the way society is changing and readability. Some of the old ways of writing a novel could now be called ‘stilted’, but it was perfectly accepted and great reading when published. Things change. Styles change. Subject matter changes.  And yet what was old is new again (take for example the fixation with vampires – we’ve seen vampire books before Anne Rice and the vampire romances). So ‘story’ keeps coming around, but ‘delivery’ and ‘style’ changes.
So, what am I saying? Quite simply, forget the rules and write already. Get your story out. Break a few rules and by doing so you may well be creating new ones; someone before you did. You may have to change it, rearrange it, but if you don’t stop worrying about all the rules that are getting crammed into your head about how a story is to be presented, then you’re never going to do it at all. You’ll just keep spinning your wheels.
Really, learn how to handle language, present in an acceptable format and give yourself free rein to cause a few new rules to be created that someone else will worry about down the road.
So write already.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Writers and Readers Websites Wednesday

Okay, sometimes I just have to throw in something, well, odd.  And if you can't find the odd at Oddity Central you're just not looking.  

A fun site with lots of weirdness and attention-getting pages for the reader and the writer. For the reader just because finding all this stuff is entertaining. 

For the writer because if you can't find something here to spark an idea on a dry day then you just aren't paying attention. 

Enjoy and don't forget to tell me about your favorite weirdness on this site or elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Writers Read & Many Readers Write

Every once in a while I’m asked by a reader; a fan, “what do YOU read?”

You mean besides my own work over and over and over again to edit, catch mistakes and generally polish? 

I read a lot. A lot as in a huge volume of material and ‘a lot’ as in variety of material. So I belong to Goodreads and share some of my books there. 

In general what I read is some non-fiction including what I’m reading right now, FreeThinkers by Susan Jacoby a book on secularism in the USA. I also enjoy ‘brain’ books by authors such as Dr. Dispenza (like Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself) and just plain weird books like Forbidden Archaeology . All of these can lead to interesting ideas for stories and just fun food for the brain. Like reading about the new physics of dark matter, string theory and faster than light travel as well. You don't have to be a PhD to read them either - the more they confuse you the more it stirs up story ideas.

I also read screen scripts of movies I’ve enjoyed, keeping abreast of the latest writing styles; how a certain scene was gotten across on paper before it became film.  Scripts are very tight writing, so they’re usually a pretty brisk read.

Books on writing also share space on my shelves. There’s Stephen King’s On Writing, Larry Brody’s  Television Writing From the Inside Out, Alex Epstein’s Crafty Screenwriting, The Transitive Vampire by Karen Elizabeth Gordon as a grammar reminder, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering The Craft and a whole bunch others that would make a list far too long to put here.  I am evolving a small store via Amazon where I put good and interesting books on writing I come across or have recommended to me at Writer’s Emporium.

Now if you’re talking about fiction (my favorite), then I’m all over the place. I’ll be reading Dan Brown’s Inferno next. I also read pretty much anything Dean Koontz, Orson Scott Card, Christine Feehan, Diedre Knight, Anne Rice, or Sherri Tepper writes. Also westerns by John Duncklee along with a host of other authors. I generally go through about two books in a week. Genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Western, Drama, Horror. It would be more, but I do have to make time to write and read my own work as well. 

Still, I don’t want to leave out mentioning Ebooks.  I’m discovering indie writers there that I enjoy even as I’m reissuing many of my own previously traditionally published books in digital format. 

I’ve read books from authors such as Emily Frankel (who’s Karen Of Troy I very much enjoyed) Backworlds Series (first one's free on Kindle) by M Pax,  Beyond Hades and the Prometheus Wars series by Luke Romyn and The Next Planet Over by Dennis Burns. I haven’t stopped there. I have a number of ‘reference’ books on my reader and am finding new writers I enjoy every day.  I highly recommend you do some exploring yourself.

There you have it, a very abbreviated list of the kinds of things I read. And, may I add, it does keep changing. Keep reading and writing everyone – it’s a feast out there!

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