Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blogging on Writing Excercises

I read an article that said an author should try their hand at writing other formats as a writing exercise.
Any format would work. The ones they suggested were a six-word story. You need a beginning, middle, end, and ideally a lot of tension. You need to set up and resolve conflict in six specific words.

The next is poetry, which is painstaking to write. The next is Flash Fiction, defined as “short short stories” or stories between 50 and 2,000 words. Try to pack a complete story into so few words.
The fourth one is a short story. The fifth is a news article. The value ere is the comparison of styles – fiction vs non-fiction. It also it forces you to fill in the “five Ws and one H.” This is of course the “Who, What, What, When, Where, and How”.

The last one is an opinion piece. It should be novel, or at least presented in a novel fashion, that is personal to you and not derivative of anyone else’s thinking. It must exhibit original thinking. It forces you to find and use your voice.
I have written one short story, which does force you to tighten your writing. I have never tried any of the others, but I am considering the opinion piece and a news article. It might be interesting. Anything to improve my writing skills.

What about you? Does this sound valuable? Have you written in any of them? Does it help tighten your writing?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and a Little History

Happy Thanksgiving to every one celebrating today.
My husband couldn’t understand why it’s such a big holiday in the US. We’re Canadian and celebrate in October, but it’s not that big of a family holiday. Christmas is much bigger for us.

I said it was because the first Thanksgiving would have been a pilgrim celebration after the first harvesting of the crops. It would have been a big family and friend’s celebration, but thought I should check it out. Off to good old Wikipedia and here’s what I found.
The event commonly called the “First thanksgiving” was celebrated by the pilgrims after the first harvest in the New World in October, 1621. It laste3d three days and was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. I was surprised because I thought it would have been closer to the date celebrated today.

Today Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
Now it’s a huge family getting together around turkey, stuffing, and football. Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jane or Mary? Choosing Your Characters Name

How do you choose names for your characters?
I know some people use books of baby’s names. I’m not sure how other people do it. I find I have to develop my character first before they get a name. I come up with an idea for a story and then I start to think about it. The idea of the story begins to grow. The one in the back of my head right now, as I try to finish Death Southern Style, is set in Canada. People kept saying why don’t you write locally?

Well, I was raised in Calgary, Alberta and we just moved back to Alberta – Medicine Hat, not Calgary. So, I’m thinking I should write locally. Also, my series on the Hawkins’ family is set in Montana and I researched the Blackfoot tribe, which is also in Alberta so I’m going to use that. I’m thinking about a woman in her mid to late forties, First Nations (Blackfoot) reported replaced by a younger man. She buys an RV and decides to travel. No title for the book and write now my heroine is Jane Wolf. Wolf because it could be a First Nations name. Jane – no real reason. It sort of goes with Wolf. Not sure the name will stay but t will be my starting name. As I develop her character, family and friends the name may change, even several times.
This is how I usually choose names and they usually get changed as the story progresses and often I have to change them because several names can sound similar and confuse readers.

How do you choose names and do they change as the story progress or remain the same throughout the writing process?

Friday, November 18, 2016

How does wording choice develop a story's character? How do you use and select your words?

How does wording choice develop a story's character? How do you use and select your words?

Big topic but an interesting one. The topic was suggested and this was the theme. Sometimes find myself writing down turns of phrase like:

She had to be the sexiest-looking 42-year-old on the planet, the best that money could buy.

Is this a positive or a negative when you read a book? How can such statements be used to describe character?

Honestly, when I read something like that, if it’s from 1940, maybe 1950, it fits within the era.   I smile and enjoy the description. It’s usually from a PI about a client or a woman in a bar.

If it’s contemporary, I read it but it pulls me out of the book.  Wording choice has to be relevant to the genre, the era, and the time frame. It’s important to use words to grab he readers and hook theme to the character but it has to relate to the reader.

For me, building a character is my challenge. I love to develop a plot, but the character something that will resonate with a reader, drives the plot. So, I have to use words to develop a character. I try to use words that will grab a reader and my editor won’t cut. They need to be descriptive, evocative, and something a reader can imagine in their mind.  

Your thoughts?  

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other authors have to say.
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-OB
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Writing, Genre Changes and a Poll

Has writing changed in the last five years? A few posts ago I wrote about the age of the average romance reader. The comments seemed to indicate that people wrote what they read and didn’t focus on a specific age or group of people.
It got me thinking about whether writers have changed much over the last few years. I’m still writing romantic suspense. I don’t think I’ve changed my style much. That may be good or bad.

We have more Indie authors writing on topics that otherwise might not be published. If well-written that’s a good thing.
What about genres? Have they changed. Chic Lit is gone. Sweet romances seem to have disappeared – but are they now found in westerns or other genres? We have YA. Gothic showed up for a little while but I think it’s faded. Steampunk was the rage. I don’t know how it’s doing. Paranormal, mystery, suspense, and thrillers are still popular. (I think) Erotica is doing well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on where writing is changing – or is it?

I’m also going to do a poll. I have to learn how to do it. I’m doing one on twitter and see what people think are the top genres. It only allows 4 choices so I’ll run one for a day and then do another group. If I can learn how to do one on Facebook I’ll add the link. And here it is https://poll.fbapp.io/most-popular-romace-genres
You can just comment on this blog and vote for your favorite or top favorites. Please vote and I’ll let you know the results.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Poppy Day - In Flanders Fields

I’m a Canadian and November 11th is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. The artificial red poppy symbolizes those who died.
Veterans and Legion members volunteer to sell the poppies in malls and in front of grocery stores and liquor stores. They begin right after Halloween. And it’s by donation – any amount. Banks, insurance companies and smaller stores have poppies available with a donation box for those standing inn line to pay a cashier.

Most Canadians wear the artificial poppy in their lapels to honor those who died in WW1 and WW2 until November 11th 
The poem, “In Flanders Fields”, written by John McCrae, in May 1915 is read, printed and shared at tis time. Apparently during the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.
As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.
I learned this poem in school (many, many years ago) and still remember it.

In Flanders Fields”, by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 4, 2016

How Do You Design a Cover?

Even if you’re published by a publisher they usually ask about how you visualize your cover.  You feel out the form but it doesn’t always look like you hoped.

And if you self publish you find a cover artist and fill out a form and they design a cover. At least now you have a little more control.

When you think about a cover what do you include?

Here are tips from Writer Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/general/10-tips-for-effective-book-covers

 1.The title should be big and easy to read. This is more important than ever. (Many people will first encounter your cover on a screen, not on a shelf.) This is such a well-worn cliche of cover design that I have a designer friend with a Facebook photo album called “Make the Title Bigger.”

2.   Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. Is the cover compelling at a small size? More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears. You should also anticipate what the cover looks like in grayscale.

3.   Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.
4.   No font explosions! (And avoid special styling.) Usually a cover should not use more than 2 fonts. Avoid the temptation to put words in caps, italics caps, outlined caps, etc. Do not “shape” the type either.

5.   Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover. There are a few rare exceptions to this, but let’s assume you are NOT one of them. It’s almost always a terrible idea.

6.   Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.) 

7.   Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. I call this the “T-shirt” design. It looks extremely amateurish.

8.   Avoid gradients. It’s especially game-over if you have a cover with a rainbow gradient.

9.   Avoid garish color combinations. Sometimes such covers are meant to catch people’s attention. Usually, it just makes your book look freakish.

Bonus tip: No sunrise photos, no sunset photos, no ocean photos, no fluffy clouds.
And if you’re designing a series make the covers have a similar style, recognizable to your reader. See mine below.

Also, make the cover appropriate for the country where you’re selling your book.