Ho-Ho-Ho—Whoa! You Mean I Gotta Write over the Holidays??

The holidays are coming fast (don’t they always?) and you’re worrying (sweating) over how to find time to write with all the demands of the encroaching festivities and gatherings, vacations and visits, traveling and TV specials, eating and eggnogging.

First, set a reasonable (achievable) goal.  Whether you write full-time (you have my full envy) or an hour a day, decide how much time you can commit to writing while Santa and helpers scamper about.  Perhaps you halve or quarter the day, or only designate 20 minutes—whatever works, given those assorted and numerous obligations.  If the time component doesn’t work for you, commit to writing a page or three a day.  Then resolve to stick to that target.

Pinning/posting your writing goals is always a good thing; do it as a “reminder”.  They’ll help you stay focused and motivated, so make sure you look at them.  Often.

If you can get up a half hour earlier or stay up a half hour later and commit those 30 minutes to writing, do it.  If you’re not alone or at Aunt Martha’s, sneak into another (empty) room, the lanai or cellar, and do your thing.  Or perhaps you slip off to Starbucks with your laptop for a wee while and drink some fine java while words dance across your screen.

Ask your friends, Facebook and flesh-and-blood, to nudge you via a message, an email or text . . . or a hot-air balloon, if that works.  A little prod goes a long way.

Commit to events that you sincerely want to partake of.  Bagel-and-lox breakies are fun, not to mention nummy, but if you could better use that time to complete a scene or blog post, consider what’s [truly] more important.  Prioritize.

Another option?  Go old school and carry a notebook.  You may not always be able to open a laptop at a function (without appearing rude or reclusive), but you can always jot a few quick notes/ideas en route to the bar or buffet.WPhol

And you know what?  If celebratory moments rule supreme (or run rampant), that’s okay too.  Don’t beat up on yourself because you didn’t write.  You will again . . . because that’s who you are.  An untiring writer with much to share.

Wonderful-Me Wednesday(s)!

It’s Linda on post patrol today.  Given “Shameless Self-Promotion Saturdays” is such a hit, I thought: why not have something similar mid-week?  The title, by the by, I can’t take credit for; it was Rey’s eager (insistent) contribution.

Given our illustrious leader is out and about today, the three of us—Rey, JJ, and myself—talked about what to focus on re “wonderful me”.  And who’d actually be “me”?   One of us or The Boss herself?  We flipped a coin, but lost it when it bounced over the balcony.

We opted on “me” representing all . . . the wonderful and increasingly successful Triple Threat Investigation Agency, our wonderfully challenging cases, and the weird and wired woman who puts everything in wonderful place (also known as The Boss).

Our fifth case is still being solved (we’ve got one heckuva villain), but the previous four are ready for reading, if you’re so inclined (we hope you are).  There are even two audio books—The Connecticut Corpse Caper and Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie?—which you may have missed reading about.  If you’re interested in hearing one or both, email The Boss and she’ll send you a code for a promo copy.

Here’s to a wonderful day from the wonderful trio at the wonderful Triple Threat Investigation Agency in very wonderful Hawaii.  (As my BFF might say, if you’re gonna promote something, go the whole hog.) WPwed3

New Times Don’t Equal Slack Times

These days it seems that writers get away with a lot—misspelled names, flat dialogue, illogical action, incorrect information, and putting real sites/locations in places where they shouldn’t be, to name a few.  Fortunately, if you’re with a publisher, there’ll likely be an editor that will [hopefully] catch and fix the flaws.

As someone who’s been writing a long time—and readily admits to being old-school (where grammar and punctuation and spelling still count)—it’s rather, hmm, annoying to read work that demonstrates indifference.  But that’s another post and another rant.   <LOL>

So, folks, what shall we focus on today?  Hmmm.  Given I recently edited a historical story, let’s touch upon sites and times.

If you’re going to provide real settings, ensure all related details are accurate.

Spell the venue’s name correctly, give accurate location information, and appropriately depict the time/era you’re writing in.

The Eiffel Tower is in Paris, not Chartres.  The address for the Rockefeller Center is 45 Rockefeller Plaza, not 33 Rockefeller Way.  Hansom cabs did not exist in the Bronze Age, so do not put them there (unless you’re writing sci-fi and your characters are time travelers).

When a writer-associate was called on something re an iconic venue he’d used in his book (specifically, wrong streets) he offered a shrug and a simple reason (excuse):  it’s fiction.  Sure, the book is a work of fiction; the venue, however, is not.  Endeavor to get it right.  It’s not just about breathing life into your story, it’s about creating credibility for yourself as a professional.

Editing can prove daunting, no question.  And if you’re not up for it, then refrain from an intensive edit—leave that to someone else—but do check your facts and confirm consistency (don’t use multiple spellings, for example).  Clean up the manuscript to the best of your ability and patience.  Think of it as using a feather duster: an effective method to perform a quick clean-up (edit).

Consider: integrity.  What image do you want to convey about youthe author?  Many of us write for the love of it but, if we’re going to be honest, we wouldn’t mind generating [ample] sales, too. WP1thinkingMaking-The-WebDOTcom

But sales will only come if the product is “sellable” and “readable”.  So make your story the best it can be—by checking those, uh-huh, facts.

The Woman / The Man – But WHICH One?

Although this has been touched upon in past, it’s always worth repeating: recurring words and actions make for flat reading.

Some writers, particularly those new to the fold, appear to love using “the woman” and “the man” in gleeful abundance.  Sometimes, the woman and/or the man can appear six-plus times per page . . . and refer to not one woman or man, but to several.  But if the writer doesn’t “paint pictures” of what Woman #1 or #4 or Man # 3 or #10 looks like, the reader will likely engage in some serious head-scratching.

Randolph saw a woman holding a cane.  Another woman, standing behind her, held a shawl.

“Please show us where the solarium is,” the woman said.

The other woman nodded briskly.

The woman with the shawl appeared to be the other woman’s relative or caregiver.  “Is it that way?” she asked and motioned.

Randolph nodded.

The woman looked at him with her eyes. “You’re not much of a talker, are you?”

WPwomanneatoshopDOTcomNot an action-packed scene, is it?  In fact, it’s terribly blah, never mind difficult to follow.  But it’s an example of what happens when details/descriptions are not provided, if words are repeated, or if there’s a ton of telling but no showing, which translates into “flatter ‘an a flapjack”.  The eyes, subsequently, do this . . .

Don’t be scared to define characters.  Take baby steps, if necessary—adding a word or two instead of a sentence or two.  Determine how bare-bones sentences can be augmented; consider descriptive ones like these:

The stooped woman holding a silver-tipped cane appeared to be in her eighties.

A woman with a dented cane walked forward slowly; her face was lined and weary, suggesting a life of hardship.

A tall and slender woman, standing behind an older one, draped a woolen shawl over her lean arm.

Even if people appear for a brief period, there’s no reason you can’t provide names.  Let’s try something like this with the previous non-action example:

Randolph saw a short, elderly woman holding a cane with a heavily-veined hand.  Another woman, standing behind her, was unraveling a sizeable woolen shawl.

“Please show us where the solarium is,” the woman with the cane requested with a smile.  “Anna and I seem to be lost.”

Anna, tall and lanky, and handsome, nodded briskly.  She was obviously a relative or caregiver.  “Is it that way?” she asked and pointed a slim finger.

Still dazed from the fall, Randolph only managed a nod.

The older lady scanned his face and turned to her companion. “He doesn’t seem to be much of a talker, does he, Rachel?”

Both characters are now established and, should they appear later, can be referred to by name.  Always give thought as to how you might make your characters come alive.  Having flat folks in a story will make for arduous reading.

Breathe life into your story—make your readers want to keep reading.

Gratitude Continued (coz you can never give enough)

Given Vincent (Vince) Lowry featured my interview this past week on E-Authors Resources, I felt compelled to respond in kind.

Vince’s awesome site has an abundance of valuable information for writers including author interviews, cover artists and animated covers, editors and illustrators.

Not only will he promote you and your book—per an interview—but he’ll post the cover and links.  Moreover, if you have a skill relevant to the site, you’re invited to post your name and contact info, with links.

As an FYI, his Goodreads group has over 30K members (wish I did, LOL).

Now, something that you may not know, as it’s not necessarily evident on the site—Vince is an author, too!  He’s written #LucysLetter (his fourth book), Surfing the Seconds, Dreams Reign Supreme, and Constellation Chronicle.

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I highly recommend you check out E-Authors Resources.  Whether you’re an aspiring author or a published one, there’s definitely something of value to be found.

https://eauthorresource.wordpress.com/

When Life Gets in the Way

I’ve been taking care of Mom for a long time.  As a sole caregiver (no friends or family or outside support), it’s been quite a learning experience to say the least.  It’s also been difficult—and I’ll admit it—something that I’ve sometimes resented.  I’m human and I’m old(er).  At this stage, I believed I’d [finally] be my own person.  That’s okay; as Joanie would say, it is what it is.  <LOL>

This past weekend, life threw one of those curveballs.  Mom fell and ended in ER—twice.  Now, I/we must face the reality that I can no longer do this solo while working full-time (to not work would mean living on the street, so quitting is not an option).

A new world is opening up—I’m not sure I like this one.  Maybe it’s that the ensuing disorders and difficulties that arrive with old age scare the <bleep> out of me.  To see it in Mom means to [eventually] see it in myself.

Despite the issues, Mom doesn’t think of herself as old—except when the mirror provides an unwanted reality check.  Her having to cope with a body that has decided to do its own thing is proving challenging and more than annoying, and I totally get that.  We all like to be in control.

So-o when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, as they say.  And if the pucker level is so tart that it rumples and crumples your face?  You add sweetness, as much as you need to smooth the folds. WPlifethespruceeatsDOTcom

Here’s to life and its challenges.  May they help us develop, but not despair . . . learn, but not lose hope.

Ad Libbing

Happy Saturday . . . given I post very early, I always have posts/info prepared in advance . . . and was hoping to provide the interview I’d mentioned this past Wednesday.  I don’t see it, however.  That’s okay.  Stuff happens.

So-o, given Shameless Saturday Self-Promotion has become a bit of a “thing” for many of us writers and bloggers, I’m simply going to ask / beg / implore / beseech / cry <LOL> that you [perhaps] give one of my books a read? A review would be most welcome, too—bad or good.  I’m a writer.  I can take it <fingers crossed behind back>.

From the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio—JJ, Rey, and Linda—and myself, have a marvelous weekend.

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And . . . Happy Remembrance Day / Happy Veterans Day.  Let’s never forget!

A Mid-Week Rah-Rah: Sandra J. Jackson & Me

An advance thank you to fellow author and blogger Sandra J. Jackson, who will feature yours truly on her blog November 9th.  How exciting is that?  (For me, very!)

In kind, I’d like to provide the same for this talented five-star writer.

Sandra’s debut novel Promised Soul—a tale of love that “transcends time and place”—was initially released in 2015.  Since then, she’s published short stories and sports articles, and has a couple more books under her belt: Playing in the Rain and Catching Butterflies.  Currently, she’s editing Books 2 and 3 of the Escape Series, her first trilogy.

Her impressive, visually attractive site showcases reviews and interviews, news and events, as well as her books and related [very nice] merchandise.  If you click on the “More” tab, you won’t be able to enter as you need to be a member; this has me quite curious.  <LOL>

Sandra’s creativity extends beyond telling stories and writing.  As a Graphic Design graduate, she also draws and paints.  Born in Montreal Quebec, she’s lived in rural Ontario with her husband and children for a number of years. WPSandraJJackson

Please check her out at:

https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-J.-Jackson

www.sandrajjackson.com

No Blues for the Bottle-Born

Lanken’s Tears but this is an intriguing read.  <LOL>  The expression is one you’ll find in Conor Carton’s entertaining genetic-engineering sci-fi novel, Bottle Born Blues.

Shakbout “Screw-Top” Mansard, a guide at the Mengchi Centre for the Promotion of Historical Knowledge, knows his history inside-out.  Soon, we too, are enlightened, learning much about how things came to be—such as the Shoshone Circlet, which “was wrapped up in so much history and extended meaning that a serious attempt to steal it by a bottle-born lifeform would be the contemporary equivalent of the Empress Ingea splitting the leader of the Wrexen Federation into two with an axe”.

Mengchi is a fascinating albeit dark world, where breeding stations and blood lakes exist, and a sundry of beings coexist: the Bottle-Born, Ornamentals, Harvesters (the most mean-spirited lifeforms in the systems), and Involuntary Public Servants (reanimated corpses).  Homes seem more like pods, sterile dwellings, with residence numbers so long, you’d better have an amazing memory.  You follow laws and clauses—don’t question, don’t step out of line, or else.  You’re protected if you’re employed and living by the rules.  You’re on your own if you don’t, which could prove very scary if not fatal.

Mansard has a comic side; he’s also somewhat ingenuous but by no means gullible or overly trusting.  He goes with the flow because he’s sucked into it by external forces, having no option but to ride the rollercoaster he’s been strapped into.  Remember: you follow the rules, as dictated by the powers—and villains—that be.  Fortunately, our hapless hero receives assistance now and again.  Blue-skinned Lincoln, an Aquatic Ornamental, excels at security (she’s a dynamo with a heavy-pulse weapon).  With her at his side, Mansard can complete the designated mission: stealing the Shoshone Circlet.

The action-filled plot has some interesting, intertwining subplots.  To provide them here might give away too much.  Suffice it to say, Bottle Born Blues is an engaging twisting/turning ride to a fascinating far-off realm.

Conor H. Carton, by the by, is an aspiring space-pirate-cowboy-outlaw-wizard—when he’s not an Irish suburbanite.  He’s also an avid reader, loving husband and father . . . and a pretty gosh-darn-good storyteller.

Rating:  savesavesavesavesave

(Pssst . . . The Thousand Year Fall will be the second in the trilogy.  Keep an eye and ear open!)

https://www.amazon.com/Conor-HCarton/

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/conor-h-carton

 

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