On Vacation

Something I never do is miss posting every Wednesday and Saturday (though I believe I had forgotten once, silly me).  Well, my friends, after years of working seven days a week and doing mom-care, I am taking vacation.

As such, there won’t be any posts for the next two Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I’d planned to post a photo daily while on said vacation, but have now decided to leave the old laptop at home.  I’m a workaholic so if it accompanies me, I suspect I’d be sitting at it more than I would be the beach.  😉

So, no posts, no photos, but I’ll have things to share upon return.

Where am I off to?  To visit my Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes on the lovely island of Oahu (I hope JJ, Rey, and Linda don’t mind, given I haven’t told them, LOL).

Aloha!

Three Times Not Shy

Given the promotion is still happening, I’m opting for a third [short and sweet] post . . .

1sataThe Triple Threat Mysteries Collection has been selected for an seasonal promotion in one of Next Chapter’s wide distribution marketplaces.

It’s running as part of the “Spooky Stories Promotion at Rakuten Kobo” from October 18th through the 24th.  There are a couple more days, so there’s nothing wrong with a reminder.  As an FYI, the promo price is $3.99.

Third post, Triple Threat, hmmm . . . a lucky number indeed.

♥ I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure. – Mae West

Still Cartwheeling

0_hh_hous_fly2aWho doesn’t do a cartwheel when they’re feeling frighteningly fine?

As mentioned last weekend, The Triple Threat Mysteries Collection has been selected for an seasonal promotion in one of Next Chapter’s wide distribution marketplaces.

It’s running as part of the “Spooky Stories Promotion at Rakuten Kobo”.

The promotion dates are October 18th to October 24th and the promotion price is $3.99.  So, given it’s still on, I thought I’d post a teeny-weeny reminder.

halloween-skeleton-3Perhaps you might check it out . . . ?  😊

A Cartwheel of Joy

One is all I can manage, but it’s a grand cartwheel, it is.  😉

1satpromoThe Triple Threat Mysteries Collection has been selected for an upcoming seasonal promotion in one of Next Chapter’s wide distribution marketplaces.

It runs as part of the “Spooky Stories Promotion at Rakuten Kobo”.

The promotion runs from October 18th through October 24th and the promotion price is $3.99.

Just thought I’d share.

Thank you, Next Chapter and Rakuten Kobo!

1NC use aaa11111sat1aaa

Whee-eeeeeeee.

Right Word, Wrong Word . . . Right?

Some manuscripts/stories offer bare-bones details and descriptions.  That tends to lean toward flatness . . . a story that doesn’t have much oomph.  To be engaging, there should be a certain level of information that provides mental images/pictures that enable readers to envision what’s transpiring.  No, we don’t need to know every detail about a character or setting, but it helps if we have a decent sketch.

Using the right words—like adjectives and adverbs—helps with that sketch.  But, as we know, all things in moderation.  You don’t want to add so many that the manuscript/story has the opposite effect: instead of bare bones, there’s info overload.

    • Bare bones: “I see Mr. Montague was murdered with a knife,” Inspector Rawlins said, looking down at the body on the floor.
    • Too many bones: “I see poor Mr. Montague, the town’s banker, was brutally murdered with a boning knife comprised of 31 layers of chrome stainless steel, which clearly penetrated his frail heart,” Inspector Rawlins dramatically declared as he pointed a scarred finger at the crumpled body lying face-down on the red-and-green linoleum floor that had seen many decades pass.
    • Happy Medium: “I see Mr. Montague was murdered with a boning knife,” Inspector Rawlins said solemnly.  He scratched his stubbled chin as he studied the middle-aged banker lying face-down on the linoleum floor.

Speaking of bones, one bone of contention [debatable, of course] is word usage.  Some writers make verbs out of nouns, or vice versa.  Sometimes, it’s doable, given the action or dialogue.  Certainly characters—well defined ones <clearing of throat>—have accents, speech impediments, phrases/words that are central to them.  So, yes, words may be used incorrectly because that assists in painting a picture of a given character.  What doesn’t work?  Using words that aren’t right . . . as in incorrect.

This can happen when a writer decides to consult a thesaurus to replace a word but doesn’t consider the definition, or simply uses a word he/she thinks might work (or sound good).

Quick examples:

    • She looked at Lee.  “I won’t leave you, ever,” she intimated.
    • To intimate generally means to hint or imply or provide information indirectly.  It shouldn’t be used to make an outright statement.
    • Tom watched Marshall and Beatrice hurry to the cabin.  He wondered.
    • That’s wonderful that he wondered—but what about?  Some words require a little “wrapping” to make them complete.
    • The group departed, leaving them alone at the town’s edge.  She waved and mused, and headed back.
    • Maybe she mused about the group departing, maybe about being at the edge of town . . . maybe what she’d have for dinner.  Who knows?  Maybe that musing isn’t even central to the action or story—and if it’s not central, then don’t keep it.

A story should captivate the reader from the get-go.  Nothing new there.  Words paint pictures, create images, show what we can’t see . . . use them wisely . . . use them well.  😉

Have a Gobbling Good Time

Here’s to a wonderful—gratitude-filled—Thanksgiving weekend to those in the northern hemisphere.

Observed the second Monday in October, since 1957, the “harvest festival” is a time to show appreciation, not just for bountiful harvests, but all the things, friends and family, we have in our lives.

 Quick history . . . Thanksgiving in Canada has actually been celebrated since 1879 but prior to 1957, it wasn’t on a given day and there was always a theme associated with it.  Apparently, the first celebration was three hundred years prior, when Martin Frobisher—for those of you who remember your Canadian history classes—traveled from England in search of that elusive Northwest Passage (the sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which is some 1,424,500 km and lies north of the Canadian mainland).

More days (feasts) of thanks took place, courtesy of French settlers who’d voyaged with Samuel de Champlain in the early seventeenth century.  During and following the American Revolution, American immigrants who’d migrated to Canada brought along their Thanksgiving traditions and practices—like indulging in that delicious gobbler (sorry, my vegan friends) and sweet spicy pumpkin pie.

It is rather interesting, history, but I digress.  The purpose of this post is short and sweet,  Enjoy a fantastic (!) long weekend, delight in and appreciate all life has offered—and continues to offer.  Never take anything, or anyone, for granted.

Have a gobbling good Thanksgiving!

Hoorah for Infinitesimal Details

I love editing.  It offers an opportunity to read authors who’ll succeed at gathering fans and making bestseller lists.  And it’s great to be there from the beginning to see their careers take off.  It also provides a chance to help aspiring writers—if they want it—to develop their craft.  Some are “naturals”, some are not.  It’s all good, though.  You become as good, as great, as you want to be if you’re willing to go the distance.  This means learning and applying what you learn.

As we well know, it’s [usually] the opening chapter or prologue that will grab readers and keep them wanting to read.  As such, it should be strong, compelling, and reel in readers like a seasoned fisherman bringing in a sailfish.  Countless “he said” and “she said” dialogue tags won’t do it.  Nor will a John-did-this-and-then-did-that style.  The show-don’t-tell approach isn’t terribly gripping, though some may debate that and that’s fine (to each his/her own).

Let’s focus on what does prompt readers to continue reading.  First and foremost: details (descriptions).  I’ve used the painting picture analogy before, but it’s a viable one.  When you draw images for readers—describe characters, reveal emotions, detail locations—your story comes alive.

I’m writing the sixth Triple Threat Investigation Agency book and, given disco plays a part in it, I’ve been listening to the music and catching the odd movie.  One that so perfectly “describes” what a movie and character are all about in the opening credits is Saturday Night Fever.  It’s one I’d recommend for writers to see how details—infinite infinitesimal ones—can paint a fabulous, vibrant picture.  Those types of details can easily be applied in an opening chapter or prologue.

The Bee Gees sing a catchy tune (marking a distinct period in music history) as we view various shots of NYC, including the subway.  Tony Manero swings a can of paint as he strolls along a Brooklyn sidewalk with a confident swagger.  We see stores and everyday people.  It’s not a rich neighborhood.  He sports a not-one-hair-out-of-place coif and fairly decent daytime clothes: black leather jacket, burgundy polyester shirt, and well-shined leather shoes.  A large gold cross hangs from his neck.  He eyes pretty women.  Stopping at Penny’s Pizza, he grabs two slices and chows down as he continues walking.  He sees a shirt in a shop and pays $5 to put it on layaway.  Finally, he arrives at a hardware store.

What have we gleaned from those details?  We know the setting is NYC.  Our main character most likely lives there.  He’s cocky and thinks himself a lady’s man.  He cares about his appearance (we see him comparing his shoes to a pair in a window).  Given the neighborhood, the $5 for the layaway, and the pizza, we can assume his finances are limited.  The paint can may mean he’s going to paint something at home, or he’s a painter who’s not working at that moment.  

If we were applying this to paper [or laptop], we could flesh it out more.  Not by [too] much.  We don’t need to inundate readers with an overabundance of facts.  We simply provide enough—yes, the infinitesimal details—to paint that defining picture.

Anything Goes

In sci-fi and fantasy, and any genres in between.

The notion came about as an acquaintance and I were having a casual discussion about writing and genres.  As a sci-fi fan, she commented how these genres can allow for easy outs when plot twists or endings prove difficult; you could pretty much throw in any scenario, one that would never work (or be believable) in “real world” fiction.

These genres offer opportunities to compose stories that may not always have that rational or coherent a segue or ending.  There have been five grisly murders in the deserted, desolate Folle house.  Alas, not only do they have the budding detective scratching their head, the killings have the author scratching theirs.  Ah!  Maybe a demon lives in the cellar?  Or perhaps the place is a gathering place for evil aliens?  And what about poor Jean-Paul?  The young man is falling over a high cliff, knowing he’ll contact those boulders below within seconds—and, man, is that going to hurt.  Why not have someone—something—catch his fall?  Off he goes, to another world and an exciting adventure, where anything is possible.  The sky, literally, is [not] the limit.

Sci-fi and fantasy, and any genres in between allow for a myriad of scene/chapter possibilities.  Action, doings, and goings-on don’t have to be logical, which empowers a very creative [inventive] imagination to run wild—so, anything truly does go.

111clipartlibrary111111Writing, however, is no walk in the park.  Regardless of genre, penning a story can prove [exceptionally] difficult.  Plotting, appropriate character sketches, detailed settings, and vivid descriptions are part and parcel of constructing a viable story.  Keying words is one thing; making them meld to create an entertaining read is another.  But given the process is a labor-of-love for us writers, we’re up to the challenge(s).  😉

Ensure there’s logic—even in the illogic—and know that as the author, you hold the reigns.  Truly, anything goes.

Judy Hogan Writes

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