Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!!!!

Hi everyone :)

I hope the holidays are treating everyone well! I just wanted to stop by really quick to wish everyone a Happy New Year. 2014 is closing in and I for one am happy to see 2013 go. I know Talynn and I both have great goals for 2014, but instead of listing ours, I wanted to hear yours! So tell me, what are your goals for 2014? Have a draft to finish? Are you ready to start querying? Tell us :)


Happy New Year everyone!

Jess

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Celebrations

Hey beautiful guys and dolls!

What's your favorite holiday traditions? I love this time of year, more than any other season. I love the

snow
the fireplace
sweaters
presents and gift wrap
shopping
cookies
carols
Christmas movies (yes, the cheesy ones too!)
snowmen
peppermints
hot chocolate and marshmellows
Christmas tress
decorations
church skits and school plays
boots
mittens
warm, fuzzy socks
Christmas books
snowflakes

EVERYTHING!

What about you? Please let me know what you look forward to the most!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Post-Revision Wordle

**I forgot to link to their website. The link for Wordle is http://www.wordle.net/

Hi everyone! Jess here J A few months back I did a post on Wordle and how I was using it for revising my WIP. I wanted to do a follow-up post regarding it now that I’ve finished revisions. Without going over everything from that old post, here’s a quick summary.



Above is my Wordle pre-revisions. I highlighted my habit and telling words, and went to town on editing them out of my novel. I didn’t quite get all of them out.

Of note:
*”Just” was more commonly used than my mc’s first names. LEGIT!
*said, didn’t, know, was, back

Obviously I had my work set out for me. I present to you know my Wordle post-revisions:



To make it easier to spot the words, here’s a highlighted version:



I still have some issues with telling words, but the biggest, most important difference is that “just” is down to a more reasonable size, which means I’ve edited out a lot of instances of the word. Like. A LOT. The hard part is deciding how often those words are actually used, since Wordle just compares the instances with other words. In either case, I’ve cut out a lot of my old habit words.

Of note:
*”Like”—is probably there for comparison purposes, not teen/YA speak. Will edit out.
*Back, know, didn’t, looked, something, one, got, asked and something— some are telling, some are dialogue/action tags. Again, these can be edited out.

I think I’m still off from where the MS should be, but I’ve made some improvement and that’s awesome. Wordle is an amazing tool, and you should check it out to see what your habit words are! J


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pitchwars Picture

It's an inside joke, but next time, I promise to:

Look before I leap.
Use an umbrella to soften the fall.
Avoid all bridge jumpers.

Are you doing #PitchWars?
Thank you, FreeDigitalPhotos and By arztsamui
PS. Anyone know how to post pictures on Twitter? I'm available for lessons:)
Thank you beautiful guys and dolls!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Celebration Time. Again. the Small Things Blog Hop

Hey beautiful guys and dolls! It's that time of week again, isn't:)

I'm celebrating my family this week.

I'm so thankful for my husband. It will soon be 25 years that we've been married and I love him more today than the day we married.

I'm thankful for my children. They are the joy of my life and the reason I smile so much. I have SIX kiddo's and everyone of them are special. I can't wait for Christmas when we'll all be together to celebrate!

I'm thankful for my grand baby. She's the apple of my eye. She's my apple dumpling. My sweetheart. My baby. Her personality grows in leaps and bounds and I'm so excited to watch her grow.

I'm thankful for my parents, who have loved me and nurtured me through everything from sickness, to difficult times, to happy memories. I love you mom and dad. You are both my hero's. I love you. 

What are you thankful for this week? Comment below!




Friday, November 15, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things Blog Hop

Hey everyone. I'm celebrating life this week.
I'm celebrating falling behind.
I'm celebrating mistakes that make me stronger.
I'm celebrating  news that I thought would be THE ANNOUNCEMENT but turned out to be not so.

Hey! At least I"m not complaining.

Have a great weekend, beautiful guys and dolls.

Thank Vikki!



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tinted Ink Tuesday: NaNo Tip 2

How's everyone doing with their NaNo project so far? I know, it's early in the race. You may be rolling along at high speed, not a bump in the road. If so Kudos to you! Keep at it and before long, you'll have a shiny new WIP ready to edit and revise:)

Sometimes, even when things are going well and your writing is flowing from pen to paper, reading a good writing tip is just like icing on the cake. Today, I give you ICING!

FreeDigitalPhotos.net By Marcus  
Characters are the heart of any story. While plot may keep the pages turning and the atmosphere electric, it's the characters who bring the story to life. Readers want to get tangled in their heartbreak, their joys, their mistakes, their problems, their WORLD.

We access a book and it's story by the characters we love. We relate to them. We love them. We hate them. We love to hate them. We identify with the feelings of the characters and that's why, when we finish a book, we sigh, and move it it to the top of our favorites list.

Characters move the story in a way plot never can. Why? Because plots have been done. Over and over and over again. But drop a new character in the middle of a well worn plot idea, with his or her own feelings, reactions, thoughts, beliefs, and motivations, and you have a brand new story.

Characters work toward their goal by interacting with other characters and by struggling with their own inner emotions and conflicts.

Conflict.

It's what provides the drama of every great story.  And it tends to make things messy for the character you love so much.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net By Stuart Miles


Characters without conflict tend to be boring. Our favorite characters not only make things happen in the story, they also have things happen to them. Keep in mind as you write how the situation in your plot pushes your character forward, or shoves them backward, but also how your character can do do some pushing and shoving of their own.

This is how your character can show their unique qualities. It's much more than the runaway teen with a heart of gold or the homeless bag lady who really has a mansion and a million dollar bank account.

How do you make your character stand out? Make them different? Be unique?
Come back tomorrow for Tip #3 in my NaNo tips of the month!

Happy Writing beautiful guys and dolls!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNo Tip One

Here's a quick tip to get your thoughts flowing on the very first page:

Curiosity killed the cat.

Am I right? You know I am. What I mean is this: Stay away from back story on the first page.
It's boring.
It's slow.
It's unproductive.

And there are many other reasons I could list.

As a literary agent intern, this is something I read A LOT on first pages. But, it's something that should not be there! I want to be in the here and now. This isn't to say I want dropped right in the middle of action. This confuses me. I want to know what's going right now, at the very moment the MC is experiencing.

No explanations, or why's or how comes. Just show the present. There's plenty of time for explanation later.

See, if you write subtle hints and drop enticing clues as to what happens next, the reader will be turning the page to find out.

Peak the reader's curiosity to find out why, or what, or who, and you've done a fabulous job on the first page.

Happy Writing!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Celebrate The Small Things Blog Hop

I'm celebrating the happy return of regularly scheduled blogging! I've missed my blog, and the blogs I follow, but this summer was just too busy. Not to mention the traveling, no Internet, the Internet, the wedding preparations, no Internet.

Wait. Does anyone else hear an echo? (echo, echo, echo...)

To kick off my happy return to blog world, I'll be posting daily tips and writing prompts for...

DRUM ROLL PLEASE...

NaNoWriMo!!  (waits for applause to die down...)

First post goes live this evening.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Happy Friday, beautiful guys and dolls!! What are you celebrating today?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things Blog Hop

My son is getting married on Saturday!!!!!!

What are you celebrating this week?
Also, by November, my life will be somewhat normal again, and I'll be be back to my daily posting. Thanks for your patience, beautiful guys and dolls! 

 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things

Celebrate the small things blog hop!

I'm celebrating

1. A new coat.
2. Beautiful new boots I can't wait to wear!

And...

3. Chilly weather:)

What are you celebrating this week?

Sorry I can't add pics or links on my phone:(

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ISWG October 2013

Hey beautiful guys and doll!

My life is moving me in a new direction and I'm being pulled along for the ride. Rather than fight against the tide, I'm going with the flow.

This summer, we've lived in a camper. No, not camping and having marshmallows and campfires. It's been our life. My husband's work put us on the road and unfortunately, we've lived in places that are still in the ancient days of "Internet? What's that?"  Believe me, it's true. So this summer has been an adventure!

My writing career is also going places I've dreamed of going for a long tone. I can't share everything with you yet, but I've got sone good news pending I hope to let you in on soon

Happy writing, my friends. I wouldn't be here without you:)
PS. Typos courtesy of my phone!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

WIP Tip: Wordle

WIP Wednesday on Friday… Sorry it's late! I found this the other day and couldn't wait until next week to share it.

 

Wordle. Have you ever used one? You paste a body of text into their form, and the website will spit back out a Wordle, which shows you which words are used the most. You can use this site for pretty much anything, but I’ve taken to using it for revising. Want to know why? Because it shows you which words you use the most, and it does so in context of every other word in your novel.


Let’s take a look at an example. Here’s my Wordle for my current draft of GYRE:

 


Now, let me go through and kind of dissect what we have here. I’ve color-coded the image in MS Paint. Yellow highlighted words are my “habit words”, like just, probably, didn’t, and something. Green highlighted words are “telling” words.




Want to know what jumps out at me first? It’s not that I have A LOT of yellow and green. It’s not even that I have four main characters as big words in here.

It’s that I use “just” more than I used either of the MC’s names. That’s right. “Just” shows up in my manuscript more often that “Trevor” and “Chelsea”. In fact, I don’t even see “said” on the Wordle, which means “asked” is used more as a dialogue tag than “said”.


Please excuse me while I walk away in embarrassment.


*Comes back.*


See what I mean? Wordle is like a revising godsend. I now know to not only do a search for telling words, but to weed out 99% of the times I said “just”, too. My critique partner actually pointed out to me how often I use that word, but I never noticedhow often until I did this Wordle.



So go ahead and make your own Wordle. What words do you use the most? Do any stick out above the rest?

Monday, September 23, 2013

I miss you beautiful guys and dolls. I don't know what else to say.

Thank you EVERYONE for your faithfulness to visit and cheer me and make me smile:)

Why have I disappeared? I'm still here, it's just Internet in my camper is only available on my phone and its tough writing blog posts on my phone. And visiting all my friends blogs and leaving comments only to have blogger eat them is soooo frustrating:(

I'll be back. Soon I hope. In the mean time, stay beautiful!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Evade Cover REveal!

In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael's race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever's soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom.

Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James.

With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late.

A marked soul is hard to come by … and even harder to escape

 
 
EVADE'S LINKS:

JESSA RUSSO'S LINKS:

GRAB A COPY OF EVER: Book One of The EVER Trilogy!

COVER CREDIT: 
Cover Photo: Face On By Tamara Website | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, September 16, 2013

CassaStorm Blog Tour!

Why are you so drawn to sci fi?

I like the possibilities, the unknown. Anyone who has stared at the night sky knows there is something magical, that life and worlds beyond our imagination could exist out there somewhere. It provokes a sense of adventure.
That and I really wish lasers were real, because I want to mount one on the hood of my car and shoot all of the slow drivers in front of me…

CassaStorm
By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

“Cavanaugh creates such an unforgettable world, and these characters will stay with you long after their story is over.”
- Cassie Mae, author of Friday Night Alibi and How to Date a Nerd


$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:
Amazon -
Book trailer -
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/7Umm2l0XdHc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things

*Hangs head in shame*

Yes, I'm still here.  Why have I been missing?

It's a long, long, list and one you probably aren't interested in reading about, so I'll just say:

I've been busy.

I hope you haven't forgotten who I am....

On to brighter things!!

What am I celebrating today????????

1. My niece is getting married today!
2. Cooler weather:)
3. All my laundry is caught up for today!

What are YOU celebrating??

Check out all the blogs who have things to celebrate!


The one who started it all...Vikki! http://viklit.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ISWG September 2013

Hey beautiful guys and dolls!!
I've been looking forward to this months post for several days. I'm sorry I missed last month. My daughter had her baby and I'll be honest. I forgot to post. Sorry friends!

This month, I had planned a nice long post talking about my experiences with several awesome contests and WriteOnCon. But alas! I'm traveling today and posting thus on my phone. It's been a crazy busy month. I'm living in our camper and my Internet AND phone reception has been almost zero. Today's post will be missing graphics and links. I hope that is okay.

I have been so close to breaking from the writing world. Every time I throw away my own and paper, I get sick. Physically and emotionally sick.

I. Can't. Do. It. I can't stop. And then I read so, so many success stories from my writer friends and at first, I must confess, it makes me sad I'm so far behind them. But in the end, I always smile and cheer them on because it GIVES ME HOPE.

Yes!!! One day I'll write my own success story. I can't wait to share it with you all. You've shared my whining now for almost 2 years. I can't thank you enough for all your support and I hope I get to reward your faithfulness soon. With good news!

It's coming. I know it is. I feel it !!
See ya next month my supportive friends!!!
Oh. Any typos compliments of my trusty sidekick: my phone!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

EVER is here again. Go TeamFrankie


Happy Release Day, EVER!

To celebrate EVER's rebirth, and Jessa Russo’s first step into the indie self-publishing world, she is giving you the first chapter of EVER for FREE! Yup! FREE! You can read along, decide if you want more, then click on one of the buy links below to grab a copy for yourself! *Paperbacks available soon!

Check out the FREE first chapter HERE

We're also having some fun on Twitter (details below), and Jessa has also compiled TWO prize packs of super awesome stuff! There will be one (1) lucky winner in the US, and one (1) lucky winner Internationally! Want to know what we’re giving away? 

***GIVEAWAY FUN!***

The winner(s) will receive the following items:

US ONLY Prize Pack (ONE winner):
Set of 4: custom Frankie4Ever / Toby4Ever Coasters (2 of each) + Signed EVER bookmarks +
Signed paperback copy of EVER by Jessa Russo (YA)
Complete set* of The Darkness Falls Trilogy e-books from Krystal Wade (YA)
*Includes WILDE'S FIRE, WILDE'S ARMY and WILDE'S MEADOW
Signed paperback copy of EYRE HOUSE by Cait Greer (NA, adult content)
Paperback copy of THE CHARGE by Sharon Bayliss (YA)
Paperback copy of SEALED WITH A CURSE by Cecy Robson (A, mature content)

INTERNATIONAL Prize Pack (ONE winner):
E-book of EVER by Jessa Russo (YA)
Complete set* of The Darkness Falls Trilogy e-books from Krystal Wade (YA)
*Includes WILDE'S FIRE, WILDE'S ARMY and WILDE'S MEADOW
E-book of THE CHARGE by Sharon Bayliss (YA)
E-book of BROKEN FOREST by Eliza Tilton (YA)
E-book of THE VALENTINE CHALLENGE by Marisa Cleveland (A, mature content)
E-book of THE GATHERING DARKNESS by Lisa Collicutt (YA)
E-book of 1,000 SLEEPLESS NIGHTS by Connie Michael

ENTER HERE:


***TWITTER FUN!***

We're also going to be tweeting a bit today, to celebrate not just EVER's re-release (hashtag: #EVERTrilogy), but also playing up a major theme of the book--Ever's love for her deceased best friend. We'll be tweeting the theme with the hashtag #IfICouldBringBack and then sharing who we would bring back and why, or what we'd do with them, etc.

So, sticking with EVER as my example, the main female character of the series may tweet something like this:

#IfICouldBringBack Frankie, I'd finally tell him the truth. That I've loved him since we were in diapers. #EVERTrilogy 

Who would you want to bring back? An old flame? A relative? Maybe a famous author or dignitary? Think about it and join in the fun on Sunday, 9/1/13! We'll see you on Twitter!

***BOOK DETAILS!***

EVER
The EVER Trilogy, Book One 
By Jessa Russo
September 1, 2013






Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious. Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible. 

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love. 
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.


Purchase Links:
Jessa Russo's Links:


Stay tuned for the second book in the trilogy, EVADE, set to release on October 1st, 2013! 
You can now add EVADE on Goodreads!


Remember to follow EVER's 9/1/13 re-release day FUN on Twitter with these hashtags: 

#EVERTrilogy
and 
#IfICouldBringBack

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Trust Your Crazy Ideas

I don’t know about you, but I come up with some ridiculous ideas between projects. Seriously wacky. Recently I’ve come across a number of lesser-known myths and urban legends from around the world and think, how I can put a spin on them? Note: other countries have much, much creepier urban legends than the Moth Man and Big Foot, which make for great horror stories.

            Do you ever wonder how much is too much? Or, how crazy is this idea?

            I have. All the time. I blogged about it in this post on my personal blog, but I wanted to mention it on a WIP Wednesday here because this sign stared me down in my room this morning:

 

            I honestly forgot I had that sign. I bought it at tiny crafts festival some number of years ago, and placed it above my desk as a reminder to always trust my crazy ideas. In retrospect, the project I was working on at the time had nothing on my current WIPS, but I thought it did.

            Always trust your crazy ideas. Your crazy ideas are probably original and fresh, which puts you ahead of the curve. Sometimes just the right amount of crazy in a WIP is exactly what that project needs.

 

            So what’s the craziest idea you’ve ever had for a WIP?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday's Talking Ink

Hi everyone!

So, WriteOnCon just ended and, as a closet con geek, I am once again afflicted by Post-Con-Depression (PCD). Granted, my PCD usually comes after anime and videogame conventions (ConnectiCon anyone?), but the feeling is just the same. I spent 48 hours with a bunch of really great writers, all huddled over their Internet connections, learning from and critiquing each other with abandon.

It. Was. Fun.

Were you there, too? If you weren't, why weren't you?

WriteOnCon is a free, two-day writing convention held annually on over message boards, Google Hangouts, blog posts, and live chats. This year, they had agents and editors taking pitches on Twitter, then reacting live to them over Google Hangouts. This was my favorite event, because it allowed you to see exactly how agents and editors react to pitches, what they don't really want to see any more of, and what really excites  them. For instance, pitches were going slowly until someone pitched a Back to the Future meets Letters to Juliet, and the two agents on that event squealed in excitement and fought over who would get the query.

Talynn and I were both on the forums all day, too, which is why we were quiet here. We both posted our query letters, first 250 words, and first five pages, and got some amazing feedback.

WriteOnCon really is the place to be this time of year. The best part about it is that it's online, which makes it free and easy to access. All of the posts events are stored and transcribed as well, so you can make sure you see any the content you missed.


So, were you there? What was your favorite part? If you weren't at the Con this year, be sure to stop by in 2014! It'll be worth every minute :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

What do I have to celebrate?????!!!

See my celebration below!!!!!

Meet Haivyn Asheleigh Keim, born Aug 4, 2013 weighing in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 20 inches long. Yes, it's okay if you google over her. She's perfect, isn't she!

What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Celebrate The Small Things

I'm celebrating today. I'm on my way back to North Dakota. My daughter is due any day now to deliver my fist grand daughter.

I know, I say it every week, I guess you can tell I'm excited!!!

School starts next week. We always love the first few months of school.

I had garden fresh tomatoes and corn on the cob. It doesn't get much better than that!

What are you celebrating today? Let me hear about it in the comments below!

Have You Scene It? Workshop 6: Last Day

Submissions are now closed. Any comment , unless for a request from an editor or agent, will be deleted. 
Thank you for participating!!

Can you believe today is already here? I can't!

The last thing we will discuss is in our scene workshop is the decision. We've got the setting already established, gave the MC a goal he/she wants to accomplish, slipped in the motivation, snared him with some conflict and tension, labored on the emotions to add some drama, and now, it's decision time.

Whatever the decision your MC makes, it must follow through with the actions to accomplish that decision. This is the key element of tying up all the loose ends of the scene and finalizing the readers satisfaction. If done correctly, the reader will turn the page to find out what happens next.

I'm not talking about exploding bombs, car crashes, police arrests, and chasing the villain and such. The action can be as subtle as deciding to walk away from a relationship, heading off to school, writing that letter the MC has put off for so long. Just has long as the decision is followed by the action to make it happen, you should be good:)

The scene closes, and a new opens up. It may still be the same chapter, or it may be the next opening of the next chapter. Remember: SCENE DOES NOT EQUAL CHAPTER. You can have two or three scenes in one chapter.

To recap:

Start the scene with a good grounding as to where the scene is taking place.
Give the MC a goal.
Make sure the motivation to accomplish the goal is clearly evident, even if it's subtle.
Don't let your MC reach the goal so easy. Throw in some conflict, and add some tension.
Give the MC emotion.
And wrap up the scene with the reaction and decision the MC makes and don't forget the action caused by the decision.

And that, in a nut shell, is how to write a scene.

Now, it's your turn! Today, and all next week, you have the opportunity to post a scene, in the comments. Your scene will get a mini critique from a few professionals in the industry.

Who, you might ask? Let's see, there's

Kisa Whipkey, Editor of REUTS PUBLISHING
Katie Teller, Editor at Curiosity Quills
Amy Trueblood, fabulous literary intern!!

Also, if you have any questions, PLEASE ASK! These ladies have agreed to answer them, to the best of their abilities in order to help you polish up your favorite scenes for the pitch opportunity next week!!
Don't be shy, beautiful guys and dolls. That's what we're here for!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Have You Scene It? Workshop 5

Hey you beautiful guys and dolls! This week has gone by so incredibly fast! I can't believe it's Thursday already!!

So how you coming on your scenes? You got your setting and goal established? How about the motivation behind the goal? Put in some conflict and tension to hamper that goal?

Today, we're talking EMOTION. Now this is not the drama kind of emotion. It doesn't have to be tears, screams, tantrums, or any such dramatic reaction. But it does need to be a reaction.

Every scene needs to be completed with a response. Some type of response, whether good or bad. But the reader will feel cheated if there isn't a an emotional response from the MC. It's like when you're watching a movie and the MC is faced with something appalling, scary, funny, or any type of action. The character stands, emotionaless, no reaction whatsoever. And then, the credits roll across the screen. There was no reaction, no resolution, and the viewer is like, "What????"

Think of that as you wrap up your scene. Don't forget the emotion!!

Are you missing it?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#WipMarathon Intro

I've joined up with a group of writers running a writing marathon during the month of August. I love writing with others because it keeps me motivated.

So each week, we are instructed to post a "this is where I am" post. There's a certain format we have to follow and this is my first one:

Marathon Goal for the month:

I've targeted my goal at 80,000. I'm using the Book in a Month guide. I plan to take Saturday's and Sunday's off. This means I need 4,000 each day.

Stage of Writing:

This will be 1st draft of a historical fantasy. No title yet. Only an idea, character and a very rough outline.

What inspired this WIP:

A my family tree. I've heard and gathered so many fascinating things about my family and ancestors and some of the things I've stood in amazement thinking about them! This one involves my Indian blood line. She was a Cherokee princess and I'm writing her story. Obviously with a little make believe. Kinda.

What might slow me down:

Two things.
1. My daughter will give birth to my FIRST grand baby!
2. School starts and I home school, so August is always a hard month. Call me crazy, I know.
3. Just for good measure, my wips from Camp NaNo are going into revisions and edits, so this will be a busy month!

Thanks, and I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts:)

Have You Scene It? Workshop 4

I'm so thrilled to have a guest post to day by REUTS Editor Kisa Whipkey!! Not only is she offering to to help out with the workshop, she'll be critiquing scenes, answering questions, and participating in the pitch opportunity next week!! So without further ado, take it away, Kisa!
****

First, I'd like to thank Talynn for hosting this wonderful workshop and for inviting me to help explain the inner workings of crafting a powerful scene.

Today's lesson is Conflict & Tension.

Thanks to the previous lessons, you've now got a scene that deftly describes the setting, has a reason for existing and is grounded by character motivations. But none of that is especially exciting, is it? Essential, yes. Gripping, page-turning excitement? No. For that, you need conflict and tension.

What is conflict? Anything that stands between your character and achieving their goal. It can be large-scale, driving the entire story, or it can be small, affecting just a scene or two. It can be external, (Man vs. Villain/Antagonist, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. The World), or internal (Man vs. Himself). The point is, without it, your story will flat-line. Conflict is the basis for all entertainment, regardless of medium. For whatever reason, we humans are hard-wired to enjoy it. Just look at reality TV. Its entire existence depends on conflict, and audiences eat it up like a dieting person mows down on forbidden cake.

Alright, let's move on to the example. This is the opening scene to one of my short stories, meant to establish the world, character, and of course, the conflict. See if you can identify what that conflict is.

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The sharp raps of the scepter against the Judgment Stone may as well have been the sounds of an executioner’s crossbow; it sealed Amyli’s fate with the same finality. She didn’t want to be one of the Kindred, had never wanted to be one.  Her family had forced her to endure the training required of those chosen to interpret the will of the deities. All she had ever wanted was to wander like the many wolf packs, free and wild. Of course, that would have been impossible in any event, for even if she had not been inducted into the Order of the Kindred, there was no escaping the chains that bound her simply as an accident of birth. A princess was never free.

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Did you find the conflict? Hint, it's internal. Amyli is being forced to do something she doesn't want to by events out of her control, but the conflict is between her desire to be free and her responsibility to her family and kingdom.

Now, this scene does clearly identify the conflict, but it's also ineffective in making that conflict resonate with readers. Do you care that Amyli doesn't get what she wants? That's she's being forced into a life she hates? Not really. Heck, I don't even care, and she's my character! How do you get readers to care? Well, for starters, don't tell them the conflict like I did. Show it to them by adding tension.

Tension is created by prolonging the resolution of the conflict, building up the anticipation of what's going to happen, hinting that stuff's about to hit the fan. Conflict is what readers thrive on, but tension is what keeps them riveted, dying to know what's going to happen next. It pulls from a similar place as emotional empathy and when done well, is the difference between a reader being fully immersed in your story and merely passing time with it while they wait for the dentist.

So, let's take another look at the scene above but now rewritten to include tension.

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“Amyli Farenscal!”

The sharp rap of the scepter against the Judgement Stone pierced her like the bolt from an executioner’s crossbow. Silence descended like snowflakes as all eyes turned to her. She could see their awe radiating. Their whispered voices slithered around the room, discussing her fate with a joy she didn’t feel.

She was lucky, they said. One of the chosen.

Disappointment shackled her as she stood, her freedom bleeding from her with every step she took. She had known it was naive to hope the gods wouldn’t choose her, that they would prefer a candidate who actually revered them over one who barely believed they existed; someone devout who hadn’t spent the majority of their training confined in solitary prayer as punishment for multiple escape attempts. But she’d been wrong. Of course, they had chosen her.


As the space between her and the dais at the front of the hall shrank, the Kindred seemed to elongate, looming over her in their multi-hued robes like sinister goblins.
She froze at the bottom of the stairs, the overwhelming urge to flee scratching at the soles of her feet. Her breathing constricted as panic clenched its fingers around her heart.

She couldn’t do this. She didn’t want to be a Kindred, slave to whatever fickle deity they had assigned her to.

She had to run.


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Did you feel the difference? You don't get the same level of back-story that you did in the first version, (thankfully!) but you can feel her conflicted emotions, feel the tension mounting toward one question-- what's she going to do? That sense of mystery is what will drive a reader to keep reading, and by showing them the conflict instead of simply telling it, you'll manage to engage their empathy as well. Emotional resonance should be the goal of any writer, whether it be in the entire book or a single scene. Conflict and tension are just one more set of tools to help you do that.

Alright, your turn. Take the scene you've been working on all week and see if you can identify its conflict. If you don't have one, find one. Take whatever goal you created and stick an obstacle between it and your character. Once you've got that, add in some tension. If your obstacle is too easily overcome, your conflict won't resonate. Create mystery around the conflict's resolution, prolong the anticipation and really make us feel it. Happy writing!

Bio:

Kisa Whipkey is a dark fantasy author and Senior Editor of REUTS Publications. To date, she has published three short stories and is currently working on several novel length projects when she can pull herself away from her TV addiction. You can find her snarky commentary on all things storytelling at www.kisawhipkey.com or connect with her on Twitter: @kisawhipkey. To learn more about REUTS Publications, please visit their official website: www.reuts.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Have You Scene It Workshop 3

I can't believe we are already on workshop three! Hey beautiful guys and dolls! How's it going on your scene writing? Have you scene it yet?

Today, I'm discussing MOTIVATION. So far, we've established the setting of your scene and goal of your scene. What motivates your character to accomplish the goal? why do they want to accomplish that goal?

**Note: I realize a scene is generally longer than one paragraph. It can be several pages of a manuscript, I know. But for the sake of the workshop and trying to keep classes short, I've limited my examples to a few lines.

Motivation is just as important as goal setting. Just like after you've read something and asked yourself, "What was the purpose of that?" you can do the same and ask, "Why did he do that?" It can be a subtle mention, which is usually the best method for weaving in motivation. You don't always have to spell it out:

"I want revenge because he cheated on me!" Obviously, the mc was hurt and seeks payback. But you can create a small detail that will satisfy your reader without being so bold and telling the motivation. Showing is always better.

Here's my example paragraph, but I've added Jasmine's reasoning behind her goal of getting Troy to stay:

The high noon sun bounced off the water and blinded my eyes. Even slathered with sunscreen, my shoulders burned as I laid my towel over the sun-baked wood. I traced the embroidered letters, Jasmine loves Troy, with my fingers. A boat sped by the dock, splashing water all over my feet. Rhonda and Carla squealed with me, but it felt so refreshing I thought about jumping back in for another swim. I didn't want the day to end. It was my last chance to change Troy's mind about leaving. School was so far away and Natalie was attending the same college.

Oooo. Is it love, fear, or jealousy? hmmm.

Your turn! Check the motivation of your MC and make sure it's evident along each scene goal. You can do it. I have faith in you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Have You Scene It? Workshop 2

Hey beautiful guys and dolls! I hope our weekend was wonderful:) To add to everything else, I spent yesterday in bed and so far this morning, I wish I could crawl back under the covers! I don't take to being sick very well...

So, today, let's get right to the lesson. We're talking MC goals today, and how important it is to make sure you have a goal for every scene.

Now, it's not always about life or death. Goals drive the story forward. Have you ever read a story and been like, "What the point? Why?" If so, it's because the author had no driving goal for the MC.

I'm not talking about the large picture goal. I'm talking the scene by scene goal. There should be one in every scene.

Every one of them.

Whether it's to find a missing book, wanting to look well dressed,needing to relax for the night, make dinner, go for a walk, sign on a new client, WHATEVER. There needs to be a goal.

Let's take our established scene, and add a goal for my MC. By the way, does the reader even know who the MC is? My guess is no. And while this isn't directly related to goal setting, it does touch the outlines because how can you establish a goal for someone who invisible?

Original scene (with setting added)

The high noon sun bounced off the water and blinded my eyes. Even slathered with sunscreen, my shoulders burned as I laid my towel over the sun-baked wood. A boat sped by the dock, splashing water all over my feet. Rhonda and Carla squealed with me, but it felt so refreshing I thought about jumping back in for another swim.

I'm going to add a very simple goal and add my MC's name:

The high noon sun bounced off the water and blinded my eyes. Even slathered with sunscreen, my shoulders burned as I laid my towel over the sun-baked wood. I traced the embroidered letters, Jasmine loves Troy, with my fingers. A boat sped by the dock, splashing water all over my feet. Rhonda and Carla squealed with me, but it felt so refreshing I thought about jumping back in for another swim. I didn't want the day to end. It was my last chance to change Troy's mind about leaving.

I know this paragraph isn't perfect. I see a lot of things that need to be edited. Remember, I'm taking one thing at a time, hoping to get it polished and shiny by the end of the workshop.
 

Your assignment for today is:

Take chapter one, read each scene and make sure you have a goal clearly outlined and clearly evidenced for the reader.

What did you find? Does your MC need a goal?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday's post

Hey all:)

I'm taking today and this weekend off.
A very, VERY dear, sweet, and close friend of my family passed away this week.
And we just got word that his wife's brother, (whom I love like a mother) died last night.

So she is dealing with the death of her husband and her brother.

Enjoy your weekend, my friends, and hold those you love close. You never know when they will be gone.

I will return on Monday, and will have workshop classes every day next week.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Have You Scene It Workshop 1

You have a pretty new idea, and new WIP you're dying to write. But you have no idea where to start.

Hmmm.

Or maybe you've written a chapter or two, or perhaps just a scene or two, and it

F
  a
    l
     l
       s

FLAT.

What to do? How do you "make it better?"

Let's start with an example. I've written a basic scene starter and will walk you through step by step and explain what I add and how I can make it stand out from all the other FLAT ones.


The sun shined brightly down, burning my skin. I was alone for the moment, but Troy promised to return as fast as could. The day had been wonderful. There's no way I could have known it would be the last day my heart beat on it's own. If I had known, I'm sure I would have spent it the same exact way, with Troy and my best friends, and my family.


Now, what can you tell me about this scene, just from what's written? I know, I know. It's not a full scene. It's only a paragraph. But you should never write even just a word that isn't needed or adds depth to your story. And writing an entire paragraph just for the sake of space is definitely a no-no! Every word.
Every sentence.
Every paragraph.
Needs purpose.

Whether you are sneaking in setting, time, plot, character development, or an awesome twist or surprise, every word needs to count, pushing the reader further into the story.

So, what do you know about my story from the above paragraph? Very little I'm sure. Let's start with

Character:

1. Hmm, we know the character is possible sick, but not for sure. All we know is the person dies soon.
2. We also can assume the person was happy with how they spent the day.
3. Some guy named Troy was important enough to be named. Is the MC? hmmm...

Goal and/or Motivation:

Nada. Well, it could be she wants to enjoy the day. Create memories.

Plot:

1. There's the dying fact. and that's about it.

Setting:

There's sunshine. So maybe she's outside?

Now, obviously, in only a few sentences, there's no way I cover everything needed to developed a good scene. Today, I'll cover one thing: the SETTING.

Setting can be one of the hardest things to describe in a scene, without writing a boring list of features. Such as,

It was hot. The grass needed to be cut. The trees drooped with dead leaves. the water was stagnant.

We can do better than that, right????

In my sample paragraph above, my MC is a girl, she's spent the day at the lake with her family and friends and her boyfriend. They had a picnic on a ski boat and now she is laying out in the sun on the boat dock with her two friends, waiting on her boyfriend to return with some cold drinks from the cooler. (any red flags about what I wrote, and what I actually had in mind??)

Did you get any of that from what I wrote? ha! probably not:) How can I add detail to the scene? Details about the setting?

I could mention something about the dock.
What about saying "lake" or "boat?"
They are drying off in the sun, working on a tan. I can mention that.

Let's try again...

The high noon sun bounced off the water and blinded my eyes. Even slathered with sunscreen, my shoulders burned as I laid my towel over the sun-baked wood. A boat sped by the dock, splashing water all over my feet. Rhonda and Carla squealed with me, but it felt so refreshing I thought about jumping back in for another swim.

I thing the setting is a whole lot better grounded in the example. What do you think?

You assignment: Take a paragraph or two and work in some subtle setting words. Let the reader know where your character is so they can become immersed in the story, too.










Monday, July 22, 2013

Mixed Ink Monday: Have You Scene It?

Thank you, Flickr Commons!
Hey all you beautiful guys and dolls! It's finally here! The Scene writing workshop:)

Today, I'm posting what you can expect during the workshop and what I have planned during the workshop.

There are two things that make a book: Scenes and sequels. If you know how to construct a good scene and write a satisfying, engaging sequel, then you've mastered writing a book. Because that's the secret to writing a page turning keeper.

We'll be discussing:

1. Setting the scene
2. Goal of the scene
3. Motivation of the scene
4. Conflict and tension
5. Emotion in the scene
6. Decision and action

We'll also look at how to plan a better scene and it's sequel, how to write each of them, and how to use them together to write the next scene. You may feel like your scene is dark and flat. Don't worry! If this is the way you see your scene, have no fear. Help is right on the other side of the dark room. Can you hear it calling out to you?

There will be expert help from published writers, tips from agents and editors, and guest posts from literary interns and fabulous writers who really know their craft.

We have a 5 minute mentorship program. What's this, you ask? It's an opportunity for YOU to have your scene evaluated by an editor, agent, agent intern or published author. These wonderful people have agreed to to read through your scene and offer their advice on improving it! But keep in mind, it's called a 5 minute mentorship because its only a quick glance and advice on the first thing that catches their eye and what they think will improve it:)

And yes, we'll end with a pitch opportunity.

The workshop will begin on Wednesday, July 24th.

Any questions? Ask in the comments below!