Posts Tagged ‘writing’
Take your kids to Disneyland and they will ride things that scare you or keep you singing It’s A Small World After All for the rest of the week. Take your kids to Legoland and you can learn what writing is all about.
Now I admit that is an odd thing to say. But I recently spent the day with my granddaughter at Legoland. It is not such a hectic place as Disneyland so I had time to wonder who thought to build it. And that led me to wonder why we writers build stories. I’m a firm believer that you can, indeed, compare apples and oranges. So I stand by the following four comparisons between Legos and writing.
1. Both Lego builders and writers deal in illusions.
Both try to shape something that viewers think is real. Is that elephant real? Is Hamlet real? It’s all in the details. If you are precise, detailing what things look, feel, taste, sound, or smell like, readers will believe you just as kids believe the elephant at Legoland is real. In Artists & Thieves I created a “sensory overload” scene in a jazz club in Cannery Row with a lot of vivid colors, sounds, tastes, and emotions for the characters. I had real singers perform, but all else was fiction. Readers tell me they looked for the club but couldn’t find it.
2. Both build elaborate structures with little interlocking pieces. Legos come in two basic shapes, rectangles and squares. But some are bigger than others. And some are cylinders. From these limited shapes, very patient people construct tiny cars and two inch people. They build a life-size Darth Vader and a Volvo. They also build replicas of cities like New York and Las Vegas, huge long units that form skylines about as tall as adult visitors. It helps that their fingers are flexible.
Writers build with words, some are tiny, some long, some are loaded with hidden meanings, some crystal clear. There are at least three quarters of a million of them in English. That’s a lot of construction blocks. It is the writer’s job to interlock them into sentences, fit them together to build small haiku poems or long novels. It helps if the writer’s brain is flexible. It helps if the words are chosen carefully: a character who simply walks down stairs is not as vivid as one whose too large shoes slap loudly on the steps; a character who “ponders” which way to go when fleeing a killer doesn’t seem credible.
3. Legos come in bright and neutral colors. The variety helps distinguish parts. So does variety in sentence structure. Write only with single syllable words? Not so interesting. Write only noun-plus-verb sentences? Boring. Dialogue adds color. When my character Hunter searched the heroine’s room for a stolen bowl, I didn’t tell the reader he knew she was a liar but the dialogue conveyed it:
- Give up,” she said. “That bowl is on its way to China.”
- “And you are Snow White,” Hunter said.
4. One last comparison. Breaks. Benches. Shade. Iced drinks. We need to rest in the midst of activity. We also need to catch our breath in the midst of a tense story. Give the reader some ice tea like an easy description or incidental dialogue between secondary characters. One reason some people read the end of a story first is so they won’t have to worry all the way through about what is going to happen to the hero. So be kind to the reader and provide some rest stops along the way.
Linda Schroeder divides her time between the bright sun of California and the high mountains of Colorado. She has a Master’s degree in English and one in Communicative Disorders/Audiology. In addition to her novel, Artists & Thieves, she has published a college text.
Her early interest in English expanded to include language disorders and she began a second career as an audiologist and aural rehabilitation therapist working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults.
Currently, she studies and practices Chinese brush painting, celebrating the vitality and energy of nature. She follows art and art theft blogs and writes her own blog about art and sometimes includes reviews of novels. She is working on two more novels, a second Mai Ling novel about the Diamond Sutra, and a Sammy Chan art mystery about the forgery of a Goya painting.
You can visit her website at www.artistsandthieves.com.
Be prepared to be creeped out from the very beginning of this whirlwind novel! CJ Lyons gives us a fast-moving, thrill-filled tale in Snake Skin.
Lucille Teresa Guardino, Pittsburgh’s defender of children, struggles to balance her life. Between her career keeping children safe from predators that seemingly lurk everywhere and being a mom to a pre-teen daughter and being a wife to a doting psychologist husband, it isn’t an easy task.
In Snake Skin, Guardino rushes to find a young girl. Did Ashley run away? Or was she kidnapped? Guardino grows frustrated as the arguments grow supporting both questions. Testing Guardino’s resolve even further, is a sick daughter whose diagnosis might be one every parent fears: cancer.
CJ Lyons keeps the action moving. Guardino is a character a mother can relate to. The bad guy is almost sympathetic. And I think I’ve developed a snake phobia.
Check this one out!
This is the kind of book I was raised on! My cousin Cindy–who is a few years older–would pass these wonderful books along to me after she read them. They had titles like Cats, Rats, Dogs. She introduced me to Dean Koontz and VC Andrews. I can’t wait to tell her about Michael Robb!
I bought The Butcher’s Boy after reading an excerpt I saw on Twitter. It was great and made me want to keep reading.
A newly-divorced woman moves into an old fixer-upper with her 11-year old son and their Rottweiler, Lucy(fur). Immediately, young Michael realizes the house is haunted. Along with his babysitter, he begins researching the house and ways to contact it’s spiritual inhabitants.
The seller of the house failed to mention that it had been the scene of a grizzly murder decades before. The home’s former owner was called The Butcher after he murdered his entire family. He eventually died in the gas chamber.
Robb writes like a story teller. I felt he was sitting next to me, telling me about something that really happened. He’s smooth and delicious at building up the suspense and letting the story unfold easily.
The beauty of this story is that the ghost story is told in such a realistic way. It is part of the story; it is not the whole story. It’s presented in such a matter-of-fact manner that I found myself convinced that ghosts exist!
As usual, I don’t want to give too much away! Do yourself a favor and get this book! I’m adding Michael Robb to my list of people to be stranded with on a deserted island!
Since this is a blog that caters to family, I thought some of you might be interested in knowing that my Rocky Bluff series was created to show how what happens to the people on the Rocky Bluff police force while on the job affects their families, and what is happening with the families affects the job.
I observed some of this when I lived in a neighborhood full of cops and became friends with the wives. When my daughter married a police officer, I saw more of the same. Though some movies and TV shows display a bit of this, so many of their main characters are stereotypical and not at all like the officers that I knew and know now…
In my latest Rocky Bluff PD crime novel, Angel Lost, Officer Stacey Wilbur is having a hard time keeping her mind on her job because she’s anticipating her upcoming wedding to Detective Doug Milligan. Officer Felix Zachary is anticipating the birth of his and his wife’s first child, but can’t help thinking that there is something a bit off about the new guy, a transfer from LAPD. Sergeant Abel Navarro is worried about his mother who is showing signs of having Alzheimer’s. Public Affairs Officer Ryan Strickland doesn’t agree with his wife Barbara who thinks the angel that’s making a nightly appearance in the window of a furniture store is a sign from God.
Though this is number 7 in the series, I write each one as a complete story. For those who’d like to read previous books, you can find them under the name F. M. Meredith in the usual places—and most are available in e-book form.
Angel Lost Blurb:
As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?
F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
I think that question was first asked some sixty years ago. I think it should be asked again. However, the big topic right now in the writing world is the fascinating transition the publishing world is going through. Electronic book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle are taking business away from the traditional book publishing/selling industry. E-publishing may change the written world as much as e-music affected the music industry in the last decade.
As a fairly new author with three published mystery/thrillers, even I can sense firsthand the growing momentum and the increased tension in the industry. Nevertheless, I don’t see the changes as being negative to the author. In fact a serious case could be made that the changes may make it easier for an author to get his/her work in front of the public. Indeed, my two books that are already on Kindle: Dead Men Can Kill and Cold Winter’s Kill, are selling faster on Amazon in the electronic format than in paper format.
A much bigger concern that I have is the proliferation of online/wireless access to television programs that now reaches all the way down to the cell phone. Watching television is virtually a national pastime in this country, while a minority of adults routinely read books. It’s been my experience that people discuss television shows with each other much more often than they discuss books they’ve read.
I saw a television commercial the other day extolling the capability of being able to download your favorite television shows. The commercial went on to explain how watching these shows from your handheld device can make time pass more pleasantly while you’re waiting in line at the DMV, or at some other appointment. Wouldn’t it nice to watch the show you missed last night while on the bus/train during you morning commute?
Many people currently “kill” that same time reading books. For a lot of busy people, that may be the only free time for them to read. Books have always been portable. Now, the number one evening pastime has become ubiquitous, and being away from home won’t mean you can’t watch television.
My concern is that the percentage of the American people who consider themselves regular book readers will decrease over time as the ability to “turn on the TV,” no matter where you are, becomes the norm. If fewer people read books, then fewer people will buy books, and that’s not good for authors.
Bob Doerr grew up in a military family, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and then had a twenty eight year career of his own in the Air Force. In the Air Force, Bob specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence gaining significant insight to the worlds of crime, espionage and terrorism. This background has helped Bob develop the fictional plots and characters in his books. Bob is now a full time author, with three mystery/thrillers already published and a fourth to be released in the fall, 2011. His book Cold Winter’s Kill was a finalist for the 2010 Eric Hoffer Award. He lives in Garden Ridge, Texas, with his wife of 37 years, their pet dog, Skyler, and ornery cat Cinco.
Award-winning writer Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and the brand new reality TV show-themed mystery novel Sink or Swim, as well as the patriotic children’s picture book, The Flag Keeper. Her young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn will be released by Mainly Murder Press in January 2012. You can find out more about her novels on her web site.
Recently, I visited a second grade classroom and spent an hour helping groups of children to write their own adjective booklets. Now and then as an author, I have the opportunity to work with kids, and I always find it an eye-opener.
At first, when I rapped on the table and asked the students to describe the surface, they looked at me as if I were crazy. Then they ventured tentative answers such as “Hard?” “Smooth?” Next, I asked them to describe each other’s shirts, and by this time, they were getting the hang of it. “Pink! Striped! Glittery! Sparkly! Has words on it!” (Okay the last one wasn’t an adjective, but at least they were being descriptive.)
I pointed to the carpet and instantly two girls bellowed “Rough!” We talked about their pets and the kids shared adjectives like playful, gray, lazy and curious. Meanwhile, their classmates completing seatwork kept darting envious glances our way. I felt a little embarrassed that my group was so loud, but I also enjoyed my small role in helping the children to discover the joy and power of language.
My new reality show mystery novel Sink or Swim just came out from Mainly Murder Press and I’m also actively promoting my first mystery book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and my patriotic children’s picture book The Flag Keeper. I have a young adult paranormal crossover novel due out in 2012 and I’ll be bringing back my out-of print young adult novel Face-Off in the near future.
My to-do list of marketing and promotion tasks is five pages long, and those are just the top priorities. Once I complete those tasks, I’ll make up a new list. What adjectives describe my feelings about being an author? Happy. Exciting. Exhilarating. Overwhelming. Hard. Nerve-wracking. Stressful. Frustrating. Grateful. Determined. Focused.
I haven’t had time to write fiction in awhile as I’m also a wife, mom, and freelance newsletter editor, in addition to being an author. My priority with my novels at this time in my life is to gain as many readers as possible, so that financially I can continue to write more books. Once I catch up on my to-do list, I’ll get back to a regular fiction- writing schedule, but I have a great deal of legwork to do in the meantime.
I’ve been so focused on marketing and selling since publishing my first mystery novel in late 2009 that I had almost forgotten what attracted me to the writing field – a love of words. Working with those children reminded me about the joy and satisfaction of weaving words together into something unique and creative, a sentence, paragraph or novel that only I could write.
To get paid for putting words together on paper and making up stories is remarkable. As a new author, I work hard for those royalties, but it’s worth it. Elementary school kids have two favorite adjectives – awesome and cool. Seeing the excitement on the students’ faces as they created their adjective books made me remember that when I’m in the middle of writing a scene, I feel that exact same energy charge. Promoting myself as an author may be hard work, but it’s also awesome and cool.
Patience is a Virtue. Thank God, Susie here at Motherhoot seems to have it in abundance. The fact that she puts up with me is a miracle in and of itself. So first off, thanks Susie for having me (R.M.Gilbert) out to her blog. Since she’s been such a gem I’ve decided to unveil my book trailer here on Motherhoot!
My e-book, Holiday Headlines is 1 of 4 books in A Passionate Christmas Series—a holiday anthology released by Decadent Publishing earlier this month. Written with fellow critique partners over at Passionate Critters this is a fresh new series based in a small town with larger than life characters. At the end of this post, I’ll be offering one luck commenter the chance to win a copy of Holiday Headlines.
But first, here’s a bit about the book and a peek inside:
Cub reporter for the Five Oaks Gazette, Paige Kenyon, lives a tired life in a tired town. Friendless and practically celibate, it’s looking like another lonely Christmas for a woman who wants nothing more than to find some action.
Smith Dawson, Paranormal Investigator, came to Five Oaks for two reasons: Deliver a message and then take a long overdue break. Living a lifetime of secrets in a dangerous job, he’s earned one. However, when a local reporter has a nasty habit of putting herself in harm’s way, he finds himself reluctantly at her rescue.
Is it possible her lust for adventure will land them both in the obituaries?
“Fire!” People shouted all around her.
Paige fumbled with the recorder. Excitement rang in her ears. Adrenaline pumped through her veins. The majority of onlookers raced away from the small flames, Paige sprinted toward them. “Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Whirled around by a heavy hand with a tight grip, Paige collapsed against the investigator. Again, the room dimmed. Darkness seeped in as the air pressed heavily upon her.
“What are you doing?” She gasped.
“We need to get the hell out of here.”
“No.” She tried to yank away from him. “I need my story.”
“Trust me.” Smith tossed his pie, tin and all, to the floor. He lifted her like a sack of potatoes.
Legs kicking, arms flailing, she pounded on his backside. “Put. Me. Down!”
With each step, his shoulder jabbed uncomfortably into her stomach. For a man with such a lean frame, she could feel Smith’s solid muscles through his clothes. As he rushed past several groups of people and stepped outside, the wind whipped around them. Snow and ice crunched under their weight as he carried her up the east incline. He traversed the ridge with ease. Once they were a good distance from the barn, he returned her feet to the ground. She immediately lost her balance in the snow. Instinctively, Paige reached for Smith to catch herself. His hands gripped firm around her waist as she clung to his shoulders.
It took her all of a second to push out of his grasp.
“What is the matter with you?” she snarled.
Don’t forget to check out these other titles in the Passionate Christmas Series at Decadent Publishing:
Smitten by: Silke Juppenlatz, Snowy Encounters by: Clarrissa Yip, and Mid-Winter Magic by: Nina Croft
Retweet this post and I’ll enter your name twice in the drawing for Holiday Headlines.
Rachel Author’s website: http://rmgilbert.com
I have pre-ordered my copy. So that I can HAVE IT SIGNED AT A BOOK SIGNING! Yes, I will get to “meet” Rick Springfield. It’s been a long-time coming!
I will be giving Jim camera lessons so that he can take the perfect picture. I will be polishing the “good” tiara in case I decide to wear it.
I hope I don’t drool on him.
Mostly, I hope I don’t end up on one of those websites where someone feels sorry for Rick and his motley fans. I want a real smile in the picture. Not one of those forced smiles I’ve seen Rick sporting.
Although, my incessant tweeting and blogging about him might make him wary. I might have made it onto some rabid fan watch list.
Seriously, Rick, I won’t hurt you.
If I had my own television show–let’s call it Susie–I would bring back the cast of the Jessie’s Girl video. Wouldn’t a reunion be stellar? Plus, I would ask Steve Antin (aka Jessie) all about being in two of my favorite movies: The Last American Virgin and The Goonies.
If I had my own magazine–let’s call it S–I would interview you and your wife. I want to hear her side of being married to a heart throb. I would ask you about Saint Sahara and 3 Warning Shots. I’d want you to meet my family because I think they’re pretty swell. You could bring your family. We could have a barbecue. You could pet my dogs.
I’m probably scaring him even more…
Here’s one of my favorites
I thought I had written a lot about self-image and weight. But I did a search, and I haven’t. I guess it’s something I keep to myself. I did find a post on the naked lady at the gym and Ragen Chastain from Dances with Fat guest blogged.
I really wanted to review Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle and was ecstatic when I was chosen. Little did I know how hard it would be to read!
Boyle has written a gorgeous book that should be required reading for all women. It has a message we all need to hear. The message is a simple, yet profound one: I am fine the way I am. I am beautiful as I am.
Boyle started Operational Beautiful with one simple post-it note left on a public restroom mirror. “You are beautiful!” launched a website. Women from all around the world became inspired by Boyle, following in her footsteps, leaving messages all over the place.
Operation Beautiful the book is filled with the stories of these women. How they struggled with body image. How they suffered. How they felt empowered and inspired when they took their turn writing an inspirational note.
But the book isn’t only testimonials. It’s also filled with information about food, health, and faith. It tells us how fat talk is contagious and we women are carriers: solo and in groups.
You’re probably wondering why this was so hard for me to read. It was reading the messages from women who apparently feel the same way I do about our bodies/ourselves. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Yet, it’s disheartening to know that so many of us (all?!) walk around every day with this baggage. It’s baggage we picked up from the media, our families, our friends. It’s baggage we need to get rid of!
My purse is now stocked with a purple Sharpie and post-it notes. I’m ready to leave notes whenever the urge grabs me!
I am giving away a copy of this book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. Make sure I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner. I’ll take comments until September 15, then I will draw a random winner! Good luck!
I’d love to hear what you thought about the book when you read it! What did you think? Did it make you cry?
This morning, as I walked through my office (yes, like many published authors, I still have a “day job”), I noticed that probably every third computer screensaver was a beach scene. That got me thinking…always a dangerous thing.
So many of us have strong feelings for the ocean and yearn to spend more time there. Back to our roots, maybe? Depends on what you believe. In any case, the longing is there, like a common thread linking us all, and yet how many of us actually live on the beach or own a home there? Very few, in my experience. The “why-not” reasons are myriad―and mostly valid.
- “The good (read “well paying”) jobs are in population hubs like New York, Chicago and Atlanta.”
- “It costs too much to buy a property on the beach, but maybe when I retire.”
- “It’s almost impossible to get insurance on beachfront property.”
- “Too far from my family…too many hurricanes…beach erosion…the pesky no-see-ums…yada yada yada.”
I know, because I’ve used them all as reasons not to move back home, because, you see, I was born in Florida and lived in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral for years. Did I take it for granted? Or did I stumble down to the water’s edge each morning with my coffee the way I do when I’m on vacation there? Did I comb the beach for unique seashells or gaze with wonder at the evening sun setting over the Indian River? Nope. In fact, I often drove down A1A with eyes forward, never looking left or right. I mean, the water was there and would still be there later, and I had other things on my mind.
Do I love Florida? Just look at my website, and you tell me. So why do I live several hundred miles inland? Why don’t more of us live in the place that calls us back year after year?
Maybe because this way, the beach to retains that magical quality that captured our hearts in the first place. Living each day with the challenges of sand, gnats, mildew and rust does not make our hearts grow fonder, and I speak from experience. I believe the beach needs to remain our special getaway place, our haven from the day-to-day world, a place where we can overlook minor inconveniences in exchange for complete change of scene, and a remarkable scene at that.
Yes, my screensaver is a beach scene. My day job is in Atlanta where the $$$ are, and I live in a rural subdivision with not even a puddle in sight unless it rains really hard. But I spend a few glorious weeks each year at Melbourne Beach, my own personal sanctuary, where there is nothing to do except TO BE, where giant loggerheads drag themselves out of the sea to lay their eggs in the dunes and pelicans and seagulls soar overhead in search of their daily sustenance. A place where the countless night stars look like diamonds strewn across black velvet.
Do I want to live full-time at the beach someday? Well, yes. Of course. Maybe when I retire…
Lynda Fitzgerald is the author of a number of books ranging from romantic suspense to mystery, most of which are set in or around Melbourne Beach. Visit her website http://www.fitzgeraldwrites.com to read excerpts from her books and see pictures of her own personal sanctuary.