Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tedious Thursday & the Indie Author

There are a lot of tedious things in life. According to dictionary.com...

te·di·ous

adjective

1. marked by tedium; long and tiresome: tedious tasks; a tedious journey.
2. wordy so as to cause weariness or boredom, as a speaker or writer.
I'm in a spot right now while writing where I know I'm going to have to rewrite big time. While I strive for those pithy comeback, holding tension, and expanding tension sometimes the words in the draft just do not come out the way I want them to. It's BORING! Now you would think with me writing espionage, horror, and suspense this could not happen, but it does. I continue writing because it needs to be done and said. It's a building block to form upon. Most first drafts are horrendous anyhow.
Remember, I'm the lover of the storytelling and words in general, which is why I write in the first place. By the same token, I'm an avid reader. Have you ever read a book and thought, "Oh, come on already. Get past this!" I have. Most of these if the story continues like this, I'll put the book down forever. It is destined for the recycle box. No, not the trash, but donations to seniors at the nearest elder care facility. I never throw away a book...maybe throw it across the room, but never the trash unless it's unreadbly damaged. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Books are cherished and reread when good in my household which is why I actually have a library and every room in my my house has at least one bookcase. If I want military sci-fi, I'll reread my collection of Bob Mayers' books. For science fiction, it's Jack McDevitt hands down. For Suspense and/or horror, I'll grab a Childs and/or Preston, or Cussler. The list goes on and on. But I digress...
One sure fire way to find the tedious parts of your story is to read it aloud to someone. If they look like this...

You know what you've written is boring. Not only this, but you can hear it as you read. Long descriptive passages or paragraph upon paragraph of one-sided dialogue, or nothing which catches the reader's interest, or even yours. Nothing sparks and only vague attention is paid. Now, if you listener is like this normally, you might want to get another listener.  Pay keen attention to body language: shifting eyes, staring off into space, and shufflling are just some of the indicators of boredom. 

Now, if your listener looks like this...
You can bet they are not just being polite. They are engaged by what you have written. You did something right with the scene or chapter. For me, it's a grimace from my husband as he mentally sees the images my words are portraying in my horror writing. He doesn't like maiming gore.  The eyes are focused on you, they smile, laugh, and nod as you read aloud (whatever is appropriate for the piece). You've got them! They are hooked. Sometimes when you stop reading they look at you with that "Is that all?" look. You know you have gold. Now, if you did this with EVERY sentence you wrote think of the possibilities.
When rewriting or editing words like "Boring," "Too wordy," "Simplify," and "Pump up the tension" are scribbled across the page in big, capital red letters. Huge "X"s are drawn across sections.Yes, I still use colored pens and print out sections even with a computer. All those poor trees! If you, as the writer, feels it is boring or tedious, you can bet your readers will too. Stop that!

Switching hats here. I find marketing and promotion as an indie author tedious at times. It's repetitious and annoying to have to stop writing to tweet and facebook. This is coming from someone with a masters degree in marketing. Options for promotion are limited as an indie. You may try to get your novels and books into regular brick and mortar bookstore, and may even succeed. You have talked with friends and relatives (even friends of a friend of a friend) until you are blue in the face and they have started avoiding you. You join this or that site which offers a promotion avenue like Goodreads, IBC, SheWrites, and a host of others. You do the legwork and it can be exhausting. You've heard, "I'm sorry we don't carry independent authors," so many times you want to scream, but still you continue on. 

Have you found tedium in your writing? How do you fix it?

With all this being said, I'll tell you...

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Word Power Wednesday

As you followers can probably tell, I'm trying a lot of new things with this blog. For one, I'm blogging daily, at least for a while until life gets in my way again.

I've also created themes for the days of the week using the first letter of the weekday and converting it to something writerly. Writerly, is that a word? I'm not sure. I'll have to look it up.

Some of you may know that English is not my first language. It is actually my third, but I have lived here, in the US, consistently for almost forty years so it has basically become my primary language. I still get confused with all the there & theirs out there. (Whew, a minor tongue twister) There are a huge host of words in the English language most foreigners stumble on or with.

What words can do...
They can make you smile...
They can make you cry...
They can make you angry...
They can make you sad...
They can make you happy...
They can cause hate...
They can cause love...
They can scare you...
They can give you hope...

Just to name a few. Words can make you run the gambit of human emotions. As an average Joe, words should be used with caution.

My momma always said, "Be careful what you put in your mouth and what comes out." She was right. Once a word is spoken, it is out there and you can never take it back. No matter how much you apologize...it is there in the hearer's mind forever.

Kind of like the internet. I yahoo'ed/googled myself this morning and found an old website I had a decade ago. No, I no longer carry this website, but there it is. All my blogs, my books, news articles where my name was mentioned, what I've done, college awards and recognitions are there for all eternity.

One of grandsons posted something on Facebook. It was highly inappropriate. First he's too young to have a Facebook page and the comment was one he thought was funny except it offended friends I have there. After Grandma threatened him with a bar of soap to clean up his filthy mouth, he posted an apology. But did it change the fact that he'd done it? No. All my 200+ friends saw it. To make matters worse all those who commented on it also had it on their pages for their umpteen zillion friends to see. The internet can be a dangerous place. If you think no one will know it's you...wrong! There is always a way of finding such information.

As authors, we use words to paint pictures in the mind of the readers. They have power. Strive to increase your power every day. In my downtime, (OMG, she has downtime?) I will play word games online. I subscribe to word of the day type sites. I use a thesaurus when I write. I do dislike overuse of words. I find it extremely irritating making me yell at the author to find another word already. I'll do this with comments on those I edit...Find another word. Another sticking point is words which you show off your word power and make the reader pull out a dictionary.

So in your arsenal of word power enrichment, you need a good dictionary and thesaurus. These are the two most important tools an author needs. Even if you use the online versions of these books, it has the same result...better word power.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tenacious Tuesday & the Indie Author

Welcome to Tenacious Tuesday! According to Dictionary.com tenacious is...

Te·na·cious

adjective
1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often followed by of ): a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits.
2. highly retentive: a tenacious memory.
3. pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate.
4. adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous.
5. holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough.
Hmmm, not too bad of a quality to have for everyone including indie authors.

When my children were much younger, they had hamsters. Not just two or three but six! At first it was only two and then lo and behold babies, and then more babies. We started out with just an aquarium but ended up having a hamster city on my six foot antique sideboard. This contraption had tubes rising up almost to the ceiling with rooms for this or that...I plead insanity brought on by my children, honest!


Now that I've set the stage...I know you've all seen those wheels the hamsters run around on? They will run round and round getting nowhere, but still they run. Until they fall into an exhausted sleep from the exercise.

That's what being tenacious is like. As a writer, I keep plugging away day in and day out. Some days, I may write forty words in any given manuscript, remember I write multiple genres at the same time. While other days, I'll write 10K words.

The point is...I'm tenacious. I hold fast to my goal of finishing the novel. I'm a Taurus so I'm naturally stubborn which is another definition of tenacity. My work is high retentive. I mean really four or five story lines and projects at the same time? Heck, I put my photo and phonographic memories through a workout each and every single day while just living and breathing! "Hey Mom, remember..., Honey, do you know what I did with..., let me see I killed off this character yesterday so who dies today, I left Baby Ruth crying because she's scared, oh I forgot Dr. XYZ's appt." You see what I mean?

But I'm the glue which holds things together. Of course, they could all do without me, but would they even want to try? Except maybe the characters I leave in the middle of something. They can't do anything except what I tell them to do. <wicked evil laughter> Yeah I love writing. In a world where I've given up all things to God, it allows me to control something. I do not sweat the small stuff. In fact, I do not sweat the big stuff either. I keep going one step at a time until goals are met or until I'm so exhausted I can't keep my eyes open. Believe me, there have been quite a few nights I've dozed off at my desk with a novel on my computer screen. But I'll get up go to bed, awake refreshed and start again.

Being stubborn, er, um, tenacious, I refuse to give up. I don't care if I get a thousand bad reviews, well maybe a little if the number were that high. I won't quit writing. I will learn new things to make my writing better each day. Remember, I am the forever student too. There is always room for improvement. What is perfect today may not be perfect tomorrow. Each day brings something new to life's table.

So what are you tenacious about?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Marvelous Monday & the Indie Author

I know quite a few of you do not consider Mondays as marvelous. It's the day you start back to work after a weekend. For me, Mondays are just another day.

In writing, there are chapters to be written. Chapters to be edited. Story lines filled out to see if they would be workable for a novel. Like I've said in previous posts, I do my homework BEFORE writing.

In life, it's a different story. Sunday is normally my busiest day of the week with pastoring at church, but today has already started off with a bang! Two weddings so far. A bank run to check on whether a check cleared (deposit not a bounced one). Ordered bouquets for my daughter's wedding on Saturday and a new clergy rig, and it's only noon!

Mondays are my chicken dance days. Like for all of you working stiffs, it's my day to start the week anew. As a result, I'm dancing all over the place. SO many things cannot be done over the weekend and have to wait for regular business hours. A list of honey-do's a mile long. I know I'm not alone in this. All I have got to say is "Thank God, for the internet."

This weekend I was tying up some loose ends with the Halloween Blog Hop next month. Nailing down speaking engagements and promotional tours for all of my novels. They have to be followed up today.

 I did something I usually don't do. I checked my sales at all the places I've got my novels uploaded. I just don't worry about what is selling and how many copies for the most part. If I get a royalty check quarterly, it's marvelous and if I don't it doesn't matter either. I write for me. Too many new novelists sweat the sales. They are elated when sales go well and despondent when they don't happen.

My newest nonfiction pamphlet, "The Author Business," has hit 50 downloads in the past 72 hours since I uploaded it. I guess there really was a need for this information out there in the indie author circles.

While this pamphlet is free, I am working on a larger book length copy as we speak which goes into more details. It's target price is $2.99 for roughly 40K of information, diagrams, and illustrations.

 "Who Stole Baby Ruth" has hit 50 copies sold since it's release last month. The newest book,"mr. Goodbar Goes to the Hospital," of the series is still on schedule for an end of October release. It could result in more sales if I published an e-version, but once again it is too darn hard to color on e-readers.

"Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" had it's 220 sale in both e-book and print. Although a DVD/Blue Ray has been released by the same title...this book ain't the story line of the script for the DVD. Yeah, I said "ain't," I'm an old southern gal. :)

The next Zombie Apocalypse novel is on track for a possible December release or early January.


"The Sacrificial Lamb" has had constant numbers although meager since its release. I keep hoping it will do better in sales. A total of 25 copies sold since April. This could be because of all the other books with the same name. I will have to do better research before publishing. It may also be the subject matter. With child abuse subplot, it could be a taboo type read.

This would have remained a writing exercise if the 11-year old character would have stayed out of my head. The darn kid wouldn't shut up until I wrote the whole story. It is not explicit, just sensitive.

Since its release in February, this has been my biggest seller with over 500  copies in the hands of readers. Of course, it has had months to sell unlike the others listed. Of those sales, 108 were in a 48-hour period. I'm hopeful the others will sell better over time. It has led to downloads of my other novels.

Now, I realize these sales would be considered poor by standard publishing. But to me, it's marvelous. Take an indie author with almost no credentials in fiction, let her jump into the deep end of the pool with almost no advertising budget, learning to swim as she goes, and this is the results in a little over seven months.Not too shoddy, I could be like thousands of other authors on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other places on the web with no sales. I always keep this in mind.

A word or two on expectations. While I hoped for lightning to strike, I wasn't too disappointed when it didn't. Jello brand gelatin has been around for over 100 years. It took almost 50 years for it to become a household brand enough to be substituted for the word gelatin. Time is on my side. The more I publish the better the chances of some reader finding my novels. I mean as a a reader if you scroll down the list of titles published by an author and you see five to ten books, you know this author is serious about their writing career, right?

As authors were are the brand customers search for. People do not look for publishers. They don't go into bookstore whether online or in actual stores looking for the next book by Penguin, Harlequin, or Tor published release...they look for authors or genres. These authors have been recommended by friends, families, and co-workers. Word of mouth builds brands. Decades of market research proves this is the major selling decision point. The books are only what you are selling. If you do you job right as an author and write a fabulous book, the word will get out. It takes time and patience.

I didn't expect to get independently wealthy by writing. I write for the love of the story and the writing itself. I keep my expectations low as a reality check. So while I may be doing a fast paced chicken dance on marvelous Monday, I know it will be followed by a Tenacious Tuesday.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Halloween Blog Hop Revisited

Alrighty, I promised to let you know where and when I'll be on other blogs this coming month so here is the dates and links to the websites.

October 3rd Lisa McCourt Hollar's blog at http://www.lisamccourthollar.com
              4th Weston Kincade blog at  http://authorwakincade.blogspot.com
              7th Douglas Dorow's blog at http://thrillersrus.blogspot.com/
             10th Nina Perez's blog at http://blogitoutb.com/
             14th Jim Bronyaur's blog at http://jimthewriterb.wordpress.com
             19th Angel Haze's blog at http://angel-haze.blogspot.com
             20th Nick Olivio's blog at http://nicholasolivo.com/
and finally on the 26th J. D. Stroube's blog at http://jdstroube.weebly.com/

From the Halloween questions sent to me so far this should be a fun event of follow the authors. There are even copies of paperbacks and e-books being given away. Get to know you favorite horror/suspense authors. It will like going on one of those moonlight ghost tours without leaving the comfort of your home.

For the giveaways go to:http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

               

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Souless Saturday Research

You may have noticed I change the look of my blog. I'm getting ready for the horror blog hop next month when I have several horror authors popping in and I wanted a more ghoulish looking blog for the occasion. It's like primping and decorating for a party. (the drawing is from Deviant Art by Somebodystolemynick) Cool, huh?

I will first state that I watch very little television and movies. There is nothing that truly strikes my fancy these days on the boob tube. Since I write during the week, most of my major research time for my novels is done on Saturdays. I started writing about zombies and things that go bump in the night earlier this year. This is the time I watch all those horror movies, fact based shows, sweep the web for what's new, and  read what other (in this case) zombie aficionados' have to say.

Last night, my husband came to me and told me I had to watch this show which was streaming. It was about zombies versus vampires...and really cool. Yeah, my beloved is my biggest fan in all endeavors. It was after midnight so it was technically Saturday. It had to be one of the greatest things I've seen in a while. Max Brooks, of course, led the zombies input team. In case you've lived under a rock, his novel "World War Z" is now being made into a movie as I type. He's done to zombie readers what George Romero did to movie goers in decades past....put a new face on zombies.

Anyhow, back to the show. It took all capabilities into account from bite strength to the psychological aspects. While Brooks has written many zombie novels, I think even he was surprised at the figures calculated by the Deadliest Warrior team. It is one thing to think, dream, and create zombies, and quite another to actually see it in reality...even when it's play acting. I have to say, I have a much better understanding of both vampires and zombies now. The show ended with ...be continued, so I will be watching more episodes. Isn't being able to stream shows wonderful?

Now this would be a great premise for a novel...vampires versus zombies. It has probably been done, but I haven't seen it yet in researching. If you know of a story like this please let me know. Oh boy, grease on those squeaky wheels in my brain are turning faster than ever.

Now zombies are not a new creation in horror, the living dead have been around in film since the 1930's. I always thought they were of the 1960's until I researched it.  The more I read --the better zombies I create or spin off of. The better able I am to create the story lines and scenes. It's that old writers saying, write what you know. So I spend considerable time in researching what I write about as do most authors. The last thing any of us want is a reader coming back at us with an facts where we are wrong.

Now, I've taken some heat by writing in "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" about it taking up to three days after death for the zombies to arise. While I know it's been depicted as instantaneous after death, this is my take on the matter...even Christ took three days to rise from the dead and Larzarus seven. It's a techinical thing to me. The dead are usually cremated and/or buried within three days to a week. If the dead can rise from the grave in the movies and books, then the conversion or transition has to be after three days. The smell of decomposition would take several days. Anyhow that's my justification, in case any of you were wondering.

This brings me to my second research project of the morning. A movie. Three stars seems a bit high to me for this one, but it's cutesy versus scary. The "R" rating has to do with probably mostly with the subject matter than anything else. I'm talking about "Boy Eats Girl."

Yes, there is a brief naked back of a girl in the shower, and a really gruesome scene with a mini jobber, think harvester and backhoe on a small Cat bulldozer. Other than that it's tame. The make-up job on the zombies was mediocre at best. Yes, I've been watching all those make-up artist in preparation for my own zombie debut as a zombie author in full regalia. Actually, the zombie in the picture for the movie cover does a better job. I'll file this under research, as a not very good source.

Later, I plan on watching "Resident Evil." Does it really matter which one? It's butt kicking action, enough zombies to sink a ship, and Milla Jonovich. The screamers "B" movies have come a long way over the past few decades.

Yes, I will be writing.  That's right, writing, but not about zombies...the final edit for "mr. Goodbar Goes to the Hospital" is waiting, a tricky investigation scene in "Surviving Hank" needs details added, and in "The Mayan Serpent" my herorine is trapped in an undiscovered Mayan temple and a couple of scenes need reworking.

I know it boggles other authors' minds that they struggle with one manuscript for months on end, but I'll work on several at the same time. I hear it in comments all the time...how do you do that? It's the hats and compartmentalizing. It's doing my research, and fully planning my characters and novels before writing. I purposefully have a word count in mind when I start.

For example: for horror I look at a 40-50k word count, southern ficiton suspense is a 50-60K word count, for children's it's a 30-40K word count, and my espionage is 100-110 K word count. Now sometimes, the characters WILL throw me a monkey wrench into my plans and interject something I did not plan. It happens and I roll with it. I know to some this is very minimal as word count goals, but the point I'm trying to make is have a goal in mind while writing. If you pass it in telling your story that's fabulous.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Blogs, Business, and Books

I realize many of my readers do not know me from Adam other than what I blog, tweet, post, or facebook and that's okay. This is what all this stuff is about. It's a selling tool, yes, but its is a basic way of meeting new people.

In today's society it is acceptable to "meet" people, sell to potential customers, and help other people virtually. For example, did you know I spent fifteen years of my life building a rather lucrative international business and marketing consulting firm? I may have mentioned bits and pieces about it over the past few years.


If you are a member of the AOL Books and Writer's Forum, like many of my followers are, then you've seen me pop in and out over twenty years. I feel fortunate that this site has grown and survived over the year through multiple transitions when so many have fallen by the wayside. It's here if you want to pop in and meet authors and readers.

Even Blogger has changed several times since its birth.I've had several blogs over the years on various topics including being an author...like now, I have this writing blog and also a ministry blog. But like forums and social media sites, its a way to connect with people you may never actually meet.

I found a couple of interesting retweets or is it chirps on twitter yesterday. One really struck my fancy since this is my year of trying new things via the internet.
I jumped on the S.H.I.N.E blogging challenge, 100 blogs for the last 100 days of the year. To join click here. Can  you believe there is only 100 days left in 2011? The year zoomed by. Today is the start of S.H.I.N.E so this is blog #1.  A lot of interesting marketing and publishing tidbits on Julie Issac's Writing Spirit site so I invite you to take a look.

Through this site I reconnected with an old author acquaintance that I had not spoken to in a long time, Bob Mayer. He is one of my favorite military/sci fi and nonfiction authors. I met him at a writer's conference way back in 2000. In the video interview link I listened to what he had to say...like me he has now gone indie! He bought back the rights to over forty of his titles and republished them. In this I applaud him. I haven't bought back my nonfiction rights, yet.  That's my project for 2012. I've spent a year researching and testing the indie market, and my research is almost complete. No, I do not jump without looking first.

While he was promoting one of his nonfiction courses in business operation as an author. A kernel was born. Don't you just love when that happens? With my experience with business and marketing, who better to talk about the business end of being an indie author, other than Bob, than moi? Haven't I always said XYZ is a fabulous chef, mechanic, HVAC repair person, but they don't know squat about running a business? 75-80% of all new businesses fail within the first five years. It made my consulting firm grow by leaps and bounds. To help businesses start and continue on the right foot AND be an author at the same time is a match made in heaven.
Et Voila! I put together a small business pamphlet for American indie authors on the business aspects of being an indie auuthor. "The Business Author: A Practical Guide to the Business of Being a Self-Published Author." No, you say. I don't run a business...I just write books. But you sell them too. Uncle Sam wants you! He is holding out his hand with his greedy fingers twitching, saying "Gimme!" Yes, you are an author and a sole proprietor business. If you were a standard published author you would receive a 10-99 for income earned over the year from your agent or publisher and an itemtimized statement of expenses. But this covers the indie author without representation.

These are cold, hard facts. If you live in the U.S. of A, the government wants their share of your earnings. This pamphlet does not cover marketing or how to write your book. There are plenty of resources for this type of thing on the shelves and web. And almost nothing about the running and implementing the writing business. This covers the financial part of being an indie author...the taxes, the income, the deduction, and the accounting. Your responsibilites as a tax paying citizen. I always talk about the hats we wear in life. As an indie author, this is another one. I hear you groaning out there. What another one? Yep, make it the red one with the white band and blue feather.

I figured if you were bold enough to self-published your book and rake in a higher royalty rate, you might also do your own taxes. It's one of those things nobody talks about and they should. This covers the basics of accounting and financing facts about running a business. Like it or not, if you sell books, you are in business and tax season is right around the corner. If you've been an indie author for over a year, you know what I'm talking about. It can be a major headache!

So what's the bottom line? This pamphlet is a free download at http://www.smashwords.com/. Get it today here. It's a short e-read at 3K. Don't be caught with your pants down April 15th.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tension in Writing and M&M's

I had a question from a fellow author today that made me realize what comes easy to me, but is extremely difficult to others is creating tension in writing. A lot of things come naturally to me and not to others. But I do not do everything well or easily.

One writer will struggle with a sentence and even lose sleep over it, while I take a laid back approach. I play Scarlet O'Hara, from "Gone with Wind"...I'll think about that tomorrow. Maybe it's because I do my homework where my story lines are concerned. I do my character sketches with a rough mind or bubble map of where I want it to go and go with the flow. Well at my age with life taking away more than it's giving, I find myself looking in introspect at this craft I do. I hear my own clock ticking in the background on my mortality. Oh, the tension!!!

What does tension do in a story? It raises expectations. It moves the story further along. It makes the reader pant and turn the page without thinking, and get lost in the words. That's every writer's dream, isn't it?

Conflict- Conflict makes the world go round. That's what makes newscasts and tv shows watchable. If everything today was hunky-dory where's the challenge. It's also what makes you turn the page. It's the unknown entity of what's going to happen next. Who will be changed by their decisions and how that decision comes about. This is the creation of conflict.

There are seven different types- man against himself, man against man, man against nature, man against society, man against supernatural, man against machine. Man against himself is an internal fight. Man against nature is surviving a hurricane, man against supernatural is just what it sounds like-zombies, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, aliens,etc. Man against machine is like the Terminator series of movies. Man against society is like "Farenheit 451." Man against man is a standard story line good guy versus bad guy. Pick one or pick many as elements in your story within your story.

I can hear you now. I don't have fighting, or shoot-'em-up-bang-bang action scenes in my book...There are different types of fighting. Face it, we are a violent race.  We fight about everything...the clothes we wear, what channels to watch, what books to read, what we think, what we do or don't do. Just taking a breath of air is sometimes a fight.

You fight with yourself every time you do something you don't want to do or have to do ...like me writing this blog when I want to be writing my stories. Mentally, you fight with others when you don't like something they say. Yeah, right! I'll believe it when I see it. You might never utter a word, but you are thinking it. Who hasn't had some snippy comeback to someone or other whether you've said it or not? Raise your hand? I'm looking around, nope not a hand in sight. See that wasn't so hard, now was it?

This creates tension. It causes you to root for the good guy at movies or in books and "hate" the bad guy. You are hinged on the outcome. You are creating empathy for your characters. You are putting the reader in the character's shoes.

But your hero or protagonist is a goodie-two-shoes, you say. Never does anything wrong. Has no vices or flaws. Does everything he is told to do without question...BORING and very unrealistic. Do you know anyone like that...except for maybe God, but even God flooded the Earth and destroyed the Tower of Babel to start over. Ours is a much easier task, create faults in our characters. Ones we can play off of in writing. Everybody has faults or flaws. Find your character's.

One of my characters, in "Escape from Second Eden" was deathly afraid of snakes. They are in Sri Lanka and the street vendor they meet is a snake charmer. Her children are fascinated. But all she can see is this cold, creepy to the point of making her skin crawl snake. Everything in her wanted to put as much distance between her and the snake as possible, and yet, she stands there watching until it was over frozen in fear. This is also one of my fears. Show me a snake and watch me dance away fast, hopping from one foot to another in high stepping fashion.  Conflict, yes although a short scenic one and yes, there are several snake scenes in this book. This character, although my main protagonist, has faults and flaws to expand upon. For your antognist, there instances of self-doubt, anger when things do not go the way he wants them, or the beauty of a plan coming to fruit. These all expose the character fuller and brings tension into the mix.

Overriding doubt. This is the art of storytelling. When you have two characters who are evenly matched and either can become the victor. Now, somewhere deep in our minds, we know the good guy is going to win, isn't he? Maybe, he will lose this struggle but win the overall battle.  Remember, your story is a war.  There are many battles in a war...some you win and others you lose.  Another example; your character is a small child reaching for the top of a high fence. Will she make it? You write the struggle she has, the attempts, the failures, and hopefully, she will succeed sitting on top looking down at the ground. This is tension.

The element of surprise is important. Don't take the reader where they want to go. You don't have to give a blow by blow until the ending of the event you are writing. Change it up, go somewhere else. Make the reader ask...what happened, and then wait for it. This is an old writer's trick. Yeah, I'm an old writer so I do it quite often. In "Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers," I end a chapter with a group of men, one is my protagonist, fighting zombies and running out of bullets. It's not until the end of the next chapter that I give the outcome. Of course, they win. I believe in happy endings. They have plenty of bullets left to do the job, but the reader does not know this while reading.  I ended "The Sacrificial Lamb" with an outside view of my protag's happiest moment with danger still lurking. I made many a reader say, "Oh no, you didn't!" SURPRISE! I get emails from readers about a sequel weekly because they want to know what happens next.

Make the stakes high. If they are everyday issues, who really cares? If it's survival? If it affects their whole world as they know it? If it rocks their very beliefs? If it changes everything? Then you have some pretty high stakes. Make a high wall for them to climb.  The tension is their trial in doing it.

The ticking clock, now this is an art form done very well by few authors. Time passing and time running out. Is there a deadline that things have to be accomplished? Will the character have to get married but has a list of things she wants to do before she weds. The ticking clock in the background brings immediacy to the story. It has to be now, not tomorrow. How will it be accomplished? Your character is climbing a rocky peak and there are crocodiles chomping in the water below, his fingers are tiring.

Enough about that. I may have missed some finer points, but you get the picture, I hope.

Another blogger I read posted today about lucky charms when writing. Personally, I do not believe in lucky charms, ooooh with a name like Murphey and not believe in lucky charms is Irish sacrilege. What I do believe in is Peanut M&M's! Now, I'm a diabetic so I do this in extreme type situations when I'm stumped and thoroughly frustrated in writing. I don't know what it is about the Peanut M&M's, but it works for me. I've tried the healthier peanuts, and straight chocolate, but do not get the same results.

I can pop a couple of these chocolate candies in my mouth and chew them up. Within minutes, the lightbulb goes off in my head and the fog lifts. I had thought it was a sugar level thing, but when checking, it's not. Do you have a food for thought?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, September 19, 2011

October Blog Hop and Cover Art

As promised, more details on the month long horror blog hop for Halloween. Well, here it is. I do suggest turning on all the lights and grabbing your favorite cuddly while reading these authors. Halloween related questions will be asked as well a promo for their novels. Thank you Angel Haze for putting all this together and allowing me to participate!!!!
The schedule is list...

October 1st is Lisa McCourt Hollar author of "Sam," "The Wall," "Hidden Secrets Whispered Lies," and her newest release "The Carnival."

October 5th is Weston Kincade  author of "Invisble Dawn: book one of altered realities," and his newest release "A life of Death."

October 7th is Nina Perez  author of "Rebirth: the twin prophesies."

October 13th is Nick Olivio author of "Imperium: a Caulborn novel."

October 19th is Angel Haze author of "War of the Witches: legacies of Talimura," and her newest release "Bloodletter."

October 21st is Jim Bonyaur author of "The Devil's Weekend" and his newest release "The Failed."

October 26th is Douglas Dorow author of "The Nineth District."

And finally on All Hallow's Eve, October 31st is J.D. Stroube author of "Caged in Darkness" and her newest release "Caged in Damnation."

I'm excited. Later I will let you know when I'll be popping up on their sites so stay tuned.

Now, for other news, I've been practicing my zombie makeup techniques. This has been tedious and really hard to do on myself. Much easier when I practiced on my grandson. <g>

I've done the cover art for "Surviving Hank" which is my next southern fiction suspense.

The cover art for my next espionage suspense "The Mayan Serpent."









The cover art for "Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers."




And did the color version for the cover for "mr. Goodbar Goes to the Hospital."


Yes, I've been busy the week I wasn't writing. Even with my foot propped up over my head for long periods. LOL

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Signing 101

I've signed a lot of things in my life and some of them were even books.

Let me see...mortgage papers, car notes, legal papers of all sorts, and the infamous checkbook, but a regulation book signing is something I've rarely done until recently. I did what all novices did, even though I've been a published author for decades, I searched the web. Many things have changed since my last book signing.

Now, I'm a nonconformist at heart, so I looked at the lists upon lists of things which may or may not be a great idea and some which sounded totally stupid to me. Last year when I decided to self-publish, I knew I didn't have a publisher to back me up on event planning, advertising, promotion and a host of other hats I wear as a self-published author. A book signing was going to be an experience and hopefully a good one. I set the event up with date, time, and place.  Checked what they would supply and what they wouldn't. This is an important thing to know.  For some, you have to provide your own chairs and tables.  Sounds ridiculous, huh, but it's true. Invitation postal cards were printed on my inkjet and mailed two weeks prior to friends and family. This one is actually away from home so organization is going to be a key factor.

I went to Staples because they had a sale on a 10x13 picture board. I took a picture of each and every one of my covers and had them make them up. This board had a white border all around the picture. I bought an easel to hold the board. I figured since I was only doing one book this time with others to follow for other novels this was a good idea. Hopefully there will be another sale on this item when I get around to having other book signing for subsequent novels.

Now, in the margins I printed "Author Here Today Only!" If you've ever been in a book store. I'm sure most authors are like me and have a chair especially reserved just for them because they live there. I got sidetracked for a second. Back to my poster board. There are flyers and banners all over the place in a bookstore. So by putting "Author Here" people can distinguish between an advertising poster and an actual person and "Today Only" builds a sense of immediacy. "Oh no, if I don't get this copy today and signed, I might miss out!!!" This idea is marketing 101. Let's face it people procrastinate.  If they can put it off until tomorrow, it's simpler.

I bought an expandable easel so it can be set up on a table top or a floor. I mean if you are going to spend the money on a poster board, you have to have some place to set it right? Most tables are at least five-foot in the stores, but I have seen card tables used so be prepared. Table skirting is a nice extra, but really don't expect it. I do like the five-foot or longer the best. I can place my easel on the table next to a stack of books and still have a clear area for signing.

The easel and picture board is also good for hiding little things like keys, drinks, and munchies. Sometimes these things, although they are rarely more than two hours, feel like a lifetime! Although every author wants hundreds to show up for their book signing, waiting in endless lines, each reader excited to shake your hand and have you sign their copy of your book...in reality, if twenty show up I am are pleased. I'm not J.K. Rowlings or Diana Gabaldon.

I have ordered my copies and had them drop shipped to the store for the event. It is really hard to know just how many copies to order, since there could be five or a thousand show up. I usually do fifty if more are needed then they can be ordered.  I've printed bookmarks, again on my handy inkjet printer on photo paper, with the cover, where to buy, and contact info. I purposefully leave a space large enough to sign so everyone walks away with something. Flyers are printed. I usually do a fifty copy print run and place them in every grocery store bulletin board I can find prior to the event and keep some for the table. I will go to my local office supply company and buy a gross of pens. I used to have imprinted pens, but how many times do you read what is on a pen before you use it? I like the gel pens, especially the Pilot G-2. I usually give one away for each book I sign. It's almost Presidential.

Now, for the organization part. I put all the items I need for a book signing into a plastic tub. By separating the items by titles, no matter what book I'm doing a signing for...I have everything I need in one place. I also throw a couple of copies of my other novels in the tub, just in case. I'll pack it all under the table at the signing.  A sale is a sale! I also include a promo announcement, pre-worded for the store staff who may be announcing things over the intercom. K-Mart Blue Light Special, here I come.

Since my next book signing is for "Zombie Apocalypse:Redemption," I was thinking of gimmicks.  You know those annoying things that stick in your mind. Something that will catch your eye and make you look.  Yeah, I'm a nonconformist.  It's the Halloween season and Halloween City just opened up.  I can go as a zombie! I bought the makeup and outfit for a zombie wedding I'm performing on Halloween.This signing will be at a zombie walk and show, so why not?  I'm thinking about doing regular book signings this way too. I can see the stares and double takes now. I even bought a partially eaten, severed hand (latex, of course) to place in front of my easel...oh, I am soooo bad! Of course, I could be banned from every reputable bookstore in the nation too.  But if you can't have fun why do it?

Yes, it's a whole lot of legwork, but like everything else in life being prepared is half the battle. Oh, by the way, are YOU prepared for the zombie apocalypse the CDC warned about?  Just curious!

Keep Writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, September 16, 2011

OMG! So True!

I ran across this on a fellow blogger's page. It's fairly long, but hold onto your sides. They are going to hurt. So eloquently depicted and stages EVERY author can relate to...





Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Week Without Writing

 This past week has been filled with life getting in the way of my writing. It's hard to believe it's been a week gone. It flew by so fast! I performed eight weddings in five days and slated eight more over the past three days for the coming months.  Yes, I said months. I am advance booking into November now.

It has left me with little time to write. I'm so exhausted by the time I get home I check my email accounts, grab a shower, and hit the sack. Don't get me wrong I love what I'm doing. But this semi retired job is becoming a full time one fast and without advertising. If only my readership grew this fast. Although, I really can't complain. The two week sales report on "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" and "Who Stole Baby Ruth" have been pretty fair with the numbers climbing each week.

Now for an update on my toes. Ready for the ouchie???

This was a copy of an x-ray taken yesterday. It looks surprising a lot like the one taken at the hospital the day I broken it over six weeks ago once the tape was removed! The doctor had warned me this was a slow healing fracture, but he really expected to see SOME results by now.  They have changed the classification to a nonunion fracture because it hasn't healed a lick and that's the bad news.  For the good news, I'm still basically off my feet as much as I can be. Even with all the weddings mentioned above I can count on two hands exactly how many hours I've been on my feet either standing or walking in the past two weeks...just like the doctor ordered.

Now just like all of you, there are meals to be fixed, groceries bought, pharmacy runs, doctor appointments and work...for me work is writing and my ministries. (I'm not even touching housekeeping issues laid to rest-the fine picnic china for us) I've given up the alcohol/drug counseling and hospital visitations temporarily because like most hospitals ours is huge with a whole lot of walking around to get from one place to another. I have narrowed my actual working ministry to just weddings for the time being. I have bills to pay just like all of you so money has to come in.

So what's the fix for my poor abused toes? An electromagnetic ultrasonic machine, twice a day for forty minutes. I heard from the doctor and equipment rep that it's the next best thing to sliced bread for bone healing. From what I've read online it goes both ways...some swear by it and others swear at it. Time will tell. I have yet another appointment in two weeks to hopefully see some improvement. What really scares me is that if this doesn't work the next step is bone grafts. I like surgery as much as the next gal (yeah right!). The last time I went under the knife my heart stopped twice. Now, I don't know about y'all, but this is not pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination.

I hear those rocks rolling around in your head...if you've spent so much time off your feet, why aren't you writing?  Aha, there's the rub. Imagine if you will, me lying on my back with my leg thrown over the back of the couch or lying in bed with one of the huge bedrest bolster cushions up under my left leg trying to keep the swelling out of my foot. I'm allergic to anti-inflamatories so I'm pretty much limited to ice and elevation to reduce swelling, and I'm SHORT! Not much room for a laptop unless it sits on my chest and then it's too close to type. Hmmm, maybe I could sit at my desk with my desktop PC, raise my foot so my heel rests on top of the of the monitor on my desk... nah, I'm too old to be a contortionist.

On a lighter note, if you've stopped laughing at the mental image of my foot propped up on my monitor, in two short weeks the Halloween blog hop starts. I'm excited. I should have the schedule of where I'm going to be and who will be on my blog set in stone by next week so stay tuned.  It's sure to be a spook-ta-cular event!

How was your week?

As always keep writing and loving the Lord.