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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fantasy Writing--Creating Worlds With Words



Calling all Fantasy Writer-


 If you have goose eggs on your head from banging it against the table during world creation--this is for you.

Personally, I dabble in a variety of genres, but fantasy is where my heart belongs. Something about escaping reality into another dimension is exhilarating, perhaps it's because I live in fantasy world--but that is beside the point.

 As an Indie author myself, I understand the need to create a piece of writing that is so crisp, clean, and easy to follow you can't distinguish it from books published by the BIG 5.

Several weeks ago, I had the marvelous opportunity to attend a writing workshop with Brandon Mull (author of the Fablehaven series, Beyonders) and Richard Paul Evans (author of the Christmas Box, Michael Vey series).

The workshop was immensely helpful and focused primarily on developing fantastical worlds that...wait for it...make sense.

Call me naive, but I hadn't ever thought about having my make believe world work. It's fantasy right? That means I can do anything I want. Well-- you can have your world do anything you want, but it has to have an explanation as to why it does that, according to these two New York Times bestselling authors.

So, how to begin:

Rule #1: ASK QUESTIONS For me, I first imagined my world that I was trying to create, then I began to ask myself questions--a lot of questions. I tried to think of any question that may cause a reader to stop and pause asking "Hmmm, but what about this?" or "Well, why does it do that?"

I am a Harry Potter fan (fantasy heaven) I had a question that wasn't addressed until the fourth book. I wanted to know if there was an American wizarding school. I'm American, it's natural. It was never straight out answered, but left open for me to come to my own conclusion.

"Spect they go to some foreign school," said Ron. "I know there are others, never met anyone who went to one though. Bill had a pen-friend at a school in Brazil ... this was years and years ago ... and he wanted to go on an exchange trip but Mum and Dad couldn't afford it. His pen-friend got all offended when he said he wasn't going and sent him a cursed hat."

As you can see, other Wizard schools are mentioned, though they don't know much about them. They mention Brazil, but it is left up to the reader to decide where else another school may be. I concluded there is a school in the U.S. but that's just me.

The point is, JK Rowing, must have assumed readers would wonder about other schools outside of Europe, so she made it a point to give a vague answer.

Rule #2 : ANSWER QUESTIONS Duh, right. Now hold on a second, it isn't always that easy. As I began asking myself questions, they went deeper and deeper, I found I was beginning to reshape motivations, I realized I hadn't even described why the sun was 30 different colors! Why is that? As you are creating a new world, in a sense you are a "writer God". You have to explain in a good voice, good flow why something is the way it is. You can't just say, "Reader, this is why this is doing that, moving on" BORING!

In the case of my multicolored sun, my antagonist finds himself in a HQ center. It's a mysterious Limbo in the center of the universe. The sun is not the same sun we see here on earth. It's another sun, that several universes orbit. Since the Limbo is in the center, it absorbs the other galaxies, realm's etc. atmospheres, painting the sun in remarkable shades that are unearthly, yet stunning. Is the sun crucial to my story? No, but I mentioned the unusual colors, so I found some dialogue to explain why the sun was an unusual focal point. I wouldn't want a reader to get hung up on the unique attributes of my world, instead of enjoying the story.

Rule #3 KEEP THE FLOW As I mentioned above, you can't just do side notes in parenthesis for the reader explaining your world. That course may break up your desired flow.

 You must tie it into dialogue or narration. Perhaps you use a character to ask a question that a reader may ask, it can then be answered through conversation. Maybe there is a document that is posted for the citizens to read, perhaps they sign a contract to live in the world, and the contract offers explanation. Maybe it is a mystery throughout the story--that's fine too. Just probe that mystery by allowing your characters to wonder as well. You don't need to reveal everything, just if it is mentioned somewhere in your story, ask questions. Think if a reader may wonder. If you believe they will, tie it in your writing in a creative, active way.

I hope this helps you create marvelous worlds that will allow your readers to feel they are walking the streets with your characters.

Happy Writing.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Battle of the Greens: A short story dedicated to all the crazy parents that brave dinner ever night!






The smell of perfectly seasoned, perfectly roasted chicken waft through the kitchen. I breathe deeply pulling it from the oven and expertly navigate myself to the counter, avoiding the scattered “Thomas and Friends” set seeking to take me down. I fill plastic Ikea plates for each of my three adoring children with the perfect chicken and heaping (toddler sized) mounds of, steamed to perfection, green vegetables!

Joining my perfect family at the table, I put each plate in front of my children. My husband sits next to me. I see from the corner of my eye that he has pulled out the newest addition of Popular Mechanics. I feel slightly affronted, but he can sense the coming disaster; something I have not foreseen. I look into my children’s faces and then I know. My fork slips in my sweaty hand, instinctively I tense my shoulders preparing for what is to come.

      Across the table, my sassy 6-year-old, stubborn 3-year-old and mischievous 1-year-old are preparing also; preparing for the battle of the dinner table!

      Seconds later the 3-year-old hits the floor; wailing and gnashing of teeth ensue as I hear the cries of “yucky food” on his plate and he begs me not to make him eat it! “Well played, little one. Well played, I thought as I watched him rolling on the floor. I moved my attentions to the sly baby; he thought he wouldwin me over with that adorable manipulative smile of his, but I will not be deceived.

        “No, No, stop right now!” I shout as he slowly lifts his plate towards the salivating lips of our barreling, black Labrador. I elbow my husband, who responds without looking up from the magazine.

         “Stop that J, put it down.” What? That's it?

          I breathe out in frustration. How did this man know what was happening without looking up? Did this happen often? Did I block each nightly meal from my memory?

          Ah, another battle lost. The insatiable belly laugh, that could melt any mother’s heart, came from that small, yet intelligent baby’s throat. It fills our boisterous dining room as if to symbolize his victory. The dog was bent down lapping up all the perfect, delicious food. I feel a wave of resolve rush over me, I WILL NOT CLAIM DEFEAT I tell myself.

          I whip my head towards my unfortunate daughter. Her brother’s may have escaped, but this child, oh this one; she was not leaving the table without eating those green vegetables! That was the important part, right? She glares back at me, arms folded across her chest. I shrink slightly, wondering what could be running through her Kindergarten brain.

        “Look, sweetie,” I say kindly, hoping the patient mother façade would encourage her to do my will. “It’s a tree, isn’t that fun? It’s a tiny little tree!” She just stares at me.

         “It's broccoli, mom.”  Blast! She’s too smart for her own good. I decide to take it a step further and not let on that she had me cornered.

         “Yes, but don’t you know broccoli is a special tree for fairies? They allow us to eat some every once and awhile. If we eat it we can become magic like the fairies!”

           For a moment she waivered, glancing back and forth between her food and myself. Then the smug I know mom’s fibbing to get what she wants smile spread across her face. I felt the heat rushing to my face, it was going to blow right here and now, even my husband had looked up from his magazine, waiting--wondering what I was going to do next. The 3 year old, 1 year old and even the dog looked at me with a mixture of fear and wonder in their eyes.

          “YOU WILL EAT ONE BITE OF BROCCOLI RIGHT NOW!” She looked calmly into my fiery eyes waiting for the other half of my rant, she'd heard it before. “After you do that you can have a big chocolate chip cookie!”

            There, I showed her. I smiled, watching her lift the broccoli/fairy tree to her lips. Her nose wrinkled as she took the smallest bite possible!


           And in that moment it was clear, I had become the foremost expert on child hood nutrition. If I were to coin a phrase for the proper way to win the battle of the dinner table it would be: “Nailed it!”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Guest Post **Finding Time for Writing**





Hello! I would like to take a moment to introduce my friend Beth. She has been gracious enough to write out some AWESOME rules for writing. They will help you get started even if you only have 15 minutes a day to jot down some notes!

Writing can be time consuming. It can be overwhelming for the working mom & dad. Even if you are single, most likely you have a full time job elsewhere. Life is busy! If it is important to you, there must be time for writing. You simply need to find it.



FINDING TIME FOR WRITING


1 - NOT ALL TIME IS CREATED EQUAL
Are you a sprinter or a distance writer? When I first started writing, I read to take advantage of little 15 to 30 minute chunks to write. If that works for you, great, do it. For me, it can take a half hour to get my creative mojo going. I get more done in one four hour chunk, than in eight hours broken up into small segments. Try out both long and short session, and see what works for you. The same is true for when you write. Some people do better getting up early and writing (especially if they have a mentally taxing job), others do better staying up a little later at night.

2 - LEARN TO LOVE IT
We make time for the things we love. If you are doing it for fame and fortune and hating every minute of it, you're wasting your time. Writing is frequently a second job. I know writers who have published several novels and still don't make enough to support themselves just with their writing. But they love it so much, they keep doing it.

3 - SACRIFICE IS REQUIRED
Writing takes A LOT of time--time you could be doing something else. What are you willing to give up (TV, social media, sleep, time with family), and how much of it you are willing to give up? The trick to achieving a long-lasting balance is to make sure the rewards of writing always outweigh the costs.

4 - IT'S NOT A RACE
Some authors write several books a year; others write one in a lifetime. Five years from now, you will be five years older whether or not you've written a book. I read a book by an author that said he's a writer from 7 to 10 pm on Wednesday nights. Again, it is about balance. Focus on the quality of your writing experience instead of the quantity you produce.

5 - MULTITASK
Not all writing is done at a computer. I keep a notebook handy to jot down notes because I'm often crafting a chapter or creating a character while I shop, clean, cook, or drive. Advisory warning (so I don't get sued)--safety first--don't allow yourself to get so lost in your fictional world that you hurt or neglect anyone.

6 - WAITING TIME IS EDITING TIME
When I started getting serious about writing a novel, I was shocked at how much of the work is editing and not writing. Instead of flinging birds at pigs while you're waiting for an oil change or the kids are playing at the park, print out some pages and edit.

7 - CREATE DEADLINES
Having someone to hold you accountable for your writing (at least for me) is a must. I love having a critique group and the accompanying deadlines of when I need to finish sections of my book. Find someone who will give you good feedback and a solid kick in the pants if you miss a deadline.

8 - RESPONSIBILITY SWAP
This is more critical if you need a larger chunk of writing time like I do. Trade off chores with a roommate or spouse to open up writing time, even if you lose time when it's your turn to clean, you at least have some dedicated writing time in your schedule. This is even more important if you have kids. Find a friend and take turns watching each others' children. I promise you will get more writing done in one child-free afternoon than you will in two with all of your darling, little helpers. Just remember your writing is important, but if you make it more important than everything anyone else is doing--you will lose their support. I hope to make my writing a career, but for now it is a hobby. I support my family's careers and hobbies and in return they support mine.

9 - READ
I know that telling you to read might seem odd. Won't that take away from your writing time? The best writers are avid readers. Not only will reading improve your writing and keep you up to date on what is being published in your genre, it will inspire your writing. Spending even a few minutes a day with a good book, helps keep me motivated to finish my own.

10 - THESE RULES ARE MADE FOR BREAKING
Not all writing rules may apply to your writing process. I like to try on new techniques but have found some of them aren't mine style. Find a style that is comfortable and works for you.

Happy Writing





E. F. Fewkes is a former journalist. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in Metaphor. She lives in Utah with her husband and daughter. After taking a post-college writing hiatus, she finally figured out how to make time for writing and is finishing her first novel. 

Thanks so much Beth! I can't wait to read your book when it is finished. 

Happy Writing everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2015

He Said, She Said, They Said***** Finding Alternate Words for Said


Be careful to not overuse words during writing. Goodness, a pet peeve of mine is the word said used too much!

"I hate that," Ralph said.

"Just try it," Brenda said.

"No, I told you I hate it," Ralph said.

"I give up," Brenda said.

"Don't give up on him," Josh said.

Do you see what I'm talking about? It sounds like they are ROBOTS! What about words like shouted, exclaimed, cried etc.

Nothing will dull a reader faster than overusing a word, but especially said during dialogue.

Should you ever use said? Of course, sometimes, darnnit, people just say something. Just please don't publish a book that looks like the above example!

So what have I done for you today? I've provided a list of some words that you could use in place of the word "said"
  • Announced
  • Argued
  • Asked 
  • Barked
  • Began
  • Bragged
  • Corrected
  • Explained
  • Groaned
  • Hinted
  • Mumbled
  • Noted
  • Ordered
  • Pleaded
  • Proposed
  • Screamed
  • Sighed
  • Sneered
  • Teased
  • Wailed
  • Wondered
  • Stuttered
  • Whispered
  • Exclaimed
  • Boasted
  • Sneered
  • Laughed
  • Chuckled



Now that is a good start right? Comment below if you can think of any fun descriptive words for "said". This will be fun! How long can the list get?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Clock Strikes Midnight: Book Review tour stop



"The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.

If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.

Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.

Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years."

********


“Daddy, when I get my kitty, can I name him Davy?” she had asked, yanking Marlene’s Davy Crockett mug full of M&M’s from her grasp. 

The colorful candy spilled all over the backseat of the car.

“Mama, tell Janie to—”

“Janie, behave,” Daddy said, admonishing her for an instant with his eyes from the rearview 

mirror.

“Malcolm, look out—!” Mom screamed.

Janie slammed into Marlene. Pain. The world tumbled topsy-turvy. The mug flew across the 

interior of the car, colors of the rainbow falling all around her.

Then, everything went black.

When she opened her eyes, Mom’s blood-streaked face rose in front of her out of the darkness.

“Wrap your arms around my neck, honey.” Mom lifted her from the wreckage.

Janie clutched her doll by the dress while the rain beat her curly hair flat.

Marlene stood on the side of the road.

“Try to walk,” Mom said, toppling her from her arms.

Her head pounded and blood trickled down her leg. She leaned on her good leg and limped in the direction of her sister.

“Mama, where’s Daddy?” Marlene asked between sobs.

Mom took Marlene’s hand and yanked her forward with Janie in tow.

Marlene lurched back toward the smashed Oldsmobile with smoke billowing from its hood and a big tree lying across the roof. The Davy Crockett mug lay shattered by the back tire.

“Daddy! We can’t leave Daddy!” Marlene yelled, picking up pieces of the broken glass.

They had left Daddy that day and piled into an old Chevy pick-up truck with a bashed in 

headlamp, belonging to a man with carrot-red hair. Mom pushed them inside the truck and 

ordered the man to get help. But by then it was too late for Daddy.

It was too late for all of them.






      Welcome to your stop for The Clock Strikes Midnight review tour and giveaway! I was given the opportunity to read and give my honest opinion about this novel. I typically find myself getting lost in the Fantasy/Science Fiction genre, so I wasn't sure how much this book would grab me--BUT (a big but) I was hooked immediately!

       Author Joan C. Curtis does an AMAZING job at grabbing the reader and pulling them in. The Clock Strikes Midnight is a nail biting mystery to which I found myself staying up until early morning just to get to the bottom of it all. I even took up the precious hours of the littles nap time to read this book--that my friends is saying something. I finished it in 3 days. The story begins with Janie, who is a mystery all her own, as she takes a trip back to her rocky past to address some horrific people, and bad memories.

      Each time a chapter ends you find you must keep reading, you must uncover the truth for your own sake! I would recommend this novel to anyone who is up for a heart-racing, edge-of-your-seat mystery! Well done Joan, well done.



Comment  below to get a shot at winning a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card! 





Joan Curtis authored four business books published by Praeger Press. She has also published

numerous stories, including:

• Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004

• A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003 and Flint 

River Review, 1996

• Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002

• The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997

• A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997,

• My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994

Her first place writing awards include : Best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants 

competition, best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition, and best 

story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.

Other Books:

Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an 

imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.

The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, 

Santa Barbara, CA

Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 

2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.

Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, 

Greenwood Press.

“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never 

fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my 

reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a 

unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of 

her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.


Author Links

Joan Curtis authored four business books published by Praeger Press. She is also published

numerous stories, including:

• Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004

• A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003 and Flint 

River Review, 1996

• Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002

• The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997

• A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997,

• My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994

Her first place writing awards include : Best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants 

competition, best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition, and best 

story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.

Other Books:

Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an 

imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.

The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, 

Santa Barbara, CA

Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 

2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.

Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, 

Greenwood Press.

“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never 

fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my 

reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a 

unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of 

her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.



Author Links





MuseItUp Publishing Author’s page: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-











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Monday, March 9, 2015

Emmy Edits is Open!

Yay!

After months of studying and test taking I officially have my copy editor certificate from Poynter News University!

I have begun my own online editorial business and can't wait to get started!

You can join the Rafflecopter giveaway right on over at Emmyedits and take a look around!

I offer affordable, quality editing!

Good luck on the Giveaway!!

Happy Writing