Monday, September 1, 2014

The Inspiration Demon Returns



"Psst. Psst. Over here!"
I ignored the tiny voice, leaned closer to the computer screen, and continued typing. 
"It's crap, you know. Total crap. No editor in the world will touch it."
I flinched but kept typing. "Go away."
"Boring, badly written crap. But I've got this great idea. A sure winner."
"That's what you said about this novel. Go away. I only have three chapters left. The final confrontation, the villain's glorious demise, the final love reconciliation, then fade to happily ever after."
"But I have a wonderful idea. You see the villain hires the hero to murder the heroine, and it's a South American country, and..."
I pushed my glasses back up my nose and straightened. The little demon, complete with horns, hooves, and curly black hair, sprawled on the WEBSTER’S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY by my computer. He twirled his forked tail in his hand and grinned with more seductive skill than a host of romance novel hunks.
I smiled back in spite of myself. "I dreamed that last night."
"Yeah, it was me. Great idea, huh?"
"I wrote copious notes when I woke up. Thanks."
He preened his horns. "Thought it was your style. Action. Adventure. Cliffs to shove the heroine off of. Why you wasting your time with that--"
"It isn't crap. I have to finish. I always finish my novels. I'm a professional."
'And don't it steam me." A puff of smoke drifted out of his ears.
"I appreciate the ideas. Keep them coming. Now go away!"
"But.... How about a planet where--"
"Aren't we desperate." I smiled wickedly. "It won't work. I know what you are and what you're trying to do."
"I'm your friend. I'm trying to give you a salable idea."
"You're a withdrawal symptom."
Sitting up indignantly, he straightened an imaginary tie like a miniature Rodney Dangerfield. "I beg your pardon. I am your adventure muse. And you don't do drugs. Not even booze. I am not...."
"Adrenaline withdrawal. Nothing more," I insisted.
"Adrenaline's what your body pumps when you're afraid," he protested.
"Or when you're facing a challenge. And adrenaline is addictive. Ask any stage actor. Or rock climber. That mountain gets climbed, not because it's there, but because the climber is addicted to the rush of danger."
The demon rested his hand on his forehead and wailed, "Oh, the terror of paper cuts, the exciting rush of eye strain."
I chuckled. "You don't know fear until you stare at a blank screen and try to bring people to life, create a world that is as real to the reader as it is to you. Creating order and reality out of nothing."
"And you're throwing away all that to finish that garbage."
"It's finished already. In here." I tapped my head. "All I have to do is type it out. All the creating is done. That's why you've shown up as you usually do. The adrenaline's stopped pumping so my subconscious starts giving me new ideas. New sources of that wonderful addictive adrenaline."
"But--"
I continued relentlessly, "When your brethren show up, amateurs toss aside good projects and start something new. A pro knows what you are, takes copious notes of your ideas for the future projects' file, and finishes."
"You kink my tail sometimes."
"Go away, please, and let me finish. The sooner finished, the sooner started on one of your glorious ideas."
The demon grinned jauntily. "In that case...."
As he disappeared, I said, "And keep bringing me those great ideas."
With a thumps up gesture, he vanished in a wink of smoke.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Links of Interest


THE INCITING EVENT, WRITER BASICS:



GUIDELINES FOR CONTACTING BOOK REVIEW BLOGGERS:



WORLDBUILDING A RELIGION, HOW RELIGION SHAPES CULTURE:



WORDPRESS SECURITY TIPS:



GOOD ADVICE FOR A NEW WRITER:



USE THE ELLIPSIS POINT SPARINGLY:



TURNING THE DULL INTO THE POWERFUL:



DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH ACTION?



CHARACTERS, A MENTALIST AND HIS TRAITS:



CAN I USE THAT PICTURE?  THE LEGALITIES OF USING IMAGES:



PROMO, MAKING SOCIAL MEDIA WORTH YOUR TIME:



NAILING YOUR GENRE IN YOUR FIRST SCENE:



POV 101, THIRD PERSON:



TIPS FOR WRITING MULTIPLE POVS:



KEEPING GOING EVEN IF IT SEEMS NO ONE CARES, OR SOMEONE ELSE HAS ALREADY DONE IT BETTER:



YOUR REPERTORY OF CHARACTERS:



CRAFTING GENUINE CHARACTERS:



Monday, August 25, 2014

Are You Ready for An Emergency?


A bit of advice I want to emphasis here is that, even if you aren’t in the path of a storm or other disaster, your Internet provider or the company which hosts your website, blog, or whatever may be, and your content may be lost forever if you don’t back up elsewhere.  

Most blog sites, etc., offer a means of backup in their control sections so make use of that service NOW.

Marilynn


Are you, as a writer, ready for bad weather or emergencies?

Preparing for bad weather can be as simple as having a storm alert radio that will cut on when dangerous weather approaches so you can shut down your computer before lightning fries it. The storm alert radio, also, doesn't interfere with writing like a regular radio for those of us who like to work in quiet. 

Are your computer and peripherals plugged into an alternate power source (APS) so it won't be damaged or your current work lost if the power goes out?   (An APS is like a power strip, but it includes a recharging battery that cuts on when the power cuts off so you have a few minutes to save documents and cut off your computer properly.)

Most alternate power source makers claim an APS with a surge protector will protect your computer and peripherals from lightning, but nothing will protect electronics from a close lightning hit. A good friend lost everything when lightning hit a transformer over a block away, and he had high-end surge protectors and an APS system. 

The safest thing to do is unplug everything, including the APS. 

Also remember to unplug your modem from the electricity and your computer. 

If you have a laptop as well as a desktop, you need to keep it charged to use during bad weather so keep it plugged in, but remember to unplug it, as well, when a storm comes. 

If you want to keep working through bad weather, remember to save a copy of your work to a flash disk, CD, or whatever to move your work to your laptop so you can continue to work. Or sync your work with WiFi.  

Weather preparation isn't just for a short summer or winter storm. It's for major disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wild fires. Always have a back-up copy of all your works in another location, or, better yet, several locations.

In the days before I wrote by computer, I had paper copies of my books at my home, my mom's beach house, and my brother's home near Charlotte. Despite being in different parts of the state, all three homes were damaged by Hurricane Hugo, but the manuscripts stayed safe. That experience has reaffirmed my determination to keep copies of my manuscripts and important papers elsewhere.

These days, I also keep a flash disk copy of my books and other digital documents in my safety deposit box at the bank so I can keep my updates recent. A flash disk or drive, if you're not familiar with the term, is one of those tiny storage units you plug directly into your USB or Firewire connection on your computer or iPod.  

You can also store your works and your computer contents online at storage sites, but as recent outages and disasters have proven, online or “in the cloud” shouldn’t be your only storage solution.  

It's always a good idea to have an emergency bag or briefcase for your writing partially packed and ready to go in case you need to get out fast because of an approaching hurricane or wild fire. 

Things to keep in this bag include a power plug for your laptop and an updated flash drive. Also include copies of current book contracts as well as notes, etc., of what you are working with at the time.   A paper list of all your passwords is another must.

It would also be prudent to have a recent complete copy of your computer drive in case  your home computer is destroyed.

If you use an external hard drive as a backup, you can pack this up very carefully.  (Motion can damage desktop innards.)  Some external hard drives are made specifically to move about so they are a safer alternative.

This bag is also a good place to store a copy of your house and car insurance, pictures of your valuables, etc., in case disaster strikes. Also include a CD with copies of your favorite family pictures, etc., in case the worst happens, and there's no home to return to.

Make a list of the last minute things you will need to pack and stick that in the front of the bag. When emergencies happen, we tend to forget the most basic things so that list will be well worth the time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Links of Interest


WAYS A QUERY LETTER CAN GO BAD (BESIDES LEAVING IT OUT OF THE FRIDGE OVERNIGHT):




TIPS TO SHOOTING YOUR COVER PICTURE:



PROMOTION, A CLEVER IDEA ON PROMOTING AT GOODREADS:



BUILDING AN ALTERNATE WORLD FOR PARANORMAL, SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE, AND FANTASY ROMANCE:



MULTIPLE DRAFTS, MULTIPLE VARIATIONS OF INFO:



HOW CHAPTERS ARE BUILT:



CHARACTER IMMERSION AND THE NARRATIVE VOICE:



CUTTING WORDS FROM YOUR MANUSCRIPT:



PAINTING VERSUS DRAMATIZING A SCENE:



TWEAKING YOUR WRITING AND GENRE FOR SUCCESS:



GIVING BACKSTORY WHILE AVOIDING INFO DUMP:



CUTTING OUT PARTS OF YOUR BOOK YOU LOVE BUT DON’T NEED:



PROMO, MARKETING YOUR BOOK, AN HOUR A DAY:



SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AFTER A NATIONAL TRAGEDY:



USING THE DARK SIDE OF EVERY GOOD TRAIT OF YOUR HERO:



WORLDBUILDING, EXPLAINING THOSE UNIQUE CHANGES OR RULES:



HOW TO AVOID THE COMMON NEW WRITER MISTAKES:



WRITING A NOVELETTE:



THE ADVANTAGES OF PUTTING ROMANCE IN A NON-ROMANCE STORY:




Monday, August 18, 2014

Using a Real Place With a Fictional Name


QUESTION: I've tried to turn small towns with which I'm familiar into fictional towns or settings--usually for a paranormal world. Each time, I've ended up with a big, confusing, frustrated mess. You have mentioned that you have done this. Do you have any tips or tricks for developing your hometown into a fictional town? 


In my novel, TIME AFER TIME, my heroine’s hometown of Moravia is literally my hometown with the location of streets, etc.  

The heroine's engagement party is in a country club that's about five miles away from where I live.  I fiddled a bit with the look of the huge room and the patio where she meets the hero, though, to fit the plot.

The hero picks her up in a horse and carriage and takes her to the golf course to the east of the country club.  

I know where the McDonalds is that they stop at for a late snack and the apartment complex where she lives.

In a series I'm working on now set in Moravia, the hero's house is about a block away from where I live. The house is across the street from the Methodist church I went to as a child. 

The hero and his best friend ride on trails I rode as a girl, and the heroine goes to a fictional version of my alma mater.  When she drives there, I know what she passes, and the campus is described accurately. 

If I change some element of the real town for my fictional town, I make a note to myself to that effect although I rarely reuse settings like the country club.

I give the streets different names because I don't want people to make too close a connection between High Point and Moravia, and for the new series, I'm using the High Point of forty years ago because it fits better.  Those riding trails are now housing developments, for example.

Rather than a map, I have an equals list.  
Willow Street = Chestnut Drive
Nathanton = Greensboro

Most of my names have a word play involved.  Willow and Chestnut are both trees, and Greensboro is named after Revolutionary War hero, Nathaniel Green.

I never use exact distances, but I know how long it would take to get from the magic equipment storage warehouse to Daniel's house in the middle of the night if you were driving well over the speed limit.  

This information doesn't really change what happens or anything, and I could change the time for my own convenience, but just knowing helps keep the place real for me, and, hopefully, that makes the place more real to the reader.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Links of Interest


THE CHARACTER-DRIVEN PLOT:



FORMATTING YOUR SUBMISSION:



SELF-PUBLISHING INTRO AND SCAM WARNINGS:



BEWARE OF ORPHAN DIALOG:



BACKSTORY:



SELF-PUBS, THE ADVANTAGE OF LEARNING AND USING HTML FOR YOUR MANUSCRIPT:



DANGEROUS CONTRACT TERMS IN SHORT CONTRACTS:



KEEPING UP WITH DEADLINES:



HOW TO FIND YOUR CHARACTER’S BREAKING POINT:



POSITIONING YOUR BLOG FOR SUCCESS, PROMO:



YOUR COMPUTER AND OTHER TECH DEVICES AFTER YOU DIE, NO ENTIRELY WRITER RELATED, BUT YOU SHOULD READ:



TAKING APART A SUCCESSFUL NOVEL AS A LEARNING TOOL:



HELP FOR THE PROTAGONIST SHOULDN’T COME EASY:



DEATH DOESN’T HAVE TO COME IMMEDIATELY FOR A MURDER CHARGE:



MARKETS, NEW DAW GUIDELINES:



CREATING A SETTING THAT COMES ALIVE FOR THE READER:



WRITING A TRILOGY:



ROMANCE, WHY SHOULD YOUR HERO AND HEROINE GET TOGETHER?



WRITING THE BOOK BLURB:



SECONDARY CHARACTERS AS REFLECTIONS OR ALLIES OF YOUR MAIN CHARACTER: