The End


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The End 

By Nandy Ekle

What a rush! There’s no feeling better in all the world. I actually wrote “the end” and took a deep giggly breath of air.

And it wasn’t just putting the two words on the page, because anyone could just stick “the end” anywhere. No, it was knowing where to put them. And more than just where, it was HOW to put them.

Think about it. You have the most amazing concept in the world. You think and plan, outline if you must. You discuss it with friends and research all possibilities. You start typing the words and hit a roadblock. You’ve come to the end of your comfort zone. I know a lot of very smart people who might stick “the end” on it and walk away. But not this time.

This time you’re serious about it. The characters continue to whisper and get you past the block. Then boom, the next roadblock. But you’re determined. Yeah, there’s holidays and problems, but you keep pushing that pencil on.

Then the characters stop talking. “Come on, guys,” you say. “We’re not at ‘the end’ yurt. But they’re tired and don’t want to talk anymore. I, myself, have been guilty of sticking those two words there.

But this time, when the heroine and hero stopped talking, I decided to make it up on my own. Oh, it was nothing close to good, but it was like a bucket of ice water on my little people to wake them up and get them moving again. They saw what I was writing and jumped up, yanked the pencil from my hand and the story continued.

And there it was. The glorious end of the road. I took a deep breath and boldly put my pencil to the paper. Very carefully, desperately trying not to get too excited, I wrote “The End” in exactly the right place.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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Stormy Nights


Outtakes 132

 

Stormy Nights

By Cait Collins

 

Let’s face it. Sometimes we get stuck. No new ideas are screaming, “Write about me.” These are the times when I look for inspiration anywhere I can find it. And I seem to find ideas in some unusual places.

A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping for a birthday card in a local Hallmark store. There was a big sale in progress, so I roamed the displays looking for bargains. Bam! There he was, one of my favorite characters, good old Snoopy. Snoops was sitting atop his dog house, his typewriter in front of him, and a piece of paper feed into the machine. He was ready to begin his next installment of “It was a dark and stormy night.”  On the front of the dog house are two open spaces. One holds two cubes with numbers carved in the blocks. The second space houses blocks with the months carved in the sides. My Snoopy is a perpetual calendar. I grabbed that statue and headed for the cash wrap. Thank goodness I remembered my discount coupon.

I think I’m drawn to Snoopy because he is the embodiment of many characters. Some days he is writer Snoopy. Tomorrow he might be Joe Cool or the World War I flying ace. He’s also a stalking jungle animal creeping up on Lucy. Snoopy is a scout master for Woodstock and his friends. He’s loyal, a true friend, and a great listener. He even decorates a mean dog house for Christmas. He has such unlimited imagination. Snoopy is great inspiration when my mind is blank.

The Snoopy calendar sits on my desk at work. It is a sweet reminder that each day is a good day to write. After all “Happiness is a new day.” Now back to my project.

“It was a dark and stormy night. Rain fell in sheets, saturating the hillside and spilling water, mud, tree limbs, and a body into the swollen stream.”

Foundation and Details


Foundation and Details

Rory C. Keel

Over the last year, I have been involved in planning and building a new facility for the church where I attend. In the planning, every aspect of the building has a purpose. The measurements of the foundation are laid out on paper and then the details are considered, what color of paint, what kind of flooring? Will the congregation be comfortable with the seating? What about sound quality? What happens in an emergency? Is the lighting adequate? The list seems endless.

The day came when the project started and the foundation was poured. At the end of that first day, I stood gazing at a slab of concrete that didn’t come close to looking as large as I had imagined. My mind said something’s wrong! The plans confirmed the size was correct!

Every day since, I have watched as each wall was raised and the roof now appears atop the building, and my perspective has changed. The building has been transferred from ink on paper, to a multi-dimensional object that better fits the concept I had imagined.

As a writer, a similar process takes place, only we use words as the building materials. We hold a story concept in mind with all of its grandeur and we begin to write, one page then two, our mind says something is wrong! What we see doesn’t look like what we have imagined, so we wad the paper up or hit delete.

The story doesn’t look like the grand story in your head, because it isn’t finished!

Don’t give up too quickly, create an outline, the foundation, and then build your story by filling in the blanks with the details.

roryckeel.com

Book Promotion Analysis


Book Promotion Analysis

By Natalie Bright

If you don’t tell anyone about your book, there’s no way they can read it. It’s a basic concept, yet crucial, and with social media at your fingertips the opportunity to tell everyone about your story is endless.

In Your Face

In my opinion, it’s not an opportunity for you to hammer Facebook friends and Twitter followers with constant barrage of “buy my book”. I’ve had to unfollow several authors who take this to the excess. I’m following you as a novelist because I’m interested in YOU as well as your books. Where did your idea come from, your writing process, your hobbies, the weather where you live, places you’ve been to research stories? However, a pic of your recent surgical procedure and wound is definitely TMI. Please don’t over share. What information do you think crosses the boundaries?

Some authors feel more comfortable in keeping a low profile online. I’m always surprised when I discover a great book, but can’t find a website for the author. On the other hand, one author explained that she feels her readers are interested in not only her books, but her personal world as a writer and person. She friends and follows everyone. Two schools of thought; which one do you prefer?

Analytics

Several weeks ago, I blogged about target markets. There are so many amazing tools and apps through a multitude of social media sights enabling you to pinpoint people based on their interests, purchases, careers, etc. I receive several eNewsletters every week on the subject. It truly is mind boggling. Rather than spend a lot of time analyzing and targeting, much the same way that I feel about learning WordPress, I’ve taken a different route. I don’t want to learn how to build a website or graph a bar chart or profile my facebook friends based on their socio economic status. I just want to write. For me, promotion is an ongoing process via a myriad of social media outlets.

Keeping it Simple

One piece of advice about promotion came from Debbie Macomber, and has stuck in my mind for many years. When speaking at a writing conference in Amarillo, she highly recommended that every author add this book to their reference library, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. Ms. Macomber also advised us to take one piece of advice from this book to heart and never forget: do one thing every day to promote yourself as a professional author, your work, or the industry of books and reading.

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Just One Thing

Writing this blog is my one thing, along with promoting another author’s book about marketing in said blog. That’s two things. I guess I’m done for the day. Now back to writing!

What are you using to target readers for your books? How are you spreading the word? Do you think some authors go overboard with the sales pitching?

Happy writing!

nataliebright.com

OT, Head Bug, Et Al


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

OT, Head Bug, Et Al

By Nandy Ekle

Almost a month into the new year. There’s been mandatory overtime at my day job, visitors in my home, deep cleaning, and rearranging, all topped off with the onset of that old head cold I’ve named Rhino Virus. Rhino Virus is not my friend. In fact, I’m actually a little bit of a baby where Rhino Virus is concerned.

The good points? Well, the overtime at work adds to my vacation fund. The visitors are fun and interesting, sometimes leaving me a new story to think about. The deep cleaning and rearranging, well, those benefits are obvious. As for Rhino Virus, I can still manage to have a little fun with that.

For instance, I can think of this head cold as a character, give it a name, and create a whole scene around it. We all know how our bodies fight disease, so let’s just imagine a championship ball game (going along with the season) take place inside my nose and sinus cavity. The game players wear white uniforms and the cheerleaders are dressed in red. The virus team wears an ugly puke green.

The fun in this is with the social media sites I belong to. I can make short random updates giving play-by-play reports of the action going on.

Leave me a comment and let me know what mundane parts of daily living do you turn into stories?

 

 

The Different Day


Outtakes 131

 

The Different Day

By Cait Collins

In judging writing contests, I’ve read many a story that began with pages of back story and not with the action. Sometimes it is hard to know where to begin the work. Do I need a prologue? How much do I tell about my protagonist before beginning the current story? In my opinion, most stories or novels should begin with the different day.

The different day is the inciting incident that sets up the plot. For example, John may drive the same route every day. That’s not necessarily the point. Why is today special or different? Is John driving through a freak storm? Is it raining or snowing? Is there an abandoned vehicle on the side of the road, or is someone standing in the middle of the road trying to flag him down? Is he able to stop, or does he swerve to avoid the car or the pedestrian and lose control of the vehicle? Whatever track the writer takes, this is the different day. This is where the story begins.

Think about some of your favorite novels. In Gone With the Wind, the different day was Scarlet O’Hara learning that Ashley Wilkes was to announce his engagement to Melanie Hamilton during the Wilkes barbeque. The transfer of ownership of a yellow dog opened Old Yeller. James Patterson set the action for his recent Women’s Murder Club novel, 12th of Never, with the birth of Lindsey’s baby. The back story is told as the action unfolds. Even when a prologue is written, the incident that sparks the current day story must be clearly defined.

Back story has a place in the development of the plot, but the writer must decide just how much is needed to establish the setting and develop the characters. The back story may reveal the characters’ motivations; his reasons for his decisions and his justification for his actions. Just remember, the back story is just that. It is background. The story begins on the day that is different.

Writing Endorsements


Writing Endorsements

By Rory C. Keel

Ask for endorsements from readers that enjoyed your writing. Simply say something like, “Would you provide me with a positive comment I could use as a testimonial for my book?”

Use the positive comments as headlines for your writing on your website and other promotional materials such as bookmarks and brochures.

Take note of unsolicited positive comments and remarks about your writing in e-mails and personal conversations. If individuals say something positive about your writing, ask to quote them.

Collect testimonials in a notebook and you will have them readily available when promoting your writing, stories and books.

Realize that testimonials from your readers will generate excitement and create interest in your work and draw more readers for your material.

Fictional Characters with Family Traditions


Fictional Characters  with Family Traditions

By Natalie Bright

As you develop your characters and identify their quirks and traits, consider their past family experiences and traditions. These incidents shape their personality and can add depth to your story.

Holiday traditions can leave heartfelt memories or tormenting heartache. Is this something that can play into your characters motivations, or become a component of your plot?

Dig Deep and Draw From the Things You Know

Holidays always make me think of my grandparents. I never realized how much I would treasure those memories. For my mother’s family, it was a bustling affaire of preparing the meal, watching football, and opening gifts with cousins. My grandmother planned the menu months in advance, and my aunts and mom arrived early to help.

My in-laws, on the other hand, arrive right at the appointed meal time and leave shortly thereafter. Plans are made at the last minute. The holiday with them seems strange and awkward, leaving me feeling that something is missing. After 28 years of marriage I’m still not used to their way of doing things. The experience only makes me miss the holidays of my childhood even more. So does that past memory affect my attitude? Of course, it does.

What about you and your memories? How can past experiences create tension, either external or internal, for your characters? These past memories might cause resentment, deep depression, intense joy, or a myriad of emotion.

A Past Life

Think about creating a past for your character. Where did their parents come from? How did their parents meet? Where did their grandparents live? Did they even know their grandparents? If not, why?  Maybe the main characters’ mother wasn’t welcome in her family home, and what if your character has to know why. This might not be your primary plot, but it could be a component of your character’s make-up and motivation as to why he/she acts they way they do. You see where I’m going. The possibilities are endless. You may not use even a fourth of this information in your story, but you need to know these details about your main characters and major villain.

You’re on a roll now, so keep going. Childhood experiences? Most frightening time? Most embarrassing time? Childhood friends? Worst enemy? Favorite uncle? Hated aunt? What about that evil sister-in-law who joins a cult and becomes dependent on pain killers? Self-centered brother-in-law? Famous cousin? Wealthy grandfather? How do these people influence your character’s moral fiber?

Write On My Friends!

2013 was a great year. Goals were realized, I garnered a few thrilling publishing credits, and received several devastating rejection notices which means my work is getting out there. I leave you with the most inspiring message for me, one that I heard repeated many times during 2013: keep writing. Finish. Submit.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six.

nataliebright.com

Game Play


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Game Play

By Nandy Ekle

I love most word games. However, it’s hard to find one that keeps my interest very long because, well, as modest as I can be, I’m pretty good at them. I have a huge vocabulary, I’m a good speller, and I can think fast and spontaneously. That’s not to say I’m the champion word gamer, because I’m not. I often go for the most grandiose words and don’t think about score, which means I use a lot of letters of very little value.

But I found something new. Well, not really. It’s a renewing of a very old game. It’s called Bananagram, but it’s nothing more than Scrabble. The version I’ve got is a solo game with the option of finding random players from my contacts list, which I don’t do often because I’m always afraid of bothering other people.

There are four ways to play on my app: Quick Game, which is a short timer and set number of tiles; Pop Atack, where letters drop into a well that grows and I have to use them up before the pile touches the top of the screen; Time Race, which is another short timer, but when you use up the letters more appear for you to use; and then, just plain Practice where they give you a set number of letters and no timer and when you touch the letter the diagram shows you everywhere it can be played.

With my semi-obsessive personality, I’ve played, usually the Time Race, with every second of free time I can find. And while it’s a challenge because the time is so short, I’ve invented a new rule. Each game will have a theme. Every word I make now has to be related to the other words in the diagram.

Now. I wonder how many stories that will create?

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Track Changes


Outtakes 130

Track Changes

By Cait Collins

I dread the editing process. It seems I will delete a section, save it to a cuts file and promptly forget how I named the file. Then when I need the text, I will spend excessive time looking for it. Thank goodness for Track Changes.

Using Track Changes allows me to keep deletions, inserts, and format changes on the original document. I use balloons to store deleted text and format changes. Insertions are highlighted in the body of the document in a shade of teal. The changes remain with the manuscript until I either accept or reject them. Once the changes are completed, I reread the document and accept or reject the changes as I go. If in doubt, I skip the edit and come back to it later.

Track Changes allowed me to edit a friend’s manuscript and email the document with changes. I didn’t have to print the story; write edits and corrections; and scan the pages to a file before emailing the edited piece back to her. It may not be a cure all, but it surely makes my editing life easier.