SATURDAY: A PERFECT MORNING TO WRITE


SATURDAY:

A PERFECT MORNING TO WRITE

Natalie Bright

The sun is peaking over the pasture turning the sky a bright orange and purple. As I open the dining room curtains, a clump of bunny rabbits scatter. I start the coffee pot and drop some cat food into the dish to quiet the meows. While the gurgling sounds and rich smells swirl around the peaceful house, I put clothes into the washing machine.

Settling in at the computer, I gather my supplies around me. Submission guidelines, spiral to jot an outline of the first draft, pen, interview notes, and sample magazines to determine style and slant. This feature article is going to be brilliant! Thank goodness for productive Saturday mornings.

And Then…

My purple pen runs out of ink. I ALWAYS write the first draft in purple. I search for fifteen minutes, but there’s not another purple pen anywhere in the house. Fine. I’ll use blue.

Several cups of coffee later, it’s going well but I’m hungry and I hear my husband rattling around in the kitchen. Time to cook breakfast.

Back to the story, until an awful smell assaults my nose. The new to our house, stray kitten has just taken a poop in the potted plant next to my desk. I clean that out, and while I’m at it, decide to empty the kitty litter box too and take it all to the trash. The brisk walk and morning air rejuvenates me.

Back inside, the oldest is awake and drinks the last of the coffee. I brew more and then the washing machine buzzer goes off, so I transfer everything into the dryer.

Finally, back to the story.

With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, my head is buzzing (possibly from creativity, mostly from caffeine).

Our youngest is awake and turns on the television. He and his dad discuss a movie they watched the night previous over the blaring noise of the TV.

I can drown out the voices. That’s nothing new, but then I hear the dogs whining. They want their morning chewie. Delivered, with a pat on the head.

Deep breath, and I settle into my chair at the computer.

Oldest pokes his head around the corner, “Have you seen my car keys?” I join the search. Finally, success. He’s on his way with instructions, “Drive safe. See you later.” My husband leaves too.

I can feel the productivity oozing from my veins. This is going to be an unbelievable article. I settle into my chair, flitter through my notes to get back on track, reread what I have so far, and type a few words.

Youngest son pokes his head around the corner, “What’s for lunch?”

Done.

There’s always tomorrow.

Writer’s Truth: When your purple pen runs out of ink, it’s only going downhill from there.

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Fill In the Blank


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

Fill In the Blank

By Nandy Ekle

 

The last couple of weeks I talked about my need for organization in my every day life, but the total lack of structure in my writing life. And I’ve studied and been told and shown what an important tool outlining, planning, and plotting can be for a writer.

Let me just say, whatever your writing habits are, I will never tell you you’re doing it wrong, especially if you can successfully write “The End.” I very firmly believe each writer’s methods are right for them. But I also feel it’s important to have an open mind and trying something new to be sure you have the most effective way for your writing.

Last Friday I ended in the middle of telling about one story I wrote in a completely different way from my normal seat-of-the-pants method. This particular story, I did the plotting and planning, the story boarding and characterization, and the theme and each event. Even though this story is one I love very deeply, I didn’t have as much fun writing it as I normally have. The spontaneity was gone. The surprise was gone. I felt as though I was filling in blanks to a story already written.

But as I mentioned last week, something very interesting happened. The story was successful. I entered it in a contest, and it won second place and it earned the second spot in an anthology (available on Amazon). The other thing that happened was that the main character became one of my all-time favorite characters. And I think the reason that happened is that in my characterization of her, I realized she represents both of my grandmothers rolled into one.

Now, there’s another story I wrote in my normal way. This story, I had a theme and a situation. My character had a paranormal ability, but she didn’t want to reveal her talent, so she made up a story when caught using her gift. This was where I started. As I wrote, events of the story came to life as if I were a reader reading it. For me, this is the “funnest” part of writing. The tale unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a movie. In fact, as I headed into the final scene, I still was not sure who my villain was. As one of my “movie” scenes played, the secret bad guy turned his face to me and winked. This was when I saw the end of my story. To this day, I get cold chills when I remember the scene.

This story has not found a home yet, but that’s one of my resolutions for this year.

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

 

Writing in “You Only Live Twice”


Writing in “You Only Live Twice”

by Adam Huddleston

 

The fifth film in the James Bond franchise, “You Only Live Twice” finds 007 travelling throughout Japan. Sean Connery, in his role as Bond, is tasked with discovering why two spacecrafts (one Soviet and one American) disappear in orbit. Each superpower believe that the other is to blame. Bond finds that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is behind the disappearances and eventually runs into Ernst Blofeld, the evil organization’s leader. In the climax, 007 thwarts Blofeld’s plan to capture another American spaceship (which would lead to war between the two nations) and Blofeld’s secret base is destroyed.

I found “You Only Live Twice” to be quite a bit more enjoyable than the previous film “Thunderball”. There is a lot more action and the story line is more interesting. For example, Bond is seemingly shot to death in the opening minutes of the film. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie but it is definitely worth a watch.

Rocks


Outtakes 234

Rocks

By Cait Collins

I love rocks, minerals, crystals, and gemstones. Each one has its own beauty. Even river-tumbled stones possess color, texture, and properties. My interest in rocks began with a good earth science teacher who believed in practical application of classroom lectures. I began searching roadsides and riverbeds for quartz, feldspar, granite, marble, and gold. Never found the gold, but I did have a collection going. One of my favorite pieces was a goods sized rock with varying shades of quartz growing up one side. I carried that rock from Maine to Louisiana to Amarillo, Texas. Over the years, my interest in collecting waned. I developed other interests and rocks fell by the wayside.

I recently began working on a new story with a hero who designs jewelry and his best friend who is a prospector and gem broker. My interest in collecting has reawakened. I’m not referring to gems and jewelry as much as to the science and history of rocks and gems.

Gems are a part of history. The Bible in the book of Exodus describes the breastplate of the High Priest as being set with four rows of stones with three stones in each row. Among the gems are diamond, emerald, sapphire, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper. Zircon is one of the oldest recorded minerals. The diamond mines of South Africa are legendary not only for the quality and size of the stones, but also for the violent history. Faberge eggs are still sought after. The deep blue Hope Diamond is cursed. Opals are bad luck unless they happen to be your birthstone. Columbian emeralds smuggled aboard the Atocha were recovered by Mel Fisher’s crew in the late 20th century.

Crystals and minerals are reported to have healing properties. Verities’ of quartz are said to be beneficial for depression, migraine, insomnia, lupus, blood pressure, and vision. Blue opal is good for panic, phobias, vision, and fatigue. Moonstones help vision, sleepwalking, internal organs, veins, and arteries.

So, if your heroine is Wician, it’s important to know her Zodiac sign and the associated minerals, gems, and rocks. A religious historian would be familiar with gem use in worship ceremonies. The characters will look beyond the origins and science to find a relationship to his namesake. He sees the romance and not just the monetary value.

 

Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon


Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

By Rory C. Keel

For me the correct place for using a comma seems as elusive as a chameleon. Hidden somewhere between subordinate clauses, independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions, the comma hangs out waiting for a slight pause.

Here are five basic rules to help in using a comma.

  1. Never place a comma between a subject and its verb or between a verb and its object.
  2. When a subordinate clause introduces an independent clause, separate the two with a comma.
  3. Don’t use a comma to separate the clauses when a subordinate clause follows an independent clause.
  4. Use a comma before the appropriate coordinating conjunction to join two related sentences.
  5. When in doubt, leave it out.

Remembering these basic rules will help you put them where they belong and leave them out where they don’t.

 Roryckeel.com

PODCASTS: LEARNING WHILE YOU WORK AT WRITING


PODCASTS: LEARNING WHILE YOU WORK AT WRITING

Natalie Bright

Perhaps I’m way behind the times, but I’ve never been into podcasts. My youngest son has always been a fan, but it never made sense to me that he spent time watching someone else play a video game. I realized he’s watching a lot about science though, when he began spouting off facts about the universe.

This past weekend I discovered podcasts are for writers too!

Thecreativepenn.com is a treasure trove of information for writers including 250 podcast interviews by self-published author Joanna Penn. She is officially my first podcast subscription.

Here’s what I did last week while listening to Joanna Penn talk about writing:

  • Folded two loads of clothes.
  • Re-arranged my make-up drawer.
  • Ironed shirts for my husband and son.
  • Unloaded and loaded the dishwasher several times.
  • Cooked tacos for dinner.
  • Logged five miles on the treadmill.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post:

Here’s what I learned from thecreativepenn.com podcasts and how I applied that information to my own self-published eBook:

  • Discovered my eBook on Smashwords had 225 sample downloads, but only eight sales.
  • My price of $4.99 is double the cost for about half the page length as compared to books on the same topic which are priced at $1.99 and $2.99.
  • GONE NEVER FORGOTTEN is a heartfelt memoir about loss and the grief of losing our oldest baby boy. The book title is also the same as a porno video that used to be available on Amazon, which is why I stopped promoting it. I should have researched and put more thought into title ideas before I self-published.
  • The title page, dedication, table of contents makes up most of the downloadable sample. No one is seeing any significant example of my writing or what the book is about. When formatting your eBooks, begin with the text of the story. Put everything else at the end.
  • Social media is amazing, and it’s mind-blowing as to what self-published authors are able to accomplish these days.
  • Guest blogging, Twitter, Facebook promos and whatever else, are all things I can do to let readers know about this book. The measurable results of what works best for me is completely different for what might have worked for others. Every author must decide upon their own journey.
  • The most profitable combination is to have at least four books written, polished and published before you begin a concentrated social media blitz.
  • Start building my fan base now by actively participating on twitter, facebook, pinterest, and other social media sites.
  • A newsletter is the best way to build an email data base of possible buyers for your books.
  • The number of people reading on their iPhone devices has exploded (estimated at three times other devices), which makes the iBook app worth considering both as a reader and as a writer.
  • I’ve decided to retire my eBook on Smashwords and rebrand the project.
  • Do I want to spend time and money on a cover redesign, new formatting, and find an illustrator?
  • Should I write a book proposal and research possible submissions to a small press?
  • I must develop a social media marketing plan.
  • I must learn to balance the creative side with the business side, if I want to be a successful author and sell books.
  • Be open minded and consider all of the possibilities for my books in today’s publishing environment.

I’ll keep you posted as this project develops. Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

 

Love Is A Rose


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Love Is A Rose

By Nandy Ekle

 

My favorite writing tool is the metaphor. This is the comparative device that shows, not tells. So here are some metaphors I’ve used, and I would love to hear about some you may have used, or seen someone else use.

Liquid mercury. Remember the old-fashioned thermometers you had to hold under your tongue, or in your armpit, or . . . somewhere else? Those little tubes contained a silvery ball of mercury that would rise when heated by your body to a line on a graph that showed what your temperature was. If one of those little glass tubes broke, the mercury fell on the floor like liquid beads, except you couldn’t pick it up. If you tried, it would change shape and roll away. This always reminds me of something that might be hard to grasp, sort of like an idea . . .

Love of books. Reading books is as much a need for me as breathing air. I need that quiet time to myself to let my imagination out to play. As a kid, my imagination ran full speed all the time and I had to learn to put it in a box during the times I was expected to pay attention to the real world. But as a writer, my imagination is a very important thing. However, it tends to shrivel up if it’s not used. And that’s what books do for me. So to illustrate this, I thought about a character from a book that falls in love with his reader. Not only does this show how much I need books in my life, it also shows that books need readers.

Spiders. I am proud to admit that I am a confirmed arachnophobe. To me, spiders are the absolute worst nightmare that ever crept on the face of the earth. While this irrational fear can be paralyzing in some situations (depending on the size of the monster), it has also given me some excellent stories. After all, who can write about that kind of fear better than someone who experiences it? So it’s in this vein I use it as a metaphor to illustrate things that are paralyzingly scary, such as a character who has an arrogant attitude and must learn to put his ego aside to save his family from a devious creature that has invaded his home to terrorize his children. The spider actually represents his fear of inability to protect the home.

So, go ahead and tell me about some of your favorite metaphors. Just post a comment down below, and don’t worry about being long-winded or short winded. I love to hear from my readers.

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

 

 

Writing in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”


Writing in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

by Adam Huddleston

The sixth film in the James Bond franchise, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, is the first and only to star George Lazenby. Due to the fact that Sean Connery had played Bond in all of the previous installments, and had done a wonderful job, Lazenby had big shoes to fill. In my opinion, he did quite well.

The plot, still centered on S.P.E.C.T.R.E leader Blofeld, involves Bond’s infiltration of the antagonist’s base in the Swiss Alps. This film, while still containing several action sequences, has a bit slower pace. At 2 hours and 22 minutes, it is the longest installment up to that point and much of the movie involves Bond falling in love and getting married.

As far as dialogue goes, I actually had a difficult time understanding some of it. Many of the British actors mumbled their lines and I found myself having to rewind the film to hear them correctly. The length of the film and the dialogue lead to a less than enjoyable experience.

Characters and Careers


Outtakes 232

Characters and Careers

by Cait Collins

Characters don’t just sit around all day shooting the breeze. They have jobs, careers, and education. But where do you start in researching careers? If you know someone in the profession, make an appointment to discuss the job description, education, salary, perks, lingo, attire and so forth. But if you don’t have access to an expert in the field, there are other sources to help you out.

When I first began writing fiction, I knew I would need handy resources. Writer’s Digest released Careers for Your Characters by Raymond Obstfeld and Franz Neumann a number of years ago. It’s one of the first books I purchased for my library. The volume covers 101 professions providing good information on common careers and some not so common ones. It’s has helped me better define some of my characters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide information on jewelry design and gemology. So it’s time to punt.

I started with pulling information from my college geology classes and labs. What equipment did I need for my hero? What would he have in his kit? Would he do some prospecting on his own? What is the process for filing a claim? And as the writer, what did I need to learn to create this character?

My local Barnes and Noble Booksellers provided a number of books for my research. Tom Jackson’s What’s that ROCK or MINERAL? guided me in rock and mineral identification. Smithsonian Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals by Ronald Louis Bonewitz provided information on gem properties and locations. Gemstone Settings by Anastasia Young gave me insight on the types of settings and lingo. I began comparing some of my personal jewelry with the designs in the book so that I could describe the various pieces in my hero’s line.

I then hit the internet to learn what gems one could find in Colorado. I also found fee sights where I could go to pan for gold and sluice for gems and minerals. I may need to make a trip to the state to put my book knowledge to work so that I can accurately describe the panning process.

What do I hope to gain from this research? I will be able to create more dynamic characters, settings and description. And in turn I will hopefully give the reader a really great story.