The Constant Reader


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

The Constant Reader

By Nandy Ekle

Anyone who reads Stephen King recognizes what a “constant reader” is. If you haven’t heard this phrase before, it’s the term of endearment Mr. King gives his fans, especially those of us who have been around since the 1970s, when Carrie came out, followed by Salem’s Lot, and then The Shining.

So what is it about his work that we crave? Some of his stories are unbelievable, some border on absolute silliness. But I find myself devouring even these as if they were coated with the fudge syrup I pour generously on my ice cream.

Well, I can tell you exactly why this genius’s words keep me glued to the page. And it’s exactly what I just said. He’s a genius with words. When a writer can make you gag with disgust after one sentence, that’s talent. If, after reading a page or two from a book, you find yourself hiding all the alphabet letters from the refrigerator, you’ve been immersed in greatness. If a hotel becomes a living character in a novel, and standing in the door of the hotel makes you feel like you’re shaking hands with a celebrity, that’s the work of a word genius.

My personal favorite Stephen King book is The Shining. In my opinion, this book is a masterpiece. I’ve read it more times than I can count, and I find a new layer every time I open the cover. The last time I read it I noticed something I had never noticed before. The first three or four chapters are back story. However, he does not info dump on us, the readers. What he does is place us inside the characters’ heads. We see, hear, feel, taste, smell, everything they do. And it’s in this state we learn why the characters are the way they are. And it is so real that it took me 30 plus years to analyze it.

In some places during the reveal of this backstory, Mr. King writes continuously without the interruption of punctuation. I believe the absence of commas, periods, and even spaces between words gives the feeling of swirling, as going down a drain.

And that’s incredible.

So, hear’s to you, Mr. King from a consummate Constant Reader.

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

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MacGuffin


MacGuffin

by Adam Huddleston

 

Last week, I presented a blog concerning a plot device known as the “red herring”. This week, let’s quickly look at another: the MacGuffin.

The term, often incorrectly attributed to Alfred Hitchcock (though he did use it often), refers to a main goal that the protagonist is pursuing in a story and which may or may not be important to the overall plot. I retrieved these examples from Wikipedia: the meaning of “rosebud” in Citizen Kane (1941); the NOC list in Mission: Impossible (1996); the Rabbit’s Foot in Mission: Impossible III (2006); the Heart of the Ocean necklace in Titanic; and the mineral unobtainium in Avatar (2009).

Hitchcock did have an interesting quote concerning the MacGuffin:

“It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?” And the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks, “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “it’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers, “Well then, that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all.”

I hope this adds to your writing vocabulary!

Late for Work


Outtakes 242

Late for Work

By Cait Collins

 

I just love authors whose stories almost make me late for work. I have this routine of getting up an hour early every morning so that I have 45 minutes to relax and read a good book. I know I have a good book when I look at the clock and realize I have thirty minutes to get ready for work. I know it’s a great book when I get home after ten hours at the office and grab my novel before starting dinner and read until bedtime or until I finish the novel.

I just finished reading Nora Roberts The Obsession.

Imagine being eleven years old and rescuing a woman who had been kidnapped, raped, tortured, and marked for death. Imagine learning that your father, a deacon in his church and a family man, is also a serial killer. What if you learned your grandparents and uncle had not deserted you but were pushed away by your father? And what if your mother could no longer deal with life and escapes? Where would you go? What would you become? And what if your father’s terror followed you? Photographer Naomi Carson lived the nightmare and now has settled into a new home in the town of Sunrise Cove, Washington. For the first time in her life she begins to grow roots. And she finds friendship and love.

Until the nightmare begins again.

I enjoy the way Ms. Roberts weaves the romance into the story without allowing it to overcome the tale. The crimes and the chase challenge the lovers, but their personal strengths and commitment are weapons against the killer. The author uses the beauty of the ocean views, the dark forests, and the old house that is under renovation to provide the backdrop for the action. The dialogue enhances the characters and the plot. She drew me into the story and allowed me to walk the bluff, hike the forests and work alongside the renovation crew. I had to force myself to close the book and go to work.

I have been a Nora Roberts fan since purchasing my first novel some fifteen years ago. I enjoy her contemporary romantic suspense and her paranormal and fantasy romances. Her books take up substantial space in my library and I eagerly wait her next release.

 

9 Helpful Tips for writing:


9 Helpful Tips for writing:

  • Avoid difficult words, which the reader might have difficulty in understanding
  • Avoid moralizing
  • Don’t force your point of view on the readers. In other words, let the characters say what you want to say
  • Don’t inform, show
  • Include the five senses (hear, smell, touch, see, speak) to rouse the reader’s emotions
  • Avoid unnecessary details
  • Be innovative
  • Use active tense, not passive
  • Read your text aloud and listen for jarring notes

Roryckeel.com

LEARNING ALL ABOUT SCRIVENER


LEARNING ALL ABOUT SCRIVENER

By Natalie Bright

Re-typing 15,000 words for Book #2 of a middle grade adventure series set in the Wild West into Scrivener this week. At present, I write everything in Microsoft Word, including this blog post. It’s going to be a huge learning curve to retrain my brain.

SCRIVENER

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

I heard about Scrivener when I discovered a great podcast for indie authors: thecreativepenn.com Thriller author, Joanna Penn and several of her guests, claim to have greatly increased productivity by using this writing software.

Here’s what I really like about Scrivener:

The price! Only $40.

The ability to see my entire novel in a notecard format on the corkboard view. Each notecard can be labeled by chapter or scene, with notations for that scene or plot point. Attached to that notecard can be images, links for research, and the scene or chapter manuscript itself. Since I’m adding a mystery element to the WIP book, it helps me plan where I need to take the story.

I also like the project outline view which shows chapter and word count.

Untitled

Image Credit: Tinted index cards on the corkboard view from http://www.simplyscrivener.com

Editing Your Story made Easy

Scenes rarely come in sequential order. My writing brain has never worked that way. If you’re like me, elements of your current work in progress can hit you at the worst possible times. My brain is a swirl of images as the story plays out in my head. It’s usually coming faster than I can stop whatever I’m doing to jot a note. I’ve scribbled notes on lunch napkins, bank deposit slips, and grocery check-out receipts. Everything else in my life is structured and planned, but I’ve never been able to write a book from point A to point B to point C and so on.

With Scrivener, it’s really easy to find the place where that additional imagery or dialogue needs to be added. I can gather up all of my notes, and using the corkboard view, I can find right where the edits will fit. No more scrolling through a 60 page Word doc or sifting through stacks of printed pages trying to find a particular scene.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes and what I’m learning.

Is anybody out there using Scrivener? Please share your thoughts, tips, likes, or dislikes.

Writing onward…

 

 

 

The List


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The List

By Nandy Ekle

 The best place in the world to find inspiration to write is from those who have proven themselves to be brilliant geniuses, masters in the field. Here is a list of those authors who, when I read their work, I forget to breathe.

Stephen King

JK Rowling

Neil Gaiman

Nora Roberts

James Patterson

Diane Setterfield

Terry Brooks

Piers Anthony

Anne Rule

Janet Evanovich

Mary Stewart

Dr Seuss

Moe Willems

JA Applegate

RL Stein

Ray Bradbury

Gillian Flynn

This is by no means exhaustive as I’ve had 50 years experience as a reader. And I’m always looking for new masters and stories to get lost in.

Tell me whose work gives you goosebumps, thrills, and makes you swoon with joy?

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

MacGuffin


MacGuffin

by Adam Huddleston

 

Last week, I presented a blog concerning a plot device known as the “red herring”. This week, let’s quickly look at another: the MacGuffin.

The term, often incorrectly attributed to Alfred Hitchcock (though he did use it often), refers to a main goal that the protagonist is pursuing in a story and which may or may not be important to the overall plot. I retrieved these examples from Wikipedia: the meaning of “rosebud” in Citizen Kane (1941); the NOC list in Mission: Impossible (1996); the Rabbit’s Foot in Mission: Impossible III (2006); the Heart of the Ocean necklace in Titanic; and the mineral unobtainium in Avatar (2009).

Hitchcock did have an interesting quote concerning the MacGuffin:

“It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?” And the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks, “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “it’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers, “Well then, that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all.”

I hope this adds to your writing vocabulary!

More Gods and Myths


Outtakes 241

More Gods and Myths

by Cait Collins

 

I have this habit of buying books by my favorite authors and keep stacking them in the bookcases, on my desk, and on the floor until I find time to read them. Things have started slowing down, so I’m attacking the stacks. And I must say I’ve found a gem — MAGNUS CHASE and the GODS of ASGARD THE SWORD OF SUMMER. Rick Riordan has done it again by creating teen characters and pitting them against the Norse gods.

Magnus Chase is a homeless teenage boy living in Boston. His mother is murdered, he’s lost touch with his two uncles, and his father is the Norse god, Frey, the God of spring and summer; the sun and the rain; harvest; abundance and fertility. Only Chase is unaware of his demigod status until his 16th birthday. The day he died and was carried to Valhalla by the Valkyrie, Samirah al-Abbas, better known as Sam.

Chase, Sam, and Chase’s guardians Hearthstone and Blitzen have eight days to rebind Fenris Wolf, stop Ragnarok, stop Loki, and save the nine worlds. Odin is missing. Thor is, well not what I expected, and giants run amuck. Chase must make nice with the Sword of Summer and learn to control it. It’s a big job but someone has to do it. The story is told with irreverent humor as befits a teenagers and misfit adults. It’s a great read and good fun. Trouble is I’m going to need a Guide to Norse Gods and Goddesses before the series is done. Some of the names are similar, the families confuse me, but I know Riordan will lead me through the mazes and bring me out on the other side.

I’ve been a big fan of Riordan’s since reading the PERCY JACKSON and the OLYMPIANS series, and THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS series based on Greek and Roman mythology. He also wrote the popular KANE CHRONICLES, a three-book series with the gods of Egypt. What I have appreciated about these books is Riordan’s ability to teach mythology without preaching mythology. I remember my high school literature classes and the groans when the Greek and Roman Mythology books were handed out. There was no spark to the lessons. The readings were as dry and dead as desert sands. While I did well in the subject, I can’t say I enjoyed it. Now I eagerly await each release. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, or Norse, mythology is a blast.

 

What if I Fail as a Writer?


What if I Fail as a Writer?

Rory C. Keel

 

So you want to be a writer but you’re afraid of failure. Perhaps your dream is to write a novel, publish an article in a magazine, or write a famous screenplay but the idea of failing keeps you from ever starting. Putting the “cart before the horse,” as they say, can skew a person’s thinking.

Here are five steps to help realign your thinking so you can achieve your dream of success.

  1. Realize success comes in steps.

Achieving any goal is like walking up a staircase, it has to be one step at a time. Honestly assess where you are in your writing skills. Do you understand grammar and sentence structure? Perhaps you’re farther along and need to work on story telling or plotting?

By knowing where you are on the staircase of writing, you can know what your next step is. That next step is success.

   2. Reaching the next step can be difficult.

Famous authors such as Stephen King, Charles Frazier, Larry McMurtry, J.K. Rowling didn’t reach fame in one day. It takes hours of putting one word next to another, days of sitting in a chair, months of research and rewriting, and sometimes years of waiting for a project to be noticed. Take one step today and another tomorrow and you will be successful.

   3. You will run into obstacles.

Have you ever walked through the house in the dark to get a drink from the kitchen and stubbed your toe on the coffee table? Immediately you scream OBSTACLES!

Understand there will be hindrances to your writing such as finding time to write, family members that need attention, or even the need to make a living and pay the bills.

That’s life. These things still exist for famous authors, they have just learned to prioritize and deal with them.

   4. Surround yourself with other writers.

By surrounding yourself with other writers, you set yourself up to succeed. Learn from others who have what you want. Success is a level small or great not a final ending. So when you associate with those who desire to write and have a mindset to accomplish goals, you become motivated to move along with them.  Famous authors haven’t reached the pinnacle, they only have a greater level of what you can achieve in a small step tomorrow – SUCCESS!

   5. Never, ever, give up on your dream.

“Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily. Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It’s no use. I can’t go on. If you do, you’re licked, and by your own thinking, too. Keep believing and keep on keeping on.” — Norman Vincent Peale

roryckeel.com

AUTHOR RIGHTS


AUTHOR RIGHTS

By Natalie Bright

One of my 2015 writing goals was to find a home for a self-published eBook about grief based on our experience of dealing with the loss our first born son. A small press expressed interest. While I waited for the contract, I schooled myself on understanding the rights that I’d be willing to relinquish for a traditional publishing deal.

 What are You Willing to SIGN AWAY?

Publishing companies have to make money. I totally understand how this big business works. They are able to make money via manuscripts produced by writers. It’s a fascinating and frustrating industry, mixing the creations of our hearts with hard, cold finance, but that’s the reality.

Consider the prestige of having a publisher choose YOU. It is very exciting and does wonders for your ego, and then consider what you might be giving away. In my research, I learned that some publishers take rights that they never exploit, and perhaps never intend to. For example, a small, local press may not have the resources to sell your book in multiple languages so why would you grant, transfer and assign all of your foreign rights?

Here’s a sample list of possible rights already owned by you as creator and that are associated with your work:

Hardback editions

Paperback editions

Electronic rights

First world English rights

British, European, or Australian rights

Translation rights, or language rights

Exclusive use rights

Publication or sale by book clubs

Reprint rights

Publication in digests

Publication in condensations

Publication in anthologies

Publication in compilations

Serial rights

Dramatic, multimedia, television, and motion picture rights

Internet distribution rights

Archival rights

eBooks, Kindle, Nook, and other electronic distribution rights

Audio, mechanical, and visual reproduction

Computer programs

Microprint

Microfiche

Microfilm editions

Syndication rights

Permission rights for quotations, excerpts, illustrations

Merchandising rights

Any media hereinafter created

Resources

For more information, there’s a great article at writing-world.com by Marg Gilks, “Rights: What They Mean and Why They’re Important.”

Check out thecreativepenn.com for several excellent podcasts with Joanna Penn on this topic and loads of other topics relating to Indie Publishing. Her FREE Author 2.0 Blueprint is full of helpful information.