Consider the Onion


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Consider the Onion

By Nandy Ekle

This is not a cooking lesson, or a nutrition lesson, even though I am a pretty good cook, and know enough about nutrition that I raised three kids to health adulthood. But I want to consider the onion as a metaphor. And this is nothing new. Onions have made famous metaphors for time out of mind. I just feel like it’s my turn to consider the onion.

A lot of people don’t like onions in their food because they’re so strong, maybe a little hot on the tongue, they make you cry when you cut them up, they smell bad, and some people claim to get headaches when they eat onions (maybe because of the smell). But these are exactly the reasons onions are needed in our diet.

And so, as writers, we will examine the onion as an ingredient for our stories. First of all, they have layers. Some onions have what seem to be thousands of layers. And our stories should also have layers. The more layers we have in our stories, the better. We want thick, strong purple layer on the outside to get the reader’s attention, but we also want the thicker, juicier layers the deeper we go. This is the flavor of the story. And we want the very center, the core, to be so soft and sweet, so heart gripping, that our readers weep with every cut they make closer to the center.

We also treasure that smell. Now, it is true that an onion’s odor is not really a perfume we want to go to the store to buy. In fact, it has the reputation of being one of the worst smells in the world. But really and truly, isn’t that how we identify that it’s an onion? But then, we add heat to it, and guess what happens. The smell and the flavor change to something so mouth watering we can’t wait to eat.

So there you go. Add heat to your story. You can add a slow, all-day heat and watch the story turn different colors before your eyes. Then when your reader eats it, it will melt in their mouths and they won’t be able to stop reading. Or you can apply high fast heat, which will bring out the sweetness quickly, causing your readers to beg for more, more, more.

And then there’s the tears when you cut the onion. And when your readers cut to the middle of your story, what could be better than a good cry?

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

Short Excerpt from Current Work


Short Excerpt from Current Work

by Adam Huddleston

 

This week, I wanted to share a few paragraphs from a new fantasy story I’m working on.

The voice came to O’Brien in the middle of the night like a soft breeze gliding over the top of a country stream. He had just exited one of those non-sensical dreams where you’re chastising your oldest child for eating the curtains, or where a herd of cattle is marching down the street, holding signs advocating nuclear disarmament. At first, he wasn’t sure if he had heard it, or if it was some trick being played on him by his overworked brain.

Then it spoke again.

“Build the house,” it whispered. “Eighteen inches high. Wood. Two-stories. Double-doors in front.”

O’Brien sat up in bed and rubbed at his eyes. A dried line of spittle ran down his left cheek.

“Hello,” he said to the darkness. “Who’s there?”

“Build the house,” the strange voice whispered again. “Eighteen inches high. Wood. Two-stories. Double-doors in front.”

Jacob O’Brien scratched absently at his bald scalp. A few dry flakes drifted down unnoticed and landed on his pillow. He tilted his head sideways and listened to the silence, straining to hear the voice again. After a full two minutes, he resigned to the fact that it was simply a hallucination brought on by a spicy late-night snack, or perhaps a particularly strong cup of coffee with said snack.

He laid back and just as his head hit the pillow, the voice returned.

“Build the h—“

“Okay! I get it! I’ll build your little house if you just promise to leave me alone.” Jacob rubbed at his temples then whispered into the darkness, “but I still have no idea who, or what, you are.”

Inspiration


Outtakes 332

 

Inspiration

By Cait Collins

I have this great idea for the last chapter of my Route 66 short story and it involves my neighbors’ dog. I’m not a real animal person. I like some pets, but don’t want the responsibility of caring and nurturing one. But Frodo is different. I first met Frodo soon after his parents brought him home. He wasn’t very big size wise, but he had personality. I soon realized I kind of liked having him greet me.

Being around this pup inspired me to write a new character to end my story. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works. The point is that inspiration can come from so many sources. It might be a picture, a song, a laugh, or a sigh. Experiences inspire us to create settings, characters, and story lines. Don’t ignore these little moments.

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!


 

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!

Natalie Bright

Goal setting for writers allows you to experience something positive and measurable. I understand how the weeks and months can be unbearable and discouraging. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve over a year’s time.  Even if the only time you can manage is thirty minutes a day three days a week, by the end of 2018 you’ll have a completed novel! That’s exciting. Be flexible in managing your time, and have goals in mind that are achievable and realistic. Make this process easy on yourself. 2018 is YOUR year! With a little budgeting and planning, the next step is publication, but you can’t publish if you don’t have a finished manuscript.

Write. Then Publish.

It is true that putting your book on Amazon involves minimal expense, however you need to decide how to allocate those funds. Do you want to go the traditional route or Indie?

Do you want a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal?

o       Know your genre. Research editors and agents who might be interested in what you write. Do not send your serial killer horror to an agent who represents romance writers.

o       Plan a trip to a conference. You must go where the agents and editors are. That means you need to attend writer’s conferences. Pay extra for break-out editor workshops where you can meet industry professionals, enter contests with editors and agents as judges, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that can rise above the slush pile.

o       What is the unique hook for your book? What will make your work rise above hundreds of others to become a viable product in today’s market?

o       Do you have an online presence?

Indie Author.

o     Identify your target market.

o     Hire a professional editor, take a class on formatting or hire a service. The book must meet spec requirements so that it can be downloaded successfully.

o     Invest in a graphic designer who can create an original book cover, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that is ready for readers.

o     Do you have an online presence?

o     Enter your book into several contests to boost visibility.

o     Research and determine the best advertising options for your book and your target market.

Crazy Business, Crazy Life

In my own mind, I have everything under control and organized. I did take an online class about formatting only to realize that I will never be proficient at the task. I hate it and I’d rather be writing. The time and efforts of a professional is worth the money to me.

This past month, I laid out guidelines and entry forms for three contests along with my book copies and envelopes neatly addressed. All was in order, and then (thank goodness), I got an email from a reader who found a typo in the first chapter. A character’s name was wrong! What are the odds that a contest judge will find the error? Will it hurt my chances? Most likely. That little snafu, and the time it took to contact the formatter, upload the new version, and reorder corrected hard copies, wasn’t part of my plan. I just barely made the contest deadlines.

I don’t write fantasy, but sometimes I feel like I live in a fantasy world. This writing gig rarely works out according to my timetable. A demanding day job and family keeps me crazy busy, and yet I will keep moving forward because these stories are important to me. I really want to be a successful, published Author.

You’ll be thrown a lot of curve balls and obstacles whether you go traditional or Indie, but all your efforts are worth it when you host your first autographing event. Seeing your book cover on Amazon is exciting. Getting a pay summary and cash in your account is achievable. The ups and downs are normal with every business, because selling books is most definitely a business. Decide now. Is it going to be YOUR business in 2018?

MY 2018 GOALS

  1. Write 52 Monday blog posts for WordsmithSix (a blog for writers)
  2. Write 26 Friday blog posts for Prairie Purview (a Texas blog)
  3. Promote and market every day.
  4. Six books in the pipeline scheduled to be published in 2018.
  5. Write more, remain focused, and press onward.

Let us know what’s on your goals list for 2018.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and productive 2018, and may you find an overabundance of readers in the New Year!

Happy New Year!


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Happy New Year!

By Nandy Ekle

Ok. Public resolution setting time. Gonna finish at least 5 previously begun writing projects and get them published. Finish two cross stitch projects previously begun. Finish reading ALL THE BOOKS. Go to Winchester House in October. And stay low key next Christmas.

Watch for upcoming announcements.

My Favorite Works of Fiction


My Favorite Works of Fiction

By Adam Huddleston

 

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog concerning my favorite non-fiction books for writers. This week, I would like to list a few of my favorite works of fiction (in no particular order). As you can imagine, me being a life-long reader of fantasy and horror, the list is full of selections from those genres.

Stephen King has always been a “fave” of mine. He has a plethora of thrillers and chillers. Some works seek to get you at the “gross-out” level. Others are more intimate examinations of the inner-self. My favorite novel of his belongs to the latter; “The Long Walk.” Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, this story follows a young man as he participates in a horrific annual tradition. The book is eerie and very well written.

Shifting to fantasy, you can’t find many works better than those of J.R.R. Tolkien. In a world where new writers are shoveling their wares in both bookstores and electronically, this legendary author’s work stands the test of time and his “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is, to me at least, at the top. It is the definition of an epic fantasy with a huge cast of characters, a sprawling world, and an entire language created by the author.

The late Michael Crichton penned a ton of great science-fiction stories, many of which were adapted into motion pictures. My favorite work of his is “Jurassic Park.” The movie, once it gets going, travels at a break-neck pace. Guess what? The novel does as well. The author even goes into great detail concerning how they manipulated the DNA to create the stories antagonists.

The last piece I’ll mention is one by Richard Adams. One of my earliest cinematic memories is watching “Watership Down” on a VHS player in my parent’s bedroom. When I was older, I discovered that it was based on a novel of the same name. The book does a great job of personifying the characters, mostly rabbits with a black-headed gull thrown in for good measure, and bringing their adventures to life. Like Tolkien, Richard Adams gives us a healthy dose of backstory, native language, and even a form of lupine religion.

Whatever your favorite genre might be, these novels are worth looking into. They will give insight into proper world building, plot, dialogue, and character development.

Happy writing; and reading!

New Year


Outtakes 331

 

New Year

By Cait Collins

 

 

I know it sounds trite, but the older I get the faster time seems to fly. When I was a kid, my parents tried to help my impatience by telling me it was seven sleeps to my birthday or Christmas. Those were long nights. And it still seemed like the big days would never come. Now days, time races on and before long, we will be staring 2019 in the face.

While I don’t make resolutions for the New Year, I am making promises.

I promise to finish my short story by the first critique meeting of 2018.

I promise to finish the edits on my memoir.

I promise to have my short story for Holidays on Route 66 by deadline.

I promise to get my blog done on time each week.

 

Best wishes for 2018 and happy writing.