Why is Writing Evil So Much Fun?

  • August 04, 2019
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evil photo

I’m editing a friend’s novella in the horror genre and what strikes me most is the passiveness of good. (I haven’t finished it yet so that might change but overall, in horror stories, evil has the most gleeful power.)

Writers, Use Real Place Names or Not? Need Opinions!

  • July 14, 2019
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question marks photo

I live in New York City. Many of the street names are well-known, and placing a character walking along Madison Avenue won’t create sudden visitors in real life tracking the route the characters have taken.

But my next novel is taking place in an area where the towns are miles apart and the population is small. I’m currently writing it with the real names of towns and streets and stores so that I know where everyone is. But in the end, should I fictionalize that part?

What do you do, and why? (And if you’re not a writer, I’d like your opinion too.)

 

Writing for the Seasons

  • June 10, 2019
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I hate to break it to you, but unless you’ve got a photographic memory, you won’t remember the details of winter if you’re writing about it in the summer. So here’s what you do.

As I said in an earlier post, take lots of pictures. But that’s not enough. Create folders for each season and begin gathering details as you live through them.

What kind of details? Everything and anything. For example:

  • What kind of clothes do your characters wear? Winter coats or shorts and tee shirts?
  • Are the trees blooming with pale green buds or full, darker leaves, or displaying a riot of color? Are they bare?
  • What kind of food is common during those times? In the summer, most people I know try to avoid cooking with their oven because it heats up the house. Street vendors carry ices, but in the fall, roasted chestnuts are sold instead.

I once read a book where a woman walked into a diner and ordered an iced tea in the middle of a snowstorm. In fact, I had to struggle to remember that it was winter in the story because the overall atmosphere made me think of the sultry hot days of the Deep South. Get your head on straight! If that perfect scene gets written but is out of place, either change the season or put the descriptions aside for a different story.

Look out your window. Open the door and breathe in the air. Listen to the sounds on the streets, near schools, and anywhere you think your story will live. Write it down, take photos or video, and keep those impressions to enrich your stories.

 

Archery and Writing

  • May 20, 2019
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I got clipped by an arrow.

To be fair, I hadn’t been back to archery in over six months, had only taken two lessons, and was wearing a short arm guard.

Long arm guard in place, I resumed shooting. The instructor corrected my stance. Hips too far forward, shoulders needed to be down, chest open. I was tensing when it was time to release the arrow.

But there was that one time when I let myself breathe, focused on the target, and the arrow struck close to the center.

It made me think about writing. Are my shoulders down? Is my stance relaxed? Am I focused on the target? (Which would be the next sentence in a story.)

It takes repetition to get it right. And to walk away tired, with muscles pinging in areas I never considered, noting the hits and misses and determined to do better next time?

Yep. That’s writing.

 

I’m Proud to Be an Indie Author

  • April 14, 2019
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typewriter photo

First off, let me say that if you want to be traditionally published, that’s fine. This is my opinion for myself only.

It drives me nuts that indie authors aren’t as respected as traditionally published authors. To be clear, self-publishing is not the same as a vanity press. Vanity presses take your money in order to publish your book. You should be paid for your writing, not the other way around.

It’s been said that indie authors publish garbage. Yes, there are people who write their stories and—without any real effort to edit or, better yet, hire an editor—toss their works online and proudly proclaim they’re a published author.

Ugh. On the other hand, we’ve all read traditionally published books that should never have seen the light of day, so I’m unsure why indie books get so much flack.

When I finally decided to take the step, I knew I had the background to deal with it. I was an in-house production editor, editor, copy editor, and proofreader for years, and my writers’ group consists of four other editors. My work gets scrutinized and I’m a better writer because of it.

What I don’t know, I hire out. I have no background in cover art, so I paid an artist who also knew digital publishing to create a cover for me.

And since I decided that I wanted my novel to be available in paperback as well as e-book, the formatting for the paperback was done by a fellow writer and editor. The trick is knowing my limitations. I do know how to format for e-book and though my marketing efforts need to be stepped up (really, whose don’t?), I’m happy to be publishing on my own timeline.

And yet, I’ve run into situations where people take a step back when they discover I’m an indie author, as if I’m not a real published author.

The only solution I can see is to keep writing, keep editing, and keep putting the best work I’m capable of in front of an audience when it’s ready.

Which should be the criteria for every writer, don’t you think?

 

*Photo by lil_foot_ (Pixabay)

Music to Write By

  • April 07, 2019
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Do you write to music? Does it depend on the scene you’re writing or is music just something that revs you up no matter what?

I’ve blogged about one particular piece that put me in a euphoric haze while writing a scene. My biggest regret was that it was only on YouTube. The original CD was for sale (used) at a price that made me consider whether eating was that important. Fortunately, sanity prevailed. And now it’s been rereleased and can be bought here.

And yes, I’m wondering what writing paths those songs will send me.

 

Writers, How to Scout a Location

  • March 25, 2019
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Go there. In my opinion, nothing comes close to actual sensory experience—the sights, smells, and tastes of an area. Talking to people in the area is a huge plus. And take plenty of pics.

Visit websites. There are different kinds:

  1. Tourism sites. They’ll promote the shiny views and usually have stunning photos or videos to watch.
  2. Blogs of people who visit the area and provide their own spin.
  3. Individual towns (for example) usually have their own website that’s aimed toward residents. You’ll find information on local news and agencies available to them as well as library hours and what month to get their fishing license renewed.

Newspapers. I’m currently subscribed to a newspaper for the town in which my next novel will be (at least partly) based. I travel there, but it’s been a real eye-opener to see what the locals do and say. The newspaper is both online and paper, and I opted for both: Paper can be clipped into a scrapbook that highlights the points I want to look at while I’m writing.

Books/magazines. Again, magazines often offer the shiny, pretty views of an area but some also offer in-depth issues that may or may not affect your story. Books can be anything—historical, memoir, tourist-based, and more, and your library can help with that.

This is what I’m using. What do you do?

 

Writers, Have Your Cameras Ready!

  • March 17, 2019
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There are three reasons to keep your camera ready at all times, especially when you go out.

Night Owl, Night Writer

  • June 24, 2018
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night forest photo

“I could sit in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and write with my typewriter on my knees; temperamental I am not.”

–Louis L’Amour

 

I once spent a day trying to write a story. I sat on my couch with a pen and pad and faced nothing but blankness. This is it, I thought. I can no longer write. I was terrified. The gift that fueled me, helped me, defined me was gone.

Then, night fell and the words flowed. I realized that I was a creative writer at night and a better editor by day. The relief and gratitude I felt was immense, and I planned my writing time accordingly.

That was a while back. I no longer need the night to write. Taking inspiration from Mr. L’Amour, I’ve written on buses and trains and standing on line at the supermarket. But still, when the skies darken and the area becomes quiet and fragrant with the scent of grass or still and blanketed in snow, everything and anything becomes possible. The words might be pared down or even deleted the next day, but during that time of moon and stars, the words travel down mystical roads weaving their own magic.

Are you a night writer or a day writer?

 

 

*Photo by Pezibear (Pixabay)

Writing on the Road and There’s No Pen

  • April 29, 2018
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What do you do when you’re driving and a great line of dialogue pops into your head?

I try not to think of my stories during those times but sometimes it’s a natural progression of thought (do we ever really stop thinking about those people?).

I had the line, the perfect sentence. But I was driving and there was no place to pull over. I called a friend.

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