Where I’m at Wednesday

Where I’m at Wednesday

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I used to write a weekly blog after publishing my first novel The Sphere of Archimedes. It let readers know where I was in writing the sequel The Omphalos of Delphi. I exhausted myself trying to meet last year’s deadline, countless hours researching Roman, Greek, and Assyrian history, and juggling normal, everyday life.

“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

― Lao Tzu, Te Tao Ching

I burned out!
My writing suffered. My home-life suffered. And, I [personally] gave up. It is the honest truth.
I felt, I no longer could write; I went numb.

This year, I got a part-time job. Feeling better about the situation, I began writing again.

Back-in-the-saddle

I. Am. Back.

The Omphalos of Delphi is due on the editor’s desk October 15th. I must hurry and finalize the manuscript.

Could I ask —my dear readers— for one favor?

Encouragement.

I really appreciate all my subscribers, friends, and family for your support and understanding.

Thank you!

Take care.

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It’s YOUR Monster

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Have you ever anticipated eating something visually appealing, but upon the first taste it had no flavor?
Tasteless or over-seasoned characters can kill a book. A well-seasoned character must flow with realism, grow into a likable or loathsome individual, and have a basis for their actions. Personally, I like to build an attachment to them, root for their successes, or be grief-stricken by their losses.
When I first envision a story, I create the main struggle, then build the characters around it; however, I tend to produce more along the way.

 

Writing characters:

 

Establish what they look like:

     — Try to visualize what your character looks like. It’s not necessary to incorporate that in the first few pages, but it can be a slow introduction. The importance is to grasp a mental image of your character(s).

 

 Add characteristics you are familiar with:

     — Each character you create is a piece of your personality.
     — Graft to principles you admire about them.
     — Highlight the not-so-likable qualities.

 

Add traits which aren’t normal for you:

     — Maybe a profession or hobby (you may have to research)? What sets this character apart from you?
     — Add imperfect characteristics: flaws, disfunction, or some other trait that will make them more realistic.

 

Lastly, as weird as it sounds, become the character:

     — When you are writing, you must step inside their head, see behind their eyes, and create scenes from their perspective.
     — Every character feels emotions. Some characters may suppress feelings that others cannot see; however, their emotion is always visible to the author/reader.

 

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you cannot help but to feel sorry for the abhorrent monster—an intelligent, articulate beast.
“You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do; and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.”
Just from that example, you feel the creature’s pain and loneliness. It is a sad tale, but Mary Shelley poured enough seasoning into each personality, leaving the reader is conflicted.

 

So, with that said, it’s YOUR monster. Get out there and create it!
Take care, my friends 🙂

I Challenge You

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. . .to Read

old books

Have you ever picked up a classic novel out of curiosity? At first, you thought it would be boring and/or stupid. But once you started understanding the content, it became impossible to set down. I felt this way on numerous occasions, and have yet to be disappointed.

 

Shakespeare was very difficult for me to understand. In the beginning of the novel, it was like reading another language; however, after awhile words and phrases started to make sense. The story developed and the plot unfolded.
Hamlet became my all-time favorite of his stories. The history, beauty, culture, and words kept me engaged throughout the entire book. Yes, it was a sad tale—typical of Shakespeare’s work, but I’ve enjoyed reading it over and over.
As writers, we must engorge ourselves on the written feast. Words and writing styles should mold our own creativity. I believe that the more we consume, the harder we’ll try to improve our writing.

 

So, I challenge you to read or reread a classic novel. The words will engross you, the scenes will entice you, and you can thank me later.

 

Take care, my friends. 🙂

Know Your Genre

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Know Your Genre

When submitting a query letter to an agent be sure to include the genre. Agents don’t publish everything they get their hands on; they are specific about which types to select. It is essential to know what category your project falls under, and research agents who publish that genre.

 

 

Fiction genre

 

Adventure

Christian

Middle Grade

Family Saga

Horror

Mystery

Science Fiction

Western

Chick Lit

Commercial Fiction

Graphic Novels

Humor/Satire

Military/Espionage

Offbeat/Quirky

Short Stories

Woman’s Fiction

Children’s

Crime

Fantasy

Historical

Literary Fiction

Multi-Cultural

Romance

Thrillers/Suspense

Young Adult

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 1.47.52 PM

 

Adventure/True Story

Business

Cultural/Social Issues

Film & Entertainment

Gardening

Health & Fitness

How-To

Juvenile

Military/War

Narrative

Pets

Pop Culture

Science

Sports

True Crime

Art

Celebrity

Current Affairs

Finance

History

Humor

Medical

Multi-Cultural

Nature/Ecology

Photography

Self-Help

Technology

Women’s Issues

Biography

Cookbooks

Dating/Relationships

Food & Lifestyle

Gift Books

Home/Design

Journalism

Memoirs

Music

Parenting

Politics

Religion

Spirituality

Travel

 

Most of the genres listed are self explanatory. I might have missed a few and the sub-genres, but these are the top categories.
If your project has more than one genre, choose the dominate role.
Agents will list which ones they are interested in reading and reviewing on their websites or in forums. Do your research before sending query letters.
Good luck.
Take care, my friends. 🙂

Distractions

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focus

I would be in the middle of writing the most important part of the entire book, but then a child would scream “Mom“, there’d be a knock on the door, or the phone would ring. Let’s face it, life is a distraction.
How are you suppose to finish that world-renown novel when the television is blaring in the background?
When my girls were a little younger, I locked myself in a room to write. Sounds like the problem was solved, right? Wrong. It just made them more determined to get my attention. I decided to let the world around me stay as is — noisy. I needed to work on my perception and concentration. I learned to filter though and drown out the unimportant sounds. It wasn’t easy to achieve, but I managed it.
It might not work for everyone. Some may need absolute silence. But it’s worth a try.
Good luck
Take care, my friends 🙂

Scissor Words

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scissor

 

Scissor words are overused words which can be eliminated. Here are some helpful tips:

 

 

1. “To be” verbs: is, are, am, was, were, be, being, been.

 

          Try reworking your sentences, and cut back on using them. You cannot wholly avoid “to be” verbs, but limit their usage.

 

2. “That” can be overused within a sentence. Take out some in your story; it may make the sentences flow better.

 

3. Just, like, & as are used for emphasis or comparison. But, they can turn into writing crutches.

 

4. “ly” adverbs are lackluster descriptive words. Even though there are some situations you cannot avoid using adverbs. Do not go overboard. Using “ly” adverbs too much will weaken the story. Use other descriptive words to strengthen it.

 

5. Now means: NOW. It’s an immediate response. If you choose to use it, avoid placing now at the beginning of the sentence.

                                     Now we can go.

                                    We can go now.

 

Don’t worry about following these steps until after you’ve finished your work. If you edit in the middle of writing, you will only get frustrated. I usually print a chapter off at a time and then rework it. Once you start looking for specific words, they will stand out. 
Good luck.
Take care, my friends 🙂

Kill the Clichés!

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cliches

 

 

Kill the clichés!

Cliché—a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
Wikipedia’s definition:
cliché or cliche (UK /ˈklʃ/ or US /klɪˈʃ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

 

When starting out as a writer, I did not know the rules of clichés. Many readers and definitely literary agents frown upon the usage of them in stories. Why?
Clichés are basically a phrase that has been overused. It reflects the lack of your opinion and/or originality. They can become annoying, and might possibly get your manuscript rejected.  Apparently, literary agents  loathe clichés; however, I’m sure some are willing to overlook a few.
Avoid them *like the plague*, unless you are doing it to be cheeky.
Here is a website of abused sayings:
http://clichesite.com/alpha_list.asp?which=lett+1
As you read several overused expressions, it’ll become more evident that clichés kill our uniqueness.You will see them as beacons in literature, and *the rolling of the eyes* will be entirely yours.

 

Are you an avid cliché writer, and your work is crawling with them?  STOP IT!   I would advise to revise.  Find different ways to express or define a situation, emotion, or description. Use your own words.

 

Good luck.

 

Take care, my friends. 🙂