Tag Archives: Fiction writing

#MondayBlogs-A Writer’s Life for Me

Something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is the lack of balance in indie authors’ lives. When you’re the one responsible for all creative content, giving direction to the marketing department*, and the chief financial officer, it’s easy to ignore everything else until later.

And that would be…? After the book is written? No. Edited? No. Published? No. Marketed? No….

Here’s the thing. If you’re like me, your work is written in ink, your personal life is in pencil. There’s nothing wrong with it until the personal has been completely erased. Your family wonders if you’ll ever be there for them. Your clothes don’t fit unless they stretch. You’ve not eaten anything resembling real food in who knows how long. Sleep? Sure, in between telemarketers’ calls.

So we all know putting everything but the writing aside is tough. I know for me, I think “Just one more page, one more marketing blog post to read, one more finding a new cover, one more post about the writing, and I’ll be done.

I never am done. Like the laundry, dishes, mowing, and dog walking is never done, so it is with the writing.

What’s the solution? Those who are born organized already know this answer, but for us others, the answer is simple. Ink in your personal tasks as if they were professional. Family deserves ink. Your health deserves a black Sharpie. Carve in stone your sleep times. Eat the veggies and fruits as a snack. Your health and personal life help feed and nurture your professional life. Take good care of one so the other can flourish.

*even if it’s a department of one person

Uncivilized is finished!

At least the first draft is. And what a draft it is! 133,600 words when I was aiming for 100,000. So I have my work cut out for me in the cutting out department.

While I’m working on the edits and sending documents off to my wonderful editor, I’ll be plotting the next series of books. What will they be about? I don’t know.

Really, I don’t know. Yes, I have so many ideas, but don’t know where to start.

The American West series of historical romances?

The Love’s Travels series of historical romances?

Or the Needing a Title set of murder mysteries?

Maybe the several stand alone story ideas, aka free range books?

They all sound appealing, right? That’s my problem. Where to start? This is like a chocolate buffet and I want everything right this minute.

If you’re reading this, what do you think? Tell me! What setting do you think is woefully missing from the literary world. I can’t guarantee I’ll write about it, but will consider it!

Too ADD for #MondayBlogs! #RT15 bound!

Hi everyone! I’m going to be at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Dallas starting tomorrow. There are so so many Facebook friends who are amazing writer and superstars. It’s going to be tough to not be shy and all shucks when anywhere near them.

But, I’ve promised to be my usual outgoing self, so, ok!

What value added substance can I give you on a day where I’m too excited to think straight? Easy!

My daughter turned me on to sleep helping tunes and hypnosis. Sounds freaky and new agey, but it’s totally not. I love to go to Ipnos Soft for my fall asleep to tunes. While the binaural beats sound interesting, I’m not sure they’re effective. Hypnosis to fall asleep to or just listen to on a sleepy afternoon? Glenn Harrold and Amy Applebaum have wonderful and free apps. The additional sessions are super reasonable too. Sadly, you can’t learn by osmosis when asleep, but these do knock me out when I can’t take hours to fall asleep.

Why the Ipnos? Because you can mix and match sounds. Like in my case, when I want to daydream about wagon trains and the old west, they have an app for that. I can add in song birds and flowing rivers to wagon wheels and get the perfect background noise for my novels.

Why Glenn and or Amy? Because every writer has an insecurity about their work. You’re creating something from your imagination. How much more nebulous and personal can you get? Then to put it out there for people to hopefully love, but probably laugh at? Yeah, it’s hard! I love their confidence hypnosis. I don’t know how much it helps, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Then for the readers, there’s all sorts of sports performance, healthy body attitudes, stop procrastination, and a host of other affirming hypnosis scripts.

I’d want to warn anyone who tries these out to NOT and NEVER do so while driving or operating heavy machinery. I’m a person who has a really tough time falling asleep and yet these products knock me out cold. It really is a never do. So go, try them out while not driving anything and see what you think.

I don’t mention Mike Mandel, THE greatest hypnotist, because he’s more of a teacher and serious therapist. He’s who you see when needing serious mental help and a general script can’t help you. He and Chris Thompson have a Brain Software podcast that is serious, silly, and always entertaining. I also don’t mention Joseph Clough because while I love his podcasts, I personally can’t listen to his hypnosis. He whistles his s’s and x’s, and I can’t take it. But that’s me. You’re mileage may vary and probably does.

Not Going There On The Oregon Trail for #MondayBlogs

I’m currently elbows deep in the third and final novel of my Oregon Trail series. A lot of writers feel sad when a series ends, but not me. There’s three more series hanging out in my idea folder at the moment and I’m wanting to start all of them right this minute. What are they? A three book set on the American West, a three to six book set on historical romances from around the world, and a six book minimum murder mystery series. I really can’t wait, all of them are going to be fun.

But, let’s get back to the salacious.

Like television most times, none of my books go into the bathroom details of live along the Trail. And you know, I don’t even want to think about it. They didn’t pack toilet paper and finding water was a treat. There’s nothing romantic about chafing due to unclean.

Food. My books has a little of the bland diet, but really? They only had what they could find, carry, or trade for along the way. No refrigeration or even an ice chest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE my fridge. Ours died a few years ago and it wasn’t pretty. Of course this happened in summer, winter would have been too convenient in the cold department.

Speaking of camping…what if every time you wanted a hot meal you had to build a fire from scratch. Even better? In a place like this:

wyoming-buffalo-sunset_17639_600x450

 

Just waiting for that buffalo to poop. Then it’s a wait until the poop dries. It might be a while. Hope you’re not starved. Speaking of buffalo, he’s looking mighty tasty….

 

 

 

 

Water that’s free of bugs, dirt, and amoebas. Cholera and typhoid free too, please. Add dysentery to the mix and it was an ugly death. Specifically death by diarrhea. I left that out, because, romance and all. Nothing kills the mood faster than, well, lots of poop.

Sleeping on the ground is in my books along with the getting the bedding out and putting it away every day. In the beginning, my husband asked about a romance (sex) in the wagon. I said no, too squeaky. Then he said, “Not on the ground!” as if aghast at the idea. I laughed at him, not knowing I’d married such a 5 star hotel kind of guy. But yeah, on the ground, against a tree, behind that bush, and hopefully quiet because who wants to get caught with their pants down or their skirt up?

It’s been somewhat nice for my characters that they’re in a very arid region. Wind and dust are huge problems, but rain isn’t. I’ve put in a skim-the-surface description of the cold at night. Which was fun because my southern editor called me on it. Water doesn’t freeze in August, right? Up in the high desert, it does! Maybe not solid, but it does get that cold. Especially in the 1850’s at the end of the Little Ice Age.

I’m positive there are other gritty details I’m leaving out that were also not included in my series. What do you find that writers tend to leave out of historical romances that would crack you up if they included?  Comment and tell me!

Science Fiction’s Answer to “Are you my daddy?” for #MondayBlogs

First the shameless promotion: This post is brought to you by the letter “U” for Unfortunate. Read about what happened to Daggart Bartlett after Undeniable over at Amazon.

On to the content. Let’s get comfy for a moment and talk science fiction and space aliens. I’m always thinking up new plots, always reading the science websites for the latest in knowledge. The recent discoveries of Earth-like planets always get a flurry of questions about humans someday living there and life on other planets.

Which got me to thinking. A lot of the current science fiction offerings have most of the  aliens encountered depicted as either a father figure or a buffoon. It seems our deepest desires are to find a solution to our problems via a superior being handing over their advanced technology to us, no questions asked. Failing that, we want comedic relief.  We also seem to have a need for superiority over them while at the same time wanting their protection. Even when an alien race is somewhat equal, like Star Trek’s Vulcans, they’re still set aside as not human with implied condescension.

So even in the fictional future and with fantastical technology, we want both someone to help us as needed while still making us feel superior. I know this is just one aspect of the human-space alien relationship popularized in fiction. What others are there that YOU see? Comment below because this would be a fun discussion to have.

I can already think of two exceptions, Skyline and Independence Day, where the aliens are scraping humans off the planet because they want Earth. No discussion, no attempt to communicate, just extermination. Even the Daleks in Doctor Who laid out their plans for us and our eradication. The exceptions listed above? They don’t tell us because they don’t care. Which is why those movies are such thrillers, I think. They kick us in the “Humans are Awesome” crotch and it hurts.

So again, tell me what you think about how other life forms are depicted in science fiction in general. I really want to know! Serious accepted, silly even more so!

Why Don’t Writers Have Screenplays Ready Already?

Here’s some Friday fun!

You’ve read a novel, loved it, and heard there’s a movie in the works. There’s some cheering you do before circling the film’s release date on the calendar. As the credits roll you notice there’s a screenwriter AND the novel’s writer.  Two different people? What gives? Why didn’t the novelist write the screenplay? Why pay extra for another version when one writer is as good as any another?

In a word, specialization. Like a mason doesn’t install windows, a brain surgeon doesn’t do gastric bypasses, and a software programmer doesn’t assemble computers, novelists don’t often write screenplays. Sure, there can be some crossover and salsa dancers could learn how to tap dance while a baker barbecues your brisket. People can do anything.

For me, I “see” my books as I write them. They’re already movies in my mind and that’s why scriptwriting comes easy to me. It’s actually my format of choice.

But how are the two forms different? I’ll show you! Here’s an excerpt from what I’m working on at the moment. I’m literally switching from  Safari to Word to get this, that’s how fresh it is.

Uncivilized-novelized

“I do. Now, if you can stand, we need to get going.” He went to his horse, opening a saddlebag for the blankets.

She tried standing, unable to get her legs to cooperate. After a little bit of struggle, Ellen rolled to her side, then stomach. She did a push up from there, to on her knees. Bracing herself and with a little grunt, she pushed herself to stand. The sound of Del snickering caught her attention. She faced him, grimacing. “I suppose you think this is funny?”

“I’m trying not to, but…” He shrugged. “Can I help that you are so adorable?”

Ellen stared up at the sky. “If I could walk, I’d go over and show you how lovely I don’t feel this morning.”

Uncivilized-script ready (I’m rusty on exact format)

EXT IDAHO MOUNTAIN FOOTHILLS-MORNING

The landscape is blue from the east sun being above the horizon but behind the mountains. Pomme the horse is saddled and ready. ELLEN is on her bed as DEL opens the saddlebag.

DEL

I do. Now, if you can stand, we need to get going.

ELLEN struggles to her feet as DEL snickers.

ELLEN

I suppose you think this is funny?

DEL

I’m trying not to, but…. Can I help that you are so adorable?

ELLEN

If I could walk, I’d go over and show you how lovely I don’t feel this morning.

 

In reading the two, you can see how the novel writes out everything for the reader. I could probably add in more sensory information like the morning chill, Pomme’s snort, maybe the smell of dew in the air. Not a good idea to add all that in the second example. Only when a new character is introduced or a current character is changed in a script is there some description of their looks. It’s handled like the description of the setting. Not long, but enough to give the casting person some direction of who could play the part. The script must be far more sparse with words and rely on the director and his film crew to fill in the blanks.

A screenplay shows everything with action and dialogue. It tells as little as possible to the people that need to know. A script’s paragraphs need to be concise, descriptive but not overly so, and must be vital to the story in some way. A novelist gets to wallow around in examining feelings, smelling the flowers, feeling the touch of sandpaper along with other sounds and sights. Sure, a screenplay can show all the senses with audio and visuals, but a novel can use as many words as necessary. And that’s the crux of it all. For a lot of writers, leaving out all that sensory information is tough. Tough enough that Hollywood would rather hire it out to tried and true screenwriters than risk a flop with a first time novelist turned screenwriter.

Not many writers can take their own work and cut it down into 120-145 minutes of screen time and not every writer wants to. Who better to adapt a book into a movie than someone who hasn’t poured their heart into their words? Bottom line is your favorite writer could transfer their work to the big screen, if they have the skills and thick skin to cut deep into their work.

#MondayBlogs for the Readers

I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers in the past week and thankfully, it’s all been great.  It’s super hard for me to take compliments and I find praise both wanted and difficult.  Whenever someone is gushy over my work, I have to take a deep breath and say thank you.  Then nothing else.  No deflecting or saying I’m not worthy because doing such will dilute the compliment and who wants that?

That’s my thoughts on the past week.  Back to you, the reader.  In that ‘Fine’ voice you get from your mother when she’s been worn down by your pestering, I say, “Fine.”  There’s been enough ‘eh’ reviews about The Very Best Man’s ending that I’ve decided to add another chapter.  This last bit of the book is inspired by Kung Fu Fighting.

I think most of the readers who didn’t like the current ending are those born after 1985.  They’re too young to remember the non-endings of movies made in the early and mid seventies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did they die?  Or did they survive and live out their lives in Bolivia?  We can only guess because that movie’s end didn’t tell us, just hinted.

I’m currently mired in the thing that is National Novel Written in a Month.  The word count is good and I’m using the month to write The Very Worst Man.

In progress!

In progress!

It’s wonderful so far.  I’m having the best time ever writing it.  The dialogue is a blast.  Plus, there’s already a secondary character trying to take over and I’m having to back off from letting her do so.  Can I just drop her and go on?  Of course not!  She’s my heroine for The Very Poor Man.

Most of my readers will probably be wondering whose blog they’re reading.  Like, am I not the author of that whole Oregon Trail series?  Yes!  I am and Uncivilized is in progress.  When I hit the word count goal on The Very Worst Man, I go back to the 1850’s and hang out there.  I thought when starting the contemporary Worst Man that intense research could take a break.  Nope!  Thanks to writing Hayden and Alexandra’s love story, I know a lot more about Wyoming law, prisons, and prosecuting attorneys than I had planned.  Something else that’s been a surprise?  How much of the villain’s crime I need to know.  So much for my idea of writing a few sex scenes and calling it good.  The best thing is how all my research makes it a better book for you, the reader.