Tag Archives: writing

Back in The Saddle

Well, technically, the saddle is a chair.

 

At my desk inside the master bedroom. That’s where I keep my laptop.

The Fall Semester has ended and the Holidays have passed, (Thank God! They were exhausting, weren’t they?)

While I am awaiting the start of Spring classes at my local Community College, I’ve been trying to make use of the downtime with WRITING!

And just in case you’re interested, I am working on the third and final book in my thrilling Sci-Fi trilogy!

The book is called REACTION and I’m planning on releasing late this year.

Still tinkering with the cover

INERTIA  and …

*free with Kindle Unlimited!
*free with Kindle Unlimited!

FORCE

*also FREE with Kinlde Unlimited
*also FREE with Kindle Unlimited

were the first two, and as exciting as those plots were, this last one is going to blow them both out of the water. AtomicBomb

I’m just over 20k words so far, but the book is already plotted out in my head! The final, BIG ending is going to be SO much FUN to write. I can’t wait for you all to read it.

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Plots and Socks: a writing process

(2014 re-post)

I like my plots the way I like my socks. Tight and free of holes.

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And, let me tell you, it isn’t easy.

I never really thought about ‘my process’ until this past weekend, when my husband and I had some friends over. I am one of those people who never really talks about their writing unless asked because I will go on and on and on until you are sorry you ever asked the question.

But, at some point during the many conversations, some unfortunate soul made the mistake of asking me how I come up with ideas for my books.

After the initial, “I don’t know,” it got me thinking about how, thus far, my stories have ended up nothing like the way they started out. And that lead me to the realization that I am an odd-builder.

Yes, I said odd-builder.

Let me explain it you you, reader, like I explained to my company:

I start with The End. It’s an image in my head, or a feeling that I get about a certain situation or story. Usually sparked by some event I read about or see taking place within the lives of people around me.

Then, I hit the internet. I search blog after blog, read endless amounts of advice on the creative process and the proper way to structure a story. But then, after a week or so–less if I’m really inspired–I remember that my brain won’t let me do it the usual way. I cannot tell you how many unfinished outlines I have stored in my computer.

Then, I jot down all the ideas about my ending (how it might have been reached and by whom) into a spiral notebook which then finds it’s way into my bedside table. It’s like binder after notebook after binder inside my nightstand.

This is my only form of organization when it comes to writing. Each idea, each plot, and character that graces the pages of my  books gets it’s own section in a binder. The binders are labeled with the wroking title and the notes on plot or character are tossed in there like a paper salad. It’s messy, but it works for me.

From there, I go back to whatever it is I am writing at the time. I try to finish one project before moving along to the next. This way I dont have a million manuscripts I feel pressured to finish.

Then, once I have had time away from the idea, I go back to my notebooks and re-read everything. If i am still stoked about the idea, I start constructing.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

This is where it gets a tad messy. See, I have my ultimate ending, but I don’t know who the characters are yet. So here is the place where I begin the inquisition. I ask myself

What events must happen for the story to reach it’s ending?

What motivates the characters to make the choices they must make to lead to the end?

What type of person makes those choices? A pschopath, a lonely girl, a guy who’s strapped for cash…the posibilities are endless.

Who do I want my character to be? What age and/or gender would fit best with the situations presented?

What traits do they have that I can relate to? What type of upbringing would they have that might influence their choices?

And the list goes on. These questions are also helpful when I reach that point in the story where I’m not sure what the character should do. I can go back to these questions and find an answer.

Once I reach a point of comfortable familiarity with my main characters, I begin free-writing. And through the process of turning on the voice in my head and letting it flow to the page, I find out who they really are, beneath the choices.

Well, that’s my crazy process.

#AuthorTips: How to get more words on a page

I don’t know about any of you other writers out there, but I am always on the look-out for sound writing advice.

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I recently found some over at bookdaily.com and thought I’d pass it along.


How to Get More Words on a Page, Quickly | BookDaily #AuthorTips by 

Angry-TypingWriting is hard. Sure, sometimes you get into a scene and words flows like magic onto the page. When that happens, it’s a high like no other. Other times, not so much. Maybe you spend five minutes struggling to find the exact word you want to use to convey your message, or maybe you spend thirty minutes agonizing over whether or not you’re cut out to be a writer in the first place.

The thing is, you’re never going to finish that novel if you don’t get words on the pages. Writing is work. It takes one word after another to end up with a complete manuscript. To quote Neil Gaiman, “Writing may or may not be your salvation; it may or may not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down.”

Here are a few tips to help you let go of anxiety and become more productive in your writing life.

Don’t edit while you write. It’s tempting to read over everything you’ve jotted down so far and make revisions. Revisions will be necessary, certainly, but resist the temptation to get bogged down with editing as you write your first draft. Give yourself permission to write, and to do it badly. In your first draft, you want to get the main ideas and basic dialogue down. You can go back later to refine descriptions and add detail. Just write as much as you can and let go of the need for perfection.

Once your first draft is finished, take some time to step away from your writing. You need to edit with a fresh perspective and a critical eye, so you need some space between writing those last few words and slicing and dicing your manuscript. Pretend it’s the first time you’re seeing the words and be objective. Then, after you’ve polished your manuscript as much as you can, give it to someone else to read—someone who isn’t afraid to give you honest feedback.

Protect your writing time. You’re going to want to build an audience for your book at some point. That’s why social media is important, building relationships with potential readers. Just don’t let your marketing efforts dominate your time to the point you aren’t writing anymore. It’s easy to get distracted, or to justify the time we spend doing things other than writing. If you want to get words on a page, you’ve got to carve out time to write and guard it jealously.

Something that has worked for me is providing structure for the time I spend between networking with readers and writing. To do that, I’ve started using a kitchen timer. How simple is that? It helps though. I’ll set the timer for thirty minutes, giving myself permission to browse feeds on Facebook and Twitter and to check email. Then, once the buzzer rings, it’s go time for writing. I’ll set the clock for sixty minutes, and during that time, my sole task is to write. Not to catch the latest headlines, not to pay bills, not to do laundry. Just to write.

You don’t have to use my method. Use whatever helps you focus. Maybe you like to write with music playing in the background—play an album or a mix and write from the time the first song begins to when the last song ends.

Keep track of progress. Set a goal for yourself. Write 1,000 words a day. Write 2,000 words a day. Write a scene a day. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, write something. I like to keep a sticky note next to my laptop with the date, the amount of words I’ve written for the day, and my overall word count. It’s simple, but I get a thrill from seeing how all those individual words add up. I don’t worry that I only got 500 words one day but I got 2,500 the next. I’m concerned with forward movement and overall progress.

Get unstuck. Can’t find that elusive fact you need or the correct word for describing something? Make a note in your manuscript and move on. There are lots of ways to do that—highlight the trouble area in a different color font or mark it with a hashtag. Maybe the writing software you use has a notes feature. It doesn’t matter how you flag the problem as long as you can find it later, when you’re revising.

Do you have an entire scene that’s giving you writer’s block? Skip it. Make a few notes about your ideas for the scene in the manuscript, highlighting them so you’ll see them later. Then move on to the next scene. Sometimes you’ve got to set a scene on the back burner to simmer so you can keep cooking. That’s okay. I’ve found that if I give myself permission to put a scene aside, eventually I’ll have the answers I need to finish it later. Everything works out in the end.

What methods for increasing productivity work best for you? If you’ve got tips to share, we’d love to hear about them.

About the Author:
Melissa Eskue Ousley is the award-winning author of The Solas Beir Trilogy, a young adult fantasy series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found hiking, swimming, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of enlightening jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway, to years of conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona. Her interests in psychology, culture, and mythology have influenced her writing of The Solas Beir Trilogy.

The Struggle Is Real

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People LOVE to tell you what they think about your writing, don’t they? At least they do in my life.

The thing about taking advice on any subject is that all of it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Another salty truth about my every day life is that I don’t know very many bookish people. Scratch that. I don’t know many people–period. So, when I have a question–namely a writing-related question–I Google it.

THE TROUBLE WITH GOOGLE …

Too much information. When you type your question into the search engine, thousands of results pop up and then you have to sift.

I typed “Mixing first and third POV,” into Google. My first click to me to this advice in a writers digest forum:  “If the first person is not a part of a scene then the scene is not a part of the story. If there is information the reader must have, then have a character tell the first person about the event or go with third.”

Then, after alittle more searching, I came upon this advice over at Advanced Fiction Writing blog (advice which I think is much better than most writing blogs out there):

There is no rule that says that all parts of a story must be written in the same POV.

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novel Dragonfly in Amber mixed first person and third person POV throughout the story. The reader was never confused. And that’s what matters — you want your reader to never be confused. If you execute your story well, you can switch between first person and third person smoothly. … Be careful in taking advice. Not all critiquers are created equal. And some of them, even when they are giving sound advice, don’t know how to make it clear just how certain they are of being correct.

Knowing this doesn’t comfortably affix my plan to tough out the storyline through a single narrative, because, honestly, it would be MUCH easier to let the reader see what’s going on back home while my main character is off on his fantastically dangerous journey through the multiverse.

BUT …

writing-rules

When I first began my writing journey, I was eager to learn the “Writing Do’s And Don’t’s” And so I searched for this elusive set of rules that, when followed carefully, would land me squarely on top of the best-sellers list. Of course, the Advance Fiction Writing blog was ready to set me straight on that fallacy as well, as you’ll see in the quote below.

I often hear novice novelists complain about the “rules.” These “rules” are allegedly fixed in stone and nobody can violate them. That just isn’t true. There are very few unbreakable rules in fiction writing. There are many rules of thumb. Some of them work so well and so often that you should be wary of ignoring them.

But most of these “rules” can be broken, if you know what you’re doing. You’ll know when you can break one of the “rules” after you’ve learned them so well that you can follow them without thinking.

So, here’s to hoping that I’m not breaking a major rule in switching between first and third narratives in my upcoming novel.

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But, you know what? James Patterson does it in his Women’s Murder Club novels and those books are pretty successful.


 

idk

I may not know what I’m doing, but I’m going to forge ahead anyhoo. Because at the end of the day, this is my story. I’m the one who answers for telling it, so I may as well tell it however the heck I want.

 

What I’m Working On

Some time last summer, I decided that I should finish TWO books by the end of 2015. Well, I didn’t finish them but I haven’t stopped trying.

I did release my very first SCI-FI novel, INERTIA! (It’s got really great reviews, you should give it a read!)

But I’m still working on the next two books in my Savor The Days Series: November Mourning and January Falls (note: titles and covers may change)

Anyhoo, I’m pasting an excerpt of the first chapter of January Falls, just so you all can get a feel of what the story is like. Below is a rough blurb and a tidbit of the opening chapter. Be warned, there is a smidgen of bad language:


JANUARY_Cover_Morguefile

January Smith: that is the name Elise Wilkinson chose when she started her new life, but the past has a way of breaking into the present.

Finally putting her abusive history behind her, twenty year-old Elise is anxious to start over. She finds a job, a place to sleep, and gets a new name, January. When she makes a new friend with a high profile family, the fear of discovery and the threat of her past catching up to her becomes all too real.

When January Smith meets Noah Zuniga she can’t help but fall for his gentle heart and deep brown eyes. When she learns that Noah is the step-son to famed Hollywood actor Rhys Matthews, she must make a choice: to keep hiding from the life of shame she’s tryingto leave behind, or stay and fight for the new life she’s found.  


Excerpt from Chapter 1–I Snapped

 

The car eased up. From the tilt, I guessed the flat tire was on the front driver’s side. We must have hit that coyote pretty good. I thought I saw it skitter off, but who could tell in the pitch black? The car made creaking noises with each rotation of the jack and dread filled my stomach. It was a steady, almost rhythmic cranking that made me think Jade would have us back on the road in no time.

My heart ached at that thought. I didn’t want to go to back Vegas. I hated that city. I’d only ever been there a handful of times, even though I grew up just outside Reno, but I hated every trip I ever took there with Jade.

Made me want to shower just thinking about it.

A noise drew me from the dark memories. It sounded like Jade, like he was calling my name. My heart beat faster. If he wanted me I couldn’t waste time. Just as I pulled the handle to open my door, the raised end of the car dropped and the bleak night surrounding the empty road was suddenly filled with Jade’s pained cries.

I was all adrenaline, scrambling from the back seat to run around the car.

I couldn’t see past the beam of headlights, but when i got around to the passenger side of the car, i could see the flashlight rolling over the pavement. I reached for it, calling out.

“Jade! Are you alright?” I heard him answer with cursing, only it was much quieter than before. Flashlight in hand, I turned the beam in the direction of his voice and gasped.

Jade was on his back, one arm trapped under the car nearly up to his shoulder. The flat tire was completely off the axle, lying in the gravel. Jade was squirming and demanding. Screaming at me to “Get the jack!”

I searched with the flashlight, aiming it under the fender. The small jack had flipped over. I could tell from the position how it had slipped out from its’ bracing and didn’t waste any time. I flipped it back up but couldn’t get it under the lip of the fender. I needed to lower the head if it was going to fit back underneath the car. To do that, I needed the lever.

“Jade, where’s the crowbar?”

He cursed some more as I searched the ground. I asked Jade where it was again, partly becasue I thought talking might help keep his mind off the pain, and partly becasue I didn’t see the thing lying around anywhere.

Did he throw it?

Why wasn’t he answering me?

Maybe he couldn’t hear me; he had to be in a lot of pain. Then, something else occurred to me—the possible reason why Jade’s arm was under the car near the wheel.

With my heart climbing up into my throat, I got back down on my hands and knees, and bent low to look underneath the car. Jade was still cursing me out like always, but there was something in his voice I hadn’t heard before. Or maybe it was just so long since I heard it that I forgot what fear sounded like. Well, Jade’s fear. Mine was a constant. I knew what my fear sounded like. It sounded like, “Yes, Jade.” “Of course, Jade.”

I spotted the end of the crowbar wedged between Jade’s trapped arm and the gravel. Just on the other side of that, I spotted a few lug nuts. He must have been trying to hold the flashlight and loosen the nuts from the tire. Stubborn man—changing a tire is a two-person job in the dark. Jade was trying to pull double-duty and shot it all to hell. He probably dropped the dang nuts and then reached under the car to get them. His shoulder probably knocked the jack loose. I shuddered to think of his stubborn flesh trapped beneath the heavy car. I had to get it off him.

“Never reach under the car.” I spoke the thought.

Jade shouted, reminding me how I didn’t need to tell him anything. He was sure this whole mess was my fault after all because the only reason he needed to make money this way was because I was a fat pig who ate too much. Of course, I moved inside the car, too. He was sure I made it fall on purpose. I was evil. I was trying to hurt him. I was a worthless piece of trash that belonged under the wheels of the car, not him. I did it on purpose, I must have, because he was too smart. He knew what he was doing. I was the one who was too stupid to know anything about anything.

That’s the way our relationship was. His mistakes were always mine. ANd i knew that he was just getting started and the longer he had to think on it, the more reasons he’d come up with to make his stupid accident my fault. It was always me. Present or absent. Jade would make me pay for my mistakes. In any way that crossed his mind.

Suddenly I was not feeling as hospitable and barely suppressing the urge to roll my eyes, even though with Jade, that’s about the worst thing I could do, short of kicking him in the man-parts.

I stood up from the ground, empty-handed, running the flashlight over his pinned position, inspecting his injury. It looked like his forearm was trapped. His hand and forearm, just below the elbow were pinned under the bare wheel mount. I was wondering if that made any difference to his body. It just seemed like it’d be a whole lot worse to have your upper arm pinned under there, too.

I stepped back, going wide, as Jade’s free arm swung wildly for me.

“You stupidfuckingbitch! Get me out! I’ll put you in the ground, too! Where you going? Get back here!”

Where was I going? I had no idea, but it’d be the direction opposite of wherever Jade was headed. I was already on the passenger side of the car. My hands were moving but my mind was all blank, back in that protective space where I learned to hide most of me away.

Aside from the fact that I never thought I was smart enough to form a plan—a real plan beyond the ‘if only’ and the ‘one of these days’—I knew the only things that kept me with Jade for so long were money and opportunity. I never had either one available to me at the same time.

I could never get out. Never get a big enough head start. He kept that house locked up so tight there was no way I could find my way to the other side of the front door. And I was not allowed to have cash. I couldn’t go to the store or Laundromat without him. Even the worst criminals under lock and key got an hour in the yard to exercise, but I couldn’t get a minute with the bathroom door closed.

Also, I couldn’t just leave Jade like that, all hurt and helpless, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be around when he was back on his feet.

“I’m calling you an ambulance. You’re bleedin’ bad, Jade. You need a doctor. Where’s your phone?” I sounded so scared. I was scared, but also numb.

He was terrified to die, I knew he was. In one of the few conversations I overheard him having with a rotten friend of his, I heard Jade admit that he thought dying was the scariest thing there was. It was also the threat he made most often.

“In the glove box,” Jade grunted. “Give it to me! Hurry the fuckup!”

Of course it would be in the glove box. The glove box he kept locked at all times. The glove box he wouldn’t let me near, which was why I was always riding in the back seat.

“What’s the combination?” I shouted sounding just as panicked as I felt, but panic was nothing. I spent most my life in a panic.

“Bitch, get this car off me!” Jade screamed. “Please Elli. Please!”

I ran back around to lock eyes with Jade. I hadn’t heard him say please before. Not sober anyway. Still, I kept myself out of his reach. My face was very serious as I broke the news that would surely end up breaking my jaw. “The crowbar is stuck under your hand Jade. I can’t get it out. I can’t raise the car off you. I gotta call for help before you bleed out on the road. You need an ambulance Jade and I need you! Who’s going to take care of me if you don’t?”

He took a short breath and something passed over his eyes. I felt so sorry for him. It must have hurt like crazy and he had to be so afraid.

“J-F-B-F-D.” Jade strangled out the letters to the combination lock on his most prized compartment within his precious car. It was like a safe combination at the Federal Reserve as far as he was concerned. The glove compartment is where Jade kept all his worldly possessions.

Scrambling back around to the passenger side, Jade hollered the combination to me once more because he was so sure I’d forget it.

I punched in the letters, the glove box opened and I took out his cell phone and started dialing.

“What road are we on?” I scrambled back toward Jade and he quickly supplied the highway number and the mile marker we’d just passed.

I waited on the line as it rang and rang. Then, I walked back around to the passenger side of the car when someone finally answered my call. The metered voice of the A-1 cab company dispatcher came over the phone line loud and clear.

“I need a car out on the highway. Mile marker 1-3-7-1.” The guy seemed a little confused, so I explained in the lowest voice I could manage that my car had a flat tire, and then repeated the important information. Once they told me how long it was going to be—he estimated a half hour—I had to break the news to Jade and pray the anger wouldn’t give him enough gumption to find his way up off the ground.

But before I did that, I hung up the phone and emptied the glove compartment. Like the selfish bitch he always accused me of being, I pocketed all the cash in his wallet, his cell phone, and the .25 caliber pistol with the extra magazine. Lastly, I shook out all but one of the baggies of dope onto the front seat and floor of the car.

Then, I had to say goodbye to the first boy to ever tell me that he loved me. I stood for a moment in the dark, pretending to say the words aloud as I looked down at him. Jade understood what was happening when he spotted me running for my life.

I heard his screams for at least a half-mile. Once I got to a place near a street lamp, I tossed the flashlight. The second I spotted my taxi coming up the way, I made the call for the ambulance, giving them the information in an urgent tone, which I didn’t even have to fake. I was worried about Jade. I wanted him to be okay, but I also never wanted to see him again. So I told the 9-1-1 dispatcher to make sure the police came along with the ambulance. “The driver was swerving all over the place before he crashed and he’s been screaming at everything that moves. I think he’s high on something.”

After, I hopped into the back of the taxicab, asking the driver to take me into Vegas and telling myself that I was doing what I had to.

I wasn’t a bad person.

I’m not a bad person.

What I’m Working On

You all know that I have been in the writing cave for some time now. So, I thought it might be a good time to share what I’ve been working on.

In Between Octobers, readers were introduced to Evan, aka Rhys Matthews. If you remember, he is an actor who has never received any real recognition for his body of work, then you should understand what and why he is so angry in this opening scene . . . .

Here’s an excerpt from Book 3 in my Savor The Days Series: November Mourning.

NOVEMBER

CHAPTER ONE–“There is no loneliness greater that the loneliness of a failure. The failure is a stranger in his own house.” —Eric Hoffer

There’s a storm brewing inside me.

Hot and cold fronts are clashing.

It’s the heat of my temper flaring against a cold reminder.

There is a roaring wind climbing up my throat, aiming to tear through the thin veil of my lips to make its’ presence known in the quiet if this house. That glower from the mantle, so cruelly illuminated, makes me want to scream.

I literally feel mental because like the storm there is also this calm—small though it may be—in the center of me that I must cling to. Cling just as plainly as my white-knuckled grip on the edge of the mantle over the living room fireplace.

Control it. I command myself and work on a deep breath.

What’s got me so twisted is the simplest, most benign thing: a ray of sunshine. The way it brashly shoots through the window that overlooks the back garden is bloody dreadful. It’s not so much the light itself—it’s rather gloomy this time of the year; an early morning in November—it’s that the damned light has found a way through the patchy fog. It wouldn’t bother me if this seemingly inoffensive ray simply floated through the window as most shafts of daylight do, but it’s not.

This ray is taunting me in the way it callously lasers past me to hit a glass portrait on the opposing wall of the great room where I’m standing. The golden beam is then bounced directly from the glass that protects the image of my late wife to land again on the object of my gaze: a golden statuette. Something I once coveted.  

I’ve kept the thing hidden away since I got it because I can’t stand looking at it, but I’ve been gone for several weeks and in that time someone—Lily, I’m sure—must have found it and placed it atop the mantle of the fireplace to be illuminated by this ridiculous stubborn beam of sunlight that first strikes my wife, then the award.

Like it knows.

Your first line stinks!

Hook Your Readers From The Very First Line | BookDaily #Authortips via bookdaily.com and L. WoodswalkerunnamedThe original post is here 


The first paragraph is probably the hardest in the book. It’s now or never if you want to hook your reader.

But how should you do it?

My advice: start with something out of the ordinary:

An unusual image maybe: “Miss Melody liked to knit jackets for trees”

A question maybe: “Why was Jonathan lying on the road in the middle of the night?”

Or maybe something that evokes emotion: “When my daughter went missing, I would have sold my soul to the devil to find her”.

Once you have the reader’s attention, feed them more. Readers want a quick checklist to get oriented: What is the time and place? Who’s the protagonist? Readers are like disembodied parasites. They need to find a head to jump inside, before they can be taken around on a tour and see, hear, smell and feel your imaginary world.

But for Pete’s sake don’t hit readers with over-description. If it’s not revelant then don’t include it. Readers don’t care what kind of car Joe drives, the name of Miss Melody’s dress designer, or the business partners in CrapCor, Inc. Other things not to start with: detailed, poetic landscape description, the name of the King of the Blarghh empire, the genealogy of Trilithium Phaser wizards, what the Ancient Scrolls say, or a detailed schematic of the Starship Smersh. Sure, readers will want to figure all that out eventually, but the first paragraph is just too soon.

While I’m at it, don’t hit readers over the head with a violent death scene the minute that they open the book. Ten ninjas chasing me chopping off my limbs with magic swords that spit dragon fire? It’s a bit over the top my friends. Starting a book is like entering an unfamiliar house. What would you like your visitors to see?

About the Author:
L. Woodswalker is an electronic musician, graphic and video artist, DIY crafter and a lifelong science fiction writer and fan. She is fascinated by the wonders of science, nature and the cosmos. If she is not creating something, she is usually outside hiking, planting trees or watching thunderstorms.