Saturday, January 31, 2009

Discovering SubText

When we write characters, most of us know it's important for them to say more than "Good Morning", "How are you", and those types of things. Meaningless phrases of etiquette aren't necessary and are usually boring, unless they have an underlying reason.



Subtext is a fascinating way to use dialogue. I actually just saw it used in a brilliant way at the end of a movie. That's for my next post.



Today I'm in Orlando, attending a writer thing to learn writerly stuff from some authors. I'm very excited, especially since one author is teaching about characterization, a personal nemesis of mine.



If you have time, click on that link for subtext and read about it. Have you seen it employed recently? In what and how? Did you find it effective?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Free Brand-New Books

I signed up for this thing at Thomas Nelson where I get to choose a book from their pile and they send it to me free. All I have to do is review the book on my blog, set up some links, and review it on book-buying sites, like Amazon, etc. I can go at my own pace and when I finish, I just go back and choose a new book!

So right now I have the brand new Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy! It's on my table, begging to be read.


Just thought I'd pass this uber cool news on to any of you who like to read.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Linkage

Here's some interesting links I found recently.

First, Susan is having a contest. Wanna win a free book? Check out her blog.

Second, you've probably heard of the Kindle and other e-readers. Have you thought about what it might mean for the future of publishing? Check out this interesting article by Time.

Third, does anyone ever have trouble diversifying actions to describe emotions? Or do you use the same ones over and over, like me? (my crit partner suggested my heroine get some lip balm, for surely her lips would be dry with all the nervous licking of them she does. lol) Well, this blog has an emotion thesaurus. Extremely helpful!

So, how do you diversify the actions your characters use to convey emotion? And....do you think you'll ever use an e-reader?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Award

First, Susan gave me an award! She has a wonderful blog and I'm honored that she likes mine too!

Here is what is said about the Premio-Dardas: "This award 'acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.'
Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."


Here are the rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.
2. Pass the award to (15) other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.

Here's my peeps, and if you're not on here, I'm super sorry! It doesn't mean your blog isn't great, just that I ran out of numbers. Or it could mean I already saw you picked on someone else's blog. :-)

Anita: For her poetic prose and cool posts

Keli: For her encouraging interviews

Terri: For her helpful writer's spirit

Karen: For her Godly mommy-wisdom

Kristen: For making me chuckle and providing tons of writing links

MC, Candi, Jenn and John at Musetracks: For their tenacity and humor while pursuing publication

Story Sensei: For Camy's devotion to helping writers

Miss Snark: For being one of the first to bridge the gap

Jeanette: For her devotions on God and His Grace

Eileen: For sharing the ups and downs of the writing journey

Donna: For a snazzy blog with great writing-centered posts

Bookends: For educating writers with kindness and patience

LaShaunda: For helping me to discover the "follower" feature (she was my first!) and also for the influence her blog/magazine has had for authors.

Angie: For all the links and laughs over at her place!

Christina: For her transparency in sharing her journey to publication

I'm so grateful to know all of you! Thank you for stopping by my blog. :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rejection Dejection

*Prayer Request for the little girl who has been kidnapped; check out Christina's blog*

On to my post...


As some of you know, I've been querying a manuscript. So far it's been fun. I didn't mind rejections because they just felt like a challenge to query a new agent.

Reality settled in the other day as I scrolled to the very last name on my list. Done. Almost done. It hit me that after a few more queries, I'll only have the publishing houses left. And most CBA houses require an agent, meaning my manuscript will most likely be put under the bed.

I'm more sad about that then I expected. This was my first completed manuscript. In all fairness, it probably doesn't have what it takes to sell. I knew that going in, but it's still disheartening to know the race is almost over.

One thing cheers me up (besides the obvious like God and family).

I have more.

That's right. Hear me laugh victoriously and shove my fist into the air.

I-have-more-stories.

This is why it's so important that when you finish your first story, revise it, perfect it, send it out and move on. Querying takes an incredibly long time. While you're getting rejections and requests in, be working on something else.

A WIP makes rejection easier. And if you do get requests, or the call, then you have something else to offer the agent/editor.

Have you finished your wip? Are you at the querying stage and are you working on something else?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Motivation Makes the World Go Round...

Or at least it keeps the characters moving.


Last post was about external goals. Many of you commented on internal ones too, which led me to think about the whole process.


A character having an external goal must first have a motivation. This is delved into pretty well in the book GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I haven't read this book, but the gist of it is that every character having a goal must have a motivation for achieving that goal, and in their pursuit of that goal, there must be a subsequent conflict.

Your protagonist's (or even antagonists) desire to reach their goals can stem from some sort of internal conflict or value.

For example, in The Bad Boy's redemption my PI protagonist is someone who believes strongly in justice. Therefore, when a client's husband wrongs the protag's sister, she investigates him and discovers that he's shady. And so she becomes determined to bring this man down.

Her motivation stems from two things: one, her value of believing in justice and two, her internal conflict of being judgmental (it's a conflict because she's a Christian and we're supposed to be careful about that kind of stuff). The protag's motivation compels her to accomplish her goal, which should lead to some juicy conflict. In the story, that conflict comes in the form of one hot cop who wants to stop my PI's investigation.

So going back to motivations, what makes your characters tick? Why do they need to acheive their goal? I'd love to hear about what you're working on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

External Goals

At the beginning of a story, it's important for a character to have some sort of external goal.

Does she want a promotion? To adopt a child? There needs to be something for the character to succeed or fail at during the course of the book.

Not rocket science but I still didn't get it until my third manuscript. In my first completed manuscript, the heroine rode on her train to an uncle's house. Things happened to her, she reacted, but there was nothing she was striving for. So why should the reader turn the page? Granted, the emotional intensity could be strong enough to propell a reader into finding out what happens next, but it's unlikely.

Give your character something to do and you give the reader a reason to keep reading.

So I made my heroine on a mission to get an interview with an elusive government agent who purportedly lives near her uncle. A simple goal but it hopefully makes the reader wonder, will she get what she wants?

To make your external goal stronger, create either something to urge your protag to reach his goals, or something to keep him from reaching his goals. A nice dose of external conflict.

I find coming up with an external goal incredibly hard, for some reason, but it's worth it.

Think about the books you've read. Did the protagonist have a goal introduced within the first chapter?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Follow the Trail You've Laid

Last night hubby and I watched a comic strip movie. You know, one of the ones with a genetically altered superhero? I'm not going to say the name 'cause I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Anyways, I really liked the movie, up until the end.

To me, the heroine was a great foil for the superhero and through her gentle strength he discovers how to control his own power. It was great.

And then the ending...

Had nothing to do with romance or their love, but basically sets up questions for a sequel. All well and good, but not fulfilling in any way because the sequel was never hinted at in the movie. They just up and bam it at you in the end.

The last scene was in the wrong place, in my opinion. For the movie to have left me with satisfaction, I think it should have ended with the heroine gazing at the pic she has of the hero, or something to that effect.

The trail laid was one of love conquering anger. At least that's what I got out of it.

Then, at the end, it's suddenly as though that trail ends abruptly and a new one way over to the left starts.

In your writing, how do you do endings? How do you make sure that they leave the reader feeling fulfilled with the story?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Like A Puppet

After the last post, I have a good idea of where your lines lay. This post will be similar because I've been thinking about all the responses and running my mind ragged.

I've been wondering: What would you do to get get a contract from a traditional publisher?

Me? Man, I'd be like a puppet on a string.

Editor: Please change the heroine's name, Mrs. Nelson.

Me: On it!

Editor: And her occupation. And her hair color. Oh, and we need to lose the cat theme. It just doesn't work.

Me: No problem!

Okay, so on most things I would change the story because in many ways my writing is more of a strategic plan for a future career. I want to be paid to do something I love and if the story has to change from my original vision in order for that to happen, I'm okay with that.

However, since getting to know so many writers, especially inspirational ones, I've come to realize that for many of you writing is a calling. In some cases, a ministry.

So what would you do to your story in order to get it published? Would you completely change it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Line

While traversing the internet last night researching a possible new genre for my next manuscript, I came across a debut author who had been kicked out of his church because of the book he wrote. Now, I haven't read the book and the subject matter wasn't something I'd be comfortable reading, but this author felt that he'd written the book that he was supposed to and that the moral lines it crossed were necessary to tell the story in an honest way.

His church disagreed.

But this author is proud of his work and now he's laboring away at the next novel in the series.

It made me wonder: What lines will I not cross in order to be published?

There is such a deep-seated desire to be published, that I think it would be hard to say no to a contract. But I would, if certain things were asked of me.

As I'm an inspirational writer, one thing that has always been important to me is the name of Jesus. I wouldn't want to take it out of my manuscripts, not even to be published. (LOL Not saying anyone would ask me to.)

Now, this is just my thing. I would never expect someone to have the same boundaries as me.

So, in your writing, what line will you NOT cross just to be published?


*and I'm not saying he crossed a line in order to be published at all. I have a feeling it was the book he wanted to write, no matter what others said*

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Addict Your Reader

There's more to a great book than good writing, real characters and a cool plot. A great book will reel you in and when it's over, you'll be desperate for more.

Are you writing a book, non-fiction or fiction?

Use your final scene in the story to create a sense of fulfillment in your reader. Take them on an emotional rollercoaster with your writing and then leave them on a high.

Addict them.

First lines, first pages, will get me to pick up a book and read it. The thrill of the story and how the ending makes me feel will decide whether that author gets read again.

For example, I'd never read Linda Howard before a few years ago. One night I picked up Cry No More, which I'd gotten from the library. I couldn't put it down.

Howard engaged me, made me cry and worry and then at the end gave me such an euphoria that I knew I had to read something by her again.

It was intense, and that addicted me.

Which books have done this for you? Which author do you read without ever checking out the plot, because you know the author will leave you satisfied?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Books on the ... Floor

No bookshelves, so I have books stacked on my floor, my closet floor, and the backboards of all the beds in my house.

Some good books I read recently are Hidden Places by Lynn Austin (Thank you Susan!), His Little Cowgirl by Brenda Minton and then a memoir called Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. The romances were great and pretty well written. I enjoyed them.

I had to put Angela's Ashes down for awhile. The prose was incredible but the story is so sad that I found myself feeling very depressed. The good news is that McCourt survived his childhood and had a successful career (and hopefully successful life) so I'd like to pick this book up again once my soul is prepared for the pain of it.

In the meantime, I'm on the hunt for another book. I'm thinking of reading My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang next.

What are you reading? Put anything down lately? Why?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Too Hot to Ignore

Hey everyone,

I was going to talk about the books I'm reading but then heard about an amazing opportunity! A well-known agency is taking a break from queries. Instead, they're reading first pages.

So here's the link to Firebrand literary.

As far as I can tell they do mostly non-fiction, but I could be wrong. Let me know if you sub to them. I'm thinking about it myself, though I didn't see much romance in their sales. Still, this is really cool.

Today's Matthew's first day back at Pre-K! The "normal" schedule is officially back. How about you?

Is your life back to normal? Do you want it to be?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mixed Priorities

Have you all noticed my word counter? I've been sitting on the same scene for what seems like forever!
This wip took an extra long time to write anyways. I could say that it was the lack of time, my busy schedule, etc. The truth of the matter is my priorities got skewed.
God and my family come first. Then household duties, since I do stay home and consider it my job to keep things running smoothly. But, when the times came when kids were sleeping and hubby was at karate, did I write?

NO.

I watched House, NCIS, read books, etc.

The reason this wip isn't done is because I never made it a top priority. More like a "if I feel like it" type of thing. That's not to say I didn't have word goals. I just played before working.

So I tried to blame it on life, but it was really me.

No more. The next wip will get a little more attention than this baby did.

When something doesn't get done, what excuses do you have up your sleeve?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Linkage Again

When I'm too lazy to write a real post, I just post up some links. ;-) Here's some stuff that caught my attention this week.

What kind of reader are you? Stumbled across this and thought it was pretty cool.

This reads the personality of your blog. Pretty neat. It says BookingIt is an ISFP.

"The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of. They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living." In real life, I'm an INFP so my blog is different. Normally it tests as an ISTP but I think the typealyzer goes by the post format.

And as long as you've never done this, here's something to make you laugh. And if you have, no worries. Just never query that agent again. LOL *just kidding!*



Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Queen of Cliche

A few weeks ago I was blessed to be able to have a paragraph of my wip critiqued by an author. One of the things that stood out in the author's critique was my use of cliche metaphors.

Ouch.

I pondered it awhile, for a few hours even feeling like the Queen of Cliche. Not only do I use cliche metaphors but I've realized that some of my plots are cliche. And my characters...

So I admit to sulking a little. :-)

Then, with the help of a writer buddy, I picked myself up and examined the situation.

A long, long time ago I took a creative writing class. It was one of the best things I've ever done. The teacher loves poetry so that is what our studies focused on. Poetry is an incredible tool for teaching noncliche writing. Mrs. Robison encouraged us to use metaphors and words in new and fresh ways. Because of that class I learned to describe images with different kinds of verbs, to examine a scene and paint it for the reader.

Perhaps I forgot these lessons while immersed in my wip, but now I've remembered. Below is a poem by Ted Kooser, thirteenth poet laureate of the United States.

Study the way he uses verbs and metaphors. One metaphor in particular always catches my eye. Can you guess which?

January 19
Still thawing, breezy
Arthritic and weak, my old dog Hattie
stumbles behind me over the snow.
When I stop, she stops, tipped to one side
like a folding table with one of the legs
not snapped in place. Head bowed, one ear
turned down to the earth as if she
could hear it turning, she is losing the trail
at the end of her fourteenth year.
Now she must follow. Once she could catch
a season running and shake it by the neck
till the leaves fell off, but now they get away,
flashing their tails, as they bound off
over the hill. Maybe she doesn't see them
out of those clouded, wet brown eyes,
maybe she no longer cares. I thought
for a while last summer that I might die
before my dogs, but it seems I was wrong.
She wobbles a little way ahead of me now,
barking her sharp small bark,
then stops and trembles, excited, on point
at the spot that leads out of the world.
Ted Kooser