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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

IS YOUR NOVEL A STILL LIFE or LIVING? IWSG post



WHAT MAKES A NOVEL 
COME ALIVE?



1.) Memorable characters

More than plot, riveting, absorbing characters draw us in.

I read and re-read the Spenser mysteries for the quick wit and snappy dialogue 

between Spenser, Hawk, and Susan.

Raymond Chandler made Philip Marlowe a person you wanted to listen to no matter how confusing the mystery.

“From 30 feet away 
she looked like a lot of class. 
From 10 feet away 
she looked like something 
made up to be seen 
from 30 feet away.”




2.) Original Plot

Take the movie, Mirage:

 Gregory Peck is caught in a building’s blackout, 

and rather than wait for the power to return and use the elevator, 

he makes his way down the stairs. 

He bumps into Diane Baker who greets him as a friend, but he does not know her. 

Alarmed, she flees into a sub-basement.

On the street, he finds the body of a man who supposedly jumped out of a window.  

He returns to try to find Diane only to discover there is no sub-basement.

Shaken, Gregory hires a private investigator to help him sort things out.  

He brings the detective to his office, only to find a blank wall.

It is an absorbing, riveting film because the plot is totally unique.  

And since it was made in 1966, there are no Matrix explanations ... only well-thought out ones.




3.) Do you like being a victim?

Neither does your reader.  

Most of us feel powerless in life more than we wish.  

We read to lose ourselves, to live vicariously adventures 

where the protagonists take control of their problems 

and after thrilling adventures triumph.



4.) Make them laugh.

Novels with serious themes like The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 

use humor for good reason.

 Joss Whedon:

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, 
but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” 

A good laugh is a great way to relieve non-stop tension to set up the reader for the next jolt.

Humor in dialogue also is a way to quickly, subtly convey character relationships.


WHAT ARE SOME GOOD WAYS 
YOU BREATHE LIFE 
INTO YOUR NOVEL?

Monday, December 4, 2017

LIKE A WOMAN is ready!



What makes a woman who she is?

Is she shaped by her past decisions, her present ones, 

or by her struggle to become more than she has been? 

Twenty-four authors from around the world give us their answer to that question. 

I am honored to be one of those twenty-four. 

I am snuggled in the middle of these great writers. 

I tried my best to be worthy of being included in this band of heroes. 

 Why Heroes? 

Because the proceeds of this anthology go to help a woman's shelter. 

Give it a try, will you? 

You will be helping hurting women to live better lives. 

 What could be better than that 
during the Christmas Season? 

Innocence draws the Darkness.
But you might be surprised why.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

CHAPTER TITLES? FOR OR AGAINST?






On Facebook ...

Gae Polisher asked: 

"Chapter Titles or Simply Numbers?"


Look at the tiger above.  What is his story?

The image is striking but tells little about what is going on in his head or around him.

But if you are like me, you wonder about his story.






If you can get your reader interested in what happens in the next chapter, 

you are on your way to crafting a real page-turner.

Page turners create word of mouth which helps sell books.



In my first Victor Standish novel, one chapter is entitled: 

"First Meetings and Last Rites." 

  It details Victor's first meeting with the ghoul, Alice Wentworth, in a midnight graveyard.




In the above novel, the chapter which highlights Victor's quick thinking is entitled, 

"Open Graves and Job Opportunities." 


I use chapter titles because of my own reading history.


1) CHAPTER TITLES 
ATTRACTED MY ATTENTION 
WHEN DECIDING TO BUY A BOOK

Most readers, even on Amazon, are browsers before they buy.

The first few chapter titles will give the reader 

an inkling if your story sounds intriguing enough to buy.



2) TITLES FOCUSED THE OVER-ALL TONE 
OF THE BOOK FOR ME

Chapter titles which were clever, funny, or intriguing 

hinted at those elements being all through the meat of the story.

Baited hooks catch more fish.



 3) CHAPTER TITLES SKETCHED 
IN THE STORY WORLD
 OF THE NOVEL 
I WAS CONSIDERING BUYING.

The chapter titles hinted at the world the characters found themselves in.  

They evoked the spirit of those characters. 

They whispered of the dangers and adventures awaiting them ... 

and me if I chose to buy the book.


QUESTION:

On flipping through my book above, what would intrigue you more?

Chapter 3

or

Chapter 3: 
Wasn't Nobody Coming To Save Us



MOST NO LONGER USE 
CHAPTER TITLES

DO YOU?

WOULD YOU CONSIDER 
USING THEM NOW?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

BLACK and BLUE FRIDAY


"Only in America do people trample others
 for sales 
exactly one day after being thankful 
for what they already have."
 ~ ghost of Mark Twain



I got off from work last night at 8 P.M. and visited Best Buy 

to pick up a Blu Ray of THE EQUALIZER in a steel book.

The metal railings demarcating where the shoppers would eagerly wait for Black Friday 

were already up ...

and a woman in a thick coat was already siting in her fold-out chair, book in hand.

I had to admire her bladder control if nothing else.


I wondered, among other things,
 if she would be trampled 
by the hoards behind her.



 What turns ordinary shoppers 
vicious and dangerous?




Adults hit children in their way.  

People snatch items from the carts 
or arms of others.  

Innocent bystanders are injured.


Store-engineered scarcity breeds an urgency and drive to snatch the "treasure" while it is still there.

City lights no longer have to go out for many to become animals.  

Just low prices, limited supply, and time shortage is all that is necessary.

Is a cheap flat-screen TV worth 
gouging out the eye of a child?



 We have lost sight 
of what makes 
this season special.  


It is not the possessions we love in our lives 

but the people in them who love us and we love in return.

Whether you believe in the Christ child or not, 

most of us know that it is better to give than to grieve.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF 
THE BLACK FRIDAY 
MADNESS?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A THANKSGIVING WISH


Nothing witty or profound ...  just my sincere wish that this Day 

be one of healing, peace, and small acts of kindness for all of you.


Sometimes being in the right
 is not as important 
as being at the side of a friend in need:


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It Is In Man's Nature To Destroy Himself?


“Inhumanity, n.
 One of the signal and characteristic qualities of humanity.”
- Ambrose Bierce 

A 4th murder victim by a serial killer in Tampa, Florida.

A gunman kills four and injures two children at a Northern California Elementary school.

The gunman, in a stolen car, appeared to pick victims at random.


Was he born this way?

Did he learn to vent his rage by example of parents, entertainment, 

or are we all born with a nature that will destroy others and ourselves?


Is it culture?

American newspapers and Chinese newspapers write of mass slayings differently,

When American reporters write about them,

they focus on the flawed characters of the killers, 

saying they are mentally unstable, darkly disturbed, or had a bad temper. 

Chinese reporters, however, 

point to the strained relationships in the killers’ lives, 

noting that they were socially isolated and didn’t get along with their victims.

 

 Our children seem to lose their innocence early, and once lost, it is gone forever.

Is that the explanation?  

We have lost touch with our hearts and so fail to cherish anything?

Perhaps we need to strive 
to see as a child again. 



 What do you think 
the secret to a whole life is?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

PEACE IN A WORLD WITHOUT IT

"If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts."
 -Elu

"Nothing can bring you peace of mind but yourself."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder." 
- St. Augustine


As I sat down at my laptop tonight, mulling over what to write for tomorrow's post,

Anything I could write seemed trivial against a backdrop of  

church killings and molesting of children by those who felt invulnerable.

I heard one word murmur within my mind: "Peace."

I wasn't thinking of inner peace.  

I was thinking of what my writing friends might be interested in.

Perhaps the Great Mystery answered my question for me.

Don't expect any great wisdom here though.  

I am not the Great Mystery.  I don't have the job qualifications.

But I know that, like happiness, you cannot find peace by looking for it.  

Like happiness, peace of mind is a by-product of living not its goal.


Be true to you:

When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. 

When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency. 

Problems arise when we see ourselves one way 

(for example, as a loving mother) 

but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves 

(for example, neglect our children because we are too busy). 

Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.


Peace on the battlefield:

It is easier to be at peace when we listen to beautiful music, play with our pets, 

walk through undisturbed nature, and step away from the world.

But Life is a harsh  mistress.  

She draws you back into the chaos of conflicts with bosses, spouses, children, bills, ill health ... 

the number of enemy troops you face sometimes appear endless.

Each battlefield we find ourselves on contains a lesson that will keep us from worse ones 

if we but learn it correctly.


Look for that lesson.  

Perhaps it is only to take ourselves not so seriously, to learn to laugh at ourselves 

(we will never run out of material!), 

to learn that some battles are not worth the collateral damage, 

or to find we should not fail to plan unless we plan to fail.

 Failure has negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. 

 How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail? 

A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. 

It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.


Listen to the Wake-Up Call of Loss

 To lose something we had taken blithely for granted is jarring.  

It should alert us to look for all the other blessings in our lives that really are so precious.


Forgive:

Those who hurt us have taken enough of our time.  Why invite them along in your thoughts for the rest of the day?  

They have to live in the world they make for themselves with their thoughtless natures.  

Forgive them, release them from the obligation they owe you, and you will find you have released yourself.  

Hate is like drinking rat poison, hoping the rat will die of it.


Think Outside of Yourself

Each person you pass or meet is fighting a battle no one knows anything about.  

Be kinder than you might be inclined to be for that reason.


Learn the Power of a Smile

 Whenever you are laughing or smiling, something interesting happens.

 Not only does something happen on a chemical level to make you feel better, 

but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering your psyche. 

 A simple smile can make such a difference.


 ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
 ~Victor Frankl