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Flashback Friday – Balance

Originally posted 6/13/10 on my Troll Bridge blog.

DSCN0033One afternoon while I was in New Orleans, they  held a “street stroll.”  It was a food and wine tasting thing which you had to pay to take part in but the strolling was free.

When I saw this guy, I just had to get a picture.  Yeah, that’s a real guy.  His ladder is not leaning against anything and he’s perfectly balanced on it.  The 2 by 4 on his shoulder is also perfectly balanced.  I watched him for a few minutes and he never moved a muscle.

We went on to eat and when we strolled by almost 2 hours later he was still standing there.   Talk about being balanced!

Writing needs balance too.  We have to balance narrative and dialogue.  Exposition and description.  Back story and action.  Character and plot.  Writing and marketing along with so many other things.

Then we have to balance our writing with our “real” life.  Many of us have day jobs we write around.  We have families and responsibilities to deal with when we’d often rather be writing.

While I don’t have any words of wisdom to impart, I encourage you to ponder the balance in your writing.

 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2016 in Writing

 

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Flight of Fantasy

Happy Release Day!!!

Flight of Fantasy is a collection of 7 short stories and the award-winning first chapter of the sequel to Dragons of Jade.  You can order your copy here.  It’d be great if you could leave a review when you finish. Happy reading!

 

FOF

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in My Writing

 

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First Impressions Count…

…don’t make a bad one.

Years ago, I was a slush editor for an ezine, plus I actually had my own ezine for a time. And I can truly say, “First impressions count.”

For example, not following submission guidelines. Editors, agents, all have specific guidelines for the way they want things done. And if you can’t follow guidelines, you are probably someone who believes rules and guidelines don’t apply to them, that you are special. But it also means you are probably someone mostpeople don’t want to work with.  I mean, if you can’t follow simple submission guidelines, how are you going to follow more difficult editing instructions?  I once had a submission in pink, swirly font.  Seriously!?!

And what about those email addresses?  If you want to use “onehotmomma” then go ahead.  But not on your submission to an editor. I know you love your kids, dogs, spouse, church, chocolate, or so many other things but the email address you are using to contact editors and agents must be professional.  Just a simple “yourname” and if your name is taken, add a number or something else. Just make sure it is professional.

Your email address is that first impression. Your submission is a second impression.  Don’t give an easy reason for rejection. Editors and agents are busy…they don’t have time to deal with folks who won’t or can’t follow instructions.  Be professional in all you do.

Remember, as much as you may not like it, writing/publishing is a business. You must treat it as one, too.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Publishing

 

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F is for Finish What You Start

The other day I mentioned how I tend to start a post, delete it, then start over. And eventually, end up with nothing getting posted. So, while looking for inspiration for the next blog post, I scrolled through the posts I’d written to see what drafts I’d started and not finished – just to see if anything was there that I could use.  And guess what I found…F is for Finish What You Start.

Seems like a while back, a long while, that I’d started a series on writing short stories from A-Z and had made it to F.  So, since it’s a good series and I have most of it planned, I’m going to continue with it.  I’ll post links to A-E below so you can catch up.

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“Finish the work, otherwise an unfinished work will finish you.”
― Amit Kalantri

One of the saddest things is an unfinished story. And believe me, I know. I have quite a few of them laying around waiting on me to get back to them. Some are short stories, some are the beginnings of a novel, and some are just bits of ideas or a scene that came to me.  I have them on pieces of paper in a drawer, on the puter in an “idea” file, and even named and in a “novel” file. And one day, I do plan to get back to them.

How you ever noticed though, how you will be writing along on a project and all of a sudden, the idea for another story pops up? For me, this happens about the time I get to the middle of a project and am not sure exactly what happens next. I was told to expect this and when it happens, to just write it down and save it for later.  Then, every so often, go back through them to see what strikes you, demands to be written.

Here’s the thing. If you don’t finish the started project, you are just spinning your wheels and wasting time. And cheating your readers.

I believe stories are given to us to be told. Someone out there needs our story. They need to laugh, or cry, or escape, or just be entertained. And that is really what we as storytellers do.  We entertain and allow our readers to escape into a different world through our stories. We give them a chance to share emotions with our characters. When the bad guy in our story gets what he deserves, our readers cheer. When good triumphs over evil, our readers triumph too.

G. Chesterton said, “Fairy tells do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

While I don’t approve of killing dragons, I like this sentiment of this quote. Stories inspire, teach, entertain, soothe, comfort, and so many other things. Don’t cheat your readers by not finishing your stories.

Here’s the links to the rest of the series.

A is for Antagonists & Adverbs

B is for Brainstorming & Beats

C is for Character

D is for Dialogue & Details

E is for Editing

Now, go out and finish something.🙂

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2016 in Blogging A-Z

 

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Backstory & Info Dumps

Doesn't have anything to do with the post, I just love this shelf.

Doesn’t have anything to do with the post, I just love this shelf.

One of the things I see most often as an editor is the story started with backstory. You know, all the stuff about the character and why he is the way he is and how when he was ten this thing happened or that other thing. We get why he is still single or divorced. Or why he’s angry at his boss. The author rambles on for pages and pages telling the reader things that don’t matter to the story at hand, that the reader doesn’t need to know at the beginning. Things that tend to bore the reader so that they don’t finish the first page much less the first chapter.

Then there is the info dump. Paragraphs or pages of information about the world the character is in. Which usually involves some backstory as to who is in charge and how they got there. Again, stuff that the reader doesn’t really need to know at the beginning.

What is needed at the beginning of any story is something that will hook the reader, drag him into the story, and keep him there even when he really needs to be doing something else. This usually takes the form of action or suspense. It’s something that shakes up the main character, starts the ball rolling on the adventure, so to speak.

Yet, many times, I see people standing around talking about things that don’t matter, or the author will describe the setting, or even start with something that doesn’t move the story forward.

And it’s not always a newbie problem. I did the same thing not long ago. In fact, I sent an entry in for a contest and  had to delete about a page and a half of “stuff” that didn’t move the story forward. It was good writing, but just not needed at that start. It didn’t hook the reader so had to go.

Here’s the thing. The author needs to know all that backstory and info. And some of it is important to the story. But, it needs to be woven in. A bit here, a bit there. A sentence over here, and another over there. Same thing with info dumps. The reader may need to know the information sooner or later but she doesn’t need it all in one big glob. It has to be woven in also.

Writing is hard work. Someone once said something to the effect of “easy reading is damned hard writing” and that is so true. I tried to find who said it but came up with several different answers.  But, whoever said it, knew what he was talking about. We don’t become masters of our craft overnight. I like to compare it to  a master wood carver. The master didn’t become a master overnight. He studied his craft, practiced, made mistakes, started over, practiced some more. It took years upon years to become a master.

Writing is the same. So, I encourage you to grab some of your favorite books and check out the beginning, see how the author hooks you. Then look at your own writing. See if you can do it better.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2016 in Writing

 

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Write, Delete, Repeat

Not long ago, well, a while back, I said I planned on blogging on a regular basis.  And honestly, I intended to.  It’s just sometimes I have a hard time coming up with something I think y’all would be interested in reading.  I’ll start a post, get about a paragraph written, read it, and then delete it.  After doing this about three times, I figure I might as well give up. So I do and nothing gets posted.

This is how it feels most blogging days.

This is how it feels most blogging days.

Anyone else have this problem?

I’m not sure what the answer is either. And it’s hard when no one comments on posts. I totally understand though, I read several blogs and seldom leave a comment.  I hearby pledge to do better about leaving comments.

It’s the same thing with book reviews. I read quite a bit but seldom leave a review.  Which lead me to this…  If you have read Dragons of Jade, I’d really appreciate it if you could click over to Amazon and leave a review.  I’m trying to do some different kind of advertising and some places require a certain amount of reviews.

Also, need a good book to read? Then check out my book blog, Under the Troll’s Bridge. You never know what you’ll find there.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Misc.

 

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Sorry, Barnes & Noble

nope

The other day I received an email from one of the writer’s groups I’m a member of with info about a young adult book event at a nearby Barnes & Noble.  Seems they are having a big event at their store geared toward young adult readers and want authors to come in, sign, and sell their books.  Cool, I have a young adult novel…with dragons. Everyone likes dragons.

So, I call the guy, leave a message, and wait for him to return my call. Which he did yesterday.  After we got over the “No, it’s not self-published.” hurdle and the “No, you can’t order it from the publisher and return unsold copies.” hurdle, things were looking up.  I have copies here which I could bring.  They’d have a place for me to sit, sign books, and I wouldn’t even have to worry about the money because the books would be paid for upfront and B&N would send me a check.  For 40%.

He was in the car, but took my book info and promised he’d get back with me real soon so we could start the paperwork and get everything in place.  Awesome! I was going to be a featured author at a B&N event.

But then I got to thinking…40%??? Really?  They were going to get 60% just for setting up a table, doing a bit of advertising, and what???  I got my calculator out and did some figuring…..

Since I’ve already paid the printing costs on my books, at 40%, I’d be getting about $1 a book.  And B&N would be getting almost $10.  Then I figured in a tank of gas, the two hour drive time, plus the two hours there, and I’m really in the hole. I’d have to sell a LOT of books to even come close to breaking even.

I emailed the guy, told him I wouldn’t be taking part, and why. I haven’t heard back yet and I really don’t expect to.  But, my time and writing are worth more than that.  I’m kind of sad because I’d really love to take part in a “big” event such as this, get my book out to new readers. But, I have to realize the true cost.

Sigh…I need chocolate.

 

** Just a short update…  He never called back. Or emailed. Guess he didn’t like my reasoning.🙂

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Writing

 

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