Tag Archives: writing

Beginning, ending, and what’s in between

 

How do you ensure a story has a good beginning, a satisfying ending, and good continuity in between?

Honey, if I could answer that one, I’d be on the New York Times Best Seller list, or at least my novels would be top sellers in their category onAmazon.

Ah, well.

But of course, I do take care to try to ensure a good beginning, ending, and continuity.

I am not one of those writers who outlines their novel in detail, but I do need to know the beginning, the ending, and the high points of what’s in between when I start out. Or at least, I think I do.  So far I have been fairly on target about the ending, even when I don’t know how I’m going to get there. For example, in my novel Broken Bonds, (WARNING: Spoiler) the main character, Major Brad Reynolds, is accused of treason. I knew which way I wanted the case

One of my drawings of Aleyne, mountains wiith the multi-colored desert sands in the foreground

against him to go, but I had no idea, until I wrote it, how I was going to manage to do it. Fortunately, my subconscious is a better plotter than I {wry grin}.

 

As to the beginning, that’s trickier. I wrote a children’s chapter book (that has yet to appear) about a little boy who loses his mother in a fire.  I initially started with the fire, but finally realized that the story really started in what was at the time Chapter Three where my main character’s mother is dead, his father still in the hospital, and he is going home with his grandmother. I discarded part of the first chapter of the earlier versions of Broken Bonds, too.

As for filling in the middle, since I don’t outline in detail, I have notes for the chapters I ‘know’ about and fill in the ‘blanks’ as I write. I tend to have more detailed notes a couple of chapters ahead of where I’m writing.

And when I reach the end of the first draft, I go back and revise. At that point I have an overview of the whole novel. I revise more, I believe, than someone who has a detailed outline. That’s the trade off. However, I don’t know enough about the novel to do that before I’ve written the first draft.

 

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Anne de Gruchy  https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

 

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I’M Guest Blogging Today

Blogging Heroes

Blogging Heroes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I discuss the business of writing and the pros and cons of writing full-time.

http://thebookboost.blogspot.com/2012/08/writing-for-love-or-money-with-guest.html

Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of”Sand  in the Desert.”

 

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Interview with Jo Linsdell

Book Cover

Out and About at the Zoo

 

Tell us something about yourself?

I’m originally from the UK but came to Rome, Italy in July 2001 for 3 days and ended up staying. I’ve been happily married to my lovely Italian husband since 2006 and together we have two amazing little boys.

I enjoy experimenting with my writing and trying out new genres. As well as working on my books I also do freelance writing work for clients.

I’m a social media junky. I LOVE it and have profiles everywhere. As a writer I get to combine two of my passions, writing and marketing.

How did you come to write your book?

My 4 years son asked me why I hadn’t written a book for him. I figured he made a good point and so wrote Out and About at the Zoo inspired by the first time I took him to the zoo. I decided to make it rhyming text as that’s his favorite type of book.

You both wrote and illustrated your book. Do you have any training as an artist?

I studied art and design at college and have always loved indulging my creative side. This was my first time using a graphic program though and it was a huge learning curve. I hadn’t taken into account the technical stuff like transparencies, layers, embedding etc… It was fun though and I’m already working on my next children’s picture book.

What tools did you use in creating the art work in your book?

I used Adobe illustrator. I started by drawing to-scale sketches of each page layout and then scanned them into my computer to use as a guide.

Why did you decide to write a book about zoo animals?

My son LOVES animals. When I asked him who he wanted in the story with him he just gave me a list of animals. Using our trip to the zoo seemed like the perfect solution.

How did you pick the animals in your story?

I made a list of all the animals we’d seen during our visit to the zoo and then picked the ones that fitted best with the flow of the story.

How do you feel that living in Italy and knowing Italian has affected you as a writer?

It makes me simplify more.

You have two small children. How do you find time to write?

I write when I can. It’s not easy as I have to grab 5 minutes here and there when I get the chance or stay up late after they’ve gone to bed. One of the great things about Out and About at the Zoo is that it gave me the chance to involve them in my work.

My 4 year old was a great help and not at all shy about giving me his feedback. It was an excellent motivation to get everything finished as he was constantly asking “mum is it finished yet?”

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another rhyming children’s picture about a young fairy called May that dreams of one day becoming a tooth fairy.

I’m also working on a chick-lit and a non-fiction book about social media.

What’s the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

The best would have to be to believe in myself and not under value my talents. Luckily I haven’t been given any bad advice yet.

Where can readers find your book?

Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.it and all the other Amazon European sites plus CreateSpace.com

They can also find information about the book and my current promotional tour at my website www.JoLinsdell.com

Tell us something about yourself?
I’m originally from the UK but came to Rome, Italy in July 2001 for 3 days and ended up staying. I’ve been happily married to my lovely Italian husband since 2006 and together we have two amazing little boys.
I enjoy experimenting with my writing and trying out new genres. As well as working on my books I also do freelance writing work for clients.
I’m a social media junky. I LOVE it and have profiles everywhere. As a writer I get to combine two of my passions, writing and marketing.
How did you come to write your book?
My 4 years son asked me why I hadn’t written a book for him. I figured he made a good point and so wrote Out and About at the Zoo inspired by the first time I took him to the zoo. I decided to make it rhyming text as that’s his favorite type of book.
You both wrote and illustrated your book. Do you have any training as an artist?
I studied art and design at college and have always loved indulging my creative side. This was my first time using a graphic program though and it was a huge learning curve. I hadn’t taken into account the technical stuff like transparencies, layers, embedding etc… It was fun though and I’m already working on my next children’s picture book.
What tools did you use in creating the art work in your book?
I used Adobe illustrator. I started by drawing to-scale sketches of each page layout and then scanned them into my computer to use as a guide.
Why did you decide to write a book about zoo animals?
My son LOVES animals. When I asked him who he wanted in the story with him he just gave me a list of animals. Using our trip to the zoo seemed like the perfect solution.
How did you pick the animals in your story?
I made a list of all the animals we’d seen during our visit to the zoo and then picked the ones that fitted best with the flow of the story.
How do you feel that living in Italy and knowing Italian has affected you as a writer?
It makes me simplify more.
You have two small children. How do you find time to write?
I write when I can. It’s not easy as I have to grab 5 minutes here and there when I get the chance or stay up late after they’ve gone to bed. One of the great things about Out and About at the Zoo is that it gave me the chance to involve them in my work.
My 4 year old was a great help and not at all shy about giving me his feedback. It was an excellent motivation to get everything finished as he was constantly asking “mum is it finished yet?”
What are you working on now?
I’m working on another rhyming children’s picture about a young fairy called May that dreams of one day becoming a tooth fairy.
I’m also working on a chick-lit and a non-fiction book about social media.
What’s the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best would have to be to believe in myself and not under value my talents. Luckily I haven’t been given any bad advice yet.
Where can readers find your book?
Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.it and all the other Amazon European sites plus CreateSpace.com

They can also find information about the book and my current promotional tour at my website www.JoLinsdell.com
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Five Ways to Cut the Distractions and Start Writing Now.

Five Ways to Cut the Distractions and Start Writing Now, guest post by Alexis MacDonald

Anyone who has ever written anything significant, whether a term paper, a blog or the Great American Novel, has had to deal, now and again, with some of the usual writers’ bugaboos, like having one’s brain turn from a rich pasture of literary abundance to a whiteboard without a second’s notice. Right up there with the empty brain issue would be the wandering mind; one minute racing along on a shiny, well-organized train of thought and then floating aimlessly like a leaf on the wind the very next, or, suddenly mesmerized by one of the gadgets on your tool bar that you had somehow never noticed until this very second.

These things happen to just about everyone, and usually aren’t totally disastrous, unless you’re on deadline, in which case they can definitely throw a huge monkey wrench into the wheels of progress. So taking the distraction issue as a start, and beginning with the assumption that there is no such thing as a totally distraction-free working environment, how can a writer control and at least minimize distractions when work is where your wandering mind needs to be at that very moment?

Some would definitely argue that it is not only possible, but mandatory to create a distraction-free writing environment. Look, if you have the kind of creative mind we’re discussing here, and there are no distractions in the environment, your brain will create some for you, so whether they’re external or internal, distractions will happen, but they can be dealt with. Here are a few things that may be helpful in keeping some measure of focus when you need to get something coherent down on paper.

1. Try to pick topics that really interest you. If the material is interesting to you, then there is a greater likelihood that you will be able to maintain your attention span on point and organize your material in a sufficiently logical progression to make it interesting to your reader.

2. Do your homework and work from notes, especially if it’s a topic on which you aren’t naturally well-informed. You can get a lot of the mind-wandering out of your system while you’re putting together your notes and doing your research, so when it’s time to put the actual piece together, the material is familiar to you and you’re not as likely to be tempted to Google yourself off a cliff.

3. Closely related to this is organization. Do not write notes on scraps of paper, folded up dinner napkins or post-its strewn across your monitor and wall. When you’re doing research for an article create a folder in your computer and put everything there. If you absolutely must write something on the back of your day-timer while you’re thinking of it, then transfer it to your computer immediately when you get home, otherwise, distractions will be the least of your worries as you’re digging for critical pieces of information that have fallen into a black hole of post-it hell.

4. If you find yourself starting to wander, stop right there and take a break. Walk around, get a cold drink, stretch a little and then come back to the issue at hand with a refreshed perspective. Sometimes the best way to save time is to take a couple of minutes away from what you’re doing. This puts up a roadblock on that winding little path your mind was about to start heading down and brings you back to the place you need to be.

5. Finally, while there are applications out there that offer a variety of ways to get you to focus on the writing task at hand, if you really need to get an app to do this you may be beyond hope. You’re a writer. You are creative. You can do this.

Alexis is a freelance writer who specializes in pregnancy topics. She is currently writing on pregnancy symptoms and putting together a period calculator that she hopes will be useful to moms-to-be!

Guest post: Bridget Sandorford: Life of a Food Writer

Download Squeezers by Carlos Porto

Life as a Food Writer

Perhaps you are an aspiring food writer who imagines that tasting exotic foods sounds like an amazing career. Maybe you envy the food critics you see getting free food and special treatment at upscale restaurants. If you’re like most people, you imagine that a food writer’s life is one of incredible foods and great service at restaurants. The truth, as is often the case, is much more complex.

Food writers have to try out a range of dishes even if they are not particularly fond of those dishes. Some foods, such as tofu, are difficult to eat if you do not enjoy the texture. This dislike happens regardless of how deftly a chef may prepare the ingredient. Overlooking these personal preferences is a big part of learning to be an effective food writer. The question becomes “how would this dish taste if I enjoyed eating tofu” rather than the simple “how was this dish” question that most people consider when they try a new food.

For food writers who eat specialty diets, the willingness to try out new and exciting foods is even more important. Gluten-free and non-allergen dishes often have some type of attempt at duplicating the offending foods. Something that is casein-free, for example, will eliminate all dairy but also other foods with milk proteins. These chefs may try to make a flavorful cream sauce without any actual cream. Being able to try these foods and give an honest review of them for other people can be challenging, especially if the taste is good but not similar to the replaced ingredient.

Beyond just eating and evaluating food differently, writers who cover food also must expand their food vocabulary. When people eat an enjoyable meal, they often repeatedly use words like “delicious” or “amazing” or simply “wow.” Those words won’t cut it for a food writer. Instead, she needs to be able to explain the slightly sweet, nutty flavor of a specialty cheese or explain the burst of flavor from eating a well-made soup. Food writers learn over time to process food differently while they eat it.

One learns to taste the individual ingredients, rather than the whole of the food, which requires a change in the way that one eats. When eating something like a sizzling Cantonese side dish, the food writer will try to evaluate the strength of the flavor of the cabbage, the texture of the noodles, and the crunchiness of the steamed veggies added to the dish. This variety of tastes and textures requires slower eating. Taking smaller bites and savoring them helps the food writer to make a clearer evaluation of the food.

Though it requires changing how one experiences a fundamental life tasks to write about food, the rewards are indeed worth it. Food writers do get to try out fun foods, learn more about how their food got to their plate, and talk to chefs about their food preparation. These benefits make any challenges about food writing worth it for avowed foodies.

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a grant researcher and writer for CulinarySchools.org. Along with her passion for whipping up recipes that incorporate “superfoods”, she recently finished research on <a href="http://www.culinaryschools.org/international/toronto-cooking-schools/”best culinary arts in torontoand <a href="http://www.culinaryschools.org/international/canada-cooking-schools/”top culinary schools in canada.

Guest Post by Carolyn Howard-Johnson: Using “I” as a conceit

From me: I’ve always been interested in the different ways we can view language, so this post is right up my alley.

Oh, yes, and do check out the new edition of Carolyn’s book, The Frugal Book Promoter

From Carolyn:

I am helping celebrate the release of the second edition (New! and Expanded!) Frugal Book Promoter–now available for Kindle (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkProKindle). Please read further for an essay on how we English speakers use the word “I.”

Using “I” As a Conceit

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success

I don’t know when I learned the word “conceited.” I was raised in Utah where most of us didn’t use “conceit” in the sense of an elaborate or strained metaphor but rather to mean that someone thought they were extra-super special. The little girl across the street who snubbed me because I didn’t wear long stockings with garters (which was an immediate tipoff that I was not her kind) was “conceited” rather than prejudiced. The kid who was quick to make a point of how bright he was when I made a mistake was “conceited” rather than arrogant (or insecure). Gawd! I loved the word “conceited.” I could apply it to so many situations and avoid learning new vocabulary words.

Of course, in a culture where being extra-super humble was valued, I soon noticed that our English language is, indeed, “conceited.”

I’m speaking of the way we capitalize the pronoun “I.” None of the other pronouns are capped. So what about this “I,” standing tall no matter where you find it in a sentence?

Recently as I tutored students in accent reduction and American culture I noticed that some languages (like Japanese) seem to do quite well without pronouns of any sort. I did a little research. Some languages like Hebrew and Arabic don’t capitalize any of their letters and some, like German, capitalize every darn noun. So, English—a Germanic language at its roots—just carried on the German proclivity for caps.

But the question remained. Why only the “I?” Why not “them” and “you” and all the others. Caroline Winter, a 2008 Fulbright scholar, says “England was where the capital “I” first reared its dotless head . . . .Apparently someone back then decided that just “i” after it had been diminished from the original Germanic ‘ich’ was not substantial enough to stand alone.” It had to do with an artistic approach to fonts. The story goes that long ago in the days of handset type or even teletype machines little sticks and dots standing all alone looked like broken bits of lead or scrappy orphan letters.

Then there is the idea that religion played a part in capitalizing the “I.” Rastafarians (and some others, too) think in terms of humankind as being one with God and therefore—one has to presume—it would be rather blasphemous not to capitalize “I” just as one does “God.” Capitals, after all, are a way to honor a word or concept.

Which, of course, brings us back to the idea that we speakers of English are just plain “conceited.”

——

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor ) and its companion booklet, Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy (www.budurl.com/WordTrippersPB) .But Maggie is helping to celebrate the New! Expanded! And now USA Book News award-winning! Frugal Book Promoter! http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) Thank you, Maggie!

Guest Post: The Pitalls of Creation, by Heather Haven

I’m in the process of creating a protagonist for a new humorous mystery series, called Persephone Cole and the _______ (insert subject here). It’s agony. Getting to know a person — even a fictitious one — takes time, thought, energy, trial and error. Sometimes they get pissed off and you don’t know why. Sometimes they laugh when you think they should cry. You thought they’d like bagels in the morning but they don’t. A living, breathing character, even one on paper, has a will of his or her own. It’s maddening.

It brings to mind the latest of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Death Runs in the Family, which debuts in May. One of the central characters takes off for Rio de Janeiro, just like that, out of the blue. I mean, excuse me? I don’t know anything about Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never been to Rio de Janeiro. I’m sure it’s a terrific place, but come on; I’ve got a novel to write. Then this character has the effrontery to park herself in Ipanema, a fancy schmancy beachside community, and at a pretty posh place. What now? So I did scads of research, which took me weeks and weeks, cursing the day this character was born, even though I birthed her. Some kids are really ungrateful.

Thank Gawd, Lee Alvarez, the protagonist for the Alvarez Family series, has never betrayed me like this…yet. I’m waiting. I need to be careful. Every now and then Lee does something I’m not expecting her to do. She isn’t your typical protagonist and it’s starting to worry me. She’s funny, impulsive, smart, talented, loves dancing, handbags and a good joke. She knows her own worth, but has moments of self-doubt. She also has a mind of her own. These are all recipes for danger for the wretched author.

Agatha Christie hated Hercule Poirot. She wanted to dump him like crazy, unwrite him, banish him. She was sick and tired of him going his way when she wanted him to go hers. Like Arthur Conan Doyle, she even killed him off. But Holmes came back four years later and I suspect Poirot is wandering around London searching for an unsuspecting author to give him voice. I say, be careful England’s writers. Avoid any egg-shaped little guy with a mustache.

But back to me and my characters. I keep creating these strong women with minds of their own who breathe disdain for anyone who tells them what to do. Pity this poor novelist. I’m in for it, I can tell.

Bio:

Heather is a story teller by nature and loves the written word. In her career, she’s written short stories, novels, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and even ghost-wrote a book.
Her first two novels of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Murder is a Family Business, and A Wedding To Die For are now out in bundle at MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=227&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
The 3rd of the series, Death Runs in the Family, will be out in May 2012. Heather says they are a joy to write. She gets to be all the characters, including the cat! She lives in San Jose, California, with her husband and, yes, two cats.

http://www.heatherhavenstories.com/
HTTP://Twitter.com/HeatherHaven
Follow Heather’s blog at: http://tinyurl.com/4nensnp
Murder is a Family Business Youtube book trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79vqXtCrRsE
A Wedding to Die For Youtube book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE5dfVzMRzA
Follow Lee’s daily Twitters at: http://twitter. com/PILeeAlvarez