Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two things not to do at the Start of your Book.

Okay, another lesson from the big book of Shannon's blunders. When writing your masterpiece that will become the next Twilight or Harry Potter (depending on your romance level) there are two things to consider in your opening chapters.

1. Keep your character numbers low. The lower the better. And this doesn't just mean the characters that are physically in the scenes, but also the ones they, your characters, talk or think about. I would say five or so is your max. I find this difficult as I always want to fill the reader in on EVERYTHING right off the bat, but its better to hold off. This will also save your editor some grief. Why is this important? Too many character gets confusing for the reader to track and they could quickly lose interest.

2. This could apply to any section of your book but I tend to use it at the beginning with my council of Archangels having a discussion about the problems they must attend to. Using a group, or meeting in your book is a common trick for writers to get across a lot of information to the reader quickly. This also can be very confusing as again you are probably dealing with multiple characters talking about multiple characters. And because its a commoon device it doesn't exactly make you stand out of the crowd. Not good for the readers, agents or editors.

That's it, I've got to get back to my Nanowrimo project now. I'm way behind and only have 4 full days left. Hope these tips help and please add to them in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Contest Bonanza! Chocolate and Books Galore! (Ended)

Here it is folks, contest #2! Last time I gave away books and coffee, this time it will be books and CHOCOLATE! I know I feel like the kid in the picture whenever I think about chocolate!
1st Prize : Mistborn trilogy by Branden Sanderson + Lindor Chocolate

2nd Prize: The Guardian : Shadowland Series by CJ Gosling (signed copy) + Purdy's Chocolate

3rd Prize : Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn + a chocolate bar of your choice

How to Win :
Super easy peasy guys and gals. You just gotta love me! :)
Follow my blog : 1 entry

Follow me on Twitter : 1 entry

Put me on your blog roll or blog about me or the contest : 1 entry

RT the contest on Twitter : 1 entry

Here's the hard part, really difficult so pay close attention. If you want your points to count :

I will make an example entry on the comments.

That way I know who wants to be a part of the contest. Some people are great and they RT for the contest, join the blog because I'm so cool (don't laugh) but they don't want to win books or chocolate. I know, it's crazy, but true. So be sure to make a comment on this post so I can put you in the draw.
This contest will run until November 30th, midnight. So get your entries in and feel free to comment several times as you add to your entries.
Good luck to you all and let the winning begin!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nevermind Christmas, a CONTEST is coming!

The title says it all, at least most of it. I'm very close to 1000 followers on Twitter, and when that magic number hits I'll be kicking off my 2nd contest! This time around I think the prizes will be chocolate and books instead of coffee and books as was the first contest.

Mmmmm. Chocolate.

The rules will be similar but I will tweak them a little, just to keep it interesting. So for those of you who entered last time and missed out on the goodies, here's chance #2, coming up within the week. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing Allergies and Irritants

As a writer, there a few things more irritating than a pen that runs out of ink at the climax of a scene that’s been building for five pages. An irritant like that can feel at time like a bad case of allergies. I've come up with a few more irritants that make me want to alternately pull my hair our or throw my computer out the window or both at the same time. And here they are.

1. This one is an irritant to many who aren’t writers too I’m quite sure. The phone. It never rings until I’m comfortable in my chair, laptop revved up and fingers are on the keyboard. And it's across the room.

2. The weather. Why is it so damn sunny and nice out on my days I set aside for writing? I want it dark and stormy, a real mood intensifier. Not some unseasonably warm , happy come play outside temptation of a day.

3. Slow Internet is the bane of my existence. I have to wait to get to a wireless café or steal from my neighbour if I want to upload pictures on the blog (of which you will see are absent from this post) or if I even want to send out a large attachment.

4. The cat, much as I love her, seems to feel that if I’m writing, she must not be getting the attention she deserves. This also applies to the dogs, my husband and numerous other people who shall remain nameless.

5. Unknown technical problems. Like the computer shutting itself off with unsaved work on the screen. Or randomly choosing not to hook up to the Internet. Or choosing not to be able to find files that I have JUST saved.

6. Not hearing back from agents, editors or publishers in the time frame that THEY give. My agent isn’t a problem (She’s wonderful!), but I’m finding that publishing houses and editors don’t follow much in the way of their own time lines. Poopy heads.

7. Someone who has never written a book telling you how you should write yours. Or how they could write a book no problem, they just never got around to it. I try not to strangle these people. I prefer to kill them off in a scene somewhere. Preferably a nice, gruesome scene. Maybe turn them into a rotting zombie.

8. People asking, “Aren’t you done yet?” or “You’re a writer?” both are said with a large dose of snobbery and condescension. And yes, I have had people ask me these things.

9. A minor character in your book suddenly deciding to take on a life of their own and you realize that you now have to write them their own story. Or series. This one isn’t all bad, just one of those moments that you let out a sigh and wish your characters would sometimes, once in a while, behave themselves.

10. Last but not least. You finish your book, hand it out to your beta readers or editor, they give you their feedback and you realize that you have to cut out a massive chunk of your book and re-write it. Yes it will make the book better, but damn, I always wish I could have figured it out sooner and saved myself some grief.

Like a bad case of hives, these irritants can really get under your skin if you let them and worse, they can completely derail you from your writing progress. Take a deep breath, a walk in that beautiful sunshine that’s tempting you and let the irritation go.

I would love to hear what other irritants are out there, so comment away, tell us how bad a case of hives you’ve got and how you deal with them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Letter to a Difficult Husband

Twelfth day of the eleventh month of the tenth year. Cool date and worthy of a blog post for more than that reason. Today also marks the ten year anniversary of me and my husband’s life together. I’ve seen a few blogs where husbands are thanked for their unending support, their love, understanding of a writers quirks and even their willingness to chip in and help with conferences and housework. I don’t know where those men are found, I think they may in fact be from Mars.

I would however like to thank my husband, who does not always fit into those catergories, for a few things. Not what you’d expect, but the kind of things, I, as a person have needed.

To the one who has stretched me further than any other person in my life:

There are times when I’ve cursed you, for your bluntness, your ability to see through my defences and for calling me on my bluffs. There are times when I’ve lain in bed, crying myself to sleep for a misplaced word, tone in your voice or what I perceive as a lack of attention. You have forced me to look at myself, my life and my decisions with a logical eye (not something I have) as well as an eye to the future. I hated it at times.

Do I regret having you in my life? No. In pushing me out of my comfort zones and forcing me to stand up for what I believe in and who I am you’ve made me a better person. Was the ride always comfortable? No, but it taught me things that I otherwise never would have learned, or if I had, the lessons would have been at the hands of those who cared nothing for me and did what they did only to hurt me.

Do you regret having taught me these things? I think maybe there are days that you do. You didn’t want a doormat for a wife and you saw in me the possibility of a woman of strength. Now you have her, I think perhaps there are days you wonder why you did what you did. I see it in your eyes, a glimmer of what the hell did I teach her that for. But more than that, I see respect for me as a person, not just as your wife.

You’ve pushed me to lengths that no one else in my life has ever even thought of and I thank you for that. You are the one who believed in me when no one else did, you are the one who forced me to see the person I could be, you are the one who drove me to fight for want I want in my life. These are not things that many women would be thankful for, and I certainly wasn’t in the moments that they happened. But ten years and all that lays within them has given me a little perspective. And a lot of gratitude for the stubborn, complicated man that I love more than anyone else in this world.

So for all of you who struggle with a man like mine, hang on to him. He will teach you things you never knew about yourself and when you look back, you will see how just far you’ve come.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Guest Blog for Brenda Sedore

I've done a guest blog for Brenda Sedore, a lovely lady and great writer who, if you remember did a guest blog for me on Social Media.

Now I get a chance to return the favour and I hope you'll go check out my post on her site as I had fun writing it. The post even has a few tips on how to speed up the publishing process by cutting out some common and easily fixed mistakes, all of which I've made of course!

So check it out and be sure to leave a comment. :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Avoiding POV as a POS

Okay, so that's not the title of the workshop I attended at Surrey, it is however the underlying theme of the session. The teacher was Joanna Bourne, who did a fabulous job and I would like to give you the highlights of the workshop that could help with POV. It certainly did that for me.
  • New writers almost always use 1st person or omniscient narrative.
  • 3rd person is more difficult, not more logical
  • Don't just add a POV character to add info. Scenes are for advancing the story.
  • (This is my favorite) "Readers are like mother cats." If a mother cat has only three kittens and you take one away, she notices. If a mother cat has nine kittens and you take one away, she won't notice. Same with readers. If you have lots of characters, they (the readers) will not really notice/care. If they have only a few characters to attach to, they will identify and care more about what's going on.
  • An intrusive narrator breaks POV's voice and does not make you care about the characters
  • If you have a good POV it should feel like 1st person when its actually in 3rd.

There was a lot more to the class, it was three hours of POV and Voice, we covered linguistics and how that can help your writing, scene development, character voice and lots more, so I will add to this topic another day. Hope these tips help!