Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More on dialogue

People react to things. And they react to most things with dialogue. I like to let my characters conversations work around their reactions. Something happens-conversation. And you know what the fun thing is about dialogue? It leads me to different places. New places. Places I never dreamed the story was going. Who was it that said dramatic dialogue has two audiences? I think it was Aristotle. The character being spoken to and the reader. And the writer is talking to both. Pretty good stuff if you ask me.

Writers need to listen to the world around them. Writers need to listen to their characters. I've read books where I knew the author never heard his characters speak. He typed what he thought they would say. We know that talking to your characters is a good thing to do. Don't we become our characters when they talk? I was Anna in my MG story. At times I was Claire too. They told me things. They showed me things I never expected them to.

An exercise I learned some time ago. I forget where. Strip one of your existing dialogues, so much that you take out the original scene. Ask someone to create a list of four or five details from your world. He might choose a detail from several different settings. He might use senses. Have him write this on an index card. Tape it to your computer. Rewrite the original dialogue and use these details.You might have to reshape some other things like the setting, etc.. But work in the original dialogue as much as possible. The part where you stripped it down. Allow the dialogue to react to the new details. Change context and speaker. When you finish a paragraph, if you don't see a scene, start over. Do this four times. Read them and look at what has happened. This exercise can take your story in directions you never knew it could go. And it can also lead to a new story. One that you never even thought you would write.

You'll be surprised at what you find. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Have you ever?

Have you ever compared two books for the handling of dialogue before? If you have, chances are they were very different. For example, one of the writer's characters might sound like they are drowning in dialect. Then the other one's sound like they are from another dimension. And the more books you read the more confusing dialogue can be. So who is right? Hmmm. I have been thinking that it depends on the reader. I don't believe there is really any certain way to do dialogue. For me at least, I think I just try to believe in the language I hear. And I make sure I listen to voices and really hear what they are saying. I want my characters to sound real.

I think really listening to the voices we hear is the key. Listening to the way WE ourselves speak isn't enough. The world has a lot of voices in it. We talk to one another. We sing. Our voices tell others a lot about ourselves. People communicate. It's life. So I'm listening a lot more people these days. And it's paying off. My dialogue sounds REAL.

What do you think about dialogue? Does it come easy for you? Or is it the hardest thing about writing you do? Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Contest over at Gumbo Writer

There's a great contest going on over at Angie's Gumbo Writer. It's a title contest and the prize is your choice of Writer's Delight or Cajun Goodies package. What are ya waiting on? Head on over! :)

Please follow the link

I hope everyone had a great unplug week. I ran into some problems, my van broke down on the way back from the hospital on Wednesday and I had left the cell phone at home. My son and I were stranded over four hours on the interstate. Do you realize how fast the semi trucks whoosh by? It was getting dark and we made the decision to start walking. A good Samaritan with a cell phone saved us. I was able to call for help.

My birthday was yesterday and I loved the attention I got. My sister fixed a scrumptious cake and dinner. She gave me a lovely hooded jacket. It was all good until I realized, "Yikes, I'm another year older."

Please follow this link. I am SO FURIOUS. This is someone that my children watched for years and now to see what he really thinks, just makes my blood BOIL. I stumbled across this link on Friday, but since I unplugged, I couldn't share it until today. And I wasn't breaking any unplug rules... it came across my email.

Are you as shocked as I am? Okay, I understand that this is after all the onion and I do know that their stuff is mostly mockery and lampoon but another writer told me that this particular story was true. I'll never trust word of mouth again. Though it could still be...:)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's that time again

Unplug week starts tomorrow. So I hope to get a lot of writing done. I do have to take my son to take more tests, but I'll write while waiting. I'll plug in, the hospital folks expect it now. I hope everyone has a great, productive week. Happy writing! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ARRRR--Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is, Talk Like a Pirate Day. WOOHOO! I love this day. I spend all day talking in my best pirate voice. The family gets a little tired of it, but hey, the horses love it. So speak in your best pirate voice today. Here, I'll get you started.
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!" And pity poor Beth. We have our crit group meeting today. She's going to love hearing her critique done in my best pirate voice. : )

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writing is an itch. What has it taught you?

Writing for me is an itch that I must scratch daily. I read where someone said that the writing life was like the sex life. And the longer I do this, the more I believe that is VERY, VERY true. I desire to write. You are reading this post, so you desire to write. I think it is an ache. And I don't have to think about it. I just do it. It comes naturally for me.

When I know it's time to write, I sit down and type. Writing is an attitude. And it's a feeling too. I use all of my senses. I touch, see, smell, hear, and speak when I write. I use my mind. But all the things that I have been through in my life, the things that have made me who I am, have made me the the writer that I am today. Everything. The good and the bad. Through writing I have discovered what makes me tick. I'm intense! Who knew? :) Writing has taught me that I am very organized(most of the time). And that my punctuation skills are ZERO! Thank you, thank you Beth. God knew what he was doing when he gave me a high school Literature teacher for a critique partner. Grammar skills stink too. But I learned that I do have a huge imagination. Yeah. *fist pump*

What have you discovered about yourselves through your writing? What has it taught you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We're alone, yet together

A writer has a lonely job. I mean we spend hours and hours alone in our offices or studios or wherever we work. But we are together. We are all working to that same goal. And it's not to be published so much as it is to create. I love making my stories come alive. Whether it's my picture books or novels. I am so thankful that I can do this. And so thankful to have all of you. I'm thankful for my family, my sons doctors, our farm, and of course, for my horses.

Tess got me to thinking as I read her post yesterday. When we sit alone in front of our computers, we can know that we're all in this together. And that we're really not doing this alone. We couldn't do it alone. We need our critique groups. We need our bloggers. We need our beta readers. See? We're not alone at all. When one of us gets an agent, or is offered a publishing deal, or gets to do a guest stint on Rachelle Gardner's blog, (you know who you are)*grin* we're thrilled for that person or persons in the case of the guest stint.

Writing can't be done alone. Someone said, "Writing a book is like building a house or birthing a child or starting a company. Okay, I guess you could do it alone. But we don't have to. Isn't that wonderful? I have learned to be a better writer, thanks to all of you. My writing family. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How do you name your characters?

My MG novel had two girl protags named Anna and Claire. Anna is THE main character, Claire is her best friend and is in the novel from beginning to end. I always wanted to name one of my characters in one of my books Claire. And it really fit good in the novel that I just finished. Claire was Claire. But I really had a lot of trouble settling on Anna's name. Which now, I can't imagine her having any other name. Anna is Anna. But I went through a lot of names, even Claire for the main character. Claire was the best friend. It was a feeling I had. I finally thought about my Irish grandmother. Her name was Anna and she was a strong little lady. So the Anna was given to my girl.

How do you pick the names for your books? I really want to know. I find it interesting. My new novel has a boy for a main character, Michael. And I went around and around with that too. He was originally Jack. Jack ended up being his stepfather. The names tell me where they want to go as the characters are becoming more real to me. I do believe that if you're writing a book like historical fiction that you need to check and see what names were popular in your time period. And I read that the names Brian, Keith, Gary, Christine,(care to weigh in Chris) Sharon, Carol and Linda should only be used for characters over forty. In other words those are the names of parents or grandparents for those of us writing for children.

What say my pals in the blogosphere? :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have you joined?

A group for authors and illustrators of children's books, from picture books to YA, in all genres, plus aspiring writers and all readers who love children's literature. Authors and illustrators, tell us about your published work, what you're working right now, any cool stuff you've seen or heard about in the field of children's books, post your book covers or illustrations and more. And don't forget to spread the word about this group to all your contacts in the writing community. For aspiring writers, connect with published authors or other writers like yourself and for readers of all ages, check out what your favorite authors are up to, discover new ones and join in discussions.
Check it out here

It is really a great bunch of writers sharing what they've learned. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Check this out!!

The Literary Lab authors invite fiction writers to submit your 1 to 2,000-word short stories to us. The contest deadline is December 1, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. PST, and they plan to announce the winners on January 7, 2010, which marks the Literary Lab's 1st anniversary.

With Genre Wars, they want to celebrate all genres of writing. So, whether you write science-fiction/fantasy, horror/crime, literary, romance, children's literature/middle grade/young adult, or experimental, send in your work!

Write something new. Send something old. Polish something up. If you've never written a short story before, now's your chance to try it out!

20-30 special selections will be chosen for inclusion in the 1st Genre Wars Anthology. All of the profits from this print-on-demand publication will be donated to a writing/reading non-profit organization that will be announced in the future.

6 genre class winners will be selected, one from each of the genres listed above (assuming they have entries in all genres). Each of these stories will be posted on their blog, followed by an author interview. Each winner will also receive a $10 gift card to a book store of their choice.

1 overall winner will be selected from the genre class winners. In addition to the prizes listed above, this writer will receive an additional $50 gift card to the book store of their choice.

Contest Guidelines
1. E-mail your 1 to 2,000-word short story to before December 1, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Paste the work in the body of the e-mail with breaks between paragraphs (hit return twice). They will be reading all submissions blind, thanks to a kind volunteer who will send them the entries with all names removed. No attachments will be opened.

2. In your e-mail subject line type GENRE WARS ENTRY. In the body of the email include your name, the title of your work, word count, and which genre category you'd like to compete in: 1. science fiction/fantasy, 2. horror/crime, 3. literary, 4. romance, 5. children's literature/middle grade/young adult, or 6. experimental--yes, you have to pick one.

3. Works must be previously unpublished, and we ask for the rights to post the winning stories online and/or in print in the anthology. Afterwards, you are free to include the story in your own collections or as a reprint in another anthology.

The judges for this contest will be the Literary Lab co-authors: Michelle Davidson Argyle, Scott G. F. Bailey, and Davin Malasarn.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, hop to it! Write that short story you've always dreamed about writing. Not always dreamed about writing a short story? Write one anyway! And good luck to all the entrants. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

My treasure from one of my super bloggy pals and remembering

I got this most wonderful award from one of my most wonderful bloggy pals. Tricia over at Talespinning honored me and I am very happy to accept. Thank you Tricia!! It means so very much to me. I really respect Tricia and all my blog pals. It's wonderful having y'all to turn to. This comes with no strings attached, but I want to give it to some folks who ALWAYS leave super comments on my blog and all the other blogs too. :)

Linda Kagewho btw, has a book coming out early in 2010. And a baby on the way. Visit her blog, you'll love it. :)
Scott at A Writer's Blog is my pal and yours too. What a great guy who never fails to make us laugh.
Cindy Wilson always has great, inspiring things to say. Her blog is super too.
Jennifer over at Me, My Muse and I. She is funny and always makes me smile no matter what is happening in my day. Thanks guys!

I am remembering those who left us on 9/11 today. Say a prayer for those that were left behind. What a day that was. God bless America!!!!! :)

I was home-schooling and a friend called and told me to turn the TV on. I know I don't have to tell you that our school work was canceled that day. Where were you when the twin towers went down?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Could be titled, Why Am I Writing Crud?

I noticed this last night. My last chapter is crud. Not all of it, mind you. Just some of it. So now I'm worried that I've lost my golden writing touch. Things were moving along. Now it's crud. UGH.

Am I tired? Yes! Home school has begun and life is moving along. Hospital visits pick back up in September too. My diabetes is letting me know that it is there with a vengeance. Plus, there's all the talk about the H1N1. And where will I be when this virus is picking up steam? Chapel Hill hospital. Oh yeah, and I'm writing crud. I can't give myself permission to put my WIP on the shelf for a little while. It's really good. There are parts of it that I am so proud of.

Do I force myself to put this mystery on the shelf for a few days? Or do I write through the crud? Would you just keep writing until you come out on the other side?

What say you my bloggy pals. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I just read a really good YA book.

I had to tell you about this book even though I don't usually do reviews. The name of the book is, After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings and Flew Away. It was written by Joyce Carol Oates.

For the YA audience, this book is filled with a teens anger and guilt. Jennifer's mom is killed in a car accident and Jennifer is badly injured. She has to go live with her aunt because she really has nowhere else to go. Her father abandoned her years before. Jenna finds acceptance in some bad places, a friend who really isn't and in "Crow". A friend who really is a friend. Crow helps Jenna to see who she really is and that she really does matter. Bridges and birds are very essential to this story.

This is a great book about understanding teens and even understanding things in our own lives that touch us. It is an amazing read and I'm sorry I haven't read it before. It was published three or four years ago.

It has a lot of unhappy stuff in it, but I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it before. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Write Network or the wrong network? hehehe

Have you heard of The Write Network? They say that they will help writers do things write. The Write Network subscribe to all the contributor blogs and any articles which help ‘writers do things write’.
They claim this should drive traffic as well as introduce writers to new readers who may have come via another contributor’s post on The Write Network. Sounds GREAT huh?

Not too! Inkygirl(who I love) has had a serious breech of trust with The Write Network. You can read it here. This should make all writers keep their ears and eyes wide open to this network, at the very least.

This should stand to warn us all of the dangers of putting our words out there. Be careful my writing buddies. There's a world full of con artists out there. And while The Write Network may not be con artists, per se, they are at the very least unfair and misleading. Don't be taken in. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Elana's new ebook

Woohoo for Elana! Her ebook From The Query To The Call is coming out September 14th. Woohoo! Elana's website states that it will launch just in time for the fall querying season on Monday, September 14. Anyone who helps her promote it by announcing it on their blog or website or facebook or twitter or whatever will get a discount! So mark your calendars. WOOHOO!

I don't know about you but I'm all over this. I'm tweetin', bloggin' and facebookin' all about this. Seriously, this will be a HUGE help to all writers out there.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What's the BEST thing a writer can do to hone his or her craft?

In my opinion the answer to the above question is to read, read, and read. I am trying to read every book that I can get my hands on. Mostly middle grade, YA and picture books because that is what I write. But also some adult books too. I read where someone said,"read a thousand books of the genre you're interested in. Then write your book." And that is so true. The more I read, the better I write.

I love seeing the way writers use words and detail to make their stories come alive. I am amazed at the beautiful sentences they use to transport us to their worlds. Now when I sit down to write I think about these writers and their lovely words.

I run into a lot of people who don't like this advice. They don't have the time to read they say. Writing takes discipline. I want to be published one day. I want to read everything I can get my hands on.

As I write this I'm trying to master one form of narrative that's especially effective and that is the beats that follow lines of dialogue, instead of tags. I hope I said that so you can understand what I'm talking about. I'm reading a book called For The Sake Of Elena by Elizabeth George. She is a master at things like that. What do you think is the BEST thing a writer can do to hone his or her craft? :) Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of my writerly life.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And the winner #6

Beth! I'll send you Tess' email. Congratulations! :)
Thank you, thank you to everyone for such a GREAT turnout yesterday making Tess's first blog interview extra fun, fun, fun! I will say that Tess and I had a great time with it. I got to know her and believe me she is a wonderful person. But I don't have to tell anyone that. I will announce the winner in a bit. :)

Has anyone used the NEW Dragon NaturallySpeaking software? You simply install it on your computer, and you can speak your story while driving, or doing the numerous tasks that we all do in a day without sitting in front of your computer or laptop. It is much smaller and easier to use than the older version. I know a writer who is using it and she says it is amazingly accurate. It comes with a headset too.

She wrote several emails with it and even updated her facebook. My question is this. Is there a way to import sound files? And then have them transferred into text?

It seems to me that this is something moi needs when traveling to and from the many hospitals and doctor offices that I have to go to.

I guess many of us could use this handy device. Cost? $45.00, including the headset off Amazon. Not bad, huh? This will definitely make life a little easier for a lot of writers I know. :) Have a fantastic day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I want to welcome Tess Hilmo today. Applause please! :) No the frog is definitely not Tess. :)

I am pleased that Tess agreed to do this interview. Thank you Tess for joining me today.

Thanks, Robyn. It’s my first ever blog interview, which is super fun!

Tess has decided to do a give away in honor of her first blog interview. What must you do to win? And what do you get as a prize? The sweet stuffed NoJo Jungle frog that you see at the top of this post and a $10 Amazon gift certificate. To win, just give us a comment on the interview. After twenty four hours has elapsed, I will use to determine the winner. Then I'll notify the winner and the winner will contact Tess and she will send you your prize. And why a frog? Tess's book, With A Name Like Love has a character who is a herpetologist (that's the study of frogs). How does all this sound? Like great fun? Let's start the interview.

Tess, we know that you recently signed with an agent. I know that was an exciting time in your life. What was your reaction the first time you answered the phone and it was your agent?

We had communicated through e mail a few times prior to ‘the call’. He said he was interested in discussing the novel with me and we arranged a time that worked for both our schedules. So, there was no real ‘surprise element’ to getting the call. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous, though! I had a list of questions all ready, but we just chatted about the novel and the market and ourselves and I didn’t ask a single one of those fancy questions!

Did your agent offer advice for revisions?

After signing the contract, we discussed some revision ideas. They were relatively minor things, adding to characters or scenes. I tend to write very directly and he wanted more ‘layers’ put in. We then sent it out to a couple of editors who gave even more feedback, offering to review the novel again if I chose to complete the revisions. Like I was going to say no! I guess the most interesting thing I’ve learned is that revision ideas are often WAY more general than I had expected. Things like, ‘could this character be more vulnerable?’ or ‘could the town have more of a journey?’ Why don’t they tell me exactly what to write and let me do it? Sheesh, that would be so much easier!

Have you and your agent discussed marketing plans?

Not really marketing plans, per se. I guess he’s just interested in getting the dang thing sold and then we’ll move on from there. He is was happy that I keep an ongoing blog and my statcounter shows him coming over and reading through the posts and comments from time to time. That’s always fun to see.

What is the best and most difficult part of having an agent?

The best part is having someone who is invested in you as a writer. Who is interested in what your next idea and work will be. The most difficult part is having someone who is interested in what your next idea and work will be. Don’t get me wrong. I am so blessed to be working with Steven and he is a great agent. Still, as writers, we are often solitary in our craft. Opening your mind and laying out your ideas for critique can be daunting. It’s something I had never considered prior to this point. Having an agent invites a business partner into your private writing world. It’s wonderful, but also an adjustment.

What do you think about social networking? Besides your blog, I'm talking twitter, facebook, etc.. Do you think it's important for authors to do it?

Not if they don’t want to. There is a certain level of transparency that I am not comfortable with. I mean, who cares what I ate for dinner or who is standing in front of me in line? TMI, IMHO (hehehe). But, we do need to be available. We need to have some sort of web presence and it needs to be updated regularly. Editors/Agents look. They Google your name. You want them to find something.

Did you get a lawyer to go over the contract? Do you think that is important?

I didn’t. It was contract language, but it was all very understandable. Nothing terribly unexpected. I had researched Steven prior to querying him. I was comfortable with his reputation and didn’t worry too much about the contract details. They were all pretty straight forward.

Do you jump every time the phone rings?

No, but I get a little pulse of excitement every time I see a new e mail in my inbox. He communicates about 85% through e mail, but is happy to call if I am feeling a need to really discuss something. He always sets an appt. with me if he is to call, which is something this mom of 3 appreciates!

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed!

Sure! Do you think anyone will read it?

May the commenting begin!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What to do when a scene just isn't effective

I worked on a scene ALL weekend. Yep, you read that right. All weekend! UGH. Said scene just wasn't doing it for me. I know I'm in my first draft, but I vowed to fix this before moving on. Eureka! I did it! Now I cam move on in peace. This made me take special interest in Camy Tang's post yesterday. You have to go here to read it all. It is worth the extra click though.

I really love the idea for change that she talks about. Even something as simple as changing from day to night can spark your writing and bring you back to the story with a fresh perspective.

And as we all know, always, always try to make things worse for your poor characters. That emotional reaction to your characters draw the reader in. Way in!

So head over and check out the Story Sensei. Thanks Camy! :)

Drum roll please! Tomorrow is de day. Hmmm, Angie you must be gettin' to me. I'm cajun now.:) Stop by for the interview with Tess Hilmo. :)