Tag Archive: story



Okay I haven’t said anything about “The Ship” lately so I thought I’d bring you all up to date on what’s happening on that front.  The news is that there’s been a lot of writing and rewriting of scenes as I try to get the first draft done.  As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, I find writing the 2nd book more slow at times, but the quality of what I’m creating is better overall.  Because I know some of what to watch out for.  Are the characters behaving like themselves?  Am I making the motivations for their actions clear?  Is this believable? Are things easy to follow and not confusing for the reader?  Am I doing a good job introducing and re-introducing the main characters for both previous readers and those who are new to the series?

Usually, a lot of this would be caught in the second and third drafts.  But from my perspective, a lot of this has make sense to ME before I can expect my readers to follow it.  And if what I’ve done isn’t working for me, there’s a problem.  I’m one of those author’s who says, “Hey, this part does not jibe with what I’ve got going on over here.  This has to be fixed now!”    As you can tell I’m one those people who can’t leave it as is and just redo it later.   I sometimes feel like I’m the character Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory”.  Which would probably explain why whenever I complete a really good scene I yell “BAZINGA!”

Luckily, I’m not on a tight schedule.  I don’t plan on releasing “The Ship” until the end of September or beginning of October later this year.   However, in spite of this, I still want to really get a lot of  this story done right the first time.  And I’m taking extra measures to make sure the final product surpasses the original in quality.  I’m adding a few more Beta-Readers, and grammar editors for a start.  From there, I’ll be getting some professional editing done as well.  I’ve already got the book cover ready and you can see down below this post.  This saves some time down the road and is one of the perks of being an artist as well as an author.

Another added benefit to this plan is that I’ll have some down time between waiting to hear back from beta-readers and grammar checkers.  During that period, I’ll working on book number three, “The Door”.  I’ll also focus on “The Vampyre Blogs” as well.  Hopefully this will mean a shorter wait time for my readers between future releases.  At least that’s what  I’m hoping for.

That’s all for now.  See you all again real soon.  Take care and have a great week everyone.

 


Okay fellow writers, here’s a question for you all.  How many of  you find yourselves working and reworking a scene because something just isn’t right?  In your mind, you know what you’d like to happen, but something just doesn’t seem to be working right.  You make a change here, then a slight a tweek there and suddenly everything goes KAFLOOEY!    You suddenly hit a dead end, or the entire plot has taken a detour to No-wheres-ville.  When this happens to me, I get the same feelings I had whenever I tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube.  I know all the parts and where I think they should go, but they’re just not in the right spot.  And trying to get them in their proper place can be a nightmare some days.

Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions.  Some people tell me to have an outline, but that never works for me.  Why?  Because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn’t originally planned.  Admittedly I let them get away with it, but only if what they’re doing seems to be working better than what I originally planned.  Sometimes this works, but not always.  When it doesn’t I do one of two things:  I’ll delete it completely and try again OR  I’ll save the scene in a separate folder on my computer.  You never know when an unused scene can be useful later in your present story, or could wind up being perfect for another book entirely.

Personally, I kind of like it when I can just delete the scene because then I get to point and laugh at my characters saying, “See?  I told you this wasn’t going to work… NEENER-NEENER.”   Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone within a 30 foot radius.    It’s at this point my unseen characters got to point and laugh right back at me, which is really annoying because they know I still need them and can’t kill them off.  Damn, my creations can be annoying at times.

Anyway, getting back to my original point.  Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times.  But, there are many ways   of tackling this problem:

-You might change who’s in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast.  This can change the tension levels and the entire feel of the moment.

-Change the location where the action is happening.  Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.

-Is a major piece of information about to be revealed in this scene?   If so how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment?  Maybe you should only reveal a portion of the information.  You can whet the appetite of both the characters and the audience with this method.  By doing this your characters can go off half-cocked, which can make for some very interesting scenes as they make any number of mistakes or jump to wrong conclusions.  I personally like this because the character who isn’t perfect, and learns from their mistakes, is someone the audience can really relate to sometimes.  On the other hand the characters can aware that something is still missing and we can follow their efforts to learn more which can lead to some very tense and exciting scenes as well.

So, don’t be afraid to tear apart a scene that’s frustrating you.   Try some really different ways of reworking it.  And if you find yourself still hitting a wall, ask yourself  if the scene is truly relevant in that particular point of the story.  Maybe it can be replaced by an entirely different scene that can serve a similar purpose.    Who knows, you may wind up with something that opens new avenues for your plot that are even more interesting than what you originally had in mind.

What other methods or tricks have you come up with?  I’m sure everyone reading this would be  interested because we’re all trying learn from one another when it comes to writing.  So please leave your experiences and suggestions down in the comments section below.

And for the record,I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik’s Cube.  Mind you I did not remove the decals and change them around (which is something my wife did when she was kid).  Nor did I take the cube apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up.  What did I do?  Simple, I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight.  A very creative solution, don’t you think?


Within the last 2 years I’ve taken 5 different dance classes: Ballroom, Jazz, Ballet, Latin and Improvisation.  Plus I intend to take more in the fall over at my college.  Now I do these because dance is well-within the tolerance levels of my Fibromyalgia.  Plus I learn so much more about “Core-Building”, fluid movements, music, etc.  Plus, I enjoy trying all these different styles and seeing how they make me feel body-wise, emotionally and mentally.  Quite frankly I find it all quite stimulating and refreshing.

Now what does all this have to do with bringing characters to life and making them feel more real?  Simple.  To me, a person’s life is the sum total of their experiences both good and bad.  How we react, what choices we make, all of these things shape who we are and who we may yet become.  So if a life is shaped by experiences and how they made you feel, how can your characters be any less human than you or me?  But a character is a made up person with no real past or experiences, EXCEPT for the ones we as writers give them.  In my case, I give some of my own personal life experiences to my various characters.  For instance I’ve given the skill of Ballroom Dance to two of my characters.  I gave them different levels of experience, one was a beginner the other was extremely advanced and taught others.  Now, in no way am I an expert in Ballroom, BUT I knew people who were and was able to get some insights from them.  I transferred SOME of these insights and experiences to the characters.  You’ll note I said SOME of these insights and experiences.  Because unless the main story revolves around Ballroom, why should I bore the reader with pages and pages about that kind of dance?  I give the audience snippets of those insights and the joy and feeling of dance.  Enough let them get more information about this character and what makes them happy and why.

But there are other life experiences I’ve  drawn upon as well.  But I’ve also given my characters experiences from the sad times in my life such as  losing someone close to me.  The pain, the feeling of being lost and confused by the experience of someone no longer being a part of your life.  People can relate to all of this and can feel sorry for or commiserate with the character in these situations.  It makes the reader feel more like the person they’re reading about is more human, like someone they know.

Hobbies or jobs are another way of making your creations seem more like real people.  Their pet peeves at the job.  Annoying co-workers, friends, what they do off the job together.  All of these help make a character seem more like a real person.  Draw from your own life, give bits of your feelings or experiences to your people to make them more than 2-dimensional caricatures from a comic strip.  Remember, your characters are your children, shape them give them life and the audience will appreciate and love them as you do.


As you all know I’ve been working on my second and third novels for a while now.  Mostly the second one which has been taking longer than I had anticipated.  At first I wondered why this was so?  I was much more experienced since my first go-round with completing a book.  I’ve learned a lot of the pitfalls and mistakes that can be made by now.  So I should be able to crank this puppy out in no time right?  WRONG!

Now before I proceed, remember I’m only speaking for myself and what I’m experiencing in this process.  I’m still very much on the learning curve and I would love to hear some of your experiences down in the comments section below.  You may very well wind up giving insight to other issues I haven’t thought about yet, which could be very helpful.

Anyway, as I said before the process is taking longer than I’d hoped.  I originally figured I’d be laying down the plot for book four by now, while having book three 2/3’s of the way done.  So what’s been happening?  Why am I working so slowly?  I think it’s several things.

First, folks who’ve read “The Bridge” really loved it even with the imperfect editing job I’d done on my own since I couldn’t afford a professional editor.   Yet the readers were willing to overlook any issues on that front because they were swept up on the story.  Plus they fell in love with the characters and how they interacted (especially with Alex and Veronica).  So, there are high expectations for “The Ship”.  However, I’ve shifted the focus to the second lead couple Julie and Cassandra, and relegated Alex and Veronica to a few brief chapters in the new book.  But what happens to them is still connected to the new story and has major implications for book #3.

So with the shift in attention to Julie and Cassie I’m dealing with a whole new situation.  They have a much different relationship and chemistry.  Alex and Veronica already had long term relationship when we met them.  But Cassie and Julie are just beginning a romantic relationship.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with their story, Julie and Cassie are lesbians.  So right there the dynamics of their interactions are going to be a bit different, and not just because they are both women.  I’m approaching their situation like I would any two people who have just become a couple, but I’m also keeping in mind the added pressure and worries of being gay.  They know there will be those who disapprove of their being together, including some members of their own families.  And I’m trying to make their developing relationship both tender and realistic, rather than a male fantasy where they are just eager to jump into bed with each other.  I want to the audience to see them as real people, not just stereotypes or caricatures.

But I also have to keep the reader engaged by getting them to care about these two young ladies.  So I have to juggle events and scenes in such a way to keep the audience laughing, intrigued and rooting for them while slowly building threat of the approaching danger and mystery that Julie and Cassie are about to become enmeshed in.

Now another issue is the pacing of the story.  People loved how I did it in the first book.  It wasn’t too fast, nor too slow.  And I kept breaking off scenes in such a way as to make the reader eager to turn the page so they could start on the next chapter.   Not as easy as it sounds, at least for me.  But I believe I’m succeeding in keeping this up with the new book.

Another problem is too many details or unnecessary scenes.  This is something I encountered with the first book.  But in that case I didn’t realize how much of a problem it was until after I finished the first draft and then re-read everything.  This time I keep catching the problem as I’m still working on the first draft, which means I go back edit and rewrite as I’m going along.  Or, I’ll find a scene I wrote earlier works better in a section I’m currently working on, so I have to pull it out and move it.  Then I have to go back to where I had it and fix any issues the change made to that area.

Plus there are other issues as well, which I may cover in another entry.  But this gives you a good insight to what’s going on for me as the author.  Again I’d love to hear from some of you about what you’ve encountered with your writing.  I am using a ‘mental’ outline in my head.  I tried writing one out but kept changing it over and over as I went along that it looked more like a bad set of directions that could get the most experienced cartographer to throw up his/her hands in surrender.  Everyone has their own style.  Plus, my characters have a tendency to change the plan as I go along by coming up with alternative ideas that were better than the ones I’d had in mind.

So again I’m making progress, just a bit slower than I’d planned.  How is/was the writing process for you on your 2nd, 3rd or even 7th book?  I’m sure both me and the other readers would love to hear about it.  Please tell us about your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks to tuning in and I’m looking forward to hearing what you all have to say.  Take care and thanks for reading.


Well folks the response from my question about posting more about writing, and the different aspects that make up a story,  was overwhelmingly positive.  So here is my first posting in that vein.  Today I’m talking a bit about “settings” for your story.  Now settings do more than just give the reader a location where the action is taking place.  Settings do much, much more to the story.   They can be a mere backdrop or they can have a definite impact on how your characters are shaped.  How they become the people they are when we meet them in your story can be very much affected by their settings.

For instance… where does your story take place?  In Heaven?  Hell?  Another planet? This world?  If it is this world, what time frame?  Middle Ages? The future?  World War I or II?  Another time entirely?  And how does that setting affect the rest of your story?  Does the environment your characters are living in shape their personalities or how they get by in life?  Are they isolated with few friends because of the terrain or location?   Are they considered the outsider by the rest of the population who has been brainwashed to fit in and act a certain way by a higher authority?  In Frank Herbert’s “DUNE”, the setting of Arakis had a major role in shaping the main character Paul and his mother.  From leaving a world of splendor with water and lush vegetation to going to a barren desert planet, where water was more valuable than money or any riches.  The dangerous and harsh world re-shapes Paul from pampered youth to hard-bitten leader of the desert tribes of Arakis.  He learns hard and fast how to survive the threats of the planet itself, along with the political backstabbing that led to his father’s murder.  Setting can create a great tension that helps drive your story.

A setting can also be the major plot of a story as well.  In Ray Bradbury’s short sci-fi story “HERE THERE BY TYGERS” a planet itself is the main plot point.  A survey team for a mining company arrive on a planet that is sentient.  It offers them anything they could ever wish for: food, lush vegetation, water, even companionship.  It is a living paradise with the most gigantic and caring hostess you could ever meet.  Unfortunately, through the actions of one of their team, they learn the price of disrespect.  He is killed after purposely trying to hurt the planet by drilling samples in a savage manner.  He hates all planets and feels they must be beaten down and tamed.  In the end, the rest of the crew decide to return home, all save one member who has fallen in love with the planet. The others learn of his departure AFTER they have left and envy him.  They know the planet will take care of him and even maybe extend his life in a lush world that aims to please him.  But they can never return.  Even as they look back on the world it now ‘appears’ as a violent raging world of molten lava and volcanic eruptions.  They realize that the world was in a way a woman who had offered them everything.  But they had scorned her and now she is furious and will not let them return to her surface.   A truly brilliant piece.

So what kind of setting are you aiming for?  An inner-city ghetto?  A desert where an army is trying to deal with survival in more than one respect?  Or are you creating a  quiet suburban town where ‘nothing seems to happen’.  In each case your characters must interact with their surroundings.  That setting should shape your character’s personality and development before and during the story.  In that quiet suburban town where your lead is bored, what secrets lie beneath the ground or behind those seeming bland windows of the cookie-cutter housing that lines the streets.

Settings are powerful tools and not just backdrops.   Keep this in mind as you write, because you never know.  The setting you create may be one that you’ll want to return to again because there are more tales to be told from there.


I wanted to say thank you to everyone who took part in my “Hobbit Birthday Party Weekend”.  Whether you picked up a copy of the book or helped promote it, thank you so much.  We all know getting the word out about a brand new book is more than half the battle for Indie Authors.  So this was a real shot in the arm.  I’m pleased to say that 39 people took advantage and snapped up a free copy through Smashwords over the last 3 days.  I felt somewhat vindicated for not going the KDP route, where I would have had to given them the exclusive e-book distribution and sales for up to 90 days.  I know Amazon is bigger and has a wider reach, but I never felt right about cutting off Nook, Apple and other e-reader customers.  So thanks for letting me know I did the right thing.

 

Now, I’ve never done a free e-book promotion before, so any of your more experienced authors please let me know if 39 was a good number or not.  I’m still learning as I go along this path.  As a result of the promotion I already got one 5 Star review that is now up on Smashwords.  I’m hoping for many more reviews, since it helps promote more sales or so I’ve read.

 

Today I’ll be working on my e-press release kit and then a physical one as well.  I also have to do research to find out who/where to send press releases to.  This is seeming to be the next big hurdle for me so if anyone has advice please leave it here, it would be greatly appreciated.

 

Finally, book number 2 “THE SHIP” is coming along nicely.  The first draft is about 1/3-1/2 done at this point.  I’ll be doing more drafts of course to clean things up and make sure the pacing is going well.  But even more importantly, to make sure I’m keeping the readers’ interest.  The new book has a similar fun feel to the first, but it’s also feeling quite different to me.  Mostly because I’m dealing with different leading characters, who were prominent in the first book.  But now the focus is on these two women developing their new romantic relationship as well as dealing with new and old enemies.  I’m trying to keep a balance between the nervous romance of two people getting to know each other more deeply, while also developing the secrets they haven’t shared.  It’s an interesting experience for me as a writer.  I know that in the end their relationship will have gone much further, but to make it happen gradually while not losing the fun ‘banter’ that a lot of people enjoyed in the first novel is quite a balancing act.  But, this is still the first draft.  Creating just the right balance is what 2nd and 3rd drafts (along with edits) are for.

 

Take care and have a great week everyone.

 

 


Here is the cover I’ve created for my 2nd novel in the Para-Earth Series, which will be coming this Summer.  I’m aiming for late-May or June for the release.

This story takes place during the one month lapse of time mentioned at the end of the first book “The Bridge”. It follows the adventures of Cassandra and Julie out on the west coast. Where they learn that not only is the evil they fought back in the first book truly gone, but a new threat has arisen from the depths of the Pacific. A threat known to Cassandra’s family and which is now hunting her…


Okay no advertising today.  Just some updates.   In the past two weeks I’ve been pretty busy with novel #2 “THE SHIP” which is a sequel to  my first book “THE BRIDGE”.   It takes up with two of the main characters from book 1, Cassandra and Julie and their trip to Santa Cruz California.  The other leading characters from “THE BRIDGE” Alex and Veronica make brief appearances.

While visiting the west coast, Cassie and Julie, must come to terms with their experiences from the first book as well as their budding romantic relationship and how deeply entwined they wish to become with each other.   But they must also deal with hidden dangers on not just one but 2 fronts.  Two of the antagonists from the first book have followed them here and are watching them carefully.  But even more importantly, a new danger has arisen from the depths of the ocean.  And this new threat is known to Cassandra’s family from the day’s when her ghostly guardian Brandon was still alive.

I’ve been going to great lengths to keep the suspense and intrigue of the first novel alive in this book, while introducing new characters and situations, that in turn will lead to even more stories down the road.   I’m very careful about always setting the stage for upcoming installments and try not to throw anything at my readers that will not one day come into play in the future.  I’m striving to keep my audience fascinated and entertained as much as possible.

Now in addition to writing the second novel, I’ve also been working on the cover for the 2nd book.  Here is a sample of the progress I’ve made on it.  Keep in mind, it is not completed and there is more for me to add to this piece as I want to put in more elements to increase the ‘Eerie’ feel I’m striving for:

Cover Update 314

 

In other news, I managed to get “THE BRIDGE” on the shelves of 2 bookstores  that carry Indie author Books.  I’m hoping to get into contact with even more bookstores in the near future.  I’m also expecting a phone call from a local radio station next week,  to set up an on air interview.  This will be my first one, so I’m both excited and nervous.  I’ll be doing some research about being interviewed on radio to help prepare myself so I don’t embarrass myself.

That’s all for now.  I’ll post again in a day or so with more news.  Take care everyone.

 


***END OF MONTH SPECIAL****

From now until the end of February, I’m running an e-book special on my novel “The Bridge”. This new 2nd edition (I corrected as many of the grammatical errors as I could find) will be available for $1.99 until February 28th on Smashwords.com. You can get the Nook, Apple, Epub and Mobi editions for your e-reader here. Grab yours now, because the price will go back up to $3.99 on March 1st.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/272613

The Bridge Book Cover 2.75

“THE BRIDGE” Has Arrived…


“THE BRIDGE” is finally here! My debut horror/paranormal mystery/sci-fi novel is available on Smashwords starting TODAY! The e-book formats are Nook, Apple, Sony. Kindle and traditional Trade Paperback will be available shortly. In the meantime you can go to Smashwords via the link below to sample the book or purchase it:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/272613

Final Version of the cover.

Final Version of the cover.

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