Monday, January 30, 2017

The First Time Writer by Mary Deal



Some people seem unable to get a first story started no matter how many exciting plots they have rattling around in the attic. The advice given in some articles is meant to motivate would-be authors to begin. That same advice is sought by those already established in their careers and wishing to improve their talents.
You will...
·         have a story when you begin and then finish writing it.
·         develop your voice after you begin to write.
·         thoroughly understand character development when you realize how much fun it is to create story people.
·         learn all aspects of building a story. It happens naturally as you recognize your need to know more about composition.
·         learn to edit your work to perfection and will realize that the editing process begins from the moment you start to formulate sentences, paragraphs and then chapters.
·         discover ways to polish your prose and make it uniquely yours.
·         learn how to promote yourself even if thinking yourself a wallflower.

However, none of this can happen unless you reach the point of starting that first story. I would love to hear success stories from anyone who was helped by the advice in this book. I would wish everyone luck, but it’s not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of letting go of all the reasons for not writing and then getting started. It’s as simple as that.



 
 BIO:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers' references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California's Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Character Arc by Mary Deal




Writing a great character arc happens when using descriptive writing.
Your writing objectives should include interesting story people who are never stagnant but change as the story progresses. These changes are known as character arcs.
Knowing the story you wish to write, some pre-planning is advisable. You’ve written character sketches. You’ve plotted the story line. You should now be able to detect how your characters evolve as the plot proceeds. You will begin to understand the evolution that story people experience as you begin to flesh out the details.
A character arc is the overall view of how a character changed from the beginning of the tale till the ending. When you read other books, try to perceive, even pin point, the evolution the main character goes through and how they had changed by the time the story ends. This applies to all characters, but at least your main character requires a character arc. Approach the overall view of the arc with the intention to put your story people through some experiences that will change them.
An example might be the cop who has tried for years to solve a cold case and whose efforts are pooh-poohed for trying to wring something more out of dead-end clues. The story begins with him worn out from years of stale clues and no new leads. About ready to give up like other investigators have done, still he persists and then discovers something overlooked by all others. He can’t reveal his clue for fear of exposing people who could thwart his efforts. He tries desperately to solve the crime on his own.
In this scenario, the character arc begins with the cop, worn down, and ready to face the fact the case may never be solved. He doubts he’s a good cop. The arc evolves when he finds an overlooked clue. This is where the writer should employ descriptive writing to enhance what happens to change this cop. He’s found new motivation. The next step in the character arc is the determination he shows to get the crime solved. He’s got a new reason to come to work every day.
After he solves the crime, he is vindicated. He’s definitely a new man. The writer can make this new man an egocentric braggart or can make him humble yet full of self-confidence with a new respect from his fellow officers. You can write a character arc that may have the character end poorly or magnanimously, but changed. It’s all in the descriptive writing and what the author wishes to accomplish with the story.
Another example is, perhaps, the main character is a stodgy matriarch whose control of her extended family never waivers. In the story, she believes something to be true. The story action then proceeds to show her changing her viewpoints. She becomes a better person for understanding in spite of her mistaken beliefs. Her status in the family doesn’t change. Her character arc is depicted when she changes her viewpoint and determines to be more open-minded and better informed. Her emotional or psychological growth arc becomes the character arc of the story; all the while her position in the family is maintained.
The character arc does not apply only to actions taken but to thoughts and beliefs as well, even if the character does nothing physically but stand her ground in the hierarchy.
Focusing on the character arc upholds the conflict or tension of the story overall. What the character experiences on an inner level affects them on the outer plane and is what contributes meaning to the story overall.

Know your writing objectives or story purpose and best define them with descriptive writing. Most character arcs are shown through emotional or psychological processes, but the character changes can come about through physical actions that further show the inner workings of the character’s mind set.

BIO:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Character Sketches by Mary Deal




How to bring your characters to life.

Assuming you’ve chosen your POV, you will already be thinking about your characters. True, too, you may have been thinking about your characters before choosing your POV. The two go hand in hand, or word-for-word.
In order to flesh out your characters and give them ample zing, it’s a good idea to make lists of attributes for each player in the plot. However thorough, you must then write your scenes to fit each character. That is, each scene that you write when a character appears in the story should reveal what you planned for him or her when you made your list, and how you planned for them to act.
Of course, as the story develops, any character may take on a different persona than you first imagined. That’s not a problem. Amending the original sketch will suffice, keeping in mind how the new character image affects all the other characters and the plot overall.
I've always been interested in how characters are set up in stories. It's no longer good enough to list features and attributes in paragraph or outline form, which seems like we're looking at a person from head to toe and describing what we see. That’s vital, but characters do something while they act out who they are. Sometimes one thing they do can set up the reader’s impression of them for the entire story.

Here’s my list of traits for the character Randy Osborne from my Egyptian suspense novel, The Ka:

Highly educated
Physical anthropologist
Works with biochemistry and genetics
Mama’s boy
Totally insecure
Sneaky
Secretive
Jealous
Always eating
Overweight
Short brown hair, greasy and matted
Wrinkled clothing
Kind of short
Embarrassing to be around
Obnoxious, to cover insecurities
Opinionated
Not very well liked
Dislikes Chione (the protagonist)
Thorn in everyone’s side

After you make your list, the next practice that will prove immensely productive would be to write a paragraph or two incorporating those characteristics. Then the first time each character shows up in the plot, you’ll be able to incorporate some of the qualities or lack thereof that you’ve assigned to them.
You do not need to use all the attributes in one paragraph when the character makes his or her entrance.
Simply use their habits and traits soon as possible to help round out that personality. If the story goes too far along without clueing your reader as to what they can expect from each character, those characters will seem flat or unimportant.
Here is Randy’s character sketch from the completed novel:

"Everyone looked to Randy, who stood supported with a hand on the back of a chair, flagging a leg back and forth as if his underwear might be caught in the wrong place. Then he lifted the leg a couple of times in a last ditch effort to end his discomfort. His personal habits were reason for a good snicker among the tight knit team, who could politely ridicule one another, then laugh. At times, criticism from any of them seemed all in jest, a way this group of high-strung colleagues dealt with stress.

“At other times, Randy’s behavior was repulsive. He seemed to take great pleasure in eating all the time and, thanks to his mother packing his lunch, he always had an ample supply nearby to pick at. His continual weight gain and lack of personal hygiene turned people off. He always looked sweaty and wrinkled, with matted hair. No one relished the idea of sharing a tent with him in the heat of the desert. Finally, he reached behind himself and gave the seat of his pants a tug. Not the kind of professional posture one would expect from a Physical Anthropologist who worked with genetics and biochemistry."

This is similar to the rough paragraph I wrote soon after making the list of attributes for Randy. When I got to the first part in the story where I needed to show him in action and give the reader the full blast of what they could expect from him, I was shocked to find I had already written what I needed!
This paragraph appears as soon as Randy ridiculously makes a big issue of something in the story. After that, we know full well what to expect from him as the story proceeds.
Readers know that all characters go through what is called a character arc which is more fully explained in another of my articles. That’s when the character starts out as one persona and then changes to another by the end of the story. Sort of like the good-guy-gone-bad or vice-versa. Despicable Randy goes through a shocking metamorphosis but, well…. I’ll leave that for another article.

 BIO:


Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The End of Sagging Middles by Mary Deal

                                                                                    


Many books I’ve read start off with great beginnings and even end with surprises. However, their middles left me wondering why I should keep reading. Truth is, the beginning had set up a situation I wanted to see to completion, so I read to the end, but getting through the middle was nearly an arduous task.
You’ve heard the term sagging middles, right? Many books begin and end in a spectacular manner but the middles offer little. In order to keep your story from developing a sagging middle, you must keep the action going.
In a crime investigation, have some clues show up, only to be disproved. Or have the perpetrator almost caught but gets away.
In science fiction, when the hero flies to a distant planet to rescue his love, have him meet with landing bays locked down tight with no other access to the dying star which will eventually explode. He further meets resistance from ships guarding the planet who want to see it explode into oblivion, taking all inhabitants with it.
In a romance, have two people falling in love, only to have one person come in contact with the person with whom they were previously involved in a obsessive and addictive affair.
The prescription for sagging middles in all genres is to bolster the action by keeping it going. Anything new can happen in the middle of a story as long as it follows the rest of the action and is written in such a manner as to not look contrived to hold the beginning and ending together. Whatever happens must be natural to what was offered in the beginning. Whatever is offered in the middle must also be instrumental in bring about the plot’s stunning conclusion.
What action is included should serve to keep the conflict and great tension building throughout. By building in intensity, you not only hold interest through your story middle but set up a more dramatic ending.




 BIO:


Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*



Friday, January 6, 2017

Frozen January by Patricia Crandall

 

 
Bagpiping
through the forest
winds tear at leaves
clinging to branches
whorling
to crystalized ground
 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thoughts on Books signings: Yes? No? Hmmm?



There is considerable discussion out there about whether in-store book signings are of any value to the author - or to the book store itself for that matter.

As far as the retailer is concerned (particularly with e-books and online availability and everybody and his brother writing stuff, good or bad), as long as purchasing sufficient quantities is not a bookkeeping nightmare, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Other than the expense of purchasing your books with guaranteed returnability (a biggie!) and perhaps providing a quickly whipped up blurb on their website, and maybe a little on-table poster, there is virtually no expense to them. Some places will offer you a cup of coffee.  No big deal.

As far as the author is concerned, this can be a little hairy.  If you are a mega celebrity like Stephen King or Madonna, there is no problem. Your publisher takes cares of all expenses and the books stores stand in line clamoring to play host, ditto the customers. If you are like the other 99.99% of the author-world however, there are definitely some out-of-pocket expenses.

Forget about your time, as in time is money. Unless you still havent quit your day job, your time should be considered an investment.  If you need to provide your own books for sale, this is usually not a huge issue, since you probably have sufficient quantity in the closet.  Your car, on the other hand, can be very cranky.  It is one thing to travel ten or fifteen minutes down the road.  It is something else to drive fifty miles ONE WAY.  There's gas, wear and tear, insurance, and maybe tolls involved. There is also no guarantee that anyone will buy a book. 

Most authors do not mind too much if they dont MAKE money. They do mind, however, if they LOSE money. 

Probably the key to the value of book signings is the authors expectations.  One must be realistic. Where is the venue located?  Little-Town is not New York.  How many people are interested in your subject? (Be honest)  How many books do you think you can reasonably sell? (Be honest) How much money can you expect to make per book?  Your books cost you money to purchase.  The store wants to make a little something. The reader wants a good value.  And again, There is also no guarantee that anyone will buy a book. 

But what will happen if you do nothing?  Nothing.  If you do nothing, nothing will happen for sure.

The bottom line truly depends on the author. How engaging are you?  Announce yourself as the author of the day.  If you stand, make eye contact and engage the customer, you may not always make a sale, but you stand a better chance.  If you plunk down at the signing table and wait for people to come to you, you will have a long wait. 

Major advice:  You need to develop a sense of your target customer.  Male or female?  Old or young?  If you write children's books, go for the grandparents.  Kids dont buy books. Grandma does, and she is more likely to buy one than tired, harried, worried and financially stretched parents.  If you write serious or academic material, you need to be in a bookstore near a college or university. 

Hand out your cards or bookmarks or flyers or whatever else you want to give away. You dont need to bake cookies. You dont need free pens.  A backdrop poster is fine if you are going to a book fair, or a venue with other authors.  Otherwise a small dish of wrapped hard candies works just as well with no effort. And they dont get stale.  Encourage your prospect (if you get one) to email you with their comments.  Have a guest book, and let them sign it if they want to be on your mailing list. If they dont, let it go.  And do not be surprised or disappointed if somebody's gives you a bogus email address. That comes with the territory.

Like Polonius said, know thyself.  Shy does not work.  Bored does not work.  The store provides a venue, a chair and perhaps a public address announcement. That's all folks.  They cannot provide customers, and they cannot make the customers interested in your book. 

It is up to you.  If you haven't done a book signing, you absolutely need to do one if you can.  See if and how you can make it pay off.

Or not.




Feather Schwartz Foster
MARY LINCOLNS FLANNEL PAJAMAS and Other Stories from the First Ladies Closet
THE FIRST LADIES
LADIES: A Conjecture of Personalities



The Letter S by Mary Deal

Drop the letter s . If you believe that one letter couldn’t possibly cause you to receive a rejection, I encourage you to think again, ...