#ReblogAlert – Quotes and Writing by D. L. Finn on #StoryEmpire

Today’s Story Empire post is from writer and blogger, D. L. Finn, and is sure to be a hit with all writers. Denise talks about the inspiration and creative power of quotes, especially about writing and from famous authors. You do NOT want to miss this one, I promise! LOVED it, and the quiz at the end, too! Thanks, Denise!

Go HERE to enjoy Denise’s post! You’ll be glad you did!

#ReblogAlert – Don’t Talk Like That: How To Write Good Dialogue – Name Dropping by Harmony Kent on #StoryEmpire

Yesterday’s Story Empire post by Harmony Kent featured a great beginning to her new series on writing dialogue. I loved the examples she shared and her tips on this subject. Check it out for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s well worth a read, and I know I’ll be following along with Harmony’s future posts in this series. 

Read Harmony’s post HERE

#WritingRambles #amwriting – Writing “What You Know?”

Good Morning, Folks!

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday in central Florida, after a drizzly, gray Saturday. Happily, yesterday’s weather didn’t stop anyone from attending my talk on Owls at the gorgeous DeBary Hall Historic Mansion.

In fact, we had four extras show up, but had plenty of open space at the back of the room to accommodate them at a safe distance from everyone else. And as you can see from this week’s header image above, I’m still in an owlish kinda mood. (This is a barred owl, btw, my favorite of all.) And talking about these wonderful birds yesterday, gave me the idea for this post today. 

We’re often encouraged or advised to “write what we know,” and in general, I tend to do that, as all of my books are set in the southern part of the United States (just as *I* am), and feature the kinds of people I’ve known all my life. (Except for the serial killer in Swamp Ghosts. I confess, I’ve known some unpleasant folks over the years, but none that I know of have ever gone so far as to kill people and feed ’em to the local alligators! 😉 )

But, in general, I do write people I understand and who speak in a manner I’m familiar with. I also go a step farther by including habitats and wildlife I’m familiar with, too. I like to set up a scene so that readers will feel like they’re “there” along with the characters. For me, this can include describing a canoe trip on the St. John’s river, or a walk through a Florida wetlands area, or a slippery climb down a rock face beside a North Carolina waterfall. I think many of us do this when setting up a scene, and if done well, I believe (hope!) it makes it all more real to readers. But I want to take it a step farther today.

Here’s my question for you: do you ever include things from your real life that only your friends or family would likely recognize? Maybe as a private joke, or maybe simply because whatever it is happens to fit well with what you’re writing? I do, even though I don’t set out with that in mind. It’s just that as I’m typing along, I think of a familiar item or happening, or even a line of dialogue, that is part of my life in one way or another, and find myself including it.

For example, in Swamp Ghosts, one of my secondary (but pretty important) characters is Lester Purvis who drives an ancient, primer red and gray, 1967 VW bus. I’m very familiar with this bus, as is everyone who knows Mark and I, because it’s parked in our garage. My husband has had it since the early 80s, and, like Lester, has always planned to restore it to its former glory. (He drives it for short errands on the weekends, and can’t stop at a traffic light without someone pulling up beside it and yelling out to ask if it’s for sale.) You would be staggered to know how much he’s been offered for it, even with all the body work it needs. Apparently, being the last year they made VWs with the split windshield gives it some serious collectability. 


(Taken many years ago. Nothing much has changed.)

The VW is one of the more obvious personal tidbits I’ve tucked into my books, just for fun, but I find myself drawing on small events and funny moments from my own life fairly often. I’ve also mentioned a real person now and then, like my friend Bev who owns the DeBary Nursery, where my character Willow Greene likes to buy plants for her herb garden. Heck, even the barred owl that greets Sarah on her arrival at Wake-Robin Ridge is taken from my life. Everything is fair game, I figure, as long as it doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy, and it actually fits into the moment I’m writing about. (Bev was thrilled, btw. She sells my books at her shop and one of her customers who’d bought a copy of Finding Hunter from her returned to get Bev’s autograph after reading the scene! 😀 )

So, your turn now. Have you ever included something of this nature in your own books? Maybe as a little nod to a friend or family member? Or just to make yourself smile as you’re writing? Tell us about it in the comments below, since, as always, inquiring minds wanna know. Especially if you’ve ever included any private jokes or situations that only some would recognize. 

Thanks! And have a beautiful, peaceful, productive day! 🙂

Catching Up – #amwriting #MondayBlogs

 

HELP! Where Did All My Writing Time Go?

Happy Moon’s Day, Folks! I hope this Monday morning finds you in good health and good spirits. Just wanted to take a moment to let you know that my blog posts may be spotty for a bit. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am never going to get caught up again in this lifetime, but I can’t keep floundering in a sea of To Do Items and ignoring my writing. Sad but true, the time comes in life when we no longer have quite the energy or stamina we once did, and we have to slow the pace a bit. 

As a result of the above-mentioned (and truly annoying) energy decrease, I haven’t written a word in months, and it’s making me very unhappy. Therefore, I’ve decided I’m  going to take some time to write each day (at least until I get my 4th Riverbend novel completed) even if it has an impact on my blog posts and my blog visits. I’ll do the very best I can to keep up with both, but if I miss some of my regular features or a stop or two at my favorite blogs, please forgive me. And don’t be alarmed. It just means I’m working on my book.

 I know most of you will understand how frustrating it is to want to write but not have time to do so. (And the pandemic isolation, oddly enough, was not at all conducive to the process for many of us, either.) The good news is, I started said book Friday and managed to get the short prologue and the first two scenes of Chapter 1 written. Words cannot express what a difference even that little bit has made in my overall mood. Stress levels are definitely lower, and I’m actually smiling again. 

I have #GuestDayTuesday posts scheduled for several more weeks, and will definitely be reblogging Bad Moon Rising posts through the month’s end, and Story Empire posts always, so it won’t be completely empty here. I plan to touch base at least weekly, and I’ll try to find time for other goodies here and there, too, though I’m not going to promise when or how often. Once I’ve made substantial progress on this story, I’m sure things will starting heading back to normal, but until then, I hope you’ll all understand if you see less of me online for a few weeks. 

Thanks so much, and now, the Painter Brothers are demanding my attention. They have some interesting things happening in their lives, and some new characters coming into play. Must. Go. Write. 


Yes I know these three guys are really actors, but in MY world,
they are Hunter, Forrest, and Jackson Painter, and I’ve 
truly missed them! 🙂 ❤

Scheduling Change for #FirstLineFriday

Good morning, Everyone!

I have come to the conclusion that my basic time management skills are rudimentary, at best, and possibly totally lacking altogether. I seem to have no realistic sense of how much I can accomplish in any given day or week. Or month. Or year. (I think you see where I’m going with this.)

Because I’ve fallen desperately behind on my current WIP, The Emissary 3, and because my readers are getting restless and emailing me regularly about the release of this one, I decided I have no choice but to cut back a bit on social media, at least until I finish this novella and get it published.

I’ve already slowed down on some of my regular features like #MondayMeme and #ShareAReviewDay Tuesdays, for which I apologize, but I’m still too far behind. So  I’ve decided to feature #FirstLineFridays every other Friday until I catch up a bit. I do plan to resume the regular weekly schedule of each of these things as soon as possible, but I hope you’ll understand that for the immediate future, I need to focus on my writing until I get TE3 finished.

This is a temporary situation, and I will be picking up the pace again when I’m more in control of my workload. HONEST. I enjoy this blog too much to disappear completely, so I will still be sharing some things here on the blog, as I’m able. But I think it will be much easier for me to manage if I don’t try to stick to a preset daily schedule. That just becomes a source of frustration when I fail to meet it. 

Thanks so much for your understanding, and rest assured I will be picking up where I left off as soon as possible. In the meantime, I have Jake, Dodger, and Azrael waiting for me to get on with their story, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on. 

 

DON’T WORRY!! Things will be back to normal before you know it! 

NOTE: Since it is a time-sensitive subject, I will continue my weekly Peace Talks Countdown posts, which are pretty much all set to go, already.

 

Check It Out: Mae Clair Visits James Cudney to Share “Write Tight” Tips

Check out Mae’s excellent post on James Cudney’s blog, This is My Truth Now. She gives some very helpful pointers on how to “write tight,” with great examples. It’s Good Stuff, and you’ll want to share it with others, so they can also benefit from her tips! Thanks, and thanks to Mae and James for such a solid post! 🙂 ❤

Tips & Advice: Readers & Authors – Write Tight (Guest Post by Mae Clair)

OCD About Books? You Bet! #amwriting

Am I the only one who gets a tad OCD about her favorite books? I have now created my very own “Still Life with Crows” on the shelf directly over my monitor. Every time I look up, I’m reminded of how much I love the Pendergast books. And crows. And then I continue typing, much inspired. Silly? Possibly. But it makes me happy, and what’s better than being hard at work with a smile on your face?  

BTW, the two books on the right of this little tableau are Leigh Bardugo’s duology, Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom, two huge favorites of mine, too. How could I resist adding those gorgeous crow covers to my little vignette? I couldn’t. And I highly recommend using your favorite books in creative ways around your work space, too. It really is inspirational. That’s my story, an’ I’m stickin’ to it! 😀

Have a great afternoon and an even greater weekend, folks! ❤

A Wonderful Article on The Creative Penn by guest author Rob Eagar #amwriting

Check this one out, folks! Lots of practical advice for how to use words to increase your books sales, with plenty of examples included. This is something we can all do and it doesn’t cost a cent! I’m going to be working on some of these ideas as soon as possible, and I feel sure some of you will try them out, if you haven’t already been using these methods. (Don’t forget to share!) 🙂 

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2019/05/31/book-marketing-3-ways-to-use-language-to-sell-more-books/

Listening to Your WIP – #WritingTip #amwriting

We’ve talked about this in the past, but as I avail myself of the process more and more, I now wonder how I wrote anything without stopping to hear my words now and then. At the very least, how did I dare submit my revised document to an editor, never having done so? And yet it’s SO easy.

Like many of you, I have a regular writing routine, even though it got a bit lost in the post-hurricane shuffle. I’m getting back to it again. I write every morning, immediately after taking care of any emails that won’t wait. I always plan to write at least two or three hours, but more often end up writing for longer periods of time. (Thank you, Fitbit, for reminding me to get up every hour and walk for a few minutes.)

The first thing I do when I sit down to write is to go over what I wrote the day before. I prefer to catch obvious errors and make little tweaks before moving  on. (It saves me lots of time in revision to start with a  fairly clean copy, plus it puts me back in the story for the day’s work ahead.) And for the last year or so, I don’t just read what I’m going over. I listen to it, as well. You can download several good apps to do this, but having tried a few, I prefer using the one that comes with Word. It’s free, and honestly, it sounds every bit as good. Plus, since I write my books in Word to begin with, it means I don’t have to open another program.

What’s that? You didn’t know Word would read your work back to you? Neither did I for a long time, but thanks to a post here some time ago, I found out it does, if you ask nicely.  😀  It’s EASY, and this is how you do it. First, open your WIP in Word. Take a look at the very top of the page, in what is called the Quick Access Toolbar. It looks like this:

The default setting for this toolbar includes the icons for Save (the disk), Undo/Redo (the arrows), and Speak (the speech bubble). If you have somehow removed that from your Quick Access Toolbar, click on the DOWNWARD pointing arrow to the right and scroll down to where it says More Commands. Click on that, and this is what you’ll see:

You can choose among the options in the left hand list to add them to the right hand list. Once they are in that right hand list, they will appear in your Quick Access toolbar. If you do NOT see “Speak” in that right hand list (note the red arrow), find it on the left side, and move it over. Click OK at the bottom, and when you close the menu, you should see the icon in your Quick Access Toolbar. See? Easy.

As for how you use it, just as simple. In your document, highlight the text you wish to hear and click on the speak bubble. (Be sure your speakers are on.) The voice will read what you have written. If you’ve never done this before, you may not realize this, but your ears will pick up lots of things your eyes miss. Double words ( to to, the the) and omitted words, for starters. That alone is worth using this. But you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll notice that a sentence you thought was fine is really quite clunky. Or perhaps you missed that it’s a run-on sentence, and hearing it aloud brings it to your attention. And phrases or character names that have been repeated far too often will positively jump out at you.

I often struggle with a tricky paragraph, and will stop to listen just to that before moving on. It’s amazing how hearing  it out loud immediately alerts me as to why I was having trouble with it. I can often fix the problem simply by reordering the sentences. And sometimes, when I hear the paragraph out loud, I realize it’s just dumb, and should be deleted at once. 😯

So there you have it folks. Whether you use this tool as you go along, like I do, or save it for final revisions, I bet you’ll find listening to your work a major help. I hope so, anyway. I sure do. Give it a try, at least. What have you got to lose? 🙂