Friday, April 27, 2012

Outlines, Plotting, or Seat of Your Pants

Writers exist in two main camps: Those who outline and those who don’t. There’s value in each, but I think the majority do at least set out to follow some sort of plot structure. Letting the story flow on its own path can lead to getting lost mid-way through in my opinion.

I work with detailed outlining, tracking the passage of time and writing a paragraph - at least - for each chapter. Before that, I create personality sheets for each character so I can identify them by appearance, their backgrounds, temperament, etc. These are pasted on the walls around my computer, at least until I know them so well, they’re like family.

That doesn’t mean outlines can’t change, but working with a strong understructure keeps me better on track and looking forward to the ending. That’s why it’s also good to know the characters before I get to writing. That way, they’re less likely to do or say something that’s out of character.

The path to the end can at times be frustrating if a new twist or turn pops up. That’s bound to happen, and it’s part of the fun.

Plotting or not, reaching the last chapter is exhilarating and sad. I always hate saying goodbye.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Early Edit Agony of Manuscript #3

Goodness, March whizzed right on by, leaving me still in the early edits of Manuscript #3. I’m a little conflicted with this one as it’s exactly the type of book I’d like to read, but as a “techno-thriller,” it may be a little too slow in the beginning. This is the way it flowed, though, and I think it’s important to have a bit more backstory before the real action begins.

Labeling it “techno-lite,” it’s a story about (something) that will save the world, of course. I love the characters in it, all except for one. That’s the same fix I was in with Island Run. In the beginning edits, I realized the heroine was someone I didn’t really care for. She needed re-building, which wasn’t a difficult task, just an interesting one.

That’s where I am with the next book. All of a sudden, one of my male characters is just too bland. He’s a Texan, but not in a bigger-than-everywhere-else-is-Texas sort of way. There are some really bad people in here, a gruesome murder or two, and a race to save the day.

Back to my biggest worry, and that’s the perception of a slow start. For me, it offers a fascinating history of the company I’m writing about (which in itself is one of the “main characters”), along with the men and women involved. Their background is important (to me) and I’m going to leave everything intact for now. We’ll see what kind of responses that gets!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Island Run - a Thriller in Paradise

We rolled out Island Run at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords over the weekend. In time, it will be available at the Apple store.

This new adventure/action/thriller (take your pick) races around the island of Honolulu, then takes to the water in a big boy’s cigarette boat for some wave action. Lindsay Mason is on the run following a hostage situation in a mall. Her only recourse for survival is Nicholas Bennett, a well-known islander.

I think readers will love the cast of characters and there are stories behind some of the events that I’ll be telling about later.

We’re excited to see Island Run get its e-book “legs.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Reading Zone

With the advent of on-line books, the freebies are pretty tempting, too. While some certainly fall into the substandard category, there are many gems to be had. Some come from the Big 6 publishers, while others are from independents. Sometimes, it's a popular tactic as an enticement for readers to purchase other books by the same author. It seems to be an effective tool for many.

The nicest thing about freebies is it allows readers to step outside their comfort genre zone. It's easy to grab something that sounds interesting, but may not be in a category that would interest you at a higher price (and especially at the price of a hardback).

My favorite change to date is Mozart's Blood by Louise Marley. My first vampire novel, which also doubled up on the fun with a werewolf, too. With an opera theme that crossed the stage of centuries, it also appealed to me as a unique historical. I found it fascinating and well-written; loved the characters and it was a book I could barely put down. While I would be tempted to read other books by this author, it's doubtful I'll be a latecomer to the whole vamp group.

New adventures are always fun.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Literary Gems for the Week

First up is a great headline:

Police Shoot Man with Knife at N.Y. Newspaper Office

(Wonder how many bullets that knife holds?)

Next, as seen around the Freelance Writing World:

"...have a bonus system to encourage our writers for their good work, but in order to maintain a good writing quality we have a fines system as well..."

(That's my bolding between the quotes. Yeah, a great environment, there. How bad would a writer have to be and, the next question, if you're bad enough to get fined, how did you get hired in the first place?)

Last, a new term from a more local source:

New word alert from a Century 21 Real Estate ad:

porta’ cache

Fortunately, a photograph accompanied this description. Go ahead, think about it, first, though. Ready?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Reading

Do you stick to one genre or do you, as a reader or writer, branch out? Do you go through phases or simply grab the next book that looks like it will be a good read, regardless of topic?

Some experts state that's bad, from a marketing perspective, to write across different genres. But, as a writer who does, I find it worth taking the chance. With so many full-length stories ahead of me, it's difficult to limit myself to just those in a particular category.

Next, I'll be focusing on action/adventure/thrillers. They've been a lot of fun to write and I absolutely love the characters in each one. In fact, I have their lives plotted out for sequels already.

I'll be posting a blurb and "test" jacket cover for the next one in a few days and then it will go up as a pre-holiday offering (I hope) back at the Sintra Publishing site.

P.S. As a reader, I've gone through hard-core techno, biographies, romances, family sagas, thrillers of all types, the classics, humorous fiction, and tons more. Our shelves are filled with such a variety - and so is my Kindle!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Write Right

Everyone wants to write, right? And, it’s why you’ll see some offerings in e-books that aren’t quite the best. OK, there are some horrendous offerings out there. While we can all be wonderful storytellers, getting it all on paper is the easy part. Getting it right, not so much.

The truth is, however, that traditionally published books also pack a few typos and grammatical errors here and there – even with a team of proofreaders and editors. Some bestselling authors even go against all the rules and litter their works with all the bad things we’re warned not to do. (Namely, the overuse of adverbs – those words ending in “ly.”)

It’s never wise to point fingers, though. Because sooner or later, even the best books get a low rating. In many cases, it’s simply because readers picked up a book that they didn’t “get.” Perhaps it took a turn into territories they don’t care for; it might have been for the use of a four-letter word(s), too much gore; shocking descriptions, and so on.

Should you depend on reader reviews? Probably, but not always. Consider the source. As in art, the story's quality is often in the "mind" of the beholder.