Sunday, March 1, 2015

Do We Need A Hero?

I finished watching my recording of the season finale of How to Get Away with Murder and I felt conflicted. I enjoyed the twists and turns. I have since the beginning, but I have been losing interest in the series. After the finale, I was leaning towards not watching it again. On the other hand, I do enjoy those twists and turns. I thought about the shows I usually record. They are crime dramas with a hero or heroine. The good guys go after the bad guys and win. I was left wondering whether or not a show needs a hero?

Romance writers and readers are used to having a hero and a happy ending. We leave our books or television with a sense that good overcame evil and all is right with the world.

Then I remembered Breaking Bad. I believe the character development was superb. We watched the nice guy, a teacher, turn bad for good reasons. Eventually, he had to admit he reached a point where he enjoyed being bad because he was good at it. But even when he was bad, he still protected Jesse and his family, including his brother-in-law, who worked for the DEA.

I get the impression that Annalise on How to Get Away with Murder would throw anyone under the bus if it fit into her scheme to win. I feel sorry for the character she had affair with. He seems to be a nice guy who has suffered the most from knowing her. The students who work for her have been dragged to the dark side as well. I feel sorry for them, but that isn't enough to keep me watching. I need a hero on this show. It is a popular series, so I am sure many people do not agree with me. We are all entitled to our own opinion.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Promotion on Twitter

You have a book for sale, now what? It won;t sell itself. You need to market, promote.

While tweeting and retweeting on Twitter, I have come across book promoters. I haven;t used any, but I plan to keep an eye on them and determine if they are worth using. I also don't plan on spending much money, so I'll check their price schedules. I'm not recommending these people, but I will share their names so you can do your own research.

Author Retweet
Free Book Promotions
Review My Ebook
Elite Book Promotions
AllBookBot
Free Kindle Books
NovelAuthors
Tweet Your Book

If you have any information about this list, I would appreciate the feedback.

Good luck,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year's Resolutions


Every New Year's Eve the topic of resolutions comes up. I resist making them, but usually give in. This year I've decided to think of them as continued growth in areas that concern me.

1, Organizing my home. I've started cleaning out the old already. I finally gave up my VHS tapes. Well, most of them. They went to Good Will today along with old cups and glasses I rarely use. I still need to place old pictures into albums and scan paperwork I want to toss.

2.  Increase my writing time. I've decided to keep the laptop on my lap while watching TV if I haven't written that day. This will allow me to open the file and work at a leisurely pace. I think I procrastinate sometimes because writing is work even if it is my passion. I don't know anyone who writes a perfect draft every time.

3. Increase promotion. My new laptop is helping tremendously. The touchscreen has allowed me to place my social media on my start screen. The links are at my fingertips. This too can be accomplished during TV time. Right now, we are watching The Sopranos.

4. Diet. I already reduced my sugar intake which helped me drop ten pounds. Next, I am going to reduce snacking. Changing one area of my life at a time is the key for me.

I hope your new year is everything you want it to be whether you make a resolution or not.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Lesson From Reese



Today was one of those days when The Universe conspires to send a message. On Facebook, I read a post from a writer who bashed the ability of well-known authors. She felt they should be cast aside to make room for newbies. Her frustration came through loud and clear even if I don't agree with such posts.

Later, I watched 60 Minutes. Reese Witherspoon spoke about the difficult time she went through after her divorce. Despite receiving an Oscar, she was having trouble finding projects that she was passionate about. Her career floundered. She was probably as frustrated as the writer on Facebook today. Reese finally decided to start her own production company and optioned two books before they were published. (I assume she received advanced reader copies.) She wanted to make movies that mattered to her. The first movie she produced was Gone Girl. Her new company made millions.

Reese reminded me that I need to write books that mean something to me, not just books that might get published by the big guys. Traditional publishers are going to stick predominately with the authors who sell millions. They are in business to make money. I don't need to be another Carol Higgins Clark or Nora Roberts to be happy, although it would be nice. I just need to know I am tapping into my creativity, using my voice, and putting out a quality product. Today, authors are fortunate. There are many avenues we can take to publish our books. We don't have to sink money into a production company to share our craft with the world the way Reese did. I don't know about the woman on Facebook, but I plan to focus on writing what makes me happy and not worry about who publishes it or how much money I make.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learning From Movies - The Fury




I am not a big fan of war movies, but I agreed to see this one with my husband. I'm glad to say the acting was good. The dialogue was usually believable. Unfortunately, most of the plot was predictable. At least it was for me. That could be because I'm a writer.

When they introduced the young soldier who wouldn't shoot anyone, I knew the story would center on how he becomes a killer. When the main jerk in the movie told him he was a good man, I knew the jerk would die soon. When they decided to face down over a hundred Nazi soldiers by themselves, I predicted everyone would die except for the young soldier.

To be fair, I did not predict that this handful of men would decide to face down over a hundred German soldiers near the end.

What can writers do to keep their plot points from becoming predictable? Write a list of possible twists in the story until you start to come up with ones that are different, yet believable, and true to the characters. You can also ask a friend what they think will happen next in the story and if they guess your plot, change it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What I Learned From The Eagles


My husband took me to an Eagles concert for my birthday last week. They are by far my favorite band. They sang for two-and-a-half hours and I recognized almost every song. Yes, we were one of the youngest couples in the arena. They started the band when I was in grade school and reunited when I was in high school.

Between songs, they told the story of their band.  I found something they said to be interesting and enlightening. At one time, people thought the band was history because popular music had changed, but they continued to perform the songs they enjoy and radio stations continued to play their music. Not all young people know who they are, but I was surprised to discover my twenty-six-year-old daughter knew two of their songs. She said the radio station had just played Witchy Woman that morning.

Writers who are chasing the trends and not getting anywhere need to stop and write the novels that speak to them. Even if you don't make the Top 10 lists, you will be happier.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tips For Entering Writing Contests


Like many writers, I have both judged and entered writing contests. I am not a contest diva, but I have finaled in over half a dozen and even won a couple. I learned the most about entering contests by judging them. I have a few tips I have learned through my experiences and by listening to other writers give speeches on the topic.

1. Make sure you are entering a contest that is appropriate for your genre. If you are writing a paranormal ghost story where the emphasis is placed on the paranormal element with little interaction between the couple in the story, you should not enter a romance writer's contest.

Your manuscript has a better chance of scoring well in a romance contest if the hero and heroine meet soon in the entry. You will find most romance readers want this as well.

2. Read the contest directions several times. They usually provide manuscript guidelines. If they want the first 20 pages, don't send them the love scene in the middle of the book. If they want double-spaced, don't send in a single-spaced entry. If they want an entry that is not published and not under contract, don't send them the first pages of your self-published book. If your book is available for sale  in a store or online to the public it is considered published.

3. Remove your name, address, email and phone number from your manuscript and synopsis before sending in your entry.

4. Ask for a copy of the judging score sheet before deciding to enter. A romance score sheet may judge on the conflict between the hero and heroine. This will give you an opportunity to read up on romantic conflict before deciding if yours is strong enough. If not, you can strengthen your conflict or decide not to enter the contest. Tip: An extremely strong conflict would be he is a fireman and she is an arsonist. I can't take credit for that. It is the most often used example floating around Romance Writers of America chapters for years.

5. Make sure your synopsis provides every major plot point including the ending. If it is a romance, you need to include the conflict. Tip: I have often heard agents and editors say you must include the ending in your synopsis.

6. Read over your entry several times for mistakes before entering.  A set of fresh eyes can help.
I have my husband give my entry a once over. He'll catch missing words or sentences that don't make sense.

7. Every score sheet I have seen includes a rating for point of view. Head hopping is discouraged. Your entry will usually do better if you stick to one character's point of view per scene. If you want to change point of view, you are better off changing at the beginning of the next scene. If the first paragraph gives the character's name, action, and thoughts, the transition to the new point of view will be made clear (usually).

8. End your entry on a hook that leaves the judge wanting to read more. (Advice given by Harlequin author Linda Style.) If the contest rules say "up to 20 pages" that does not mean you have to end at the bottom of the 20th page. I end my scenes with a hook and find that is the best place for me to end an entry. I may enter 17 pages if that is where my scene ended with a hook.

9. When deciding which contests to enter, look at the judges and grand prize. If your are trying to get your work before a major print publisher, you are better off with a contest that has one of their editors judging the final round. The Valley of the Sun contest has a grand prize that should appeal to both indie and traditional writers: the top scorer will have their entire manuscript edited by professional editors. If you want to spend a lot of money entering every contest available for your type of writing, that is also an option.

10. You are the final judge. Entering contests is an emotional roller coaster. You are on pins and needles hoping to make the final round, but when you read a negative comment, your bubble bursts. Just remember, judging, just like reading, is subjective. When you read a comment about your work, ask yourself if it rings true. If not, you can ignore the judge's advise. If all three judges make the same comment, you might want to think carefully before tossing it aside. There are times I read the score sheet, put it aside for awhile, and then went back to it before improving my manuscript again. I am in a better place emotionally to decide if the judge was correct or not.

Don't fall the words at the top of this blog entry, the main purpose for entering writing contests should be to improve your writing.

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