Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dialogue Tags: Outdated or Out of Favor?

Thought you all might enjoy this article about dialogue tags by
multi-multi-pubbed author, Gail Gaymer Martin. It explains
why you should do away with them to make your POV stronger,
and if you do use them, to only use said and asked (I don't necessarily
totally agree with just said and asked, but who can argue with 28
very successful books?) I try to use tags sparingly and when I do, try to keep them to said and asked and an occasional whispered.

Okay, I admit it. I love the tag, whispered. Is there a writers' support group for that? Although, I'm sure saying, his words fell in a tickle of warm breath against her ear, would have more impact. That would be whispered, right? Hmmm, okay, may have to rethink the whispered addiction.

Here you go:
http://writingright-martin.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-dialogue-tags.html

Do you try and avoid the use of the tired tag? Or do you growl and snarl your way through a story? Leave more to the reader's imagination by leaving them out? Let us know how you feel and how you handle dialogue tags...

Swing by Hartline's blog tomorrow where we'll discuss this some more.
http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Voices in My Head

Now, you can take this one of two ways.
I need help (sometimes I do) or:
I need a keyboard and a few hours alone.

Let’s just assume I’m talking about the second type of voices in my head.

From the time I was a young whipper snapper, I couldn’t look at the news or a an article without my mind insinuating, ooohh, that’d make a great story. I remember writing my first novel in eighth grade about a horrible fire and a pilot who took a flight up to try and seed the clouds so it would rain and save the people below. For whatever reason he couldn’t do it properly, so he died trying to release the chemicals in order to save the people.

Pure unadulterated cheddar!

But, I had heard of some massive fires and heroics being done to save folks’ homes. And I simply HAD to write and tell their story.

Fast forward about 28 years. Now, I still had felt those tuggings all those years, but ignored them in order to raise my kids, do soccer with my kids, theatre with my kids, and re-enacting with my husband. In other words, I put the not-so-alive aside for the sake of the living.

But the voices never quieted.

I’d watch the news and mmmmm, that would make a great story filled my head again. And it’s not enough to say I only had an inkling of an idea. The characters came immediately to life; I could hear their dialogue and see their faces, fighting for the right to live! Without sounding trite, I began to understand just a trickle of what someone with a disorder might feel like, cuz those communities of people living in my imagination really wanted out. Wanted their stories told. Even pushed and shoved at each other for who would be first in line.

Bless the first folks’ heart. No one will ever read their story. It was horrid, but, at least, I told it, however lamely…

For non-writers reading this, I’m sure they’ve already reserved me a room in Happy Acres where I’ll get the rest and medication I need, but for you writers, you know.

Ahh, yes, you know so well how it is when the new folks come to town, take up residence in your mind, and begin picking away at your imagination until you have to tell their story or lose sleep night after night.

How is it for you? How do you sort out and decide which of the voices come alive and which are put aside for another day? Or, do you just head for Happy Acres, sit in front of the TV, and pretend they never existed in the first place?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When Do You Give Up?

When do you look at the days, weeks, months, and even years you’ve been writing (without pay) trying to get published, and say “enough”?
That’s right…
I-Give-Up!

I started my first story when my daughter was 12. She went to a birthday sleepover in a huge snowstorm, and on the way home I began to question my sanity. Do I know the girl’s parents well enough? Is she safe there? What if I had to go back in the middle of the night? What if I did and nobody was in the house. Everyone and everything was gone. The fear literally forced me to sit down and write my favorite work. Finished, edited a b’zillion times, but still, unpubbed.

I’ve written seven since and only this year is my first work coming out.
Lemme give you a hint, my daughter is almost 30.
I overheard a young woman at a local writers’ group ask one of the guys when they thought she’d be pubbed and earning a living from her writing so she could call herself a writer. Believe it or not (and most of you who know me will) I stuck my two cents worth in. And I told her this:
When you have to write as surely as you have to breathe, only then will you be a writer.

I know I’ve read where it really is a choice, but I don’t believe that. God makes singers to sing, intercessory prayer warriors to pray, first responders (military, police, firemen) to respond, and writers . . . to write.
Good or bad, polished or a diamond in the rough, a writer MUST write.
So, if you are a writer, truly called to bring stories to life, then never give up. You aren’t called to be a quitter, you are called to be:
A writer.

Swing by Hartline's blog http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/
for a discussion of losing your unique "voice".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old Story or Old Lady? Who is Your Protag?

When writing a new novel, we take into account who the protags are: appearance, occupation, past, personality, social status, and a myriad of other issues. But, do we seriously consider our characters’ ages as a must to a successful story? If so, how and why?
Let’s look at the typical age for most female protags. Anywhere from 25-late thirties. Why not late forties? Fifties? Sixties? How about seventies? Have you even considered for a moment writing a protag in her eighties?
Generally the geriatric crowd is relegated to second place, a doting grandmotherly type who is there with wisdom and babysitting skills.
Not fair?
Well, let’s think about who the average book buyers are (30-44 )and how they are able to relate. And, of course, remember, we all think we’re younger than we are.
If I’m sixty years old, why must I read about 30-something?
Quite simple, really, I’ve been there. I’ve had the opportunity to experience the first kiss, holding hands at the altar, the sound of my children’s first cries. I’ve been there when my kids threw up on my only dress while participating in a Civil War re-enactment where water was scarce. My feet spent hundreds of hours playing in the back yard or searching for four leaf clovers to prove their existence. I worried over a child who’d wandered off, worried about how to explain the birds and the bees, and even had to survive explaining to my children why mommy and daddy were going to be living apart. All experiences that took time and growth over the years. And added hundreds of tiny wrinkles along the way, I might add. I mean added character-yeah-that’s it!
I also had the joy during those times of teaching my precious children that God loves them, even when it doesn’t seem like He’s there. And those teachings often came at a price.
So I can relate to all the tales about 30-somethings that I read.
I can remember and relive some of the beautiful moments of my own life (and most were) while enjoying the author’s personal take on that ageless period.
The 30-something, however, has no way to relate to: kissing someone with Geritol breath (I’m kidding here, folks…or am I?) reminding someone what they ate for breakfast yesterday, having help opening a jar of pickles because it’s just too doggone hard anymore, hot flashes and menopause, having difficulty taking the stairs two at a time like we used to.
You see, us “oldies” can relate to a younger protag because we’ve been there, but the younger readers have no way to directly relate to an older character…for the most part. Hence, most of our protags are younger.
Are we, the Oldtimers being cheated? Not at all. Our walks down memory lane are sweeter, more intense, more applicable for having been there. And a good writer will help us forget we’ve grown older and allow us the sweet pleasure of recollection.
Ahh, that first kiss!
The very reason I occasionally chuck the suspense novel and reach for a romance. There is no better memory than young love, and when I read about the happy couple overcoming adversity, I’m twenty or thirty-something again, and his breath is warm and minty and soft against my cheek, without a hint of Geritol!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Accepting Responsibility/ZERO DEFECTS

While it is so much easier to pass the buck, particularly in today’s society,
we, as writers, have an obligation to produce the best possible work we can.
And when that work is finished, we must further edit, read through, polish,
edit some more, and polish even more.
In the end, after the entire book is ready for publication, when we
have the last opportunity to make our work shine, do we simply look at
the words, awed by our “wonderful” literary sense,
or do we take that last moment
to dig into it and be sure the work is typo free?
Having served in the Air Force, way too long ago to go into, I can
remember one expression that was drilled into our heads:
ZERO DEFECTS
We not only were encouraged, but we were expected to
produce a product or a service with
ZERO DEFECTS.
This wasn’t an option. They didn’t tell us that as a suggestion.
It was EXPECTED in much the same way we should approach our writing.

Let’s here the cry from coast to coast, office to office, computer to computer.
Raise your voices in smart, crisp military style:
Sir! ZERO DEFECTS! Sir!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We Must Never Forget






We must NEVER forget!
While reading Max Anderson’s post
about his new book,
When the Lights Go Out,
it brought to mind that this year is the
tenth anniversary of 911.
Now, already, someone’s scratching
his head going tenth anniversary of the
emergency phone number?
Come on, if you’re over 25, you
should know exactly what I’m talking about.


The day America died just a little bit!

But more importantly, the day America learned she still had
a backbone with plenty to say to anyone wanting to hurt her.
I can tell you exactly where I was—at work.
One of our patients came in and said something about
a plane ramming into some building in New York.
Then another patient and another.
I ran over to a store, grabbed a small B&W TV, the mini kind,
and took it back to work so we could find out what was going
on outside our calm little burg.
One of the therapists made an offhand comment about
not turning it up too loud, she wouldn’t be able to hear
herself think. After convincing her it might be worth checking out,
we watched in horror as the building collapsed.
Our Pentagon? Hit? No way, couldn’t happen.
Our way of life being threatened? Who would dare?
An hour later our boss called and said for everyone
to go home and be with their families. Who knew
what might be coming next?

A small piece of all of us died that day along with the thousands in
the Towers and the Pentagon and those brave souls aboard
Flight 93 who through their selfless actions stopped further
carnage from taking place.
And those brave first responders who put others lives ahead
of the their own. Many still paying for it today with health issues.

What do you tell your children about 911?
Do you tell them about the
bravery of the Americans?
The cowardice of the terrorists?
The wakeup call to the greatest
country in the world?


It must NEVER be forgotten what happened that day.
Those of us who lived through watching the scenes unfold, one
graphic nightmare after another, must NEVER allow
complacency to become the norm. Apathy the new tolerance,
and a call to freedom, a whispered memory.

Max Anderson wrote a tribute to those of 911 with one of
his books for boys, When the Lights Go Out.
This should be a must read for every family with children,
boys or girls. Let the conversation open up and let your
children know they must NEVER forget what happened the day
America got sucker-punched—the day a small piece of all of us died!

Here’s Max’s video…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfSEkGN5q0U&feature
and here’s his site where you can find out more about
this book and many others.
http://booksandboys.blogspot.com/


God bless America!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is There Anything More Exciting?


Is there anything more exciting than the first book cover for an author? Well, okay, there's the birth of your children, your marriage, the first time you realized Jesus Christ truly was the only Way, but I'm talking surreal things here, not obvious life-changing phenomena.

Okay, this won't rock everyone's world the same way,
but mine's rocked lemme tell ya!

Now, I just have to wait for the release...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take Off the Boxing Gloves

Okay, it's time to get right down to it. Take off the gloves and promote your work. Do you think it's too self-serving to talk about yourself? Does a Ford dealership brag about Chevy or Toyota?

I don't think so!

It's time to understand that if you don't have faith in your work, who will?

There's a difference between pride and promoting what you do. How far would a craftsman go if he only encouraged you to buy from competing craftsmen? So no more soft punches, take off the gloves and wallop the reader with how good your work is. We'd better believe in ourselves or why should anyone else?