Monday, September 29, 2008

A Slideshow of Covers

Paper Bag Pumpkin



Paper Bag Pumpkin
by Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza

225 - FolkArt ® Acrylic Colors - Pumpkin, 2 oz.
661 - FolkArt ® Metallics - Sequin Black, 2 oz.
724 - FolkArt ® Acrylic Colors - Evergreen, 2 oz.
Black
1 Paper lunch bag
Scrap piece of card stock
Foam paintbrushes
Sponge
Scissors (parents help)
Hole punch – decorative eyelet optional (parents help)
Old newspaper
Green pipe cleaner



1. Using a foam brush, apply the pumpkin orange paint to the front, back and sides of the paper bag and allow to dry. Paint the scrap card stock with the green paint and allow to dry.
2. Cut the sponge into a triangle shape. Dip the triangle into the black paint and press onto the front of the paper bag in the appropriate spots for the eyes, nose and teeth.
3. Cut 3 leaf shapes from the green painted paper and punch a hole in the top. Add a decorative eyelet if desired.
4. Stuff the bag with crinkled up newspaper, twist the top together, attach the pipe cleaner around the top and add the leaves to the pip cleaner. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner into curly q’s.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Take Control of Your Holidays!

Okay, I have to confess. I’m one of those disgusting born organized people who have an updated Christmas card list, get their shopping done by Thanksgiving, and generally disgust normal people. There. I said it. I’m not normal, and I know it.

Most people run around trying to surreptitiously find out Aunt Matilda’s address every year, shop from December 12-24, and scream they can’t find Mom’s recipe for the stuffing the know they filed “somewhere safe” when they found it last March.

Is it any wonder one of the most ubiquitous articles in every woman’s magazine is about handling holiday stress? Stop the madness! Wouldn’t you love to know that address, budget so you don’t have credit debt to your eyeballs, and can serve that delicious holiday meal of your dreams?

Let’s grab up a few simple supplies and get ready for the holidays in simple steps. You’ll need:

A ring binder or two. (I needed two. One for the “regular” organization and one just for the recipes.)
Binder dividers and labels.
Good quality, top-load sheet protectors. Get a whole box if you really love to cook.
A calendar. I printed out a simple one using an MS Word template, focusing just on October through January. However, that one you keep on the wall will do nicely.
Paper. Steal a few from the kids’ filler paper stack, if necessary.

This part’s easy. Really. Put the dividers in Binder #1 and label it Holiday Organizer. Put the sheet protectors in Binder #2, if needed, and label it Holiday Recipes.

Now, here’s the next step. Take those papers and label each across the top:

Note: Please feel free to modify this list to suit your own needs and holiday celebrations. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect the first year, or even the second. This is your personal memory aid. Do what you can. This is to ease your stress, not add to it.

Mailing List—Cards and/or Gifts. If you have to mail it, you need addresses. Make that list and get those missing addresses now.
Favorite Holiday Traditions – This is a great time to sit down and discuss those traditions. I found out none of us cared for some of ours and we were all doing it to please everyone else! Now we do precisely what everyone agreed upon and keep it simple.
Stocking Stuffer List— Everyone has their little preferences. Write them down. DH knows to get me black Flair pens, and he always gets a new mag flashlight. Dante likes to get a small box of chocolate covered cherries. Why not go ahead and get these things now?
Gift List – This list will change from year to year as children grow or social circles change. However, some folks like certain things like gift cards to certain stores. Write this down. Nothing helps you keep a budget better than a list. I’m so terrible about impulse shopping that I buy on the Internet so I don’t wander around a store buying more than I need! I even ship direct from the site, since many of my family live in far-flung places. Sometimes if I buy a certain dollar amount at one website, I can get free shipping!
The Budget—Mine is very simple. How much money did I save divided by the number of people I have to buy a gift for. Other people get more elaborate. Do what you feel is best.
Dates to Remember – Shipping deadlines, the office party, church functions, deadlines for homemade gifts, and that one poor person who has a holiday birthday. Transfer these dates to your calendar and hang the calendar back up.
The Holiday Menu (You may need one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas.) This is up to you. You may serve only one certain menu or many.
Travel Notes and Checklist- Departure and return dates, packing list, who’s taking care of the pets or do you need to book a kennel?
Decorate! —Do you always forget to decorate the guest bathroom or you never remember from year to year where those “perfect places for that thingy” are? Write them down. I always forgot the special holiday welcome mat for the front door. A note helps me remember.

Now for the recipes! Go dig out all those wonderful holiday recipes. Don’t obsess! Just find the ones you can. You’ll find the rest later. You always do. For now, dump them into the sheet protectors. I spent five years before I found that wonderful cookie recipe that had knocked them in the aisles twenty years before I buried it in the cookie recipe box. This will be an ongoing project for a few years so don’t sweat it. You’ll find Mom’s stuffing recipe eventually.

Now, don’t you feel better? Everything you need is in one place. Now when it’s holiday time you can stroll over and pluck your Holiday binder(s) from the shelf and flip them open, ready to begin.

Most of this came from the FlyLady (http://www.flylady.net) I urge you to check her and her system out.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Halloween is Coming- Have a Haunted Hand



Glowing Haunted Hand

Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza

4410 - FolkArt ® Fabric™ Paint - Brush On - Fawn
CS11279 - Mod Podge ® Glow-in-the-Dark, 8 oz.
Rubber kitchen glove
Pillow stuffing
String
Scissors
2 yards cheesecloth
Foam paintbrush
Paintbrush – soft bristles
1. Firmly stuff the rubber glove with pillow stuffing. Tie the opening closed with a piece of string.
2. Cut the cheesecloth into strips about 2” wide.
3. Wrap the strips around the glove and fingers, overlapping and crisscrossing as you go. Using a foam paintbrush apply two coats of mod podge all over the glove. Add more cheesecloth & mod podge to fill in any empty spots. Allow to dry.
4. Working with a dry soft bristled paintbrush, lightly apply the fawn paint over the entire glove. You can add depth by adding more paint in between the fingers. Allow to dry.
5. Top coat the glove with a third coat of glow in the dark mod podge and allow to dry.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wow!! Look at my Cover for Time Bomb!


Kudos to Zuri, who really captured my characters.

Lena

A Halloween to Die For from Lena

If you haven't been hanging around me for years or don't visit my other blog http://thirdinfinity.blogspot.com/ you may not be aware how much I love the fall and winter holidays. I love them so much I plan my writing schedule around these three: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Yule.

Therefore, be prepared for the occasional non-writing related posting with a holiday theme. For more recipes, crafts, and holiday mayhem, see my Third Infinity blog. I do try to keep things somewhat professional here, despite the temptations. LOL!

Lena

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marketing Overview-- A Quick Lesson

I have come up with something. I noticed how hard it was to gather simple marketing info and ideas. Hell, let's face it, I'd much rather be peacefully off in another world than trying to figure out how to get folks to read my books!

So, I gathered up a list of things to do. But, it wasn't enough. Then, something jelled yesterday morning while I moaned over my sore hands after an author chat. Each of these things on the list have a "value". For example, doing an author chat will get you more sales than handing out a business card, but not as much as an ad in RT.

Then I looked at expense and feasibility. Like, who can afford an RT ad when they first start out? Riight. So, I came up with a points system very similar to a marketing scheme I was taught as a realtor. If each technique has a "value", that could be a certain number of points. If all you can do are the small, inexpensive things, but you do a lot of them, couldn't you eventually garner just as much "exposure points"? Well, yes!

I played with it a bit, trying to remember all that I'd done just before (and now just after) RTP was released. And I found that the more "points" I gathered in a given week, the more "exposure" and more fan mail I got! And that has translated into sales. Hmmm...it works.

If Rayne will forgive me, I'm going to use her for an example. I know Rayne has limits on her budget. (Don't we all??) Rayne has a book coming out in June, let's say. She can't afford an ad, but she can afford one author gift basket. She already has her cover art, so she runs out and gets that printer kit where you can make tee shirts, then goes to a craft store and finds a basket, some Easter grass, and a few bath products. Total cost: $50. Blows her monthly budget, but that's the best she can do.

April-
Makes 3 tee shirts to hand out to friends, and reserves one for an author chat. 10 points each, 30 points)
Emails TRS Blue and gets an author chat set up for early July (knowing these things are set up in advance) Points are counted after she gives the chat.
Spends time posting on 5 reader loops every week (5 points each, 25 points/ wk, total 100 pts)
Sends out a newsletter (5 points)
Gives out 50 business cards (1 pt each, 50 points)
total for April: 185


May
Posts on the reader loops (100 points)
Posts an excerpt on the loops (5ptsx5=25 total points)
Updates her website (5 pts) and posts the excerpt (5 pts)= 10
Hands out 25 cheap freebies (bookmarks she made on the computer) 125 points
Puts her contact info on her signature line of her emails and sends out 100- 100 points
Sends out her newsletter (5 points) with an excerpt (5 points)- 10 points
total for May- 370 points

June-
Posts on the readers' loops (100)
Excerpts on loops (25)
Announcement on website, with cover art (15 points)
Hands out the rest of her bookmarks (250 points)
Her contact info is still on her signature, still 100 emails 100)
Newsletter with excerpts, announcements (10 points)
Holds the author chat (20 points)
Gives away the basket (10 points)
Gets 5 reviews for next month's newsletter, website, and signature file
total for June-530

In July, she has reviews, 2 more chats, a signing (using burned CD's), is featured in the local newspaper, holds a contest on her website, and can afford a small banner ad on Fallen Angels. (That's in addition to the signature files, the loops, business cards, and the newsletter)

See how it becomes a marketing machine with a little effort and some time? I've bounced this idea off a more experienced author and an editor. We are going to tweak it, but I've created the spreadsheet and assigned points according to feasibility and "exposure". It is a simple, self-motivated, and flexible system. (ie, I can't design a website to save my soul. for instance. To make up for it, I belong to four newsletters I contribute to every month.)

I've already been called a marketing machine. I have to be. I don't have name recognition. So, my pseudonym is outrageous and out there, on the loops, in the newsletters, tweaking my signature line, teasingly posting excerpts, and handing out what freebies I can afford.

But, I'm not the machine. I am fueling the machine with my time, and (hopefully) lubricating it with what money I can spare. I've set my weekly point goal high at 100 points a week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Secure a Copyright

HOW TO SECURE A COPYRIGHTCopyright Secured Automatically upon CreationThe way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See "Copyright Registration." Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords" are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the "work") can be fixed in sheet music (" copies") or in phonograph disks (" phonorecords"), or both.If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that date.
COPYRIGHT REGISTRATIONIn general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following: Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, request Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington, D.C. 20044. See the U.S. Customs Service Website at www.customs.gov for online publications. Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.

REGISTRATION PROCEDURES
Original Registration
To register a work, send the following three elements in the same envelope or package to:
Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue,
S.E.Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
A properly completed application form.
A nonrefundable filing fee of $30 for each application. NOTE: Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov, write the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.
A nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered. The deposit requirements vary in particular situations.
The general requirements follow. Also note the information under "Special Deposit Requirements." If the work was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition.
If the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published.If the work was first published outside the United States, one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.
If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.
Love and Laughter,
Margaret Riley
A. K. A. Shelby Morgen
Changeling Press LLC

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Failure of the Poor Man's Copyright

SFWA have a page on copyright, which amongst other things mentions Poor Man's Copyright under Myth 6http://www.sfwa.org/beware/copyright.htmlAlso useful links to copyright offices in various countries.
Here's Charlie Petit on a writers' bulletin board on the subject of Poor Man's Copyright. He did a much longer and more detailed rant in Speculations, a zine for sf writers, but I will be good and respect his copyright. I'll see if I can dig out a couple of other links - I think he may have covered this in his blog as well. It is well worth checking out his website, especially the section on copyright - much information that people here will find useful.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10905&postcount=12
Just a comment on the so-called "Poor Man's Copyright":
It's useless. And has been since 1909. That includes the ad that is currently running in writing magazines for the "service."
All of this nonsense comes from evidence law, not intellectual property law, as it was described in some really bad "inventors' guides" in the 1930s and 1940s. Until the reform of the Patent Act in the 1950s, it was very difficult (or impossible) to get regularly kept records, such as laboratory notebooks, admitted at the Patent Office to prove date of conception, date of reduction to practice, or the on-sale bar date. The Patent Act's reforms were later extended by implication (that is, not very clearly!) into the Federal Rules of Evidence. It is now routine to admit regularly kept business records, such as one's submission log, into evidence for the truth of the matters stated on those records. In any event, the copyright scam artists "businesspeople" interpreted the patent issues to also apply to copyright. Hint: the Copyright Act is in Title 17 of the U.S. Code; the Patent Act is in Title 35 of the U.S. Code; and, ordinarily, most related provisions in the U.S. Code appear in the same title.
In any event, there's another reason that "poor man's copyright" isn't helpful: One cannot sue on a copyright in the US without registration. The certificate of registration, on its face, provides all of the prima facie proof of conception (etc.) needed for a copyright claim. If things are getting more complex than that, the poor man's copyright won't be helpful in any event.
So, then, here's the bottom line:
Keep regular business records of completion and submission of works. In particular, keep copies of your cover letters, and preferably a CD-ROM that you've burned with the completed work as soon as you complete it. These business records will be admissible to show when you made a protectable expression.
Register your copyrights for material that is significantly at risk of infringement. (The details of THAT are not for this board!)
Ignore anything in between, especially if a third party tries to claim that you really, really need to pay for their service in order to protect your rights.
If you're dealing with Hollywood (TV or film), make sure you follow all of the "idea protection" rules... none of which are followed by a "poor man's copyright".
C.E. Petit, Esq.www.authorslawyer.com-- Jules Jones

Monday, September 22, 2008

Writing Lessons-- Query Letter Worksheet

Ready to submit? Here's a worksheet to help you. Feel free to modify this to fit the submission guidelines of your target.

QUERY LETTER WORKSHEET

1. Title: __________________________________________
2. How long (word count) is the novel?__________________
3. What genre is your novel? (If it is not easily placed into a genre, let the editor or agent decide the genre. You may, however, mention novels similar to yours.)
4. To what other novels is your work similar?
5. Identify your novel’s theme.
6. Where is your novel set?
7. What is the time period of your novel, including the duration of time?
8. State the “hook” of your novel (from your Hook Worksheet).
9. How did you come to write this novel? Do you have special knowledge of the subject matter, i.e., does it take place in a particular setting where you live/work/visited, or is it about a profession with which you are familiar?
10. List any fiction credits you may already have. If you have no fiction credits, but have substantial non-fiction credits, you might mention those, especially if they have relevance to the world you have created in your novel.
11. Beginning with your main character, list your primary characters and their core conflicts in the novel, especially the main character’s. Include a brief description of each, but most importantly, identify their roles in the novel’s plot.
12. What are the “high points” (plot points) of your novel? These are ONLY the points that must be included to tell your story. If one point is excluded, the story would not be the same. Start with three points and only add those that are absolutely necessary, trying to have no more than six.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Writing Lessons: Hook or Pitch Worksheet

HOOK OR PITCH WORKSHEET

1. The name of the novel is: ___________________________________
2. What is the main character’s name?___________________________
3. Describe your main character. Include physical features, but also briefly identify any background information that is relevant to the actions and motivations of that character in the story. (This will provide information for your character sketch.)




4. What is your main character’s goal? What does your main character want to accomplish? (This provides the motivation behind your character’s actions.)




5. What thing(s) and/or person(s) stand in the way of your character achieving that goal? (This is the conflict integral to your plot.)




6. Using your answers to the above questions, write a one- to three sentence description of what your manuscript is about. (This is your hook or pitch.)

Thanks to Linda!! A private review of Bad Fur Day

Night Critters: Bad Fur Day by Lena Austin and Tuesday Richards was a short story but packed a punch. This is the third book in the Night Critters Series but it does not need to be read in order. Lena and Tuesday put so much into this story that you are immediately drawn into the lives of Staci and Jiao Long. You are taken into their modern day lives involving international politics/relations, humanitarian aid, paranormal activity, sizzling hot sex (literally) and plenty of laughs about misunderstandings and catastrophes. I have enjoyed this series immensely and hope that Lena and Tuesday continue to write such engaging and hilariously funny stories for a long time.

LindaWestern Australia

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More on Blurbs

This same logic applies equally to SALES. Blurbs are sales pitches. They need to shout "Here I am! LOOK AT ME!" -- not try to condense the entire story into 100 words.

Turn on your favorite radio station. Listen to commercials until you find one that makes you want to try a product and try to analyze what caught your attention. You have about 10 seconds to catch a listeners attention. The first line needs to hit hard and make you want to keep listening.

Almost all our readers have one thing in common -- they're here for the sexy guy. Keep your eye on the target -- the reader's attention. Which would you keep reading --

"Park Ranger Jason Ward spends his days checking tourists into camp sites..."
or
"Ranger Jason Ward's had a hard day. Three dead bodies, one drop dead gorgeous suspect, and..."
What you need to do is make your blurb as catch as you can. Off the record, when a reviewer gets the listing of books available for review, there may or may not be an image on the email, there will be a list of titles and authors and publisher and blurb. that's it. and it's a list. or a group of emails. Unless you earn a reviewer fan, your blurb needs to rock it to get attention. NOW your blurb could rock but the reviewer already has their alotted amount of books to review and blah blah blah blah blah
Michelle www.michellehasker.com
http://michellehasker.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/michellesedge/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blurbs 101

From Margaret Riley of Changeling Press on Blurbs:

Blurbs are an important sales tool. They need to be edited with the same care the book gets.

Things to remember about the blurb:
1) The blurb is a sales pitch, not a plot summary. It needs to convey the major selling points of the book, not the major plot points.
2) The blurb needs to be CONCISE. If we can't figure out what the blurb's trying to say, that doesn't bode well for the book. It needs enough info to cover the basics, without drowning us in details.
3) I really shouldn't need to tell anyone this, but the NAMES of the characters need to appear in the blurbs -- spelled correctly. It's also handy if the places mentioned in the blurbs match the names of those locations in the book.
4) Blurbs MUST be present tense.
5) We sell sex. If the blurb isn't sexy, the book's not going to sell.

Long, rambling plot summaries do not sell books. Sexy, well thought out sales pitches stand a far better chance of achieving this goal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Writing Lessons-The Novel Synopsis Worksheet

NOVEL SYNOPSIS WORKSHEET

1. The title of the novel is: ___________________________________

2. State the “hook” of your novel (from your hook worksheet). This hook must contain the core conflict of your novel.

3. Beginning with your main character, write a “character sketch” of each of your main characters. These sketches should concentrate on character’s motivations, especially those that bring them into conflict with one another.

4. Identify your plot highlights. Begin by detailing your beginning and ending scenes and one or two in the middle. These plot points should be ONLY those necessary to make the primary plot hang together and conclude with a logical, even if unexpected, ending.


5. (On another sheet of paper) Using the above information, outline your novel synopsis, paragraph by paragraph. You may use your own structure, but make sure all the elements of the synopsis are addressed: an opening hook, quick sketches of the main characters, plot high points, the core conflict, and the conclusion.

I personally use my plot worksheet, if I’ve kept it updated with any changes I’ve made. If not, I take the time to make a new one. That way, when critiques come my way, I’m able to take a look at the worksheet and find my page with relative ease.

There. You’re done, with another reason to use a plot worksheet. Remember the KISS (Keep it Simple, Silly) principle. You’re not rewriting your book, you’re providing a campfire tale to interest someone. All you need to do is give the highlights.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A New m/m Author Bears Watching For

Lookee who I found-- Stormy Glenn. This is her blog.

http://stormyglenn.blogspot.com/

For all my m/m fans, maybe we should all keep an eye out for this new kid on the block come early '09, hmm?

Lena

Letting Go-- Don't Let Your Hag Gorge

When do you stop the self-edits? I can't answer that all-important question. There is no clear definitive point when "tweaking" becomes destruction.



I highly recommend finding and using your own self-editing system and then learning to trust that system to catch most of your mistakes. Go through it once, maybe twice, and no more. Learn when to say No.



Then --and this is a big lesson to learn-- learn to trust your editor. Editors hired by reputable publishers are there to look at your self-edited work and take it to the next level, serving as a pair of fresh, unprejudiced eyes. That's what he/she is there for.

Learning to trust an editor is very similar to learning to work with wild animals. The burden is on you to get them to trust you, and you have to earn it. Get over yourself, because nothing will change the fact that they have the power when it comes to getting your work published. Turn in your work on time, communicate often, and be willing to work.

You may be the goose that lays the golden eggs, but there are thousands of geese and damn few cushy nests. All those other geese want your nest, and if you make too much trouble, the nest gets a new resident. Divas don't last, so don't think you can get away with demands. You don't. Period.

I've ranged from outright adoration to teeth-gritted courtesy with my editors. Most of the editors I've worked with wanted to establish that level of trust. The more we communicated, the more we achieved that balance. Only once could I not manage to communicate with that editor well enough to establish a working relationship in well over a year of attempts. Suffice it to say, I have not submitted anything else to that editor.

So let's recap. Learn to let go and give it to the professionals to do their job. You know it's not perfect, but you've cleared up what you could find. Now let them make it perfect.

Move along, you have more golden eggs to lay.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A new Review for Deadly Sins: Pride from Bitten by Books


One of seven Deadly Sins stories written by different authors based around the same legend, Lena Austin writes another well rounded story that defies conventional appeal and combines a wonderful story with an eroticism fans of M/M will appreciate. The Legend of the Agrippa is fascinating as is the unexpected twists that add their own flavor to the greatest and sometimes most misfortunate families of the age that have both benefited and paid for the Agrippa in their care. Grip adds a fantastic touch of humor to this tale of romance, mystery, eroticism, and history and I thoroughly enjoyed his input into this story. All in all another brilliant tale from Lena Austin, Deadly Sins: Pride combines good characters, a remarkable premise, and enough eroticism for fans of M/M to enjoy without that being the only aspect of this story that is well done. I can’t wait to find out what the other authors in this series did with their own stories, because Lena Austin has definitely done a good job of making you want to read more of the Agrippa Families and how their lives have been touched by the spell books in their care.

To see the rest of the review, go here:
http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=980

My thanks to Sarai for this lovely review!!

Lena

Friday, September 12, 2008

Writing Lessons-- EDITS System by Margie Lawson

Again, this comes from Margie Lawson's lecture http://www.margielawson.com/

Now for the EDITS system. Each one of these has a colored highlighter and a technique so bear with me. This can be done in MS Word, or take one printout of your chapter and do the following:

E- emotion and NVC (pink highlight or underline)
D- Dialogue (blue highlight or underline)
I- Internalizations (yellow or underline)
T- Tension and conflict (orange dashes down the margin)
S- Setting (green highlight or underline)

Spread the entire chapter in order on the floor, tape to a wall or door, something so you can see the overall colors. If you have done this in MS Word, click the page magnification to 50% and scroll. When you see a large block of too much of any one color, click there then turn the magnification to 100%.

Is it balanced? Too much of any one color? (Yellow should be the least you see.)

Now add specialization and personalization.

Purple highlighter is for your specialization in genre- comedic touches for romantic comedy, use of naughty words for erotic writers, or certain things you are working on.
Black- circle all metaphors and similes. (Work to remove clichés)
Red underline- the six senses and note which ones were used in the margin. See, taste, smell, hear, touch, and intuit.

In the next section below, you will find out how to highlight online. I actually prefer this method. Here's a trick: Highlight online using Word, just as I describe above (blue dialogue, pink emotives, etc.) Now go to your word program and look for the zoom window. It should contain a percentage value, such as 100%, 54%, or 240%. Change it to 50% using the drop-down arrow beside the zoom window.

You should see two pages on your screen. Look at them and scroll through the entire chapter. Wherever you see large blocks of one or two colors only, stop. Click there. Change your font color to RED. Put in a note. (Add emotion here, Add setting description, or my bane "Too much introspection! Break this up!") By changing the font color to red, it will show up easily once you use Control-A/Highlight/No Color and return the document to its original legible state.

I have below a list of words to use the Find/Replace command on MSWord to locate. This exercise will light up your ms like a Christmas tree, but will highlight all of the no-no's, including many instances of passive voice.

1. Choose a Highlight Color. On my toolbar, the Highlight command looks like a pen with a colored line beneath it. When I click on the arrow beside that button, I get a choice of colors. Choose one. I use yellow for possible passives, pink for "wussy" phrasing like "kind of", "quite", and "suddenly", green for It, adverbs, and That, and blue for lazy dialogue tags.

2. To begin checking your ms, hit Cntrl-H. This puts you in the Edit/Replace window. Type in the word you wish to find.

Let's use the word "that" for an example. In the Find What box, type: that

3. In the Replace with box, type the same. Now it gets tricky. Using your mouse, highlight the "that" in the second box. Click on the More button. Click on the Format button. Click on the Highlight button. Check to make sure the lower box (Replace with) now has the word "highlight" beneath it. This is important.

4. Now, click Replace All. If you've done this correctly, all instances of the word "that" will now be highlighted.

5. Repeat with all words you wish to check for. Here's my list:

ly -(adverbs) Note: I advocate the judicious use of adverbs, myself. Merely look for too many.)
That
It
Kind of
Sort of
Almost
Maybe
Somehow
Ing - many instances of passive voice include this. (ie "was running") Most will be fine, but it's one way to check for this pernicious evil.
be
been
being
are
was
is
will be
had been
am
were
have
somewhat
perhaps
nearly
very
only
just
suddenly
almost
should
would
could
feel
felt
begin
began
rather
a few
seem
appear
quite
really
always
***
said
thought
asked
answered
cried
whispered
muttered
responded
something- "He does something to me." What? What does he do to you? Give you the shivers? Makes you hot, tired, or want to dance? This word is a cop-out.

Toward vs. towards
Also exclamation points - check if you really need them. Maybe the words you use could be stronger.


Now all you have to look for that is un-highlighted are: flying body parts (rolling eyes), misplaced modifiers, redundancies "little Chihuahua" is redundant (The breed is known for its size), metaphors, clichés and similes, and starting your sentences with -ing words.

Lena

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Reviews!! A WHOLE PILE OF THEM!!

Peck of Pickles
http://literarynymphsreviewsonly.blogspot.com/2008/09/peck-of-pickles.html

Faux Paws

http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/fauxpawsaustinrichards.htm

Dragons of Honalee Series

http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/dragonsquestaustin.htm

Paws To Heal

http://romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/paranormal/Paws_to_Heal.shtml

And two from Bitten By Books (if you didn't catch my brags the first time)

http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=1015

http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=921

Lena

Writing Lessons-- Non-Verbal Communications to express emotions

Okay, while I'm at it, here's the skinny on the workshop Margie Lawson gave on Empowering Characters Through Emotion. This is but a tiny portion of the lecture. For more information, please go to: http://www.margielawson.com/

I really liked how Margie explained using emotional clues to empower a ms. Her list of possible cues was impressive to say the least.

1. Facial Expressions
2. Non-verbal Communication (NVC)- Uncontrollable physical manifestations of emotion (sweating, shuddering, eyes dilated)
3. Kinesics (Body Language)- crossed arms, hunched shoulders
4. Paralanguage- tone, pitch, quality (slurs, nasal, squeaky, enunciates every syllable), rate (breathy rush, slow pauses, cadence)
5. Haptics- Use of touch to add weight to words. (Squeezing a knee, punching a shoulder, patting a head)
6. Proxemics- The four zones of proximity are Intimate, personal, social, public
7. Gestures- Steepled fingers, clasping hands behind back, open hands, handshakes
8. Eye behavior- eye blink rate, where eyes are looking, averting eyes, cold shoulder, blank face (poker face)
9. The Tells- personality traits to indicate mood. Raking hands in hair, snapping gum, eye twitch
10. Lip Behavior- lip/jaw tension, oral stimulation
11. Self-touches/Stress responses- fingers to lips, holding arms, hugging self, tapping fingers on thigh
12. Ideomatic Shifts- "That's an idea". Involuntary motor activity caused by a change in thought pattern. Shifting position, jerking, turning the head to look directly (or away)
13. Props- breaking a pencil, playing with a glass,

The back load- to put all the emotional punch at the end of a sentence or paragraph.


What are we talking about, here? Balancing your scenes. We've all seen the discussions (or, I hope you have! If not, go read Morgan Hawke's blogs and website, please) on balancing dialogue with action, setting, and introspection.
http://www.darkerotica.net/EroticQuills.html

Some authors subscribe to the Action then Dialogue.

He gasped. "What do you mean?" He hoped she hadn't found out about his little deception for her own good.

She snarled, keeping the gun pointed at his chest. "You know damn well what I'm talking about, you ass. Don't play the innocent with me!"

I personally find that style somewhat restrictive and boring. Life is not always a perfect action/reaction world.

The use of Non-Verbal clues would spice that scene up.

He gasped, his gaze never wavering from the glinting gun (eye behavior) . His palms slicked (NVC) and he barely held on to the coffee cup in his shaking hand (Tells). "What do you mean?" He was appalled to hear the squeak in his voice (Paralanguage). He hoped she hadn't found out about his little deception for her own good.

Carolyn's eyes narrowed. (NVC) She snarled, keeping the gun pointed at his chest. "You know damn well what I'm talking about, you ass. Don't play the innocent with me!" The muzzle of the gun rammed into his chest with every word she spoke. (Haptics) She waved the diary under his nose with the other hand. (Gestures)

She knew. He saw his own cold death in her icy blue eyes. (That's the backload)

Can you see the difference? In both examples, you know he's guilty and she's angry, but which makes you see the emotions more?
Lena

Writing Lessons--We Don't Need No Steenkin' Said!

A large portion of this post is an excerpt from: http://darkerotica.blogspot.com/2004/12/dont-need-no-stinking-said-rant.html

This excerpt is used with permission. My comments are in red, and marked with **. I quoted Morgan Hawke extensively because I see no reason to re-invent the wheel.

Between us, Morgan and I have published well over 45 e-books, and I stopped counting the print books after seven. Keep in mind both Morgan and I earn enough to support ourselves with our writing. We're not the ultimate authority, nor do we speak for every publisher. If the publisher you work with allows dialogue tags, then feel free to use them. Our publishers don't.

However, Morgan has a reputation for not sparing anyone's feelings. I can guarantee someone will be offended by this post and take exception. If you continue reading this post, then do so with the clear understanding that everyone has an opinion, and you don't have to agree. There is no need for a war over opinions.

Frustration is a BAD thing to generate in your readers. Books that frustrate (poor grammar, limp dialogue, wishy-washy action, weak description, over-blown description...etc.) are tossed against a wall. The technical term is: Wall-Bangers.… Another thing that drives me crazy, is dialogue that's hard to follow, without something to keep the reader on track as to who is talking (ala Hemingway)."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I absolutely, positively agree. Line after line of unidentifiable dialogue is LOATHSOME. **Not only loathesome, but it guarantees confusion.**Readers are good for putting a book down - to light a cigarette, go to the potty, eat a bagel, pour a cup of coffee, talk on the phone, watch TV, go to sleep…etc. Then picking the book back up again in any given location.If the reader has to backtrack to figure out who the heck is doing (or saying) what - for any reason - you did it WRONG.And your book hits the wall with a resounding BANG!First rule when writing Advertising Copy:NEVER ASSUME THE READER KNOWS WHAT THE HECK YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.#1 Rule in the Military:IF IT - CAN - BE MISUNDERSTOOD,IT – WILL - BE MISUNDERSTOOD.
Applied to Fiction:
**This is Murphy's Law for Writers: It will be misunderstood unless you give the reader enough detail to ensure they know exactly what is going on.**

The Reader always sees what THEY want to see - unless you force them to see something else. Readers that don't know what's really going on will just make whatever assumptions comes to mind - then get confused when you start detailing the action again.But reading a million and one "He said..." / "She said..." or remarked...etc. is equally as Loathsome. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy Beginner writing.

**When you use "said, asked, murmured," and the host of other non-emotive dialogue tags, you are not only "telling" not showing, you are wasting an opportunity to enrich your story with detail and emotion.** I write my dialogue without using "said" tags, unless I am actually describing a change in voice, tone or volume in the same paragraph. And even then I avoid them. I use the speaker's actions to define who is speaking to whom. I use ACTION TAGS.

**Morgan and I both use action tags and will not use dialogue tags.** What the heck is an Action Tag?BODY LANGUAGELanguage is Visual not just a bunch of words. Watch the average conversation between two people. 90% of that conversation isn't in what's spoken, it's in what they are DOING as they are speaking. It's in their Body Language. Body-language cues the reader as to what is going on in a character’s head – in ADDITION to dialogue and internal narrative.

Don't just SAY it! ~ SHOW IT!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“I love you too.” She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”“I love you too.” She dropped her chin and pouted. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”“I love you too.” She glared straight at him. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”“I love you too.” She turned away and wiped the tear from her cheek. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Body-language cues the reader as to what is going on in a character’s head – in ADDITION to dialogue and internal narrative. **Note the emotions are different for each example, and very clear." Example:“Amun, what are you doing out of your suite? It’s not safe.”Amun abruptly pushed away from Luxi.Luxi gasped as her mind suddenly returned to her in a tangle of heat and confusion. What had just happened?Amun blushed and frowned past her shoulder in annoyance. “Your timing is utterly inconvenient.”“So I see.” A tall man in a dark bodysuit strode past Luxi, toward Amun. A long tail of distinctive silver hair fell to the center of his back. He came to a sudden stop and turned around. His steel gray eyes widened then narrowed. His face was cast in deep shadows under the lamplights, but there was no mistaking who he was. “Well, hello Luxi. Cheating on me already?”Leto? Luxi winced and turned away in painful embarrassment. Fate and Glory, it figured… The only two men she’d kissed in several cycles would know each other.Ars frowned at Leto. “You know Luxi?”“Quite well, actually.” Leto’s smile was thin and sharp. “We shared a tramway car.”Oh you bastard… Her cheeks heated with a sudden rush of hot memory. End Example.From "Fortune's Star" - by Morgan Hawke

Don't just SAY it! ~ SHOW IT!

Description in your FictionToo many conversations read like a TV show with the picture too snowy to see anything clearly. Hell, too much FICTION is written that way too. (Sigh.)If you want to write Fiction with clarity, you have to VISUALIZE what is happening in your head. Play the scene out in your imagination and view it, just like a movie. If it shows up in your mind's eye - it belongs on the page.

**The beauty of using action tags is that your work lengthens considerably when you use action tags, yet you are not wasting space bludgeoning the reader with boring introspection while you rehash exactly what their emotions are in a scene. By showing the emotions clearly by character action you create a tight, well written dialogue that moves the reader along the plot. She identifies with the characters smoothly, and nothing pulls her out to remind her of reality.**Okay, so where was my Setting description in that hunk of dialogue, you may ask? It was at the BEGINNING of this scene, (which was not posted.) I do what they do in the movies: I Set the Stage at the beginning of every scene THEN put the actors and action in. This way the setting does not bog down either the action or the dialogue.Morgan Hawkewww.darkerotica.net

If you want to see what a publisher has to say about "said," please go here: http://www.mojocastle.com/submit/submissionsx.html

Lena

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bitten By Books has reviewed Eyes of the Cowan!







FOUR AND A HALF TOMBSTONES! I am so thrilled, I can barely type. Bitten By Books is a very discerning review site specializing in the paranormal, so just to be reviewed by them is an honor.




Imagine my delight to see this wonderful and insightful review by Sarai. Please go read this well-worded review here:





These ladies can come bite me anytime! LOL!




You can get Eyes of the Cowan here:






Lena




Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Please Bear With Me...

Okay, I have to admit my organization fails me now and then. This is one of those times. I'll get back to the How to Write Workshop in a day or two.

Lena

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for popping by! Don't sit on the whipping horse unless you want to find out how it's used. I speak my mind and annoy many people, but all of it is meant in good spirit. Feel free to argue with me. I like it.

Best way to reach me is by email: voiceomt2002@yahoo.com

Lena