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Posts Tagged ‘writer problems’

I’ve been working away on my short story, Hag. Yesterday was very much disrupted, though. We’ve been waiting almost two months for the roofers to schedule their work. Suddenly they arrived! It was a different company, though. We had to call around a bit to make sure they were not trying to scam us.

But they were legit, and they got right to work. Unfortunately for me, my office is on the second floor. So all day while I tried to work there were loud footsteps and intimidating noises as they pulled off the old roofing. Our poor cats didn’t know which way to run. Later, when that was all off, came more loud footsteps and lots of banging as they nailed the tar paper down.

We were very impressed with their efficiency, although my poor plants were somewhat the worse for having tarps thrown down on them. Today was better, and I feel like it’s going well.

At least, until the roofers come back…


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Bear with me as I untangle a thought here.

I was watching an animated series that was supposed to be about samurai. I suppose I should have expected a bit of hacking and slashing. They’re samurai, after all. They have swords. As I got into it, there really was an extreme amount of beheading. Like, every single battle, multiple beheadings. Also limbs cut off, bodies sliced at the waist… All that gory goodness (?). And did I mention there were sorcerers and giant robots?

Yeah, it wasn’t exactly historical fiction.

As a viewer, I have a limited tolerance for beheadings, impalings, and so on. As an author myself, I see them as a sign of an inexperienced writer. Someone who isn’t confident in their characters and plot, so they try to keep up interest by throwing blood around. Also, show how cool and edgy they are, I guess.

But come to the end of the series, there was one death that stood out from the others. Just a simple beheading wasn’t gruesome enough for this character. She had to be magically twisted into splinters by some sorcerers who showed up, did her in, and then never appeared again.

It made me wonder about why the screenwriter chose to do that. Why was that character torn apart, when so many others were “only” beheaded? The other female fighters in the series were shown to be more feminine, caring for loved ones and loyal to family. When they died, it was mostly off screen or in silhouette. But not the lady were-bear.

Why was she treated differently? Was it because she was Russian, and some of us apparently haven’t let go of the Cold War mentality? Because she was a mercenary fighter, not a noble samurai? Because she was a woman who dared to be as deadly as her powers allowed?

It’s been a while, but this is a topic I come back to from time to time. What is the writer’s thinking when they decide when, why and how to kill a character? I would suggest that we ought to be a bit thoughtful when we decide these things. If we aren’t careful, we might leave our readers or viewers with questions that aren’t so easy to answer.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Is this thing on?

For some strange reason, there are a number of blogs I follow that I suddenly stopped getting notifications for. Most of my regular blogs, I receive a daily digest. About 2 weeks ago, they no longer came through. I don’t recall un-following them. It’s weird.

If people have to stop blogging, that isn’t something I want to pester them about. For most of us writers, we’re trying to reach an audience. If the blog doesn’t seem to be working, it makes sense to focus elsewhere.

Still, it can be distressing if one’s following starts to drop. So I’m going back through, searching for the ones I remember. I’ve found a few that I had to follow again. I hope no one thinks I’ve turned my back on them.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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What’s Happening? Spring break officially began yesterday afternoon. Although this school year had a lot of lost time (for reasons we all know), I feel good going forward. I know what skills I want to work on with my groups for the back end of the school year. Spring break holds no extravagant plans for me. I’m going to do the archetypal spring cleaning. Fun! Also, I get my second Covid shot later today. I’m mildly worried that it will affect my extravagant to-do list, but it will be fine either way.

What I’m Working On. So close to being done with The Renegade Count! I passed the apex two weeks ago, and sort of frittered away last week, but I feel very confident of finishing by the end of spring break. It should be right around my goal of 30,000 words. I can clearly see some things that need work in the second draft, but first I have to finish this one.

What’s Next? Major organizing for two projects, Queen Titania’s Court and SpoCon. For the latter, I need to send out a second solicitation for speakers and fascinating panel ideas. We are still hoping for an in-person event. SpoCon is in October, so I feel like we have a decent shot at it. For the former, Queen Titania’s Court is in June, so I’ll be getting those invitations out right away.

Fun and Games. As always, I’m playing Animal Crossing. Who doesn’t want to live on a beautiful tropical island where you’re surrounded by adorable animal neighbors? My alternate gave is Wasteland 3, a post-apocalyptic adventure in a nuclear winter. There’s somewhat of a sheriff-cleaning-up-the-town vibe. The play style is very different and the voice acting is a little too over-the-top for my taste, but I’m soldiering on.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Endings can be tricky for writers. Not just The End, the conclusion of the story, but the many small endings that come between chapters and sections within chapters. These are a couple of different ways I like to handle these.

End with a hook. This ending makes it clear something else is going to happen immediately, and it makes the reader anxious to continue reading. For instance, “The squirrel went sprinting away from the dog.”

End with a point of tension. Rather than physical plot actions, this implies the character has or will experience emotional growth. “The door slammed and Jeff wondered if he had driven Jan away forever.”

End with a point of resolve. The opposite of a tension point, a point of resolve is where a character commits themself to a goal. “Princess Leonfalla would save her people, no matter what it took.”

End with a temporary pause. It’s clear there is more to the story, but things have reached equilibrium at least for the moment. “Everything will be fine, as long as nobody walks past the wishing well at daybreak.”

End with a point of rest. Similar to the above, this allows the reader a break to do other things. Eating, showering, going to work… “She wasn‛t a bandit! Not any more, and never again.”

For those of you who are fellow writers, what kind of chapter endings do you like to use?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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This is a pet peeve of mine. When an author or screenwriter takes their characters through an ordeal of suffering, loss and growth… but then at the end they erase it all. Everything is sunny. None of that Bad Stuff ever happened.

There are a couple of common mechanisms authors fall back on. Probably the most notorious is the Dream Sequence, where someone goes through all sorts of Bad Stuff but then they wake up and it was just a nightmare. For me, the only way it could be right is if one of the characters then sees something that could be a hint of what is to come. The Dream Sequence becomes a premonition, and they can try and take steps to prevent the Bad Stuff.

Speaking of premonitions, that brings us to the other significant means to erase story events, which is Time Travel. Characters in genre movies, especially, are constantly traveling through time to “fix” some sort of Bad Stuff. But there’s no end to the paradoxes with Time Travel. Villains can be killed (not a heroic thing) before they do Bad Stuff, so then why would the future characters Time Travel? They can start relationships that they have to abandon (not a heroic thing) or try to stay with someone they had lost, which means abandoning everyone they know with the Bad Stuff still going on. It’s just a mess.

Wishing/Miracles is another common way to erase Bad Stuff and revert to the status quo. This is more a fantasy thing, obviously. Somewhere along the way, the characters encounter some form of magic that grants wishes, or a deity that can literally wave their hand and make it all go away. Maybe it seems that everything is restored without the Bad Stuff, but tampering with reality itself? Never a good idea.

I suppose that for the writers, it feels like having your cake and eating it, too. Tell the dramatic story, bring your characters into dire peril with the Bad Stuff, but then wave a magic wand and fix everything. But really, it’s an insult to the readers/viewers who were invested in the story and then had it snatched away.

Don’t do this. Just don’t.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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After the past four years, there is a certain word that I’m very tired of hearing. Every news report seems to repeat it at least three times. I’ll bet you know the one. But in case you don’t:

“Unprecendented.” Something that has never been done before. Singular. Unique. Surprising.

By now you know this is the word that reporters applied to almost everything our former president did. It became really monotonous. So much of what the man did was “unprecedented” that he, in fact, became the precedent. We saw so often that he tried to corrupt other public officials or distort the law in his favor, that it was no longer singular, unique or surprising. It was everyday, ordinary, and expected.

Maybe because I’m a writer, but I could have thought of a better word than “unprecedented” after about the first week. Maybe “shocking” or “horrific” when he separated families and then lost track of the kids. “Unconstitutional” when he instituted a travel ban. “Disloyal” when he described homegrown terrorists as very fine people. “Irresponsible” when he refused to wear a mask during a public health emergency.

So it’s a little thing, but I sincerely look forward to not hearing the word “unprecedented” any more.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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What’s Happening? Remember how I mentioned making a couple of small sales a few months ago? They’re out now! I’m happy to spotlight the re-launch of my favorite indy webzine, Lorelei Signal. The current issue is a double, and it just happens to include two of my flash fiction. I wrote the opening story, “The Atlantis Appeal,” and also “Good Old Vernon,” about midway through.

What I’m Working On. I’ve finished the first draft of a short story for that time capsule anthology. Revisions are ongoing. I need to hurry up with that, because…

What’s Next? It’s time to get started on the latest Minstrels of Skaythe novella. I expect that will occupy me until it’s time to publish the next one, in May. But actually, there is a complication to my publishing schedule. Prisoners of the Wailing Tower turned out to be such a turning point that this next one should probably be released first. So I need to get moving on it!

Fun and Games. I finished a shortened playthrough of Dragon Age Inquisition, knowing that I would probably receive a couple of new games at Christmas. Which I did. The first of them required a major download, and then it wouldn’t play. Then, my Internet provider informed me that I had exceeded my allowed data. So while I wait to replenish my data, I’m doing a run of Fallout 4 for a couple of weeks. And of course, Animal Crossing continues eternally. (In a good way, though.)

That’s it for me! I hope you’re all above to get back into the swing of things with the turn of the year.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Goals! Everyone needs them. Otherwise, why even get up in the morning? As an independent writer, having some goals keeps me motivated when I feel tired and discouraged. So here are my goals for 2021:

1) Write novella #5 in the Minstrels of Skaythe series, and possibly #6. Publish #4 and #5 in May and November respectively. This will keep up my current schedule of releasing something every 6 months, and that consistency is important.

2) Queen Titania’s Court. It didn’t seem to achieve much in 2020, but these things take time to build up. Plus, I felt like I was doing something for my career.

3) Keep blogging, twice a week. I’ve been a little shy about promoting my work regularly on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. I need to be more persistent on those platforms.

4) Submit to more anthologies. In the past, I’ve tended to ignore these invitations, unless they were something that really grabbed me. I need to look at them more closely. My friends who are doing the anthologies need to feel supported, just like me with Queen Titania’s Court, and getting submissions is a first step to that.

5) Investigate selling at a farmer’s market. This would be a way to replace the in-person selling I used to do at book stores. One of my friends mentioned on Facebook that she took her books to a farmer’s market over the summer, along with some journals. She felt it was successful. If I did that, I could bring some of my older paperbacks and offer them for $.50 to draw people in. This would be a big time commitment, and it might require financial buy-in. That’s why my goal is to investigate and decide whether it’s worth it.

How about you? What are your goals for 2021?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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“Hindsight is 20/20,” so they say. Honestly, I’m like a lot of people who can’t wait to be done with 2020. “Don’t let the door hit you,” is my attitude toward an awful lot of public figures this year. Still, I guess I’m enough of a masochist to try and salvage what knowledge I can from the unrelenting fiasco we’re all still in the midst of.

I did make some resolutions last year, so let’s review what became of them.

1) Increase my sales over 2019. It’s risky to make a resolution like this, because it isn’t under my control. So this was more of an over-arching goal, which the other resolutions were meant to support. It may not be a surprise that this didn’t go so well.

2) Write two novellas (Minstrels of Skaythe #4 and #5) and publish two novellas (Minstrels of Skaythe #3 and #4) in May and November, respectively. I was partly successful with this goal. I did publish The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh as planned. I did write Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, as well. However, it took long enough that I didn’t feel comfortable with a November publication. Instead, I combined the first three Minstrels of Skaythe novellas into a trade paperback, aptly titled Minstrels of Skaythe. So there were two publications in 2020, just not exactly the ones I had intended.

3) Host a fantasy book event, Queen Titania’s Court, across June of 2020. The response was pretty thin, and I ended up filling an abbreviated schedule mostly with authors I had personally invited. Nevertheless, I did host the book event, and it was great fun.

4) Make six personal appearances over the course of the year. This was important to me, because I sell more books when I talk to people than any other way. Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to do any of that.

5) Send out a monthly newsletter. Every writing advice site tells you to send out newsletters as a way of building your audience. I tried really hard in 2019 and it just never worked for me. So I let this one go pretty early in 2020 and have been focused on my blog instead.

Over all, I came out 2 for 5 of my resolutions. That’s… not great. However, I’m well aware of all the headwinds we faced in 2020. For the next few days I’ll be trying to decide what goals I should set for 2021.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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