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Posts Tagged ‘writer problems’

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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, 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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Revisions to Prisoners of the Wailing Tower are going well. In fact, I’m coming to a part of the plot that I really like best. That’s when my viewpoint characters meet up — or in some cases, collide.

Although I might start working on a story with a single POV, I usually end up adding more. This is mostly from the practicality that, if significant events are happening in a location, the readers deserve to know about it. No unfair surprises from this author! Letting the readers know about it requires a viewpoint character to witness the said events. However, having a second or third POV also gives some “break time” where the reader can think and anticipate what might happen with the first POV character.

Conversely, if I want something to come as a complete surprise, then I make sure NOT to have a POV there. That spares me having to torture the meanings of words in order to avoid prematurely revealing a surprise. Or, worse — making my characters be too stupid to notice what’s happening around them.

Beyond that, I find it really satisfying to have two or more viewpoint characters who are not necessarily aware of each other at the outset. They may be allies who are separated, as in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower and my 2007 novel, Too Many Princes. But it’s even more fun when they are on opposite sides, as in The Seven Exalted Orders, from 2012. Each POV character has their own compelling arc, but ultimately they crash into each other. Even I, as the author, sometimes don’t know who to root for!

So Alemin and Lorrah’s arcs are converging in Prisoners, and I love it. I can hardly wait for next spring when you all get a chance to see what I’m working 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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The inevitable has happened. One of the students I work directly with has a COVID exposure. The student is getting an early winter break. Luckily, no one else seems to be effected. That’s quite close enough for me, though.

Back in March, I briefly thought about whether I should update my will, considering that I am an essential worker. My husband convinced me not to panic about it. Our estate is pretty basic. We own a home, two cars, and our retirement savings. On the other hand, his father died without a will. His mother had to fight in court for two years, to be recognized as still owning their house. You would be amazed how many times those court officials asked us if we wanted to grab the property out from under her.

In addition, those are not my only assets. I should also think about what I want to happen with my books and associated material, once I am gone. I have drafts, notes and reference materials. Do I want to saddle my family with maintaining my web sites, blogs, and so forth?

It isn’t as if I’m a best-seller with a fan base that would continue buying my books if I wasn’t promoting them. My gut says to just take it all down. So that’s going to be #1 of my New Years Resolutions. Talk to my family about what I want, make sure to collect the login information in one place, and get that put into writing.

I need to update my will in 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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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In addition to how long a story should be, another issue that independent authors may struggle with is how much to charge for it. You see so much variation, from price leaders at $.99 to $10 or $15 novels because that’s what the big houses charge.

The question is complicated by formats. Sometimes people think we should charge less for e-books because there is no physical book. This ignores that the effort of writing a book is exactly the same, regardless of format. Especially in nonfiction, where the author has to do the very same research and documentation.

The big puzzle for me (maybe for all of us) is the customer’s perception of value. If you price at $15 for both e-books and printed books, readers may balk because you’re asking too much. If you sell everything at $1.99 or less, readers may assume the books are no good and you’re dumping them cheap. I guess everyone can see the value of a price leader, where you hope readers will purchase further books in a series at the regular price. All us indy writers are looking for the sweet spot, where we can make steady sales that are profitable for us.

For me, I focus on the worth of my product. All my novellas are $5. My paperbacks are around $12, because there is that printed object involved. To me, these are not exorbitant prices. I write a good book, and I charge a fair rate. Although, now that I have four books and a paperback compilation in my Minstrels of Skaythe series, I probably will do a $.99 sale at some point. I just haven’t fully explored the fine print on that.

Now I’m interested in hearing from all of you. What do you charge for your books, and how did you decide on that number?


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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