The Lure of Words by Tara Fox Hall

Tara Fox Hall Guest Blogging at aecurzon.wordpress.com

I am very happy to introduce once more, the delightful Tara Fox Hall, with her thoughts on the possible pitfalls of writing a series. Welcome back Tara and lots of luck with your new book – Taken in the Night.

We authors usually began writing because we love stories. What can compare to losing yourself for a few hours—-or longer!—in a superb novel that makes everyday hassles fade into dust? Readers love to discover new worlds. We writers feel compelled to create them, to make our own alternate reality of good and evil, conflict and compromise, passion and betrayal. Yet there is also a pitfall here lying in wait for authors that readers never have to learn to avoid: the lure of words.

When creating a rough draft of a manuscript, authors usually do their own thing. For me, it’s jotting down all kind of ideas on where the plot should go (or might go), as well as the key events or period of time I want to cover in the book. As I write, I check my notes for ideas on what comes next. This usually results in several ideas not being used in the final draft, as they—for whatever reason—have nothing to do with the central plot of the given work in progress. This is not to say that the ideas aren’t good, only that they aren’t relevant to the ideas the book presents (or don’t work to move events along in a series work). These “N/A ideas” get put aside. Taken for His Own - Book CoverAfter the final draft is complete, I again read through the book several times for content, answering questions left hanging (ex: how did character X get home for the next scene, where did character Y get the gun he’s got in Chapter 4, etc.). This is done to make sure that everything flows evenly and the action moves right long. But there is also a final step I do, which is read through to make sure that every word I’ve used is necessary. As I read, if I begin to skip sections out of boredom, I take a hard look to make sure those sections need to be there. Anything that is superfluous is deleted, like a sentence whose subject is restated from the one previous. Passages of merit that don’t belong are cut out and saved for a possible later use in a future book.

This drive to be concise as possible might seem extreme to some, especially as there is no tight word count on novels as a rule. Writers could also argue that most readers want the books they love to be long, to draw out their reading enjoyment as long as possible. While that’s true, most any reader at some point in their lives read a tome that was verbose and overly long. I see this most often in fantasy, but lately in other works as well, especially series books. There are sections—and sometimes chapters—that could be summarized by a page, a paragraph, or sometimes even be left out…and the book itself still remains whole and complete. Writers who do this have fallen victim to the lure of words. 

Succumbing to the lure of words is a gradual process. The first stories a writer pens usually are short, or at least direct. Few words are wasted in the telling of the tale, and there is likely little elaboration or false clues (in mystery writing circles, this used to be known as a red herring: an informal fallacy that leads the reader to a false conclusion, making the story more exciting than a straightforward plot). But the more books a novelist produces, the harder it becomes to rein in a work, especially in a series. More and more characters come on the scene, each with their own histories. Landscapes evolve (ex: a world which before comprised of two cities and the land between them now adds on a sea, several other cities across the sea, and five most cities inland from the initial two). Some of this happens because the longer a story is, by necessity the more complex it must become to sustain the ongoing action. There is also possibly an unconscious desire by the author not to end the series, especially if it’s popular. So early books which held lots of action and suspense give way to sequels where not much happens, even as the books themselves get longer. This complication of the story along with “plot drag” tends to upset the reader and leave them unsatisfied. In this, a writer must always remember that they are telling a story not only for themselves, but also for their audience.

Resist the lure of words, series writers. Your readers will thank you for it!

Taken in the Night Book CoverBlurb for Taken in the Night: When Theo disappears, Sar is left bereft, the uncertain guardian of Theo’s newly born werecougar daughter, Elle. As months pass, clues emerge about Theo’s disappearance, yet the twisting trail ends repeatedly without answer. In her grief, Sar turns to Danial and hesitantly begins to build a life with him and Elle.

Excerpt: Lying on my pillow was a small box of Godiva Chocolate. I picked up the card beside it.

“To my Love, on our third Christmas, Danial.”

I put the chocolates beside my bed, resisting the urge to eat one. The next thing I knew, it was Christmas afternoon.

Danial was gone when I awoke, the rumpled bed the only testament that he’d come to bed. Worried he was up, I wrapped a robe around me, and went looking for him. Opening the bedroom door, I stepped into flowers.

There were vases everywhere, with roses of all colors: red, white, yellow, blue, pink, and multi-colored. The sweet fresh scent of roses wakened my senses. I took a deep breath.

“Here’s another one,” Terian said with a grin, handing me a bucket filled with water and more roses. “We’ve run out of vases.”

I took it from him, taking a deep breath in the silky petals. “How many did he order?”

“One for each day we have spent together,” said Danial from above me.

I looked up to the loft, meeting Danial’s eyes. “Danial, that is over five hundred flowers!” I said, shocked.

“Five hundred, thirty-three,” he replied with a loving smile. “I’ve been listening for you to get up for hours, hoping you’d delay long enough to get them in position. There are four hundred and eighty here so far, so it was pretty close.”

“I can’t believe you did this,” I said slowly, looking around me in wonder.

“This Christmas called for more than a box of chocolate,” he said, leaning over the railing, his dark hair falling forward. “And I know you like flowers.”

“I love them,” I said, burying my face again in soft fresh petals.

“Here’s another,” Elle said, carrying in an armful. “There are no more containers.”

“I’ll get another bucket,” Terian said, rolling his eyes, and we all broke into laughter.

Buy links for Taken in the Night

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amazon.co.uk

Smashwords

Lulu – (Print copies)

Melange Books – (HTML and PDF)

Author Links

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Other Books by Tara Fox Hall 

Promise Me Book Cover

Broken Promise Book Cover

Guest Post: Portraying My Characters as Real Human Beings by Dianne Lynn Gardner

Author Dianne Lynn Gardner

I am very happy to introduce my guest for the week, Dianne Gardner, who asks if teenagers can turn their awareness of their parent’s inadequacies into respect for them, as Ian, the main protagonist in her book does, and grasp what a large part the power of love plays. Welcome Dianne and thank you for being here.

As much as Ian wants him to be, Alex Wilson isn’t a perfect father.

I’ve heard a little buzz about my book Deception Peak concerning that very subject. Alex Wilson, a grown man, a father, doesn’t make excellent choices, he’s a little selfish actually and  the reader wonders if they can trust him. But really, as they say, there’s a method behind the madness! It wasn’t an accident.

I wanted to write a book that teen-age boys can relate to. I don’t come from a perfectIan Wilson from the book Deception Peak by Dianne Gardner family, and my kids certainly weren’t raised in one. I see many, many children being raised in single parent homes. Often the parents aren’t much more mature than the kids. Not their fault. Perhaps they had emotional issues that set them back. In Alex’s case, he’s still surviving the death of his spouse, and coming to grips with being a single parent.  No one taught him how and he certainly didn’t expect things to turn out like they did.

A broken family means imperfection.

How could I put a perfect dad in a book meant for teens living in an imperfect world?

They’d know I was lying to them.

Alex Wilson - A character in Deception Peak by Dianne Lynn GardnerAnd you know, there isn’t anything in the Book of Life that says just because we reach a certain age (adulthood— when’s that by the way?) we’re going to make perfect choices… like there’s some software programmed into our brains that clicks on at age such-and-such.

If I were writing that message in my stories, than woe to the kids who’d be waiting around for the reboot!

It just doesn’t happen. And it isn’t fair to kids to try and convince them otherwise.

We are in the middle of a journey. Child, young adult, adult, senior, whatever stage we’re at, we’re learning and growing. Hopefully we get some sense  as we grow older, but there are events in life that can set us back too.

What’s important, and something that I wanted to make sure the reader gets from the series, is that no matter how many faults Ian finally realizes his father has-he still loves him.

No matter how many personal problems parents have today; problems like Dad not paying child support, or not coming around to see their children enough, or Mom drinking too much, or Mom and Dad fighting, or even Mom and Dad not understanding what the kids are going through…the real issue Deception Peak addresses is, how can I love my parent despite his or her inadequacies?

For Ian, he doesn’t even see it as a choice. He loves his dad. Period. But he wrestles with passing judgment on him none the less. It isn’t until his eyes are opened to how others view the world, that he realizes his critical eye.

Indeed, the need for family becomes evident in the midst of tragedy, and Ian is exposed to tragedy.

One of the most crucial eye openers Ian gets is when he meets Vilfred for the first time. A cripple, unable to move but for his friendly smile and wise advice, Ian learns the story of Vilfred’s sacrifice to save an undeserving people from their own idol worship. It humbles Ian. Vilfred is a man who was much like his own father once. A hunter, strong, caring. With Vilfred as his mentor, Ian begins to appreciate his father, and to respect him.

As a side note, compared to some of the situations kids find themselves in these days I’d say Alex Wilson is a pretty cool dad – regardless of taking the plunge with his son into a dangerous and mysterious realm.

“Deception Peak”, published by Hydra Publications, is available from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle  formats.

Hydra Publications

Official book blog

Book video trailer

Deception Peak by Dianne Lynn Gardner- Book cover

Guest Post: To Catch a Reader by Sarah Buchynski

Sarah Buchynski

My guest this week is the young fantasy author, Sarah Buchynski, who shares her passion for writing; along with some great insights into how she feels is the best way to engage her readers. Wonderful stuff! Welcome, Sarah, and thank you for being here.

Today, I am supposed to write about something I am passionate about in life. However, what really is passion?  I would like to think of it as something in one’s life that brings them great joy.  So, what brings me great joy in life?  There are many things, but I am going to focus on writing.  More specifically, creating a piece of work that others will be entertained when exposed to it.  While I am writing, I am thinking of many things at once.  How can I write down the ideas that are swimming in my head to convey them to the reader without boring them to death?  What would sound better: It was morning and it came fast. The sky was filled with many colours; or: It was now dawn and it had come swiftly.  With it came swirls of pink and red clouds.  The colours painted a beautiful canvas in the sky.  Just for the sake of illustrating a point, the first quote is relatively dull.  It does get the information across, but is it entertaining?  Will the reader be entranced by the scenario, and does it allow them to “enter” the story?  I personally think it would not.  The second example has a bit more detail – this detail can help a reader see the story inside their minds as they are reading.  For fiction works, I think that it is important to paint a picture inside the reader’s mind.  Since I am passionate about entertaining people through my literature, this concept is a priority for me to incorporate into my work.

Everything I do in my writing relates back to how to entertain the reader.  After I get my canvas of words painted on a tangible medium, I then ask myself another question – how can I make my story larger than life, but still believable?  This may seem like an oxymoron, at first.  However, there is a thin line as to where the two are no longer compatible.  For instance, in fantasy, a lot of its elements do not exist in reality.  So when writing, you have a lot of freedom.  Yet, I cannot give a character such weird ability that will leave the reader thinking, “Okay, as if that could really happen…”  Sometimes you cannot make a human character have ultra superhuman abilities, since we live in a reality where people can never be like that.  So, since we are used to that reality, we naturally feel this way.  However, for something that does not exist in our reality, I can make it larger than life because we do not have the ability to anticipate all the possibilities.

A thesaurus, adjectives, treading the line between fantasy and reality, and research are my best friends and tools to making my passion come to life.  The research is like “eye candy” for a reader.  I find that many readers appreciate and enjoy it when writers incorporate a storyline around mystical concepts like ancient times (people, artifacts, places, etc.) or mythology.  However, I sometimes find that simply alluding to these concepts, rather than dwelling on them full-blown in the story, can add that extra “tease” to spark one’s interest in the story and characters.

I hope that whoever read this blog was entertained, while I shared my passion with all of you!

Bio

Sarah Buchynski is a young author that showed a passion for writing even as a child. In her grade school years, she placed second in an essay writing contest for the Royal Canadian Legion and has two poems published in a student anthology with Creative Communications and several works in school-based anthologies. Now she has expanded her writing ambitions with her first fantasy series, Before True Light, which is available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.

As a writer, one of Sarah’s main techniques is to paint a vivid picture into the reader’s mind through carefully constructed imagery. In addition to the embedded metaphors which older audiences can enjoy along with the story.

Sarah’s other technique is research. Almost every name of places and characters have been carefully researched so that it is relevant to the storyline. Sarah believes that everything in a story should have a purpose to an extend, so that makes research even more important even for works of fiction.

 Before True Light:  The Awakening by Sarah Buchynski Book Cover

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Will You Do the Work? by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Guest Bloggers on Amelia Curzon's blog

Looking for some sound advice about starting out as a writer!  Well, my Guest Blogger for the week is here to share the essential basics of where to begin.  A warm welcome to you, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, and thank you for your user-friendly guidance. 

People ask me for writing advice all the time. After all, I used to work for a publishing house and I am now an indie author of six titles.  I don’t mind giving advice, I really don’t. I do mind repeating myself. So for the sake of all perpetuity, I’m going to share the key steps to getting started as a writer.

Below, I’m going to share everything you need to consider if you want to be published. “Everything” as in the beginning steps you’ll need to take.  If you want to know more, consider my book So You Want to Sell a Million Copies? Or others like it that offer more in-depth guidelines, links, and information.Guest Blogger Author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Curzon"

Step One:

Write a book. Yes, I know this might seem slightly obvious but you’d be amazed how many people seem to miss this crucial step in their rush to get into print. They have a great idea, a story that will leap at readers, and they can’t wait to sell it. Well, last time I checked, you can’t sell something that doesn’t exist (well, people on Wall Street try all the time and look where that got the global economy). Get yourself an office, a café, or even a clear space of desk and get to writing. There is no skipping this step.

Step Two:

Find beta readers. These are people who will tell you what they think about the book’s contents. They will say that a character doesn’t seem real or that the language is kitsch. You are not allowed to hate them for it because are providing you an invaluable service: prevention from public humiliation when your book goes worldwide. Treat them like gold. Do not ask your mother or Aunt Mildred, nor your father if his thing is to be overly critical. Find a writing group, online or in person, join, and return the favor to receive good critiques.

Step Three:

Think through your publishing options carefully. Do you want to go the commercial route and wait a year or longer for an agent to show interest in you? Because that’s if all goes smoothly; the agent then needs to sell to an editor and conversely a publishing house on your behalf, first, and then your idea. If you don’t have the heart for form rejections or time to bite your nails as you wait for replies, consider self-publishing. Smashwords, Kindle, iBooks – the options seem to be multiplying by the day. Consider which meets your needs and what budget you have for publicity, marketing, etc. Even if you go commercial, you’ll still be expected to promote your book. The days of company led marketing campaigns are all but nil, and those only for the repeat best sellers.

Step Four:

Build a fan base, not by spamming everyone you know, but creating a good product and establishing connections with other people who are either interested in your story or in the same genre you’re in. I recently published a contemporary romance novel. It borderlines literary fiction but in order to establish a niche, I’m reaching out to the romance set. They are friendly, they want reviews, and they’re looking to exchange guest posts, Tweets, Facebook likes, you name it. Once you do agree how you’ll benefit each other, make sure you hold up your part of the bargain. The internet makes the social media sphere a small world and you don’t want to be that uppity writer who angered a book reviewer.

Step Five:

Persist, be patient, and helpful. Just like you did in the writing phase, marketing and publicity may get cumbersome. See you can get on your team. There are plenty of reasonably priced groups and individuals out there looking to support authors of all stripes. Find them, join them, become one of them. Many of these opportunities are free, like Goodreads or Facebook interest groups. Remember: you need to give before you can get, so give as much as you can and build up these relationships with people so that they will be excited about promoting you and your project.

The irony behind headlines that say someone was a ‘overnight success’ is that they rarely are. Jodi Picoult, who has been on more bestseller lists than most of have pairs of shoes, once said that her overnight success was nine years in the making.

Ask yourself if you are willing to put in that kind of dedication. If the answer is no, then maybe you’d rather do something else. Like learn how to play tennis. I hear the Brits are trying to find someone to make it to the finals next year.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Romantic ebook by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

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