Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I've been tagged by Kamille Elahi

Hi, Everyone, I've been tagged by Kamille Elahi. She's a vivacious, wise-beyond-her-years, 19 year old college student in England. Check out her website.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the 10 questions I created at the bottom of this post. Tag, and notify that you've tagged them, five people. Finally, create 10 questions you'd like them to answer.

Here are the questions I had to answer.

1) When was the first time you travelled away from home?

The first time I travelled away from home by myself was when I was nine years old. I flew from Jacksonville, Florida, to my grandparents home in North Carolina. Flying (prop plane) was quite an experience for me.

2) Did you ever dream of the ground eating you?


3) What's the best meal you can cook?

Ham, eggs, and grits.

4) Have you ever met an author?

yes, several

5) How cool was meeting that author?

no big deal

6) What is your secret ambition?

To go to heaven, if there is such a place.

7) Who is the scariest person you have stood up to?

A muscle-bound neighbor with whom I clashed.

8) Have you ever tasted sea water?

Sure. Lots of times.

9) What's your favourite song and why?

I don't have a favorite song, because songs come and go like crazy.

10) Blogging or Writing?


I must now tag five people.

tanya reimer

terri talley venters

gabriel a lessa

jackson porter


These are your ten questions:
1. Where were you born?
2. Do you speak more than one language? Which other?
3. Do you play a musical instrument? Which one?
4. Which is your favorite city in the world? Why?
5. Who is your favorite author?
6. What was your favorite subject in school (high school, college, whatever)?
7. At what age did you first become aware of yourself as a person? How did it come about?
8. Would you like to travel in outerspace?
9. Do you believe in astrology?
10. What is your astrological sign?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

John Locke and publishing

Today, at the supermarket, I saw one of John Locke's self-published ebooks now in paperback. I looked inside and saw that he owns the copyright, it was published by his own publishing company, and a statement that he'd sold over 1.5 million ebooks. He has set up some kind of marketing and distribution deal with one of the bigger publishers to publish his ebooks as paper books, apparently without giving up his rights.

This shows the kind of evolution the publishing industry is going through. People who self-publish ebooks certainly have a future in paper books as well. And the business models are changing. John Locke's deal is one model, maybe the best. Who knows at this point? But I think it shows that self-publishing ebooks is a viable option for many of us.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Write Like the Masters, by William Cane (3) Honore de Balzac

The first master writer that Cane discusses is Honore de Balzac. Cane points out that Balzac is an expert in the use of emotional tags ("little references to the feelings of his characters"). However Balzac does not tag just any emotion; he tags the deeper emotions. To get a first-hand view of this, I read Balzac's Eugenie Grandet, paying especial attention to Balzac's use of tags. There were quite a few times that he used them, and he actually didn't seem to use tags for any other reason than for emotions. He didn't use them for descriptions of sunsets, or clothes, or much of anything else.

The first use of such a tag that I noticed was when Eugenie falls in love with her cousin (Charles), whom her father doesn't like, and she realizes her father disapproves of him.
The distant hopes in her heart bloomed suddenly, became real, tangible, like a cluster of flowers, and she saw them cut down and wilting on the earth.

Mr. Grandet is an extreme miser. This is how Balzac describes Mrs. Grandet's feelings after her husband tells her they will have their discussion in the morning concerning her spending too much money.

The poor woman went to sleep like a schoolboy who, not having learned his lessons, knows  he will see his master's angry face on the morrow.

Mr. Grandet has given Eugenie a great many gold coins as a savings for her future, perhaps a dowry, but she has given the money to her cousin, Charles, whom she loves, to help him recover his reputation and settle his dead father's debts. When Mr. Grandet finds out, Balzac writes:

"You have not got your gold!" cried Grandet, starting up erect, like a horse that hears a cannon fired beside him.

There were others, but these are enough to get the idea. The tags are clever and reflect the emotions of the characters. They are very visual and contain the element Balzac is trying to convey: in the first one, Eugenie's new-found love dying just after it blooms; the second suggests the trepidation and fear of what will happen; and the last describes the shock Mr. Grandet feels.

This use of tags was very revealing to me, showing me a more powerful way of using tags than just describing everyday things. Perhaps this will be useful to you.

Do you already use tags this way? Do you think it would strengthen you writing if you used them in this fashion?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write Like the Masters, by William Cane (2)

After reading Write Like the Masters, by William Cane, I selected the writers whom I felt most related to my own way of writing: Honore de Balzac, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, William Somerset Maugham, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Margarate Mitchell, Ian Fleming, and Philip K. Dick. Cane nicely explains each writer's major stylistic elements, his or her specialness. There were many other authors he discusses, so there is a lot that I did not care for for one reason or another, though someday they might appeal to me.

As an aid to seeing the big picture, I created a mind map of my favorite authors' techniques.

I can also summarize in a paragraph, especially without mentioning the particular author the technique came from, what I believe the mind map says:

As writers of fiction, we should strive for strong characters (especially conflicting characters, perhaps based on architypes) who are faced with life-defining, catastrophic events in which strong emotions (positive and negative) are highlighted (tagged) through the conflict, making the reader laugh, cry, and wait for resolution to these conflicts, all of which contain some elements of mystery, surprising the reader, and in which the character changes through an epiphany (ah-ha moment) that is foreshadowed in the fast/slow, rising/falling pace of the action, using sumptuous or strong details of description with a big background (Civil War, WW II, the Great Depression, etc.) and a strong element of romance (with obstacles to that romance) that flows in a pattern of the characters preparing for romance, participating in banter (romantic play) that is followed by the first kiss, preferrably told through the third person limited point of view of the protagonist.

Did I get it all in? Obviously, this is not a blueprint for writing. It is an aid to writing. I doubt that I or anyone else would have all these elements in the same novel, though I'm sure it's possible. But when you're thinking about and writing your story, these are elements that may enter into the story, that may increase your ideas and strengthen your story.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Word Count: Six Months Later

Yesterday I finished the revision of my 117,000 word novel Only The Lonely based on Tanya Reimer's comments on reading the entire book.

I've trimmed the book down to about 81,000 words by eliminating some of the subplots. I consider my work on the book about 95% complete. I rewrote some chapters, added a few new ones, and combined some chapters. The 5% of the work I have left to do is polishing the revisions, possibly adding one small element, and making sure the book flows properly. Hopefully, I can get that done this month. Then it's on to self-publishing the book.

I need to come up with a book cover. The one I have works, but I may look into doing something different. I'm undecided.

The subplots I eliminated are not lost or wasted effort. They will be the basis of, or part of, one or two sequels I have planned.