Monthly Archives: February 2011

So, You Want to Write Fiction.

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We All Get There

Do you know what it takes to write fiction? Writing it down is the magic that sets everything into motion.  WRITE, WRITE, and WRITE, is the mantra  I have gathered from reading various “How To” books.

It has been recommended you set a particular time daily to write. “Force yourself to stick to a schedule.” is a quote out of Writing Fiction by Gotham Writer’s Workshop.   I personally write when I want to.  I do write something everyday, but it my not be on my novel.  I don’t want to take the pleasure out of my writing, because I have it scheduled to write everyday at ten in the morning, or seven in the evening.
Writing is a job and should be treated as a job, but my particular job, will have flexible scheduling.  The rational behind the schedule is to develop discipline.
I am a “free spirit writer,” at this point in time, but at some point I will have to become a disciplined editor.  One who will go through the writing with a fine tooth comb and make necessary changes.  Right now my mind is screaming, no ! no!  I can’t do that, everything I write is wonderful and important to the story. Considering I am the “free spirit writer” now  I am going to play “Scarlet O’Hara,” and deal with that another day.
Enjoy the Video, it has a lot to say.

What Is Fiction?

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All We Need

Fiction is a lie, an untruth, and for the writer it is a piece of writing using made up facts.  I love writing fiction because it lets me stretch my mind.  Use my imagination to make a world of love, joy, kindness, goodness, all of those Boy and  Girl Scout  ideals we learned so long ago.  I could also make a world so corrupt and dark, you’d cringe when you read the words.  It let’s the writer create whatever they want because it doesn’t have to be true.
As humans, why do we like stories?  They have been around as far back as man’s thinking abilities.  I can imagine a long ago ancestor, telling the family or a group of men how the hunt went that day.  I can see the proverbial “fish story” in the making.  It could have gone something like this; “You know what I saw today when I was hunting game, you’ll never believe it.  I sure didn’t when I first laid eyes on the creature.  You remember that huge rock  down by the lake?  It’s the one that won’t fit inside our cave.  The creature is bigger than the rock.  It is covered with brown hair and walks on two legs.  I could even see fangs hanging out its mouth.  I swear every word I’m telling you is true.”
We tell stories for entertainment, as well as to impart knowledge.  As humans we want to know about our existence, future and past.  The who, what, when, where and why of everything.  If we do not know for certain what the answers are then someone tends to create a story to fit the situation.
Fiction satisfies the need for entertainment.  We can use our imaginations and put ourselves in the world which has been created by the use of fiction.  The use of words and the imagination of us all is what’s needed for fiction.
Below is a video on Fiction Writing.  Enjoy

Research

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Library Research

I loved doing the research for my book. I think my favorite spot to learn about was the Gelen Mines in Scotland. The pictures of the area were beautiful. I find it amazing how much new knowledge I gained from doing the research for The Tower. I also enjoyed the cultural aspect of Kathmandu. The city has six large casino’s located in hotels. I am sure those casinos bring in money for the government and the owners.

Tulsa, I knew about because I lived there many years ago. Since I am from Oklahoma I visited often. Tulsa is a nice city, and it is well laid out.
I also enjoyed finding out about the South American island.  I used the name and changed everything else I mentioned in the book.
Even with fiction writing, you have to know a little bit about what you are writing. I don’t think you could make it realistic if you didn’t. If your writing science fiction you know from the beginning that it is not real, the writer has to make it seem real.
That’s my two cents on research for the day.

“My Daddy”

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Drinking Man

My life with my Dad is/was complicated. I love him, and I now know he loves me.  It’s not always been so. I was fifty years old the first time I heard daddy tell me he loved me.  It was if he had gone through his life not being able to get the words to come out of his mouth.  I think it is amazing how important those words are to a daughter.  I went through half of my life not knowing if daddy loved me or not.  Now, he is never the first to say it, but I always hear it, “love you too.”
My dad fought his demons.  The alcohol ruled his life from the time I was a child until I was almost fifty years old.  There were casualties from the fight.  For many years I was one of them.  As a small child my memories of my dad was his drinking, going fishing and watching the Friday night fights.  When I reached my teen years, I hated my father.  I couldn’t bring friends home with me, because I didn’t know if he would kiss them or cuss them.
He taught me how to manipulate him, so I could get what I wanted. I learned just the right time to ask for something.  He went through all the known stages of
drinking alcohol, from quiet to downright mean.  By the time he reached the mean stage I would try to disappear.  It didn’t always work because he would set me
up for a fight.  It was strange, but that is how I learned to love books.  I could
disappear into one of them.
There was so much verbal and physical abuse, around me. He and mom would get into an augment which intensified into a physical fight all too often.  I am surprised they let each other live to make it to sixty years of living together.
Through Gods grace I was able to forgive my dad.  I now see him as a kind loving father who now appreciates his family, and what he has.  I still remember the pain, but it doesn’t affect me like it did.
Daddy doesn’t remember the life we had or the pain he caused. He remembers the good things about his life and not the bad.  At his age it is alright, he doesn’t need to remember. He enjoys his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His world revolves around his family now, not the bottle.
The video I have posted below is called : Alcohol: Poison for body and mind. It is very interesting to listen to.  Please take the time to listen.  We can’t have enough education concerning alcoholism.
ttp://youtu.be/-rsBMyFqCl8
That’s my two-cents for the day.

My Pioneering Family

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http://youtu.be/nDd2USzIEkA

I ran across this wonderful YouTube video about life as a pioneer, and it added further  to the respect I have for the courage of my forefathers in settling the land.  In the latest book I’m writing, “The Dobyns Chronicles,” I follow one branch of my family starting in Virginia.  They migrate from Virginia in the 1700’s settling in Ohio and Indiana.  My Great-Great Grandfather then migrated with his family to Texas, living in the Sherman/Denison area on the Red River.

Everyone has stories of their family.  Have you ever stopped and thought about how they managed to accomplish what they did.  It is mind-boggling when you consider the obstacles they had to overcome in order to settle a new land.  The hardships they must have endured day after day. The things we take for granted today.

I was very fortunate having a mother who loved family history, and wanted to talk about it.  I grew up listening to the stories about how life was lived when her Grandfather was a boy, and living through the depression.  She taught my sister and I how to survive.  I have her Grandmother’s lye soap recipe.  I truly hope it never gets to a point I have to make my own soap, but I know how, if I need it.  I can live without electricity and running water if I have to.  I know how to plant a garden and preserve food.    This is where I am very grateful for the life today.  I don’t have to do what was common place to the pioneering families of yesteryear.

How many people today could make it across the miles and miles of plains, not seeing a soul, or cross a mountain range?  I know I couldn’t do it.  I use to live in Wyoming many years ago, and looked at the wagon ruts cutting across the country.  The canyons, wagons would have to be lowered into with ropes and then lifted up the other side.  The small cemeteries, containing loved one’s that could go no further.  Between Rawlins and Casper, there is a large granite rock.  The pioneers who traveled by this rock would chisel their name and the year into the rock.  They wanted it known, they were there.

Train Robbery (Microfiction)

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This small piece of fiction was wrote for a contest where I could only use 100 words to tell my story.  I have also included an article by GW Thomas on how to write Flash Fiction.  I found it very helpful.

Train Robbery
MicroFiction 100 words
The high-speed train was on time. Holly kept her purse draped across her body, making her feel secure traveling with all her money.  Usually time was taken to get travelers checks, but this trip she didn’t. She felt it was unlikely this train would be robbed, because of its rate of speed.

Holly looked at the ceiling of the car when she heard the thumps. She didn’t see the parachutes opening, and the precision landings on the top of the train.  A Loud noise and a burning smell come next.  Two men drop through, guns in hand. “Money please.”

Writing Flash Fiction By GW Thomas
With the advent of the Internet, editors are looking for shorter works, more easily read on a computer screen. The current term is “flash fiction”, a tale between 300-1000 words long. Longer than micro-fiction (10-300 words) but shorter than traditional short stories (3000-5000 words preferred by most magazines), flash fiction is usually a story of a single act, sometimes the culmination of several unwritten events.
This article will offer several strategies for writing flash fiction. Used by themselves or in combination, the writer can focus their story to that brief, interesting event.
1) The small idea
Look for the smaller ideas in larger ones. To discuss the complex interrelationship of parents and children you’d need a novel. Go for a smaller piece of that complex issue. How kids feel when they aren’t included in a conversation. What kids do when they are bored in the car. Middle child. Bad report card. Find a smaller topic and build on it.
.2) Bury the preamble in the opening
When you write your story, don’t take two pages to explain all the pre-story. Find a way to set it all in the first paragraph, then get on with the rest of the
tale.
3) Start in the middle of the action
Similar to #2, start the story in the middle of the action. A man is running. A bomb is about to go off. A monster is in the house. Don’t describe any more than you have to. The reader can fill in some of the blanks.
4) Focus on one powerful image
Find one powerful image to focus your story on. A war-torn street. An alien sunset. They say a picture worth a thousand words. Paint a picture with words. It doesn’t hurt to have something happen inside that picture. It is a story after all.
5) Make the reader guess until the end
A little mystery goes a long way. Your reader may have no idea what is going on for the majority of the story. This will lure them on to the end. When they finish, there should be a good pay off or solution.
6) Use allusive references
By using references to a commonly known story you can save yourself all those unnecessary words. Refer to historical events. Use famous situations from literature. If the story takes place on the Titanic you won’t have to explain what is going to happen, who is there or much of anything. History and James Cameron have already done it for you. Beware of using material that is too obscure. Your reader should be able to make the inferences.
7) Use a twist
Like #5, the twist ending allows the writer to pack some punch at the end of the story. Flash fiction is often twist-ending fiction because you don’t have enough time to build up sympathetic characters and show how a long, devastating plot has affected them. Like a good joke, flash fiction is often streamlined to the punch-line at the end.
Let’s look at these techniques in my story “Road Test”. I wanted to write a story about taking my driving exam. I didn’t mention the pre-test or practicing. Just the test. (#1 THE SMALL IDEA) This narrows our
subject down to a manageable scene.
I didn’t have room to describe the driving examiner in detail. I set my main character in two sentences.(#2 BURY THE PREAMBLE) “The man in the government-issued suit sat down without looking at the person across from him. We’ve established the main character and his chief flaws. (He’s mediocre and probably hates his job.)
I started in the middle of the action by having the driver very quickly go from good driving to dangerous driving. Johnson, the driving examiner realizes the driver is not human but goat-headed (#3 START IN THE MIDDLE). “He had changed. The beard was longer, the skin darker and two large curved horns crowned his skull.” This creates tension and has created an image: a man trapped in a speeding car with a monster (#4 A POWERFUL IMAGE). It pushes the reader on because they want to know what will happen next, maybe why is it happening? We won’t tell them until the end (#5 KEEP THEM GUESSING). The monster keeps yelling the same word, “Pooka!” Johnson begins to understand. He knows the old fairy stories about the Pooka, about how they pretended to be horses so they could drown their victims. (#6 ALLUSION) Now is the time for resolution, our great twist ending that no one sees coming (#7 TWIST ENDING). As the monster crashes the car into a pond, Johnson realizes a modern-day Pooka wouldn’t look like a horse, but would use a car. The car crashes and we finish with: “They would die, only Johnson would live long enough to feel those large goatish teeth chewing the flesh from his bones. The souped-up V8 hit the slick surface of the pond like a fist
into jello. Windshield collapsed under tons of water, washing away the high, shrill laughter of the driver.”
“Road Test” clocks in at 634 words. It is essentially a man gets killed by a monster story, but the crux of the idea is “How would mythological creatures adapt to the modern world?” This is really the small idea. The allusions to the Pooka will work for some, but I gave enough explanation to help those that don’t know about the old stories.
This example story was chosen because it illustrated all 7 methods. Using only one in a flash story can be enough. Writing flash fiction is a great way for writers to write everyday, even when larger projects seem to daunting or they are pressed for time. Using these short cuts can have you writing in minutes.

“I’m Here”

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The door slammed echoing down the long hall.  I sat at my desk in the middle of the night acting as a guard to a young woman who was in seclusion.

I was an attendant working for a drug rehabilitation facility in Texas.  I usually worked on the three to eleven shift, five days a week.  The facility itself was once a world war one military base.  When the base closed down it became a state-owned mental facility.

This particular day, I worked my usual shift.  A young girl was having drug flash backs, which is a terrible thing to see when it causes the child terror.  This terror she felt could cause her to do harm to herself, so she was placed under twenty-four hour observation.  I volunteered to work a double shift to watch the girl.

The seclusion room was on the third floor of the girls’ dormitory.  This dormitory was just an old building redone on the outside, but had heating and cooling pipes running along the edges of the ceiling of a huge barracks’ type room.

I was alone on the third floor except for the girl in lockup.  The back entrance to the building had a metal door with metal stairs leading up to the floor.  I had a light on the desk, and a telephone.  I also had the Security Departments number, in case there were problems to be dealt with.

Three o’clock in the morning is a very quiet, lonely time.  I heard the metal door down stairs open and close.  That defiantly got my attention, and I could see and feel the hair standing on my arms.  I immediately got on the phone to security to
see what was going on.  They told me no one was making rounds, but they would send someone to check for problems.

I heard footsteps coming up the metal steps into the hallway.  I heard the metal door slam, and I saw the door open and close at the end of the door room.  I called out, “Who is there.”  I couldn’t see anything, but I knew something was in the room.

I had called security, so there was nothing for me to do except wait.  It took about thirty seconds after the door closed for the banging to begin.  It was as if someone had a broom handle and was going around the room hitting the heating/cooling pipes.  I
left the desk, and went into the seclusion room with the sleeping girl.    The banging continued until it had gone all the way around the room.  It stopped as quickly as it had begun. I never saw anything, but I sure could feel it.

Security was now on the scene, and could find nothing wrong.  The door down stairs was still locked and so was the door at the end of the dorm room.  I told them what happened, and they just looked at me, as if I had lost my mind.

This is a true story, and someone, or something from the past wanted me to know they were still around.  I paid attention, and it remains vivid in my mind to this very day.

I would like to hear from anyone who has also encountered strange times.  That’s my two-cents for today.

More On Ginger Rogers and Never Underestimate An Old Gal

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http://youtu.be/3O-o5gwi4HI During my orignal Blog about this woman the video says is Ginger Rogers, I said I was not sure it was her or not.  I have since found out it is not Ginger.  According to The London Times, the womans name is Sarah “Paddy” Jones and she is seventy-five years old.  She is from England, but relocated to Spain.  Her partner is Nicholas Espluosa, her thirty-five year old dance instructor.  The pair is popular in Spain and made it to their number two spot.

Her husband died six years ago and Mrs Jones took up Salsa to help her recover from her husband’s death.  This grandmother of six is now globe-trotting “doing her thing.”  She began dancing at the age of two, training for ballet, tap and Greek dancing.  When she married at age twenty-two, she gave up her dancing career and became a dental nurse.  After working as a dental nurse she and her husband ran a fabric shop.

She plans on continuing her career in dance as long as she is able to.  I think she is absolutely wonderful to be able to move as she does and share her talent with all who see her.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all move like she does?  I can hardly raise my leg, much less put it up beside my head.  She has been blessed and I am happy for her.  That’s my two cents for today.

Football Can Kill You

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The skull and crossbones, a common symbol for ...

Image via Wikipedia

According to an article I read today in “The Week“, a losing football team can kill you.  The University of California did a study of the death rate following the Rams Superbowl trips in 1980 and 1984.  The record review revealed some very scary numbers.  After the team lost their bid for the Superbowl, heart attacks deaths went up fifteen percent in men, twenty-seven percent in women, and twenty-two percent in senior citizens.  Four years later when the Rams won the Superbowl the numbers didn’t change at all.

This study shows how much emotion is put into your favorite football team.  The lead researcher felt people reacted due to making the team “a family member.”  A die-hard becomes very emotional, causing stress.  This stress increases the pulse rate, raises blood pressure and can trigger a cardiac event.  Is ranting and raving because your team lost the game worth the possibility of having a heart attack and possibly dying?

Take a look at this video and you can see what it is feels like to experience a heart attack.  This video was made in England and says to call 999, but here we call 911.  Please pay attention, it could save your life.  That’s my two-cents for today.

http://youtu.be/LUt1xXASm_s