The imaginary country in which Princess Adele lived in was called Valdoria. I came up with that name watching “Dancing with The Stars.” There is a professional dancer (very cute) who just happens to have the name of Val. He and his partner were dancing when Valdoria popped into my head. So that is where I came up with the name.
As you see from the title I’m writing five interesting things about my book, “Princess Adele’s Dragon.” What creates interest for one may not for the next one, but I will do the best I can.
1. My book is a Young Adult Fantasy eBook based in Medieval times when Dragons, Knights, Witches and Christianity and war were prevalent. I enjoyed doing the research about this time period. I created a blog earlier on the History of Dragons. You know those big scaly things that legends are made of. The big, green dragon in my book has been given the name, Draiocht (DREE-oct). This name means Magic, enchantment, from lore and arts of the Druids of pre-Christian Ireland and Celtic society. This character will surprise you.
2. The second fact is I have two protagonists and two antagonists. Princess Adele and Prince Anthony are the protagonists and Lord Ashmore, and Mickael are the Protagonist. I didn’t plan the story that way, but my muse decided it needed to play out with the four interacting in their particular roles.
3. Christianity has a small role in my story. During the medieval period the church began the change from the Druid way to one of Christianity. I got the name of one of the primary countries mentioned in my book.. It must have been a very intense and interesting time.
4. I’ve always heard you write what you like to read, and I guess it was true for me. The book was fun to write, and I like to read fantasy. do anything with your imagination. This book has everything from mild violence to love. To read it, follow the link. http://amzn.to/25lUOYM It is free for the reader who is a member of Amazon Direct.
5. It’s easy reading, even with Draiocht having his secrets.
I mentioned I had written a blog earlier about the history of dragons. If you would like to check that out it is at this link. http://bit.ly/1V1F0HM
As I close, I want to thank you readers who stopped by to visit. You are what makes this blog fun for me. Have a blessed day.
Hello, I thought today I would post a ghost story for Halloween. It is a true story, but I did take some fictional liberties with it. This story was told to me by a friend and Michael in the story was his uncle. Strange things happen in this world and this is only one of them. I hope you enjoy the story and please leave me some feedback.
I do have a book just for Halloween on Amazon called “Shirley’s Book of Horror.” I am giving away ten copies. If you will let me know you would like an ebook of short stories.
Shirley’s Book of Horror – Kindle edition by Shirley McLain. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. https://amzn.to/2Ba3jO8
The Never-Ending Heart
The sobs coming from the people standing around the grave were heart-wrenching. Especially those coming from Andrea’s husband, Michael. Even the dreary gray clouds with the light drizzle intensified the mourning that the Barton family and friends were going through.
Andrea Barton was a vivacious woman who loved her life. The entire family cherished her. There didn’t seem to be a bad trait or habit of any kind. She’d told her family often how perfect her life was and how God had blessed her.
Michael met Andrea in the sixth grade, right after he’d been moved from Michigan to Eufaula because his parents wanted to return to Oklahoma. They became fast friends and were together from that time forward. They knew in their hearts that one day they’d be married.
They worked and saved their money while they were dating so they could buy the farmland out on Route 4. It was located halfway in-between their parents, so it was the perfect location for the young couple.
As a surprise for the couple, both families got together and bought the land and gave it to Michael and Andrea as a wedding present. The money they’d saved could now build a house on their property. Life remained perfect for the couple. They made their dream farmhouse with a wraparound porch and lots of windows.
Love radiated from this couple. If you were around them, you didn’t have a choice but to smile and feel their happiness. On October 31, 1987, they became one legally. In their minds, they already belonged to each other. They didn’t go on a honeymoon so they could buy furniture for their new farmhouse. Their wedding night was the first time they had spent the night together under the same roof and, it was their roof.
Every night, when Michael got in from work, Andrea had a hot bath run, and dinner was cooking on the stove. Michael never liked a shower; he liked soaking in the warm water to help his aching muscles after his hard day at work. They pampered each other in every way possible. This ideal life continued for 30 years. Michael and Andrea had raised two children, who were now gone from home.
Michael left for work after kissing Andrea and saying the words he spoke every morning. “I love you, woman. I always have, and I always will.”
“Not as much as I love you,” Andrea called back. The happiness and love she felt for Michael never left her.
Andrea decided she’d clean off the shelves in the cellar, where she kept all of her canned food and supplies. They were full of junk and disorganized.
The cellar steps were steep without a handrail, and it had no electricity. She’d been after Michael for years to fix everything, but it never happened, so she used two coal oil lamps for light.
She hated going into the cellar because of not having light, and there had always been a problem with scorpions. She shivered just thinking about them. It took all of her determination to go down into the cellar, but she did. She lit both lamps and looked at the shelves dreading what she needed to do.
There wasn’t enough light on the far shelf to see. Andrea picked up a lantern and held it high so she could see the back of the shelf. She felt something land on her arm. When she looked it was a large scorpion which had apparently fallen from the ceiling. She screamed and jumped, dropping the lamp. It broke splashing the coal oil up onto Andrea’s pants. Flames went up her legs. She screamed and made a run for the steps but didn’t get far before she was consumed by the flames. The coroner’s report stated death was caused by fire, which destroyed the body due to the synthetic clothing being worn.
Michael was devastated at the death of his wife and experienced severe depression. All he could think about was Andrea and how much he missed her. His children were genuinely concerned. They even hired a housekeeper to come in daily to clean the house and talk to their dad.
After five years of deep mourning, Michael decided he liked having the housekeeper around. She was kind and talked to him even when he didn’t want her to. The best thing was Darlene was single. He may not have his mind off of Andrea, but he did listen to things going on around him. He decided he would marry Darlene and keep her around for the company.
Within three months Michael and Darlene were married, and she moved into the farmhouse with Michael. Things remained quiet for several days, but then it changed. Every night for a week, Darlene would wake Michael from a sound sleep to tell him someone was crying or walking in the house. Michael could hear nothing, but he’d get out of bed and look. It finally got to the point he told Darlene to go back to sleep because nothing was there.
This continued for almost a month. Darlene was becoming more agitated and unhappy as time went on. Michael decided he would try to cheer his wife up and took her out for a wonderful dinner and a show. Darlene relaxed and felt comfortable for a little while.
When they arrived back home, they immediately knew something was not right. There was a smell of food cooking, and they could hear water running. “I’ll find the water,” Michael said as he took off down the hall to find the running water. It was in the bathroom. The stopper was in the tub, and hot water was running into it. Thankfully it was not running over.
“Ok, I’ll check out the kitchen.” Darlene was standing in the kitchen, screaming at the top of her lungs. When Michael got there he grabbed his hysterical wife to hold her. He immediately noticed the pots cooking on the stove. He continued to hold onto Darlene as he moved them to the stove so he could turn it off.
Nothing prepared Michael for all the emotions he was feeling. Everything about Andrea was brought back to his mind. Darlene calmed down enough to talk and told Michael she was leaving this house and not returning. “I love you, but I’m not staying here another night. There was a woman in this kitchen when I came in. She looked at me and told me you were hers. Then she disappeared. I’m not living with the Ghost of your dead wife.”
“What are you talking about, Darlene? Ghosts aren’t real. There has to be another explanation.”
“Look, I know what I saw, and you won’t change my mind about leaving. I’ll be out of here within thirty minutes. You can come with me or stay, but I’m gone.”
“What did the woman look like?” Michael asked Darlene as she was throwing clothes into a suitcase.
“She was about five foot three inches tall, weighed about 120 and had fiery red hair. She looked like she was in her twenties.”
In a subdued voice, Michael asked, “What was she wearing?”
“You know, I couldn’t tell because of the flames that were covering her body but not burning her. It was your wife! I’ve seen the pictures you have of her.”
Michael sank onto the bed, and his mind couldn’t wrap itself around what he was told. Darlene grabbed her suitcase and left the house. True to her word, she never came back.
From that night on, Michael always had a hot bath and supper cooked for him. He never saw it happen, but it was there for him daily.
About a week before Michael died, he told his daughter he’d seen her mother out by the cellar. “I called to her, but she only smiled and waved to me before she disappeared. I know it has been her taking care of me all the time. It won’t be long before I’ll be with her. I just know it.”
Michael lay on the bed. He had recognized none of his family for the past two days. His eyes were closed, and the loud death rattle sound could be heard into the kitchen. The family gathered around the bed with several shedding tears as they waited for Michael to draw his last breath.
Michael opened his eyes, sat up in bed, and talked to someone at the foot of the bed. The family tried to get him to lie back, but he refused. A rose-colored mist covered the foot of the bed as Michael laid back and let out a show agonal breath.
The family couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Then a female voice spoke, “We are together again, my love,” as the light faded.
Short and Flashy may be the new in thing with writing and I’m so glad to hear it because I love writing short stories and flash fiction. I found that out about myself when I was writing my first book, The Tower. When I needed to have a brain change because I couldn’t find the words I needed to say for the book, I would write a piece of flash fiction or a short story so I could think about something else besides the book I was writing. It helped reset my brain. It made it easier for me to come up with what I needed for my book.
Over the fast few years, people have read more of my short stories and flash fiction. I am assuming it is due to lack of perceived time to read.
Do you know what flash fiction is? In case you don’t, I will try to explain. Flash Fiction is a complete story (has all the components of a story) in a limited number of words. They can be challenging to complete.
Think about how our reading world has changed since the computer came along. The time was we had no choice but to go to the book store or the library to get our reading material. Now we have small portable screens that let us have a book zipped to us over the airwaves. We can get anything we want to read from Amazon including short stories which we might read while we’re sitting under the hairdryer or waiting in a doctor’s office.
According to Anne R. Allen, one of the authors of How to be a Writer in the E-age: A self-Help Guide, short stories make money and hold their value. Kindle Singles often sell for the same as a novel-length book. Ellery Queen and Woman’s World still pay top dollar for genre stories.
Short stories are great for practice. Learning to write short stores can keep your writing from getting sloppy. Having short stories in your portfolio might give you another book to publish or an opportunity to publish in a magazine.
I put the majority of my short stories in an eBook called Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. The book was published on Amazon. Publishing my work of short stories was something I didn’t want to pass up. You may also have an opportunity to see what you can do.
Below you will find one of my short stories called Angie’s Secret. Please comment with a critique and let me know the good and the bad.
“Heavens no, this is my secret. I told you because you’re my best friend, and I know I can trust you.” Angie sat at the table with her cup of tea. She was pale around the eyes and mouth. “I am doing this on my own. I’m thirty-four years old, and I know this is the right thing for me.”
“It may be right for you, but girl you look like crap. Do you want another cup of tea?”
Mattie went to the stove and brought the teapot back to the table. She asked Angie if she’s eating enough.
Mockingly Angie replied, “Yes, mother, I am. I can take care of myself. Stop worrying about me.”
“How do you think you’re going to pull this off when he barely lets you out of his sight?”
Angie thought of the days ahead as she sipped her tea. Her excitement showed.
Mattie looked at her, seeing the smile, said, “Ok, girlfriend, spill the beans. I want to know what’s making you smile.”
“I have to go home.”
“Angie, remember, no matter what, I’m your friend.” Mattie grabbed Angie, hugged her tightly.
“I’ll be in touch, and don’t worry,” Angie said as they broke apart. She walked back to her house. Her bedroom light was on. Crap, he must know I’m not in my room. I’ll walk through the front door as the grown woman I am.
After she entered the house, she almost made it to the stairs before she heard her father’s harsh voice.
“Angie, is that you?”
“Yes, father, it’s me.”
“Come here immediately,” her father, bellowed.
Angie walked into the library, ready for battle. Her father kicked back in the recliner, with a drink in his hand, asked, “Where have you been?”
“I went to Arlene’s for tea. I left your dinner on the table.”
“It was cold. You are one lousy cook.”
“Yes, father. I’m going upstairs to my room, goodnight, father.”
The clock advanced slowly, but 2 a.m. arrived. She pulled her suitcase from beneath her bed, took one last look at her room and left. Her father appeared to be asleep when she opened the front door. As she stepped out into the night air, she took her first deep breath of freedom.
Hello everyone, I thought today I would share an article on creating fantasy characters. I love reading and writing fantasy. It literally will let my mind go to this creation of fantastic times, people, and creatures.
I’ve written one fantasy book, Princess Adele’s Dragon, which is a medieval adventure story, but I couldn’t count how many books I’ve read in the fantasy category. I love to read those three to five book series that continue to lead you down those wild and wonderful paths. I have to admit I have read all of Harry Potter and the Outlander series which are far more than three to five books.
You have thought of a subject for a new fantasy book. The first thing you have to do is ask yourself if your protagonist is better suited to a series or a stand-alone novel. In Princess Adele’s Dragon, I have two protagonists, Princess Adele, and Prince Anthony. This book could very easily be made into a series because of the storyline I used. The main conflict is resolved but other conflicts have been brought up that can be carried forward.
Secondly, figure out what kind of story arc you want for your series. Do you want to focus on one problem or mystery per book, along with overarching character development? which means that the characters have more to tell. When you are writing book one you really don’t know how many books will be in the series.
Third, Carry character traits and quirks consistently from book to book. This is true of both your protagonist as well as the support characters in the story. If you can keep all your character details in your head, that is wonderful, but if you can’t make a cheat sheet. Your readers will catch the mistakes you make.
Fourthly, write characters and books that you enjoy. Just as readers love characters they can get to know and see, again and again, so do authors. My favorite books have characters that I can either identify with or would like to have a drink with. All accept Hairy Potter, of course, he is too young. I just want him to teach me magic. Write about what you like to read.
If you would like a free ebook of Princess Adele’s Dragon, just let me know along with your email and I will send you a gift code from Amazon. http://amzn.to/25lUOYM
I hope you have a great week ahead. Blessings to all. Shirley
Hello everyone, I do hope you are having a great day. To catch you up on my activities since my last blog write. I’ve sent Thomas Gomel Learns About Bullying to the publisher for approval. I also did an upgrade on Princess Adele’s Dragon and had it republished in ebook form. I’ve kept myself busy writing and entering contests on Fanstory. After the article below I will be posting a short story called The Lake. I do hope you enjoy this week’s blog. Until next time have a blessed week. Shirley
PS. By the way, you can possibly win a copy of Princess Adele’s Dragon by following the link, especially if you like medieval dragons, kings, queens, and knights.
Main characters don’t have to change to grow. They can grow in their resolve.
It is a common misconception among authors that the main character in a story must change in order to grow. Certainly, that is one kind of story, as in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge alters his way of looking at the world and his role in it. But other stories are about characters overcoming pressures put upon them to change their viewpoint and holding on to their beliefs, such as in Field of Dreams where main character Ray Kinsella builds a baseball stadium in his cornfield believing the old time players (and eventually even his father) will come to play. In the end, he is not dissuaded from what appears to be a quixotic plan of a misguided mind, and his steadfastness results in the achievement of his dreams.
It is essential in any novel or movie for the readers/audience to understand whether or not the main character ultimately changes to adopt a new point of view or holds on to his beliefs. Only then can the story provide a message that a particular point of view is (in the author’s opinion) the right or wrong way of thinking to achieve success and personal fulfillment.
But not all stories have happy endings. Sometimes, the main character changes when he should have stuck with his guns in regard to his beliefs and becomes corrupted or diminished or fails to achieve his goals A good example of this is in the movie The Mist(based on a Stephen King novel) in which the main character finally decides to give up on trying to find safety from monsters and shoots his son and surrogate family to save them from a horrible death only to have rescuers show up a moment later.
Other times, holding onto a belief system leads to tragic endings as well, as in Moby Dickin which the main character, Captain Ahab (Ishmael is the narrator), holds onto his quest for revenge until it leads to the death of himself and the destruction of his ship and the death of all his crew, save Ismael who lived to tell the tale.
Though writing is an organic endeavor, when you make specific decisions such as whether your main character will change or remain steadfast and what outcome that will bring about, you strengthen your message and provide a clear purpose to your storytelling that results in a strong spine in your novel or screenplay.
The last time I saw Charlie, he laughed as we drove into Crystal Springs Lake. I knew we would have hell to pay for sneaking out, but I never imagined how this fun evening would end.
Charlie and I were friends from the first grade. We were neighbors, and as adventurous boys, we spent every second together we could manage. We were as different as two people could be. I’m quiet and shy, and Charlie was the fellow that drew people to him like June bugs to a light. Maybe it was his good looks with his coal black hair and that cleft in his chin. He was muscular, athletic and all the girls flirted with him every chance they got. He didn’t care. The only thing he wanted besides our friendship was the full football scholarship at Harvard.
We had a good time throughout school. As this was our last year at Grady High School there was a lot of pressure on Charlie to perform. He actually did it to himself, but if I tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t listen. “Charlie, you have to lighten up a bit. You can’t go on at the pace you’re going. It’s been weeks since we’ve done anything together. You study and practice football. Take time to relax. Quit worrying about that entrance exam. You have it aced.”
“Sure, I do, but it doesn’t feel like it. I feel like everything inside of me is about to explode. I have to keep pushing myself to keep the pressure down, but I’m ready for something different. I’ll listen to you just because you’re my best friend and I love you like a brother. What do you want to do?” Charlie asked.
I had to think of something we would enjoy together and take the pressure off of him. “I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the lake after dark and go skinny dipping. We haven’t done that in a long time.”
“Are you crazy?” Charlie asked. “We haven’t been skinny dipping since we were twelve years old.”
“Yeah, I know, and it’ll be fun. Just like old times. What do you say?”
We were both laughing, and Charlie said “Let’s do it. I want to be twelve again and forget all about school and football. I’ll be at your house at 7:00 and you can drive.”
“Sounds good to me. I don’t mind driving at all, and I’ll even bring us snacks and cold drinks. See you then.”
I left his room and went back to my house. I got everything ready and packed it in my car. Since my mom and dad weren’t home, I left them a note so they wouldn’t worry about me. Charlie was at my door promptly at 7:00.
It was a great drive out to the lake. We had the windows down and the radio up. We were laughing, singing and shouting at the top of our lungs as we drove to our spot. We were trying our best to be twelve-year-olds again.
It was dark when we arrived, but we didn’t care. We unloaded the car and set up our blanket right at the edge of the lake. It wasn’t the first time we had swum in the dark. I brought two flashlights, but we didn’t turn them on. We were happy. We liked this spot because we could dive into the lake. It was easy in and out of the water. We got rid of our clothes quickly and then laughed at each other as we stood there as naked as the day we were born.
Charlie slapped me on the back. “Are you ready? I am.” He backed up three steps and ran and dove into the lake. I jumped in feet first, as always. The water was cold and sent a shiver over my body. I didn’t hear Charlie laughing, so I looked around. I didn’t see him. The lake was smooth as glass. I called his name. He never answered, so I climbed out of the lake slipped on my pants and got the lights. My hands shook so hard I had trouble turning on the lights. I shined the beams over the water, and I still couldn’t see him. I knew something was wrong. I got my cell phone and called 911. I had a terrible time as I tried to get the words out to report Charlie missing.
I tried to sit but couldn’t stay still. I walked back towards the main road thinking I would meet the authorities. That was silly, it wouldn’t make them arrive any faster. I turned back towards the lake moving the beam of one of the flashlights around. What was that? I brought the light back to what looked like a sign. When the beam of light hit it, I got sick to my stomach. The sign read: No swimming until further notice. Alligator sighting today.
Good morning, I thought today I would give just a few pointers on how to get a Writing Agents attention. I know not everyone uses an agent but just in case you want on here on a few tips:
Be authentic, show your true self, be energetic and sincere
Build your platform now. Don’t wait until your book is published to start working to sell your book.
Be knowledgeable and honest enough about yourself to showcase your best skills.
Be Prepared with chapters to show, outline, your ideas for shaping your book.
Be original, open minds, and “capture a fundamental sentiment that we hadn’t been able to articulate on our own” stated agent Rita Rosenkranz.
The following is an article posted by Rachelle Gardner in The Writer Magazine on why writers need agents. I hope you enjoy.
Many times I’ve answered the question of why you, a writer (singular), might need an agent (also singular). I addressed it in posts such as 10 Things to Expect from an Agent and Earning Our Keep. Agent Nathan Bransford gave a terrific rundown on what agents do, here and my client Jody Hedlund gave the perspective of a contracted, newly agented author here.
But today I want to answer a slightly different question. Why do authors, collectively, need agents (plural)? How does the existence of agents in this business help all authors?
You, as an individual author, may or may not require the services of an individual agent. But whether or not you realize it, whenever you deal with a publisher, you’re benefitting from the collective work of agents over the years.
For the last few decades, agents have been on the front lines when it comes to advocating for authors in their relationships with publishers. It’s interesting to speculate on the state of publishing contracts if agents had never been involved and authors had to fend for themselves or just take whatever the publisher was offering.
The economics of publishing are tough, and like in any business, publishers are always trying to figure ways to save money – or a least keep their money longer. Naturally, they come up with brilliant money-saving ideas that involve paying authors less. They try to lower royalty rates; they try to bump up the royalty breaks (i.e. raise the number of copies you must sell before bumping to a higher royalty rate); they may want to extend the length of time over which they pay out the author’s advance (a huge bone of contention right now between agents and a couple of the largest publishers); and of course, they sometimes try to pay lower advances.
Those are the simple things. The last couple of years have seen publishers and agents battling it out over e-book royalty rates and numerous other areas related to new digital technologies. And besides the money, there are other contract points that agents constantly work to keep fair for their clients—everything from option clauses to author copies to author buy-back rates and more. It’s complicated and tricky trying to negotiate all these points in such a rapidly changing publishing environment.
But over all the years and all the changes in publishing, agents collectively have had the knowledge and the clout to duke it out with publishers on a contract-by-contract basis, holding as much ground for authors as possible. For example, if you sign a contract on your own with a small independent publisher, and they offer you a 25% royalty on e-book sales, you have agents to thank for that, because at first, many publishers were trying to fold e-book sales into their regular royalty schedule, meaning you’d only be making 10% to 15% royalty. But agents have, for the most part, changed that.
An interesting nod to the importance of agents in the publishing process happened last month when Random House CEO Markus Dohle sent a detailed letter explaining the company’s new policy involving e-rights (which quickly became known as RH’s “retroactive rights grab”). To whom did Mr. Dohle send the letter? Literary agents.
As we continue into the confusing new world of digital publishing, authors are going to need advocates more than ever. You are going to have your hands full, trying to work your full-time job plus write your books plus market them. You won’t have time to become an expert on publishing contracts, too.
Just remember, if you choose to sign with a royalty publisher and stay agent-less, you may be missing out on the latest knowledge and expertise that will protect the value of your intellectual property; but you’ll probably also benefit from the work agents have already done in the last few decades.
Your agent doesn’t just work for you. Each agent is, in their own small way, protecting the rights of all authors. So love ’em or hate ’em, it doesn’t matter because if you’re an author, agents are your friends.
P.S. I imagine some of you will argue that it’s really the other way around—that agents need authors. Well, of course, that’s true. We need authors if we want this job. But if authors didn’t need agents, none of us would have this agenting job in the first place, so it’s kind of a moot point. When authors stop needing agents, agents will cease to play a part in the publishing industry.
Hello, everyone. I hope all of you experienced a great week. Today I’m giving you a blog that discusses how you can broaden your story and your readership from an article by Bharti Kirchner. This was originally published in the Writer magazine.
Why venture into unaccustomed territory when it comes to characters? In a globalized world, re regularly meet people.e very different from us in race, class, ethnicity, religion, politics or ideology. Modern novels and memoirs, as mirrors of a society, increasingly depict this heterogeneity.
In addition to expanding our readership, a diverse character, whether the protagonist or a secondary character brings a broader voice to a story. In the case of the novel Tulip Season, protagonist Mitra meets a mysterious German man, and the contrast between the two adds an element of tension. With dissimilar actions, attitudes and world views, backgrounds and upbringings, their interactions spark a great exploration of Mitra’s world.
Creating Authenticity: How do you get started writing about a person foreign to you? By immersing yourself in that particular culture of community through direct contact and by building relationships. Armchair travel can also help, as can books, videos, movies, art, and the Web. Remember, in the end, it’s your story and it’s fiction. You’re facing challenges no matter what. “If you’re going to write fiction, you’re going to write about people who aren’t you,” says David Guterson, author of 10 books, including Snow Falling on Cedars. “You should feel some healthy trepidation about that.”
Respect, openness, and empathy are keys to depicting an unfamiliar culture or perspective. Here are additional tips and techniques.
First Impressions: What a reader first notices is how the character looks, dresses, sounds and behaves. Bring the character alive with physical descriptions, but not too much and not all at once. Allow readers to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. Pay special attention to the rhythm of the spoken language. A foreign born person might speak with an accent and fall back on native words as necessary.
A Character from Inside Out: You’re writing about individuals, and the methods you usually employ to develop a character of any kind still applies. Remember that all cultures have hopes, fears, and dreams, and it’s your job to portray that.
Does a diverse character have to be sympathetic? Peter Mountford, the author of two novels, including A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, says no. “Actually, I’m not sure he is very sympathetic because of the choices he makes,” Mountford says of Gabriel do Boys, the 26-year-old, biracial protagonist in his novel. “He builds a lucrative career instead of abandoning it for love. I feel for him, definitely, but a lot of readers struggle with him, and I suppose that is the key to writing “the other,” for me.”
Beliefs and Conflicts: Every culture or community holds common beliefs about marriage, family, money, status and friendship. A character is likely to suffer moth internal and external conflicts when going against these beliefs and sometimes even when conforming to them.
Showing Universality: By wrestling with choices and obstacles, a diverse character, like any other, grows and changes. In the process, he or she displays common human characteristics as fear, anger, joy and love. Although I’m different, I’d feel much the same in the same situation, the reader realizes, and perhaps gets more involved in the book.
You can make a character accessible in other ways. Show how he or she relates to friends. Let him or her grapple with everyday issues like traffic. An element of humor can also help. We gravitate toward people who lighten our days with a joke or a funny situation. It is in those moments that we let go of our differences and embrace our common humanity.
I hope this article helps to make your writing this week easier. The more knowledge we have the better writers we are. Blessings to all.
Since Princess Adele’s Dragon has now been published I have to write a synopsis of the story. I decided to look for some help and found this blog by Marissa Meyer. It broke the synopsis down into easy to handle pieces. I hope you find it helpful. Shirley http://amzn.to/25lUOYM
Confession: I enjoy writing query letters. I know that most writers loathe them, but I always thought the query letter was a fun challenge. The challenge of trying to distil your novel down to its essence, giving just enough information to draw the agent or editor into the story, but without giving away so much that the manuscript loses all sense of mystery.
However, I feel quite differently about the second-most dreaded item of many submission packages: the Synopsis.
The book synopsis is that three- or four-page snapshot of the book, that essentially tells your story from beginning to end while seemingly stripping it of any intrigue, humor, or emotional resonance. To me, writing a synopsis that could leave a reader still wanting to read the actual manuscript always seemed like a much bigger challenge than the query letter.
Unfortunately, it turns out that getting published does not necessarily mean we don’t ever have to write a synopsis again.
Last January, when it came time to my agent and me to start talking with my publisher about My Next Book (which was the Super Secret Project I wrote during NaNoWriMo last November), the submission package we pulled together was remarkably similar to the package we’d used to sell the Lunar Chronicles:
– A pitch letter (similar to a query), illustrating the concept and major conflict of the book.
– The first 50 pages, edited and polished to a glowy sheen.
– The synopsis of the book (although some plot points are subject to change).
So rather than whine and complain about how much I hate writing synopses, I decided to take the opportunity to embrace the synopsis writing challenge, and figure out a process for writing the synopsis that didn’t seem quite so painful and intimidating and, in the end, left me with something I was pleased to show my editor.
I’m not allowed to really talk about my new project,* so I’m going to use examples from the synopsis I wrote for CINDER way back when.
Step 0: Write the book!
If the book isn’t written yet, I feel like you’re writing an outline, not a synopsis, and I’ve talked about outline writing at length in previous blog posts. For the purpose of this synopsis-specific guide, let’s assume you have the book drafted out, or even completed.
Step 1: Skim through the manuscript, noting the important events of each chapter.
Try to boil every chapter down to just one or two sentences. What is the point of this chapter? What is the most important thing that happens?
Some chapters will be significantly longer than a sentence or two, particularly the opening chapters (as they tend to introduce a lot of information about the world and the main characters) and the climax (which could revolve around lots of complicated reveals and twists).
And yes, include the ending! From who wins the final battle to whether or not the protagonist hooks up with the love interest in the end. One of the main purposes of a synopsis is to show the full arcs of your plot and subplots, so don’t leave out those all-important resolutions.
Step 2. Embellish the beginning.
Just because you can’t use pages and pages to set up the world and protagonist’s character in the synopsis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the reader a little bit of foundation to stand on. The first paragraph of the synopsis should give the same basic information you convey through the book’s first chapter: where and when does this story take place, who is the protagonist, and what problem are they facing right off the bat?
xample:LINH CINDER is a cyborg, considered little more than a technological mistake by most of the society and a burden by her stepmother, ADRI. But her brain-machine interface has given her a unique skill with mechanics, making her, at sixteen, the best mechanic in New Beijing.
Step 3: String your short chapter summaries together, using standard synopsis formatting.
Here, it will begin to look like a story, but an incredibly sparse and drab one. Don’t worry about that. Just focus on getting all the technical formatting stuff figured out, so you don’t have to re-write it all at the end.
Standard Synopsis Formatting
– Written in third person, present tense, regardless of what POV or tense the book is written in.
– The first mention of each character’s name is put in all-caps (so that they can be easily spotted).
Example: When she arrives home, she discovers her two stepsisters—arrogant PEARL and vivacious PEONY—being fitted in ball gowns.
Step 4: Read through, with a focus on plot.
Distilling each chapter down into just a sentence or two can lead to lots of apparent plot holes and lost information. Read through what you’ve written and check that every event in the story naturally leads into the next. Imagine beginning each sentence with a Because / Then structure, and insert further explanation or character motivations as necessary.
Example: Cinder is worried that if she doesn’t fix the hover, Adri will sell off IKO to pay for the repairs herself. That night, Cinder goes to the junkyard to find replacement parts…
(Could be read as: Because Cinder is worried . . . then she goes to the junkyard…)
Step 5. Read through, with a focus on character arc.
Now that the plot makes sense from beginning to end check that you’re adequately showing how your protagonist evolves as a result of the events in the story. Do readers get a sense of who they are at the beginning and how they’ve changed by the end? Look for those Big Moments in the story that change your protagonist’s attitudes and goals. Indicate how those moments effect the protagonist emotionally, and show how their goals and motivations change as a result.
Example: Without Iko and Peony keeping her tied to Adri, Cinder vows to fix up the abandoned car she saw in the junkyard and run away.
Step 6. Trim and edit.
Now that you have all the necessary information read through a few more times and trim it up as much as you can. Be ruthless when it comes to removing excess words and phrases that don’t help you tell the story. Choose your descriptive words carefully, ensuring that you’re using words that carry a lot of weight. My book synopses for CINDER and New Secret Project both came in around the 1,500-2,000 word range, and that’s not a lot of room to work with! So edit, edit, edit.
It’s done and finally gone live on Amazon. My new ebook Princess Adele’s Dragon. It has taken me a little over a year to get it completed. If you like fantasy and Gothic times you will like this book.
Princess Adele sets out to save her and her brothers Kingdom from a beast that threatens their way of life. What she encounters is totally unexpected and sets her on a new path. If you like gothic times with Kings, Princess’s, Castles and bad guys then you will like this young adult fantasy. You will fall in love, hate the bad guy and fight a war.
There is a read inside option on Amazon. Click on this link and it will take you right to it.
http://amzn.to/25lUOYM If your Kindle Unlimited you may read it for free. Be sure and leave a review even if you didn’t like it, but I know you will 🙂
Have a totally blessed day and let me know what you think.
The following blog is from BubbleCow which I received this morning. Because of my editing on Princess Adele’s Dragon, I seem to be paying a lot more attention when I see these helpful tips. I wanted to share it. Have a blessed day. Shirley
I’m talking about that dirty word: grammar.
But more than that, I’m also talking about formatting, which is kind of like grammar for the computer-age. Bold statements aside, if you want to be taken seriously by publishers, editors, and readers, then you’ve got to get your head around formatting conventions on word processors. I often joke that you wouldn’t start playing a sport without first reading the rules. It is the same for writing. You need to be getting the basics correct; there’s no excuse. As a writer, you simply need to know this stuff.
I’m a big fan of writing software in general and favour a whole host of different word processors. However, Microsoft Word is still the industry standard, so I’ll be using that as a reference point. These rules will still apply whether you’re using Scrivener, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or whatever your software of choice is.
OK, so with all that said, here’s the six grammar/formatting issues that drive us mad:
Ellipses – yep. They showed up last week and they’re back again. A few of you seemed unclear as to the nature of an ellipsis. Well, an ellipsis is the three dots writers use to denote an omission or to show a pause in speech. Here at BubbleCow, we often receive manuscripts where the writer has thrown in a few ellipses but with variable numbers of dots. In fact, some writers seem to think that the more dots they add, the more mysterious and tantalising their cliff-hanger becomes. “I was never there…………………… OR WAS I?” Oh dear. Ellipses only ever have three dots. No more, no fewer.
Two other things to say about ellipses. The correct way to write an ellipsis is . . . – that’s dot space dot space dot. The problem is that this plays havoc with some eBook conversion tools. Therefore, our house style is to alter them to … (three dots with no spaces). This will be picked up in the conversion process and handled correctly.
What about when an ellipsis is used at the end of the sentence? What happens to that extra full stop? Should it be three dots (…) or three and a full stop (… .). The answer is a little confusing. There’s no set rule on this, with different style guides opting for different options. At BubbleCow, our house style ignores that last full stop. Just the three dots for us, please.
Writing numbers – this, confusingly, is not another case of consistency. Now, we get hundreds of manuscripts where the writers rather sensibly choose to either use either purely numeric or purely written numbers for the entirety of their manuscripts. Then we get those who arbitrarily use a mixture of the two. Strangely, both parties are wrong in this case. Our house style (based on the Chicago Manual of Style) is as follows: numbers up to 100 must be written in words – so: one, seventeen, ninety-four. After that this becomes a little time consuming, so we allow these larger numbers to be written in digits: 1003, 784, 100,000. All you have to remember is that 100 is the magic number.
Spaces – now I know what you’re thinking. How can anyone mess up a space? Do we receive manuscripts that are just spaceless walls of interlinked words? The answer is no.
I’m talking about making sure that you’re only using one space between words. Now I know how it is – you’re writing passages, deleting them later on, shuffling around paragraphs – things get messy. But I recently ran a find-and-replace on a manuscript and it found 384 instances where two spaces had snuck in instead of one.
We’ve talked about single and double spacing before and it kicked up a bit of a storm. You see back in the olden days of typewriters and typesetting, double-spacing was standard. Those days are over! Double spaces are a nightmare for those unlucky publishers who’re in charge of creating eBooks. They mess up the formatting, resulting in unattractive, oddly-spaced electronic books that inevitably have to scrapped and redone. Our advice? Stick to one space.
Page breaks – this one is easy. The reason I’ve listed it here is because eBook conversions rely on page breaks between chapters. They will see the page break and understand that they need to do something special. If you’ve just pressed Enter a load of time to move the text to the next page you are in trouble. Not only will the conversion process potentially miss the chapter break but you’ll also lose the positioning if you then add or remove text in the chapter.
The bottom line is that you should always use a page break to go to the next page before starting a new chapter. This makes for a clean and presentable eBook, and will also help the printers if you’re going to print copies.
Paragraph breaks versus line breaks – these two phenomena might need explaining as they’re both pretty similar. Indeed, Microsoft Word didn’t start distinguishing between them until about 2003 (don’t quote me on this), but in modern word processing, the difference is very important.
OK, if you open up Word, type “BubbleCow is great,” and then press Enter, you’ll notice that the cursor jumps down to the line below, leaving some space between the previous line and the new one. This is a paragraph break. This is the one you want.
If, however, you were to hold Shift and then press Enter, the resulting new line would be right up beneath “BubbleCow is great,” with no space between them.
A great way of checking this is to use the Show/Hide Nonprinting Characters button, found on the Home tab in Word (it’s the odd black backwards P symbol). A paragraph break will show up as one of these backward-Ps, whereas a line break will be a cornering arrow. You want the P.
Line breaks are a nightmare for those in charge of formatting your masterwork – it groups all the text together, which means that text becomes harder to arrange on the page and stubborn in its disobedience. Using line breaks to create space (at the end of a chapter, for example, so you can get that page break in) can create nightmares for eBook conversions. Paragraph breaks all the way. One of the first things I do with a new manuscript is to find and replace all line breaks with paragraph breaks.
Indentation – those pesky line breaks also have a habit of messing up any system of indentation you might (should) have going. Indents only trigger on paragraph breaks, so there’s an extra reason always to paragraph break! But indents are important in their right.
Here at BubbleCow, we want the first paragraph of each chapter to be a straight flush, with the first sentence in line with the following sentences. After that, though, every paragraph needs its first line to be indented using the Tab key (not spaces! These tend to be messier and can disappear during the eBook conversion process). Again, this is one of the first things we add when we receive a new manuscript, as it helps your manuscript appear clean, streamlined, and readable. It also makes eBook versions far more attractive and is necessary for the conversion process.