Tag Archives: Writers Resources

A New Contest

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Hello to everyone. Today I’m making a big announcement.  I am sponsoring another writing contest. The topic of this contest is National Pride.  It can be fiction or non-fiction, and no more than 1200 words.  The winner will receive  three ebooks of your choice and posting of your story on this blog.  The runner-up will receive a copy of the Historical Fiction, Dobyns Chronicles when it is published in a few months.

Please send the stories to shirley_mclain.com with your email address and the three ebooks you would like if you win.  All entries must be to me by May 31, 2012.  The winner will be announced June 15, 2012.

Use your creativeness and get out of your comfort zone a little bit. I look forward to receiving some great stories.

Shirley

I Won, Yippee, I won

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Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania C...

Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, USA. February 14, 2007. Photograph taken by Joy Schoenberger with a Pentax K100D Digital SLR camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m posting my 200 word flash fiction piece which won me $55.00. It’s the first  writing contest I have won, so I’m tickled. I have to admit it does make my ego feel good, even though I know it’s not really a big deal.  I wonder what it is that makes winning a contest so enjoyable? Is it the recognition of your work? I think these little ego boosts are good for a writer. Writing is a hard profession, due to all the other great stories out there in the publishing world. I’ve had my three seconds of bowing and patting myself on the back, now I have to get back to the real world and writing my book.
I hope you enjoy my 200 word story.
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The Rent
The forecastt for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. My phone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

Keep Talking, Andy…..

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I started a new book yesterday.  Now every time my mind is not specifically thinking about something else, plots and scenes keep running through my brain.  I find the creative process very interesting.  My muse, (I’m going to call him Andy,) works overtime when I’m writing.  Most of the time it is a very good thing, but sometimes I would like for Andy to stop talking to me.  I like being quiet at times, but not Andy. I can safely call him a motor mouth.

I have an advantage this go around that I didn’t have before.  I know my main characters very well since they were in The Tower.  Sam (shortened from Samantha ,) has a twin brother, Allan.  They share a psychic connection and are very close.  Sam works for Allan at IDEA (International Diagnostic Environmental Agency). Allan’s company investigates and recommends fixes for any environmental problem that affects people anywhere in the world.

Right now Andy is helping me to decide on what kind of character I want my protagonist to be. It is being said today that publishers are not only wanting a book with good, strong characters and strong plots but they also want a story with a hook (Whatever that means.) I will have to do some reading and find out more about that hook business.

I want to write the best book I can,  which means Andy and I will be spending a lot of time together of the next few months. Hopefully he will continue to talk to me as much as he does now because if he doesn’t, I may be in trouble. I may gripe about his constant talking but I know I need him to help me accomplish what I want to do.

Do you let life interfere?

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I have been terrible at blogging this past week. I have let life interfere with what I love to do, and that is writing and blogging. I also seem to be spending more time than I like with the social networking. I do love people and communication. Those sites let me talk to people all over the word. I consider that a blessing from my Lord.

This week I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. In case you don’t know what that cliché means, it is a country girls way of saying, I was going so many directions, I didn’t get anywhere. I did manage to get my granddaughters prom dress and of course she looks lovely in it. I’m also looking a houses so my husband and I can pick out our retirement home. I was also the caretaker for my adopted mom while she had a doctor visit and found out she has to have surgery. All in all it was a full week, but I let my blogging and writing go. How do you handle what life throws at you? Share some tips with me on how you make time for everything. My goal is to continue writing and sharing through my blog, but I have found that is sometimes very hard to do.

Better Than Sex Cake and a Guest

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OK, let me start out by saying this is my second attempt at posting for today. I’m not sure what happened to the first one but I think it’s floating around in cyberspace somewhere in a few hundred pieces. I’m not one that gives up easily so I’m doing it again.

Today I feel like a cook and I want to share one of my favorite dessert recipes with you. It is mouth-watering good and easy to put together. I gave this recipe to a friend of mine in California and she now makes it every Easter for her family.

Just to let you know, I did not name this cake. You will have to make your own judgements about the title. The ingredients you will need are: 1 yellow pudding cake mix, 1 large box of french vanilla pudding mix, a large can of pineapple, 1 cup of sugar and whipping cream.

Bake the cake according to package directions. I bake mine in a mall aluminum turkey roaster for the high sides. Punch holes over the top of it and let it cool. While the cake is cooling place the sugar and pineapple in a saucepan and heat until all of the sugar has melted and you have a thin syrup. Pour this over the top of your cake. Let it cool. I put mine in the freezer to chill it down quickly. The trick is not to forget it. Mix up your pudding and spread it over the cooled cake. At this point you can sprinkle anything you want on top of the pudding. I use coconut and pecans but it’s entirely up to you what you use. Mix up a bowl of whip cream and put it on top of the pudding. You can sprinkle what you want on top. That’s all there is to it and you have a super moist melt in your mouth cake. Be sure any left overs are refrigerated.

Changing subjects completely, I want to remind you to enter the 100 word flash fiction contest. You can find the instructions in the previous post. I am also posting for Mark Lee, from the Masqueradecrew blog spot, Click HEREHe is wanting to tell you about a contest the crew is doing.

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We’re hosting a short story writing competition. The prompt is being emailed to early responders right now, and it will become public on our website March 15th.

But we need more than just submissions, although we’ll take as many as would like to enter. There’s lots of other things people can do to help us out, however. For instance, we need judges or readers. We’ll also need people to help us edit the winning entries.

Last but not least, as is being done here, we need people to spread the word, tweeting on Twitter about it or hosting a guest post from us. Whatever you would like to do. We would like to get the word out now, but also during the competition. In exchange, we’ll promote you and/or accept guest posts from you.

Interested in helping, let Mark know.
http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/2012/02/interested-in-sponsoring-judging-or.html

I wish you well until the next time.
Shirley

Let’s Talk Adverbs and Is It Really Being Lazy

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Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.  They show us the manner and degree of an action.  You can spot adverbs by looking for words that explain the action in a sentence.

It seems the biggest crime for us writers is using (ly) adverbs.  I have read they should all be removed from our writing.  It is termed as lazy writing.  You want to know why it’s lazy, it’s because they are easy to use.  We will use adverbs instead of looking for the verb that will add the punch.

Ly adverbs almost always show the author explaining dialogue–smuggling emotions into speaker attributions that belong in the dialogue itself.  If the dialogue doesn’t need props, putting the props in will make it seem weak.

Bottom line is take the time to go through your writing and decide if you can replace the adverbs with stronger verbs.  It will make your writing stronger and tighter.

If you are using adverbs of time or frequency then they are an exception.  ie.  (Bad)I receive the paper every day. (Better) I receive the paper on a daily basis.

If an adverb has the same meaning as the verb being used then remove it.  If the verb is weak, you might replace it with a stronger verb.

The three most common adverbs are : not, very, and too.  It is recommended to avoid their use, but as with every other “rule” sometimes you have to use them.  No other words will do.

http://youtu.be/PIuN8aY51Xk  I hope you enjoy the video on adverbs.

Don’t Make The Mistake. A Lesson Learned

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I certainly learned a big lesson when I self- published my book “The Tower” last November.  I was  so excited I’d actually wrote myself and the world a book.  How cool is that?  My family and I patted myself on the back until we all needed our shoulders fixed.  What a magical time and it did feel good.

Now it is June of 2011 and I have pulled the book from sale.  Bottom line is I was in such a hurry I didn’t think I needed to follow the long tedious process that’s been proven to be successful.

I wrote a very good story, but when I read it again after six months.  I knew I couldn’t leave it out in the world.

I can say I’ve leared a great deal over the last six months, I didn’t know when I wrote the book.  I looked at it and my brain screamed, How could you make those kind of mistakes.  For me it was lack of knowledge at the time.

I know I’ve not been the only one who made this error of getting in such a hurry, I failed to produce a quality book.    I’m now in the process of correcting the errors I made and hope to have the book back on the market in a couple of months.

Pay attention to what fellow writers say.  Always put your writing away for awhile and then go back and critique it.  You might be surprised at what you find.  I learned the lesson the hard way so I wanted to share with you, so just maybe you might be smarter than I was.

Edit until you can’t edit anymore

After you put it away, pull it out and edit again.

The video today is a fast talking young woman on How To Publish.

http://youtu.be/U-dZV2qUy9g

I’m back and Ready to Write With Confusion

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First of all let me give you an update on my dad, since he is the reason I stopped blogging for a while.  He is doing much better, is now able to walk around with constant oxygen running.  He has about twenty percent of his heart muscle functioning but the good Lord has seen fit to let us keep him for awhile longer.

Now on to the subject and hand.  My confusion over using comma‘s and conjunctions.  I thought I had a handle on the punctuation but not any more.  It seems comma’s aren’t used in fiction as they are elsewhere.  I always had been taught and everything I read says to use a comma before a conjunction.  Now I have multiple people telling me to take the comma’s out because comma’s are used to much.

It seems writing rules are not rules anymore.  I am beginning to come to the conclusion every writer does his own thing, and then the publisher  and editor comes along telling the writer how they want it to be punctuated.

I am interested in finding how what everyone else thinks and what they do when it comes to comma’s and conjunctions.

http://youtu.be/keZpj7PjNEo  Todays video is on the basic rules of comma usage.

Let’s Do Dialogue Convention…

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Quotation marks
Image via Wikipedia

If you’re anything like me, I had no idea what dialogue convention was.  To put it simply, it is what we as readers are used to with dialogue, looking and performing a certain way. It is “rules of dialogue.”

1.  quotation marks signal to the reader some one is speaking.  “Martha, I read the best book last night.  It was wonderful.”  Sometimes you will see writers use different punctuation from single quotation marks to brackets.  Unless you have a very good reason for not following convention, it is recommended you do not vary.

2. Dialogue dictates one paragraph per speaker, no matter how short the speech.  It makes it easier to follow the flow of the conversation.

3.  Speech tags are used so the reader can know who is doing the talking.  Most of the time we see, he/she said.  Speech tags help the reader to gather his bearings, the way commas indicate a pause.  Most of the time readers do not even notice you have use  he/she said, unless you’ve used the word a thousand times.  Readers have said the words become invisible.  You just don’t pay any attention to them.  You do not have to use speech tags with every line if the reader is aware of exactly who is doing the talking.

If you had made it clear, Jack and Jill were the only people in the room, then their conversation would not have to have a tag with each line.

As a writer there are certain expectations we have to meet in our writing for John Q Public to accept it.  It is also a fact, that writers tend to push the envelope and not pay attention to conventional thinking.  Sometimes it works and at other times it doesn’t.

This video shows the importance of using conventions when writing.  It mainly deals with grammar, but it is still writing conventions.

http://youtu.be/DZYIbqew7YU

Get Realistic

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I’m going to discuss dialogue a little further.  I believe a lot of people believe dialogue is easy to write.  I for one don’t think it is.  You are supposed to keep it realistic, but not make it exactly how we talk.  We can’t use all the um’s, that’s, you know, ect.

Writing use to have a formal more formal dialogue.  Now we tend to try to write closer to a natural conversation.  The best way to get a feel for realistic dialogue is listening to someone’s conversation with another person.  Yes, you will have to ease drop, but it could be fun.  The dialogue we write for fiction has to have more umph, focus and relevance to it than a normal conversation, so it is not boring to the reading.  Use contractions whenever possible. We have to get to the point of the conversation much quicker.  Your dialogue needs to show your characters and what emotion

  • Do not use dialogue simply to convey information. Dialogue should set the scene, advance action, give insight into characterization, remind the reader, and foreshadow. Dialogue should always be doing many things at once.
  • Dialogue can have grammatical errors, but you do have to keep the characters voice in mind and keep it readable.  You do not want it to sound as if you are giving a speech, unless that’s what your character is doing.

    Word choice tells a reader a lot about a person: appearance, ethnicity, sexuality, background, and morality. Pick your words carefully because you are conveying lots of information about your character.

  • Todays video is on writing dialogue for plays, but it gives some good advice which can be applied to any genre.  Enjoy
  • http://youtu.be/TZXcQemh8n8