Good Writing Is In The Eye Of The Beholder by Prudence Hayes

I will not deny that I don’t handle criticism well, especially in my writing.  Outwardly, I say ‘okay’, but inward there are flames galore and my heart is twisted in knots.  I have a few reviews on Amazon for my book and most are great. There is one, though, that has been chasing me ever since it was posted.  It’s like someone holding a chalkboard in their hands and following me throughout the day dragging their long nails across it.  I try and push it far back in my mind, but it has the strength to pop up and show its appearance at the most inopportune times.  Typically, it’s when I’m writing, which I then, throw my pen across the room and a downward spiral is kick started, during which I tell myself that I suck. Then, I have to talk myself off a ledge and push that bad review to the way back again.  I know; I’m a mess.

During my crisis negotiations with myself, I constantly say that good writing is in the eye of the beholder.  Just because this one person doesn’t like my writing doesn’t mean that it is horrible, it just means he doesn’t like my style.  There have been plenty of books that have been between my hands and I have had to place them right back on the shelf because I couldn’t get through them. We all have different ways in writing. If I wrote like you, I wouldn’t be me and my books would be yours not mine. 

There will be a day when a professional editor will read my books and they will probably have a field day.   I will try and take the constructive criticism in stride, even though I will be fuming inside.  I will take all the editing help that is thrown my way, commas and punctuation are a pain in my a**, but what I refuse to do is eliminate myself from my writing.  I don’t want to disappear in words that aren’t really mine and I don’t want those words to come out the way that they weren’t intended to by me. 

To some, it may be overly wordy and extensively adjective-infused writing and to others it is poetic and beautiful.

To some, it may be stark and bland and to others it is concise and to the point.  It all depends on the beholder of the book.  To each his own, I say to that bad reviewer.

Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Chapter 3, Point of View by B.Y. Rogers

I called Dave King a ‘Bitch’ in an email this last week. I do hope he knows I was jesting. I had emailed him (as well as Renni Browne) that I was blogging on their book. I wanted to do so out of courtesy and both Dave and a Ross Browne were kind enough to thank me. I do believe in good manners. (Then why did I call Dave a ‘Bitch?” Because he knows what he is doing. I wish I did. Think of man talk in Gran Torino.)

Finished the second draft of “The Thrashing of Charley Little”, my next short story, last night. Todd got my cover to me this week as well. Again, I am very impressed with Todd’s graphic talent. Now it is time to put on the editing hat and give my story a life of its own. In a way, it already as its own life, as it is a back story to The Sin of Certainty.

In the meantime, here is the next chapter of “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers”. IF you haven’t by now (what is wrong with you?), and you are or want to be a writer, you really should get this book. I AM SERIOUS ABOUT THIS!

Chapter 3  Point of View

The first person point of view has a number of advantages, the main one being that it gives your readers a great deal of intimacy with your viewpoint character.

What you gain in intimacy with the first person, you lose in perspective.

On the other end of the spectrum from the first person is the omniscient point of view. Instead of being written from inside the head of one of your characters, a scene in the omniscient point of view is not written from inside anyone’s head.

Note that with the omniscient voice what you gain in perspective you lose in intimacy.

If the first person invites intimacy and the omniscient narrator allows for perspective, the third person strikes balance between the two. (There is quite a bit of additional information on this topic in the book.)

Another factor that controls your narrative distance is how much you allow your viewpoint character’s emotion to color your description. (I am still trying to get my Pooh sized brain wrapped around ‘narrative distance’.)

So how much narrative distance is right for you? Broadly speaking the more intimate the point of view, the better.

The emotions have to go someplace and the language of your descriptions is a good place for them.

You want to engage your readers, not drive them to distraction.

Readers need time to settle into a given emotional state, so when you move quickly from one passion-charged head to another, you’re likely leave them behind. They’ll know what our various characters are feeling, but the won’t have time to feel like any of the characters.

When you make the point of view clear at the beginning of a scene, you get your readers involved right away and let them get used to inhabiting your viewpoint character’s head.

Linespaces prepare readers for a shift (in time, place or point of view), so the change in point of view won’t catch them by surprise. (I recently attempted to read a book where this skill was totally missing. It was a struggle to follow the story. The story seemed disconnected and halted almost on every page. I gave up and did not finish it.)

Point of view is a powerful tool. Master it.

(Amen)

So You Want to Name a Character by Dellani Oakes

Finally sitting down to write that novel? Let’s assume you’ve chosen your genre, point of view, narrative style and all those other things that you have to decide before setting pen to paper. (Or fingers to keys). Now comes the fun part – maybe. Naming the characters. There are different methods of approach here, and excuse me if I leave some of them out. I use a variety of methods, but I know I haven’t discovered them all.

First, you can make the name tell something about the character. For example “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne gives us a fair description of the main character before we turn the first page. However, you might not want to get that concrete in your description.

Another way to name is to pick names of people you know who sort of seem to fit. The only problem with this is, they may read the book and not like the character. You’ve just lost a fan. Probably not the best method. I’ve known people who randomly chose names from the phone book and used them. Also, not the best method.

I’ve used a lot of baby name books or web sites. These are incredibly useful. You can search for meanings of names, names from certain nationalities, starting with a particular letter, number of letters, the list of search filters is practically endless. Do a random web search for baby names and you will come up with a wide variety of sites.

When writing sci-fi, quite often I find myself needing an alien sounding name. Nothing Earthly works, so I’m stuck with making something up. While this might sound easy, it really isn’t. I like names that sound vaguely alien in nature, but aren’t so incredibly complicated to pronounce that my readers eyes will boil. It drives me crazy reading a book with complicated names. The worst faults are those who add a lot of unnecessary punctuation. Do you think we need “Ban’Kay-at-ah’wan”? What am I supposed to do on those dashes and apostrophes, swallow my tongue? Think too, when you are typing that all important name, how many times you will have to type it before the novel ends. I don’t think I could face it. It’s easy to fall into this pattern, but it is far better to make easily pronounceable names.

How to find the ideal alien name, preferably one that isn’t unpronounceable and jaw breaking? Fantasy name generators are great for this. Again, a random web search can be invaluable. I have also used mundane things, rearranged the letters a tad and come up with some amazingly interesting names. After wracking my brain for an important alien, a glance at a shop window solved the problem. I used part of the business name in reverse, and came up with an amazing moniker! Another name was provided by rearranging the letters in the maker of my van, “Telorvech”.

I got the name of a planet from a telemarketer. English was not her primary language, and it took several minutes to determine that she wasn’t calling from some obscure third world country. She was, in fact, calling from Bank One. However, it sounded like “Ban-qwan”, which later became “Bankaywan”.

Once names have been decided upon, write them down and arrange them alphabetically

with a brief description of each character. This is quite helpful keeping track, especially of minor characters. How often have I gone back to a minor flunky only to say to myself, “Was his name Fred, Fritz or Frank?” And how frustrating to realize that I’ve named not one but two minor flunkies with the same name. Of course it’s entirely possible to have two men in opposite ends of the galaxy both named Frank, but why do it to yourself or your readers?

I try to keep names short, or give nicknames to character names I will be typing a lot. I just named a character Adrianna. I really wish I’d chosen something a tad shorter, but somehow the name Adrianna Hasselhoff seemed to fit. It’s her name now, and she won’t give it up, so I’m stuck with it. My main character in my sci-fi series is named Wilhelm VanLipsig. His name immediately got shortened to Wil and there it’s stayed. I’ve noticed a trend as I write this article. Reviewing my character names, I find that the men often have shorter names than the women. For the men: Wil, Ben, Marc, Frank, Kael, Stan, Brock, Brodie.

For the women: Matilda, Adrianna, Escascia, Ariella, Tselanna, Ysilvalov, Ssylvenia, Savannah.

I wonder why I do that. It certainly makes more work for me than if I named them things like Meg, Tina or Penny.

Avoid naming your main characters with similar sounding names. It is terribly confusing

for readers. I have a series of fantasy books I enjoy reading, but at least three main characters have names beginning with “K”, three have names beginning with “S” and the hero’s wife, a queen, has a name so similar to that of her country, it gets mind boggling quickly. I know how difficult it can be to keep everyone straight, particularly when a novel begins to develop sub-plots.
The more I write, the more I find myself adhering to the “KISS” rule. (Keep It Simple, Sweetie). The more complicated I make it for myself now, the more exhausted I will be when I finish the book.

What Kind Of Stories Are You Willing To Or Able To Tackle? by Karen Vaughan

In light of the Newton Connecticut tragedy there are going to be ripped from the headlines variations on this theme. Jodi Picoult did it 19 MINUTES. Anne Rule loves true crime accounts of these big stories. I choose not to do any headline ripping stories of this kind. It is too tragic in real life why rehash the theme.

There are things I just won’t write about in a novel. Any kind of abuse toward a child, elder, woman or animal in any great detail; it could be mentioned but I am not going to centre a plot around those subjects. I also don’t touch rape or ritual torture or the occult. The media tends to sensationalize these issues so I find it is easy to take the moral high ground and avoid it all together.

So just ask yourselves what kind of stories are you willing to or able to tackle?

Inspiration, Country Girls and Wildflowers by Karina Gioertz

I remember sitting in the car, driving along a back road somewhere in the outskirts of Sacramento, when the song ‘She’s Country’ by Jason Aldean began to play on the radio. Instantly I began to groove along to the beat, fully feeling my inner ‘country’ and thinking about a life long lost. A life of riding my horse at full speed and feeling the air across my face as she flies through the fields. Of driving my truck over dirt roads with the windows down, radio blaring and a full load of hay in the back. Of wearing holey jeans and dirty boots and trading make up for a permanent tan that stemmed from actual sunlight. A life in which doing manual labor was something you took pride in and getting dirty wasn’t anything you shied away from. I loved that life. There are days I wonder about the choices I made that took me away from it, so it was in that moment, sitting in that car and listening to that song, that I decided it was time to go back. And since I couldn’t literally go back, I would do it through my writing.

Almost instantly the characters came to life inside my mind. I knew immediately that the story would be centered around women. Strong women. Sisters. I could see them, hear them, knew them inside and out, without really knowing why. But I knew I wanted to find out. I was completely energized with the excitement of this new idea and it wasn’t too long before I had come up with the key points of my story and was ready to begin the journey of writing it.

‘Country Girls’ literally just flowed right out of me. I loved figuring out the intricate details of my characters and what made them the way that they were. Having already figured out the mess they would make beforehand, I enjoyed the challenge of then having to figure out how they would clean it up after. In the end, it wasn’t until the final pages that I truly got stuck. Finding a happily ever after that was not only true to the story and the characters but would also offer the readers the closure I wanted them to feel, was harder than I had anticipated. After several different drafts, I eventually found my final sentences. I felt overwhelmed as I typed out those final words and was elated knowing that I had gotten there at last.

My point is, that inspiration can come from anywhere. A song, a dream…or in the case of my most recent project ‘Blood Bound’, watching so many movies with the same different actors you begin to think you see a family resemblance between them…I know, it makes no sense, I’ll elaborate some other time 😉

Anyway, I’ve collected my share of seedlings over the years, little ideas that could turn into bigger ideas. I write them all down in various notebooks and when I’m ready I go back to them. But, my favorite ideas are those that hit you with such a force that you can’t wait to plant that seed and watch it grow, because in your mind you’re already picturing it in full bloom. That’s what ‘Country Girls’ was for me. Not a seedling, but a Wildflower that had already blossomed.

Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Chapter 2, Characterization and Exposition by B.Y. Rogers

(Come on, get your own copy, will ya?)

Characterization and Exposition.

Before I start, a few comments. Of all the lessons I have been given along my writing path, the one about exposition was the most profitable. It makes so much sense to me. The trouble is, it is now getting me into trouble. My thinking is evolving to the point that I detest conversational exposition. My mind keeps seeing Jack Webb sternly stating “Just the facts, Ma’am”. (IF and when my wife reads this, I will be sleeping downstairs for awhile.)

Anyway, I cannot preach exposition enough. So pay attention. You will know when you have it right when you can quit your day job. I still do not have it right. Otherwise I would not be up at midnight writing.

My thoughts are in parenthesis.

(The chapter starts out with a few, very dull paragraphs about Eloise.) After reading the these paragraphs, you know something about-possibly something very important-about Eloise. But do you care? (I didn’t.)

In fact, the show and tell principles underlies many of the self-editing points we will talk about from now on. But there’s a second problem here: the writer introduces Eliose to h is readers all at once and in depth-stopping the story cold for an overview of her character. (Next time you are reading a book and you come up short, as if you have been jerked out of the story and back to your reality, stop and ask yourself why. Then take a look at what you have just read. Very telling.)

It is often a good idea to introduce a new character with enough physical description for your readers to picture him or her.As with describing your settings, all you need are a few concrete idiomatic details to jump start your readers imagination. (I tried to do this in my novel, only giving what is needed but nothing more. I want the character to become the readers character, not mine. Too much detail about physical appearance and the character is mine, not the readers.)

If your characters actually act in the way your summaries say they will, then the summaries are not needed. If they do not, then your summaries are misleading.

When you (completely) sum up your characters, you risk defining them to the point that they’re boxed in by the characterization with no room to grow.

Allow your readers to get to know your characters gradually, each read will interpret them in his or her own way, thus getting a deeper sens of who your characters are.

Delving into your characters past can be a good way for you to understand the character in the present. But though it may have been helpful for you to write a character’s history, it may not be necessary for your readers to read it. (I like this. In fact, I did not write out a history for any of my characters in The Sin of Certainty. After reading this point, I like it even more. My characters are still alive to me, growing and in a few cases, dying.)

Since you bring your present story to a halt whenever you start a flashback, it doesn’t take too many flashbacks to make your story jerky or hard to follow. (This is taught in Writing to Sell also. Good advice. I used one and only flashback in my novel. I could not find a way around it and the information was pivotal. In fact, without it, the reader will never learn the answer to the mystery. Let the reader learn about the character from the present, not the past.)

If you want to learn who someone is, watch what they say and do. If you want your readers to get a feel who your character really are, show them through dialogue and action. (This is true in life, in a movie, and in a book. And remember, action speaks louder than words.)

The information your readers need in order to follow and appreciate your plot…should be brought out as unobtrusively as possible.

Give your readers only as much background information or history, or characterization as they need at any give time. (I really like this.)

When your characters start talking solely for the sake of informing your readers, the exposition gets in the way of believable characterization. So be on the lookout for places where your dialogue is actually exposition in disguise.

Readers can best learn about your locations and background not through lengthy exposition but by seeing them in real life.

So You Killed a Character. Now What? by Dellani Oakes

There come times when we have to kill off a character. I know it’s hard, but swords slash, guns go off, bombs blow and a life ends.

First, you cry. At least I do. I can’t speak for those people who are callous and uncaring, but I cry like crazy. It’s like losing a friend, especially when it’s someone you like.

Second, you torture yourself with it for awhile to see how it feels. It feels awful. You’re a horrible person! How could you do such an awful thing?

Third, you remember that movie “Stranger Than Fiction” and worry if you really killed off a real person! (Come on, it’s a MOVIE of course you didn’t. You don’t have any special voodoo powers.

Fourth, you move on. You have to resolve the conflict and finish the book. The death moved the story forward. You had to do it. Someone had to die besides the bad guy. So he was a wonderful, sweet, good looking, loving character! Someone had to do the job, and he did it.

Well, the fourth one doesn’t always happen, but you try. I bring all this up, because I just killed off not one, but two very likeable characters so that the plot could advance. One of them was old, he’d lived an exemplary life, he was going to die soon anyway. The other was young, full of life, in prime physical condition, had just fallen in love and found out his fiancee was going to have a baby. He was looking forward to marriage, fatherhood, building a long and happy life together.

Then I killed him. I feel like an assassin. I feel mean and callous and uncaring. Because of me, that woman is suffering. That baby will grow up without a father and his best friend is miserable. But I know that somehow they will soldier on without him and go on with their lives.

Maybe it will make me feel better to imagine his fiancee marrying someone else and finding a happy life with him. Perhaps I’ll comfort myself knowing that, although the daughter didn’t know her father, the man who raises her loves her as if she were his own child. And possibly, I can delight in the fact that his best friend will find out who is responsible for his death, and make him pay!

Yes, there are many things I can do to mollify myself. But I hope I don’t have to kill off any more characters in this book, because I just used my last tissue.

Including A Comedic Element by Karen Vaughan

Did ya hear the one about the comics who got slaughtered? Turns out the villain would kill for a joke.

I write mysteries but I always include a comedic element in my stories. I guess you could call me a class clown in the world of writing.  I don’t think I could write a totally serious piece.

In mysteries there usually is some element to ease the tension in the plot. The darker the suspense; the darker the comedy; some might even call it gallows humor.

My main characters in DEAD COMIC STANDING are all stand-up comedians.  There is a killer on the lose who doesn’t see the humor in the routines.

I was inspired to write this novel after having the chance to perform in a comedy showcase and immediately thought what if…

Comedy can be portrayed in the story in different ways.

  • The writer can show it in relationships between the main characters. Swapping insults or good natured bantering is common.  The main characters in my series start of bantering over the dead body in DEAD ON ARRIVAL.

I might add that it is the middle of May and we are in the midst of a heat wave.  Everything smelled a bit riper than it would normally would.

“What in hell’s name is that horrible stench?”  Gerry stopped short, quickly noticing the dead dude on the carpet.  He quickly held the edge of his work shirt over his mouth and nose.  I was sorely tempted to gag again. The stoicism I exhibited was slowly dissipating and being replaced by panic.  What if the killer came back, and decided to finish me off?

“Okay Gerry,” I said, “cut the crap!  How did you get Velcro’s’ body in here?”

“What do ya mean how? You mean you think I did this, thanks a lot!” he said, somewhat pissed.

“This wasn’t your handy-work?”

“No! Why would you think I would do such a horrid thing?”

“Not sure really; maybe because you and Ray have the only keys besides me, and you love practical jokes.”

“Yeah, I do, but nothing this heinous! My practical jokes are more of an April fool’s kind of gag.  Besides I don’t even know him.”

“Okay. I’m sorry I’m just trying to figure out how and why he got here. Furthermore he is wrecking my rug! “I know it’s odd to worry about a frigging rug right now but this is how I deal with stressful situations. I ignore the obvious problem, and settle for something mundane and harmless to worry about.  Okay so enough about the damned rug.  I focused on the corpse once again.

 

As I don’t do ‘cool nonchalance’well, I retorted, “Gee good point I practically fell over him on my way out of the bedroom.”

“Didn’t it occur to you at some point during the night, that there was a rotting corpse in the middle of your living room?” Gerry asked.

“For one thing, I sleep with my bedroom door closed and my air conditioning on; and second, I was so tired after this weekend; I just came in and flopped. I didn’t even realize I had a guest, dead or alive.”

“Well regardless of all that, we have to call this in.” Gerry got out his mobile and dialled 911.  It was definitely classed as an emergency.

 

  • In police interrogations authors like to play good cop/bad cop  with the police and a suspect.  This eases the tension somewhat and can be hilarious if well played. From DEAD COMIC STANDING.

Myra folded her arms and glared.  “Okay Gord, time to start singing.”

Gord was sat in a chair chained to the table so he wouldn’t go nuts on them.  “What about?” He asked.  He really was as dumb as he looked.

Myra was already impatient with him. “Come on, you moron! We have you for the attack outside Comic F/X last night.”

“Oh that,” said Gord dismissively.   “The mouthy bitch deserved it. Her and her male bashing routine; I wanted to show her that kind of stuff is not right. Kinda damages guys self esteem.”

“Ooh big words for such a piss ant,” Myra sneered.

“See even you’re doing it. Are all you bitches alike?”

“Watch the potty mouth mister!”

“Ha, you’re callin’ me names, so it’s only fair.”

“Okay I’ll play nice in the sandbox if you will.” Myra was willing to back off a little and then go for the kill. Vince had taught her well. “So Gord, tell me, why last night? Why did you wait ‘til last night to teach her a lesson as you say?  Why didn’t you whack her the first night when you heckled her?  From what I heard, Miss Morgan gave back as good as she got. Made ya look like the pathetic little….creature that you are.” Myra wanted to use the term worm but thought better of it for now.

“The comedian is not supposed to heckle back;” said Gord obstinately, “it infringes on my rights to free speech.”

“Since when is heckling free speech?” asked a skeptical Myra.

“It’s not heckling; it’s instantaneous feedback to a crappy act.”

“Sure if that’s what you call it.”  Myra thought this was turning in to a pissing contest and was ready to put it to an end.

Gord continued to argue. “It’s my right as a consumer to comment on a service provided if I don’t like it.”

Myra banged her fist on the table as the captain walked in. Capt O’Malley just sat and watched Myra have her fun with the perp.

“Enough you worm – playing nice isn’t getting us anywhere here.  Is it just Miss Morgan’s comedy that brings out your inner critic or do you expand your talents to other comedians?”

“No,” said Gord stubbornly, “Shelley’s the only one who really pisses me off.”

“Come on, get real Gord! I don’t believe for a minute that a guy with so much venom would reserve it to a few words—why not say slash someone’s act for good if you don’t like it.”

Gord sat up straight in his chair. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t going to kill Miss Morgan! I just wanted to teach her a lesson about male bashing that’s all!  I don’t know anything about killing comics!”

“That’s B.S. and we both know it.” Myra was in full bad cop mode now and was going for his throat figuratively speaking, when the captain told her to go for coffee.

“But Sir I was just getting to the point!”  Myra was incredulous. (All part of the routine)

“Yes, I saw the claws come out detective, now go!”

Myra was uttering an expletive as she opened the door.

Gord started to giggle.

“What’s your problem?”

“Your boss just heckled you!”

Myra looked daggers at him and slammed the door after her.

Those are just two ways of using comedy.  I would however, like to caution the writer against using puns or the over use of clichés these two forms of comedy can get really old very quickly.  If you want to try a pun or two fun but make it quick and don’t belabor the point.

I hope this has been helpful.

“They said WHAT?” by Eileen Register

When I’m creating a story, I strive to develop each character’s personality to the point that the character becomes a person, not just physically but psychologically, for the reader. In order to create that well-rounded character, I use a combination of devices: exposition, omniscience, and dialogue.

When we first meet someone, we depend on our eyes to help us decide whether or not it’s someone we want to get to know. Then we listen to what the person says, and that influences us further. How the person says it gives us more to go on. When we can see the person and hear what he or she says, we also have non-verbal cues to go on – body language and facial expressions. I try to give all of the same things to my reader that they would get IRL (in real life). Here’s an example – the first time Kendra and Daniel see each other after ten years, each has a different view of what happened to break up their teenage love affair, and their attitudes reflect that.

Exposition

When I am talking directly to the reader, telling him about what is happening, what a place or character looks like, or what he might expect to happen next, I am “exposing” facts that help the reader form a clearer picture in his mind about the plot, setting, and/or characters.

Example:
The sound of the dented old cowbell that hung from the front door of Kendra’s shop dragged her attention away from the web site she was working on. It was lunch hour, and her employee wasn’t due back yet. Darn, she hated interruptions when she was in the middle of a web design project. Hitting the save button automatically, she rose from her chair, rubbed her tired back and then turned and walked around the acoustical office divider into the main part of the store.[Chap.1, Roller Coaster Ride]

In this opening paragraph of the novel, the reader learns about the setting and the main character through my direct descriptions. The juxtaposition of the “old cowbell” with her web site work hints that Kendra may be a twenty-first century woman but she’s still has an old-fashioned girl hidden inside.

Omniscience

Using an omniscient or “god-like” point of view allows the reader to see inside the minds of all of the characters. Thus the reader knows what each character is thinking about himself and others. It also gives the reader an inside track to what each character is going to do based on the way he or she sees the situation at hand. In addition to pushing the plot along, this device is a great way to “flesh out” or make another character “rounder” beyond what is described in exposition.

Example:
His slow, observant gaze noted the perfect fit of her sweater, its opalescent shimmer accenting and repeating the gleam of her gorgeous hair, and the trim, sophisticated man-cut trousers that skimmed her slender hips and ended just above chunky-soled, strappy sandals that echoed the dark pink of the trousers. Delicately painted toenails peeked from the sandals, and the irreverent thought floated through his mind that she had never liked pantyhose and obviously wore none now. Judging from the smooth fit of her trousers, she wore nothing underneath them, and he felt the resurgence of a long-ago throbbing that he had thought never to find again, an aching in his manly parts that he suspected only she could engender, even after all these years. [Chap.1, Roller Coaster Ride]

In this paragraph, the reader enters the mind of the character, Daniel, and through his eyes Kendra is described both physically and personality-wise. It is also clear that Daniel and Kendra had been close enough at one time for him to know first hand that she didn’t wear pantyhose under her pants. Earlier in the chapter, the reader learns that Daniel is using a manual wheelchair, and in this paragraph a question that is often thought but rarely asked directly to a disabled man – whether or not he can still perform in the bedroom – is answered. Daniel is happy to see that, because of his memories about Kendra and how beautiful she looks to him now, he is reacting in a normal way that he may not have been doing since his injury. He’s thinking that Kendra is the only woman he’s reacted that way around. This builds on the idea that he and Kendra were lovers in the past and that he still has deep feelings for her.

Dialogue

What characters say to one another often tells the reader a lot about the speaker as well as the one he or she is speaking to. It can also be a subtle or even not-so-subtle way of hinting at what is to come (foreshadowing).

Example:
“What’s wrong, Daniel? Are you, like everyone else in this town, having problems believing that the poor little daughter of Sally the town strumpet could ever amount to anything?” Biting her tongue to still the angry words that threatened to continue, she stared him down.
“No! That’s not what I meant at all!” Daniel protested, knowing full well that she had hit the nail on the proverbial head, and hating his own small-mindedness. “I just didn’t know you had come back to Mayfield.”… he kept his eyes pinned to hers. “I’m – uh – glad to see you.”
“Oh come on Daniel. Let’s not start the lies again. You had no idea you would ever see me again and that was how you wanted it. You made that painfully clear ten years ago when you left.” Kendra’s color was high now, as was her anger at his deception as well as the long ago abandonment that had scarred her young heart so deeply.[Chap.1, Roller Coaster Ride]

This dialogue is loaded with information for the reader:
*Kendra has returned to a town where her mother had a really bad reputation, and she knows or feels that nobody expects her to be a success.
*Daniel realizes that he is guilty of thinking like the rest of the town and is at a loss for words.
*Kendra feels like Daniel is looking down his nose at her like the rest of the town.
*She believes he left her and had no intentions of ever seeing her again. In view of that perceived abandonment, anything he says to her right now will be a seen as a lie.
*There is a lot of unfinished business here for both Daniel and Kendra that still hurts deeply after ten years.

There are many ways to develop a character. Exposition is the most direct way for the writer to make sure the reader has a clear idea of the physical attributes and/or deficits and the personality of those who “people” a novel. Allowing the reader an omniscient view increases the opportunities for the writer to explain and describe characters through the thoughts and attitudes of those around him or her. Dialogue, which is my favorite device for characterization , makes for a more interesting read as the reader isn’t bored by paragraph after paragraph of indirect interaction. One of my readers told me that she felt like she was right there in the story with the characters. That’s what I strive for – making it real for the reader.

I’d love to hear how other authors develop their characters, so please feel free to post comments. It’s how I learn!

TTFN ~Eileen~

[Exerpt is from Grisholm County Chronicles series Book I, Roller Coaster Ride, which is available in Kindle ebook edition at Amazon.com

Free Book Promo Success by Karina Gioertz

After recently having two very successful Free Promotion Weekends through KDP Select I am here to fill everyone in on how it went and what I did to prepare beforehand 🙂
My goal in terms of downloads was 10,000 and I am thrilled to say that I was able to surpass that number both times (The second time, I managed to double it!!) . This meant that I not only made it into the top 100 free in the Kindle Store, but that I made it into the top 10 and maintained my position there all weekend. I also landed in the top 10 of my category (Contemporary Fiction), making it as high as #3 at one point, and stayed there until Sunday night when the promo ended.
I also experienced some unexpected bonuses, such as an increase in ‘likes’ and a new review the first day the Promo started. That was just on Amazon. When I checked Goodreads, I found that the list of people intending to read my novels had nearly tripled, plus I received several new ratings just during the days it was free.
Since then I have also seen a very noticeable spike in sales! Who wouldn’t be happy with that?!
So, want to know how I did it? I’ll tell ya 🙂
About two weeks ahead of time, I submitted my novel to these sites:
Books On The Knob https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHI3UVVZdTZkWUo3d2w3aDExbXk5MEE6MQ#gid=0
Centsible E-Reads http://www.centsibleereads.com/p/for-authors.html
Free Booksy http://www.freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
Frugal Reader Freebie Page http://thefrugalereader.wufoo.com/forms/frugal-freebie-submissions/
Pixel Of Ink http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
Free Kindle Books And Tips (They require an average user rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars for consideration) http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/for-authors/
From then on, I continued working my way down the list…
eReader News Today http://ereadernewstoday.com/ent-free-book-submissions/
Bargain eBook Hunter http://bargainebookhunter.com/feature-your-book/
Kindle Book Review http://form.jotformpro.com/form/21078469493969
Ebook Deal of the Day http://ebookdealofday.com/contact/
Book Goodies (also offer great additional services to authors!) http://bookgoodies.com/submit-your-free-kindle-days/
Digital Ink Spot http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com/p/contact-us.html
FreeKindBooks http://freekindbooks.com/author-submissions/
Kindle Boards http://www.kindleboards.com/free-book-promo/
Free Kindle Fiction http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.com.au/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
That Book Place http://www.thatbookplace.com/free-promo-submissions/
Free Book Dude (another great site offering support for Indie Authors) http://www.freebookdude.com/p/list-your-free-book.html
ebook Lister http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
Book Basset http://www.bookbasset.com/contact/
eReader IQ http://www.ereaderiq.com/contact/
One Hundred Free Books http://onehundredfreebooks.com/contact.html
Free Books Daily http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/p/contact.html
KindleMojo http://www.kindlemojo.com/contact-info/
Indie Book Promo http://www.indiebookpromo.com/submit-to-ibp-3/
Frugal Freebies http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/free-kindle-books.html
Cheap.net http://the-cheap.net/authors/free-promotion-opportunities/share-your-deal/
Awesome Gang http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
Best eBook Reader http://bestebookreaderlovers.com/kindle-authors-how-to-promote-your-book/
Just Kindle Books http://www.justkindlebooks.com/submit-your-book/
My Book And My Coffee http://www.mybookandmycoffee.com/2012/08/free-ebook-feature-not-so-secret-emails.html

Don’t want to commit that much time or didn’t plan ahead? Go here – Author Marketing Club http://authormarketingclub.com/members/submit-your-book/ and simply fill out the forms below to submit to several of the sites listed above all in one nifty place. When you’re done with that, check out the site! They offer quite a bit more than just the free listings…
On the Thursday before the promo started, I visited the Indies Unlimited site @ http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ and submitted my book for the “Freebie Friday Ramp-Up.”
Then, on the day of, I listed the novel on Snicklist, Kindleboards and World Literary Cafe, as well as several Facebook groups I’m a part of. I also sent tweets about my Free Promo to all these People ~
@kindlenews
@freeebookdeal
@IndieKindle
@WLCPromotions
@DigitalBkToday
@kindleebooks
@Kindlestuff
@KindleEbooksUK
@KindleBookKing
@KindleFreeBook
@free
@free_kindle
@FreeReadFeed
@freebookdude
@4FreeKindleBook
@FreeKindleStuff
@KindleUpdates
@ebook
@Bookyrnextread
@Kindlestuff
@KindleBookKing
@Booksontheknob
@Kindle_promo
@IndAuthorSucess
@CheapKindleDly
@KindleDaily
They say that hourly tweets during the promo are best, but who has that kind of time?! I don’t. So, I used a scheduling service like Twuffer.com and spent the days before the weekend preparing my tweets. I made sure to include hashtags like #Free #KindleFreebie and #FreeKindleBook, to name a few…you get the idea.
So, yeah…that’s pretty much it. All of the marketing was completely free and only cost me my time, which was certainly valuable since it was time I could have spent writing, but given the outcome, I think it was well worth spending 🙂
~Karina