Monday, October 20, 2014

Creating the Setting: aka World Building by Veronica Lynch

Please join me in welcoming Veronica Lynch to Discover yourself. One lucky person will win a handcrafted tote if you leave an email address with your comment. So read on and be sure to comment!
As an author we can write dialogue, so clear and snappy, the reader knows exactly who's speaking without tags. That's a gift none of us should take for granted. Likewise, we might create characters so real, so intriguing, the reader invites them into their lives and hopes they'll stick around for awhile. Also a gift.
Great dialogue and intriguing characters won't keep readers' attention if the setting is blurred or worse, glossed over. Even worse, so unrealistic, the reader throws it against the wall because they cannot relate to the location. If they can't 'see' it, 'smell' it, or 'feel' it, the story will fail. You don't want that.
The setting [or world] must be given the same care, in terms of development, as you would give any of your characters, lead roles or supporting. Think of the Alaskan town in the Sandra Bullock movie “The Proposal”. What made that small, out of the way town stay with me as a viewer? Three distinct scenes stick with me: the bedroom, the bar where the waiter/religious person strips for the screaming women and the clearing in the woods where Betty White dances in homage to her Native ancestors. It is the details, using all five senses, which make those stand out in my mind.  
Since this is an audience where I might find a few writers of fantasy, paranormal and science fiction, I need to start with the World.
            Where is it? Is it real or imagined? Based on something real or imagined.
            Make sure you define the infrastructure: language[s], education system, the philosophy of medical care from birth to death, the political system[s].
            If you're creating your own planet, like Star Trek or the Kurt Russell Stargate movie, the sky's the limit for you. Personally, I'd make it as close to Earth as possible--for your own sanity and that of your reader. Think JD Robb's In Death series. The basics are still the same but man, she has hyped all the amenities to the max. If Earth isn't your bag, and you want to do something totally new, keep this in mind: if folks need anti-gravity shoes to walk around or wear oxygen masks to breathe, how do they make love? 
            If there are other life forms, as in the Star Wars movies, is miscegenation allowed?
            What is the climate? Does it change with the seasons? Do they have seasons? Is this mostly rural and agrarian or is it urban/suburban?
            What are modes of transportation?
            Are there animals [as in the zoo or on farms or family pets]? Tamed or wild?
            What is the expected life span?
Let's break it down a bit further into the City/Town.
            Is it well built, well planned or is it post-apocalyptic? Is there a system of roads or highways? Are they maintained, how well is it done and who pays for it?
            If electricity/gas/fresh water doesn't exist, how are those nitty gritty things supplied?
            What is the political infrastructure? Is there a clearly defined class system? Are there distinct neighborhoods? How about laws and the enforcement of same. Is there a criminal justice system? What is the quality?
            Does an educational system exist? What is the quality? Are there institution of higher education nearby?
            How is medical care delivered? What is the quality of that care?
            What are the geographical formations [lakes, mountains, deserts]?
            Leisure interests, arts, sports?
And now we get to the Hood.
            If we're in the country, the individual farms will take the place of the hoods, abutting the next farm or small town, the center of social life. If we're in the city, what are the dwellings like, well built or fabricated as in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or homeless communities beneath subway stations? Are your characters part of the In Crowd or on the outside margins, looking in?
The Residence: 
            Is this a single family unit or a multiple dwelling like a high-rise apartment building? How is it maintained? The same questions asked before this apply here. Is this a glum and dreary place or is it bright and inviting personal exploration. Are the individual rooms different from the whole? Throw in something unexpected, something romantic. Surprise the reader. It keeps them turning those pages.
Don't try to do this alone. Use your writer pals or critique group. It is clear when imaginative people come together, any number of wonderful things can happen. 

Excerpt from Hauntings in the Garden:Caper Magic coming from The Wild Rose Press, Oct 27, 2014

Hank let out a holler just before a huge toothy grin spanned the borders of his gaunt cheeks. “Top o' the marnin' to ye, Missus!” he cackled to someone exiting the front door of the stone cottage next door.  
Taking the concrete steps to the sidewalk in two lithe moves, a woman in a slinky dress the color of ripe tomatoes glanced their way and responded in a distinct Irish brogue. “And the ass end of the day to ye, Mistur Pierpont.”
Intrigued by rich tone of her voice, Nick craned his neck and found one of the witches from yesterday's parade—minus the droopy velvet hat—passing within steps of Hank's porch. A bulging garment bag hung over one arm; she looked headed in the direction of the pier at the end of Vincentian Lane. Damned if right then a wind didn't jump up off the lake and mold the filmy length of scarlet against each curve of her body. Long black hair—and there seemed to be a good ten pounds of it—flowed over her shoulders, caressing her body like a lover as she marched toward Dingle Pier. As his heart bumped into a trip hammer beat, Nick reminded himself to breathe. 
“Ferget yer broom, Missus?” Hank called out to her retreating back.
“In the repair shop,” she replied over one shoulder, winging that glorious onyx hair away from lips painted to match her dress. “Gettin' fitted with a couple of those fancy turbo boosters, it is.”
Hank chuckled, then went back to his coffee. “Turbo boosters. That Nunie Doyle; sure is a pistol.”
An invisible fist reached down to grab Nick's gut in a vise. As recognition flared, long buried rage took a slow crawling path up his spine.  

Writing under the names Kat Henry Doran and Veronica Lynch, author Kathy Cottrell uses her experience as a nurse, victim advocate and insurance investigator for background in her award winning novels and novellas. Her stories are set in her favorite places to visit: the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains as well as the Saint Lawrence River in the historic Thousand Islands region of Upstate and Northern New York State. 
When not writing, or chasing grandchildren, Kathy spends her time designing and making tote bags and aprons to custom order. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hot Cha Cha, What Manly Taters

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
October sunset over the greenhouse
Mid October and the days are still hot on Tortuga Flats Farm. Nights are cooling off and in fact we've had two nights that hit the light freeze mark. But at least the sweet potatoes made it through. Last year, an unexpected freeze before the potatoes were ready for harvest left us with some less than pretty produce. Sweet potatoes are very sensitive
Good sized sweet potatoes
to cold weather. Happily, no freeze damage this year. They're now in their two week cure period which means spread out in the garage, kept warm and dry. Then they'll be wrapped individually in paper and packed in boxes for storage.

Garlic compost
We're waiting for the soil temperature to reach 50 degrees before we plant the garlic. This morning it was still at fifty eight. In a few days we'll begin breaking apart about 480 pounds of garlic for planting.

Over the years I've covered ways to live and have fun with slim funds. We're continuing our exploration.
Frank and I did some scouting in the Tonto Basin area for RV parks. What a beautiful part of Arizona. What we found were inexpensive parks with two lakes close by for Frank to fish. Roosevelt and Apache Lakes have bass which is Frank's favorite catch. Once there, I'll get down to serious business on finishing book three in my Love and Murder series. Right now we're helping Lance with end of season chores, but once the garlic is in the ground and some various end of year clean up is done, we'll try out the area for a few weeks. This may be a tight budget retirement solution (for those who actually retire!) I'll cover that once we get there.

Christie has been canning lots of salsa, chili sauce (really hot cha cha) and spaghetti sauce. She didn't can any straight tomatoes this year. Tomatoes were disappointingly sparse but no worry. We're still working on last years jarred tomatoes that should get us through until next season.

Sadi likes the RV too - especially the bed. For some reason it's her favorite place to play. She drags a stool over to climb up by herself. By the way, she's yet to call me Grandma. Christie is Mom or Mom Mom. Lance is Dada and Frank is Papa which for some reason she always whispers. We've heard her say grandma but not directly to me. But I get lots of hugs and kisses so I can't complain.

Monday, October 13, 2014

BOOK IN A WHAT? by Sydney St. Claire

Please welcome Sydney St. Claire to Muse Monday. And don't forget to read all the way to the end and enter her contest.

With November right around the corner, it’s nearly time for National Novel Writing Month or NanoWriMo as it’s affectionately called.  This bit of craziness is where writers all over the world dedicate November to writing a Book in a Month or approx.. 55k words I believe. And November is just around the corner. It’s not too early to starting thinking about whether to participate or not. Right?

One year, I told my husband I was going to participate and he looked at me like I’d grown two heads and asked why?

I explained that I needed a push to start writing a new series and that the goal was to “vomit 50-60K words onto paper–to just push yourself to get as much of your story written, no matter how bad a draft. A bad draft is better than no draft, right?

Again, I got that “okkkaayyyy” look followed by another “why?” In his mind, there isn’t a purpose or point to writing something that I couldn’t sell and was just a waste of time and energy.

So I explained that I wouldn’t be tossing those words, that my participation in Nano wasn’t a waste of time. It is a way of getting a rough draft of a book written, and that editing, rewriting and clean-up came after. As I was telling him of this, I was also reminding myself that the purpose of Nano was to get the foundation of my book written.

Normally, I write a chapter or two then go back. And edit, rewrite, edit some more, then I write another chapter or two and once again, I take a couple steps back. I call it Sue’s Staircase To Success (or insanity!) method. Two steps toward that goal of a finished book, then one step back, a few more up, a couple more back.

You see, for me, writing is like taffy pulling. The more you pull, the weaker the center gets. But once you smush it all back together and do a bit of kneading, you can start pulling again. And once more, the center grows thin and bits of stringy goo separate and dangle in thin air. For me, this method keeps me from losing sight of the goals, going down too many dead-end paths etc.

This method of writing makes succeeding in Nano’s Book in a Month very difficult for me yet I sign up nearly every year. Why? Because any amount of words, any push forward on a book is a damn good thing. Even knowing that I most likely won’t get from beginning to end in a month, I’m more than satisfied that I’ll be further along in the story than I would have had I not made a commitment to finish a book. Plus, there is that something extra called a deadline. A deadline means I’ll push myself, strive to put the old way of writing behind me and try my hardest to make my goal of a 50k rough first draft.

Now that this year’s Nano is nearly upon me, I have a new outlook on writing because I have been doing something called Power Writing and this, combined with the mentality behind Nano, might equal success. My last full-length novel was written using Power Writing. I had a complete book in two months with another month devoted to editing. I’ve learned that hard focus on writing equals word count that keeps growing.

The question this year is what to write. I’m writing novellas and still doing some freelance ghost writing for quick and easy income. Both are 30K novellas. I could set a goal to get two done (the ghostwritten ones are fairly light and simple with little major conflict) for a bit of a challenge, although I can often do two books in about six weeks if I push and shove myself.

So do I challenge myself or enjoy a pretty easy achievement of aiming for 55-60k words. I’d love to get another full length, Susan Edwards’s novel started but that might be insane and suicidal to my contracted deadlines. Better to wait for next year and plan and schedule that!

So come November, I’ll put the housework on hold as much as I can, make the animals fend for themselves and the husband as well. In fact, I’ll put much of my life on hold and devote myself to putting words, lots, and lots of words to paper.

Oh wait, baby shower for my first grandchild is in November and there’s all these cute little outfits to sew. Hmm, maybe not all of life will get put aside. My first little granddaughter is pretty important to me!

Come to think of it, I must be delusional if I think participating might not be challenging. I have a book that came out Sept. another due out Oct 31, which means lots of promo and marketing and blogs and guest blogs to write and the 4th book in the series to write and turn in by end of November and 2-3 ghost books to do before end of November. Whew! Taking a deep breath here. I think there will be a lot to keep me busy and writing!

So how about you? Will you participate? How have you done in the past? What do you love about it? Hate about it? Recommend it to other writers?

Wish me luck and for my fellow writers out there, the best of luck to you as well if you join me in November.

Blurb for Cinderella and Prince Dom
Jaimie Newberry is jobless, her rent is due, and her cat just died. On top of that, she was accused of embezzling before she was fired. When her friend invites her for a weekend of kinky fairytale role-playing, she agrees to go as Cinderella. What has she got to lose when sex with a handsome prince is involved?
CEO Bryce Langston needs to know if Jamie is innocent of embezzlement or just very clever. He arranges for her to be his weekend sub but soon realizes the pretty scullery maid is naïve to the BDSM lifestyle. As her prince and her Dom, he intends to not only learn the truth but to make sure she has a fantasy come true.

“Let’s talk about your sex life. I read the questionnaire you filled out and understand you’re game for a bit of light BDSM.”
“What?” The spit in Jaimie’s mouth dried. “What do you mean by light BDSM?” She was going to kill Lucy. She’d assumed many of the men and women she’d seen earlier were into some kinky stuff, but there’d been others wearing normal costumes. Like her.
“Dominant and submissive role playing.”
“Roles? As in I’m Cinderella and you’re the Prince?”
His lips curved in amusement. “Not quite. I am a Dominant who requires a submissive. I am your Dom and you are my sub. Those are our roles for the weekend.”
Jaimie stood. Yep. Her friend deserved a slow, torturous death. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I’m not into kinky sex or pain. I agreed to a weekend of free food, being waited on, and having sex with my prince charming.”

Wild Rose Press:

Buy links       
Wild Rose Press  (Amazon link avail)
KINDLE               NOOK                   KOBO                   IBOOKS

Red and Her Big Bad Dom available Oct 31

Contest: Once Upon a Dom Tote Bag and goodies (mug, flash drive & more). See pictures of prizes and details here

a Rafflecopter giveaway