The Lost Volumes

Being an avid reader, I tend to hang out with other avid readers. A series of understandable events occur when A.R.s get together. We talk about books, and we find out the person we are talking to has not read the very best and greatest book of its kind that the other person will simply adore.

That’s how it starts. Then some time later, I go looking for the book, and it’s not there. I lent it to someone, but for the life of me I can’t remember who. Whoever it is, I hope they are enjoying my book. They may have passed it on to another AR. Who knows?

Because the universe likes balance, I have borrowed books and have yet to return them. These are not technically lost volumes. I just haven’t finished reading them, and the owner hasn’t asked for them back. See previous paragraph.

I also have lent out books, and remembered to whom I lent the book. The person has had some drama in their life, and the book was put into storage. And the storage eventually could not be paid for. The book became the property of someone else.

For those of us with short term memory loss, Libraries were places that lent out books for a set period, and would charge you money if you were late returning the books. In the later years, they also lent DVDs and audio books, and there usually was a used book store that raised money for some special programs at the facility. However, their ability to enforce the penalties was limited to charging you the fine when you came back to the same library. So if you were moving away, you could easily go in and check out a dozen books, and never return them.

Libraries evolved into systems, in some cases, where a region had more than one branch and they shared a computer system that sent the same list of people who never returned books to all the libraries and sometimes even the post office. It could be a problem unless you moved to another state.

A nice feature of e-books is that you can share them with friends, as long as the friends has the same e-reader that you do. If you have a Nook and he has a Kindle, there will be trouble. Those mixed reading lists are really difficult to maintain. And if you can disable the DRM on those books, it’s just like not having to return them to a friend or library. http://lifehacker.com/5954466/how-do-i-get-rid-of-the-drm-on-my-ebooks-and-video

My “friend” Roxanna Haley has a book selling on Amazon, and participates in the Kindle Unlimited program. That’s where readers can read the e-book without buying it. It’s a virtual library, and while not as profitable to the author, she will still get a percentage of the price.

In conclusion, while books aren’t as good at dimension travel as socks in a dryer, they do tend to get around. As a reader, it’s all good, I’ll just go buy another copy of whatever book I am missing. As an author, it’s all good, the book will show up on someone’s book shelf, they will read it someday, like it, and go look for more by the same author. Can’t complain about that. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Creative Writing is Like Surfing

No, I didn’t hit my head or fall through a rabbit hole. I was looking for a photo of someone waxing a surfboard, for a presentation at my place of employment. And I found Surf Science. The first thing I noticed was the similarity in articles there to those at help for writers web pages.

Avoid Surfing Mistakes for Beginners, the 10,000 Hour Rule, How To Turtle Roll: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-tips/beginner-tips/

Eleven Tips for Beginning Writers: http://www.magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/eleven-tips-for-beginning-writers/

The 10,000 Hour Rule: http://www.wisdomgroup.com/blog/10000-hours-of-practice/

How to submit a query letter: http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

There are a few things on the surf page that SHOULD be on the writers’ pages, like good nutrition: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-lifestyle/life-as-a-surfer/surf-nutrition and exercise: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-tips/advanced-tips/indo-board-workouts-for-surfers/

I searched good nutrition for writers, and got places to submit articles on nutrition. Sigh. Exercises for writers just brings up prompts and writing exercises.

Currently, people who need to lose weight want meals with high protein and low fat, and very light on the carbs. http://www.activebeat.com/health-news/9-benefits-of-a-high-protein-diet/?PageSpeed=noscript Well, that should go for writers, too. But wait, athletes burn lots of calories, so they can get away with more carbs! http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/nutrition-tips-athletes So the key isn’t just what you eat, it’s also what you do for the day.

Sitting in front of a computer like I am doing now has been linked to many serious health issues. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140407/sitting-disease-faq My nutritionist says that sitting is the new smoking, it will cause the deaths of more and more inactive people. Luckily there’s no such thing as second-hand sitting. But I do have a load of writing to complete, some of it with deadlines. Look what I found: http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-While-Sitting-at-Your-Computer The key here is that if you drink lots of water as well as do these exercises, you’ll be up and walking to the restroom every half hour or so. Here are more, slightly advanced exercises to try: http://www.theactivetimes.com/best-seated-exercises?slide=7

The tip on that last page about tightening your abs and glutes and holding it for a time throughout the day, that’s going to strengthen your core muscles, and make an improvement in many things you do. Did you know that muscles are fat-burning factories? The reason athletes can load up on carbs is that they have muscles that will burn those off. You can exercise and build your muscles, and lose weight from ramping up your fat-burning capabilities.

While you have been reading this, did you get any ideas for stories? Maybe a hero who needs to get back into shape, and meets a physical trainer who puts him through the wringer for his own good? Maybe a restaurant owner who wants to improve the quality of food in her establishment, and hires a whole foods consultant who also happens to be a surfer? Taking a break from your regular routine is always good for the brain, as well as the body.
And guess what? Regular activity is good for your creativity! How cool is that? You can become a healthier person and finally figure out the plot twist you need to become a best-selling author! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/exercise-creativity-physical-activity_n_4394310.html

Well, I think that’s my weekly quota of exclamation points. I’ll be back on Sunday.

Art Imitates Life

Being chronically obese is something like being a shape changer. I’ve often joked about over-inflating my feet when it’s hot. Just one of the outside influences that impact my shape.

Here are things that contributed to my weight issues:
*Raised in a low-income home
*Raised without a father
*Genetics, mostly from my mother’s side
*Tonsils out at age 2
*Molested, 3 separate incidents
*Spoiled
*Felt unloved
*Afraid of close contact with men

I gave myself permission on my birthday to eat pretty much what I wanted to eat. The next day, I jumped back on the health wagon. Did really good for four hours. Then I had a clear feeling of fighting an entity that wants out, much like a werewolf or wild cat or dragon. Leashing the beast is what my life is all about. Well, that and writing.

My inner-eating-dragon isn’t the only one I battle, either. There’s my inner couch potato, inner sex addict, and inner gaming nerd.

By the way, my inner sex addict is an introvert. Writing about sex is fine, acting it out with my husband is wonderful, but just thinking about doing anything with strangers? Let’s eat some chocolate instead.

Now I have this idea that probably isn’t new, but so many shape shifters belong to packs and families, all of the same animals, all life long. My idea – and I’m cool with sharing it here, there’s no way I will get all my stories written out. So if you resonate with this idea, go for it! – is a shape shifter who is a loner, and can become any of 4 or 5 different beings. And each of those creatures “lives” full time in the person’s brain.

There was a television show some years ago, Manimal, that went with a similar premise. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085051/ But it was a crime drama and not a lot of attention was paid to how he got that way, were there others like him, etc. Lois McMasters Bujold looked at multiple personalities is an awesome way with Mark Vorkosigan’s disturbing evolution in Mirror Dance. Not about shape shifters, but still exactly what I am thinking of. Ms. Bujold is an amazing writer, and the glimpse of many personalities in one brain is as smooth as silk and eye-opening. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_Dance

So I just need some demon bane to be successful at my diet and exercise. I need to fine the valve to deflate strategic areas. And I need some good crowd control moves to keep the brain characters in order. See you on Thursday.

Do You See What I am Saying?

In the fun and wacky movie, The Fifth Element, a future slang term for things being good is green. What do you see if I write green? You picture, probably, your favorite shade or least disliked shade of green.

When I add a modifier, an adjective, and write dark green, do you picture nearly black? Forest green? Pine needles?

For the rest of this blog post, I’m using the verb “say” to mean both written words and spoken words. Writers hear what they write, and most readers hear what they read, so those verbs are interchangeable here.

Imagine a tall man. With long hair. And a tattoo. How tall? If you are lacking in height yourself, perhaps anyone 5’7” and up is tall to you. My husband is 6′ tall. To him, 6’2” isn’t very tall.

How long is long hair? If you like military cuts, then hair that sweeps the man’s shirt collar is long. Growing up in the sixties, shoulder length hair was normal. Hair long enough to be put in a pony tail is long, and yummy.

Tattoos not only need more description but also imply things about a character or person. You might be hard pressed to find anyone under 30 who doesn’t have a tattoo. Body ink is more common and acceptable now than ever. “A tattoo” conveys nothing. My dad was in the navy as a young man. He has an eagle tattoo on his upper right arm. But just search Pinterest for tattoos and you’ll see Everything and anything, anywhere, and everywhere.

Personally, I think too much ink loses impact, and one perfectly placed art piece is best. My naval captain hero will no doubt have a tattoo of some sort, no doubt on his arms.

At one time, tattoos were associated with drugs, guns, tough guys and hard chicks. Bikers and people you wouldn’t want to invite home to meet the folks. Money has been made in tattoo laser removal services.

I’ve had the hardest time as a writer to use adjectives sparingly but not too sparingly, and not vague words. I describe most of my heros as tall. But added in one story that he stood taller than any other person she knew. In another, he’s always ducking when walking through a doorway. Yet another retrieves his hat constantly when it’s knocked off by overhead obstructions that do not impede anyone else.

Hair length and color and curl or lack of it all need to be conveyed in sharp, short sentences. Clothes, my weakest point in description, has to include style, weight, color, fabric. Other senses need to be included, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Writers often overuse description of visuals, but those are important. Remembering how things smell and sound takes a bit of practice.

Conveying a scene with one character or a thousand, describing each blade of grass or each heart beat, all things need to be exact and not leave too much to the imagination. Here are more opinions on the subject:

http://www.scribendi.com/advice/five_habits_to_avoid_in_fiction_writing.en.html
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/nobles-writing-blunders-excerpt

https://suite.io/rachel-shirley/1pme268

http://theeditorsblog.net/2014/04/08/keeping-adjectives-in-line/

Chew on that for a while, and I will be back on Sunday.

Music Soothes the Savage Author

Have you heard about BookTrack.com? I just saw a side bar ad for it on Facebook (how does FB know I’m a writer, that’s what I want to know?). Here’s their site: http://www.booktrack.com/ and here’s what Uncle Wiki has to say about them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booktrack

I had this idea! Just within the last year, I was having lunch with a friend and my husband, and the friend thought it would be easy to add a sound track to an ebook. We also talked about interactive maps and such, which I understand is also a current possibility. But not being a programer and not having money, someone beat me to this idea. Oh, well.

My Scribophile friends and I often discuss music to write by and to accompany some of their writings. One author could hardly believe how much this song by Loreena McKennit described his main characters and their relationship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LS4fiLHnMw Another thought of her character who was in rehab while listening to John Mayer’s In Repair. http://youtu.be/HKDPaf40LCw

Another listened repeatedly to The Eagles There’s a Hole in the World Tonight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haNpuHZam40

One of my favorite up and coming writers on Scribophile has a couple who got together for one of those wonderful, no strings, nothing but sex arrangements, and fell deeply in love. She picked 30 Seconds to Mars’ version of Stay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqPATbDhrb4

And there are pages and pages more of songs that either inspired the writer or reflect exactly the feeling they wanted in the story. As a writer of Regency Romances, I find things a little less easy, because I want any music I listen to to be period, and because I don’t really have time to listen to lots of songs to find the right ones. It’s not like I am going to hear a perfect tune on the radio, not even classics on NPR.

A little time on Google, however, does present a few great selections. Take, for example, my “friend” Roxana Haley’s Regency Erotic Romance, Appetizer: Pure Seduction. The opening of the story could be accompanied by this sprightly tune, Backhofen Rondo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9rNU6GuK70 Once the main characters meet each other, the Gavota de Cortesana is a good choice. The video is very amateurish, but the music is what I want to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdlPcPBKWY

And not to give too much away, when the events come to a head and all is revealed, just about any jig or reel will do! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3xeTpgLP5o

I’ll admit it, until I started to write this blog post, I simply moaned about the difficulties of finding the right Regency music for my stories. Now that I’ve dug in and got a start, I find it’s not that hard at all. Rather a lot like writing!

I finally dug in and listened to Pandora while working away today. They have a British Folk Music station. Who knew? I liked The Maid That Sold Her Barley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHo44M-J4PI, The Raggle Taggle Gypsy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WhifjRViZc and I especially like Red is the Rose https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KPfB_PRYlY.

Problem solved, life is good, and I have writing to do! Hope you might purchase my “friend”’s ebook and write a review! Thanks, I’ll be back on Thursday.

Life Choices

I’m reading a great High Fantasy romance right now by someone I actually know! Is that too cool? Okay, I hang around with Romance Writers of America and on Scribophile, so I do know rather a lot of published authors. But Tameri Etherton is one of the best people I know and made me feel very welcome at RWA meetings. So when she announced the publication of her ebook, The Stones of Kaldaar, first book in her Song of the Swords series, I picked it up right away.

I haven’t put it down yet. I am really enjoying the book, and if you are interested in it, here’s a link. The cover art is just like Tameri herself, full of joy and drama. The good kind of drama. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stones-of-kaldaar-tameri-etherton/1120323231?ean=2940046141870

As I read the beginning of the novel, I thought, what would I do if (assuming I am a young woman) life suddenly revealed itself to me as something totally different than anything I expected? And what would I rather have the choice of being? Could I be revealed as the unknown heir to a title and fortune? Or a Messiah on another planet or in another dimension? What if I am a vampire or a werewolf? A sorcerer with untold, untapped powers? So many possibilities.

Let’s look at the pluses and minuses. Today I wake up, open my closet, and instead of the usual selection of fat clothes and skinny clothes, there’s a door! I, of course, open it, and step into a new world. Someone is waiting for me, and tells me I am the new ruler of Slumberistan. I now posses more magic power than I can imagine. But in two weeks, I will fight one on one with the evil Lord Damitall, who is trying to take over my rightful throne. For two weeks, I have maids who will wait on me hand and foot, scrub my back, choose my gowns, make sure I get to meals on time, and bring me books from the library. I have daily exercise in learning to fight with a big, heavy slice of sharp metal, and learning to use this magic I am supposed to have. Those are the pluses. The down side is that in two weeks, I’ll be killed because I can’t learn enough in that short of a time.

Next scenario, please! I’m driving to work, not really paying attention because I know where every little bump in the road lies, and when the traffic will slow down. But I look up, and everything is wrong. I don’t know this road, I don’t remember how I got here. There’s one lane and lots of trees and it’s dark like evening, not morning. The car starts to stall, so I pull over to the side. I get out, and a truly god-like man (a Chris Hemsworth close) approaches me. He tells me I have been sent to this dimension to lead the faithful away from the path of sin, and to convert those sinners who have left the fold. I tell him, “Buddy, you have got the wrong woman! Where’s the party?’ Yeah, not many pluses, especially if there’s celibacy involved.

Moving right along, I finally get to go to Eastern Europe and stay in a castle! I fall asleep in a huge, dusty bed (but I don’t mind the dust, because CASTLE!) only to be woke up by people in my room, arguing. A pair of delicious, half naked men are arguing over which one of them I belong to. I think, I wish my husband was here! I have to choose between a vampire and werewolf. Awesome, but again, not so many plus sides here. Dead or cursed, sucking blood or killing innocents. NEXT!

Same castle, but instead of waking up to arguing beefcakes, I see flashes of very white light under my door. I open it up to find a pair of sorcerers battling with lightning bolts and fire balls and staffs. I think, “I better check out of this place!” and step into the hallway, just as each sorcerer throws their most powerful spell. Hmmm, probably just going to be a pile of ash, now that I think of it. Not even Cinderella.
I guess I’m happiest being someone who thinks up these things, instead of someone who has to live through them. Have a good week, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

More About Names, Less About Something Else.

I want to write a series of Regency Romances based on the fledgling spy systems and all the fun and danger involved. I want to call it House of Cards, because the agents will all be identified with a particular Card. Guess what? There are already a stuff-load of books by that name. There’s even a TV show by that name. Who knew?

None of that really bothers me, but there is a Regency romance series called House of Cards by the lovely and talented Barbara Metzger. http://www.barbarametzger.com/about_barbara.htm Looking at the summary of the books’ plots, however, I don’t think there would be much chance of confusion if I went with it.

Of course, I need to get going on research on the espionage that flowed back and forth across the Channel at the time. These look like a few good books to start with: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1777550.Secret_Service?ac=1
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3264184-first-respectable-spy?ac=1
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1221773.Sir_James_Mc_Grigor?ac=1

And there are some really impressive blogs on the subject.
http://www.thedearsurprise.com/espionage-during-the-napoleonic-wars/
http://www.ospreypublishing.com/articles/napoleonic/the_hidden_hand_espionage_and_napoleon/
http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2010/03/spies-in-regency-england.html
http://www.napoleon-series.org/reviews/biographies/c_haswell.html

I was so afraid I wouldn’t have anything to do in my spare time. 8) But back to names, maybe authors should follow some naming rules when it comes to series. Like the ones that govern race horses.
http://horseracing.about.com/od/breeding/a/aanameingtb.htm

Naming Pure Bred Dogs is less formal, the name just needs to be unique. http://www.canismajor.com/dog/names1.html http://www.dogchannel.com/dogsinreview/choosing-akc-dog-name.aspx

And cats are no different. http://www.bengalpedigrees.com/showone.php?search=yes&ticanum=SBT090410068

If you are ever stuck for a book title, here’s a fun Romance Title Generator. I got the following titles from it: The Stone and the Diary, Lace Shores, The Prized Desire, Harps of Time, The Lips’s Guard, The Force of the Mists, Silence in the Voyagers, and the enigmatic The Worlds of the Legato Flying.
http://novelistvmd.awardspace.com/RomanceTitleGenerator2.htm

A couple more, just in case. http://www.kitt.net/php/title-romance.php
http://fantasynamegenerators.com/book-title-generator.php#.VAuThGN0_nk
The last one gave me this list of titles: Man with Black Hair, Servant of My Imagination, Honeys with Blond Hair, Ladyloves of Yesterday, Angels and Wives, Sweeties and Assistants, Chase of the Evening, Perfection of My Imagination, Talk About My Dreams, and Scared of My Girl. I have to stop now, I’m getting ideas to go with each of these titles!

There are character name generators, so it’s no surprise that there are plot generators as well. http://www.plot-generator.org.uk/create.php?type=1 The following is the result. I didn’t put in any items, I clicked the suggest button each time. I even got reviews with the plot!

Weak Annabelle
– a splendid romance
by Lottie Lust (okay, I did come up with the silly author’s name)
Clarke Ferguson is a weak, fat and charming scout from the city. His life is going nowhere until he meets Annabelle Gump, a flabby, beautiful woman with a passion for cats.
Clarke takes an instant disliking to Annabelle and the cowardly and sinister ways she learnt during her years in the seaside.
However, when a mugger tries to shoot Clarke, Annabelle springs to the rescue. Clarke begins to notices that Annabelle is actually rather considerate at heart.
But, the pressures of Annabelle’s job as a housekeeper leave her blind to Clarke’s affections and Clarke takes up boxing to try and distract himself.
Finally, when forgetful nurse, Mavis Butterscotch, threatens to come between them, Annabelle has to act fast. But will they ever find the splendid love that they deserve?
Praise for Weak Annabelle
“I fell in love with the intelligent Annabelle Gump. Last night I dreamed that she was in my teapot.”
– The Daily Tale
“About as enjoyable as being slapped with a dead fish, but Weak Annabelle does deliver a strong social lesson.”
– Enid Kibbler
“I love the bit where a mugger tries to shoot Clarke – nearly fell off my seat.”
– Hit the Spoof
“I could do better.”
– Zob Gloop

Maybe book names are the least of my worries. Here’s the link to my “Friend”’s book. See you on Thursday.