Friday, January 27, 2012

Embracing Winter

Is it raining, snowing, blowing in your hometown?? Winter can be a long, tough road to travel. No matter where you reside in the world, buy a book and snuggle up by the fire.

I haven't embraced the world of e-book buying or reading yet, so for me purchasing a freshly printed book is still an excited thrill. Perusing the numerous aisles of a bookstore, large or small, is always cathartic for the soul. :)
Whatever your preference in reading material, there is always something for everyone.

Support your favorite authors! Buy a new book today. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just Released

Check out author Heather Burch's first published novel -- YA book Halflings

Suddenly in mortal danger, seventeen-year-old, Nikki, finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings.

Sounds great! This is Heather's first in a series of three books about halflings!

Good luck! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Where in the World?

When searching for that perfect place to live -- whether a house, condo, apartment, perhaps a house boat, log cabin, tree house -- what do you look for? A certain style? A specific number of bedrooms, bathrooms, does it have an attic, basement?? What is the most important factor for choosing an abode other than the price? $$

Location, location, location!

Is it the property, the schools nearby, the dog park down the street?
Is it your hometown? Or someplace other than where you grew up?

Is it the magnificent view?

As a writer, don't forget to include the all important setting in your story.

In creating fiction -- characterization, plot, conflict, theme, style and pacing, the beginning, middle and end -- are all extremely vital to any story. However, if the reader doesn't know the setting of the novel, we can't visualize the story.

There is no sense of place.

In the past couple of years, I have been helping to judge and critique several writing contests for unpublished writers. Some are experienced writers with wonderful skill, some have amazing potential, some are just beginning their long and challenging journey of learning the craft of writing.

What surprises me most in these works is the lack of setting. I estimate 80% of all manuscripts I judge, no matter the experience of the writer, overlooks this fundamental element. Location. Where does the story take place? And why? I feel they don't grasp the fact that setting is an integral part of character development. It is an essential aspect of their background. Why is the main protagonist living where they live? Or why have they moved to a new town? City? State? Country?

Be specific when introducing the setting. Many writers simply make it easy on themselves and the reader by telling up front where the story takes place.

Chapter One
May 1990
Wilmington, Delaware

This is perfectly fine if it fits the tone and style of the book. If an author can't weave the actual date and location into their story, it's okay to let the reader know where the novel begins.
However, the setting still needs to be introduced and described in some way. Where and why in Boston? What is the weather? Is it morning with bright sunlight? Or early evening with a luminous full moon rising?

Most authors write what they know. I grew up in Massachusetts so many of my stories feature a location somewhere in New England. I have also lived and traveled around the U.S. and other countries and feel I can confidently portray these other locals in some way as well.
It isn't necessary to have traveled to whatever location you set your story, but you best have a strong sense of place when you set your characters down in the middle of that preference.
With today's technology advancements, and with just a click of a button, we can research geography from around the globe.

Still, if your characters are hiking through the Amazon jungle, you better know how to convey what it really feels like to do this. What kind of trail are they on? What are they wearing? What does the air smell like? What do the trees and foliage look like, feel like?

Perhaps you have created your own mystical world, a place unique and different from all of our everyday lives. It is essential for the reader to visualize and to feel the same human emotions attached to these unusual settings. Think Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings.

And the setting is as equally important to convey if you set your book in your own hometown. You know what it's like to walk or drive through the town, but how does it look and feel to your protagonist? Your antagonist? What are they thinking as they step into the local coffee shop? How does it look to them?

We need to feel the emotions of the characters as the tale unfolds. Create your story, and the locations you choose, to feel as real as possible to you, your characters, and your readers.

Happy travels! :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Fresh Start

As hectic and chaotic as the holiday season can be, I love when the new year arrives. It signifies a new beginning, new goals, new ideas -- a do over. Out with the old, in with the new. :)

I had a rather difficult 2011 -- one reason for my lack of posts on this blog -- and I am anticipating a better 2012.

With several resolutions in my mind, I'm ready for the tasks ahead....

Already 2012 is offering up some overwhelming challenges I don't wish to face, but I must stay strong and attack them head on. I will be moving -- again. However, with the help of some wonderful friends and family, I should make it through okay. I also lost my job a couple of months ago so time to reevaluate my future prospects.

I have a book to complete, another one already swirling through my mind, and a third that needs some major revisions. I plan to concentrate on acquiring a literary agent for my first completed novel -- something I didn't do at all in 2011 -- with the hopes of being published.

Another goal is to continue to embrace and comprehend the ever-changing, fast-paced world of technology. Unlike so many others, this is not easy for me.

There is also the eternal lose weight resolution. This year I anticipate to actually accomplish my goal of losing the extra 40 pounds I've been dragging around with me the past few years.

And I'll be writing here more often. (I posted only 9 times all last year) Won't be difficult to beat those numbers! Keep checking back. :)

Happy 2012!!