29 July 2012

Where To Get Inspiration For Your Writing

I couldn't find inspiration to write today, so we strolled around the flea market. It's a place where things happen, weird things. Sometimes funny things happen. It's not a world where many people consider spending their time on a weekend. 

If I'm not writing, this is where I visit in hopes of finding potential subject matters or situations I can include in my WIP. Talk about being on location. My expenses are minimal.

Have you ever considered a character like this one, maybe in some sort of romance novel? This I experienced at 9:00a.m. on a Sunday morning. I don't know whether he has a drinking problem or he's just soaking up the rays. I'm going with the latter for my inspirational post and Character of the Day

I have to use my imagination a bit, just to set the mood. Must remember to forget those socks, too. Look out ladies, me thinks he has the potential to be the next Christian Grey.

The Adonis

The sun's rays danced across his muscled torso, exposing a chiseled and tan eight-pack no woman could resist. The heat blanketed his body and forced tiny droplets of moisture from his pores. 
He lay there, skin glistening and inviting, oblivious to the woman who watched as every muscle in his taut body formed this exquisite monument before her. She wondered, oh did she wonder, what tautness lie beneath the netherworld of his groin.

Goodness! I need a change of location. This is killing me and I'm not getting anything accomplished. So, where are some of the places you visit for inspiration?  

24 July 2012

B is for Bravery, Brevity, and Brand

If there is anything I'd like to say about the pleasures of reading, the 3 B words: bravery, brevity and brand come to mind. If your work employs these three things while creating content, I will stay tuned! Let's explore each.


When a writer is brave enough to throw it all out there, we readers are in awe. It is very difficult to put what's in your head into the public view, even if it is under the safety net of being considered "fiction". If you wrote it, your brain created it. There is the risk family and friends will read it and pass judgment. How do we make fiction feel real if we don’t add a little truth? Therein lies the problem.

We invoke thoughts and feelings from our characters and make their actions as real as any human would be inclined to make during candid moments when nobody should be witness to them. A writer who wants to be honest with her audience would express these things. She must engage on a level which I believe requires a certain amount of bravery.

There are moments a writer must consider the human condition, exposed, and not become inhibited by his fears of judgment from those who may turn out to be his biggest fans, the very people who would uphold his fictional creations against the moralistic standards of his peers.

It is the very reason 50 Shades of Grey is such a hit. It is brave to put your work out there, not knowing if there is an audience who will support it, thrive on it even. I haven't read it, but I will defend it because it worked.


Have you ever received an email and wanted to close it right away because it was so long and had very few instances of white space? I have and it’s rather annoying. That’s why it is important to keep things as brief as possible. The last thing you want any reader to do is put down your work because it was just too cumbersome to read.

Tell us what you wish to convey in as few words as possible without having to struggle with long drawn out sentences. Every word I read, which I feel I didn’t need to read, makes me a little grumpy.

Don't tell me her skin was dark brown and she wore blue eye-shadow and her skirt stood out in shades of yellow and orange, and all other colors of the rainbow, in folds of chiffon patterned fabric, while she moved across the dance floor sashaying and twirling like a ballerina.

Just tell me she looked like RuPaul auditioning for the lead in Black Swan.


But what’s going to keep me coming back? I think for me, it is your brand. I can pick up a book by Stephen King or Dean Koontz or Danielle Steele and right away I know to whom it belongs. That sort of connection is what you want your readers to feel. I want to pick up your work (or visit your blog) and go, “Oh yeah, so-and-so wrote that!”

How does that happen? Consistency is the key. Do you write once per month, once per week, or on a daily basis? Do you provide funny stories with artwork like Super Earthling (sorry, had to plug one of my favorite blogs)?

It is the thing which makes you rise above the many others who do the same ole thing.

So, are you verbose or brief? Are you brave or still concerned about your privacy?

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19 July 2012

Editing Tips For Your Draft

It’s Grammar Time!

I've been reading more posts about how we process revisions on our manuscripts. Well, I don't have a manuscript yet because I've been procrastinating for the past 5 years! However, I do have many short stories, blog posts, and essays which have had their share of "polishing".

In the past 3 years, I've received much feedback from my critique groups and my instructors at Gotham Writer's Workshop, but I’ve also learned to critique with what I call my 5 Scans.

1. I scan for ' you'

Notice the space before. My intention is to find all instances of "you", "your", and "you're" without picking up words like “bayou”. When you write, I'm sure your mind isn't on every single use, or misuse, of words you may have typed. This is why it's important to do this scan. I cringe whenever I see these types of mistakes published, so I'm sensitive about finding them in my own work. And, I do find them!

2. I scan for ' the'

Notice the space before. I do this because my intention is to find all instances of "their", "there", and "they're". However, I don't want my word processor to highlight "bathe". I do this for the same reason I do the first scan above. If you don’t understand these first two scans, please email me.

3. I scan for 'ly '

Notice the space after. My intention here is to find and eliminate as many of the "ly" adverbs as I can. My instructors hated them, and now, so do I.

4. I scan for 'start' and 'began'

If written in past tense (obviously I will scan for 'begin' if I had written in present tense). There are so many times we want to write things like:

It started to rain.

Well then, did it stop right away or did it continue? If it continued then it didn't start to rain, it obviously rained.


He began to sing and his voice was heavenly beautiful.

He sang, didn't he? If you heard him sing and his voice was beautiful, then he didn't just begin to do it. He did it. He sang!

5. I scan for ' that '

Notice the spaces before and after? How many of these irritants do you think I found in the last critique I did? 82!

If you're referring to an object, switch it out with "which" and if you're referring to a person, switch it out with "who" or "whom", whichever applies. Better even, if you can eliminate it altogether and make it more active, do it.

The blue boat is the one that won the race
The blue boat is the one which won the race
The blue boat won the race.

He was the one that met me at the park.
He was the one who met me at the park.
He met me at the park.

This is the dress that I wore to the prom.
This is the dress I wore to the prom.

So those are the 5 scans I do, no matter what I've written. My drafts always have these basic mistakes, but I don't want to worry about them while I am compiling and being creative. However, I don't want them to slip through the cracks, causing me a great deal of embarrassment.

Do you scan your work? And if so, what words do you scan for and why?

14 July 2012

Independence and Slavery Blog Chain

The July2012 Blog Chain theme at Absolute Write is Independence and Slavery. I hope you enjoy!

Young Fursious felt his calling to be of greatness and might. He found his heart called into the service of Lord Belphegore, God of Battle, Rage and Fire.

He approached with vigor and arrogance. He fought hard and he was dutiful in his worship to the Lord. But, his loyalty to the faith was not enough for he often found himself faced with failure. This was too much for young Fursious and so he sank into deep depression, turning his back to the Lord. He sought the comfort of complacency and peace so that he might nurture his wounded soul.

Lord Belphegore cast down his fury onto this mortal and demanded that he look deep inside and find his spark to fight these demons who weakened his mind and destroyed his hopes. Sorrow and self-pity were not welcome in Lord Belphegore’s church.

Fursious drew inspiration from Lord Belphegore and found his path once again. He learned fast and discovered his inner strength. 

Sorrow, oh sweet sorrow for myself has been my prison and the shackles of my soul. I will not let it stand in the way of serving my Lord. I shall prove to be worthy. I will unleash the fury that shall set me free from this bondage of self-doubt. I will fight again.

Lord Belphegore welcomed this mortal back into His church, proud as any God would be.

In response, Fursious cried out, “I will not be oppressed by my sorrows!"

And with that goal in mind, Fursious set out to rise above and prove that he can strive and be on top.

Fursious fought honorably, he fought with conviction, and he stayed true to all the ethical standards that were ingrained within his heart and taught from his youth. He fought with all the fury that burned in his soul, and the confidence in knowing that his life was not for nothing.

In the end, he did not have the riches that he’d sought as a young man. But on his death bed, he felt his heart swell. He was finally happy. Tears, not of sorrow, but of glory, flowed down his cheeks.

He had won the battle, for beside his bed were all those he inspired in life and the numbers were great and more than he'd ever imagined.

If you enjoyed this month's theme, please visit the following participants and their posts:

Participants and posts:
pyrosama -  (YOU ARE HERE)
Tomspy77 -  (link to this month's post)
dclary -  (link to this month's post)
ThorHuman -  (link to this month's post)

11 July 2012

Sisterhood World Bloggers Award

Thank you, Ms. Kelly Hashway, for awarding these to me! The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers and Tell Me About Yourself Awards I graciously accept. 

I can't believe how fortunate I am to be thought of whenever a chance comes along to bestow the awards upon a handful of deserving bloggers. I'm very grateful. And with that, here are seven things about me I'm supposed to tell you.

1. I once wet my bed when I was 19. I know, TMI (I'll mention it was New Year's Eve).

2. When I was 12, I shot wild rabbit, skinned them, fried them up and ate them.

Yes, that's called cheating. :)

So now, here are the 7 bloggers I'm passing the awards on to:

08 July 2012

Character Behaviors I Hate

I read so much in my spare time, so I have the opportunity to notice patterns of things happening with amateur writers. I'm an amateur too, so I get to pick on you. This is how I convince myself to stop doing these same things which I abhor! It's the simple behaviors I find to be the laziest ways for building characters. 

Please don't do these things anymore and I promise I won’t either. There are better ways to get your characters to interact. The verbs I hate the most are: scoff, nod, frown and giggle. I'll tell you why.

1. He scoffed at her.

What does that look like? What does it mean?


She placed the napkins on the dinner table, ensuring each lay precisely an inch from the edge. When done, she aligned the utensils one half inch from each other on their respective beds of embroidered cotton.

He scoffed at her.

Okay, that falls flat. What did he actually do or say? What was his body language? If it was important to have us read all that detail from the woman, why isn't it just as important to share the actual scoff itself?

Try this:

She placed the napkins on the dinner table, ensuring each lay precisely an inch from the edge. When done, she aligned the utensils a half inch from  each other on their respective beds of embroidered cotton.

He took another pull from his Victorian pipe, "Why waste your time with that nonsense? The guests won't even notice."

What a snobbish thing to say! I'm outraged! This is a great opportunity to get your readers involved and caring about your characters and the things they do. If someone doesn't really know how the scoff comes across, the effectiveness of the scene is lost. Think about it.

2. He nodded.

What purpose does this serve? It's no different than saying, "I agree." It does nothing to move things along or to create conflict. Whenever you feel an urge for one of your characters to "nod" in agreement, it's time to insert some conflicting dialogue, which can add a little flavor and depth to your story. Here's an example of two men on foot while chasing someone:

"We'll head them off at the north entrance."

Randy nodded.

Boooorring! How about a little conflict or insertion of some testosterone? Guys don't just typically agree with one another either:

"We'll head them off at the north entrance."

"No, there are two ways out. You head them off at the north, I'll take the riverside."

The nod has been eliminated and we have a more interesting and realistic exchange!

3. He frowned.

Really? I'm impressed. Seriously though, I see this a lot and it is not worth commenting each time I see it because it feels a little nit-pickyish to me. But in the overall scheme of things, this is no better than "he nodded" because it doesn't do anything for the character or the plot. It's just there. So, okay.  Now we know your character isn't happy. There are better ways to do this.


She read the results of the paternity test to her ex-boyfriend, "It says that there's a 99.9% chance you are the father."

Richard frowned and snatched the report from her hand, "Liar!"

I don't think we need the writer telling us the character frowned. It almost inserts a sort of slow motion reaction to her revelation because he has to pause to get that frown on his face before he snatches the report. 

It's not necessary. Try this instead:

She read the results of the paternity test to her ex-boyfriend, "It says that there's a 99.9% chance you are the father."

Richard snatched the report, "Liar!"

See how immediate that seems? We can tell he's probably got a look on his face other than one of complete and utter bliss. It may not be a frown, a scowl, or a look of complete lunacy, but we don't care. We know he's not happy, and we know without having to be spoon fed this information. It just plays out visually in our heads. Note I also removed "from her hand". It's not necessary. We're smart enough to realize he probably didn't snatch the report from her teeth or any other part of her body.

4. She giggled.

To me, this one should be self-explanatory so I won't give examples. It's just that after a certain age, female characters do not giggle. Male characters NEVER giggle. And if I ever read a giggle coming from an alpha male, I will rub bleach into my eyes and drink a gallon of liquid Gain to cleanse my soul.

So, what actions annoy you the most and why? There are plenty more out there and I've used them all as well. I'm weaning myself off them, however, and I hope you will too!

04 July 2012

Booker Award and Blog Ribbon

Thank you Lara Schiffbauer for selecting me as a recipient for these two blog awards! To receive TheBooker Award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing).The recipient must share their top five favorite books (at least) and then passthe award on to five other bloggers.

The way I'm going to do this is the same way Lara did. I’ll giveboth awards to five different blogs, so I'll wait until the end to share thenew recipients.

My 5 Favorite Books:

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Gerald's Game by Stephen King
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
From The Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

For the Fabulous Blog Ribbon the rules are to post therules, name five fabulous moments (either real life or in the blogosphere),name five things you love, name five things you hate, and pass the ribbon on tofive other bloggers (and let them know in their comments!).

My 5 Fabulous Moments

Getting married
Having my children
Graduating from college
Daughter's high school graduation
Son's college graduation

My 5 Things I Hate

Government waste
Finger pointing

My 5 Things I Love

My family
My job
My iPad
My home

And as promised, here is a list of the blogs I've chosen forthe same awards!

02 July 2012

A Big Black Woman Beat My Ass

Character of the Day

She looked like a large, black locomotive and she was heading right toward me, huffing and puffing heaps of warm air from her open mouth. Her large pink lips, held open by a mouthful of oversized teeth, bounced in unison with her voluminous breasts which also slung from side to side as she waddled down the aisle.

The holiday season called on folks near and far and we struggled with last minute Christmas shopping. The small aisle in the calendar store pitted me against the oncoming traffic, the huge black train. I moved sideways to avoid her, pressing my back against a wall shelved with calendars featuring bulldogs, kittens, and horses.

My shoulder bag did not quite make it out of harm’s way. The woman's fat arm brushed the purse in mid-air, sending it twirling into the shelf wall with a thud.

The noise immediately drew the attention of my daughter, now with a look of surprise on her face at my body pressed to the wall and this blob of a woman walking away.

"Scuse me," the woman said, waving a hand in the air as if she were shooing away a bothersome housefly. Without a glance toward me, she continued her shuffle down the aisle.

My daughter tells a different story today and it always starts out, "Oh my gosh! Did I tell you about the time this lady kicked my mom's ass and pushed her into a wall?"

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