Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stumbling Blocks Paved the Way

When I began a short story in 2000, I discovered the idea I had of a modern Swiss youth returning to the 14th century to prevent the legend of Wilhelm Tell was too complex to be contained in a few thousand words. I overcame that stumbling block by thinking in terms of scenes within chapters. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process until I reached chapter eight where I encountered my 2nd stumbling block.

In chapter eight my hero rode on his motorbike across a fallow field on his father's farm. (I love the sound of 'fallow field' and I owned a farm at the time so I was complying with the rule 'write what you know'). The story hit a brick wall. Even my writers' crit group couldn't give me reasonable suggestions. One critiquer said, quite facetiously I thought, ''You've dropped the reins."  There was only one thing for it. Ditch the story and ditch the group. But I did decide that one day I would visit my setting and start again. Problem was, I lived in Australia and I'd set my story in Switzerland.

My chance to visit Switzerland and the Uri canton came in 2004 when my husband and I took our 14 year old granddaughter, Sara, with us. She knew about my hero, Stefan, and how he loved his homeland, but needed to get away because his parents didn't understand him. Sara didn't like Switzerland at all. The mountains were too high, there might be an avalanche, she felt claustrophobic. And, I realized that in this area where W.Tell lived, in the foothills, there were no fallow fields, no farms. I saw a guest house, hotel, church and museum instead. Houses looked like brown dots on the mountainside. So I faced my 3rd stumbling block.

However this stumbling block and my granddaughter's attitude transformed my book. I came home and wrote about a different Stefan, an innkeeper's son, with a different reason for wanting to escape.  He wanted to escape the narrow confines of his Swiss Alpine home and become like the tourists who came to the guesthouse.

 So, I took up the reins again and rejoined my on-line crit group. 117,000 words later I typed 'The End,' but have since polished The Unhewn Stone back to 93,000 words. I wanted to thank that crit- partner who caused me to stop writing when I did, but he was no longer participating in the group. If you are out there, Clive, thank you!

Incidentally, I did find use for 'the fallow fields' in this novel, but they belonged to a castle in the 14th century.

Writing Love Delivery

I am both an author and a line editor at MuseItUp Publishing.  I write for adults as Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz. My first release through MuseItUp is Love Delivery, coming in August, 2011.  In November, my historical romance, Lady-In-Waiting will be published.  My time-travel romance, Mirror, Mirror, is scheduled for December, 2011.

Authors often struggle with their writing.  When I first thought about writing Love Delivery, I wanted to tell a story about two people who were ordinary.  I didn't want them to be gorgeous models, nor did I want them to be working in high-paying, high-profile jobs.  I once worked in a donut shop as a teenager and thought this would be a job a woman might do who didn't have a college education.  She would be a pleasant person who enjoys social contact. She would be intelligent and capable of managing the store and other employees.  Ann, my main character in Love Delivery, is just such a person.  She doesn't drink because an ex-husband was an alcoholic.  She doesn't eat red meat because she loves animals. She's lonely and afraid of relationships after her failed marriage.

Tom, Ann's love interest, is a hard-working man who also doesn't have a college degree.  He's handsome in a rugged sort of way and earns his living by delivery supplies to the donut shop where Ann works.  He also is lonely and afraid of relationships.  His former wife coerced him into a loveless marriage, and he, too, is hesitant to try again. Ann and Tom are physically and emotionally attracted to each other.  They share many of the same interests, and they both begin to believe they are ready to move on with their lives an enter a new relationship.

Sounds like this would be an easy story to write, yet I struggled with it.  Writing romance shouldn't be difficult.  After all, we all have romance in our lives.  Yet, to put this on paper, an author must be able to craft a story that holds a reader's interest, have obstacles for the main characters to over come, and be able to let the reader know what's going on, not only in the woman's head, but the man's head as well.

This is where my problems writing Love Delivery began.  Switching points of view is a difficult piece of writing to perfect. If the writer hops from one head to another, without making a clear scene switch, the reader is lost.  It's easy to jump back and forth, paragraph to paragraph, but that leaves the reader in a quandary.  The trick is for the writer to be able to show the reader what the two main characters are thinking about each other but yet keep these thoughts separated by scenes. 

I tried writing the story in only Ann's POV, but Tom's POV kept intruding.  Then, I tried writing it in Tom's POV, but once again, Ann's thoughts wanted to be heard.  I had read some romance where the author successfully jumped back and forth between characters' points of view and tried that, too.  I thought I finally had it, but when I submitted Love Delivery, the response came back:  interesting story, good characters, but too much head-hopping.  Back to the computer I went.  This time, I was able to bring in both characters' points of view, but I did so by hearing Ann's thoughts in one scene, closing the scene and then turning to Tom's thoughts by starting a completely new scene in the story.

The end result is a story, which I hope you as a romance reader will enjoy.  Look for it at the Muse store in August.

Stumbling Over Research

Some Research is
Better Done in Person
Driving in the fast lane of writing is such a great experience. Barreling down the story/road, weaving in and out of complex character alleys, taking a subplot/detour to enjoy the scenery all make the writing journey enjoyable. But what happens when the story/car runs out of ideas/gas, or worse, slams into a brick wall?

I slam into that wall, otherwise known as research, quite often. Hey, let's have the heroine move to Ireland, and then to the world of the fairies! Okay, what's it like in these places? How do people dress, eat, speak? You get the idea. The writer/driver has to stop every so often and pull out the research/road map or the World Wide Web/GPS.

Don't get me wrong, I love doing research. Reading about new places and customs, folklore and mythology, recipes and proverbs is inspiring. More often than not, research solves that other problem of running out of ideas/gas. To me, it's a necessary stumbling block for any writer who wants to get the facts straight, even if only to change them to build his or her own world. With any luck, the driver/writer will reach the end of the journey sighing with relief, tale finished, new trails blazed, and vehicle/book ready to take on passengers/readers ready to share the adventure.

Stumbling Blocks

I ran into a huge stumbling block on my WIP. I've been writing this book for two years now. It's never taken me that long to write anything before. So why this time.  Very simple. I'm what writers call a panster - I write by the seat of my pants. I sit down with an idea. I know pretty much how the story is going to start and how I want it to end. What happens in the middle is as much as surprise to me as it is to the reader. So why the problem?  At one of my local chapter of RWA meetings, the speaker (a plotter) strongly urged us to plot out our story and write a synopsis before we started writing.
I thought, what the heck. It couldn't hurt, right? I mean seriously, what was the big deal. I'd never tried it before and figured I had nothing to lose.
WRONG - I wrote out a plot - probably not as much as a plotter would do, but for me a lot and then I wrote the synopsis. Easy. Wow why didn't I think of this before. And then I started writing. Oh, I wrote out my characters worksheet too - that's something I always do. I want to know my hero and heroine backwards, forwards and inside out before I start writing.
So, I sat down and started writing. Not too bad at first, but then I hit a brick wall. I had no idea how to move the story along to the next conflict. My characters wouldn't talk to me and that was that. Blocked.
I stayed blocked for over a year.
Now when I get blocked on one thing, I move on to something else. I'm always writing. Often I'll start something else and things will click and I go back to the story I was working on. Sometimes I brainstorm. But I couldn't think of a thing to say about that story. So I revised some of my old works and submitted them and then moved on to the next. I opened the screen on the WIP and just sat and stared at it. Not one idea hit me.All I could see was the plot and synopsis and still couldn't figure out how to move the story along.
Finally, after about a year and a half, I was emailing my writing buddy and explaining how frustrated I was with this story. I started saying what if, what if I did this or maybe I should do that and next thing you know the plot and synopsis were out the window and the story took a whole new direction. 
So for me plotting doesn't work and I'll never plot out a story again. Don't let someone talk you into it. Write the way it's comfortable for you. No way is right for everyone. I'm still working on that story and hope to have it done soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Frustrated? Want to tear down the wall?

Ever feel frustrated where you feel caged in? An urge to tear down that barrier of negativity? Where you are told you aren't really a 'published' author because e-books don't count for beans? That only an authentic publication from a big traditional house matters?

Do these same naysayers understand that e-books have picked up ground...extreme ground?

All I can say is that writers have enough to deal with without another brick tossed at them.

To naysayers:

LEAVE THE WRITERS ALONE!!

To writers:

Tear down that wall one brick at a time! Don't feel like ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL!

Odessa of the Seraphym Wars Series Release Party & Giveaway

To correlate with the release of my first novel, I am participating in the April Fool For Books Giveaway Blog Hop.  Although the official hop ends April 2, mine will be extended for the first week of April, ending midnight April 8.

The prize pack is AWESOME in celebration of my release.

In order to register for the prize, you must check back HERE on April 1. There will be a list of options from which you can choose to gain points.


At 15 Myrna was attacked by demons. At 17 she was sent to kill them, with the help of six other teenaged Vigorios. But are the romantic advances of three warriors demonic distraction or real love? How will she know in time?

So, Friday’s the BIG day!

For nearly 30 years I’ve thought about, dreamed, written chapters then tossed them, talked about, researched the product that releases Friday, April 1st. The irony of its release falling on April Fool’s Day has not been lost on me, either.

For 99% of those 30 years I was too busy teaching or mothering to take time to write. I got up at 5 am for a while and typed away on my portable typewriter, but that grew old and didn’t last long. But the story—the girl who would save the world from evil—never left me. It changed, grew, evolved, changed some more. But from beginning to end, the basic story stayed the same.

So now it begins. Officially. For all to see—or read. I hope readers will see the story in their heads as they read it. I did. It was plain as a movie during the writing. And as I reread, revised, tightened, edited and prepared it for public consumption, I thought it was a pretty darn good story. At some points I laughed, at others I cried. Lots of adventure, lovable and intriguing characters, some sexual tension, childhood and teenaged issues to deal with all set on a foreign world full of danger and creeping evil. Then there were the dragons. How could anyone NOT like a story with suspicious, evil, shape-shifting dragons? Right?

So why, as I write this, is my stomach churning and I feel nauseated thinking about others reading my story? For 30 years I’ve wanted this. I wonder if each book release will be this tension-filled. Do you suppose there comes a point when an author says, “I’m a good writer and I know it because I have a truck-load, no—not big enough--train-load full of fans.” And with every release they sit back and sip champagne? Somehow, I don’t see myself ever reaching that degree of calmness. I’ll always worry if it’s good enough, scary enough, well-written, intriguing, will hold the reader’s attention.

I guess I’ll know soon. It’s a blessing and a curse. But I’m glad I wrote it and can’t wait to write the next one. Even if I end up with only one person who really enjoys the story, it will be worth it.

Here’s the OFFICIAL Blurb. Hope you like it.
“Did anything…uh…traumatic or horrifying happen to you lately?”
            I shuddered, nodding.
I sat cross-legged on one end of the sofa, facing Michael at the other end.
“Yeah. You could say it was horrifying.”
I was so glad today was Saturday. It was the one day of the week I didn’t have school or work. I sat cross-legged on the sofa, watching my favorite classic movie, The African Queen, and munching on a bowl of popcorn resting in my lap. Suddenly my body went rigid. I sat bolt upright. My vision spun in circles. The room became kaleidoscopic. A rushing roar echoed in my ears. Then I saw my brother Quinn running around in circles, screaming. Wide-eyed, I stared, transfixed and mute. A boy with blond dreads, wearing a black leather jacket and ripped jeans, chased him across a field. Once close enough, he threw some kind of liquid from a small red can on Quinn.  A smaller boy with spiky red hair tossed something small that glowed in the dusk. It landed on Quinn’s chest.
Flames shot high into the darkness as he screamed and continued running around the grassy enclosure. Insane laughter echoed in the still darkness. The crackling and popping of the flames snapped like firecrackers. Quinn’s arms flailed wildly, like he was trapped in a giant spider web. My hands balled into fists, wadding my skirt in my hands. I smelled the acrid, sour stench of burning flesh and hair but couldn’t scream. I was frozen—watching. Three teenaged boys, all wearing black leather jackets, surrounded him, laughing hysterically and pointing. An oddly metallic odor of sweat mingled with the bitter odor of searing flesh. Trees closed in like spectators, hovering in the blackness of night. Mute. Unemotional. Uncaring.
Quinn rolled on the grass, screaming a banshee wail while trying to put out the flames. Then he lay still. Silenced. The red-haired boy poured more of the flammable liquid onto Quinn’s back. The black-haired teen threw a match and Quinn flashed into flames again. This time there was no movement. There was no screaming. The laughter and pointing stopped. The three boys sneered at the flaming, blackened corpse at their feet.
“Too fast,” the smallest boy said, his hair the color of fire.
             “Too easy,” the black-haired boy declared with a kick at Quinn’s head. “Whatcha  gotta say fer yerself? Shoulda paid me back, slacker.” His voice slithered slowly like the snake his boots were made of.
 “Not enough fun,” said the third. He stared at his feet, his long blond dreads falling across his face until he turned his head to look at the smallest boy. A port wine birthmark covered his cheek and part of his neck.
            “Yeah. What video game did ya buy anyway? Sumthin’ with demons, I hope!” the small boy squeaked, his high-pitched voice grating on my nerves. All three of them roared with laughter.
            “Loser,” the black-haired boy said. A wad of spittle flew onto Quinn’s back and sizzled.
            Finally I screamed. As though released from bonds, I leaped up from the sofa. The stainless steel bowl of popcorn flew through the air, scattering kernels across the beige carpet and clattering upside down on the coffee table. Tears streamed down my face. My parents ran into the TV room. “Oh, my God! NO! This can’t be happening again…” I wailed, holding my head.
            “What’s the matter?” my mother, Ashley, said, as she pushed my long hair back from my sweaty face.
            Gasping with hiccups, I took a deep breath and, between bouts of crying, told them everything I’d seen. In unison they turned their heads and looked at the television. A Katharine Hepburn film danced on the screen.
            “Are you positive?” Dad asked.
            I stared my dad in the eyes and nodded. “Absolutely. You know my visions are always right. Mom.” I looked at Mom’s white face. “We have to try and find him. Maybe it didn’t happen yet. Usually it’s a warning. Remember Jarrod? And Marcy when she was three?”
Dad’s face went ashen and Mom’s hand, still resting on my back, began to tremble as it flew to her mouth.
“Oh, my God,” Mom said, “we would have lost both of them had you not seen.”
            “I’ll try to call him on his phone,” Dad said, leaving the room in a hurry.
            Moments later he returned. “No answer. Should I call the police?”
            “We don’t even know where he might be,” Mom cried, holding her face in her hands and rocking back and forth on the sofa beside me.
            Dad knelt down and made eye contact with me. At first I didn’t see him. I saw Quinn again, running across the grass in flames.
            “Where was he? Could you tell?” he asked.
            His eyes, too, were already red-rimmed, as if they knew the truth.
            “All I saw was grass. Like a park, maybe. But it seemed small. They took their time.”
             I hiccupped, crying again as images of Quinn, much younger, flashed through my mind. Trying to pedal his red bicycle as I held it steady for him. Crawling into my bed in the middle of the night because he’d watched a scary movie. Rolling around on the grass in flames, screaming.
            “I can’t just wait until we hear something. Cops won’t do anything based on a vision. I’ll drive around and see if I get lucky.” Dad looked at me, his face long and eyes sad. “I hope this time you’re wrong, hon.”
            “Me too, dad. Me too.” I shook my head, rubbing weeping eyes.
            Still hiccupping, I sat on the sofa and shut my eyes. Maybe there was a detail that would direct Dad. My head throbbed and my nose was stuffed up from crying. I hoped another migraine wasn’t starting. The scraping sounds of Mom scooting around on the floor picking up the popcorn irritated my brain. I’d noticed before that my hearing was super acute during and after a vision. But I knew she had to be doing something, so I pretended not to notice
            When Dad returned without news, we all sat in a huddle on the sofa, crying and praying. Jarrod, eleven, and Marcy, fourteen, came home and learned of my vision. Since I’d seen him die, they knew there was no hope. My visions were always true.

If you’re still interested and want to read more, click this link to buy this awesome story in eBook form (a print version will be out later in the year)



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conflict

 
Before a story is penned a writer needs to evaluate and blueprint “conflict”, the factor that drives and motivates readers to continue reading.

What exactly is conflict in a story? Simple…a problem/obstacle your main character needs to overcome by the end of the story. Think of it as your engine that drives your car forward. Without one your car remains idle, collecting dust in the driveway. Give your car a super booster engine and you’ll be coasting the streets with no worries. 

A character needs a conflict, one that sees him through various situations he must overcome. This intrigues and connects your character’s predicament to your reader. Without a hurdle, there is no magnetic charge to motivate them to turn that page.
Before any writing or mapping of setting and character profile, ask yourself these questions:
  1. What will be the main goal my character will face and need to overcome?
  2. Who will be my target audience?

The second question is important because it will help to focus your words and subject matter to suit the appropriate audience. For example, writing for children compared to the young adult market is a considerable difference in the words you choose, the focus of your story, and who your main character(s) will be. Children understand a storyline based on the world they live in now; divorce, new baby comes into the house, doctor visits, bullies, fantasy worlds. Middle grade readers love mysteries, soft spooky tales ( no knife-wielding maniacs, head chopping, blood and core etc., more suspenseful and “goose-bumping tales like in the “Goosebumps” books), magical tales (Harry Potter), even teeny bopper stories like “The Babysitters Club” or “Sweet Valley High”. In most cases the story is told through the character”s point of view aged a few years older than the intended audience. For example, if you aim your story for the 8 – 10 age group then setting a story for a twelve year old character would be best since kids always like to read and associate with kids a bit older than them.

The young adult audience can handle more “adult” material, such as pregnancy, robbery, death/murder, gangs, drugs…things their age level have read and have a worldly understanding.

Types of Conflicts
Here are some examples of conflicts in some books:
 
The almighty tried and successful “good against evil”


(i)
Ads by Google
Think Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs…yes, these fairy tales were using the “good against evil” method if you sit down and think about it. The wolves in both fairy tales were intent on overcoming their “so-they-thought” weaker counterparts.

In the above examples, something stood in the protagonist’s way:
 
  • Harry tries to defeat Voldemort but problems and other antagonists along the way makes this quest difficult for him.
  • The Lord of the Rings finds Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring but evil and dark forces stand in his way, too.
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars needs to defeat the new order of evil, and he, too, faces many obstacles and characters along the way.

In each of the examples above, the one bigger obstacle is always met with smaller conflicts to keep the suspense and pull your reader into the storyline.

For example: 

  • Luke Skywalker deals with the knowledge he has a sister somewhere out there. His inner being and emotions help to portray him as sympathetic. The same with Frodo; his world has been thrown for a loop when he takes on the quest of the Ring…along the way he begins to doubt if he, indeed, is the best man for this job. Also, he questions his will power to avoid succumbing to the dark forces once he has tasted the Ring’s power. These inner conflicts heighten the overall essence of the book like a powerful grip on your reader.

Think of real life: if you had to go through a trauma, how would it change you? A writer needs to wear his character’s shoes and get inside his head to fully understand him. Write a story with a stick person and you get stale material. Write a story with powerful emotions and you have one interesting read.

The Almighty Ending

By the end of your book all inner and outer conflicts need to have reached a conclusion. Whether your character conquered or failed is not as important as making sure he tried to meet them head on. You cannot place a conflict (or foreshadow) without making sure by the end of the story some sort of a resolution has been fulfilled. This is cheating a reader and they WILL notice, especially if a particular conflict was the one he’s been hoping to see the outcome to.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MuseItUp and Hot to be at Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention



April 6th through 10th, 2011 hundreds of romance authors, editors, agents, librarians, bookstore owners, other industry professionals and thousands of readers will gather at the classy silver glassed cylinders of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for the yearly romance-love fest. Workshops by day and elegant dinner dances by night,

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the event will be topped off by the crowning of the new "Mister Romance" on Saturday evening. He will receive a bookcover shoot contract with a major publishing house as well as the substantial boost this award gives any aspiring model's career.

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The elite group of candidates will mingle weeklong, schmoozing authors and readers alike to see the fruits of their candidacy.

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MuseItUp and MusetHot will be represented by Christine London. She will be there throughout, available to answer questions about our house as well as take names and contact information of those authors who show interest and promise.

Both the electronic Book Expo on Friday the 8th from 4-6p.m. AND the print Book Faire on Saturday the 9th 11a.m.-2p.m. will feature hundreds of signing authors. Separate entry to these events is only five dollars--an opportunity to meet the biggest names in romance.
Setting up for e-publisher Expo

Agent's Panel RT 2009



Six of our Muse authors and our wonderful boss have generously donated gifts to be raffled at "Club RT" to one very lucky reader. Champagne, luscious chocolates, dinner at Red Lobster, a night out at the cinema, free Muse romance downloads, candle, lotion, romantic DVDs and author swag are wrapped up in cellophane to be displayed for all to see--valued at over two hundred dollars. Flyers telling a bit about our awesome participating Muse Authors will bookend the basket. We are featured on the RT website as donors.

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Many thanks to Lea for her generous sponsorship and our own Karen Cote, Marsha A Moore, Viviane Brentanos, Christine London and Sara Durham for their donations and support of this project!


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Barry Eisler & Christine LondonBr/>
Faery on Foot

Write Believable Characters

In real life each of us has something unique and different from others, unless you’re a twin. This is known as a character trait, and your protagonist and antagonist should also have their own personality traits to make them believable to readers.

A character can and should have an attitude to differentiate them from other secondary characters. Their attitudes reflect on their mannerisms--their actions and reactions to situations around them. Can you imagine how boring Harry Potter  would be if all of the characters wore glasses, had Voldemort  chase after them, or if all lived with an irritating aunt and uncle? 

How do you build unique and different characters? By sketching a profile for them. Some things to consider adding are:

• His appearance – hair, eyes, height, weight, beard, moustache, noticeable scars, etc.
• Who are his parents and family background – divorced parents, happy childhood, abused situation, raised by single mom/dad, etc
• His goals, likes and dislikes – wants to advance in his job, hates bossy females, loves children, etc.
• Where does he live? – apartment, condo, home, shed, forest, etc.
• What does he drive? – takes the bus, rides a jalopy, BMW, etc.
The biggest questions to ask yourself before you even begin writing his story are:
• What is his obstacle he’ll need to overcome by the end of the book.
• Who is standing in his way?
• How will he achieve this goal?
• Will he achieve this goal?
• How will he change by the end of the book?

This short profile will help you understand him on a deeper level in order to portray him as a three-dimensional character.

Once your book is done (or even before), then comes the marketing. But that's another post coming your way.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Point of Whose View?


Many writers have a hard time figuring out which point of view to use in their books. Let’s break down some of these POVs to get a better understanding of them:

FIRST PERSON- this story is told through the limited point of view of your protagonist. In other words, this is your “I” story. Some of the advantages of this: you can dig deep into his/her mind, feelings…what makes them tick in other words. The disadvantage to this point of view, however, is that the first person “I” only tells the story from what he/she can see, what they are aware of in front of them. Mr. Smith waving the knife around about to attack  behind your character won’t be seen by “I” until it’s felt in his back.

THIRD PERSON: with third person point of view you are able to move along with the protagonist, hear his thoughts, see the scenery around him. You can also offer scene breaks with a different character's POV.

OMNISCIENT: you get to feel the inner feelings of several characters, describe their actions, yet a point of view a writer needs to be very careful when using. I’ve read several stories where the author jumped from one character’s head to the other, making it not only a confusing read but never allowing the reader to bond with any particular character.

For example:

Shelly couldn’t help it…she loved him. The way he looked at her, the way he touched her, everything about him appealed to her.

“Hope you like the gift,” Bruce said. He had searched everywhere for the right gift to let her know how much he loved her.

Shelly’s mom couldn’t help but feel giddy inside. She was so proud of her daughter. Finally, a man who truly cared for her daughter.

Now what’s wrong with that scene? Well, if I have to explain it then you’re probably making that omniscient mistake of using too many characters emotions within such a small passage. By jumping from one character’s head to the other, you are distancing your reader from that ‘bonding’ tie needed to connect the story and its happenings to one character at a time. 

However, when used correctly, the omniscient point of view can be helpful to give various views at different times. This applies to third person POV, too. The difference is in omniscient you see what the character sees but not what they are feeling, thinking emotionally compared to third person POV where you can really dig into a character's state of mind.

Now, there’s no golden rule to say you can’t break a rule…but make sure when you break the rule the outcome makes sense. 

What I have done several times to figure out which point of view to use is this:

I write the first paragraph in first then third person point of view, then analyze them both. My main objective with this exercise is to figure out which point of view tells my character’s plight better, whether the action/drama to come would better suit a third person point of view than first. I already know who my main character is so now I need to figure out the best possible way to let the reader connect with him emotionally.

In various genres, like police drama, we have an author giving us two points of view in the story; one tells us the persistent search from the detective and another may demonstrate the killer’s POV. What this does is it adds suspense. We begin to connect with both main characters, feel the sinister thinking of the killer, and root for the detective on his search.

Choosing the right point of view is important and needs to be thought out the way you blue print your story and characters. If you use the Omniscient POV, make sure to distance the switching from one character’s POV to another within a scene.
 

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Fireborn Chronicles: RESONANCES favorite scene?


I had a hard time choosing a favorite scene because, it seems all of my favorites gave away too much of the story. Since the Fireborn characters' stories unfold simultaneously to the backdrop of a larger adventure.... Took me all day. The excerpt below introduces Rael Pointe and gives the flavor of what he does.

Commander, Overlord, Godhead Rael Pointe chose to ignore the gentle chime announcing the beginning of yet another workday. Instead, he relished the sounds in his still darkened room, and refused to open his eyes at all. They’re all workdays now, anyway. He listened for the familiar pulses around him. The little ones, like light switches, thermostats, and intercoms, barely clicked or crackled, or even trilled beneath the normal sounds aboard the great mothership. But the big ones,like computer terminals and links to main systems, pulsed, sometimes even purred. The rhythms might vary, but together they throbbed, a living entity whose tendrils reached everywhere.

A gentle presence touched his mind apologetically before Gabriel’s golden tenor voice began.

“Overlord?”

“I thought we agreed not to begin business in the morning until I summoned you.” Rael grimaced knowing the toll his displeasure would have on his assistant. Gabriel lived to serve him, but the business of running a universal corporation had become routine, and Rael was starting to feel more managed than manager.

“You have received a call from the Universal Government’s Dark Ops Commander. She insisted—

”Rael’s eyes popped open. A technopathic flicker of thought activated the lights while he hurried from his comfortable bed and began scrambling for fresh clothing. “I’ll be right there.”

“Yes, Overlord.”

Rael paused at the dismal tone of his servant’s thoughts. “Uhh, Gabriel, since it’s gonna take me a couple of minutes to clean up, go ahead and feed me today’s stats from the dailies…and maybe some coffee--your choice of blend.”

“Of course, Overlord.”

Rael shook his head at Gabriel’s enthusiasm as an overlapping flood of statistics scrolled across his mind into a precise overview of business accomplishments, trends, and requirements throughout the corporate universe he now controlled.

The status quo seemed to be doing nicely until he noticed a sharp decline in production at one of the new mining planets. “Argos,” Rael murmured as he splashed some water across his face.He tuned into the Seraphim’s computer pulse and linked to it. At the speed of thought, the Universal Hive Network opened, allowing him to delve into the tiny world’s resources, and he located the problem. Rael allowed the link to drop and finished running a comb haphazardly through his unruly platinum hair.

“Gabriel.” He spoke aloud, knowing the wondrously strange young man would always hear his master’s voice whenever his name was spoken—no matter where they were.

“Yes, Overlord.”

“Find out more about our mines at Argos.” He tossed the comb onto the dresser and headed for the door. “I’ll take the Government call in my private office.”

“Yes, Overlord.”

Rael stepped into his office and headed for the heavy desk in the room’s center. Given to hours of physical inactivity, whenever he did business or compu-linked, all of Rael’s quarters were furnished with the most comfortable furniture possible. He dropped into a recliner near the desk and activated the view screen. An angry redheaded woman sat drumming her fingers on her desk.

Rael smiled. “Lythia. I’ve gone to great lengths to set all my clocks to Government standard time, but this is awfully early. What’s so important you had to terrorize my poor aide into waking me?”

“One of our operatives is missing.” She leaned into the screen. “I believe you know her—Alandra Haze.”

* * * *

Psionic Sci FI: the inevitable fusion of MAN, MACHINE & THE PARANORMAL

Mary Andrews WEBSITE CONTAINS FREE SAMPLE CHAPTER FOR BOOK i & ii

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My favorite scene in AT ALL COSTS

My favorite scene in At All Costs, my short story due out in December 2011, is in the beginning of the story when Samantha uses her powers to defeat the tech-monsters. You see, she's a technopath which means that she can control technology. Cool, huh? Not so much when you live in a post apocalyptic world where technology has taken over and is trying to obliterate the human race. Sam's power is seen as a weapon against the tech-threat, and General Lieberman will stop at nothing to make sure that Sam and her powers are used to the max. Here's a bit from the beginning of At All Costs:

(Before edits)

The sound of gunfire woke Samantha from the most peaceful of dreams. She had been at the shores of the lake she used to visit as a child, soaking up the sun’s rays. Family's cooked hamburgers and hotdogs on their grills, the smell making Sam's eager stomach grumble even in her dreams. Birds sang in the background as the sound of children's laughing reached her. The wind breezed through the trees and for the first time in years, Sam felt at peace.

Samantha shoved her boots on as the dream quickly faded. Tears pricked her eyes as she tried to remember how the sun felt and what birds sounded like. It was another lifetime, she thought as she left the safety of her Kevlar tent.

They were attacking again. It was all they ever did. They wanted Earth to themselves, need the earth's natural resources to survive, and the human race was just the infestation standing in their way. The entire world had been taken by surprise ten years ago, when every technological device turned against them. There was no final show down, like in those ridiculous movies that the last President of the United States starred in. It was a steady takeover until the day they showed themselves. And by then it was too late.

Standing on the edge of the human race’s camp, the monster stood so high that Samantha thought it could touch the heavens. Made up of old car parts and advanced weaponry, it obliterated everything in its path.

Samantha thought that this war was very Hollywood, but a thousand times worse than what any movie could show or any writer could think up.

“Sam, are you ready?”

Samantha looked away from the beast to the soldier beside her. Rodney Connelly had discovered her talent five years into the war, and did his best to make sure that no one abused her for it. His red hair was high and tight, and his gray eyes seemed to take in everything at once as they gazed over the terrain. Sam knew that he had been in the United States military at one time, and that was because she had seen the tattoo that stretched from one shoulder blade to another. He never talked about his life prior to the war. No one did. It was just a reminder of how much everyone had already lost.

His best friend, Ioan Hillart, stood on her other side, watching the beast as it assimilated the last of their tanks into its arsenal. Ioan had rejoined their group after six years in Canada, following the rumors about some sort of secret weapon that could destroy all the monsters. Like with most rumors it was false, and Ioan quickly tracked down our group and rejoined it. He had no clue what I could do, but I was more than happy to show him.

Smiling, Samantha nodded to Rodney.

Raising his gun, Rodney fired into what appeared to be the monster’s face. It turned, focusing all of its attention on them. Rodney protected Sam as her hands fell at her sides, fingers splayed and ridged. Her eyes widened as she opened herself up and felt the power slide from her and into the beast. Samantha felt its surprise and fear as she locked her self around the monster’s essence and got to work.

Firstly, she deactivated its weaponry. As she focused on the weaponry with her power, it started to rot. Rust developed and flaked off until the weapon was no more. The monster backed away, trying to use distance to shake her off, but it was no use. It was trapped. The rust traveled from the weaponry to the beast’s parts, flaking away until nothing was left. She felt its fear as it died, felt it as it tried to warn the others about what she could do, but she had already deactivated its communication systems. It died, and none of the others knew.

Samantha collapsed to the ground, the coarse sand absorbing the impact. She gasped for air and tasted blood. It must be another nosebleed. The bigger the monsters got, the harder it was for her to destroy them.

“My god,” whispered Ioan. “What are you?”

Samantha struggled to answer, but Rodney beat her to it.

“She’s a technopath, Hillart.”

***

Heather Kuehl (pronounced "keel") was born near the Great Lakes, but made her way to South Carolina where she lives to this day. For more information about Heather's published works, upcoming releases, and events visit her website; http://www.heatherkuehl.com/

Visit Heather's MuseItUp page

Scene from Exiled: Autumn's Peril


The first scene that comes to mind is taken from the opening chapter. Choosing an unedited excerpt,
I feel this chapter has been polished more than most. This description was originally included, then omitted then by popular demand included again...

My hero Caleath finds sleeping during the dark hours of the night a challenge. Here is why:

 Despite his determination, sleep overwhelmed him but offered no peace of mind. Scrutinized by the sightless eyes of drowned men, panic plagued his dreams. 
Hungry for vengeance and corrupted by the stench of watery decay, their angry spirits sought to destroy his sanity.
In his vision, strands of hair washed like seaweed across the disintegrating flesh of dead sailors. 
Tides of marine scavengers reduced humanity to bare bone and memory. Ghostly accusations spread on the current to drown him in guilt. 
Lifeless skulls and partially devoured corpses of the recently drowned whispered curses and laid the blame for their demise on his shoulders. 
Fleshless fingers reached through the depths to draw him into Death’s grasp while parasitic wraiths gnawed at his soul and his lungs filled with the fetor of a carnivore’s breath.


He wakes to find a wolf breathing down his neck . 
The Chronicles of Caleath Book One EXILED: Autumn's Peril to be released in Sept 2011.


My Favorite Scene: Another Way To Die by Amy McCorkle

“Almira!” He shouted pushing me back in my seat. Another gunshot hit the metal of the car. My eyes flew open.
     “Give me your gun,” I said looking at him.
     “You’re about to pass out. Get down into the floorboard.”
     “Give me your gun and I’ll get us out of this situation.”
     “You’re not thinking clearly. This is a hair trigger custom gun. The slightest amount of pressure and bullets will fly.”
     “With the exception of the park where you kidnapped me, would you say I’ve been cooperative?”
     He swung a hard left. “Where the hell is the on ramp?”
     “Two blocks. Give me the gun.”
     “So you can blow my brains out, I don’t think so.”
     “Daniel, I’m trusting that you’re going to get me help for this wound. Trust me enough to use the gun.” I looked down, his leg was shaking. I wasn’t the only one who’d been shot. He had a huge a stain of red on his pants leg. “I can get us out of this situation if you can get us on the highway.”
     He looked at me. “Are you afraid?”
     I shook on the inside. “As long as you can get us to safety I can handle anything that comes our way.” He looked at me in disbelief. I touched his leg. “I actually know how to treat this wound if it’s through and through.”
     His leg stilled. He ran his thumb over my lower lip. “Tough girl what am I going to do with you?”
     My breath caught. I didn’t let men touch me like that. Not unless they had leapt ever every hurdle and through every hoop I could erect. But I didn’t mind his touch. I even…liked it. I swallowed hard. “Give me your gun,” I said softly, “And I’ll get us out of here.”
     He reached into his holster and pressed the gun into my palm. Our eyes met and I knew that whatever came next I was in it for the long haul. He switched his gaze to the rearview mirror again. “Climb back there, but whatever you do, don’t get hurt.” His gaze was on me again. “Got me?”
     Our fingers brushed and a charge went through me. “I got you,” I promised.
     Crawling into the window opening I waited until we were on the expressway, and waited. Then the gunshots started in earnest and I saw the mystery man’s eyes. As tender as Daniel’s had been, this man had no soul. If Daniel died my fate was in this man’s hands. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
     I fired. And his front windshield shattered. He let out a volley of bullets. My other shoulder burst into flames of pain. I cried out.
     “Almira?!” Daniel shouted out.
     I didn’t have the stomach for murder, but I was a crack shot. I crawled out a little further and fired again his front tire blew. I shot out the front passenger side tire. But not before he let another volley of bullets spray. I tried to retreat but I got hit in the side and collapsed.
     “Almira!” Daniel’s resonate voice was a deep echo. I was a ball of pain and cold. His hand grabbed me around waist and pulled me back in. I slid limply into the backseat and looked at him. “Jesus Christ,” his mouth moved. The pain in his gaze was something I’d seen somewhere before. His face was haunting in its familiarity.

My Favorite Scene in LURKERS

When Lea (our wonderful publisher) asked the question, "What is your favorite scene in your book and why?" my thoughts immediately jumped to one special scene in Lurkers. I love the funny parts of books, personally. Sarcastic characters make my day (even if they are usually side characters). So in Lurkers, my favorite scene would have to be when Jackson finally discloses his theory.

You see, when Kayla wakes up to find all the adults of Toronto (and the rest of the world) to have disappeared, she teams up with Jackson Sullivan, a fifteen year old scientific genius. As they collect information, Jackson absolutely refuses to disclose his theory. He's looking to disprove it -- but when all his information seems to point to the fact that he's right, well... Here's a peek at that scene.

***Unedited Excerpt***

“So?” she whispered, leaning in. His eyes looked very blue today, behind his glasses. He knew something, she could feel it. Why would he be in so good a mood if he didn’t have it all figured out? “Do you know what’s going on?”
    Jackson nodded. His grin spread across his entire face. She stood poised on the balls of her feet. He leaned in, until their foreheads were almost touching, and he said: “It was aliens.”
    Her smile dropped away. “What?”
    “It was aliens,” he repeated. “That’s what happened. They took everybody.”
    She closed her eyes in exasperation. When she opened them again, he was still standing there, looking just as cheerful and excited as before. “There’s no such thing as aliens, Jackson!” 
    “There is,” he insisted. “It’s the only way that every single adult could have been abducted all at the same time. Aliens took our parents.”
    Kayla glanced at Josh, who had stopped playing his game. His character got shot without him noticing. He peered over his shoulder at them. Kayla dragged Jackson into the hall, out of view. “It was not,” she hissed. “And keep your voice down. You’re scaring my little brother.”
    “It was aliens,” Jackson said in a whisper. “I haven’t found anything to disprove my theory.” He slid his hand into hers. His hand was warm where they touched. He pulled her towards the stairs. “Come on-- let me show you.”

* * *

Of course, I can't tell you what really happened, but I absolutely love that scene. Jackson is so utterly certain that he's right and Kayla keeps bullheadedly insisting that he isn't. This is one of the few scenes that survived the first draft intact. In fact, this was one of the scenes that popped into my head from the moment I thought up the story. I still think it's pretty great. *Grins in satisfaction*



Lurkers will be released from MuseItUp Publishing this summer! Visit Lindsay online at www.lbelow.net or on her blog at http://lbelow.blogspot.com.

My Favorite Scene in THE YOUNGER DAYS by Mike Hays

My favorite scene in THE YOUNGER DAYS, my debut middle grade historical fiction novel (2012 MuseIt Young release) is the shooting contest.  I like this scene because it is a turning point in which 11-year old Boy Smyth actually sees his Pa (who he thought dull and boring) perform a spectacular feat in beating Boy’s hero, the outlaw Cole Younger, in a shooting contest.  Cole’s told Boy stories of his childhood friendship with Pa and their days together in Quantrill’s Missouri Bushwhackers during the Younger’s brother’s surprise visit to Boy’s farm, but Boy still considered Pa a lesser man than his heroes until he witnesses the shooting contest.
 
Check out the Mike Hays page at MuseItUp Publishing

The following scene is an UNEDITED EXCERPT.
Pa took a break to reload his Spencer rifle.  
I turned to Jim “They’re pretty good, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are.  You have to realize that very few men can hit a target past a seven.”
“Really?” I asked.
Yep.  I have only seen two men ever hit the ninth target.” Jim paused “And both of them are standing right here in front of you.”
“No!”
“Yes, my boy.”
“What about the 10th target?”
“Nobody.”
“You mean to tell me that nobody has ever hit the 10th target?”
“Nobody.  Not a 400 yard standing shot.”
All I could say was “Whoa!” What else could anyone say?
During the break to reload, Cole seemed to recover his wits about him.  He returned to his smiling, confident self.
“I believe you are one up with three targets to go, my friend.” Cole said.
Pa smiled, “And that makes you one down, then.”
“Only a minor detail” Cole stepped up to the line, more relaxed this time.  I watched him slowly inhale a deep breath, pull the trigger, then target eight exploded.
“Aha!” Cole danced. “The pressure is on now, Billy, my boy!”
Pa took his aim as cool as a cucumber and returned the favor to Cole.  Target eight down, shot dead center.  Cole’s smile disappeared.  I could not believe how easy Pa made it look.  Cole had to be intimidated by the sheer ease at which Pa hits his mark.
I said to Jim, “Target 9”.
Jim nodded, “Target 9”.
It became deathly quiet, the 9th target just a dot out in the pasture.
“Jim, you think…”
“Shhhh!” Jim broke in. “This is getting good.”
Getting good?  It has been good from the moment Jim and Cole rode up to our front porch.  How can it really get any better, I wondered?
Pa said to Cole “Round 9.”
“Round 9” Cole replied.
“May the best man win”
“Always does.”
Pa sighted the ninth target as he lowered the Spencer.  He paused longer than usual then pulled the rifle up and away.  He rubbed his eye with his right hand.
“Pressure getting to you, Bill?” chided Cole.
“Just a gnat, is all.” Again, he lowered the rifle to take aim, pulled the trigger and target nine was history.  Pa grinned from ear to ear.
“You’re turn, Coleman.” was all he said as he smiled at me.
Cole pursed his lips and scowled as Pa walked past him.
“You’re not funny.”
Cole walked to the line.
“He’s made this before?” I whispered to Jim.
“Once.” was his answer.
“When?”
“A LONG time ago” Jim said, “Too long, I’m afraid.”
With the same confidence he had on the previous shot, Cole aimed, took a deep breath and fired.
Miss!  Pa won!
I beamed proudly at my Pa, who quietly walked over to Cole and offered his hand to shake.  “Good job, Cole.  You haven’t lost much at all over the years.”
“Thanks. And, you are just as good as ever.” Cole said.
Pa chuckled.  He walked back up to the line.
Cole said, “Hey! You do realize you have already won, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I just want to show you a little something I have been working on these past years.”
Pa raised the Spencer.  He fired.  He hit target 10!  He cocked to reload then aimed. Cole’s target 10 explodes!  I looked at Jim.  Jim’s jaw hung wide open in shock and disbelief.  Even Cole stood silent.  Pa cocked the rifle again, pulled back the hammer and Cole’s target 9 is gone.  Same for Cole’s target 7 then the 6th!  In less than 20 seconds, Pa has shot down all Cole’s missed targets.  The only one still standing is the first one which he himself missed.  Pa walked over to Cole.  He reached up with his index finger and pushed Cole’s wide open jaw closed.
Pa then reached down to Cole’s holster and removed one of his Colt pistols.  Cole was still paralyzed in awe.  Pa aimed the pistol behind his back in the direction of his first, and only, missed target, fired and hit his final mark!
“You, you, you, jjjuuss…” stammered Cole.
I hollered out and ran to hug Pa. “That was incredible, Pa!”.
Jim joined them, “Incredible.  And I do mean incredible!” He was absolutely flabbergasted.  “How did you do it?”
“Practice, I guess.” Pa answered.
Cole finally gained his senses. “You dirty sidewinder!  How is the world did you pull that off?” He walked over and threw his arm around Pa’s shoulder. “There is no question who Quantrill’s Best is now.  Well, I never…”
Pa still had a wide smile on his face “Boy, run off and tell you’re mother we about done out here.  I’ll help Jim and Cole load their things, then we’ll be inside for dinner.”
I ran to the porch as fast as I could, fuel by the excitement.  I stopped before I opened the front door to look over the scene again.  I wanted to burn this scene and this feeling forever into my mind forever.  Cole stood dumbfounded and could only shake his head.  Jim animatedly described every shot with his hands flailing up and down.  Pa stood there, hands in his pockets, just being himself.  At that moment, I had never been more proud of my father.