Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writers&Artists R Us

Just who are writers? Who are these people, who create the books we love to read. I thought you might like a little insight into what kind of person writes books.... rather stories.

We're a mixed breed, but generally the best writers get out from their desks and experience life in whatever form they love.

Creative people have a big problem, and that is TIME AND ENERGY. It's a hard choice, where to spend our time and energy, while some other element of our creative composition tugs at us.

 The geese is one of my paintings, an acrylic done some time ago, before I started writing heavily. I've found that I cannot paint and write during the same time frame. One of them has to go and for a time, it's been painting. This one is quite large by the way. My forte, if any, would be waterscapes, landscapes, and animals. I'm longing to try new techniques, i.e. Will Terry's iPad ProCreate App layout for book covers.

I also take a lot of photos, and use some on my covers. These are roses taken from a street in California. A Lady's Desire was one of my first books, now in epub.

I take a lot of flower pictures, just 'cause. These have dew on them. Like other authors, I'm fascinated by the ocean, and you can read about my drive down 101 Hwy in California.. Or my entire 5000 road trip across the NW in a previous post.

Many, many writers love to garden and cook. Or sew. If you join Facebook (Please Like my Page :)), you'll see more of their private interests, plus their books.  But most take their life experiences and somehow roll them into a book, either as the main theme, or as background.

It seems to me that most have animals of some kind, and cats seem to love their owner's keyboards. Ok, it's attention getting: Must Pet and Love Me.

For now, I'm not painting as much as I would like. Bought new supplies. They're waiting.

Have material waiting. I had to buy a prairie bonnet recently, this for a cover a new book, and that was irksome as I used to sew all my 3 daughters clothes and made them prairie dresses and bonnets to match.

Any writer feels split between their bubbling, fascinating stories flowing from their keyboards, the games their characters want to play--and those creative corners in the other parts of our lives. It's difficult making those choices.

I'd so love to hear from others, torn between their stories and characters, and other elements needing to be fed, such as travel. If you have two favorite activities, each tugging at you, while you're doing another, tell us how you feel. Maybe we'll form a club! :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tips on Writing the Story Arc

At the Edge, A Stranger's Touch, and For Her Eyes Only  are romantic suspense books in the psychic triplets, The Aisling Trilogy.

I promoted these as a trilogy, with a recommendation for readers to start with book one and read them in order. Promo from the publisher that this is a story arc/trilogy is highly important, and the author does the most possible.

!A basic look would be great. (Oh, how I wish At the Edge's cover matched the other two.)

This story arc was my first in mass market, though I'd written 11 Tallchief categories and other author-driven miniseries. Basically, each of those concerned individual stories.

The Aisling Trilogy are individual stories, but with a story line running through that ends with For Her Eyes Only. To plot this trilogy, I used PageFourOutliner, and consider it an absolute necessity. I use it for short stories, to capture critical scenes, to list possible titles and unique character names, let alone to plot. I've tested several programs that would help plot, etc. and found this was the best for me.

The makers of PageFour also provide Character Name Generator and SmartEdit. Good basic tools.

Each story is unique, based on three psychic sisters, so closely linked they cannot live close to each other for long.

The Name Game: Since the Aislings were descended from a Viking chieftain, I chose the names carefully. Heritage, family position, etc. are important in choosing names for characters. Chose the names also, to fit the definition of that name. Baby namer books are great for this. I recommend getting these names down in plotting.

One thing you do not want, is to have a high summit with all characters involved at the last book, and find that there is a Sam and a Samantha, etc.

Character names are extremely important. A tip here is not to match Sam with Shirley, or have the names too close to each other. In romance, the hero's name, opposing the female lead, is important. Typically, the visual impact hits a reader quickly, so alternate longer with shorter for a good match.

Each sister/major player needed certain shared family features, but unique in their presentation and background. I cannot emphasize a character's background enough. This is where fears/conflict/needs, etc. are built. It is also how their lifestyle is reflected.

These families don't just start from zero. Each family has certain traits, certain relatives, so it is important to build a family history, which in this case, goes back to the Viking chieftain and his seer bride. (I like to play in the psychic pool and in producing my backlist for ebooks, I find this thread runs through many of my stories.)

To lay out an extensive plot for all 3 books, each book had a separate plot, with the mystery thread escalating throughout, until For Her Eyes Only, which holds quite a surprise ending. Yet, each book stands alone, the romance resolved--except for the uncertainty provided by the psychic thread.

Book One, At the Edge, is the set-up. It introduces the protagonists, each one's underlying problems/fears/background, and begins the psychic thread that continues to A Stranger's Touch and ends with For Her Eyes Only.

If romantic suspense with a story arc, it's important not to overload Book One with too many facts.  Tension has to be built. We're really story-building, after all.

Here's more about the Aislings, psychic triplets....

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Story Fetching

Writers have to get out from behind their desks to be fresh. Stories are out there waiting to be collected, which I did.

I've just gotten back from a 5000 mile, 18 day trip from and back to Missouri. Traveling alone, I just let the stories roll onto me. I loved every minute. My thanks to Honda for my sweet running CR-V 2002 LX, a plain good driving car and no gas hog, either.

The Trip: From SW MO, I headed north to Sioux Falls, IA and then took a left on I-90.  SD, WY, MT, ID and then North Central WA State to visit relatives. One of the highlights there was getting a tour of a relative's Boer goats. Very interesting. More stories brewing about those, and the one Nubian "weed-chewer."

Somewhere in the ID mountains, there was a fantastic elk with velvet on his rack. Huge, gorgeous beast munching beside the road. I really slowed down when passing him because of danger, and so wished I could have taken a photo. The problem with cameras and animals and that the animals move quickly. :)

June apparently is calving month and throughout the first leg, there were lots of calves. At a guess, more Angus than others.

A few days there, then I cut down WA State to Longview, WA just across the river from Oregon.

Longview has lots of logging, and the air smelled great. Across the river was even better driving with lots of greenery to the famous Hwy 101. If you haven't traveled on 101, you'll love it. Lots of gorgeous scenery, and I had a great fish and chips lunch at the Sea Hag in DePoe Bay.

I visited relatives in San Fran for a wkend or so and then drove a straight shot thru hot I-80 NV/UT/WY/NB. From Lincoln, NB, it was a jog around and then down to KC and south to SW MO. Did I say it was hot??!!

It is great to bum off relatives, which helps on motel etc. expenses. :) Thank you, everyone. Loved Panda Express in San Fran and wish we had one near.

These were waiting for me on my porch light. I tried to sell them to my neighbor and he wouldn't take the bargain. Relocated them in a tree for mama to tend.

I've driven parts of I-80 when researching Night Fire, set on the Oregon Trail. If you can, take that trip and you can almost feel the struggles of the pioneers. As a writer, one of the most difficult tasks is getting the time matrix correct, this because certain points had to be reached by certain dates. I read the diaries of Donner Pass, and when driving that area had the eerie sense of their terror.

I really wanted a good windmill photo, like the one I saw in KS. There were so many lives and stories caught in the few remaining paddles. Alas, all the windmills I saw on this trip were new and shiny, or without paddles.

A few humor points: 1.) I counted 18 road kill deer and no antelope, though they were visible. I came to the conclusion that antelope are smarter. Okay, they are probably faster and dodge better, but I like the smarter idea.
2.) On some NW pass, maybe just before swooping down into Coeur d'Alene (gorgeous walls of pines on either side of the road) there were signs directing people to call and report unsafe drivers. The numbers to call were full length, which would require the reporting driver to divert his attention. Not only that, but there was no cell phone reception for miles.
3.) Near Salt Lake City, on the miles of white flats, black stones formed graffiti along the road. And the 4-story tall metal tree with canoes was a true surprise. :)

These long drives are heaven and gifts for the storyteller. I never got that shot of the perfect aged wooden windmill, but did love WY's wind farms. The scenes were almost sci-fi, all those 3-paddled monsters lined up on the horizon. Congratulations, WY.

I'll be writing more about my trip. Loved every minute--5000 miles and no trouble.

!!Then after I was home decided to drive to the "Vegetable Lady". Picked up a spike and got a flat tire within miles from my house. :)