Sunday, September 29, 2013

Using Photos 4 Story Ideas


If you’re hunting for book ideas, stock photos hold super ideas.  
 This is one of my own photos, BTW. I can just look at a photo and spin a story around it. I think I'll lighten it. Photoshop Elements has been a great addition to my writing tools.

In my mind's eye, I remember/see this old wooden windmill on a Kansas drive. Those blades were shot and missing, but I wondered who had lived there, and their stories.

Or I saw an Amish girl riding her little pony, alongside the country road. Her skirts had blown aside, exposing her jeans and boots beneath. I did get a book out of that one.

Deviant Art is a super idea shopping place, great artists. Spend some time there.

Two of the artists I’m currently fond of are Olly2 and Conrado at If you like the photo and graphic work of special individuals there, search: Contributor:Olly2 or Contributor:Conrado

I don’t know why I love you, Grunge Background, but I do.

Here are some super artists/designer premades:

Editor and graphic artist Jenny Quinn at does super work. And she’s likely to know the perfect period costume, too.

So those are a few of my haunts. I also take a lot of my own photos and get ideas from them. It’s that old Audio or Visual Person Thing.

I hope you enjoy the tour and come up with lots of story ideas. If you do, create a story toy box like I did, always at the ready when you're story hunting.

For that story box, I use PageFour on a PC and NoteSuite on a Mac. Any words that create a story, i.e. Homecoming are stashed in there, with a Good Title list, plus any particular characters I'm using in a particular story. When writing for 2 publishers, I had to sometimes come up with stories quickly and there was my Toy Box. :)

I'm adding another drawer to that Toy Box and that is the links/URLs to stock photos that churn stories for me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Writers: Which Way To Write Signs

Season of Truth: Chloe, alias The Fireball, comes back to stir the dark past. Michael Bearclaw has waited to settle an old debt with her...

The other day, a friend and I were discussing our next writing projects. There are just some writing projects that I have to try, and I am.

But she had a problem: Her style and books are immensely popular now, but she didn’t want to continue writing in the same subgenre.

This is a Writer’s Big Deal. If you’ve built a readership, and you shift away from it, those readers may not follow; thus, income may not follow. At this point, writers have 2 choices: 1.) Try to keep on writing the same material—though it may not interest as much, feel as fresh and exciting as it once did. Or 2.) Take that leap into the unknown.

This is a Major Deal. The material MUST excite the writer, ignite him, to be good. That story has to pump along like a heartbeat, carrying the writer in a fast stream as the story grows. Sometimes it’s a slow start, filled with murky drek, and you just have to chug along, trying to find that pulse. Sometimes it’s a different POV (point of view), a dead body dropping in to change direction. Sometimes, it’s just pushing away the clutter to find that good strong stream to carry you.

I’m working with my backlist now and seeing that certain themes have held true in my writing, though I’ve been all over the romance subgenre landscape (except sci-fi and fantasy). I’ve usually written to please myself wherever I drifted. I’ve loved my stories like children. (I have some unpublished children’s stories, etc. right now, waiting for me to edit.)

But my friend-writer had some life struggles as we all do. Despite her popular style, she just didn’t feel the same about her stories. She’d tried to write in that same vein, flopped around in some other stuff, liked it, flopped around again, pushing for that good comfortable feel of her kind of story.

IMHO, flopping around is healthy. Try this, try that. Get comfortable. Settle into what you want to do. That may be an editor’s biggest fear, too, when that writer starts to explore, needing a change to stay fresh. Editors of publishing houses like predictability in their stable. It takes a while to build a readership, those sales, and starting anew with different material can endanger sales.

Some writers write the same story over and over. They sell well. They have an established readership who depend on the same kind of story from them. It’s valid, because their readers love it. And they're comfortable in that same basic story. But another writer might wonder and hope that their stuff stays “un-cookie cutter like”. So this is a fear for some, writing the same kind of novel, genre/subgenre.

The Bottom Line: We, my friend and I, talked about her situation and it came down to this—for her—SHE HAD CHANGED. Her life had changed, she’d been through some trauma and she did not FEEL that unique material as she once had. She wanted to move on. Or try to move on, to find that excitement again.

If we have changed from material written before our life changes dramatically, does that also change the need to write in different directions?

This is a huge decision for an established writer with a readership. But it's also a decision for any writer. If life has changed us, it may change the material we write.  Or not.

I hope this is helping someone out there, because these are tough decisions--where to lay down our time and energy. That's a big deposit, so we weigh it carefully, our own Season of Truth.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Details: Making Changes

Changing from years of PCs to Mac is not easy. Repeat: Not Easy. And it's costly, because of changing systems/programs and Time Involved.

The Situation preceding the change: My XPs (a Dell desktop and a Sony Vaio laptop) were great, but dying and something had to give. They were old friends, the Dell usually up in the morning and running most of the day. The Vaio used for travel and supplemental--and when I wanted to go somewhere away from my writing corner.

Getting a new PC would have easily worked. My programs would have transferred, especially my favorites: PageFour writing software for plotting, etc. and SiteSpinner, a website program, both dedicated PC programs. At this point, I am missing both greatly.

There's always a fix, right? Currently NoteSuite, an organizer is working well for transferring PageFour files into Folders, i.e.: characters, timeline, places, plot, etc. I think NoteSuite will be great for organizing contract, too, i.e. reversion clauses/dates, etc.  This Mac app currently cost 4.99 and is touted to be the replacement for Evernote. I looked at Evernote and passed. I looked at Scrivener, which is far more complicated than PageFour. In the Mac Apps store, there are a number of writing programs, and I did get Pages.

Sad to leave SiteSpinner by VirtualMechanics. But with a name domain, I can transfer my website and my blogger account to WordPress in one bundle. Wordpress Websites have a lot of plug-ins and for now, I'm looking at the template TwentyEleven for WordPress. My blogger posts will be transferred right in (they tell me:). I have yet to take this on, as I'm still transferring files.

How do you transfer PC files into Mac? you ask. Here's how I did: Packed up my dying desktop, took it to the store, and they shoveled the guts-files into a big fat folder, called Moved Files. This Folder has everything in it. Pictures, Downloads, everything... plus my writing stuff.

Why did I move from PC to Mac? you ask. Because I shopped long and hard. Every one of my machines has really put in the work for way over 28 years. I've had them configured. But when I went shopping, online and at stores, I was not happy. When I called the online sales, not happy with service.

I looked at i7s and i5s and ignored i3 Intels. With graphics as a goal, I wanted quadcore. I wanted a good screen. Note: If you ever want to test the coatings on a screen, turn it off and hold it up by a florescent tube. Most likely that reflected image is wavery. Then, most of the laptops in the stores heated up. Desktops usually have better fan systems than laptops, but that can be debated, and a fan riser can be added to a laptop. But. My personal preference: I don't want a machine that heats.

The most important thing about buying a machine is how you are going to use it. I create more on a desktop situation. However, laptops can be docked or hooked to a monitor, and I thought about that. Even with an external backup drive or the Cloud/Dropbox, whatever, I have never been comfortable with taking all my hard work traveling. However, people do it all the time.

I am not a fan of laptop keyboards, because they are not ergonomic. My old lumpy does miles and is good for my hands. Gosh, if you don't do anything else, get an ergonomic keyboard for the miles your fingers type. You can hook those to a laptop. Some people pack not only their laptop, but their keyboards, too, for extended stays.

I chose a desktop Mac after a huge amount of shopping time because it suits me now with a lot of graphics ahead of me. The service is great and local. "Local" is a big deal when you live remote.

The killer for Mac would have been--if my printers wouldn't work. Thankfully, HP keeps their drivers up to date.

Basically, when you make up your mind to be happy with an investment, you'd better make yourself happy.

Making yourself happy involves setting up a machine for your needs. That involves a lot of wiggles. Suggestion: Do not make major changes on deadline--unless you have to, such as in my case, a hard drive going out on an old, overused machine.

I'm still wading through this change. A program called Parallels, which I am not going to use, offers both PC and Mac in one unit. Thought about that. Dismissed it for now.

At this point, the wiggles are getting less and I'm getting the program preferences adjusted. I'm hoping this change is one time only.

And I'm never, ever going to let a machine get so old that it's dying before getting something newer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm starting to feel just like the heroine on Silence the Whispers cover.

From the past month or so, I've been shifting from an old dying PC (really old) to a new Mac. In case you don't know, all the stuff from the old machine are brought over in one folder. From there, you have to start sorting and fixing and birthing the new machine into something you can work with.

I've just spent about 2 solid days getting some of my email going. Only 1000 messages came down in that month. Lots of hours spent with techs. (I love the one with the name, Ben. You can always trust Bens.)

Meanwhile, back at the fort, I just have one more backlist book to send the copyreader, who's very good, btw. I'm updating this historical, my first and may be the last of the backlist. I have a new book waiting for an edit and some short stories.

Just one more historical after a couple years of learning more about this new eformat and wrangling with publishers, who are also publishing some of my books.

This is when the food fest starts, folks: when the wiggles aren't wiggling. Plus I'm gettting ready for a house move.

Don't forget that I'm a regular at Facebook and Twitter. Love both of them. I'm also at Goodreads. Hey. During this, I lost 1000 FB people and a lot of time.

Hopefully, everything is running smoother now. A little, anyway... thanks to Ben. :)