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Words Fly

This morning I have my iced coffee next to me, the radio blaring WKIT Stephen King’s Radio Station here in Bangor, Maine, while my daughter and her friend play in her room before the bus comes. My son is in his bouncer next to me jumping away and singing to himself.

I have Scrivener open and I’m working on my second book Secret Anguish: My Story of Gluten Intolerance. Problem is I see a couple of different versions of a few chapters and I’m not sure I like either one of them. It’s so tough writing memoirs. I’m not sure if I want to start in the present and work my way backward, or start more toward the beginning, or should I start in the middle. Oh, boy! I sure have my work cut out for me. A lot of brainstorming will be going on today.

Are you writing a memoir, or have you written one already? What did you find most difficult about writing it? Do you have any advice for those writing a memoir?

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Book Reviews

The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference

The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference, by the editors of Writer’s Digest Books is just one of the many resourceful books writers can purchase to help them plan and write the fantasy aspects of their novels.

Out of the books I have read for writers, this is so far the most complete reference for fantasy writers, covering the topics of: traditional fantasy cultures, world cultures, magic, witchcraft and pagan paths, commerce, trade and law in contemporary fantasy, fantasy races, creatures of myth and legend, dress and costume, arms, armor and armies, as well as the anatomy of a castle. Here is a more in-depth look at what the book covers:

In Chapter 1 – Traditional Fantasy Cultures, Michael J. Varhola, talks about feudalism, manorialism, Christianity, the social order, ecclesiastic titles, knighthood, political entities, peripheral cultures and terms.

In Chapter 2 – World Cultures, Michael ventures to the worlds of Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, Other Mesoamerican cultures, North America, Oceania as well as South America. There are many intriguing pictures from these different cultures throughout this section.
In Chapter 3 – Magic, Allen Maurer and Renne Wright touch on the history of magic, principles of magic, what magic does, ritual and ceremonial magic, secret societies, divination, and building your own magical worlds.

In Chapter 4 – Witchcraft and Pagan Paths, Allen and Renne cover the topics of how to recognize a witch, classical witchcraft, gothic witchcraft, family or traditional witchcraft, new-pagan witchcraft, new age neo-pagans, language of witchcraft, dictionary of terms from witchcraft and magic.

In Chapter 5 – Commerce, Trade and Law in Contemporary Fantasy, Sherrilyn Kenyon delves into commerce, punishments and trade and barter systems.

In Chapter 6 – Fantasy Races, Andrew P. Miller and Daniel Clark bring to us the races of dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, goblins, orcs, half-lings, hybrids, merfolk, trolls, minor races, non-western races, created races as well was individualization and characterization.

In Chapter 7 – Creatures of Myth and Legend, Miller and Clark give us an alphabetical listing of such creatures such as banshee, hydra, golem, gorgons, Cyclopes, dragons and so on.
Sherrilyn Kenyon returns with Chapter 8 – Dress and Costume. Here she discusses clothing materials, colors, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, shoes, children’s clothing, clergy and chastity belts.

Michael J. Varhola returns with chapters nine and ten. In Chapter 9 – Arms, Armor and Armies, he talks about arms, armor, armies and beasts of war. In Chapter 10 – Anatomy of a Castle, he talks about castles and other fortifications, castle life and the siege.

In this book, there is everything a fantasy writer needs to know to create rich detail in their stories and characters. This book will make a great addition to any writers book shelf and will prove invaluable in the years to come.

Book Reviews

Building Believable Characters

The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters, by Marc McCutcheon is one of the many useful resource books put out by Writer’s Digest Books.

There are many building blocks for writers when it comes to crafting the foundation for stories. Creating characters is one of the most crucial elements writers must develop. Without characters, there is no story. However, many writers are uncertain about how to go about creating characters and bring them to life on the page.

Building Believable Characters offers great advice from other writers as well as a character questionnaire. The questionnaire is in-depth and asks the writer to fill in such information on their character such as name, weight, height, age, body type, physical characteristics, race, religion, gestures, skills, occupation and so much more.

After the questionnaire, there is a chapter titled Character Thesaurus. Under this chapter there are subsequent sections touching on: Face and Body such as complexions, skin types, blemishes, eye type, shape and color, noses, hair, facial hair, body types and so on.

Personality/Identity covers personality traits, bad habits and vices, psychological/psychiatric problems, diseases, disorders, afflictions, hobbies and sports, along with a few others.

Facial expressions, body and vocal language includes anger, anxiety, fear, shock, pain, suspicion, guilt, arrogance, disgust, nausea, happiness, love, grief, drunkenness, laughs, etc.

Dress involves clothing such as dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, coats, undergarments, shoes and boots, hats, sweaters, glasses, fashion styles and others.

Dialects and Foreign Speech runs through Southern (US) Accent Pronunciation Guide, British Expressions and Pronunciations, French and Spanish vocabulary, as well as Italian, German and Russian vocabulary.

Given Names and Surnames from Around the World pulls together names from English, Scottish, Irish, French, Berman, Jewish, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Scandinavian, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese.

The last section covers character homes such as adobes, log homes, bungalow, Cape Cod, Greek Revival, Georgian among many others.

I personally have used Building Believable Characters to create characters from my own novels and short stories. The result was having vivid characters whom I knew more intimately than I thought possible. My characters were alive on the pages and therefore generated more emotion from my readers as they followed my characters’ lives throughout the book.

Marc McCutcheon has an excellent book here and I recommend it for novice writers uncertain of where to begin with building their characters, as well as for professionals looking to juice up their characters.

Writing Tips

Creating a Writer’s Platform

Creating a writer’s platform is a very engaging task. I have my facebook page set up and my Twitter feed going. This blog is the last and the most time consuming to get going. I say that because there are pages to create, customizing the theme I’m using, linking my other social media accounts and then deciding what to write for a blog post. But in the end, I know the time I spend setting things up will pay off in the end.

As I go along and set up my platform, I am reading, Create Your Writer Platform, by Chuck Sambuchino. There is so much information in this book. I’ll give you a break down of what’s inside by adding the table of contents:

The Principles of Platform

Chapter 1: What is platform?

Chapter 2: The Necessity of Platform

Chapter 3: The 12 Fundamental Principles of Platform

Chapter 4: Choosing Your Niche

Chapter 5: Platform for Fiction and Memoir

The Mechanics of Platform

Chapter 6: Platform Avenues: Which Should You Choose?

Chapter 7: Your Website: The Foundation

Chapter 8: Your Blog: The Extension

Chapter 9: Your Newsletter: The Outreach

Chapter 10: Article and Column Writing

Chapter 11: Public Speaking

Chapter 12: Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, and More

Chapter 13: 4 Side Doors to Platform

Author Case Studies

Final Thoughts

In the book, Chuck, even says not to wait until you have finished reading the book before you start building your writer platform. So, that’s what I did. I did NOT wait. Now I haven’t read all of this book yet, but so far it has been helpful.

If you’re working on your writer platform, or just starting out, I recommend this book

General Updates, Poetry, Reflections of the Heart

Latest Decision in Publishing

Since the last time I have written, I have made several changes. For the last few years I have had four poetry books up for sale in print through CreateSpace and through KDP for Kindle. I thought about it and contacted CreateSpace and had those four titles retired. I decided I wanted to try and get my poetry books traditionally published. Poets and Writers Magazine (www.pw.org) has a great listing of publishers who are looking for poetry so I am going to go through there list and see what happens. I am starting with the small presses. Here is the link if you’re interested: https://www.pw.org/small_presses

I still have yet to remove the Kindle versions so you will still find them on Amazon.

Last November (2016), I finished a novel for NaNoWriMo. I have been editing that book and was going to traditionally publish, however, I found Tablo (www.tablo.com) and decided to try publishing through there and see what happens. I’m curious to see how the company does things. It depends on how things go if I decide to keep my book published through there, or pull it. But first I have to finish adding chapters. I hope to have it published before the end of February.

There is also another website I’d like to tell you about called Authors.me (www.authors.me). It’s a site where you create your profile, talk about your writing style, add any book projects you’re working on and then based on the information you put down for your book, the website will pull up agents and publishers who fit the criteria for your book and you can submit it to them. This saves a lot of hassle trying to find agents and publishers. Note that only the agents and publishers who are using Authors.me for submissions will show up in the search.

If you’ve exhausted your search results through there it would be a good idea to return to WritersMarket.com for more results. (You have to subscribe to Writers Market. If you can’t pay the full price up front for a year’s access you can pay $5.99 monthly which will renew each month. I like this because it makes it more affordable for those who need such resources.)

I hope these resources help you on your path to publication.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments. I happy to hear from my readers! 🙂

So long for now!

november nano

Printed Manuscript

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That’s it folks! This is the printed first draft of my NaNo novel. I’m letting sit for a few days and I’ll start planning a new novel before I do any read-throughs of my manuscript. Need to give my brain a break on that one for now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch more errors when I go back to it.

I don’t know where you live, but here in Maine there frost most every morning so it was cold waiting for the bus to pick up my daughter. For me this is just the kind of weather to be working on a novel. Or reading a book to help inspire me. Reading always makes me want to write and writing makes me want to read. lol Too bad I can’t do both at the same time. Then I’d be set.

Well, I’m off to walk on the treadmill and start that next novel which is tentatively titled 1977.

Before I go, if you have a finished manuscript I would love to see pictures of it. If you can, leave a picture in the comments or send them to jisoucie@hotmail.com

Good luck everyone.

november nano

NaNo Winner!

Okay so it was about 25 days ago since I made my last post. That’s how focused I’ve been since NaNo started. I usually start out with participating in NaNo but never end up finishing  it. This year even with a 9 month old I was able to do it. My little guy was so good in the mornings he would just sit in his jumper and play while I wrote my word count for the day. But often he was so good I just kept writing until he needed me. I was able to get ahead some days and boy did that pay off.

There are still four days left of NaNo! I can’t believe it! If you finished your novel already congratulations! If you’re still plugging away at it keep going you’ll get there. I know you ! With that fierce determination a writing has there’s no doubt you’ll sail to the finish line.

So those of you who have finished, are you still updating your word count or are you taking a breaks from writing? I’d love to hear what you’re up to now. Even though I have reached the word count for the month I am still motivated to plug away. So that’s where I’m off too.

Have a wonderful day/night everyone!

november nano

NaNo is Here!

Today is the day to start busting out those words and starting the path to the goal of 50,000 words at the end of the month. Write more if you dare! I’m off to a good start having started at 5AM Eastern Time. As a busy mom I have to take moments where I can. It’s in those mini moments I am able to make even the slightest advantage on my word count. It’s cool outside so why not be inside cranking out your novel.

Have you started writing already? Do you have daily goals set other than the one NaNo puts on for daily word counts? I try to make sure I do the minimum word count but if I get more in a day than that’s awesome!

Well, I must go and get my daughter ready for school and then hopefully I will have another moment in time where I can get a few more hundred words in.

Best of luck to you all you writers out there!

~Janis~

november nano

One Day Until NaNo!

Okay so I’m sitting here while my son plays in his jumper and BabyTv is on for his delight. My daughter just got on the school bus and the day is starting off well. I can’t believe NaNo starts tomorrow! That came up fast. But I was able to finish my outline thought there are some sub plots I really need to work on adding into the story more. I’ll try to do that while writing the story. I’m feeling so positive and excited about this. I can’t wait. The hard part is always, or most always, the very beginning. Once I past that it’s usually easier. 

How do you feel about your novel going into NaNo? Are you ready to begging writing or do you still have some planning to do?

I look forward to hearing from you! Best of luck.

Janis

NaNo Prep, november nano

5 Days to Go Until NaNo!

Oh, my gosh! It’s just five days until NaNo starts! Yikes! I am so NOT going to have my full outline done in time. I think I write in too many details so my outline is outrageously long. I just don’t want to forget anything. lol Do any of you write a lot in your outline, or do you just do the basics of what you want to say?

I have eight chapters so far but I know that is going to get longer as I go along. I had this story written as nonfiction, but now I am changing it around to fiction and I am on chapter 5 now. I’m already changing so much and adding so much more. I think it is going to be much better written this way.

So, what is everyone doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear where you’re at right now and what your goals are before NaNo officially starts. Feel free to write to me in the comments!

 

~Janis~