Tag Archives: Fiction

Write a Story With Me # 74: Mamma? by Richard Leonard

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

74 Richard Leonard

After much agitation and discomfort caused by the harsh talking, baby lay amongst the warm comforting folds of a great source of love. The calm soothing voice and the stroking of his head and back produced an intense feeling of peace and tranquility in him. No place felt safer. This was Mamma.

Sleeping, he dreamed of lovely colors, beautiful shapes and calming sounds, still meaningless in his young mind. Yet he knew he felt peaceful and secure, far more so than earlier that day while awake.

His dream suddenly changed. The shapes became edgier, the colors brighter, blindingly so. Sounds were higher pitched, sharp and painful. Yet he could not scream. But Mamma would protect him, he knew this instinctively. He was safe with Mamma. There was something not safe nearby. It wasn’t just his dream. He knew this too, somehow.

He felt himself being torn from Mamma, a great force was pulling him away. It was the coldness he noticed first. Mamma’s warmth and touch vanished and he was enveloped in a stiff cold breeze as some unknown force moved him quickly yet carefully away from her. Again he tried to scream but could not. Many random incoherent thoughts rushed through his immature little mind. He could not make sense of them. Fear encased him. He recognized fear. It was inherent. His Mamma was gone and he was traveling somewhere again. He knew this much. Traveling fast through the air.

Then there was darkness. He was alone. Suddenly he felt a great power. His own power. But is mind was too feeble to understand what it was for and how he should use it.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Seventy-three – Kate Johnston

Part Seventy-Four – Richard Leonard

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Kai Damian — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #2

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal

Ugh. Goals. We all have them, right? We all have something we need to do every day. Some goals we like, others we labor over.  The point is, we can all relate to having to do something.

If your character is wandering around in circles with no clear intent, the reader will not be able to engage.  Even before the inciting incident that is the real start to your story… your character has to have a reason for being… a goal of something that needs to be done (it can be simple, like making dinner)

But soon you should hit the “big goal” that will carry your reader along for the rest of the journey. We have to know what the goal is and have a vested interest in the character getting there.

By the way, the “big goal” needs to materialize in the first 25% of the book or earlier.  This may seem like a given to most of you, but I’ve read some works in progress lately where the author did not understand this. Think about your character’s goal, and make sure it is apparent to the reader.

Everyone wants something.

A reader can connect and care if they have the opportunity to root for your character to get what he/she wants.

So go ahead, give them a goal!

What was the character’s goal in your favorite novel? Do you think this is what made it your favorite?

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #1

I was cleaning off my desk this weekend and I came across a handout from a seminar or class that I don’t even remember taking.  I read through the page and considered my current work in progress.  I’m pretty sure that by this time in my career I am doing what the handout recommends as an almost instinctual part of my writing process.

I almost tossed the paper, but thought there may be some people out there who could benefit from these notes.  And, of course, I tend to learn stuff myself when I write out and analyze notes for posts, so let’s see what happens.

To keep things  short, I will break this topic into 5 separate posts.  One thought to chew on at a time.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

All right:  Creating a character people care about:

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  Everyone in the world has relationships. They can be good, bad, or just tolerable, but you know what a relationship is, and so does your reader. Seeing a character in a relationship is an easy way to help a reader connect.

Let’s think over some memorable relationships.  I’ll grab a character most people know.

Harry Potter.

Harry lives with his aunt and uncle. Wow, they do not treat him well, do they? Have you ever been treated unfairly? Have you every had to put up with it because you had no choice? Have you ever wished a magic letter would show up and scoot you away? (Well, I’m sure the answer is “yes” to most of what I said, anyway.)

Giving Harry this horrible home life helps us to INSTANTLY connect with him. We feel sorry for him and want him to live up to his potential.  If Harry can overcome the odds, maybe we can, too.

Do you see how quickly and easily the connection is made? In the first few scenes we totally care and we are engaged.

Relationships. Use them.

And if your character is stranded on a deserted island, have him draw a face on a ball so he has someone to talk to. Yes, that has been done, but that helped you to connect as well, right?
Relationships are one of the easiest ways to help your readers care about your characters.

How have you used relationships to develop your characters?

_JenniFer____EatoN

What’s the Funniest Thing You’ve Found When You’ve Editied Your Manuscript?

Manuscript bloopers. Aren’t they a gas?  I sometimes look forward to that first read-through after I’ve finished a novel, just to see the funny things I accidentally typed.

What’s even better is when I completely read over them and send the novel out to beta. Boy do my beta-partners get a blast out of that!

Here’s J.K. Ford to talk about some of her bloopers.

If you write at all, you’ve had your share of manuscript bloopers, whether it’s a novel, term paper, short story or newspaper article.  Manuscript bloopers come in the form of misspelled words, incorrect words in wrong places, nouns doing odd things they can’t do, misplacement of words and dangling participles.  Here are five examples of manuscript bloopers from my own writings. Go ahead.  Laugh.  I did.  After I bonked myself on the head.

Marci laughed as Jason hip-bumped around the room, signing an old Aerosmith tune.

(Really?  He signed a tune?  Interesting.)

 

David shuffled to the bathroom and let out a long yarn.

(The imagery here is too comical for me.  Poor David.)

Standing at the window, Eric’s hands rested on the sill.

(Don’t you hate it when hands can’t decide to stand or rest?)

Lily laid back and sighed as her eyes following her father around the room.

(I’d do a bit more than sigh if my eyes were out of their sockets and following someone)

“Where is that blasted hat at?”

(I NEVER place participles at the end of a sentence.  Ever.  It’s like a huge pet peeve for me, and yet I found one!!  Agghhh.  To tell you the truth, I think my son snuck in and added it when I wasn’t looking just to make me cringe and turn 10 shades of red.  And yes, he would do that.)

Give you E-Reader a Christmas present. J.K. Ford’s One More Day Anthology is now on sale for just $3.99!  Click here to BUY IT NOW!

What are some of your manuscript bloopers?

About J.K. Ford:

As a young Army brat, Reader’s Choice award winner J. (Jenny) Keller Ford, traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles hoping to find the dragons, knights and magic that haunted her imagination. Though she never found them, she continues to keep their legends alive.  Her story, The Amulet of Ormisez, is available as part of the MAKE BELIEVE anthology. Dragon Flight, is part of the One More Day anthology.  When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading.  She works as a paralegal by day and lives on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat who must have been a dragon in his previous life.

An Example of Nailing the Setting

I recently picked up a historical novella to clear my head between longer novels.  Terri Rochenski wrote a short story in the Make Believe anthology that I really enjoyed, so I reached for her newest work “Alone No More”.

From the title, you get the gist.  Our MC is alone in love, and at the end she gets her man.  Romance never has a surprise ending, does it?  It’s probably the only genre where this is completely acceptable.  It’s the journey to the couple getting together that is the fun.

So, let’s talk about the setting.  Rochenski has a way of drawing you into her world in the first few pages, and never letting go.  Be it the costumes, technology, language, or just the general feel of a world or time period, Rochenski nails it.

Normally for me, this would be a drag.  I hate too much detail, but Rochenski is one of those authors who has figured out how to gently weave in the important parts of the world without slapping you in the face with laundry lists of details.  You envision a character walking through a room and noticing things around her, or you travel down a dirt road in a swaying cart. The details are interspersed inside the action.  Very well done. I like to read works like this on hopes that some of that setting flair rubs off on me.

If you are looking for a short, quiet historical I would highly recommend this.  Adrenaline junkies would find the middle of  “Alone No More” a bit long and uneventful, but this does happen in love sometimes… especially in an authentic historical setting.  I would recommend this book for the setting in itself.

Pick up a copy of “Alone No More” for some quiet holiday reading (Only $1.49 on sale at the White Rose Web Site.)  Everyone loves a sale this time of year!

AMAZON   /  The Wild Rose Press

JenniFer_EatonF

Write a Story With Me # 73: “What should She Do” by Kate Johnston

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

73 Kate Johnston

Natalia searched frantically for her baby. The ground was hard and cold, and she scratched the palms of her hands on fallen twigs and stones. She listened for his cries, hoping that in her daze she had wandered and he was at the base of another tree. But the world was quiet, even the wind was a mere hush.

She stared up at the sky, where her daughters had flown away. She was torn over her children; what should she do? Search for her son or try to track her daughters? Panic rose within her, and she was close to breaking down in an uncontrollable fit. But she fought against the panic, striving to remain silent, knowing that if she were found out there, questions would be asked. Questions she didn’t know how to answer.

Natalia huddled against the tree. She needed to think of a plan. But, so many terrible things had happened in such a short span of time, she didn’t know who or what to trust anymore.

She forced herself to take deep breaths to calm herself. Regardless of the danger her daughters were in, she could only hope that reason and good judgment would prevail. Her son, however, was utterly helpless.

Natalia made her decision. She stepped away from the tree and headed north. As much as she hated to do it, there was only one being whom she could absolutely trust to help her.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Seventy-three – Kate Johnston

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Richard Leonard — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

I really didn’t like this book – but I’m still giving it four stars

I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.

This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.

Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!

This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!

Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)

But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)

So, why four stars instead of five?

For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.

All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…

As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.

Then…

We hit the last chapter.

Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.

I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?

No. It was brilliant.

It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.

My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”

So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.

So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.

Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.

Write a Story with Me #72: “Serious Charges” by Susan Rocan

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

72- Susan Rocan

“These are serious charges that you’re bringing against Officer Dawes, Protector Sumner.”

Yoran stood before the High Council, sitting on their tall benches and peering down at him with suspicion. His stomach was in knots.

“I tolerate no insubordination on my ship,” he replied. “Dawes had the audacity to suggest I was consorting with the enemy. I could not let him undermine my authority.”

“Do you think Officer Dawes was consorting with the enemy?” one of the councilwoman asked.

Yoran knew he had to tread carefully. “No, Madam Castille, but I treat my ship as a dictatorship. Anyone who threatens the chain of command is committing treason, as far as I am concerned.”

The five members of the council huddled together, whispering and glancing at Yoran, occasionally. He clasped his hands tighter behind his back, concerned that he would soon be the focus of treason charges. Finally, they straightened and leaned back in their seats, blank-faced. Yoran could not tell whether the news would be good for him or not.

The President spoke. “It is our opinion that, while Officer Dawes was wrong to question the chain of command, you have charged the young man unjustly. He will be reprimanded and retrained to be more respectful in future. We want you to know, we have no intention of undermining your authority by lessening the charges you have pressed against him. We simply believe that the death penalty does not apply, here. As for you . . .”

Yoran’s face paled.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Kate Johnston — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.

Jennifer___Eaton

Write a Story With me #68 – Anmol “You have to understand!”

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

#68 Anmol (howanxious.wordpress.com)

While the confused father Yoran was trying to figure out his next course of action, his daughters were swooning over their newborn brother. Natalia was looking at them adoringly when Morath interrupted her thoughts, “I need to talk to you, Natalia.”

“The danger hasn’t yet gone. The war is going to aggravate soon.”

“I can understand. I am worried about Yoran. Will he be alright?” Natalia was genuinely concerned about her husband whom she immensely loved.

“He will be fine. What I am worried about is your own safety and that of the children. I suggest you take them to a safe place. I can have some one take you all there.”

“No… no…,” she voiced her opinion, “I can’t go. My husband is here. You have to understand.”

Morath ignored her plea and spoke in her authoritarian voice, “What about your girls and the young boy? I do not want them to be hurt.” Her eyes had gone red and Natalia shivered, looking at this powerful image. All the Fae around had gone white in the face as well.

“But after all, they are your children. You must decide what you want to do,” she continued, keeping her emotions in check and moved away from the frightened mother.

She was suspicious of Yoran. She was not sure, whether she should believe him or not. As a leader, she would have to do something that would surprise even him. It was time to incarnate the fighter in her.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Fifty Click Here

Part Fifty-One – Joe Owens

Part Fifty-Two – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Fifty-Three – Jennifer Eaton

Part Fifty-Four – Shan Jeniah Burton

Part Fifty-Five – Jenny Keller Ford

Part Fifty-Six – Susan Rocan

Part Fifty-Seven – Susan Roebuck

Part Fifty-Eight – Elin Gregory

Part Fifty-Nine – Nicky Wells

Part Sixty – Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Part Sixty-One – Ravena Guron

Part Sixty-Two – Julie Catherine

Part Sixty-Three – Kai Damian

Part Sixty-Four – Richard Leonard

Part Sixty-Five – Danielle Ackley McPhail

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Norah Jansen — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

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