I’ve Moved!

You might remember that I’ve mentioned several times that I planned a major overhaul of my blog. After deliberating about it for several months, I’ve moved it to a self-hosted site.

The flexibility offered by self-hosting better meets my needs as a writer, despite the amount of time required to execute the move when I already have sooo many commitments, both professionally and personally. I keep telling myself that in the long run, it’ll save time, and I think it will. I’ll have a solid foundation in place when I find a publisher, and be ready to go full steam ahead with the whirl of social networking, marketing and promo, while continuing to write new stuff.

If you’re a follower, please go to my new site and subscribe there to continue getting updates. The site is still in development, but the blog is up and running, with all the posts and comments from here imported. I have lots of great content planned for the whole site, not just the blog. I hope you’ll all come along for the ride! 😀

In The Spotlight! Author Robin Badillo

Please join me in welcoming our very first Spotlight Author, Robin Badillo! As a member of my blogging network, she took pity on me when I mentioned that I needed Spotlight guests. 😀 Robin is a multi-published Paranormal Romance author, and a very busy lady.

Robin Badillo

Check this out, and you’ll see why her Midnight Beckoning just hit my TBR list!

Ford Lenox, a natural born damphyr, waited three hundred years for the phenomenon of his birth to be repeated. Many had been conceived. Many had even been born. But only a few made it to their twenty-first birthday. And none shared the same requirements as he, to assume their rightful place at his side and become his queen.

Until now.

Lauren Neil was born three hundred years to the day after Ford’s birth, and it was no coincidence that he found her only days before her twenty-first birthday. Little did she know that the damphyr lurking beneath her human surface was about to be unleashed, prominently placing her on the throne to rule over damphyr and vampire alike.

Lauren’s demonic sire slash father, Drago, an incubus, straight from the pits of hell, has other plans.

Can Ford fulfill the prophecy and save Lauren and their kind? Or will a new species be created to rule the world?

Even a match made in heaven, may have to go through hell to survive!

Buy Midnight Beckoning!

Robin, I’m thrilled you could be with us today! And thanks for your patience while I worked out details and glitches, LOL. Let’s get started, shall we? Sooner or later, every writer gets this one, and I’m sure you have, as well. Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come to me in many shapes and forms. Most of them start out as a conversation in my head. Yes, I am one of “those” people who hear voices, but more importantly, or disturbing, depending on how you look at it, I am one of those people who actually listen and even answer back.

Once the scene is set into motion, faces, names, descriptions, angst, dilemmas and every other aspect of writing a romance story somehow falls into place. Having the issue or problem up front and center gives me the foundation to build a story around. So far, it’s working well for me.

How long did you work on Midnight Beckoning?

Midnight Beckoning took about two months to complete, edit, re-edit and tighten up.

There is a long, drawn out process after the publisher gets their hands on it, but the initial timeframe is pretty typical for most of my books.

What makes Midnight Beckoning different from others in the same sub-genre?

I always say that Midnight Beckoning has everything, but the kitchen sink. This is the first time I’ve added other paranormal entities to a story other than vampires. In this story, the main characters are Damphyr. Midnight Beckoning also has vampires, incubi, folklore, legends, Biblical indications and possibly an angel or two. Yep, that just about covers everything, but the kitchen sink.

Do you have a person, perhaps an actor or model, etc., in mind when you picture your characters? How do you decide who the character will be – all the little bits and pieces that go into a person, not just appearance?

For most of my novels, I hunt and search hundreds of stock photos and actors and actresses until one jumps out at me. I generally have an idea in my head such as build, hair color and ethnicity, so when browsing the internet for that perfect man or woman, I sort of know what to look for. Other detailed characteristics like personality, accents or attitude, develop as the story unfolds. Each character has their own way of relaying their voice to me and I do my best to pay attention and get it right.

Who influenced or encouraged you to write, and when?

Two people have influenced me more than any other people in my life when it comes to writing. My daughter, Brittany, loved vampire novels and was crazy about Twilight. I loved the series, too and it proved to be a great way to bond with her over a similar interest. That’s not always easy when dealing with teenagers.

My first trilogy was more of a young adult genre and set me on the path to what I currently write now. The best part of it though, is that at age 16, my daughter is already writing her own book and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

My best friend, Kim Esparza, was also a great influence because she would get so excited when I sent her a new chapter. Having her squeal over the phone about a direction I had taken a character and clamoring for more of the story, was amazing motivation. She also helped me get my foot through the door by introducing me to a published author she already knew. She’s not only been my dearest friend, she’s also been my inspiration to persevere and keep on keepin’ on!!

I am truly blessed.

You truly are blessed! We wish Brittany all the best with her writing, too. I wish we had more time today, but maybe you’ll join us again soon. Best of luck with your books, Robin!

You HAVE to stop by Robin's gorgeous blog!

Be sure to check out all Robin’s other books. You can also find Robin on Twitter, her Facebook Profile, and Fan Page. Her publisher is eXtasy Books.

Nailing Down The Essentials: Dialog

Recently, I’ve seen a lot discussions about the various elements of a story. Because of some of the questions, and yes, some of the replies, I decided to put together a new Writer Wednesday Series. Each week, I’ll take a look at some aspect of one of the story building blocks.

Basically, it’ll be the kind of stuff I searched for when I came back to writing fiction seriously, after a couple of decades just dabbling. I needed a refresher of the techniques and rules I’d learned long ago, as well as all the skills I still needed. So, I’m going to begin each element with just the broad strokes, then tighten the focus.

Some if it will be very basic stuff for some of you, but it might clear things up for others. If we don’t have an understanding of the very basic rules and techniques, the  more advanced skills won’t do us a lot of good. And rest assured, once I’ve covered that basic stuff, I’ll start on more advanced things.

 

Dialog, The Rules:

The art of writing dialog, or conversation between two or more people, is, for some writers, one of the most difficult parts of writing fiction to grasp. The goals are to make it sound real, the way actual people talk, keep it interesting to the reader, and make it understandable. If we don’t follow some standard formatting and punctuation, the reader will have a hard time following the dialog. Readers don’t like to work to be entertained, so if they can’t understand what we’re writing, most of them will toss it across the room. Or at least, click away. Since we want them to keep reading, and to enjoy it so much they tell their friends, we better keep the writing understandable.

Formatting and punctuation for grammar is pretty straight forward, once you know the rules. Now, if you’re one of those writers, who think the rules don’t apply to you because your story is so amazing, the reader will carry it home on stone tablets if need be… Well, just be aware, very few readers would go that far for the greatest works of fiction in the world, let alone your story. Besides, if you don’t know and understand the rules, how can you possibly break them consistently and effectively?

Formatting and Punctuation

So here we go, some of the basics of formatting and punctuating dialog.

  • The paragraph changes every time the speaker does.

“How are you doing?” John asked. The conversation opens.

“Busy lately. You?” Mary said, tying her shoe. The speaker changes, so we have a new paragraph.

“Yeah. Work’s been a madhouse.” John paid for his coffee. Another new paragraph, since the speaker has changed again. If we added a 3rd person here after John, we would start a new paragraph.

  • Every word spoken aloud is enclosed in quotations.

“How are you doing?” John asked. If John said something further, we would open a new quotation for those words, and close it when he stopped. If, instead of saying something else, he does something else, like walking on down the street, we would write that without quotations.

  • Punctuation that goes with the words being spoken aloud is inside the quotations.

“How are you doing?” John asked. Notice the question mark after doing is inside the quotes. If an exclamation were warranted, it would be inside as well.

“Yeah. Work’s been a madhouse.” John paid for his coffee. Here, I ended the speech with a period, since I didn’t use a dialog tag. *see below*

If, instead of the above, I had used a tag, it would be: “Yeah. Work’s been a madhouse,” John said, paying for his coffee. If a dialog tag is used, a comma replaces a period at the end of the last sentence being spoken. Question marks and exclamations are not replaced by a comma.

  • We can use attributions, or dialog tags, to let the reader know who’s speaking. The use of dialog tags is becoming less favored than it once was. Now, the preferred method to let the reader know who’s speaking is to make it clear through word choice, sentence structure, action beats. I’ll delve into all that in another post. It used to be fashionable to use all sorts of creative dialog tags to keep from boring the reader with said. Who can forget the ever popular “Oh, no!” he ejaculated.?  Now, said and asked are considered sufficient, and nearly invisible, or unobtrusive, to the reader. Personally, I prefer to use almost no dialog tags.
  • When using a dialog tag, following the closing quotation, the next word is not capitalized unless it is a proper noun, since it is a continuation of the same sentence.

“I’m glad that’s finished,” Mary said. The comma replaces the period after finished, and since Mary is a proper noun, it’s capitalized.

“Me, too,” he said. Again, the comma replaces the period after too, and since he is a pronoun, it isn’t capitalized. 

Next week, I’ll look at dialog tags, action beats, and breaking up the dialog.

Is there anything about dialog in particular that drives you nuts?

Meet Me Monday Blog Hop

I’m taking part in my very first blog hop! Thanks to Rachel Firasek for starting the Meet Me Monday Blog Hop!  Rachel Firasek’s Meet-Me-Monday Blog Hop Sign Up

I’ll post something about myself, that maybe everyone doesn’t already know, and hopefully, you’ll share something about yourself in comments. Please link to your own blog or site in your comment, so everyone can drop by and say hey.

So, the whole something about me thing now. Hmmm. Okay, here goes.

I grew up on a farm, and tobacco was our main crop, though we also had beef and dairy cattle, and raised corn and hay as well. My mother worked the fields alongside my father, and took me with her. I spent many days in my playpen under a tree while they worked not far away.

At around 3 or 4 years, I started working, too. Then it was my job to “pig-tail”, or follow the tobacco setter to fill in any plant spaces the machine missed. I had a little curved stick, or “peg”, to poke the hole for the plant. The setter took care of the water, so I just had to put the plant in the ground.

As I got older, I graduated to harder, more dangerous work. My parents were over-protective, so I was in my mid-teens before I was allowed to use the crazy-sharp knives to cut the grown plants, or climb up into the barn to hang the cut tobacco.

Other than occasionally helping out while we were home on leave, I haven’t worked the fields since leaving home for college. And I miss it terribly – even the aching-burning-sore muscles, blistering sunburns, cuts-scrapes-bruises, bleeding blistered hands, ass dragging tired, before daylight ’til long after dark, and the danger of lifting 40lbs from below my feet to above my head while I balanced with each foot on two inch poles three feet apart while 30 feet off the ground.

So now you know. I’m not the brightest, or sanest, person – who in their right mind misses that kind of work? I do think maybe all those years of hard physical work that didn’t require a great deal of thought or interaction with others allowed me to develop the imagination necessary to become a writer, though. To me, that makes all that work worthwhile in more ways than the obvious.

How about you? Is there something about you that most people don’t know? Come on, you know there is.

Writer Wednesday: Fresh Eyes

As writers, we should all be aware of the importance of feedback on our work. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s become obvious to me that some writers have no idea of how crucial constructive criticism is, or how to find it.

I see it over and over on writing communities. A new member posts about how everyone loves their writing so much, so why won’t agents agree to represent it, editors agree to publish it, readers buy it, and myriad other such questions. After a few pointed questions from others, the new member reveals that the readers who loved her work were all friends or relatives.

There’s a secret that takes some of us a while to learn – friends and relatives aren’t usually the best people to listen to for honest opinions of our work, for several reasons. They like us – or they should – so they’re likely to say they love it no matter what, to keep from hurting our feelings. They may not be readers of the genre we write, so the brilliance, or lack thereof, of our writing might escape them; they may not even read very much at all. They probably aren’t writers, so the finer points of writing craft will escape them – which is perfectly fine when we no longer need feedback that tells us why things aren’t working and how to fix them.

What’s a writer to do then? Find a way for other writers to critique your work. For some of us, it’s a real-life writing group in our local area, with regular meetings, where member work is critiqued by the group. The method has limitations, but is perfect for some. Getting a large piece of writing can take a very long time this way, as each member has a turn to have work looked at. It can be several weeks between having a chapter critiqued, and the group seeing the revisions. And your work may not be compatible with the group due to skill level or content.

If you’re like me, you might have to drive 2 or more hours to reach a group that will consider your work. The ladies group of the local church encourages its members to write, but I just can’t see them comfortably critiquing my Paranormal Romances with explicit sex scenes. “Mrs. Jones, how do you think Ardrianna will react when King licks her … you-know-where? Would she moan, arch off the bed, bite her lip… Mrs. Jones, are you okay?” as Mrs. Jones slumps from her seat onto the floor. Riiight. Not happening.

In that case, you’re pretty well limited to the internet – which is a fantastic limit to have. Imagine having no access to anyone outside your immediate community for feedback. The opportunities are extensive online to find readers qualified to critique your work and help you improve it.

I started out by posting a short passage on the Share Your Work section of a tiny little writing community, and read and commented on other members’ work. They returned the favor. There was one writer whose work I really liked, and she liked mine. We decided to exchange a few chapters and critique them for each other. It wasn’t long before we were established Critique Partners (CPs) working closely on both our stories. A couple of other writers occasionally joined us, then went their way when they had helped us and we had helped them. Now, A. and I are best friends, and still CPs. Both of us have grown exponentially in skill as writers and as critiquers – we often crit other writers’ work. Our skills, both in writing and critting, complement each other. We both seek other feedback as needed, but we always return to work together.

That path is but one of many possibilities. When you’ve found someone you think you might like to work with as CPs, how do you approach it? And how do you critique another writer’s work? In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring these questions, and more, about giving and receiving constructive criticism, and putting it to work. Keep checking back for updates in the Writer Wednesday Critique Series.

What’s your experience with constructive feedback, giving or receiving? Have you found someone you can work with on a regular basis? What works best for you, if you’ve tried more than one way? If you had the opportunity, would you change anything?

Book Review: Short Stories by Angel

Angel

Born: November 19
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Angel was born in the small town of Humboldt,TN. She’s currently going to college
online at The International Academy of Design and Development going for her Associates degree in Web Design and Development.
Angel is a mother of two. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing video games, listening to music, reading, and relaxing.

Angelsworld
Angel’s LinkedIn Profile
Angel on Facebook
Angel on Twitter

Desires

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Erotic Romance – Contemporary

Menage – f/f/m, m/f/m

Purchase “Desires” on Amazon

Blurb: Daphne is a single mom who isn’t sure if she’s ready for love and commitment. She was used to having her way. Almost every fantasy she’d ever had, Gideon fulfilled. Will she leave or will her every Desire come true?

Summary: Truck-driver Daphne fantasizes about sex with Star and Gideon. Gideon arrives and he and Daphne have sex, and he reveals he loves her. Her regular casual hook-up, Daemon, shows up and joins in the fun one last time.

My Thoughts: Nit-picky stuff first, distracting little crap. The mechanics of the writing are pretty good, without major grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and I only spotted one or two typos. The sentences are fairly well constructed and easy to read.

There’s quite a bit of action between the sheets in this short story, but it isn’t as detailed as it could be. With little in the way of emotion or description of sensation, the sex scenes were almost – not quite, but almost – anatomy lessons. The character growth and conflict resolutions feel a bit contrived.

Angel spent a lot of time in the characters’ heads with them reflecting, and showing their backgrounds, rather than in current action or dialog. In a short story, there just isn’t enough words or time to do that.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ½ Flames.

Wanting

   A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Hetero

Purchase “Wanting” on Amazon

Blurb: Heather and Jasper had been through everything together. After his divorce, she thought she’d never reach him again. Will she be able to heal him and his son?

Or will he forever leave her Wanting?

Summary: Jasper’s wife screwed him over, and his friend Heather was there to pick up the pieces. Heather puts her life on hold to help Jasper, but doesn’t admit to him that she loves him. He finally figures it out, and reveals that he loves her, too.

My Thoughts: The mechanics of the writing – grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction – are all good. I didn’t have to try and puzzle out what Angel was saying.

The story opens in real-time, but moves quickly into a long flash-back to show why Jasper’s head was so screwed up. I think the story would have been better served by limiting the flashback to a paragraph, two at most, and spending more time with the growth of Jasper’s relationship with Heather.

Jasper and Heather both spend time fantasizing about each other, with one real-time sex scene. There was some emotion and description of sensation, but the scenes didn’t get as much page-time as they deserved.

Heather is Pagan, a witch, and works spells to help Jasper and his son heal from the betrayal of his wife. Though the scene was a bit glossed over, the parts that were shown were accurate.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ¾ Flames

Falling In

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Wicked Nights

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Purchase “Falling In” on Amazon

Blurb: Miriam was in love with her best friend. Will her love be able to penetrate

the poison and ill content another woman has placed in his heart?
Or will she be forever ‘Falling In’?

Summary: Miriam is in love with her best friend, Sean, but he’s involved with another woman. When the other woman dumps him, he’s actually relieved. Miriam confesses her love, and Sean realizes Miriam is the one for him.

My Thoughts: Again, Angel shows good writing mechanics – grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence construction.

Angel spends quite a lot of time with the characters reflecting on their feelings, but it is balanced a bit with action and dialog, which keeps the story from being too slow. After Sean’s thoughts of wanting to work things out with his current love, I was surprised at how easily he accepted being dumped.

Miriam’s natural abilities and beginning study of witchcraft are well portrayed. Miriam’s lack of self-confidence seemed a little at odds with a woman who just tells her best friend that she loves him, out of the blue.

Overall, I’m giving this story 3 Flames.

Conclusion:

These stories feel to me like they’re written fairly early in a writer’s journey of learning the craft. As Angel continues to write, I believe she will grow and progress. She has potential that’s certainly worth watching.

New Feature: Sharing Saturday

I come across some fabulous websites as I interact with readers and other writers, and various people who don’t mind answering really weird questions from a complete stranger. Somehow, just adding a link to the sidebar doesn’t seem enough for those sites. So, I’m going to start sharing those links with you here on Saturdays, once or twice a month. Some will be of interest only to other writers, some to both readers and writers, and some will just be general interest. If you’d like to suggest a site or blog to add to Sharing Saturday, just leave a comment, or drop me an email at kenradaniels AT gmail DOT com.

Today, I have 2 Shares.

SheWrites.com will be of interest to female writers. This online community is made up of women writers of all levels and all kinds of material from all over the world. Everything from novices to multi-published authors. The entire community is geared toward helping each other achieve goals in writing. Those with more experience freely give information and advice to those with less. If you’re female, and a writer, you definitely won’t regret the free membership!

Readers and writers who are interested in Horror, Dark Fantasy, and anything with Dark elements will love Dark Media City. In addition to books DMC is also all about movies, videos, music, and art. You like zombies? How about vampires? Werewolves? Death? Darkness? You’ll find it all at DMC, along with regular chats and interviews with the creators of all that darkness. You can share your own work, or just enjoy that of other members, all while getting to know others who like the same things. Last but not least – membership is free!

That’s it for today. Watch for another Sharing Saturday in the coming weeks.