Monthly Archives: January 2015

Another Kind of Map (and Library updated)

I’ve written about how an outline can serve as a great tool, a sort of map, to guide you on your course as you write. Another kind of map, one closer to its namesake, is a sketch (or much more detailed drawing, if you need it) of the area in which your story takes place. Depending on how much your character(s) move(s) about in the town/castle/prison/whatever, a sketch of the layout will help considerably in keeping your story consistent.

Will the sun be in the character’s eyes when walking out the door? Where will the shadows be in this scene (will there be shadows)? Is the destination to the left or right (or north or south, etc)? Is the building visible to the character from here? If there is a chase scene, where can the character run to/through? A sketch also helps keep things consistent between books, if you’re writing a series (as I am).

Early in writing Dragonlinked, I realized that a sketch of Caer Baronel’s layout would be required. There were just too many locations in the Caer to keep straight in my head and the characters did a lot of walking around. That sketch has served me well all through the three books I’ve written so far. The sketch isn’t meant to be exact; it merely serves as a handy reference to where things are in relation to each other.

I’m adding the sketch to the Library (accessible from the menu at the top of the blog) along with a sketch of the dragon stable layout. The remains of erased pencil (which became much more visible when I increased the contrast to make the fainter lines visible) let you see where I changed the layout of the Caer and changed some of the buildings a bit. The Woodworking building used to be two separate buildings, part of one of which was the armory, and the Water Hall used to be called (only briefly) the Pump House, for instance. Also, vegetable gardens used to be nearby, before I decided that an entire farm would better serve a community as large as the Caer and moved all that off to Baronel Farm ten miles or so east. You also get to see the sheer awesomeness of my chicken-scratch handwriting! I thought some readers might get a kick out of seeing these.

Categories: Dragonlinked, Fan Extras, Lethera, Tips, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bond on Sale

I like to run a sale when I release a new book, but the Kindle Countdown Deals can only be run after so many days since the last one. I wanted to get the newest book, A Storm in the Desert, into reader’s hands as soon as possible, however, so I released it as quickly as I could. At any rate, starting today, and running over the course of six days, the eBook edition of the second book of the Dragonlinked Chronicles series, The Bond (US, UK), will be on sale under a countdown deal promotion. Two things to know about these promotions: 1) Amazon currently only offers them at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, so I apologize to my readers from other countries for only being able to set the sale up at those two sites, and 2) the earlier you buy during the promotion, the more discount you’ll get.

Happy reading!

Categories: Dragonlinked, Lethera, LGBT, LGBTQ, New Release, Sale, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers, Be Wary of this Affliction

I’ve written before about the great things you can learn by attending a critique/writer’s group, and now that I am in a brief lull between books (though I am doing research for the next one), I thought I’d give a specific example of one of the things I learned from one such group.

When I first started attending the Saturday meetings, I had just put out Dragonlinked and had nothing unpublished to bring for discussion. I had maybe one very rough chapter of the next book started, but wanted to try something different. I decided to write a short story centered on one of the characters from Dragonlinked. This short story eventually became Moonflower, but it wasn’t called that at first, and the section used below comes from a part I removed entirely and turned into its own mini-story. At any rate, this was what I initially brought for discussion once I had it mostly written out.

One of the critiques of the piece, to the best of my memory, started out very flattering.

“This story is so good that many don’t notice the errors. One of the biggest is that you suffer from pronoun-itis.”

I looked at the woman and raised my brows. “Suffer from what?”

“Pronoun-itis.”

I let out a little nervous chuckle and looked around at the others. Some were nodding wisely. I looked back at her and asked, “What do you mean?”

“You use too many pronouns. Many could be left off or the sentence reworked in such a way that they are not needed.”

Hmm. Pronoun-itis, eh? I’d never heard of this problem. After she pointed out a sample paragraph, however, it became obvious what she meant. I will present that paragraph below and will then show how I changed it up to make it better.

“Lie down?” she mumbled, still trying to remember her task. Unable to do so, she slumped to her side on the ground. Her heart began to beat wildly. Though ignored, her fear still made its presence felt. The pounding in her ears confused her for a moment. She was supposed to relax, wasn’t she? Rolling on her back, she stared up between the trees. The ground was cool beneath her, and stars were visible through the canopy above.

Thirteen pronouns. Thirteen. In that little paragraph. When first read, the paragraph doesn’t seem so bad, but once the pronoun-itis is pointed out? Sheesh.

So, what’s the problem? There are two, really. One, the least important, is word repetition. Having the same word repeated too many times gets distracting. One way to fix that is to use a synonym for a few of them, but going too crazy with synonyms can also be distracting. Reworking a few of the sentences to eliminate the word is another, and possibly better, method. The second problem, and the one I feel is more important, has to do with deep point of view. In order to draw your readers into the story (particularly a section or scene that you want to be intense), you want as few signifiers as possible that tell the reader they are reading a story instead of experiencing a story. One of those is continually telling them that ‘he’ or ‘she’ is doing something.

‘No, dear reader, it isn’t you who is being attacked by this horrible creature, it is HER.’

As a writer, you may as well be saying that when you load up that many pronouns into your work. The way I try to handle it is that the closer I am to the character, the more zoomed in I am, the more I just describe what is happening as if I am looking through the eyes of the character, as if I am listening with the character’s ears, touching with their fingers, thinking their thoughts, etc. I try to only use pronouns when not using them will cause confusion, another thing that hampers deep point of view. So, here is the reworked paragraph that I went with. I removed some ‘telling,’ where I should be ‘showing,’ removed a couple of sentences to pick up the pace, and changed up some of the sentences to remove pronouns.

“Lie down?” she mumbled, trying to hold on to thoughts of escape. Like writhing eelfish, they twitched and slipped through her fingers. She slumped sideways, heart beating wildly. Rolling on her back, she stared up between the trees. The ground felt cool, and stars peeked through the canopy above.

Pretty much the same paragraph, but with only five pronouns. It feels more immediate, now, more intimate, because I describe some of the actions so that while reading them, the reader feels as if they are experiencing them. Reading it again, now, I can see how it can be improved even further, but it serves as an example.

So here is my shared tip: Avoid pronoun-itis whenever possible. It is one writer’s affliction that can be dealt with fairly easily and makes for better writing in the process.

Categories: Tips, Writing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

eBook Edition of Book 3 Now Available

I’m happy to announce that the eBook edition of the third book in the Dragonlinked Chronicles series, A Storm in the Desert, is now available on amazon HERE, The trade paperback edition will follow soon.

I’ll be updating the library with a new map and pronunciation guide in the next day or so, for those while like the extras.

 

eBook cover for A Storm in the Desert

Categories: Books, Dragonlinked, Lethera, New Release, Update, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Book 3 Draft Cover for Trade Paperback

Here’s the draft cover for the trade paperback edition of the third book in the Dragonlinked Chronicles series, A Storm in the Desert. The ebook edition will have a slightly smaller portion of the front cover as its cover art. Once I get the exact size of the paperback cover from Create Space, I can finalize it. I’m almost ready to release both editions of the book!

Credit for the stunning photograph I flipped (left for right) for use on the cover: “Lightning in Arches National Park Moab Utah 2013” by Anthony Quintano. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

cover art

A Storm in the Desert, full cover (draft), trade paperback edition

Categories: Books, Dragonlinked, Lethera, Update | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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