Tag Archives: fiction

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

My current flu has made concentration rather difficult so my creativity has suffered this past week.I think it is struggling against a ‘fuzzy’ head that has made creation arduous.

What illness / situation has made your creativity stall?

However, I was able to begin beta-reading two manuscripts for author friends, one is a thriller and the other a memoir. Both are intriguing in their own way. I am reading each one at separate times of the day so that I am ‘clear’ of one story line before reading the next one. I have shared a list of tips on beta-reading for those of you interested.

Books:

I continue to enjoy Beyond the Precipice by Eva Blaskovic. The writing is creative and the interwoven music elements make the story unique.With my other reading projects it is nice to let the story embrace me and lead me forward.

beyond-the-precipice

Do you tend to read one book at a time or many?

Do you lean towards fiction or factual?

I still have this novella on my pile too:

the-outcasts

https://www.amazon.com/Outcasts-Maddison-Lily-Fox-Andrews/dp/1908128720

Writing Tip:

beta

If you are unsure of how to beta-read try these steps – I found them at http://jamigold.com/2014/08/introducing-the-beta-reading-worksheet/

Opening Scene:

Does the story begin with an interesting hook, creating a desire to read more?
Does the manuscript begin in the right place?

Characterization & Motivation:

Are the characters compelling, sympathetic, or someone you can root for?
Do the characters feel real and three-dimensional, with distinct voices, flaws, and virtues?
Are their goals clear and proactive enough to influence the plot (not passive)?
Do their motivations seem believable, with well-drawn and appropriate emotion?
Are the secondary characters well-rounded and enhance the story rather than overwhelming the story or seeming like they should be cut?
Are the relationships between the characters believable and not contrived?

Plot & Conflict:

Are the internal and external conflicts well defined for each main character?
Are the internal and external conflicts organic and believable, i.e. arising out of characterization and circumstance rather than feeling contrived or forced?
Are there enough stakes and/or tension throughout to make it a “page turner”?
Does the premise avoid cliché and/or bring a fresh perspective to an old idea?
Are the plot twists believable yet unexpected?
Do the characters act or react to events in a plausible, realistic, or believable way?

Pacing:
Do scenes progress in a realistic, compelling manner and flow with effective transitions?
Does every scene add to and seem important to the story?
Does the story move along at an appropriate pace, without rushing or dragging?
Is there a hook at the end of each chapter or scene that makes you want to read more?
Is the story free from information dumps or backstory that slow the pace of the story?

Setting & Worldbuilding:
Are descriptions vivid and give a clear sense of time and place?
Do the details enhance rather than distract from the story?

Dialogue:
Is the dialogue natural and appropriate for the story, not stilted or overly narrative?
Does dialogue move the story forward and reveal the characters?
Are characters’ voices consistent and distinct from one another?
Is there an appropriate mix of dialogue and narrative?

Craft:
Does the writing “show” the scene with the senses, using “telling” only as appropriate?
Does the writing quality allow the story to shine through and draw the reader in, or are flaws jarring or intrusive?
Is the tone appropriate and consistent for the story?
Is the point of view (and any changes) handled appropriately and consistently?

Overall Impression:
Is the voice unique, fresh, or interesting?
Does the story deliver on the promise of its premise and opening scenes?
From a reader’s point of view, did you enjoy reading this story?

Additional Questions for Comment:
Are there any confusing sections that should be made clearer? (Mark in the manuscript)
Do any sections take you out of the story? (Mark in the manuscript)
Is the story a good fit for the stated genre, and if not, why not?
Who are your favorite—and least favorite—characters and why?
What aspects are especially likable or unlikable about the protagonist(s)?
What three things worked best for you?
What three things worked least for you?

Faerie World – Writing Prompt Contest…


Some of you may know I published a chapter book called Ockleberries to the Rescue. Two woodland sprites helps their forest animal friends. It combines my love of the natural world with that of the faerie realm. After the book cover was created a friend told me about a local woodworker who made faerie doors. So using the door as your inspiration, write a poem or story about what magical beings live behind this door.

OckleberriesToTheRescueSprite door 4

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Writing Prompt Contest – Emerging…


tunnel-to-country

Cold and frightened he crawled toward the light. Cautious relief flooded his mind as he saw the opening and the countryside beyond.

Use this as the starting or finishing point of your story or poem.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Writing Prompts Spark Inspiration…


prompt

It is no secret that I enjoy writing prompts, they inspire and refresh my thought processes and some have even resulted in a longer piece of work, such as Rumble’s First Scare and The Rython Kingdom.

I have found many words of wisdom regarding the process and skill of writing, whilst searching the internet. The one ‘constant’ bizarrely is the variety of views and thoughts, which come from author’s blogs. Each individual’s experience of writing is as unique as they are and that is what makes this writing life so special. No matter what you write, it is your own originality that makes it distinctive.

For example one prompt I enjoyed was – You see a lone shoe beside the road. Tell its story. My response was a piece I called – Phenomenal Shoe

scarpasa boot

  Whilst driving homeward one evening I spy a shoe lying beside the road. Where had it come from? Who did it belong to? How did it get there? These thoughts run through my mind as I near home but are soon forgotten once the evening meal preparations occupy me.

It is not until the following evening that I again glimpse the shoe. Appearing and disappearing in the brief gap my wipers allow me through a veil of water on my windscreen. Why do I worry so about an abandoned shoe? It seems to pull me toward it. Before rational thought can take over, I pull my car to the kerb.  I brave the rain and pick up what is an extraordinary looking shoe.  Placing it in the foot well, it gradually oozes water, making a small puddle. I continue my journey home.

“Hey Mum, we’ve got a power cut. Dad said we are going out for supper.”

My son’s declaration distracts me. The shoe is forgotten in the bustle of our departure.

“Put your seat belt on, Timothy.  Joy put your glasses on – how many times do I have to tell you?”

Hours later, my two young ones tucked up in bed and my husband snoring gently in front of the television, I remember the shoe.  I find it partially dried out awaiting rescue. How can this innate object hold my attention?  Its pale grey layered vamp and the highly unusual heel make it a thing of beauty – it is obviously a very expensive designer shoe – where could its partner be? Why was it discarded? As I turn it this way and that, admiring the delicately layered cloth, the fascinating heel, a sensation of familiarity flows through me. This is my shoe – lost long ago. What is this – a déjà vu moment?

Settling the shoe on my bedside table – as a sort of talisman – I drift off to sleep. My dreams are of a rich dazzling life, enjoying expensive restaurants, fancy hotels and exquisite clothes. Even the silk sheets underneath me feel real as I turn over to see voile billowing into a perfectly white room. This is not my bedroom, am I still dreaming?

“Darling, are you awake? I’ve brought you breakfast.”

I turn to see an incredibly handsome man walking into the room. He is carrying a laden tray complete with a red rose.
“Where am I? How did I get here?”

“You are home, my love.  I thought I had lost you after the accident but now the doctor has let you come home. He thinks being in familiar surroundings will help your memory.”

“But I’m married with children – this isn’t home.”

“The doctor told me you may have false memories from your time in the coma but they will fade, darling. Truly you are home now.”
I turn toward the bedside table, there lies the shoe.

“Is this my shoe?” I’m sorry, who are you?”

“I’m Dominic. My darling, I’m your husband. Do you know your name? Is anything familiar?”

“My name is…..? I don’t know! I must be dreaming. I have to get back to my children.”

“We don’t have children Francesca. You said they would tie us down, hamper our travels, our life style.”

“Francesca? I do have children – Timothy and Joy they……. I am so confused. Is this one of my shoes?”

“I think it is – let me look for you. Here in the bag the hospital sent home with you. How did you manage get its partner?”

“I found it beside the road, abandoned. It seemed to call to me – isn’t that strange?”

“No, I think your mind was trying to bring you back to me, my love. But how could you have picked it up from the roadside when you were lying in a coma? That is the strange part.”

As I look at the pair of shoes, one pristine and the other water marked and grubby, a feeling of recognition fills me – now I know who I am. Francesca Mendez, heiress to a hotel empire. I live a life of luxury but deep down I have a yearning – a yearning for children.  I will take advantage of my second chance – have those children that are waiting within me. I hold out my hand to Dominic and pull him toward me.

“However strange it may be, this shoe has brought me back to you and given us the chance to change our lives. Will you make a baby with me, Dominic?”

“My darling I have wanted children but you were so opposed to the idea. Are you sure?”

“I am very sure Dominic.”

Our lust consumes us, the shoes forgotten for the moment.

Epilogue:  Years later, when my children are older I show them the special shoes. They are encased in a specially made glass case, in pride of place in my boudoir. Sitting Timothy and Joy beside me on a soft couch, I relay the story of the shoes and how, without them, life would have been very different.

Why don’t you try writing a piece with this prompt? See where you thought process’ take you and then post it here. We can compare and comment. Have fun – that is what writing is all about after all.

prompts

Writing Prompt Contest – Treasure Map…


treasure-map

Describe your route to the treasure from the bay.

What dangers do you encounter? Are you racing to be there first? Are you alone or with others?

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Writing Prompt Contest – Fog…


fog

The fog advanced through the trees, gaining on me. Once it surrounded me my sense of direction would be lost…I’d be lost.

Use this sentence as your story starter.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

 

A Glimpse Through A Window – A Ghost Story…


A Glimpse Through A Window – A Ghost Story

hardyes-window
It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.
Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window. Instinct makes her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.
“Hello, who are you?”
The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.
“Come follow – you will find.”
“Find what, where are we going?”
Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms. The dark lady stops in the centre of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.
“Write its story, Janice and release me.”
“Release you – I don’t understand?”
“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”
“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”
“You know my story it is deep within you.”
Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk, puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?
A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.
Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.
During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.
Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.
Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and reveled in the adulation.
As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.
The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.

***

As you can see this story was written a while ago and confirms my continuing fascination in the ‘other side’.
Mandy Barnett 3 April 2011

Have you written ghost stories?

Care to share one?

Writing Prompt Contest – Toadstool Path…


13718510_10153776417918297_2551591778139316667_n

Taking your inspiration from this image, write the story of where the toadstools lead.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

First Lines to Hook Your Reader…


As writers we want to grip our readers from that all important first line. It is not an easy task and can consume our thoughts for days, weeks or even months.

Today I want to share some of my first lines:

TheRythonKingdom

The Rython Kingdom. A romantic adventure set in medieval England.

“He’s coming! He’s coming! Guillem Ruet is here!”

Guillem smiled at the group of children running beside his horse as he rode toward the castle’s drawbridge. Dirty and barefooted, these youngsters would not be lucky enough to hear his newest tale, first hand. That pleasure would be for the inner court alone. It was a strange and most complex tale and all the more mysterious for being made of a dream.

I have introduced the protagonist, where he is and the source of the story’s basis.

OckleberriesToTheRescue

Ockleberries to the Rescue. A children’s chapter book telling the story of magical woodland sprites and their forest animal friends.

Curled into a ball with his bushy red tail across his snout, Swift twitched in his sleep. He helped Tansy the previous evening by dashing to the aid of a rabbit. Now his mind replayed his hurried course through the forest to the sprites home.

Again I have the main characters, their home and their a hint of their adventures.

Working on first lines takes effort and we change them time and again. This is true of my latest novel, Life in Slake Patch. It has been revisited many times in the 10 years since I began writing. It was my first NaNoWriMo and the most I had written up t that point. This year I promised myself I would complete it.

Life in Slake

Life in Slake Patch. A speculative fiction novel of a matriarchy world and one young man’s journey that changes everything.

Jacob’s persuasion for me to look at an extraordinary book had gotten the better of my curiosity. He led the way down the steps into the old library basement. The building, whose very structure of stone blocks was in stark contrast to our log buildings, stood as a relic of a world before the Grand War.

We understand this is not the present age and two people are gripped in a a secret together.

Click crop cover

My next book will be launched on 1st October at a local event called Words in the Park.
Clickety Click. A YA adventure mystery of a young girl who discovers a huge secret, which has astonishing changes for her and those around her.

Its eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bedcovers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click. Click. Clickety-click.

I have introduced Alice, my protagonist and the cause of her terror.

I read a multiple of genres but some of my favorite first lines are:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

It was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she’d been told. The lady said to wait, it wasn’t safe yet, they had to be quiet as larder mice.

Ferney by James Long.

As he looked for the bones of his long-dead wife, old Ferney came close to death. Caught in the traffic jam that resulted, Gally Martin’s life changed.

The Map of Time by Felix de Palma

Andrew Harrington would have gladly died several times over if that meant not having to choose just one pistol among his father’s vast collection in the living room cabinet. Decisions had never been Andrew’s strong point.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold

My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Today I’m five, I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.

I could fill this post with Stephen King first lines, as you all know he is my hero.

It by Stephen King

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years—if it ever did end—began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
Cell by Stephen King

“The event that came to be known as The Pulse began at 3:03 p.m., eastern standard time, on the afternoon of October 1.”

 

What are your favorite first lines?

Do you re-write your first lines over and over?

Author Interview – Joe McKnight…


Joe McKnight

Please welcome Joe to my blog. He is a great writer, a talented artist as well as author and the President of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have always had a love for storytelling. Even when I was young. When I was fourteen I saw a game called Time Soldiers and I basically took it from there. Many rewrites later the final draft looks nothing like the original; even the title – Time’s Hostage – is different.

Time's_Hostage

How did you come up with the title?

I needed a title that wasn’t already owned by a video game so during my last revision, I looked into my story to find a title that worked with the story. I knew I wanted to incorporate time into the title so that’s where I started. Then, because one of the characters is kidnapped and taken through time, I came up with Time’s Hostage.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or un published)

Time’s Hostage was my first; it was published in 2013. Since then I have published two more with a fourth one coming out in fall of 2016. I am currently writing a fifth book and planning a sixth one to be started in November 2016.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

Occasionally I throw in a message but mostly I just want the reader to have fun and enjoy the world I have created.

How much of the book is realistic?

I try to immerse my characters into the real world whether that be a world where they travel through time, exist on another planet or live in a world of enhanced humans. I try to create relatable characters no matter what environment put them in.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I don’t base my characters on real people usually but sometimes a steal memories from real life and insert them into my stories.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I am answering this one for Fly On The Wall as it is my newest one as of Summer 2016. I’m not so sure I would change anything. This book was different than anything I had written previously and that’s how I try to write all my books. Keep them different from each other; try new things. It was a lot of fun for me to write.

Fly on the Wall

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Just that I hope everyone who reads my books gets as much, if not more, enjoyment from my stories as I did writing them.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

I don’t know that I have a specific favorite part or chapter in my novels. What I really do enjoy is creating completely new worlds. In my novel The Arrival and my newest book, Powerless, due in fall, I got to create worlds far apart from our own – a distant planet and an alternate universe respectively.

What is your favorite theme/genre to write?

Sci-fi has to be my favorite genre. Four of my books are of a science fiction nature. Two of which happen to be time travel, which would be my favorite theme. Although I do try and change it up. Right now I am writing a suspense novel.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

I’m sure there probably is a subject I wouldn’t write about but I haven’t been approached to write anything so I haven’t had the opportunity to weigh out whether or not I felt comfortable in writing it. I basically get inspired to write certain stories that both interest and excite me.

What book are you reading now?

I am reading Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love to have a career as a writer and to do this full time.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

By then I hope to be working full-time for a local publishing company, still writing, and possibly making the Comic Con circuit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Research is always challenging. I have dealt with scenes involving medical, law enforcement, science professionals, and time travel. The trick is to make each scene believable and authentic.

Have you ever hated anything you have written?

Of course. If I really hate something I have written and editing cannot fix the issue, I would consider revising or just scrap it altogether.

Which book do you wish you had written?

This might come across as a pure money grubbing answer but I wish I had written the Harry Potter series. I title like that would make my wish as a full-time writer come true.

What is your best marketing tip?

Actually, I’m still working on my marketing. But from what I can tell, social media is a great way to go. Get your name out there. The more people who know who you are and what you’re writing, the better your chances are.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

My current WIP is a suspense novel. It’s about a woman who has been keeping secrets from her husband, which could end up turning her life upside down when her husband vanishes.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

My newest book, Powerless – due out in fall of 2016 – is about an alternate world where everyone has enhanced abilities but someone is using a serum to rob people of their abilities; sending them to exile on Institutional Island. One man who has had his abilities taken away from him before he had the chance to gain them finds a way to stay on the mainland to protect the city from this threat.

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

You can find my books and bio on the Dream Write Publishing site – www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/j-e-mcknight. I don’t have a blog but you can also see me at various events around Strathcona County. As well, I will be at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo in September 2016. Booth 1101 – come and meet me.Joe at WITP 2014

Find Joe’s art here:

https://www.facebook.com/Art-by-Joe-23409481552/

wagon by Joe