Writers’ Blog Hop: 4 Writerly Questions (also Dr. Seuss)

Hidey-ho, beloved inklings!

Did you miss me?

Don’t answer that. ; )

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been rather absent from my blog for the last two months. This is due to three things. Attend, my dears, and I shall tell you them.

Thing One

When I have a spare moment for writing, I devote that moment to (working title:) The Writing of Legends of the Light-Walkers 3, The First Draft: The Draftening. That is not the working title. I just made that up.

More on this later.

Thing Two

Last week, my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. This is mind-blowing and cramazing and I love them for it. I feel that in this world of hook-ups and hang-ups and h-something-something-alliteration, people like my parents are a ray of hope to those of us who haven’t gotten to the big FIVE-OH (or even the big TWO-OH) yet. Plus, they’ve gone through a lot to make it this far, so all the hats (and possibly other various accoutrements) are off to them.

50years

To show my love and appreciation, I threw them a party (and this is the Thing Two that took up potential blogging time). Cousins and aunts helped, and without these cousins and aunts, I couldn’t have accomplished half of the party prep and the party itself wouldn’t have been half as nice. I spent much of the prep time — and some of the party itself — overwhelmed with gratitude at the loveliness of all of these women who came together to help honor my parents. It was truly a blessing.

With Apologies to Dr. Seuss: Thing Three

I’d thought several times about surfacing from novel-writing and party-planning just long enough to pop in here and say hi. But then Judy Dunn, fellow writer and blogger, contacted me and asked me to join in on a Writers’ Blog Hop. I agreed and then decided to make the blog hop post my “hey how’s it goin’, y’all.”

Hey! How’s it goin’, y’all?

If I’m not mistaken, that brings us full circle. So, woot and cetera.

Writers’ Blog Hop: 4 Writerly Questions

In Judy’s own blog hop post, she answered four writing questions that the previous blogger? hopper? (hoppah!) had asked her. So I get to answer those same questions (AND PASS THEM ON TO THE AB-FAB WRITER ANNOUNCED AT THE END OF THIS POST SO CHECK HIM OUT DO IT DO IT DO IT OR I’LL SEND ELVES TO TATTOO “I’M A NERD” ON YOUR FOREHEAD DON’T TEST ME).

*ahem*

Without further ado or adon’t, here are Les Quatres (4) Questions Writerliques:

1. What am I working on right now?

My current project is the third novel in my Legends of the Light-Walkers series. (The first two are here.) Everything you need to know about LLW3, you can find here. For blog-hopping (blopping?) purposes, I’ll just say that this is probably the biggest writing project I’ve ever taken on, it eats my lunch when I take my eyes off it for the splittest of seconds, and I love every ridiculous minute of it.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

LLW3 is different in that it is the pseudo-urban fantasy prequel to epic fantasies LL1 and LL2. Yes, I’m sorta switching genres mid-series. Except not really. The whole LLW series is meant to be epic fantasy. That’s always been THE BIG IDEA. But for certain things to happen in LLW1 and LLW2, the story of LLW3 has to be told.

The story of LLW3 is the story of Rafe Skelleran — who just happens to have been born in Oklahoma City, OK. That’s not exactly an epic fantasy setting. So when we meet Rafe, he’s still not-so-happily ensconced in his downtown OKC apartment. He crosses over into my epic fantasy world (readers will know this as Rethana’s universe) in…um…a chapter that’s now Chapter 3, I think. But he starts out here. So that’s sorta where the urban part comes in.

Bear with me, y’all. It’ll all come out in the wash, I promise.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because I gotta.

Next question?

; ) Just kidding. But no, really. These stories are in my head, and if I don’t write them, I get surly and depressed and start oil-painting deepsea anglerfish mermaids (READ: fishtailed girls with ginormous jaws and spiky teeth) and lots of things in black. And then I get accused of demon-possession and nobody has any fun anymore. So I write my stories to make things better for ALL of us. You should thank me.

Really though, do come see the anglerfish mermaid sometime. She’s a cutie.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well, there’s coffee.

Next question?

Yeah, yeah. ; )

I used to be mostly a “pantser”: Flying by the seat of my pants, I dived into Telling The Story with little to no preparation, and it was magnificent and brilliant and exciting until I stalled out and dropped like a stone at around 10,000 words. KABLOOEY.

Nowadays, I still pants it a leeeeetle, but only after I do a lot of prep work. Great Scott, I know that sounds like a major paradox. Here’s how it works:

  • I write out a short synopsis — just the basics of what I think will happen. This is MC. This is what MC wants. MC does this. This is Antagonist. This is Antagonist’s goal (in opposition to what MC wants). Antagonist does this. And so forth.
  • I write out a Mock Table of Contents, and I let myself be ridiculous with it even if the story isn’t primarily comedy. For instance:

1. “Also, I Can Kill You with My Brain”
2. Down the Rabbit Hole; Dude, Your Ward Is Screwed Up
3. Take Me to Your Dream Weaver (a la REO Speedwagon)
4. Dude Is Janky, Let’s Kill Him
5. Girl’s Got Skillz (Or: Come Here So I Can Hit You with a Rock)
6. In Which the Spirit of Robert Frost Is Channeled. Word.
7. Sanctuary! Also, Get the Hell Outta My Head
8. Most Everyone’s Mad Here; Et Tu, Jael?
9. …

You get the picture. That, by the way, is the Mock ToC for the third Legends of the Light-Walkers novel. For keen observers, there might be a teensy-weensy spoiler or two in there. But for the most part, the Mock ToC means nothing to anyone but me. Each chapter title is just a note-to-self on what’s supposed to happen in that chapter. None of these will appear in the final draft.

  • I also do a character list, with 300-word descriptions for the protagonist and antagonist, and 100-word descriptions for at least two supporting characters. The other supporting chars just get a bullet point each. I’ll jot down notes on the big event (what catapults the MC into the story), the conflict, the obstacles, the climax, and the denouement. None of this has to be very long; it’s mainly just notes I’ll use for reference if I get stuck while writing the first draft.

I might do a long synopsis and also list what happens scene-by-scene in each chapter, but that depends on how tedious I’m finding the process at this point. I do write better when I’ve done some of this pre-writing, but if I start feeling bogged down with the pre-writing, I move on to the actual writing of the story. Boggy feelings don’t go well with creativity.

HINT: This is where I turn from a plotter back into a pantser. MIGHTY PANTSER-MORPHIN’ POWERS, ACTIVATE.

Oooooh, I know what this is called! This is plot-pantsing. PLONTSING. I AM A PLONTSER, Y’ALL. I think I just invented a term. Check me on this, people — but I bet you heard it here first. (If you didn’t, don’t you dare burst my bubble.)

In the actual writing-of-story process, I just write as fast as I can without (much) editing, so as to get the first draft out in “one” fell swoop. That fellness might take two years to swoop all the way, but if that’s as fast as I can go, then so be it.

After Draft 1 is done, I let it sit at least 6-8 weeks before looking at it again. I then read it all the way through without (much) editing. Then I release the Inner Editor in all her full and glorious wrath and edit and revise and rewrite until Draft 2 is finished. I wash, rinse, repeat until I have Draft 3. Nowadays, that’s likely as far as I’ll go before handing it over to an editor. (I’ll let beta readers take their shots starting with Draft 2). I think the most drafts I’ve ever had on one novel was six.

This is now WAY longer than I’d intended it to be, so I think I’ll go home now. : )

Please check out my fellow wordnerdssmiths in the Writers’ Blog Hop!

judyfinal Judy Lee Dunn writes to release her true stories in the hope that they will help her readers learn how to navigate life and live to tell about it. Her blog was named a Top 10 Blog for Writers in 2011. She has written everything from marketing and sales copy to grant proposals, children’s books, magazine articles and news stories. Judy has finally settled on her true passion, creative nonfiction. She was a contributing author for Seasons of Our Lives: Winter and is currently writing her first full-length memoir, Out Tonight. Judy lives on Anderson Island in south Puget sound with her husband Bob. In her spare time, she likes to read early 20th century novels and feed gourmet meals to stray cats.

 

 

tonyhealey Tony Healey is the best-selling author of the sci-fi series Far From Home. He was a contributor to the first Kindle All-Stars short story anthology, Resistance Front, along with award-winning authors Alan Dean Foster, Harlan Ellison and 30 others. In January 2014, he published the speculative fiction and horror anthology Edge of Oblivion, with all proceeds going to charity.
Tony’s post for the blog hop will be available for your reading pleasure on May 12th.

Your Blog Is a Big, Friendly Dog — Redux

Greetings, me lovelies! I just got through reading a great post by Michael Martine: “Why You Should Experiment with Your Blog.” (Edit: Michael’s Remarkablogger is no longer in existence, so I’ve removed the link.)

Darling, most constant readers, does this sound familiar to you? ; )

kablooey

If you’ve read me here for any length of time, you know that I’ve enjoyed romping about with the blog-as-lab(oratory) concept. So when I read Michael’s post, of course I had something to say about it. : ) My comment on his post reads as follows:

Ooh! Ooh! I love the blog-as-laboratory concept! I’ve had several conversations with Judy Dunn of Catseyewriter.com about it. These led to: several concept posts on my own blog; a grand experiment of blogging every day for a month; and a myriad of tiny little blogging experiments that taught me some of what works and some of what doesn’t work on my blog. It’s great fun and an awesome learning experience!

I will admit to plenty of “mucking about for its own sake” ; ) simply because I thought a particular experiment sounded fun at the time. But Michael, I’m thinking that maybe this is where I’m not quite the audience you’re speaking to, since mine is an author blog. Yes, I am “selling the service” of fiction novels, and I do want readers of my blog to convert into readers of my books. But part of what sells the books is for readers to get to know me — and part of getting to know me is getting a glimpse of what interests me. And that’s a lot of things, many of which show up on the blog at random times. So maybe I can get away with bending the “rule” a little. ; )

So there you have it, folks. Another brief reminder of what I’m doing here and why and wherefore and whatnot. Feel free to drop me a line sometime and let me know how you think the experiments are going. I’d love to hear from you.

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

Your Blog Is a Big, Friendly Dog

Once upon a time, blogger Judy Dunn and I had several exchanges concerning the concept of a blog as a lab.

Here we go again…

No, no, no. As you’ll see if you click through that link above, I don’t really mean that a blog is a big, friendly (and apparently put-upon) dog. What I mean is that a blog is a laboratory where you get to make a splendid mess in an effort to see what happens when you mix a bunch of stuff together that most people wouldn’t dream of mixing together.

My Latest Blogging Dog Experiment


          
I don’t know why this idea popped into my head.

Well, that’s sort of a lie. I’m pretty sure that this idea popped into my head because I subscribe to sci-fi writer John Scalzi’s blog “Whatever”. Mr. Scalzi blogs every day. This triggered in my head the thought:

Now, the part I honestly don’t know the because for is the part where I think I might be able to do this just because I see Mr. Scalzi doing it.

I guess it’s because of reasons, yet again.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Ooh aah. I deserve bananas.

So. I shall embark upon an experimental adventure: For the month of August, I shall attempt to blog every day.

Because I obviously don’t have enough to do and I am a crazy person.

I don’t know what shall come of this, if anything. Maybe it will result in things most glorious. Maybe it will serve only to highlight my lack of an inkling of a conceptual hypothesis of reality. Maybe it will break me forever of stringing together prepositional phrases.

Zounds.

So, we’ll see. Josh has indicated that he might consider joining me in this venture, though I have yet to hear from him a definite yea or nay. On Twitter, @AstridBryce has offered me incentive as follows (click to embiggen!):

My dearest, most darlingest readers, prepare yourselves for pulchritudinous cramazingness.

Or a zombie-ish apocalypse.

5 Easy Ways To Get Your Blog Noticed

This blog went live six weeks ago — today! Woot, yay me, and all that. I’ve been having way more fun with this than should be considered sane, and to top it all off, I’ve learned stuff.

Squeaky wheel? Or tweeting without a muffler?!

My darling lovely readers, I’ve learned stuff about getting my blog noticed.

Granted, if I’m going to compare my case to all the cases out there, I’m still a newbie, so I don’t know a whole lot yet. But if I compared my case to other, more experienced cases, I’d end up a basket case, and I don’t think any of us want to see that happen. Let’s just not go there, mmkay?

So, here ya go. This is what I’ve got so far. This what-I’ve-got is subject to revision in future posts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5 Easy Ways To Get Your Blog Noticed

1. Write freakishly catchy headlines.
My main teacher in this has been blogging coach Judy Dunn. One of Judy’s main pieces of advice is to craft headlines that will catch people’s attention within a couple of split-seconds. If your headline doesn’t grab a reader at first glance, chances are she won’t click through to your blog, let alone read your post.

I had this in mind when I wrote The One Where I’m Not An Impotent Bachelor. Since I’m female and married, and most of my readers knew that already, that title caught their attention.

They came, they read, they commented. And there was much rejoicing. (Not to mention sniggering.)

2. Use a picture in every post
I’ve known this one for awhile, thanks to Aaron Pogue at Unstressed Syllables. When he first invited me to write What I Learned About Writing This Week, a weekly column for his blog, one of his top-priority instructions was that I should provide an image or two for each article.

Why? Because people like to look at stuff. We humans are that way from birth. Babies love faces. Thanks to tech, more and more of us are growing up as visual learners. Yeah, sometimes we get so much visual stimulation, it’s like binge-eating on a 12-course meal at 9 different restaurants at the same time —

— but on the other plate hand, if there’s nothing to look at, we look away. We click away in search of something visually interesting.

I haven’t posted anything without a picture, yet, so I can’t compare pictorially endowed posts with posts not so blessed. But still, I’d be willing to bet a post without a pic would garner me fewer readers. ‘Cause you people like to look at stuff.

3. Comment on other people’s blogs — and reply to comments on your own.
Thanks to Google Analytics, I know who you are. *ahem* Okay, not really. But I can see where most of you are coming from — and one of those wheres is blogs I’ve commented on. You’re reading my comments and clicking through to my blog.

And that, my dearies, is pretty freakin’ cramazing. People on the Internet actually want to talk to me. Me! They want to hear what I have to say, they want to tell me their thoughts about what I write, and they appreciate it when I answer back.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for a great conversation. I’m having those conversations in the comments sections of others’ blogs. As a result, I’m starting to have some of those conversations in the comments section of my blog. ‘Cause you people want to talk.

And I love you for it!

4. Tweet like a maniacal baboon — but don’t overdo it.
If you have any interest in generating traffic for your blog, then you needed to be on Twitter a year ago. If you’re not tweeting yet, have no fear; all is not lost! I’ve only been tweeting for nine months, myself — but even though I was a late bloomer, this lovely piece of social networking media is serving me well.

In fact, many of you now reading this are contacts I’ve generated solely from Twitter. (Follow me!) And you folks are fabulous, I must say. You’re retweeting me! You’re getting me new followers and, thereby, new readers! Oh sure, I’m greedy for more…but aren’t we all?

But I’m careful not to tweet too much. I don’t know how the rest of you feel — but when I see a blogger tweeting his/her posts over and over within the space of a few hours, I cringe a little.

I don’t need to hear about the same blog fifty times in one day. 😉

So. Tweet like mad, yes — but be the squeaky wheel, not the pickup truck cruising down the highway at 100mph with no muffler.

5. Write stuff people want to read
Um, you might be thinking. Duh?

Well, maybe not so duh. Let me illustrate. These are the goals of my blog:

a. Discuss with my readers the creative writing process.

b. Provide a peek into the mind of a creative writer.

c. Establish a platform for my yet-to-be-published novels.

Guess which posts have generated the most feedback so far?

If you guessed “posts in categories (a) and (b),” then you have chosen wisely. So far, most of you want to read and talk with me about the writing process and the writing life. Fewer of you are responding to the posts in which I talk about my works-in-progress (WsIP).

I wish it weren’t so; but I understand why it ain’t. You haven’t read the books; why should you have an overwhelming interest in them? Hopefully, that will change once the books are published and you have access to these wonderful characters and fascinating worlds I’ve been talking about —

— but in the meantime, I’m learning I need to keep my WsIP posts to a minimum. I’ll keep giving occasional updates, but I plan to be more conscious of where my focus needs to be for now.

I’m learning what you people want. And I’m not shy — I’m willing to give it to you. 😉

So, my darlings, there are my Newbie’s 5 Blogging Tips. Let me know if your own blogging adventures have taught you similar lessons!

Or, even better: What other things have you learned? What have you learned that challenges what I’m saying?

Lemme hear ya!