Thursday Writing Quote ~ Bill Granger

The act of violence is usually a period in punctuation whereas everything leading up to it is exclamation. ~ Bill Granger

Nuggets for October

It's that time again. Worthwhile links from other writers.

Let the Writer Beware

Looking for a cover designer? So is PG. Thanks to his loyal fans, there are lots of good leads in the comments.

Trying to decide if you need multiple pseudonyms?

Pricing your book? Be sure to look at Smashwords survey.

Looking for ways to sell your books from your own website? Read this:

This is a wonderful guest post by Art Holcomb that covers a number of subtle points but the focus is, I suppose, showing character growth:

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Stephen King

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s. ~ Stephen King

Note: King's new novel Doctor Sleep (aka The Shining part 2) is now available.

The Soundtrack - Josh Turner

I often write with music playing. It helps put me in the right mindset for the stories I write. It also finds its way into my stories. It's one of the ways I personalize my characters. I think it works well for the readers who are familiar with the music, and I have gotten comments on it in Goodread reviews. It also gives me a chance to introduce the music I love to my readers, if they're interested in following up.

I love it enough though, that I want to go a step further, so I decided that maybe once a month, I would explore the songs of one of the artists mentioned in my stories. So bless youtube, here we go.

When I was writing A Knight In Cowboy Boots, I had just come back to county music in a big way. (One of these days, maybe I'll explore my musical odyssey here.) Josh Turner was key to that return. I happened to catch his performance on one of the country awards shows about the time he released his sophomore album, Your Man. He'd been nominated for the Horizon Award on that program, so he sang the song currently on the charts, Would You Go With Me.

Now I LOVE baritones, and Josh has probably the prettiest baritone voice I've ever heard. It doesn't hurt that I love the rolling banjo in this song, too. (Or that Josh is so darn cute with that great smile.)

It took a few weeks but I couldn't shake the memory of that gorgeous voice, so I went out and bought the CD. At first, I thought Would You Go With Me was the only really good song on it, but it was good enough that I played that one song a dozen times. Then finally, I decided to give the rest of the CD a second chance. I can only claim to have been momentarily out of my mind that first time because the CD is AWESOME. I put it in the 5-CD changer I had at the time, where it stayed for MONTHS. I listened to it through the writing of A Knight in Cowboy Boots, and the songs started weaving their way into the story. When Zach and Maddie meet, they dance to the music on Zach's IPod, which turned out to be the same music I was listening to. (You knew that was coming, right?)

The song Your Man became their theme song. It's even the first song they dance to when Rachel and Mac go to their wedding reception in Knight of Hearts.

I'm going to include one more song. This one's an album cut, so there's no official video, but I like album cuts. Some of my favorite songs are album cuts. Maybe that's because I don't hear them often enough for them to get stale. Then again, I often shake my head over the songs that get released as single and the ones that get passed over. If I weren't writing books, that's the job I'd want. Single picker. There would be a lot more ballads on the airwaves if I had my way.

So that's how I came back to country music, and how Zach and Maddie found "their song." And I still perk my ears up when someone says "baritone." So who's your favorite baritone?

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Robert Campbell

When deep into a scene, writing on overdrive as it were, something magical very often takes place, some hidden well of imagination tapped, and I find myself a passenger floating on the raft of what is sometimes called inspiration along a river of words in full flood. ~ Robert Campbell

Your Heroine's Worst Enemy

A few years ago, I was out on the town with my best friend and a couple of coworkers. The youngest of us, a woman in her late twenties, was bemoaning the state of her love life. Though the source of her problems was obvious us, she was blind to it. Gently suggesting what she needed to change wasn't working. Finally, hoping to prove a point, I looked at my friend and asked, "Who's your own worst enemy?" Without hesitation, she answered. "I am." "Yeah, me, too," I said. The third woman agreed.

This little fact had taken each of us years to fully grasp, but our war stories bore witness to the truth. Time and again, we'd each managed to torpedo our quest to find love, success, happiness. Whatever dream we were chasing at the time. And sometimes in spectacular fashion.

I have another friend, a writer buddy, whose current story involves a group of three college women. These friends have very different personalities. The heroine leans toward passivity. To counter that, one of her friends is aggressively controlling. To the point where she raises my hackles. It's a strong reaction, and even though it's negative, a strong reaction to a character is an indicator of strong writing. (Weak writing rarely spark strong emotions.)

But I've been thinking about these characters a lot, and what I've decided is that the annoying friend is necessary because the heroine is so passive. After all, someone has to throw the monkey wrench into the story. Someone has to take things from bad to worse.

Except it shouldn't be a supporting character. It should be the heroine herself.

I'm not saying secondary characters can't create complications. That is one of their functions after all. But the best friend shouldn't be the heroine's worst nightmare. That role belongs to the heroine. Overcoming that tendency to self-sabotage should be part of the heroine's character arc.

I'm a big fan of the late Joseph Campbell, professor of mythology at Sarah Lawrence college. One of my favorite quotes of his (paraphrased) is that mythology is what teaches us how to live our lives. (The reason, I believe, that ancient mythology no longer serves this purpose is that the oral tradition died when printing came along and those myths became "fixed". Like cured concrete, they hardened into inflexible stories. No longer able to evolve with the changing world, they stopped being relevant to our lives.)

Fiction has become our new mythology. From the time we start to read, we look to it, not just a means of entertainment, but as a way to make sense of our world.  This is true almost from the cradle. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, "Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."

So when we look for sympathetic characters, we're not just looking for people who are like us, but for people like us who can show us how to kill the dragons. Since we're our own worse enemy (if there's anyone here who that doesn't apply to, please raise your hand), it only makes sense that the heroine must be, too. Is it then any surprise that the reason a good character arc satisfies is because it shows us how to overcome our worst enemy?

As Pogo once said: We have met the enemy and he is us.

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Mark Twain

God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by. ~ Mark Twain

(Please note: the ebook, The Complete Works of Mark Twain, is on Amazon for only $2.99. A real bargain. Just click on the picture)

A Dark & Stormy Knight - First Peek

I finally have a finalized cover for A Dark & Stormy Knight. Isn't it pretty?

I planning to release in December (God willing and the creek don't rise).

To celebrate, I'm posting a snippet. This book  has a little different tone than what I've previously published because the humor in A Dark & Stormy Knight comes more from the context of knowing the characters rather than being stand-alone scenes, like the one in Knight of Hearts where Mac goes shopping for body oils. 

So . . . just the tiniest of set-ups. Georgia is back in Hero Creek, helping her parents while her mother recovers from a stroke. Her feisty grandmother also lives with them. 

“There you are,” Grams said. “I just wanted to let you know I’m leaving as soon as Delores gets here.”
“Are you sure you don’t want something to eat before you go?” Georgia brushed off the seat of her jeans before following her grandmother inside.
“Not a chance,” Grams said, walking and talking as she checked the contents of her purse for the forty-seventh time. “Cecelia’s son was up from the gulf last week, and he always brings her a butt-load of cracked crab that she serves on these fancy crackers. I ain’t spoiling my appetite when I can pig-out on that.” She closed her purse. “Oh, there’s Delores.”
Georgia looked out the living room window to see an older Cadillac pull in. Grams hung the handle of her purse over her arm and headed out. Georgia stood in the open screen door, ready to grab for her if she missed her footing on the steps. When Grams reached the yard without mishap, Georgia looked toward the car.
     Had Delores gotten out? She didn’t see her anywhere. A movement from inside the car caught her attention. It looked like . . . She squinted. A hand. Was someone waving at her? Holy hell. Delores had always been petite, but age had obviously shrunk her to the size of a squirrel. She could barely see over the steering wheel. In fact, she probably looked through it. Georgia’s hands itched to grab Grams and forbid her to ride with Delores, but since she wasn’t Grams' mama, grounding her wasn’t an option. Grams would just call her a worrywart and insist on going anyway. Hoping this wasn’t the last time she’d see her grandmother alive, Georgia waved hesitantly back as Grams got in the car.

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak.

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Ben Bova

Eschew villains! The antagonist should believe that he is the hero of the tale. ~ Ben Bova