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Defining Default: it’s your choice

March 15, 2022 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , ,

I love the word default. It is so definitive. It is authoritative when you’re on the right side of it; terrifying if you’re on the wrong side. Default on your loan. Default the game. You have failed to live up to your promise. Over! Done! Fini— unless you do something to change the situation PDQ and get back on track.

Then came computers and the word default got a makeover. It’s softer. Helpful. Kind. The word became synonymous with a do-over. Default is now your safety net. Screwed up your settings? Default.  Go back to the beginning. Get a do-over. It’s okay. We got your back.

Ah…

Well, don’t get too comfy with that default button, especially when you’re writing. I have a new book that I let lie fallow for two Covid-years because I took a creative hike, turning to manual hobbies like sewing and quilting, crafting and cooking. Now I’m back and making a sprint to complete the last 25%. I’m jazzed because it’s almost done. I proudly sent the first three quarters of the manuscript to my editor fully expecting the green light to cross the literary finish-line.

Sadly — and thankfully —her input was the exact opposite. I had dialed in my characters. I had been lazy with my red herrings. I had defaulted in the bad way, and not lived up to my promise to deliver my best work to my readers. On the other hand, she was offering me the chance to default in the kind way: reset, rethink, and rework. It was up to me to decide if I wanted to skate, shrug my shoulders, and publish a book that was ‘just okay’, or go back and make this the best book it can be.

I decided to go with option two. Reset. Rethink. Rework. That’s what author’s do. Thankfully, I have a great editor who is clear that how I define the word default — and how I respond to that definition— is up to me.

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Editing Your Novel Together

January 3, 2022 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , ,

The Post Outline

by E.J. Williams

(Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger)

Writing together as E. J. Williams, husband and wife, Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn author the INTERNATIONAL CRIME FILES, a hardboiled/thriller detective series that takes the reader to 1960s southern California, then on to international locales.

          Even after you’ve written the best book in the world, the pesky task of editing rears its ugly head! To those of you who love editing…our hats are off to you. We have come up with several suggestions that may help ease the editing process, whether you are editing your book for your editor, publisher, agent, or yourself.

          The post outline is the first thing we do once we feel the book is complete. By going back through the manuscript (ignoring the pre outline if you do one) helps to see where some of the holes or gaps in the sub and main plot line are. After a week break, we sit down and take portions to re-outline, i.e. one of us works the even chapters the other the odd chapters. Issues with the manuscript seem to jump out at you with this. We then meet and figure out how to work out each problem. With both of us working on it, it goes real fast.

          Though this mind-numbing task is necessary, it can bring about a great deal of pride when the process is complete. As a couple who write together, we have found these tips work well whether you are working alone or with someone.

And yes…we are still married!

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn    

Website:  Will Zeilinger           

Some of Janet’s and Will’s Novels

DESERT ICE

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DESERT ICE

GAME TOWN

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GAME TOWN

SLICK DEAL

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SLICK DEAL

SLIVERS OF GLASS

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SLIVERS OF GLASS

STRANGE MARKINGS

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STRANGE MARKINGS

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Editors and Agents All Month Long by Kitty Bucholtz

December 10, 2020 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , , , , ,

I’m excited to share with you that I have a mini-season on my podcast all about editing in honor of all the first-drafting that went on in November for National Novel Writing Month. Five episodes of editors and agents talking about editing and giving you their best tips. Jennie Nash, my first guest, even gives you two handouts!

Check out the episodes every Thursday on WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast. You can find it on your favorite podcast app or watch the episodes on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe, either way, so you don’t miss out! In 2021, I’ll be moving to seasons, which means there will be a couple weeks in between without an episode and I don’t want you to miss anything.

Here is the first fabulous episode with Jennie Nash from Author Accelerator. She offered two free handouts as well! One is here on the show notes page, and the other is on her website.

As we finish up a difficult year, I also wanted to share my Encouraging Words episode with you. I hope you find it uplifting and hopeful. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

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He Drove Right Into My Story

October 20, 2020 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , , ,

Driving

My husband and I went driving through the hills of Palos Verdes last Sunday afternoon. He drives a too tiny for me sports car that he absolutely loves and that I find rather confining. It was a beautiful day outside. The California coastal skies were clear. The ocean waves were gentle and incredibly tempting. For October, it was surprising just how many people were still enjoying our ocean waters.

But the air was overly warm and all I really wanted to do that particular Sunday was to stay inside with a good book.  I had just finished writing my latest book and was well into the editing process and I was pretty sick of the whole thing. I still had not come up with a title, although there were several roaming randomly throughout my brain.

As much as I knew that I had work to do, I had grown tired of correcting punctuation marks and hunting for run on sentences. And so, really and truly, the only thing I wanted to do was to read my copy of Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke – You Don’t Own Me. I had started it over a month ago and had just not found the time to get further into it. It had waited patiently for me on my desk for over a month.

Anyway, back to the car ride.

So my husband convinced me that the best way to get my book fully edited was to take a ride, clear my head and find something else to think about. “You’ll be sharper after you spend some time away,” he said, not really caring about my head but more about having company on his ride past the beach and through the still green hills.  

We started our journey off with me offering up potential titles for my book and him coming up with sillier versions to distract me.  To my surprise, he also came up with a few good ones. I was just about to launch into a discussion of why I might actually like his last suggested title when a strange man in a most unusual white car drove into the lane next to us. Our car being a lower to the ground Pontiac Solstice, I found myself having to look upward at the driver. The man, apparently aware of my interest, pivoted his gaze down on me, tipped his hat, smiled and promptly drove off.

Interesting Guy

“What an interesting guy,” I said. “I love his fedora hat (it was a strange shade of blue), but what the heck is he driving?” I asked my husband, who is well versed in the automobile world and knows far more about cars than I could ever hope for. 

“A Morris Minor. A 1950 something model, I think,” he said.

Hitting the gas, while hoping to avoid a P.V. cop or two, my husband took off after the beautifully polished white car. “It’s a British made car. Came out after the war. Think it’s named after the guy who designed it.” (See, I told you he knows a lot about cars!)

“That car is older than me!” I said. “And the guy driving it looked like he could be the original owner.” Okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little, but the gentleman did look really old and his style of dress did not speak of Southern California. I think he might even have been wearing tweed on a ninety degree day!

We followed the car and the interesting character chauffeuring it through the hills for a few more minutes before the man turned off on a side street and we lost him. But in that short time, the infamous Morris Minor driver was tattooed on my brain.  My husband and I drove home and I raced to my computer to learn all I could about the car I’d just seen.

Character

A few minutes later, my husband stuck his head in my office door and said, “You need to include that guy in one of your books. Stetson…”

“What about Stetson?” I asked.

“That’s what you should call him.”

And so I will. The man in the blue Fedora, wearing tweed and drive a 1950 something Morris Minor car. Hmm, can’t wait to start. And, of course, I’ll name him Stetson.

~Meriam

Books by Meriam Wilhelm

MIDNIGHT MADNESS

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MIDNIGHT MADNESS

MORNING MAGIC

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MORNING MAGIC

MURDER BY MAGIC

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MURDER BY MAGIC

NIGHT FLIGHT

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NIGHT FLIGHT

SEA DREAMS

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SEA DREAMS

SUNSET SPELLS

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SUNSET SPELLS
THE WITCHES OF NEW MOON BEACH BOXED SET

THE WITCH OF BERGEN

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THE WITCH OF BERGEN

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Masque, Masquerade, Mask

August 19, 2020 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , ,

No! I’m not going to weigh in on the mask vs no mask debate. Really.

I am an inveterate people watcher. Sometimes I go overboard and get caught staring — awkward. Honestly, it’s not you I’m looking at, it’s the potential character the physical ‘you’ suggests to me. I’m pretty sure all writers do that to one degree or another. It can’t be helped. Some people just like a (too) kindly grandmother, or a shifty con man or a fairy princess or a sharkish accountant.

Faces reveal so much, from hidden agendas to unspoken feelings, spontaneous joy to suppressed fury. It’s fertile ground for the writer. Anne Perry uses the reading of facial expressions to heighten tension and create suspense. In her hands it’s a plot device and she’s brilliant at it. Add body language to that and a character comes fully to life. It’s also a great way to stomp down those unwanted dialog tags; showing the reader who’s speaking is miles better than telling.

Just watching the emotional beats revealed on the faces of two friends having coffee can jumpstart a story and the story can shift and morph if I switch genres in my head. (Yep, I start a lot of imaginary tales. It’s more fun than Sudoku.) Narrowed eyes and rigid lips mean one thing in a spy thriller and quite another in a romance. Add the tilt of the head and a clinching of fists and it could work for either the inciting incident or the denouement.

Now most of us are masked and I have to shift my game. We’re all consciously trying to keep a six-foot distance and it makes for some very stilted body language! A woman turned from the pasta aisle just as I was turning in, our carts nearly colliding. That’s a common enough occurrance at the grocery store and usually each party smiles and laughs and maneuvers on their way. I found myself braying an exaggerated laugh, shrugging my shoulders and my “oh sorry” came out a bit over bright. It was the mirror response of this woman. We couldn’t read each other’s faces. An apologetic smile doesn’t do it any longer.

They say we need to adjust to a new normal. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I can imagine all this maskedness and artful distancing will add some very intriguing elements to contemporary fiction. How will strangers meet and grow a romance? Is love at first sight a victim of the pandemic? How will antagonists make use of the fact that with a baseball cap, sunglasses and the compulsory mask one is virtually unidentifiable? Think of the wonderful mix-ups this could lead to. Great fodder for screw-ball comedy. Or great fodder for murder and mayhem.

It will be impossible to ignore Corvid in writing contemporary stories. At the very least it will have to serve as atmosphere, but there are elements of this awful reality that present nearly endless plot possibilities — as nearly endless as this shutdown feels. I can’t wait to read them.

Jenny Jensen

Editor

www.E-BookEditor.com

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