February 26, 2013
The Non-Fiction Books and Topic Workbooks
I’m doing a little shameless self-promotion here, because, well, I can! 😉
I often talk about my fiction. The past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching. I’m a tough Tiger Mom of a teacher, and I have a no-tolerance-no-excuses policy. You must do the work and turn it in on time, or you’re wasting everyone’s time. There’s no such thing as “no time to write”. Writing is always a choice. Not writing is always a choice. If you choose not to write regularly, re-think about whether or not you really want this type of career.
Books don’t write themselves. You have to sit down and write them, with a combination of imagination, determination, perseverance, and craft. Your JOB is to learn the craft, and use it as the foundation so your imagination can fly. Every choice of punctuation changes the emotional experience of the sentence and the scene for the reader. Every choice of detail means something different. The reader can only respond to what you actually have on the page, not what you thought you meant. While in my classes, you are expected to write a LOT. My classes are not theoretical; they are practical. I expect a minimum of 1000 words per day, 5 days a week, no excuses.
Students who survive my classes, put in the time and effort to do the work, generally do pretty well. I’ve had people who didn’t think they “could” write short stories not only write excellent ones, but get them published. I’ve had a good number of my students sign book contracts. Every time one of them lands the contract and comes that much closer to living the dream, I’m thrilled.
I truly believe there cannot ever be too many good writers. Humans have an insatiable need for stories, and there’s always room for another well-told story. Learn how to tell it well, and you fill a deep need in the human psyche.
As I grow as a writer, my own opportunities are expanding. Therefore, I must choose the whens and wheres of teaching more carefully, and screen private students more thoroughly. When the time/money ratio doesn’t work, I have to cut back.
Yet students still want the information from the classes. So I’m developing some of my workshops into non-fiction ebooks and Topic Workbooks. They contain the information from various workshops, plus some additional information and resources. They have lectures, exercises, reading lists, resources. I try to keep them reasonably priced. Your writing doesn’t get the line editing and word-by-word commentary that you get within class, but you work at your own pace. And within these topic workbooks is information you can refer back to for years.
CREATIVE STIMULUS contains updated material from my “5 in 10” and “Sensory Perceptions” Workshops, along with the “Writing Rituals” booklet, resources, and the infamous Tip Sheets I use in many of my classes. “5 in 10” is a series of exercises where you write, revise, edit and submit a minimum of 5 short stories in 10 weeks, based on found inspirations. Each piece has different guidelines and focuses on different elements. There are also optional exercises, where you can expand your stories, or create more than 5 short stories. This is a popular workshop of mine, lasting 2 1/2 months, demanding solid pace and juggling multiple projects. “Sensory Perceptions” has a parallel line of projects. One is a story that is layered over the weeks of the exercises, adding in each individual sense. The others are sense-specific, and we explore all five sense and intuition. “Writing Rituals” has ideas to help you past blocks, get you started, and give you confidence sending things out. The Tip Sheets cover things like dialogue, tags, paragraph structure, scenes, and internal cuts.
SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM is one of the Topic Workbooks, based on a popular seminar of mine. So often, writers lose opportunities because they don’t have a system in place. Every time they want to submit, they re-invent the wheel. This book walks you through setting up a Submission System that is logical, easy, and that you can use as you complete each project. This way, any time an opportunity lands on your desk, it takes minutes to put together a packet, not hours or days. And, when you have a novel that is ready to go, you have all the pieces assembled, so whatever individual agent or publisher guidelines request, it’s just a case of popping in the right piece.
THE SERIES BIBLE: CREATION AND MAINTENANCE, another Topic Workbook, contains step-by-step instructions how to create your series bible, a vital document to anyone who’s writing a series. Inconsistencies in characters or habits or settings need to be choices, not mistakes. Readers catch mistakes, often with more of an eagle eye than writers. Keeping track of the details makes the entire creation process of a series stay on track, and helps enormously through the editing and production stages of the book.
More topic workbooks will be released over the coming months, covering topics such as Dialogue, The First Three Pages, The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects, Journal into Fiction, Dissecting Submission Guidelines, and more. They are created with an eye to be useful for years to come, and I hope you enjoy them.
If you have any ideas for workshops or topic workbooks you’d like to see, please leave them in the comments section.
Setting Up Your Submission System:
The Series Bible: Creation and Maintenance:
February 19, 2013
Posted by devonellington under Uncategorized
Quality in Writing
by Anne Lange
As a project manager by day, quality is a critical component to any successful project I undertake. Did I accomplish want I set out to do? Did I do it well? Follow the rules? And most importantly, did I meet my client’s expectations?
Many would say the question is actually did I exceed my client’s expectations? I would argue that in many areas of business, you only want to meet them. Why? Because giving more is not what your client asked for. In fact, doing so may cost you time and them money.
However, in writing it’s different. I think the goal is to stretch beyond what the reader anticipates. Blow them away. Give them more, maybe even something slightly different. After all, we want them to buy that next book. To tell all their friends about the great book they just read.
Exceeding the reader’s expectations isn’t easy though. How do we give more than the happily ever after ending they expect. I can give you a story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl marries boy, and they live happily ever after. But would that satisfy you? The goal has been achieved. The expectation met. And the product delivered.
Unfortunately it’s also boring as hell and took about three pages. Maybe ten if I throw in lots of adjectives, adverbs and a really hot sex scene.
But, that’s still not enough. There needs to be angst, conflict and tension. The characters need to struggle and experience hardship before they ever have a hope of fulfilling their goals. There needs to be MORE to the story than simply two people falling in love. It’s all those other pages in between the love story that makes the reader wonder – will it ever happen? Will they solve their troubles and find answers to their questions? Will they wake up, smell the coffee and realize they were meant to be together.
To do this, as an author I need to know how to write a good quality story. And, I’m continually learning how to do that. I read. I learn. I apply what I learned. I write.
As a reader, it’s simple. Give me a good quality story. Make me wonder. Make me cheer them on. And then make me sigh in satisfaction when it all comes together in the end. Just like I knew it would.
WORTH THE RISK is a contemporary erotic romance by Anne Lange, released by Etopia Press.
Even the hottest sex might not be enough to ease the pain of the past…
Molly Simpson arrives at a beautiful provincial park, ready to spend the May Two-Four holiday camping with friends. This weekend is the highlight of her year—or it was, until Tanner Daivies showed up. Her high school crush is all grown up, sexy as sin, and he’s demanding answers—answers Molly isn’t sure she can give him. She had her reasons for leaving him all those years ago, but now, sex with Tanner is scorching, and when they’re together, it’s clear they were never meant to be apart. But the past doesn’t want to stay buried, and Molly isn’t sure reliving it is worth the risk…
It was really him. Curiosity got the better of her, and she glanced back over her shoulder. Memories assaulted her as he removed his six-foot-plus frame from the car to stand in the center of the welcome circle. Her friends were all talking at him, their voices filled with excitement. Judging by his glazed expression, their reaction left him a little overwhelmed.
Ten years. She rubbed her chest, thinking back to the invisible ache that had bothered her earlier on the drive here. She’d struggled the entire two hours to keep her focus on the road and not on painful memories from her past.
She flexed her fingers. Maybe the cause of her earlier distress was the fact that this year served as a milestone. Ten years since graduation, ten years since she last saw Tanner, and ten years since…fuck. When did she start counting? Molly searched the area for possible escape routes.
Colleen’s gentle shake brought her back to the moment. “Brad texted me earlier and said he took the afternoon off. He also said he was bringing a surprise with him. He’s been dating somebody new. I just assumed—”
“Um…yeah. I wouldn’t have expected Brad’s surprise to be Tanner either. It…ah…caught me off guard. That’s—” Oh, crap. “I just need a few minutes.”
“You’ve got no color in your face. I’m sure it will be OK. Awkward, yes, but probably fine.”
Molly’s heart palpitated. Colleen’s mouth moved, but the buzz in her ears drowned out the words. She swallowed hard. Air, she needed air.
“Besides, the others won’t let him cause a scene. You’re the one we’ve stayed close to over the years, not him. Our allegiance is to you, honey.”
Molly swung her gaze to where her childhood friends had gathered around the car, effectively pinning Tanner against it. Sam and Olivia, a couple since they were in diapers, were married now, and both glowed like beacons.
Violet, a transplant from Toronto when her parents divorced, hovered close, waiting for her turn to say hi.
Brad and Tanner had been best friends through grade school and high school. Brad had been pissed when Tanner left town without a word to anyone. Looked as though he got over it.
Molly had never told anybody why she and Tanner broke up. She’d stressed over it at the time, deflecting comments from friends about him disappearing days before graduation. She hated the thought of being subjected to the pity she’d see on their faces if they knew the truth. Everybody just assumed the breakup had been his doing. She never corrected them, just implied she’d agreed with his decision.
Colleen’s words began to cut through the insistent noise. Molly nodded. “Thank you. That means more to me than you know.” Unshed tears burned her eyes. She opened her mouth and sucked in a shaky breath, but at least she had oxygen in her lungs now. “You’re right. It will be…fine.” She gulped. “Why don’t you go over and say hi?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m going to wait here for a few more minutes.” She began calculating the odds of sneaking past her friends and making a quick getaway before any of them noticed. She made a mental note to back her car in next time.
“OK.” Colleen gave her a final squeeze and walked over to join the others.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Molly closed her eyes, wishing for a paper bag. A really big one. She so did not need this in her life right now.
Anne Lange grew up with a love of reading. In fact, if you take a close look, she’s got a book with her where ever she goes, and will usually sneak in at least a chapter or ten whenever she can spare a few minutes. She reads many genres of fiction, but prefers to write sexy romance with attractive men, strong females, and always a happily ever after.
While embarking on a career as a romance author, Anne juggles a full time job and a family. She grew up in Southern Ontario (Canada), but now makes her home in Eastern Ontario where she lives with her husband and three children, and Rocky the bearded dragon.
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Social Media Links:
Web Page/Blog: http://authorannelange.com/
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnneLange
February 22 with Antonia van Zandt.
March 8 with Delilah Devlin
March 15 at Romance Lives Forever
April 5 with Rhonda Laurel
Regular at Love Scenes and Wet Dreams
February 12, 2013
Posted by devonellington under Uncategorized
Please welcome today’s guest, Greta van der Rol, who talks about:
Series and Sequels. Is there a difference?
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Devon. Today I want to talk about sequels. Not series, sequels. In my mind there’s a difference. A sequel is a story that follows on from another story, perhaps expanding on the storyline and using the same characters. As an example, Anne McCaffrey’s second Pern novel, Dragonquest, is a sequel to her first novel, Dragonflight. Her harper novels (Dragonsinger, Dragondrums et al) are part of the Pern series.
Among my own books, The Iron Admiral: Deception follows on, is a sequel to, The IronAdmiral: Conspiracy. Whereas Starheart is part of a series because the story takes place in the same universe as the Iron Admiral books.
More than one person has asked me to write a sequel to my most popular novel, Morgan’s Choice. I had produced two novellas, one at the start of Morgan’s career as a Supertech (it’s called Supertech) and another, entitled A Victory Celebration, set after the events of Morgan’s Choice and starring Morgan and Admiral Ravindra. But I hesitated before I started a sequel to Morgan’s Choice.
Everybody loves a sequel, right? You already know the characters, you know the universe they live in. All that’s been done, so you just write the story. Easy peasy.
No. For a start, the original book must leave scope for a sequel and in a realistic way. You really don’t want to have to resurrect somebody from the dead. (You know what I mean – oh you thought Doug died in the explosion? No, no that was just a pretend.) Or she finds out she was really adopted and goes to find her real parents. I hasten to say, if those elements are already hinted at in the original book, you can get away with it, but if they’re not, you’re risking a raised eyebrow at the very least.
I’d always imagined Morgan’s Choice as covering more than one book, and the initial plot point for a sequel is a no-brainer. She has been lost in space, made a new life for herself with humanoid ‘aliens’ called the Manesai, and established that the Manesai are genetically modified humans who originated from the same group of planets as Morgan. She’s going to go home, with her lover at her side, to find out where the Manesai came from.
Next, assuming you have a realistic starting point, can you come up with a story to match the first book? Can your characters evolve and grow?
I wasn’t at all sure about that, so I hesitated on the starting blocks for a l-o-n-g time. There wasn’t going to be a brand new love story. Morgan and Ravindra are an item, but I needed a level of conflict. An old boyfriend? An enemy? Morgan’s old boss? All possibilities…
At last, I set off, beginning with Ravindra’s first sight of a non-Manesai planet. From there, it’s a planet-hopping chase as Morgan and Ravindra seek out fragmentary clues, delving into a dark past. Morgan’s society is a product of a devastating war thousands of years earlier which nearly led to the extinction of the human race. The war started as a battle between sentient machines and humans but rapidly deteriorated into man vs man as life became a struggle to survive. An analogy would be the fall of Rome when Europe fell into the Dark Ages and much earlier knowledge was lost. Multiple that ten times or so and you’ll get the idea. All those elements were already introduced in Morgan’s Choice.
That was the easy part. The hard part was coming up with a society-threatening danger. As it happened, that evolved as I wrote, an exemplary case of plotting-as-you-go.
So it’s done, it’s out there soon. Am I happy with it? You bet. I hope you’re happy with it, too. Oh, by the way, it’s called Morgan’s Return. That was a no-brainer, too.
Greta van der Rol loves writing fast-paced, action-packed science fiction with a large dollop of good old, healthy romance. Her novel Morgan’s Choice was in the top 100 best sellers for space opera on Amazon for several months. But she writes other genres, too. Her historical novel To Die a Dry Death was awarded the bronze medal for historical fiction in the 2011 eLit Awards and her latest work, Black Tiger, is a paranormal romance. Greta lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn’t bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.
Amazon author page
Links for books http://gretavanderrol.net/books-2/
February 5, 2013
Posted by devonellington under Uncategorized
Please welcome my guest today, Marian Lanouette!
Devon Ellington: What was the inspiration for the Jake Carrington series?
Marian Lanouette: I was working on another book at the time when Jake popped into my head. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down. When I write a story, it’s because a whole storyline magically appears in my head like a movie. Once I started outlining Jake’s story, I realized it was going to be a series and not a single title.
DE: Why did you choose a male protagonist instead of a female protagonist?
ML: I have five brothers and throughout my life I’d take a situation and analyze how each person handled or spoke about it at a later date. I found it interesting that, even as children, men/boys approach an event differently than a woman/girl did. I like to say I think like a guy sometimes, in that I live in the moment and look forward, not backward.
DE: How has Jake’s growth surprised you as the series continues?
ML: Jake’s gone from being a player to having real feelings for a woman (Mia). In this respect he’s learning if he wants happiness with Mia, he’s going to need to compromise and put her fears and feelings first.
DE: Do you see this as a finite series, or will you keep going indefinitely?
ML: No. I have so many stories in my head and outlined involving Jake and his crew. As long as the readers want to read about Jake, Mia, Louie and Sophia, I’ll keep writing them. You see I love them all and it’s fun writing about them.
DE: What are you working on now?
ML: I’m actually working on two books and just proofed a third. I’m three-quarters of the way through Mated for Life, the third book in the Jake Carrington Mystery series. I’m also re-writing my very first book, Loss of Power. This week I turned in a short story titled “As the World Ends” which will be released in two weeks. Plus, I’m flushing out the outline for the fourth book in the series, A Demented Mind. I love being busy.
Thank you for hosting me, Devon.
Excerpt from Burn in Hell:
With her head down, she sat at her machine, waiting on the supervisor to come back—to unlock the machine so she could play again. More than anything, she needed to win. A hand landed on her shoulder, startling her. Jerking away, Kyra turned to see who belonged to the hand. Crap, not the supervisor. Joe Dillon, not exactly the person I want to see right now.
“How’s it going?” Her host sat down next to her.
“Not good,” she whined.
“I’m sorry to hear it. You know you have a payment due soon?”
Double crapola. “Yes, I know.”
“Why don’t you leave the machine for a while? Come have something to eat with me?”
What could he be up to, she wonder?
“Why? Kyra, let’s discuss your loan payment over dinner, explore your options.”
What options? There weren’t any. All week she racked her brain trying to find a solution to the mess. Though a quiet guy, Joe scared her. Deep inside, she understood he could destroy her. Not a person she’d want to cross.
“Kyra? Please, no one’s going to touch your machine. Maybe a break will change your luck?”
“What the hell. I could eat,” Kyra hissed. Something had to change.
“How about a steak?”
They got up at the same time, bumping into each other. Joe sat back down, let Kyra get up first. He followed her as she headed to the Trenton Steak House. Joe grabbed her arm and pointed to the private elevator that went directly to the entrance to the Whale Room. She looked at him. He smiled.
“What’s up, Joe?”
“I think you need a real break Kyra, so we’ll head up.”
Curiosity got the better of her, but she figured she’d find out what he was up to in good time. Then the fear hit her. Maybe she shouldn’t leave the floor with him. She owed the casino seventy-five thousand dollars. Behind on her payments, she spent three grand tonight trying to win her next payment. Stupid—how could I be so stupid? I should’ve made a partial payment with the three grand instead of gambling tonight. They wouldn’t beat up her up, would they? Tasting the bile as it violently pushed up from her stomach, scorching a path to her throat. Kyra couldn’t control the tears that flooded into her eyes when she started to choke.
“Are you all right, Kyra?”
“I don’t want to leave the public floor, Joe.” Kyra’s hands shook along with her entire body. Unable to control her voice as it cracked, her mind searching for an escape.
“I have a deal for you, but I can’t discuss it in an open area. We’ll discuss it upstairs, over dinner.” He smiled.
Oh yeah, she thought, the farmer leading the cow to the slaughter. “What kind of deal?”
“We’ll discuss it upstairs,” he repeated firmly.
“You’re not going to break my legs or anything like that. Are you?” she half-heartily joked.
“No such thing, Kyra. Relax.” Now’s the time too really worry, she thought. Just like the “trust me” phrase, it gave her the willies.
* * * *
Joe Dillon studied Kyra as they rode up in the elevator. To look at her, you’d never guess she’d lost control of her life. He liked her curves, her full lips, and the wild, curly red hair. Shorter than he, she stood about five feet four inches—he didn’t like looking up at a woman. Too many women today were taller than him. He looked into her green, green eyes, his mind taking off in all directions. Not now, Joe. Kyra’s not worth the trouble. He knew she had a son—her divorce a by-product of gambling. The boss told him this morning she was losing custody of her son. What woman gambles to the point of losing her child? Joe thought about the deal he’d be offering her, dragging her down even further. He pushed the guilt from his mind. Not my fucking[M1] problem. Kyra did this to herself. If I ever caught Camile gambling, I’d break her legs. Joe saw what gambling did to families. Too much heartache for too little reward, he mused.
Joe thought of the deal he’d lay on the table for her—two choices—wondering which one she’d choose. Neither was pleasant. I’m only the messenger. That’s how he justified his work. Blinded by greed, these people put themselves in this position with their gambling addictions.
One of ten children, Marian took to writing to explore new and adventurous places. While her friends traveled on planes for vacation, Marian traveled in books. With an overactive imagination, it didn’t take long for her to start creating her own characters and stories. If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery that released in 2012, is the first book in the series.
As an avid reader, she discovered mysteries by reading the Daily News as a youngster. Intrigued by the real life crimes, and how the police worked and eventually solved them, ignited her imagination beyond the ordinary.
An English professor marked her final paper with an A, but wrote a note that said, “Well done, though you’re not Virginia Woolf yet, so add a little action to the story.” That one line had her punching up the action in stories to come.
Marian has many plans (books) for Jake Carrington and his crew. She invites you to discover these wonderful characters and share your impressions at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.marianl.com
If I Fail: Amazon: