Category Archives: Writer’s Reference

Sam Searches – III. The First Chapter

Advice for writing the first chapter

This search is a little different from the others. Less about a particular topic that might be useful to your writing, I figured I’d compile some resources on writing that dreaded first chapter.

Every author, every story, is different. These are more like “guidelines” than rules, but they should help you better explore the beginning of your work.

If you have more resources to add, please comment below! Thanks for reading and sharing.

srm

What to Do

What to Avoid

Other

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Sam Searches – II. The Effects of Child Abuse

Resources on the effects of child abuse

They say, “Write what you know!” But they forget to add, “Learn what you don’t!” For writers, thorough research is absolutely integral.

Inspired by this post and my own need for research on this subject, I’ve dug into the awful world of abuse. Child abuse is unfortunately very common and it does permeate our media despite being a sort of creative taboo. Of course, no subject is off limits in creative endeavours, but we must do it justice. If a character in your work is being abused or has been abused, you will need some resources to help you portray their experiences as accurately and respectfully as possible. Here are a few to get you started.

Feel free to reblog with your own resources, or check out other sam searches for different research topics.

srm

General Information

Effects of Abuse

First-hand Accounts

  • Child Abuse Stories – First-hand stories submitted to Child Abuse Effects. Stories of healing and recovery, as well.
  • Children’s Stories – Accounts of abuse from children, provided by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
  • Personal Stories – Personal stories from Childhelp

More Resources

  • Books on Child Abuse – Books and stories on Goodreads tagged as featuring child abuse. Some are fiction, some are memoir.

For American and Canadian readers – 1-800-422-4453 is the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline. NOT a writer’s resource, but a 24/7 hotline for counselling, encouragement, and direction for reporting abuse.

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Sam Searches – i. Karst & Caves

Sam searches karst and caves

They say, “Write what you know!” But they forget to add, “Learn what you don’t!” For writers, thorough research is absolutely integral. Sometimes I catch myself needing to become an expert on something I didn’t even know existed! Maybe my bizarre explorations of our world can help your writing, too.

Today, karst and caves!

srm

Karst & Caves

Flora & Fauna

Images

(my content – reposted from tumblr)

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Free eBook Covers for a Limited Time!

Graphic design has always been a little hobby of mine.

Recently, I’ve put my Photoshop skills to use in designing a book cover for my upcoming NA Fantasy, “Relic,” and have volunteered to create eCovers for a few others in a handful of Facebook writing groups. I do it because it’s fun, I can justify to myself that I’m doing something “productive” for my craft without actually having to write or edit anything, and it gets me connected to authors and stories I may have otherwise not known of.

But with enough praise and demand, I thought maybe I could start charging. I’ve seen others shell out creations for $25-$50 a pop, but I just couldn’t stomach charging up-and-coming writers so much for something I’ve been doing for free for so long. So, I thought I’d start at $2. That’s right. $2. Of course, that’s for “the basics,” but my maximum price is $15 for two complex covers to choose from. Sound too good to be true? My hope is that enough people will feel that way to really give me a wave of business to ride. If not, then I’ll hopefully make a few bucks with another very-part-time hobby. Not so bad.

And while I build my portfolio a bit more, I’m still offering one FREE basic cover to new customers. So what do you have to lose?

If you want an eCover for your latest novel, or for your very first Wattpad creation, or anything in between, why not give me a shot? And tell your friends! I’m no professional, but I think the work speaks for itself. Check out my Facebook Page for more information.

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Blogging for Books

If you love to blog and you love to read, there is a program out there calling your name:

Blogging for Books.

Whether you’re into fiction or non-fiction, this new service created by Crown Publishing Group (a division of Penguin Random House) wants to give you free books (available either as an eBook or a physical copy– physical copies only for US residents) to read and review on YOUR blog. Yes, that’s right: FREE books delivered to your door or your eReader for your reading pleasure.

You don’t even have to pay for shipping.

Simply visit the site, sign up, enter your information, answer a few questions, and just like that you’re ready to review.

Using Klout, Blogging for Books also pushes special offers and gives you greater access to more books based on your score. The higher your Klout score, the more choices you’ll have. (If you don’t already utilize Klout to keep your networks organized and constantly publishing content, I highly recommend it!)

You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. The most the program asks of you is to give honest reviews, and to add a bit on each post explaining that you’ve received the book from Blogging for Books as a review copy.

Bonus points if you work for a media outlet, retailer, library, ministry, or church. Indicate in your application that you’re a part of one of these organizations and you immediately become a “Blogging for Books Partner.” No need to even write a review on your blog if you don’t feel inclined– simply let the publisher know what you thought of the book.

My first book pick is on its way as I write this, but I couldn’t wait to share. Keep an eye out for my first review to come soon, and be sure to let your blogging buddies know, too!

Spread the love, and write on!

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Why “Lolita” Was Despicable– And Why I Loved It.

After having been accosted by friends and colleagues for ages about not having read Nabokov’s “Lolita,” I finally picked it up some two weeks ago.

I’d thumbed through the thing on several occasions due to its high praise and high controversy while I worked as a shelver for my first library, but it never stuck. I often found myself put off to it because the subject matter just seemed too, well, perverted. And I’m not prudish by any means (I mean, c’mon, I grew up with some of the most appalling fanfiction), but the thought of reading an entire novel about one man’s obsessive sexual love affair with a preteen made my stomach churn.

I had no idea just what I was missing in rejecting this novel for so long.

In the past, I’ve read it acclaimed as the “only convincing love story of this century” or some such wording, and to a degree I can understand this thought.

But the inherent problem (and what made me wrinkle my nose at this quote at first) is the idea that “love” is always this infallible, beautiful, selfless thing. However, in my own past, I’ve seen “love” as Humbert Humbert sees it with Dolores Haze– not pedophiliac, by any means, but certainly distorted, obsessive, excruciating. That is the love story we see between our manipulative narrator and his prey, Lolita. His Lolita, as we are reminded so many times. We see a relationship sick, selfish, and full of deceit. This is not one for the storybook lovers, for those who desperately desire a happy ending. And in that sense, “Lolita” truly is a very convincing love story– where love and lovers are underhanded and egomaniacal. Desperate to the point of utter immorality.

 

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

And that is what disgusted me so much about the book: each character appeared to have been crafted to be as alarmingly loathsome as possible, riding a wave between antagonist and protagonist throughout.

H.H., so darkly humorous, well-spoken and charming, handsome and crafty, was every inch the spider he described himself to be. His exploitation of Lolita and others around him was sometimes the only thing keeping me from falling in love with him, myself. From the moment you understand his affliction and his total grasp of it, you want nothing more than to hate him. But it’s hard, at times. He makes it hard.

Dolores was much the same, in some respects, but it was watching her become a casualty of Humbert’s delusion that became the only thing keeping me from hating her. Her apathetic communications, flirtatious and sardonic interactions with H.H drove me mad. I was as much disappointed, I think, in her desperate plea for money and the roundabout conversation in which she gave Clare Quilty away (and perhaps the entire escape with him) as I was with Humbert Humbert’s initial scheme to remove her from Ramsdale.

But Charlotte’s infantile disdain for her own daughter and the jealousy she felt around H.H. made her the most outrageous villain. Upon learning of her husband’s antipathy towards her and his lust for her very young daughter, she still wanted to send Dolores away to a reform school.

I hated all of the characters to some degree, even auxiliary ones.

And that, friends, is why I loved “Lolita.”

I was manipulated by the same orchestrations as the girl after whom the book is named.

I was forced to love and hate Humbert Humbert as he loves and hates himself. I was forced to struggle to love Lo as he struggled to “love” her. I was forced to view Charlotte through a dirtied, altered lens, making her seem more nefarious than she probably was. And each secondary character left an impression of frustration and exasperation on me, much as they did Humbert.

In this analysis, I’ve come to understand why I had been so wrong in assuming the novel itself was one of illicit lust and nothing more. It was one of struggle and manipulation, and I would even go so far as to say it’s one of sociopathy. We know only of the story through Humbert’s eyes, how he perceived those fateful years, that conglomeration of tiny moments, and nothing more. We have only little details to ground us in the reality of the circumstances. One could even argue that the only struggle is an internal one– beyond his obsession with the girl, there was nothing to keep Humbert Humbert in the situations that drove him so mad. There was nothing to prompt him to transform from a sick man with disturbing appetites to a willing and able pedophile– to a murderer.

Somewhere down the road I would really love to read “Lolita” again, understanding how pliable I was in the author’s hands, so to speak. I wonder if I will find something else in it I had been too blinded by the first telling of the story to see.

For now, five out of five.

✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

If you’ve read “Lolita,” what did you take away from it? If not (and you haven’t minded the spoilers), why not? Share in the comments below!

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Universal Inspiration – Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s that time:

Camp time.

Usually I’m not one for the NaNoWriMo summer sessions, but with muse bursting from my mind’s seams, I’ve resolved to participate if for nothing else than outlining.

The WriMo community has been one of the leading wellsprings of resources for me in my many years of writing, including but not limited to that sometimes hard-to-come-by resource: Inspiration. Every novel I’ve started and/or finished (with the exception of “Untitled R.A.”) had its beginnings at the start of some November. Hell, such fantastic works as “Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen and “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan have humble roots in the yearly jaunt (find more published WriMos here). And that, for me, only serves as further incentive.

Because if they can do it, why can’t I?

Camp NaNoWriMo is a little different than the big shebang of 11/1. No stringent word-count, doesn’t have to be a novel, opt to join writing groups, etc. But it still offers that same community-based supply of writing tips, prompts, goals, discussions, links, documents, and more.

And it’s just a great excuse to write like the wind.

If you are a WriMo (or are thinking of becoming one), what has the experience offered to you as a writer? What have you learned or taken away from Camp or the “true” NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year?

I’d love to connect with you!

Write on!

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Character Depth– What Really Works?

I’ve seen it hundreds of times over the course of my many years writing:

Character building in the form of “Interview Sheets” or “Character Charts.”

You know the drill; you have this wonderful little application for you as the narrator or you as your character to fill out for an in-depth study of history, quirks, personality, thought process, appearance, and more.

But my question always ends up being: How much does this help? I’ve tried it and found that I end up just wasting time on trying to flesh out characters who would rather add skin to bone in their own time.  Of course, these character “cheat sheets” are only supposed to provide an outline, some inspiration, but I’ve yet to find any.

For me, my characters become rounder as I write. I’ve yet to have any sort of problem with this style and have often found it preferable to the reader. If your character is narrating in the first person POV, why would she comment on her long golden-brown hair in the first five pages of the novel? I know when I tell a story, what I was wearing or how my hair looked become totally unnecessary details in the telling. If an omniscient is telling the story, why would the narrator need to convey your character’s happiest memory if it will never have any impact on the story at hand?

In this way, writing for myself is easier because my characters unveil themselves slowly– and as a reader, I appreciate the same.

I will go out of my way to find fitting names for each character. Oftentimes, they denote something in personality, history, or main objective, even if the correlation is a small one. I like to create pathways (something tangible I can reference later) from one character to the next and their impact on the story. I will give them age ranges, base descriptions, and occasionally will outline certain personality aspects. Beyond that, it all comes out in-text.

In that case, though, what else can be done to help make a character more “real?”

More importantly: What do YOU do to help make your characters more real?

I’d love to hear some input. Especially if you have a really rockin’ alternative to the character chart.

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Selling LOTS of Books and Why Bright Ideas Can Go BADLY

A wonderful reminder for anyone who struggles with “Beginning, middle, and end” at all in the writing process. Simple, clean, and with an easy-to-follow structure, most readers would rather indulge in a book they know HOW to read than one they have to TRY to read. It’s something I need to pull into my own writing regimen, so I thought I’d share it with you all, too.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

The Reliant Robin: Image via "Top Gear" The Reliant Robin: Image via “Top Gear”

Writers must understand structure if they hope to be successful. Yes, it might take five years to finish the first novel, but if we land a three book deal, we don’t have 15 years to turn in our books. And the key to making money at this writing thing is we have to be able to write books…the more the better. If we can write GREAT books quickly? WINNING!

Understanding structure helps us become faster, cleaner, better writers.

Plotters tend to do better with structure, but even pantsers (those writers who write by the seat of their pants) NEED to understand structure or revisions will be HELL. Structure is one of those boring topics like finance or taxes. It isn’t nearly as glamorous as creating characters or reading about ways to unleash our creative energy.

Structure is probably one of the most overlooked…

View original post 1,835 more words

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Love in the Stacks

I am very honored to know so many fantastic artists and creators in my close social network. From musicians and photographers to painters and bakers, my circle is absolutely plump with beautiful imagination.

Today, HEA (Happy Ever After) published an interview with my very good friend, Sean Gilmartin– an aspiring novelist and winner of the Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year Award.

Check it out for a little inspiration regarding romance as a genre and where it fits in our libraries. Rest assured when he finally has been published, you’ll be hearing all about it from me. For now I must simply give him the most amazing commendations. I had the privilege of working with this man in his element, collaborating on teen and tween activities, participating in the programming he created, listening to children and adults alike sing his praises, and I have never met anyone so deserving of an award for outstanding service.

Keep your eye on this one: I swear you’ll be glad you did.

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