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Archive for July, 2015

When I’m working on a story, I never know what length the finished manuscript will be. If it’s a “small” concept, I assume it will be a short story (1,000-7,499 words). If there’s a bit of world-building involved, even with a “small” concept, I drift into the novelette length (7,500-17,499 words). If I know the concept is a little more complicated, plus there’s some world-building, I suspect the finished manuscript will land in the novella length (17,500-40,000 words). And then, there’s that moment when a writer suddenly realizes your novella wants to leap into novel territory! (40,000+ words)

But I’m talking speculative adult (new and/or old adults) fiction, not other genres. Which is why I used the lengths in the above categories as set forth by the Hugo Awards.

Plus, you’ll see I didn’t say anything about fiction under 1,000 words. Those short pieces fall in the rather nebulous category of flash fiction. Acceptable lengths for flash fiction are usually listed by various publications in their writer’s guidelines.

Now, here’s where all this gets tricky! Each genre has different length requirements. What would be too short for Epic Fantasy, is perfectly fine for a Western. The length of a Middle Grade novel really depends on which middle grade you’re writing for. And a picture book manuscript should almost always be under 1,000 words.

Here’s a good article from Writers Digest with lots more information. Happy reading and writing!

If you’re enjoying my posts, please consider buying one of my books on Amazon, or elsewhere. Thanks.

 

 

 

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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords (Jojen Reed)

Still re-reading the Game of Thrones books, so I thiought I’d use another George R.R. Martin quote. Both the reader and writer in me loves this quote. As a writer, you build your world and live in that world through the characters you create. As a reader, you have the opportunity to live the many lives of the many characters of the many authors you read.

What a wonderful gift books are to anyone willing to open them and begin to read. I, for one, hope to live a thousand lives (or more) as I discover the many characters residing between the pages of books. And I invite each of you to buy one of my books and discover some of the characters I’ve created.

Happy reading!

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Writers struggle to not only write, but to find publishers for their novels. Sometimes, misery likes company (remember, clichés do come from a bit of truth). So I thought this post, 15 Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels that Publishers Rejected would offer some comfort to writers.

It proves that not every book is for every editor or publishing company. And it also proves, persistence counts! Hope you enjoy the article. 🙂

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I’m a fan of fairy-tales, fairies, and gardens, so when I saw this charming solar light chandelier I couldn’t wait to share the link. I happen to have two solar lights (out of four originals) still working, which are just the right size. Plus, I have two metal hanging baskets which only need to be emptied of dirt, etc. All I need are some prisms, and I think I can light my garden with a pair of Fairy Chandeliers.

Here’s the link, fellow gardeners and fairy-lovers. Let me know what you think.

Have a magical day!

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I’ve attended and participated in many writers conferences over the years. When I return home after spending a day or more surrounded by other people who love writing and books as much as I do, I usually feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the stack of writing projects on my desk (and floor and bookcase top…)

Sometimes, I’ve managed to take helpful notes. If so, I try to type those up while my memory of the workshop or presentation is still fresh. The longer I wait to type those notes, the fuzzier my memory of the extra details I didn’t jot down will become.

Sometimes, I’ve made a few interesting contacts. And I’ll have a stack of business cards ready to add to my contact file. Lesson learned over the years – always jot a note to yourself on the back of each business card so you’ll remember why this person is important to you. Again, as soon as you get home, expand those notes so in a few months the networking contact will still have meaning.

Sometimes, attending a conference will lead to another presentation opportunity. Follow up on the contact as soon as you’re able to do so. You might remember, but the other person’s memory of the offered (or mentioned) opportunity will soon fade. Networking only works when you follow up!

When presenting, sometimes the presentation doesn’t go as you plan. As soon as you get home, review why it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Come up with ideas to improve the presentation for the next time you’re asked to speak on that subject.

A note here – my worst presentation wasn’t due to anything I did in particular! My presentation time slot was the last of the day, the room was stiffling, there was a loud fan directly beside me, a librarian kept moving around behind me, there were too many people crammed in the room… I tried to adjust for the circumstances, and veering from my planned presentation made me anxious and eager to “just get it over with.” If this conference asks me again to do a presentation, I’ll request an earlier time slot and a more spacious room. I’ll also “stick to the plan,” so I feel more relaxed.

An interesting take on making the most of a writing conference can be found in this Build Book Buzz article.

Hope to see you at a writing conference!

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“It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore (character), Harry Potter by JK Rowling

And there is the truth of the matter, from none other than JKRowling.

Our true character is revealed not in our words, not in our abilities, and not in our paycheck. Our choices show others who we are. And the reward for our choices are consequences. Usually, good choices result in good consequences. And quite often, bad choices result in bad consequences.

My motto has always been: Always choose kindness. And in making that choice as often as possible, I hope I show others who I am.

The characters in my stories have different mottos and creeds, and the consequences of the choices they make in my fiction are what makes the narrative. My readers don’t want to read about perfect characters making perfect choices, they want to read about complicated characters making good and bad choices – then, dealing with the consequences.

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Readers often ask where I get my ideas from. “Life,” is my usual response.

A perfect example is an article from Discovery Channel Australia on giant crystals which fill an entire cave. Superman jokes aside, this is a fabulous environment to use as the location of a story. I don’t even need to make up the wonder of this cave!

So I leave you science geeks, speculative fiction fans, and interested readers to ponder the amazing Crystal Cave and its ability to inspire.

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For those who’ve read Whimsical Words since the beginning, you know I have blueberry bushes. For those readers just stopping by for the first time, I’ve written several times about my blueberry bushes, picking berries, and the birds and other creatures who gobble up much of the fruit.

I’ve thought about draping the bushes with bird netting, but it seems to me it would make picking difficult for the people, too. A huge cage built around the bushes would be a solution, but the expense and the fact that my berry bushes are on a hill make a cage impractical.

A cat would help, butI no longer have the beloved orange and white cat who made sure birds stayed away. And my husband who doesn’t want another cat.

So, what to do?

A few weeks ago, when we were returning home after a walk, we saw a black snake crawl across our driveway and climb up into one of the blueberry bushes. He/she must have stayed close to the blueberries for several days, because the birds kept away. But my snake-disliking husband also stayed away from the berries.

Alas, the feathered berry-raiders are back in full force. I spotted this article on a natural way to scare birds away using dollar store items. Maybe this will work – if it doesn’t scare away friends and family!

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Anyone who knows me, knows I love words. Not just the everyday, run of the mill, nothing special sort of words, but the wonderfully weird words.

Some fabulous words are archaic. Used generations ago, they’ve fallen our of favor for one reason or another.

Some words sound lovely when falling off the tongue. But those who value ease of speech more than the lyrical sound of a word, have shunted these ear-ticklers to the never-used corner of the dictionary.

Some words are so specific, the need for their usage is limited—unless you write speculative fiction, in which case they can be the inspiration for a story (or at least a sentence or two).

Other words just never caught on, never made it into our day-to-day language.

One of the sites that celebrate these word addities is Grandiloquent Words on Facebook. For those who love language and words as much as I do, I recommend taking a look.

And don’t be stampointed by the quirky list of words on the site.

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“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
– George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Still reading the Game of Thrones books and hoping to see a new book published in the not too distant future. George Martin is a wonderful stroyteller, whether you choose to delve into his world or not. Yes, there’s violence, language, and sex, but his world building is to be admired.

I like this quote, not just because it shows a wonderful relationship between parent and child, but because of its great truth. To pick up a snake when you’re not afraid of snakes is no act of bravery. To kill a copperhead threatening your children when you’re terrified of snakes, is being brave.

For me, it is a fearful thing to put my stories and artwork out in the public eye. I suppose it’s because I fear my work isn’t good enough. I’ve never been part of “the in group,” so I think I’m pretty sure my creative work—and by extension, myself—will be rejected or thought less than acceptable. Whether in science-fiction and fantasy fandom at cons, at writers’ conventions, bookstore signing, or at an art exhibit—I’m always one step away from running out the door. (Though I’ve been told I hide it well!)

So when you see me at public venues, know I face a fear by being there. I’m not sure if I’m brave, but I do know my heart is racing and my hands are shaking—just a bit—as I pry myself from in front of the computer or drawing board and mingle with readers, writers, and fans.

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