Monday, June 25, 2012

Paranormal Wire Is Gone

Well, it's official. I will not be making any more posts on this sub-domain. We have moved. You can follow me over here to Natasha Larry Books.

Bye Bye Paranormal Wire.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Visit the Geek Cave

Happy Sunday everyone! I just wanted to do a blog post on the fly to let everyone know about the Geek Cave. You can find it by clicking here---> Geek Queen Cave

It's a celebration of all things geek, from stabbing books to scissors to aliens and must have android apps. Plus, if you're also a geek, there is a chance to Guest Blog.

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!


Friday, April 27, 2012

A CONventional Experience

Hi everyone! :)

I know you've missed me as it's been quite a while. In my defense very shortly after my last post my book came out and I have been in a whirlwind of promotion & selling activities (and I am married with a day job as well). Speaking of as always to start these messages.

Shameless plug: My book The Newfoundland Vampire is now available from the fine folks (Pat in particular :) at Penumbra Publishing and Tasha’s books (I've read both and highly recommend) are also out now.

This past weekend I finally got a chance to sell my book in person at Sci-Fi on the Rock VI (if you haven't been a Geeky Con before I HIGHLY recommend it, a lot of fun). As I've already talked about my personal experiences/feeling on this on my blog I'll move on now to how selling your book at a Con can benefit you as a writer.

First off while it's great to have books selling online (and the eventual paycheck that follows, which I'll have in a few months :) there's nothing like the satisfaction and immediacy of selling your book to someone in person, signing it and getting cash in hand. Connecting with a potential fan and convincing them to give your book a try is a great thing and I particularly loved when one guy came back to get another copy =) but I'm off topic already. 


As a writer you benefit right away by seeing the tables that other authors and publishers have set up. For me while I noticed that mine looked perhaps a little better than the guy next to me (who was really nice, I'm not putting him down, just making an observation) it still was amateur compared to the table of D.C. Rhind or Engen Books. (though in my defense they obviously put a lot more time, effort and money into their tables and had multiple books to sell). 

Otherwise it was great to sit next to another author (Scott Bartlett) who lives here in Newfoundland. He gave me lots of great tips on local promotion and places to sell. He was even nice enough to buy a copy of my book before he left (I bought his on Amazon as I'm getting into Ebooks :) I also got to meet a book reviewer (who I'm hoping to hear back from) and a guy from the Newfoundland Writer's Alliance (who strongly suggested that I join and I will). 


Finally it was also wonderful to give a talk on writing/publishing/vampire fiction and my book in particular. Even doing a excerpt was a lot of fun and I got some great questions that made me think about my book and about how I should do my talk in the future. If you've never been a guest or had a table at a local convention I'd highly recommend it. I'll be doing another one the end of September (Atlanti-Con) which you can read about here.

Well I've got lots of promotional stuff to do. Have a great day everyone, until next time dear readers I am..








Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Author Valerie Douglas


 Today I'd like to welcome Valerie Douglas to the blog. Read this fun interview and enter her giveaway! 



Q: Who are you, and why should readers read the rest of this interview?

Hmmm, I’m old enough to know better but young enough to still do it. I collect odd animals – one submissive and one schizophrenic dog, a one-eyed cat, another whose jaw has been broken and I’m pretty sure is dain-bramaged (we don’t say that out loud) and another who sucks her tail. The fourth cat is normal. More or less. I also have nearly twenty books published either as myself or under my pen name – and the genres tend to vary depending  on my muse. Why read the rest of the interview? Because you KNOW you want to…

Q: Tell us a little about the work you are here promoting.  

Heart of the Gods is a nifty little thriller full of myth, magic, mummies and romance with a little paranormal thrown in for good measure. An archeologist, Ky Farrar has been fascinated by the legendary Tomb of the Djinn since he first learned of it as a boy. The stories of its Guardian and the treasures contained within intrigued him. Of course, he believes that most of those tales are myth. Until he finds out the Guardian is all too real, and she’s as lovely as she is lethal.


Q: Mummies sounds like something I can get into.  As a writer, do you have plans for world domination, or do you have a day job as well?

I’m lucky enough to support myself as a writer – so I have lots of time to plot world domination.

Q: Nice! Self-published, traditional, indie or part of an indie collective? If not yet published, what are you doing to make it happen?

All of the above, except the last. My first novels were published traditionally under my pen name, but I found I didn’t like giving up the control. I just don’t handle authority well. *grins* What a surprise. Now I have all the control, all the headaches, but all the money as well. I’ll take door number two in exchange for one and three any day.



Q:  How do you handle bad reviews?

Ya know, I just don’t like every book I’ve ever read and I don’t expect other folks to do the same. Even so, I’ll admit it still hurts. Less so from the person who admitted they didn’t read the book but failed it on the blurb. Now, most of the time I just avoid looking at them, so when I find a good one it’s such a wonderful surprise.

Q: I like that attitude!  Are you nervous yet and do you prefer white or wheat bread.

Nah, and I don’t eat bread much. (Love the taste, but carbs put me to sleep.)

Q: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of carbs putting someone to sleep. =) Do you blog? If so, don't you wish you were as cool a blogger as I?

I started guest blogging for someone else, and now I almost never post on my own blog page.



Q: What is your favorite creature, monster, or fantasy based thing you write about?

I like almost all of them except sparkly emo vampires. Sorry Twilight fans, not picking on it much, but then I’m over 30 and that can be a handicap.



Q: Are you planning to give something away (if not, good luck getting anyone to read this thing) and if so, what are your demands for winning (I assume, your book because why else would you stop by?) 

I’ll give away a free copy of both Heart of the Gods and Servant of the Gods to each of the first three people who can find my blog and prove they’ve read the blurbs for both.




Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?

Do the work. Put out a quality product. Then, stick with it. It won’t happen overnight.

Q: Tick off a few authors you look up to.

Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). Anne McCaffrey (One of the first women to be awarded a Hugo and Nebula).  Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, bestselling novelist.



Q:  Are you, or are you not a douche bag? Heh, you don't have to answer that. That's just for my enjoyment.

Not in general practice.


Author Bio: 


Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and a genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. A fan of authors from almost every genre from Isaac Asimov to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, she writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!

She’s the author of several series – the Servant of the Gods series (historical romance),  The Coming Storm series (epic fantasy), and The Millersburg Quartet series (romance), and a dozen more.

Happily married, she's lives in the wild farmlands of Ohio. In addition to her husband she’s companion to two dogs, four cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.


Q: Alright, where can readers find you on the web?
http://www.facebook.com/Valerie.Douglas.Books (FB) 


The giveaway 
Alright, folks. The giveaway will end May 26th. The author listed her demands above... locate her blog and comment that you read the blurb, the first three comments win!

Heart of the Gods synopsis:

Tales of the fabled Tomb of the Djinn and its Guardian have fascinated archaeologist Ky Farrar since a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo when he was a boy. The story of the star-crossed lovers and their battle to save ancient Egypt from the Djinn made him choose his career. He believes he’s finally found it - only to discover the Tomb's Guardian is all too real. And she's as lovely as she is lethal.
 
Ky, however, isn't the only one searching. It's a race to reach the Tomb before the others accidentally unleash what lies within it in their effort to claim the ancient artifacts which lie within - the legendary Horn of the Djinn and the Heart of the Gods.
 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freebie Announcement

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I just wanted to make a short and sweet announcement that Unnatural Law will be free today on Amazon to all.

A Quick Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Jaycie Lerner’s psychokinetic power surge is over, and her astounding powers are under control for the time being – sort of. As she struggles to maintain her humanity in the face of the awesome terror and responsibility of her abilities, she also yearns for the chance at a normal life – and a relationship with Matt Carter, the best friend she had to leave behind. But Matt’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, and he’s not about to give up on his feelings for Jaycie.

As Jaycie and her family grapple with the day-to-day routine of trying to keep their world together, Jaycie’s mother figure, Allison Young, endures a personal crisis of her own. The superhuman blonde possesses the physical equivalent of Jaycie’s awesome psychic power. So evolved, at ninety-two she still looks twenty. But what good is extended life when everyone else around her is so fragile? With no one to share her unusual life, she’s a uniquely lonely woman yearning for the romantic love she sees all around her. But in a dream she gets her wish – and it quickly turns to a nightmare for everyone else in her life. The memory of a rose is all she can hold onto in the storm of obsession that nearly sweeps her away.

Things quickly turn deadly for the vampires, but the Dey-Vah Guard fairies refuse to acknowledge there’s an imbalance in the nature they protect. As the danger gets ever closer to Jaycie and her family, the race is on to find answers before a secret plot can destroy them all.

Where to Download
Amazon Link

Monday, April 23, 2012

TUESDAY TIPS AND TIDBITS – What are your characters saying?


In a continuing attempt to help new (and not so new) authors better understand the mechanics of writing, we are offering our twist on writing tips. Today, it’s DIALOG.

Dialogue (or it can be spelled ‘dialog’) – what your characters say in your story – can be a crucial component of your fiction. However, it can also be one of the most difficult things for a writer to write well. Many beginning writers are afraid of dialog, and some just plain don’t get it. Even some experienced writers go overboard with dialog and use it when it might not be the most appropriate choice for a particular segment of a story.

What’s so complicated about dialog, and why is it so darned important anyway? Dialog is an excellent way to break up monotonous narrative, show interactive tension, ramp us suspense, delivery story surprises, and demonstrate characterization. Done right, it can make a story sing. Done wrong, and it can tell a reader you don’t know what in the hell you’re doing.

DISSECTING DIALOG. The first problem many writers have with dialog is that they don’t understand how it’s structured. The truth is, dialog can take on many forms when narrative delivery descriptions or ‘tags’ are added. Basically, dialog consists of the quoted matter (words that are actually ‘spoken’) and the delivery part or ‘tag,’ if present. Things can get dicey when it comes to figuring out how to correctly punctuate dialog.


The US rule is, what is spoken by a character is bracketed by double quote marks, like so:

“I don’t really want to go on that trip.”

Add a tag like he said to it, and the punctuation instantly gets complicated. The US rule is, the tag must contain a transitive speech-delivery verb (like said, yelled, cried, etc. – NOT laughed, smiled, nodded, or other actions that don't deliver spoken words) in order to be connected to the dialog with a comma or lowercase tag as part of the total dialog sentence like so:

He said, “I don’t really want to go on that trip.”

“I don’t really want to go on that trip!” he yelled.

“I don’t,” he said with a sneer, “really want to go on that trip.”

Note that in all three examples above, the tag is connected to the dialog so the quoted matter and the tag together form a complete overall sentence. The transitive verb allows that because transitive means the verb, by its meaning, requires an object, a what, a something to act upon. He said what (what is the object of the verb said, or more precisely the quoted dialog portion of the sentence – “I don’t really want to go on that trip.”)

Note that the following example using spoke instead of said changes the structure because spoke is not a transitive verb that requires an object. Therefore the tag and the dialog would not be joined together as one sentence because spoke cannot take an object in the sentence structure:

He turned and spoke. “I don’t really want to go on that trip.”

AS IF THINGS WEREN'T ALREADY COMPLICATED. Dialog can be just one sentence or sentence fragment or even just one word. It can be several paragraphs long. There is no limit on how much speaking a particular character can do in a story, but common sense dictates that writers should not allow their characters to have a monolog that is pages long, because it can become quite tiresome to read.

The trouble starts when you have two or more characters speaking. Then you have to give visual signals and other clues to let your reader know that a speaker is changing in the scene. That is done by putting everything a different speaker says in a different paragraph, like the following example:

Lydia clapped her hands together. “Okay, everybody! Let’s get started. Please pay attention.”
“Wait,” George interrupted. “Before you start bossing everyone around...” He stood and circled around the table to face Lydia. “I just want to point out that you are not the jury foreman. Dick is.” He pointed at the small man adjusting his thick glasses.

Note that in the US, when quoted dialog is broken into more than one paragraph, the convention is to not put end quotes in the first paragraph, but to start the new paragraph with beginning quotes and include end quotes only when the dialog is interrupted by a tag or other narrative content. Example:

Lydia clapped her hands together. “Okay, everybody! Let’s get started. Please pay attention.”
She turned to her right. “George, would you do the honors and pass out an instruction packet to everyone? 
“Now, people, before you open your folders, please pay attention to the following instructions...”
“Miss Garner,” George interrupted, sounding a bit puzzled. “I don't see the instruction packets anywhere.”


A lot of common advice will tell you never to vary your tag verbs from said with the reasoning that it is so common a word that it is virtually invisible. But that really isn’t true. If you used he said or she said in every line or paragraph of dialog, it will get monotonous. But if you don’t use enough tags, the reader may not be able to follow who’s talking. So you have to use common sense and make some judgment calls. Used sparingly, I think it’s perfectly alright and even recommended you change your speech delivery verbs to fit the dialog occasion and use yelled or whatever when appropriate. However, the dialog content itself should give the reader plenty of clues as to how the conversation is going, whether it is subdued or heated. So use tags only when necessary to remind the reader who is speaking or to give clues as to what’s going on while the characters are speaking.

NO TALKING HEADS. Narrative that accompanies your dialog should show readers what your characters are doing and where they are while they are talking. Otherwise you just end up with disembodied voices – talking heads. Have your characters interacting with their environment, objects, each other, whatever. Just don’t have them yacking and not doing anything while they’re yacking. Here’s what I’m talking about:

“Have you seen Zach yet?” Bo said.
“No, man,” Koz said.
“He was supposed to be here by now,” Bo said.
“Dude, chill, will ya? You’re blockin’ my light and bustin’ my buzz,” Koz said.

Now, let’s try it again with some environmental interaction:

Bo opened the patio door and walked out by the pool. “Have you seen Zach yet?”
Koz shifted on the poolside lounger, trying to avoid Bo’s shadow. “No, man.”
“He was supposed to be here by now.” Bo checked his watch again.
“Dude, chill, will ya?” Koz waved him off. “You’re blockin’ my light and bustin’ my buzz.”

With a few references to the surroundings, you present your reader with a more detailed picture of the environment where the conversation is taking place. With some body language, you give your reader a better impression of what your characters are doing and what their attitude is. Of course the dialog alone should help give some idea of attitude in word choices and delivery. Just don’t go overboard with body language and external details, or you will overwhelm your dialog. Let the content of the dialog carry the scene and add the extra narrative clues sparingly, just to add spice to the dialog.

WHAT DIALOG CAN – AND CAN’T – DO FOR YOUR STORY. Beginning authors oftentimes try to make dialog do too much. They try to sneak in backstory infodumps by using the all too familiar technique commonly called ‘As You Know, Bob.’ This basically consists of two characters talking to each other, one explaining to the other key elements of backstory or plot development – oftentimes when the listening character already knows what’s being explained (thus, ‘as you know...’). Here’s an example of ‘As You Know, Bob,’ riddled with beginner errors like spelling out too much for the reader, assuming the reader can’t follow simple clues to come to his/her own conclusions. This underestimating the intelligence of the reader can be off-putting and downright insulting for the reader to wade through. Supposing this is a murder mystery, taking the approach of telling everything to the reader in this step-by-step method takes all the fun out of it because it does not allow the reader to think for himself and draw conclusions on his own – because the author is too busy telling him what he wants him to conclude. Bad for the author, and bad for the reader. Also, some needlessly repeated words and unnecessary ‘conversational’ phrases are thrown in there too, just because beginners also do that a lot too. See if you can pick them out.

Ted turned to his partner, Bob, and said, “As you know, Bob, we just started this investigation and have no clue about the identity of the murder victim. However, evidence surrounding the body in the hotel room strongly suggests that the woman was a prostitute hired by the visiting dignitary, Chancellor von Dreschel.”
Bob nodded his head. “Yes, Ted, I was there when we found the girl’s calling card from Kelly’s Escort Service in her handbag.”
“So, Bob, I think we should pay a visit to Kelly’s Escort Service right now.”
“Yes, Ted, I think you’re right. They can tell us who they sent on this ‘assignment.’ Then we will have a better idea of how to confirm the murder victim’s identity.”

Now let’s try a do-over with a little tweaking and more finesse:

Ted pulled off his latex gloves and frowned. “Chancellor von Dreschel appears to have been a very naughty boy. With issues.”
Bob sighed and nodded. “I’ll call the number on that card we found in the vic’s handbag. Somebody at Kelly’s Escort Service ought to be able to give me a name to go with the body.” He shook his head as he looked down at the hotel room’s blood-soaked carpet where the mutilated corpse had been found. “Damn shame. She must have been a beautiful girl – until that kraut bastard got hold of her.”

Note that both samples above have the same characters saying basically the same thing but in drastically different ways. The second example gives a lot more detail but actually uses fewer words (95 vs. 122 in the first example). If you’re new to writing dialog, study the differences between these two passages carefully. This may help you recognize what’s considered good dialog – and what’s not so good. Your objective should be to write the good stuff.

Sometimes what characters don’t say is just as important as what they do say. You can add a lot of personal tension with what you leave out of your characters’ dialog. See the second example below and note how little the characters actually say. How they don’t say a lot of stuff becomes much more meaningful than if they had a full-blown argument with volleyed insults. The first example is the full-blown argument. The second is more subdued, with fewer barbs exchanged. Both have attitude, but depending on the mood of the scene you’re trying to create, one approach may work better than the other.

Gary stepped back. “I don’t like what you’re saying, Jolene.”
“Too bad, so sad.” Jolene flipped him the bird from across the room. “You don’t get to tell me what I can say and what I can’t.”
“But ... but I thought we were together.
“Think again, sucka!” Jolene propped her hands on her hips and wagged her head side to side in that defiant stance he had absolutely grown to hate. “I’m with Tom now.”
“Tom?” Gary felt the blood drain from his face. She’d been cheating on him with Tom? “He’s a loser!”
“Hey!” she shouted, thrusting an arm in the air. “Who you callin’ a loser? Tom’s my man!”
“You ... you deserve Tom!”
“Damn right I do!”

Here’s the more subdued version with less verbal jousting, but no less emotional:

Gary pulled his hands from the tabletop and folded them in his lap. “What are you saying, Jolene?”
Jolene sipped her coffee slowly, darting a glance at him and then quickly looking away.
“I ... I thought we were ... together.”
Jolene sighed heavily and set her cup down in the saucer. The unexpected clatter made Gary wince as if she’d slapped him. He knew what was coming ... he knew.
“Gary...” she said softly, staring at her cup. “I’m with Tom now.” She looked up sharply, her eyes pleading. “I-I wanted to tell you before, but–”
“But you didn’t.” He huffed, suddenly close to crying, but he choked it all back. Why should I even care? Tom is such a loser. And if she’d rather–
He shook his head and clenched the napkin lying in his lap. Taking a deep breath, he calmed himself and dropped the napkin on the table. He couldn’t make himself look at her as he grumbled, “You deserve Tom.”
“Thank you, Gary,” Jolene said, sounding relieved. “I was so hoping you’d understand.”

Whichever version you prefer over the other, you can see how differently the same scene can be played with a few subtle changes in body language and dialog delivery. Which brings up the next topic...

MAKING IT SOUND REAL. Every character you write should have a unique voice. Sometimes that’s not entirely possible, because many characters of the same ethnic and economic background will talk similarly and use the same type of vocabulary and cadence. However, when one social group meets another, differences immediately become apparent due to accents and colloquial expressions, along with vocabulary and modes of speaking. The trick is to make your written representation of dialog for people with accents or unusual speaking habits readable while still conveying that uniqueness of character. For instance, a British nobleman’s attempt to get a woman’s attention will be quite different from the same attempt by an LA gang member. Can you guess which is which?

“Pardon, madam, could you please step aside and allow me to pass by?”

“Yo, bitch, move!”

 Many authors take care listening to real people talk so they understand the cadence of everyday speaking and learn how to write halting and impromptu dialog. However, every author should take care to edit out all the ‘ahems’ and ‘uhs’ and ‘you knows’ heard when real people speak, and just put a few pauses in for the desired effect. Never overdo an accent either. The Southern accent is the one most abused in writing dialog, and in the hands of an inexperienced writer, it can be rendered almost unreadable, like the following example:

“Ahh wahhnchall ta know ahh wasn’t thar the night mahh bruthahh wuz kilt.”

Here’s the translation with just a hint of the accent:

“I want y’all to know I wasn’t there the night my brotha was kilt.”

Comprenez-vous du fran├žais? Adding foreign phrases can enrich your dialog, but take care to do that sparingly and only when the meaning can be inferred by surrounding context. Also, make sure the addition of language that would be foreign to your target reading audience is really necessary for the story. Don’t just throw some French in there because you took three years of French in high school and want to impress your readers with how cultured you are. And last, take extra care to use the correct spelling and syntax for your foreign phrases so that a reader who is familiar with the language won’t catch you having your character say ‘stinky soap’ when you wanted to convey ‘beautiful day.’

And last, resist the urge to create an entirely new language for your sci-fi alien or Middle Earth fantasy characters. It’s an incredible investment of time and has already been done by others. And really, who speaks Klingon, except at geekfests? Most of your readers will not want to wade through a bunch of gibberish just because you want to show them how clever and industrious you are to write your whole novel in your own made-up language.

IN CLOSING, dialog is the heart of most fiction. Make sure you understand how to make it work for you and let it help enrich your writing. Every character has something to say, just make sure it’s what you want your readers to hear.

Pat Morrison, Penumbra Publishing