Saturday, April 30, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors May 1

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my current WIP, The Ashes of Home. On a mission under cover, Shayla has stopped to eat at a remote forestry work canteen and appears to have overstepped an unwritten rule. The best food and prime seating is reserved for local Firenzi workers.

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“Oh,” Shayla whispered, “so I guess I’m not supposed to take these either.” She helped herself to two plump barbecued chicken breasts and a generous spoonful of locally-grown green beans.

The girl’s eyes widened in fright.

“What happens next, I wonder?”

“The best you can hope is they just take your rations.” The girl nodded towards the front of the room.

“Rations?” Shayla murmured. “There is no rationing on the work crews.”

“Tell that to the Quartermaster,” her companion muttered.

“I think I will.”


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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors April 24

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a draft scene from my current WIP. Last week a hungry Shayla, disguised as a forestry worker from off-planet, entered a work canteen and felt her spidey senses tingle. As she started serving herself, she got clear signals that she’d somehow broken an unwritten rule...

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With a sidelong glance, Shayla noted the dark skin and hair of a Wala native, similar to her chosen cover identity. “Trouble with the locals?” she asked in the same tongue.

The young woman behind her nodded. “The good food is reserved for Firenzi workers.” She gestured further down the counter where cauldrons of greasy stew simmered. “We get to enjoy their misbegotten take on chakchouka.”

For the first time, Shayla saw that the scattering of workers around the room was anything but random. There were no signs, no barriers, but the tables were clearly segregated with the prime seats near the windows occupied exclusively by Firenzi crews.

From the corner of her eye, she also noticed the cashier making what he probably imagined were discreet hand signals, and a pair of thugs lounging near the door getting to their feet. Bloody amateurs.


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Writing update: I’m deep into drafting The Ashes of Home, sequel to Ghosts of Innocence. So far, I’m keeping to schedule, and just today passed the 40k word mark.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors April 17

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Last week a hungry Shayla, disguised as a forestry worker from off-planet, entered a work canteen and felt her spidey senses tingle.

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Joining the line at one end of the servery, Shayla flashed her work badge to a sleepy cashier and took a mess tray. She glanced along the rows of hot trays, and spooned a portion of sweet fries.

Her scalp crawled once more at the sudden silence nearby. The cashier had miraculously wakened. “Umm, you can’t ...” He stammered to a stop when Shayla treated him to her best ice warrior glare.

“Hey,” someone hissed behind her. “I guess you’re new here.” The speaker used a dialect common on the Wala home world.

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http://www.iansbott.com/the-critique-survival-guide
Just a reminder, The Critique Survival Guide is a **free** e-book packed with tips for writers to get the best out of the (sometimes harsh and intimidating) process of being critiqued.

See the links in the side bar...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors April 10

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Last time I introduced a mysterious character that Shayla was hunting, just because I liked the description. This time I thought I’d backpedal a few pages and show Shayla, working undercover, on his trail.

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Shayla wheeled the trike into a gap at the side of the road, lined up with a half dozen assorted work vehicles, and dismounted. It was still early for lunch, but her stomach growled in protest. Stretching cramped limbs, she climbed steps up to the canteen and pushed through swing doors into the darkened shed.

Suffocating mugginess engulfed her after the cold crisp outdoors. A heady blend of spice and charcoal washed her nostrils setting her stomach gurgling again.

Rows of mess tables stretched into the distance. The only natural light came from windows behind her overlooking the street. Elsewhere, yellow ceiling lights served only to enhance the shadows at the edge of Shayla’s vision. Small huddles of early diners covertly regarded her as she made her way towards the serving counter near the far end of the room. The nape of her neck prickled.


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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Unblocking characters

Whereas the setting helps frame the action and avoids it all happening in a vacuum, the characters are what really bring the story to life. Often, when I find myself blocked, it’s because I don’t properly understand my characters.

At this point, the avid plotters will be wagging their fingers at me and gesticulating to their inch-think binder of lovingly alphabetized five-page-long character sheets. “Fill these out,” they cry, “and all will be well.”

“Nuts!” I reply. “That doesn’t work for me.”

Now, it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong here. This is a game of try stuff out and find what works for you. One writer’s block-busting technique will often be another writer’s Muse-poison. You might find character sheet templates a boon, I happen not to.

What I do pay attention to is what drives a character. That may be rooted in their backstory, their affiliations, a particular trait ... when I get stuck, one of the things to explore is whether I’ve got a good handle on main and secondary characters’ drivers.

Sometimes it’s possible to simply sit down and list things out - the character sheet approach - but sometimes a bit more subtlety is needed to trick characters into revealing themselves.

I’ve blogged before about character interviews. I find this a great tool to help get into a character’s mind, and some surprising insights can come out. Things that you, the writer, never knew were there.

A related approach is to summarize the main gist of the story in a few paragraphs from each character’s point of view. Bring it alive to them - what is their part in it?

My current WIP was stuck in limbo for ages until I tried a variation on this theme. I listed out the main individuals and alliances, and for each one wrote out: what was motivating them, what their goal was in the story, and how they planned to reach that goal. That has since developed into a changing chart over time as goals collide and unfolding events either help or thwart them. Understanding the original motivation and goals is helping to flesh out realistic responses to events as they play out.

I’m sure there are lots of other tricks to help unlock a character’s mind. What suggestions do you have?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Free and bargain books

The Support Indie Authors group is at it again, hosting 40 authors offering over 60 free and bargain e-books.

http://events.supportindieauthors.com/

The offer is on all day April 1, but it's no joke! There are books to be grabbed either free or discounted to $0.99. Visit the SIA site for details.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors March 27

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post up to eight sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

It’s been a while since I took part in this blog hop, and as I’m deep into drafting my next novel I thought it would be fun once in a while to drop in a snippet hot off the keyboard.

This segment is from a little way into the story. Shayla is looking for a man who’s been reported to be causing trouble, and has followed a lead to a makeshift bar in a remote forestry work camp.

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Shayla noticed the man even before talk in the room stilled.

It wasn’t his size that marked him out, though he could comfortably stand toe to toe with a bear. It wasn’t the startling contrast between graying, almost white hair and beard framing his florid face. It wasn’t even the motley layers of many-times-patched clothing that drew her attention.

It was his eyes, his expression. Not blank, not vacant, but not here. He steered himself to a seat in the corner, heedless of the people scurrying out of his way. For all his immense physical appearance, the man was utterly absent from the room.

For a moment, Shayla felt herself being pulled from her world and into whatever alternate reality this man inhabited, as though her presence here was a substance that could be siphoned off into a vacuum.

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