I know all my characters sound alike,
but they're so cute!
(You're free to present your own caption. I just couldn't resist the picture! ~~~ Linda)
In a certain sense, all writing is fantasy, although we like to break it into genres. Whatever your writing process—whether you make intricate notes, carry your plot in your head, or catch winds of inspiration—you face, in common with others of your ilk, the task of creating something from nothing. You must scratch from the dry clay a skeleton, clothe it with flesh, and ressucitate it with the breath of life.
This act of creation is harder for some than others by dint of personality but also by choice of genre. At least those who write contemporary fiction have something tangible to go on. Even if they don’t visit a location in person, they can do so online or consult maps of an area. Although the past has passed, historical records may exist, and writers of historical fiction can often visit or view pictures of ruins and relics.
Those of us who write within the fantasy genre have no such resources. It is our peculiar challenge and joy to draw our own maps and create our own relics. Toward that end, fantasy writers employ specific tools—the picks and shovels, if you will, of lyricism.
Whether you write fantasy in its broader sense or within the fantasy genre itself, these tools will help you unearth lyrical descriptions to create beautiful landscapes of your own.
q10: Eliminate distractions with this full-screen word processor. Features all kinds of neat gizmos (including a target word count tracker, timer alarm, and even typewriter sound effects), but remains very streamlined.
Freemind: This mind-mapping software makes taking notes and fleshing out ideas easier than ever.
Zotero: This easy-to-use Firefox extension helps you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. It nests within your web browser, but exports info to Word and OpenOffice.
Foxit Reader: This is Adobe Reader’s competition. Super speedy pdf reader.
CutePDF: Use this program to export pdf documents from just about any document creator including Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.
Enso Words: This universal spellchecker works across the gamut of Windows programs, including word processors and web browsers.
She begins, in very apropos fashion, with three chapters on beginnings. I bought the book specifically for these three chapters, hoping they might help me overcome what was a consistent stumbling block. Kress doesn’t offer slam-bang opening lines or never-fail hooks. What she does offer is the hard facts of how a beginning must function in a novel. Likewise, the chapters on middles and ends don’t make any pretense of helping one write the next best seller. But with the aid of Kress’s straightforward, succinct suggestions, one can certainly find a solid base for at least taking a shot at bestseller status.
Citing solid examples from literature and some of her own writings, she presents the foundational blocks of the writing craft in simple, easily grasped terms that cut to the heart of the problems many writers struggle with. Kress does more than teach writers how to write solid beginnings, middles, and ends; she helps us understand why the underlying techniques succeed or fail. One of the few books in my writing library that I would label indispensable, Beginnings, Middles & Ends is an incisive and intelligent look at the core of the craft.
The third productive state, however, is unexpected. It's when I'm expecting a bad-but-not-disastrous day. My expectations are low: of pleasure, of accomplishment. I just want to get through everything. Surprisingly often, this ends up resulting in a lot getting done, and done well.
What does not get things done is the most pleasant of personal moods: laid-back enjoyment, at-ease well being. Then I tend to dawdle and postpone ("Let's have another cup of coffee and talk some more.") Somehow, the best life has to offer is not the most productive state for me. Seems unfair! But so it is.
Hi, my name is Johne. I imagine you’re wondering who I am and what I am doing here, both fair questions.
We may as well start with my weird first name. I was born John, middle-initial-E, Cook, but my dad was John, middle-initial-W, which led to a predictable comedy bit whenever somebody called our house asking for ‘John Cook.’ A comedy of identity is funny the first couple of times, but after that, it can be a real pain. However, it was useful in that I’ve been thinking about my identity on and off ever since.
When I was a young man, I was already a prolific reader thanks to my dad’s amazing genre paperback library in the basement. As I looked at that collection of amazing books, I imagined my own name up there on the shelves, but I knew even then I’d need to do something about the name. Of course, I had no idea at that time about clever branding or the advantages of unique search engine naming, I just knew I wanted to be a little different. So I looked at my name, moved the middle initial one space to the left, and voila!, my distinctive writing moniker was born.
I was aware at the time that pronouncing this cobbled moniker might prove challenging, but at the time, the ambiguous appearance pleased me. Because I have been both ‘John’ and ‘Johnny’ in my life, depending on your relationship to me, I answer to both and either, especially when followed by the phrase, ‘Dinner is ready.’ So which is it? I tend to think of it as ‘John’ with the silent vanity ‘e’, but as it is ambiguous, I’ll answer to either.
If my writing moniker is ‘Johne,’ my online and videogaming moniker is ‘Phy,’ short for Phydeaux, a name I borrowed from Larry Norman's bulldog (and bootleg vinyl label). Ergo, I am old enough to remember vinyl records, who Larry Norman was, and that he had a bulldog.
The rest is pretty straightforward. I am a technical writer by day and creative writer / editor at night. Married coming up on 25 years to my wife Linda, we share two kids (one of whom is now married!) and two ferocious wiener dogs, whose bite is worse than their bark (as far as you know). We all live in the rolling hills of south central Wisconsin in a cool old house shaded by huge maple trees. Due to our locale, we are automatically ardent fans of dairy products in general, cheese in particular, and the Green Bay Packers.
A veteran of various volunteer publications, I have been a proofreader for Deep Magic magazine, an associate editor for Bill Snodgrass' The Sword Review, and managing editor of Dragons, Knights, and Angels. In 2006, together with L. S. King and Paul Christian Glenn, I founded Ray Gun Revival magazine (RGR), devoted to Space Opera and Golden Age Science Fiction. We refer to Ourselves collectively as the Overlords, and are often vaporizing someone's puny planet for various arbitrary infractions. In July, 2009, RGR celebrated the start of its fourth year of publication. At RGR, I am the author of a 36-chapter proof-of-concept serial novel entitled The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, which reflects my love for Sci-Fi pulp fiction and Joss Whedon's Firefly series.
I’m a huge film fan and one of my favorite things is taking in the matinee at noon on Saturday. Taking a page from Bull Durham’s Crash Davis, I like prog rock, film noir, space opera, and Cutthroat racquetball.
My friends call me ‘Captain ADD.’ (And also my enemies! Squirrel!)
I am older than I look (but act younger than I am). I am a sanctified black sheep who tends to hang out on the fringe of things.
I have a love for God, geeky genre things, and pop culture in general, and am busily writing out my million words of dreck. I would love nothing more than to publish a novel and see it on the shelves of my dad’s paperback library. Until then, I work daily at improving my writing skills, and am eager to share my unique perspective and growing collection of writing tips with you, the faithful readers of the AuthorCulture blog.
So that’s who I am. I still have no idea why Katie, Linda, and Lynnette asked me to join their ranks, but they asked, and I quickly agreed (before they could change their minds) and here I am. I’m sure they will eventually realize they have made a horrible, horrible mistake, but until that time, I’m looking forward to sharing something a little different with you all!
The easiest way to convice people to join your mailing list is an age-old method: bribery. You have to give readers an incentive to sign up. They’re giving you their email addresses; what are you giving them? Almost all giveaways take the form of digital media, which can be sent instantly and cheaply to hundreds of addresses. Ideas include:
The possibilities are endless and easily tailored to your target audience. When I offered a free e-book, Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Guide to Bringing Your Characters to Life, to my blog readers, my mailing list doubled within a week. Whatever you decide, plan to put some time and effort into creating a worthy product. Hundreds of people will be viewing your giveaway and judging the quality of your work based on it. Don’t shortchange them.
Once you’ve prepared your giveaway, decide on an email management program and a delivery system. Most professional email services offer sign-up widgets for display on your site and instant email confirmation to subscribers, which you can customize to include the link to your ebook or any other url. You can also find customizable features (including email templates, bulk mailing control, and analytics reports) for making your future mailings as easy and professional as possible. Some of the more popular companies include:
Giveaways are a fun way for both you and your readers to benefit. They get to enjoy the free goodies you’re offering, and you get to take advantage of the endless marketing opportunities provided by an ever-growing mailing list.
Last time I was responsible for the Fabulously Fun Friday post, I had fun with church secretaries in America. But typos and bloopers aren't unique to the good ol' USA. These are sentences actually typed by Medical secretaries in Greater Glasgow. (Thanks to Lorna Poston for sending this to me!)
1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.
3. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status:- Alive but without my permission.
10. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
11. She in numb from her toes down.
13. The skin was moist and dry.
14. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
15. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
16. Rectal examination revealed a normal sized thyroid.
17. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.
18. I saw your patient today, who is still under our care for physical therapy.
19. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
21. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
22. Skin somewhat pale, but present.
23. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
24. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.
25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
26. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
27. The patient was in his normal state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.
28. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
29. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.
30. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.
31. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.
32. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.
Michael J. Scott specializes in action/adventure thrillers and suspense. He released four novels between 2010 and 2011, and is expecting to release twice that many in 2012. lives outside of Rochester, NY with his wife and three children.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives in a forest in east Texas with her husband and three cats. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her first novel, Give the Lady a Ride, won the 2011 Grace Award for Romance. Her second, The Cat Lady's Secret, is contracted with Pelican Book Group.