Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tips Tuesday: What Snowflakes & Flowers Can Do For You by Christine Locke

It's already time for another Tips Tuesday! Homeschool has begun in our house, so you KNOW I'll be brief. (Please, God, let me make it through writing and "linking" this post before somebody has another question....)

1.  A few years ago, an online friend mentioned she had written a novel using "the snowflake method."  What's that? I asked.  She sent me a link.
While it would be difficult for me to follow Randy Ingermanson's instructions exactly, I use a personalized form of this method to streamline my own process.  I'm more organized and I produce a manuscript more quickly this way.  And I find that since he begins the process by making me create a "blurb" for my as yet unwritten novel, I have go-to notes and a description ready when it's time to get that book up on KDP.  Very helpful!

2.  I use this book because it was on several lists for homeschooling parents: The Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway.  But this is one that every writer should have on the desk (or kindle) along with Strunk & White.  If the prom date shows up at the door and gives your character yellow roses, it foreshadows jealousy and a loss of love.  But red roses...hmmm...something else, and not what I thought: a deep red rose signifies shame, while rosebuds with moss constitute a confession of love.  You could also say things about your character and setting with the flowers you place in their gardens or in vases around their homes...the possibilities are endless.  There are many versions of this book.  I linked to a kindle edition, above.  I could not find my book on amazon; it is a small edition about the size of Beatrix Potter's books for children: ISBN-10: 0-486-27372-5.

The baby's trying to eat her play dishes, so it must be time for lunch.  Off to the kitchen with me...happy writing, all!

Photo Credit: Ambient Ideas/Shutterstock

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Posting...at heathersutherlin.com by Christine Locke

I'm excited my first guest post will be published later today at Heather Sutherlin's blog!  We've all read advice on what to do to be invited to guest post: be knowledgeable about the blog's subject, proofread, know a little something about the interests of the blog's owner, etc.

With Heather's blog, one thing I tried to do was give writing advice to what she described as "young" writers.  Now, you would think this would be easy, since I was one once and I also homeschool four kids who are all, in some sense, young writers.  But what we do during the day in school has more to do with grammar than creative writing.  (Which reminded me how much I would like to incorporate creative writing into our curriculum this year...but that's another post for another blog.)  So this was a bit more of a challenge than I'd expected.

Here's a little taste of what I came up with:

All my kids are writers—well, all the ones over the age of 10.  There’s something about being young and exerting your personal power through words that resonates with a bright, creative soul.  Our oldest crafted realistic fiction peopled with her friends & acquaintances; her sister wrote poetry.  Our older boy wrote a fantasy fiction series set in “Dragon World.”  My younger two girls write realistic tales about young people, one in the vein of Christian fiction and the other creating screenplays for videos she acts out using her dolls and stop-motion techniques.  I can’t wait to see what my youngest two will write!
Heather has asked me to describe my own process for young writers seeking inspiration.   I’d love to help, so here are three goals I strive to meet to make a story original and entertaining.

To read the rest, please visit Heather's blog and share it!  There are many essays by other authors and reviews of books for young readers, as well as tips for writers.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and happy writing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tips Tuesday: Books to Beat Block by Christine Locke

When I get the sensation that writer's block is about to set in, I pick any title from the reading list for the master's degree in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute.  The Institute offers many courses on the work of Joseph Campbell, and they often include his books in their reading assignments.

I was disappointed to see the reading list is no longer offered on their website.  Fortunately, I had already printed a copy.  So I can share a few of my favorites with you here.  Today, I'll share an old but still inspiring one:

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
I first read this back in the 1990's when it was first published, but it was worth a re-reading last winter when I was stuck.  She's very into daily writing in journal form, which can be great for powering your way through block.  On the topic of daily writing, Cameron seems heavily influenced by Writing Down the Bones, another older collection of essays on writing and why and how we write.  I read it for the first time last February at my daughter's hospital bedside (appendicitis--she's fine now).  If you haven't already read this, you should do it now.  I have a copy on my iPad.  I'm sure it's available on kindle as well.
Photo Credit: Ambient Ideas/Shutterstock

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips Tuesday: Online Caution, Blog Traffic Building by Christine Locke

I continue to be astonished by the supportive and informative atmosphere indie publishing writers create for newcomers.  I'm blessed to have found it when I did, and only wish I'd done so sooner.  However, while my enthusiasm is genuine, it's important to remember to be cautious as we put ourselves out there in order to promote our books.

1.  Here's something I did not know about until just recently: the "I can't believe you're in this video" Facebook scam.  This scam made its way around Facebook around this time last year.  I've never seen it there, but I use Facebook only for close friends and family.  Here's a pretty good description.

What's interesting is that I'm seeing this pop up on twitter, with links to Facebook.  The messages seem to come from folks with twitter profiles that make them look like writers with about a thousand followers, people who seem like one of us indies, with pictures & all (not just the egg).  I've gotten a few of these now, from (apparently) different tweeps.  I don't know if these folks wish to perpetrate a scam or if they are unfortunate enough to have had their accounts hacked and used by others for that purpose.  Either way, it's another example of the need to exercise caution online.

2.  To offset that buzz-kill, here's an example of what's great about twitter: other writers figuring out how to help each other and help themselves at the same time.  What's a great way to build blog traffic? Interview an indie author and review their books on your blog.  This is a little different from the "book blogger" sites we all so very desperately want to be reviewed on these days.  To tell you the truth, I have a feeling this may be the next big thing.  Indie writers already band together in groups to cross promote, and this is one of those promotion efforts that rings true rather than coming across as endless "buy-my-book" tweeting. 

Some authors simply make a point of showcasing other indie authors with an interesting interview, but I love it when the blogger reads the book and includes a review.  There's something about a fellow author explaining why they like a book that is powerfully genuine.  Here are a couple of examples of what I'm talking about: blogs by Rebecca Scarberry @scarberryfields, LeeAnne Dyke , and Heather Sutherlin @HeatherSutherli.

Hope you've found something helpful here; I'm off to get back to work--happy writing!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday by Christine Locke

Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock
 As I finish up the sequel to Open Door, I'm remembering the first chapter of that novel, which was actually the last chapter I wrote.  I started the novel with the conversation between Carin and her mother, but feedback from my beta readers let me know the story's spooky description required a more scary, atmospheric introduction.  Thus, we have Matthew entering Mallace Mansion at night, in the cold, in chapter one:

Now, on the veranda, Matthew faced an unprecedented puzzle.  He shook himself again, warding off an odd but familiar sensation, stronger now than he had ever known it to be.  He breathed the uncharacteristically cold December air.  The still freeze had already begun; icy air crept right through his jacket and up the hems of his trousers. Yet he hesitated, not lifting a hand to the knocker.  Matthew stood before an open door.

I'm so grateful to my readers/editors; they help raise my writing to a much higher standard.
How's your writing going this week?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What's Your Favorite Decade for Your Story's Setting? by Christine Locke

Twitter friend @SeanCampbell got me thinking about this with a wistful little tweet today.  My response ("The 80s were AWEsome!") was unthinking.  Then I remembered something: the eighties really are awesome--for writers.  Here's why:

The eighties were modern, but not super-connected.
It's fun when stories play with our hyper-aware information age.  Watching the gals on "Pretty Little Liars" get synchronized texts from the diabolical "A" is an unparalleled thrill.  Yet, there was a magic to waiting by the phone for a call, an agony to the forgotten phone number, and a dread longing for the random "run in" with that high school nemesis that my children will never understand.  They've got Facebook and Foursquare; we had word of mouth and force of habit.  Writers get to remember--and build suspense around--how it used to feel to WAIT for information, for the next move, for the next glimpse of your true love.

The eighties took themselves way too seriously and not seriously enough.
There is so much material here for writers, it's unreal.  Let me take perhaps the lightest and least serious topic that comes to mind: eighties fashion.  You could write whole comedy bits on what we thought was "good hair" alone, not to mention shoulder pads and earrings so large they deformed our ears (although I think those are making a comeback).  It took major time and effort to get that hair 'way up there--take it from one who knows--but did we ever consider what our kids would think of those Polaroids?  Heck, no!  There's lots to play with here for the writer: humor in the lack of foresight--tragedy, too

The eighties may have been the last decade in human history when isolation was truly possible--baring dystopia or disaster.
This is why I set my story, Open Door, in the eighties.  Well, it's one of many reasons.  If the bad guy cut your phone line and drained your fuel tank, you were screwed.  Easy-peasy.  Set your story in the not-so-distant past, and you can isolate those hapless characters faster than the Pevensies get booted off to Uncle's country house.  And then...and THEN...your story can play out with no distractions, nothing but the words, looks, mannerisms we writers so love to observe, steal, toy with and employ to our own ends.  And THAT is why, for me, the eighties ARE awesome!

What's your favorite decade for story settings?
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tips Tuesday by Christine Locke

Dariush M./shutterstock
 Since I've sworn off directly using my twitter account to market my novel, I'm coming up with some creative alternatives.  I'm certainly not the first to think of these.  Others have had some luck, and I will let you know how my attempts go.  Here are two things I'm trying out this week:

1.  Blogging in character: Carin at Mallace Mansion

I'm going to blog Carin's journal.  In my book, every woman who inherits Mallace Estate keeps  a journal.  These journals are not just for her personal reference.  They serve as guides and histories for future generations.  Since we already know at the end of Open Door that Carin will have a journal, it seems like a good project for a blog.

2.  Tweeting in character: @CarinsGriffin

And that leaves Griffin, the noble young man who loves Carin but has not entirely won her at the end of Open Door.  Griffin will be tweeting their story from the beginning--but from his point of view.