Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reader Time: Why your book OR How do you get my attention?

my reading corner
My name is Chris and I'm a book-nut. Ever since my parents (grand-parents?) put Dr. Seuss into my hands, I've been reading. I can't tell you who introduced Nancy Drew to me, but there was one bought every summer week and up to three read each weekend. And that series moved me to The Hardy Boys.

Miss Ainsworth. My grade four teacher. She may have crossed the line on health (read, sex) education in my parents' eyes, but she introduced me to The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I re-picked up those books while visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Scotland. Yup, brought twenty books home in my suitcase...along with a very large stuffed Nessie. Hey, the suitcase closed after we sat on it.

And I know there are loads of people who blame television for the 'dumbing down' of society, but I found Louis L'Amour from watching the TV mini-series The Sacketts. Yup, have all his books now.

Have you figured out my favourites? Yes, these are the books which I will NEVER part with.

At one point I did have over 3,000 books. A lot? More middle ground when I talk with my author friends.

Wait? Did I say...did have? Yes, again. I have donated a little over 2,000 books over the years simply because of space requirements. Although, I do have one bookcase nearly filled with the books I've reviewed over the years. These I won't give away or toss away. They're work and promises I made to authors. Thank heavens for eBooks!

Now that you know my reading habit...one which causes hubby to dread the annual school book fair since I've passed this book gene onto our daughter...let me ask you this:

Why your book?

Like most everyone, my time is limited between home, family, work, my own writing, sleeping, breathing.

My work is: writing, being part of the behind scenes at MuseItUp Publishing reading submissions, answering emails, promoting myself, MIU, and my authors. Editing my authors...to date that would be 153 manuscripts. More if you wanted to count other manuscripts. And let's not forget the books I've promised to read as a reviewer...115 in my TBR pile (life interrupted so a few are more backlogged than I like) And I've done at least 239...some are missing from my list.

Don't even ask what's in my pleasure reading pile...maybe not quite a hundred?

Which brings us back to this posting's topic...why your book OR how do you get my attention.

As a writer you know this is the million dollar question. The question that drives us all crazy. And there's no real answer cause our industry is very much a crapshoot. Yup, I said crapshoot.

Do not get discouraged.

It takes time and energy on our part...writer's hat on now...to reach visibility. Basically, that's what it boils down to...being visible.

I'm not...reader here...drawn to "buy me" "on sale" "here I am, come get me" tweets/posts/what have you. Every writer wants my money. Every writer wants me to read them. Heck, yes, so does the writer-me.

That's obvious.

If you only shout out once every month, yeah, I'm going to forget you. Oh, I will probably say something like "oh yeah, I meant....." But then I'll forget again.

Guess that's where balance comes in. Balance your visibility without stating the obvious.

How? In the crazy ocean of zillion of books how does a writer get seen without shoving their books in the readers' faces?

Don't hit and run me. Come on, you know what I'm talking about. That moment when you're all excited about your book and you talk about it and as soon as us readers start talking to you, you up and disappear. Or we let you know, hey I bought your book, and get nothing in way of reply.

If you're reading this...still reading...you're most likely part of the Internet world of twitter and facebook and any number of social cyber network groups. You've gone for the  page likes, the twitter followers, the facebook groups, and facebook friends. You're most likely using these venues to garner attention to you and your writings. Heck, I'll be doing the same once this post goes live. And this is all great.

But, you know how you feel when you've been bombarded with this, that, and the other thing. Or when in your excitement you've discovered a new author and then the let down when trying to interact with them.

Granted we are all human. Life loves to interrupt us and bump us along. As writers and readers we do need to remember this when interacting or waiting for an interaction.

What gets my attention?

In the Internet sea...a smile and wave.

HUH?  I can see some of your faces now. WTH is she talking about? She really is nuts.

First and foremost, I'm a wanderer. I will wander through rows upon rows of books in a bookstore. I've spent hours with one visit to a bookstore. So there's no real problem of me finding you there.

I love eBooks, so I wander online too. Hours spent on KoboBooks clicking here, there, and everywhere.

I'm a member of different groups on facebook and have you writers as friends. I follow some of you on twitter and have liked a few more of your author pages. I see you.

Your smile and wave...pic of your book, new banner, something bright and cute or dark and menacing. A shout where I can go visit with you (blogging, your place or tour) Balanced....no sales pitch.

Yup, a crapshoot.

Balanced visibility.

Be yourself not a pushy _____ (in respect of those we all would automatically fill the blank in with) Unless you are a pushy _____, then you most likely have all this down pat and sound natural at it ;)


You know the next logically question is: Now that you have me, how do you keep me?

Next time ;)

Keep writing, keeping having fun, and do not get discouraged.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Editor Time: Overused words or That But story

my work

First...please forgive me, my authors, as you may see your favourite overused word habit appear. Trust me, I do it, too. Yes, I'm crossing my fingers I catch them here today in this posting ;)

We all have that one, two...five...word(s) which keep creeping into our story. We don't even see them. Their our subconscious' minions.

Vocally, I overuse the word 'actually'. It is out of my mouth before I have a chance to lock it away.

Vocally, we all use the word 'that' as a filler. It's not needed so much in our writing. Stories don't need fillers. Once you read the sentence without it you'll notice a strengthening of the line. Once you start see the word you can't unsee it.

Same goes for 'but' this pesky little guy isn't so much a filler as a combiner, after thought. Think...oh this, that, the other thing, then this and that again. BUT, don't forget to include this too, but then something else happened.

A few of these PITA words are...oh that's "pain in the arse" BTW:


that, but, like, which, just, then, about, very, as if, as though, suddenly, seem


What I suggest is highlight each word via a new colour with your find and replace feature. You could end up shocking yourself.

Now this does not mean to never use these words. Just watch the when, how, why of them.


(I hear one of my teachers now...one sentence does not make a paragraph) But this is important.


Overused words can be a character's habit. A distinct trait which sets them apart. However, be aware of characters having the same habit. Of characters different ages having the same word choices. I'm thinking "valley girls" and their love of 'like' not sure that crossed age lines.

Something else to keep in mind...what's the most common phrasing for the time and area of your story's placement? Is it spelled correctly? Y'all, ya'll, yall?

Hmm, are there words more commonly used by gender lines?

Confused? Just remember that one simple rule...


...As with all writing...nothing's written in stone.


Keep writing!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poetry Starts: Who started me?

my work ;)
My love of words, of poetry and prose, had to start somewhere. Same for you, too.

Blame my maternal grandmother, Nanny (Nanny G, if you talk with my daughter). I could get Dr. Seuss' GREEN EGGS AND HAM in her hands before she finished "yes" to my question of reading me a story. I drove her nuts with that book. I've been told I gave my one uncle a stunned shock as he thought I knew how to read between ages 2-3...nope had just mesmerized the words and what pages they belonged to.

I know many of us grew up on Dr. Seuss and have most likely read it to our children and even grandchildren. But, who else captured my ear.

Ogden Nash.

I loved his play on words. He took the formality and rigid rules of poetry and prose and made them fun. Relatable. It's difficult to stay in a downer mood when you're reading about Octopus legs...arms?

Was I the only one who loved Shakespeare during English class? Don't ask me what any of his sonnets meant. Couldn't tell ya. I could share what they made me feel, but somehow that's not what the teacher was asking for.

But, that's why I liked them. There was more than just one meaning to be felt. Sadly, my English grade didn't always reflect this.

And, before you start in on how this, that , or the other thing about poetry meanings and the importance of defining them. I have always been way out in the field...another field entirety...and if my favourite teachers couldn't change my mind, if my dad couldn't, yeah, let's just agree to disagree ;)

That's it. 

A brief blame on who started me on my love for poetry and my free flowing mind. 

***

 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic

Monday, April 27, 2015

Roaming Ideas: One line can start you off

my original
Oprah calls these her "ah-ha" moments. Some writers call them "I have to use that line sometime" hits. Either way, there are times you will hear or read a single line...or word...and it will set you off down a story path.

Sometimes from a source you never considered.

Sometimes in a direction you never even ventured before.

Yes, this happened to me this past Friday evening and it was both an "ah-ha" and writers moment. And from a source I never considered, actually from someone I never really watched or followed before.

Mr. Bruce Jenner.

By now, unless you don't watch television and ever glance at any entertainment news, you should know about Mr. Jenner's journey to his true self. I applaud him. It's a difficult enough journey without being in the spotlight. Without the changes he is going through. In full truth, I couldn't stop the tears flowing. I cannot begin to imagine his life. Be happy, Mr. Jenner.

To get firmer back on track, what was it that I heard which caused me to share today? During a preview I heard Mr. Jenner say...how does my story end.

WOW!

I did say that hit me on multiple levels. For my own life journey, the thought of looking forward and picturing how my story ends...how I would want it to end. Well, it made an impact on what was worrying me that day...nonsense really. I had become so wrapped up that I had forgotten the biggest picture of all...me. 

When I'm at the end, near end, of my life story how do I want the ending to look, feel, be? That day's worries and craziness had nothing to do with my ending. Were so far removed from my ending as to the point I didn't want it even a part of my ending. BINGO! Perception!

Hey, it's not going to stay that way, trust me. Human emotions ebb and flow more than any ocean ever will.

What's the writer's moment? A story, of course.

A writer's prompt, of course.

Prompt...when in a storyline tangle, go to the end or what you believe is your ending and now work backward. What needs to happen after your tangle to reach your ending? What in your tangle needs cutting, trimming, conditioning? (Dang, sounds like getting a hair knot out.)

Story...Waking up to find I'm the last person around. Zombies? Well, I can't tell you because, well, some elements need to remain quiet ;)

There you have it. Today's Roaming Ideas. Keep an ear out, you never know what you'll discover.

***

What are Roaming Ideas?


...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks
...pumps to my creative well
...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind


 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?


...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilities


What are Dear Diary?


...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me


Monday, April 20, 2015

Roaming Ideas: The scene that would leave

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman
Sometimes there's a scene which refuses to leave your mind. One you truly know only you get. It'll never work in the final piece because it's just too ______, anything and everything.

Delete, rewrite, leave in?

This is a problem I think every writer faces. The favourite scene or scenes which shouldn't be there and we don't want to let them go.

Sometimes it's a character who won't let you go.

"Derrick" is mine. This story has been stuck in my head and in multiple rough drafts for what feels like forever. It's here I steal the scene which caused me a fit of giggles the first time I wrote it. Looking back, well, maybe it doesn't deserve a fit of giggles, but I can't let it go. Maybe after today I can.



"...Strange voices. Who is it?



 "Yes the boss said to do this so we do it. Now shut the hell up and let me find the right key."



 They don't have the right key. So therefore they do not work here. I know voices and have never heard these two so the last thought is right. This is crazy. So what, this is a mental hospital and I'm crazy so just follow their lead.



 "Have you found the key?" first voice asked some what innocently.



 Guy sounds simple. Probably looks like King Kong's twin.



 "No!" second voice gargled back angrily.



 Personality of a horny bull elephant. Probably looks like an ass. Wait a second, what do you do when they get in here? Crappy-crap. you think of their personalities not of you own problems. Okay take it one step at a time. Where are you? Loony bin. Why? You're nuts. Okay so act it.



 "Finally. Okay you ready?" second voice.



 "Yes."



 "Okay in we go." He opened the door expecting to find a sleeping man but instead he got more, a hell of a lot more.



 "Hey man I'm I glad to see you there's a baboon in here! He's really mean and you know what?" Derrick asked looking around.



 "What?" the first one asked nervously. He too was looking around.



 "It's me!" Derrick yelled jumping out at the two. He started jumping around scratching under his arms making faces and weird noises.



 "Booga-booga! I'm going to get yah! Look out I hate elephants. King Kong stole my girl! Give her back! Forget it don't like blondes.



 The two men were back against the wall. What the hell was this? Boss told us this guy was harmless. Terrific Clive's crying. So the big man was. Derrick was having a ball.



 "They're coming to take me away! No! I won't go to Pluto!" God this was more fun then streaking.



 Two orderlies came racing down the hall.



 "Mr. Spencer what's wrong?" the orderly called Tim asked seeing the other two men.



 "Nothing. I woke up and found these two guys looking at me and then they started acting weird." Derrick replied calmly.



 "Okay you two let's go." Tim reached for Clive. He could have sworn that he had heard a monkey coming down the hall.



 After they all left Derrick had himself a good strong laugh. This was fun. He should go crazy more often. Crap if he didn't stop the giggles he would wet the bed. That just set him off again...."

Yeah, not the best, but I can't get this picture out of my head. I know you have one, too.


***

What are Roaming Ideas?


...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks
...pumps to my creative well
...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind


 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?


...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilities


What are Dear Diary?


...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poetry Starts - the construct

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman


I really do love my new portable scanner. I had thought I was going to do a miss today. However, I started random word writing because my arm was twitching to write and this is what I got.

Granted it's super simple and not much more than the instant thoughts are there, but take it as it is...a start. Keep writing, keep tossing those words up and out.

April 13 2015 8:38pm Christine I Steeves Speakman

And if you can't read my chicken scratch, the final is:

Tiger

Sunset Blaze
Branches Roar
Steady Steel Air
Cloud Lightspeed
Blink, no more


***

 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roaming Ideas: Do you...

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman


...journal
...keep a dream diary
...keep a favourite quote diary
...doodle
...take photos
...text yourself
...keep a memory box
...play
...meditate
...stare into space
...sit quiet and listen nothing...everything


Keep doing it!


***

What are Roaming Ideas?


...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks
...pumps to my creative well
...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind


 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?


...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilities


What are Dear Diary?


...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Poetry Starts: What is poetry?

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman


What exactly is poetry? Nah, I know how to answer: What is poetry to me?

It's emotionally filled words floating on the page in no order other than what my mind feeds my hand to type or write.

They have no explanation. They have no rules. They have no definition except what the reader feels.

Sometimes the words come from my heart. Sometimes they come from what I see. Sometimes they're the smoothest avenue for me to process the world's happening.

I don't rhyme. I don't count for a rhythm. I write what fits my ear...my energy at that moment.

And then, when I move to be more serious about the prose, I edit.

Yes, even poetry and prose needs edits.

It's fine to let the words out. To let them fall where they may, but even then they can be polished to a brilliant strength.

In a nutshell, this is what poetry and prose is to me.

Keep writing!



***

 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic

Monday, April 6, 2015

Roaming Ideas: Character Study

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman


Sometimes pen and paper work best, thanks to my new handheld scanner, I have the best of both worlds.


 First something, a word, a voice, an experience, a picture prompts a word. The word prompts the meaning which leads to the image.
 From there we have choices to make. Directions to explores.

While I love my computer and the speed and clarity, sometimes the physical feel of pen scratching paper...the freedom to move in circles and arrows...keeps speed with the brain, less likely to hit that delete button ;)



Now, if you really want to read my "chicken scratch" give it a try ;)




***

What are Roaming Ideas?


...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks
...pumps to my creative well
...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind


 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?


...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilities


What are Dear Diary?


...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me