• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

The Never Ending Story or Series…how long is too long? #serieswriting #writing

So according to my “official” poll about what may entertain you, my astoundingly intelligent readers, you indicated you were okay with writer rants. Strangely enough, I have one for you.

Perhaps it’s not a rant, per se, more a wondering question.

At what point does a series go too long? Is it book 94? 5? 23? Or when the main character has done it all/seen it all/fought it all/been there and back?

I prefer fictional series…yep, in case you couldn’t figure that out from the fact that I tend to write in the same way (Kyn Kronicles, PSY-IV Teams, you get the idea).  

I’m going to hit this topic up from two viewpoints, first being as a reader. 
Can a series be too long?

Answer 1: Reader Jami

YES! I have read a large number (okay so almost every damn book on my shelf is part of some series) of series, and without a doubt there are a handful that should’ve stopped by now. However, some are still stumbling on, while others tease me with a possible sighting of an end. 

So when considering these series I adore, I started counting titles. Here’s my not so brainiac conclusion:  If a series goes beyond book 10 on the same story arc (meaning the main problem is still there), then I get emotionally tired of dealing with and walk away. Not to say a series can’t go that long. There are some that do a great job doing so (specifically thinking Nalini Singh’s PSY/CHANGELING series). Yet, there is a difference–the main story problem, changes. It keeps things exciting and new. If your main problem remains the same, man, seriously, therapy might be an option.

Answer 2: Writer Jami

Honestly, I could expand within my world to the nth degree if I wanted.  I’ve got some awesome secondary characters whose stories could be well worth pursuing. I have plot twists and story arcs that might end up rivaling As The World Turns, but I don’t think it’s wise or fair to my readers to drag them all through it, so for me, personally (not all writers, I would never dare speak for them), yes, a series can go too long. However, your job as a writer is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

As I’m finishing up the fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles (Shadow’s Curse), I’ve started to realize where a natural end to this particular story arc will fall–book 6. Unless of course there is this huge uprising in the reading world and demands (difficult, heart pounding, and awesome demands) are made, I will probably stop with the Kyn at that point. 

Not forever, but for awhile. 

I hear the question trembling on your quivering lips now…but, Why?

Because, as much as I love Raine and company, there are other worlds/characters/stories I need to get out before my brain explodes. Unfortunately, that means at my current rate of managing two full length books a year, I need to pace myself accordingly.

Because peeps, I have PLANS, I tell you, PLANS!

(coughing and brushing self off)

So, my question to you all, be you writer or reader or both, at what point do you feel a series goes that one step too far? Come on, I don’t bite (much) and I really am curious as to everyone’s opinion.

(Oh hey, stop by next week because the astoundingly wondering Cynthia Eden is stopping by! *clapping hands* Can Not Wait!)

WAS IS NOT A VERB

Greetings and Salutations loyal readers of the blog,

Today I will be paying homage to one member of my critique group. She will know who she is, but I will keep her name out of it for now. Among the many things I hear during our working sessions is, “Was is not a verb.” Because I don’t edit while I ‘m writing, I didn’t know how bad my use of was is. This past week I opened a short story I wrote some time ago. The story in question is 7,000 words over 22 pages. Was occurs 72 times. That’s 1% of all the words in the story. waswaswaswaswaswas. when you line them up they aren’t impressive are they? They are no more impressive when you sprinkle them throughout a piece. In fact they take a good story and water it down to the point that nothing sticks in the colander of your brain after you’ve read it.

To all the people I’ve asked to read those stories, professional and personal, I apologize for my laziness. I believe that the story is first and foremost the most important component of writing. That said, it is a grave injustice to seed a good story with poor word choices. I’d like to think I know better and yet after doing one simple word search I have to admit the evidence shows otherwise. Improvement is something I strive for every time I sit down to write. It would seem I have plenty of room for growth.

I pledge to do a better job in the future selecting words. There is no shortage of words to choose from. Leaving me with no defense. Slothfulness is my sin.

If you write, take heed of my dilemma and try not to fall into the trap of using the easy choice. Aim higher than what comes too easily. Language is the most important tool in the writer’s tool kit. Treat it with respect, oil it, sharpen it, and keep it close to hand. A well used tool fits comfortably in the hand  of the craftsman who utilizes it often.

I’ll leave you with this quotation.

“Words are sacred.  They deserve respect.  If you get the right ones in the right order you can nudge the world.” Tom Stoppared

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

The Process

Sometimes I like to pretend my favorite authors are like superheroes, you know, somehow not quite human.  I go between wanting to know everything about them, and not wanting to know anything about them.  I sometimes even hesitate to look at their bio at the back of the book, worrying that knowing something about them might take away from their story.  It is an absolutely silly thing to think, I know it is, and yet, I feel like my favorite authors can only fall off the careful pedestal I’ve created for them.

This being said, I recently decided to research one of my beloved authors.  I was surprised to find how snarky she could be in her question and answer page, but I was also relieved to find that she seemed honest about herself and her experiences.  And most of all, I was shocked to find out that she only works with a rough outline for her books.  I thought with all the intricate details, she must map her books out entirely before writing them.  It seems though, she actually hates going into too much detail with her book outines in the beginning, because then she feels like she has already written her book.  She actually just spends a great deal of time editing and revising, I gathered.

This might not seem like a very significant bit of information, but it was a huge relief to me.  I write in a very similar style.  I create a character, and outline, and world information.  Then, I start writing.  Things often change as the story develops, but all of this actually leads to a need for a lot of editing and revising.  It is daunting to finish a book and still have so much work to do, but it eases my mind a great deal to know that a writer I admire so much also has such a daunting task, and creates such spectacular books through this process.

Hellos and Goodbyes…

It’s been awhile since we’ve visited the Swamp and her inhabitants. Today I thought you might like to take a peek into our little farewell get together for Mighty, who shall remain with us via the technology gods until her return, and meet our newest member…

Wicked: *shoving Might’s duffle on to the back of the lopsided jackass*  Why the hell are you going to the Windy City? Between the Werewolf Monks and Eerie’s Free Range Zombies, I would’ve thought we had enough drama for you.

Mighty:*stashing her Staff of Bull Shark Repellent*  You know how it is, money’s a little tight and those Bull Sharks aren’t going to leave the lake any time soon. I’m just going to make sure they don’t pass beyond where they’re allowed.

Snarky: *lazily curling and uncurling her whip*  I can whip them into shape.

Mighty: *look of indulgent disdain*  Your whip is not going to reach.

*Overhead Mischievous calls out*:  Hey Mighty, you ready to lose a few fingers and toes?  The temps over there will keep you in deep freeze.  *He cackles at his lame attempt at humor*

Mighty: *rolling her eyes across the road. Picks them up and puts them back in*:  That bird would be great fried.

Wicked: *grinning in agreement, even as the Prankster Duo comment on Mighty’s gory trick*  Yeah, but I think Eerie might take exception to our meal plans.

Eerie: *taking his Free Range Zombies for a walk with chains and a pointy stick*  What meal plans? The Werewolf Monks have been promising me a new vintage, I could pester them for it.

*A cloud of smoke drifts over* Smokey: “Just took down a mastodon over by Swamp Thing’s place. It’s been smoking nicely for the last few days. I’ll have my Spicy Bit bring it over. We don’t want you heading off without a full belly, Mighty.

Quirky: *practicing knots with some newly purchased ropes*  The Muses headed out a few hours ago, so we could probably hang over at Filet Your Own Deli without worrying about another knock down drag out argument over the use of details or lack thereof.

Dreamer *arms full of colorful blooms and Angel Boy fluttering around her ankles*  What about your cabin, Mighty? Do you need someone to pop in and keep an eye on things for you?

Mighty: *the smirk we all know and love but have learned to be wary of appears* Nah, I forgot to mention I found someone to cabin sit while I’m gone.  That way it’ll still be standing, Zombie Free, when I get back.

Dreamer *beatific smile appears* It’s so nice to have new blood in the community.  So much to play with…*a small blush*  I mean, perhaps they’ll have new playmates for Angel Boy.  *Turns to Wicked and Snarky*  No offense girls, but I believe your progeny may be perhaps a bit too adventurous for mine right now.

Wicked & Snarky exchange high fives.  

Wicked: None taken…

Snarky:  So this new peep.  What’s the deal? Who are they? Where are they from? Most importantly, can they pass the Swamp Entry Exam?

*A loud pop and a blue telephone booth appears and settles in the road. Red Dwarf steps out

Red: Good eve, all, I thought I’d pop in before tea to bid Mighty adieu.  

*A small blond races from behind Red and joins forces with the Prankster Duo, where upon a discussion of how Yoda took down Darth in this year’s Star Wars March Madness*

Red: Did I hear something about an entrance exam? I thought we’d straightened that out months ago.  Besides, I don’t see any dead bodies lying around. Everyone’s here–Snarky, Wicked, Smokey, Quirky, Eerie, Dreamer, Mighty, myself…doesn’t that put us one over?

Eerie *capturing a wondering single hand and wrestling it back in line*  Even though you’re over the Pond and Mighty will soon be in the Land of Winds and You-betchas, we’ve decided to allow one more individual into the group.

Quirky:  We did? When?

Wicked: It was during the brawl over at the Kilted Ferret pub when we had to hold off that damn Molly and her two henchboys from Eerie’s Three Misfiteers.  

Quirky: *flying fingers and rope pause before continuing their dizzy dance*  Oh yeah.  So, who is the new person?

Mighty: *tossing another package on top of the lopsided jackass* I’d introduce you all, but she’s been here the whole time, so I ‘ll let her do the honors.

*All seven dwarves start checking out their surroundings*

Eerie: Short? Tall? Gnome? Troll? What exactly are we looking for here? And a name would be good.

*Mighty smiles and continues to finish her packing*

*From behind him a shadow separates and forms into a petite, lithe form*  Names are not to be given lightly, small man.

Eerie: *huffs up to his full three foot one inch height* Who you calling small?

Wicked: *arms folded so knives are in easy reach* Nice move there, I need to introduce you to Raine.

Snarky: *lets her whip snap, crackle and pop*  And you would be…

*Shadow girl drops a very elegant bow* I am called Ninja Dwarf.

Quirky: *looking intrigues*  Wow! Totally cool, we get our very own ninja!

Unfinished Books

In the past few months, I’ve stopped reading two novels, less than halfway through reading them.  These books were both well-rated on GoodReads and were books I’d heard good things about.  But from the moment I picked them up, I struggled with poor writing quality and boring plots.  This got me wondering whether putting a book down before finishing it is a good thing or not.

Sometimes it’s true that a book or a movie can be amazing, but might start out a little slow, so should we finish every book we start?  Or is there a certain point where we’ve been given all the warnings, and we’re choosing to simply continue wasting our time.

I never used to stop reading books partway through, but since my reading time has become more and more precious, I’ve become far more protective of this time.  If I get past the first five chapters or so, and I’m still not enjoying the book, I feel a strange resentment towards the author for the time I’ve already invested into reading the book, and I put it down.

Now, this isn’t to say that every book I’ve ever put down has been a terrible book.  Not every person is right for every other person, and every book is certainly not right for every person, so I really shouldn’t feel any animosity towards a writer if I didn’t enjoy their book.  And, this also brings me back to the question I’ve been considering, could these books be amazing, and I’ve missed out terribly by putting them down?

What do you think?  Do you ever stop reading a book partway through, and if so, do you ever wonder whether you missed out on something amazing?

Editing Requires Motivation

Lately, I’ve been having trouble focusing on just one thing.  I think, mainly, because I am avoiding my book.  You see, I just recently “finished” the first book in my new series, but as pointed out by some of my group members, there are a couple of big things I need to fix.  These things will require a great deal of patience, and a great deal of editing.

I know it needs to be done, but I’m struggling with doing it.  This is because during Nano I also started on the second book in my series, which is still at that glorious beginning stage when everything is just about writing and creating, not about editing.  I’ve also started working on a couple of short stories.  They were exercises in trying new and different writing styles, and I feel they are valuable projects, if nothing else, to expand my writing abilities.  All of this, however, gets me back to my main issue: I think I might be avoiding my first book.

My first book needs work, as most first drafts do.  I need to sit down with it for a few hours at a time and read it from beginning to end, working out any inconsistencies, timeline issues, character motivations, and even making certain that the relationships work.  This is the part of editing I really don’t enjoy.  I don’t mind combing through a book for grammatical issues, but it is adding these essential things, in just the right amounts, that tends to stress me out.

I know there are probably more organized, less time consuming, ways to go about editing a novel, but this seems to be the only way that works for me… if only I don’t avoid the mountain of work awaiting me.

How Should a Book End?

Recently, I finished the first book in a trilogy.  I loved reading this book.  It was exciting, the characters were interesting, and I never knew quite what to expect.  But then, I got to the end.  It was disappointing to say the least.  I’ve always believed that if a reader dives into an author’s world and gets caught up in an imaginary world, the reader is owed something for this trust.  I feel like by the end of the book, even if it is a series, the reader should discover the answers to at least one of the secrets that have kept them reading.  This book, however, simply ended as if it was the end of a chapter, not the end of the book.

My husband asked me if I enjoyed the book, since I seemed so disappointed.  I told him that I had, but I felt a little gypped by the author.  I’ve already ordered the next book in the series, so I still definitely enjoyed the book, but this whole experience got me wondering about how a book should end.  Do you think there needs to be some kind of epiphany on the part of the reader by the end of the book?  Do you feel the reader deserves to get some of their questions answered?

I’m constantly expanding and changing the way I see books, so my current belief may eventually change as I am exposed to more and more books, but for now, I feel a reader deserves a little more than to be led on, without being given any answers in exchange for their time.

Outside Your Comfort Zone

I have a comfort zone when it comes to my writing.  It is a reflection of what I enjoy most to read.  I create worlds in which I myself want to get lost in.  I create characters who are flawed but wonderful.  They speak to me as if real people, and a small part of me feels guilty when I place one challenge after another in front of them.  But my worlds are very different from the one I live in.  They are worlds of fantasy where dragons and heroines fight to preserve what is right with the world.  Good and bad are more defined than in the real world, not always entirely clear at first, but by the end, both my characters and I know with absolutely certainty.

There usually isn’t much room for the “real world” in my writing.  The real world is more complicated, and less magical.  It’s still beautiful, still mysterious, and still full of miracles, but the closest thing to a dragon is the angry lady ahead of me at the checkout counter.  So, I usually stay away from this kind of reality, allowing my imagination to create a new reality.

Lately, however, I’ve been finding my fantasy worlds being constantly assaulted by the outside world.  They don’t seem to be able to escape the real world, both in a good way, and a bad.  This has led me to strange dreams that later become strange short stories.  They are far outside of my comfort zone.  Reality sprinkled with fantasy, rather than fantasy sprinkled with reality.  I’ve read them over and over, wondering if they say what I want them to say, questioning whether they should ever see the light of day.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to find the answers in my words, so I’ve decided to show them to the light of a dim room, filled with my writing buddies, and see whether they should be read by others, or buried away in a file somewhere.

Remembering the little details…

Yes, I realize I missed my Thursday post with my fellow dwarves. Nope, I have absolutely no excuse. Unless you count the fact that sleep decided it wasn’t being appreciated enough and left me in a snit about two weeks ago.  Damn drama queen.  Now I figure out how to lure it back.  In the meantime, I took over Saturday’s spot on the 7ED site to play catch up.  On my blog, no one will notice…

I promised we’d get back to some basics on writing, so now that Shadow’s Moon is out propositioning some very nice people at the pub houses, let me clue you in on something I knew, but had slammed home recently.  When writing a series, it’s very important to be able to remember the little details.  You know, things like hair color, eye color, height, gender, where someone lives, what their favorite food is, what they drive, who their parents are…the little things.  It’s all those little things that make or break your world over numerous books.

Readers are some of the most intelligent, eagled eyed people out there. If you tell them your character is blonde, blue-eyed, lives in the city, drives a sports car and prefers chocolate over caviar (like who doesn’t?), and then somewhere down the line she’s puttering around in the suburbs, eating caviar and driving a Jeep, there will be issues. I promise you.  So how does a writer keep track of all these little things? Especially as they are constantly refining their worlds and characters?

The answer is…a series bible.

Now, when I started Shadow’s Edge, I had the beginnings of a bible for the series. Of course it was scattered around my office and filing cabinets masquerading as scribbles on notebook paper, more scribbles on post-its (a vital component of any office), even more scribbles on the back of restaurant receipts with coffee stains.  By the time I finished the first book, I managed to gather my loose little notes into one central area. Then I was off to write Shadow’s Soul. When I spent more time trying to verify something about a character of one of the Kyn Houses than actually writing the scene, it was time to put it all together.  But, first I had to finish the book.

So Shadow’s Soul done and out into the world, Shadow’s Moon was well underway and my notes were still an unruly pile in need of some serious discipline. It may have taken a few discussions (read-heated debates) among the Evil 7, but it was glaringly obvious if I wanted to win some of my points, I better have proof that I really did have that character doing that before.  This meant the last two weeks, on top of query letters and synopsis creation (which we’ll try to address next week), I finally buckled down to get all those pesky details in order.

What exactly goes into a Series Bible, you may ask…my answer, after many hours trolling the internet and talking to other writers: Whatever you feel is vital to your world. 

With that lovely open to interpretation answer, I will share what is in mine and you can discard or copy what ever tickles your fancy.

CHARACTER PROFILES:  this includes all the vital stats on your characters–physical, emotional, background, who they’re linked to and how, images (there’s fun to be had doing an internet search entitled: hot brunette males), where they live, what they drive, how the dress, personal ticks/habits, job position, etc. 

LIST OF MINOR CHARACTERS:  I went book by book and anyone I mentioned by name went on this list, along with the notation DEAD if they didn’t survive.  You never know when one of these names comes back and takes over.

WORLD HISTORY:  this includes world rules on how your world works, the history of its creation and they way your current world interacts/ed with others.  In mine, I have a breakdown for each of the four houses of the Kyn, the governing structure, magic rules for each race, some history behind each of them, strengths/weaknesses of each race (physical/emotional), territory division for the Shifters and who runs which packs, glossary.  This is a huge section and you can break it down further if it helps.

PLACES/LOCATIONS:  a list of all the bars, restaurants, businesses, homes that are in each book and how they’re linked to the characters.  Someday I’ll have maps too!

BLURBS: from each book.  Here’s a great way to get a jump on your query, write your own blurb for your book.

SYNOPSIS: from each book, anywhere from 1-5 pages.  You’ll need these.

SERIES ARC:  This is important as it helps you see where each title will fall under your major plot, and how each title will help move it along.

NOVEL PLOTS:  self-explanatory–plots for each book, at least how they start out. They never end up the same.

SHORTS:  this is a list of ideas I will someday brave in my attempts to master the short story.

There is a massive amounts of opinions on what should be in your series bible, plus quite a few free worksheets if you want them, but I found this is what works best for me.  It allows me to keep it all straight and not lose sight of my overall story.

So for those who’ve stuck this out to the end–add your suggestions to what should be in a series bible!

-Wicked

It’s Party Time! Are you ready? #BloggersBookFair and @kimmydonn

It’s coming! Oh yes it is.  Next week, starting on Thursday, 2/7-2/10 I get to be part of the Bloggers Book Fair over at my blog at www.jamigray.com.  Don’t know what it is? Well, here’s a little background, the theme this year is:  “The World for a Shilling”.

And that came from where?  The Great Exhibition of 1851. The Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park in London, England from May 1st through October 15th. They built a special building called the Crystal Palace to house the enormous event. Countries from around the world brought their goods to be shown including food, textiles, machines and anything you could imagine. At first, the entry fee was very expensive for those days, but once the organizers (Prince Albert, Henry Cole, and countless others-Even Queen Victoria was highly involved) realized that they had made more than enough to cover the costs, they lowered the price down to one shilling. Once they did this, virtually anyone could get in and see the wonders of the world–hence the saying “The World for a Shilling.”

And this means what to you? The approximate value of a shilling compared to today’s USD is about $5, so all books featured will be $5 or less. Which means you get a chance to discover some really fantastic authors in a wide variety of genres!

So don’t miss out on this really cool opportunity.  You can go directly to the Blogger Book Fair site HERE!

I get to host the following great authors, so don’t forget to stop in for your chance to score some free reads!

Kimberly Gould

Rebecca Hamilton

Nathan Squires

Cindy Young-Turner

S.M. Boyce

Kate Lutter

And for those who’d like to get a sneak peek of what’s in store, a new release: Cargon: Duty & Sacrifice is Kimberly Gould’s sequel, to her first book, Cargon: Honour and Privilege is now out and available!

Cargon Duty and Sacrifice FINAL front COVER 1-14-13

Get your copy now at AMAZON or SMASHWORDS!

See you all next week and don’t forget your schillings!

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