Sunday, April 20, 2014

Humorous Paranormal?

Hmmmm. I just found out that Mystery and Horror, LLC is hosting two short story contests. Unfortunately, the deadline is May 1st and I don't have anything ready to contribute.

One contest is looking for Historical Mystery short stories for that anthology. The other contest, will publish winners in their Humorous Paranormal anthology.

Humorous Paranormal? Sounds like fun. Although, I've always concentrated on the horror side of paranormal, I love to add add humor to my characters' lives. I'd like to try a little comedic twist to the paranormal, but the deadline is only ten days away. Too little time since I'm preparing a manuscript for the NECRWA  conference on the 3rd of May.

But, you might have time. Check it out: ShortStorySubmissions.
Good Luck!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Speak Up!

This week, I wrote a blog about dialogue at MostlyMysteryBlog. I've always enjoyed writing dialogue, but I never knew what an important tool it can be.

Have you ever wanted to ramp up your character's emotions but you run out of adjectives? This can happen when you're writing in the third person. Or, if you're like me, you might have to watch out for the old telling vs. showing.

One easy solution to the problem is dialogue. If you have John slam his hand down on the counter and say, "Damn!" That certainly shows anger. And, if you have him think, It isn't fair. Dave always gets the girl. The reader understands that John is ticked at Dave for winning the prize once more.

What if you had John telling Dave how he feels?

"Since when is it okay to steal someone's date?"
"What are you talking about? You just met her an hour ago. Did you ask her out?"
"I would have if you hadn't butted in."
"You introduced me to her, for crying out loud."
"What was I supposed to do? You barged in and sat down."
"You were sitting at the bar."
"I saw her first."
"Yeah, and she gave me her number."
"Damn! it isn't fair. You always get the girl."

Now, you can see what really happened. John is jealous of Dave because the girls prefer him. Perhaps the person on the other end of his anger shouldn't be Dave but himself. Depending on the dialogue, you can make John look like the injured party, a good sport, or even pathetic. Dave can be a pal, clueless, or a self-serving jerk. And, by the way, you've added a lot more words to your manuscript.

Dialogue paints a more in-depth picture of a scene and its characters. I love it because I learn more about my characters through their verbal interaction. In one of my scenes, I had two characters meet for the first time. I wanted it to be a cordial meeting of neighbors, but it quickly disintegrated into a threatening situation. I hadn't realized that one of the people was so nasty and petty until I heard her in conversation with the other.

In another instance, I found one of my characters, a very nice person, had a devious bent to her personality. It came out as she was saying one thing but thinking something very different.

With specific speech used in a conversation, the length or brevity words and sentences can increase tension and  evoke emotions. If you're having trouble with dialogue, look back at books you've read where the dialogue moves the story along. See how that author did it.

I always speak out loud to hear how my conversations sound. There are also good books on the subject, or try the great online resources .

And, then there's always the old "tried and true". To understand how dialogue works, listen to it!

Keep on writing!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hybrid Publishing

A few of the authors at the SinC workshop talked about hybrid publishing, going with both traditional and e-publishing. For successful authors, this seems to be more the norm than an outlier. These authors have established a name and collected a readership. Why do they need the traditional  houses? There's a great article about this trend at The Passive Voice, PassiveVoiceBlog.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Publishing Pitfalls

Last Saturday I attended an all-day workshop on publishing put on by Sisters in Crime (SinC). The panels discussed Small Press (Indie), Traditional (Legacy), and Self-Publishing. Authors explained the benefits and down-sides of each. 

Indie publishers have the advantage of a quicker turn-around time and most don't require agents. However, the author has to take care of tasks like promotion and cover art.

Legacy publishers take care of publicity, editing, cover art, and bookstore distribution. Their downside includes the necessity of an agent, early deadlines, lack of flexibility, and the amount of time it takes to produce the book. 

That leaves self-publishing. Many authors claim to have made a lot of money with self-publishing. If you look at the claims, you'll find that most come from previously established authors who already have a following. 

For those of us who are unknown, the story will be quite different. Before any author takes the risky step of self-publishing his book, he has to establish a platform. A platform is an online identity, created by Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) and a blog. 

People will buy something written by a familiar name, once. If they like it, you're in luck. This brings me to an important part of self-publishing, the editing. Before you send anything out onto the web with your name attached to it, hire a competent editor to go through it. Don't cry about the cost. Do it! Reader's are not used to literature that has spelling or grammatical errors. One or two in 75,000 words can be overlooked, but no more. 

We new authors are still learning, and we need someone to point out problems before the public sees them. Editors do that. Once your name is associated with sub-par work, you've blown it. You won't get another chance. There are too many books out there.

Be prepared to take care of all those little details normally handled by the publisher. Things like cover art, promotion, technical aspects of formatting for different platforms, ISBN numbers, etc. Learn about quotas, royalties and keeping tabs on your sales. You're now in the business of publishing.

You can hire people to take care of any or all of the publishing responsibilities, but it will be costly. 

The bottom line? Look at the publishing choices and make an informed decision, one for which you are willing to do the work and then enjoy your new published state. 

For more information on the workshop, see my blog this Friday, 4/4, at MostlyMysteryBlog.