A Blurb from the Diary of a Reading SNOB

The non-verbal contract (Did you know as an author you are committing to such?)

Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!

Writers what is your responsibility to your reader when you sit down to pen an epic tale?  Do you feel you have one?  I hope so, because we, your readers, are the individuals who will praise your name to fame or never buy your work again.  A big deal – yes?

I say – don’t rip me off! 

You have asked me to purchase your lovely novel, and I have.  By either being pulled in by what you have promised on your jacket cover and or equally stimulating cover art.  You have grabbed my attention.  Check box one complete.

You introduce me to characters, the setting and a base story line.  I do though, however, need enough information to develop images.  I need a starting foundation of what you want me to see.  If you can’t show me, by god, tell me then.  I’m not that discerning.  But do keep in mind; it would be nice to have a general idea of what your protagonists look like before I know how they smell.  I could compromise, I suppose, with a bit of both.  Creative, great, but let’s not lose me before I can even become invested.  I am reading.  Check box two-checked off.

I’m falling in love; you have snagged me, but don’t make me wait too long.  Dangle the carrot; keep me reading each word, because if not, I will jump forward and then I might just get upset.  The last thing you want me to do is put this book down.  I would imagine I might be a bit haughty, but you asked me to read your work or why else would you write it?

I would also inquire, my dearest author friend; that you not get too carried away with your fancy literary warble, it may bolster your ego, but I promise, I glaze and skip over.  I am looking to be entertained, not schooled or made to feel less.  Personally, I do not read the majority of these lengthy passages which have a droning tendency to carry on and this massive word jumble of prolific purple prose ends up on my editing floor.  It is irrelevant how many hours you spent drafting, editing and creating.

Check box three – partial check.

I have braved the wild winds; crested your mighty peaks, braved your barren valleys, held on even when I wanted to leap over several chapters in a single bound, of your hard earned word count, to find the answers I wanted to know.  We are nearing the end of your novel, getting closer to the all important last chapter.  The grand finale.  And…I’m waiting…a paragraph left…you could still pull it off…it might happen and then – nothing.

Boo!  Let down!  Agony!  Discontent swarms your reader, me, who wasted the better part of my day, night or several weeks in committed, dedicated attention.

In the attempt of being witty you have left your reader dangling.  Naked and alone.  I regret to inform you that in this choice of open-ended, gaping-holed, magical finish your reader has been duped.  Let down.  You did not meet the terms of the contract.  And in response, I/your reader, most likely, will never purchase you again.  To make matters even worse, I could leave a bad review.  As a partner in this budding relationship, I needed a satisfying conclusion or I should have walked away at hello.

Check box four-blank

For the love of writing – ❤ Jessica

PS-Every work you complete should be able to STAND Alone…it may be the only chance we get.  Write On!

Character Flaws

Building strong characters demands vigilance from the writer. Flat characters are boring. We all know that. I realized that to tell the true story of Ferenc and Musa meant I could not portray them as the heroes my friend Barbara knew. She adored them but knew them after their escape. Character flaws play a critical part in drawing the reader into the story as do their positive traits. Traits create conflict and tension. (Easier said than done.)

Yeah, yeah. Show, don’t tell! Got it!

An author who tells how a character is perceived can do that in one sentence. But the richness of dialogue shows more about him. His interaction with another or his own thoughts allow the reader to fill in the details and form her own impression. The perception of the reader can be revised through information about the character’s back story or contrasts between his public or private persona.

As authentic as we might think we behave in our own lives, we have different ways of relating in a group or one-on-one. Is the scene under “stormy” conditions or “sunny?” During the progression of the plot, does the character evolve?

Wow, I am inspired to revisit all of my characters.

Thank you for reading our blog.

Sandi

And these are a Few of my Favorite…Blogs

I really thought it might be a beneficial idea to point out few great blogs that are continually researching, finding great sites with fabulous information and making it available to other bloggers like us.  I promise you these blogs have valuable information you are craving and will be ecstatic to discover.  I personally would like to give a huge shout out and say Thank You!  While my top 5 are in no particular order these are five must follows on WordPress.  Let us know your top sites.

  1. Kristen Lamb’s Blog @ https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/
  2. Ronovan Writes @ https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/
  3. Whiskey, Wine & Writing @ http://whiskeywinewriting.com/
  4. Kobo Writing Life @ http://kobowritinglife.com/
  5. Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog @ http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/

We cannot wait to hear your great finds!

Write on! ❤ Jessica

Being a Watcher

The group of friends trip in California wine country was, all in all, terrific fun.  Three of us from the northwest listened to an audio novel of repute with characters galore on our drive south.  Building believable, authentic characters that pull our readers into their stories is a primary goal for all writers.  Strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, past stories, and conflicts hold the reader’s attention… not a flat personality with a blah personality, though comic relief can work well with an otherwise blah character.  Paramount to this being done effectively means the ubiquitous advice/mandate: “show, not tell.” So, I observed and made mental notes all week. I arrived home with massive mental notes.

I fervently watched people walking, having a meal, sipping wine, and in many contexts I found on our trip.  Annoyances appear visibly on facial expressions.  Our faces give us away as does the slope of our shoulders or eye contact . How to describe that and awaken our reader’s interest without telling her that a character is unhappy, without the character speaking her truth, or, “tell” as authors do.

Meeting with two friends yesterday, we had a conversation about how long it takes a group for the alphas, the pouters, the passive aggressors and the subversive controllers to emerge.  Not long.  Human beings are motivated by a variety of needs and wants and if they know each other well, personal habits show themselves quickly. Strangers may take more time.

I had fun “being a watcher” this past 10 days, and realised the informative potential in staying alert.  After all, aren’t we thinking about our projects anyway?

Sandi

And so the Story goes …

I regret to report that I am still waiting for the return of my detailed critique.  I will try to explain the pain in regaling such patience.

3-29-15 / Sunday

Deadline came and went receiving nary a word with awaited for constructive criticism.

3-30-15 / Monday

Trauma by way of mental anguish having waited over 2 months to receive Query letter, Synopsis and 1st chapter back before re-submitting to other agencies, contests, etc. with needed fixes. (Yes, I promise I am working other projects, but slowly dy – ing as each minute ticks by.)

3-31-15 / Tuesday

Still no e-mail in either box, chewed nails to nubbins, finished 1 gallon of coffee ice-cream, 1 pint of tequila, smoked 1st pack of cherry-cigarillos. (Not really, but it still could happen.)

4-1-15 / Wednesday

In between – jumping between – in boxes, I consider possible options… #1 Call company who offered class/No offered phone number-Only generic comment box… #2 Call the agency directly and look a fool??  (I chose option 1.)

4-2-15 / Thursday

Now there is no critique in either e-mail or response from said company I paid fee to, so I…Chose option 2 using phone number that was on my received submission and, of course, instead of talking to secretary for agency, this happens to be agent’s personal voicemail.  (Look a fool, completed.)

4-3-15 / Friday

In the wee A.M Hours-No returned phone call from agency; or e-mail inquiry comment from hosted company, or waited for critique.  Pacific Time meridian, so 12 o’clock west coast would be 3 o’clock east coast, most likely end of day considering it is Friday before Easter, and I decided to send an over-apologetic reply e-mail to the web-submission address that confirmed original reception.  (Wow, are you still with me?)

Late Night Friday agent repliesAGENT replies via e-mail kindly and sincerely that they need a couple more days.

4-6-15 / Monday

In the afternoon I receive e-mail response from comment box submission/hosted company replied-did you check junk mail??  (No help to be had here and a whole lotta too late.)

Is there a moral here?  I am not sure as I am still in the hold pattern, but at least the gracious agent responded.  The hesitancy in contacting any of these avenues comes directly from social media comments – about how authors screw themselves by not following proper protocols.

Recently, one example in particular was, an aspiring writer had over 100 agent e-mail addresses in the send to box depersonalizing their submission to each and every one, an instant rejection and possible black-list.  (The joke being this poor soul would definitely need a pen name now.)

The second example was during #PITMAD where an aspiring writer tweeted a negative and UN-professional comment to a requesting agency and then was warned publicly to follow proper etiquette.

The third example could now be…me??  How an over-anxious, wanna-be published and represented author couldn’t hold her horses – say it isn’t so!  Hopefully, it will just be added into my critique notes on, “How to avoid rookie mistakes when submitting to agents.”

Write On – ❤ Jessica

Vacation and Writing Goals

Writing while away from home is good news and bad news for me. Laughter, new experiences, exploring with 5 other women brightens life. Additionally, I am away from the everyday distractions: spouse, phone, TV, pets, and the noisiest interrupter, the house “shoulds.” A home talks, nags, and constantly reminds a woman what she needs to do: “You’re out of milk.” “Look at the dust on the refrigerator.” “The bathrooms need cleaning, etc.“

On vacation those issues evaporate, yay, but wait, new distractions emerge.

“Let’s go for a walk. “

“Who wants to go to Starbucks with me?”

“Who’s cooking dinner tonight.”

“Shopping, anyone?”

Get the picture? Consequently, I have made a schedule adjustment for this vacation time. Getting behind on my goals would be frustrating and unproductive.

My writing goals, while basking in the sun, include the following: write everyday; have fun; go with the flow of the group, walk or swim, tweet and blog. Incorporating a vacation and composing is possible, right? (Maybe I could get used to this!)

If you want to check out my novel blog, Torn Apart: a Novel based on a True Story of WWII and Rescued Lipizzaner Horses, I value your thoughts.

Thank you. Have a great week and welcome spring ‘s progress.

Sandi

“Critter” Groups Revisited

Sorry to be lagging with my blog updates.  Mea culpa. The more I delve into the writing, publishing, and agents, the more I realize how much information is available.  As with most professions, the world of publishing has its own lexicon, acronyms, and resources.  It boggles my mind.

RE: “Critters,” ie. on-line critique groups: the May-June Writers Digest issue has top notch suggestions for writers on genres, tips and advice from published writers and agents, jobs and markets. “Critter” groups request requirements from the submitter and what to expect in return.  Check it out.

I’m itching to snoop around at the suitable ones for me. Finding a balance of actually writing or blogging, tweeting, and reading about writing is a challenge. Back to on-line groups: the number one requirement for helpful feedback and building relationship within a site is to send proofread copies that have been cleaned up.  Then, return the favor for others by doing critiques, yourself.

I believe it is equally important to send a thank you and hear criticisms graciously and wait to stomp your foot later. (Good prep for agent feedback, right?)

Is anyone supporting their project writing with freelancing? We would love to hear more!  Quote of the day: A goal without a plan is merely a dream.

Your comments are valuable to us!

Sandi