Writing the right amount of description to evoke a world where characters live and breathe can be a bugaboo for writers. Either we put too much setting in that has nothing to do with anything and the reader dozes off, puts the book down (heaven forbid), or skips to where the story is unfolding. There’s also the flip side of too much and that’s too little. This dilemma could lead the reader to develop the Goldilocks’s syndrome, only reading books that are just right. Heh. I wouldn’t blame them. Would you?
As a writer, I wanted to know how to write settings that would drop my readers smack in the middle of a world they’ve never been to and never want to leave. I was lucky to participate in a workshop taught by Mary Buckham about writing active settings. She has a busy schedule now and doesn’t teach as often. By busy, I mean, she’s writing her own stories and being a USA bestselling and People’s Choice author. Yay! She’s walking the walk.
Anyway, she has a new print and e-book of “Writing Active Setting – The Complete How-To Guide.” It’s a lifesaver for beginning, as well as advanced writers. This has all three of the Writing Active Setting books: Book 1 – Characterization and Sensory Detail, Book 2 – Emotion, Conflict and Back Story, Book 3 – Anchoring, Action, as a Character and More. Plus Mary has added bonus material all on hooks. What I love about this complete guide is everything is in one place. The real winner of the books are the examples from a slew of well-known authors which Mary has deconstructed. Each line is analyzed, so you understand what the author was going for. But she doesn’t stop there, Mary writes a hypothetical first draft and a second draft that the author might have started with, so you can see the progression. It makes it easy to grab hold of the concept and learn how these great authors write active settings.
The following is from the book description of what you will learn:
* Discover the difference between Ordinary Setting that bogs down your story, and Active Setting that empowers your story.
* See how to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose.
* Learn to deepen the reader’s experience of your story world through sensory details.
* Notice how changing characters’ POV can change your setting.
* Explore ways to maximize the setting possibilities in your story.
* Learn to use Setting to quickly anchor the reader into the world of your story.
* Use Setting as movement through space effectively.
* Explore Setting in a series.
* Find Out the most common Setting pitfalls.
These books go straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding examples from authors in a variety of genres, and finishes each section with exercises designed to help you work with your Setting in a way that will excite you. . .and your readers!”
USA Today Bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her newest Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love.
Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Please visit Mary’s website for more information. To buy the book set, go here: Amazon.
If you want to soar, I highly recommend “Writing Active Settings – The Complete How-To Guide.” Do you have a way of writing settings that you can share?
Till next time,
I was invited to take part in the Writing Process Blog Chain by E.J. Russell. OMG! Not another blog tour. Which one of you out there mouthed that? Loosen up, this tour is different. For one thing, there are no free giveaways. That sucks! Hey, I read lips.
This is a blog chain where writers share information about their writing process by answering four questions. Here are the questions and my answers.
1) What am I working on?
First, let me hit the play button for a little backstory music. I was a finalist in two RWA contests, the 2013 Golden Rose and the 2013 Golden Palm. After getting near perfect scores in both competitions, I was Buffy and Homecoming Queen rolled into one. It was my first time out and the response filled my veins with high octane. Zoom. Zoom.
Until, I learned I didn’t take first place. My Buffy T-shirt, and my paper crown dissolved. Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was left bare ass naked. My crit buds, Ellen and Laurel and hubby can attest to my boo hooing. So did Portia, my English Springer Spaniel, who would close her eyes, lift her chin up to me as if giving me a kiss, then place her head on my lap, and let out a long sigh. Dogs, you gotta love them. They make you laugh at your own silliness while not judging you for not being perfect.
Anyway, long story short, I took a whole day to meditate on my state of being, which was, holy moly, somewhere between dog poop and a pot of burned rabbit stew. Hey, just kidding, I don’t eat rabbits. Still, I wanted my happy face back. Thank goodness the Universe heard me. Turned me upside down, shaking out my self-pity. Rocked me like a baby, and then set me down in front of my laptop. And surprise, surprise, the Universe said, “Keep the faith.” I interpreted that to mean there was something with my name on it heading straight for me. Be ready echoed in the non-thinking part of me. Who am I to question the Universe? Heh.
So, I’m back to working on Dragon’s Gate, which is a young adult high/epic fantasy story about a teen who’s afraid of her magic, but must enter a magical fairy tale world of Ancient China to rescue her family. The plan is to finish it, polish it and then polish it again. You know how that goes. Then send it out to the world.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Not many stories contain Asian fairy tales. I say Asian because in the series I’m working on, I have the heroine and friends invoking the myths of other cultures like Japan and India. Also the magic that’s in it, (this is a fantasy) is a blending of science and mysticism. Of course, taking into consideration my own beliefs, background, and quirks the story is going to be different from another writer writing in the same genre, as long as we are true to our nature.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write stories that I can learn something about myself particularly what frightens me. I write stories about characters that do things I would never dare do. I write for answers to questions I have yet to ask.
4) How does my writing process work?
For the present story I’m working on, it started with a dream trance using techniques from Kelly Stone’s THINKING WRITE, and Andy Couturer’s WRITING THE OPEN MIND: Tapping the Subconscious to Free the Writing and the Writer.
Then I started a diary of letters from the heroine to let her talk about anything. That’s how I found her voice. Then came the outline filled with characterizations, plot structure, and a scene list. Then came the fast draft.
During that time, I took my first fifty pages to a week-long intensive workshop given by Free-Expressions in September 2013 with Donald Maass. During my one-on-one with the Donald, he said, “You’re almost there.” Then he smiled. I’m sure you know, I could have walked on water after that meeting. Since then, I have had moments when I think he meant like right around the corner.
Other times, I think he might have meant a short climb up Kilimanjaro. Either way, I’m enjoying the ride to the asylum as I perfect my technique and my stories.
I’ve tagged the following writers as the next links in the chain. Watch for their posts on January 20th on their blogs.
Jamie Raintree writes Romantic Women’s Fiction about women searching for truth in life and love. She has completed her first novel and is seeking publication. In the meantime, she posts original fiction online, as well as motivational messages for all the other dreamers out there. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two young daughters. Learn more about Jamie here: http://jamieraintree.com
Paula Millhouse grew up in Savannah, Georgia where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, and the Intracoastal Waterway. As a child Paula soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the south.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Writers specialty chapter, and the KOD Mystery and Suspense Writer’s specialty chapter. She achieved the distinguished RWA designation of PRO after submitting her first full-length romance novel for publication in 2013.
She lives with her hero, her husband of twenty-five years at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their pack and pride of furry babies.
In the southern tradition of storytellers, she loves sharing the lives of her characters with readers, and following her muse on the quest for happily-ever-afters. She writes fiction where fantasy romance meets romantic suspense.
Learn more about Paula and Dragonstone by clicking on either her book title or Paula’s name.
DRAGONSTONE: A Kingdom of Chalvaren Romance
Lunchbox Romance – Boroughs Publishing Group
Elf prince Kort Elias journeys to a new world in search of a stolen royal dragon egg and discovers a lost elven princess, a prophecy, and danger; and only true love–and an erotic magic he’s never experienced–will set them free.
An introvert since childhood, R.J. Garside’s first friend was books. After opening her first “Fear Street” by R.L. Stine, she was hooked on spooky, non-human worlds and decided to try her hand at writing equally dark, gory and weird stories. She showed no mercy with horror-filled unhappily ever after. Since then R.J’s heart softened and she swapped horror for romance, but her fascination for the paranormal with a touch of gore remains. R.J. currently lives an hour outside of Toronto in Ontario, Canada with her hockey coach husband, two-year-old and four-month-old sons, extremely overweight cat and protective boxer, Rocky, that keeps the family house safe from lurking vamps, weres or ghosts. RJ can be found in several places:
Group Blog: http://www.speculativesalon.blogspot.ca/
Review Blog: http://www.romanceforeveryworld.blogspot.ca/
Melanie Hamilton is also known as MMV Hamilton, Meham and Meela. She’s been writing all her life. She remembers writing something about a bunny in third grade, and writing stories and poems when asked. She started writing poems more seriously as a teen but circumstances intervened and she stopped writing except in journals.
By day, she works as a home-care LVN working in a family with a special needs child and her sister. OK let’s call it what it is—specialized babysitting! Some days it’s just one long play date. Others it’s rescuing a family from stresses they were not expecting waiting for their first child.
She’s getting close to retirement and knows that some of what she received from half a lifetime of helping must go with her. She is hoping that writing and her writing communities will give her that. Meanwhile, she writes, with fellow Savvy members, on their group blog, The Speculative Salon. She is also getting her shorts portfolio ready for submissions. She’s had micro success being published so far. Micro Horror took her ZOMBIE WALK story and Apollo’s Lyre received her shorter short, a six-word story both thanks to the tutelage of Jim Harrington.
She’s currently designing the book of her short fiction, Telling Tales. In the process, she’s discovered what has been driving her all these years. She want to make story books. Words and pictures together. Meanwhile, she keeps busy reviewing books for JD Jung’s Underrated Reads. Lots of adventures of the story kind.
You can find her messing about with books at:
Thanks again to E. J. for including me in the chain.
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer and business intelligence consultant. She returned to her childhood love of writing fiction after her twin sons learned to drive and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class.
Her daily commute now consists of walking from one side of her office to the other — from left-brain day job to right-brain author cave — where she’s perfected the fine art of typing with a cat draped across her wrists and a dog attached to her hip. Her stories include gay and straight characters because her life includes gay and straight characters (as does everyone’s).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Learn more about Ellen by clicking on her name or NORTHERN LIGHT.
A destitute artist. His art investigator ex-lover. Two men haunted by more than the past.
Whoa, that was fun, at least for me. I hope you enjoyed the read. If there was a single thing to say about your writing process, what would it be?
PS: Did you notice Portia and I look alike. Heh!
January signals another glorious beginning, a gift to cherish or squander. It reminds me of Master Oogway, from Panda Kung Fu, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why it’s called a present.”
Yesterday is history. I find that statement cleansing with the washing away of ‘whatever did or did not happen yesterday.’ I am thus renewed. From yesterday, I can glean from my mistakes and my triumphs to make a better today. At least, that’s the plan.
So, I started with goals, but this year I’m doing something different. You know, the Einstein quote of doing something the same way will garner the same outcome. Every. Flipping. Time.
Instead of making an endless list of things I want to accomplish, like I want to lose 10 pounds. I’m writing goals with an end result in mind. For example, I am healthy and energetic. I am eating healthy foods and having fun exercising. The goals are written as an affirmation. It’s not written as something to happen in the future, but is the state of being I am already in. Heh! Thinking positive here. Don’t know how this will work, but I’m giving it a do. Not trying, but doing as Yoda would recommend.
I’m also gathering up two glass jars and labeling one ‘happiness’ and the other ‘graditude’ to sit on my kitchen counter. If I may dip back into yesterday for a moment, there were times I could have used looking at a jar filled with moments of happiness and the joy of that ‘Yes’ pumping action. I know, you know what I’m talking about. We easily forget the moments that make us smile, when something we don’t want crowds our vision. It would have helped to see and read a jar containing scraps of paper filled with the good times to overcome the seemingly nonsense drowning me at the time. Besides, I believe the more I recognize the goodness in my life, more will be bestowed to me. I got the idea for the jars from two writers, Elizabeth Gilbert and Terry Lynn Johnson. Do check out their sites.
Well, this is my new beginning for 2014. Do you have any new rituals or old ones to share? Love to hear what they are.
Thanks for reading,
PS: Posted this on Speculative Salon too.
I get a bit emotional thinking of those who scarificed their live so bravely that we may live free. Thank you.
“And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Have a good memorial weekend, be safe and love your neighbor.
I’d like to introduce you to Jadi Jones, author of Moonlit a YA Fantasy. It is a delightful story that will keep you reading to the last page. Jadie has stopped here on her Blog Tour presented by WOW, Women On Writing. Jadie explains how she weaved her passion of horses into Moonlit.
“Write what you know.” I’ve heard this piece of advice more times than I can count. But when I wrote the first draft of Moonlit, I minimized the appearance of horses, worried that it would scare off non-horsey readers. My main character Tanzy Hightower began her journey at her father’s farm, and then they never made an encore appearance.
After I felt like I had a solid draft, I sent it to a friend I went to high school with, who edits for a legal publisher, and asked for her opinion. She’s about as non-horsey as you get. Her feedback: you need to weave horses more into your story. You really found your voice in the scene with horses. I was surprised, and initially reluctant to take her advice. How will I incorporate horses more without bogging down the story? Then it hit me: Horses were Tanzy’s heart… what if they were somehow in her blood… literally? This eureka moment reshaped the entire arch of Tanzy’s journey, and Moonlit is so much better for it.
Horses have been a lifelong passion of mine. I’ve worked as a barn manager, a trainer and coach, an exercise rider, a groom, and more. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so I paid for most of my horse related activities through barn labor, and rode anything they would put me on. This upbringing carried over into Tanzy’s personality, and shaped her calloused hands and can-do personality. Even now, as I edit the sequel to Moonlit, I work out plot tangles in the saddle, and seek refuge in the sights, sounds, and scents of the farm where I work.
Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can’t be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.
When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t.
But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself? Is she really Tanzy? Or someone new? Was she ever Tanzy? And how will she choose between the many realities she’s coming to know?
Jadie Jones has been dreaming about being an author since she wrote her first book in the seventh grade in a black and white composition tablet, of course. But life happens…jobs, husband, baby. Jadie has that magical time known as naptime to thank for Moonlit. Because, when all was quiet in the house (with the exception of the washer humming in the background) Jadie could hear Tanzy, who she thought she had long ago relegated to past dreams, calling to her. And one day Jadie pulled out a pen and answered. The result was Moonlit.
Jadie Jones’ blog:
Leave a comment on how you put passion into your stories or why you think passion helps a story soar and win a PDF of Moonlit.
Till next time,
Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.
Raine is drawn to Torin’s dark sexiness against her better judgment, until he saves her life with weird marks and she realizes he is different. But by healing her, Torin changes something inside Raine. Now she can’t stop thinking about him. Half the time, she’s not sure whether to fall into his arms or run.
Scared, she sets out to find out what Torin is. But the closer she gets to the truth the more she uncovers something sinister about Torin. What Torin is goes back to an ancient mythology and Raine is somehow part of it. Not only are she and her friends in danger, she must choose a side, but the wrong choice will cost Raine her life.
What reviewers are saying:
HOLY RUNES!I really enjoyed this story especially Torin *swoon*. Ednah did a wonderful job on Runes! It is a must read for fans of YA books!…Breanna-http://two-tall-tales.blogspot.com/
Wow! I’ve got to start by saying that it takes something original and excellent to surprise me, and this book did just that! I found myself about 75% of the way through the book with my mouth hanging open… Carrie Williams (Goodreads)
Oh HOLY COW! This book was a mind blowing surprise! I loved the way it turned out and I am literally going crazy over the ending. I was not expecting it to turn out the way it did….Maida…full review May 23-http://loveaffairwithabookreviews.blogspot.ca/
Where to buy:
Kindle (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CP4YKTG
Kindle (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CP4YKTG
Kindle (CA): https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00CP4YKTG
Smashwords: Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=ednah+walters
About Ednah Walters:
EDNAH WALTERS grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and dreaming of one day writing her own stories. She is a stay-at-home mother of five humans and two American short-hair cats (one of which has ADHD) and a husband. When she is not writing, she’s at the gym doing Zumba or doing things with her family, reading, traveling or online chatting with fans.
Ednah is the author of The Guardian Legacy series, a YA fantasy series about children of the fallen angels, who fight demons and protect mankind. AWAKENED, the prequel was released by Pill Hill Press in September 2010 with rave reviews. BETRAYED, book one in the series was released by her new publisher Spencer Hill Press in June 2012 and HUNTED, the third installment, will be released April 2013. She’s working on the next book in the series, FORGOTTEN.
Ednah also writes New Adult paranormal romance. RUNES is the first book in her new series. She is presently working on book 2, IMMORTALS.
Under the pseudonym E. B. Walters, Ednah writes contemporary romance. SLOW BURN, the first contemporary romance with suspense, was released in April 2011. It is the first book in the Fitzgerald family series. Since then she has published four more books in this series. She’s presently working on book six. You can visit her online at http://www.ednahwalters.com or www.ebwalters.com.
This is for US mailing addresses only. Here are the prizes:
Here is the Rafflecopter link:
Till next time,