Deadlines

Do deadlines inspire you or make you crazy? Why do I ask? I ask because deadlines are a part of every author’s life (and publisher’s life too, if you think about it). They are there for a reason, obviously so that things get done. However they can be a big pain in the you know what. So back to the original question… do they inspire you or just drive you crazy?

I live with the King of Procrastination. No really, I do. Deadlines for him are a motivating factor and not in the way you are thinking. He actually does his best work when he is facing that deadline that is just hours or minutes away. But it usually is his best stuff. So he is inspired, nah, works at his best under the gun.

I, on the other hand, am on the side that deadlines drive me crazy. I know they are important but they make me crazy. I hate to get behind and start facing down that deadline. I like to get things done before they are due. Usually. Most of time. But there are times when I get behind and begin to feel the deadline breathing down my neck.

It does not inspire me. It panics me. So I have to take a deep breath and put it out of my mind. Concentrate on the job at hand. And work until it’s done.

You’re probably wondering why this is the topic of this post, beyond me ranting again… As I said deadlines are or will be a part of your life. So, it is important for you know how you will react to them. And if you need to work on how you deal with them, you should start now. Start making deadlines for yourself. It could be as simple as something like this… If I don’t write a scene by the end of the week/day, I won’t be able to watch/play my favorite TV show/video game. And stick to it. Made the deadline count. Learn what you need to do in order to meet those nasty deadlines.

Okay, so I’ve procrastinated enough with this blog. Time to get back to work… I have a deadline looming over my head. No, really I do, but… Yeah, deadlines drive me crazy!

Stay tuned…

Angela Abderhalden
Acquiring Editor
Seventh Wave Books, LLC
Seventhwavebooks@gmail.com
http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

PS- Don’t forget about the free phone conference for all stages of writers. This Saturday, February 23, 2013, at 10 a.m. Mountain Time. Email me for the phone number and code. We’ll have four authors, two editors, and a book cove designer. Join us and ask questions.

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And…. Action!

We’ve touched on the idea of using action verbs instead of more passive verbs in an earlier post. And we’ve touched on being active vs passive overall. This post is going to address using the actual structure of your writing to imply action. All of these tools are important in writing.

In the past, writing was a much more cerebral process. (I’m talking quite a while ago, as in the times before the internet, when many stories were published as serials in magazines and such.) Now the written word competes with so much; movies, TV, video games, audio books, and the biggest time drain, the internet. So it has to move, capture and keep the interest of the readers. But you know all of this, so let me get to the meat of this post….

Which of the following paragraphs is better?

She knew that the monster followed her. She could hear the footsteps echoing in the empty chamber behind her. She ran as fast as she could, but the footsteps stayed right behind her; almost as if it were following her step for step. Her breath came in huffs even louder and faster. Her heart raced even faster then her footsteps trying to pound out of her chest. She could feel the fear of the situation swallow her up. Then she tripped and pain shot up her leg originating from her ankle. She brought her hand up to her mouth to stifle a cry in pain.

It chased her. The footsteps echoed behind her. She sped as fast as she could. The footsteps stayed with her. Step for step. She huffed harder. Louder. Faster. Her heart raced faster then her footsteps. Pounding. Fear swallowed her. She tripped. Pain shot through her ankle. She stifled a cry.

Both express the same idea, but the second makes feelings more visceral for the reader. The shorter sentences brings the reader into the story, actually making the reading faster as the girl is moving faster. It is more engaging and creates more of a page turner.

In movies and in TV, the director can add mood altering music to do the same thing. Watch your favorite movie or TV show and instead of paying more attention to what is being said, pay attention to the music. As the action increases the music gets faster with more beats and usually louder too.

As writers we are trying to do the same thing with the structure of the words that we write. Do you have to do this? Absolutely not. However, it will add a dimension to your story that the reader will subconsciously ‘get’.

Now of course if you did this throughout the whole manuscript it would get old and the effect would be lost. So use it sparingly, but use it when you need to, especially in action scenes. But don’t forget this as a tool. If you use it right, the added effect with strengthen your writing.

Don’t forget that if you have questions, you can join us for a free conference call the last Saturday of each month. This month it will be the 23rd, this Saturday, at 10 a.m. mountain time, which is 11 a.m. central time. To join us, email me at the address below for the phone # and code to access the free call. Come visit with us!

Stay tuned…

Angela Abderhalden
Acquiring Editor
Seventh Wave Books, LLC
seventhwavebooks@gmail.com

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Change Energizes Us

Okay, so it’s been a while since I blogged. Here are the facts (not excuses), the holidays, moved half way across the country, the holidays again, and new job. Now that you’re caught up…

Lots of changes this year. And yes, I do feel energized. I’m writing again and it feels good. I’ve started on the sequel to Desperate Situations, called Evasive Maneuvers. It’s moving along at a slow but steady pace. I’m re-editing the fourth book in the Mel Addison Mystery Series, Nefarious Deeds, that will come out in the late summer/early fall. And I’m also re-editing a coming of age story set in WWII. No possible date on its release but soon.

We here are Seventh Wave Books are also energized. We’re in the midst of launching two new authors. The first is Guy Gertsch. He wrote this awesome book that brought out the geeky classical book lover in me. If you love Mark Twain, or at least just like him, you have to read The Mississippi Immortal in Europe. His book is the story of a grouchy man who wakes one morning thinking he is Tom Sawyer. He takes a trip to Europe to follow in Mark Twain’s footsteps when he wrote The Innocents Abroad. During his trip ‘Tom’ discovers a lot about himself, besides meeting many of Twain’s best characters, he begins to question his ‘immortality’. I’m very excited about this book and this new author. Check it out on the website http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

Our second new author is Alicia Sheehy. Her book will be coming out later in the spring. It’s a fantasy that is a terrific story of a young girl’s growth and learning. This YA book is great reading for the teen readers, although I enjoyed it as an adult. So don’t think that you have to be a teenager to read it. No way! It’s that good. But more on her and her book later.

Lastly, Jason and I at Seventh Wave are promoting writing by holding monthly free conference calls. It’s free! All you have to do is have questions or just an interest in writing, email us so we can give you the phone # and access code and call in. It doesn’t last long, around an hour or less. We will answer as many questions as we can, and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find out and let you know. And did I mention, it’s free. (We aren’t collecting info on anyone either. So don’t worry we won’t sell or give away or anything with your email address. I hate it when people do that with my information!) So if you’re interested email me at the address below. Oh yeah, it’s on the last Saturday of each month, around 10 a.m. Mountain time. (11 a.m. central time, etc.)

Enough of the commercials. This just goes to show you that we/I am energized and ready to continue where I left off last year. I’m going to try my hardest to blog twice a week again, barring any of life’s nasty happenings.

Write. Energize. Write. Stay tuned!

Angela Abderhalden
Author and Acquiring Editor
Seventh Wave Books, LLC
http://www.seventhwavebooks.com
seventhwavebooks@gmail.com

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The Sagging Middle

Back to the writing… So, we’ve got an awesome hook. A great beginning. And we know what will happen in the end. So we need to work on the middle of the story. This is where many writers get into trouble and stall.

If you are a plotter (a writer who creates an outline and plots out the entire story), this mostly likely is a little bit less of a problem. You know exactly where you are going and what you need to do to get to the climax.

If you are a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants, and just write only knowing the end but not how you are getting there), this maybe a little more of a problem. By giving yourself the freedom to go where the characters take you (all writers are crazy), it can be a two edged sword. I am a pantser. I find freedom in the art of composing on the fly. It’s not for everyone. You need to find your own way of writing. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Either way that you write, you need to worry about that sagging middle. This is where the story stalls for many different reasons. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind to avoid that stall. (I don’t remember where I read or heard this so I’m not claiming these ideas as my own…)

Four important parts of a story:
The inciting incident.
Complications
Crisis
Resolution

We’ve already talked about the inciting incident. Moving on… Complications. This is both in the plot and the subplots, and in character development. Give your hero(s) things to fall, trip, climb, and stumble over in order to make the story stay exciting.

For instance… Lord of the Rings. The plot is a ring needs to be destroyed in Mordor. Someone needs to take it there. They travel to Modor to destroy it. They destroy it. I know that’s over simplifying it but nevertheless it is the plot. What gives the story excitement? It’s the things that the heroes of the story must do to destroy that pesky little ring, and of course, what it costs them.

Now adding complications to the plot just to add complications is not the way to do it. Every complication that you add, every obstacle added needs to advance the plot or character development. It must move the story forward.

We move onto the crisis. This is the climax. Always the story should be moving to the crisis of the story. You can have all of the subplots come to crisis at the same time or have them peak at a different time. If you do so, make sure that they are not more exciting then the main plot crisis. Again I turn to Lord of the Rings. There are so many subplots in the story, it’s hard to pick out one. But I’m going to focus on Aragorn and his rescue of Minas Tirith. His story has been weaved in and out of the entire book(s). Here he takes up his heritage and saves the city and, for the moment, Middle Earth from Sauron’s forces. His story and most of the subplots are resolved by this time. However, the big story is still unfolding. Now he joins (sort of) into Frodo’s story by distracting Sauron. And when the main plot is resolved, i.e. when Frodo/Gollum destroy the ring, his story is mostly finished.

And that brings us to the resolution… but that is for another blog.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and the Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC. Seventh Wave Books is always on the look out for new authors. See the website for more info… http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

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Nanowrimo

And it’s November. Where has the year gone? November brings crispy nights (snow if you live in the wrong areas), the smell of wood stoves in the air, football games on TV, Christmas merchandise in the stores (urgh!), thoughts of a huge, delicious meal for Thanksgiving and the desire to write. Nah, not the desire- the gut wrenching, caffeine laden, snack munching, compulsion to write. And not just write, but to cram fifty thousand words in thirty days on paper.
For those of you who don’t know or have been living under a writing rock, in the month of November millions of people world wide turn into Nano-ers. What is that you ask? November is National Novel Writing Month. Or nanowrimo for short. During this month you pledge to other writers (and yourself) to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. Yes, fifty thousand. That’s one thousand six hundred and sixty seven each day. Yes, each day.
Impossible, you say? Nah. Difficult. Time consuming. A labor of love. Yes. A contest between writers? Absolutely. Who can finish first? Who can finish at all? Competition and camaraderie. And the prize at the end? Mostly just bragging rights. Oh yeah and a great start on a novel.
I say a great start on a novel, because during the month of writing, the idea is to go for word count not quality. For once quantity not quality is the goal. So you learn to spell out all numbers (five hundred twenty three counts as four words as apposed to 5323 which only counts as one), separate compound words (can not counts as two words instead of one- cannot), and never, ever use contractions (do not counts as two words while don’t is one). And the best thing, most fun thing, and to most writers that like to use lots of adjectives and adverbs in their writing that eventually get cut by editors, you get to use as many of the wonderful, high descriptive and some times (see- two words) totally use less (another two words) words just to pad the word count.
Seriously though, I’ve participated in Nanowrimo for almost ten years. And won all but two of the years. Almost all of the ‘novels’ I’ve written during this month have a great beginning to a real novel. So when I pare down all of the added words and re-contracted the contractions, and stuck the compound words back together, I usually come up with about 25, 000 words. A really good beginning in any one’s opinion.
If you are up for a challenge and can put aside your inner editor for a month and just write… join the writing community world wide and write. Check out the website at http://www.nanowrimo.org Every region in the country has a group you can join. Spend time on the forums to meet people in your area (not too much time, since you need to be getting words on the computer), or even world wide. If you have a pressing question, there are literally millions of people who you can ask.
So don’t write alone, at least in November. Come join all the other crazy writers. And writers those 50,000 words for the fun of it. Or for a future published novel. Or even just for bragging rights.
Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC. They are looking for authors all the time. Check out the website at http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

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Book Review 2

It’s been longer than a month since I did a book review, so I figured it was time to write another one. I’m an eclectic reader and will read anything if it is interesting. I normally do not read memoirs. I don’t know why, maybe because I like fiction better. However, that being said, I have recently read a memoir that I liked.

Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox. Yes, I bought it because he is a celebrity. And I have never read any other celebrity memoir before. So this was a first for me. I bought it because I acknowledge Michael J. Fox’s contribution to making me laugh. I watched Family Ties, and Spin City. I enjoyed his movies. But he is also one of those celebrities that didn’t appear to be a douche. He always seemed to be genuine nice person. I could have been fooled but I don’t think I was. And his book seemed to confirm that.

Michael J. Fox doesn’t pull any punches. He shows us at his worst, when he is hung over, when he makes stupid mistakes and when he is taken in by the ‘Hollywood crazyland’. He shows us at his most vulnerable.

I enjoyed the glimpse of the real Hollywood. I got a glimpse of the inner works of some of my favorite shows without being stupid. I felt the pain of him finding out and could empathize with him. Although different, it still reminded me of my cancer diagnosis. His life is put under a microscope but he doesn’t do it in a whiny manner.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. If you watched Family Ties or Spin City or Teen Wolf or what was that one movie or series of movies…. What was it? Uh…. Back to the what? Or yeah. The future. Back To The Future. Michael J. Fox uses humor and keeps thing from getting too maudlin. I enjoyed it immensely.

And good luck to Michael J. Fox. We’re behind you, guy!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

Seventh Wave Books, LLC is looking for authors. Check out the web page: http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

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Book List

Recently I was asked how I learned to write. I jokingly replied, “In grade school.” Seriously though, it did start in grade school. My first short story I wrote in fifth grade. I still have it. It was called ‘The Monster In The Alley’. It had suspense, mystery, lots of showing and not telling and a twist at the end. Okay, it wasn’t all that great, but it had potential and it did have all of the above, just not very well written.

I did taking composition in high school. And I was an English major in college. However, I’ve never had any real writing ‘instruction’. So how did I learn? The best teachers were other authors. From when I could read to this very day, I’m a voracious reader. I read everything. No, I’m not kidding. If it keeps my attention, I read it. Any genre, fiction or non-fiction.

And included in that reading, I read every writing book I could get my hands on. Not genre specific either. I literally read every writing book in the Boise Library system. (I don’t live in the area anymore but they have an excellent selection.) I also began buying those books that I found particularly helpful. I studied, and restudied them. To this day I usually reread them about once a year or so.

So today I’ve listed the best of my book shelf here for you. These aren’t all of them and they aren’t my genre specific writing books.

First there is a series that I love. Elements of Fiction Writing by Writer’s Digest
Plot by Ansen Dibell
Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress
Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell
Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Description by Monica Wood
Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Teach Yourself Body Language by Gordon R Wainwright
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les
Edgerton
The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press Staff

That’s just one shelf. I have a whole shelf of just mystery writing and reference books to help with writing mysteries. I also have a number of books for inspiration from other writers; the best one by Stephen King, On Writing.

So there, you have a glimpse of my book shelf.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Active vs. Passive

It’s the fight of the century! Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Come and see the pugilist fight that has been going on for centuries. Who will win? Come find out.

Sorry, it’s been a long day and I was being silly, but the fact remains… Active has been fighting Passive since man began writing. For beginners, let’s start of with the basics. What is the definition of both active and passive?

Active simply put is thing doing the action + verb + thing receiving the action.
Passive simply put is thing receiving the action + (be) + verb + (by) + thing doing action.

By looking at nothing else by the simply explanation, you can see that the active uses less words and is faster (hence the reason it’s called active). The passive uses more words, longer sentences, doesn’t engage the reader and can be vague.

Let’s look at an example:
Active: Bill hit the ball. We see that…. Bill (thing doing the action) hit (verb) the ball (thing receiving the action).
Passive: The ball was hit by Bill. We see that…. The ball (thing receiving the action) was (a form of be) hit (verb) by Bill (the thing doing the action).

Active moves the story along. It engages the reader. It will use showing not telling (remember from last blog?). This is important to keep the reader reading. And it can still be improved. Let’s think about it. Bill hit the ball. Boring. Bill slugged the ball. Bill ruptured the ball. Bill thwacked the ball.

Passive voice uses the ‘be’ words. Try to eliminate ‘be’ words when you can. Use active verbs for better sentence structure and easier reading. It’s okay to have some passive sentences or to use some ‘be’ words. Just be judicious with them in your writing.

Many times passive writing is used in reports and more scientific writing. But in fiction, especially in genre fiction it is best to use active sentences. Active sentences make the story interesting. Interesting stories sell better. And that is what most of us are after… to sell tons of books, make lots of money and write full time.

Active might just equal more money!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the Author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and is an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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Show, Don’t Tell

If you’ve been a writer for more than a few days, you’ve heard the saying, ‘Show, don’t tell.” It’s one of those things that every writer hears- over and over and over again. It’s an axiom, a chant, a truth… a law.

And although some laws are made to be broken, don’t break this law. At least most of the time. As a new or beginning author, you need, no you must have this law on your mind at all times. Here’s why- Show is active. It engages the reader in the story. Telling is passive. It doesn’t make the reader part of the story. (More about active versus passive in another blog real soon.)

Let me give you an example:

Telling—
John was mad. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Wally had tried to calm him down but John wouldn’t listen.

Showing—
“What?” John slammed the door and stalked over to Wally’s desk. He deliberately placed both hands flat on the desk, leaning closer to Wally. “What are you talking about? How can-”
“Calm down, man,” Wally said holding his hands out, palms toward John. “It isn’t that bad. The last thing-”
“Calm down! Calm down! That contract was mine. That little weasel-”
“John, would you listen to me! The contract is still yours. Fred only went-”
John pounded a fist on the desk cutting Wally off. The red flash brightened on John’s cheeks. His voice deepened even as it ratcheted up a notch in volume. “No one is supposed to work my contracts. No one!”

Do you see the difference? The first one, telling, doesn’t engage the reader in the story. Very passive. Is the reader caught up in the action in the telling? No.

But with the showing, the reader gets involved in the action. The reader figures out that John is mad and won’t listen. The reader might even put themselves in the scene because everyone can relate to being this mad at something. You are engaging the reader in the story. Absolutely vital.

Since the reader is engaged they are less likely to put the book down or stop reading. And this is something that you never, ever want your reader to do.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and is an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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The Middle

Now that the beginning chapters are out of the way, it’s time for the middle. This is the meat of the story. Here is where the characters are developed, the main plot evolves, sub plots are wound around the main plot, etc. This is another place to lose your reader too.

You’ll hear the term, the sagging middle. After the great action beginning, and everyone knows the ending is always great… there is the middle. Don’t let this sag or not live up to the expectations of the beginning. How to do this? There is no formula or outline that works all the time. You have to feel your way through it. (A great book to read on this subject is The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. This is a good ‘structure’ book.)

The middle needs to be like a rising stock market graph. The story is always trending upwards. There should be peaks and valleys in the story but always heading upward to the final climax. Why valleys in the middle of the story? Well, you can’t have the tension all the way through the story. You have to let the readers rest sometimes in the story. Give them a break to catch their breaths before you send them up the next peak, right back into the action.

Again, everything leads to the climax. Everything. You can wrap up some sub plots earlier in the story. Or you can have them wrap up with the climax. Watch out about having them wrap up after the climax, because it might confuse the reader as to when the real climax is. Or best… Let a few sub plots dangle, not being answered at all.

If you are writing a series, then letting sub plots dangle is a good way to write. You never know when a sub plot in one book will lead to a major plot in another book. Or you can write more in a European style where not all things get resolved in the end. Unlike the American style of writing where most things get wrapped up.

By using the upward trending graph style of plots, it ensures that the reader stays involved in the story. The reader is given momentary breaks but always heading to the ever important climax. There are no sagging middles. And no lost readers. Action. Movement. Reader involvement.

Stay Tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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