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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron

You will be missed.

Transparent Writing

Three recent activities birthed my title revelation.  One, watching New Year's Eve (2012 movie).  Two, reading How-To articles/books about my craft.  Three, analyzing this great quotation from This Means War (another 2012 movie):
Don't choose the better man; choose the man who makes you a better woman.
Chelsea Handler delivered this wonderful line playing the best friend character named Trish.

And I found "transparent writing" in all three examples.  A refreshing frankness.


The first-mentioned movie, New Year's Eve, hit me two ways.  As a viewer, its sad scenes surprised me.  But as an author, it spoke to me about transparency in writing through two characters:  the sous chef, played by the beautiful Columbian actress Sofia Vergara, who stole the show due to her honest revealing of her character in each of her scenes.  And the backup singer, played by Lea Michelle Sarfati, portraying both a vibrant personality paired with living her life's purpose, which engage alone but together . . . a double hitter.


For the second, I study daily the art of creative writing via manifold forums.  Online articles, blog posts, newsletters, writing classes, shared insights from my fellow authors, movies, fiction, nonfiction, poems, quotations, the Bible, etc.  I inhale so many words and pages, sometimes finding the instigating reference becomes a major search among all my sources within any twenty-four-hour period.

Regardless, if you decided to be an author even one month ago, you already know the supposed rules:
  • write fresh,
  • show don't tell, 
  • avoid clich├ęs
  • choose strong concrete nouns,
  • use action verbs,
  • avoid To Be verbs, 
  • avoid adverbs ending in LY
  • cut out half of your adjectives, 
  • stick with dialogue tags "he said/she said" or substitute action lines to define the speaker, 
  • write what you know, 
  • use hooks, 
  • don't "walk the dog," 
  • cut useless words, 
  • write with clarity, 
  • sprinkle in backstory,
  • avoid info dump,
  • avoid too much description in one place by spreading it out,
  • avoid repetitions, 
  • use rhetorical devices and 
  • other items ad infinitum. 

Write fresh.

Remember that above all else.

As a reader, I get tired of seeing the same old body movements to evoke emotions.  As a novelist, I'm determined to avoid hands fisting, eyes gazing, arms pumping, face scrubbing, hands run through the hair.  None are bad.  They just show up too much.

I want to be different.

Our thoughts--now those would tend to be unique.  Just like you are set apart from your siblings, yet all shared the same genes, household, geographic area, social tier, money strata, educational system, right?  Can you tell what they are thinking?  No.  Believe me, I don't want to know every thought.

Just some.

From select individuals.

Reading gives us glimpses into the minds of others.  The mind of Hannibal Lecter scares me too much to consider watching the movie, when the trailer alone became TMI.

Yet haven't you ever said, "I wish guys/people were marked"?  I know I have.  In fact that line may appear almost verbatim in my debut novel.  Because what we see is not always what we get.  Correct?

Our uniqueness of thought is each author's "write fresh."  We don't realize it, labeling our life "dull and boring."  It is not.  Share yours.

You know those conflicting thoughts, those mental arguments you have with yourself?  Write them down.  They may become very useful in a future novel or a current WIP.

I love the psychological elements to stories anyway.  I so admire Nora Roberts's male insights.  I truly envy J.D. Robb's clarity and conciseness.  She reveals so much with minimum wordage.

Have you ever had your spouse or your children stare at you in silence?  Didn't you wonder what they were thinking?  Those insights evolve into the "write fresh" needed on paper.

Now "write fresh" comes in differing levels. Compose where you feel most comfortable, meanwhile pushing those outer boundaries.


The This Means War quote.  It confuses and confirms simultaneously.  It explains why you see a happily married couple of decades yet they don't "fit" to an outside observer.  Because strangers only have the physical to analyze, not being privy to the couple's personalities, ideals, goals, histories, even their professions.  So we go by what we see.  Is she pretty?  Is he pretty?  Then they should live HEA.  In books, yes.  In life, I wish.

Somehow these lucky marriages last long-term.  I maintain because each partner exchanged transparency.

Love remains ethereal.  We cannot box it up--no matter how often we try.  Love entails feelings, emotions, morals, core elements, belonging, acceptance, memories, dreams, plus more mysteries and surprises.  However,  I assert those intangibles can partially become real via putting our thoughts into words.

Yes, while our characters circle the room or get that cup of coffee or slam the door in our novels.  We do need to incorporate action with emotions, thoughts.  I propose that, if our psyche reveals a surprising yet universal idea, maybe we can get away with one more fisting of the hands when offset by our fresh writing.

As always, take what resonates, toss the rest--and keep on writing!

Denise Barker, author + blogger +
Freelance Copy Editor, http://bit.ly/freelanceCE
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Fun Diagnostic Sites for Authors

First is Gender Genie which guesses the sex of the author.  Very useful for us females trying to duplicate man-speak in our dialogue.  Check it out here:  http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php.

Second is I Write Like and, since I just found it today, is causing me to veer away from my proposed To Do list to insert snippets of my various writings to see the results.  Here's that link:  IWL.me/.

So far, I write like Mario Puzo, Arthur Clarke and David Foster Wallace.  Which made me wonder if female authors were in the database.

So I dug out a love scene and a fight scene from my WIP mainstream and finally hit upon two female authors:  Anne Rice and J.K. Rowling, respectively, proving authors of both genders are awaiting your comparison.

Now, back to work . . .

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Giorgia's Vivi Davvero

Barbara Conelli's blog post today reminded me of this incredible Italian artist that I cannot overindulge in enough.  I first found Giorgia via the 2004 movie Chasing Liberty.  There was no movie soundtrack made for sale (at that time anyway), so I searched for the individual song--Giorgia's "Vivi Davvero."  I'm addicted to this one.  Can listen to it over and over all day long.  And I don't speak Italian.  Just mesmerizing to experience a rush of emotions melded with Giorgia's voice and energy.

Listen and decide for yourself.  Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK8F6B9IXR4&feature=related.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Monday, June 25, 2012

GCB Quotes from Episode Nine, “Adam and Eve’s Rib”

The cancelation of this series has bummed out this Texas Christian fan, but I have braced myself to again face the latest episodes—now the last--to pull out my favorite quotations. 

~ ~ ~

Heather:  I need a Plus One to support a church charity?
Carlene:  Oh, Heather, darling, of course you can support our team.  Just not as one of us. . . . You let me know when your marital status changes and I’ll be more than happy to give you the [foam] finger.

[Love when the female reporter shuns Zach followed by Sharon asking him to hold her purse.]

Ripp [to Laura]: Now there’s no need to get political.  There’s still plenty for girls to do.  . . . Keeping us hydrated, now that’d be a blessing.

Amanda:  Really?  Nobody has any issue with this boys-only wienie rule? . . . It is sexist and it sends a completely wrong message to our daughters.

Carlene (praying):  Although there’s no way they [a Temple] can win a BBQ competition without pork. . . . Pray for Amanda.  Please give her grace in defeat.
Gigi:  Or victory.

Amanda:  Honey, that’s so sweet.  But we’re in Texas.  Here, BBQ means meat. . . . I know there’s a little Gloria Steinem in every woman.
Laura:  A glory who?
Amanda:  Which is exactly why we’re doing this. . . .
Gigi:  Back in my day, a feminist was a woman who avoided the kitchen like a plague.

[The Mason Massey intro scene with Cricket is wonderful.  As much as I love Blake, it does my heart good to see Cricket having the possibility of a real, two-way relationship.  Cricket’s more-feminine dresses, instead of suits, and the chemistry between her and Mason sparks up this meeting.  Plus I just like all the psychological warfare and the double entendres.]

Mason:  Caesar (stud horse) always satisfies.
Cricket:  You have a lot of confidence.  I have to admit, that intrigues me. . . .
Mason:  Obviously, you’re a woman who knows what she wants, and goes after it when she see it.  If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be here. Would I?

Carlene:  You may have forgot while living in a Blue State, that men and women play different roles, Amanda.  The Bible makes that abundantly clear. . . . In a godly marriage, there is no His or Hers, only We.

[This scene with Zach and Sharon, in which she is more dominant/making more money, is illuminating on the confidence a well-suited job can exude from a happy woman.  Plus it sets up a later scene nicely.]
Sharon:  If you want publicity, you take out an ad with the Dallas Morning News.  . . . I don’t care how it looks to the guys.  How about how it looks to your wife?  We can’t afford it.

Gigi:  I’m the last one to give cooking advice, but should there be that much smoke?
Amanda:  That’s why they call it a smoker, Mother.

Amanda:  You get to taste my brisket.
Luke:  Do I have to?
Amanda:  . . . I don’t need you to solve my problems.  I would rather fail than win with your help.
Luke:  . . . Oh, and you might want to check that out [walking off, back to smoker, then a burst of flame!].

Gigi:  There’s nothing I can do about Luke, but I could sic Tony and Roma on Carlene.  They already think she’s a chew toy.  [For the non-Texas readers, one point of clarity here.  Tony Roma's is a famous ribs/seafood/steak restaurant in Texas and elswhere.]

Cricket:  As you can see from my live cam, Caesar hasn’t swung his sword all day.
Mason:  . . . You didn’t have to get all glossy for me. . . . My daddy did business with Clint Caruth back in the day.  He didn’t have a kind word to say about that man.  Can’t be easy to be his daughter.
Cricket:  Might have been easier to be his son.
[Luv, luv, luv the vulnerable looks Cricket can pull off.  And the fact that she defends his first physical move toward her with a martial arts combo, yet he still closes in.]

Gigi:  A glass of bourbon and a low-cut top works better than truth serum on that man [Burl].

[Now we are deep in the woods, with Gigi and Amanda seeking the secret stash of the best wood to use when smoking a brisket—from a pecan tree on Pepper Creek—on Cricket’s land.  She has joined them, pointing her rifle their way.]
Cricket:  You’re in my thicket.  In the middle of the night.  I’m curious.  Why?
Amanda:  . . . And “ladies just don’t do that” isn’t the answer I want to give her [my daughter].  You have a daughter too.  Don’t you want her to grow up in a world where she can do whatever she wants?
Cricket [in a pensive moment, studying the pecan tree]:  Daddy Bo always did love this pecan tree.  [Which she blasts with one shot of her rifle, a huge branch falling to the ground by Gigi and Amanda.]

Carlene:  Just creating a little shortage.  If Amanda can’t get her hands on any prime Wangus, well . . .
Ripp:  Smart thinking, tenderloin. . . .
Carlene:  Three to one?  You voted against me?

Danny:  Hey, you.  Small world.
Heather:  A small world.  Nice try. Amanda said you found some brisket and you wouldn’t hand it over unless I came to pick it up.  [Gotta admire the confidence, imagination and spunk of this guy.]  Well, here I am, Danny. Where’s your Wangus? . . Guys resent women who make more money than they do.
Danny:  . . . We’re in an economic downturn right now.  And this is Texas.  People will stop buying houses before they give up their meat.  . . . Well, I’m sorry you dated a bunch of idiots before.  But all it takes is meeting one good guy.  Maybe that’s me. . . . ‘Cause girls who play with fire are hot.

[There are SO many great scenes in this one episode, but here, when Carlene makes entry into Gigi’s house via the doggie door has to be the best!  Then Tony and Roma corner Carlene in the pantry, so she overhears Amanda’s honest and emotional conversation with her Mother.  They are of course surprised when Carlene joins them in a hug.  Ha!]
Amanda:  I didn't just do this for her, Mama, I did it for me. . . . But what kind of example is that to set for Laura?  To let some man think for me, or take away my voice, or treat me like nothing more than some lap dog or some cute little kitten.
Gigi:  You are so much more than that.  Shh, shh, shh, shh.  Precious girl.
Amanda:  Carlene?

[Pan to the BBQ site and our first glimpse of the gals is awesome—walking through the brisket smoke, all in jeans, not the norm in this show.  And their shirts?  Read “Spicy Racks.”  The background music, “there’s a little bit of devil in her angel eyes” hits the spot.]
Amanda [with a snap of her fingers to her all-ladies BBQ team]:  Racks, let’s roll.

Heather:  His name is Danny, he is not rich, he doesn’t belong to the country club, he’s a butcher.  And if anyone has anything to say about it, I will take your internal temperature with this meat probe.
Cricket:  Don’t get me started on rich men.  They think they can get anything they want based on the size of their . . . wallet.
Carlene:  Money doesn’t matter.  Especially if you don’t get to choose what to do with it.
Amanda: And it’s no guarantee of happiness . . .
Gigi: Truth be, I’d rather have the man than the money.

[Here comes the wonderful scene with the drunk guy hitting on the girls.  Zach steps in.  Fists connect.  Zach goes down.  Sharon decks the drunk; he falls to the ground.  I love how this show plays with stereotypes and flip-flops them.  Touching scene between Sharon and Zach, with his new black eye.]
Sharon [to Zach]: We knocked that fool out together, as a team, because that’s what we do.  You are my hero. . . .
Richard Dillard:  To donate one of your cars today was a class act.  Sticking up for your little lady, even classier.

[Spicy Racks wins the BBQ competition!]
Cricket [with an arm pump]:  Take that, Daddy Bo!  [Still competing with her daddy, even though he's dead.]

Carlene: I’ve always supported you, Ripp.  How could you not support me? . . .
Ripp:  Kitten, the condos are staying in Mexico.
Carlene:  Why?
Ripp:  The Lord told me.
Carlene:  He spoke to you?  Like Daniel?  And Isaiah? . . . What did His voice sound like?  A cross between Billy Graham and Kris Kristofferson?

[Another great scene.  Cricket returns to her office to find Mason has settled in.  Sitting in her chair.  Feet on her desk.  Which she shoves aside to write him a check for stud fees.  He just stands, revolves—tightly—around her.]
Cricket:  Mr. Massey, I’m a married woman.
Mason:  Well, you don’t act like one.  You’ve never even mentioned your husband’s name.  And I never ever hear you say “we” when talking about your personal life.  In my experience, these are not exactly the signs of a healthy marriage.
Cricket:  My marriage works just fine.
Mason:  But is it everything you want it to be? [pause]  Look, I’m single.  And I’m discreet.
[The kiss that unhinges Cricket is priceless!]

Gigi [to Amanda]:  Well, I couldn’t be more proud.  And that hideous thing [the BBQ trophy] comes down first thing in the morning.

Luke [talking to Amanda by phone]:  Did anyone ever tell you you’re kinda sexy when you grovel?

~ ~ ~

I love these people.  I love watching them smile at each other, share respect among themselves and speak their truth. 

One more (final) episode to dissect for fave quotes.  So sad . . .

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Monday, June 18, 2012

David Morrell's Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft

If the author's name in the title didn't resonate with you, how about "Rambo"?

I thought it would.  Morrell wrote the initial Rambo book--his debut, BTW--that became movies that later became a book (read Lessons to understand that loop!).

In fact, because of his imagination immortalized on paper, " . . . Rambo went on to become so great a part of global popular culture that the character's name was listed as a new word in the Oxford English Dictionary" (p.214).

That's one of my aspirations.  To have my characters live on, born in fiction yet alive, become viral, known worldwide.  Like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.  Like Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler.  Like Eve Dallas and Roarke.  Like Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli.

Anyway, back to the book which is the subject of this post:  David Morrell's  Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing:  A Novelist Looks at His Craft.

I reread this one from my at-home library--just finished it yesterday.  It is definitely a keeper.  I first read it 07.15.08 (I mark same on the inside), underlining the great points.  There is a lot of underlining going on.  This time, I'm gonna type up my notes (all those underlined parts) for a great overview for my personal use, from which I will create another version wherein I distill it down to the top ten (or one hundred) salient points.  That then gets printed and added to my Writing Gems/Cheatsheets notebook I'm compiling.

Since you can preview the TOC online, I will list the chapters here.

First Day of Class
Lesson One:  Why Do You Want to Be a Writer?
Lesson Two:  Getting Focused
Lesson Three:  Plot
Lesson Four:  Character
Lesson Five:  The Importance of Research
Lesson Six:  The Tactics of Structure
Lesson Seven:  A Matter of Viewpoint
Lesson Eight:  The First Person
Lesson Nine:  The First Page
Lesson Ten:  The Psychology of Description
Lesson Eleven:  What Not to Do in Dialogue
Lesson Twelve:  Dealing With Writer's Block
Lesson Thirteen:  Getting Published and the Business of Writing
Lesson Fourteen:  Rambo and the Movies
Lesson Fifteen:  Questions I'm Often Asked
Last Day of Class

As you can see, Morrell structured the book as if teaching a class, which he is.  I was struck by his bald honesty and his humor and his self-deprecating admissions, usually prefaced with "Just to show you how humble I am, . . .".  He's very amusing in print.

While all his material is worthy of a full read or three, I especially liked those dealing with the behind-the-scenes writing life, "secret" details in book publishing and movie production, but above all the more psychological topics:  "Why Do You Want to Be a Writer?" followed by "Getting Focused" and "The Psychology of Description."

Without giving away his copyrighted material, he does confirm what we authors should already know:  hooks, concrete nouns, active verbs, fresh writing, fact-checking via valid research or experts.

We may be writing fiction, but the components still have to be true.

I'm not sure if he knew it when he wrote and published this book in 2002, but he makes good arguments for going Indie without ever directly discussing it.  Maybe I'm just finding it with my all-Indie mentality.  But it is there, nonetheless.

So, if you want another great book on writing, I'm recommending this one.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Backup Your Backups

The automatic backup on my system failed months ago and I've only backed up a couple times since then.  Now I'm trying to relearn the daily manual procedure.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to actually open your recovery file to see what is there.  Although it may contain a zip file or something of the sort, at least make sure it's not empty.  Better to know about a problem now than when really needed.

Years ago, when I worked for attorneys, we had five backup disks.  One for each weekday.  I'd stick the appropriate one in the server for the day's automatically scheduled backup and the one I just ejected would go directly to my purse to be taken home with me--in case of fire or flood.  So, at worst, we would lose only one day's work.

Converting that to an at-home author's creations, you need to backup all seven days if you are like me and work regardless.  Now my Yahoo! Calendar has a reminder to send to me everyday.  For that "off-site" storage, get a thumb drive with a hole in it and add that to your key chain.  Not sure if you can password protect the whole drive or if you have to go the individual-document route, but think about that, too, in case you ever lose your keys.  In the meantime, I'll add that subject to research on my To Do list.

If I had the money and resources, I'd print out every WIP which I have resident on my computer.  Remember the Y2K scare?  Just for those type eventualities. 

But at this point, I cannot use the toner and paper for my own novels, just for my freelance gigs.  Once I had a hard copy of each, they would be added to the photo albums and other pertinent documents I'd want to save in case of an emergency.  People and pets would be the first priority, then this stash would be the second.

After the horrible hail storm in Dallas on Flag Day and praying for those people involved, the event just kept  nagging my brain, eventually morphing into a big nudge regarding my own personal plan to implement.

So, here it is.  Hope this spurs another author to save those written ideas.  There is no way I could recreate the 350,000 or so words I've typed to date.  It would be crushing to face that loss of time, effort, creativity.

Therefore, prepare, folks.  Backup that work.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Loglines and Taglines and Slogans, Oh My!

Whether you call them loglines or taglines, they are those short phrases or snappy sentences on the front of a book or a movie cover that pull you in.  A marketing slogan, if you will.

For instance, the movie logline from one of my all-time fave flicks One for the Money, based on Janet Evanovich's book of the same name, reads:  "She's looking for a few not-so-good men."

And here's an example of a book tagline from Ruth Harris's Zuri.   I love everything about her cover:  the artwork, the primitive symbols used, the brownish-black landscape features (good offset for the bright splashes of color elsewhere).  And her tagline:  "Africa.  An Orphan.  A Love Story."

Great use of alliteration.  Also note the escalating word count within each phrase.  First was a solo proper noun.  Followed by a two-word phrase coupling an indefinite article with a generic but emotional noun.  The final phrase is three words long.  Again, an emotional theme, noun, genre. In fact, there are emotions tied to the word Africa.  Go, Ruth!

While Ruth Harris can boast "NY Times bestselling author," I cannot.  Not yet.  Believe me, when I can, I will.  Happily.  Loudly.  Often.

Another possibility for our covers are short reviews.  That's great for the authors who can get them before release.  From my limited reading on the subject, I find the process too time-intensive (on their part and mine).  At this point in my Indie career, I have to opt-out of a lot of good things to maintain focus on the number one thing.  My writing.

Since I first saw the Zuri cover, my radar has been on loglines/taglines.  Now that is something I can do.  It may take a couple hours brainstorming, alone or with my CPs, but it's doable.  To me, it is some of the best marketing we authors can employ.  And costs nothing but our time and imagination.

So I started collecting really great ones that I saw.  As benchmarks to reach.  Serendipity struck when Lynn Crain, a member of one of my online author communities, posted her message about her free promo site for loglines/taglines.  My debut novel, Good Ole Boys, is slated for a June 30 appearance there.  Thank you, Lynn!


Here's her contact info and the details needed for your book's submissions.  Make sure each novel has its own separate email.  Note only two per author a month will be posted.  Also, this online collection is for sharing, not critiquing.

~ ~ ~

Hi Everyone!

The Log Line Blog is back and stronger than ever! This blog is only for the log line of your book. You know, the one that sells your book for you. One of the most famous log lines in history is: In space, no one can hear you scream. Now tell me you don't know what movie that's from and I'll tell you, you've been living under a rock for the last thirty years or so. A great log line will make your book memorable. Please share yours with us on this blog!

Ideally, your log line should be one sentence of twenty-five (25) words or less. Sometimes it might take more sentences and should NEVER be more than five(5) short sentences maximum but within the 25 word limit. Submit any more to be posted than 25 words and they will be deleted unread. To submit your log line(s) please email them directly to
theloglineblog@ gmail.com with the subject line, My Log Line(s). Please include your purchase information (up to 3 links in a tiny URL format of your own choosing) for the published book and cover art (large format please) as it will be posted with your log line(s). Don’t forget your author website for inclusion as well. Also, please include three tags for tagging purposes for search engine optimization as we do social media to maximize your exposure.

Here is the format needed for your submission:

Title (20 pt Georgia)

Secondary Title i.e. Book 1 of ABC series (13 pt Georgia)

Author: Your Name (14 pt Georgia)

Publisher: My Publisher (15 pt Georgia)

Genre/Length: My Genre/Length of Piece

My buy links #1(13 pt Georgia)

My Buy Link #2(13 pt Georgia)

My Buy Link #3(13 pt Georgia)

Author Website (13 pt Georgia)

Availability (16 pt Georgia)

Log Line(s) (16 pt Georgia)(25 words or less)

Each log line MUST be in their own individual email, so please, don’t submit all your log lines in one big email as it makes scheduling a bear. Only two per author per month will be posted. If you submit more than two, they will be scheduled in the next available slot of the following month. Also, if your purchase URLs aren’t tiny and the book cover not large, I will email you asking for a correction once. If you don’t know what I mean, ask and I’ll help but I just don’t have the time to do it for you. Thanks for your understanding on this as it is not my job to hound you to do it correctly. I’m not your mother and I don’t want to come across as a nag either.

Now it doesn’t matter if your book is a new release or one that you’ve had out there for a long time. Older books sell too and showing off that log line also shows editors and publishers alike you have what it takes. Log lines aren’t easy and it can take years of practice to perfect the skill. This blog is to help everyone perfect that skill. Occasionally, I will post helpful hints and lessons that other people have shared with me over the years. I will also include a list of classes to help authors perfect log lines as this is one of your major selling points when marketing your work.

To see an example of a selling log line, please go to www.theloglineblog. blogspot. com, look at the post for November 12, 2011 and you’ll find one that sold the Blue Moon Magic series. This particular book won awards and the series got the four authors an agent, lots of recognition and we’ve sold thousands of books in part because of the catchy log line. Yes, I know, my one moment of brilliance.. .LOL!

Please note that this is not a forum for critical essay on the log lines. This blog is to share those logs lines. Comments intended to disparage the log line of a published book will not be tolerated. Comments on suggestions for improvement next time are encouraged.

Come on, check us out and find new authors in the process! This is a wonderful opportunity that allows authors to showcase their log lines and us, as readers, to share our thoughts with them while finding more books to read.

We are now filling our schedule for summer and have lots of openings. They do fill up fast, so get your log line in NOW!!

Thanks for sharing...and enjoy!

*Lynn Crain*
Experience the Magic
www.awriterinvienna .blogspot. com
www.lynncrain. blogspot. com
Follow me on twitter: @oddlynn3

~ ~ ~

If you are a collector and newbie connoisseur of loglines/taglines like I've become, you may also enjoy this website:


It's the top 105 loglines from scripts.  Enjoy!

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mind Mapping by Hank Quense

I found a wonderful article about mind mapping our novels in this week's Savvy Authors Newsletter.  Here's the link: http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/content.php?2056-Mind-Mapping-a-Novel-by-Hank-Quense.

Even as a pantster, I can see me doing this.  It is more like brainstorming--so my right brain is happy--but with a purpose, a focus.

Plus I like his tip about assigning emotions to each of your characters.  This reminds us in each scene what response we are looking for from our readers.

Also Quense's descriptive phrase for his characters makes sense to me, especially as we write more and more novels and maybe with more people inhabiting them.  As he explains, it is harder than you think to apply this two-word label.  But that's just it, isn't it?  This way we get to the heart of each of our guys.

Anyway, enjoy the article.  It contains illustrations which help show us the idea in action.  Have fun with it!

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

My initial reactions:


"Dang it!  Why didn't I finish reading this eons ago?"  [It is a fluke I found the book the other day in one of many writing bags I use to cart all my stuff to CP meetings.]


"Okay.  I actually did some of what he recommends in my books."

Since I'm an author on a budget, I purchased only the workbook (a couple years earlier), and not its companion book.  Still, I found the workbook to be a standalone genius.

So, without spilling the copyrighted beans, here's a quick overview to both scare you and encourage you.

There are thirty-four chapters brimming with advice from Donald Maass, literary agent extraordinaire.  All nicely incorporated into his forty-item checklist in Appendix B.  But . . . and I quote:  "There are 591 steps required."  Take a breath.  It will be alright.  Because, as Donald Maass is fond of saying--put conflict on every page--that one item makes up the bulk of the steps, 350 of them.  So, 241 are left to be assigned to the other thirty-nine action steps.

As an added bonus in the workbook, you get to read some great examples from wonderful authors and I've added several more names to my To Read list.

If you have been an author for any length of time, some of his Breakout Requirements will resonate.  Your head will nod.  You'll say, "Yeah, I've heard that one before."

Have you used it yet?  In one of your own creations?

That's the kicker.

And those sort of human interjections show up in the workbook.

Donald Maass's common-sense breakdown of these factors is amazing.  Sure, I've seen some and recognized them before I read them here.  Yet still others . . . were mysteries.  Not now.  After reading Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (I started over from page one for a full and comprehensive intake of the material today), it all makes rational, relatable logic.

I know I've learned something--really retained the subject, the substance, the structure--when I can summarize it for my author friends, off-the-cuff, without benefit of notes.  On this Saturday, June 9, 2012, I amassed a multitude.  Granted, I probably won't be able to recall the checklist topics in toto, but I'm betting I'll improve with every application to each novel I compose.

Thank you, Donald Maass, for sharing your expertise with us.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

Friday, June 8, 2012

Some Great Writing Advice from Kristen Lamb’s Website

Early this morning, I was on a quest to refresh my mind as to essential elements for a Final Edit, needed for three of my WIPs before uploading.  Fate led me to Kristen Lamb’s site and I spent several hours reading selected posts at http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com.  What became pages and pages of gems saved in Word docx form, I distilled down to a single checklist below.  [The words in quotes are from Kristen (or later, Donald Maass); the others are my paraphrasing.]
IMO, here’s an author’s focused To Do list:
  1. “To be successful, we have to write good books quickly.” 
  2. “Balanced writers are happy and productive writers.” 
  3. The best marketing is “1) good book and 2) word of mouth.” 
  4. Write with passion and emotion. 
  5.  Book purchases are emotionally driven. 
  6.  Books are a high-consideration purchase because of the TIME and FOCUS needed to read a book.  (Hence #4 above, to write with passion/emotion.) 
  7.  Novel Diagnostics.  Per Kristen, we start off our novel with our strength.  Beware if it is any of these:  a) info dump; fix with scene structure: goal -> conflict -> disaster; b) internalization; fix with conflict; c) flashback; fix with unique setting, authentic characters, captivating plot that unfolds in surprising ways, scads of conflict and more . . . “high human value,” high personal stakes as well as public stakes, plot layering and tension all the time. 
  8. “Tension on every page” (per Donald Maass interview).  “[W]hat tension means: In dialogue, it means disagreement. In action, it means not physical business but the inner anxiety of the point-of-view character. In exposition, it means ideas in conflict and emotions at war.” 
  9.  Villain/dark protagonist with humanity (per Donald Maass):  Show “a small act of compassion, humor, self-awareness.” 
  10. Per Donald Maass: “Micro-tension all the time is what keeps readers turning the pages to see what will happen.”
Now, I’m off to review Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITs (trademarked) system and finish reading Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys