What I have learned by joining a writing group.

Two years ago I joined The San Antonio Writer’s Guild. I have learned much from the monthly meetings with both independently published authors and authors with contracts.Then there are the weekly Critique meetings where your work is read aloud by another member then opinions are given on it by the others. There are a few things I have learned that can be put in little rules. I thought I’d pass these on to my friends who want to write a memoir or short story or even a novel. This is what I have learned:

1. You must write to edit. If there’s nothing on paper you can’t fix what’s wrong.

2. If you mention bringing a gun with you, you must also use it or take it with you at some point.

3. There are always too many thats in the world.

4. Do not use the same word four times in the same paragraph.

5. Do your research!

6. Do not have too many people in a scene at the same time, you will confuse your audience. This includes dogs and horses.

7. Show, don’t tell. Let your character(s) feel free to walk around the room and do things. Don’t stick him in a chair and make him pontificate. I have noticed that some men have trouble accepting multitasking by the women characters. But the women will get it.

8. For us old folks, only use one space after a period and Oxford commas are now looked down upon.

9. If you use a mythical creature, be certain you know the myth.Fairys, elves, leprechauns, trolls, pookas and gorgons are all very different things.

10. And for pity’s sake. Do your research!

Of course, this is not all by a long shot, but if you start here, you’re on the right track.

But most of all it is your story. You can do whatever you want, so don’t take any critiques personally. Write for yourself and your audience but do us all a favor and do it the best you can.Good luck. Go to your yellow legal pad/typewriter/dictaphone/computer and write.

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A Lady Walks Into A Bar

Rated G, friendship. DC Cinematic Universe.

The bar was dimly lit, the old mahogany wood showing signs of wear with scuffs along the walls and benches. A man sat alone in a booth, nursing a Guiness beer. His blond hair was cut short, his face a pattern of age lines and scars, his clothes those of a working man.

The elegantly dressed woman entered the bar softly, so as to not disturb the ambiance. She approached the bar and slid onto one of the high, vinyl covered stools. The barman took her order. “Red wine, please.”

As she waited for her drink, she looked around the room. There she saw the subject of her search. When she received her wine, she dismounted her seat and eased over to him as if not to startle the man away.

“Good evening, my friend,” She slid in opposite him, depositing her Gucci purse on the hard wooden bench.

“Good evening, Diana,” He nodded with a sad smile. His voice rough from ages of shouted commands.

“And how shall I call you?” she nodded encouragingly. “Khufu, or Carter?”

“Carter for now,” he lifted his empty mug at the waitress who nodded. He put it with a collection already on the table. The young woman came with another beer and a second glass of wine.

“Do you know why I sought you out?”

He shook his head and took a drink. “No, but I can imagine. Another foe to conquer, another enemy at the gate. Sorry, not interested.”

“I’m working with the Batman for now. There is something big coming.”

“Haven’t you learned that working with mortals will break your heart.” He sat the mug down and drew circles in the water rings with a calloused finger. “Making friends, then losing them, is so sad.”

She looked at him with a little smile. “Neither of us is immortal. You more than I know it.”

“But we are both old.” he drew a symbol on the table. “You are hundreds of years old. Me, thousands.”

“I can die by a weapon if I’m not careful.” she said.

“And I will.” He looked at her with his present blue eyes. “Shy’era is already dead. She is calling to me. You know I cannot refuse the curse.”

“Can you not resist it for a little while?”

“No, the time is too close. I would go, and by dying, break your concentration.” he sighed and drained the mug again. “Perhaps in our next incarnations, my wife and I can be of help. But now, I am only tired. My very bones ache. The wings grow heavy and the mace difficult to control.”

Diana looked at her old friend and saw his depression. She was saddened by it.

“Bruce and Arthur will certainly help,” he said. “I don’t know of the others but I’m sure you will prevail…with Clark.”

“Clark is dead.”

“Not so much I think,” He shifted his weight and climbed out of the booth dropping a hundred and a fifty on the table.

She stood up gracefully and faced him. “So you are now a Priest of Apollo with portents for me?”

“Always follow the sun, daughter of Themyscira. Never look to the shadows.”

“I will see you again, my friend.”

“I hope so. But, in the casting of the bones of chance one never knows where he may find himself.”

She reached out to lay her hand on his shoulder. “I pray you find her quickly.”

“May the gods hear your words.” He took her hand in his and kissed it. “Farewell, daughter of Amazons. Fight well.”

The man turned and walked out of the bar.

The waitress came to collect the glassware and the money. She looked in dismay at the large denominations. “I can’t take these. We don’t take anything bigger than twenties.”

Diana looked at her. “The money is good. Enjoy your tip.”

The girl looked at her doubtfully. “I don’t know. Do you think he’ll be back?”

“No, child.” the woman shook her head as she picked up her purse. “Not in this lifetime.”She gave a sad smile and left the dark room for the sun.

 


Family stuff and kudus for a friend.

Honestly, I didn’t think it had been literally months since I’ve posted here.

Real Life is a bitch. And when you get older its full of surprises.  Quick commentary husband in hospital and now awaiting surgery. Me back in Physical Therapy and yeah, awaiting surgery too.  Has anyone used Dragon software? How do you like it?

Now some more exciting news.

Last night I spent a great evening gathering with writers and friends at 400 Josephine, a lovely and quaint little bar to Celebrate the initial release of KL White’s first novel, Dark Waters. The groups represented were The San Antonio Writer’s Guild, San Antonio Romance Authors and a few more I didn’t hear their actual name. Dark Waters is published by Carina Books and is available on Amazon.com as an e-book. Sadly no paperbacks available in this type of deal
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Dark Waters is an adult fantasy book involving a Kelpie and his human friend in war’s aftermath. Be advised this is an adult book and involves interspecies romance. PS a Kelpie is a shapeshifter Scottish water spirit, somewhat like a Pooka to the Irish often appearing in the form of a horse.

I’ve seen the first chapter and enjoyed it. I’m excited for my pal and hope to see many more books from her.

 

 

 


Self Publishing your Novel (from my pov)

When you are a self published author there are a few things you need to know.  First question from most people is ‘we love your book but why don’t you sell it to a big publishing house?’.  Well, I’ve been told (and I believe it) that there are thousands of people writing manuscripts for various reasons.  They want to prove they can, they have a need to try to help people and the old ‘I need to make some money and it seems easy’.

I wrote mine for the ‘I’d like to make a little extra retirement money’ reason, but I also noticed a void in the market.  There are lots of stories about men going off to wars, coming home with issues and rebuilding their lives from various complications.  But there are none about women.  Women are seeing more and more battle action in our various services.  Most often in the Marines and the Army. So I decided I’d write one for us.

I was in the Air Force.  My job as an NCO was to insure our mission got done.  I was in Transportation, the Chief Dispatcher.  So I ran the shuttles, the taxies, and the supply trucks.  My drivers went out and picked up broke-down, abandoned vehicles and basically kept the wheels turning. But even I, though not in actual combat during Desert Storm, suffered repercussions.  Due to exposure to oil well smoke and who knows what else from the battle vehicles I developed Gulf War Syndrome which is a catch-all phrase.  For me it is asthma, sinusitis, COPD, sleep apnea and various and sundry other problems.  But enough about that.

My Book, The Homestead, is about a woman Marine combat veteran who was wounded and lost her fiance to an IED when they were en route to their assignment.  She spends time in a medical facility and winds up inheriting the old family farm, discovering a 50-year-old cold case murder mystery.

I sent it to several big name publishing companies and received a series of very polite rejections.  I seems that they were wanting something of a more supernatural bend like Vampires or Zombies in south Texas.  Or a torrid sex scene.  Or, while we liked the book we are not presently publishing this genre.  Really?

So, I went in search of a Self-Publishing house that I could get along with.  This is what I found out.

First you must find a publishing house to suit your needs: financially, responsibility, and work wise.  I didn’t have $4,000. in my hip pocket, so that knocked a lot of them out.  I had also heard stories of people who paid up front and got forgotten as time went on.  I actually found one who takes monthly payments. And I kept 100 % of all rights to my book. I have a fantasy of that movie contract.  LOL!

Second, you must find one where you have a real live contact person who will pick up the phone, give you good answers, make suggestions, and (at least seem) to care about you and your book.

Thirdly, find one who will do the basic sales deal.  They will post your book on various venues.  Amazon.com,  Createspace, BarnesandNobles.com, the Apple Store, K0bo, the Google Play, etc.

And you must have one that fulfills your needs.  Mine has a cafeteria plan.  They have a long list of services and you can choose which one you wanted.  I did’t want it edited, just proof read, got a nice cover design, print on demand, and a webpage.  There were more options but that was all I wanted.  Build a relationship with your customer account manager.  Remember names of people who you WANT to deal with.

Now, actually selling the book is up to you.  Go beat the bushes, get out to venues like bookstores, expos, conventions and things that are a part of your books.  Mine has dogs in it so I advertise in Jack Russell Dog Show Flyers when I can find them.  I also have horses so I went to the open house of my horse’s breed, American Indian Horse and I advertise in their magazine. Go on your FaceBook Page.  And to the Group pages you belong to, (Ask Permission First, some have rules about this.)  I know people through a Writers Guild, my husband’s bass club, and whenever I talk about the book, I hand out flyers with info on how to order it. Talk!  You’re proud of your book, show it.  Most of my doctors have flyers from me too.   And donate to your local library, VFW, fund-raisers for your groups and anything else you are involved with. Oh! And Blog.  Here we are, talking about the adventures and knowledge I’ve enjoyed since writing the book.  So people say Twitter, but that’s too ‘right now’ for me.  I like to write my blog and then re-read it before I post.  It’s too easy to blurt stuff out I’ll regret later.

I’m sure you’ll think of lots else to do with your book, you just have to think about it.  Good luck to you all.

By the way, the Publishing House I’m talking about is BookFuel.  Google it and talk to the nice people there.  Good luck.

 


The Writing Group

Once a week I meet with a great group of people to discuss, read and critique our work.

It works like this.  We meet at a friendly location (last night it was at a Barnes and Nobles bookstore) and we circle around a table in a quiet corner.  There is a moderator who is in charge but not invasive.  She holds the reading list, calls time, and generally keeps us on track.  A timekeeper is appointed.

After we all have our drinks from the store’s interior Starbucks, we settle in. Moderator starts calling name from the reading list.  The first one on the list with a poem, short story, or even a chapter from their in progress book identifies themselves.  10 to 15 copies of a no more than 10 page script is handed out to the other members and then SOMEONE ELSE volunteers to read the thing.  After it is read aloud, we go around the circle  and EVERYONE gets 10 minutes to give their critiques.

Now, this critique should not be cruel, a downer or malicious.  It is meant to be helpful.  It shouldn’t be on grammar or sentence structure.  I should be about plot, characters, scenery and feel of the piece. You should start with good and end with good.

The first time this happens to YOUR work its teeth chattering and bone aching.  It hurts a little and scares you a LOT.  So why put yourself out there?

I’m working on a novel.  Its long, sometimes tedious and often frustrating.  I know when its not right but sometimes I cannot put my finger on why.  These 15 people stepped right in the middle of it and told me the reasons.  I’m going to leave the notes they wrote on my pages for a day or two, then look at them and remember the comments.  But now, I think I know what to do and where I failed.  They all liked the story but I confused them with too much stuff and too many words.  What I wanted to be descriptive was miring the story down.

These people are my pals.  They aren’t my sister, my best friend or my fan.  They are expecting me to succeed but if I don’t they will tell me, starkly and without pity, why I don’t.  They give me a gift of truth.

So if you’re a writer seek out your peers.  Ask at a bookstore or a library, look on the Internet or even in a newspaper. Find a friendly group of like minded people.Some will have more experience than you.  Some will just be starting out.  Some will have a book already in print.  But they have this in common, they will tell you the truth…and the truth will set you free to learn your craft and improve your work.

Thanks y’all. You were great.

Dedicated to the San Antonio Writer’s Guild.

 

Oh and here’s advertisement for my existing novel.  It’s not SciFi or even fantasy.  But a book I believed needed to be written. The sequel is about 1/2 done and hopefully will be out by next summer.

https://www.amazon.com/Homestead-Debi-Cole/dp/162217321X