Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A to Z Challenge in April

If you haven't signed up for the A to Z Challenge yet, you have until February 28th to get on board. This challenge, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, starts April 1st. We will be posting everyday, starting Sunday and with the letter A, then posting a letter through the alphabet each day. Alex also recommends visiting five blogs a day to get to know everyone.

A lot of people have signed up, so I'm expecting to meet a whole bunch of new people along the way. Come and join us and learn a new way to practice the alphabet!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writing In First Person Point Of View

I've always been a little reticent to write in first person POV (point of view) because you only know what that one person knows and interperets. That is, unless you change POV at some time and the narration changes for a scene. But unless that is done carefully, it can confuse your readers and upset the flow of the story. What I'm interested in, is how to create a well rounded story with three dimensional characters in first person POV and still create tension and suspense.

Because of this curiosity, I've decided to break away from my usual third person POV and write a story in first person. For a new writer this can be a challenge, but no worries, I'm up to the task. I enjoy a challenge! I believe that it's important to step out of my comfort zone and experience a little tension and suspense in my life too.

So, if you want to expand yourself, try something new, or something you've been avoiding. Even if you don't do a perfect job the first time, you have succeeded because you have expanded your boundries and you have stretched your limits to add a new experience in your life.

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better." --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." --- Einstein

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Are You Guilty Of "Kinda Sorta"?

Do your eyebrows stand up when someone gives you an almost answer? What is meant by that, is by saying things like: "It's almost a nice day outside." Well, is it or isn't it? Granted, there are varying degrees of everything, but if you find yourself speaking in almost, nearly, kinda sorta, and other degrees of truths, clean up your writing and see how much stronger it becomes.

Consider these two sentences: "He appeared to be dead." or "He was dead." Which one has the stronger connotation? Remember, decide what you want to say, then find the most powerful way to say it. Your writing will pop and will cause your readers to stay engrossed in your story. So, unless you kinda want to leave an ambiguous message, tell it like it is!

Quote for the day: "A poet can survive everything but a misprint." ~~ Oscar Wilde

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Loretta Stephenson!

Sunday, January 15th is one of those special days! Loretta Stephenson (Art By Retta) is celebrating her birthday! Okay.. it's also the same birthday as artist Don Van Vliet, poet Xu Zhimo, writer Ernest Gains, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others, too. However, because she is my sister and a fabulous artist, I'm sending up the balloons and having a party! She deseerves it!

I was reading through some quotes today and found some I'd like to share. I picked them out with Loretta in mind because she has an affinity for them:

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." --- Albert Schweitzer

"A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperment." --- Oscar Wilde

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." --- C.S. Lewis

"It doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop." --- Confucious

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." --- Einstein

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May your entire day be filled with excitement and love! I hope it turns out just the way you'd like it to be!

Your loving sister,
Karen Elizabeth Brown

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I was recently studying about the scientific model of stimulus-response and was interested in how much could be related to literature. The idea of a quantitative stimulus causing a quantitative response could easily transfer over into writing as what is known as cause and effect. This isn't a new idea, of course, but I think as writers, we need to consciously think about our strategies that will tease a response from our readers. Thus, the stimulus-response effect.

Sometimes, as writers, we can get busy constructing our story and we can forget that not all the stimulus-response is what's built into the story. Your story is a stimulus for your reader. If you give them a good enough stimulus, they WILL respond.

I recently purposefully left out the identity of the main character. All I gave was her name, that she looked very feminine and that she worked in a very busy emergency room. Invariably, the readers assumed she was a nurse. Then, in a scene where she was mistaken for a nurse, she drawled, "I am the doctor." My readers gave me a definite response:
1. "It was a tickle to find out she was the doctor."
2. "I naturally assumed she was a nurse."
3. "It was good to see her playing a different role." (different than this reader expected!)

These readers were given a stimulus that caused each one a different response.

This made me realize that we owe it to our readers to give them a little shocker once in a while. A stimulus to keep them guessing. How dull it would be if all we got to eat was the same thing day in and day out. Our readers' diet is no different. Even if you write horror and that's what your readers are expecting, make sure there is a little spice on the table once in a while. Otherwise, your horror will be dull and boring to a reader who has seen it, heard it and read it. And that would be horrible! (Yes, I had to put that in there!)

So enjoy your writing and try using the stimulus-response model if you don't already.

Happy writing!

"Life is chocked full of humor---look for it in your work!"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's Happening In 2012...

The year of 2012 is looking to be an exciting year for me. As I celebrate my birthday this month, I'm finally doing something that I dreamed about all last year. I'm taking one class a term at the local college. It's not aimed at a degree, just something to keep my mind awake and to gather new information. As I mentioned before, this first class will be a basic computer class so I can find the "on" button.

In my writing journey, I've been laboring over a few of my stories, getting them ready for my new endeavor: e-book publication. I'll be offering a selection of short stories as free reads in preparation for the release of Dragon Kind, in it's revised and completed form. Also, I'm very excited to announce that I'll be working in conjunction with Loretta Stephenson, at Art By Retta, who will be creating some fantastic illustrations for the book! We are both hoping to get this to you later in the year. I'll keep you updated as to our progress.

I've just finished the first draft of a new story, which looks to have some great possibilites in the sci-fi/fantasy arena. Up From Alpha Centauri B will start it's journey through the re-write stage and then editing and then more revisions. You know the process. But I've allowed myself time each day to work on this WIP so the project can move forward.

My final project of the new year is an excercise on how to write a book in twenty chapters. It might sound dull and boring, but the challenge of staying within the structure is a real tickler. I've made it to chapter five without completely tearing out my hair and I have to say that I'm learning a lot about pacing and scene structure. Plus, when I'm done, I'll have another WIP to begin the editing and re-writes on!

I read an interesting thought: "Imagination is your greatest resource. Craft is your hardest lesson."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Critique or Critic?

So I finished what I thought was the final revision on my latest WIP (Work In Progress) and submitted the first chapter for a critique. I expected to be making some revisions, which is usual for any critique. But I was not prepared when I was sliced, diced and served up for dinner! Was the story actually that bad? Had I really missed the mark - TOTALLY? I had to step back and take a breath. Breathing is good...one, two, three, okay. Now.

It took me two whole days to be able to touch any of my stories again and the worst part was, I was ready to throw that particular WIP in the round file. I was advised to get a thicker skin. Even with thick skin you can kill an elephant with the right caliber weapon.

Today I have a completely different perspective on the whole situation. I have gleaned what I can from the critique and will go away with a few good gems. I did not throw out the story. It's still in my WIP file waiting for me to revise it yet again. It may not be ready for publication, but I will tackle that story and make it the best I can.

Yes, I am wearing a thicker jacket these days, and I have realized that not everyone has the same taste in literature. Maybe the person critiquing my WIP was having a bad hair day or they didn't like medieval faires. Whatever the reason, there is a lesson to be learned. Even the worst story has some positive atributes to it. The writer who penned it put his passion and soul into it and that passion is in there waiting to be brought out.

During your critiques, if you must tear away at the structure of a story, make sure you leave enough bricks and boards so the entire building doesn't come crashing down. If the story needs a major overhaul, make sure you point out where the parts are that work, so the author has something to work with.

I read some good advice once: always start and end your critique on a positive note. That way, you're giving a good critique and not just being a critic.

Sounds good to me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Blog Home

Welcome to my new blog! This new year is looking to be an exciting ride for me as I launch out with many new endeavors. I've started this new blog so I can share the joys and sorrows that come along during this amazing journey.
Am I scared of the steps I am taking to share my writing with the world? You bet! With every acceptance there's a lot of rejection (unless you're that unusual exception to the rule!) and sharing with your friends and family helps balance out the percentages. But I've taken another step to help myself. I've joined The Insecure Writers Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh on the first Wednesday of the month. If you're interested, just click on his name and it'll take you to his blog.
I also want to give a great big THANK YOU and a standing ovation to Loretta Stephenson, at Art By Retta for single handedly setting up my blog. She took pity on this computer illiterate person and gave me an early birthday present by creating this fantastic name header. If you want a real treat, visit her blog for some stunning artwork!
By the way, I'm giving myself an early birthday present: a beginning computer class at the local college! Classes start next week and I'll keep you posted as I learn how to use my computer as a writing tool. Hooray!
I hope you come back and visit. I'll be posting often, but not every day. Like most of you, my time is crammed full of projects that are all screaming for my attention.
Be back soon!