Thursday, June 27, 2013

Writing Exercises 3

I've done scene Beginnings and Middles and now it's time for Endings. By the time I got to the scene endings chapter in Make a Scene (a really fun writing book that if you are interested in writing you should check out) I will say that all the different beginnings and middles I'd created had started to blend together into a disjointed whole. So I would borrow whichever elements of the previous parts in the endings that I thought were interesting or would work for the type of ending I was doing. I will still try to add the middles I predominately used to help with the flow of the piece.

Zoom-in Ending-follows The Unexpected Revelation

"Where did you get that?" Cara asked. She jabbed her finger at the key Vince was dangling from the chain around his neck.

"I can't tell you."

"Can't or won't?"

Vince shrugged. "Doesn't matter, but I know the key won't fit the lock."

All the excitement fizzled out of Cara. She marched over to the secret closet and jammed the key at the lock again. Vince was right. The tumblers would not turn. Slowly her disappointment escaped through her lips. Her forearm vein pulsed where the bookshelf had pinned it. Each throb was a reminder her pain had been for nothing. Still the key meant something. She studied it closer. There were markings on the head that she could trace. It was a clue, even though it was not the one she wanted. She would find the right key, even if it meant another bookshelf fell on her.

Zoom-out Ending-follows The Unexpected Revelation

Vince hated to see the disappointment cloud Cara's eyes. She tried the lock again but it would not open. With a frustrated groan she stomped back to the living room and tossed the key on the table.

"So what does the key go to?" she asked.

Vince shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know."

Cara frowned. "But you're wearing it around your neck."

"It was just given to me for safe keeping." He should have never showed it to her. By doing so he'd broken at least five rules and could be expelled. He wasn't sure how, but he'd have to steal that key and soon before the others found out and Cara became a target. So many lives had been destroyed already. It shouldn't be possible for a key to be worth more than any human life, but it was.

The Conclusive Ending-follows The Element Danger

"Well, I have to get back to Rachel. Sorry about the damage to your door."

Cara squeezed the key tight at the mention of Rachel enjoying how it dug into her skin. "I wanted to get a new door anyway."

"See ya," and then he was gone.

She watched the door scrap a path in the sawdust and caught a glimpse of Vince's green shirt through the hole and then the hall was empty.

"You have to get used to this." And for the first time her heart agreed. She was tired of hoping, tired of waiting. Besides she had the lock and the key. They would consume her time and for now that was enough.

Thus ends the scenes of Cara and Vince. At least for now. :) How are your scene endings going?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Why I Don't Write Love Stories

If you've read my books you may have noticed that there isn't really a strong romantic theme in them. I've been asked why this is before and here's my answer. Any writer knows that if you want to become popular one of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is to write romance. It's a huge market. HUGE. The love triangle, the happily ever after, the fears and doubts that another person doesn't feels the same. All of these make a romance interesting and keep readers wanting more.

But despite my knowing this I've hesitated to write it myself. Not because I think romance is too fluffy, or unrealistic (although that might depend a bit on the book), but because it's something I haven't experienced myself. I take great pride in writing out of my own life experiences or using elements of my understanding of reality to flavor my works. Even if they are exactly the same, for instance I have never been in prison, but I have been stuck in a room for days with only some books I've already read and a deck of cards. While they are not the same physically, the feelings for both are. I've eaten a chunk of bread after a roach crawled out of the loaf I tore it from. I don't know if I'd ever eat bread with a roach still in it, but I know what it's like to be hungry and not care what was crawling on my food.

There is truth to the saying that writers should write what they know, because by doing this they can make what they write come to life. It's a saying I learned before I really considered writing as a career and in my teen years I even made a list of what I could write about based on what I know. It was a bit depressing. My list of things I could write about was pretty small and definitely not exciting.

But what that saying does not mean, something I've learned over the years, is that you have to murder someone to write about a killer. There is always an element to which writers pull from similar experiences to describe things in a way that is realistic. Like the prison thing. If I write about that I pull on my own experience, imagine what it would be like to be in the prison my character is in and then combine the two.

However, with romance there is this mental wall for me. Romance is not just about describe the way cold water feels on your feet after they've been burnt in the scorching sun. It's a combination of feelings from a relationship between two people. And relationships cannot be faked. If they are the reader can't connect and it will seem contrived. There are some aspects of romance I could write about. I know what it's like to have a crush, to like and possibly even love a guy, but I don't know what it feels like when a guy loves me. I could fake it. I've read enough romance to steal the experience from others, but I don't want to do that. I would only be relying on my imagination which would make the end result taste a bit off, a bit stale. It would not ring true to reality. One day I expect to be able to write romance--I even have the book ideas ready, but until then I'll have to wait.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Official!

The Compound is up! I was able to get everything done in time. Whew!

It's currently free and available only from Smashwords as an e-book. I'll post a note once it reaches the Barnes & Noble site. I've never tracked it before so I'm not sure how long it will take for Smashwords to have it posted there.

There is a sample of The Compound here and the short description is:

Allia Washington watches as another young Compound candidate is wheeled into the science lab for emergency care. The boy is only 12 years old and will not survive to see another sunrise. This means a new position will open in the candidate program and the Compound will be looking for new applicants, the first of which is Allia's four-year-old son. She knows the program will kill her son and she has to find a way to keep him out of it. But protecting her son will take more than solving the mystery that kills all of the candidates too soon. She may be forced to do something drastic, anything to save her son, even if it means she has to defy the Compound itself. This is a short story prequel to The White Lilac a YA dystopia sci-fi novel.                
Once again this short story is FREE! Check it out!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Releasing The Compound

I have finally settled on a date for the release of The Compound. June 20, 2013! Yep. This Thursday. I've got a lot of work to do between now and then, but I'm really excited to see this one come out. Here's a taste of it:

Alarms blared and the warning lights along the hallway flashed as Thirteenth Official Allia Washington pushed the stretcher into the sleeping quarters. Twelve year old Mattai Jokio lay flat on his back, his skin a dark, unhealthy shade of yellow and his eyes twitching back and forth as if they were trying to watch a hummingbird flit between two flowers. Just like the others had been, which was not good for Mattai. And she’d had such hopes that this time the serum would work.

“How long has he been like this?” Allia asked.

“About five minutes now,” the cleaning lady said. She stood in the back of the room where the shadows hid all but the bright blue of her skirt.

Two other officials enter the room, including Ninth Official Yama, who outranked Allia and immediately took over. They lifted Mattai onto the stretcher and rushed him out of the main house, across the Compound and into Science Lab 5. Allia watched from the back of the room as Dr. Vos and his team swarmed around the boy. He was unresponsive. Another bad sign. Hours passed and then it was over.

They covered Mattai in a sheet and transferred the body to the morgue. Tests would be run to discover why his body had shut down, but Allia knew the final conclusion would be the same. Some combination of the DNA splicing and treatments he had been given had done permanent damage until it was only a matter of time. The serum was supposed to stop this, but their current formula had to be missing something. Mattai lasted three months longer than the others and for a few weeks Allia had started to hope, but it had been too soon.

There was a slight resignation to Allia’s steps as she walked back to the main house. It had been a long day and it was only half done. In her 58 years there had been many days like today. It never got easier, but after Britta, her last charge, had died she was determined not to get too close. Even though she had only worked with Mattai for six months, it had still hit her heart like a sledge hammer to see him collapsed on the floor. She overheard Ninth Official Yama say that some of the female officials became emotionally attached to the children, especially if they had also carried future contestants. Over the last 30 years Allia had lost eight pregnancies and three infants because of genetic defects and complications with their DNA splicing. Each loss had taken its toll. She had trouble coping for years and then they promised her they wouldn’t be as experimental. Yet that wasn’t enough, it was only when they also promised that her child would not be placed in the program that she agreed. It was the program that killed almost as often as the genetic complications. The children were pushed too hard.

She entered the main house and took the elevator to the fifth floor, where the nursery was located. Large glass windows lined the hall and she picked a spot near the middle almost directly across from a dark haired four year old boy. He was building a tower with blocks. It was tall, thin and haphazardly twisted from the base up so that it almost looked like a strand of DNA. Allia allowed a small smile. He was a scientist already.

Four years ago she had Brian and although he had not removed the loss of her previous tries, he had softened her heart and made life worth living again. He could not her because the glass was tinted on his side and even if he did Allia knew he wouldn’t rush up to greet her. Even though he was her son she was only allowed four hours a week to spend with him. It was not enough for him to bond with her, however, it was enough for her to feel more strongly about him than she had ever felt for her charges. And she could watch him whenever there was a lull in her duties.

Brian dumped a bucket of blocks onto the floor and began sorting them by color and size. One of the other children, a blonde haired girl around the age of two came over and squatted next to him. She seemed perfectly content to watch and at first Brian held a hand out to protect his tower, but then he relaxed and went back to his building completely ignoring her.

“They are so young.”

Allia glanced behind her and saw First Official Foreman.

“Which one is yours?” he asked, his gaze shifting from her to the children playing.

“Brian, the boy building the tower.”

He nodded. “Mine is Caryn, the girl watching him.”

Neither said anything as Brian’s tower fell. Caryn jumped up and started picking up the blocks that rolled too far. Brian didn’t appear bothered by the destruction. Instead, he tilted his head to one side as if it helped him think of a better way to build the next time. He picked up blocks and started building again.

First Official Foreman cleared his throat. “I heard about your charge.”

“The treatment didn’t work.”

“I am moving you back to full time in Science Lab 2 starting in the morning. I saw some of the notes you were working on and we need to make the proper coding of this treatment a first priority. We can’t afford to lose anyone else. We’re behind schedule as it is.”

Allia closed her eyes a moment. She felt exhausted, but the prospect of being back in the lab sounded much better than meeting a new charge in the morning.

“I will turn in then so I will be properly rested,” she said and turned to leave.

“We have openings in the candidate program now.” First Official Foreman’s voice was so low she almost didn’t hear it, but it made her bones freeze inside of her.

“Not for my son. I have a signed contract,” she said. She turned back to see he wasn’t watching her, but his daughter.

“I know,” he said, with a sigh. “But if we don’t find a treatment that works we might need anyone we can get.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Writing Exercises 2

What follows the beginning of a scene? Middles. But in case you haven't read the beginnings you can hopefully just follow along. There are different ways of handling the middle of a scene. This is the next part of Jordan E. Rosenfeld's Make a Scene that my writers group is going through. We wanted to continue the scenes we began to see how the different elements would work. However, since we started with three possible beginnings, we could pick whichever beginning we thought would work best. So I will also include the beginning scene that these middles are building upon.

There are various aspect within each type of middle and so the name of the middle might not always match what those words mean. There are so many more details and examples in Make a Scene that if these exercises interest you then check the book out!

The Withhold-following Setting
Vince could see a light through the door and he pushed the chainsaw harder. A small chunk of wood fell to the floor revealing the fallen bookshelf and the crown of Cara's brown hair.

"I can see you," he shouted. The chainsaw sputtered as it hit a thicker block of wood and then the engine rolled to a stop. Vince pulled up on the handle but the bar wedged itself between the sides of the groove and wouldn't budge. He jerked it harder, but only succeeded in pinching off the chain.

"Do you have it?" Cara asked.

"It's stuck."

"Can you reach the chain?"

Vince grabbed the chainsaw chain and then realized she meant the chain on the door. There was a round three inch hole in the door and he squeezed his hand through. He bent his wrist and his fingertips grazed the chain. Pushing his arm in deeper he could flip the chain with his middle finer, but when he tried to pull his hand out he realized it was stuck.

The Element Danger- following Action
The chainsaw sputtered to a halt and Cara heard Vince lean against the door with a thud.

"I have something to ask you," he said.

"Now?" Cara asked. She let her breath rush out of her and the bookshelf crushed down on her ribs.

"I asked Rachel out to the Red Wings game. I gave her your ticket. Is that all right?"

Cara froze. The bookshelf sank another inch, but she didn't feel it. This was the hockey game where she planned to tell Vince he was more than just a friend to her. The billboard message was ready.

"I mentioned the game and Rachel got so excited."

Sure she did. Rachel hated hockey. Cara couldn't breath.

"Is that okay?" Vince asked.

"I--Can we talk about this later?"

"Sure. We'll get a drink tonight."

But Cara knew Vince's friends. They always had something planned in the evenings.

The Unexpected Revelation-following Narrative and Setting but from Cara's POV

"I got it," Vince cried and moments later the door cracked open.

Cara shut her eyes against the swirling cloud of sawdust expanding toward her and when she opened her eyes Vince was kneeling by her side. He heaved against the bookshelf and for the first time that hour Cara could breath normally again. She rolled under Vince's arms and away from the book shelf. Her fingers still tightly clenched the key she'd found.

"You free?" Vince asked, his voice a bit strained.

"Yes." Cara nodded. "You won't believe what I found!"

"What?" Vince let the shelf down and faced her.

"You know the secret closet in the apartment? Well, I found the key." Cara held it out.

"Really?" Vince's eyes matched the excitement Cara felt, but when he picked up the key he frowned. "This isn't going to fit," he said. He held the key to the light and then tossed it back. Cara snatched it out of the air.

"Of course it will fit. It's a secret key behind an old bookcase in the same apartment as the secret closet."

"No it won't."

"I'll show you!" Cara stomped down the hall and jammed the key at the lock, but it wouldn't go in.

"Told you," Vince said with a shake of his head.

Cara gazed in disappointment at the key in her hand.

"But--how did you know?"

"Because it matched this." Vince pulled out the silver chain Cara had noticed before and on is was an exact replica of the key in her hand.

Those are the middles. The endings of the scenes, although not of the completed stories are coming soon. In the mean time, write out some middles of a scene and let me know how they turned out!

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Short Story

So I'm really hoping to have The Compound, a new short story, coming out soon. Maybe even this week! But I'm not crossing my fingers too hard. It makes it difficult to type. haha.

The Compound will only be available on Smashwords and through Smashwords Barnes & Noble because this way I can make it free. (Note: it may not appear on B&N instantly. There's a whole process for SW to send it there.) Right now this short story is 20 pages long and I have at least 5 more plot points to put down. So it should definitely be worth the money. ;-)

Then I want to do a good edit and format everything. Somehow I still think I can get all this done in a week. Think I can?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Writing Exercises 1


One of the joys of writing is that you can be creative. You aren't stuck in doing the same thing over and over. You can try something new. I have been a part of writers groups for several years and one of the things I have really enjoyed is the opportunity to write something on the fly. Absolutely no real thought or effort put into it, just raw words, bare-bones characters and rough plots.

Right now the writers group I am in is going through Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. We are taking the topic of each chapter and focusing just on those aspects of writing.

The first chapter we did, not surprisingly, is on scene beginnings. My group decided we would write about a guy and a girl who were separated by a door, but they both want to be on the same side. That was pretty much all the information we had to go on.

Then we all created our own stories based on that and tried to write and rewrite the beginning of the story using several of the suggestions and information found in Make a Scene. So it is the same scene beginning, just presented through different types of beginnings. You'd have to read the whole chapter for yourself, but these are the three types of beginnings I wrote on and the story that resulted:

The grinding motor of a chainsaw shattered the air and then intensified as it began to slice through the apartment door.

"Hold on," Vince yelled. "I'm coming."

"Hurry," Cara screamed. She still couldn't feel her toes, or her knees and the bookcase pinned her right arm to the floor. The chainsaw whined and wood chips few all over the living room, but she didn't care.

There was little for Cara to do but think, think and wait for Vince to arrive with help. Although she couldn't curl her right hand fingers over the 1820's brass key she'd found seconds before the crash, her mind couldn't stop whirling over what a find is was. That key was the big break she was waiting for. It had to fit the secret closet. It had to.

The oil can dripped brown gritty clumps onto the chipped concrete steps leading to Cara's apartment. Vince planned to go back and wipe them up but he had no time now. He bounded up the stairs juggling the oil can and chainsaw case in one hand and propelling himself upward on the metal handrail with the other. On Cara's floor he gripped the railing and its' base popped out of the floor. Someone else had been in a hurry too.

An exercise like this is not always about doing things right, but about expanding your understanding of story and thinking about things from a different perspective. If you try it let me know what you come up with!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Compound

As promised here is the cover for The Compound a new short story. Coming soon!
Allia Washington watches as another young Compound candidate is wheeled into the science lab. The boy is only 12 years old and will not survive to see another sunrise. This means a new position will open in the candidate program and the Compound will be looking for new applicants, the first of which is Allia's four-year-old son. She knows the program will kill her son and she has to find a way to keep him out of it. But protecting her son will take more than solving the mystery that kills all of the candidates too soon. She may be forced to do something drastic, anything to save her son, even if it means she has to defy the Compound itself.
This short story will be free so keep your eye out for it and tell your friends. :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June Promotions

For the next three weeks from today to June 21st all my books are at discounted prices. Spread the word The White Lilac and Fadeout e-books are both .99! Also the paperback of The White Lilac in now at 12.99.

This is to gear up to the release of The Compound a new short story I'm almost ready to publish. The Compound is a prequel short story to The White Lilac and will be free on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble, so keep your eye out for it. I'm really excited about the chance to dive back into that world and this short story is going to shed some light on one of the bigger twists in The White Lilac as it is from Thirteen Official Allia Washington's point of view. The Amazon version will come later and will only be free if Amazon decides to price match, otherwise it will be .99.

Check The White Lilac out at these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Download, review and tell friends about it. Share in the excitement and watch for The Compound. I'll be revealing the cover soon!