Spark Tally Saturday! Exploding Messages

This was a hard writing week for me. Mainly a hard writing month since April. I had to restart again. Essentially I’ve lost a novel’s worth of words in a couple of months. My first daughter and I figured out that to get this done at the word count goal I have in mind before school ends, I need to write 5000 words a day. The best I can hope for is to write a few thousand on days like today and tomorrow where I have a lot going on and several thousand on the other days.

Part of the problem is still backstory. The other part is making the protagonist active at the beginning of the book. She’s always been active from the middle on. I had a teacher say she couldn’t put down the last 100 pages of my book. That was a great compliment. Except she and most people who have ever read it don’t like the beginning.

Something I’ve always had at the beginning of the story is a letter. When I talked to Julie this week, she waffled about the letter. At first she said to cut it, and then she said to keep it. And then she added, “But make it have a spell where it explodes if someone besides Gwen opens it to show how powerful Jarlath is.”

When I was trying to think of a new beginning for the story, I kept thinking about exploding messages. It’s no fun to have a message that could explode but doesn’t. It’s much more fun to have a message actually explode. Plus, then nobody has to read the stupid letter filled with backstory. It’s a mystery not only to the protagonist but to the reader. It starts the story with a definite bang.

I guess my point is to keep your ears open to new ideas about your story. I don’t think Julie intended me to explode the letter before anyone saw it, but she likes it this way. At last I have a beginning with action.

I wrote over 10,000 words this week. I wrote Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t want to look to see how much because they were trashed. In my restart I’m 9900 words in.

I hope you had a better week in that you kept moving forward and didn’t have to restart.

Spark Tally Friday!

A big zero for me this week. Also, I probably won’t have a blog up on Monday, but hopefully things will get back to normalish by next Friday. I also realize I never did an AEIOU for May, but that will resume in the middle of June as well.

Even though I’m not currently writing, I’m looking forward to hearing how everyone else is doing. I really enjoyed reading last week’s comments in Spark Tally. I hope everyone was much more productive than me!



A Writer Reviews: The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

A bit of business first: On Wednesday, May 21 A.G Carpenter will be guest blogging about her science fiction novella Brass Stars! Please stop by and ask her a question or two and be sure to read her book. It made it to number 69 in Amazon’s Science Fiction top sellers!

On with today’s blog:

Every time I think I need to review The Fire in Fiction by Donald Mass, I also think I’ve already done it. But no! searching through my posts I see that it’s somehow never made it to the blog.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Mass definitely deserves a place on every writer’s shelf. He talks about how to keep the tension high on each page through dialogue, action and even the dreaded Exposition. There’s also a whole chapter dedicated to “voice”, which I think is hard for everyone, as well as chapters about characters, setting etc.

I think my favorite chapter is “Scenes that Can’t be Cut.” He gives a powerful example from a Nancy Pickard novel where a natural disaster effects the members of a community in many different ways. Although the event is the same, the reader wants to read it from each POV because the event had a different meaning to each character. After reading the chapter “Scenes that Can’t be Cut” it became very apparent to me what scenes I could cut, which were plentiful. As a beginning writer, I tended to allow my characters to talk on and on forever. Sometimes I thought they had really important things to say and other times I thought it was a conversation that needed to be there because it was so like real life. Obviously, these were scenes that needed to be cut. I shiver thinking about others reading them.

One of the best parts of The Fire in Fiction are the exercises at the end of each chapter. Of course, I wish Donald Maass was hanging around to mark my papers in red when I was done, but even without him looking over my shoulder, the exercises are helpful.

I see now that the book is five-years-old, and if you are a craft book junkie you might think his advise is stale. But it’s not. The techniques he talks about to keep the tension in your book high and readers reading are ageless. In fact, I think I’ll reread it this month.

A Writer’s List

Before I start, if you’re here for the Photo Flash pic, I posted it early. You can click here: Photo Flash

One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Love Actually” shows the ideal writing life. Colin Firth’s character has left the busy city to sit at a lakeside and write (on a typewriter even). He also has a beautiful housekeeper who strips down to her underwear so she can jump in and save all the papers that have blown into the lake:

Love Actually

This is your life, right?

I bow to you if it is.

The reality is most writers have a full time job that sucks away both time and energy for writing. Some have spouses and possibly children they want to spend time with. When I was trying to write with children under the age of five at home all the time, I scrounged for time at night and Sunday afternoons to get it done. Sheer determination kept me going, but there were many nights where exhaustion made the creative process difficult to say the least.

I was only scratching the surface of what’s expected of a writer now, which goes far beyond getting words down on a page, revising them, polishing them and submitting them.

Expectations of a Modern Writer:

1. Read– OK. This has always been an expectation. You want to read good stuff so you can write good stuff. I read a lot more before I became a writer. There simply wasn’t enough time to do both when I had babies in the house. I had to choose.

2. Blog– Agents and editors want to see your blog. I have mixed feelings about this. A good story is a good story, but you need to have a good story and a good social media platform now. One of the earliest advice books I read said to include the writer’s groups that you participate in in a cover letter, but not too many. If it looks like all you do is sit at a coffee shop and talk, they’re not going to think you’re a very good writer and not going to read your manuscript. It seems like that advice should be applied to blogging, but I don’t think it is. Which brings me to the next several expectations:

3. Have a Facebook page.

4. Have a twitter account and use it frequently.

5. Follow the top ten agents and editors on your list on their twitter feeds, Facebook pages, blogs, etc.

6. If you’re lucky enough to have publications, you must promote them through blog hops, giveaways, interviews, review requests and so on.

7. Participate in author and reader forums.

8. Oh, yeah. And keep up with your writing.

I’m sure I’ve left some things off the list. And obviously I don’t do everything on the list. I find it overwhelming. I know people out there who manage it all, and I wonder what their day to day schedule is like.

But I feel I should start adding more slowly. I can’t dig my feet in and let the modern world pass me by. I’m going to start with the basic one: I’m going to start with reading. I need to suck it up and set aside time to lose myself in some good books. I will pick a night or morning and devote it to reading.

So please post book recommendations in the comments below. No horror, but other than that I’m game for anything. Do you guys manage everything on my list? Do you even think it’s all necessary? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Character Theme Song

Sometimes I’ll hear a song and think, “That’s like a moment in my story” or “I bet this character would love that song.” I had very much wanted to finish FoH this week, but unfortunately, I was trying to hand wave too many things. Looking over Julie’s notes, it became apparent to me that I was trying to squeeze events together too fast. Wrap things up that shouldn’t be wrapped up. I need to replot it. So I put it aside to work on something else. But, driving to my writing session, I listened to one of the character’s theme songs. Part of the story is about a half-fairy/human falling in love with a half-dragon/human. Fairies are very, well, flighty in this world and dragons are very monogamous. I think for the first half of the series the dragon will be feeling the pains of Jealousy…

End of the Year Photo Flare!

Yes, you read that right. This is the last Photo Flare Contest for 2013. You’ll have two months, until December 26, to get your story together. In addition to the extra time, you get extra pictures! I’m posting all the pictures we used for the 2013 contests. Pick three pictures and write your stories based on those. In your query letter, please tell us the letter/number of the pictures you chose. You must use 3 pictures in a concrete way. The rest of the rules remain the same.

The prize for this contest is $50. As a bonus, if Enchanted Spark reaches 100 likes on Facebook by December 25, I will up the prize to $75 for this last contest of the year.

We’re looking forward to the stories. Have fun!























































































Wednesday Night Music

…or what I’ve been doing tonight instead of writing.

I couldn’t find the official video for this song, but I like the one here made by someone for a class. It’s so Clerks and Goldshlager and the happy/melancholy times of being single with good friends.

Luck be a Lady

I’m at my favorite local coffee shop, Satellite Coffee, working on Fairy of Hearts which is all about luck. I can’t believe they’re playing this song from one of my favorite musicals, so I thought I’d post it for sheer serendipity.


Fairy Case File #2

Suspect: Ella Fitzgerald

Suspicious Behavior: A Voice that Crossed over through the ether to the fairy realm.

Status: Human. Though her voice was gorgeous enough to be fey, fairies are immune to illness and would never have their legs cut off to fake a disease to look human. They are simply too vain. It’s rumored Ella’s voice trickles through now from heaven through the ether to the fairy realm.