Monday, April 18, 2016

Dragon from the Land Beyond Fantasy

How Did I Get Here? - Um, since it's Monday, and since this blog post is inspired by a ten year-old, I won't beg you to go into the specifics.  Cabbage patch, maybe?  Wink, wink.

I'm Not Writing What I Want - If you agree, if you're writing anything but what you thought you'd be when your head was filled with dreams of how life would be after grad school, welcome. You're in great company: mine.  And, oh, about a gazillion others.

What Happened?  I started out writing fantasy and poetry in grade school.  Yea, me!  I got so many atta-girls from my teachers.  In high school, I got hung up on Poe.  What's not to love, right?  My teachers--yep, it's always the teachers, isn't it?--hugeazz wink, wink--focused on stuff like rhyme in Annabelle Lee, while I drooled secretly over the suspenseful thrill thinking about the tell-tale heart and that oh-so-sharp swinging pendulum gave me.  I couldn't wait to get out of class and write my own Poe-like tales.

When Did I Know I Wasn't a Writer? I've always known I was born to be a writer.  You have, too. But between grade school (I skipped kindergarten: too danged smart for 'em) and my undergrad years, I picked up some bad behavior, motivated by what others, many others, told me I needed to do and think in order to be a writer.  Some of it included diagramming sentences, some of it involved deconstructing subtext, yada-yada.  You get the idea?  My whole self, my entire creative self, simply got subverted, redirected and misdirected. 

It's taken me years of stilted writing and attempts to learn how not to write what--and how--others have told me I need to. I've finally learned the only rule that matters: obey the inner child. 

What Do Dragons Have to Teach Us? - This weekend, I went to a writer's meetup at the Crown Plaza in Cincinnati.  I was sicker than a dog, din't want to go, but I pushed and, thanks to friends, made it.  But while I was sitting there, between trips to the bathroom, this little ten year-old named Katie showed up at my table and started telling me about her novel, Dragon from the Land Beyond Fantasy.  Jawdrop! This little kiddo, with dark brown curls and all sequined out in a cute outfit, starts telling me how she's a writer, how she's finishing this novel and working on her next. 

Katie's enthusiasm was boundless.  While she knew her genre and could hold her own with every writer at the conference, she didn't worry about any of that crap. She just held us all spellbound, rattled off her logline, her plot, and on and on.  

Wow!  I sat with tears in my eyes, not only because Katie was one superb kiddo, but because I felt more energized than I'd ever been in my entire writing life.  I'd reconnected with the most important part of me, my inner child.

Katie came back to get her picture taken with me.  I felt honored.  I couldn't hold back my tears of joy, and I encouraged her to come find me when she got Dragon from the Land Beyond Fantasy finished.

I think that kiddo was secretly a little dragon sent from the land beyond fantasy to remind me what's important about being a writer. 

Have you met your dragon?  Where?  Tell me.  It's Monday, so let's inspire.  

No promo on #MondayBlogs, but you can tweet me or whatever.  I just want to kick butt today and write like I was meant to.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Do Loglines Work for Your Novel?

Stanislavski.  Image the property of owner.
A Logline for Your Novel? - One obstacle authors face is the time it takes to write a novel. For me, a chunk of time is devoted to plotting.  If you're a pantser, kudos, but I'm a rabid Stanislavski fan, so everything I write is plotted, or it's "scripted," so to speak.  Even if you're not a plotter, you still need a main idea to write your story.  

For me, developing the main idea is my starting point, so I like having a fix on it before I start plotting.  If I can distill my story's main idea down to twenty-seven or so words, about the length of a logline, I've got my baseline for moving forward quickly with plotting.

Logline Versus Premise? - They are two different animals, and if created well, they work as complements.  That said, there's tons of blogs about the difference between the two, which is not the focus of this post, so happy Googling. 

I bypass premise writing and instead write a logline for my novel.  The reason is simple.  If I can clearly explain my novel's main idea to myself, I can then easily expand my plot in a way that saves me huge amounts of time.  

Another reason I write a logline is that it contains the audience hook, which is broader and more implicit in a premise, making it unwieldy to explain to others.  In this busy world, I prefer the logline, which I can easily learn and memorize and belt out in an elevator, subway, or busy restaurant.  Anywhere.  

If there is one dude I love to learn from, it's D4Darious, or Darious Britt. He's got a great YouTube video on loglines and how to write them (link provided below).

Monday, April 4, 2016

Edit My Darling Novel?

How Do I Pick an Editor?

How Do I Choose an Editor for My Novel?  Like ferns, editors grow seemingly by asexual reproduction.  There's so many. Help!

Do I need an editor?  Of course not.  That is, you don't if don't care about your professional rep as an author.  Silly!  Even Stephen King needs an editor.

So how do I choose?

Copyright 2016.  Mary H. McFarland.  All rights reserved.

What's My Editor's Credentials?  Editors must have credentials. Check them.  If she's worked for a publishing house, she has inside info on evaluating your manuscript against industry standards.  She might also advise on how to beef up your novel's sex appeal to publishers. 

All well and good, but when your novel hits Amazon, no one cares about your editor's celebrity status.  What readers do care about is whether your novel looks and reads professionally. Does it shine, or is it filled with plot holes and glaring inconsistencies?  

So you'll want to ask: 

  • What specific credentials does the editor possess?
  • What editorial functions does she perform? 
  • Which clients has she edited, and for which genre(s)?
Always vet your editor.  Call authors and verify how the edit was done, plus ask about the level of satisfaction.  Also, ask for a list of editorial functions and pricing.

K.M. Weiland (link below), offers advice on what to do if you can't afford an editor. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bruce Nauman's Performance Art in my WiP "Get In Line"

"How'd you come up with your idea for that novel?"

I'm bored?

No, seriously, I'm researching book 2 in my Toein' The Line series.

Jump The Line, book one, took me out on a limb.  You've said in your Amazon reviews that you love Jump The Line, and you don't seem put off by my choice of first person present PoV.

Then why go out on a limb?  Why risk pissing you off?

I Love Performance Art and Reader Immersion
In the future, books will be a brand of performance art that immerses you interactively, just as performance art does its audience.   We're already talking about "choose your own adventure" and "gamebook" novels, and gaming is fairly immersive today.

So back to where I got my idea for Get In Line, which is book 2 in my Toein' The Line series.  What if, I asked myself, my killer wanted to involve his victims' families in his macabre art of murder the way performance artists do their audiences?  Then I took my what-if scenario a step ahead.  What if my protagonist, Alaina Colby, and her boyfriend, Aidan Hawks, wanted to play around with performance art in their love life?

Hmmm.  I'd have to be careful, since my murderer, aka "Picasso," could be too creepy for words.  And I wouldn't want to draw any parallels between his idea of murder as performance art, and Alaina's and Aidan's playful experimentation.

Oops!  I've crawled right back out on that limb, I know.  Not sorry, either!

What do you think?  Am I heading in the right direction with Get In Line?  

I'll be sharing more soon.  Meantime, tell me if you like my ideas for book 2.

TTYL! Press Hard and Concentrate!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Premise Writing Ain't Poetry: Uncrapify!

Eternal Sunshine of the Forgotten Mind

"Huh?" you ask.  What does "eternal sunshine of the forgotten mind mean?  Um, exactly?" 

I don't know, either, and that's the problem with writing your novel's premise.  It's got to be exact.

Alexander Pope is a favorite of mine, but I gotta tell ya, premise writing ain't poetry.  Okay, maybe it is. It's certainly an art form.  But my point is that your novel's premise can't befuddle.  It's got to be clear what your novel's about.

Tough assignment, I know.  Calls for boiling your book down into a sentence or two, something we writers don't exactly enjoy.  But I'm not hangin' with Pope today, who says theory has no business in a work of art.  Ehhh!  Wrong, Alex!

My premise for Vengeance Is Mine: The Profiler's Passion.  Tell me if it's clear or not.  I'm open for suggestions. 

FBI profiler, Riley Cruz (protagonist) loves unscrewing and looking inside the skull of serial killer, Tannis Loomis, a new breed of female serial killer (objective), who's collecting juvenile vics faster than the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe (situation), but when SAC Smith (opponent) comes to the field office and Riley falls in love (disaster), Special Agent in Charge, Carter Beck starts a war in Riley's heart, head and groin that will destroy everything she's ever believed about herself (conflict).

Want to get some specific guidance on writing your novel's premise?  K.M. Weiland is the best theorist on the Web.  Her "how to" is spot on--pure poetry.

Quit Whining and Write Your Premise!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are Women Pissed? Getting Even? Rise of the New Serial Killer!

Mary McFarland, Author
Vengeance Is Mine: The Profiler's Passion
Golden Pen Award Winner in Romantic Suspense Category

Brains!  I Want to Pick Your Brains!
C'mon!  Tell me what you like--or don't--and why?  I'm bloggin' this book, and I'd love to pick your brains (ha!  that's a sick writer joke!).

Release Date for Vengeance Is Mine
After five years, I'm editing Vengeance Is Mine: The Profiler's Passion.  I'll release it on Amazon in September.  

Why Not Publish Vengeance Sooner?
Why'd I let this Golden Pen award winner collect dust for five years?  

I must do more than bring you a great story, which my idol, Stephen King, insists we writers do.  I'm a rebel, never satisfied with status quo.  Yes, I want to bring you a great story, but I want--when you read my novels--to give you a bone-chilling feel for what's going on in the real world.  As you and I know, the real FBI profiler doesn't run around in stilettos smiling prettily at her male counterpart.  Newwww, indeedy, she does not.  She's bull-nosed and ferociously devoted to her career.  Like you and me, however, she's also human.  Never mind the killers she profiles. She, too, has her issues.

Why Did I Write Vengeance?
So back in 2010, when Vengeance won--sweet!--I wanted to present profilers in a true light, along with their own psychological baggage, and I wanted to wrap this all in a story about the new breed of serial killer: women.

I found the best possible resource, Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, who wrote The New Predator: Women Who Kill, and I did my homework and then I wrote.

What Do You Think?
I'll share my premise for Vengeance in my next blog post, so you can tear it to pieces! So far, though, don't hold back.  Tell me what you think.



Monday, November 4, 2013

Anne R. Allen's Blog: Sex Sells, Right? Maybe Not. Why you Might Want to Rethink those Steamy Scenes in Your Novel

Anne R. Allen's Blog: Sex Sells, Right? Maybe Not. Why you Might Want to Rethink those Steamy Scenes in Your Novel

Just a quick note on "sex scenes" in ebooks slated for the global market.  Sex, a la Fifty Shades, isn't selling.  Cultural norms are different than they are in the U.S., so if you're thinking of publishing an ebook for global markets, then check your heat meter.