GALLOP-A-PLOT OR DREDGE-A-SUBCONSCIOUS

My in-laws used to winter out west. Their goal was to get from Point A (eastern Wisconsin) to Point B (southern Arizona) at breakneck speed with not a wasted moment at sub-points between.

When my family vacationed, Dad chose every road less traveled, and stopped to read every historical marker. We were fortunate to get out of the county.

Some authors write like my in-laws travel.

SONY DSC

They gallop the plot along, leaping from high point to high point, pounding deep-seated emotions and backstories into dust. They might squeeze in a pit stop at a motivation way-station or grab a snack of love interest, but these are primarily fuel to hurl on toward the next adrenaline rush till eventually—BOOM! The story slams directly into the climax. Ian Fleming, Zane Gray, Clive Cussler and the like have written books brimming with action. If you’ve read The Three Musketeers, Hondo or The Bourne Identity, you know the type. Want to impress your friends? Refer to these as ‘plot-driven’ books.

Then there are the novels in which the storyline is so incidental, the author sometimes loses track of it all together. Like my father who found much of interest right where he stood, these writers grab a spade and dig deeply into their characters’ psyches. No recess of a protagonist’s or antagonist’s brain is safe.

SONY DSC

No emotion is taken for granted, no sidelong glance is without meaning and context, no childhood event has less than earth-shattering ramifications. For obvious reasons these novels are known as ‘character driven.’ The Great Gatsby, The Help, The Catcher in the Rye, even many of Shakespeare’s plays—you know WHO these stories are about more than WHAT happens.

Between the galloper and the digger we have a range of writers who craft various combinations of dashes, pauses, probes and stops. Jane Austen, Alexander McCall Smith, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien all wrote memorable scenes. But their characters are three-dimensional complexities able to tuck the plot in their fully-formed arms and nourish it to intriguing fruition. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Once and Future King, Fahrenheit 451, the Harry Potter series, all have a strong storyline accompanied by strong personalities.

These mid-range novels are my favorite. It is the writers at the far ends of the spectrum who baffle and bother. Constant cliff-hangers with routinely strong-jawed heroes and/or stunning size-nothing heroines with the strength of ten Grinches plus two—after a few hundred brushes with death I find myself hoping that the next inescapable predicament will truly be inescapable.

Or take those authors (please) who dig so deeply into the hearts and minds and histories of their characters that they scrape bedrock but burrow further. After disgorging countless words, pages and chapters of secret emotions, hidden happenings, fruitless longings and repressed scars, the writer can’t persuade these characters to do anything. They just sit in the rubble of their exposed innards hoping the author will type ‘The End.’

It’s a wide world out there. We can read books that buckle us in and careen across mountain peaks and seven seas in 300 pages or less. The world is also deep, and some authors require that we get down on our haunches and appreciate the riches below the surface. A truly skilled and passionate writer can make folks like my father appreciate whirlwind tours, or help people like my in-laws linger at a previously-overlooked pitstop.
Bless these authors. They are in the business of bringing us places we never would have visited but for them.

Hounded

Friday, February 5, my second book ‘Hounded’ (published by Prism Book Group) comes out in e-readers (Kindle and Nook are the two I’m familiar with. There are probably ten thousand more that I am unaware of. The world of technology just keeps rolling along without me.)

If you prefer real, hold-able books with covers and paper pages, ‘Hounded’ will be out in that form at some future date.

This is the first book in a series called ‘Love Is’ and based on I Corinthians 13:4-8.

This is the blurb from the back of the book. (The back-cover blurb is more excruciating to compose than everything between the covers.)

Elise Amberson’s husbands always die before she can get the marriage momentum going. At least this last one left her with lots of money. Now she can hang out with her dogs, avoid men, and try to keep off God’s radar.
But her dogs are behaving oddly, a pesky pastor can’t keep his hands off her soul, and God is backing her into a corner.
It’s all more than a rich, beautiful young woman should have to bear. But when someone begins targeting Elise, she’ll have to figure out why before she becomes the late Widow Amberson.

This is the cover. If you read the book—and I hope you do—you might say,

“Jeff the mongrel dog looks remarkably like a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog on this cover.”  He photographs well.

LoveIs_Hounded copy

Could you toss me that roll of ellipsis tape?

Writers have a host of tools at their disposal*
In their box of power and hand tools, writers may use any or all of the following:
– The Synonym Screwdriver, with interchangeable tips, also called bits.
– The Sneer Quote “Hammer”
-The Adjustable Active Voice Wrench by which passive voice sections are removed
-The Comma Unsplicer is a great tool, it helps even the most novice of writers look as though she passed her grammar classes.
-I would also recommend that the Unnecessary Words Extractor should be found in any writers’ toolbox as it is very useful for tightening up sentences that drone on and on.
-This particular writer refuses to get rid of her Nuts and Bolts of Miscellaneous Adverbs no matter how vociferously anyone pronounces them obsolete.
Oh, and my up and coming favorite—I highly recommend this one—the Em dash Staple Gun. Holds sentences together.
But today we will examine one of my favorite tools of all time.
A roll of Ellipsis Tape. To cover something that for some reason we don’t want to write out.
An ellipsis is easy to use. Look:   …
3 dots. On the computer it is even easier than by hand.
Just depress the period key 3 times.
If you want to make more than one ellipsis, you can, but you have to refer to them as ‘ellipSES’ and you run the danger of over-kill taping.
But…or did I mention this already…ONE NEEDN’T BE A WRITER TO OWN AND OPERATE ELLLIPSIS TAPE!
Ellipsis Tape can also cover something we want to imply without really saying it.  ‘OK, honey, if you think that shirt you bought in 1984 still fits you…”

Ellipsis Tape can extend a grievance indefinitely. “Even Wilma Flintstone and Aunt Bea have garbage disposals. Why I still don’t have one, I have to wonder…”

Ellipsis Tape patches together the disparate thoughts that zing simultaneously through our heads as we struggle to communicate. “Drive carefully, watch out for deer and drunk drivers, and…you’re wearing THAT to go out tonight?”

Ellipsis Tape is a temporary fix for faulty memory. “I could have sworn I had enough gas to get us there…”

Ellipsis Tape can make one look more intelligent than one really is. We can appear to mull over a significant notion when really we just totally lost track of what we were about to say. “I was just reflecting the other day that…ah…hmmm…yes…deep reflection. Deep…deep…”

As a chatterer and a long-winded writer, I use my Ellipsis Tape all the time because I never know how to close out a conversation or a scene.
A period puts a direct and speedy end to a thought, idea, comment, or statement.
But the ellipsis lets me put that thought, idea, comment or statement on limitless hold until I return with something else to stick onto it.

If anyone wants to borrow my Ellipsis Tape, let me know…

*DISCLAIMER: IF A CERTAIN TOOL FALLS TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX, CERTAIN WRITERS MAY BE TOO LAZY TO FISH IT OUT. HENCE, BAD WRITING

Writing without widgets

falling_rocks
I am a rock. I am an island.
(Simon and Garfunkel ‘I am a Rock’)

That is me. An rock of oblivion and an island of inflexibility
standing firm in the raging torrent of social media.
Here’s the thing about rocks and islands.
We don’t stand firm because we are strong
and steadfast and resolute.
We are stuck.
Have you ever seen an island pull up stakes to follow the crowd?
And rocks. Not known for trendiness.

Several years ago I thought it would be fun to start writing a book.
Once I got some impetus going I thought it would be fun to finish it.
What could be more fun than finishing a book?
Submitting it to a publisher!
Oh! Oh!
And then getting it published!
Having family and friends buy it!
This rolling stone was gathering no moss.

Until, in a parallel universe—the actual one—I came to realize that the rolling, moss-shedding author
was a temporary illusion.
The real me is the unmoving rocky island with roots to the center of the earth.
An atoll (there are very few synonyms for ‘island’) who is learning that writers eventually  run out of family and friends to purchase one’s book. The glorious ‘I am a published author’ ride
hits the rocks.
And one needs to
PROMOTE.

Promotion is double horror for a rock and an island:
One needs to be confident and outgoing. Creative and fearless. Rocks are not known for these qualities. We prefer to blend into the scenery and have people sit on us.

And one needs to have moved from newspaper interviews/genteel bookstore readings and into Twitter feeds and author pages and likes on Facebook and blog widgets and avatars and all the things islands just can’t cope with.

But the world of social media and self-promotion is lapping at my rocky shores.
I’ve cajoled and convinced everyone I know to buy my book and I can’t make new friends or relatives fast enough to generate glowing book sales.

So I’ll do what I can to appear that I am busily promoting, without actually moving.

*************
I wrote a book folks! A suspense/romance mystery!
It’s called ‘Winter Watch’ and my real name (really) is Anita Klumpers
Publisher: Prism Book Group
Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords
and various other online sites.
*************
There.
That didn’t hurt a bit.
But my editor is heading this way with a few sticks of TNT.
My island days are numbered.
Look for bits and pieces of my rocky self bobbing along in the social media world,
gasping out tweets and hanging onto a widget for dear life.