Words Have Power

Hello, authors! Do you ever find yourself writing a scene where your characters are having a steaming cup of coffee and suddenly have a craving for one yourself? Or, what if your characters are sharing a luscious ice cream sundae? Doesn’t that make you want one?

Why is that?

Because Words Have Power!

It is our job as writers to use those words in the best way possible not only to communicate an idea, but emotions and scenes.

The use of gestures and body language predates spoken language. Many researchers believe this form of communicating began at least four million years ago. When we speak today, we still use gestures and body language to supplement our communication. Often, we unconsciously use body language for at least 55% of all communication. I have always said, if you tied my hands, I wouldn’t be able to speak. 🙂

So what does all of that have to do with writing? Simple. By implementing the use of body language along with strong words in writing our stories (especially dialogue) we can tell our readers tons of information about the person speaking. For instance, if someone crosses their arms across their chest, it shows an act of defiance, or taking a defensive stance. Clenched fists, can portray anger. Picking at an imaginary thread on clothing shows restlessness or anxiety. You get the idea.

But I want to talk more about the words themselves. The language we use today still has words that were formulated sixty-five thousand years ago to describe the feelings and emotions that were emerging from the middle brain’s polarity thinking. If we consciously change our language, we can change the course of an entire story or life.

High-energy words accompany high-energy thoughts and vice-versa. So, in choosing words through which to tell our stories, we can set a tone from the get-go. If we are writing a scene where one of the characters is vile, we would want to use power words to get that point across. Maybe he has a permanent sneer on his face or a long scar running down one cheek. Words like deadly, poison, deceiving, death, dark or toxic might convey his demeanor. Of course, to show someone happy, and light-hearted would require opposite words.

And that leads me into the next transition. Words have power so why not choose power words when we are writing?

Power words are are persuasive, descriptive words that trigger a positive or negative emotional response. They can make us feel scared, encouraged, aroused, angry, greedy, safe, or curious. Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Notice that all of these words are action verbs. Verbs determine when something happens, in the past, present or in the future. They set the tense of your story.

So, the next time you sit down at the keyboard, pay attention to the words you are typing. Are they weak words like felt, thought, saw, walked, etc? Or, are you using power words that pack a punch and get to the heart of the emotion?

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about using power words in your writing?

Food and Drink in #Writing #WritingCommunity

The concept of “show don’t tell” is drilled into us from the first day we begin learning the craft of writing. And, as we grow and improve our storytelling abilities, it becomes an integral part of the process. But there are many ways to “show” character traits, beliefs, desires and ideals.

As strange as it may sound, one such way is through food and drinks.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Let’s say you have a character who thrives on cold pizza and soda. That alone tells me loads about this character, whether male or female. #1 – They don’t like to cook, or don’t know how. #2 – They are not a health nut. #3 – They are always in a hurry and needing to grab something on the go.

Just that one food scenario says a lot.

In stark contrast, if you have a character who enjoys gourmet meals either at home or out, it is going to let the reader know something specific about him/her. Most likely, they are refined and possibly came from money. There are thousands of examples but you get the idea.

In my newest book, “Ghostly Interference,” my male character’s mother, Charlotte, is vegetarian. One of the meals she cooked was squash stuffed with rice and drizzled with cashew sauce. That showed her earthiness, but also creativity. Have you ever made cashew sauce? It’s not an easy process for sure. I had one reader who messaged me and said they actually tried making this dish and it turned out quite delicious. 🙂

The protagonist in my current WIP, is a rancher who operates a horse sanctuary. Of course, he is a big beef eater. Nothing else would fit him. But in contrast, the love interest in the story is a vegetarian. An unlikely combination, it will create some humorous moments between them. The contrast also gives me the opportunity to reveal more about each. Why did she decide to become vegetarian?

And it works with every character. What they eat or drink can show the reader more character depth and detail without having to tell them a thing.

What about coffee drinkers? The type of coffee you order may reveal more about your personality than you think.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Research found that the black coffee drinkers were straight up, straightforward and no-nonsense individuals. The double decaf, soy, extra-foamy folks tend to be more obsessive, controlling, and detail-oriented. The latte drinkers tend to be neurotic and people-pleasers, while the instant coffee drinkers had a greater likelihood of being procrastinators. Finally, those individuals who order sweet drinks are the overgrown kids who retained the taste buds and sensibilities of children, while being young at heart. Interesting, huh?

Let’s talk about alcohol. Our character’s go-to drink can be just as much of a statement as the outfit he/she chooses to wear. Something about their alcohol preference (or strong aversion to) alludes to a deeper connection to their character, personality, and behavior.  The go-to drink for my protagonist in my current WIP is whiskey. He is a man’s man. She likes wine. So, what does that say about each of them?

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

The wine drinker is the one who asks the kinds of questions that cause you to choke on your drink a little. Expect this group to add spice to the conversation when needed—but be ready for anything with them. We rely on their social prowess for as long as we have the wine lovers, but we all know the compatibility between wine and sleepiness. Most wine drinkers tend to go to bed early. We could go into great detail between white and red wine drinkers, but I’ll leave that up to you in creating your character. Wine drinkers are considered more intellectual types as opposed to beer drinkers who are in it for the party.

We really have two categories for beer drinkers: the traditionalists and the craft beer drinkers. The line can be blurred at times between the two, but more often than not, we’re talking about entirely different people here.

Starting with the traditionalists. These are our stubborn ones. They simply do not care about your double-IPA, fruit-infused beer; give them their mass-produced, generic beer, and leave them the hell alone. This group isn’t swayed by conformity; instead, they’re driven by loyalty. They’ve been drinking the same old beer for 20-plus years now, and they’re not changing for anyone.

The diehard craft beer people have one plan and one plan only every weekend: go to a brewery. A flight of beer brings tears to their eyes. The real craft beer drinkers have a knack for detail. In 2020, they’re the new wine snobs. Out with tweed coats and in with scruffy beards and flannels. 

Then we have the whiskey, vodka, tequila, and gin drinkers. Whiskey drinkers tend to know their way around alcohol and have a respectable tolerance for it. With vodka, it’s less about what your favorite alcohol says about you and more about your preferred cocktail that makes the real statement. Tequila drinkers are plain and straightforward, in that they all love to party. The saying, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time” fits. Gin drinkers love the fact that you can’t get a read on them, and they’re honestly probably just drinking gin to confuse you even more. This group’s usual label is the “intellectual” tag.

I know there are tons more alcohols and foods we could explore, but the purpose of this post is to look at how we can use them to give our characters multi-dimensional layers.

It is really fascinating, and simply another tool to help us “show” the readers who our characters are and what makes them tick without telling them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and some of the ways you have used food and drink to show your characters’ personalities.

Recent Writer’s Conference Recap

Last weekend, I attended the Agents and Editors Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Writer’s League of Texas.

This is a yearly conference geared toward traditional publishing as well as the craft of writing.

I had the opportunity to pitch “When Two Worlds Collide,” to an agent with the Wendy Sherman Agency.

She loved the story premise and the characters. She loved my excitement about the story as I talked about it. She loved everything about it, except the paranormal aspect. Her response was, “I cannot sell a paranormal romance.”

Really? Deep sigh. Oh well. Back to square one with that book and the White Rune Series. Who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually self-publish all three of them.

But, I digress. I want to share some of the nuggets I took away from the conference.

One of the workshops I sat in on and enjoyed was all about crafting irresistible opening pages. These are the tips that were presented:

  • Immediately immerse the reader in something they will want to find out
  • Gorgeous writing (which, of course if subject to interpretation) and great use of metaphors
  • Be clever – something you haven’t seen before
  • Make a promise to the reader with your opening lines that you can keep

They talked a little about what an opening actually is. Some said it was the first few lines or the first page, but most concurred it is the amount of reading you can see when you use the Amazon “Look Inside” feature.

The pitfalls to avoid are all things we’ve heard before.

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Don’t spend pages explaining things to the reader
  • Eliminate ALL typos
  • Avoid cliches

I moved on from that workshop to one about “Connecting Character and Setting in Compelling Fictional Worlds.”

One statement really stood out in this workshop, “Make the characters YOURS! Own them.”

Character derives from both world-building and setting.

Use Layering in connecting the characters and settings. Use Exaggeration.

Avoid Info Dumping.

Keep surprising yourself when you are writing!

Don’t talk about what you’re writing. Keep it to yourself.

And this one, “Fiction, whether it is about the past or the future, has to be about the present – the reader!”

Another workshop that I gleaned some great tips from was “Writing The Quiet Moments Between Plot Points.”

Plot and pacing go hand-in hand.

Write the scenes you are excited about, regardless of where they fall in the chronological sequence of your story.

I learned about something called “Dan Well’s Story Structure,” which is a set of videos on YouTube. I have not had time yet to go watch them, but it came highly recommended, so I will be checking it out.

In regards to editing, a tip I picked up that I have not used before is the Text To Speech feature in Word. Listening back to your writing, you can hear echos, repetitions and where punctuation might need to go. I will try it out for sure. If any of you have used it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a Digital Marketing workshop, I learned that Tuesdays or Thursdays are optimal for making the biggest impact on social media, and between Noon and 1 pm.

I also learned that Facebook has shifted and is not a good platform for marketing yourself or your books. However, Twitter is the #1 Platform for this type of marketing. The presenter suggested that we find famous authors we admire and follow them.

Pinterest is primarily used by female audience and keywords are super important with Pinterest posts.

Instagram is dominated by the millenials. The one thing she stressed, was the use of hashtags. She said 10 – 12 per post is a must. Wow! Who knew?

LinkedIn has become a good advertising platform. She mentioned a publishing feature on LinkedIn that was optimal for sharing blog posts instead of posting links. (I have yet to check that one out.)

Groups are where everything in social media is headed. She suggested joining groups, or starting your own.

It was a good conference with lots of information shared and lots of great contacts made. I didn’t come away a step closer to publishing The White Rune Series, but I did come away with more great tips to help enhance my writing and marketing.

And, for fun, the author with whom I shared a room and myself walked down to the bridge where the famous Austin Texas bats come out nightly. Thousands of people line the banks of the river and bridge each night to watch the phenomenon.

This is a photo I took before the bats came out. It gives you a small peek at the number of people who come to watch. None of my photos of the flying bats turned out, so I am using one I found on the internet.

It was a great weekend of learning and networking! That’s what conferences are all about!

Writing-Marketing: The Balancing Act

I didn’t write this post, but it was such a GREAT one that I absolutely had to share. There was not a re-blog button on The Book Designer’s blog page, so I did the next best thing. I hope you get as much from this as I did.

We all struggle with this balancing act and Gila Green’s advice is golden! Please take time to visit her website and take a look around.

balancing

By Gila Green

We hear it all the time, “How can I possibly market my existing book while writing my next book?” or “I don’t like marketing. I just want to write.” But the reality is that to be successful as an author, most of us need to continually do both–marketing AND writing new books. The good news is that it is possible to do both. In today’s guest post, Gila Green offers suggestions for how to manage our time, develop a strategy and succeed—on both fronts! I think you will find what she has to say helpful.


Time is like the sweet table at a bar mitzvah; depending on your gender, age, and weight, there’s either way too much of it or never enough of it. The kids can’t believe how quickly it has been devoured and at least half the adults can’t figure out why the chocolatey temptations haven’t disappeared already.

Books are Written Between the Margins

If you’re an average writer you have a day job and writing is your second job. (I’m not even going to get into family responsibilities, that’s another post.) Balancing your time while you try to succeed in two jobs is hard enough, but what happens when your second job splits in two?

For writers who have published a novel and have to deal with the momentous task of marketing it, coupled with producing a second novel, time management becomes an enormous challenge.

It doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a Facebook account, diving into chapter two, or pitching to reviewers, part of your brain screams: you should be working on something else!

It seems equally critical to market your novel, especially in its first twelve months of release, as it is to write a new one (because everyone knows the best way to market your novel is to produce another one—more on that below–and some writers may have signed on to write a sequel or a series.)

For writers suffering from marketing-writer split, you either have three jobs or two second jobs. Either way you slice it, it’s tough to chew on without breaking your teeth or worse, losing your mind.

The situation can seem even tougher if the novel you have just released is in a different genre and/or aimed at a different age category from the novel you’re writing or vice versa. I know plenty of authors with young or middle-grade books out who working away at an adult novel. The worry over wearing two hats just turns up the heat on the writing-marketing split.

So what’s a writer to do?

Here are four ways you can succeed…

TO CONTINUE:  https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/10/the-writing-marketing-balance/

 

Canadian Gila Green is an Israel-based author, editor, and EFL teacher. Passport Control and King of the Class are among her published novels. Gila’s White Zion collection will be available in April 2019. She is also currently working on a young adult eco-fiction series with the first novel in this series, No Entry, coming out in September 2019. She has been teaching flash fiction online since 2009 at WOW-womenonwriting. Visit Gila: www.gilagreenwrites.com
This was brought to us by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/10/the-writing-marketing-balance/

 

Hill Country Writing Symposium

Hill_Country_Symposium_Logo

Hello, fellow Texas authors! I want to make you aware of, and invite you to, a Writing Symposium in Comfort, Texas September 14 – 16, 2017.

Yes, that is SOON!!

I will be presenting two separate workshops at this event to be held at the Comfort Public Library. If you are anywhere near this area and wish to hone your writing skills through hands-on workshops, check this out.

Hill Country Writing Symposium – Fall Edition

September 14-16, 2017

Comfort Public Library

701 High St, Comfort, TX 78013

Thursday, September 14, 2017 – Meet & Greet Reception

7 PM to 9 PM

More information on location to follow.

Friday, September 15, 2017

9 AM Nature Writing

10 AM Five Forms to Use to Awaken the Poet in You

11 AM Writing for Non-Fiction

Noon – Lunch on your own

1 PM How Many Ways Can You Say ____?

2 PM Writing for Young Audiences

3 PM Journaling

4 PM Editing 101

Saturday, September 16, 2017

10 AM Writing for Different Media

11 AM Marketing 101 – Renegade Style

Noon – Lunch on your own

1-4 PM Book Festival in Library

 

Attendee Fees – Check options below for any discounts that may already be applied.

Regular Purchase $65 All Inclusive

10 Sessions plus Cocktail Reception

Plus 1 Free book from a presenter of their choice.

(hotel, food, misc at attendee’s own expense)

REGISTER HERE

Top Reasons Readers will close your book.

While recently attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia, I sat in on a workshop that gave out this information. I felt that it was valuable enough to pass along.

book-reading-girl-982623_1280
1) Nothing happens in the opening pages. No one will keep reading about a bunch of characters that are going nowhere, or pages filled with pretty scenery. Start out with some interesting action or problem, and hook your reader.

2) Too much happens in the opening page or too many characters. If  the reader has to make a list to keep track of who’s who, you’ve got too many characters. Also, avoid the same sounding names or names starting with the same letter; Kark, Kanya and Kumbla.)

3) Info dump. Your story barely gets going when the reader is saddled with pages and pages of back story. This bogs down the pace and is tedious to read. Once we get engrossed in the story, a little bit of back story will add a deeper understanding of why your character is acting the way he/she is. The key words above are ‘a little bit’.  In the workshop, it was referred to as “Salting” the story, not dumping the entire shaker out. 🙂

5) Too much of anything will spoil your story. If it’s a romance, keep the romance alive with sexual tension. If it’s a mystery, don’t just have murder after murder. Give us a clever mystery to solve. If it’s an action/thriller, don’t have chapter after chapter of fight scenes and bombs and car chases. The reader needs to get a break. And this is the perfect spot to talk about cuss words. Use them sparingly. Okay, gang members swear. To be realistic you have to have dialogue that fits. Just don’t overdo it. It is very easy to lose readers from extended profanity.  (I realize this is totally based on opinion, but I think most readers will agree that over use of profanity turns them off to the story.)

6) Factual errors. Whatever it is that you’re writing about, someone out there will be an expert in the subject. If you don’t know medicine, be careful when writing a hospital scene. If you don’t know police work be careful when writing about a crime scene. If you have your characters doing something dumb, not only will you get letters, you will lose fans. These types of errors take the reader out of the story.

7) Too helpless and too hopeless. Don’t have your plot revolve around something that could be easily cleared up by asking a question or two.

8) And it is worth mentioning that hiring a professional editor (if you are self-publishing) is of utmost importance! A poorly edited manuscript is the #1 reason a reader will stop turning pages and close your book. 

closing book

What are the things that will cause you to close a book and put it away without finishing it?