Monday Blog: Nov 26, 2018: November Wrap-Up

Greetings, everyone! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, none of you ate too much, or were trampled during a Black Friday sale. Personally, I spent the holiday with my mother, cooking, eating and watching football. The highlight of the day: watching the Saints destroy the Falcons. 

November is coming to a close, and so is NaNoWriMo. This is usually the time of the month when writers begin to scramble to finish their book. While I didn’t finish a book, I did write plenty of notes and a detailed outline. I’m actually glad I didn’t finish my next book, Jo Fuentes: Project Sleep. I came up with more material I wanted to use, and if I had wrote the book prior to all of this,it would kinda suck. So,everything happens in it’s own time. 

I do hope my fellow writers had a successful NaNoWriMo. Whether you completed a manuscript or not, if you put some words on paper (or on a laptop or a flashdrive, etc) then look at it as a success. Getting something accomplished is better than accomplishing nothing at all. So if you didn’t meet your word count goal, don’t sweat it. 

December is almost upon us. 2018 is coming to an end. It’s time to tie up loose ends, and get ready for a fresh start. Woolaston Entertainment’s online store will reopen next month, and I will publish my next few books between the end of the year and the beginning of 2019. There’s no sense in dwelling on what didn’t get finished. It’s time to look forward to starting new projects.

Next week: Woolaston Entertainment’s online store and 24th Anniversary! See you then!

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Monday Blog: Nov 12, 2018: Word, Words, Words

Happy Monday, everyone! Welcome to blog post number two for the month of November. In honor of NaNoWriMo 2018, this week I wanted to share some tips for increasing your word count. 

This month, many writers are working hard to finish a book they’re working on, or even starting a new one and getting the first draft ready before the month is over. Most writers are focusing on their word count. While the word count is ultimately up to the writer, the average novel is usually 80,000 words. In my personal experience, I flesh out the story in an outline, write the first draft, tweak it a bit, then work on draft number two. I’ve never reached 80,000 words, but I’ve always been satisfied with the story, from beginning to end. But, that’s me. If you’re trying to shoot for that goal of 80,000, here are some things you can try:

Give your characters a back story.

Maybe your main character has some things that took place in the past, that could be used in your story. Or, maybe it’s one of your supporting characters. Hey, it could even be your antagonist.  

Add supporting characters.

Maybe your hero could use a sidekick. Or, maybe the villain needs someone to boss around. More characters can mean more dialogue, which means a higher word count. 

Add a subplot.

Your story has a primary conflict, but maybe you can add a secondary conflict, between two other characters. 

Say it another way. 

There are other words you can use to convey something. For instance:

He was angry.

vs

He stood grimacing, with his fists balled up at his sides.

Both sentences let the reader know this particular character is not happy about something. The first sentence only uses three words, while the second one uses eleven. Three vs eleven: you do the math. This is also an opportunity to make friends with your thesaurus, if you haven’t already done so.

See you next week….

 

 

Monday Blog: Nov 5, 2018: Tips for Creativity

Welcome to the first blog for November! As most of you probably know, November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. This is the time, writers do their best to crank out a novel, within thirty days. Can it be done? Sure. Sometimes, the hardest part is simply getting the writing done. Writer’s Block can sneak in and steal your creativity. It happens to every writer. This week, I’m sharing some of the things I do when I need a boost of creativity.

 

Words from a bucket

Grab a sheet of paper, a pen or pencil, and a bucket (or a hat, or some kind of container). Make a list of at least thirty words: names of people, objects, names of places, colors, etc. Leave some space between each word, because when you’re finished making your list, your’re going to cut each word apart. Fold up the words, and drop them into your bucket, hat, or what have you. Shake it up. Now, without looking, draw three words from your bucket. Your assignment: write a short story,   using the three words you have chosen. You can also clip words and lines out of magazines and newspapers to do this.

 

Get descriptive

Sometimes I have a little trouble describing things, such as everyday objects. So, here’s a tip: look around your room (whatever room you’re writing in), pick a random object, and list as many things about it as you possibly can. If you came up with five things, pick another object, and try to come up with eight things. 

This activity will require at least one other person. Grab a magazine (a decorating or gardening magazine works best for this). Choose a page that has a picture of a house, or the interior of a house, or a garden. Write a description of it. Then, have someone else read your description, and look through the magazine and try to find the picture you described, based on your description. Obviously, don’t include things like “page 241” in your description. 

 

Meditate

Believe it or not, this can make a HUGE difference. Sitting quietly and listening to the sounds of the room can be very relaxing. Silence allows your mind to wander, and you’ll be surprised at the ideas you’ll come up with, when you’re focusing on nothing. Or, listen to some relaxing music. You can search for “meditation music”on YouTube, and come up with a ton of free results. 

These tips help me, and hopefully, they’ll help you too.

 

On a side note, today is Guy Fawkes Day:

Remember, remember! 
    The fifth of November, 
    The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
    I know of no reason 
    Why the Gunpowder treason 
    Should ever be forgot! 

 

Until next Monday.

Monday Blog: Five Types of Conflict

One of my favorite elements of storytelling, is conflict. In writing, there are five different types: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Self, and Man vs. Technology. Years ago, when I first learned about literary conflict, there were only three types. However, times have changed, and Man vs Society and Man vs. Technology are now included.

Every story needs a conflict. Your character(s) need a goal, and something that tries to keep him (them) from achieving that goal. Think about Disney’s The Lion King. Simba’s goal is to become king, however his Uncle, Scar, tries to prevent this from happening by murdering his father and attempting to have Simba killed as well (I hope I haven’t spoiled this movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it, although if you haven’t seen it by now you must be under the age of five or something). All of my books are loaded with conflicts. The only one I have yet to conquer is Man vs. Technology, but I do have an idea for that. Below are examples of each conflict from my books (except Man vs. Technology: I’m going to borrow from Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream for that one).

 

Man vs. Man

People struggle against other people in many stories. This doesn’t mean the conflict is always physical. The conflict can be emotional. Take Our Lady of Righteous Rage, for instance. David never lays a hand on Amy, but he constantly belittles her and her dream of becoming a musician. If physical conflicts are your thing, Valentine is loaded with examples. While staying at the home for abused women, Val gets into a fight with the husband of one of the women. She also gets into a fight with Jacob, with one of Rafferty’s men…you get the picture.

 

Man vs. Nature

The best example I can immediately think of, is Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. It’s the story of a man who is shipwrecked and castaway and on a deserted island for twenty-eight years, and must learn to survive in a strange new wilderness. If you’ve never read this book, perhaps you’ve seen the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Similar story. Learning to build a fire, fighting off wild animals…learning how cruel nature can be…it’s one of the best forms of conflict, in my opinion. I also recommend The Edge with Sir Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.

Man vs. Society

Society wants a woman to stay in a woman’s place. Literally ALL of my books cover this type of conflict! The women in the Valentine series are the most powerful members of the Syndicate (network of criminals). In Our Lady, Amy encourages all of her fans to pursue their dreams, no matter what their gender.

 

Man vs. Self

I’m going to turn to Fortune’s Wing Second Flight for this one. In the fourth chapter, Fortune and his friends find themselves surrounded by a mist that digs into their minds and uses their thoughts and fears against them. Later, you learn that there are no monsters or zombies chasing them, but in their minds, the whole things is very real.

 

Man vs. Technology

Yes, I could have gone with The Matrix on this one, but Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is one of my favorite science fiction stories. Human civilization no longer exists, as three countries involved in a world war have created three super computers, to control the war. These countries are China, Russia and the US (sounds like modern times, eh?). However, one of the computers becomes self-aware, absorbs the other two, and basically destroys mankind. The only remaining humans are four men and one woman. The computer, referred to as AM, spends all of its time torturing the five humans; making them suffer, but not allowing them to die. I don’t want to give any more of the plat away, but if you’ve never read this story, YOU MUST READ IT!! It’s a great example of Man vs. Technology.

If there’s a form of conflict you’ve never used in your writing before, you may want to give it a try. If you can somehow manage to work all five forms into ONE of your works, kudos to you!

Young Kelly McCormick

Young Kelly McCormick is now available on Amazon! This is my 23rd book, and I hope everyone enjoys it. 

Side Note:

For anyone who isn’t already aware, Woolaston Entertainment is relocating to Virginia. During this moving process, I may not be able to post the Monday Blog. However, I will update the site and the blog as soon as I possibly can.

http://www.woolastonentertainment.com

Downtime

I have found myself in a familiar place, once again. I just completed another manuscript, finished all of the editing, and sent all the files to Create Space. Now, I’m just waiting for the email indicating everything is cool, and the book is ready for my review. So, I’ve got some downtime. How to spend it, how to spend it…

I have other books I’m working on, but I think I owe it to myself to take a little break from writing. I usually have a habit of jumping right into the next book, as soon as I finish one. This time, I’m going to put my writing aside, pick up my Fender, and get back to playing. I even cut my fingernails short so I could press down on the strings comfortably. I’m going to be in limbo within the upcoming weeks (I’ll explain this in a post next week, BTW) so I suppose it’s best not to get too involved in any serious writing projects right now. 

If anyone would like to share what they do during their downtime between books, please feel free to comment below. 

http://www.woolastonentertainment.com

Monday Blog:The Beginning, Middle and End

Welcome to week three of the Monday Blog for August. This week, I’d like to talk about something every story has in common: the beginning, the middle, and the end.

If you’ve ever taken any sort of writing class, then you probably learned all about this. Every story has a plot, and every plot has a beginning (the problem or something that needs to be accomplished), a middle (the steps being taken to solve the problem or achieve the goal) and an ending (the resolution: the problem is either solved or not solved). I’m going to use one of my books, Fortune’s Wing, as an example, in order to avoid any copyright issues, or misinterpretations of other writers’ work.

The Beginning

Here is where the reader learns about the story’s main conflict. In Fortune’s Wing, Fortune Oyama learns he is part of a prophecy to either save or destroy the world. He grows a single Left Wing on his eighteenth birthday, and must go on a quest to recover the Right Wing, thus completing the set. The problem: Fortune has one wing, and must find the other.

The Middle      

Now that it has been established, Fortune needs to find the Right Wing, it’s time for him to actually take steps to do so. Now, if Fortune could just go for a walk and grab the Right Wing, completely unopposed, the story would be over, and that would be that. The story would also be very, very boring. In fact, it wouldn’t be a story at all! A conflict of some sort is needed. Someone or something needs to try and prevent Fortune from achieving his goal. In this case, a set of sorcerers known as the Winged Seven, who also want the Right Wing, use their powers to try and stop Fortune from completing the set. The middle of the story concerns Fortune overcoming the obstacles the Winged Seven put in his way.

The Ending

How does the story end? Does Fortune get the Right Wing, or not? Spoiler alert: he finds it, but there’s a sequel, so you probably guessed that, anyway (plus it’s mentioned on the Book page of my website). Every story needs some sort of resolution, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive resolution. I used to be a fan of happy endings, but now, as an adult, I’ve become more of a fan of realistic endings. Maybe the hero dies, but the world is safe and the bad guy is dead. Or, maybe the world doesn’t get saved. Maybe, a group of heroes die (if you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, you know what I’m talking about). Either the goal is accomplished, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, I think there needs to be a very convincing reason. Your reader has hung in there, with you, until the very end. If you’re going to disappoint them, at least make it worth their while.

Until we meet again (which will be next Monday)

Monday Blog: The First Step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. A manuscript of a thousand words begins with a single word! Or image…or idea. It all depends on the writer.

Fortune’s Wing was created on the day I wrote the first line, “Was it a dream, or was it reality?” I wasn’t entirely sure of what story to attach to that question, but I knew I would eventually come up with something. I wrote the manuscript for the original book by hand, in 2002, and I watched a lot of anime, which gave me the inspiration I needed to come up with the idea of a boy growing a wing and going on a quest to save (or destroy) the world.

FW1

My second published book, Valentine, was created from an accident. I was working on an idea for the cover of a different book, and I drew a picture of a girl holding a hand gun. My plan was to make her hair blond, with a pink streak in it. However, I got carried away and ended up coloring all of her hair pink. When I looked at the picture again, a brand new idea for a story entered my mind. And so, Valentine was born.

Our Lady of Righteous Rage began with something very dear to me: music—punk rock in particular. I’m a HUGE fan of the band Green Day, and their music has gotten me through some very difficult times in my life (I will save that story for another blog). The idea behind the story itself, is one that I had been carrying around inside my head for a few years, before I made the move to commit it to paper. I wasn’t sure of how successful it would be, and if I should make the characters human. I finally decided to just go for it, and write the story I wanted to write. About six years and ten books later, I think it turned out okay.

insp2

 

My idea for The Witch of Fulton Lane developed after some friends and I had a 90’s movie party, and watched one of our collective favorites: The Craft. If you’ve never seen this movie, WATCH IT!! I’m not going to spoil it for you, but teen girls and witchcraft, can be a very entertaining mix. I started thinking, “What if I created a character who is a witch?” Then I took it a step farther, and thought, “What if she was BLACK?” It sounded a bit out of the ordinary, which is why I really liked it, and just went with it.

You just never know who or what will inspire you. See you next Monday.