D is for Dialogue ~ Keep it Real

I like a good bit of dialogue, a bit of banter, a bit of he said she said but…. and it is a very big but (not mine, although mine is rather large and has 2 t’s) only in small doses! There I’ve said it. Dialogue that goes on for pages bores me and can slow the pace of a book no end. I do not profess to be an expert, I just know what I like. As a general rule three sentences are about right for me before the red mist descends. If you have a character who is angry or needs to speak for longer try to break it up either with another character cutting in or action. What’s their body language saying, are their arms flailing, is their face reddening? You get the idea. The point behind dialogue is to make it seem real.Now then, whilst we are on the subject of dialogue another pet hate of mine is name calling.You want your character to be believable, yes? So why continuously use their names? Here’s what I mean. Meet Alan. Alan works with Jan and has done for five years. Whenever Alan speaks to Jan this is what he sounds like:

‘Hi Jan, how was that restaurant last night?

‘Well Alan it was really nice’

‘ I’m glad to hear that Jan’

‘Yes Alan I would highly recommend it’

AARRGGGGHHHHH…….. No, no,no,no,no. Unless you are writing comedy (in which case it is funny and reminiscent of Gavin & Stacey) do not do it – it is not real! It sounds wooden and flat and well… yuk! Remember, less is more. If in doubt speak it out (oh, I quite like that). If it doesn’t sound right to you think about how it’s going to sound to your readers.

OK, so now we’ve sorted out Alan & Jan here’s a question for you – Do you need it? The dialogue that is. Is its presence warranted? As with all things bookish it has to have a reason to be there in the first place. So, with your hand on heart should it stay or should it go? To help you decide here are a few questions to ask before letting yourself lose with the scary red pen:

  1. Are you advancing the plot? By that I mean building suspense, revealing something new that was not known before. Well, are you?
  2. Are you introducing, revealing or changing your character’s relationships? In Forbidden Colours, Midori Yates talks about her family a lot. It was a way for me reveal the importance of her family. Dialogue is a great way to add depth to your character and reveal sides to them not yet seen or known.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on dialogue. Here’s to dialogue being sharp and to the point – I know, I know, time to leave! Next week I shall take a look at small touches that can make a big difference to dialogue. D is also for dog and mine is biting at my heels wanting to go on an adventure. So, for now, I bid you adieu…

Please feel free to comment and/or share  🙂 Have a great weekend people!

 

FC Book and looking glass

Saturday Spotlight on The Diabolic Shrimp.

Good morning campers! My oh my, you are in for a treat today! I am very happy to introduce to you fellow author and founder of the website Diabolic Shrimp ~ Joshua Grant. Welcome Josh.

NF ~ So without further ado….  We all want to know how on earth you came up with the name Diabolic Shrimp? It is a very unusual name for a website.. or in fact, for anything?

JG ~ Well, my original name for the site wasn’t actually Diabolic Shrimp.  It was something totally different, but my friends thought it sounded dirty so I quickly changed it (haha!).  Diabolic Shrimp is my motivational joke for myself.  I had this idea of creating a community that empowers and encourages authors to help one another.  The Diabolic is for my diabolic plan to take over the world and get every author to one day join the site.  The Shrimp is because authors are the little guys who are weak all by themselves, but together in a group they’re pretty incredible.  That, and I just like shrimp and I wanted it to sound fun (and not dirty, haha

NF ~ Never thought of myself as a shrimp before, but you are right, we are the little guys.What would you say is the ethos behind Diabolic Shrimp?

JG ~ Ultimately, it’s all about helping people while also helping yourself.  I design everything on Diabolic Shrimp to invite people to support others while also gaining a benefit.  I’ve always had a personal need to serve people, and this is one of the places I think I can do it.

NF ~ I agree the more we can do to help each other the better. So what sorts of things motivate you?

JG ~ Making a difference has always motivated me.  I love to make people laugh so humor is always a motivator.  My mind is always spinning stories too, so making compelling tales to entertain people has always been a big push in my life.  Although, the chief driver in my life has been love.  Falling in love has always been my dream (and then falling in love again).  Food also motivates me too (honestly, I’ll do just about anything for a decent brownie).

NF ~ Ahh yes, I think you would be hard pushed to find anything finer than a jolly good brownie… other than perhaps a good wine… but that’s just me! What inspires you to write?

JG ~ Books, movies and video games are what really inspire me to write.  When I run out of a type of story that interests me, I decide to write something similar with a different twist.  Essentially, boredom drives my creativity.  I’m also a deep thinker and feeler, so I typically combine some genre (horror, sci-fi, fantasy) with a deep moral concept like hope in a hopeless situation and just go from there.  Occasionally I have weird dreams too that actually work their way into my work (my horror novel Pandora is actually partially based on a nightmare I had once

NF ~ Horror and hope sounds like a good combination, your novel Pandora sounds intriguing. I see it has received some great reviews, can you tell us a bit about the book?

Pandora is my first published book.  It’s the first of four horror novels in The Organization series (the others are coming soon). 

In it, a cruise ship goes missing, re-emerging a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—prompting a Special Forces team to investigate.  I’m kinda a big scaredy cat, so horror isn’t usually my thing, but I grew up loving creature features like Aliens, Resident Evil, and The Thing.  I wanted to create something that had a bunch of action, interesting creatures, hapless heroes, and a sense of claustrophobic dread like those movies and games.  Pandora fulfilled that and allowed me to address some deep moral struggles in the process.  I also love movies, books, and games that have twists, and Pandora was the perfect platform to add plenty of those.

NF ~ I’m shortly going on a cruise, I’ll read Pandora when I come back I think! I love classic horror and this sounds right up my street. Can you tell us a bit about yourself Josh?

I live next to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the United States.  I’m constantly getting out and being active, but I’m also a huge movie and video game buff.  My least favorite food is peanut butter (which I hate with a passion).  I spend a lot of time working with elementary and middle school youth in a variety of environments.  I have a huge heart for serving kiddos, especially those that struggle with different issues in their life.  You’ll often find me getting friends and family together for laughs and zany fun, but I’m actually kind of an introvert deep down.  I like to go for walks by myself a lot and write a novel now and then.  I’ve also had a pretty out there life, having survived a flash flood, faced down several bears, and sailed a chunk of the ocean as first officer on a small ship.  Sadly, all the aforementioned bears ran from me when I stood up to them and didn’t battle me so I didn’t get a cool man scar like I hoped (but I survived the encounter so that’s much cooler)

Josh Grant

NF ~ The Rocky Mountains are on my bucket list, what a wonderful place to live and work. I admire you for working with kids, it can be so rewarding but so challenging too I would imagine. You must be very patient. Ok.. A flash flood, faced down several bears and been first officer on a small ship ????? I think there is a whole other blog post right there! What / who would you say are your biggest influences?

JG ~ As far as my writing, Resident Evil, Aliens, The Thing, Final Fantasy, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Giver, and authors like S.D. Perry and Dean Koontz really inspired me to write.  In my personal life, people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Elon Musk have inspired me to work hard with a deeper moral purpose.  God is always a central part of my life in everything I do.  And one of the most surprising sources of influence in my life is actually the kids I work with.  They’re actually very uplifting and make me be the best person I can be.  They’ll also be blatantly honest which is sometimes useful.

NF ~ Yes, kids will always tell you it as it is, no sugar coating required. What are you currently working on?

JG ~ I’m currently hard at work polishing up the rough draft of Jericho (the second book in The Organization series).  I’m really enjoying it, but it still needs a lot of work since it’s very complicated on the emotional side of things.  I hope to get started soon on Silly Tales from Albanon, my funny collection of unrelated fantasy stories that all build toward a crazy twist.

Thanks so much for joining me today Josh,  and good luck with Pandora and polishing up Jericho. Just be careful if you encounter any more bears OK? Before you leave us can you give us some quick fire answers to the following questions? It must be the first thing that pops into your head… Ready…Get Set… Go..

Favourite type of food?

Chicken in all its various forms

Favourite movie?

Star Wars

Favourite book?

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief

Favourite book character?

Percy Jackson

Red or yellow?

Red (ew yellow)

Sweet or savoury?

Sweet

Beginning or End?

Beginning

Favourite city?

Colorado Springs

Land or sea?

Oh, toughy!  Sea (when I’m not seasick)

Fact or fiction?

Fiction

Thanks Josh, it’s been a pleasure having you here today. To find out more about Josh and Diabolic Shrimp click here

 

Oh The Things You Can Think…. Finding The Space Between The Words… Progress on Book 3

I appear to in the throes of a writing frenzy. Whether it’s the longer days, or the (slightly) warmer weather I am unsure.  It doesn’t happen often so when it does, I strap myself in and type as fast as my stubby fingers will allow. Then I hit the wall. I lay exhausted in a crumpled heap until chocolate and caffeine (or wine) revive me. I break only to feed the hungry teens and walk the dog. Everything takes on increased speed and unwavering focus as I hurtle towards my word count. Sound familiar?

What I hadn’t banked on was the rest of my life becoming equally as crazy.I do like a good dose of procrastination to balance things out, but sadly this week there was no time for it! Procrastination, for me, is like an annoying friend. You can’t wait to see the back of them but then miss them when they’re gone! It has only been a four day week (due to the bank holiday), and even then I had Tuesday off, so technically… well actually, I only worked three days. I know  – I’m a light weight!

So the book, how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m glad you asked! Last night at precisely 11.45pm I hit 40,000 words! 40,00 words on a book that I had no intention of writing, not bad eh? Yeah, I was impressed with myself too! Suffice to say Lady Virginia Penrose has been very busy and very bossy! I’m aiming for around 85,000 words so you could say I’m almost half way. I’m hoping to get finished before the end of the year, but I’m not going to hold myself too firmly to a date. Writing this book has taken me by surprise so I want to try and find the space between the words, give them time to breathe. Hopefully, it will help the different strands find their way. Which is why this weekend I am leaving it be. Yep, you heard me, I won’t be going anywhere near Lady Ginny. I shall of course still be writing! I have an interesting blog post to write about an Alien and some wine, no I haven’t been drinking, well not yet.

So me hearties ( oh no, I’ve gone all West Country… must stop thinking about the return of Poldark), pop back tomorrow to hear about the Alien. Until then here is a picture I took at St James Park in London a few weeks ago… I am desperately trying to channel the Swan!

 

Swan1

 

Friday Feature….The Curious Tale of Creating an Audio Book….

Creating an audio book was not something I had thought about too deeply until recently. My friend and fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis began the process of converting her Damien Dickens Mysteries trilogy sometime back in 2016. I watched with interest as each book was brought to life. It was not an althogether smooth process, but the end result was amazing. It got me to thinking (yes I do still have a few brain cells left in good working order). How much time do I spend in the car or on the train or even doing the washing up? Surely it could be time better spent.There is never as much time as I would like to read a book, so why not listen to one? And that is exactly what I did! I chose a book by one of my favourite writers – Robert Bryndza. The Girl in The Ice is a book I know very well, I think I’ve read it three times! Hearing the book read aloud despite knowing the story gave it a new dimension. How you read something in your head compared to hearing it read out loud gives it a different flow, different punctuation. It surprised me.

I’ve ‘ummed and ‘arred about whether I should go down the audio route for All Tomorrow’s Parties .My main doubt revolved around my protagonists voice. Would it be possible to find a narrator who would be able to portray Laine Marshall exactly as she sounds inside my head? I made myself a promise. If after two months I was unable to find a narrator who was a solid vocal fit then I would take it as a sign it was not meant to be. I would park the idea on the back burner and leave it there… Well life has a way of kicking up the preverbial don’t you find? This week I am very excited to announce I have found my Laine Marshall! A young British actress who will be giving a living voice to All Tomorrow’s Parties I am bowled over. More news on this over the coming weeks but to say I am excited is an understatement! If all goes well  there will be an audio version of All Tomorrow’s Parties by July. Just in time for your holidays. Sometimes life is just grand!

If you can’t wait until then you can downlaod a kindle copy or grab yourself a paperback version here –

A Room of My Own

I sit writing this blog post in the room pictured above. It’s a room I love, it’s my writing room. It used to be the ‘spare room’ but I have converted it into my little piece of bookish bliss! I am currently sharing my space with the contents of the bathroom due to ongoing building works. I think our tiny bathroom is, in fact, a Tardis judging by the amount of paraphernalia that surrounds me. Ah, the beloved foot spa, such a great idea, but sadly never used. Maybe I could use the foot spa and write at the same time? Now there’s a thought!

I am very lucky to have such a wonderful place to write. The room is at the front of the house. It overlooks a field of horses. It is a lovely place to write, and to daydream in equal measures. Most of the time I am joined by Poppy my English Springer Spaniel. She will do one of two things. She will sit under the desk at my feet or, she’ll look for adventure.Guess which one I prefer? I am ashamed to say she has mastered the art of bin diving! I can often be seen raising my voice and running across the landing, in hot pursuit of a dog with an empty ink cartridge or worse, a chocolate wrapper! She chooses her moments with absolute precision, running off at exactly the moment I need to apply myself to a particularly complex piece of dialogue, or a red pen edit. She is a cheeky madam!

I do like a reasonably tidy desk. The same can not be said for the floor. No, I will not take a picture of the floor – trust me you really don’t want that image in your head.The floor usually sports three or four pieces of research in the form of open books, sheets of handwritten notes and photographs. This is another part of the bored dog vs human adventure that regularly takes place. I have learned only to place items on the floor that can be easily replaced. Sprinting is not my special talent. Some of my books are literally ‘dog eared’. Well I had better get on…. that book won’t write itself and I need to provide some entertainment for the dog!

A Snapshot from my Mind….. February

I had no idea I would be so happy to see the start of February. January was full of the ‘T’ word and the news from everywhere was depressing. February already feels more… dare I say it – optimistic! With a rather large spring in my step I am heading for my first ever writers retreat. I have some idea of what to expect, although my knowledge of such gatherings is based on my own expectations more than fact! I hope there shall be lots of writing, not much procrastination and perhaps a glass or two of some nice fizz. Do I expect too much? Quite possibly! I shall report back next week on my findings.

Work with my latest muse Virginia continues and is proving enlightening. Virginia Penrose is developing into an interesting character with a lot to say! I hope my retreat shall give me a chance to get to know her better. I can tell you the book is set around 1910. Whilst doing my research I came across this old photograph which sums up what’s going on in my head perfectly!

 

Picadilly London 1910

Thursday Spotlight ~ Kara O’Neal ~ Love’s Redemption

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to author Kara O’Neal. Welcome Kara. What a great title ‘Love’s Redemption’, can you tell us a bit about your new book?

Love’s Redemption is a story of forgiveness and courage. I loved writing this book. Willa is someone I admire. She’s had a tough life and does everything she can to protect her loved ones. I enjoyed exploring her heart and watching her achieve happiness. And she deserves so much happiness. Lonnie is the man she needs, loyal, steady and kind. He is, without doubt, my favorite hero in the Pikes Run Series (So far), And while he has a calm nature, he can be just as assertive and determined as Willa. Together they make a wonderful couple, a model of true love. You will not be disappointed in their journey!

Blurb:

When she was little more than a child, Willa Kramer went to extreme lengths to save her family from their abusive father. After that horrible day, her mother and siblings moved to Tennessee, and Willa had hoped to leave Texas, its memories and Lonnie Davis, the only boy she had ever trusted, behind. But fate is unpredictable.

Five years have passed, and Lonnie finds himself reunited with Willa, the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s determined not to let her slip away again, but a figure from the past looms, threatening his hopes for the future.

Snippet:

He paused. His chest tightened. He’d waited a long time to see her, had wondered if he ever would. Years ago, she’d wrapped him around her little finger, and he’d grown so attached to her, he’d thought about moving to Tennessee to be with her. But then she had stopped writing. To say it had hurt would be an understatement. But he hadn’t been angry. He could never be angry with her. Never. And now she was back and near. It was too tempting.

After taking a deep breath, he moved forward then went through the screen door. Even though it gave a loud creak, she didn’t turn. Did she know it was he who stood behind her?

 The light breeze ruffled her skirt. Her long, velvety hair grazed the small of her back. An ache centered in the pit of his stomach. He’d missed her. And now she was here. “Hello, Willa.”

Thank you so much sharing ‘Love’s Redemption Kara and here’s wishing you every success.

About the author:              Kara

Kara O’Neal was born and raised in Texas.  After surviving those awkward years of 7 to 16, she spent two years at Sam Houston State University where she met her husband.  He followed her to Texas Tech University and was proud when she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development.  Soon after graduation Kara followed her heart and became certified to teach Special Education. 

She married the love of her life in 1998 and had three children.  The happiest times of her life are spent with her family and friends.  Kara is fortunate to be surrounded by the best and most amazing people God put on this earth.

When she was pregnant with her oldest child, Kara wrote her first novel.  And then rewrote it.  And rewrote it again.  She did this while teaching, raising kids, and traveling across Texas with her husband.
Becoming an author was a dream she stumbled upon.  With the encouragement of her family and friends, she didn’t discard this risky adventure.  At this time, she would like to express her gratitude to her husband, parents, siblings, children, and friends for their support, love, and suggested revisions.

You can connect with Kara O’Neal here:

Author website: www.karaoneal.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaraONeal84/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/karaoneal7/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kara-ONeal/e/B00FL19TH8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1465007993&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/kara+o’neal?_requestid=845025

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraONealAuthor

Today is Brought to You by The Letter U

Providing a taxi service for number 3 son last night, I found an unexpected nugget of writing gold. Anyone with children of a certain age will be familiar with the ‘taxi of mum and dad’. Hours of tiresome journeys, interspersed with sitting and waiting, followed by further tiresome journeys.  I’ve often wondered why the legal driving age is not 12 –  that would be OK wouldn’t it??

I digress… Last night, awaiting the return of my Tae Kwondo enthusiast, I sat aimlessly flicking through the car radio stations. A word caught me, it was unfamiliar and sparked my interest, so I scrolled back. The word was ‘Uhtceare’.

Uhtceare ~ ( pronounced oot key-are-a)

An Old English word that refers to anxiety experienced just before dawn. It describes that moment when you wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired you are, because you’re worried about the day to come.

Unbeknownst to me, I had long been a sufferer of uhtceare! I listened avidly to the show, absolutely enthralled. A radio programme devoted to forgotten words. Who knew there were so many? I was in heaven! Our language constantly lives and evolves. Words come into, and go out of fashion. Some change meaning, whilst others fade and sometimes disappear. As any writer will tell you, the sound and meaning of unknown words, is like nectar to the Gods. Each word carries its own sense of identity and purpose. New words allow you to expand your linguistic creativity even further. It’s like Christmas and birthdays and chocolate and wine – you get the picture! The words I heard were all part of a book called ‘The Horologican’ by Mark Forsyth. It is a book devoted to the most extraordinary words in the English language, according to the hour of day you may need them!

After doing a bit of research on the big G, I have decided to make it my mission to include a few of these unusual offerings within future works. Here’s a few examples you may/may not find useful:

  • Snollygoster – A 19th century American word for ‘ a dishonest or corrupt politician’.  I can not think why on earth we might need this word ( tongue firmly placed in cheek).
  • Flabergudgion – A mischievous or nasty person
  • Wamblecropt –  Overcome with indigestion.

 

Right then I am off to gongoozle………

I’ve put a link here for your enjoyment – happy reading!

Thursday Thoughts

At this time of year it is so easy to get caught up in….well, in everything! I become reflective and start to look back at the year as impartially as I can, looking for the good, the bad and the could do better moments. As a writer I am very fortunate to be able to spend time doing what I love. My thoughts turn to those who, for whatever reason are not fortunate, whether through war, deprivation or ill health they do not wish to look back. This year has been tough for so many people. With that in mind I would like to draw your attention to a few charities who are doing some outstanding work.

Give a Book

Give a Book is a UK registered charity. It was set up in 2011 in memory of writer and playwright Simon Gray who loved to read and to share his reading. The organisation facilitate the gift of books to selected charities and other organisations.

How it works: Donations are used to source new books at cost price, then package and post the books to selected charities. Every donation you make buys and distributes a book to someone who – for differing reasons – might need one. Every £5.00 donation Gives a Book.

 gab-logo02

Book-Cycle

“All life should be granted an equal opportunity for expression.
Freedom; being our highest ideal is governed by the
parameters of the environment and the liberty of others.”

Book-Cycles main aims are;

The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit

To improve literacy and the love of learning, Book-Cycle is committed to providing free access to books and information both in Britain and abroad.

The Reforestation of Britain

To take responsibility for the books we read and give something back to our surrounding flora and fauna, Book-Cycle is committed to the planting of trees, the creation of permaculture and the extension of mutually beneficial habitats.

The Dissemination of the Knowledge and Practices of Permaculture

To give fairer access to the principles and practicalities of self-sustainability, Book-Cycle will endeavour to provide free information and examples of such practices in a local context.

 

png-infographic-web

 

 

“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others” – Lewis Carroll

Please give generously and have a happy, healthy holiday season.

 

christmas-candles-wallpaper-4

The Joys of Formatting an eBook

I have spent the best part of today getting my head around formatting my forthcoming release Forbidden Colours for  eReaders. Oh the pain, I would rather be sticking pins in my eyes! I have neck ache, back ache and am in urgent need of wine – which, I have promised myself will be my reward when I finally beat this spawn of the devil!

I followed the same process I used when I formatted my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties but, for whatever reason, this time, the computer says ‘no’ and has been saying ‘no’ for the past 4 hours. The problem is the different formats do not talk to each other! So I have to convert ( or in my case create a mess of) my book in different ways.

I have no option than to go nuclear. Smashwords has a rather helpful style guide ( link below), which shows exactly how to ‘go nuclear’. For now it’s more a question of time needed to press the button and un format to reformat. Oh the pressures of the modern world my friends!

So that I never, and I mean NEVER find myself in this situation again, I’ve put together a few quick top tips to all things eBookish. It is not a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination – that is not what it is. Hopefully the tips below will help you and eliminate the need for you to go nuclear too!

  • There are three main eBook formats that are widely used – PDF, EPUB and MOBI. The formats are driven by the device on which they are to be viewed, so naturally they don’t all use the same platforms – that would be too simple!
  • Most eBooks are what’s called ‘flowable’ – allowing the reader to choose different size fonts. Therefore keep it simple with your fonts. Fancy fonts do not fare well when converted.
  • Do not include page numbers. As helpful as they may be for you, they are pointless on e Readers. Devices usually tell the reader how far along a book they are e g. 20%, 30% etc. If you have a table of content at the front with page numbers it’s irrelevant.
  • Headers and footers are a no no, take them out. They just confuse everything!
  • Separate paragraphs with only a single return not more, they do not convert well and your work will look disjointed with great big gaps everywhere.
  • The best thing I have discovered is the ‘non print characters’ button (see image below). It shows all of the extra formatting that’s contained within your document –  things you had no idea were there, such as extra spaces, extra returns, line breaks etc. It means you can strip out all of the unnecessary added extras which will hamper your file conversion.
  • A nifty thing that is very straight forward is to add hyperlinks to your table of contents. This is very simple and very effective It allows the readers to go directly to different chapters as if by magic! For full details tap it into a search engine, there are some super tutorials out there.

formatting_3076819b

  The non character formatting button – A revelation!

  •  The Smashwords style guide is a great free resource that can help you a lot Click here

So after everything how did I fare?

Let’s just say the Chateuxneuf du pape is going down a treat!

wine

Have you had any formatting nightmares? Please comment below & let me know that I’m not alone!!