Category Archives: Fiction Writing

Every Chicken Has A Back Story

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Now this would catch your eye and curiosity right? But it’s not too out of the norm here in Oregon. But I need to know this chicken’s back story. Stay tuned!

by Kimberly A. Cook

Bagged the bird! For those of you who thought I’d lost my mind last week, my poultry paparazzi patrol paid off. Did a quick recon before leaving for my fiction critique group last Saturday to see if the violin playing chicken was in attendance. No fowl. Dang it.

Got in the car and headed for my meeting. Ready to make a left turn and looking right, chicken ahoy! I ignored my left turn signal, and the car behind me, and turned right to get a quick chicken pic. Using my vast stealth abilities from the military, I parked a block away and then went chicken stalking. Got two pics. Here is the best one.

Now this fowl encounter has become a quest. I want to know the chicken’s back story. My journalistic roots are tingling. When did the chicken take violin lessons? Why here? Why now? Why the outfit? Does the chicken have a website? Do all chickens wear Birkenstocks? Or flip-flops? (I’d say thongs, but I don’t want to confuse people and I really don’t want to go there with this chicken.)

Saturday is the big Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade so we all know what that means, rain. Not sure the chicken will show if it doesn’t like to get wet. But I’m intent on getting an interview.

When writing fiction, the author always needs to know the back story of each character. Where do they come from? What happened to them to make them do what they do now? What is their biggest goal? Worst fear? In my fiction books I’m writing, there are quirky animals too. Of course. And like their human counterparts, they all have back stories which explain their motivations.

In “real” life and fiction, everybody’s story is important. We all matter. Our stories matter. What better life long pursuit than to fight for our own happy endings?

How do we do that? We find out each other’s back story. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a chicken by its violin.

Every chicken has a back story!

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Writing, Cats And Glitter?

by Kimberly A. Cook

This week I’m determined to get the final edited copy of my military romance fiction book “Mission: Tinderbox” out to my beta readers. What are beta readers? Dedicated hardcore friends/readers/fellow writers who take a final look to make sure it all makes sense and perhaps find a typo or two.

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Spec Ops Cat helping me not edit my manuscripts. How could I move this cute guy? 

 

On my non-fiction book, I had eleven beta readers. They each found something different. Pretty amazing. Also amazing was taking the eleven printed manuscripts in binders on an editing retreat in the wilds of Goldendale, Washington to cat sit for my friends Gate Girl and her hubby. Three days, three cats, sixty acres, visiting deer and one biblical thunderstorm later I had all the edits compiled. Worked out great.

But it appears all those distractions I handled back then are nothing compared to the challenges of one Spec Ops Cat at home. Somehow he manages to show up at the right time to make the maximum impact on what I’m trying to do.

Whether he is napping on my manuscripts to edit, stepping into the bead box during play time or suddenly appearing from the mist to stand over my keyboard putting fur in my mouth, he arrives. Then he proceeds to actually step on a key and mess up the manuscript with a long line of zazazazazazazazaza that he did yesterday. How can one small cat be such a diversion?

With these challenges I’ve taken to rewarding myself before I complete goals these days, since that improved my motivation cleaning out the family home last month. I’ve discovered a new addiction too; glitter. So the glitter drawer is now full in the office/craft room and I still need to get this manuscript polished.

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Notice whose paws are in the craft container on my lap while I try to sort dice beads.  Fur gives him away.  Can’t even tell you how quickly this can all go bad… very bad.

 

Perhaps by confessing in public I can make myself grind it out. Bought the three-ring binders and mailing boxes yesterday, so now all that is left is the final read, edit work,  making copies and mailing.

Piece of cake.

Must be a glitter sale somewhere? Right?

 

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Want To Ride Along With Sled Dogs In Alaska?

by Kimberly A. Cook                   (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

While most fiction authors are publishing only ebooks, my author bud Cindy is advancing in another direction like the Marines. She decided to augment her latest fiction ebook by indie publishing it in paperback. I love it when one of our “quirky warriors,” as she proposed we call ourselves, slips out of the salmon stream and goes walkabout on land.

Her book “Iditarod Nights” is a great romance read, complete with a feisty heroine, a former cop hero with issues and those wonderful sled dog puppies who steal the show. It’s fast paced and the perfect gift for someone on your holiday list who likes to read paperbacks OR ebooks.

Love this cover! Her talented hubby designed it.

(Love this cover! Her talented hubby designed it.)

So what better way to say thank you to one of my favorite authors, buddies, editors and an all around wild and crazy girl, than show you her latest offering on Amazon. This is Cindy’s third romance fiction book and she is getting ready to publish her first women’s fiction novel very soon. (I’ll keep you updated on that one.)

If you’re looking for a journey to exotic Alaska, this is your romance. Besides, Cindy always comments on my blog posts, so for that she earns a medal. Check it out on Amazon and know I ordered my paperback copy last night to add to my ebook copy. I have a Cindy shelf I keep stocked with her paperbacks. Enjoy romance along the Iditarod sled dog race this winter from your favorite cozy chair!

Link to Cindy’s book: http://www.amazon.com/Iditarod-Nights-Cindy-Hiday/dp/1501059319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417496228&sr=8-1&keywords=iditarod+nights

Cindy’s web site: http://www.cindyhiday.com

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For The Love Of Fiction Writing?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Seems I’ve been overdosing on Hallmark Channel movies lately. Saturday’s preview “Stranded in Paradise” was pretty fun. The usual fired from job, what makes you happy dilemma. Since this last year has been all about what the heck do I really want to write, the “what writing makes you happy?” popped in my brain from the movie.

Fiction is and always will be my first love. Yes, I’m a control freak. Able to orchestrate all my characters and events, I get to make happy endings happen. New acronym! HEH! That doesn’t always happen in life and the news.

When you wish upon a super moon....... writer dreams can come true. Taken Aug. 10, 2014.

When you wish upon a super moon……. writer dreams can come true. Taken Aug. 10, 2014.

Then I read author Bob Mayer’s latest blog post about what 10 things he was grateful for as a writer. That hit home too. One big one for me is all we need is our imagination and pen, pencil or crayon and paper or keyboard to write down our dreams/stories.

Widget manufacturers do not have this luxury. They have to do business plans, get loans, build factories, hire people, get widget making products, make the widgets, package the widgets, ship the widgets, on and on. While writers do those things when we indie publish on a different scale, it’s all very craftsman type of work, boutique manufacturing if you will.

So while we physically have to create our books/widgets, we can get started with very little equipment. Plus if you dive in the recycle bins you can find used paper and if you visit places with free pens you are set with minimal start-up costs. Not a lot of capital outlay.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle is figuring out what you want to write. Spoiler alert; it will change as you gather experience in life. That’s okay. VHS tapes are gone too, so some things last a certain time and then morph into something else. Same with what we choose to write.

So is there one certain part of writing fiction that makes me happy? Yes, it’s the “I’ve got a secret” part. I know what’s going to happen next in the story. Most of the time. Tried a new creative writing exercise last week. Getting back into my fiction book has been a challenge so I reviewed the last couple chapters.

For several months my characters have been in an airplane ready to land, but I’ve just left them up there. Quite the feat if you think about the fuel supply issues. Well, last week I told myself, “I’ve got to go home and land a plane in Afghanistan.” On Sunday that’s what I did. Gave my brain a task and it worked on it while I was doing the whole daily life thing.

Thinking about my writing “to do assignment” in such a personal way made me quite accountable too. I had characters almost Lost In Space for heaven’s sake!

One of the fun clandestine things about being a writer is we get to live the adventures we create. We write from the security and comfort of our writing hidey hole and explore the universe. We get to do research too, which is a blast. And make Happy Endings Happen in my case. How cool is that?

Have you left your fiction characters up in the air? Writers, rescue your characters!

Bob Mayer’s Blog Post: http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/an-authors-attitude-of-10-gratitudes/

 

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Do All Facts Belong In Fiction?

by Kimberly A. Cook                     (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Not necessarily. Especially the “but it really happened that way” kind of facts. Fact is no guarantee it works in fiction writing. Case in point. Saturday I had lunch at my favorite café and antique store with my Mom. She spied a car that had driven up and parked. (Okay, people were driving it.) The car appeared to have a leak under the engine.

New fav mug from my sister. The yellow behind Bugs Bunny reminded me about the yellow shirt/tan shorts guys and had to tell her the tale.

New fav mug from my sister. The yellow behind Bugs Bunny reminded me about the yellow shirt/tan shorts guys and had to tell her the tale.

Last month I went back out to my garage after getting home and found my Subaru smoking. Engine off. In my non-smoking garage! Towed to the dealer the next day, found out a rock had pierced my oil filter and oil was everywhere. If I had driven it, very possibly rolling Subaru flambé.

So, with safety in mind, Mom told me the driver was a male wearing a yellow shirt and tan shorts. Off I went on a seek and alert mission. Down aisle one I spied a man just inside the front door with yellow shirt and tan shorts. Score! He denied having driven up in a red car. Okay.

Down aisle two and imagine my surprise; another man with yellow shirt and tan shorts. What are the odds? Asked if he had driven up in a red car and he said no. Think his wife thought I was trying to pick him up. I couldn’t figure out why these men were not fessing up.

Back at the café I found Mom talking to some folks from the café, which overlooks the large store. I could not see the people, but her “Are you from Montana?” got her chatting with them. Turns out they were the folks, the air conditioning overflow was the culprit and it had driven them nuts when they first got the car too.

By this time, I am back eating lunch and quite puzzled. Then, who do I see, but a woman and a different man in a yellow shirt and tan shorts come into the café. The Montana folks with the peeing car. Verified by Mom, this was the third guy in the store in a yellow shirt and tan shorts. Who sent out the yellow shirt, tan shorts memo?

Did it happen in real life? Yes. Would most readers believe it? Maybe. By the third time there would need to be a twist in the story to hold the reader’s attention. Real life stories are not necessarily the right stories for fiction. Truth can be stranger than fiction, but fiction needs to be believable.

How’s that for a head scratcher!

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Can Excel Help Right Brain Fiction Writers Control Their Characters?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

My fiction characters are running amuck. Even with the best of intentions, I realized they were getting beyond me in the current book. Remembered a tool author Linda Needham told me about. She has a humongous whiteboard in her office and uses different colored sticky notes to represent the characters in each chapter. That way she can see who is where.

My whiteboard is on the small size, so not enough room. I decided to use an Excel spreadsheet instead. Now, I’m one of the those right brains who would rather dig slit trenches than use Excel, but I’ve learned détente. Actually, the thought of using different colors really won me over.

Fun with Excel, highlighters and crayons. One way to herd your fiction characters.

Fun with Excel, highlighters and crayons. One way to herd your fiction characters.

Gathered up my horde of highlighter pens and crayons and off I went. Put chapter numbers on the top and lines for character names and colors on the side. Then I proceeded to start from chapter one and work my way through the manuscript. Using 8 1/2″ x 14″ paper I can get about 27 chapters on a sheet.

Each character is assigned their own color. Also came up with the idea to draw a circle when a character is mentioned so I can fix or expand that on editing. Managed to get about 17 chapters dissected this past weekend. Found out I had more walk-on characters than I realized. Seems new people are always jumping into this book.

Not sure I’m getting a true handle on my characters, but it is helping me realize who is where and get reacquainted with all the folks running around on the pages. If this tool works for you, yeah. If not, no problem.

The coloring part is fun. I love the smell of crayons in the afternoon!

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Did You See Damian’s Shot?

by Kimberly A. Cook                   (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Fiction is wonderful to write since we get to create worlds and make fairytale endings come true.  Then sometimes real life provides us with those moments. I think Spec Ops Cat is still trying to get his hearing back after the end of Game 6 on Friday night when Damian Lillard put our Trailblazers into the second round of the NBA Playoffs with the buzzer beater shot.

So for today I am going to revel in that perfect moment and prepare snacks and goodies to watch the Trailblazers and Spurs in Game 1 tonight. Sometimes life is about basketball. Here’s hoping all the teams win, but since that isn’t mathematically possible, here’s hoping the best for our Trailblazers. Rip City!

http://www.nba.com/blazers/video/2014/05/02/BlazersWinLillardclutch3ptmp4-3257826/

 

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