Category Archives: Fiction Writing

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

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction Writing

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/

 

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction Writing

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction Writing

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction Writing

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/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction Writing

Is The Writing Always Greener On The Other Writing Project?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

A funny thing happened last month, I started writing again. Not the non-fiction book stuck in the box in the corner, if you remember that project, but my fiction book. Then a weird thing happened.

I wrote the opening few pages of the sequel to the second fiction book in the series. Got it down on paper and out of my head, then went back to the first fiction book. Then another wacky thing occurred; I wrote the story climax of the first book out of sequence and then expanded on it.

Up close and personal with the apple crisp remains.

Up close and personal with the apple crisp remains.

Normally I write fiction straight through from beginning to end. I have a rough outline, plot points and my hero’s journey framework, then I write like a crazy woman. Not this time. I’m engrossed in getting the story climax correct, then will go back and fill in the gaping hole from past the halfway mark to the new writing. I know the ending, so I can then wrap the puppy up. Next I will have to hard edit the whole mess.

I wondered what it meant when the first pages of the second book arrived in my mind, then I figured it out; this first book is ready to be finished. When the next project calls like a siren from the sea, it can mean procrastination, avoidance of grunt work, or the first project is ready to be finished.

Do I have all the plot and action answers for the first book? Not in my conscious mind, but I’m pretty sure my subconscious is figuring it out. When I write, it will be there. This might be the place where I confess the first few pages of the third book in this series were written a couple of years ago.

That third book is going to be a challenge, so I was happy to turn that assignment back to my muse and let her chew on it for a while until I get to it. Speed is not the key in writing these books, staying true to the character’s stories and the series arc is the important focus.

Fiction is fun for me to write. This time it feels like my process is changing and I’m okay with this new adventure.

When I was deciding the Easter lunch menu for this past Sunday, I had a big debate about dessert. I settled on  making both apple crisp with maple nut ice cream and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Everyone decided to have a little of both.

Sometimes with both dessert and writing projects embracing variety is the true spice of life. We can get words down on paper so we don’t lose our new ideas and then go back to our first project. We don’t have to choose one or the other, but we do have to finish one. Then we get dessert!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction Writing

Have You Pruned Your Writing Lately?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Last Friday we had a sunny day. Since the monsoons were rolling in Saturday, I jumped out into the yard first thing and pruned my roses. Since I’m not really sure what I’m doing, I’d looked at how the landscapers pruned my Mom’s roses. Pretty severe.

Rose bushes before the great prune-off .....

Rose bushes before the great prune-off …..

Hacking away at the poor bushes reminded me of editing. Like the time I threw out two-thirds of a fiction manuscript and started over. Painful but necessary. It got me to thinking of the top three edits writers need to make, but many times do not. I know these three because I have done them all and still do; then I have to self-prune my writing.

1. Back story overload: Because you know everything about your character from her favorite nail polish to her indigestion issues does not mean the reader needs to know it. We create our characters so we can react how our characters would react and know their motivations. DO NOT put every single item about your character in the book or the first chapter. Sprinkle observations and quirks throughout the manuscript to unfold layers of your heroine and let the reader get to bond with her. Do not overshare or for the younger set do not TMI. (Too much information!)

2. Research hurling: This is a close cousin to back story overload. Research hurling means the writer throws every single tidbit they discovered about the time period, horse carriages, leather harness, brass wax and currier combs into the story. Stop the madness! Pick important details which move the story forward or provide some scene setting but don’t slow down the story. If you get bored editing it, a reader will be comatose.

3. Starting before the action: Everybody does this, really. Then the good writers edit it out. The reader does not need to know exactly what year, political structure or cult history brought the hero to this point in his life – we need to know what is happening right now. Instead of explaining the entire history of the Reno Rodeo, how about starting with the hero trying to escape from the pounding hooves of the bull he’s been thrown from onto the dirt. Drop the history stuff in later as the story requires or if it is important to the character arc. If it doesn’t advance the story, don’t use it.

Self-editing is one of the hardest things to do for beginning writers and all writers. But the more times you edit, the better you become at letting your story free from the overgrowth of deadwood which doesn’t let it grow. Hopefully like my pruned rose bushes. Prune away!

Rose sticks afterwards. Stay tuned for June!

Rose sticks afterwards. Stay tuned for June!

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction Writing