Monthly Archives: August 2012

VBT: Snips Happen

VBT: Snips Happen

      Welcome to Week Fourteen of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!
      This week, we’re all discussing Deleted Scenes in our novels and our guest is a returning superstar – Scott Seldon! He’s the sci-fi writer and the author of two books (available at his Smashwords page), “Well of Dreams”, a novel, and “Edge of Hyperspace”, a collection of short stories.
      Check out his musings about the words he’s had to delete in the pursuit of his writing dreams and a sample of a whole novel which has been discarded, proving that even to the best of writers – Snips Happen!
      Without further ado… Scott Seldon!

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      One of my favorite things about DVD’s has been the inclusion of deleted scenes. It has gotten to the point where I feel gipped if there aren’t any. But I haven’t come across many instances from our written media. I think it is time to share what I can of my deleted material.
      First I should explain that I strive to emulate two of my favorite writers, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, in how I write. Not so much in style and voice as in process. As a result, I don’t have any deleted scenes from any of my books to share. I don’t plan the stories out in advance, but I do plot them out in my head before I ever commit the words to the page. As a result any potential deleted scenes were cut long before they were written.
      That said, I do have a treat in store for you. Rather than deleted scenes, I have my first novel. It has certain structural issues and ended up dealing with a topic I think better left unpublished. It is not my first writing project by any means, but it was my first attempt at a story that exceeded 20,000 words. The important thing is not what the story was about, but that it gave birth to my Galactic Confederation universe and the Zaran family. This story laid out the architecture I’ve proceeded to build on.
      I have often made reference to the scene that started it all and that seems to be the most appropriate part of my shelved novel to share. So, without further ado, here is the opening to Starlight Course, a scene that was deleted along with the rest of the novel.

* * *


      The smooth vibration of the deck was disturbed by a sudden jolt as the engines surged. Mishka looked over at the auxiliary flight control display in his quarters. No change in settings. It must be that damned pressure valve. He’d have to get it replaced when he stopped off at Quetle Station. Mishka rolled back to a comfortable position and let the sounds of his ship lull him back to sleep.
      He awoke later as his sleep period was about to end. He shut off the alarm and got out of his cot and went through his morning rituals. In space, though, morning was fluid. Mishka kept to his home planet’s 28 hour day, even though he didn’t remember living there, and stayed on the same time he was born to. Sometimes that made keeping appointments a bit of a pain, but he managed. It gave him a sense of home when his home was really an eighty-year-old trade ship that he dearly loved.
      As he entered the cockpit, the lights came on and the controls activated. “Good morning, Darling,” he said.
      “Good morning,” the ship’s computer responded in a pleasant female voice. “I’ve had to compensate for the primary fuel pressure valve eight times.”
      “It woke me up every time. How long till we get to Quetle?”
      “We have just passed their outer marker. Current ETA is 25 minutes.”
      “That’s fine.” He sat at the controls and punched up a detailed report on the valve trouble. As he studied it, the ship closed in on Quetle Station. At first the station was just a point of light barely distinguishable from the stars through the view port. But as they approached it, it grew into a sprawling complex floating in space. It had been added to so many times that its original design was lost amid the clutter. It had atmospheric domes and docking bays for both recreation and work uses. A large liner was currently hogging most of the repair spaces.
      “Excuse me, Mishka,” the computer started, “The port authority wishes to speak to you.”
      “Put him on.”
      “Captain Zaran?” a gravelly and obviously translated voice said.
      “Yes.”
      “We need to verify the information your AI gave us.”
      “Go ahead.”
      “Ship’s name, Nova Trango. Registry, Leywan 467232-J6. Captain, Mishka Zaran. Ship type, Leywanese class four light cargo.”
      “All correct.”
      “Please state your business on our station.”
      “I have a cargo of Daris fruit for Senator Kaimler and I need to make some minor repairs.”
      “You are cleared to proceed to bay 6770. Make arrangements with the bay supervisor for any repairs you need. You are cleared for forty-eight hours. Enjoy your stay.”
      “Thanks.”
      The channel went dead and Mishka shook his head. “Typical PA lackey.”
      “I have observed such behavior from most public officials. Perhaps it is because they don’t get paid enough and have so much to do?”
      “My darling Nova,” Mishka said as he patted the console, “I think you have put it perfectly. That’s why I spend all my time with you.”
      “Hm…,” the computer responded, “then perhaps I should cancel your date for tonight?”
      “No, no, no. I think maybe I should keep it.”

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Scott SeldonScott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold. Watch for his upcoming novel, Pirates of I’ab, at your favorite ebook retailer.
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Thanks to the returning champion, Scott Seldon, for sharing his experience with deleted scenes (okay, a whole 20k word novella!) and that snippet. What do you think about deleting scenes? Do you, like me, keep deleted stuff in a separate file just in case or just slash ’em and forget ’em? Would you like to see a collection of ‘deleted scenes’ released at some point as some sort of bonus swag (like on a DVD)?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

[Editor’s Note: My guest post over at the Natalie Star’s blog can be found HERE!]

Reactionary

      Well, I’ve now got two official beta readers, plus one beta listener (Beta One is reading his copy aloud to his girlfriend). Now, I just need some feedback. To my mind, there is nothing worse as a writer than waiting to hear back from a beta reader.
      Maybe I’ll change that decree once I am waiting to hear back from a publisher, but right now I’m just so nervous about what other, real people think about my novel that THIS is for sure the worst.
      For now.
      Argh!
      Anyway – moving on.
      I did receive a smidgeon of reaction today and it really did just set my heart alight despite being fairly vague. Here’s the text message I received from Beta One:

I am loving it, actually. Its slow going because I am reading it [aloud] to my girlfriend. So far we are both really digging it!

      So okay, its not as affirming as the previous one, but still. It makes me happy that someone is actually reading my book. And Beta Two, well, I’m still waiting for the first real opinion as he just received his copy Monday. Still, I’m on pins and needles.
      Beta Two is one of my favorite people in the whole world and I trust his opinion implicitly. His opinion on the ending, on the characterization, on the big splatterfest in act three, and on the simple things like sentence flow or names… they mean the world to me.
      So… I wait.
      And with each day, with each edit, I become more reactionary. I strike words and switch around sentences and tighten the prose as much as I can. Like I’m trying to get ahead, prepare the half-re-edited book for the initial reviews. Maybe its a good thing.
      Maybe, the more anxious I get and the more brutal I am with my work, the better it will be in the end.
      What do you think?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

VBT: Interview with the Glampires

VBT: Interview with the Glampires

      Welcome to Week Thirteen of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!

      Please excuse the silly title – it just occurred to me when I was titling the post and well… I can’t help myself! Anyway… It is interview week and — lucky me! — I got to exchange interviews with the dynamic duo responsible for “What She Knew”, a what-if novel that follows an alternate history while answering the question: what if Marilyn Monroe had lived? TL Burns & KR Hughes are my very first interview EVER and I am so honored that they appear here on the pages of my humble blog!

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PP: Alright ladies, first off, let me thank you deeply for gracing the pages of PP.net with your presence! I am tickled pink to be hosting you this week AND to be conducting my first author interview with you.
      Yes, it’s my first time! Please be gentle.
      So, to kick this off, give me a little bit of basic background. Where are you two from, individually, and how did you come to know each other?

Both: Thank you so much for having us here. You’ll do great we just know it.
KRH:I’m an English major from Amarillo, Texas and now reside near Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoy writing with my co-author T. We are currently working on the sequel to “What She Knew,” the fast paced novel that continues telling the story.
      I enjoy working with budding writers and tutoring English. I have a passion for at-risk teens. I have two grown children, Justin and Kayti, and two four legged girls, May-Zee and Ruthie (they bark at me occasionally but don’t bite like the children did).
      You can find my other works in the Historical Romance section, my pen name is Kymber Lee. “Treasured Love” is a fun romp written in Regency England in 1811. I wrote this novel for my grandmother as she is my biggest supporter.
TLB: As my co-author puts it “She is the foremost researcher and historical guru” for our novel “What She Knew.” The novel was just released March of 2012 and we are busily working on the sequel, “What She Knew Too, the saga continues.” You can learn more about them at our website www.WhatSheKnew.com.
      I’m originally from California (desert region, with mountains), spent nearly 20 years in the Panhandle of Texas (again, desert region only without the mountains) and now reside near Atlanta, Georgia. In my own words “Trees and flowers everywhere!! Even the weeds are green and lush! I feel like I’m living in a postcard!! And, no wind! The desert regions are sooooo windy.”
      My true passion is for at-risk families. I volunteer my time to help the needy, not with a hand-out but with a hand-up. I’m married and have two grown sons (best sons in the whole world) and one 4 legged son, Binford!
      Kim and I have been best friends for years and are really more like sisters. Our friendship started with our boys becoming friends during middle school.

PP: That’s cool! I’m from a desert-y mountainous region too. Love it! I really admire your passion for helping at-risk families, Tamy. It takes a special kind of person to give that much.
      Sorry – I diverged from the topic at hand. So tell me… What inspired you to write “What She Knew”? I mean, how did it go from a conversation about Marilyn to a whole book based on this what-if/alternative history timeline?

TLB: Kim has always loved writing and journalism. She has written five historical novels set in the Regency Era of 1811. One has been published and is currently available on Amazon (mentioned above.) I was drug into the business after Kim had taken a class with a well-known published author. The assignment was to write about something that has never been written about. So, after brainstorming ‘what if’ ideas, we came upon the premise of “What if Marilyn had lived and saved JFK from assassination?” She and I wrote the first chapter together with me researching (which I have always loved) and her doing the actual writing. The teacher loved it and persuaded us to write the full novel.

PP: Well, I for one am so glad that the instructor stepped in and coaxed you guys into writing the whole thing! This interview reminds me that I have a review to write and publish! Eek!
      You know, I love that there is going to be a sequel. Tell me how it’s coming along – is there a release date yet? Some of us are simply salivating!

TLB: Thank you so much for your support. That is awesome.
      Kim and I have finished what we thought was going to be the sequel of a two part series, but has turned into a trilogy. LOL! We are hoping to be done with the edits soon and that the book will be out this fall.

PP: Don’t you just love it when a well-planned story takes on a life of its own? My current WIP was a stand-alone that got out of hand. Its now got a sequel underway.
      You know, Jack and I sometimes write together. It sort of comes naturally since we live together and, you know, sit side-by-side in our office.
      How does that work for you two? What’s your process for writing? Does one of you write a section and send it to the other? Do you write in rounds or just sit down together and compose?

KRH: We simply sit down together. Tamy does the lion’s share of the research and we talk it over. We then plot out how things will progress for the next several chapters and I go to it! We are both flexible and have no problem with reworking any section to make sure we have a story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. We like that element of writing – keep the reader turning the pages and guessing what is going to happen next.

PP: Team-work for the win! I dig that you guys have it down to an art! But do either of you write solo? If so, how difficult is it to switch between co-authoring and solo-authoring?
KRH: No, we primarily write together now. I do have the other books but has not written any more of those at present. So, “What She Knew” is taking up all of our time at the moment. Interesting side note, we’ve written the screenplay for this novel but Tamy did the writing for it. It’s hard for an author to go from third person to the here and now.

PP: Tell me about it, sheesh! I don’t even know how you manage it. Tell me then ladies, what’s next on the horizon? You mentioned a third Marilyn novel, but is there something fresh and new?
TLB: Yes, as we were approaching the finish of book two, we both realized that there was still too much ground to cover and there would have to be a third book. So, after we get book two out, we will get to it. There has also been some talk of writing book two (then book three) into a screenplay like we did for book one. Our manager wants to offer this as a packaged set and is shopping movie companies as we speak.

PP: Sweet. I am so in awe of this – I am interviewing published authors who are shopping movie treatments of their novel! Pardon me if I SQUEE a little bit.
      Okay, back on track! “What She Knew” is a period piece, really, as it takes place in the past. Do you find it difficult to write ‘authentically’ to the period? Is it hard to omit the convenience that we deal with in our daily lives – no cell phones, no internet, no celebrity blogs – while putting fresh eyes on the past?

KRH: You would think so, but no, it’s not hard for us. We have immersed ourselves completely into Marilyn’s time (1960’s) that we find ourselves in everyday life referring to her as though she were an old friend. It’s very fun writing in a different time and easier life style, we love seeking out what was popular back then and what kind of conveniences they did have. One thing that we have had some grief over was the Peter Lawford ‘scar phone. This was actually true and the Kennedys’ had them as well. We research things thoroughly to make the story as true to life as possible.

PP: Its funny you mention that car phone. I didn’t blink an eye when I read about it – because I’ve read a bunch of other books that take place in the 60s and several of them have instances of phones in car. Including a Jackie Collins novel or two, I think. Ahem.
      ANYway…. Let’s try a fun question. If you could hand-pick the cast of the movie version (which — bonus question, is it true that there are talks in progress?!) who would you place in the roles?

TLB: Oh, yes, there are movie talks. For Marilyn, we would love for Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore to play her. For John F. Kennedy it would be Greg Kinnear or Matt Damon or even Matthew Perry. Frank Sinatra we would love Harry Connick Jr. We have some other main characters that we have already made a wish list for as well.

PP: I am a fan of Drew and I can totally imagine that she could capture the hard-boiled innocence (er… that’s a heckuva oxymoron isn’t it?) of Marilyn, especially as she appears in “What She Knew”. You guys definitely have a good eye for talent with that list.
      Here’s another fun question. What is your one weirdest writing quirk?

KRH: We have this awesome office but we can’t write in it. So we usually end up leaving to work at a restaurant with wi-fi. There are too many distractions at our home office. The dogs want our attention or the dishes need doing or the doorbell rings. We find that if we go out to a busy place the background noise helps us work and it sort of sets the rhythm. We can get our groove on…lol!

PP: Haha! I totally know that feeling. With the exception of when I had a dedicated “red room” office a few years ago, I have had zero luck writing in my actual writing area! I tend to end up on the porch, on the bed, at a table at Sheetz or the library… and so on!
      Hmm. What else? Oh! I know. Are you reading anything right now? If so, what and by whom?

TLB: Other than research books for the series, we are both reading books from the Master Koda group. Kim has read “Bertha Size Your Life” by Jane Carroll and I’ve read “Armed and Outrageous” by Madison Johns. We are both going to get our reviews for these two ladies by the end of the week!!

PP: I picked up “Bertha Size Your Life” recently and I can’t wait to read it. I’m working on a review for “Cedar Woman” right now, too, by another MasterKoda member – Debra Shiveley Welch. Blogging is taking a backseat to other stuff right now though. Ugh!
      I guess I should wrap this up, eh? How about sharing with us – what is the biggest piece of advice you have for other writers, especially those of us just starting out?

Both: Write, write, and oh yes, write some more! It doesn’t matter what you write just WRITE! Then blog, journal, write short stories, and WRITE. Yes, and read all you can too!

PP: Damn tootin’! Good answer!
      I have a bonus question. Hope its okay to ask, but where did you commission those great bookmarks and other swag from for the “What She Knew” book tour and book launch party?

KRH: We ordered our book marks and business cards from Overnight Prints. They offer really great quality for a very low price. And, they are easy to work with. The custom book bags we made ourselves, and what fun we had. We bought the bags and either ironed on ‘What She Knew’ or put our business cards on the front. Then, we adorned them with all sorts of girlie ribbons, flowers, etc. We have such a fun time when we make them too! We also made the table cover we use for book signings and other fun black and pink items to really make our table or booth stand out. Many book store managers have commented that they wish all authors who come in to do a signing would take as much care with presentation as we do.

PP: Thanks for the info. I’ll definitely remember that advice for when I do some signings and what not. Thanks so much, ladies!
Both: Thank you so much for having us. We really loved being with you today!
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      K.R. Hughes: Hughes is an English majorfrom Amarillo, Texas. She now resides near Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys writing with her co-author T.L. Burns. They are currently working on the sequel to”What She Knew,” the fast paced novel that finishes telling the story.
      Hughes enjoys working withbudding writers and tutoring English. Her passion is for at-risk teens. She volunteers to help teens realize their potential and find their passion. Hugheshas two grown children, Justin and Kayti, and two four legged girls, MayZee andRuthie.
      Find other works by thisauthor in the Historical Romance section, pen name is Kymber Lee,”Treasured Love” is a fun romp written in Regency England in 1811.Lee (Hughes) wrote this novel for her grandmother who is a huge supporter ofher work.

      T.L. Burns: As Burns’ co-author puts it”She is the foremost researcher and historical guru for our novel”What She Knew.” The novel was just released March of 2012 and theyare busily working on the sequel, “What She Knew Too, The saga continues.” You can learn more about them at their website www.whatsheknew.com.
      Burns is originally from California (desert region, with mountains), spent nearly 20 years in thepanhandle of Texas (again, desert region only without the mountains) and nowresides near Atlanta, Georgia. In her words “Trees and flowers everywhere!! Even the weeds are green and lush! I feel like I’m living in apostcard!! And, no wind! The desert regions are sooooo windy.”
      Burns passion is for at-risk families. She volunteers her time to help the needy, not wih a hand-outbut with a hand-up. She is married andhas two grown sons (best sons in the whole world) and one 4 legged son, Binford!

You can find the ladies online at:
Facebook
www.WhatSheKnew.com
Their Blog
On Twitter
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Another big THANK YOU to the WhatSheKnew crew for this amazing interview experience. I can’t wait to link you to my own interview on their blog. Do you have any questions for the ladies? Let ’em know in the comments below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

[Editor’s Note: My guest post will be over at the ladies’ blog this week. As soon as I have the link, you’ll find it here!]

FFF: Harbor Lights

FFF: Harbor Lights

      Trying out a new feature here at PP.net. It probably won’t be weekly, but I’m hoping it’ll give me an excuse to step away from the WIP each week and flex my creative muscle.
      That’s right b*tches, PP is doing FLASHfictionFRIDAY. I’m hanging out with the cool kids. At last! Wheee!
      Tonight I just went to Mangle.CA and got a bunch of random images from LiveJournal. The first one I saw struck me as something I could run with. I think this link should take you to a lovely nighttime photo of many boats in a harbor which are apparently Croatian (or so Google Translate of the blog tells me). Its such a beautiful shot (and in that associated blog post there are MANY other images of picturesque towns and lagoons in (so they say) Croatia, I just can’t help but close my eyes, crank up the music and see what comes out in the next 20 minutes.
      Aaaaand away we go!
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      Nikos pulled a knee to his chest and wrapped his arms around it. Below, in the harbor, he could see the whole island had turned out for the party. Dinghies, skiffs, fishing scows, pleasure barges and rafts. Even Gazeborea’s yacht was there. Those uppity bastards, just showing off in that big old thing. Fuck…, he thought, furrowing his brow.
      They bobbed gently on the tide, all lined up with luminous white paper lanterns swaying from twine draped between the vessels. He had read a story once where glowing, floating etherial balls called will o’ wisps had danced and frolicked and sucked the life right out of some adventurers, nearly killing him.
      Nikos wished fervently that those damned tacky lanterns were really soul-slurping gloves of unlight that would slowly, torturously murder every single one of those two-faced jerks down on the water. Not all of them, he supposed, for his mother was there, and his cousin, Jemmy. But pretty much everyone else. How dare they sit around down there? Drinking and eating and dancing and fucking? How dare they?
      “They haven’t forgotten, Nik,” a familiar voice from behind him said. He stared out across the water, shifting only slightly on his perch to make room. Stubbornly, even as she slipped her arm around his waist and lay her head upon his shoulder, Nikos refused to acknowledge her. “They’re saying good-bye the only way we know how. What would you prefer? Keening wails and cutting widows’ weals?”
      “A few tears and a genuine sense of sorrow, at least. For Heaven’s Sake, I know he was not exactly well-loved around here, but do they have to be so- so bloody happy about it?”
      She cleared her throat and failed to answer. Nikos did not blame her for falling silent. There was no answer that would have made him happy anyway. If she admitted that people were somewhat pleased that Gabor was dead, he would have grumbled and pushed her away. And if she stroked his wounded pride and coddled him by agreeing with him, he would have been called her insincere and offered to take off his boots so she could lick them without hurting her back.
      Ruminating on her wisdom in the face of his juvenile reaction, Nikos smiled inwardly. She got him. Always had. She understood his moods: manic, maniac, somber, or black. She laughed at his jokes and celebrated his victories, no matter how small or large. She never made him feel self-conscious about his back hair and when she looked at him with those big, brown doe eyes… he knew that she truly did love him.
      Nikos felt unworthy.
      Without a word, he slipped his arm around her and pulled her close. The warmth of her affection was tangible in the cool, moonlit air. Maybe he would never be important, or wealthy or famous. Maybe his name would not be recorded in the annals of history as a hero and a traitor like his brother, Gabor. Maybe he would only ever be Nikos Burdavara, fish shack cook.
      But he could strive to be better.
      He could work to be worthy of her love.
      He would do.
      “I’m sorry,” Nikos murmured, kissing the top of her head as they sat side-by-side on the edge of the cliff. “Want to grab a bite and head home?”
      Shafeela nodded and he helped her to her feet.
      “There’s nothing you could have done,” she said as the gravel crunched beneath their shoes. The moon was nearly full and shone bright from its nest in the cloudy night sky. “You’re not your brother.”
      “I know.”
      They walked in silence for a few peaceful strides. At length, she broke in again. “I love you, Nik, that’s all. I hate seeing how you beat yourself up like this. Just- Just know that Gabe’s mistakes were just that, mistakes. He never meant to cause… you know…”
      “I know.”
      Shafeela squeezed his hand, wrapping both of hers around one of his. “Stop brooding, my love. It will all work out. C’mon, I’m starving. Let’s race!”
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      Well that sucked.
      As usual, I took myself off on some crazy tangent and then sort of sputtered out. O’well. It took me like, an hour of concentrated effort to get this eked out tonight. C’est la vie. Its 700 words more than I had written this week before tonight.
      What do you think?
      Should I keep torturing myself this way each Friday?
      Should I start a-new or try to find out where Nikos & Shafeela are headed? What Gabor’s traitorous deed was? Why they’re having a funeral-slash-boat party?
      *grin*

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Slacker

      Yes, I admit it. I, Penelope Price, am a slacker.
      Sometimes, at least. Lately.
      I have been working and trying to get some external ducks in a row and I have not been blogging as much as I ought, which is why the last three entries here have been VBT posts. And those are AWESOME (and this Sunday’s interview with the talented team of TL Burns & KR Hughes rocks!) but I really need to buckle down and be more productive here.
      And in “Incandescence” & “Inferno” where it really counts.
      I won’t lie to you. I am a little discouraged. After stellar initial reviews from my betas, they’ve gone silent and I can’t help but worry about the worst. Jack says to stop being dumb – but gosh! Its hard to maintain that positive mental attitude (PMA! PMA! PMA! *ahem* Sorry, flashback) when you’re not getting any feedback.
      Even hearing “Dude, this sucks hardcore!” would be infinitely better than silence.
      Argh.
      I try to keep my Facebook page clear of insecurity and whinging because…well, who needs it? There’s been a lot of that going around lately and while I totally empathize (and I DO. Mega-empathize) its not really appropriate to share with your ‘fans’ or ‘friends’. Which is why I could slap myself for writing this blog.
      Oh well. Sometimes you do need to vent and I promise, this is the last time (er…re: Incandescence, at any rate) you’ll have to see me crying about radio silence from my peeps. Because damn it, I know Incandescence is good and since I cannot afford to hire editors, I do have to rely on the people whose opinions I value (and who will read it for free).
      No more slacking off, PP. No more!
      I’m feeling motivated today. Editing for the WIN!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

VBT: Readability

VBT: Readability

      Welcome to Week Twelve of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!

      Its excerpt week on the tour and this week I am so honored to be hosting the wise and witty author of “Once a Priest”, among others, Ed Griffin! This week, he’s discussing how being verbose versus succinct can really boost your writing! Take a look at his findings and then investigate your own style!

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Readability

by Ed Griffin

      About ten years ago, I wanted to compare my writing to some others. Microsoft Word allows you to do this easily and I assume other writing programs do as well. I typed out sections of Macleans, a Canadian news magazine, and a Woman’s Day short story. I selected sections of my writing, an article and a short story. Then I clicked on TOOLS and then on GRAMMAR AND SPELLING. The program checked the document or the section I’d selected. I clicked IGNORE all the things the program pointed out until I got to the end. What I received is below:

      You will get this information for your writing plus more rating systems and their meanings.

Readability Statistics Ed Article Ed Short Story Macleans Woman’s Day Short Story
Words 807 1307 1317 2579
Characters 3515 5653 7177 11328
Paragraphs 15 50 11 92
Sentences 71 144 52 198
Averages
Sentences per paragraph 4.7 2.9 4.7 2.2
Words per sentence 11.4 9.1 25.3 13.0
Characters per word. 4.2 4.1 5.3 4.2
Readability
Passive Sentences 2% 1% 13% 1%
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

 

4.6 2.9 14.2 4.8

 

      Words per sentence are important. The average English sentence today is 13 words.
      Passive sentences are also important. We want our writing to be active.
      And then what grade of student can read our work? You have to have two years of college to read Macleans, while anyone with a third grade education can read my story.
      Grammar checkers rate the readability of your writing in terms of grade level.
      Aim down. Take the trouble to write simply. 
      Rate your own writing. What grade level are you writing for? Do you use a lot of passive constructions?” How many words per sentence?
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      Ed Griffin teaches creative writing in his community and in a federal prison in Canada. He’s written five books, three novels and two works of nonfiction. He’s an ex-everything, ex-politician, ex-businessman and ex-Catholic priest. He believes with Aristotle that “Art releases unconscious tensions and purges the soul.”

You can find Ed online at:
Facebook (Personal) / Facebook (Fan Page)
Twitter
His Personal Blog
Writers Write Daily Blog
Prison Uncensored Blog
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A big THANK YOU to Ed for sharing his findings with us this week. I can’t wait to go rate my writing and find out where “Incandescence” ranks on the scale. Why don’t you try it and leave a comment below with the result?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

[Editor’s Note: You can also try an automated readability calculator here, if you don’t have access to MS Word or a similar application.

[Editor’s Note 2: My guest post will be over at Aurora Martinez’s blog this week. As soon as I have the link, you’ll find it here!]

VBT: Putting My Peepers on “The Keeper”

VBT: Putting My Peepers on "The Keeper"

      Welcome to Week Eleven of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!
      Its excerpt week on the tour and this week I am so psyched to be hosting Natalie Star, author of “The Keeper” and generally an all-around awesome lady! She’s sharing a chunk of “The Keeper” with us this week. Its a YA/Paranormal Romance and the blurb sure sounds tasty!

      The morning of her sixteenth birthday, Billie feels blessed despite the reoccurring nightmare that wakes her. Loving parents, a caring boyfriend, and great friends surround her until an heirloom necklace throws her into a world she never imagined.
      “Gifted” with supernatural powers and an unexpected destiny as the Keeper, Billie and a mysterious boy from her past must work together to find answers. But, as they begin to discover feelings for one another, he disappears leaving her to fight evil alone. Her life spirals out of control. She breaks up with her boyfriend, Tony, and alienates her best friends Arianna and Jocelyn to protect them from the truth.
      As dark forces pursue her, Billie longs to run away from it all, yet a need to do what’s right compels her to face the future as the keeper of more than her own fortune.


      Right?! I’m excited to get my peepers on this one. Without any further preamble, let’s check out her snippets! What the what?! She’s provided not one, but two Two TWO excerpts from her novel for our viewing pleasure! Onto the goodies!
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From “The Keeper”

by Natalie Star


      “I have something special for you. Sit, I’ll go get it.” And before I knew it, she rushed down the hall.
      “Hurry, Mom, I have to get to school!” I yelled after her. She was back in a flash. “Here, honey.” She handed me a long narrow velvet jewelry box, maroon in color, the coloring faded from age and use. I flipped back the lid and saw a gold chain with a charm hanging from it. Definitely nothing I would have handpicked, nice enough I guess, but it looked older than dirt itself. There was a yellowish gemstone, citrine I think, no larger than a nickel and it was set on top of a golden sunburst. She explained, “It’s been in our family for years. It’s been handed down from generation to generation on the sixteenth birthday.”
      “Um, thank you. How old is it, and where did it come from?” I questioned because it even smelled old.
      “No one in recent memory knows the answer to either question. We do know it is an honor to receive it, and you have to wear it for your whole birthday, no matter what,” Mom explained.
      “Or what, I will have seven years bad luck?” I didn’t know what else to say.
      “No, worse, a whole life of bad luck.” Mom said it so seriously.
      “Well, if that isn’t convincing enough, put it on me!” I was not superstitious but why take chances?
      I lifted my flat ironed hair out of the way, and Mom placed the chain around my neck. The second I heard it click into place, I felt funny, and I swear the jewelry’s temperature rose. I stood up in a state of a panic as it warmed and the heat spread from my neck throughout my body. Everything went white, and then pulled out.
      “Billie!” Mom screamed.

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From “The Keeper”

by Natalie Star

      “Do I want to know?” he asked uneasy.
      “Probably not, so if you want to call it quits and go on with your life I would totally understand because all of what I have to tell you is unsettling and will be life changing. If you want out, now’s the time.” I waited.
      I didn’t know I held my breath until Ty stopped walking. He kept his stare on the ground. “If you don’t tell me now, I will always wonder and probably regret not knowing because it seems important.”
      “You need to be absolutely sure you want to know before I tell you. So think about it for a few minutes.” I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach for him.
      He nodded, and we followed the overgrown trail for a while through curves and switchbacks. The path led through all kinds of trees and wild growth. Never have I seen such beauty in autumn. I could see yellows, oranges, and reds all around us. It would have been silent if it weren’t for the fluttering leaves and nuts falling from the trees, and our feet crunching over the dead vegetation on the ground. I stomped my feet, and I liked the noise it made. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. I put my arms out and spun in a circle while crunching. I felt giddy. I almost forgot where I was and why. Ty regarded me as if I’d lost my mind, which I probably had.
      “What?” I asked as I spun past him.
      “Just watching you.” He continued to watch with smiling eyes.
      “It’s fun. You should try it.” I grabbed his hands because he wouldn’t come willingly, and we spun and spun until we were dizzy. We fell to the ground and lay there for a minute to catch our breath and get our heads straight.
      I watched him. He seemed genuinely happy, and I felt genuinely crappy. Could I really take away his happy life and innocence? That’s exactly what I was about to do by unleashing the truth. I sat up.
      He too sat up and looked toward me. “You okay?” He twirled a strand of my hair. I knew which bit of hair, too; the one that always curled away on its own.
      I shook my head. “Not really. I don’t want to tell you. I thought I did, but now I’m not sure.”
      “I don’t want you to tell me…not yet. First let’s have a few more minutes of normal.” He reached for my chin and tilted it toward him and pressed his lips to mine. We lay back in the leaves holding and kissing one another. We were consumed in each other’s sweet perfect kisses.
      I pushed away from him and lay my head on his chest. He stroked my hair as we listened to the sounds of Mother Nature. I could hear his heartbeat, and it was calm and soothing. It didn’t match mine.
      I jumped to my feet in a split second. I was on total alert. My heart pounded so loud I felt it in my ears.
      “What’s going on?” Ty asked. Still on the ground where I was a second ago, he swiveled his head around.
      “We’re done with normal.” I reached for my gem. Yep, cold but I didn’t need to feel it, I actually sensed it beforehand. I dropped a hand to help him up. He stared at it. “Ty, come on we don’t have time for this. I am stronger than you, much stronger, so this is why you need to get out of here.”
      He took my hand. I pulled him to his feet. He gasped. With a peck on his cheek, I told him, “Go. Run.” But he stood there not moving. I saw and heard nothing. I closed my eyes and went into my mind to see what might come in the near future, and it wasn’t pretty.
      “I might need to take my own advice and run.” I took Ty’s arm and dragged him along with me. It was too little, too late. We were surrounded.
      “What can I do?” His voice crackled in fear. His head whipped around looking from one monster to the next. The creatures completely surrounded us. There was no way out, and they were hungry, hungry with a desire to kill. I could hear them in my head: kill.
      “Try to stay alive,” I said. I felt sick to my stomach because I knew he wouldn’t make it through this.
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      Three years ago, if you told me one day I would love to read and write, I would have told you you were crazy-out-of-your-mind. Since then I have read 150+ books and written 2 complete novels (one of them being The Keeper) and I have 3 more in the works.
      When I’m not reading or writing, I can be found with my husband supporting my two children on the soccer fields. Or maybe running around with my camera taking photos while camping and/or hiking. Or lastly, and most probable – I’m watching movies on Netflix while simultaneously perusing Facebook.
      Our family resides in the state of Virginia along with our old-unintelligent-diabetic cat named Lucky.
      You can find me all over the web:

  • Book Trailer on You Tube
  • My Website
  • My Blog
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Shelfari
  • GoodReads
  • Where to Buy
  • ————————
          A big THANK YOU to Natalie for sharing her work with us this week. I can’t speak for you, but I can say that *I* am really excited to check out “The Keeper”! Why not comment below and let Natalie know what you thought?

    Love & Rainbows,
    P.P.

    [Editor’s Note: My guest post, featuring an excerpt from “Incandescence” is over at Ravaging Thoughts today! You can check it out HERE!]