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Showing posts from September, 2018

Worldbuilding with Tomi Adeyemi

I had been working on a series of posts about worldbuilding when I read this wonderful debut YA Fantasy novel by Tomi Adeyemi , Children of Blood and Bone . Drawing on her Nigerian heritage, Adeyemi weaves the story of Zélie Adebola who sets out to restore magic in the country of Orïsha. The story is told by three shifting first person points of view: protagonist Zélie, an escaped Princess Ameri, and her brother Prince Inan. The setting never really came alive for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story world presented and the plot kept me turning pages. Let's take a look at some of the worldbuilding choices. Names:  Zélie, Tzain, Ameri, Jailin, Baba, Mama, Inan, Lekan Olamilekan, Kwame, Mother Oya, Saran (king), Roën, Nailain, Kaea, Zulaika,Folake, and Zu. Language: Adeyemi draws from West African Yoruba (eg. sún èmí okàn sùn, sùn sùn èmí okàn sùn). Exclamations: Oh my gods. Thank the skies. Maggot is an insult. Clothes: dashiki, ipélè, and a jeweled headdress fo

Tackling Historical Slang

Slang is so much fun! When used correctly in historical fiction it can add to the feel of the time period. But slang is also slippery. A phrase that “sounds” historical can be a lot more recent that you think. So, unless you like getting tetchy notes from readers, it pays to check your slang. A word as simple as “okay,” for instance, can take you down the rabbit hole of etymological research and confusion. Okay sounds so… modern, right? Well, it depends how you spell it. According to Oxford Dictionary online , the first use of this word (spelled OK) appeared in the 1830s, perhaps originating as an abbreviation of orl korrek t—“a jokey misspelling of 'all correct' which was current in the US in the 1830s.” So, if your fictional setting is firmly planted in late 19th century U.S. (as mine is), OK is okay! But—guess what!— okay is not! It didn’t appear until 1929, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary . Another useful tool for chasing down the time frame of period s

The Anatomy of a Series: Psychics, Ghosts, and Otherworldly Realms

In the early 2000s when I wrote Mind Games , the first book in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, I had no idea it would become a series. I was never interested in writing a series. Getting locked into the same characters for years didn’t appeal to me. There were too many stories to tell, and I wanted the freedom to write them. Ultimately, I did both. Many writers claim they’ve written stories since they were kids. Not me. I drew pictures. I knew I wanted to go to art school at a young age, and that’s what I did. Writing books never entered my mind. Fast forward to the year 2000. I’d been an illustrator for years, ran an import business, and owned a store. Maybe I was bored, ready for my fourth career, so when I read a mediocre book, I thought I could do better. (Hubris, anyone?) Little did I know. I wrote what I thought was a good story, but I knew it needed technical work. I found an editor online who had ghostwritten forty-two books, many about famous people. I sent

Resources for Writers: Write for Kids and Writing Blueprints

Write for Kids Please see the 2019 update to this post. I first learned about Write for Kids at a writing conference in Northern Colorado. The talented agent, editor, and teacher Laura Backes and her partner husband Jon have worked diligently to offer multiple ways for an aspiring writer of children’s books to learn and to succeed. By visiting the Write for Kids website and becoming part of the Write for Kids and Children’s Book Insider networks, a beginner can find answers to all those questions that often discourage an aspiring author from even starting a project. From the Write for Kids site, you’ll find a link to the free Dream Launcher Pack for Beginners that includes a recent copy of Children’s Book Insider. The website notes this is a limited time offer, so if you’re ready to start writing a book for kids, you might want to check out this free introduction right away. I’ve been especially interested in this resource because I hope to write children’s or middle-grad

Taking the Mystery out of Murder Mystery Events

Q: What are you sharing on the blog today? A: How I write murder mystery events. Q: Why? A: People seem curious as to what’s involved. Q: In writing one? A. Yes. Not in attending one. Geesh. Q: Don’t be snippy. How will you describe the writing process? A: That it’s an odd mixture of writing a detailed book synopsis and a play. Q: Why do you describe it as a detailed book synopsis? A: Because you need a very detailed plot and setting. The characters/suspects must ring true as each of them has to have a believable motive for murder. Q: Why do you describe it as a play? A: Because I write all the questions and the answers. Each suspect has to answer the question in a voice which is different to all the others employing a different rhythm with a different vocabulary. However, unlike a play, I have no idea which answer is going to follow which. So setting up jokes can be tricky. I have to make the jokes in the one suspect’s speech…or over a number of speeches. Hurra

From Column to Book

Have you thought about compiling columns, or blog pieces, which are really columns if you think about it, into a book? I've done two so far, and learned a lot about the process. It isn't a matter of simply plopping the columns into a book. A great deal of thought and work are involved. The first book that I read that was a compilation of weekly columns was Home Country , by Slim Randles. He has been a frequent guest here at BRP with some of his humorous essays that apply to writing, and he is also a regular guest on my blog, It's Not All Gravy. I first met Slim when I was Managing Editor for, an online community magazine that ran for close to ten years. Slim contacted me to see if I would be interested in his columns for my publication, and I said sure. They were free. We had no budget for paying freelancers. The columns were, and continue to be, quite good. And my readership boosted his overall readership. It was a good arrangement for both of us

Wishing Caswell Dead by Pat Stoltey – A Review

"You sure he's dead?" asked Jeremiah Frost, owner of the general store. "Ah, oui ," Henri de Montagne answered, his accent even more pronounced than usual. " Sans doubt . His t'roat is…" So begins the prologue in this fascinating story that begins in 1834. Then we take a short trip backward to July 1833 to meet its young protagonist, Jo Mae Proud. As a writer and editor, I noted the story is told both in first person and in third person. Initially, that seemed a brave undertaking for author Pat Stoltey, one I would never have considered employing. Yet, she has executed it smoothly and without a glitch. By using both persons effectively, she allows readers greater insight and a more complete overview of the important characters. She also offers an intimate closeup of Jo Mae, a fly-on-the-wall view we grow to appreciate more and more as we cheer on this plucky girl who grows up hard but faces the world on her own terms. Although bouncing

Conflicts in Communication

Conflict occurs between characters when there is a breakdown in communication. You don’t need a broken cell phone or a disabled internet to create problems for your characters. When someone’s life or emotional welfare is at stake, breakdowns in communication are treacherous. Use communication failures to raise the tension and create obstacles that are resolved in future scenes. 1. Mental block If Jane or Sally offers an important bit of information, Dick may dismiss it outright because it doesn’t fit within his belief system. They can talk all day. It won’t matter. Use this to point Dick in the wrong direction. Later, when he is more willing to listen, their information could save the day. 2. Different meanings Terms such as coward/courageous, allowed/ forbidden, acceptable/unacceptable, relationship/friendship, good/bad, could have entirely different meanings for Dick, Sally, and Jane. Misunderstandings in this realm create hurt feelings, perhaps the desire for retalia