Tag Archives: writing contest

Batteries, Heidelberg, and Amazon

I had issues coming up with what to write about today, I will admit. I’m also sounding like Yoda, which is never a good start for my mental process. Or a good sign.

So rather than try to write something insightful about writing, I thought I would share a snippet of 2011’s NaNoWriMo with you and share a contest that I do believe a good portion of people would be interested in.  First, the novel…

It’s from the novel entitled Battery Pack and takes place in our modern world, in Germany.  Heidelberg, to be exact.  The idea for this tale came about two days before November 1st, but I knew it was one that I wanted to set in Heidelberg.  Having spent 6 months living there, it was a city I felt I could portray well in a book.   Not only were landmarks an important part to get correct, but also small nuances, like how people react to non-Germans, or how shop-keepers respond to customers.  Even tourists play a part in the overarching feeling of a city.

These are all things to get right in a book that takes place in a real world time period and place, or people will get the feeling that something is off, even if they aren’t sure what.  This excerpt shows, I hope, a little insight into what Heidelberg is like.

After a stop off at the apothecary museum within the castle walls itself and a purchase of utterly pointless but amusing “Smile Pills” (Guaranteed to make you smile!), I headed out of Heidelberg Castle.  Taking the roadway this time, I  came across a park that had a slide that went from one level of switchbacks to the other.  With a grin and a shout of glee at the discovery, I took a trip down it, and nearly fell flat to my arse at the end. After climbing a complicated rigging of walkways, ropes and ladders three more times, I grew serious again, trying to figure out what was going on after catching the top of the Heiligenberg at the edges of my vision.

Guiltily, I started back down the mountain, the going easier than I had expected, though it was still hard to keep an even gait at some points. I came to Hauptstrasse at one of the large open areas and I paused for a moment, looking at what had once been a marketplace.  The Church of the Holy Ghost had stalls all around it, though they were selling souvenirs rather than grain, fruits, or fish. The City Hall was still where it had been centuries ago, even if the building wasn’t that old itself.

Heidelberg was a town of living history.

I wondered how people could live in a place full of constant reminders of the past and not only recognize them, but celebrate them as well.  There were so many times that I would want to change something that had happened, my choices regarding Beelzebub being but one. “Maybe” and “what if” was a word that haunted me, and something that I tried to hold off through the day until the last second before I went to sleep when it tried to consume me.

I bought an ice cream for eighty cents to distract me from my macabre thoughts and wandered until I eventually made my way back to the student cafeteria almost directly on the river.  Jim was seated on a picnic table outside, sipping a glass bottle of soda through a straw.  “Find out anything?” I asked him as I took a seat across from him.

Everything that relates to Heidelberg in those paragraphs are true, but none of them are clearly spelled out.  There are no clear cut, spoon-fed instances of what exactly something looks like, but it’s enough to give a feeling of what it might be. The nuances, I think, are what make it though.   A glass soda bottle, something not often found here in the states.  A church’s name and souvenir stalls, but no time taken to describe what they look like.  A quick nod to city hall, missing steps going down a mountain…  they all speak of landscapes and people without coming out and saying it.

I guess my setting in this tale is more that of experiences patched together to create a quilt than pictures cut up out of a magazine to make a collage.

 

For my news, Amazon is putting on their yearly contest: the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  There are two categories in which you can enter your over 50,000 word novel, and a winner comes from each.  The winner gets 15,000 and a publishing contract with Penguin books, a pretty nice deal if I say so.  I tried it last year, but didn’t make it past the first round. But you do get a letter (okay…email) if you don’t make it past, which basically equates to a rejection letter.  And everyone knows that you can be a real author after you start getting rejection letters!

Entries start being accepted on January 23rd, so start editing and polishing them now!  If you want to read rules, regulations, and what makes up an entry, take a click here: https://www.createspace.com/abna?ref=478921&utm_id=5957

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DEXTER WEEK DAY ONE: Know Your Setting

A good setting can be hard to build.  Some think the world of fantasy is easier to work in as you can make everything up. But such a fantastical world still needs to make sense, not to mention the fact that if there are books later, expect to go back through what you wrote earlier in order to make sure it is all the same (or pray that you haven’t lost your notes on it).

Writing in the “real world” is perhaps a bit easier.  Streets, landmarks, even the local gas station is already there, all you need to do is change names to “protect the innocent”.  There is no lee-way here though either.  If Avenue A has been under construction in the time period you are writing your story in, expect to have readers dive-bomb you if you make Avenue A easy to drive around on and wide open with four lanes of traffic.

This is where research is your friend.

Learn all that you can about a place before you start writing your story in it.  Have a map open on the background of your computer of the important streets and locations that you can refer to when your main character is chasing after the man who just robbed him (or is running away from the cops).  It’s a bonus if you have lived there for any length of time and have walked the streets.  The added realism truly helps to bring the reader closer to believing that what they are reading is real.

If you can’t live there, visit the city of your choice at least once to experience it.  And, if that’s not possible, build a network of people who live there that you can call and ask them “Hey, can you drive past here today and tell me what you see?”

The Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay are really wonderful examples of this.  The world is fleshed out, the setting of Miami remaining as close to possible to the “real world” during writing.  Current events are mentioned in the books, including the effects of the economic downturn, wars, crimes, even the daily flow of traffic from Miami to the Keys.  Boating marinas, islands, and, in the newest book Double Dexter, the local “color” as seen in the form of sharks and people, are all included.  This well-rounded environment is a world that is believable even in its fiction.

Look around you.  You have a setting that you know well right there.  Try writing a few hundred words describing that place to get a feel for setting creation.  And if it’s a fantasy world you want to write…well…  Go get out your D&D books and plan a “game”.  By the end of that, you’ll have a fully fleshed out setting that you can steal pieces and parts from to create something you and your readers will enjoy.

For more information on setting creation, check out these links:

http://ecreativewritingideas.com/creative-writing-ideas/creative-writing-ideas-setting

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=54447


Flash Fiction Challenge

My word was catch.  To recap the rules, I had to use this word in a story.  The story could be no more an 100 characters, including spaces.  And I can have up to three entries under my name.

Terse is not a strong point, so I struggled here.  But spending a day at the Wisconsin State Fair and typing up any idea that came to me on my phone, I manged to get three entries.

The Job: get the money.The Payoff: Over a Million.The Catch: no one has any idea how to manage it.

Catch the rain to see the future. When I see nothing, what does it mean? Was my family right?

To save him, the catch was I died. I didn’t blink as I agreed to it. He was worth more than I

I will find out on Monday how I did.  Even if I don’t go any further, I’m still excited that I was able to manage this.  A lesson in brevitiy does all authors good, I feel.


Writing Updates

It’s pretty amazing what can happen in a week.  I’ve gone from being an unknown in the authoring world, having self published a short story ages old, to being able to go find myself on the Barnes and Noble website.  It’s a pretty heady experience, if I’m completely honest.

I’m still working on Lover’s Requiem, and am in the search for a new and better title.  Characters have begun acting on their own and revealing things that I never knew about them.  Just last night a villain showed that he used to be religious before he was a vampire, and actually still believed it, even as he was dying.  I did not see that coming at all.  Of course, it did mean I had to rapidly go learn some Latin and Greek phrases.  Thank goodness for choir training!  I at least knew Kyrie Eleison!

I have two chapters and an epilogue left of Lover’s before that’s finished, and one of the chapters might be omitted–or pushed together with the other–so I’m closer than I ever thought I would be to finishing it.

Next I plan to try my hand at a satire piece, simply because I have this great opening for what was originally going to be a novel.  I know now that there is no way I could turn this into drama, because there isn’t really a plot to it, or a good way to make it longer without ruining the character’s voice.  And let me tell you…she has a voice and will not take no for an answer.

The 11th marks the start (and finish) of the writing contest Erika Eby and I have decided to enter into together, so expect some insanity that day, as well as my entries to be posted here when they are finished.

Being a NaNo rebel this month has been really productive so far, and has given me the ability to finish up projects that have been in the works for a while and have the support and the pushing to get through them all.

I think my next big project will be figuring out how to make a cover for Lover’s and editing it.  That promises to be a month in itself, I think


Writing Contest

Ever wanted to try your hand at a writing contest, but didn’t know where to start?

Erika Eby at hijINKS pointed me to this site and has challenged me to complete the challenge along with her.  It’s a different form of writing for me as well, so a great way to improve on skills that are already there.

I dare you to try it as well!

http://www.nycmidnight.com/competitions/ffmc/challenge.htm

It’s free to do, so I figure, why not?

Here are the details on the challenge:

When:  August 11, 2011 at 12PM EDT
Summary:  Writers are challenged to create stories no longer than 100 characters based on word assignments.
Rules & How it Works:  It’s free to enter, but only one registration per person and participants must be at least 18 years of age.  The competition begins at 12PM EDT on Thursday, August 11th, 2011.  Registered writers are placed in 20 different groups.  Each group will receive a word (which can be a noun, verb or adverb) which must be included in the story.  The stories are due 12 hours later at 11:59PM EDT on Thursday, August 11th, 2011 and must be no longer than 100 characters.  Each writer may submit up to 3 stories.  Judges choose the top 25 stories in each group and will be posted here for voting on Monday, August 15th.  Online voting begins and the top 3 stories with the most audience votes in addition to 2 stories chosen by the judges will move on to the finals.  Thus, 5 stories will advance from each group to the finals making for a total of 100 writers.  The 100 writers in the finals all receive a new word (everyone receives the same word) at 12PM EDT on Thursday, August 18th, 2011 and again each writer has 12 hours to submit up to 3 stories no longer than 100 characters each.  The top 25 stories are posted here for online voting a few days later. In addition to online voting, winners are chosen by a panel of judges.