NaNoWriMo 2017: Week One Round up

Hi Folks,

Writing time has been scant, but I’ve been quite diligent and squeezing it in on a daily basis. I’ve taken my own advice from a previous post on how to make the time. It’s working.

Anyway, after seven days I’ve managed to bring my current work up to a 11,050 word count. I’ve also managed to attend the Treasure Valley Kick-off dinner, a write-in at very hospitable coffee shop in Boise, and hosted a write in luncheon in Mountain Home. There’s lots of indie authors out there.

How’s your NaNoWriMo 2017 project going? Comment below and let everyone know.

MHWI

Mountain Home Write In

 

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Treasure Valley Kick-Off Dinner

 

MJWI

Write In at Moxie Java in Boise

Why Do We Write?

What motivates someone to sit down at a keyboard and write 75K words? Then attend writer’s meetings for critiques, spend months editing, find beta readers, design a cover, and lastly, format and upload the aforementioned 75K words?

If your motivation for all of the above is to be famous, have book signings, or an interview with Oprah, then I heartily suggest you find something else to do.

We write because we have stories to tell. We also go through the whole grueling process because we want to see our name on something worthy. The final product brings a certain element of satisfaction and a sense rebellion. An unnamed fire burns within indie authors. Some may call it a muse, while others refer to it as inspiration. We write because of our collective love of literature.

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The satisfaction comes from completing your project, like painting a room or crocheting a sweater. The rebellion comes from being independent. After all, as an Indie Author, your story welled up from your soul, not from a marketing computer within a publishing house in Manhattan.

However, we market and advertise to sell. There’s no shame or “sellout” factor if you want to reach readers. I am not familiar with any artist working within any medium who does not seek an audience. Even if you don’t have an advertising budget, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snap Chat, et al are free. But that is the subject for a different post.

For a few years, I’ve been noticing a certain similarity between Indie ‘gurus’; those wise sages who dispense free self-help via social media. Just as people in real estate chant the mantra “location, location, location,” these folks cheer, “titles, titles, titles,” with equal enthusiasm. To be brief, they’re right. However, their advice should also include a caveat or at least an amendment to their cheer. The mantra should be… “quality titles, quality titles, quality titles.”

In a previous post concerning my random scan of samples on Amazon, I stated that the three most prevalent errors were echoing headwords, weak opening sentences, and overusing forms of ‘to be’. Perhaps rushing the writing process to amass titles is the cause.

I wonder why most Indie authors lack the extra layer of polish. After all, reading craft books, attending critique groups, and finding beta readers, are an essential part of churning out a quality product. Even if you can’t afford an editor, craft books and blogs are replete with editorial instructions and tips from plotting, character creation, dialog, show vs. tell, etc.

As I turn this problem over in my mind, I keep going back to the “titles, titles, titles” mantra as the influence. Well intentioned and true advice, but only loosely defined.

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Short Stories by Ernesto San Giacomo

 

 

 

Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t Cryfrancesco25

A Week in the life of #NaNoWriMo 2016

Hello Peeps!

I know I should have posted earlier about a very busy 1st week of #NaNoWriMo2016. However, I picked up a particularly nasty bug that takes seven to ten days to run its course. This is the first time that I have been feeling well enough to tickle my keyboard.

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Week one started on Oct. 30th for the Treasure Valley group. We had a kick off dinner at the Black Bear diner in #Boise. Quite a few wordsmiths turned out for some fun and writer’s talk…too bad there wasn’t any whiskey around.

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I made it to a write-in at Barnes & Noble in Boise on Tuesday, Nov. 1. A fairly decent crowd once again. Big thankies to B&N and our coordinator Kelley Thibodeau for arranging those write-ins and the kick-off dinner.

The Mountain Home Writer’s Guild hosted a write-in at Common Ground Coffee on Sunday, Nov. 6th. I prepared a German luncheon. We offered assorted links with flavored sauerkraut, German tater salad (What’s taters precious?  J), a cool refreshing beet salad, and some homemade pretzels. We had six writers. I really expected more, but we all had an enjoyable afternoon.

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I still managed over 2K for the week. Too bad I caught this flu and my word count sank to nothing.

Anyway, how was your first NaNo week? Do anything interesting? Meet any new authors? Did you host an event? Attend a write-in? How’s your writing and word count?

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Anaphora Paragraphing?

 

A dictionary definition of “Anaphora” would state, the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs.

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and on the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” – Winston Churchill

“This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England.” – William Shakespeare

From the above examples, you can see how this technique is used for a heightened dramatic effect.

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The word “paragraph” in the definition poses a bit of a problem. Other language / writing guru’s like Hofmann referred to the paragraph as a natural barrier to anaphora. Creativity Hacker refers to starting paragraphs with the same word whether consecutively or just too often as “Echoing Headwords.” This concept seems to apply to both paragraphs and consecutive sentences.

Let’s say that your MC is named Lisa. Imagine the paragraphs on one page starting as follows.

Lisa grabbed…

Lisa looked…

She stepped on…

The dog barked…

Lisa hurried….

She opened…

Lisa went…

*Psst…I know that most of the sentence starters above seem like an assault of declarative sentences, but that is the subject for another blog post.

As you can see, beginning paragraphs with repeated words just doesn’t work very well. Unlike adverbs, where the usage rate is one for every five to seven pages, I couldn’t find the acceptable rate of repetition concerning echoing headwords.

It would be quite a daunting task to complete a novel with every paragraph starting with a different word. I went back into some drafts to find a rate of repetition in my own #writing. I found that you can repeat the start of a paragraph every other page, or at least eight to ten paragraphs apart, as long as they are not on the same page.

As for sentences, try not to use the same “headword” consecutively or bunched too close together.

Have you found evidence of this faux pas in some of your drafts?

***Check out Ernesto San Giacomo’s author page at AMAZON and choose a title today!***

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016

I know that some don’t give the April #CampNaNoWriMo the same attention as the main NaNoWriMo event in November. However, I am going to approach 2016’s Camp NaNo with all of the same seriousness as the November event for the first time.

Editing can be a more grueling process than writing a first draft. To be honest, I’ve had it up to here (my hand is under my chin) with editing. I’ll gladly switch hats for the next thirty days.

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To Display My Sincerity

My writer’s group has decided to change our April meetings from critique sessions to write-ins. We are also going to make the pilgrimage to Boise in order to write with our comrades in the Treasure Valley Group. They tend to sponsor a lot of write-ins in the local Barnes & Noble. A perfect situation, I get to write, and my wife gets to browse. Rather, she’ll say she’s going to browse, but will wind up with a stack of books at the cash register.

What Will I Write?

Well, I did not finish the draft of my second fantasy novel, “The Frozen War.” Although the first one, “An Easterly Sojourn” is not yet edited, I decided to start the second. Remember, you can’t edit a blank page. Of course how much better will it be that after publishing the first novel, I can jump right in and start editing the second one.

***Put Ragged Souls on your Kindle at Amazon U.S.***

The Best Part

I don’t mercilessly push myself during a NaNo event. There’s no sweating of blood or feelings inadequacy due to not meeting a goal. I simply look at the files at the end of the month and get a sense of satisfaction from a stack of pages that wouldn’t exist were it not for NaNo. That doesn’t mean that I approach it half-heartedly either. I simply allot more time for writing and attend write-ins.

What about you?

What writing project will you work on?

Cover Idea for “Night Flights”

Mimicking the style of certain movie posters for a book or short story cover can be an entertaining challenge. Of course I’m not talking about copying, but rather imitating a style. If you were to look at the posters for these films ( Barry Lyndon, Anatomy of a Murder ) you’ll see what I am talking about. Many other films have used this type of cut-out cartoon, and I’d like to try it out for my new short story single called “Night Flights.”

I distinctly remember this type of artwork used in movies from years ago, but when I went searching for them, they were updated. For example, the cover for “The Longest Day” went from the cutout style to a new version that oddly resembles “Saving Private Ryan.” So much for nostalgia. There are other reasons why I want this cover to look like something the 1950’s or early 1960’s, but then I’d be spoiling part of the story.

Here’s a “first-draft” of the cover.

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I made this image using Adobe Photoshop, but I’d like to make a better version on a tablet with a new drawing program, or on power point. If someone were to zoom in or if they look at it on a large tablet, it would pixelate. Also, Power Point and other drawing programs have more font options.

Does this cover design get a “thumbs up” from you?

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***Buy RAGGED SOULS on Amazon***

 

To be or not to be: Avoid overusing this verb

Many blog posts implore authors to avoid using the most common verb in any language, ‘to be.’ In any of its conjugated forms, it slows your writing down to a crawl and readers find it boring to say the least.

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Lego Shakespeare by Ryan Ruppe. Used under CC License

 

1. Using ‘to be’ in an initial draft is not the end of the world. I use it too. After all, you shouldn’t sit at your desk with your arms folded trying to rephrase a sentence when you’re hammering out a first draft. It’s better to get your ideas down on paper and revise them later.

2. ‘Was’ can push your #writing into a passive voice. I consciously avoid the passive voice, even in a first draft. However, you’ll see in the sample paragraph below, I used it without realizing.

3. Of course this “rule” does not apply to dialog. Remember, dialog should never appear as grammatically perfect and edited sentences. That will make your characters seem wooden and artificial. For more on dialog, follow the link to an older blog post. Writing Better Dialog

Here’s a sample from a short story called “Hope and Prey,” which will appear in my next collection, “Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales.” You will notice other revisions besides different forms of the verb in question. The ‘find’ function in Microsoft Word can help you to isolate the words you’re trying to avoid. Then as you edit, you’ll notice many other places where revision is needed.

There’s no context concerning the following paragraphs (we’re jumping in on page 3), but I think you’ll understand.

A First Draft…

From this point on, any exposure can be deadly. Crossing an open field means leaving the cover of trees, shrubs, and shadows behind. Jennifer cupped her daughter’s chin and nudged it to get the child’s undivided attention. She held up her index finger and placed it on her lips.

Baby Sarah nodded that the message was received. Remain quiet, remain still.

There were many stories of this area. But the lack of people made her wonder if any of the stories were true. Then she wondered if their numbers were down from eating each other. It seemed plausible to her, but it wasn’t enough to take any unnecessary risks.

“Why don’t we walk around the edge?” Baby Sarah whispered.

Jennifer nodded. Out of the mouths of babes, she thought. It would take a lot longer, but the safety of cover was too important. After all, they were about to enter cannibal country.

And a revision…

From this point on, any exposure could be deadly. Crossing this open field meant leaving the cover of trees, shrubs, and shadows behind. Jennifer cupped her daughter’s chin, gained the child’s undivided attention, and held an index finger against her lips.

Baby Sarah nodded. She understood the message. Remain quiet, remain still.

Many stories about this area circulated around the trading camps. But the lack of people and activity in these woods made Jennifer wonder if those tales possessed any truth. Perhaps their population decreased from eating each other? That idea seemed plausible, but not definite enough for her to take an unnecessary risk.

“Why don’t we go around the edge?” Baby Sarah whispered.

Jennifer agreed. Out of the mouths of babes, she thought. Crawling around the perimeter would take a lot more time, but the importance of cover forced her decision. After all, they stood on the border leading into cannibal country.

 

Was this helpful to you? Now go edit that stack of paper from NaNoWriMo 2015 🙂

#NaNoWriMo 2015: Week 1

Well the first week of #NaNoWriMo is over. It could’ve been more productive but there are extenuating circumstances. 1) My wife is home from deployment and was still enjoying leave time. It would’ve been really wrong of me to shun her and spend selfish time at the PC. 2) Also she’s on a renovation quest. The kitchen needs an overhaul, so we spent a lot of time at Lowe’s & Home Depot.

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Image Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Aside from domesticity, I did manage to squeeze in some writing time and made it to a “write-in” in Boise, Id. This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo from scratch. I did participate last year but only to finish off my manuscript for “An Easterly Sojourn.” Book one in my #fantasy series called Tales of Tyrennia.

For NaNoWriMo 2015, I started the manuscript for Book II: “The Frozen War.” So far I’ve managed 6,232 words. Already the book has taken off despite my planning. I love it when a plot or a character takes on a life of their own and moves away from my notes in a different direction. Don’t you love that too?

I’m though the first six chapters and had to update my notes because the subject matter of Chapter six was never planned. So back to my notes and change the chapter numbers.

Stay tuned…I’m hosting a “write-in” at a local coffee shop for the #Treasure Valley Group. I’ll let you know how it goes.

How far along is your NaNoWriMo 2015 manuscript?

For the Sake of It: An #Indie-Author Dilemma

Should an independent author break with traditions and standards or follow them? That is the question. I can’t discuss all of them but I would like to mention that one shouldn’t do either if it is only for the sake of doing it.

When your heart, gut, and artistic judgment tell you to go in a particular direction, you should listen and do so. I’m sort of going through this situation with my editor. She’s insisting upon a trilogy that follows the exploits of my main character, the master thief Daggorat and his confidant Cyril the mage.

I can foresee my fantasy world of “Tyrhennia” giving birth to 12 or even 15 novels. Different characters, races, and Kingdoms of an entire world can support a long series.

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A Thinking Man by Wesley Nitsckie used under CC Licence

Will there be a trilogy within that body of work? Perhaps there will be. I haven’t started to write about or even think about any other locations within Tyrhennia, so I can’t say how it will go.

My editor is not insisting on a trilogy because I’ve compacted too much in too few pages. I would understand that bit of wisdom and follow. However, she’s insisting on a trilogy because “That’s what everyone else does.”

I refuse to compromise the quality of my work for the sake of “what everyone else does.” I have two interesting plots for Daggorat and Cyril, and that’s all I see at this moment. I could have a flash of inspiration and move toward a trilogy. But as of now, forcing a trilogy would mean stuffing extra useless filler material into two novels simply for the sake of it.

Does The Godfather Part III or the latest movie trilogy based upon the Hobbit ring a bell? Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Jackson are no slouches when it comes to the director’s chair. Also, they have gobs of funding and skilled artisans working with them; and yet look what happened.

Always follow your heart and artistic intuition.

Are you ready to compromise your artistic creations simply for the sake of following everyone else?googlecov2

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My Favorite Films of the 1970’s

 

I don’t care if some of these films did not win a string of Academy Awards or even if they were nominated. They are the ones that I keep going back to when I want to relax as if I’m seeing an old friend. All films not produced in the USA are marked.

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I Go to the Movies Alone… by Betsssssy used under CC License

50. The Last Picture Show – d. Peter Bogdonovich

49. Black & White in Color – d. Jean-Jacques Annaud (Ivory Coast)

48. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage – d. Dario Argento (Italy)

47. Norma Rae – d. Martin Ritt

46. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – d. Luis Buñuel (France)

45. All The President’s Men – d. Alan J. Pakula

44. The Conversation – d. Francis Ford Coppola

43. Dog Day Afternoon – d. Sidney Lumet

42. The Man Who Fell to Earth – d. Nicolas Roeg (UK)

41. 1776 – d. Peter H. Hunt

40. Animal Housed. John Landis

39. Magnum Force – d. Ted Post

38. Barry Lyndon – d. Stanley Kubrick (UK / USA)

37. Last Tango in Paris – d. Bernardo Bertolucci (France / Italy)

36. Woodstock – d. Michael Wadleigh

35. Rocky – d. John G. Avildsen

34. The Outlaw Josey Wales – d. Clint Eastwood

33. The Seven-Ups – d. Phillip D’Antoni

32. Vanishing Point – d. Richard C. Sarafian

31. Alien – d. Ridley Scott

30. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – d. Stephen Spielberg

29. Jaws – d. Stephen Spielberg

28. Soylent Green – d. Richard Fleischer

27. The Song Remains the Same – d. Peter Clifton / Joe Massot

26. Mean Streets – d. Martin Scorsese

25. High Plains Drifter – d. Clint Eastwood

24. Murder on the Orient Express – d. Sidney Lumet

23. The Last Waltz – d. Martin Scorsese

22. The Stingd. George Roy Hill

21. Smokey and the Bandit – d. Hal Needham

20. Superman – d. Richard Donner

19. Nosferatu the Vampyre – d. Werner Herzog (West Ger. / France)

18. Macbeth – d. Roman Polanski (UK / USA)

17. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – d. Terry Gillian / Terry Jones (UK)

16. Star Wars – d. George Lucas

15. Blazing Saddles – d. Mel Brooks

14. Patton – d. Franklin J. Schaffner

13. Serpico – d. Sidney Lumet

12. Young Frankenstein – d. Mel Brooks

11. Scrooge – d. Ronald Neame (UK)

10. Apocalypse Now – d. Francis Ford Coppola

09. Taxi Driver – d. Martin Scorsese

08. The French Connection – d. William Friedkin

07. The Day of the Jackald. Fred Zinneman

06. Swept Away – d. Lina Wertmuller (Italy)

05. Day For Nightd. Francois Truffaut (France)

04. Jeremiah Johnson – d. Sydney Pollack

03. Let It Be – d. Michael Lindsay-Hogg (UK)

02. The Godfather Pt. II – d. Francis Ford Coppola

01. The Godfather – d. Francis Ford Coppola

Are any of your favorites here? Feel free to comment 🙂