Mar 19, 2010

How to Be A Guest on LFD

What I’m looking for:

*One (to three) guest post/s in the range of 250 – 500 words – with a title, please
*Any pictures that correspond to your post (for example, if you decide to write a ‘my desk/my writing space’ guest post – take a picture of it!) .jpgs please
*A brief biography with a link to your website and/or blog
*A picture of you or your book cover

Easy peasy.

If you’d like to participate but are feeling a bit stuck for a topic(s)…

*Introduce us to your writing space (with pictures, hehe)
*How do you make yourself write when you don’t want to?
*Do you have a daily word count goal or do you go by some other measurement?
*How do you balance your ‘regular’ life with your writing life?
*Finding inspiration
*Anything on character, plot, setting, research, etc
*What has been going on in your mind before you sit down to write the first words of that first draft?
*Are you a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’ (outline or no outline)?
*Finally typing ‘The End’ on your first draft…

Please send all guest posts to jmfictionscribe (at) gmail (dot) com.

Dates will be scheduled in the order they come in, so it’s sort of a first come, first serve. When you email me, I will email you back with the ebook and the date you will appear at Life in the First Draft.

Cheers.

Mar 10, 2010

RHYTHM By George Earl Parker

A writer has to find a rhythm; the words have to beat as the eyes dance over them. The syllables have to dance like the notes on a stave, they have to move seamlessly with the eyes and the mind, and hopefully not tread on any metaphorical toes.

If there is a misstep somewhere, the prose will crash to a grinding halt and the reader will have to back up, find what it was that caused the accident, and scrutinize it carefully to understand it before proceeding.

Stories rely on cadence, that’s how storyteller’s in days of yore held their audiences captive. They voiced the story, lilted, whispered, shouted, moaned, and whined. They beat a path to understanding, using words to create characters and situations that danced through their listeners’ minds.

I knew before getting into Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble, that I needed a new sound, because Count Dracula, or Drac as he’s called in the book, was a story that was written in 1897 by that wonderful Irish author Bram Stoker, and Bram had a gothic style of writing that has become synonymous with the character.

So the Gothic style had to blend with a modern style in a folksy way that almost sings the words and carries the story along in a wavelike motion that doesn’t want to let you stop. It was kind of like Jack Kerouac meets P. G. Wodehouse in my mind, which it doesn’t seem at all like now, but that didn’t matter. I just needed a hook to hang my hat on so that I could sit down and listen to the characters as they dictated themselves.

At the very beginning of the book Count Dracula meets Waldo, the drummer of the Techno Zombies, a Goth rock band on a world tour, and as soon as this chance meeting takes place it adds a new layer to the story. The band plays four songs throughout the book, and their lyrics illustrate the inner turmoil the Count contends with as he struggles to become human again in a world that seems to have only one aim in mind—quashing individuality.

I have to admit there were many times throughout the creation of the story when the antics of my characters literally made me want to give up and walk away. But I didn’t, I hung in there and it made me realize that you can cut into life anywhere in the world, and you’ll find hearts beating, and minds working overtime trying to create their own story to lift them out of hum-drum and boring existences

It may seem from what I’ve said here that this book came about in the last few years, but that isn’t true. I began writing this book before I was born, and every situation I found myself in, and every person I associated with in my life are a beat in that rhythm, and their spirits live on in this book. I guess in truth, this book is indeed a gift of the rhythm of life, and for that I am eternally grateful.




***
George Earl Parker is an Author, Singer/Songwriter, and an Artist.
As director of the short film The Yellow Submarine Sandwich, included in Eric Idle’s pseudo-documentary of a band called the Rutles, Parker received accolades, awards, and a showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

His art has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country, and three of his songs have climbed the European Country Music Association charts.

Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble is his first novel. He currently lives in California where he continues working on music, and his second book.

You can visit his website at www.georgeearlparker.com/.

Mar 8, 2010

Getting In the Mood by Sandra Gore Nielsen


I started my first novel and knew instinctively that I needed to go to a fantasy space to immerse myself in the atmosphere. A good deal of the book takes place in ancient Egypt. I studied Egyptology years ago, so am quite familiar with the culture. My goal was to make it as real for me as possible. I want to feel I am actually there, living the Nile as my character does.

The first thing I did was to dig out a beautiful necklace I purchased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is an exact copy of an original piece from the Late Period, the time setting of my story. I wear the necklace every day.



Next I leafed through my library of books full of wonderful photographs. I concentrated on works of art from the Late Period. I studied maps of the ancient kingdom and researched the different names ofeach city, its history and specific cult. Why different names? They do have 6 thousand years of recorded history!

I re-read some translations of ancient Egyptian literature, including fascinating material from common folk giving advice to their family. I collected direct quotations to help me with dialogue. I hung a photograph I took on the Nile above my desk to help me recall the natural landscape and colors.

I created a massive spreadsheet with many tabs to compile vocabulary, factoids, and definitions: species of plants and animals, types of food, powers of amulets, architectural detail, god stories, and names to use for reference or characters.

I watched 8 hours of Discovery Channel shows on ancient Egypt. Thank Hathor I have TIVO so could speed through the ads!

I re-read Naguib Mahfouz’s novelette “Akhenaten “which brings alive the 3300 year old personalities of real life power brokers.

My notebook for jotting down ideas has a map of ancient Egypt on the cover. In short, like the best way to learn a foreign language, I am going for total immersion as best I can in California.

The book is romantic fiction, but I want the setting to be authentic. I have visited Egypt so it is easy for me to feel the warmth and hear the birds. It just requires letting go and traveling there in my mind.

Writing fiction is so different than non-fiction. With non-fiction I am always concerned with absolute accuracy. With fiction I am allowed artistic license. I want authenticity for background, but I can play around with it. I don’t have to describe a real temple exactly, but can create a temple with the necessary elements. This is not supposed to be a textbook, but I want the reader to feel as much like they are there as I do.

I have never had as much fun as writing this book. Well, maybe actually traveling comes a very close second. But I am traveling in time as well as space. It is a daydreamer’s dream come true!


***

Born in Kansas City, Sandra is a baby boomer who escaped the Plains on a one way ticket to Iceland and beyond to explore the world while her friends were partying at college.

She returned to the United States after 25 years in Europe, Africa, Central America and the Middle East, with a Danish husband, an art degree and speaking five languages.

She sees her life as divided into distinct eras.

After the traveling era came family, business and politics. She and her husband raised a daughter and son in a beach house in Central Coast California and started up and managed a successful scientific company. Sandra served as both an elected official and a Planning Commissioner.

Her writing era began in Las Vegas with creation of www.sandraoffthestrip.com, a magazine blog dedicated to the adventures of an eclectic mind. Sandra has been published in the Turning Point Publications anthology “Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths” with her personal romantic adventure “A True Love Story.

She has also just published her first book “Sex, Zen and Shopping: Live Rich by Shopping Smart.” She is the author, photographer and layout/cover designer. This guide explores women and their passion for shopping and shows how anyone can live richly by changing how and where they shop. The book is both ‘self-help’ for the spirit and a ‘how to’ for the practical.

She is also compiling a cookbook of her own recipes plus those of talented friends around the globe. She is working on her first novel which is a romantic fiction set in modern day Las Vegas and ancient Egypt.

Sandra is an associate of the National Speaker’s Association and a member of the Nevada World Affairs Council. She lives part time in Las Vegas and part time in California. You can find out more and/or email the author by visiting her author website: www.sandragorenielsen.com

Mar 5, 2010

Writing Controversial Books by Cilla McCain

Murder In Baker Company: How Four American Soldier’s Killed One Of Their Own was a disturbing book to write. It centers around the non combat deaths of American troops. The case in point is about Army Specialist Richard Davis who was stabbed to death and set on fire within days of his return from the invasion on Iraq, and the confusing, if not incompetent investigation that followed.

Not a day went by that I didn’t think about how readers would react to such a shocking murder and the events leading up to that horrid night in the Georgia woods. I knew I was asking readers to examine issues that were not being discussed in the nightly news and because of this fact, it may prove to be a bitter pill to swallow for many.

I wanted to be careful and not do anything that would make anyone doubt the realities I was writing about. Because of this, there was no place and no need for gratuitous language or embellishment in my narration of the events. There was another reason for this strategy as well; I wanted to be as respectful to the victim, Richard Davis, as possible and soon discovered that revealing someone’s last violent moments on earth is an incredibly intimate and sacred process.

Because there are questions in this case that will never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction I made every attempt to lay the story out in such a way that my own personal opinions were not a factor. I want readers to decide what they feel really happened and why. I fully expect there to be a wide variety of conclusions, but along the way, I hope that we as human beings, learn something about the world we live in and use that knowledge to help our soldiers and their families in ways that have not been considered before.

Patriotism is very important. It’s a strong emotion that drives our country forward in the darkest of hours. We experienced a resurgence of that pride in the days and months following the attacks of 9/11 and it brought us all together as a society. But we also need to think beyond those emotions and examine the detrimental fallout that is unique to this particular war.

Unfortunately, out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic, some may see this as a controversial act. To those people I always pose this thought: Army Specialist Richard Davis and other soldiers who die tragic non combat deaths are American’s. Their families kiss them goodbye at bases and airports across this nation to go and defend our freedoms.

Therefore, as an American family unit, they deserve the respect and justice that comes with an open and honest investigation in the event of their loved ones death.

With all of this in mind, material should not be written simply because it is controversial. It should be written because it matters.




***

Cilla McCain

About Cilla McCain

Cilla McCain works within all genres of the literary field with a focus on the injustices of society.

You can visit her website at CillaMcCain.com

Mar 4, 2010

Researching Your Nonfiction Book by Cilla McCain

It took me four years to research and write my book Murder In Baker Company. 90% of that time was devoted to research, waiting for reports to arrive in the mail or for a soldier or scientific expert to return my phone calls or emails. Sometimes, I would spend an entire week on a lead that turned out to not be credible.

I was sure that a seasoned reporter wouldn’t have made these rookie mistakes. (Now that I’m seasoned, I know that’s not true!) I've met writer’s who can work all day at their regular job and then spend half of the night writing. Or they set their alarms for 5:00 am and work while their house is quiet. I have tried both of these tricks and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

So, I started trying to keep all of my paperwork in a nice, neat filing system. I labeled, categorized and copied everything. I was on a roll. Inevitably, an unexpected source of information would call me out of the blue. Sometimes when these calls came in I was driving in my car to pick my child up from school, or I was in the shower, getting my hair cut, etc. You get the idea. That’s when my carefully organized filing system would go all to hell. It had a domino effect too. Once I got off of that organized track, it would take 2 weeks to get back on it!

I wish I had some valuable words of wisdom or a magic system on how to properly coordinate and stay organized throughout the research and writing of a book. All I can tell anyone is to try and do what works best for you as an individual. The passion you have for what you are writing will provide a solution.

Now that Murder In Baker Company has published and I have started on my next manuscript, I’ve decided that the best way to stay on target is to not focus on a certain number of words or pages per day but rather on an idea. Ideas are born of inspiration and there is no real way to organize inspiration. Getting those ideas down on paper should be the guiding force behind any writing schedule. Think quality, not volume. For this writer, nothing works better!




***

Cilla McCain

About Cilla McCain

Cilla McCain works within all genres of the literary field with a focus on the injustices of society.

You can visit her website at CillaMcCain.com

Mar 1, 2010

My Juggling Act! by Fleur McDonald

I’m finding that a lot of people ask how I juggle being a mum, a farmer and a writer.

Well, after a quick trip to the laundry, that I thought was empty (I thought wrong!), I think the most honest answer is, I don’t do it very well… but I’m getting better at it!

When I first started writing, I would get so obsessed with the story I was working on, that everything else faded into the background. I would ache to sit in front of the computer – I had to! There were characters that needed to come out. Never mind that the kids told me for the forth morning in a row, they didn’t have any socks and Anthony had mentioned that his work-shirts were all dirty and hadn’t I noticed the garden had suddenly turned into a jungle and what was I going to do about it?!

I’ve since understood that I need to manage my time better. I can’t send the kids to school, in the same shirt, three days in a row – the teachers will notice! (Although they are all very nice and wouldn’t say anything!)

I now try to limit my writing to early mornings (between 4:30am and 6:30am, when the kids wake up) and later in the afternoons.

Even if my characters are threatening a revolt, the mundane part of life still happens, kids need feeding and the farm and our animals still need looking after. After all, the farm is our main job.

So, if Anthony leaves early, which he often does, especially in the summer, I get up with him, make his lunch and once he leaves, I hit the computer. Often in these early hours, I answer emails and write ones up, that I need to send. I might write a blog or two and then re-read over the section of writing I’ve written the day before. I then make some notes of what I want to achieve over the day and write down my ideas, so I don’t forget – you wouldn’t believe how many brain waves, I’ve had that I’ve lost, because I didn’t write them down.

No matter what stage I’m up to, at 6:30am on the dot, I have to stop. The kids need to get up and be supervised. Lunches need to be made and the day, discussed!

Once they’re on they’re on the bus, the main aim is to tidy the house and garden (if I’m not working on the farm), hang out a load of washing and do all the boring things! If I even go near my office, I get distracted by Facebook, more emails and other authors websites!

All that done, I hit the keyboard. (Once again, without going near the internet.) If I’ve had a good run, I might get two or so hours worth, of good, solid writing in. I need to set the alarm on my phone, half an hour before I’m due to stop, so I can, once again, write down any ideas that I haven’t got to put down. That way, I don’t feel like I’ve left anything unfinished. There is nothing worse, than glancing at the clock and realising you’ve got two minutes to make it to the school bus and it takes you five to get there! I just feel that I need to go straight back to the computer… that doesn’t benefit my kids then and they feel like I love my computer more than them.

And there are, of course, the days, that all my good intensions fly out the window and I get stuck at the computer from the minute I put the kids on the bus or I’m in the sheep yards all day. Those days, I carry a pen and notebook with me, where ever I am!

So for any of you, who thinks writing might be glamorous and I just swan in, sit down and start typing… I wish! But I do try to get those three words together – mum, farmer and writer! They are all my passion.

***


Born and bred in Orroroo, the mid-north of South Australia, Fleur's Mum and Dad were fuel distributors and with her dad she spent some of her childhood in the fuel trucks heading north, meeting all sorts of wonderful Northern characters.

The first year out of school she headed to the southeast of SA to do some jillarooing and then went to WA for her second year. She met her now husband when she first went to WA. In 1994 she attended Marcus Oldham Farm Management College to study Agribusiness.

They now farm 8000 acres, about 110km east of Esperance. Prime lambs and cattle being their main enterprises, but they do a small amount of cropping.

They also run two studs — Angus Cattle and White Suffolk Sheep.

They have two children, Rochelle, eight, and Hayden, seven.

She is the author of Wilder Eukaplytus, Red Dust and the upcoming Blue Skies.

You can learn more about Fleur on her website: http://fleurmcdonald.com/