To Be Or Not To Be?

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

To be. Is, are, was, were. The most used verb in our (or probably, any) language. It has a purpose and a place in writing and in speech. But use it too much, and suddenly your stories become bland and dull. Want to know how I know? Because my editor challenged me to take every instance of the verb “to be” out of the story I owe him.

John Hartness, you’re a cruel man and I love you for it.

You see, I agree with his assessment. The problem with “to be” lies in its calm. When someone screams or leaps or scrambles or argues, something happens. I, the reader, ride along on the wave of action the writer creates. If I use various forms of “to be” instead, I run the risk of my action falling flat. Let me illustrate.

With “to be”:

She was dark haired, and […]

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Do Launch Parties Work?

Gail Z. Martin

Launch parties seem to be everywhere nowadays: at bookstores and libraries, at conventions and on Facebook. Costs range from minimal to pricy, and the effort of planning, promoting and hosting a party is one more thing that takes a writer away from writing. So, are they worth it?

I’ve held and attended a lot of launch parties. On the whole, I’d say that they help to sell books, especially to people who might not have otherwise purchased that particular book. The party atmosphere lends itself to making an impulse purchase amid the food, decorations and festive atmosphere. There’s also a touch of guilt involved; after all, the author is your host, and it would be nice to buy a book to thank him/her. But I think that the real incentive to purchase comes from the ability for readers to feel like they’ve gotten to know the author through the personal […]

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Ah, Con!

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Well, another successful ConCarolinas has come and gone. I’m a little sad this morning, since for the last three days I’ve been surrounded by a thousand of my closest friends, so it’s a little quiet around here now that we’ve all gone home. *laughs*

But one of the nice things about going to cons, either as a writing professional or as a fan, is all the great ideas you come home with. During breakfast Sunday morning, I was asked if I’d had any new projects come my way, and at that moment, I hadn’t. An hour later, I had. It can happen just that quickly. (Before you ask, the new project is still in its birth throes, so as soon as I have solid information to share, I promise I will. It’ll involve some of you, after all, so feel free to be excited!) One writer I talked to received […]

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It’s Con Time!

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

They’re expensive and time-consuming. You generally have to travel a long way to get to them. You’ll spend your weekend surrounded by people, some of whom you like, others not so much. You’ll ruin the healthy eating pattern you’ve spent months turning into a habit by eating in restaurants for every meal. And you know what? It’s worth it.

IT’S CON TIME!

Yes, that’s right, this coming weekend is ConCarolinas 2015, my home con and an event I look forward to all year long. Authors, cosplayers, actors, scientists, gamers and all manner of fandom come together in Charlotte NC to celebrate the geek life. It’s sometimes one of the only chances I get to see certain people I’m fond of. I’m absolutely thrilled about it!

Some of you may be shaking your heads right now, and saying, “It’s a waste of good writing time. Why don’t you stay home and […]

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The Creative Flexibility of…Plotting & Outlining?

admin

Please welcome back our special guest, Josh Vogt! Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. And best of all, author of Enter the Janitor!

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When I’m doing panels or workshops for writers, I always like to ask how many in the room are plotters or pantsers. The response often varies from a bunch of raised hands and eager nods to totally blank stares. Plotters, of course, being those who like outlines and character sheets and maybe even making up a whole new language complete with alien grammar (no, I haven’t…yet). And pantsers refusing to write while wearing any pants, of course.

Ahem.

I quickly learned in my early years as an aspiring writer that I was bent to be a hardcore plotter and outliner. If I tried to wing a story from the […]

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Inviting A Crowd to the Party

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

As I’ve mentioned, I’m editing an anthology called The Weird Wild West (coming from eSpec Books in the fall of this year!) and in the course of reading the stories, I’ve learned and relearned many lessons about what makes a great story great. One of the problems I’ve noticed in some stories is with the characters themselves. Not their personalities, but just how very many of them decide to make an appearance.

Have you ever seen those viral news stories about teenagers who post the details of their upcoming birthday parties on Twitter or Facebook? They only mean the information for their friends, but strangers for miles around decide to show up to the party too, leaving the house in a shambles and the local jail full of weeping kids waiting for their parents to come get them. A short story with too many characters can feel just as out […]

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That’s Absurd! – Bringing Humor into the Story

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Good morning, y’all! Today we’re bringing you a post from our guest, Josh Vogt. Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. And now he’s decided to share his time with us! Welcome, Josh!

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When I first got the idea for an urban fantasy novel titled Enter the Janitor years back, it didn’t take me long to realize it needed to have some strong humor elements woven throughout. I mean, how can you not crack jokes when your magic-wielding characters use mops instead of staffs and squeegees instead of wands? When they drive around town in janitor, maid, and plumbing service vans, visiting homes and public properties to scrub actual toilets, fending off dust devils and garbage golems while complaining about the lack of coffee breaks?

I could’ve tried writing the story from a […]

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