Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com cj

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Mobile Literary Festival

cj Sez: For readers and writers: Mark your calendars and

SAVE THE DATE. . . March 23, 2024 . . . 

for an upcoming one-day reader and writer event—The Mobile Literary Festival at Mobile’s Ben May Library in conjunction with the Mobile Writers Guild. Published authors will present panels on character development, setting, marketing, and plotting. You can also purchase a book and have it signed by the author! And best of all, this amazing literary festival is FREE. 

  For more information, click this link: 
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  Here’s a perspective I hadn’t thought of, though I’d like to think this truth was swirling around somewhere in the back of my mind: “Mystery, thriller, and suspense (MTS) stories are the villain’s story, as told and perceived by the protagonist.” 

  Author and book coach Samantha Skal dives into ideating twists that work when writing thriller and mystery stories. To read more of her post on Jane Friedman’s blog, click the link here: https://janefriedman.com/designing-thriller-and-mystery-twists-that-work/
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  I know, I know. The first day of spring is about two months away in the Northern Hemisphere, but I’m antsy so I wanted you to know that U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ice cutters are getting ready to clear the shipping lanes in the Great Lakes.

  Makes me feel happier already. On Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, the U.S. Coast Guard announced the annual onset of icebreaking in the lower Great Lakes. According to their press release, they gave the task the tongue-in-cheek name of Operation Coal Shovels. The picture (left) shows U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers in operation as seen from the cutter Mackinaw. 

  (On a side note re the cutter Mackinaw: The name of the five-mile-long “Mighty Mac” bridge connecting Michigan’s peninsulas is spelled Mackinac yet still pronounced “mackinaw.” The Mackinac spelling is from the Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. a state recognized tribe of Ojibwe and Odawa Native Americans who called the area Michilimackinac. 
The Mackinac Bridge

  The spelling was shortened to Mackinac and pronounced “Mackinaw” by the French who settled in the area. That’s my Googled history lesson for the day.)

  All those wintery-gray months of ice and snow helped convince me to move from Michigan to the Gulf Coast, and what a difference 1,200 or so miles makes. 

  The picture (left) is of about 50 feet of my side yard in Mobile. Son Jeff took the photo last February. 

  I’m hoping for the same kaleidoscope of color this year (“hoping” because we suffered a severe summer drought).
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  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj
  
  Now some words from my sponsors:

  Available! Two Mobile Writers Guild anthologies filled with wonderful short stories and poems to celebrate upcoming special days. Mardi Gras season is alive and well in Mobile, with parades and moon pies bringing crowds to downtown streets. Laissez les bons temps rouler

  Also for your to-be-read stack: My novels, THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a touch of romance. The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

  The Haunted Book Shop has signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  

  If they happen to be sold out, shoot me an email. I have a small stash available for a discounted price plus shipping.

➜ Follow me on . . .  
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

The devil is in the details

cj Sez: My first drafts are crappy and sparse, mainly for two reasons: First, I was once a corporate journalist/editor with limited line space, and second, I got turned on to creative writing by a screenwriter.



  I often get criticized for my lack of details, but once I’m finished with the first go-through, my editing process expands on details of the five senses…hear, see, taste, smell, feel… and the characters’ state of mind.

  I do incorporate some action descriptors, but I consider too many of them stage direction. Some writers use them to “tell” their readers what the author means or as a way to add words to a short manuscript. 

  Action needs to have purpose. If describing an action doesn't contribute to the reader's knowledge of the character, scene conflict, or mood, then it’s stage direction. Because I write mostly suspense and thrillers, I have a minimalist approach to action … using few words speeds up the pace and heightens the tension. On the other hand, readers of cozy mysteries or more narrative-based novels want (and expect) to know every detail.

  Describing action is a good way to control the pace of your novel. Even in suspense and thrillers, there are places where the reader needs a respite from the action. These would be the spots where I add more detail…or beats as authors call them. Places where I can reveal more of the characters’ growth, i.e., transformation, as the plot progresses. 

Hint: Adding detail words slows the pace; being stingy speeds it up.

  When action is needed to set some mood for the scene, then yes, I detail the action. Sometimes I add details to slow the action and increase the tension. If I want a character to give the reader a sense of impending danger and fear, then I add more description to the action. I tend to follow the lead of my favorite authors...Robert Parker, Stephen King, James Lee Burke... their succinct style of writing is what I like to read, and it is this reader who is my target market. Be sure you have identified who that is.

Hint: Write for your target market what you like to read.

  When I write, I take my cues from screenwriting, except I’m the actor. Since internal dialogue doesn’t convert easily o the movie screen, I tend to develop most of the characterizations within action. I step through the scene in my mind and react to the events as my characters would, physically and mentally. I can do that because I know their personalities well enough to know what they would do in a given situation. 

  I know them because I create backstory/biographies for each of them. I want my readers to identify the character more by what s/he does and says rather than what I might tell them (aka author intrusion).

  Fiction, non-fiction, whatever the genre, each has a different set of “rules” because the readers have different expectations and wants. The key is to write for your target market . . . and make that the genre you read and analyze. Over time, the structure of the genre will likely become second nature.

  If you have any questions or more info to add to this post, please leave a comment. Lyrical Pens would love to hear from you.

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For readers and writers . . . Benefits of reading:   https://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-of-reading-books

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Here’s an explanation of when to use use or used (love that usage): https://www.thesaurus.com/e/grammar/use-to-or-used-to/

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  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj

Now some words from my sponsors:

  Available through your favorite book seller! Two fabulous Mobile Writers Guild anthologies with a variety of wonderful short stories and poems to celebrate upcoming special days. (P.S Mardi Gras celebrations have already started in Mobile. Krewe de la Dauphine’s parade rolled through Dauphin Island on Jan. 13. Laissez les bons temps rouler)

  My novels, THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a smidgen of romance. The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

  The Haunted Book Shop has signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  If she happens to be sold out, shoot me an email. I have a small stash (for a discounted price plus shipping).

➜ Follow me on . . .  
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, January 14, 2024

To-be-read and well-chosen details

cj Sez:  The next story I plan to read from my to-be-read eBook list is THE DARKLING, a horror novel from Carolyn Haines---that is, after I finish a re-read of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD for a Facebook group discussion.


  I am not, however, a fast reader. The abundance of scarring and floaters in my eyes (from a previous surgery and aging) breaks up the words when I try to read a book. Working on my computer has also suffered, until a friend recommended that I use a dark page background with white letters when I write. That’s working better. Not perfect, but better.

  There are so many readers posting on Facebook who exclaim about their favorite authors and series and have shelves and shelves of books waiting to be read, I’m in awe. Are you one of those avid readers?
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  Do you have an opinion about showing versus telling, for or against? Silly question. I think all authors will declare pro, con, or not always on the subject. Not always appears to be the majority. I’m pro but can’t always achieve it because it’s hard. It takes visualization, remembering, and some poetic phrasing. I think of “showing” as writing from a deep point of view, which I love to read.

  A white-haired, wrinkled, old woman, you say? How about this example of showing, not telling—excerpted from “One Well-Chosen Detail: Write Juicy Descriptions Without Overwhelming Your Reader,” a November 15, 2023, post on Jane Friedman’s website by author and writing coach April D├ívila (@aprildavila)

“… in the last years she continued to settle and began to shrink. Her mouth bowed forward and her brow sloped back, and her skull shone pink and speckled within a mere haze of hair, which hovered about her head like the remembered shape of an altered thing. She looked as if the nimbus of humanity were fading away and she were turning monkey. Tendrils grew from her eyebrows and coarse white hairs sprouted on her lip and chin.  ///”
  Read more of the post by clicking this link:

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  Things to think about: If you replace “W” with “T” in What, Where, and When, you get the answer to each of them.

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  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj

Now some words from my sponsors:

  These two Mobile Writers Guild anthologies include a variety of wonderful short stories and poems to celebrate the upcoming special days. (P.S Mardi Gras celebrations have already started in Mobile. Krewe de la Dauphine’s parade rolled through Dauphin Island on Jan. 13. Laissez les bons temps rouler)

  My novels, THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a smidgen of romance. The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

The Haunted Book Shop has signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  If she happens to be sold out, shoot me an email. I have a small stash (with a discounted price plus shipping).

➜ Follow me on . . .  
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Welcome back to Lyrical Pens in 2024

cj Sez: I hope your December holiday celebrations were wonderful, and you made many lovely memories. Now, as Draft2Digital told me in a recent email: “It’s time to soar in 2024!”


  I want to continue my last contronym post with just a few more examples from the article “40 Words and Phrases That Are Their Own Opposites” by Judith Herman. 

14. Clip  Clip can mean “to bind together” or “to separate.” You clip sheets of paper to together or separate part of a page by clipping something out. Clip is a pair of homographs, words with different origins spelled the same. Old English clyppan, which means “to clasp with the arms, embrace, hug,” led to our current meaning, “to hold together with a clasp.” The other clip, “to cut or snip (a part) away,” is from Old Norse klippa, which may come from the sound of a shears.

15. Continue usually means “to persist in doing something,” but as a legal term it means “to stop a proceeding temporarily.”

16. Fight with can be interpreted three ways. “He fought with his mother-in-law” could mean “They argued,” “They served together in the war,” or “He used the old battle-ax as a weapon.” (Thanks to linguistics professor Robert Hertz for this idea.)

17. Flog, meaning “to punish by caning or whipping,” showed up in school slang of the 17th century, but now it can have the contrary meaning, “to promote persistently,” as in “flogging a new book.” Perhaps that meaning arose from the sense “to urge (a horse, etc.) forward by whipping,” which grew out of the earliest meaning.

18. Go means “to proceed,” but also “give out or fail,” i.e., “This car could really go until it started to go.”

19. Hold up can mean “to support” or “to hinder”: “What a friend! When I’m struggling to get on my feet, he’s always there to hold me up.”

20. Out can mean “visible” or “invisible.” For example, “It’s a good thing the full moon was out when the lights went out.”

21. Out Of  Out of means “outside” or “inside”: “I hardly get out of the house because I work out of my home.”

22. Toss Out   Toss out could be either “to suggest” or “to discard”: “I decided to toss out the idea.”

23. Peer   Peer is a person of equal status (as in a jury of one’s peers), but some peers are more equal than others, like the members of the peerage, the British or Irish nobility.

24. Original  According to Dictionary.com, original can mean either “belonging to the beginning of something” or “new, fresh, inventive.” 

That’s it for this thread on Lyrical Pens. To read the rest of the article, click on this link and enjoy: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57032/25-words-are-their-own-opposites

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  For writers and readers: The link below is to a recent article on Jane Friedman’s blog directed to writers, but I think there are some clues in there that would serve any parent of a teen well: https://janefriedman.com/4-things-every-ya-writer-should-know-about-teens/

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  Okay, that’s the post for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj

Now some words from my sponsors: 
Available! Two Mobile Writers Guild anthologies with a variety of wonderful short stories and poems to celebrate upcoming special days. (P.S The city of Mobile, Al, has already started Mardi Gras celebrations.)

 
  My novels, THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a smidgen of romance. The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

  The Haunted Book Shop has a few signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  If the shop happens to be sold out, shoot me an email. I have a small stash (with a discounted price plus shipping).

➜ Follow me on . . .  
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6