Monthly Archives: May 2014

Feedback Needed on Excerpt Dialogue

My protagonist, Richard, the detective, just slammed a suspect down on the ground after a chase through the ghetto. He’s trying to question him. The guy is Jamaican. He speaks primarily patois. What I need to know is whether or not I have Americanized the language enough for the average person to understand enough of what happened without feeling too alienated. I want it to be authentic. It won’t spoil the plot to read it.

 

“Bumbo! Wah di rass, mon!” the man sputtered, through gasping breaths.

“Don’t give me that patois shit,” Richard panted. “I know you’ve been in this country at least ten years.”

“Yuh got di wrong guy, mon.”

“Now, how do you know that when you haven’t heard what I have to say?” Richard didn’t wait for an answer. “You can start by telling me what you were doin in Melbourne July 4th, 2005. Tropical Border House Inn.”

“Long time ago, too nuff, too nuff.”

“You’re going to think I’m messin in your business if you don’t start talkin.”

“Mi cannot breath, lemme up.”

“Can you stay in one place?”

“I and I done nuh ting wrong.”

“How do you say, ‘badman ting?’”

“No sah, no sah. Ten year ago mi a young man makin love.”

“How’d that go?” Richard asked. He eased up on his back just a bit and released his head roughly, yanking off hair as he did. “Tell me about Maria. You remember her? Latina girl married to former mayor Timothy Morrison? Did she piss you off? Did she dump you? Did she tell you she couldn’t fuck you anymore so you decided to make sure she couldn’t fuck anybody? Did you stab her to death, or did she accidentally fall on your knife?”

The man heaved, “Yuh a chat bagga nonsense. Easy nuh. Lemme up.”

“I’m chill man, you do the talkin.” Richard eased off Jason’s back and released his left arm. They sat up in the midst of the field, knees up, with the sun beating down, wiping away the sweat and the sand and catching their breath.

“Sumady Murda. Yuh no mi sah, no sah. Hol it dung, mon. Mi and mi dupes en gayls meet at Firestone Club, pretty gyals from di Leisure Lagoon, pretty gyals. She give mi di hotel and di day. Mi dunno she married. She wonna mi eat unda sheet. She wanna cock it up pan me. I and I to di hotel on di day. She bring di babies and givem candies. Pum pum tun up. Rude gayl jus wanna have good times. Timothy Morrison, dat one be di ball an chain. And she all broughtupsy. She say big tings a gwaan. No woman, no cry. Put di babies en di car. I and I come home di mornin. See it pan di news, pan di televsion.”

“So you just met and screwed? Consoled her. With the kids there?”

“Awoah! Di lil babe an di boy. Jus di boy watch cartoons, eat di candy. Di babe sleeping, Nuh one hour.”

“You couldn’t come forward, tell what you knew?”

“Look a mi, mon, an sit en di white mon prison? Yuh gotta Jamaican mon, no mi suh. I and I nuh know he di brinks, Morrison, till mi read en di papers. Mi done no ting wrong cept by di mon, nuh by mi.”

“Jason Pauly, you don’t run no more,” Richard said while standing. He stuffed his hand in his pocket and relaxed his fist. “You stay around. If you do nuh ting wrong, you’ll be okay, but don’t run.” He brushed the dirt from his jeans, “I will find you, mother fucka” he added. He walked away leaving the man sitting in the sand.

 

 

 

 

Hitting the Wall

I hit a plot dilemma yesterday and got stuck. Took me a while to figure that one out. Finally broke down and wrote out an outline for the remainder of the book, mind maps of research, more details. This is a picture of my work space. A long while back, when I first started with Scrivener, I took a picture of my desk all nice and clean and organized. Still using Scrivener, and the WIP is neatly filed, but can’t say the desk has stayed very well organized.

best pic desk 002

It’s a work space filled with mind maps, outlines, notes, tools.

Rocket scientist is in Baltimore. Was up at 5 am working on my plot dilemma. Woke up around 9 am with a sore throat, stuffy head, coughing till I peed myself, vomiting, illness. Had the sick granddaughter over on Sunday for 8 hours. So, we know where this came from. Bless her heart. Today is the daughter’s birthday, middle child, she is thirty three. Damn, I feel old.

Have spent the afternoon writing down patois phrases I know and researching others. Got a Jamaican suspect. Feel pretty good about where I am going with this now.  Asians, Hispanics, cowboys, suits, bikers. A colorful cast of characters for my detective and his sidekick, no doubt about it.

It’s a fun write, and I am hoping it will be a fun read. Much different than anything I have written before. Not nearly as serious, although there are serious crimes. This writing requires a transition in styles for me and I do find myself slipping back into old patterns.

My work in the past has been praised for attention to detail, and the novel is filled with descriptive details, but I have to be careful not to get too windy or verbose. We’ll just have to see how the beta readers feel about it when that time comes.

Going to take some Benadryl, some Nasacort spray and try to get a nap now. I’ll be writing again tonight.

27,976 words!

Legends of Windemere Vol. 1-4 Giveaway! 2 People Can Win All 4 Paperbacks!

Here’s a way to start a new fantasy series if you haven’t already gotten hooked. Win all four!

Legends of Windemere

(The widget didn’t work, so I’m going to keep this up as a sticky post until the end of June.  Thank you to everyone who enters the contest and spreads the word.)

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Family of the Tri-Rune by Charles E. Yallowitz

Family of the Tri-Rune

by Charles E. Yallowitz

Giveaway ends June 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Progress and a Clever Crime Writer: Tim Baker

I have been working on writing this crime novel steady since May 4th, even though I had the first three chapters, which I rewrote, done back in November. The ideas for this novel have been in my head for about ten years. I trashed all that—the three chapters not part of the current novel—keeping an old file of those first person chapters. The original was in the murder victim’s husband’s POV…which made no sense. But I knew that character and the plan was to have a murder mystery, not a crime novel. I pull little details from that file from time to time.

After I decided on a crime novel (NOT police procedural) and put the novel in the private investigator’s POV along with Brandi’s, the sidekick he doesn’t want to have, she also needed a POV.  I don’t stick exactly to an alternating POV, but their chapters, thus far, have been clearly and specifically their chapters.

They haven’t been together much for the first half of the novel. Now it is coming upon a part where they will need to be. I am hoping their voices are well developed enough by this point not to be too confusing. The narration is third person, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable.

I now stand at 26,439 words, and I am about half way through the story I am telling. My husband is over eager. He has helped me along, when asked for details, but only read the first chapter, so far. He is an avid crime novel /murder mystery reader and loved the last one, but likes this rewrite much better.

My word count comes to about 2644 per day, over ten working days, but I am writing on weekends too, so it’s really not that many in a day. Add five more weekend days and you get more like 1767 words per day. I know some days it is only 300-500, and others are well over 3000, so who is to say what a word count is worth?

I do try to keep chapters to around 1500 words for short ones and around 3000 for a few longer ones. That has more to do with the rhythm of the read and the pace than anything else. So far, I am up to Chapter Thirteen and about in the middle of that. I am guessing less than thirty chapters.

An author my husband, the rocket scientist, has been reading is Tim Baker. His work is similar to Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen. Both authors I love. In many ways, I think Tim Baker’s work shows more cleverness. The rocket scientist reads me chapters out loud from time to time, and I am anxious to read his work myself. I’ll be reading and reviewing later.

One thing he did, and I plan to communicate with him about this, is published a short story written by another author at the end of one of his books. The story was the result of a contest he held. I am supposing he already had a fan base built up, and beta readers, or other bloggers who were interested enough to participate.

The story was knee slapping hilarious and was like a piece of fan fiction relative to his characters, but using a topic he selected.  The topic was “death”. The writer who won the contest and was published in his work made fun of what might have been a plot hole, his use of commas (or improper use), and other such sillies. It involved a dead body left to rot in a character’s house. How much fun is that!?

I don’t know how he would feel if I stole his idea. I would like to mull over the details on how he set that up with him and see if he would mind if I tried something like that in the future. I would need a fan base first. So I am talking way along in the series.  It really shows the camaraderie of self-published authors to promote and exchange ideas like that. I love it. It’s exciting to see that sort of mutual support. The story was great and I can’t wait to download his stuff on my iPad. I’ll never get my husband’s away from him.

Here are some of his titles if you want to check him out. We found that we have to put both his author name and the title into Amazon to pull up some of his older works. There are a few authors by that name so make certain you have the correct Tim Baker. I really don’t know if he’s still writing. I think his last novel was published in 2011. Of course, he could just be serving time somewhere. Ha!

Transsexual Crime Scene Ponies and Other Such Stuff

 

Illustration by Tres Maxwell
Illustration by Tres Maxwell

Chapter Ten and 21006 words. This is my first crime novel.  It is a lot of fun to write. It exercises both wit and intelligence. It is not without challenges though. I decided to list them here. I am open to suggestions BTW.

  1. I am worried that my characters are going to come across as talking heads.  It is difficult to have serious conversations and exchanges of information while at the same time inserting observational clues into the narrative without giving too much away to the reader.
  2. I have a character that is funny, but I don’t really want her to be cheesy or corndoggy, because she is also smart and deep. (She’s probably going to be anyway…that’s just what it is.) She’s a stereotypical character. I can’t help that. It’s who she is. She is inspired by real life people I know.
  3. It is hard to write funny stuff without making fun of people, which is one thing I want to avoid, if possible. (At least not come across as deliberately hurtful.)
  4. Keeping convoluted plot details straight in your head gets tricky.
  5. Balancing action and idleness while keeping up a steady pace that quickly pushes the story forward is more complex than it sounds.

These are my five whines of the day. And it stormed off and on all day, so I didn’t get to swim (that’s my excuse).

Any suggestions? How was your day?

Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal! For all you self publishers on Amazon. This is a boxed set you won’t want to miss!

chrismcmullen

Boxed Set of SP Books 3d with reflection

As you know, I have a few books on self-publishing. The first was originally published in 2009. I designed the original covers myself, and felt they worked for nonfiction: The main point was that the titles were easy to read in the thumbnails.

The big problem for me was that my covers didn’t have a unified look. So I hired Melissa Stevens (www.theillustratedauthor.net) to make them more unified and to add an image that might help them pop. We settled on a geometric approach, arranging the covers of my books in a cube, spheres, and a pyramid.

She also designed a matching header (you can see it now at WordPress and Facebook), shaped like a cylinder.

The cover that impressed me most was the boxed set (coming soon) that I used for this cover reveal above. I like this perspective, which shows off the front cover while still…

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Progress Update with Peccadilloes and Celtic Thunder

It wasn’t that long ago that I was whining about being in a pretty deep funk. I thank those of you who beared with me through all of that.

flowers summer orchids 001

Today I wrote 1740 words which brings the grand total on this project to 16,146. I did manage to kill two people today and blow up a Church.

flowers summer orchids 003

I also managed to swim 853 yards. That might not put me in the Olympics but, for someone as sedentary as I have been this past winter, it is progress.

flowers summer orchids 002

Here’s the lyrics to a cute little Irish ditty. You might want to sing along.

God forgive my peccadilloes, I pray.

“A Place in the Choir”

by Celtic Thunder

[Chorus]
All God’s creatures got a place in the choir,
Some sing low and some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire,
Some just clap their hands or paws or anything they got.

[Repeat Chorus]

Well listen to the bass its the one on the bottom,
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus,
moans and groans with a big to do,
And the old cow just goes moo.

The dogs and the cats, they take up the middle,
Where the honeybee hums and the cricket fiddles,
The donkey brays and the pony neighs,
And the old gray badger sighs.

[Chorus]

Listen to the top with the little birds singing,
And the melodies and the high notes ringing,
And the hoot-owl cries over everything,
And the blackbird disagrees.

Singing in the night time singing in the day,
And the little duck quacks and he’s on his way,
And the otter hasn’t got much to say,
And the porcupine talks to himself.

[Chorus]

Its a simple song living song everywhere,
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly bear,
The grumpy alligator and the hawk above,
The sly old weasel and the turtledove.

Metaphors and Similes: You Have to Love Them

Often what separates a good writer from a mediocre writer is the use of metaphors and similes.

Using them shows imagination and creativity. Our favorite comedians are adept at hitting us with a punchline that is usually a strong metaphor or simile.

One thing is used to represent another. 

Some simple common metaphors:

  • The snow is a white blanket.
  • America is a melting pot.
  • Her lovely voice was music to his ears.
  • Life is a rollercoaster.
  • The alligator’s teeth are white daggers.
  • Their home was a prison.
  • His heart is a cold iron.
  • She is a peacock.
  • He is a shining star.
  • Time is money.
  • My teacher is a dragon.
  • Tom’s eyes were ice.
  • The detective’s face was wood as he listened to her story.

The problem with metaphors is that people not well versed in the language may not get the meaning.

Similes use like or as.

(They can also use more than or less than.)

Some simple common similes:

  • (Eat) like a bird
  • (Fight) like cats and dogs
  • (Work) like a dog
  • Like a dream
  • (Soar) like an eagle
  • Like fingernails on a chalkboard
  • Like a fish
  • (Racing) like a frightened rabbit
  • (Have eyes) like a hawk
  • (Eat) like a horse
  • (Sleep) like a log
  • (Sing) like an angel
  • (Act) like an animal

 

  • As big as an elephant
  • As black as coal
  • As blind as a bat
  • As bold as brass
  • As boring as watching paint dry
  • As brave as a lion
  • As bright as a button
  • As busy as a bee
  • As cheap as dirt
  • As clean as a whistle
  • As clear as mud
  • As clear as crystal
  • As American as apple pie

These are simple and common. They are all cliché.

They have become hackneyed.

A more complex cliche that has become hackneyed is: nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Once they become common in usage they are stale, lackluster and bog down a story more than lift it. The phrases and ideas become time worn or overdone. Eventually they lack significance through having been overused; becoming unoriginal and trite.

As writers, it is best to make your own metaphors and similes.

Unless you are particularly talented, it is not easy, but it’s fun. The old has to be replaced with the new. Yet it has to be something that more than a few can relate to. It also has to fit the context.

For example; as red as a rose, would not be a very good description of the color of blood.

I have a three page backlist of original similes and metaphors for certain situations. There are many I could fit to a sentence with a tweak or two. Today I got stuck on one.

I just spent two hours coming up with the perfect sentence using a simile. I know you might think that is a lot of time to spend on one sentence. This is part of why great books can take months into years.

My sentence concerned the word squirm. The context is a kidnapping. Go ahead. Give it a try.

Worms squirm.

Eels squirm.

Politicians squirm when caught in a lie.

She squirmed like _____________________.  (Fill in the blank.)

I’m not going to share my sentence, but I will say that this is the sort of thing I am striving for in this novel.

It is moments like this when you just have to pat yourself on the back and say, “Brilliant.”

 Small triumphs.

Played With Scrivener Today In My Revised Crime Novel

I have been writing in my WIP for a few days and playing around in Scrivener so I thought I would pop in and do a quick progress report. I have 8593 words on the revised crime novel and things are going very well. I did not write today but reviewed and worked on typing up the synopses. I am not outlining in advance, but keeping notes on what I have already written. This is a fast paced story with a lot of twists and turns, so I need notes that I can refer to easily to recall who did what when. (You can click the images for a close up view w/o leaving the page. It opens in another window.)

A quick overview: This is in editor mode. You can also type in full screen mode where EVERYTHING on either side, above and below the editor panel is blacked out for zero distractions. The binder is on the left and you can move chapters and scenes around in there easily. I don’t have folders set up with several scenes. I have the entire chapter set up as the scene in the chapter folder. Less complicated for me that way. As you can see down at the bottom, your chapter word count is in the center, the little orange bar indicates that I am not quite half way to my target word count. I am not really worrying about word counts as I go. You’ll see that in the outline. This chapter is in Brandi’s POV as you can see from the purple dot on the Inspector panel on the right.

Capture

In this next shot, you see the POV (marked by the red X) is in Richard’s. All of the other main characters in this chapter show up as colored keywords below. Above, (circled in red) is the synopsis. Many people write this in advance to cue them along. I wait until the chapter is done and then make notes of highlights in the chapter to help me keep facts straight. It is easier to see it listed here than to try to pick through a whole chapter to find details. The target progress indicator at the bottom is green because this chapter is complete.

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In the corkboard mode you can set up index cards with your synopses or, like I did here, character sketch images. It’s just a fun way to see them at a glance if you need that visual reminder. With your synopsis as index cards, you can move them around on the corkboard and that changes their order in the binder if you need to shift scenes around.

 

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In the binder to your left the character profiles are listed for a quick click to review details and have reminders of specific traits you don’t want to violate in character development. Brandi’s profile is shown, and as you can see in the binder it highlights in blue (see the text page is blue at the red X) whenever anything in the binder is selected so you know exactly where you are. That’s true for the editor mode also.

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Finally, the outliner mode. Again, you can set this up in advance and follow it or just let it happen as you go along like I am. You can see all your word counts here or click on your manuscript button in your binder for the complete word count. The synopses also show here and, again, you can move scenes or chapters around in here, which will also move them in the binder.

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When I am all done with the first draft, I can edit with split screens if I need to. I can compile into a number of files; .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .txt, .doc, and a number of other text files I have no idea what to do with. Then, they can be sent off easily for beta readers, editors, or even publishing. There are all sorts of formatting features and compile features that I will show later. There are also some very cool features in tools and options.

That’s all folks! This is what I did today. What are you doing?

Back to writing!