Interview on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk: WU! Anthology Realm of Magic!

WU! Admins Jessica Fisette and Deborah Ratliff appeared on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk, Impact Radio US with host Paul Reeves to discuss the upcoming release of the Writers Unite! Anthology Realm of Magic.

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Realm of Magic

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Writers Unite! Tips on Writing! Inspiration…

Writers Unite! Tips on Writing: Read!

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Deborah Ratliff: Rules. Rules. There Are Too Many Rules!

Have you seen them? The myriad of articles posted on the Internet explaining all the things you must do to write the perfect story. Perhaps, you have seen the equally extensive list of articles telling you what you should not do. The problem? Not every article agrees on what is the correct or incorrect way to write.

What is a writer to do? How do we decide?

After years of writing business-related manuals concerning policy and training, newsletters, and research papers, I decided to return to writing fiction. My story construction skills were rusty, as was my grammar. In the corporate world, I was fortunate to have an assistant who proofed my writing. I was not so lucky in the private world. I knew I needed to hone my craft, and what better tool to use than the internet. I fired up Google and began to search for everything I could find on writing, and well, it was overwhelming. No matter the topic — how to write an opening line, how to create memorable characters, when to use effect and affect — the results of my search returned more articles than I expected. Faced with so much information, I wondered how I would manage to wade through and find what I needed to write “the great American novel.”

I am not alone. A member of Writers Unite! posted the following after receiving conflicting advice on how to write:

“Help! I’m a new author and have been networking with writers and editors. I’ve become so confused by all the different pieces of advice, I’m struggling to write a simple sentence. In the recent past, I’ve been told so many rules that I can barely keep them straight.”

The member went on to list examples of the rules as they have been explained to her.

  • Do not use descriptions
  • Show versus tell
  • Never make any cultural references
  • Do not give backstory on characters
  • Vary sentence length
  • Do not use adverbs.

Let us examine these rules.

 

Do not use descriptions.

Descriptions are the soul of writing. Not limited to location or characters, descriptive writing should include the five senses. Written images of a room may not be as crucial as whether it was hot or cold, what aromas did the character smell, did light spill into the room, or was it dark and eerie. A writer can easily bore their reader by droning on about the wallpaper or the carpet fiber or the tea cozy, but there are times when it is imperative to set a mood. How a person lives or the environment around them can be very telling as to who the character is and provides a great deal of depth.

The key here is to not overdo. Pay attention to what your story needs and nothing else. If you do write descriptively, pare down those words to include only what you need.

Avoid a litany of characteristics. “She was young, her hair long and blond, athletic build…” Instead, weave those characteristics into the story, “Preparing for her run, she pulled her blond hair into a ponytail…” and be certain that her “run” was essential to the plot.

 

Show versus tell.

The bane of every writer’s existence is this rule. Writing “experts” pound this rule into us at every opportunity. The fact is, it is a great rule and one that I fully believe in following. Anton Chekhov’s famous quote is the quintessential example: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

This rule harkens back to being descriptive. Allow your reader to feel, taste, hear, smell, and see, so they become fully immersed in the world you have created for them.

Should you always show versus tell? Yes, however, there are times when it is acceptable to move your story along and tell the action, instead of showing it. Remember to keep those moments very rare. “Jack, his face reddened, hands clenched, spun and left the room, slamming the door behind him.” You have set up that Jack is angry, describing the sound of the door slamming is not necessary.

 

Never make any cultural references.

Ask someone writing historical fiction not to make a cultural reference, and they will laugh at you. This is a specific rule. If you are setting your story within an exact timeframe, then cultural references of the era are vitally important to the credibility of your work.

The obvious reason for this rule is a cultural reference will date your work. Again, you need to keep the context of your story in mind. There may be times when a cultural reference is integral to the plot. I think the mention of social media, cell phones, or Instagram, among other references is acceptable providing they remain general.

 

Do not give backstory on characters.

Really? Exactly how do we bring depth to our stories if we do not provide pertinent backstory? Once again, this rule harkens back to the use of descriptive prose and show vs. tell. Do not write copious paragraphs about your character’s backstory but show by intertwining the information within the events and dialogue.

 

Vary sentence length.

Again, I agree with this rule in general. You need to vary the length of sentences and paragraphs to keep your reader from being bored and to maintain the pace of the story.  Sentences that are too long can cause your reader to lose interest. Short sentences can make your work seem rushed and choppy.

However—and there is always a however—when writing a scene with high tension, short sentences convey that sensation to your reader. Short, powerful sentences describing fight scenes mimic the action. Longer sentences express your character’s thoughts and reflections and help slow the pace of the story when necessary. While this rule is one I believe writers should adhere to, it is also one to suspend when the story calls for it.

 

Do not use adverbs.

Short of a lesson on the use of adverbs, which could be extensive, let’s agree that too many adverbs are not a good thing. According to my go-to grammar guru, Grammar Girl, verb modifiers are often “redundant or awkwardly placed.” She quotes master writer Stephen King who complains about them in his book On Writing, saying, “’I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops,’ but he doesn’t shout it loudly. He likens adverbs to dandelions. When one unwanted weed sprouts up, more follow.”

Grammar Girl suggests that you use adverbs in dialogue if appropriate to how the character speaks. Otherwise, she proposes to “use them wisely and only occasionally.”

 

I return to the original question. What is a writer to do?

As I worked my way through the copious amounts of advice I came across, I began to focus on the advice of only a few “experts ” and to rely on grammar references like The Chicago Manual of Style and Grammar Girl for practical advice. Listening to too many voices will create chaos and fail to provide direction.

The reality is that these rules are guidelines. They can be bent or broken depending on the creative needs of the author. As you write, keep the “rules” in mind, they are designed to keep your work coherent and consistent but do not be afraid to go against the experts. Only you know what your story needs.

About the author:

Deborah Ratliff is Southerner with saltwater in her veins and love of writing. A career in science and human resources provided the opportunity to write policies/procedures and training manuals, articles, and newsletters but her lifelong love of mystery novels beckoned. Deborah began writing mysteries and her first novel, Crescent City Lies will be published shortly with a second novel, One of Those Days to follow. A few of her short stories appear in the Writers Unite! anthology Realm of Magic, published on August 1, 2018.

Deborah regularly contributes articles on writing to the blog, Writers Unite! and serves as an administrator on the Facebook writing group, Writers Unite! which has 42,000 + members from around the globe.

Sources:

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/16383-don-t-tell-me-the-moon-is-shining-show-me-the

https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-eliminate-adverbs

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html

Writers Unite! on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Impact Radio USA!

Writers Unite! was invited back to chat with host Paul Reeves on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk on the internet radio station, Impact Radio USA.

Listen now as we discuss our first anthology, Realm of Magic which will be published on August 1, 2018, by RhetAskew Publishing. We also talk about our second anthology. Realm of Romance published in late Fall, 2018 and a bit about the writing process and how important it is to weave backstory into a story and not info dump at the beginning of a novel.

Click here to Listen to the Podcast!

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Click here to Pre-Order
Realm of Magic

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IMPACT RADIO USA provides the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year.

Click here to Listen to Impact Radio USA

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk airs live on Monday’s and Thursday at 11:00 A. M. EDT (Summer hours)

Impact Classics, an hour of the best in music, airs live on Tuesdays and Fridays at Noon EDT.

(All shows repeated throughout the week.)

ImpactRadioUSA

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Break Our Hearts (Why “Happily Ever After” Is Not a Requirement)

Powerful stories are remembered for ages to come. They resonate deep within us, invoking an intense emotion long after we’ve read them. Sometimes, the sadder or more shocking the ending, the more we remember that story above all others. That is why I say it is perfectly okay to break our hearts, even when it’s a romance story.

If every story ended with “and they all lived happily ever after,” there would be no push to make it all the way to the end. I don’t know about you, but sometimes serious complications preventing the protagonists (or almost doing so) can be more of a surprise to me than the normal Disney/fairytale ending I grew up loving. However, “happily ever after” is and always will be a much loved and sought-after ending. But it’s not a requirement in my book.

What we want is for you to make us feel the love. We want to feel the connection to the protagonists. We want to root for them. We want to cry with them, triumph with them, love alongside them. We want to remember them.

So don’t be afraid to follow your story wherever it leads you. Not every story has to have a happy ending. Some simply need closure. So there’s a dead body in your romance story? Great. That could fall under the mystery/romance category if you set it up right. Luckily, we don’t discriminate against genre blending. That aspect of your story could be what makes it stand out to your readers—and to us—and the feeling it invokes could be remembered for years to come.

The key word here is powerful. Show us what love means to your characters. Show us how they act when they’re in love, how it changes them—for better or for worse. Use words and description that convey that deep connection between your characters. Then throw obstacles in their way and watch them fight to be together. Be it physical or abstract, obstacles add tension and keep the readers interested in the story.

Whatever your story entails, don’t be afraid to break our hearts. Sometimes, the most powerful thing a reader can take away from your story is a lesson learned, inspiration from how the protagonists keep going in the midst of their own heartaches, or how they keep their hearts open to love even after experience tells them they shouldn’t.

And of course, we always love a “happily ever after” ending, and so do readers everywhere, especially if it’s full of hope after a long struggle. Again, don’t make it easy for your characters and your readers will appreciate the triumph that much more.


Jessica Victoria Fisette is the author of The Soul Reaper seriesThe Aldurian Chronicles, and various short stories including the short story series Elves of the Blood Moon. You can also read more of her works in the first Writers Unite! Anthology: Realm of Magic. Her hobbies include discovering the benefits of natural medicine, wine tasting, and trying new recipes in the kitchen. She likes to unwind by typing out a scene or two in her latest obsession or indulging in a good book. Having been passionate about writing since she was a little girl, she is constantly coming up with new ideas for future stories and creating unique, strong-willed—albeit flawed—characters to overcome the difficult obstacles she places before them. Having spent all her life in rural Southeast Texas, she appreciates the tranquility of country living and hopes to implement such a love for nature into her beautiful, ever-so-curious little girl.

You can follow her by clicking the links below. 

Facebook

Twitter

Website

 

Challenge Your Characters

Some writers love having horrible and hazardous things happen to their characters, while others prefer to keep their characters safe and happy. It can be difficult to cause our characters to hurt or suffer, because we care about them. Our characters become part of us.

However, just as we grow through our own challenges, so do your characters. Without difficulties through which to learn and grow, characters tend to be one-dimensional and fall flat.

One of the best things you can do in your stories is to confront the individuals with various hardships. Present them with adversity which brings out their frustrations, hurts, fears, and insecurities. Because those hard times are what show the growth and strength in your characters and help them evolve. So hit them with whatever helps develop them – don’t be too easy on them.

Challenging the people you write about helps your story in three important ways.

 

  1. It brings out your character’s inner qualities

Your character grows, evolves, and becomes more relatable to the reader through challenges. Facing fears, struggles, or danger helps show what they are made of. It gives them more depth and they become more real and tangible. It helps the reader understand them better, as they see the character’s courage and inner strength. Characters that face adversity are much more interesting than shallow, superficial characters who are never challenged.

This is true for children’s books as well. I have published ten children’s books, all animal stories – and even in those, the main characters face struggles. No matter what your target audience, it is important for your character to face and grow through challenges, even if it’s facing bullies, searching for a lost dog, or helping someone in danger.

 

  1. It keeps the story interesting

Characters who are challenged keep the story engaging for the reader. A story about only happy experiences would be a boring book. It would not be compelling to read about John walking down the street in the sunshine. However, it is a lot more gripping to read about John walking down the street holding divorce papers, while a car is hurtling at him at full speed as John’s knee gives out and he slips in a puddle. Not only do obstacles keep your characters intriguing, but they keep your entire story engaging as well.

It’s also a good idea to let the challenges build in intensity throughout the book. Let the predicaments be smaller at first, and then, through the progression of the story, the difficulties increase until he faces his biggest fear or dilemma. That is what is gripping about books – the build-up of intensity, fear, danger, and adversity. Will they overcome it? Will they succeed? How will they get out of this terrifying scenario? Those are often the most memorable books.

 

  1. It inspires your readers

Seeing how a character faces and overcomes adversity can be inspirational for a reader. We all face challenges in life, and seeing how a character deals with fear, danger, insecurities, setbacks, illness, or whatever it is, can inspire us to deal with similar challenges in our own lives. If your character found the strength to face that disaster, then so can I. It teaches us and helps us find the inner strength to face whatever comes our way.

So don’t be afraid to challenge your characters – you create better and more memorable characters, a more fascinating and gripping story, and you can inspire your readers to face the difficulties in their own lives. Don’t hold back – a challenged character is a captivating character that will make your story more powerful and memorable.

And as you create your stories, remember to embrace the challenges in your own writing as well – they help you become a better writer.

Copyright © 2018 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Image found on Google. Credit to unknown artist.


LYNN MICLEA grew up in New York and moved to California while in her twenties. A certified hypnotherapist and Reiki master practitioner with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she spent many years working in the medical field and in various offices in an administrative capacity.

After retiring, Lynn discovered and developed a passion for writing, and she is now a successful author with many books published and more on the way. Her two memoirs, one of her family’s experience with ALS, and one of her own journey through open-heart surgery, have received numerous five-star reviews.

She also has published ten sweet, exciting, and fun children’s books, which are uplifting, loving, feel-good animal stories, filled with warm humor, and which are about kindness, compassion, helping others, seeing the best in others, and believing in yourself.

She hopes that through her writing, she can help empower others and add more joy and love to the world. She asks everyone to be kind to each other as we all share this journey through life together.

Lynn currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and two dogs.

Learn more about Lynn at her amazon author page here.

And please visit her website at www.lynnmiclea.com for more information on her books.

 

 

Lynn Miclea: Success as an Author

Many new writers and authors often wonder what it takes to be considered a successful author. How many books do they need to sell before they are considered successful? How much money do they need to make in royalties before they can say they’ve really made it? How is success measured?

In our society, and for many of us, success is often defined as money, fame, and power. But I think we do ourselves a big disservice when we define it that way, or base it on specific numbers reached, whether it’s book sales or income.

What about an author who has only published a few books, but they are well-written, filled with heart, humor, and gut-wrenching honesty? What about a new author’s book that opens up unique and fascinating worlds to explore? Or an author’s story that shares the overcoming of a huge difficulty in life that can inspire and help others? Or a new author’s book that touches the lives of others in powerful and profound ways? Would you say they are not successful?

I used to think of success in terms of a huge number of books sold, a steady income from royalties, and being on the best-seller list. However, those goals may be fleeting, arbitrary, unrealistic, and self-defeating – using those as criteria for success can discourage or undermine talented writers, stop them from doing their best, or cause them to give up too soon. You can be successful without reaching those typically out-of-reach goals for most writers – so don’t sell yourself short. And don’t give up.

To me, success is measured in the fulfillment of publishing the ideas and stories within me. It is in producing well-written and memorable books, stories, and articles that I can be proud of. It is in touching the lives of others through my words. It is putting my creative thoughts and imagination into a cohesive and powerful story, and getting that on paper in a way that is touching, heart-felt, and powerful.

Success is not a destination – success is a living, breathing, shifting journey of discovery and creativity that you can choose to be part of.

If you have done your best with as much integrity as possible, are proud of your work, and are happy with who you are and where you are, then you are successful. That is the success we should strive for.  And that is in your hands, within your grasp.

Success is the expression of and explosion of creativity, heart, and imagination, all coming together in powerful and moving stories. It is exciting and fulfilling and continues to unfold in spectacular new ways and in glorious wonder.

Number of books sold? That doesn’t even come close.

Go for real success – the fulfillment of a dream. And that is something all of us can do.

Copyright © 2018 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.


LYNN MICLEA grew up in New York and moved to California while in her twenties. A certified hypnotherapist and Reiki master practitioner with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she spent many years working in the medical field and in various offices in an administrative capacity.

After retiring, Lynn discovered and developed a passion for writing, and she is now a successful author with many books published and more on the way. Her two memoirs, one of her family’s experience with ALS, and one of her own journey through open-heart surgery, have received numerous five-star reviews.

She also has published ten sweet, exciting, and fun children’s books, which are uplifting, loving, feel-good animal stories, filled with warm humor, and which are about kindness, compassion, helping others, seeing the best in others, and believing in yourself.

She hopes that through her writing, she can help empower others and add more joy and love to the world. She asks everyone to be kind to each other as we all share this journey through life together.

Lynn currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and two dogs.

Learn more about Lynn at her amazon author page here.

And please visit her website at www.lynnmiclea.com for more information on her books.

Make Every Word Count (Short Stories 101)

Our first anthology, Realm of Magic, will be published soon and that means our second anthology (genre romance) isn’t far behind. Submissions close in just a couple of weeks, and I know some of you are sweating over your word count right now, trying to get it down below that 5,000 mark. If you’ve submitted one major story already, you may even be trying to get it down below that 3,000 mark to qualify. It’s not easy to cut things out of your story, and most people don’t want to delete entire scenes that may be crucial to the plot. You may not be able to remove chunks to make it follow our guidelines, but there’s another thing you can try instead.

Make Every Word Count

One thing I’ve noticed through selecting and editing the submissions: some writers manage to jam-pack a whole lot into a small word count, while others spend a lengthy amount of time on only a couple scenes. If those scenes are where your story takes place, so be it. But if you find yourself having to cut your story down to just a couple scenes for it to qualify, you may want to look at removing filler words and condensing sentences before you throw an entire setting away.

Simple is best. You need to make every word count in a short story. If one sentence kind of explains what’s happening but the second sentence clarifies it, delete the first sentence. Edit the second to make sure its meaning is clear and can stand alone. Here’s an example from the novel I’m working on right now (Reigning Fire—The Aldurian Chronicles Book 3). I’m always going through and removing redundant sentences like this:

“Shut up!” I released the leukos I’d been absorbing. It exploded from my core, hitting him in full force.

It’s a fantasy novel, so ignore the weird words.

These two sentences are repetitive. I can merge them together to keep the intended meaning.

“Shut up!” Leukos exploded from my core, hitting him in full force. 

I could rework that to make it even tighter—and I will later—but I wanted to give you a simple example of how to clear out redundant sentences and shorten your word count.

Another way to shorten word count is to cut out unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. When you’re setting a scene or describing a character, get to the point and then move on to the action. Less is more. Use one or two informative helper words versus three or four that don’t really offer anything to the story. Don’t neglect description altogether, but make sure you use words to your advantage here. Many times a bigger word can replace a few small words. That saves your word count for harder to describe situations or scenes that are a bit more complex.

I’m not saying grab your thesaurus and replace every small phrase you can find with a word your reader would have to look up to understand, but be mindful as you’re writing to consider concise ways of expressing yourself.

Prepositions also tend to fill the pages in a story. Training yourself to look for and remove the ones that aren’t needed can give you more room to develop your characters or plot down the road.

Always skip the dull parts. A short story should be well-paced. There is little room for messing around, so if you can develop your characters without having to slow the plot, you’re going to have a much more powerful story in the end.

As you’re editing your story and trying to cut down that word count, go into it with the mindset of making every word count and it will be much easier to let go of parts that might offer poetic prose but offer nothing in way of character or plot progression.

However, something more important to keep in mind: clarity trumps brevity. Your sentences need to be clear before they are concise. You can’t cut out vital information for the sake of staying under that word limit. Get creative. Find a way to clarify your story without spending a long time explaining it.

And remember, for the Writers Unite! Anthologies Series, you have a 5,000 word allowance for your first story with no minimum requirement! We have received stories that range from 200-5,000 words so far, with some poems being a bit under that range. We’ve had some great stories come in through the submissions portal, and eagerly await YOUR submission.

But you have to be a Writers Unite! member to contribute.

Join the Facebook group Writers Unite! here to get the details on submitting to our current anthology: Writers Unite! Facebook Group


Jessica Victoria Fisette is the author of The Soul Reaper series, Fragments, and The Aldurian Chronicles. Her hobbies include discovering the benefits of natural medicine, wine tasting, and trying new recipes in the kitchen. She likes to unwind by typing out a scene or two in her latest obsession or indulging in a good book. Having been passionate about writing since she was a little girl, she is constantly coming up with new ideas for future stories and creating unique, strong-willed—albeit flawed—characters to overcome the difficult obstacles she places before them. Having spent all her life in rural Southeast Texas, she appreciates the tranquility of country living and hopes to implement such a love for nature into her beautiful, ever-so-curious little girl.

You can follow her by clicking the links below. 

Facebook

Twitter

Website

 

Pre-Order for WU! First Anthology: Realm of Magic Available Now!

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Realm of Magic

Writers Unite! Anthologies Book 1

Here in the realm of magic, there are dragons, nymphs, assassins, elementals, witches, fairies. A myriad of stories . . . of love, adventure, mischief, vengeance, and war—each one as unique as the author; each one with the power to transport you to a foreign realm of wonder and chaos, of legend and myth . . . of magic. This volume is your ticket to enter this fantastical realm through these portals, but be warned—there will be fire.

Click here to Pre-Order Realm of Magic

Pre-order only $0.99 on Kindle! Release date August 1, 2018!

. Real