Monday, November 13, 2017

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

It's that time of year again, when all thoughts point toward Christmas.  Movies on television are related the season, the bookstores are stocking books about Christmas, and even lists are being made for Santa.

How many of you authors are putting out Christmas related books this year?  Are you writing one now, hoping to have it done before Christmas day?  My hand's raised...and it's not going quite as planned.

Christmas is a magical time of year, and to include that type of magic in a story is tough.  Thinking of all the things that relate to Christmas, like snow, fireplaces, and all the delicious food, helps.  Just the thought gives me more energy than expected.

How about you?  What gets you excited for the season?

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing Internal Thoughts

I've seen many ways to write internal thoughts, but find that it's actually least intrusive when just making it part of the story.

Here's an example:

He was going to die, Jane thought.  While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
He was going to die.  While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
He was going to die. While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
Which one takes you out of the story the least?  I'd say the third one.

To back myself up, check out these links:

Dealing With A Character’s Internal Thoughts
How to write Thoughts of a Character

Personally, I don't like seeing 'he thought' in a sentence.  We're reading it from the character's point of view, so why put it in there. 

What do you think?

Have a great week!
Markee


Monday, October 30, 2017

Attention all writers! Cool new names site--names.org!

I received an email from someone who wanted me to add their link to my posting about 10 Strong Female Character Names as a reference.  I went to their site, and to be honest, I was blown away by how much information is on there.

The site is Names.org.  Let me show you an example.  I seem to love the name James when I write, and usually have to change the name before I publish.  I tend to forget that I've used it for various books in the past but just love that name.  I should've named our son that, but my husband had other ideas.

Anyway, if you enter the name James, you get this:

https://www.names.org/n/james/about

You get:

  • meanings
  • dictionary sources
  • other dictionary sources
  • Wiktionary 
  • notable people named James
  • notable persons with the last name of James
  • popularity of the name over time
  • where the name is popular in the U.S.
  • common last and first names for the word 'James'
  • ethnicity distribution
  • fun facts about the name
  • what James' have visited the site
  • a poster for the name

And even more links!  What a cool site!  Whoever made this site spent a great deal of time doing it, along with researching all of it.  Wow.  Great job!

So go visit Names.org and put in your name, or your character's name.  It'll help a lot with your character background.  YAY!  I love new resources!

Have a great week!
Markee

Monday, October 16, 2017

Is Your Website up to ADA Standards or Is it A Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?

Our daughter went to college to learn how to do web design and media development.  She's now working at a company doing that type of work.  She mentioned that they have to be careful about ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards for design.  Otherwise, they could be sued.

I said, 'what is that?' and 'what time dimension are you from?'  I NEVER heard of being sued because of a website's design.

As it turns out, it can happen.  If your website doesn't meet the Americans with Disabilities Act, it could potentially be the subject of a lawsuit.

So what does that mean?  Check out this article:  Looming ADA rules could affect millions of websites.

Here are also some more articles related to this topic:
Judges Handling ADA Lawsuits Over Websites Not Waiting On DOJ Regulations
Is Your Site ADA-Compliant ... or a Lawsuit-in-Waiting?  (this one tells even more)

If your website is difficult to read or if a blind person's reader can't figure out what a picture stands for or what's in a video, you could be sued.  It usually happens with large businesses, but it's possible for it to happen to any website.

You can check to see if your text is readable at this site:  https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/. You enter the hex background and foreground colors, and see if they work or not.

I've been working on my websites, and it's frustrating, at least.  Needless to say, this is going to be a huge undertaking for any website owner.

I can see where this might include a slippery slope to social media.  My daughter said the original bill didn't include social media, but if it's on the Internet, I can see where someone could take it on.

To be honest, I've seen things on social media that could potentially give someone seizures (check the seizure part here, under part J: Section 508 Checklist.)  Gifs that flash a lot are just annoying.  According to that Section 508:

508 STANDARDPASSFAIL
(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.No element on the page flashes at a rate of 2 to 55 cycles per second, thus reducing the risk of optically-induced seizures.One or more elements on the page flicker at a rate of 2 to 55 cycles per second, increasing the risk of optically-induced seizures.

Some of the memes really need to have the colors checked (see this page:  WebAIM: Color Contrast Checker).  For example, dark gray on black isn't good for anyone to try to read.  Putting text over a picture isn't good without a solid background color to make it more readable.

Protect yourself and see if you can fix some of these things.  Even if you work with a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, Wix, or Weebly, it's good to check to see if your website is compliant.

Good luck.
SweetTale Books


Monday, October 9, 2017

How to Think Up a Plot

I'm sure there are some people out there who think, 'how do authors get plots.'  For me, my stories are all formulated in my head when I think of one small thing and 'what if.'  I try to go outside the usual 'box' of ideas, to get creative.  Since the competition for selling books is very fierce, I tend to go even farther than I normally would.

For example, the Extreme Travel books of mine started out in my head as a circus.  Kes was a circus performer and was sent overseas to see animals used in the circus in their natural habitat.  No kidding.  Since I'm not a fan of caging animals, I morphed that into her being a reporter to report on the climate in Africa.  I found the toughest place to live--Zimbabwe--and sent her there.  Then I needed a mean antagonist and came up with her single male boss, who was out of bounds for various reasons.  One was his fiancee that was really nasty.  That's how that story started out.  I had to go outside the norm for a reporter and give them a real reason for being there--to start a coup.

I looked up story planning and found this really cool article.  How to Get Story Ideas for Fiction Writing.  It talks about thinking up nuggets, and then writing as much as possible with one of these nuggets.  It'll start to take shape into a story the more you write.

I'm inclined to agree with some of that, but I think it saves time to think in terms of scenes.  Before I write a book, I think of what the first scene should be, and then what the black moment (in a romance, it's the part right before the ending where everything falls apart for the heroine) would be.  After that, I think of the ending scene.  I now know the beginning and ending, so getting from point A to point B has to include scenes that propel the characters toward point B.  I also like considering the three-part act in a play.  For the first part, I make the main character has to choose to do something to propel him or her to stay in the story.  The second part ratchets up the tension toward the black moment, and the third part is the happy ending.  That's how I work, in my mind.  If I don't have the beginning scene, black moment, and ending, I lay down to take a nap.  I blank out the rest of the world to think about how it would show in a movie, and what would work.  That's the fun part.  I let my mind explore tons of possibilities.

If I have those three scenes, I'm good to go, since I'm a 'pantser' (I don't outline or have everything written out before I write, but just go with the flow of the story).  Sometimes, those scenes change when I actually write, but it's okay.  Many times, the characters kind of take over and it works better than I anticipated.

Try it if you haven't written a book.  You'll be surprised how much fun it is to just let your mind wander.  I love it.

Have a great week!
Markee

Monday, October 2, 2017

Why do updates?

Right now, I'm updating my websites just a bit.  I'm in the middle of it right now, but it's a big task.  I was asking myself last night when I was working on it, why do I do this?  Why update any site?

Think about it this way.  What if you DIDN'T update anything.  The thing would get 'dusty' and people have no reason to go onto them.  They visit once and then forget about you.

So the goal is to keep that website updated with new books, new thoughts, and new pictures.  That'll make customers want to come back.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Great Grammar Guide!

I was sent an email this past week, about a grammar guide that is spectacular.  I was so impressed, that I had to post it here.

It's here:  Grammar Education Resource Guide

It's an all-inclusive aide for grammar issues.  Check it out...it's now on my go-to grammar help links and you might want to add it to yours!

There's more to that site, too, with many other aides here:  Other Resources.  Check it out!  Very cool!

Have a great week!
Markee