Friday, July 29, 2016

What a cool show! #StrangerThings

There's this new show on Netflix called Stranger Things. If you get Netflix and you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it.

The show is kind of like Stand By Me, E.T., and Aliens, kind of rolled into one.  It's sci-fi and paranormal, and an excellent series of 8 shows.  The actors do such a great job, it's incredible.

The guys who created it are twins Matt and Ross Duffer.  Their dad used to work where I worked in NC at one point.  Nice guy, and nice sons.

I suspect this show will go far.  I'm fairly sure there will be a second season, but only time will tell.  Netflix was smart to invest in this show, because it's the type of thing that just stays with you.

If you have Netflix, go see it.  Enjoy!

SweetTale Books

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I wish …

When you begin to write books, you have these grandiose ideas about what will happen when you become famous.  99.9% of us never realize that dream (and yes, I made the number up), but we still dream.

When I initially thought about it, I thought, 'Yikes!  I don't want to be famous.'  Back when I was a teacher, the kids and the parents put me on this pedestal (like they do with all teachers) where everything you said and did was analyzed.  You were judged every time you went into a grocery store, as to what you were buying.  I hated it so much I went to another town to buy anything.  I didn't need the kids putting my choice of laundry detergent into the rumor mill, for example.

Then I considered my kids.  They'd be asked questions about my books and their mom would never be home, because she'd be off signing books in some other town.  Nope.  Because our son has Asperger's syndrome, there was no way I'd ever do that.  He needed me here.

Time can put things into perspective.  I still wouldn't want to travel, since I'm the dog watcher during the day.  But I would do things to make my life easier.

So, if I ever became rich and famous, here's what I wish would happen:
  • Hire a few assistants to do my 'other jobs' such as social media, cook, clean, take care of the dogs, accountant, etc.
  • Create a corporation for my books, where I would hire a publicist, a few editors, a few secretaries (might be the same as the assistants), and a cover designer and animator for the trailers.
  • I'd go to work from 6-3 and then I'd be done for the day.  During that day, I'd only write.  That would be it.  Uninterrupted writing.  
  • I'd have a building where I go to write.  My employees might be there or they could be working from home--don't care.  No meetings, I just write, write, write.
  • I wouldn't make public appearances.  I hate that thought and just shudder to imagine having to do that. 
  • If I have an agent, they'd just be my lawyer, and not someone who interferes with anything I write.  They'd work for me and not the other way around.
That's my dream for my writing.  I can only wish. 

How about you?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Catty- or Kitty- Cornered?

I recently saw a post on Twitter where someone wrote 'cater' cornered.  I had to look that one up, never hearing it before.

Most people use 'kitty' or 'catty' cornered to describe the following situation:  something is diagonally across from something else.  There are other terms as well (catty, caddy, etc.) but I believe kitty-cornered and catty-cornered are the most common.

I think of it like the following picture of a table (at least this is what I was taught, growing up):

Jane is kitty/catty cornered from Sam.  Larry and Paul; Rose and Mary; Bob and Bill are all kitty/catty cornered.

However, I also saw where it could indicate the following:

This is an intersection, by means of an explanation:



According to Is it catty-cornered or kitty-cornered?, this scenario is more appropriate, meaning diagonal.


According to Dictionary.com, 'cater-cornered' or 'catty-cornered' means diagonal or diagonally.  Originally, it came from the French word, 'cater' which means 'to set or move diagonally.  Middle French word 'catre.' means four.

I believe, from other things I read, that the term originally was a gambling term, using four dots on a die.

So which is it?  Catty-, cater-, or kitty-cornered?  A PhD candidate named Joshua Katz from North Carolina State (my husband's alma mater), came up with the answer--it depends on where you live.  Here are the results for kitty/catty cornered, as shown on the Harvard Press:



So, depending on where you live, you'll say something different.  And, to be honest, 'cater-cornered' is the closest to being correct, but very few people use this term.  I wonder if they use any of these terms in Europe or is this a North American thing?  I couldn't find any real data on Europe's usage of the term.

Very interesting.  So when you write, realize if you use the term, you're going to show where you grew up according to what you use. I grew up in Southern PA, so I use catty-cornered, but sometimes, change it up to be kitty-cornered, just because I've moved around a bit.  I don't want anyone to feel left out.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


-------------------------------------------------
References:
Catty-corner, kitty-corner
Kitty-Corner or Catty-Corner?
CATTY-CORNER, CATER-CORNER, KITTY-CORNER
cater-cornered
On Caddy-corner ... Or Whatever That Word Is
Beyond “Soda, Pop, or Coke” Regional Dialect Variation in the Continental US
22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From One Another
Is it catty-cornered or kitty-cornered?




Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meet the Monster

In every story, there needs to be an antagonist.  Sometimes, that antagonist is evil--a real monster.

I've watched a lot of Sci-Fi in my day.  Many of these shows have monsters.  As a matter of fact, I just finished watching Netflix's 'Stranger Things,' with a monster that will bring nightmares to almost anyone's dreams.

What makes a monster?  To me, there are two types of monsters. A monster can be gruesome, horrible, and really scary.  Or it could be a kid down the block who looks completely normal.  The look of the monster isn't as important as its actions.

The actions have to instill terror in the heart of the viewer.  They can never know what horror is coming next, or what dark evil lies in the creature's heart, if it has one.

The best monsters start out as mild, even tempered, but slowly become worse and worse.  That can be shown by only alluding to the monster and not show it to begin with, finally letting the viewer see the monster for what they really are.

I remember shows from The Twilight Zone that included monsters.  The one that got me the most is the kid with powers -- 'It's a Good Life.'  Here's a synopsis from that link:

Six-year-old Anthony Fremont looks like any other little boy, but looks are deceiving. He is a monster, a mutant with godlike mental powers. Early on, he isolated the small hamlet of Peaksville, Ohio. In fact, the handful of inhabitants do not even know if he destroyed the rest of the world or if it still exists. Anthony has also eliminated electricity, automobiles, and television signals. He controls the weather and what supplies can be found in the grocery store. Anthony creates and destroys as he pleases, and controls when the residents can watch the TV and what they can watch on it.
The adults tiptoe nervously around him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good", since displeasing him can get them wished away "to the cornfield", where they are presumably met by a less-than-happy ending. Finally, at Dan Hollis' birthday party, Dan, slightly drunk, can no longer stand the strain and confronts the boy, calling him a monster and a murderer; while Anthony's anger grows, Dan begs the other adults to kill Anthony from behind -"Somebody end this, now!"- but everyone else is too afraid to act. Before Dan is killed, he is shown, indirectly by his shadow, transformed into a Jack-in-the-box.
His widow breaks down, but no matter what happens, the people of Peaksville make sure to think only good thoughts and repeat "That's a real good thing what Anthony did!" and "It's a good life."

It's horrifying to think that just a young boy can be so evil.  That's what makes it even scarier, to me, than having the first type of monster, one that looks evil.

So when you write about a monster, don't reveal all of its evil qualities all at once, but little by little, make it more evil as it goes.  It's like a secret evil that the reader doesn't know about until the very end, but suspects as you go along.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Monday, July 25, 2016

Is This Series Cursed?

Here's a weird one for you that I just can't explain.

I have a series called 'Extreme Travel,' where a group of rag-tag CIA members go out and take care of problems world wide.  They don't have super-gadgets or do weird stunts, but just do what it takes to get the job done.  The main character is Kes Madrid, and it's written from her point of view.

When I first started writing the books, I started with Zimbabwe since it was one of the most corrupt places in the world.  I wrote another 10 books fast, all taking place in problem countries.

The first one 'Get Me Out of Africa,' published in 2011.  There are always problems in that country, but at that time, there were beatings and murders for anyone opposing the government.  I didn't even know about that when I put that book out.

The second one (Voo Do Love Me!) takes place in Haiti.  I wanted to publish that one right after the first one, but had to wait, since there had just been a big earthquake in Haiti, killing over 300,000 people and leaving millions homeless.  I put a disclaimer in the front of that book:

The characters and events surrounding the plot of this story are fictional.
 The story is based on the state of the political climate of the country at the time of writing, which was in 2005, before the big earthquake on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.
 Since that time, things have changed for the worse compared to what the author describes in this story.  But be well aware that the author is following all news stories coming out of Haiti, worried for the well-being of that country.
 Other than the names of some of the towns, most of the rest of the story only live in the mind of the author.  Extensive research has been done to make the story seem authentic.

The third book, 'Do You Need a Doggie Bag?' takes place on a cruise ship.  Just a few months before I published that one, theCosta Concordia cruise ship ran aground, killing dozens.

I moved on to the Philippines (Please Don't Blow Up the Neighbors).  That one also has a disclaimer at the front of the book because of the huge typhoon that killed over 6,000 people.

Here's the disclaimer for that book:

Disclaimer:
 The characters and events surrounding the plot of this story are fictional.  The story is based on the state of the political climate of the country at the time of writing.  Other than the names of some of the towns, most of the rest of the story only live in the mind of the author.  Extensive research has been done to make the story seem authentic.
 My heart goes out to the victims of the 2013 typhoon named both Typhoon Haiyan and Typhoon Yolanda.  This book was written years before that typhoon hit, but I've waited to publish this story until cleanup had begun in that country.  

Book 5 (The Waterfall Coup) takes place in Venezuela.  If you aren't following the news, they have a mess down there.  They have horrible inflation and shortages of everything.  I had no idea when I wrote it that there would ever be a problem there.

Now I'm ready to publish a book that takes my team to Turkey (Questionable Job Security).  Have you read the news lately about Turkey?  They had a coup attempt by their own military.  I need to wait a bit to put this one out, I think.

See a pattern?  I think that series is cursed:

Book 1: Get Me Out of Africa, takes place in Zimbabwe -- human rights problems, killing and torture
Book 2: Voo Do Love Me!, takes place in Haiti -- big earthquake
Book 3: Do You Need a Doggie Bag?, takes place in Mexico on cruise ship -- cruise ship runs aground
Book 4: Please Don't Blow Up the Neighbors, takes place in Philippines -- big typhoon kills
Book 5: The Waterfall Coup, takes place in Venezuela -- economic disaster, food shortages
Book 6: Questionable Job Security, takes place in Turkey -- attempted military coup.


This series seems to be cursed!  After Turkey, they're heading off to Europe (mostly in France and England), then Kenya, Laos, China, and Canada for the other books I have written.  France already has problems.  I wonder if the rest will, too?

Or is it that I just pick places that are already prone to bad problems and by default, they happen anyway?  I have no idea, but the thought is scary.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books



Friday, July 22, 2016

Escape Room -- in REAL Life!

Last week, I wrote about escape rooms as games, or escape games.  What if those rooms were REAL and you could try to get out, much like the game on television, Race to Escape.  Personally, I wouldn't want someone watching me fail at that game on television, but I'd love to try to get out of a room by solving puzzles and getting clues.

I made a mystery area such as this in my book, 'A Love as Fair as Snow,' by Eryn Grace.  For their first date, they go to a diner that has an area where you're to solve a mystery.  It's set up like rooms in a house.  You have to solve the mystery in an allotted amount of time, or you're kicked out.  If you win, you get a free meal in the diner.

In the Wisconsin Dells, there's a place called 'Wizard Quest.'  Your goal is to free wizards by solving problems through a labyrinth type of setting.  We've been there twice.  The first time, there were people dressed in all black who would chase you to steal any points you'd collected (if I remember correctly).  The next time, they took out the scary chasers but you still had to solve the puzzles, putting it on paper and then entering it into a computer in the room.  Now, they have things that you carry around to collect data, etc.

In Collinsville, Illinois (Can you escape the Escape Room?), they've created an escape room such as the room on television.  You have an hour to escape, but it's not easy.  However, you're not really locked in, much like in my book.

If you had the chance to go into an escape room or a room such as that and solve problems, etc., would you do it?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Five Tips for a Page Turner

I read this article:  5 Writing Tips to Creating a Page Turner and found it interesting.  Their tips:

1.  Create stakes that matter
2.  Unpredictable characters
3.  Which way will this go?
4.  Pace with purpose
5.  Give them something to talk about


I think there are more tips than that, but it's a start.

The reader has to be invested in the characters, wanting them to succeed.  But if the writer throws obstacles in their way (either emotional or having another character get in the way somehow), then the reader should be rooting for the character and not the obstacle.  I've watched shows where I hope the tornado wins and we can all move on.  That's ridiculous.  I don't care about the characters at all.

Unpredictable characters are sometimes stupid and make idiotic choices.  That's not good.  For example, how many times have you screamed at the television telling the character NOT to go into the dark basement alone?  Do they ever listen?  Nope.  That's pretty predictable that they'll do it, even though we all know you never do that.  So make them unpredictable.  Instead of going into the basement at all. have them throw a smoke bomb down there first.  Wouldn't see that in a horror movie.

Which way will this go?  In a romance, you know what's going to happen by the end of the book when you read page 1.  You know who the romance will be between and you know it'll be a happily ever after book, or it's going to make you angry.  Thus, as a writer, there needs to be a twist of some sort that turns that all on its head.  For example, in 'Wishing on Mistletoe Mountain,' the first scene was about Rebecca and her senate-hopeful boyfriend.  The guy proposes.  As a reader, you think it's going to be about those two, but as soon as Rebecca declines the proposal, all bets are off.

Pace with purpose.  This is a toughie for me.  I love fast-paced stories.  I hate having to read about every detail of the setting, what the place smelled like, and what color the sky is.  Couldn't care less.  I'd rather let my brain fill in the details like that, and get on with the plot.  I'm a big dialogue person, making the pace faster.  I also like putting that 'ticking clock' in the background, where they have to do something by a certain time, or everything is lost.  Life and death stakes are even better with that ticking clock.  But that races the pace even more.  So pacing is tough.  Too slow and you lose the reader.  Too fast and...you lose the reader.  I'm trying to do fast, slow, fast, slow, changing it up so the pace isn't too fast.  Not easy but doable.

Give them something to talk about.  I do hear from my fans that they loved the books and think about the characters even after the book is done.  That's the best news to hear, as a writer.  They also want a sequel for some books...even better!  But word of mouth for them to tell their friends...priceless.

So get out there, write a page turner, and see if these things apply.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Only Six Plots?

According to this article:

There are just SIX plots in every film, book and TV show ever made: Researchers reveal the 'building blocks' of storytelling

...there are only six emotional story arcs used in every film and book.  An emotional story arc is like a plot building block that tells the story through emotions.  They scanned over 1700 stories and used data-mining to find words that convey positive or negative emotions, indicating story arcs.

I kind of find that hard to believe, but assuming there are only six arcs, let's look into this.

They go on to say that the story arcs are as follows:

Fall-rise-fall
Rise-fall
Fall-rise
Steady fall
Steady rise
Rise-fall-rise


They give examples of each, but if you don't know the stories, it won't make sense.  'Rise' means something good is happening, and 'fall' something bad, emotionally.  For example, 'steady fall' would be like 'Romeo and Juliet' by Shakespeare.  It starts out tough and goes down hill the rest of the way until they die in the end.  Pretty sad.

The most popular stories follow the 'fall-rise-fall' and 'rise-fall' arcs, according to the article.  That means no 'happily ever after,' which leaves out most romances.  Why then, are romances selling very well?

According to RWA (Romance Writers of America), 13% of adult fiction sales are romances, yielding about 1.08 billion dollars in sales in 2013.  If you go to their source (Nielsen Books and Consumer Tracker), romance and thrillers were the biggest sellers of ebooks.  And, according to GalleyCat50% of Smashwords Sales Are Romance Titles.  Romance is a huge seller.  But if it's a HEA (happily ever after), that doesn't fit the '--fall' categories.  It should be considered a rise-fall-rise arc for that industry of books.

I'm surprised that rise-fall-rise stories aren't considered to be the most popular.  I wonder if they even looked at those books, considering the titles they used seemed to be more of the classics?

Read a romance and bring up the stats.  LOL!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Meet the Abused Man

Here's what an abused man looks like, from the ones I suspect are abused.  He's a typical average man, but obviously browbeaten.  Much like an abused woman, he's afraid to say anything that might get him in trouble.  He's quick to come to the defense of his abuser, out of fear, I suspect.  He agrees with everything the abuser says and keeps quiet, his eyes downward.  He's also a loner, afraid to make friends.

Writing about an abused woman is more commonplace in books, but an abused man seems just as sad.  With every character, they're fighting an inner demon.  So for my book, this character's inner demon is the abuser.  He'd like to leave the abuser, but can't for some reason.  If he's married, maybe it's because of the children or for financial reasons.

They also have an outer struggle, like with every character.  It might be that he's having problems at work because of the abuse at home.  It might be a fear is keeping him up at night, or even that he's thinking about fleeing one way or another.

The abused man is an interesting character.  I, personally, just want to take any abused person or animal home and help them heal.  That's what a writer has to do--make the reader want to help and want the abused person to succeed.

If you're abused, please get help.  It can be from a professional, or even from a neighbor.  I know too many people like this who are afraid to get help, out of fear.  Go outside your comfort zone and seek a way out.  No one should have to live like that, even a character in a book.

SweetTale Books

Monday, July 18, 2016

Interpretation at the United Nations

When I wrote the book, 'Deadly Interpretations' by Andie Alexander, I had to do a lot of research into how the language specialists interpreted the spoken word from language to language.  Here's what I found out:


  • There are six official languages at the U.N.:  English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.  The main languages are English and French.
  • Each of the interpreters (also called translators) works with interpreting the spoken word.  The written word is only called translation.  They must be fluent in their main languages and should know two or more of the other languages in the list of six.
  • The U.N. interpreters translation the speech from the speaker (ambassadors, usually) into the other five languages.  Sometimes, they have the speech written in advance, but not always.
  • They use simultaneous interpretation.  That means the interpreter works on the fly, without any lapse between the speech in one language and the interpretation into another language.  The other type of interpreting is called consecutive interpretation, which means the speaker and interpreter alternate.
  • There are six booths--one for each official language--at the U.N.  Two interpreters are in each booth, except for Arabic and Chinese.  In those booths, they may use three interpreters.
  • Sometimes, a relay system is used.  If Chinese isn't known by the English speaker, for example, the interpreters in the Chinese booth will interpret the speech into English or French, and then the rest will interpret that version into their own languages.
  • The interpreters work in shifts, usually 15-20 minutes in length, since the work is extremely demanding.
  • The interpreters are graded in their languages.  An 'A' means that is their native tongue.  A 'B' means they've mastered that language.  And a 'C' means they know the language somewhat.  Usually, the interpreter only works with their 'A' language.  These people are considered to be the best of the best in translations/interpretations.  The competition is extremely stiff.
  • If an ambassador doesn't know any of the six languages, they are permitted to bring their own interpreter.  
  • The profession started during the Nuremberg trials for the Nazi war criminals of WWII.

It's very interesting to study.  I can't even imagine messing up and causing a war because of a missed interpretation...but that might make a great plot some day.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books
---------------------------
References:
Lost in Translation -- How does interpretation work at the United Nations?
Language competitive examinations
Interpretation Service
Interpreters
How I became a UN interpreter
UN Interpreters Make Sure Nothing Is Lost In Translation

Friday, July 15, 2016

Escape Games

Lately, I've really gotten into escape games.  I have a few on my Nook, free games from Google Play.  More of those can be found here:

Google Play Escape Games

For those of you who like these games but don't want an app (you'd rather play online), I found a site for you that's FREE.  YAY, free!  It's called 365escape.com.

In these games, you have to pick up items to use later, and solve puzzles to get out of the room or area.  Depending on the game, you could potentially go to another room or area.

I had one of these games on my Nook that I gave up on.  It had very odd puzzles, and I never could figure them out.  I won't mention the name here, but in one puzzle, you had to put a pencil in someone's eye to get a key or something.  Yuck.

One of my favorites are the Tesla's Electric Mist games.  They do cost money, but it's not much.  I think the first one may be free sometimes.  Here are the links:
Tesla's Electric Mist 1
Tesla's Electric Mist 2
Tesla's Electric Mist 3

They're good games, a 3-parter, which aren't that difficult to solve, but still challenging.

Anyway, enjoy!  I love these games!  If you know of some good ones, comment here.

Have a great weekend!
SweetTale Books

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Automated Latte

I got to thinking the other day...why can't they make an automated latte machine?  I watch the Starbucks baristas actually foaming the milk, putting beans in the top to give two shots of coffee at the bottom, etc.

What if there was a machine that you put in the beans, the water, and the milk...and at the bottom, you'd get a perfectly made latte with foam at the top?  No grinding, no foaming, no anything else.  I bet it'd sell, too.  The parts would have to be washable (especially the place for the milk), but otherwise, why can't they do this?

Just food (and a latte) for thought!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why Not Finish Reading a Book?

I came across this article recently:

Why Readers Stop Reading a Book

They surveyed over 100 participants, 86.30% were female, and 13.70% were male.

The main information is as follows:
There were 34 sub-categories as a result of the survey. Those results were then placed into 5 main categories: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Taste, and Other, with Writing providing the largest number of sub-categories and results. 68.49% of those responding noted some form of dissatisfaction with Writing as a reason for putting a book down.26.03% gave Editing.23.29% gave Proofreading.17.81% was Taste.2.74% was Other.
Interesting information. I put editing and proofreading together in my mind, which comes to 49.32%. 'Writing' to me, could mean they didn't like the author's style, or some other reason. The article then goes on to have subcategories for writing, which shows the main reasons (66.67%) were in one of the four categories of dull, bad writing, unbelievable/dull characters, and info dump. Profanity, over describing, and violence gave another 12.65%. There's another category that interested me for this survey. It was 'taste concerns of readers.' Here's what the article says:
There were 7 different sub-categories placed under taste: Slow Beginning (30.77%), Tragic Ending (15.38%), Difficult Vocabulary (15.38%), Too Much Detail (15.38%), Back Story (7.69%), Genre (7.69%), and Cliffhanger Ending (7.69%).
So start the book with a major hook, give it a happy ending that is actually an ending, and don't give too much detail or back story. Difficult vocabulary--if it's a sci-fi book, then that's to be expected (especially weird names, aliens, or created worlds). But for regular genre books, I guess not trying ti impress the reader by using big words and zombie nouns is a must.

As I look over this list, I'm brought back to the reason people follow others on Twitter. Assuming the people with millions of followers didn't just pay for followers but have real people following them, take a look at their posts. They're exciting (start every book out with a hook, don't make it dull), don't have typos (proofreading), are easy and quick to read (don't have too much detail, difficult vocabulary, or back story), and usually don't include profanity or sexual situations (taste).

Same thing with writing a book. Keep it simple, keep it moving, and give it a happy ending.

Easy to say, huh?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Writing about Daydreamers

If you've never read 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,' you need to read it.  It's a short story, first published in the New Yorker in 1939, and then also published in 'My World and Welcome To It.'

In the story, the main character is a daydreamer.  Here's the basics of the plot, according to Wikipedia:


The short story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into WaterburyConnecticut, with his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife's visit to the beauty parlor. During this time he has five heroic daydream episodes. The first is as a pilot of a U.S. Navy flying boat in a storm, then he is a magnificent surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind surgery, then as a deadly assassin testifying in a courtroom, and then as a Royal Air Force pilot volunteering for a daring, secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump. As the story ends, Mitty imagines himself facing a firing squad, "inscrutable to the last." Each of the fantasies is inspired by some detail of Mitty's mundane surroundings:
  • The powering up of the "Navy hydroplane" in the opening scene is followed by Mrs. Mitty's complaint that Mitty is "driving too fast", which suggests that his driving is an action of the daydreaming and he has lost touch with the actual world.
  • Mitty's turn as a brilliant surgeon immediately follows his taking off and putting on his gloves (as a surgeon dons surgical gloves) and driving past a hospital.
  • The courtroom drama cliché "Perhaps this will refresh your memory," which begins the third fantasy, follows Mitty's attempt to remember what his wife told him to buy, when he hears a newsboy shouting about "the Waterbury Trial" ("You miserable cur" are the last words mentioned in the fantasy. Mitty was supposed to buy puppy biscuits.)
  • Mitty's fourth daydream comes as he waits for his wife and picks up an old copy of Liberty, reading "Can Germany Conquer the World Through the Air?", and envisions himself fighting Germany while volunteering to pilot a plane normally piloted by two people.
  • The closing firing-squad scene comes when Mitty is standing against a wall, smoking.

He's an amazing daydreamer, able to take mundane situations (like going to a beauty parlor with his wife) and turn them into harrowing adventures.  However, Walter has almost lost touch with reality, which brings about bigger conflicts in this story.

Another book I'd like you to consider is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.  It was written in 1955.

The plot, according to Wikipedia:

The protagonist, Harold, is a curious four-year-old[1] boy who, with his purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it.
Harold wants to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon, so he draws one. He has nowhere to walk, so he draws a path. He has many adventures looking for his room, and in the end he draws his own house and bed and goes to sleep.

Both of these stories show major daydreamers.  In both stories, the daydreams are much bigger than reality, and thus, the character wishes to stay in that daydream.  It also causes conflict in the real world, since the character prefers the make believe situations.  Thus, they're straddling reality and fantasy, and not doing it well.

When writing about daydreamers, they need to prefer fantasy, which should be more enticing than reality.  Thus, the conflict, a writer's friend.

Even though both of these books are rather old, they're still great entertainment.  That's the goal for every writer--to entertain through conflict and resolution.

So go, daydream, and live the life of a fantasy!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Monday, July 11, 2016

Giving Just Enough

When I wrote the book, 'Sweet Love of Texas,' I wanted to give the main character a disease that threatened her life.  Considering one of the main band members is a neurosurgeon, it was kind of a no-brainer (no pun intended).

So, Callie, the main character, was given a brain tumor.  I knew nothing about brain tumors and the less I know, the better, I think.  But I did massive research on the disease, to find out how they operate, the types of brain tumors, etc.  I probably could've gone into an operating room and told the doc what he was doing, I learned that much (well, almost).

When it came time to write the book, what did I want to share?  Did I want to go into detail about how they operate (it's a little gruesome) or just give enough to give the reader the idea?  Also, in the book, Austin (the surgeon) had created this new way to operate on brain tumors.  He was famous for it, but didn't think anything about it.  What was my idea for the 'new way' that would sound impressive and not just made up?  And yes, I thought about this at length.  I came up with a solution but didn't write it all down so trolls wouldn't harass me.  The solution involves not cutting into the brain very much but using a very very thin type of straw to get to where it needs to be.  Thus, when I was writing, I imagined it in my brain, but didn't put it into the book.  It wasn't necessary, to get my point across.

I gave just enough information to sound credible, but didn't go into detail so it didn't become a medical textbook.  The story isn't about the brain tumor, but I needed enough to progress the story.

So when you write, remember, it's about the story and not the minute details.  No one cares about the little things and information dump, unless it's related to the story itself.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cows, Sheep, and Chickens?

I love these types of puzzles, because I can do them.  But can you?

Here's the puzzle: (it's from PUZZLED: These 15 Head-Scratchers Are Going Viral… Here’s Why)


Can you figure it out?


----------------------------------
Here's the answer (warning--spoiler!)

Cow - Sheep = 2Chicken
Chicken + 3Sheep = Cow
Cow + Chicken = ?

Substituting Cow from row 2 into row 1:

Chicken + 3Sheep -Sheep = 2Chicken
Chicken + 2Sheep = 2Chicken
2Sheep = Chicken


From row 1 (substituting 2Sheep in for Chicken):

Cow - Sheep = 2(2Sheep)
Cow - Sheep = 4Sheep
Cow = 5Sheep

Cow + Chicken then is 5Sheep + 2Sheep = 7Sheep

Here's what they say is the answer:

9. One cow = 10, one sheep = two and one chicken = four. So one cow plus one chicken = 14, or seven sheep.

How they got those numbers is beyond me.  Any guesses?  I figured out the 7Sheep part, but unless you guess at the substitution, I don't think there's a way to figure out the numbers.

I asked two of my children (the third sleeps in during the day).  One of the kids has a degree in math and computer science and the other is working on her degrees in math and history.  I wanted to recheck my work, because if you don't use what you've learned, you lose it (and I've lost it, big time).

They both agreed with me, even saying that there are multiple answers to this.  You could say the following:

Cow = 5
Sheep = 1
Chicken = 2

Proof:
Cow - Sheep = 2Chicken
Chicken + 3Sheep = Cow
Cow + Chicken = 7Sheep

by substituting:
5 - 1 = 2(2)  OR 4 = 4 checks out.
2 + 3(1) = 5  OR 5 = 5 checks out
5 + 2 = 7(1)  OR 7 = 7 checks out.

OR

Cow = 20
Sheep = 4
Chicken = 8

20 - 4 = 2(8)  OR 16 = 16 checks out.
8 + 3(4) = 20  OR 20 = 20 checks out
20 + 8 = 7(4)  OR 28 = 28 checks out.

OR any multiple of Cow = 5, Sheep = 1, Chicken = 2.

Also, there is no way they could've solved the equations for 'numbers' instead of just the animal names, without just guessing.

Wow.  Now I feel smart. LOL!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Prosey Much?

When I first started writing romance, I was told to buy a certain book that described actions in a 'romantic' way.  I remember one of those phrases, sort of.   It was something like 'she moved up on tiptoes to give him a kiss.'  The book was filled with phrases of this sort.  I used it a lot until I heard the phrase, 'purple prose.'

Huh?  What was that?

According to Dictionary.com, purple prose is:

writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, especially in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies.

Or, in simpler terms, it's writing that's flowery, ornate, and outlandish.  It's way too dramatic, calling attention to itself.

I went back into my manuscripts and took out as much purple prose as I could.  It was bad, bad, bad.  It was for newbies.

So what is purple prose, really?  I consider it to be overwriting, over describing, and telling a story with too many words.  It's kind of like overacting--too many deliberate sighs and hand motions for a short sentence.

Here are a few examples:

With the cerulean sky brightly lit overhead, she bent to pick a limp daisy into her dainty hand, being certain not to break off the delicate petals.

Why not write:  She pulled the broken daisy and held it in her hand.

Another:

He tipped his head to touch his lips on hers, his brown long hair teasing her forehead.

How about:  He bent to kiss her, his lips touching hers.


Now most romance writers will put a bit more of a description in there, which is perfectly fine.  However, if you're writing a sci-fi or paranormal book, these more flowery descriptions appear odd.

So just know your genre, know your prose, and don't overdo.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


---------------------------------------
Reference:

Don't be a Dickens: Avoiding Purple Prose
Dictionary.com Purple Prose
On Purple Prose: How to Gracefully Fix Problems on Zombie Nouns, Flowery Words, among Others



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Studying Treblinka

To be honest, I'm not much one for learning or remembering history.  So, when I did research for 'Faith in the Darkest of Nights,' my eyes were opened to a lot of things that happened in the past.  One of those things is that there were more concentration camps than just the most publicized.

One of those camps was Treblinka.  But it wasn't just a concentration camp.  It was also one of about six extermination camps designed by the Nazis during WWII.  It was located in Poland, about 50 miles northeast of Warsaw, hidden from view.  The place was designed to eliminate Jews.  The victims were brought in by train, forced to dress in prisoner clothing, had their hair cut, and were either gassed or shot.  Their bodies were thrown into a mass pit.  At least 800,000 Jews were killed in Treblinka.

There were two parts to Treblinka:  Treblinka I and Treblinka II.  Treblinka I was a forced labor camp, and Treblinka II was an extermination camp.  When the Nazis were about to lose the war, they bulldozed the site, built a farmhouse for a watchman on the land, and covered up every evidence of the genocide that had occurred there.

When I did research for 'Faith in the Darkest of Nights,' I wanted to show that even in the darkest places and the most horrible of circumstances, God is there with you.  I created a Treblinka III for my story, so as to not detract from the horrors of the first two camps, or change the course of events for the prisoners who did manage to escape from the place.

It was an eye-opening experience for me, doing the research for just that one part of the story in the book.  The man telling the story changes another man's heart, which ripples out to save the first man's family.

If you have a chance to read more about Treblinka, do it.  The people in charge of the killings had no remorse, thinking they did nothing wrong.  As horrible as that sounds, it only takes a few more crazy people to think that's right, and to repeat history.
--------
References:
Treblinka Death Camp History
Treblinka (Poland)
Treblinka Concentration Camp: History & Overview
Treblinka
Treblinka Death Camp
Treblinka Extermination Camp

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Writing about Thieves

As a writer, I have to get into the nitty-gritty of everyday life.  For some characters, that means they're thieves.  They steal things, thinking it's okay, or for some other purpose that's more nefarious.

For the thieves that think it's okay, they're pushing the envelope of what's acceptable.  'Everyone else does it,' or 'it's just a few cents/dollars,' etc.

But stealing is stealing.  Characters who are thieves have an interesting character flaw which is like gold in a writer's mind.  They have a skewed sense of morality, that taking from others is okay.

When is stealing okay?  That's the fine line the thief puts in his mind.  It might be okay to say, steal a grape at the store, or to download a book free from a pirate site, but if you go to their home and take a spoon, for example, that's not okay.  That spoon might be cheaper than a book, but that's not okay.

Thus, when writing about thieves, know they too, have limitations for their own morals.  The old saying, 'there's honor among thieves,' also holds true.  They look out for each other, protecting other thieves.  However, making a thief change by the end of the book is no easy task.  'Once a thief always a thief' sticks in other character's minds.  It's like the thief becomes untrustworthy, which is an almost impossible label to shed, even under extenuating circumstances for becoming a thief in the first place. 'I was stealing milk for my baby,' still makes that person untrustworthy.

I had to figure that out when writing 'Ruled a Suicide.'  The main character, Ellie, was a homeless mother.  She broke into a home for medicine for her daughter, also living on the streets.  Once inside the home, she finds the homeowner, dead under the Christmas tree.  Ellie calls the cops but can't tell who she is, for fear they'll know she'd broken in and she's homeless with a child. If anyone finds out she was stealing, she'll lose it all.

Have fun writing about thieves!  They're interesting characters!

SweetTale Books

Friday, July 1, 2016

Impossible Puzzle on PlayBuzz

I recently found this site called www.playbuzz.com.  There's some cool stuff on there.

This one, though, is practically impossible.  I have to admit, I cheated.  If you go to the siteand click on the picture, the answers will be revealed.

You have to find six hidden words in this picture:



Can you find ANY of them?  Good luck!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books