Monday, October 15, 2018

Scripts

Since I've been out of commission with my wrist, I've been watching a lot of TV.  I've been doing research on what makes a good story. 

For characters, the quirkier, the better...but based in reality and what they believe is truth.  They need a strange quality that sticks out.

For setting, it plays a part.  I always seem to want to know where the story takes place, annoyed if I can't figure that out.

For plot, jumping right into a major conflict is amazing.  I seem to like the plots that aren't predictable, that make me root for the main character.

I hope this helps any budding writers out there.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, October 8, 2018

Need Help With Common Errors?

There's this really cool site to help with common writing errors.  It's called Common Errors in English Usage, by Professor Paul Brians.  Just about any problem you can think of is addressesd on this page.

For example, let's look at back seat.  Scroll down to the Bs and click on it (or just click on the word in the last sentence).  You'll see that the word backseat is only used when describing something like a backseat driver.  Otherwise, it's two words.

Cool page, huh?

Have a great week!
SweetTale Mooks

Monday, October 1, 2018

Review Groups

I belong to a almost defunct book club, dedicated to the Bubbles series of books by Sarah Strohmeyer.  If you've never read these books and like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, you'd probably like them.  They're a lot cleaner, and I think, funnier.

In this online book club, the members write quick reviews of various books, even rating them with A through F grades.  Since the club is pretty much done, only one member still sends out emails rating a bunch of books with a write-up of each one.  I glean a lot of information from her descriptions, meaning more to me than any Amazon or Goodreads review, since they sometimes aren't true, but are created by trolls.

So, if you'd like to really get more bang for your buck with reviews, consider a book club like this.  The members read what they want and share reviews with other members.  With grades, it'd be easy to pick out books for the month for other readers.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, September 24, 2018

I survived week one!

Last Saturday, Sept.15, I fell down the steps at one A.M.when trying to put our whining dogs out.  I hurt my right wrist and wrapped it right away.  My darling husband took me to Urgent Care where they wrapped my fractured wrist in a temporary cast, telling me to see an orthopedist on Monday morning.

I saw the guy who'd replaced my hip 11 years ago, on Monday morning.  He showed me the X-rays.  The bond right under my thumb was fractured through to the middle of my wrist, where the bone was shattered.

He scheduled me for surgery that afternoon.  I hadn't eaten that morning, and wouldn't be allowed to eat for over 25 hours, from when I'd eaten the night before.  An hour after I'd been put under, I was being wakened with a new cast and pins in my bones under the cast.  I'm so grateful for what he did, because I can now move my fingers without pain.

Since then, I have to do everything one-handed...even type this post.  I'm learning how to overcome challenges I used to consider simple.  Everything is much slower.

So the next time, authors, that a character breaks a bone, consider simple things as tough--opening bottles and cans, putting on deodorant, shaving, putting on clothing (bras and watches are impossible), and trying to use silverware.  I never knew how right-handed I was, but I'm learning with my left.  I'm trying to learn to write...and it's easier to read than with my right, because I'm very slow and deliberate.

Have a good week, and appreciate what you have.  Seven more weeks in a cast for me...then rehab.

SweetTale Books

Saturday, September 15, 2018

yuck

i fell last night and i think i broke my right wrist.  i'm not left handed.  so i'm offline for a while.  take care!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

What's in a cover?  How do you design something that someone's going to want to read, yet stay true to the theme of the story?

It's not an easy task.  I've been reworking some covers, wanting to stick with something close to the original, yet giving them more appeal to the average reader.  I've been looking at other people's covers on the most desired list of books on Amazon, and to me, there's no rhyme nor reason for the sales figures if applied to only the book cover.

Many writers put a lot of money and effort into that cover, but I have a feeling it's not just the cover that makes it sell.  The title is equally important, as is the font and the placement of the title and author's name.

I'm also thinking simple is the best.  Easy to read font, simple and clean lines, with a clear picture that's not cluttered.

What do you like to see on a book cover?  What would entice you?

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy Labor Day!!!

Why aren't many books set for the Labor Day holiday?  I don't think I've read any for that holiday, nor for Memorial Day.  I guess they're considered 'lesser' holidays and don't have much of the traditions associated with them like Christmas, maybe?

If you're considering writing a new book, consider setting it around one of the lesser holidays and see what happens.  For one day of the year, you'll pretty much dominate the holiday book market.  LOL!

Anyway, have a super Labor Day (U.S.) and enjoy the day off if you can.

SweetTale Books

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bookstore Heaven!

One of the reasons we went to Portland, Oregon for our vacation was for this gigantic bookstore...at least my husband told me that.

The bookstores is called Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland (they now have more stores elsewhere).  A good description is here:  Travel Portland: Powell's City of Books and their 'about us' page has even more:  Powell's City of Books: About Us

From what I understand, the owner created a small bookstore out of an automotive dealership, after helping with his son's bookstore in Chicago.  Every time a business would close up shop, the bookstore would buy the property.  Eventually, they owned the entire city block.  Now, it's more than one level (with even levels 2a and 2b, for example, and the elevator opens different doors for those types of levels), and every single book you can imagine housed inside.  There's even a rare books collection on the top floor, where you have to have permission to enter that room, and are watched over while perusing the contents.

We were in awe.  I've never seen anything like it, not only from the amount of books, but from the people inside.  It seems to be a whole mini-culture of book lovers who aren't in a hurry at all.  I loved it!

So, if you're ever in Portland, check out Powell's City of Books.  It's one amazing place where I could get lost for days.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, August 20, 2018

Using Styles in Word

If you use Microsoft Word, you probably have to use different fonts, spacing, etc., according to the needs of the document.  For example, when I create a manuscript, I have a title, an author line, copyright and dedication pages, chapter titles, and other types of things (like a thank you page, and a bio).

For many of these types of pages, I use different sizes of fonts and spacing.  However, if I used just one style, every time I wanted to change that specific font or spacing, I'd need to go through the entire document and search for that specific instance.

I also use Jutoh.exe to make epublications for online books.  If I just used one style, I'd have to go into that program and change everything around, hoping it stays put after I save it.

There's a solution to this, where it stays put in Jutoh.exe, and I can control the style at the top of the Word document.  It's called 'styles.'

Documents usually use the 'normal' style.  I don't use that for my manuscripts, so I can control what most of the text looks like without changing everything else.  I use 'body text' for the actual story.  I modify it to look like this:

Based on Normal, linked paragraph and chapter, Times New Roman 12, black text, justified (under the paragraph tab), exactly 25 pt, and first line at 0.5".

How do I do that?  First, you'd have to create a style under 'home' at the top ribbon.  You click on the arrow with a line above it (on the right) and 'create a style.'  Name the style and modify it. 

Each of the things I described above is listed in these links:

Using Styles in Word (video)
Customize or create new styles in Word
Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word
WINDOWS How To Use Styles In Microsoft Word To Save A Lot Of Work
10 Microsoft Word Style Secrets


So, every time you change a font or the size or the before/after spacing, make a new style.  You'll save yourself a ton of time if you do.

I also make all my chapter titles based on Heading 1, so when I click the 'document map' (navigation), every chapter is listed, for easier reference/jumping to a chapter faster.

Enjoy!
SweetTale Books

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cool Furniture!!


A fan of the site has recently contacted me and wanted me to check out this great article on decorating a reading nook and as an avid reader this has always been a dream of mine. If you would like to check it out I have included the link below.

Decorating a Reading Nook

Upon looking further into this site, I have found that in addition to selling Furniture they have many excellent resources and articles on decorating every room in your house. In the reading nook article, they make excellent points about creating your very own reading space.

The best way to loosen up with a good read is to devote a space in your home, even a small one, to a reading nook. From a home library to a single chair in a corner, almost any space can become a designated reading area. Although not much space is required, every great reading nook features five vital elements.”

How cool is that!  Some of those nooks are gorgeous, along with their furniture!  So if you're ever in the market for new furniture, or HAVE to have a new reading spot, check it out.  I'll have to create one myself, someday, in my dream writing cottage behind our house WAY south of Green Bay (can you tell I now have the travel bug and can't WAIT to move, especially after seeing this furniture?)

I hope you find this article as informative and helpful as I did.  Thanks for checking it out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I'm BACK!

We're back from the mystery vacation, and guess where we went?

Portland, Oregon!



We went on a waterfall tour, went to Powell's City of books (that place so SO incredible, we had to go back again to see more), and learned how to use the public transportation which was so easy and fun to use, it was worth not renting a car.

Little did we know but there were protests there on Saturday.  The protesters were loaded with guns, too, which is very scary when your hotel is only about four blocks from the courthouse, where the protesters started.  Even some of the local shops closed early or didn't open at all so their employees could stay out of harm's way.

Thus, that day, we went south of the hotel to the Farmer's Market (which was incredible), and then went west to see the zoo and the Japanese gardens.

Portland is an interesting city with never a dull moment.  The people are more laid back than any place I've ever lived, and there are more dogs with their owners walking the streets or taking public transportation.  The dogs are so calm (compared to ours), they just go with the flow, much like their owners.

I also finally learned what a hipster is, and saw one happening town.  Any time the locals can make entertainment, they do it.  For example, at the Farmer's Market, one man was sitting under a tree, playing a clarinet.  He was really good at his craft, so good, that a young girl of maybe three years old, stood in front of him and just listened.  It was adorable.  It also looked like the slow classical style song was putting her to sleep, so he then played a more upbeat song.  It was the cutest scene I'd seen in a while.

Anyway, we're back, still on a bit of jet lag, and even picked up our dogs early from the kennel last night (my husband really missed them).  And now, our minds are filled with lots of fond memories of Portland.  Keep Portland Weird (their motto--see #2--we saw it!!)!

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Mystery Vacation

Tomorrow morning, VERY early, we're going on a mystery vacation.  My husband set it up, and only our one daughter and her boyfriend know where we're going (she's not going along...she's going to be working and taking care of the house, along with our son).

Because of potentially having my laptop stolen and/or the airline not allowing me to take it (I have all these scenarios in my head), I'm leaving my laptop at home.  Therefore, I won't be doing social media at all.  However, I will have my Nook to do emails.  Social media is tough to do on that thing, especially having to store pictures to post.

So I'm putting all tweets, retweets, and shares on hold until we get back after Monday.  I'm not sure what time we're getting back, so I'm going to be safe and say it'll be Tuesday.

I'll let you know where we go after we get back.  I have no idea if we'll even have fun, but our dogs are going to have a blast at the kennel, with three fun camp appointments, special one-on-one times with the people who work there, and even a bath, I think.  They're going to be tired.  LOL!

Have a great few days!  I'll be back!

SweetTale Books

Monday, July 30, 2018

Have You Ever Embarrassed Yourself?

I don't seem to have a mouth filter sometimes, which can make for hilarious comments...or embarrassing moments.

Case in point:

I went to Walmart the other day.  We still have Walmart Greeters (unlike some Walmarts).  On this day, a male greeter who's about 70 or so (with a sense of humor), was at the door when I was leaving.  Now I'd bought a razor that had a security tag on it, but had it removed by the clerk.  I mentioned to the greeter that my stuff might beep at the door when it went through the scanner.  The guy said, "I might have to frisk you then."  My mouth, unfiltered, said, "That might be the best part of my day."  I kept walking and that guy laughed so hard, I still heard him laughing as I walked out the second set of doors.

After I realized what I'd said, I was horrified, hoping I never see that guy again, or we'd both laugh.  I told my family, and they all laughed at me, too.  It's crazy...but, you can bet that's going into a book.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Haves and the Have Nots

Have you ever wondered how 'the Joneses' make it in life?  For those who don't know who the 'Joneses' are, they're a generalization of the people in this world who have whatever they want.  They never seem to struggle but can get ahead easily--very frustrating.

However, consider the average person (or Average Joe) versus the Joneses in a story.  Which would you rather read about?  Which person is more interesting?

Stories are built on conflict.  The Joneses don't have conflict in their lives, compared to the Average Joe.  So, for writing purposes, I believe that most people would rather read about something they can identify with--the Average Joe.

I watched the end of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story last night.  I've seen it many, many times, but it was on regular television.  It's a story about two gyms--Globo Gym and Average Joe's Gym.  They both enter a dodgeball tournament to get the prize money.  Globo Gym is the snooty place, where the beautiful people go to train.  Average Joe's is for the average person, but the people there are the 'losers' in the world, so to speak, the ones who'd never be allowed into Globo Gym.  Average Joe's is also having money problems.

The story, like many others, is about how these underdogs conquer the 'Joneses,' against all odds.  Readers love a good story, where the ones you'd least likely expect to make it, actually do something impressive.

So the next time you want to write about a character, don't pick the Joneses.  Pick the Average Joe and make him rise above his station in life.  It's a feel-good story like no other.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, July 16, 2018

Creating New Plots

Have you ever been stuck and can't think of a new plot?  I have.  LOTS of times.

One way to get out of the plot rut is to get out among people.  Last Thursday and Friday, we went to a Christian music festival where tons of groups played.  It was fun and I saw people I'd never normally meet on my regular journeys.

These people were all nice people, which is tough to find, especially in a group of thousands every day (it was estimated to bring in over 23,000 per day last year).  What intrigued me the most was their willingness to help others, to search out for people in need.  I didn't see one nasty person or hear one argument in all that time I was there. 

As an example, one man pushed a wheelchair for a young boy who was probably about eight or ten.  I suspect the man was his father in some way, and from the looks of things, the child had been adopted.  Regardless, the man took on the father role.

We were in the mosh pit, to listen to one group, and the man and the boy were there.  Yes, it was so loud, my entire body vibrated from the sound.  But people were standing all around, dancing and swaying to the music.  The boy couldn't see, so the man picked the kid up, put his own foot on the wheelchair, and bent his knee to make a place for the boy to sit, and hoisted the kid onto his knee.  The boy could now see.  Amazing.  How many people would do that for someone else, even a child?  I was impressed.

There were lots of stories like that just from things I witnessed from walking around and listening to groups.  It made me plot in my head, and instead of heroes that beat others up for justice, how about writing about some that go out of their way to help others? 

It's a thought.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, July 9, 2018

New Seats at the Movies

There seems to be a wave across the nation of reclining seats put into movie theaters.  At least I THINK it's a wave.  I talked to my mom about how these seats are being put into a theater here, and she said that they're doing it where she lives, too.

So what are these seats?  They're reclining seats with seven feet of leg room (for the recliner) and are called Dream Lounger seating.  They come in a pair of seats with no arm rest between them--the arm rests are on the sides of the two-seat combo.  On the arm rests are drink holders.  The control for the foot rest is on the inside, beside the customer's thigh.  The foot rest goes up and the customer can control how far back the person goes, even tilting his/her head back.  In other words, it's a great napping position.

As for price, they're more expensive than regular seats.  For example, we pay $8.50 for a matinee (we can't stay awake for the later showings) with 'stadium seating.'  But for these seats, which are assigned at the time of purchase, they're priced at $11.50, which is the same as a 3-D showing.

My husband and I saw Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp yesterday, and treated ourselves to the 'Dream Loungers.'  It was nice, but I worried about the guy beside me, who was coughing.  I wished they'd put a few inches between the seating groups, but that wouldn't be cost effective.  Still, it was a nice experience and the movie was good.

By the way...if you go to see a Marvel Movie, ALWAYS stay through the end of the credits.  There's always more to the movie after the credits are over, sometimes with more in the middle of the credits.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fantastic!!!

I just LOVE the summers, and July is one of my favorites!  I love the heat, the way people decorate with plants, and the activities.  It seems as if people are happier in the summer, and love to do things that they never could've done in the winter, especially on vacation.

This year, my husband decided we really needed a vacation.  I couldn't decide where to go, because the money was tight (or so he told me).  Also, he didn't want to take much time off, because our one daughter is coming with us (the other wants to change jobs and is thinking she'll be out of the house by whenever we leave, even if it's tomorrow).  On a whim, I told my husband that I'd love for him to plan a mystery vacation, and not tell our daughter or me where we're going.

So, yesterday, my dear husband worked all afternoon trying to book whatever vacation we're going on.  He desperately wanted to tell us where we're going and what we're doing, but I stopped him on numerous occasions.  It was hilarious!  I do know we're flying somewhere and have to be on the flight at 5:40 in the morning on the first day.  That means we have to get up around 3 AM to be at the airport at least an hour beforehand.  Oh boy.  I just tell myself it's an adventure.

Don't you just love the summers?  Add a great mystery to it, and your brain will be working overtime trying to solve the puzzle.  I'll let you know where we went, after the fact.  We're going at the beginning of August, so we'll see what happens.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, June 25, 2018

Every Little Experience

When writing a book, every experience in your past can become part of the plot.  For example, my husband just had me transfer money from our savings to our checking, because the guy's coming out to fix our fence today (it really needs it).  Have I ever transferred money before?  Nope.  Money isn't my thing in our house, ever since I 'lost' money in my checking account before we were married.  We had to spend part of the honeymoon figuring out my checking account register.  I think that's one of the moments my husband thought, 'what did I marry?'

Anyway, this little issue of transferring money could become part of a stumbling block to a character.  It becomes part of a conflict, where the woman, for example, transfers too much money and is now down on her luck.  For some reason, she can't undo the transfer and has to actually admit her mistake and deal with the consequences, whether it be having to talk to a bank manager, or beg someone else for the money back.  In my example, two of our kids are on our online checking listing.  So I could've taken or given them money from my account very easily.  Thus, I would have to beg them for help.

The point is, even something as tiny as transferring money could mean big ripples in a plot.  Thus, keep all of your ideas for something like this tucked away, because every experience you have can become a plot point.  Interesting concept, huh?

Have a super week!  I'm off to wait for the fence guy, to make more mental plot points.  LOL!

SweetTale Books

Monday, June 18, 2018

Piracy

Some people think it's totally acceptable to download a free version of someone else's book.  They don't realize, though, that this is stealing.  They're stealing money from the author, who may depend on sales to live. 

Piracy companies seem to have multiplied over the years, originating from all over the world.  When an author finds out that a pirate is giving that book away for free, or collecting the costs themselves, they have to issue a DMCA (digital millennium copyright act) form to the pirate.  That's only good in the U.S. though.  If the company is overseas, there is no legal recourse for an author.

The DMCA is a lengthy legal form that must include the title, the author, where the information is listed, certain statements, company affiliation, legal name and address, etc.  It must be done right, or the offender can sue the person requesting the copyright has been infringed.  It's crazy.

There's a company called Blasty that will send out DMCAs to offenders for the author.  Some of it can be done free, but a monthly fee will let them be sent automatically.  I think there are other companies that do the same thing, and of course, lawyers will do it for a price. 

All works are protected when written, but any company can dispute that fact if you don't have a copyright for your work, just like you can sue anyone for anything.  If the pirate is overseas, or from a country that doesn't have an agreement with the US on copyright, then a lawyer will be necessary to dispute the claims.

Needless to say, pirates are evil, in my book.  I've even heard stories of pirates who steal a book then claim it's theirs, just to make Amazon remove the original. 

Blasty is one way to make sure the DMCA is done correctly.  However, without a lawyer, some of the pirates are tough to fight.

Good luck out there.  It's a tough world sometimes.

SweetTale Books

Monday, June 11, 2018

My, How Times Change...

My darling husband loves science fiction--ANY science fiction.  He's been binging on old episodes of The Time Tunnel (you can see a search of episodes here:  YouTube's The Time Tunnel), which was shown in 1966-67 and created by Irwin Allen.  He also has been watching a lot of the original Lost in Space, also by Irwin Allen, 1965-68.  Here are a few Youtube Videos:  Lost in Space

These are interesting to watch.  The sets and special effects are pretty bad, and the body doubles sometimes don't even look like the character (the same thing happens in the original Star Trek, if you look closely enough).  But I'm talking about the plots.  Many times, the possibility of the characters getting out of the predicament they're in seems very unlikely.  But they always do, even if unbelievable.

If redone today, some of these plots in their entirety would be laughable.  For example, in one episode of Lost in Space, the main character (John Robinson) jumps out of the spaceship and decides to drift to a neighboring planet.  They're not even in the planet's atmosphere, but he's going to make it.  He complained along the way that he was hitting the atmosphere (which would've burned him up in real life), but he made it.  Hilarious!  Or, for example, in The Time Tunnel, they were showing Roman soldiers, but they were based in Greece.  We had to look more than once to make sure we weren't seeing things.  Or the island of Krakatoa where the volcano only rumbled when lightning and thunder filled the sky first.

Even more interesting than the plot issues are how the female characters behave in the older shows.  Every single one of them plays the helpless female, who cries before helping out.  They're weak and not very bright, even if they're educated.  It's laughable, I think, considering the trend these days is to have a strong female lead character.

Times change, for sure.  There are people who check these plot problems out first in movies, and the trends dictate character behavior.  For indie written books, all of this is left up to the author.

The moral of this story is, don't be like the old television shows.  Make sure your plots actually are probable and fit with the time, that the story could happen before putting it out there for the world to see.

Have a great week!
Markee

Monday, June 4, 2018

Affect vs. Effect

My memory's not what it used to be, so this week, while editing, I couldn't remember when to use affect and when to use effect.  So I looked it up, of course.

According to Quickanddirtytips.com's Affect Vs. Effect, basically:


  • Affect is a verb and Effect is a noun.
  • Affect means to influence or act in a way you don't feel.  Effect means 'a result.'
  • You should be able to insert another verb for affect.  For example, 'The weather affected her plans.'  You could put 'ruined' in for affected and it'll work:  'The weather ruined her plans.'  Thus, the verb is 'affected' and not 'effected.'
  • The word 'the' or an article such as 'the' should be able to be put in front of 'effect.'  So, 'The effect of the rain was devastating.'  Or, 'An effect of music is being relaxed.'

Of course there are exceptions, but that makes it a lot easier for most sentences.  I just have to remember that I can substitute another verb for affected and put an article in front of 'effect' and it should work.

Have a great week!
Markee

Monday, May 21, 2018

Inspirational People

When I think of inspirational people, I usually consider the famous people, the ones who everyone has heard of.  But this past week, I talked to someone who has inspired me to think bigger than my world.  She's our neighbor.

First, a background.  This family is amazing.  They're always doing something at their house.  Even though they've lived in the house a few years, they're always upgrading something.  I get tired seeing them working all the time.  They're an amazing family, overall.

So when I talked to the wife, she told me a few things that I couldn't believe.  First, she's arthritic...and she still goes out and does yard work, builds things for the home along with her husband, and is very active.  Both the husband and wife are engineers, so they're used to doing this type of work.  Next, she told me she's going to Puerto Rico to help with the recovery efforts.  FEMA needed people with experience to help out, so she's going...for a YEAR!  They have one kid in college, and one in high school.  The kid in college is going with her for the summer, because he's learned Spanish in school.  She doesn't know the language, so he's going to be her interpreter.

Wow.  Can you imagine leaving your home and family for a year to help out?  She's going to live in a hotel for the year, and just do the basics for what they need while there...and she has arthritis.  I just can't imagine doing that.  The couple gets along really well and are both outgoing, so I can see how she said she'd do that. 

The whole thought made me realize that I live in a little bubble.  I wish I could take off to help others like that, but just to consider that makes my head spin.  Here's the real kicker...she AND her husband now what to go from disaster to disaster after they're retired, just to help out.  Wow.  We need more people like that couple in the world. 

Isn't that phenomenal?  I told her I'll probably write a book about her life.  LOL!

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, May 14, 2018

Character Motivation

Different characters have different motivations, so make sure your stories reflect that.

Here's an example...for Mother's Day, I had three different outcomes from my three children.  All I wanted was some help around the house, and not some bouquet of flowers or a special meal.

The oldest--he couldn't be bothered with even an email because his girlfriend was visiting.  His motivation was to keep her entertained, while ignoring his family.

The middle kid--she helped somewhat and bought me a card (that she had to explain--LOL).  However, her motivation was to get my 'chore' out of the way and go play games or take a nap.  I appreciate her contributions, though, and if I asked for help, she did help.  That was nice.

The youngest was the most invested in the request.  She made me a card (that made me cry, it was so touching), and worked hard all day long.  She redid the garden for me, with my help (she did 99% of the work, I think).  She then cleaned part of the house and made my life easier.  Her motivation was to help me get a few things done here.

So the next time you write about a character, remember their motivation.  Are they fully invested in the quest, part of the way, or not at all?  I had all three for Mother's Day, but as long as I heard from them, that's all that mattered to me.  The rest was icing on the cake (my motivation).

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

Storytelling

I've been looking at various topics in storytelling, and came across this website:  Storytelling

This site is very interesting.  It describes TED talks about storytelling--creative secrets and new approaches.

If you're a writer, check it out. 

From this article on that site:  The art of storytelling, according to the founders of StoryCorps and Humans of New York, two men have recorded stories from 75,000 average people from all over the world.  They tell how to get people to open up and tell their life stories.

I can't imagine the opportunity to do this work.  It'd be so fascinating, I'd want to do it for the rest of my life, even though I'm an introvert.  It'd be like listening to the life story of an old person, and how they helped shape today's culture.  My father-in-law loved telling how he fought in WWII as an air gunner.  He lay in the belly of the plane, looking out the glass bottom, and shoot at the target (that's how he described it to me).  When I look at all I've done compared to him, I feel as if I haven't done much at all.  But others might look at my life and consider it amazing, for some reason that I don't understand.

When it comes to writing books, I think an author takes a normal life and elevates it to an awesome level in some way.  Do they think it's awesome?  Probably not.  But still amazing.

Go check out that site...it's amazing.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, April 30, 2018

Using DNA in Mysteries

Did you read about the Golden State Killer and how they used a website that collects DNA to find the guy?

Here's more information on how they found the guy:  Suspected Golden State Killer is latest arrest through controversial DNA testing known for cracking cold cases

This isn't the first time the controversial method has found a criminal.  The article describes a few other outstanding cold cases cracked by using familial DNA.

This opens a new line of thinking for writing mysteries, though.  If the detective finds familial DNA that's close to the criminal, and can link it to another family member, they have a place to go to find a criminal faster.

However, I can see how this would be a 'slippery slope' for finding a killer.  That family member whose DNA was collected might want to go into protective custody, just because the killer will want to take out someone who ratted on him/her.  Also, would that be considered a legal way to find someone, by using an unsuspecting relative's DNA, or is that considered to be unlawful because it's done without consent?  The detectives in these cases used DNA samples that were already in the system or were in the public domain from people hunting for relatives.  But since the DNA they used wasn't from the criminal themselves, is that legal or is that intrusive?

It's an interesting conflict, something that drives plots.  I'm sure it'll be used in many upcoming mysteries, probably to the point of ad nauseam (Dictionary.com--to a sickening or disgusting degree).  It's still very interesting.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, April 23, 2018

Social Credit

Our youngest child is 22.  She's learning how to deal with things for the first time.  For example, she finally got a credit card (she had no credit, so getting a card has been tough).  She also just bought her first cell phone on her own (she was on our plan before).  To get that cell phone, she had to jump through a lot of hurdles, like proving who she was to the fraud department, etc.  It was a pain, but she handled it over the phone.

It reminded me of a credit system that's going on in China.

Here's one article about it:  China 'social credit': Beijing sets up huge system
Here's a Youtube video about it, too:  Is China Becoming A Black Mirror Episode (Social Credit) | ASIAN BOSS


There have been at least two episodes about this on television that I know about.  One is from Black Mirror (Nosedive), and the other is from The Orville (Majority Rule).  I haven't seen the Black Mirror episode, but I have seen the one on the Orville.

In the Orville's episode, others rate a person as good or bad.  If they're 'bad,' they can be executed.  They're denied service at shops, and are treated like outcasts.

Some view this type of social acceptance as a good thing, but they've not been deemed 'bad.'  It only takes one misstep and a person's credit and social acceptance plummets.

I think of this as a major slippery slope, but isn't that what we all do as a society?  Don't we judge others and make it tough for them to even begin to live, like my daughter who hasn't established credit yet?

The reason I write this is that books reflect society as a whole.  When writing, remember that we all judge others, just like 'social credit,' and one misstep can ruin a person's life.  And, when writing, making the problems bigger than life will create more conflict.  Conflict makes the plot interesting.

Check out the information above.  It'll open your eyes to a lot of things.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, April 16, 2018

Are you still working on writing winter books?

I'm working on Christmas stories right now.  You might ask why, but if you look out my window, you'll understand:





Welcome to springtime in Wisconsin.  We got over 16 inches of snow over the weekend, mixed with freezing rain.  It's a heavy snow, making me long for the days of December.  Thus, it wasn't hard to get back into the Christmas spirit.  Lucky me.  NOT.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, April 9, 2018

I survived jury duty!

I made it through jury duty!  YAY!  I was called for one jury, on the first day.  It was a civil case about an accident that happened.  I think the plaintiff wanted more money from the insurance company.  I was the first juror called up, sat in the jury box, and waited for everyone else to be seated.  I almost had to serve the two days on that one, but as it turned out, I SAW the accident right after it happened, so I was considered a tainted juror (or whatever it's called) and was excused.

I also had to go to a criminal case, but wasn't called up to the jury.  However, I learned a lot about courtrooms last week.  I also learned about how they question the jury to be chosen.  It was very interesting and very telling about each of my fellow jurors.  Not only were their answers analyzed, but their nonverbal clues were very interesting.  For example, in the criminal trial (it was a sexual abuse case), one woman had an issue with the questioning at hand.  She said she wouldn't have a problem judging the defendant with an open mind, but her nonverbal clues said otherwise.  She wasn't chosen for the jury, even though her words would've kept her in.

Thus, last week was a lesson in research for me.  The bailiffs were very nice people, which surprised me.  They took care of the jury in the jury room, where there were cameras everywhere.  More information about the people inside the courtroom is here:  Role of the Judge and Other Courtroom Participants.

It was an interesting situation to witness, so if you're ever called in for jury duty, take notes.  Not only are the cases interesting, but the jurors themselves are characters.  As much as it was interesting, I'm really glad it's over.  LOL!

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, April 2, 2018

Staying Up With the Times

I'll be in and out this week, because I have jury duty (my husband's watching the dogs, working from home).  I'm using this time as research into things for my books.

Anyway, I've been watching current events on Twitter and have learned a few things about society that have changed since I was a kid.  For example, there's a thing called 'virtue signaling' now.  I had to look that one up.  It's basically throwing morals into a discussion, even if the 'moral' person doesn't even follow the advice themselves.  For example, if I was telling someone that I was eating cheesecake, they'd tell me how it could harm me by making me gain weight, that I owed it to myself not to enjoy that cheesecake, even though they might be obese, themselves.  That's virtue signaling--throwing 'morals' into any conversation.

If you're a writer, do you bring in current social events or ideals into a book?  Do you stay up with the times?

I don't, unless I'm pretty sure it's not a fad. For example, I'd be careful what words I'd use for 'cool' because they may not stick around.  'Cool' has been around for a long time.  'Rad,' on the other hand, hasn't lasted as long, so I wouldn't use that.

Another one I just heard is 'you do you.'  Huh?  My daughter used that.  It means 'do what you want or what you're best at.'  I wonder if that one'll work well in books...I'm thinking not.  However, I never thought 'it is what it is' would stick around, either.

So, make sure your book will last the test of time, and you'll be fine.  Just don't jump at the chance to use something 'edgy' because in a few years, no one will understand it.

Have a great week and think of me at jury duty.  :)

SweetTale Books

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

May you have a wonderful and 'April-Fool's Free' day!




Happy Easter!

SweetTale Books

Monday, March 26, 2018

High School Stuff...

When I was a kid, if anyone pulled something that was childish, my dad used to say, 'high school stuff.'  In other words, grow up because I'm not going to deal with childish things.

I look at society these days as a LOT of 'high school stuff.'  When will people start acting like adults again?  Take my kids, for example.  They don't want to 'adult' and have told me so, on multiple occasions (like when they have to pay bills or get a job).  When I was a kid, we were expected to 'adult' and do it well, even while in high school.  But these days, so-called adults are behaving like children.

Case-in-point:  I once was at a garage getting my car fixed when a mother and her college-aged child walked into the waiting room.  The kid (a girl who was probably 20 years old) was holding a stuffed toy and reading a little kid's book.  I was ready for her to suck her thumb, too, she behaved like that so much.  I talked to the mother, just making small talk.  As it turns out, the girl was in college, where it was acceptable to behave like a child.  I talked to my children, who were also in college at that time, and that was the norm to behave like that.

What happened to the world?  When did we regress into children, as adults?

Why did I post this?  Because I want to tap into the anger I have for adults behaving as spoiled children.  I want to stick it into a book to show how society has changed, to preserve it for the future.

It's crazy, I know.  But welcome to 2018.  Characters surround us, and these adult-babies are no different.  LOL!

Have a wonderful week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, March 19, 2018

Do you use these phrases?

I recently read an article:  Tighten Your Prose: Filter Words

If you're a writer, I'd highly recommend you read this one.  I've seen too many writers use this crutch, which really weakens the plot and pulls me right out of the story.  And yes, I'm guilty of it too.  I've tried to take these filter words out of my stories, but sometimes, they just creep back in again.

What are filter words?  They're phrases that 'filter the world through the eyes of the character.'

So, for example, instead of writing, 'The rain fell on the sidewalk,' the writer would write, 'She saw the rain fall on the sidewalk.'  You're now watching through her eyes.  If you want to be in the character's head, that's all fine, but as writers, we want to make the reader feel like they're there.  It's like the old 'show not tell' adage, that every writer learns at some stage in the game.  Instead of writing 'the glass broke,' we want to hear the tinkle of every shard as the thing shatters.  It makes the reader feel like they're part of the story.

So if you see any of those filter words, get rid of them if you can (read the article...sometimes you can't help but have them in).  They're usually not necessary clutter mucking up your pages.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, March 12, 2018

Writer's Magazine

I was just searching for something quick and fun to read and came across this site:  Writers Online

It's this big online magazine in the UK for writers.  I signed up, because there's a huge amount of information on that site.  It includes contests, classes for writing, and things like news, jobs, etc.

If you're a writer, you might want to consider checking it out.  You can even showcase your book free (if you subscribe to the magazine) to the readers on that site.

It's very interesting to read.  Check it out and sign up for the newsletter.  I did.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, March 5, 2018

Interesting Things to Ponder...

I was just looking online at some things about writing (the latest in writing) and found the following things:

Eight Rules for Writing Fiction
This one's funny.  I thought it was serious until I skimmed it...it's not that serious.  Yes, the main topics of each sentence are important, but according to this, writers who ask questions out loud should be committed...because it's quiet.  LOL!

Death of the naturalist: why is the “new nature writing” so tame?
I never heard of 'nature writing' but it's a 'publishing phenomenon.'  Who knew?  Not me.  It's very interesting, though.

Writing to Trends
If you write about the latest 'trend,' you're going to need to make it unique and not 'date' the piece.  It's not easy, but there are some things that are timeless, like fashion, food, and things like that.

Are You Up With the New Style of Blog Writing?
This is an interesting one.  It describes how to write a blog like a copy for a newspaper.  That's not easy for someone like me, who has never written for a newspaper.  But it's a thought.

Well - Tara Parker-Pope on Health Search Well SEARCH WELL Writing Your Way to Happiness
Wow.  Writing can help your mood.  Who knew?  Very cool!  I like this article.  LOL!

Mad Dash
This article talks about using the dash (horizontal line like this: — ) and how it can be used effectively in writing.  It's a versatile tool, with few rules.  I love dashes, but I can overuse them.  An em-dash is longer than a regular dash, and is used for things like a pause, or used as a way to explain more, like a clause.  Great article!


Anyway, if you're a writer, keep up with the latest trends.  It's well worth the look every once in a while.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, February 26, 2018

Publisher's Weekly

Starting March 1, I'm going to be sharing (tweets and FB posts) about news from Publisher's Weekly.  I suspect quite a few authors have never heard of it.

If you go to the news page, you can see the latest in the publishing world.  But you may ask yourself, 'What's in it for me, if I'm an indie writer?'

Book topics seem to trend.  If you're a writer, it's nice to know what's hot this week, so you can see if your latest book is going to be up with what's going on.  It's also nice to know if certain agents are begging for your type of book.  Having an agent is still a good idea, even if you're indie.

So check out Publisher's Weekly or just keep an eye on my social media feed.  Something in there might just bring you fame and fortune just by knowing what's going on in the industry.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books


Monday, February 19, 2018

Social Media Posts and Ads

Social media posts should be like billboards, that readers might take one or two seconds to read.  They should be short, easy to read, and catch the reader's eye to make them want to read it.  I think of it this way...if it were a billboard on the side of the road, how many people would stop to read the whole thing, especially your top post?  That one is like the hook for readers, to reel them in.  If it has wording that's difficult to read (either in color or font), no one's going to stop to read it.  If it's small, they're going to ignore it.  It has to catch the reader's interest and keep them scrolling past the first post.

Every day, I make a 'top' picture post that I pin to my page, so that the 'drive-bys' can just click and move on if they're in a hurry.  It has the list of books I'm promoting for the week with my logo and name of my site at the bottom.  I then include a picture of some type above the books and logo with my own saying.  I do this by the month, so every month, I have to come up with around 28-31 new sayings for the next month.  I'm sure I repeat myself, but it's not easy.

I'm working on March's things right now, so yesterday, I went to Pinterest and found sayings about love.  I took some of the sentiments and made up my own sayings from that.  It was easier than coming up with the thoughts by myself.

Then, I went to Pixabay.com and Pexels.com and got pictures from creative commons, for free.  Using Paint.net, I create one posting per day for Twitter.  I also post them on Facebook under SweetTale Books.

Then, for each book (I have 59), I've created two postings--one with a blurb and one with a saying at the top to describe the book.  On top of that, I've been adding quotes and interesting facts for the day.  Thus, I put either three or four posts a day on social media (three on the weekends).  At the top of those posts, I add links and other sayings.  It helps keep my writing name out there, but it's a lot of work.

I've seen many writers do the same thing, with different posts each day.  It's a lot of work, but well worth it in the long run.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, February 12, 2018

Writing for ME!

Do you ever have the pressure of worrying about what others think of your work?  This seems to be doubly true when writing a book.  Everyone's a critic, and trolls love to put writers down.

So what do you do?

Shake it off and write for you!  Forget about the rest of the world.  They seem to thrive on getting ahead, so they're not worth worrying about.  Trolls love to put others down to make themselves look good, so they're not worth your time, either.

If you're true to yourself, then you're true to your targeted audience, and they're who you write for anyway.

So write and enjoy your own personal journey.  Don't write for anyone else but yourself, because then, your words will be real and the story will flow.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ah, the finer things of life...

Have you ever read a book that's just 'elegant'?  It has a certain class to it, that makes you feel like you've just slept on satin sheets or something.  The words just flow and the story is surreal in its finesse.

Yeah...I've read maybe two or three of these in my lifetime.  They're tough to find, but you feel like you've just rubbed elbows with the elite.  They usually make you feel as if nothing can hold you back in life except for yourself.

On the other hand, is this real life?  Would you rather get dirty with the average person who rises above their past and makes it on their own?  Or maybe you like the feel-good story a romance has to offer?  Or maybe a mystery that shows that life isn't all roses?

What do you like to read?  Do you think we need more of these elegant books in our lives?

I'm curious to know.

Have a super week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Do You Write?

What makes you put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard, or ink pen to parchment?  What is your compelling reason to write anything?  Even if it's just a thank you note, your inspiration has to come from somewhere, to put those thoughts into words.

For me, my brain seems to be wired differently than others that I know.  I seem to be able to escape to another realm, to allow myself to live someone else's life in my head.  Once I do that, I have to write it down or I'll forget it.  It's a magical thing for me, to be able to vacate my current life and vacation in someone else's dreams, even though it's all in my head.  I know...very odd, but fun to do.

The compelling part of the whole thing is that I have to write it down.  I can't continue doing anything until that scene is on paper somehow.  Our youngest daughter is the same way, but she refuses to write down that story in her head.  She keeps reliving it over and over and over again, changing bits and pieces each time the story line enters her brain.  She's worried that if she puts it on paper, the magic will be gone for the story line, or someone might steal her idea.

If you're like our daughter or me, put it on paper.  Get it out of your head so you can live your life.  I tell her that, too, but she refuses, living that magical story in her head.  I hear so many authors saying their character has hijacked their lives, wanting to tell their story.  They can't go to the grocery store without a character talking to them the whole time.  The only way to silence the character is to write down their story.  It's the same thing for our daughter and me.

Most people think that's a sign of something mentally wrong with the writer, but I get it.  I understand.  As a writer, you become entwined in the character's life, that's all you can think about.  It's all part of the job.  But if you don't get that story out, it's going to haunt your mind.

What's your compelling reason to write?  Are you an author just trying to get the story out of your head, too?  Good luck with that! 

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

Monday, January 22, 2018

What does Twitter really do for an author?

I'm going through a crisis of Twitter.  They changed their terms of service and can now track me anywhere, even when I'm not on Twitter (and you should see the things I search on, for researching my books!).  I even got an email that I may be followed by a Russian bot.  Do I care that a Russian bot is following me?  No.  A follower is a follower is a follower.  I don't even care if they retweet me, because any exposure of my books is good, in my opinion.

What does Twitter really do for an author?  Like a billboard for your books, it gets your author name and title out there.  However, many days, I feel like I'm playing the 'retweeting game,' where you tweet me, I tweet you, and that's that.  Nothing feels like it's worth it.

I had this revelation, though, when retweeting people's books this morning.  When I see their name, I have an automatic image of what they write/produce.  That seed's been planted in my brain of what books are out there, from people I follow, or my 'friends.'  If I see that book in any other place, I have an instant fondness for that, because I 'know' the author through Twitter.

If I didn't have Twitter, I wouldn't know any of these authors at all.  I wouldn't be able to interact with them, because I don't spend much time on other social media.

Wow.  It was like a slap in the face that maybe Twitter is a great tool for authors.  Maybe a 'tweet for a tweet' is helping.

Thank you to all my retweeters.  I consider you to be in my 'family of authors' that are my friends.

Have a super day!
SweetTale Books

Monday, January 15, 2018

Missing some punctuation, much?

With the advent of making twitter posts DOUBLE what they used to be, I've noticed that more and more people are ignoring punctuation.  I'm seeing periods just ignored, most of the time.  Here's an example:

Bob wasn't stupid he knew Jane didn't love him he just didn't care.

I THINK the author meant to write:

Bob wasn't stupid.  He knew Jane didn't love him.  He just didn't care.

I see whole paragraphs written with not a period at all.

What's up with people?  Missing punctuation can change the entire meaning of the sentence.  Here's an example, from Let’s eat Grandma! How to use, and not use the comma

These have two different meanings:
Let's eat, Grandma.
Let's eat Grandma.

Are you inviting her to eat or are you a cannibal with Grandma on the menu?

It's the same thing with periods.  Lack of a period can mean changing the entire meaning.

We went out to the car whose sunglasses were tinted.

is much different than:

We went out to the car.  Whose sunglasses were tinted?

So please, for the love of people who like to read, use punctuation.  It may change someone's life.

Thank you!
Markee

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Get Out of a Slump

I've been in a slump for the past two months.  Between the holidays and a few time distractions (like watching Twitter), it's been tough to concentrate on anything anymore.

So how do I get out of that slump?  Schedule time for every moment of the day.  Give myself time to read over Twitter, but only for a short period of time. 

Has that happened to you, where you just can't focus?  Keep your goals in mind and know that you CAN do it.  If I can write 59 books, you certainly can do whatever you put your mind to.

Have a super week!
Markee

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!!!

...just a day late.  LOL!  Sorry about that!

May your new year be filled with happiness, healthiness, and success like no other.