Blog Archives

What’s Your Writing Process?

What process do you use on a day to day basis to determine what happens next in a novel?  What is your decision-making process for introducing new characters and how do you determine their importance?

Early on I researched how other authors went about prepping for writing a novel.  Some created elaborate outlines and spent inordinate amounts of time agonizing over every detail.  The system works, just not for me.  In the attempt to recreate the entire book in outline form, I lost contact with what I was trying to say.  Consequently, it would take me months to find I wasn’t getting any closer to the actual writing process.

I finally hit on how it functioned for my level of impatience and trust me, once you find it, stop butting heads with the inevitable . . . just write.  I started over a lot until I realized one key thing; by trying to adhere to an existing outline, letter by letter, number by number, the story got lost in the translation from my attempt to force the outline to become the book.  The story has to come from the gut, not from a preconceived notion that was designed before the writing began.  The story needs to have a mind of its own, and at times, should not be controlled.  Sometimes, you should just let the monster out of the box.

I usually dig back into my past and find that moment, everybody has them, where everything that could go wrong . . . does, and then allow the characters to go through, at least in spirit, the same level of agony, just to see where they will take it instead of me.  I discovered that if I put on my writing shoes, and then just followed my feet, the characters managed to get themselves into enough trouble to satisfy my wanderlust.  Sometimes, I don’t even know what they’re about to do, but isn’t that how life works?

The importance of characters in a story should be dealt with in primarily the same way that God deals with us down here on earth.  No one person is of greater importance than anyone else.  If we treat any single character with less importance than their counterparts, we have done them a grave injustice.  We as writers never know which character will surface again in a subsequent story.  Today’s sidekick might be tomorrow’s hero.

Do you have a certain process that inspires you to create new characters or prep for a new piece or novel you are writing?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Thanks,

Solitaire

You can purchase or preview my books at www.solitaireparke.com.

 

 

 

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What do Favorite Books and Characters Give Us?

John Hemingway once said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book.”  I am a firm advocate of reading books.  I believe, as both an avid reader and writer, that knowledge is power and that there is always something to learn which will in some way make you a better person or perhaps a better writer.  Books can be motivational and inspiring or draw us into a magical world that takes us far from our often hectic and lackluster world.  Many of us have certain books that are like an old friend we can always rely on for encouragement or allow our minds to become creative.

Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury’s favorite books that most influenced his career were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s  “John Carter: Warlord of Mars series.  “They entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home,” Bradbury said. “Within a short time, I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs.”

It’s interesting that Bradbury would be a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, since the same author is the one that started it all for me with the book “A Princess of Mars.”  I have a very old hard cover of it sitting in my office in a glass enclosed case, in addition to a large number of his earliest paperback books that are prized possessions.

 

My favorite character from his books that I’ve read would have to be John Carter from the Barsoom novels.  He was the most singularly minded person I’ve ever encountered.  He was always in control, never faltered, was open and honest and refused to give up no matter how hopeless the situation seemed.  He openly loved the heroine of the story and was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her.  He inspired me as a child and the books inspired me to become an author.  How much more could anyone ask out of a series of science fiction books?  Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be more like him, but I cannot in good conscience say that I find myself in that person’s character.  It’s just someone that I desired to emulate.  He didn’t remind me of anyone in particular.  A character of his caliber was larger than life, and inadvertently caused me to raise the bar of expectation to an unhealthy degree, at least so I’m told.

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

Carl Sagan

Grab a book and Keep Reading!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

6 EXCEPTIONALLY USEFUL BLOG SITES

If you want to find information on anything concerning being an author or just writing in general, there are some outstanding and informative blogs out there to help with anything and everything you might need to know, including all the things you didn’t realize you needed to know.  So here are a few of them for you to check out.

The Log-Line:  Can You Pitch Your ENTIRE Story in ONE Sentence?

11 Ideas to Help You Write the Positively Perfect Blog Post

The Pros and Cons of Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity

10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

A Writer’s Guide to Point of View

The Creative Penn

 

Have a great September – and Happy Reading!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

WHY WRITE A PREQUEL?

A prequel is a work that forms part of a back-story to the preceding work.  Simply stated, it sets the stage for the existing novels and usually comes after the original work was written.

If you have followed my blog or perhaps seen my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or various other sites then you know I have authored a succession of books called the Dragomeir Series, an urban fantasy/sci-fi saga of dragons and their riders, along with some rather unusual creatures and captivating characters.

Some readers might ask, “Why write a prequel?”  I had originally planned to finish this series and then push on to other projects but began having second thoughts as I put a close on the third book in the Dragomeir Series, “Egg of the Amphitere.” One of the main characters known as Queen Mother needed to be expounded upon to give a better understanding and proper closure as to who she was and why.  I realized there was a fascinating back-story to be told, and the prequel was born.  The story, albeit told by Tanis Theatra (one of the dragon riders), was more about the life and times of Katherine Pendragon (Queen Mother) than anything else.

The only way to pursue that was to go back where it essentially started and tell her story as it began on the Provinces.  So, the prequel series, “Daughter of the Dark Lord” was created to give credence to Queen Mother’s life, why she was so passionate about family, and to clarify her dedication to stopping the Dark Lord from invading earth.  Last, but not least, it was to express how she eventually planned to liberate the Denizen people of the Provinces.  While telling her story, it would also give the reader a bird’s eye view into Tanis Theatra’s beginnings, and of course the amazing dragons.  To accomplish this there will also be one more installment to the original Dragomeir Series, entitled “Back from Oblivion.”  This book describes Queen Mother’s ultimate objective which is exclusively detailed in the “Daughter of the Dark Lord” prequel series.  There are two books available in this series now, and a third is currently being written.

All together it should delineate the complete story as first introduced by Tanis Theatra and recanted by me, Solitaire Parke.  Check out my website at

www.solitaireparke.com

to read sample chapters, discover exciting extras and purchase books at multiple locations in a variety of formats. I hope you enjoy!

Here is a question for my readers –  Do you enjoy reading a prequel to a novel?

Have you written a prequel? I’d love to hear about your writing experience.

Solitaire

10 Ways to Promote Happiness

Happiness – the often elusive thing that nearly everyone is searching for.  We all have different ideas, preferences, and desires for our lives.  But after years of scientific research, it has been suggested that certain things make the good majority of us happy.  To be more specific, happiness does not result from reaching “bigger and better” signs of success, but rather from looking for contentment from new and fresh experiences in our quest for a life that is considered well lived.  So, what kinds of experiences provide the best happiness benefits?  Well, scientific study has discovered that these 10 ways will increase your everyday overall happiness:

  1. Make little changes in your daily routine, such as getting more sleep, exercising, getting out into nature, and meditating.
  2. Read more books. Read books to learn—research suggests that lifelong learners remain healthy and engaged, and live long lives. Read books as an escape from your everyday life, Read books—it will make you happy.  (One of my personal favorites.  I have always loved to read, and write as well.  Check out my books at www.solitaireparke.com)
  3. Find your right fit or match, both personally and professionally. If you love what you do and who you are with, you’ll position yourself for personal happiness and professional success.
  4. Be grateful. Two specific activities help foster a greater sense of gratitude. First, keep a daily gratitude journal. Second, pay a “gratitude visit” to someone from your past that has had a significant impact on your life, and let them know how you feel.
  5. Smile more—even if you don’t feel like it. Research shows that the simple act of smiling can trick your brain into a happier state.
  6. Take pleasure in simple, everyday moments. Appreciating life’s small moments, such as a beautiful sunny day, plants sprouting from the ground, and skipping rocks at the beach, teaches you to be more grateful for what you have, especially during moments of stress and anxiety.
  7. Perform random acts of kindness. Do good deeds. Volunteer. Be charitable. Shop for someone else! Studies have shown that you can help yourself by doing good things for others.
  8. Spend money on experiences versus things. Studies have shown that buying an object—a car, handbag, or kitchen gadget—can quickly lead to buyer’s remorse. On the other hand, investing in experiences—a concert, a camping trip, music lessons—leads to greater happiness. Experiences create “happiness residue,” and our perceptions of them often get better over time.
  9. Avoid comparisons. Whatever you may think of someone else’s life, particularly as viewed through the phony, filtered lens of social media, it’s almost certainly messier than you imagine. It’s easier to embrace and learn to love your own imperfections, if you don’t conjure up myths about how perfect everyone else’s lives seem.
  10. Build and maintain close relationships. Having a small number of tight, meaningful relationships is one of the highest predictors of happiness.  (Pets are wonderful companions too!)

We all lose sight of some of the happiness priorities, so don’t feel bad if you do.  In this world we battle on a daily basis the relentless marketing and expectations of society that attempt to lead us down paths to happiness that lie somewhere else.   We don’t need to over-complicate things.  It’s the simple things in life that matter most.  Live each moment with purpose and intent – live each moment as if it were your last and enjoy the people around you.  You have one life – so live each minute to the fullest!

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable.  Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain;  happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

 

 

 

 

 

33 Fiction Writing Tips

Writing fiction can be complex and multifaceted.  There are countless details to consider throughout the process.  There’s the initial brainstorming, the outlining, the countless hours of research, the actual writing, and the inevitable revising.  As if that wasn’t enough, you still have the editing process, a monumental task of its own.  All this to create what you hope will be an amazing work of fiction that readers will fall in love with.  Not much to ask, right?

In doing this research, I’ve gathered an immeasurable amount of ideas concerning fiction writing.  These writing tips, from countless sources, might be helpful to other writers tackling a novel by offering different viewpoints and by providing food for the creative process.

Hopefully, the tips below will help make writing that novel a little easier.

Writing Tips

  1. Read more fiction than you write.
  2. Don’t lock yourself into one genre (in reading or writing). Even if you have a favorite genre, step outside of it occasionally.
  3. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
  4. Dissect and analyze stories you love from books, movies, and television to find out what works in storytelling and what doesn’t.
  5. Don’t write for the market. Tell the story that’s in your heart. You can make an outline before, during, or after you finish your rough draft. It will provide you with a road map, which is a powerful tool to have at your disposal.
  6. Some of the best fiction comes from real life. Jot down stories that interest you whether you hear them from a friend or read them in a news article.
  7. Real life is also a great source of inspiration for characters. Look around at your friends, family, and coworkers. Magnify and mix the strongest aspects of their personalities, and you’re on your way to crafting a cast of believable characters.
  8. Make your characters real through details rather than lengthy head-to-toe physical descriptions.
  9. The most realistic and relatable characters are flawed. Find something good about your villain and something dark in your hero’s past.
  10. Avoid telling readers too much about the characters. Instead, show the characters’ personalities through their actions and interactions.
  11. Give your characters difficult obstacles to overcome. Make them suffer. That way, when they triumph, it will be even more rewarding.
  12. Cultivate a distinct voice. Your narrator should not sound warm and friendly in the first few chapters and then objective and aloof in later chapters. The voice should be consistent, and its tone should complement the content of your book.
  13. Give careful consideration to the narrative point of view. Is the story best told in first person or third person? If you’re not sure, write a few pages in each narrative point of view to see what works best.
  14. Is your story moving too fast for readers or are they yawning through every paragraph? Are the love scenes too short? Are the fight scenes too long? Do you go into three pages of detail as your characters walk from point A to point B and then fly through an action sequence in a couple of short paragraphs? Pay attention to pacing!
  15. Infuse your story with rich themes to give it a humanistic quality. Examples of themes include sacrifice, redemption, rebirth, life and death, faith, destiny, etc. These are the big shadows that hover over your story.
  16. Make sure you understand that every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end.
  17. Use symbols and imagery to create continuity throughout your story. Think about how the White Rabbit kept popping up when Alice was adventuring through Wonderland or how the color red was used in the film American Beauty. These are subtle details that give your story great power.
  18. Every great story includes transformation. The characters change, the world changes, and hopefully, the reader will change too.
  19. Enrich your main plot with subplots. In real life, there’s a lot happening at once.
  20. There is a difference between a sub-plot and a tangent. Don’t go off on too many tangents.
  21. If you write in a genre, don’t be afraid to blur the lines. A horror story can have funny moments and a thriller can have a bit of romance.
  22. Make sure your setting is vivid and realistic even if you made it up.
  23. If you didn’t make up your setting, then do your best to get to the location and see it for yourself before you finish your manuscript. If that’s not possible, get busy researching.
  24. Give the readers room to think. You don’t have to tell your story in minute detail, including each minute of the plot’s timeline or all of the characters’ thoughts. Provide enough dots, and trust that the reader will be able to connect them when your story makes time jumps.
  25. Let the readers use their imaginations with your story’s descriptions as well. Provide a few choice details and let the readers fill in the rest of the canvas with their own colors.
  26. Don’t focus exclusively on storytelling at the expense of compelling language.
  27. Appeal to readers’ senses. Use descriptive words that engage the readers’ senses of taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell.
  28. Apply poetry techniques to breathe life into your prose. Use alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, and other literary devices to make your sentences sing and dance.
  29. When rewriting, check for the following: plot holes, character inconsistencies, missing scenes, extraneous scenes, accuracy in research, and of course, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  30. As you revise, ask yourself whether every paragraph, sentence, and word is essential to your story. If it’s not, you know where the delete button is.
  31. Before your final revisions and before you send your manuscript out to any agents or editors, find your beta readers: join a writing group, take a fiction workshop, or hire a pro.
  32. Do not send out your rough draft. Go through the revision process at least three times before handing it out to your beta readers. The stronger it is when you bring in editors, the stronger those editors will be able to make it.
  33. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying writing, then maybe it’s not for you. If you’re not enjoying fiction writing, try something else, like poetry, blogging, or screenwriting. Be willing to experiment and you’ll find your way.

Were these writing tips helpful? Got any tips to add? Leave a comment!

Check on the website for my “Dragomeir Series” (for dragon lovers) and various other genres,

    And updates on my latest series – “Daughter of the Dark Lord.”  Interesting EXTRAS available too!

    Solitaire

    www.solitaireparke.com

    21 – Eye Opening Writing Tips from Well Known Authors

    Writing success comes down to hard work, imagination, more hard work, passion – and then more hard work. Even if you are an absolutely fantastic writer who will be remembered for years to come, you will still most likely receive a good amount of criticism, rejection, and possibly ridicule before you get there.  It happens to everyone, no matter whom they are, and should come as no real surprise. These writers, having been through it all, offer us some writing tips without pulling punches.

    • I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee
    • A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? . George Orwell
    • Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. ― Kurt Vonnegut
    • In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it. — Rose Tremain
    • You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking its good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. — Octavia Butler
    • You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London
    • Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution. — Michael Moorcock
    • Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one was not driven on by some demon that one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell
    • There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
    • If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. – Stephen King
    • The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson
    • Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.– Anton Chekhov
    • Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
    • The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.— Neil Gaiman
    • If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser
    • Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk
    • Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
    • The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
    • Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman
    • You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury
    • Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

    Even famous authors on occasion have a tough time, and often go through periods of self-doubt.  So take a lesson from them and never give up.  Don’t put off your writing plans.  There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author.  Tell your story and let your voice be heard!

    Solitaire

    www.solitaireparke.com

     

     

     

    New Novel on the Horizon

     

    It’s about time for another novel, this time Part Two of the Daughter of the Dark Lord Series.  The first book, Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part One – The Burning Sky, has been out for a while now, and is available at a variety of locations – all of which can be reached from my website www.solitaireparke.com.

    I am very anxious for you to read the Daughter of the Dark Lord books as they are the prequels to my previously published Dragomeir Series –  a must read for anyone who loves dragons and other wonderful creatures – also available at my website.  I’ve always been intrigued by dragons.  They are magnificent creatures who interact in the most extraordinary ways with their riders and fellow beings, and have characteristics that are remarkably like humans at times.  They’re really quite wonderful, contrary to all the bad press they’ve been given so much of the time.

    The second book in the series, Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project, is almost finished, I am happy to say.  These last few months have been a bit crazy, as life and the consequent stress of other projects seemed to take over from time to time, but I am hard at work on Book Two and it has progressed quite nicely.  So, before long it will move forward into editing mode, there will be a cover reveal, and it should be out before year’s end.
    In the meantime, check out my other books at www.solitaireparke.com.

    Solitaire

    Happy Summer Reading!

     

     

     

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    In Honor of Fathers –

    Father’s day is just a few days away.  It’s a time of honoring your father and his contributions to your life.  This day is dedicated to all the fathers in the world who have given many sacrifices in bringing up their children and molding them into better people.

    Here are some of the famous quotes for special fathers. 

     

    • “A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child.”

     

    • “A father is a fellow who has replaced the currency in his wallet with the snapshots of his kids and family.”

     

    • “It is not flesh and blood, but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.”

     

    • “Father!—to God himself we cannot give a holier name!” – William Wordsworth

     

    • “The imprint of a father remains forever on the life of the child.” – Roy Lessin

     

    • “We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

     

    • “My father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.” – Liza Minnelli

     

    • “The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.” – Dan Pearce

     

    • “A father is the one friend upon whom we can always rely. In the hour of need, when all else fails, we remember him upon whose knees we sat when children, and who soothed our sorrows; and even though he may be unable to assist us, his mere presence serves to comfort and strengthen us.” – Émile Gaboriau

     

    • “Good fathers do three things: they provide, they nurture and they guide.” – Roland Warren

     

    • “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” – Billy Graham

     

    • “Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.” – Ruth E. Renkel

     

    •  “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – George Herbert

     

    • “Real fatherhood means love and commitment and sacrifice and a willingness to share responsibility, and not walking away from one’s children.” – William Bennett

     

    • Fatherhood is a very natural thing; it’s not something that shakes up my life but rather it enriches it.” – Andrea Bocelli

     

    To all of you who have been lucky enough to have a wonderful father, or those of you who are working hard at being a great father – HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!

     

    Solitaire –

    www.solitaireparke.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    6 Ways to Improve Your Writing!

    1.  How often do you use the word “very” in your writing? It is often extremely overused and can make your sentences sound weak.  So check out this site.  It gives you 128 ways to avoid using this word by replacing it with stronger more vibrant ones.

    http://writetodone.com/128-words-to-use-instead-of-very/

     

    1. Need some help with your grammar? Take the following quiz and find out how much you know.

    http://writetodone.com/grammar-tips-for-writers/

     

    1. Book titles, blog headings, or other articles are sometimes difficult to come by. You might need a little help occasionally.  Here are 7 tools to provide that help.

    http://writetodone.com/bestselling-book-titles-2/

    1. Do you love the television show “Game of Thrones” or the books? Here are 5 lessons to be learned from them.

    http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/04/08/writing-game-of-thrones/

    1. Do you know how to research a novel, and when to stop? This article could be helpful.

    http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/01/18/research-a-novel/

     

    1. Tips for finding those eye-catching images for your books, articles, or blogs.

    http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2015/02/ultimate-guide-to-finding-images-for-book-promotion.html

    Which ones are your favorites?

    If these were helpful to you, please pass them on!

    Visit me at my website – sp@solitaireparke.com

    Solitaire

     

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