Every Writer Uses Them

“‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.”
~William Shakespeare

Moonlight by Sherry (C) 2014 All Rights Reserved

Moonlight by Sherry
(C) 2014 All Rights Reserved

Ah, what is a hint?

An intimation or allusion? Could it be a mention, a whiff, a shadow or a whisper? Perhaps it might be described as a foreshadowing?

Too menacing? Perhaps not…

Isn’t a shadow also a hint, a foretelling, of what is about to emerge?

Hints can be enticing, seductive, compelling, evocative, dreamy.

Maddening. Delightful. Full of promise. Yes, that’s it. Fun. Even better.

soon....

soon….

Every writer uses them.  Why shouldn’t I? Enjoy!

And what are YOU?

Late last year, I was a guest at a function with a friend of mine and as I was introduced around, one lady said, “Hello, and what are you?”

I smiled, shook her hand, chuckled a bit and replied, “Um, human?”

She did not seem amused at my response though her companion (a male), did chuckle. She cast him a sideways “look” and pressed on. “No dear, I mean what is your job?”

“Ah!” I nodded. “Well, I’m a retired US Air Force veteran and a…”

Before I could finish, she interrupted with a tone of irritation behind her tight smile.

“Yes, I heard that already,” she frowned and sounded very exasperated. I stared to become uncomfortable. “I mean what job do you do NOW?” She was leaning into my space for emphasis (I think).

“I am a writer.” I said, flatly.  “Actually, I’m an author.”

She stared at me and said, “I heard about your hobby, dear. But don’t you have a real job?”

And then the snark in me, smirked, leaned in very close, and whispered, “I’m actually a midnight sex goddess but I don’t like to brag.”

“You aren’t very funny.” She huffed and her companion laughed out loud as she jerked him away.

“Obviously.” I smirked and went to get a coffee refill.

This conversation serves to highlight something I think most writers experience. Unless you have a full-time job as a journalist, creative writing professor, professional blogger, ghostwriter, magazine editor or some sort of profession where you draw a regular paycheck for your written words, you have met the enemy who thinks you have a frivolous hobby as a “writer” and basically you are a waste of space.

Worse, if you are a self-published author, you most likely have met the demons who believe you are a narcissistic writer.

Among writers, editors and other creative people, the world of the Indie Author no longer draws the skepticism, cynicism, and mockery of years past. However, there remains a large population of the traditionally published, the yearning-to-be-published, the I-only-read-NY Times-best sellers readers, and a whole generation of writers over 50 who think self-publishing means vanity press. You know, pay the publisher on proviso that you buy 500 books (or more). Or someone will ask, how can anyone possibly be seen as serious if you don’t have an agent and a Simon and Schuster, Random House or Penguin imprint contract?

The times they are a-changin’ but maybe not as fast at the “real world” level as magazines and literary books might want you to believe.

There still exists this idea that if you are a “real” author, then you are a James Patterson or Patricia Cromwell, making serious money and doing nothing else. Or, what is really believed is that you are a struggling author, barely surviving. Anything else assumes that your writing is a hobby, something to be done in the dark, late at night, when your “real” work has ended (little do they know this is truer than they realize). Worse, you are some late night hack, posting to fly-by-night websites who serve no purpose but to annoy and clutter the already overpopulated web landscape.

The truth is that the Indie Author is becoming as mainstream as the traditionally published author. And most of the long-term Indie Authors (the ones who are serious and working at a book or two a year), make more in royalties than the new traditionalists (unless you wrote Harry Potter, The Historian or Fifty Shades of Grey). Still, the stereotype continues that assumes Indie’s are lacking in talent or know-how to achieve traditional publishing, when the truth is that traditional book publishers are fading in the shadow of the Indie author. Writers and those who work with writers know this.

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The Indie Author is a trailblazer, a risk taker, a storyteller, a historian, a reporter, a teacher, a parent, and a child. Inside every author all these characters exist, live and breathe and are merely waiting to be born. The Indie Author knows that to deny this need is to deny oneself true self. The author knows no sex or race or religion or creed other than the Indie Manifesto – “To write the best there is, to share, to write again.”

The problem is that the average guy on the street, or woman in the party, does NOT know this. The word is not out to the everyday person. The average “Joe” is still operating on stereotypes and the battle to overcome stigmas continues.  Few understand that being a writer, to become an Indie Author, is the work of the heart, and usually fills the same need as breathing.

Sadly, those who do not write DO NOT GET IT. The only way to convince the uninitiated and uninformed is to write the best damn book you can and sell it to them.  We’ll win them over one well-crafted book at a time, one story at a time, one best-seller, one award-winner, one neighborhood tale, one fan fiction, one biography….one extraordinary effort at a time. It may take time. Be patient. Rome was burnt in a day but it took centuries to build the legendary city.

Be prepared. The truth is NOT out there. The Indie Author is not a fully accepted member of society. Outside of the bigger cities, people are unlikely to understand your self-serving, narcissistic, self-actualizing, vanity book. Press on anyway.

I’d like to put in one little proviso. Once upon a time, I was warned, “You can’t confuse what you do with who you are.” In other words, you are not your “job” and your job isn’t you.  A caution not to define ourselves to our work so that we don’t become our jobs and forget that we are so many other things beyond our work. However, writers often do define themselves with their work. I am a writer. A writer writes. I write. Therefore I am a writer. But again, we are so much more too – wives, sister, mothers, doctors, priests, lawyers, librarians…see what I mean? So I will remind you not to confuse who you are with being a writer. But let writing become a part of who you are. You write. You are a writer. And hopefully, you will be an Indie Author.

Meanwhile, the lady who tried to put me down for being a non-functioning member of society with a writing hobby? She’s since purchased my book and I heard her tell another woman, “Oh yes, I know her. She’s an award-winning author. You haven’t read her poetry? Do you live under a rock? It’s been out over a year….”

There you have it. One book at a time. One person at a time. Write well. Sell yourself. Sell the concept and success of the Indie Author and convert the enemy at the gates!

Paper Bones wins Gold!

The 2014 Global Ebook Awards announced their winners early this morning and I am delighted to announce that Paper Bones is a Gold Medalist in Poetry! I am completely amazed, as I hoped to “place” but truly did not expect the win. This comes as a most welcome surprise. Here is my virtual “sticker.”

gold medal

Click here for a complete list of winners!

Do book awards matter? I have to tell you the answer is a resounding YES. Book publicists, literary agents, publishers, librarians, book bloggers, and more will tell you that when a book wins an award, the odds are significantly increased that your readership will increase. People who might not look at your book under normal circumstances are more intrigued when a book wins an award. The more awards, the more interesting.

I’ve heard it said to me, too. “This award convinces me that I need to read your book sooner rather than later.” And, “I didn’t know you had a book until I saw the press release for the NIEA awards! I ordered it right away.”

So, if you are wondering if you should, then yes, you should! There are some reputable awards that most authors recognize. Here is a great list that you should consider. One thing though. You do have to pay. You are paying for quality judges. They get honorariums for their time and effort. So, you pay an entry fee. This does not guarantee an award, so understand this up front. Some awards can be up to $80 per book, per category. So, select carefully and spend your entry money wisely. Here’s your list.

I don’t know if sales will increase as a result (there is evidence that sales do), but if you haven’t read Paper Bones, click on my Books tab (see the left column) and click on Paper Bones. It will take you to a place where you can get your copy in ebook, hardback or softback. My thanks for any support.

I need to add a special thank you to Mary Deal who wrote the Foreword to Paper Bones.  She told me years ago that I needed to publish and believed in me. An award-winning, multi-book, multi-genre author, Mary carries weight when she speaks. I listened. Boy, I’m glad now that I did. I remain humbled by her faith in me, as I do from others who have stood by me for many years (my sister, my best friend and my husband to name the keys).

So, Paper Bones wins Gold! I’m going to play the National Anthem now and quietly appreciate my Olympic moment. Thanks everyone!

Do Your Characters Fart?

Category: Write Now! (occasional posts on making your writing more alive)

Okay, I confess the title may be a bit salacious so I could arrest your attention, but now that I have it, I’m serious! Do any of your characters fart? No? Why not?

We writers spend a great deal of time writing about how to give our characters depth and make them more reality based. We writers also spend a great deal of time crafting action scenes, intimate love-making, gory fang biting, dismemberment, car crashes…the list is endless. The point is that we work very hard to craft scenes in our stories that make our characters vivid, human and interesting. We get drunk and throw up! We take showers and take a pee break. There are gooey orgasms and sometimes in graphic details (and sometimes in handcuffs!).

My point is we spend an inordinate amount of time writing about everything having to do with the body BUT farting. Do you know or wonder why? What is it about the fart that is an anathema to the writer’s pen?

Movies like Dumb & Dumber, the Jackass series, and other silly comedies have no qualms about writing in a good burp or fart. So what is wrong with including something so normal in our stories? Is it because the fart has become associated with comedy that it seems out-of-place in a normal drama, historical fiction, mystery or even a sci-fi piece? Really? Or are we perhaps a bit afraid of it? And if so, why?

We write detailed sex scenes, slapping flesh, making noises, discussing “wet” things. We’ll write about blood and guts and hacked off body parts in fight scenes with dragons or swords or tools of the serial killer.

So what is it about the fart?

I’m not suggesting you immediately run out and add farts to your characters. What I am suggesting is you should ask yourself how whole and complete your characterizations are. How daringly real have you been? Can you ask if your character would fart? Does it make you uncomfortable? And yet, does your character drink blood, kill people, massacre armies, or psychically destroy aliens? So what’s so wrong with a fart?

Sometimes a character must step outside the box. If your characters are just characters then they aren’t real enough. Maybe a fart is what you need to liven up the moment. Or a burp. Or snorting milk. Or a hiccupping laugh. Think about the real things that make us more human than ever and ask yourself what is the one thing that your character has that makes them so perfectly real? Then do that special thing!

Make them laugh at an inopportune moment. Or in the middle of a great love scene, fart. The best books are the ones that not only surprise us, but give us the occasional laugh out loud moment. Those are real stories. Those characters become endearing and we identify with them. Maybe because we realize we are like them.

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Try it. Don’t write characters. Write people. Let them do what they must. Even fart.

(This will be a continuing series of articles on writing from my own learning experiences in storytelling. These will be labeled Write Now!)

 

Book Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Shattered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #7)Shattered by Kevin Hearne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In previous reviews I have raved about Kevin Hearne possibly being “the next Jim Butcher.” I like his style of writing and Atticus, his Iron Druid, is such a well-fleshed, dynamic character. This is book 7 in the series. Unfortunately, this one was a disappointment for me.

The story is good and the plot is interesting. I can never complain that Hearne’s books are dull or “plods.” They aren’t. Usually they are fast, action-driven, and keep me riveted.

This tale, though original, flipped POVs among three characters. I am used to such writer devices (Game of Thrones anyone?), but these character voices were not divergent enough for me and it was sometimes difficult to distinguish who was speaking. The tone remained the same between the female character and another male character and I began to dislike the tone and style by mid-book. The female sounds very much male. This is one trick often troubling male writers.

Additionally, as much as I love Atticus’ dog Oberon (who is the best comic relief character EVER), this tale includes heavy “thinking” dialogue of the newest druid Granuaile’s wolfhound, Orlaith. Unfortunately much of the story revolves around Granuaile and Orlaith and Orlaith is not as smart or funny as Oberon given that she is learning language. It makes for many stilted and not-as-funny moments. Very staccato writing.

Overall the book is all classic Hearne but, unlike many others reviewers, I do not like the flipping of POVs and felt it distracted from the story. I know it was done to give us insight into Atticus’ rescued archdruid and now there are three druids in the world. I understand the insights of druidic workings that the diverse viewpoints allowed us, but for me, it was herky-jerky and too distracting. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the other Hearne volumes. I hope he returns to his normal style in the next installment. And I will certainly be there for the next book because I trust Hearne to deliver.

Despite my dislike this time, I would recommend this series to anyone! He still may be the next Jim Butcher and in my mind, there is no higher compliment to give.

View all my reviews

Brand New Look

Here we are again, but with a whole new look! I had a difficult time in choosing the direction and color.  The new theme of “Dusk to Dawn” suits my reading and writing preferences, is a little more serious and dark, but can easily be changed with either my mood or the season.  I hope you will enjoy it. I welcome your comments, as always!

While you are here, don’t forget to check out the new Books page and if you are interested in purchasing, you can simply click on the book and it will deliver you to a good place.

Also, there is a new offering in Sneak Peeks. Remember those come and go without warning! There will be more of those moving forward. Sometimes photos, poetry or prose. That will be the place to discover samples of new releases too!

As I have organized this new blog I’ve been working on a new plan for posts. You’ll begin to see those next week.  I want to do some interviews too, so hang on for those. I’m still interested in Guest Editorials (you should contact me if interested) but I’ve missed doing interviews and will return to that style.

You’ll also find my book reviews, articles on writing, or things that inspire me.  Maybe I’ll write about you!

More new things are coming. I told you to hang with me because the payoff will be FUN.

Thanks for peeking at what’s Between the Lines!

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News with Thanks

I want to begin with Thanks.

The Goodreads Giveaway was a success and I thank all 630 people who entered! I am humbled by so many interested parties. The winners were chosen and are from Florida, Texas and Minnesota. I’m mailing your books on Saturday!

The other great part about the giveaway is that I gained a lot of folks who added me to their “to read” list – over 250! That’s just amazing.

Overall, the giveaway experience was wonderful. I plan to add my name to others’ giveaways and see if I can’t win an autographed book or two myself!

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Now, the News!

I found out Monday that Paper Bones is a 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Finalist! Out of 1900 books of poetry, I am one of only 6 finalists! That’s just fantastic!

From the finalists, winners will be judged, based on possible scores. They give out gold/silver/bronze and honorable mentions. It all depends on the overall score I receive whether I win a medal or not. But I’m honored to have done so well!

I hear tell that there is a HUGE award ceremony in Miami in November that coincides with the big Miami International Book Fair. I’m told that Finalists are recognized, so no matter what happens, I plan on going. I just can’t believe it.

So there you go. Its a good day all around! Here’s the sticker for the Finalists!

Readers' Favorite Int'l Book Award Finalist

Finally, just a bit of business. My Author’s facebook url has changed. Having both my timeline and my page be the same name was confusing. So you can reach me at my author page: Facebook.com/AuthorSherryRentschler

Don’t forget I’m on Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn too!

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I haven’t forgotten my promise to you. Changes ARE coming. Soon now. I don’t want to move the furniture until I’m absolutely certain. You can sign up for notices and then you won’t miss out when it happens.

Thank you for your support!