Friday, December 9, 2011

Installment #10 up at Avenir Eclectia

#10, "Sanja's Veil" is up. It is a rare look inside the mind of an Eclectia Nomad.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three New Blogs Added to Blog List

For those interested in writing for Avenir Eclectia, there is a place with much info concerning this shared universe. The blog is called "Inside Avenir Eclectia" and hosted by Grace Bridges, founder of the Avenir Eclectia story world.

Through my friend, Walt, I found "Rocket Science for the Rest of Us" hosted by Karina Fabian. Okay, I admit it. I have it in my blog roll for my own sake because I'M interested in space and rocket science. Walt is doing a smash up job giving an eye witness to the space race starting in the fifties.

The third and final addition is "Travis's Big Idea". Hey, I listen to anyone who can help me get my mind around dimensions that the human mind cannot naturally detect. He is also in my list so I can find him faster. Anyone else who wants to tag along can enjoy the benefit. Also, Travis is a fellow AE author exploring ideas and pushing creativity in Grace's playground for speculative writers.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Number 9 Is Up At Avenir Eclectia

What could be worse than the dreaded Avenir Eclectia ailment "Ash Lung". Well, if Jereth Davis is telling the truth this time, the answer may lie here:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Installment # 8 Up At Avenir Eclectia

#8, "The Offering" is up. Thanks to those who have commented over there already.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Titles in Flash Fiction

In flash fiction, every word counts and often does double duty.
Because you can use precious few words, the title becomes even more important and can be utilized to do double duty.
The title can help place the characters in their setting so less words are need in the body of the work.
Grace doest this in "Maddie's Pub" on Avenir Eclectia by letting the reader know where this story takes place even before it starts.

It can also can be used to foreshadow and add extra 'punch' to the last line or hook of the story. I did this in "Just Remember".

These are two ways to get the most out of your titles. I wouldn't mind knowing more ways if anyone has any ideas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Installment # 7 Is Up At Avenir Eclectia

I'm kind of excited about this one.

It's my first attempt to interact with other people's characters, Grace's Maddie, and Kat's Jax.
I hope to do more of this in the future.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Installment # 6 Is Up On Avenir Eclectia

Dangerous Jobs, #6 of my story thread is up on Avenir Eclectia.

It's fun pulling some of the stories together.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Power of Imagination

I Reckon entirely upon the reader to add for himself the subjective elements that are lacking in the story.
--Anton Chekhov

It is true that writers have imagination. But so do readers.
I've heard it said that there are actually two stories contained in every book. There is the story that the writer wrote and then the story the reader reads.
I know this is true for me.
Have you ever read a book and then tried to watch a movie made from it. It never looks anything like I imagined, even with movies that stick close to the book. How the movie is visually made is based on the imagination and vision of someone else. And their pictures and take away info is different from everybody elses.

The reader fills in the holes and creates their own visual of a story that may differ a bit from what the writer envisioned. But this is not a bad thing.

And flash or micro-fiction leave more holes than regular story telling. Because word count is so low, fewer words are used. It's kind of like trying to get a overloaded airplane or other flying ship off the ground. It's too heavy and you have to start throwing things overboard.
In a story, a lot of description has to get tossed out. Not all of it, by any means. There has to be some setting, otherwise our characters are floating in space with nothing to attach to. But there are a lot of holes, a lot of details left out because they have to be. If they aren't, then the writing is all description with little or no action or plot.

So as flash fiction writers, we have to have faith in the imagination of the reader, that it will be strong enough to fill in the details. I find this leap of faith exhilarating

Friday, October 7, 2011

Avoiding the "Skim Zone"

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as thought writer had stated them -- Ernest Hemingway

I also remember reading somewhere that a writer should only write what the reader will read, implying that there should be no skim-worthy prose in what we write.

I'm a novel writer trying to write flash or micro fiction for Avenir Eclectia. It is a true challenge to get "The Big Picture" down in micro sound bites. Even though I look at each piece as a chapter to a whole, they are very short chapters. AND the power in each chapter has to be ramped up, no setting or info dump filler allowed.

This became abundantly clear when I had a 'chapter' that I was working on and it wasn't working. Long and short, I realized that it simply wasn't powerful enough nor important enough to justify its existence on Avenir Eclectia.

So what did I do?

The only thing I could do.

I scrapped the whole piece.

It was painful but doable. And ultimately, it was a blessed release to let the thing go rather than to fight with it to make it into something it couldn't be. The important information that I wanted to convey will make an appearance as a sentence or two in another piece that will keep the reader reading and avoid the "skim-zone".

Monday, October 3, 2011

Installment # 5 Is Up

Installment number 5, "Aid Work?" is up on Avenir Eclectia.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Second Most Important Word in the Story Sentence

We've covered the first most important, which is the verb. The verb is the work horse of the story sentence.

The second most important part of speech or 'word' is the noun. The noun is nearly as important as the verb and runs a close second to the verb but it is not nearly the work horse that the verb is.

This is because the 'who 'and 'what' and 'where' are just as important as 'what happens' but it's the 'what happens' that carries the story.

With the "Who" the author can use the character's name, a pronoun, or even imply the character without using either because repeating the character's name over and over or even using too many "he"s or "she"s begins to draw the reader out of the story. The reader knows, or should know who the story is about from the beginning. After the "who" is established for the protagonist, the antagonist, and secondary characters, the most important thing is what they are doing or what is happening to them.

With the "What" or "Where" it is the same thing. Why is the "What" so important or the why "Where" even matters should be established more in the action involving them than in the author telling the reader why these things and places are so important. This is the difference between showing and telling.

So, bottom line... Nouns are important whether it covers characters, props, or settings. The reader does have to care about the characters and understand the importance of the things and places. Even so, the author must always remember that the verbs that carry the nouns through the story and not the other way around. This is true in all fiction and even more so in flash fiction.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Installment # 3 "Just Remember" Is Up.

"Just Remember" A Flashback is up on Avenir Eclectia.

For those dropping in from the Unofficial ACFW At-Home Writer's Conference that don't like speculative fiction, go ahead and check it out because this scene is a quiet moment between a mother and son with low levels of "spec" jargon. It could have happened on earth now or sometime in history concerning places we know rather than the made-up places of AE.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Thing About Avenir Eclectia

Grace and I have been emailing a bit back and forth about the direction of Avenir Eclectia and, to me at least, it's exciting. For those new to my blog and to flash fiction, Avenir Eclectia is a "Multi-author, Microfiction Adventure" in the Speculative genre. To find it, go to my blog roll and click on the link. Then for an extra treat, watch the video trailer concerning it there.

The thing about Avenir Eclectia is that it came into my life at the exact right time. My writing was stagnant. I had received average scores from ACFW's Genesis contest and, though I appreciated the honesty of the judges and was glad that I didn't get bad scores, somehow getting only average scores quietly took the wind out of my sails.

I've been working on my craft for years, learning everything that I could and had hoped for a little better scores after so much work. But here lately, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a contest writer. There will always be someone who can polish better than me. And in fact, for me, contests curtail my creativity rather than stimulate it. There are so many things they ding you for that you are not walking on sunshine, you are walking on eggshells. And I'm a terrible eggshell walker.

Anyway, back to Avenir Eclectia. It came at the right time. I needed something to work on in short bursts since my schedule had become crazy busy. I needed something that inspired my creativity, which the story world of Avenir Eclectia truly does. Volcanoes, bugs, a space station, a nearby planet ripped in two, beautiful aquatic life. What a wonderful place to play and to forget about contest scores. You can just let creativity be king, queen, and court jester rather than letting eggshells rule the day.

Other people of other genres could learn from Avenir Eclectia, like Romance writers or Western writers. Someone could come up with a story world, put it on a blog, and discouraged writers could work on their writing skills and have short term successes and interaction with other authors and readers to encourage them on to bigger and better projects.

So that's the thing about Avenir Eclectia. It's a fun place to play and a good resource for letting your muse out of the eggshell closet.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Feature: Power Verbs

As mentioned previously, verbs are the most important part of any story because they are literally where the action is. And with flash fiction, this becomes even more important.

One of the things that makes weak writing is using too many weak verbs. Using "Raced" or "Skipped" or "Marched" in the place of "Walked" depending on the need of the story will amp the action up a notch, add understanding to the emotion of the story, and keep a readers attention. Why did the character race? Was he scared, the situation urgent? Why did the character skip? Was she happy, a child, stupidly oblivious to her dangerous situation?

Power verbs are always best. Finding new ways of saying things make the writing interesting. Unusual verbs are great if not over used.

When I was in a critique group, one of the gals used the word "Riveted" which was awesome the first time. But when she used it a second time in the same chapter, I encouraged her to find a new word for one of the instances. She didn't like the suggestion, but eventually went with it because such a powerful and unusual verb used more than one in a chapter, or even two within several chapters of each other, that powerful verb sticks out. That sort of verb would also stick out if used more than once in a flash fiction piece.

Bottom line.
Use power verbs liberally. Use variety. Be careful about repeating the most powerful verbs, especially in short pieces, like flash fiction.

And for a list of power verbs you can look at the page I have started as a storage facility for power verbs I come across. If you have any to add to the list, I'd love to have them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Feature: Publishers

Initially, my blog roll was a mishmash of blogs and the websites of Christian Spec. publishers. I've finally divided them out and have the Christian Spec publishers in one list and the blog roll in another. Much more organized, makes much more sense.

I already had Slashdown and Marcher Lord, and today, I've added Port Yonder. Whereas Splashdown and Marcher Lord are exclusively Spec., Port Yonder also publishes other things. All three are small, independent, and reputable presses. All three are places that I would be proud to have a book published at.

Also, I'm open to adding other reputable presses if anyone wants to suggest any.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peculiar Lot

Us spec writers are a peculiar lot. We understand each other, for the most part. Or at least we give each other space for our peculiar creative flows. Other people, including family, well, they just don't always get us. They may love us and nod with a smile even as their eyes glaze over while we try to explain the story or flash of spec brilliance we had in the middle of the night.

On our long trip out west, my mother and I had a lot of time to talk and we covered a lot of ground. Finally it came up that I was writing again. Mom got real excited because she thinks I'm brilliant and should be a multi-published author, it's just the world hasn't had the privilege of discovering me yet. You know how mothers are.

Anyway, she asked me about it and, while loving this new outlet of flash fiction and being excited about the story world of Avenir Eclectia, I wasn't sure how to explain it so I just said, "Oh, I'm not sure if you'll like it." (What a wonderful self promoter am I.)
Then, explaining flash fiction to her, imagine my surprise that her enthusiasim did not wane one degree but rather increased. She started talking about Ernest Hemingway and Kent Hauf and their sparse yet beautiful writing styles. So I thought, what do I have to lose?

When we got to our destination I found a computer and brought up Avenir Eclectia for her to watch the video. I love the video and music and hoped that it would set the stage for her to read my stuff. Well, the computer wouldn't play videos. Disappointing. But I had mom there and didn't want to leave her hanging so I let her read my two entries presently up on AE.

I'm happy to say that she didn't hate them. Or at least if she did, she hid it well. No, I really don't think she hated them and that she even liked a few things about them.

Another note on family. I make my kids read my entries before I send them in. As I mentioned before, they aren't crazy about flash fiction. Well the last one I had them read, my son said something along the lines of, "Hey, things are starting to come together and make sense." And he said it almost like he was excited about it. Almost.

Anyway, we spec writers are a peculair lot and we've got to stick together. And if we can get support from our families, that makes it even better.

Monday, August 8, 2011

NEWS FLASH on Flash Fiction

Actually, it's a News Flash on a contest for flash fiction. It is hosted by Christian author, Lillian Duncan, and it appears to be open to any Genre. I might try it, except I'm leaving for vacation in the morning and can't pull something together. So I thought I'd pass this on to my Spec Friends and see if any of them want to give it a shot.

Houston, We Have a Problem

The kids and I watched Apollo 13 the other night. I'd seen it before but I wanted to share it with them for the first time.

Spec. Fiction, even Science Fiction, involves a lot of fantasy. But to make it believable, you have to incorporate some reality. Space travel will be more believable if you present what is known about space rather than make things up because you didn't do your homework.

I love movies like Apollo 13 for many reasons. But as a writer, I love the visuals and realistic portrayal of what space is really like, how hostile and opposed to earth life it really is. Movies like Apollo 13 helps keep things real and shows how dealing with real, believable issues make a great story.

I love technical side of Apollo 13, like putting the engineering department on earth at work to make the Command Module filters work for Lunar Module to bring the CO2 levels back down and having to burn fuel and fly manually to get the capsule on course for the angle of re-entry.

I also love the human aspect of it. Things like watching Lovell's mother's complete confidence in her son and the concern of his wife and children over their dad's safety.

Apollo 13 is a must see for anyone, but I especially recommend it for anyone wanting to write Science Fiction that involves space travel.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More on Verbs

In the words of Steve Urkel on Family Matters, "I use verbs. Verbs are our friends."

Truer words about verbs have never been spoken. Without a verb you don't have a sentence. That can't be said about any other part of speech, not even the second most important word in the sentence, the noun.

As I mentioned before, in the sentence, verbs are where the action is, literally. And the most important aspect of a story is the action, what happens. And anyone who has ever tried to brush up on their fiction writing skills learns very quickly that authors need to keep the verbs active rather than passive.

But I must confess, even though I've known about avoiding passive verbs for some time, there was something that I've learned only just recently, like what a truly 'passive' verb is.

According to Rosslyn Elliot, historical fiction writer:

"True passive verbs occur when the action of the sentence happens to the subject:
The cake was eaten by the boy."

My husband's family used to say to each other as a joke about certain things, "And a good time was had by all." Now I know what sort of verb they were using.

Rosslyn goes on to say:
"Progressive verbs occur when you use 'was' (or am, is, are, were) with the +ing form of the verb.
The boy was eating the cake."

Until Rosslyn set me straight, I though that progressive verbs were passive verbs. Now I know better.

Rosslyn again:

"Both passive and progressive are weak, but on the few occasions when they do appear, the appropriateness of the use will differ according to whether the verb is passive or progressive.
The progressive form of verbs might occur in dialogue where you must use the phrasing that sounds natural, even if it's progressive.
The passive form of verbs is weak in both narrative and dialogue. Once or twice in a novel, you may need to use the passive voice for clarity because of your sentence order."

Rosslyn really knows her stuff. Thomas Nelson published her debut novel, an historical romance, in April of this year. You can visit her website by clicking on the link below.

Thanks Rosslyn for sharing your expertise.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Spider in the Chaparral

My second Avenir Eclectia installment is up!

And it has at least one enthusiastic thumbs up.
Thanks Walt!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Verbs Rule, Adverbs Drool?

I was planning to write this post about the importance of Verbs already. But comments on one of my writer's loops helped me to get to it quicker.

One of the 'rules' of modern writing is to avoid adverbs. But I like what one writer says about writing rules or laws. They really are more like suggestions than hard and fast rules. Kind of like the Pirate Code from the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Adverbs are not expendable and a well placed adverb is worth its weight in gold.

But all writers need to remember that verbs are where the action is, literally.

So when this is discussed, people get real defensive and bring up all the great writers of old who used lots of adverbs. This is completely understandable. Writers are nothing if they are not creative. And all creative people hate to be boxed in. So that's why I think, instead of saying that avoiding adverbs is a 'rule', it would be better to look at it as a suggestion for streamlining a modern story for smoothness and aerodynamics. A well place adverb could be like racing stripes rather that something that protruded from the body drawing too much attention to itself and causing wind resistance.

Or perhaps a writer can look at it this way. Verbs are the meat of the story, the action. Adverbs, along with adjectives, article, prepositions, etc., they are more like the seasoning.

This thinking is particularly important with flash fiction since the point is to get to the action and to keep things streamlined.

Adverbs are not to be avoided like the plague but rather used carefully and sparingly like the perfect spice to enhance the power base of the story which is the verbs.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Flash Fiction?

I had already mentioned in the previous post that flash fiction fits well into the busy life-styles of the modern lover of fiction, both writer and reader.

I'm sure there are many other reasons for reading and writing flash fiction than what I can come up with. And I'd be interested in anyone else's opinion as to why they like to read and/or write flash fiction.

On reason that I have taken to it is that my writing style is already sparse and concise. Even back in college, when I had people proof read my essays I'd get complaints that they couldn't skim because there was too much info and not enough fluff. With former critique partners, instead of being told to cut words, I was encouraged to add words to add depth. And when I would critique other people's work, I could always find ways to tighten and to say the same thing using less words.

So this is one reason flash fiction seems to be a good fit for me. I can concentrate on 300-400 hundred words and work on a system to get my point across in the sparse concise voice I already have, plus work on deepening it using a few tool and tricks that I've learned along the way.

Anyway, this, along with natural time constraints, is the reason I'm experimenting with flash fiction right now. I wonder why other people read and/or write flash fiction?

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Is Flash Fiction?

I'm still learning.
But on Avenir Eclectia, the pieces can be anywhere between 150-400 words.
Also, I know that my children don't like flash fiction. I have them read my work before I send it in to see if it makes sense or there are spelling errors. 400 words is too short for them. They want a bit more to their stories. And that's a good thing.
But I'll tell you, I'm kind of enjoying reading the flash fiction from other contributors. Because I'm so busy, just a snippet of a story is better than no story at all.

So, flash fiction is a way to get a bit of a creative story into your fast paced life, a life just a little too busy for a full length novel at this time.

It is also a good way for an over-worked, frustrated novel writer to still work on fiction to sharpen her skills for the time to come when she's not quite so busy and she can actually work on that novel.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Yes, I got a big surprise last night.
I started this blog because I'm on a new road in my writing life. I'm experimenting with flash fiction and found a site I felt I could contribute to.
I sent something in last week knowing that they already had many contributors and thinking that mine wouldn't come up for months.
They have a policy. New contributors get their first piece pushed up and my first one was published today.
I'm excited. But more importantly, I'm inspired to press on with more of my story ideas for that world. Whatever encourages us to write, it's always a good thing.

You can go take a look

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Square Pegs and Round Holes

You know, if you don't fit, you just don't fit.

I tried to write a romance. Okay, it was a romantic suspense. And it looked like it might turn out okay. I did it because I was told that romance was the way to go, the way to break into publishing because it is romance that sells.

Like I said, it looked like it might have been okay. But then, what if I did break into being published with a romance. THEN I'd have to write another one, and another one, and another one. And honestly, I don't think I'm capable of writing that many romances before being allowed to write what I really wanted to write.

Plus, I would have built up a readership that expected romances. And if I ever branched out into anything else, a certain percent of those readers would feel betrayed. And the last thing a writer wants to do is to betray their readers.

So, I think the best thing for any writer to do is to write what is in their heart. I'm not saying that they should never listen to the advice of others. I'm just saying that if you really are a square peg, don't try to smash yourself down to fit into a round hole just to get published. You might be able to keep it up for a while. But in the end, you have to be true to yourself.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Sky is Wide Open

Writing is changing.

No longer is the written word confined to pages in books.

Publishing is in flux, no longer limited to the big houses. Small publishers are cropping up with print on demand and e-readers as real options for selling their wares.

The sky is wide open for readers and writers alike.

Strap in. I'm not sure what sort of ride we are in for.