Friday, April 29, 2016

Q is for Quest

Margaret talks about the quest to write a best seller

The dictionary definite of Quest is ‘The act of seeking something.’

So what is it that writers seek?
 The ultimate book?

A plot no-one has ever used before?


Perhaps all three?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to write a book like Gone With The Wind? A story that has stood the test of time and been read by millions worldwide. I Googled Best selling books of all time and this is the top ten of the 101 that came up:


A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R.Tolkien

The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkien

Dream of the Red Chamber – Tsao Hsueh-Chin

And Then There None – Agatha Christie

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis

She – H.Rider Haggard

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D.Salinger



Interesting?  What would you add to that list?





Thursday, April 28, 2016

Q is for (Amanda) Quick

Debra's not alone in the use of a pseudonym for writing.

Writers choose to use a pseudonym for many reasons. For myself, I chose to use one to keep my 'real' life and my writing life separate. This worked well for a few years, but as time went on, the lines became blurrier. I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it depends on the circumstance or the day.

Amanda Quick is the pseudonym for one of my favorite writers, Jayne Ann Krentz. Her books always go on my keeper shelf, and when I look at the expanse of her particular section on my shelves, she's one of my many inspirations for wanting to be a multi-published author. Due to publishing house contracts, etc. Jayne Ann Krentz has used many pseudonyms throughout her career for her contemporary novels.

Amanda Quick has always been her pseudonym for writing historical romantic suspense.

What I find really intriguing, is that she has a series, The Arcane Society, which is written across three of her pen names: Jayne Ann Krentz (contemporary setting), Amanda Quick (historical setting), and Jayne Castle (futuristic setting). To me, this is impressive. I have trouble keeping one genre and identify straight in my head. I can't imagine juggling three.

I don't think I've read anything written as Jayne Castle, but I've delved into many Jayne Ann Krentz books and a few Amanda Quick books. Again, what's interesting is that she really does have a different voice in each of her genres. If I didn't know, I'd never guess it was the same person writing.

I think a lot of choosing a different name for a different genre has a lot to do with branding and establishing consistency.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Q is for Quiet

Paula needs quiet to write.

Some people can write in crowded cafes, some listen to their favourite music or ‘mood’ music, and others seem to be able to write anywhere, anytime, even with the television on.

Unlike them, I need peace and quiet to write. Anything else is a distraction, even an irritation. I need to be able to immerse myself totally in the ‘moment’ of my story, and in my characters’ thoughts and feelings. If I become distracted by music, people talking, or something on TV, I lose my ‘link’ with the story, and find it hard to get back into it.

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, because I’m sure I used to be able to distance myself from external noise, or maybe it’s because, living on my own, I have become used to the house being quiet and not having any interruptions, particularly in the evenings.

Having said all that, I’ll admit to being able to think about a story anywhere. Driving can provide a good thinking time, and a pub lunch with my brainstorming friend can solve in less than an hour a problem I have battled with for several hours in the peace and quiet of my study.

What are your writing habits? Peace and quiet? Or can you write anywhere?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Q Is For A Quickie

Jennifer talks about judging books…

Since we restarted our alphabet blogging, I’ve been giving a lot of book reviews. I’ve enjoyed highlighting authors people might not have heard of, and it’s helped me with my resolution to read more.

Forget about whether or not I have time to read—we’re all busy, we are all pulled in a million different directions and it’s up to each individual to prioritize what’s important to them—reading as an author is a challenge. We are too used to critiquing our own work that when we sit down to read for pleasure, it’s difficult to turn off our inner editor and just read for enjoyment.

So if that’s the case, how far into a book do you read before you give up? When my kids were little, they were told by their teachers to do three pages or three chapters, depending on their reading level, to determine if the book was right for them. That advice was geared more toward their ability than their enjoyment. For me, I have to say it depends.

I try for three chapters, but lots of glaring errors will make me put down the book sooner than that. If I put it down and don’t want to go back to it, that’s another clue. Most of my reading is done on my Kindle, so it’s easy to get rid of a book and quickly start a new one. When I go on vacation, I tend to bring paperbacks. If I don’t like the book, I leave it at the hotel for someone else to read, thereby lightening my load.

What about you? How long do you give a book?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Q is for Questions to address in a Critique

Ana muses on questions to ask a critiquer or beta reader to address.

1. Does the chapter/scene/story have an OPENING HOOK and a hook or CLIFFHANGER at the end? Did the scene/chapter /story grab you, hold your attention and fulfill its promise?

2. Is the CONFLICT strong in each scene? Does it work? Do you care whether it will be resolved?

3. Are the CHARACTERS well-rounded, three-dimensional, interesting, strong and believable? Do they seem like real people? Do you care about them? Do the characters have goals? Do the characters have motivation for the things they do? Do they demonstrate internal and external conflict?

4. Did you feel you were in the SETTING because of appropriate detail? Is the setting over-described?

5. Does the scene/chapter/story contain enough DIALOGUE? Does the dialogue sound and feel natural and realistic? Does the dialogue move the story forward? Are there too many tags, not enough tags? Is it clear who is speaking?

6. Is the PLOT believable and unique? Does the plot hold your attention or does it need more conflict?

7. How is the PACING? Does the story move forward at the correct speed? Does it drag or move too quickly?

8. Is the POV clear. Is there too much "head-hopping"?

9. Is the writing ACTIVE and not passive? Does the writer SHOW rather than tell?

Friday, April 22, 2016

P is for perseverance

Margaret talks about the three P's.

Perseverance, perfection and patience - all three qualities which are needed to become a writer.


Let’s look at Perseverance first.  My dictionary definition says: determination to continue, persistence, and continued diligence. How true that is. There are times when, as a writer, you feel that your work is going nowhere. All you want to do is tear it up and start again. Perseverance is the name of the game. (Remember in the film Field of Dreams, were the words ‘If you build it they will come.’?) It’s the same with writing. If you write your book to the very best of your ability, one day you will succeed. It might take several re-writes and lots of patience but if you truly want to be a published writer you’ll get there in the end.


Perfection.  This is all part of the same thing. Writers strive for perfection but because we’re so close to our work we cannot always see it, so it’s a good idea to let someone else read your manuscript before you send it to an editor. As well as considering the story line editors will have no patience for spelling mistakes or bad grammar.


Patience.  I’m fortunate in that I have oodles of patience but I know some people who are equally as impatient. Whatever you do, once you’ve sent a manuscript to an editor, do not enquire about it. Each manuscript is taken in the order it is received and it could be many weeks before you hear. Which is disappointing for you, the writer. On the other hand it gives you time to start something else.




Thursday, April 21, 2016

P is for (Harry) Potter

Debra is a fan of the teen-aged wizard.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again. I'm an adult that reads children's literature. Often. One of my favorite go-tos is the Harry Potter series. When I'm in the mood for something cozy and fun. Or when I need to get 'adult' language and story lines and genres out of my head when I'm writing...I pick up this series. At least once a year I read through all seven books.

Even if you're not a fan, hopefully you'll admit that this series is one phenomenon that changed modern literature. People of all ages (myself included at times) stood in long lines for the stroke of midnight waiting to get their hands on a book. How amazing is that? Some, after getting a newly minted copy in their hands sat down right in the book store to read, unable to wait another minute to dive into the story. Others took it home and read into the wee hours of the night. Some couldn't wait to get up in the morning to start reading again.

An entire generation of readers has never known a world without Harry Potter in it.

However you feel about the stories themselves, kudos needs to be given in that they got people (of all ages) reading. And that isn't ever a bad thing. And as the series has spawned web-sites and movies and amusement parks, its appeal continues to grow, and more and more readers flock to it.

Dare I use the label of 'modern classic'? There are good guys. Bad guys. Battles. Even a bit of romance. Only time will tell if the books will stand the test of time. But for now, Harry Potter is here to stay. And I for one am glad.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!