Tag Archives: Writing

Gaining Clout by having Klout!

Authors as promoters – it is not a new concept, but it is certainly one that causes no end of grief if one is to judge by the amount of chatter about it online. Just managing all the social media, promotional and networking required to be a working author can be exhausting, but current opinion holds that it is also necessary.

Here is a sampling of stuff I have read on the subject in the last month:





Now there are all sorts of new ways to monitor your online presence and measure your reach. Although these services use arbitrary methods and have yet to be proven in the wider context, it is still a way to check on your engagement and rough effectiveness. Two that I have checked out are:



Here is what I have discovered so far: You build Klout by engaging in conversations, by writing on trending topics and by saying things that other people think are witty enough to be repeated. Basically, everything you must do to build clout in face to face social situations.

The Scott Monument Edinburgh Scotland

Everybody keeps talking about the ‘new’ promotional role that authors must take, but I don’t think that role is so new.

Sir Walter Scott was perhaps one of the best authors at self-promotion EVER and he lived over 200 years ago. He was such a genius at promotion that he succeeded in getting the King involved, even to the point of dressing in garish layers of tartan and parading the streets of Edinburgh spurring a manic passion for all things Scottish and specifically Scott’s Waverly novels. Sir Walter accomplished this by talking. Scott was a solicitor (lawyer) and to all reports he was charming, self-effacing and immensely entertaining. His first novels were published anonymously, but in the end run, interest in the writing became interest in the author which in turn generated interest in his work.  The promotion and the writing became all of a piece, two sides of the same coin. One side represents the writer and the imagination, the other is the resulting works that spring out of that.

Having Klout is important, but when you combine your Klout with your written works you will begin to garner real Clout. My advice to you: keep working on both sides of the equation, and one day they might be building a monument for you. Now that’s clout!


Published: 04. 08. 2011 | Comments: 4

The Writer’s Journey

or How to be Both a Novice and a Seasoned Pro at the Same Time

I am a writer and an aspiring author. What I mean by this is that I write everyday, but am not yet published or earning income from my writing. Once I have an agent, a publishing deal and a clear pathway to my next project, I will be an author. For now, I am still very much a novice.

As a writer, I have an output that I can be proud of. I have written thousands of pages which include the following:

Cry for the Trees

  • three partially finished novels
  • dozens of short stories
  • a children’s picture book, in rhyme
  • the complete book for a musical
  • the incomplete libretto for an opera
  • a handful of songs
  • a double handful of comedy sketches
  • half a dozen short films
  • one YA novel completed, rewritten, edited and readied for querying.

In addition to all this writing, I have spent countless hours researching the craft: reading books, visiting websites and Blogs, joining forums, Facebook groups and Twitter discussions. I belong to a very active writing and critique group. I read like crazy. All of this background work, besides being immensely valuable to me personally, turns out to be exactly the thing that takes me out of the Novice category and makes me something more.

Sometimes I am so used to concentrating on the things I don’t know, that I forget to celebrate the things I do. The fact is, we are all on a journey, and at every stage of it, we are likely possessors of knowledge that will prove valuable to another embarking on the journey behind us. I am grateful for the generosity of spirit that imbues the writing community in general and I pledge to share what I have learned in that same spirit.


Published: 28. 07. 2011 | Comments: 3

What’s the Story Anyway?

Many times in my reading and learning about the art of writing I stumble across people who define story as conterminous with plot. I feel this can be a limiting view of story and in the end is harmful to the ‘long view’ for our writing.


1.Also called storyline. the plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.


1.the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.


1.a narration of a chain of events told or written in prose or verse.

If you stick to these narrow definitions, Plot=Story; but we are missing one critical element here. All fiction is a narration from the lips of a storyteller – you the writer. An interesting thing happens to our idea of story when we consider the root meanings and origins of narration:


early 15c., from O.Fr. narration  “a relating, recounting, narrating,” from L. narrationem  (nom. narratio ), from narrare  “to tell, relate, recount, explain,” lit. “to make acquainted with,”

It is this last idea that is critical to how we view story. I find it helpful to think of if this way: I am a storyteller standing on a stage – I must let my audience know not only what happened, but also how, why, and to whom. Everything we write is an effort to make our readers acquainted with our characters, our themes, our ideas, our fictional events – in short, our stories. By keeping the whole tapestry of Story in our minds we will allow our readers to become acquainted with the entirety of our fictional world.

How do you view story?

Published: 15. 07. 2011 | Comments: 4

How Much Sex is Too Much?

First, read this: Sex in YA Fiction.

I have a comment on that post where I say this:

Ok – not to get too personal – but are we doing a disservice to YA readers?

I remember my first ‘truly intense’ sexual act with vivid clarity – and though the lead up to the act was all emotion – once the physical sensations started it was ALL about the physical. In fact, if someone had interrupted and asked my name I would have been unable to tell them. The physical was THAT powerful.

I think we sometimes color what we write or what we read with an adult sense of prudery. As older humans, we have weighed and balanced the sexual experience – we know the pluses and minuses – we understand the give and take. This was the number one problem with Twilight’s “I’m waiting” philosophy – there was FAR too much consideration going on.

Currently YA sex IS less graphic – but in a way, wouldn’t it be more honest if it was MORE graphic – or at least more focused on those crazy explosive physical feelings?

I realize this is a sensitive subject, so I have spent the day pondering and this is what I have come up with:

I think YA writers should try and remember the sensations of ‘first love’ in the physical. For example, I remember the first time someone kissed me on the neck. I felt it on my neck, but I also remember the feelings shooting down my arm; I remember the marked tingling of my fingers and a delicious tickle in the small of my back where his fingers rested. It made me giggle, and squirm and desire to be kissed there again. It created a hunger unlike anything I had previously experienced. This is the type of physical detail that can be added to YA sex, without upping the ‘erotic’ quotient of the writing.

I wonder at the tendency to self-censor our writing. If it was not inappropriate for me to feel those tingles at age 16, then why should it be inappropriate to write about it? And if we think it is inappropriate but we are writing about it anyway, isn’t it coy to measure the language?

In the end run, I say this: If you are writing sex into your YA novel – be honest. Describe the physical sensations as well as the emotional ones. Remember what it felt like the first time you touched someone, and the first time you were touched. Do not view the scene through adult eyes, but through the eyes of your teen-aged characters.  If you do this, your ‘sex scene’ will come off as natural and not gratuitous.


Published: 12. 07. 2011 | Comments: 7

Colorblind Writing

Every now and then a character decides to blindside me with a piece of the truth that I was oblivious to. I am not a big one for endless character description – I generally give a few sparse details and rely on the imagination of the reader to create the visual.

Partially, this is because I find too much description tedious to read, but mostly because I don’t look at people as a collection of physical characteristics, but rather, as a dynamic bundle of changing expressions and moods. My kids used to accuse my husband of becoming Jaffar when he got mad, and it is true, he does turn red and grow VERY large when he is angry. It is this alchemy of the human appearance that interests me, and that cannot be captured by a simple catalog of physical attributes.

Occasionally, I am caught out by this lack of focus on specific appearance. For example, in my WIP, The Arc Riders, Trouble with Mexicans, I describe a secondary character as having black hair and eyes and very smooth skin. I had it in my head that he came from a troubled background, but as he only occupies half a dozen pages and most of those are action scenes, his background and specific lineage/history were not all that important.

Until today: I have decided to write a short story about this character for an anthology my writing group is putting together and in the process of beginning that story I discovered that he is black. Of course my subconscious brain said, “Well, DUH!” and promptly supplied the complete visual. I felt like an idiot. If anyone had asked me exactly what this character looked like, I would have told them he was 6’1″, black, with close-cropped hair, sporting razored knot-work lines at the nape, full-lips and dramatically high cheekbones. He comes from South-Central LA and was in foster-care and suffered terrible abuse in his childhood. All of that information was there, just waiting for me to bring it to the surface. No one asked, and worse – I hadn’t asked myself.

On the one hand, I am pleased that a black character didn’t stand out to me as remarkable – I would love to live in a world where the color of someone’s skin didn’t matter. On the other hand, I might need to learn to put just a bit more information into the physical descriptions of my characters so that my readers don’t feel blindsided. He’s black?!?! What do you meant, he’s black?!

What do you think? Is colorblindness as an author a good thing, or a bad thing?

Published: 10. 07. 2011 | Comments: 9

The Kid with her Foot in Mouth

I have been called blunt, abrupt, candid, outspoken, rude, forthright, tactless, frank, and matter-of-fact. I have spoken out when it would have been wiser to hold my tongue. I have blurted thoughts as they formed and asked the question ‘but, why?’ repeatedly.

Tact is not my strong suit. I have no personal boundaries. I say what I mean and mean what I say. Which means, I am often the one in the corner with her foot in her mouth.

Society is not very fond of bluntness – until it becomes irascibility, and then they dedicate books of quotations to you (W.C. Fields or Dorthy Parker, anyone?)  This is why I so often channel my words into story – in a story that you are making up, you can say anything and get away with it.

In the meantime, in case I am never published, I am on a personal quest to convert my mere bluntness into full-scale irascibility. If nothing else, I will be assured that my utterings will grace untold numbers of Toastmaster speeches and commencement addresses. One way or the other, my words will live on after I am nothing but dirt!

Published: 07. 07. 2011 | Comments: 3