Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Writing Tip O'Day #56

Guest blogger Joanne Kells says to follow your imagination.

"For me, experience and research deepen a story tremendously. However, it’s the writer’s imagination that fuels it all in the direction you want it to go. At times, it’s best to forget the rules of writing and go with the flow of words. The rest will inevitably follow, the more layers you write."

Her novel, RED SKIES, was scheduled for release last month – hope it’s going well, Joanne.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Saying for Writers #40

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Cats are like Baptists. They raise hell but you can’t catch them at it.” - Anonymous

Obviously, this quote has nothing to do with getting published. However, I've noticed many of my FB writer friends have profile pics featuring their cats. Not sure if they are shapeshifters or just run-of-the-mill pet lovers.

Truth to tell, I ran across this quotation years ago, and have been itching to use it somewhere, somehow. Hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Tip O'Day #55

Laura Joh Rowland and Roquel Rodgers are planners, not “pantsers.”

Laura: "Write a synopsis before you start your book. It will be your road map and your chance to test-drive the story before you invest a lot of time in it. Also comes in handy to show editors and agents. A lot of people would rather 'fly by the seat of their pants' but I'm not one of them."

Roquel: "For first drafts - S.I.O. (S**t. It. Out.) Just get it out on paper, let it flow, and go back and fix it when it's all down. But before the s**tting - outline, outline, outline."

Dixon says: I met Roquel at the 2010 Flathead River Writers Conference in my home town of Kalispell, Montana. A lot of the discussion there was about whether it's best to be a planner or a pantser. I think those two positions are at the edges of a wide spectrum and most of us toil away somewhere between those points. Some genres are fairly anal in the plotting requirements, and in some experimental styles you can't find a plot. A lot depends on your personality as a writer, your genre, and your market.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saying for Writers #39

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Easy reading is damn hard writing." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tip O'Day #54

Clea R. Gellar talks about books from the perspective of reader and reviewer.

“I am a very visual person, so a good cover is often the first thing that attracts me to a book. If the cover is bad, I won't pick it up. One thing I have been discovering as a reviewer is that not all books are well edited. That is a key ingredient to making me want to read more from an author or a publishing house. A poorly edited book is very distracting, no matter how good the plot and writing are.

“As for being attracted to certain authors or genres, I think that I go through phases as to what snags my attention. In my early 20's, I couldn't get enough Anne Rice. As I got older and had children my tastes changed to chic lit and stories of friendships and women struggling through life. After being married for 18 years, I find myself reading books with more romance and passion. As I get older I have begun looking for new things to spark my interest, more sci-fi and fantasy. I think I tend to travel toward books that will satisfy something I may feel is missing in my life at that moment. “

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saying for Writers #38

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent." - Steve Martin

Happy Easter to all my writer friends!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tip O'Day #53

Guest blogger Bill Craig says “the best tip I can give is to write.”

“Write through blocks. Write through adversity, write through sickness, but write. I find working on more than project at the same time can be helpful because if I get stuck on one, I can work on the other until a solution presents itself on project one.”

Bill Craig is author of The Jack Riley Adventures: Valley of Death, Mayan Gold, Dead Run, Pirate's Blood, The Child Stealers, and The Mummy's Tomb; as well as, The Fantastic Adventures of Hardluck Hannigan: Emerald Death, The Sky Masters, River of The Sun, Ghosts of the Sargasso, Curse of the Kill Devil and The Spear of Goliath. Plus the Sam Decker Mysteries: Scorpion Cay, Killshot and Decker P.I: Death Song. And the Noir suspense thriller The Butterfly Tattoo. His website is at http://billcraig.webs.com/

Friday, April 22, 2011

Saying for Writers #37

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." - Truman Capote

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tip O'Day #52

Guest blogger Gregory Frost says don't try for perfection.

"Always give yourself permission to screw up. Many times. Perfectionism has no place in writing fiction--it's a free trip to the hamster wheel of death."

Dixon says: This is powerful advice. I heard UCLA writing guru Dennis Foley say at Authors of the Flathead sessions many times that we needed to "allow ourselves to write crap" before it finally sank in. You can edit crap. You can take it to your critique group for their advice. You can amp up the drama, humor, sex and action in crap. None of those things are possible with a blank sheet of paper, which is what we get when we're afraid of screwing up.

BTW - "Hamster Wheel of Death" - awesome! I can't sing or play a musical instrument yet I yearn to start a rock band just so I can use that name. Wait! Maybe it could be a book title...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saying for Writers #36

Attention shoppers! A Blue Light Special - Two quotes for the price of one!

Tina Fey: "It has been said that to write is to live forever."

Steve Martin: "The man who said that is dead."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tip O'Day #51

Jake Mactire, author of M/M cowboy stories, says to edit, edit and edit again.

Make certain it's in the format the publisher wants prior to submission. Also get a group of beta readers, people who will be honest, and listen to what they say. It can be a bit hard to keep from being defensive at times, but by listening to their viewpoints, you will ultimately have a stronger book.

The final decision is yours as the author, but sometimes you have to cut something you just love but everyone else just hates.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saying for Writers #35

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” - Nolan Bushnell (founder of both Atari and Chuck E Cheese)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tip O'Day #50

Author and today's guest blogger Sharon Ricklin Jones shares ideas on creativity.

So far, I have gone with my "gut feeling" on all of my ideas and methods. I try to write every day, but sometimes take a break for a day or two. The problem with that: writing, to me, is almost like breathing. I have to do it. I love doing it. And I would be lost without it.

Now and then I imagine some horrible thing happening and think to myself: Oh-my-God. What would I do if I broke a hand or even a finger...how would I type?

I do not use an outline. That sounds too much like work. I keep a notebook handy and jot down character's descriptions, main ideas, ideas that pop into my head but do not fit into the story quite yet. I usually write my story from beginning to end; however in my current novel, I found myself writing the ending about half-way through the middle.

When I first started reading about other authors and their "muses" or "letting their characters lead them," I thought they were nuts. But I have since found out, and am very happy to report that I too, have found my characters leading me down paths I never thought we'd go down. It is an awesome feeling, as though I am reading the story while someone else dictates it to me. (I do have those times too, where the words evaporate into thin air, and I have to coerce my characters back to helping me.) And for some strange reason, a lot of my ideas come to me while standing in the shower!

Sharon showers often, writes “romance with a twist” and blogs at http://color-me-read.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saying for Writers #34

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“I am a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” - Stephen Leacock

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tip O'Day #49

Gerald L. Griffin suggests holding off on blogging until you get published.

I believe blogs for a writer are most useful only after one has been published and has a website and fan base. At this point my biggest suggestion to you is to GET PUBLISHED! Then set up a website! Your blog then becomes more useful. But first steps first.

To get published, as every writer knows, the greatest help is to find an agent. But these cats, particularly in these times, are difficult to come by, especially for an unknown writer. So you may have to seek a publisher without an agent. This will require a search quest on your part, but a publisher you must find! And until you do, any other suggestions become inappropriate.

So, friend, find a publisher, or in some way become published --- and we can take it from there. Never forget, this is a business --- a hard business! To survive, you must have a passion for writing, and read the books of those who have demonstrated this passion, hoping that some magic will rub off.

Gerald’s website can be found at http://www.authorgeraldgriffin.com

His fourth published novel is OF GOOD AND EVIL and he is near completion of number five. Gerald is a very helpful, supportive gentleman, but I’m not sure about the first bit of advice he offers. Former lit agent Nate Bransford recently blogged that it’s never too early for writers to start establishing their online platforms.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saying for Writers #33

Abother Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"Thank God for books as an alternative to conversation." - W.H. Auden

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tip O'Day #48

Guest blogger Dan L. Hays says his work benefits from a series of edits. (He starts by referring to my earlier comment that "I can't find my own mistakes.")

Ditto, Dixon! I am submitting articles to an online magazine and the editor is working with me because I sometimes shift into a passive voice without knowing it. Just trying to see when I do it is half the battle, even when she gives me examples.

I need several editing looks at anything I'm doing. First, I will go through my work several times to clean up the things I can pick up on. Then I need someone to look at it from the global perspective - as a reader, whether the story line holds water. Third, I need a line edit to work out specific details like the passive voice thing. My work improves greatly with each round of editing!

You can learn more about Dan L. Hays, author of FREEDOM’S JUST ANOTHER WORD, at http://www.danlhays.com - he also blogs at http://danlhays.wordpress.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saying for Writers #32

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Facts are stubborn things.” - French novelist Alain Rene Lesage originated this saying, which was borrowed by John Adams for the Boston Massacre trial.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tip O'Day #47

Eve Paludan says to consider a “tie-back” ending.

The ending is the part of your novel that your reader takes away like a triumphant souvenir. When titling your novel, think about the last thing the reader will remember about your story, how it ended, and try to tie your ending back to the title of the novel (see The Body Departed by J.R. Rain). This gives the reader that "aha" moment of clever understanding, about how you made the novel come full circle back to your title.

Alternatively, you can do a tie-back ending to themes and clues from the beginning of your novel, which is also a "full-circle" technique (see The Star by Arthur C. Clarke). Think about the endings of novels that you enjoyed and try to analyze the structure of the ending. Additionally, check out these great resources about endings and examples of them:


Eve Paludan, twice a #1 Writer's Digest Book Club bestselling author, is also an editor of scholarly work at a state university, as well as a freelance fiction editor, e-publisher at NoTreeBooks.com, and a book reviewer. To contact her:

http://NoTreeBooks.com (now seeking short stories for anthologies)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Saying for Writers #31

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Always behave like a duck; keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.” - Jacob Braude

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tip O'Day #46

Guest blogger Michelle Horst advises avoiding repetition.

"I always tell people not to abuse these words; and, but, that, just, and then Use a thesaurus and improvise. Never use the same word twice in one paragraph to express a feeling or describe a person like beautiful; rather move on to gorgeous or stunning. For but there are quite a few options.

"Always try to improvise."

Dixon says: Nice tip, Michelle. This is another reason to join a critique group or find a writing partner to review your prose. We all have words we overuse, but we're usually blind to them. Myself, I use the heck out of just and find that 99% of the time, I can cut it without losing the meaning I intended. In other writers, I often notice then and suddenly cropping up in nearly every paragraph. In storytelling, each action or observation naturally follows another, so then and suddenly are unnecessary signposts.

By the way, why isn't there another word that means the same thing as thesaurus?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Saying for Writers #30

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep.” - William McKnight, former president of 3M Corp.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tip O'Day #45

Novelist Drew Cross suggests you figure out where you fit in the market.

"To get published, include a marketing plan with your submission - show the publisher the great ideas that you've got for making yourself stand out in a crowded market."

Drew Cross has publishing contracts for a children's trilogy (US) and a crime fiction series (UK) so far.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saying for Writers #29

In Honor of the NCAA Final Four, Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Only people who attempt nothing are always successful.” - Former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tip O'Day #44

My Facebook friend "Editing House" has some tips on being professional:

The best advice I could give any aspiring or established author when submitting their manuscripts is to do their homework. Rather than send out a blanket letter with their submission, they need to research each publisher's submission criteria. For example, some publishers/agents request the first/any three chapters, others like the first 30 pages, others need a submission form to be completed, and so on. If you submit your manuscript without doing your homework then you are likely to be rejected on this basis alone.

You also maximize your chances of being noticed if your manuscript has been professionally edited/proofread.

I actively solicit other authors and those working in publishing for suggestions on how writers can improve their craft and/or get published. "Be professional" is a very common refrain.

Anybody with a writing tip is welcome to email it to montananovels@yahoo.com and I do publish nearly every comment, even those I don't necessarily follow in my own writing. I sometimes combine pro and con viewpoints into a single post, or put together a series of very brief tips on the same subject. I reserve the right to do minor editing because, well, that's just the way I am.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Saying for Writers #28

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes.” - Philip Dusenberry

I don't like to criticize another writer but I think writing bank robbery notes should be either 1st or 2nd. As with other forms of writing, a lack of professionalism can lead to poor results. For example, don't write the note on the back of your own deposit slip. Dixon