March 2017 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: March 2017 (Page 2 of 2)

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Transition Words

 

When it comes to creative writing, we all have our “style”. Some people like to use fewer words and shorter sentences, while others of us (I’m guilty of this) prefer to go with longer sentences that use more flowing words.

Longer sentences aren’t bad, but they must be constructed properly to avoid being boring, dry, or becoming run-on sentences. Transition words are useful to help you put together better longer sentences.

Transition words and phrases signify a connection between portions of the sentences. They can compare, contrast, and organize, and they can help make the transition between the various parts of the sentences smoother.

There are a few types of transition words:

  • Addition/agreement — In addition to, by the same token, as well as, furthermore, and moreover serve to reinforce or add on to the sentence.
  • Opposition/contradiction– In spite of, instead, although, despite, but, and nevertheless can all indicate a shift in perspective or belief in the sentence.
  • Condition/cause– Because of, while, due to, provided that, and in order to all show causes and conditions that link parts of a sentence together.
  • Emphasis/example– For example, for this reason, chiefly, especially, to emphasize, in other words, and in general all support or emphasize the idea you are trying to communicate, highlighting them for the reader’s attention.
  • Summary/conclusion – As shown above, in summary/conclusion, to sum up, and for the most part are all used to close an idea or thought, or to sum up what was just said.
  • Place/location – Near, above, beneath, beside, across, between, further, farther, and in the middle all help to qualify location in writing, and work together with time/sequence transitions to give the reader an understanding of the “where”.
  • Time/sequence – First, later, before, during, after, until now, by the time, occasionally, and from time to time all answer the “when” of the writing.
  • Consequence/effect – Because, for, so, hence, and consequently explain the reason behind something or the consequence of the action.

These transition words can help to smooth out your longer sentences and make it easier for the reader to transition between thoughts/ideas.

 

 

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Is Your Character a Psychopath?

In every great novel, there are villains doing villainous things, anti-heroes treading the line between good and evil, and even noble heroes willing to do “dark” things for the greater good. Everyone has their “dark side”, the part that they hide from the world and which only comes out in moments of great stress or emotional turmoil.

And then there are those whose dark side is a lot darker than we might suspect. On first glance, we understand there’s something different or off about them. As we discover them more and more, the belief is reinforced. Their behavior or mannerisms are never quite…right.

Sound like one of the characters in your novel? Maybe it’s the person whose hiding his villainy and pretending to be an ally, or the supporting character who is just a little too eager to embrace the dark side. If that’s the case, the person may secretly be a psychopath.

There are multiple ways to recognize and diagnose psychopathic tendencies. One of them is the Five Factor Model, which uses “openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism” to diagnose personalities.

According to the Five Factor Model, psychopaths are a combination of:

  • Low conscientiousness and agreeableness
  • High anger
  • Low anxiety
  • High assertiveness
  • High sensation-seeking
  • Low warmth

The Elemental Psychopathy Assessment also uses a series of items (anywhere from 18 to 178) to measure and diagnose psychopathic tendencies. The questions indicate that psychopaths:

  • Believe they deserve special treatment and that feeling sorry for others is a weakness
  • Care less about their relationships with others and don’t worry about others’ feelings
  • Look for the motivation behind kind actions
  • Have a temper, which can lead to trouble
  • Are impulsive when angry

These are just a few of the signs that the person has psychopathic tendencies.

The truth is that it’s incredibly difficult to tell a psychopath apart from a neurotypical person. They have learned from a very young age to mimic “normal” or socially acceptable behavior, so they can blend in. However, understanding these traits about the psychopaths can help you to understand if that person (in your novel, of course) is actually hiding psychopathic tendencies. It can make your writing of the character much richer and deeper if you understand the underlying reasons for why they do what they do or how they perceive their actions and their relation to others.

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Book Review: Within Stranger Aeons: Lovecraft’s Mythos in the 21st Century

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I have something a bit different: an anthology of tales of a very Lovecraftian nature. For those who enjoy proper horror, it’s a collection definitely worth reading!

Within Stranger Aeons

There are dimensions beyond that which is known to man. They are realms as vast as space and older than time itself. In these realms are beings beyond light and shadow, beyond good and evil, and there lie harbingers of the end of the human age.

The stars are right.

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This is the epoch of terror & devastation. It is an age which is…Within Stranger Aeons.

Featuring stories and poems by: Michael Fisher, H.P. Lovecraft, Andew Bell, Mord McGhee, Juan J. Gutierrez, Owen Barrass, Kevin Candela, William Henry Tucker, Roy C. Booth, Ashley Dioses, Andrew J. Lucas, Essel Pratt, G. Zimmerman, Brian Barr, Mark Woods, Justin Hunter, Amanda M. Lyons, Dona Fox, Charie D. La Marr

My Review: 4 Stars

More than just short stories–a glimpse into a world where the horrors you dare not think of could very well come true!

As with any collection of short stories, there are some that hit the mark and some that fall short. A few of these are merely interesting tales, while others will send a shiver to the very marrow of your bones.

The first offering, composed by H.P. Lovecraft himself, sets the tone for the book. The brooding Chthonic feel of these stories will have you quaking in your shoes and turning the lights up just a bit brighter. You will never look at rock concerts, empty bathtubs, icy ponds, or the Everglades the same way again. If the authors of these shorts have their way, you will never sleep again…

 

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G0RD7A6/

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Forget About Goals; Set a System Instead

One of my “fun little quirks” as a person and an author is that I’m VERY goal-oriented. I try to be as realistic as possible, but when I set a goal, I feel like it’s carved in stone. Come Hell or high water—or a scalding combination of both—I’m going to reach that goal!

Then I ran into a fascinating article on Psychology Today that talks about a new way to approach goal-setting. Basically, it says that the GOAL isn’t what matters. Instead, it’s the system that helps you reach that goal that matters most.

The article gives some interesting examples:

  • If you’re a coach,your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer,your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner,your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur,your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process

I found that writer example really sold the concept to me. I have a general idea of how long it takes me to write a book—about 6-8 weeks, for 120,000 words. However, I’ve failed to meet that “goal” way more often than I’d like to admit. The objective-oriented part of my brain shrieks in panic every time I pass the self-imposed deadline.

In late 2016, I signed a contract with Dragonblade Publishing to publish the three-book Queen of Thieves series—beginning with Child of the Night Guild. But they gave me a tight deadline: Book 1 on Jan 18, 2017, Book 2 on July 18, 2017, and Book 3 on Jan 18, 2017. I usually spent about 6 months working on the book, PLUS all the editing, formatting, and proofreading time. So that was a tight goal, one I immediately worried I wouldn’t reach.

So before the stress killed me, I sat down and decided to figure out how long I needed per book in order to reach that goal. I figured out I’d need to complete each book in 2 months (Nov-Dec 2016, and Feb-March 2017) to reach it. But instead of focusing on the actual date deadline, I broke it down into a simple system: 2,000 words (1 chapter) per day, 6 days per week. At 50ish chapters per book, that comes out to about 8 weeks per book. Add on a couple of months for beta reading, personal edits, and my final fine-tuning, and I should be able to hit that goal.

Well, four months and 200,000 words later, I 100% agree that the SYSTEM is what matters. I’m still fighting off stress as I watch the submission deadline come closer day after day, but I tell myself that the system is working. I’ll be finished (fingers crossed) with the first draft of Queen of the Night Guild (Book 3) by this weekend, and I’ll get back to work on the second draft of Thief of the Night Guild (Book 2) after the March 31st launch of The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past. With the system I have in place, I will be finished with Book 2 just in time to submit it to the publisher. But I’ll then have six months to complete Book 3, which means I may be able to put out The Last Bucelarii (Book 4): Anamnesis by December 2017.

Goals are important, but the “how” is, in my opinion, far more important than the “what”. Focusing on the system (writing 2,000 words/1 chapter per day) is far less stressful than focusing on my goal (120,000 word novel in 8 weeks). As long as I keep working the system, I’ll hit my goal. And that is what counts in the long run!

 

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Guest Post: What We Learn When We Rewrite

Today, I’m fortunate enough to have a guest post written by an awesome editor and friend, the epic Michael Dellert. His post: the nitty gritty of re-writing!

What We Learn When We Rewrite

The only truly creative aspect of novel-writing is the first draft. That’s when the story comes straight from head and your heart, a direct tap into the subconscious. After that, the rest of it—the rewrite—is grunt work. But it’s grunt work that has to be done, and work from which we can learn.

When I first sat down in 2014 to write my first book (Heron’s Cry), I was essentially teaching myself to write all over again. I jokingly referred to the whole undertaking as, “the first thing I’ve written since my college Creative Writing workshop that’s more complicated than a grocery list.”

As the author of Fear of Flying so succinctly put it:

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.” – Erica Jong

That was my experience as a writer for many years as well. I was so adamant about writing well (grammatically) that I never got to the end. I was “that guy,” the writer who keeps polishing the first three chapters—but doesn’t finish the work.

Then I heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of done.” I realized I wasn’t helping myself as a writer by being such a perfectionist. And so I adopted a new approach to my work and started writing Heron’s Cry.

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Forward!

First, I gave myself a strict deadline: Thirteen weeks. And I put a hell of a consequence on that deadline. If I didn’t type, “The End” by 5pm on the 91st day of the project, I wouldn’t ever call myself a writer again. After 30 years of self-identifying that way, I didn’t know what else I would call myself, so it meant a lot to me to keep that goal.

By not backtracking each day, I was always moving forward, getting closer and closer to the last page where I could finally type, “The End.” By writing that first draft all the way through without looking back, I got my internal editor off my shoulder. The first draft was all creative stuff that just “came to me,” often as a surprise. Reading what I wrote afterward, I often mumbled, “Wow. I wrote that!” I let my stream of consciousness flow, and the words appeared on the monitor. And I was amazed at how damn good they were. Or at least, how damn good I thought they were.

Backward!

But not surprisingly, that first draft was a huge, unwieldy thing. I had aimed for just 65000 words, the minimum word-count for what I considered “a novel,” but I came in at more than 120k words.

And as amazingly good as I thought the words were, there was no doubt they needed major revisions before I could even think about publication.

But I wasn’t discouraged. Hell, I had just done what for thirty years had been impossible for me: I’d finished the first draft of a novel. A whole new world had opened up to me. I could finish a story. The world hadn’t ended. No nuns with wooden rulers came around to rap me on the knuckles. The sun still rose in the east every morning.

So since then, I’ve been editing Heron’s Cry. I’m not in a rush. I don’t have a deadline, I enjoy the process, and I’m a stubborn person. When many other writers might have shoved that manuscript under the bed or buried it deep within a desk drawer after the fifth or sixth edit, I continue to comb through it with renewed enthusiasm. My protagonist is becoming more proactive, the plot more tightly woven. I’m embedding subtle clues and red herrings through the narrative as I become more adept at plotting.

The Rewrite Process

So how do I do it?

My earliest edits in Heron’s Cry consisted of cutting, and this is a practice I’ve kept up through my subsequent works. I’ve learned to embrace that oft-repeated mantra that every scene must move the story forward or, at the very least, define character. If I can’t justify a scene, it’s gone. I got over the trauma of cutting—words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and even (yelp!) whole chapters. And I applied those lessons to my other books, creating lean but complicated fantasies.

Needless to say, this hasn’t been easy. But I discovered a way that made it less painful: I created a “Cuts” document. Everything I cut went into that separate file, “for posterity.” Nothing was ever truly gone. If I changed my mind, I could reinsert it with the click of a button. The “Cuts” document for Heron’s Cry is 190 double-spaced pages (about 47000 words).

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And what I found was that a lot of those cuts were backstory and exposition, not relevant to the story at hand. So I started book number two, Hedge King in Winter, as an excuse to tell that backstory and repurpose that exposition. And then I went on to book three, A Merchant’s Tale, and then my first published full-length novel, The Romance of Eowain, and now my forthcoming new novel, The Wedding of Eithne.

As I mature as a writer, the “Cuts” document for each book is shrinking because I’m learning to evaluate scenes before I write them. For The Wedding of Eithne, the “Cuts” file is just seven pages.

No Rest for the Wicked?

I’ve probably edited Heron’s Cry more than twenty times already. I can flip open the manuscript, glance at a line or two, and know exactly which scene I’m looking at. Around edit number ten of Heron’s Cry, I realized I needed to do a major story revamp, so I copied the entire manuscript into another document for safekeeping. This freed me to be as bold and daring as I liked. If I mess something up in the revision, I still have that earlier version to fall back on. This is a nice strategy for short stories, too.

But when will it be done? I’m not sure yet. Keeping in mind that perfect is the enemy of done, I’ve set deadlines on my other four books, and told the story that leads up to the events in Heron’s Cry. Now that those books are finished and almost all out of the nest, maybe 2017 is the year to bring Heron’s Cry to the world? Or maybe I’ll keep myself guessing.

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About the Author:

Michael E. Dellert is a writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 20 years. His blog, Adventures in Indie Publishing, is a resource for creative writers of all kinds. He is the author of three books in the heroic fantasy Matter of Manred Saga, and his latest book in the series, The Wedding of Eithne, will publish on 28 March, 2017.

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Duel to the Death: Sebastian

I, Andy Peloquin, challenge you, Jessica Wren-Wilson, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…

In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero

In the blue corner, we have Sebastian, the carrier of Kenos.

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Normal mortal male, but exceptionally strong.
  • Inability to feel pain or fear.
  • Has used water as a means of mass killing before!
  • Not especially adept at weaponry, but can easily disarm any opponent unless he/she has a firearm.
  • Most importantly, he is a carrier of a Kenos (an anti-Essence that can drain any protective Essence). In other words, he may be able to slow down the Hunter’s ability to self-heal. Otherwise, he has no magical abilities.
  • Will kill just because he feels like it. Utter lack of empathy at all.

Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!

How would Sebastian kill the Hunter? Sebastian will kill Hunter because if Hunter is up to the challenge, the fight will take place on a boat. Sebastian will handcuff a weight to Hunter and throw him overboard–unless Hunter kills him first!

To kill (your character): The Hunter would try to overwhelm him with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce his skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume his soul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.

Who would win?

The Hunter’s soul-stealing dagger may find it less-than effective against Sebastian: years of being a Kenos carrier has left very little of his soul remaining. However, if he gets hit in a vital organ he will die like any other mortal. The Hunter’s speed and skill makes him a worthy foe.

However, the fact that the fight is taking place on open water (Sebastian’s element) could work against the Hunter. If Sebastian is fast enough to snap the handcuff in place on the Hunter’s wrist, he stands a chance of survival.

Probable Winner: The Hunter of Voramis. Sebastian has only one way to kill the Hunter, while the Hunter has many options (dagger, sword, snapped neck, strangling, etc.). His superior speed, reflexes, and training make him the victor–unless luck is on Sebastian’s side.

Want to find out more about this carrier of Enos who would dare challenge the legendary assassin of Voramis to the death? Click here to read about Sebastian in ICE

 

Who do YOU think would win? Did we get the match-up right? Leave a comment below and let me know…

 

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