Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing Apps ... Do You Need Them?

A recent post by The Writer's Circle  (Top 4 Free Writing Apps) informs followers about several FREE writing apps. Yes. Free. And that's something to check out. Always. The ones they list and describe are: 1)Draft; 2)Storehouse; 3)OmmWriter; and 4)Evernote. Here's a brief summary of each. 

1)Draft: collaborative word processing where you choose whether to accept or ignore feedback from editors, fellow writers, or whoever reviews your writing. Special feature is the Hemingway Mode which sets you in the write first, edit later mode. 


2)Storehouse: I should say upfront it's an iPad app. This one has the ability to visually enhance your writing with video and photography as they blend with your text. I can see this working well with children's picture books and adult books that may have photos. 


3)OmmWriter: This one is rather difficult to describe because it's more abstract than physical. However, the app's goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to getting your writing done in the most productive manner. It provides various backgrounds and audio tracks to match the mood of your writing. 


4)Evernote: a note-taking app that syncs and coordinates notes across all your devices. Completing a huge project that requires research and fact gathering? Use Evernote. Besides basic note-taking, you can place these notes alongside your articles and photos. A great organizational tool.


That said, I have to add my personal favorite, which I've found both practical and easy to use. yWriter is a writing app with so many goodies. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to find a free alternative to Schrivener (being the tight, frugal person that I am). I can create chapter summaries, character descriptions, plot summaries, and the list goes on. I print off the complete chapter summaries for my latest WIP and voila, I have a handy reference tool. Not to mention if an agent or publisher asks for an outline or chapter summaries, I've got it ready.  And ... did I mention it's free? The only $$$ that could come into the picture happens when you want to upgrade to a more extensive program, but I haven't found the need for that yet!


Whether any of these work for you depends on your writing process preferences, of course. But you never know if circumstances will change. So, why not check them out?


Happy Writing! And if you have any apps or programs you'd like to mention that are not listed here, please comment!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The True Power of the Pen

How descriptive do you think your writing is? Well, the more effective you are, using all those descriptive sensors to create colorful images, may give your writing more power than you think.
I was reading this article about the effect media has on increasing aggressive behavior. Though many have claimed violence in movies, music, and video games impacts human behavior in a negative way by increasing violent actions, one particular media has been left out. Reading. Yep. A research team from Brigham University has conducted a study with experiments to provide evidence that reading fiction causes certain psychological behaviors. Whether the reading describes physical or relational aggression, i.e. aggression that harms one's personal relationships, the more descriptive the scene is will create vivid images in a person's head. And if it's violent ... well, you get the "picture".
So remember this, authors, your words have power in ways you may never have considered!
If you want to read more ...


Friday, January 9, 2015

Here We Go Again.

The thought must cross authors' minds when they write how their work will be received, especially if the books are for middle grade and high school students. After all, themes which appeal to this age group can be controversial. The question is how do adults decide? And what do they use as criteria? 

I taught at the high school level, teens with mild disabilities, with emotional problems, some who came from dysfunctional homes. I always felt certain themes should be embraced and taught in the classroom, those that many adults would rather choose to protect kids from. It's a fine line and not an easy decision -- to read or not to read. That is indeed the question. 


In recent news a story came out about a mother in a certain school district who objected strongly to John Green's Fault of Our Stars, about two teens who have cancer. Death is a theme, but there's love, acceptance, survival as well. Mom's reasoning is that middle schoolers have enough issues dealing with their own mortality let alone reading a book about it. Well, she convinced the school board and it's been pulled from district middle schools. 


As no surprise, authors usually have a defensive response to censorship. I know I do, both as an author and a teacher. However, John Green's reply was something special. Take a look and read what he had to say, then let me (us) know what you think. 

The Fault in Our Stars Has Been Banned in Schools 

by Joanna Robinson

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It’s All About That Bass, i.e. Great Writing

bass 2The truth is when you write, it’s all about that bass, too. How so? Well, first, let’s look at the song. I’d guess many who listen to it initially think it’s all about the physical. However, there’s figurative meaning in the message, too. Right? That bass, deep and substantive, it’s part of who we are. In fact, it’s the importance of who we are. Beauty is nice, but it’s the personality, the heart, all the “bass stuff” that keeps people coming back for more and it's the glue to sustain relationships.

So, what about in writing? How does an author sustain reader relationships? I’d like to think in a huge way it is all about that bass – the plot with its twists and turns, and its complexity; those dynamic characters with layers and layers to make them a challenge to figure out; the setting descriptions meant to pop with every one of the five senses; the dialog, authentic and purposeful. Writing with anything less is a half-hearted effort.


I say, don’t kid yourself. Readers know. They are an intelligent species whose demands should never be ignored. Otherwise, it can be a painful death to an author’s career. As I’ve stated countless times: writing is hard ... very hard work. There’s a reason for revision. Your story in its initial stage might have all the “surface beauty”. It looks pretty and shiny at a glance, but then … Did I mention that readers have demands? Yes. You must edit, revise, layer upon layer, and repeat. Add that bass. Your writing deserves the best effort. Your readers do, too!


Happy Holidays!


www.kathrynlong.webs.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Writing, and Then There's Patience

I finished the first book in a new mystery series -- Grave Maker Blues. Satisfying as it seems, at least for a brief time, I queried it to a handful of agents. That quenched my productive, creative urges. For a brief time. So, I outlined the next story in the series. Just last week I started writing book 2. I figure it will take me two or three months to finish a rough draft. That should satisfy me ... for a brief time. 

Admittedly, the little voice in my head won't let me stop. I have to keep going, moving on to something new, while I wait for whatever I hope to accomplish. I'd like to stop. Give a brief, restful pause to enjoy those things that tend to be overlooked or ignored while I'm busy producing, achieving, waiting. Ah ... it's just that little voice, the cheerleader in my head ... it won't let me stop.

Could it be the mentality of all those great minds throughout the course of history? Could they possess that voice? Am I like that, included with those great minds? .... Nah, it's just me, like anyone trying to satisfy the productive, creative urges, just one in a gazillion. Yep, that's who I am. 

Still, I think I will try to stop, at least for the holidays. It's only fair, to me, to my family, friends ... now, where was I? Oh. Yeah. Book 2. And then, more letters to agents. And how about promotion ideas for A Deadly Deed Grows? It's coming out in a couple of months. I'm hopeless!

Happy Holidays to all!

And If You Like Mysteries, Click on This!

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Not Real ... Oh Yes It Is!

Ever have that moment ... you know ... the one where you've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and ... then it comes? But you think it's a dream because of all that waiting and after all, you've convinced yourself that maybe it's not going to ever happen. Yeah, that kind of moment? Well, I heard from the editor and she emailed me the galley of A DEADLY DEED GROWS to review. How about that? I think my arm is black and blue from pinching. Yes, I guess we're moving along ... Just two more steps to go!

To be continued ....

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's In The Details

Whenever I look at the cover of a book, I like to search for the tiniest details. Reminds me of that online mystery game. You know the one where you have to find the hidden objects in the picture, which of course are clues to solving the mystery? I love reading mysteries as well as writing them. I figure the details in a book cover may be clues to the story. I know when I give a publisher's cover artist my ideas for the covers, I think of that. For instance, in DYING TO DREAM, the grave marker's dates are backwards. And no, it's not a typo! There's a very good reason for this detail. And no, again. I'm not going to tell you what it means and spoil the fun, if you decide to read my work. :-)

Take the cover for Grisham's SYCAMORE ROW. How perfect to have the tree as the focal point. But the fogginess in the background sends a message to me as well. When I first looked at the cover -- and you should know I highly recommend the book -- I wondered if the fog is meant to imply the answers to the mystery are behind it, literally and figuratively. Or maybe it's there to make the other trees seem insignificant compared to the one at the forefront. Of course, I guessed the tree would play an important role as the story unfolded. It made me curious, as all covers should do, enough to read the book.


I have noticed that some covers intentionally lack detail. Though not as interesting, they're usually done with books by brand name authors. Let's face it. If I see Stephen King's name plastered across a blank background I'm hooked -- and most likely the print size will be larger than the title's because, yes, he's a brand that sells. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series always have a colorful solid background with her name and the title on the cover. Nothing more. It works. However, it's just not as much fun. I like the idea of a puzzling cover with its suggestive details. In teaching, it's what we call making predictions. I used to ask my students prediction questions all the time in literature class. What do you think the title implies? How about the cover? Can you make predictions on what the story will involve? Something to get the readers interested. If you think about it, by answering these questions, in an indirect way they've helped to write the story. 

So, next time you search for something to read, check out those covers. The tiny details are full of enticing tidbits, beckoning to you, teasing you with predictions of what's inside. Don't ignore them, or else you may miss out on a pretty good read!

Enjoy your next great reading adventure :-)

DYING TO DREAM

DEVILISH, DEVIOUS, AND DEADLY WITH ONE BITE

KATHRYN LONG - AUTHOR WEBSITE