Fortune Cookies and Writing

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You’re kidding. What do these have in common with writing? Words . . . not just any words, but words with ideas.
Late one afternoon, a few of my book club members decided to go out for an oriental dinner before the meeting. Some of the members are writers and others readers of books. After the last course, Fortune Cookies became the centerpiece of the table. A ‘savage’ grab got our fortune right in front of us. One by one, we read our fortunes out loud. Voices got softer as each cookie not got read.
“Stop,” one in the group hollered. “These are all about kidnapping, murder, and death. Who did this sinister trick, and no, it is not funny.” We looked around the table. No fingers pointed to another. No eyes stared at a specific person. One lady, a writer of mystery answered, “This helps me know which character will go over the edge.”
“Why not put all of our fortunes together and see what we have,” I said. “We might be on to the beginning of a fantastic book.” All I got was silence and big eye stares.
After our review of the book for the evening, I returned home and begin thinking about fortune cookies and writing. They do have a lot in common. First, someone has written all of these proverbs, humorous sayings, statements, predictions, advice, and messages. Fortune cookies are not new and have been around for a long time, and remind me of words at play. Isn’t this what a writer does? Play with words until the right ones enter the mind and the fingers make this known on the keyboard. Here you get a good meal and at the end, possibilities for a new story.
The next time you open a fortune cookie, keep your message. No you cannot borrow or exchange your cookie with others. This was the message YOU picked up. It is YOUR personal message. Think of this as a prompt for your writing. Start keeping these fortune cookie messages in a jar, box, envelope, or what you have handy. Now, you have your own Fortune Cookie Prompt Jar. When you get stuck, dig in and find a new message. If you’ve used it before, replace and get another. Think of all the story starters these create and enjoy your Fortune Cookie Treasures.
Happy Hunting. Happy Fortunes. Happy Writing.
                                 HAPPY YOU.

 

 

 

 


		
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FEAR OF FAILURE

unicorn danceYes, we all want to be successful in whatever field we choose. Success is just two steps away. You can feel it, but something happens and you remain in the same spot. Why? Behind the big forceful smile, a thought lurks. “What happens if I become successful and fail?” Like many others, you get back on your feet, start over, and try again. But this would mean getting out of your comfort zone and the self-imposed prison you created. Take a look at all the times you stopped whatever you were doing because the prison felt better than knowing what was on the outside.
Fear is such a short, four letter word, and we panic at the thought of getting out of our comfort zone. This is no easy task. Start small. Watch a baby wobble from the knees and try to move forward. The child makes quite a few wobbles. Back and forth. Back and forth until it becomes familiar and the hands and knees will move together. The baby discovers table tops that need to be checked out. Soon the hands reach up and the feet become still as the legs straighten up. There is so much more to see standing up. Then comes the fun of running and each room has something new to explore. The big world outside is next.
What’s so different with ourselves? Failure will always be a part of living, but it does not have to consume your life or your world. Start small and keep going forward know matter if the steps seem huge to you.
Find ways to break down your fear and try it on again and again. But, you do not feel you are good enough, smart enough to continue. Why? This is where you talk to your fear with conviction in your voice. Stand in front of a mirror and state all the reasons why you can do anything your want, within reason. Does the mirror crack? Does the person in the mirror split apart? No. Guess everything is okay. Face your fear and you will defeat the thoughts rolling around in your head.
Fear is only distress, anxiety, panic, worry, and terror. All of these can be overcome with a little practice in the real world, but remember you will always have the mirror to help you.
Fear can destroy your employment, your friends, even your family. Yet fear can be a good feeling as it sometimes trips the alarm inside you. Always listen to yourself and your feelings. You know yourself better than anyone else. Rely on these feelings.
Now, put fear to bed and learn something new. Walk into a room of strangers and come away with new ideas and new friends. you are on your road to FREEDOM OF FEAR.

 

HAPPY FEARLESS YOU.  HAPPY WRITING.

 

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

dog days of summerDid you know this period of August and into September is named after a star, Sirius the Dog Star. Looks like this Sirius is enjoying his air conditioner. The hot weather during this period seems to be hotter, no breezes, and robs one of their energy to be active. I’ve thought about this and remember, way back when, times of air conditioning did not exist. Yeah, they had means to cool businesses, but what about homes. We used fans, like in the picture, in our windows, rooms, porches, and we drank plenty of lemonade, ice tea, water and lots of ice in every drink. Never thought too much about the heat, until we got our first air conditioner. It was a huge, clunky box which my dad installed in one of our living room windows. It cooled the room where we stayed most of the time. Why? Our first black and white television was in this room. As I remember backwards, a lot of firsts entered our lives. Exciting to see pictures on a big screen and be cool at the same time. Then came the first washing machine, but not like the kind that you have in your homes. No, this was similar to the old washer and had ringers you ran the clothes through, after the rinse, to squeeze the water out. Only, this new washer had a motor that rotated the clothes you put inside the machine. You could watch the clothes move around without the use of hands or paddles. Then you hit a release knob and the dirty wash water ran down a drain. When it was empty, you filled the machine with clear water for the rinse, started the motor again so the rotation would rinse the clothes. Now, the final release knob and the water ran out again. Hands ran them through the wringer and they were ready for the clothesline. Wash day was a lot of work. No, I like the laundry days now, except…Oh, the clothes smelled so fresh as they were unpinned from the clothesline and folded up.  I’m happy to have had these experiences and when I do laundry, thankful for all the new technology. But, would love to smell the freshness from the outside, not from a rinse of different smells. It is good to remember what was and be thankful for what is now. Sometimes, we want things to go faster, quicker, and forget what we need is downtime from all our activites. During these “Dog Days of Summer” take time to relax, read, write, connect with friends, old and new, sit back and enjoy your Ice Tea, or Sweet Tea depending where you are spending your hot summer days. Just keep in mind, these days won’t last forever. Soon Fall and Winter will creep up on the calendar. At this point, you’ll remember  the hot days of summer. Enjoy your days, write about your own memories, and you’ll be surprised at what your fingers will dig up for you.

Happy Memories. Happy Days. Happy Writing.

LIVE LIKE YOUR CHARACTER

BlogHave some fun this week and walk in the shoes of your character. This is the person you write about in your novel, but writing and being are two different ways to learn more about your protagonist or antagonist. You can double your fun by being both. Read again chapters you’ve written where your characters have the spotlight. This applies to both female and male counterparts. Is your character outgoing, talkative, abrupt, devious, just to name a few attributes. Are you writing about a person you want to be, but cannot do this as yourself? This is your chance to experience and gain confidence in your writing and your character. Get out of your regular space and take on the life of your novel character. You will need to dress and change your style to match. How can you feel like or know your character without being that person? Hey guys, do you dress in a suit, tie, and wear polished shoes? Maybe even a sports coat, but the creases are always in place. Change. Go for the grunge and enjoy a different side of yourself. Walk in a section of town you’ve never visited or are uncomfortable being there. Get outside your internal box and get inside the boxes of the people you meet. Ladies, do you walk into a restaurant, no not the take-out kind, and panic to be there by yourself. Not today. You are your novel person and you know what she would do. Can you do it? Take a deep breath and become the outgoing person she is. Feel the way it takes a hold of you as you ask to be seated in the middle of a full restaurant all by yourself. Your character is taking over. Now, with the first step accomplished, how do you feel? Stop and recognize your feelings of being lost, out of place, an outsider or maybe the rejected on. Do these show up in your characters. Do not stop. You are on a trip to identify with the people in your book, and this could mean more research. In other words, you are enjoying this role-playing part. Do this more often and have fun. You may find you are more like them than you ever imagined.



Sit down at your computer and reread everything about your character that shows up. You may need to change their lives a little more than you thought. You are now in-tune with them and writing gets easier. You may feel more comfortable with yourself and not afraid to try new, outrageous adventures. Let your character lead you down some different paths, but most of all HAVE FUN. You have created a new experience for you. Grab it. Enjoy your writing and I wish all a Happy and Safe Fourth of July.  Check out my blog and see some interesting information about Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race. Happy Characters.

Happy You. Happy Writing.


CHARACTERS

Where do you get your characters for your stories? Sometimes, they are just in our head and as we begin to write, they emerge into a scene. Then you get this idea and the character will not appear. No matter what you think, scribble down, or hit the keys, the character stays hidden. Characters, like life, are fickle to our stories and just do not behave the way we think they should. Of course, not. This is the reason we have characters.

Characters need to have a will of their own. They are often complicated with hope, fears, and dreams and at times contrary to what writers want them to do. Have you ever started your story with a sweet character who turns into a person you do not know? Your character is showing volition and this is what you want.

Your characters need complications to overcome. They need to be full of life, powerful, and have potential and appeal. Also, they need to show a softer side in some scenes and give the reader a chance to observe their different sides. If your character or characters do the same thing over and over, you are not giving your reader an incentive to read more pages.

How your characters dress, their age, their mannerisms relate to the reader. Put a spark of imagination in their attitudes and see what changes they can create in your story. What about their names? This can say much about your character. Odd names can remain in your reader’s mind for a long time. Just make certain this name fits your character.  This brings up the use of ‘nicknames’ for your character. Do you use them?  If you do, make it a name to remember for your character. We are not talking about a William to Billy, or a Harold to Hal and then on the female side, an Elizabeth to Betty, or Suzanne to Suzie. You need to stop and listen. If the name does not fit, your characters will not act the same.

Then your character is in the reader’s mind and emotion as the story moves forward. Are your characters friendly? If so, your reader will relate to the character. If your characters are cold or standoffs, your reader will not relate or even suspect this character of being rude throughout the book. How your characters come across to your reader is an important, if not the most important, connection of the reader and the story.

Play with names, mannerisms, age, and let your characters be themselves. They will come forward and liven up your story in the most unusual ways. Let your characters work for you and enjoy your writing.

HAPPY DAY.  HAPPY WRITING.

BLOWN IS READY TO LAUNCH – MAY 19, 2015 IS THE DATE

AuthorChuckBarrettThis is the author, Chuck Barrett, of another powerful novel, that will grab you by the hand, take you by the throat, and not let go. By that time you are exhausted. Barrett is an Amazon bestselling author of the Award-winning Jake Pendleton series:  The Savannah Project, The Toymaker, and Breach of Power.  Somewhere in between all of these novels, he  added his personal information and seminars to the art of self-publishing, Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing. He has put together his Book Launch Advocate Team, and it has been a “Blown” away experience. So, for my part, I asked him if he could answer some questions for all of his readers. Not many, but enough to let the reader know  little more about the author. How long have you been writing?  I started writing in 1998 and my first book, The Savannah Project, took 12 years and six rewrites to complete. And, I’ve been writing ever since. What attracted you to writing?  It was that mid-life thing, I think. I felt it like it was something I not only wanted to do, but needed to do. And I love it. There is nothing more exciting than watching a story unfold in front of me and being surprised by each twist and turn. I’m talking about as a writer and not a reader! Where did the idea for your story come?  I guess the catchy answer is from the gremlins in the attic. Reality is most ideas come from newspaper articles or real-life stories. That’s the spark and it gets my imagination going. Then I try to draw (or create) a nexus between the stories and spin a twist tale of intrigue. How did or do you figure out what to name your characters?  As morbid as this may sound…the obituaries are the best source. I mix and match first and last names until I have something catchy. Occasionally, I use a name verbatim, but not very often. One of my characters is named after a cemetery. I’ll keep everyone guessing on that one. What is your favorite thing about writing?  The twists and turns. A surprise around every corner. I typically write as a panster (by the seat of my pants) in the first few chapters knowing only where the story will ultimately end. After about 25,000 words, I use plot notes a few chapters ahead, just to make sure I don’t get off track. Only plot notes. No in-depth outlines. What is your least favorite thing about writing?  Editing. Do you have a favorite quote?  “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin. If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?  From the Jake Pendleton series–Jake:  Chris Pine is a hands down ringer. From the Gregg Kaplan series–Gregg Kaplan is a much tougher pick. Probably…I’m thinking a scruffy Clive Owen. What is your favorite book?  Stone Cold by David Baldacci. It was the first Baldacci book I read and was enthralled with the characters that made up the Camel Club. Wonderful character interplay. I have since read all of Baldacci’s books. What is your least favorite book? Why?  I’d rather not say. Do you have an odd quirk that not a lot of people or a lot of people) know about?  I’d normally say I have no quirks, but my wife would insist otherwise. She says I’m slow to respond to her questions…like even days betting around to answering. She says it’s annoying, I say I’m processing all the outcomes before giving her an answer. BLOWN This is the book that will send you into another spin. My first words …two to the chest, one to the head, works every time. Some other comments have been..not just an oath, but a trust not to be broken..Once in, never out. Thanks, Chuck, for taking the time and letting all of your readers  and now, soon-to-be readers, know a little more of you the writer. Now, it is time for you to find your own words after reading this new novel and share your reviews online. All of Chuck Barrett’s books are available in print and e-book. Go to http://www.chuckbarrettbooks.com and find out more about Chuck and his writing. Don’t forget about the Publishing Unchained, if you are interested in doing your own publishing. Check out his line-up of events on his website and enjoy a taste of Florida and the heat of the book.

DO YOU GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

AudienceAnother word for this is ‘Author Intrusion.’ As a writer/author, we have a good idea of what our story will be. We set up character sheets and know our protagonist or antagonist from top to bottom. We know their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors, their secrets and fantasies. Yet, sometimes we inject our own feelings and goals for the characters.

Wait a minute. This is the characters’ story and we are writing what they are showing us that needs to be done. It is their point of view, not ours, that keeps the story fresh, rolling forward, and adding surprises along the way. As we write, we remember catchy phrases we heard growing up and these words creep onto the page.

Ask yourself, would my character say those word, or are you trying to make the story interesting with your words. Dialogue can be a big help, but  too much information and going the way the writer wants, is not helping your story. Adding your narrative is not the way to go, as you leave no room for the character to be his or herself. Read a new piece of work or a published novel and see if you can pinpoint the dialogue intrusion.

How about information dumping on your characters? What is their back story? Your character is in the present and remembers a particular time with fondness or fear. You want to get this on the page and share with the reader. Then, pages later, the past is still with the character. Why? The writer/author got caught up in their own memories and could quit writing.

One of the best ways to check for the writer/author taking over is to read your work, not in your head but with your voice. When you hear yourself reading, you catch so many different areas that should not be there. Don’t stop, use a highlighter or add comments from the computer and continue. Then go back and take yourself out of the story. Let the characters take full control.

You are on a search and rescue.  HAPPY HUNTING. HAPPY WRITING.