Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bullets, Plots or Pants

Many novelists are adamant they must have an outline of plot and characters before they begin writing their novel. Other writers start with just a plot idea and start typing, no preplanning at all. Both of these methods have pros and cons and are used by writers of all levels. Did you know there's a third method? Let's take a look at each method/writer

The Detailed Plotter 

This writer uses a detailed outline that involves complete planning of each scene or chapter of the book.Each chapter is broken down into scenes. Then script your characters involved, time frame, setting. The next is optional  reasons for this time, setting, relationships of the characters to each other at that scenes point in the story.
Plotters are able to add scene ideas or possible dialog notes that they  would like for this section of the novel. 
In this outline will also want to list the characters complications or obstacles that will lead to the next chapter or scene. Planning the novel each step from beginning to the end. 
Pros for this method are having a complete story view. A writer knows the pace of the novel and can work out most of the inconsistencies of the plot. 
Knowing a novel so intimately can be a wonderful thing. But the world of fiction can take on a life of its own sometimes.The con is finding during your writing that the story has different ideas than the writer planned on. 
Getting into the nook and crook of the plot the plotter may come across a twist or simple detail that will throw off the entire outline. That once clear picture from beginning to end, is now foggy. 
Sometimes the outline can be adjusted to make room for those sudden changes and the novelist get back on the planned route. Other times this twist gives the story just what it needs but there’s no way to get back on the outline’s track without a complete revamping.. This can be very frustrating when a writer had a clear picture in mind but now it has to be rethought.

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

This method is for those who like total creativity on the run.The author has a novel idea, maybe even beginning, middle and end in mind.  Some only start with a character before sitting at the desk, fingers hitting the keys and creating a world directly from the mind. Not much advance planning, maybe a couple of notes to go by.Pro,the freedom to change with the flow of the novel. 
There was no detailed plan of this is going to happen at this time, so surprises may not knock the writer off track.. It is a big pro to give your novel room to adapt and change. Though plot surprises can still be frustrating when ones mind is on a certain plot angle. 
The con is that it is easy to get lost or ‘blocked’ with out a full view. Writing into a corner or plot inconsistencies can occur more often but can still be worked out in 2nd draft or by backing up to a previous scene and taking the characters down another path.  

The 3rd Option: Biting the Bullet

A full outline can be very intimidating, especially for new writers. Writing by the seat of your pants can be the same. But there is a choice for those who want some structure but the freedom of just writing it out. 
The bullet point outline is simple to create and can be changed on a whim. Write out 30 to 60 points or bullets you want to include in your novel. Then begin writing from the top of the list. Bullets can go by scene, chapter, setting. What ever you are more comfortable with. 
This is my personal outline choice. I usually start out with around 40 bullets then add to it as I go or think of something new for the story. My bullets are a mix of settings, scenes, when a new character comes into play. I will make a bullet for a bit of dialog I want to remember to include in a scene. 
Bullets can also be very rewarding for all levels of writers. When you are deep into a story there comes a time you feel like it will never end. You've taken a wrong turn somewhere, how can you be 20,000 words in and not have made any progress. 
By taking your bullets and using it as sort of a novel check list you can see your progress. It’s encouraging to see how much you have covered. I take it a step further. 
On my desk is a bulletin board. I have it covered with novling notes, photos, special memorabilia. But I keep one side of the board lined with sixty pins for my bullets. I print out my bullets and cut them into strips to pin in order on the board. After writing one of the points I pull it off the board. 
This keeps my outline always visual or on hand. And it lets me see that I’m making progress and the story is moving. This can be a huge motivator during a writing contest like NaNoWriMo where your writing 50,000 words in 30 days. 
A bullet point outline gives the novelist both structure and flexibility. A good mix of  Outlining and Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. What are you using for your novel?  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grave Dancer A Glaidator's Pen Friday Flash

It was dark in the chapel, a new moon shed no light in the old abandoned building He sat on a pew moved under a window watching, waiting. Tonight he was prepared with camera, recorder, extra batteries, and a thermos of hot coffee to combat the chill of the night.

His hands wrapped around the tin cup to absorb the heat as he took a long sip. It was almost time, almost. He was afraid they wouldn’t come, he wouldn’t see her again. That it had been all a figment of his drunken mind.

Every night since that first one, he had waited to see her again. John glanced back out the window; he saw a glow fill the ancient graveyard. 

The glow was a soft bluish green like the ocean. The air felt damp heavy as he tossed aside the half-full cup to get up on his knees for a better view out the broken window. His camera in hand as he searched the worn headstones.

The earth below a few of the stones shifted as a mist formed above them and began to take shape. Arms stretched toward the sky as feet touched the ground. The figures yawned and moved as if waking from slumber.

He watched from his perch in the window, held up his camera to get the proof he wasn’t mad. They were real. The women there were like wisps of wind, ethereal. He could see them clearly in their ivory burial gowns, their skin fair as fine porcelain. But there was a touch of dream about them as they moved. Shifts in the misty glow would show them transparent.

His interest focused on one, as she turned her skirt swirled the brittle leaves over her grave. She seemed to dance to some silent tune, perhaps only her kind could hear. Suddenly she stopped and walked back to her tombstone.

A cream colored rose lay on the aged marble. A soft smile of wonder touched pinked lips. She touched the petals gently as if the rose would fade away. When it didn’t she picked it up, brushed her cheek against the silken petals before she inhaled the sweet scent. 

A few of the other spirits began to gather to see the flower. Some searched their own stones. She smiled and held it out for them to sniff and touch lightly it had been so very long since anything but decay grew here.

The wind blew the leaves around them, though their delicate forms. One jealous spiteful spirit marched over. Around her the mist seemed darker, and aura of her cruel days in flesh?

Her hand closed over the petals and crushed the flower only the stem left in the sweet spirit's hands.

The others began to walk away to play on their night of freedom. The dark soul raised her chin and moved as far from them as her existence would allow. 

He watched, in that moment John wanted to run out and tell the good spirit not to be sad. The expression of loss on her sweet face was almost too much for his own heart to bear. How was he to know something so simple as a rose would cause so much a stir.

He saw her chest rise and fall in a ghostly sigh. She knelt on the dead grass she picked up every petal. Caressed it lightly in her hand. When they were all gathered she sat on a cracked marble bench and marveled.

She could still smell the sweet fragrance. The petals were still soft like her favorite velvet gown. She held them to her face and smiled. A petal escaped slipping through her fingers floating to her lap.

She stood and watched it float gently to the worn earth. Suddenly she raised her hands and spun around as she tossed the petals in the air. They fell around her catching on her hair and dress she danced in them.

When they had all fallen she gathered them to dance again in the glow of the mist. Her gown flowed around her, arms gracefully moved through the air, her dark hair fluttered freely around her shoulders lifting as she turned.

There was no sound but a soft rustle of leaves but he could imagine her joyous laughter. Something made her pause and look up. She brushed a strand of hair from her face and sighed. She gathered up her petals and carried them lovingly back to her grave.

The spirit held her hands over it, she slowly turned her palms and let them fall like rain over her stone. With a gentle smile she yawned and stretched as the mist appeared to grow thicker. Soon the others were in their places as well the mist began to fade until a glimpse of the sun could be spotted over the trees.

There were no more dances. The only evidence of the night being the cream colored rose petals strewn over the darkened marble stone.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Titling your blog post for Triberr the Gladiator’s way

The impression of a blog title can mean a reader clicks the link or moves on to the next. You only get one chance to hook that potential reader for that post. That makes titling one of the most important tasks a writer can have.

A title should showcase the topic of the blog post, but it is also a reflection of the writer and their platform. You want your titles to stand out among the thousands being posted to Twitter every day. This is even more important with the new limit placed on post approvals. You want your post to be chosen, so here are three tips to get tribemates to say, “Oo that one”, and click approve.

Be Original.
Whether your blog post is an article, a story or post from one of the many daily/weekly themes but that doesn't mean your title has to be like the hundreds of others out there. Tuesday Tails #30 posted by 50 other bloggers looks like spam. This can not only cause your post overlooked, but can lose you possible followers.  

These group postings are great because they have a following of their own where you might be discovered. You can be a part of these fun theme days and give your post title its own spin.  Example: Gladiator's Pen Presents a Tuesday Tails Post. Or Insert story name for Tuesday Tails. Super Sexy Six for Sunday. Stand out from the crowd.

Never use I or My
It's *your* blog post, not your tribemates. If I tweet a post that says I Went to Comic Con. Your tribemate’s Twitter followers may believe I refers to that person and not you. Same with using My, it can cause mistaken identity.

It’s your brand, *you* want to be recognized when someone sees your title. Instead of I put your name, your blog's name, or make it more thrilling with a completely original tempter like... A Gladiator Loose at Comic Con. You'll find you get more attention and more hits when potential readers see who or what. People, places, and things give readers somethingconnect to.

Hashtag It
Hashtags are a powerful twitter tool.  A hashtag is simply this sign # with a word or set of words behind it. For example #HALF is the hashtag for my book HALF. Someone can search for all posts with a topic they’re interested in by using that cool lil doo-dad.

You can grab a few of those searchers by useing common tags such as #amwriting, #flashfiction #romance #cooking #phogotraphy etc. Or make up one that suits your blog/content/etc...  as I did for #HALF. One hashtag can add bonus views and potential subscribers/ followers.

You may not want to put them on your actual blog title. There are some folk that do, in my opinion it's unprofessional to pull up a blog page and see the top of it riddled with hashtags. But, you can edit your blog title in Triberr and add the hashtags here. Then your approved post will go out to the Twitterverse with an extra punch.

To edit your post title in Triberr,  go to  My Posts, find the post, click on the little wrench in the corner and a box will open to edit your title. Just make sure you click update when you’re finished so it will make the changes.

Put your mark on that blog title and grab readers’ attention then sit back and watch the pageviews and followers grow. But only for a moment then you need to get busy on that next post ;o)

Interested in joining a tribe of warrior writers? Then Gladiators of the Pen is the tribe for you. We are a group of writers in all genre and would love to welcome you to join in our strive to get our posts to the ends of the Empire… er… all over Twitter. :o) All you have to do is be a member of Triberr, you can join if you haven’t already. (it’s FREE!)  Then join click here and request to join Gladiators of the Pen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gladiator's Pen Flash Fiction: The Rosary

Nightmare Fuel photo prompt 
Father McKenna looked out at the congregation as they stood from their pews to sing with the choir. His eyes slipped shut as the organ notes began to echo though the sanctuary.

The high ceiling echoed with the faith filled voices of those present for mass this night. Did they know? Could they see the difference in him?

His eyes turned to the crowd. Some stood their hands out palms upward to catch Heaven’s blessings. While others lifted their faces as if God would press his lips to their brow to take the sorrow from their souls.

What of his soul, did it exist or did she drink it with her seductions. He gingerly touched the edge of his collar, grateful it hid his secret beneath. The church faded before his eyes as his mind replayed the memory of last night.

He couldn’t sleep, the night was too warm in the rectory. After restless minutes of failed attempts to find comfort, the Father walked out into the garden. He knelt before the stone cross in the center with is rosary.

McKenna bowed his head and crossed himself as he began the prayers. He turned the beads in his fingers as he spoke. “Our Father, Who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name… “

As the words fell into the night his soul began to calm, his eyes closed as he opened to deity’s touch. The air around him stilled, a dark silence descended. He took a deep breath to clear the distraction his focus on God as he continued to pray.

A soft giggle broke the silence, Father McKenna opened his eyes and fell backward with a startled breath. A young woman stood behind the stone cross her arms wrapped around it. Her petite fingers covering her mouth to stifle her laughter. 

Her eyes were dark sunken into her face as though it had been a hundred years since she last slept. McKenna could feel darkness in her. “The church is open for prayer. The rectory is private, my child.”

The girl, no thing… pushed from the stone, her tongue slowly moved across her bottom lip. “Child? Priest… you’re not even old enough to be my father.”

McKenna stilled as she stood over him. His eyes couldn’t focus on her face, dizziness fell on him.

She… it, bent to bring her face to his and sniffed at the air before him, then again at his neck. McKenna’s pulse jumped as she moved closer, her lip curled wickedly. “I smell fear on your skin. Is your faith not strong enough?”

Her breath a bouquet of decay, soured milk, and roses filled face. The father coughed and swallowed back the sickness. “He will protect me, my faith is strong.”

Her fingers slid through his hair slowly as she gave a sound something between a scoff and curt laugh. “No, priest, faith can’t protect you. Your hair is so soft, you do smell nice, fresh.”

The creature nuzzled his neck, for a brief moment the gentle touch of her fingertips along the line of his neck distracted him from what he was. His hand clenched and he felt the rosary wrapped in his palm.

He drew back from her. “I am a man of God, I will not be corrupt.”

The creature was undeterred rested her brow to his. “You were corrupt the moment you spoke to me, priest.”

That last word she spat into his face with contempt for all he was and believed.

This close he could see her eyes were dead, soulless things. He felt his heartbeat slow, her tiny hands grip his shoulders. Those hands had strength that defied their size. She moved closer, her head tilted toward the side of his neck as if to kiss.

McKenna pushed her off as he scurried backward until he could stand and put distance between them. “Be gone unclean spirit.” He swung the crucifix; the silver cross struck the monster across her cheek.

She hissed and pressed a hand to her wound but not before, he saw blood thick and black ooze forth. The blood of a corpse. Her eyes shifted until there is no white left in them. He gazed into orbs of pure onyx.

McKenna tried to look away but those orbs held him captive. In an attempt to break the spell, he rose the crucifix between them. Bluish smoke rose from the bits of flesh and ooze that clung to the holy item.

“Unclean, perhaps you should look in the mirror, priest.” She brushed the ooze from her cheek; the wound closed and began to fade from her skin.

When it vanished, McKenna looked at the rosary to see the gore still present. He hadn’t dreamed the gash. Though his faith was strong, the hand which clutched the beaded strand trembled. “I am a child of God.”

She laughed, not the girlish giggle that brought his attention from prayer. This was as though gravel were being poured into his ears. Only something made of darkness could laugh like that. “Does he love you, priest?”

He gasped as her voice whispered behind him against his ear, she had moved faster than a blink. “Despite the blood I smell on your hands?”

He could not stop the shiver which coursed down his spine when her breath fell down the line of his throat. “Old blood, long forgiven. He loves me.”

McKenna turned his head to look at her, but his eyes focused on her lips not her eyes. “He has love for you.”

She cackled again, the sound dug painfully inside his ears. “Love for me, an unclean beast? You think I still have a soul to save? Perhaps I don’t want your salvation.”

The edge of her fingernail trailed down his neck. “You have to wait for your rewards in Heaven. I get my rewards when I take them.” The nail turned and sliced into his flesh.

He froze caught by fear and her gaze. Her lip curled into a grin that would haunt his dreams for the rest of his days on earth. She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My reward tonight, shall be you.”

McKenna tried to push her away again but he was powerless held in her gaze, one hand at his throat a razor like nail dug at his skin as the other hand fisted in his hair. His mouth opened to scream, protest, cry for help, but nothing uttered forth. Only a groan of pain as she drew back his head and struck the line of soft flesh she exposed.

The next moment he knew dawn had begun to break. The beams of soft light danced over his face to open his eyes. The creature had gone but her kiss remained on his neck, he felt the punctures gingerly and hissed in pain. He lived… at least part of him had survived.

As McKenna stumbled to his room he felt changed, the world seemed too bright, the light ached his eyes.

Silence called him back from memory to Morning Mass. The songs were finished, the voices of the blessed quiet to receive the message. McKenna stood and approached the pulpit. Was he cursed, could he speak the words?

His rosary clean and polished lay gazing at him. It had burned the thing; if he was cursed, it would him also. It was time to see if his soul was her reward. McKenna closed his eyes and uttered a prayer as his hand descended on the rosary, and the truth of his soul.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gladiator's Pen Reviews The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle

Today we review the novel, The Hngry Heart by Brenda Gayle

Nora's heart is hungry for a little more living, Hunter's heart is hungry for Nora. The Hungry Heart is a fun read with a strong female lead and a sexy hero. Hunter can cook for me any time he wishes I'll even wash the dishes :). 

Though the story is a bit predictable with the boy meets girl-breaks up -gets back together -lives happily ever after, the characters are vivid and interesting. Plus there's a few twists with a bit of suspense and mystery thrown in to keep  you reading. It's definitely a book you have trouble putting down. 

Gladiator's Pen gives 4 Gladiators to The Hungry Heart for keeping the ludis warm and a chilly fall night. 

Don't take our word for it here's a little taste.
Child advocate Nora Cross doesn't have time for the private cooking lesson her sister won at a charity auction. Hunter Graham, the young chef, is the last person she needs telling her she's forgotten how to have fun. So why can't she get the very hot, very eligible man off her mind?

After a stellar debut in New York City, Hunter's back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. He lives a charmed life and he knows it. He isn't interested in a workaholic who's glued to her smart phone. So why is he trying to convince Nora to relax and enjoy life—with him?

When Nora's apartment and office are ransacked, Hunter comes to her rescue, surprised to find himself playing knight-in-shining-armor to the uptight executive. But when it becomes clear Nora is no random target, Hunter realizes he'll do anything to keep her safe.

The Hungry Heart:  An Excerpt
Whoever said a cold shower could cool your ardor didn’t know what they were talking about. Ten minutes of standing under freezing cold water had turned Nora’s skin blue, but it had done nothing to dampen her desire.

Agh!” She allowed free rein to her frustration, not caring whether or not the running water covered her scream.

She turned off the faucet and sat on the edge of the tub. This was so unfair.

They had come so close. Hunter had wanted her—seemingly as much as she wanted him. She still wasn’t quite sure what went wrong.

Dammit, I should never have agreed to stay for dinner. This was her fault.

It wasn’t that she was in love with Hunter. She was too smart to allow that to happen. But she had made up her mind, made a decision that she would allow herself some pleasure—and why not? Then having done so, she had set out to try to make it happen. Not that she would have seduced him or done anything quite so bold. She’d just decided that she wouldn’t pass up any opportunities that came her way.

She knew he found her attractive. He had said as much, demonstrated it, too. He wasn’t a saint, and given his reputation it wasn’t unreasonable to expect him to make a move on her while they were sharing the same suite.

Only now they weren’t.

She inhaled deeply and willed away the threatening tears. No, she wouldn’t cry for him. It was only sex. She shouldn’t allow herself to feel this much anguish over one night.

She stood and towel-dried her hair. It was probably for the best, anyway. What was the point of one night of mindless sex?

She thought about Taylor and wondered what her relationship with Hunter had been like. Was she in love with him? Or had the sex been that good? Whatever the reason, the woman was still crazy about him, although he seemed to have little interest in renewing what they’d had.

Nora rubbed the condensation off the mirror and stared at the face looking back at her. She tried to be 
objective, but all she could see was a woman about to turn thirty-five. Tiny lines were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes—he’d called their color cafĂ© noir when they’d first met—and there were more lines just above her top lip.

Her age had never bothered her—in fact, she’d always felt she’d accomplished a lot while still quite young—at least professionally. But dammit, it would be nice to experience fantastic sex at least once before I’m thirty-five.

What was it about turning thirty-five that disturbed her so much? It was just a number.

Her lips were a rosy pink and slightly swollen. She touched them gently, remembering the feel of Hunter’s mouth as it grazed hers, and then the hard urgency with which he had kissed her in the garage.

Stop it.

She turned away, frustrated. This was getting her nowhere.

Forget it. Forget him. None of it mattered anyway. Tomorrow morning she’d be back in her real world, and all this would be nothing but a memory.

She heard a noise and paused to listen more intently. Was that banging?

She slipped on a robe—the scratchy generic one provided by the hotel, not at all like the luxurious plush one she’d borrowed from Hunter—and opened the bathroom door.

Yes, someone was definitely pounding on her door.

“Who’s there?” she called, tightening the belt of the robe.

“Room service.”

What? “I didn’t—

She stepped up on her toes to peek out the peephole. Her knees felt like jelly and she leaned against the door, closing her eyes and murmuring a heartfelt “thank goodness.” Then she looked again to make absolutely certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.

Hunter was magnificent in a fresh pair of dark khaki pants and a red golf shirt. His hair looked damp, as if he had just stepped out of a shower, too. In one hand he balanced a platter, covered by a large silver lid. He was impatiently shuffling from one foot to the other.

She pulled open the door and stepped back, waiting.

Hunter’s eyes widened and then he dropped his gaze to take in her bare toes. Slowly he raised his head. His appraisal of her was slow and intense. She felt exposed, and rubbed her palms against the fabric of the robe just to assure herself she had actually put one on. When he got to her face he paused, and then broke into his seductive, heart-stopping grin.

“I see you’re expecting me,” he said.
About the author: Brenda Gayle has been a writer all her life but returned to her love of writing fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communication—although some might argue there was plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. A fan of many genres, she is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys writing deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense. Her first book, Soldier for Love, was a recommended read by a number of reviewers. Her new book, The Hungry Heart, is the first in her Heart's Desire series, which chronicles the difficult road to finding love and family acceptance for the three Graham cousins. Brenda lives in eastern Ontario with her wonderful husband, two fabulous children, two Siberian Huskies, a rescued cat, and assorted aquatic wildlife. Connect with Brenda on her websiteFacebook, or Twitter.
Get The Hungry Heart on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

  Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The Hungry Heart? Well, there are two ways to enter...
  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Hungry Heart tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I've posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

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