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Archive for January, 2016

Ideas for Plotting

Plotting the Middle Way

By Charles Suddeth

Some writers are Outliners, writing their novels from outlines, already knowing the beginning, middle, and end when they start writing. This is especially useful for genre writers and plot-driven fiction. I have used outlines a couple times, but they seldom work out for me. My stories and characters take on a life of their own, diverging from my outline.

Other writers are Pantsers, writing without knowing the beginning, ending, or middle, sometimes only knowing the first word. Though some Pantsers prefer to have a general direction their story is headed, their story usually takes on a life of its own. Literary writers and writers of character-driven fiction swear by this method. I have sometimes used it, but I find the stories lack focus and often need extensive revision.

I have a third method I call the Middle Way. I start out with either an idea for a beginning and an end, but no middle, or I start out with just an idea. My method is to take my time writing and wait for an idea or the story beginning or the direction a particular character should take.

Perhaps I should call this the Subconscious Way. This differs from a Free Write where the writer is given a word or phrases and writes without conscious thought. My method involves channeling your subconscious, feeding it, encouraging, sending it in specific directions.

I often mediate. Or sometimes I sleep on it. Or I just discuss it with a friend, family, or fellow writer. Sometimes I forget it and let Father Time handle it. In all of these examples, the subconscious takes over. Yes, it is time-consuming and not deadline friendly. One day I may write two lines, and the next day I might write two pages. I usually write two manuscripts, not worrying when I finish either.

I invite you to try my Middle Way. Let your stories and characters decide when they’re ready to see daylight. If all else fails, you can revert to be an Outliner or Pantser. If you try the Middle Way, I think your stories will blossom and explode into life.

Eights Mask2

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Durham, North Carolina Food from Experiment 38

I am not a cook and these are not complete recipes, just examples of food the characters from my YA novel, Experiment 38, would’ve been familiar with.

The group in this story loved their Durham pizza, especially Carolina Caramelized Onion & Prosciutto Pizza: Pizza Crust, Olive Oil, 1 thinly sliced red Onion, 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, grated Parmesan Cheese, 10 ounces thinly sliced fresh Mozzarella Cheese, 8 slices Prosciutto.

Campfire hot dogs: Emily’s specialty. She skewered them on sticks and slowly roasted them. She would’ve enjoyed Carolina hot dogs—mustard, slaw, chili, and onions.

They preferred Eastern-style barbecue—a whole-hog barbecue. Eastern-style sauce is vinegar- and pepper-based, with no tomato whatsoever.

Dave Burgers: Dave only cooked one thing, but he did it right. Half pound of good hamburger hand formed into a patty & cooked in the flames. Cheese if you have to. On weekends he liked Carolina Burgers—chili, mustard, coleslaw

They also gobbled their Durham-style rise donuts—yeast donuts, often made with sweet potatoes and bourbon glaze.

Tomato gravy: Another Carolina favorite they liked, made with bacon drippings & flour & tomatoes (Of course) make the roux for this simple tomato gravy.

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller, publication TBA

 

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2015 Winners Green River Writers Contest

 

#1 President’s Prize–Fiction

First Place: “Ashes” Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone Mountain GA

Second Place: “So a Nerd Walks Into a Bookstore” Rachel Saderholm, Summer Shade     KY

Third Place: “Jackie” Rhonda Roberts, Searcy AR

First Honorable Mention: “The U.S.S. Brassiere” Jane Sasser, Oak Ridge, TN

Second Honorable Mention: “The Bullet” Jason Glass, Searcy AR

Third Honorable Mention: “Captain Benteen’s Journal” Beecher Smith, Memphis  TN

Sponsor: Green River Writers

Judge: Mary O’Dell

#2 Green River Grande–Poetry

First Place: “Superman in Love” Steve Cambron, Louisville KY

Second Place: “Potato Salad” Steve Cambron, Louisville KY

Third Place: “Victory Dance, 1945” Nick Sweet, Shepherd TX

First Honorable Mention: “Eggs” Regina Murray Brault, Burlington, Vermont

Second Honorable Mention: “Keeping the Faith” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

Third Honorable Mention: “The Fuhrer’s Closet” Steve Cambron, Louisville KY

Sponsor: Green River Writers

Judge: Mary O’Dell

#3 Green River Lean—Short-Short Fiction

First Place: “Different Kinds of Darkness” Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone Mountain GA

Second Place: “Balloon” Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone Mountain GA

Third Place: “Dinner for Four” Lee Ann Russell, Springfield MO

First Honorable Mention: “A Neat and Tidy Crime” Phylis Warady, The Woodlands,        TX

Sponsor and Judge: Marj Bixler

#4 Novel: First Chapter—Fiction

First Place: Sam Macklin Says Grace Susan M. Craig, Columbia SC

Second Place: Where You Ought to Be Jane Sasser, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Third Place: The Year of My Life: A Halibun Novel Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone    Mountain GA

First Honorable Mention: The Zone of Fear Rita Monette, Deer Lodge TN

Sponsor: Virginia Anderson

Judge: Will Lavender

#5 Rubye Fowler Memorial Prize–Creative Nonfiction

First Place: “First Day at the Big Apple” Nancy L. Brown, ME

Second Place: “Rattler” Beecher Smith, Memphis TN

Third Place: “A Mind-Boggling Medevac Mission” Robert B. Robeson, Lincoln,   Nebraska

First Honorable Mention: “Sanctuary” Lee Ann Russell, Springfield MO

Second Honorable Mention: “The Trial” Jason Glass, Searcy AR

Third Honorable Mention: “No Wrath for the Grapes” Jason Glass, Searcy AR

Sponsor and Judge: Elaine Fowler Palencia

#6 Suzanne Suddeth Memorial Prize–Prose or Poetry

First Place: “I can do it myself” Debra Wantulok, Searcy AR

Second Place: “Sideways Soup” Rhonda Roberts, Searcy AR

Third Place: “RENIE THE MEANIE” Beecher Smith, Memphis TN

First Honorable Mention: “The Hunter” Jeanne Johnson, Southbury CT

Sponsor and Judge: Charles Suddeth

#7 Memorable/Unusual Friendships–Poetry

First Place: “Cecil” Kathi Whalen, Washington, D.C.

Second Place: “Barhopping with Scarlett O’Hara” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

Third Place: “Gisela” Jean Tupper, Wrentham MA

First Honorable Mention: “Always a Deal line” Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale Ca

Second Honorable Mention: “My Special Sister” Sara Gipson, Scott, AR

Third Honorable Mention: “Leftovers” Christine Strevinsky, Shepherdsville KY

Sponsors and Judges: Clear Creek Writers

#8 Glenda Fowler Pearson Memorial–Poetry

First Place: “Barren” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

Second Place: “Damned by Dogma” Becky Alexander, Cambridge, Ontario

Third Place: “Pretense” Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale CA

First Honorable Mention: “The Waitress” Christine Strevinsky, Shepherdsville KY

Second Honorable Mention: “The Bagger” Barbara Blanks, Garland TX

Sponsor and Judge: Cate Pearson

#9 Jim O’Dell Memorial–Poetry

First Place: “Flushed” Barbara Blanks, Garland TX

Second Place: “Another Rake’s Progress…” Beecher Smith, Memphis TN

Third Place: “Hair Teaser” Sara Gipson, Scott AR

First Honorable Mention: “Gutter Snipes” Lee Ann Russell, Springfield MO

Second Honorable Mention: “An old man of Louisiana” Christine Strevinsky,       Shepherdsville KY

Third Honorable Mention: “Now she cooks all her meals…” Carol Dee Meeks, Tulsa OK

Sponsor and Judge: Mary O’Dell

#10 Sometimes You Can’t Be Saved from Yourself–Poetry

First Place: “Bookworm” Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale CA

Second Place: “The Weaning” Lesley Brower, Murphysboro, IL

Third Place: “I Take Requests” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

First Honorable Mention: “On Becoming George Sand” Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale CA

Second Honorable Mention: “Dream of Fire” Joan Terry, Dallas GA

Third Honorable Mention: “Carved in Hemlock” Regina Murray Brault, Burlington,          Vermont

Sponsors and Judges: Judy Milford and Terri Alekzander

#11 For the Birds–Poetry

First Place: “Crows, Richardsville, Kentucky” Lesley Brower, Murphysboro, IL

Second Place: “What Wonder!” Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone Mountain GA

Third Place: “I Think Saw an Eagle Dive” Becky Lindsay, Crestview Hills KY

First Honorable Mention: “Summer of the Scarlet Scrapper” Von S. Bourland, Happy       TX

Second Honorable Mention: “A Quiet View” Tonya Northenor, Lewisport KY

Third Honorable Mention: “Vivid Eye Candy” Jeanne Johnson, Southbury CT

Sponsor and Judge: Jack Robin

#12 Show Me Your Metaphors–Poetry

First Place: “California Light” Jane Sasser, Oak Ridge, TN

Second Place: “Portrait of the Poet As a Pen” Becky Lindsay, Crestview Hills KY

Third Place: “Tactile Alchemy” Deborah Stehr, Santa Fe NM

First Honorable Mention: “Going Nowhere” Victoria Woolf Bailey, Henderson KY

Second Honorable Mention: “Rough Rider” Barbara Blanks, Garland TX

Sponsor and Judge: Pam Hirschler

#13 Snakes and Dragons, Oh My–Poetry

First Place: “Hunting the Elusive Versification” Barbara Blanks, Garland TX

Second Place: “Wakkerjobby” Becky Alexander, S. Cambridge, ON

Third Place: “What to Do If You…” Becky Alexander, S. Cambridge ON

First Honorable Mention: “Concrete Storm” Regina Murray Brault, Burlington,     Vermont

Sponsor and Judge: Christine Strevinsky

#14 Small Town Observations–Poetry

First Place: “Ants” M. Ray Allen, Clifton Forge VA

Second Place: “Downpour” Wendy Visser, Cambridge ON.

Third Place: “Controlled Burn” Lesley Brower, Murphysboro IL

First Honorable Mention: “The Voyeur’s Dilemma” Jean Tupper, Wrentham MA

Second Honorable Mention: “All We Need to Know” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

Third Honorable Mention: “The Small Town Mayor’s Advice…” Beecher Smith   Memphis TN

Sponsors and Judges: Thursday Poets

#15 Bang for the Buck–Poetry

First Place: “Clara” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

Second Place: “Toad” Christine Strevinsky, Shepherdsville KY

First Honorable Mention: “The Waiting Room” M. Ray Allen, Clifton Forge VA

Second Honorable Mention: “The Golden Land” Barbara Blanks, Garland TX

Third Honorable Mention: “Circles” Becky Alexander, S. Cambridge, ON

Sponsor and Judge: Jean Tucker

#16 Strange Duck, in Honor of Sue Bayes–Poetry

First Place: “Wayward Cucumber Plant” Elaine Parker Akin, Louisville KY

Second Place: “Apricity” Rhonda Roberts, Searcy AR

Third Place: “Emily Dickinson at the Mall” Allison Thorpe, Lexington KY

First Honorable Mention: “The Cormorant” Tommy Little, Pearl MS

Second Honorable Mention: “Transformation” M. Ray Allen, Clifton Forge VA

Third Honorable Mention: “Reality” Jason Glass, Searcy AR

Sponsors and Judges: Barroom Bards

 

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More writing ideas

This is 2015 NASA shot of Pluto, showing what is believed to be a volcano that shoots ice instead of lava, I assume because of the intense cold. Story possibilities abound here.

pluto volcano 15

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Steampunk Clones

Ideas similar to Steampunk:

Clockpunk: A similar subgenre based on the technology that runs watches: springs, gears, cogs, etc. Pre-industrial revolution, renaissance. Perhaps spring-driven vehicles.

Candlepunk – Denotes a late medieval civilization with futuristic technology. Candlepunk has also been called “Castlepunk”and “Middlepunk.” It can also be “Dungeonpunk” when adding magical elements, or “Plaguepunk” when describing a plague-ridden candlepunk society. What would the vehicles look like?

Sandalpunk – Denotes an ancient civilization—the Romans or other Iron Age civilization, never collapses—with scientific advancement (based on technologies like the Antikythera mechanism, ancient mechanical computer) continuant at a rate relative to later modern civilizations. Also called “Classicpunk” or “Ironpunk.” Steam or spring-driven vehicles?

Stonepunk – This term denotes a Stone Age civilization provided with technological advances. Edgar Rice Borroughs’ The Land that Time Forgot and Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear are early examples of this style of story. Anything goes as long as no metal is used.

Bronzepunk – This term denotes a Bronze Age civilization provided with steam-based technological advances. The novels of Mary Renault are often good examples of this type of timepunk. No iron.

Elfpunk – Contemporary fantasy character types—elves, fairies, dragons, etc.—are placed in an urban setting. Has also been called “modern faerie tale” by such authors as Holly Black, describing her novel Tithe or “urban fantasy” by such authors as Emma Bull, describing her novel War for the Oaks. Straight fantasy, but why not combine with the above ideas?

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller, publication TBA

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Recycling Old Words

Old words

  1. Freck

Verb intr. – “To move swiftly or nimbly” – I can think of a lot of ways to use this one, like “I hate it when I’m frecking through the airport and other people are going so slow.”

Or: You are so frecking dumb. What the freck are you doing now?

  1. Brabble

Verb – “To quarrel about trifles; esp. to quarrel noisily, brawl, squabble” – Brabble basically means to argue loudly about something that doesn’t really matter, as in “Why are we still brabbling about who left the dirty spoon on the kitchen table?” You can also use it as a noun: “Stop that ridiculous brabble and do something useful!”

Or: Brabble on, no one’s listening. You sound like a brabbling brook.

  1. Kench

Verb intr. – “To laugh loudly” – This Middle English word sounds like it would do well in describing one of those times when you inadvertently laugh out loud while reading a text message in class and manage to thoroughly embarrass yourself.

Or: He’s a kenching idiot. He who kenches last kenches best.

  1. Brannigan

Noun – “A drinking bout; a spree or ‘binge’” – Brannigan was originally a North American slang word, but it is now rarely used. “Shall we go for a brannigan on Friday?” can be a more sophisticated way to discuss such activities.

Or: A brannigan a day keeps the doc away. Honest officer, all I had was a Brannigan.

  1. Quagswagging

Noun – “The action of shaking to and fro” – This can also be used in verb form, to quagswag, and is pronounced like “kwag swag.” It could definitely work as the name for a new type of dance, or possibly serve as an alternate way to describe a seizure.

Or: Your quagswagging me will not make me change my mind. The couple quagswagged under the blankets.

  1. Yemeles

Adj. – An Old English and Middle English word meaning “careless, heedless, negligent” – Pronounced as “yeem-lis,” this is another word that could prove useful for teachers. “Handing in messy and incomplete work just shows me you are being yemeles, and I won’t hesitate to give you a zero for the assignment.”

Or: A yemeles idiot like you is worthless. He means nothing by his yemeles actions.

  1. Twitter-light

Noun – “Twilight” – Used in the early 17th century, “twitter-light” sounds like a romantic way to refer to the hours as the sun goes down.

Or: Let us smooch in the twitter-light. In the twitter-light, everyone looks better.

Eights Mask2

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The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the world’s leading children’s publishing and multimedia products event. In April, my YA thriller, Experiment 38, will be on display at the SCBWI Regional booth, and will be available for foreign publishers and/or translations and for movie producers.

http://www.bookfair.bolognafiere.it/en/exhibitors/general-information/885.html

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller, publication TBA

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