21
Jun

He said… She said. Why does it matter?

cover_cat_eyes-realistic-face-3

Readers love books with lots of dialogue and not so much narrative. Good dialogue should never just be idle chit-chat or casual conversation. Dialogue moves the storyline forward and is written specifically to create a certain mood.

In the following edited conversation between Brett and Kimberlee, from Black Cat’s Legacy, she shares her darkest secret.

Kimberlee took a deep breath and sighed. “I’ve had nightmares all my life. I never thought they had anything to do with my father’s death.”

“Nightmares?” Brett wrinkled his forehead. “Go on.”

“I remember now. In my dream…maybe it wasn’t a dream... My father is lying at the foot of the stairs and there’s someone standing in the shadows!”

Brett leaned across the table and took her hand. “You were there? You saw the killer?” His grip tightened on her hand. “You know who it was?”

She shook her head. “I heard voices. I came down the stairs. I remember something red, maybe a piece of clothing? I heard a shot and then I saw his…his… body. That’s all I remember.” She laid her head on her arms. “I never realized what it meant. I thought it was just a nightmare.”

“I can’t imagine how you must feel. I want to help get to the bottom of this. What can I do?” Brett’s voice shook
.
She lifted her head. Tears ran down her cheeks. “There is one thing, but I hate to ask.”
“Anything. Just name it. How can I help?” A flicker of concern swept across his face. He squeezed her hand.

“Maybe get me a tissue?” Her eyes crinkled in a smile.

What does this dialogue reveal?
In a few short sentences, we learn that Kimberlee never understood the connection between her nightmares and her father’s murder. We feel empathy for her pain. We see Brett’s increasing attraction to her, and suddenly during this tense moment, she delivers a one-liner that hopefully, if I did my job well, makes you smile.

Even more than the narrative in a story, good dialogue can create drama, romance, angst, or humor. If you can put it all in one conversation, go for it!

The reader doesn’t understand the creative effect of what a writer has done or admire their skill of their craft. They just know that as they read, the dialogue makes them feel they are watching the scene unfold, or better yet, they become one with the characters, feeling their joy, their pain, or their sorrow as they are pulled into the story.

The mark of a good book is when the reader reaches “THE END” and wishes there was another 100 pages. The mark of a GREAT book, is when that same reader searches for the sequel or another book by this same author.

Beyond a good plot, a charming setting or appealing characters, writing dialogue that sings is essential to creating this kind of reader’s response. It contributes to the success or failure of a book and to the writer’s career.

23
Aug

Why I Write

Boots
I’ll bet if 100 people were queried, at least 75% of them would claim that someday they plan to write a book, most likely a memoir. The remaining 25% likely would admit, humbly, that though they may never get around to it, and the world will be the lesser for it, deprived of reading about their fascinating lives, they could if they wanted to. The thousands of hours required to write, edit and format a book for publication is never considered. Yet a frightening number of us do spend the time and energy, and a zillion books DO get published every year. Most of them are available on Amazon where they are buried as deep as a sticker in a cow plop among a million other Amazon books. Occasionally, one actually sells!

Now, instead of becoming a writer, where was I when someone got the bright idea of creating a website where anybody could sell his book, and the website would earn more on the sale of the book than the publisher and the author combined. What a concept! I was probably standing behind the same door when someone said, ‘Do you want to invest in this driving-sleeping thingy we’re calling Winnebago?

Now, I’ve become one of those people who decided there was a book in me that the world would be the lesser for, did they not delve into its pages. After about a skillion hours of writing, rewriting, editing, mentoring, and more rewriting, my novel was finally completed, formatted, published and made available for sale to the millions of folks clamoring to be amused, entertained, charmed and delighted by my scintillating characters. I called this cozy mystery-romance Black Cat’s Legacy. In this yet to become a New York Times Best Seller, there is even a nonplused cat who knows where the bodies are buried. He wants desperately to share his knowledge with the inferior humans who are either too busy running afoul of the antagonist, or preoccupied with trying to solve a 25 year old murder without sullying anyone’s good name…good luck with that… Well, it’s quite a ride involving jealousy, greed, unrequited love, a smattering of downright stinkerisms and a cat that is appalled that these no-good-niks can’t understand a clue when he puts it right under their inferior noses. And yes, it’s available on Amazon in e-book for only $3.99. http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm

So, why do I write when the hours are long, the glory is nonexistent and the financial rewards are few and far between?
I guess I write, because these characters in me, are screaming to get out and even if I don’t have a Best-Seller, many of those good folks who have read Black Cat’s Legacy come back and tell me about their reading experience. For just a little while, they are able to leave their own troubles behind, travel to a little resort town and experience my make-believe world where the good guy wins. For a few hours, they frolicked through the pages with a cat on a mission to help Kimberlee solve her father’s cold case murder. Then my friend tells me how much she loved it and asks, “When is the sequel coming out?”

That’s when I know. That’s why I write. That’s why it’s all worth it.

16
Sep

AN INTERVIEW WITH ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Ernest Hemingway and CATS
Through the wonders of time-travel and internet technology, today I’m interviewing American author, Ernest Hemingway.

Elaine: “What is the most memorable thing you recall about your childhood?”

Ernest: “My parents had a summer home near Walloon Lake, Michigan when I was four years old. My father taught me to hunt, fish and camp in the woods. This experience instilled in me a passion for outdoor adventure and living in remote places. I guess it set the tone for my need to live an adventurous life.”

Elaine: “What was the first job you ever held?”

Ernest: “I worked as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star for six months right out of high school. They gave me a Style Guide which became the foundation of my writing. ‘Use short sentences and short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.’ See the entire Kansas City Style guide here:

http://www.lostgeneration.com/includes/Hemingwaystylesheet.pdf
Elaine: “Tell us about your first publication.”

Ernest: “After returning from WWI in 1919, I took a fishing trip with high school friends into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The trip inspired the short story, Big Two-Hearted River, where Nick Adams takes to the country to find solitude after returning from war.”

Elaine: “I understand you were influenced by a number of famous people. Can you tell us about them?”

Ernest: “My first wife, Hadley and I moved to Paris in 1921 and I worked as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. While there, I became friends with Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gertrude became my mentor and introduced me to a number of artists and writers - Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro’ and Juan Gris. We collaborated on a book called In Our Times.”

Elaine: “I understand many of your books were inspired by your travels and adventures.”

Ernest: “A safari in East Africa in 1933 inspired Green Hills of Africa and several short stories. To Have and Have Not was published in 1937 while we lived in Spain.”

Elaine: “You love cats, right? You’re a man after my own heart.”

Ernest: “LOL. I learned to love cats when I lived in Cuba with my second wife, Pauline. My first cat was a gray Angora named Princessa (middle cat in photo). Two addition males were purchased and I wrote extensively about one of the kittens named Boise. At that time I was writing For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) based on my experiences during The Spanish Civil War.”

Elaine: “Wasn’t that was your most famous book?”

Ernest: “It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and sold half a million copies within months. That makes it one of my favorites.”

Elaine: “And then in 1954, you won the Nobel Prize in Literature for ‘mastery of the art of narrative and the influence exerted on contemporary style’ as demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea. That’s pretty impressive, too.”

Ernest: “I felt that Carl Sandburg, Isak Dinesen or Bernard Berenson deserved the prize more than me, but the prize money was welcome.”

Elaine: “You’re too modest. Here is what you wrote in a speech to be read in Stockholm, as you were not able to attend to receive your prize. “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

Elaine: “You have led an exciting life. Can you leave us with any words of wisdom for writers and to regular folks?”

AUTHOR CORNER: “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes, like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
E. Hemingway.

EVERYDAY FOLKS: “I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” E. Hemingway

*Source: Ernest Hemingway - Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

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