Top Ten Tuesday: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way From The Library
Top Ten Tuesday / May 31, 2016

I like funny, in case you haven’t noticed. Sometimes the funny is sarcastic. Sometimes it’s wry. Sometimes it tends a little toward the Three Stooges. Funny is different to different people, but it needs to be a few things: relatable timed right over the top, but not too over the top Some of my favorite writers have humor down cold. Here’s my top ten list, in no particular order: Jonathan Swift: while most know him for Gulliver’s Travels, his A Modest Proposal was my first introduction into satire– and I was hooked. William Shakespeare: not only has the man inspired me to want to be remembered for the words I bring to the world, but he has enough comedy to keep me entertained for days. My favorite varies, but I’m currently in love with As You Like It (subject to frequent change). Robert Aspirin’s Myth Adventures series taught me the power of puns. Piers Anthony later taught me that a pun could be overdone, which just barely keeps him off this list. Douglas Adams: Towels, 42, and  Vogon poetry. Enough said right there. He is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Sir Terry Pratchett: we lost a great man last year…

Motivation Monday: Novel Structure

I’m currently plowing my way through KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel. There is a very good point early on that I want to address today: writers are afraid that structure will take the art out of their writing. There are writers who get away without consciously outlining their novels, including Stephen King. It seems to work okay for him. However, he’s also a prolific read and I’m sure he at least understands story structure. Story structure takes nothing away from art. Here are a few examples from other artforms: Architecture relies on buildings being structurally sound. Yet for every plain row house out there, there is a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright creation or an IM Pei glass pyramid. They both use structure; in fact, they have to understand it innately to create the buildings they do. But their structure only adds to their artistry. Michelangelo and da Vinci are both known to have studied human anatomy excessively to give their artwork more lifelike reality. They knew that the underlying structure of the human body is what influences the outward beauty. So why are writers so afraid that structure will destroy their art? “The three-act structure is intrinsic to the human brain’s model of…

CONTEST GIVEAWAY: Free ebook, maybe paperback too
Promotions / May 27, 2016

  I’ve decided I need more book reviews. Apparently, they’re a useful thing. So, here’s the deal. Send me a message. Tell me which book you want: Veneri Verbum, The Annals of Bobian, or Beta Beware. Tell me if you want PDF, ePub, or MOBI. If you already own all three, bless your little heart, you can pass it on if you win. You can reply here, send me email at zanzibar7schwarznegger@gmail.com, hit me up on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter (zanzibar7writer). I’ll pick a winner or two or three, depending on my mood. Might do a paperback, also depending on my mood. In exchange, I just ask for an honest review. Brutal is acceptable, but funny is better. Just review. Want more entries? Share, then show me that you shared. One more entry for every share. Share anywhere and everywhere. Invite others to share. Then share the sharing. Sharing is caring. Thanks!  

Feature Friday: Time to Commit

I can tell you all sorts of secrets for getting your book written. Once you have it written, I can give you all sorts of tips for getting it to market. However, until you’ve actually committed yourself to doing it, it’s not going to happen. “Well, of course I’m committed. I keep reading your lousy blog for advice, don’t I?” That just means you’re committed to learning how to do it. You haven’t committed to doing it. “Okay, semantic-laden Figment, how do I commit to doing it?” Set a deadline. I’ve heard all the excuses (really). Don’t bring me your excuses. I’ve used them myself and probably made them funnier (because, well, I’m funny). There are no excuses. You can work to a deadline, even if you’re a creative. You can write a full-length novel, even if you’re the busiest person ever. The only reasons you can’t finish a book by your self-imposed deadline are either that you were too ambitious or you quit. We don’t do quitters. You can modify your deadline if life happens or you can suck it up for a little while and pretend you don’t have a choice, but you don’t quit. Clear? Now, let’s…

Teaser Thursday: Indie Author Trivia Teasers
Teaser Thursday / May 26, 2016

I was disappointed no one took me up on my request for teasers from your books. So, since I didn’t get any do use this week, I’m going to do tiny little teasers from (mostly) indie books. Can you match all the teasers to the authors and the authors to the books? No cheating! Teaser Lines “One-on-one, head-to-head confrontation had never gotten them anywhere. He clasped his dirt-stained hands in front of him and set his stubble-strewn jaw. His dad was tough, but horses weren’t his specialty. They were Keith’s.” “‘But why would anyone buy children?’ He broke off and sat up, feeling a prickling at the back of his neck, a stirring in the pit of his stomach as the dreadfulness, the horror, of what she had said sunk in.” “‘This is how they made the rift between us, those Earthers. Since the beginning, my kind and yours could join, soothing every ache. That was our way.” “He held her so tenderly, like she was some fragile thing as he carried her over to the nearest pew, where he slowly laid her down to rest. All of this happened without the slightest hint of effort.” “Even those of us who…

WorkIt Wednesday: Create-a-Plot and Pushups

This is a two-part WorkIt Wednesday, as always. For the physical part, my goal is to hit 100 pushups throughout the day. I can do a single pushup or all 100 at once (no, really, I can’t). As long as they’re all done by midnight, I reached my goal. Define a pushup: Because not everyone is at the same level, you can do any type of pushup you want. Do you have some physical limitations? Do wall pushups. Maybe you have some minor lower back issues? Do knee or “girl” pushups. If you can, do the regular pushups. If you’re feeling really ambitious, go for one-handed pushups or another variation. You don’t have to do the same kind all the way through, either. Start out at the hardest level you can and, if you need to, finish up with wall pushups. The goal is to get all 100. There’s a good tutorial here. Now for the written part of the day, inspired by this article on The Write Life. Depending on which resource you go to, there are only seven/ twenty/ thirty-six plots in literature. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going with seven for this exercise. Also, because I’m a simple…

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Make a Schedule
Top Ten Tuesday / May 24, 2016

Yesterday, I mentioned having deadlines for my writing. Today, I’m going to list my top ten reasons for why I have a schedule: A schedule lets me know where I’m going. For those of you who haven’t figured it out, I’m all for spontaneity as long as I have a map. Let me wander freely, yes, but tell me where I’m going first. A schedule pushes me to complete things. A lot of us (not all of us) like to have a deadline to work toward. I love deadlines. I do my best work with deadlines. A schedule gives me an excuse to make lists. I also love lists. Schedules are just detailed lists. A schedule helps me not forget anything. Have you ever finished a project only to realize you forgot the cover? I never have, but I also have a schedule that clearly states when the cover needs to be started and finished. A schedule reduces tension. Because I always know what I need to do or haven’t done, I can stress less about the process and just worry about the writing. A schedule lets me tell other people where I’m at. If you have an editor, a…

Motivation Monday: Getting Past The First Chapter

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this you’ve taken me up on my challenge to write and publish an indie book. If you haven’t, go back and read the earlier posts first. I’m pretty sequential for a Figment. Doing things in order is always a good idea. You have an outline (or you’re humoring me and pretending). You know why you’re writing. You have a first chapter. And now… you’re bored. Or you think you’re blocked. Here’s my take on it: there is no such thing as Writer’s Block. Before I get a bunch of angry replies, let me clarify. People to get blocked, but it’s not truly writer’s block. Writer’s block is this mystical thing where your muse has deserted you. Sorry, cupcake. While there are real muses, they don’t cause writer’s block. Here are some reasons you can feel blocked, though: Your story is going in a dead-end direction. If your story isn’t making sense, your subconscious may be trying to tell you to turn it around. Break the rule about not editing and go back and find what isn’t working. If you can’t find it, get a trusted but brutally honest friend to tell you. You…

Feature Friday: Writing the First Chapter

There are some who find the last chapter to be the most difficult. There are a few who struggle through the middle. For most, however, the first chapter is the hardest to get out there. There’s good reason for this. The first chapter is what draws, drags, or defers. Either it is so clever that the reader must read; it is acceptable enough that the reader chooses to read; or it is so bad that the reader refuses to read. But no pressure. Really. See, the nice things about first chapters (and first lines) is that you have the most time to get them right. You have the entire time you’re writing the book through the editing process through just before publication. That’s a lot of time. (Longer for some, say, whose last name is Martin, than some others.) “I don’t edit while I’m writing.”  Very smart of you. Really. Just try this with me for one work, though. Edit that first chapter. Here’s why: if your first chapter does what it should (set up the story), then you have an easier task ahead of you. Instead of dragging the story uphill to get to the first plot point, your…

Teaser Thursday: Tease Me?
Teaser Thursday / May 19, 2016

I don’t want to put a teaser out today. I want you to send me your teasers. That’s right. I’m giving you freedom to comment with your own teaser for posing on my blog. Whether it’s a work in progress or something you’ve already published that you think I’d enjoy reading, share your teasers with me! Next week I’ll feature a few, so please only share what you’re happy having shared. Thanks!