Mini-card Marketing

Worderella Moo mini-cardsSo I never got around to showing you the mini-cards I got from MOO Print Ltd back when I was at LiveJournal. I love these things. My favorite one is the green polka-dot background with the thick white lettering (middle left).They’re small, convenient, and cheap, despite the heavy, quality cardstock. I need to order a new set since these have the old web address on the back, but as they were from a free promotional thing, I’m totally fine with that.

My plan is to leave cards in books that have a similar topic to my writing, as bookmarks, magnets, gift tags… etc. When I make the new set, I want some with my book cover on them. The only thing is that each set has the same text on the back, so I’ll have to plan well.

Worderella mini-card holderAnd they come in the coolest little carrier for the packs of 10, as you can see…

*I don’t get any kickbacks for talking about this product, I just like it.

Storyboarding

Sargent artwork by Organicdesigns I am an alpha personality: I live by lists, I like things ordered a certain way, I like to be in charge, I like to be on time. So you would think I use storyboarding to plot my novels, right?

Wrong! This past weekend was the first time I ever attempted a storyboard. And let me tell you: It was wonderful. I started out by drawing a line across an 11 x 24 sheet of paper for a timeline. I’ve always loved timelines, so it made sense for me to do it this way. Plus, my story has a backstory spanning ten years.

Then, I began writing major plot points onto post-it notes, sideways. This way, I could write multiple points on a single post-it, cut the post-it apart, and stick the post-it piece where I wanted. The backstory managed to fit on one page, as the image suggests.

The main year of my story covers two pages, as seen here, and here. The second page is where everything gets thrown at my main character… you can tell because the post-its are packed together and there are multiple dots of color everywhere. The last page, the conclusion of the story, is understandably less. I span my conclusion out over a couple months.

So what are the dots, you ask? The dots of color stand for each character that has their own complete subplot/story arc. I created a legend to help.

But why create a storyboard, Belinda? Your WIP meter says you’re 57% complete! Yes, well… that was true about a month ago, when the muse was flowing. Then I started writing a scene where I realized I didn’t know why the characters were arguing, just that they were. I freaked out, shut the file, walked away from the computer. I started reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and found my manuscript riddled with weak writing. As I started applying the rules, the heart of my story shone. A lot of little things happen where it helps me to know the month, so I started thinking of a timeline. And since I finished the storyboard, the muse returned. I even have my ending drafted, something sweet yet not cavity-inducing; I’m pretty pleased.

* Image by Organic Designs

A Recent Conversation

Crazy Writer by Ultima_chocoboMina: So how is the new work-in-progress going?
Me: Really well! I mean, I got up to chapter 18 and I was flowing and everything. Wrote a couple thousand words last month, but then… (sigh)
Mina: …?
Me: Well, I was writing, and everything was going fine, but then my young, energetic, American female character strong-armed a young man to the ground. I don’t know how it happened! One minute she was being very nice and chatty, the next, strong-arming him to the ground! That would have never happened in 1887 Victorian London!
Mina: (laughs)
Me: So I’m hitting the books again. I need to give her something else to do, something that will cause a scandal but still interest the English aristocracy, not scare them away. (I shake my head.) Strong-arming a guy to the ground. Who does that?

It’s one thing to be unique, but to be so modern! I’m appalled. But thanks to my character, I’m learning a lot about how the 1870s Anglomania (specifically in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Ohio, etc) started. Despite the fact that the English aristocracy most staunchly supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War, a mere ten years earlier.

How many of you have had a character that broke out of his or her time period so completely? What have you done to rein them in? Or have you changed your story/time period to fit the character?

Quote: Effective Openings

An effective opening may do many things at once. It might set up the main characters and their relationship, it might describe a setting or a dramatic event, it will probably always introduce key themes.
– Michèle Roberts

Leg/Back Pain

I’m going to admit something: that birthday I mentioned a little while ago? I just turned 22. Which seems awful young for any sort of leg and /or back pain, right? I think so, and that’s what everyone tells me. This past February, however, I managed to unknowingly strain my back and then make movements that aggravated the nerve that runs through the SI-joint. The pain down my left leg got to the point that I collapsed, screaming, onto the floor while my parents listened on the phone.

A scary night for everyone, I was panicked and convinced I would never walk again, the pain was so severe and mysterious.

I’m writing about this because today looks like it will be a bad day; I have them every once in a while. My left leg’s nerve will jump, sending unnatural messages to my muscles, making me feel as though my own limb is alien. My hips tend to snap in and out of place a lot, too. I’ve tried some research here and there on why my hips have started snapping, but let’s face it: I’m terrified I’ll find something that says I require surgery, and even though my mother is a nurse I am terrified of hospitals.

Side note: Sometimes I wish, just for the back support, that corsets still existed. It would force me to stand/sit up straight all of the time. And cause me to faint should I get too excited and breathe so deeply that the stays cut me off. You win some, you lose some.

But there is a good side to this experience: I know the exquisite pain that comes from using your body incorrectly. I have some idea of how a person would walk, would change their habits, in order to accommodate something that will most likely never go away. And it just so happens that I have a character (or had a character since he’s dead) that, while his accident happened much differently, has many of the same symptoms.

Do you use your personal experiences to flesh out your characters? If you do, does it ever hurt to relive those memories in order to write it on your character’s behalf?

Being Worderella

Things have been crazy around Worderella’s part of the world lately. I took the GRE yesterday, my second time, just to see if I could improve my somewhat decent score. I did, so huzzah! I have been reading a lot, which explains the lack of article-posting and the proliferation of book-review-posting. I’m also working on graduate school applications, my college’s magazine, and my appeal to graduate form which gets me priority scheduling for the next year.

I have not been writing. I wrote about ten thousand words last month, and this month, maybe two. I’m not too worried about this, however, because I came to a scene where I realized my character, who is very spirited, was doing something no girl in her right mind would do in 1887 London. Back to the research books for me! I have this horrible habit of doing enough general research to get the muse flowing, and then once I need actual details, I start the real research, the hunting in my university’s huge library (how I’m going to miss it when I graduate!), the desperate eBay buys for books long out of print and discarded from libraries.

My current dilemma: how would a spirited American girl, attempting to marry an English title, act in London? Basically, I need her to embarrass herself without causing so great a scandal that she becomes un-marriageable. Thus, I’m reading this great book called To Marry an English Lord, Or, How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl. Having already read the biography of Jennie Churchill nee Jerome, I had a good idea of how an American like Jennie might get married, but this book gives details for all the major Pan-Atlantic marriages, as well as a more approachable look at the royal family and their interaction with the aristocracy…so much material, so many ideas, and I’m only 22 pages in!

Over at History Hoydens, one of my favorite blogs, they talk about the research they do for their historical romance. Today they have an amazing post on the truth behind Jane Austen and Tom LeFroy…I couldn’t have written it better, so anyone interested in seeing Becoming Jane ought to read that post first. Tom LeFroy was not the inspiration for Mr Darcy. I’m sorry, but it is true.

In other news, the new Writer’s Digest is out, and I’m in it! My author website, Worderella.com, was submitted for the Top Author Website Contest, and I placed top ten! In celebration, I’ve added a few items to the website, such as samples of my old writings; short stories from high school, poetry from college. I’ve also added an announcements section to the index page…I hope to keep the content fresh on the website but it’s hard as a full-time engineering student, so I’ll update you here at the blog if new things show up.

And for those of you who think you might never become a published author, check out Erica Writes August 15 post about how one procrastinating woman not only impressed the great Miss Snark with a hook that had no manuscript to go with it, she has since gotten representation for it! A great story, and she’s holding a title contest. Check her out!

Book: The Extra-Large Medium

Title: The Extra Large Medium
Author: Helen Slavin
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Length: 288 pgs

Summary: Annie always thought chocolate brown was the new black, because everyone was wearing it. It didn’t take long for her to realize that no one else saw these people wearing all-brown outfits, and that these people happened to be dead. As a grown-up, Annie begins to treat her habit of finishing the ghostly “unfinished business” as a job; it is when her husband disappears and doesn’t return to her, wearing brown, telling her his unfinished business, that things become seriously wrong.

Excerpts:
pg 1 – In Hell they all wear evening gowns. Heavily boned bodices. Dress-shirt collars just that bit too tight. Your forehead just that bit too sweaty and the perspiration running like an itching, infuriating river down from your armpit into the elastic of your knickers. The point where it pinches your waistband.

pg 36 – Funny how the words for the male member all smack of stupidity. ‘Member’ for a start off, some idiot politician. John Thomas, who no doubt plays a banjo in Tennessee. Todger, the thick dog who can never find where you’ve thrown the stick. Dick, the man who wears the most hideous golf sweaters at the local links. Cock, a strutting brainless bird puffed up with his own importance and getting around ALL the birds. Donger, a dwarf breed of conger eel. Prick, so quick you hardly notice and before you turn your head it’s all over.

pg 46 – Most of the young men, and a couple of the older ones I picked out, seemed only interested in one thing. They made small talk, ate dinner or pretended to listen to your boring recollections from your day at work because they felt that this would work some miracle on the elastic of your knickers. They didn’t want you. They wanted sex. Conversation was just some boring form-filling requirement that had to be gone through to get to the sex. No one seemed any good at it either.

pg 47 – For a brief time at the university I was known as the Ice Maiden because I was notoriously hard work on a date. Then I discovered the Ice Maiden Sweepstake. The bet was on as to who could crack the Ice Maiden. ‘Crack’. It was their word. I would have preferred ‘thaw’: you melt the ice with the heat of your passion. But no. They would have a ‘crack’ at it.

Why should you read this book?
If you think perhaps this book has a theme similar to The Sixth Sense, that’s what I thought too. Except instead of being a thriller of sorts, this book is insightful and humorous, with a succinct tone that doesn’t forgive any character and yet makes you feel for them nonetheless. At its heart, this book is about a woman who loses her husband and waits, against her will, for the day she has to legally declare him dead.

For you writers, read this book to learn how to write about a topic (like death) without depressing the reader. Every character is flush and real, people we can relate to or have had a conversation with. Annie is a great anti-hero, as well; she is flawed, can’t seem to hold on to material objects or the people around her, and yet is crying out for someone to ground her from her ethereal calling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and read it in one evening, I couldn’t put it down.

Moving Woes

So, it seems as though the RSS feed is currently a little wacky right now for this new blog. Either that, or LiveJournal is taking its revenge on me for switching systems, and it’s refusing to read the feed correctly. I’m pretty sure it’s not working on my end, though, so I’m playing around with the code to fix it…ah, the joys of Open Source.

In the meantime, I’ll post both at the old and new blogs. Add me to your link list/blog roll! Once things are up and running, I’ll let you know to add the LiveJournal feed for Worderella.

By the way, my birthday is tomorrow.

Book: The Wayward Muse

Title: The Wayward Muse
Author: Elizabeth Hickey
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 293 pgs

Summary: It is the beginning of the Victorian era, and Jane is a very ugly girl. On an outing with her sister, Jane is spotted by two artists that consider her the most beautiful woman in the world, thus changing her life forever.

Excerpts:
pg 1 – Jane Burden was considered the plainest girl on Holywell Street, and that Oxford slum was home to many worthy candidates for the title. Mary Porter, who was afflicted with a lazy eye and copious freckles, lived there, just across the street from Alice Cunningham, who had crooked, discolored teeth and thinning hair. Number 142 was the residence of Catherine Blair, whose neck and ear had been horribly burned when she was a baby, and whose left leg was somewhat shorter than the right. But even she was considered marginally better looking than Jane.

pg 2 – But it was her expression that truly made Jane Burden plain. For she seldom smiled, and her green eyes, which might have been considered striking on another girl, were empty. They weren’t sad; sadness could be fetching. They were not grave and serious or soft and pleading or tearful and melancholy. They were blank. Jane’s eyes told everyone who met her of her misery and her despair. They told of a girl who had ceased to hope for anything, who had gone deep inside herself to withstand her lot. It made the others uneasy.

pg 53 – Jane only laughed. Rosetti knew something that the people of Holywell street did not. He knew she was a fairy queen. […] Her silence was now called dignity. Her height and her skinniness were regal rather than ugly.

pg 286 – “What is my mind made of?” asked Jane.
“Oh, I think it’s a willow basket,” said Morris. He put down his pipe and stood up. “Soft and pliable but incredibly resistant. The only way to unravel it would be with great violence and a pair of very sharp scissors.”

Why should you read this book?
Excellent writing, as you’ll find in the excerpts I’ve posted. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite Jane’s character, which makes me respect Hickey even more. Once I realized the plot, I almost put the book away, except Hickey’s writing and depiction of the characters stayed my hand. This book is one of the best fiction depictions of a real Victorian marriage that I have read yet; the main characters are real people, and while the story may not be entirely factual, the plot seems to follow the real time-line faithfully. The writing style is simple yet lush, the scenery vivid, the characters organic and sympathetic. Anyone working on making their characters flawed, especially the main character, should read this book as an example of how to maintain your reader’s interest.

Book: The Glass Harmonica

Title: The Glass Harmonica
Author: Louise Marley
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
Length: 369 pgs

Summary: The year is 2018 and Erin is the premiere virtuosa on the glass harmonica, an instrument that, over the centuries, has been known to make its player and select members of the audience go mad. Though she publicly denies these rumors, secretly she is terrified they are true once she starts to see visions of a girl who does not exist.

The year is 1761 and Eilish Eam, an Irish orphan, has been plucked from her unlucky existence to play Benjamin Franklin’s new invention: the glass armonica.

Excerpts:
pg 116 – It was the terror that lurked in [Erin’s] nightmares, that stalked her when she was weakest, most vulnerably. It was the fear that made her snap answers to stupid questions, made her impatient and angry at the probing and pushing of interviewers and reporters and historians. She was afraid. She wasn’t afraid of her wraith, of ghosts or visions or manifestations. What she feared was that, like her predecessors, like the ancestral virtuosi who had first played her precious and mystical instrument, her nerves were breaking down. She was afraid she was going mad.

Why should you read this book?
This book is well-written: all the characters have backstories and motivations, and the setting is fully realized. Despite this, I felt no connection with the characters. I read the entire book, but I never felt drawn to the story, wondering what would happen next. And I should have, because this was an interesting idea. As a musician, I loved the history of the glass harmonica; as a historian, I thought Marley’s depiction of Benjamin Franklin was great; as a scientist, I loved the idea of applying music to neuro-therapy. As a writer, I thought something was lacking, which may be because the back cover copy made the story seem more action-oriented, a time-travel similar to The Lake House (which defies so many laws of physics and time-travel, even).

A pleasant read, the one thing that really annoyed me was Marley’s use of “’twas” and “’tis,” beyond the 1761 dialogue. For example: Eilish pushed the basket again, trying to make her two seed coins clink together. Talk brought no food. ‘Twas money she needed. In my opinion, Marley should have stuck with a first-person narrative for the 1761 story, and third-person for the 2018, if she wanted to write like that. But then, another reader will find it charming, and think I’m crazy for not liking it. Such a subjective profession this is…