How to Survive a Family Trip: An Introduction to Avoiding Family Vacation Misery

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When people think vacation, relaxation and fun always springs to mind. Going away with the family brings in the reality of stress while trying to juggle different personalities and interest. How does one get to relax and enjoy a place when some many people in a group want to do a hundred things in such a short period of time?

Before I can answer that we need to understand the kinds of people who travel to these tourist destinations.

There are 6 types of tourists in the world:

#1 The extreme adventure tourist, enjoys climbing the alphas without oxygen or base jumping off some ancient bridge.

Thank god I don’t know anyone like this. We would never be compatible but there is a way we both could enjoy our trip. I’ll explain how in a minute.

action-activity-adults-172484  #2 The active nature traveler loves hiking around exploring the natural landscape. They will walk everywhere instead of opting for a car, taxi or bus.

My husband is one of these. It can be annoying sometimes because he thinks everyone in the group has the same stamina and physique as him. No matter how much you tell him he is convinced a 3 year old can walk 5 miles without a carry.

#3 There is the educational tourist who makes sightseeing more than looking around at old buildings and statue. They research before going and actually listen to retain the facts of the audio guide.

My father-in-law is a prime example of this type of tourist. He will rattle off facts to us on the transport to the site as well as give us more information as we walk around the building. He also likes to drink like the fourth type of tourist.

#4 The third type of tourist. The bachelor/bachelorette tourists. (Or more accurately called the drinking travelers). There doesn’t have to be a bachelor party. These people are on vacation to bar and/or club crawl for the whole of the vacation.

My husband is one of them he would be happy to sit in the bar from afternoon to night. With two small ones, ages 3 and 6, this isn’t the ideal place for children to spend a lot of time in. Luckily, my husband is also capable of being on the spectrum of the next category of tourists.

#5 The backpacker. These travelers pack light, go for bargain travelling, try to visit things off the beaten path, and travel to explore cultures and meet new people. They turn disasters into lessons while being flexible to change their travel plans to suit the conditions they’re in. For example, if the city they are visiting seems dull or just not their style, they will hop on a bus/train/hitchhike to another place. Or simply, find some activity in the place that closer suits their personality. The activity may not be ideal but the backpacker will find a way to make the most out of it.

I’m more of the backpacker tourist. That’s how I started travelling alone after college. And I prefer it that way which is made difficult by the final group of travelers.

#6 The leisure tourist. These people only leave their hotel to go to the beach. They leave towels on sunbeds marking their permanent laying spot for the next 12 hours, before running off to breakfast. Leisure tourist know nothing about their travel destination except sun, beach, hotel facilities and the airport. They pretend to like sightseeing but in fact hate waiting, crowds, standing in line and have no real interest in the culture or history of their temporary surroundings.

My mother, mother-in-law, and two young children are the leisure tourists.

 

 

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So we have a drinking-active-backpacker, a backpacker, an educational-drinking tourist and four leisure tourists who are sharing a family holiday together. Two cannot walk 5 minutes without having to get a taxi. Three hate crowds, amusement parks and lines. Two want to stay held up in a bar. Another two only want to buy toys and watch cartoons. One has an attitude about everything because he is constantly too hot and is dead sober most of the time. No one likes to make a decision on where to go or what to do. And the heat of the August humidity in Barcelona during high tourist season causes more tension and frustrations in the group.

Barcelona is a huge cosmopolitan city with almost as many tourist as inhabitants. Public transport is easily accessible. You will have to walk for at least 15 to 20 minutes
to really get around the city and get a feel for it.

This description already had family members voicing doubts about visiting Barcelona. Big city and tourists meant crowds. Crowds meant lines. Public transport equaled to waiting. Walking for more than 5 minutes!?! In the heat!?!

I had lost half of the group’s excitement to go during planning for the trip. Yet we tried it anyway. Barcelona was the city to visit in Spain. We had to check it out.

And that’s what led me to my list of family vacation survival guidelines:

1. Flexibility is key!
Not every one can do everything they want throughout the vacation. Keep activities short with a break or two of rest time. Rest back at the hotel or at a restaurant for a long lunch or sit somewhere on a park bench while the kids play. You will find that these rest times will help rejuvenate the inactive part of your group.

Plus, have activities throughout the day that will make each (or most) of the different kinds of travelers satisfied that the have done something to enjoy their vacation.

2. Plan it but don’t freak out in changes to the plan.
Loosely plan your trip. Find certain popular activities and book them. This will avoid some lines. Then have a list of activities for the group to discuss doing over lunch or dinner or while enjoying the resting period. The things that are booked will make sure you did something during your trip other than pondering what to do. Also, giving family members options in the vacation will make them feel they have a say in the group’s plans. It relieves feelings of resentment towards being herded around.

3. “I don’t mind. I’ll do what the group wants to do” Trap.
Don’t fall for that crap! It is a way to get out of making any decisions and allows others to easily complain during, and well after, the undesirable event that someone else planned.

Forget that! Get everyone to verbally commit to an agreement and place a no complaining cause on that shit! No one wants to hear your Debbie Downer mouth! It just adds to the frustrations of the day.

4. Stolen moments can keep the romance going.
A sneaky ass pat here. A quick hug there. Hell, grab your partner into a small corner for s speedy tongue wrestling move. Hold hands. Tickle each other in passing. These little shows of affection can remind each other that through this hell the love is still there, which will keep you both in good spirits.

adorable-affection-child-11283175.Suck it up.
You may have to do something that you don’t want to do. Take one for the team. There will be an activity for you to do later in the day. This short time slot is to make a loved one, a relative, happy. Don’t be selfish by pouting and scoffing out your boredom or uncomfortableness. That will only make people feel bad for making you do the activity which makes them unable to enjoy it. It’s a family vacation remember. Family spending happy moments together. So don’t ruin it and make with the happy!

6. Can’t fake it, take a time out.
You don’t have to spend the whole vacation with each other. Maybe it could help if you split the day. Half of it can be whole family bonding time while the other half is grab a partner (or two) and do what you want. Set a time to meet up later. This way more people can be happy apart as well as together.

7. Have a drink and chill the F out.
If these tips prove hard to accomplish or you can’t get your family to comply, drinking will help you not care what happens and it may get you to enjoy the events that you did not want to do. Therefore, have a cocktail and a smile so you can enjoy your vacation.

8. Put the phone away!
Unless you are using it for taking photos and selfies, there is no need to be checking your phone every few minutes. Facebook and other social medias can wait until rest time or right before bed. You can not spend time with others if you are playing on your phone the whole time. Be there physically and mentally. Can’t do that, then leave the phone in the hotel room.

adult-affection-beach-936018Also, remember this is your family members vacation, too. They deserve to enjoy it as well. The point is for family time away from home. Keep that in mind before the snapping and bickering begins.

What are some ways you survive family vacations? What has been your worst or best family get together trip? Share in the comments below.

Twisted American Folklore

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I am a big fan of Shakespeare, folklore and mythology. So, when I come across film, tv series or novels that dabble in these topics, I’m immediately down to experience the writer’s craft of reinvention. I have to respect the art and boldness to take loved stories and make them the writer’s  own. 

This is the main reason why I read Stacey Rourke´s Raven (The Legends Saga Book 2). The novel is about Ireland Crane’s search to find out more about her tattoo and her ability to turn into the bringer of death, the Headless Horseman. As she is accompanied by her boyfriend, Noah Van Tassel, and her friend, Rip Van Wrinkle, Ireland comes across a handsome stranger who is also cursed. They are strongly drawn together in their quest to hunt down the demonic form of Edgar Allen Poe´s Lenore. 

I loved Poe’s narratives. The readers see the problematic, cursed young life of Poe and the demons he is dealing with as well as find out the story behind him and his beloved Lenore. The story hits on the reasons for Poe´s peculiarity while giving the audience snips of incidents that were influenced in his later writings. As an English teacher and a student of Literature, I was excited and enthralled by that part of the book. 

The problem I had with it was sometimes I found myself zoning out while I read and would have to read again so not to be confused by the next plot point. Plus, Ireland’s story was heavy with pursuit and conflict of her demon coming out and killing everyone. It got stale sometimes. It may be better as a TV series than novel. 

Rourke has won many awards for Young Adult Fantasy. Plus, her proses are lyrically horrifying in their description of gore and terror. And she adds good one-liners in her comic relief.  Therefore, we know she is a fantastic writer. 

Maybe it’s more about me and the genre. I prefer to read dramas, romances and thrillers. I rarely read fantasy. I rather watch it. With that in mind, at the end of the novel, I felt the story was okay. It could have been told in 100 pages rather than over 300 pages, though. 

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3 Simple Ways to Read More (while Having a Way Too Busy Schedule)

Do you have a stack of books collecting dust on your bookshelf? Is your Kindle or Ipad storage full of books that you have been meaning to read? Has your living room turned into the library of ‘Where Books are Forgotten’?

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These stories stare back at you every day, screaming to be read. However, you are not to blame here. You have the desire to read them just not the time. Whether it be work, kids, family commitments, binge watching Netflix, or simply haven’t had time to get into the book, there is always time to read.

Here are some tips to help you finished that novel before you hit retirement age:

#1: Read When You Can 

Most smartphones have an app on them that allows you to read on almost any chosen device. Most of us are on our phone in the elevator, waiting in line, watching our child during basketball practice, etc. Well, instead of searching Facebook, whatsapping or researching the sport scores, read a page or two of your book.

I sometimes do it when I’m uploading files on my computer. That minute or two of wasted time can be channeled into helping you complete that novel that you have always wanted to read.

#2: Bedtime 

Right before you close your eyes and say goodnight to your 15 hours of constantly on-the-go day, lie in bed with your book or electronic reading tool and read at least a page. Reading a page every night might make you complete the book of choice under a year. But despite this long timetable, you will have completed a book. One down and a hundred odd to go. Progress is progress, no matter the pace.

And you never know. You might get into the book and that 1 page a day might transform into 5 pages a night or a chapter. Just be careful not to get tuck in that reading sweet spot. No matter how good the book is getting, keep in mind that you need your sleep to get through the next day. So, before it gets too late at night put the book down and wait til bedtime the next day.

#3: Audiobooks are the Holy Grail of Time Efficiency 

I commute to work Monday through Friday. In those 5 days, I have 40 minutes of daily listening freedom. Most listen to the news or their favorite songs. I choose to escape into autopilot while listening to someone read the current book I am reading. Of course, take cautious when you do this. Have the off button or pause button handy when you have to really concentrate on the road.

If that isn’t possible or it is too above your comfort level, there is always alternatives to listening to audiobooks. You can listen while at the gym or doing exercise. You can do it while cleaning or straightening up the house. I do it to cooking. Point being whatever time in the day that is available to just listen during mild distractions.

Audiobooks can be more expensive than the book itself. If money is stopping you from getting that audio, try some helpful programs like Kindle Converter. It converts kindle books into pdf files. The first 5 or 7 are free but you can pay for an unlimited amount for a small fee. After you have converted your book into a pdf file, use a free read aloud app to read out your novels to you. @Voice Aloud Reader is my personal favorite but there are many to choose from.

girl-1721436_640Bottomline: There is nothing to stop you from completing that book. Don’t worry about the time it will take. And don´t think you don´t have the time. Everyone has 5-10 minutes in their life that they can use to read. Pick your moments and soon you’ll be finding more than 10 minutes within your day to squeeze in a good book.

Brush off those cobwebs and dust mites. And get into a good book.

What book are you reading now? How long has it taken you to read it? What are some ways you try to complete a novel? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Books I’m currently reading:

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How to Write a Review in 5 Minutes

adult-books-business-374016Reviews are important. Most people read reviews to help influence their decision. Should I buy this type of iPad or stay in this hotel? How have others felt about this movie or restaurant? Is this product of entertainment worth spending my hard earn money on? Seeing others’ viewpoints towards the desired item can weigh in on a purchasing decision.  

Think about how many times you have asked a friend or family member, if you looked good in a particular outfit you were trying on before buying it. Or when you look at printer features from 10 different printers, how do you decide which is best for you? From other people’s opinions, right?  In fact, that’s what a review is: someone’s opinion.  

Yet, how do we write a review? For some, it comes easy. I liked it or I didn’t like it and here are the reasons why. Simple, isn’t it? Some people still don’t feel confident in doing this. To help, below I have created a guide to make writing a review even simpler: 

Firstly, the essential parts of a good review are that it should: 

-have a short title; 

-a introduction telling the readers what you are reviewing; 

-a relaxed, friendly style; 

-a new paragraph for each point you make; 

-both positive and negative opinions; 

-reasons or examples to help explain these opinions; 

-and a recommendation in your conclusion. 

 

Well, how do I express these points? Here are some sentence starters to help get you to start writing that review: (Use them or tweak them to suit your style of writing.) 

1st Paragraph -INTRODUCTION: 

I had been waiting ages to (see/read/visit…pick your verb) (Name of what you are reviewing) and when I got the opportunity it gave me a lot to consider for this review, both good and bad! 

2nd Paragraph- SUMMARY  

(What is it about? Who is in it? Or what does it do? Or what did you see there?) 

The story was based on…. 

The film relates the story of… 

The book is about… 

The main theme…. 

There are many memorable characters including…. 

The place has… 

The restaurant serves..   

3rd Paragraph- YOUR OPINION 

(WHAT I LIKED) 

The thing I really enjoyed/preferred most was… 

I was pleasantly surprised by… 

What pleased me above all….. 

 

(WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE) 

What I disliked most was…. 

I was really disappointed by/with…. 

What I found hard to believe…. 

 

4th Paragraph- RECOMMENDATIONS  

I would/would not recommend this…..to everyone/anyone, even… 

Although I  am not a fan of……, I suggest that you (pick a verb) it. 

If I had to (pick a verb) this…(Name of thing you are reviewing)..again, I  definitely say that it would be a waste of time/worth it.  

 

And you’re done! You can use these sentence starters to help you get into the flow of writing a few reviews. The format will come like second nature. Soon you will be using your own words to type out your opinions of products and/or entertainment. 

Don’t take your opinions for granted. People care about your perspective and if you style it right, they will listen to it. 

For examples of reviews I have written, go check out my blogs: Black Love Review and Why Supporting Other Writers’ Novels Can Be Extremely Useful. 

You can also look to any webpage that sells products. Get familiar with other people’s reviews, then write your own. 

Happy writing. 

 

Do you read other reviews how do they help you make a decision? Have you written reviews before? What do you like to review? Leave your answers in the comment section below. 

 

Black Love Book Review

Keeping to my own advice about writers helping out other writers, I have another book review to share.

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The first line in “Threads of Desire” by K. M. Jackson had me immediately connected to the heroine. How many women have regretted wasting their fashion model runway walk on a sleazy guy? How many of us have suffered through a hellish date for a free steak? I know a lot of you are nodding your heads right now. This is only the icing on the delicious cake that Jackson serves her readers.

If you don’t know about this book, let me give you a quick rundown. This is the third book in the Creative Hearts series. Oh, don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous two. Neither had I. Each book in the series deals with a different couple, so readers won’t feel lost reading out of turn. For the fans who have read book 1 and 2, there are cameos from your favorite past characters.

In this story, we have Gabrielle Russell and Nick Ross. Their complicated history makes it difficult for them to be in the same room without fighting. Something that is made worse by their sexual attraction to each other. And the extra cherry on top is that Nick is Gabrielle‘s best friend/roommate’s brother.

Being a curvy woman, Gabrielle shares her inner thoughts with the reader about her insecurities and doubts that Nick could actually be interested in her. She is far from the rich, skinny woman he runs with. Despite this, sparks between the two lit up.

Then, Jackson turns up the heat when she puts her characters alone in a tiny apartment during a blackout. This is a ripe environment to put two people into a vacuum where they must face their issues and heavy attraction for one another. As you can imagine, everything becomes hot and heavy in the right spots.

Overall, I thought the novel was okay. Don’t get me wrong the writing was great. Characterization was on point. Dialogue worked well. It had all the elements of a good story. However, personally, I prefer more action happening in my novels. The majority of the book took place in the apartment. I know that setting was needed to open the hero and heroine up but I thought the novel should have explored how they would face up outside the security of the apartment.

Still, I’d recommend the book for a great quick summer read.

13 Story Ideas that are RARELY Used in Novels and/or Films

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Coming up with story ideas can be nerve racking. You may have tried looking at pictures or listening to music, etc. Perhaps, you’ve read my previous blog on story ideas, but still cannot get inspired.  (Click on story ideas to read the previous blog.)

Want something fresh? Something new? Are you desperate to have a different take on a story that will get readers talking? I have some awesome story ideas about topics rarely written about.

When a writer spins a story about a subject which people don’t really explore, it can create a new niche. Or, at least seems original. The important thing to remember is NOT to stress yourself out on being original or new wave. The fact is that in this day and age nothing is completely new or original.

antique-guatemala-house-1202952There is a saying in teaching pedagogy: “Why reinvent the wheel?” It means there is no reason to stress yourself out when using a method that already works. The wheel has been around for ages and it has always function the right way without any need to reconstruct it. It does its purpose, nothing else can do what it does better.

Keep in mind, you can decorate the wheel. Put some spinners on it to make it look entertaining, but at the end of the day, it is still just a wheel that functions like all the other wheels. Most stories are like this. Your unique writing voice and telling of the story gives the tale its glitter.

Styling your novel in an original way can give you more popularity and prestige. Wicked, for example, is the simple retelling of an old story. Again, Gregory Maguire didn’t recreate another wheel. His style simply bejeweled it with a rich retelling of the story from a different point of view.

So, let’s get that glue gun heated up and lay out some precious stones. Below are ideas that range from genres of romance, crime, and fantasy. However, with a little twerking, any idea can be modified into the desired genre you are writing in. Or, shake yourself out of your routine and try another writing style. Maybe it will knock some creativity through to get you writing again.

Here are 13 story ideas:

  1. High class prostitute falls for average man but refuses to quit her job. Write about the trouble and turmoil their lives go through as they try to make this relationship work.
  2. Mythology is always a good “go to” resource. I think it is time for someone to write about the relationship between Hades and Persephone. Plus, a pushy mother-in-law that demands to see her daughter 6 months out of the year must have a story to be told.
  3. For Shakespeare fans: Write about Mercutio’s heartbreak. Someone must have done a number on him. How else could he deliver the most powerfully, riveting speech about anti-love?
  4. Black market crime syndicate provides certain individuals a virtual reality experience of murder/theft/crime for the right price. For one individual, things get out of hand after he experienced his wife getting murdered.
  5. An out of work manager at a daycare decides to use her new free time to reprogram her husband’s bad habits. Her experiments based on child psychology training has her reshaping her husband into her idea of the perfect man.
  6. The story of the fictional secret lover of (name that dead person).
  7. A family escapes a Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. How did they do it? What happened after their escape?
  8. Woman has psychic link to objects. Every time she touches an object she sees the history behind it, such as, who has touched it and what it was used for.  When she touches (name that object), she sees an unsolved murder. The police don’t believe her. It is up to her and her blind neighbor to find the killer and put him to justice.
  9. Navy man is in training to be a US Seal. One problem: he is having an affair with his commanding instructor.
  10. Writer falls for the recurring hero/heroine of her/his book, then character comes to life. How can a fictional character stand up to real life situations? Does the writer still desire her/his character when there is laundry to be done and no one has washed the dishes?
  11. A husband is a closeted homosexual who is leading a double life. He stays in an unhappy marriage but he goes out at night to satisfy his true nature. Soon his teenage son comes out to him. Will the husband have the courage to reveal his secret? How does that affect the family?
  12. Pregnant girl finds out her baby daddy is an alien. Her child could be humanity’s savior or destroyer.
  13. Some more Shakespeare with a twist: What about King Lear in a Sci-Fi version? Three half human, half dragon daughters battle over their kingdom in the wake of their father’s “terminal illness”. In fact, their father is playing sick to see who should have the crown and who really loves him.

 

I hope these story ideas get some of your creative juices flowing. Once you have the idea you like, read my blog “Making Your Ideas into a Novel” for further help on writing your story.

Tell me what you think about the ideas or add some ideas of your own in the comment section below.

#getinspired

#keepwriting

#storyideas

Foreshadowing: Why Using It is So Important?

grilling-1081675_1920One great creative trick in writing is the use of foreshadowing. If you were going to a barbeque, think of foreshadowing as the savory, charcoal smell that hits you as you walk towards the grill. It’s faint at first. Then it becomes stronger, the closer you get to the grill. Foreshadowing is a tiny hint of what is to come.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there. Foreshadowing in a story should change shape for the reader like the delicious fragrance of a grill that morphs into the smoke it comes from. We are intrigued. We have to know what this smoke and scent will reveal. Like in your story, the foreshadowing should lure your audience in without completely giving them too much information.

Save that for when we have reached the grill. So, our eyes can be greeted with the glorious sight of semi chard meat and vegetables, making our mouths water for a taste. This is the part of the story that reveals the special catalyst to ignite certain actions in the story.

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Like slipping on a banana peel. We know a fall is coming.

 

For example, if your hero/heroine needs to battle a supervillain, they will need a special skill to defeat them. You cannot have your readers learn during the fight that the hero, which they have been reading about for 100 odd pages, all of a sudden has a magic power to fly or burn things with his/her mind.

Writers must set the stage and develop a fictitious world that their readers slowly trust is believable. You will lose your audience by adding random things that have not been hinted at, earlier. Giving little bits of characterization and backstory can lead your readers into believing what is happening to the characters could be possible.

In other words, instead of having the main character pull out some random power to defeat the bad guy, the story should have something happen previously to revealing their full power. Maybe, the character waking up on top of the bookshelf. He/She thinking how they had got there. Maybe he/she got really angry and a trash can near them went into flames. Whatever! Things need to happen in the story previously to the big reveal.

The same goes for non-fantasy genres. Here, you can use foreshadowing to hint at important conflicts to come. Say a conflict in the romance story has the hero and heroine stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. The story can have hints of the hero noting that he keeps forgetting to buy a spare tire. Or the narrator reveals the tires are worn, or the heroine says an offhanded comment about being stuck some place with the hero would be a nightmare. Another way is to describe the texture of the road and its contact with the iffy tire. Set up that something may happen soon to that wheel.

Or maybe you have a detective team that can’t stand one another. The writer should create a scene or moment where the two show a slight change of attitude towards each other. That way at the end of the story the friendship they have formed after solving the case is believable. Also, if one should happen to died or be injured during the pursuit of the criminal, any remorse the character has for their partners will resound with your audience. We will trust they actually cared about each other.

Here are some great places with examples of how to create foreshadowing in your work:

https://www.nownovel.com/blog/8-laws-foreshadowing/

http://trulovestories.com/news/foreshadowing-a-key-mystery-writing-tool/

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/foreshadowing-and-misdirection-use-them-together-to-empower-your-fiction/

https://writerswrite.co.za/7-awesome-foreshadowing-tips-for-fiction-writers/

 

pool_of_foreshadowing_by_shaggadelic-d4bvnr1Do not let down your audience. Set up the conflicts, special powers, and/or relationships with the creative style of foreshadowing.

Share your ideas or questions about foreshadowing in the comments section below.

 

Writing Tip Thursday!
#getinspired
#keepwriting

Why Supporting Other Writers´ Novels Can Be Extremely Useful

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One big aspect of improving your writing craft is by reading other authors´ works. Preferably, the genres you write about, or at least are interested in.

Seeing your craft through the eyes of others helps develop your own skills. Maybe, you have trouble with characterization or dialogue. Reading the examples from fellow successful authors can guide you to turn your words into a perfect rhythm of writing.

Take a further step and review what you’ve read by them. Authors appreciate all types of feedback, good and bad. Comments about their work help authors think of ways to improve their own style.

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Based on your review, readers may try reading that particular book. Leading them to another novelist could prompt readers towards you. If readers share your opinion of that book, they will think your books will be just as entertaining as the other writer´s. The company you keep scenario, right? Also, you never know. An appreciative fellow writer may write a review for you. Let the back rubbing begin!

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Help your fellow community by reading different authors’ stories, sharing your thoughts, and recommending writers to others

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Now on to my review:

Click image to buy book.

 

M. Malone and Nana Malone have done it again in Deep (The Deep Duet Book 1). Rafael DeMarco is trying to get his life on a normal course as he is reintroduced into his little sister’s life and family. He tries hard to shake the demons of his past but a missing jewel keeps him under the radar of his old government employment. The target on his back grows bigger when he comes in contact with Diana Vandergraff. Diana is a woman focus in avenging her father, who happened to have been murdered by Rafe. Pretending to be a damsel in distress, Diana gets Rafe to play right into her hands. However, with all Diana’s scheming, she is starting to fall deep into the role Rafe believes her to be. And Rafe is beginning to not understand life without her in it. Leaving the reader to see that maybe both have gone in too deep.

The thing I enjoyed most was the inner monologues the characters had with their conscious and sometimes their libido. These lines had me cracking up, such as:

“So not the right time to realize she was cute and smelled amazing. Focus, man.”

Or

“How evil can he be? He stopped to help a total stranger . She shut that shit right down . That was her traitor of a vagina talking.”

I loved how real it made the characters. They are similar to thoughts I’ve had or shared with my girls. I was pleasantly surprised by how this bonded me to the main characters while was a big catalyst to motivate my reading.

I also really enjoyed the steamy love scene. They were hot like fire! Ohhh child! They were something else. I still waving the fans of those flames.

There isn’t much I can say that was bad about this novel. If I had to point out a flaw, it would be Rafe’s constant presence in the apartment. Yeah, at times he did leave but for short periods at a time. Didn’t he have a security job to do? Also, for a dangerous man, I felt there should have been more scenes of tension to show how dangerous he could be. A little more showing, then telling in this part of his character.

Either way, I would recommend this book to romance readers who love a dangerous man with talented hands and holds a soft spot for saving women from trouble (whether it be real or imaginary).

Turning Your Story Ideas into a Novel

abstract writing

Now you have a story idea. Your excitement grows while you wait for the computer to load the word document, where you will type your new story. The white page pops up and it is as blank as your mind. You have an idea but you don’t have a clue on how to develop it into a story. 

This can be very demotivating and a waste of time. Luckily, I have a way around this mental obstacle. When I worked as an English teacher in Northern California, one of my favorite units was creative writing. I would break the writing process up into weeks to give students time to develop a short story. The first week the class conducted various brainstorming techniques to get their story idea. The following week was dedicated to structuring that idea. A technique I am going to share with you. 

Welcome to the How. Whether you are a pantser that writes where the inspiration takes you, or a plotter with organized structures, the most successful way to completing a novel is having an outline. Nooooooooo!!!! 

boy yelling

Calm down. It doesn’t have to be that serious or that difficult. You don’t even have to stick to it if you don’t want to. Think of your story outline as a road map to destination: novel completion. And like most road trips you can take detours, or alternative routes.  

An outline won´t stop you from discovering hidden roadways. This fun experience, that the secret inner pantser in me loves, can heighten your experience of the trip while successfully getting you to where you need to be. All with the help of having an outline to help steady you back on your course. 

I will discuss the two ways to go about making an outline for the pantser and the plotters. Feel free to omit steps in the plotter if you want a less constricted plan. Either method should ensure a finished novel. The length of time to completed it will entirely depend on you discipline of finding time to write it. 

Finding the Plot 

First, I should point out the plot. Every story has a simple plot line to follow. You need these points to make a strong story. You can’t just have your characters hanging out at a coffee shop talking. Actions and dramas must happen for the reader to want to read on. 

Let’s breakdown the plot structure in this chart. (I love visuals!) 

plot

Okay, so that is the foundation of any story. The creative writing tricks of foreshadowing, characterization, rich description, theme, irony, etc are weaved throughout this structure. In another blog, I will address these techniques. 

Now let’s look at the different approaches to creating an outline. 

The Method  

You notice that the main theme in a plot is a problem and its possible solutions. In order to make problems, the writer and reader must know a little about the character. 

Step 1: Write out a character sketches. 

  • This can be of your protagonist and your antagonist. Or if it is a romance, the two people who are to fall in love. 
  • Keep it simple. Below is a sketch to use.  
  • Name: 
  • Profession: 
  • Hometown: 
  • Current Location: 
  • Inner desire: (Motivates character to continue through obstacles/solve problem in story) 
  • Outer desire: (Motivates character to continue through obstacles/solve problem in story) 
  • Physical Characteristics: 
  • Likes and dislikes: 

****For plotters: You can modify it to add more. Write quick notes about each one. Include possible information: the character’s family history, past lovers and love failures, ambitions, list of favorites from food to color, their go to outfit (=clothes they normally wear), free time activities, thoughts when first met antagonist and/or love interest, etc.  

Also, researching things like name meanings, characters likes and the setting can help you get a more in-depth understanding of your characters’ world, which will come in handy when you are writing. 

Either way you need to know what to write about your character. Plus, you can always go back and add more during the writing process. This is just to get the ball rolling. 

 

people-talking-441462_640

Step 2: Identifying the problem 

What is the main conflict in your novel? What will bring your narrative to life? 

The classic conflicts in the majority of successful stories are: 

  • Character vs. Character 
  • Character vs. Nature 
  • Character vs. Self 
  • Character vs. Supernatural 
  • Character vs. Technology (Ex:) 
  • Character vs. Society (Ex: Animal Farm) 

Both pantsers and plotters should write out the main problem then spider graph the possible solutions. Next, write the possible problems created from those solutions. Here, you have constructed a web of ideas to fall back to when you are stuck. Obviously, the plotters´ web will be far more detailed than pantser. 

This is a good place to do some research about the topics in your story. It may help you come up with more problems and solutions. 

Step 3: Make a Loose Outline 

Following the procession of events set in the basic plot, write quick notes on what scene/actions should take place during each plot point. 

I’ll use the story of Cinderella for an example: 

  • Incident:  
    • Cinderella, sweetie who has evil stepsisters and step mother. Set in a land far away at her house. Conflict/Problem: not allowed to go to ball where prince will choose a wife 
  • Rising action:  
    • godmother allows her to go to ball but must be back by midnight. Dances with prince and falls in love 
  • Climax:  
    • midnight Cinderella must leave before she turns back. Prince doesn’t know who she is or how to find her but she leaves a glass slipper.  
      • (Here the original conflict is solved but with an added complication: Cinderella got to go to the ball but the prince can´t find the bride he has chosen. Now, it´s the prince´s problem, not Cinderella. Her conflict was resolved. In the falling action, we see the aftermath of her resolved conflict.) 
  • Falling Action:  
    • Prince has all the females in the land try on the shoe. Stepmother breaks shoe. 
  • Resolution:  
    • Cinderella has the spare shoe. Marries prince. 

This can be as detailed as you would like, pantsers. Plotters will probably write over 2,000 words in this section alone. Take the day to do this. Come back to it until you have a loose guide. 

****For plotters: Let the plot line you have created marinate for a day or two. Later, go back and add more details such as, how the character gets to one plot point to the other; what other characters come involve at those particular parts of the story; connect the path of conflicts arising; etc. 

After a week or less, you should have a strong direction of where your story is going. 

Step 4: Finally, the Hardcore Outline! 

Pantser this is where you will probably leave us. The next step is a method for plotters. But everyone is welcome to try it. 

For each plot point, write notes on a scene that would express the ideas in that point. I’m a fan of the less detail the better but I like to fall back on a general idea. Again, this is up to your discretion.  

Be sure the scenes are in the order you would like the story to go. It is okay if you decide later to switch out scenes or delete/add scenes. This is only guidelines to get you to complete a writing piece. 

now what

What Now? 

Well, write. 

It should take up to a week or more to complete this process of planning. I like to do it over about 5 days then use the weekend for the novel to settle in my head before I start writing.  

Don’t expect a masterpiece. The important part is to get the words down. If you notice that your flow is constantly being interrupted by research, or lack of how to describe something, just highlight a note to yourself to go back in the editing process and fix it. Continue to write without minimal details holding you back. The editing process will smooth out all those bumps later. 

 

Now you are equipped with a story idea and how to make it into a novel. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. 

Share and/or write a comment below. 

#keepwriting 

#writinganovel 

#guidetocompletinganovel 

 

Story Ideas: What to Write. 7 Ways to Find the Inspiration to Tell a Story

 

So, you want to write, huh? You’ve just finished reading a long line of disappointing books that you came away with thinking: “I could do better”. Or maybe, you’ve came across some old stories you had written in a creative writing course. Or you have always been a natural born storyteller, and now you want to make it into a physical form. Regardless of the reason, you want to write. But what? And How?

 The How can come later. The Why is not important. Let´s try to get to the what.

Every story is sparked by an idea that has had time to grow and nurture with the help of talent and patience.

Do not be fooled into thinking that the idea you have will be the greatest one ever. “No need to twerk this one. It´s golden!!!” Naw, boo. Even Danielle Steel had to work out her inspirations to make a bestselling novel.

Also, don’t think that every story pitch you create is terrible. You know how many people thought Star Wars was a piece of fluff!!! I bet those losers from the 70’s are still kicking their own butts for passing up that gold mine.

However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Again, let us start whit the what. What to write. How to get that spark. Below is a list of seven ideas to inspire that story to come out you.

picture collage1. A Picture 

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. You can make that thousand jump to 50,000 words with the right idea. Flip through your favorite magazine or google pictures online. Jot down some story that could have or will be.

optical illusion

2. Optical Illusions 

For the sci fi, paranormal or mysterious writer in you, these freaky images mess with the eyes as well as your head. Check out https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-optical-illusions/   or https://www.pinterest.es/patrichsymon/optical-illusion-street-art/  for pursuing the internet gallery of the weird. With hidden images slowly revealing themselves, fun and interesting stories can come to you at any moment.

 

3. Music 

It’s not just for singing and dancing to. Songs are their own short stories which are usually about other people’s similar experiences. This connects us to the voice singing their shared joys and pain.

music

You can’t tell me that when Angie Stone is singing “So Pissed Off”, you are not thinking about that no good scrub you use to date. Or when you are head bobbing to “Fake Love” by Drake, you know that frenemy or fake friend at work is in the back of your head.

Either way, music brings out your personal stories that you can use to create an alternative version. So, turn on that radio or Spotify.  Go thru your playlist and let the music take your imagination higher.

 

4. Fairy tales (or older stories) 

As a child, I was read to every night before I went to sleep. My imagination swirled around the princesses, care bears, strawberry shortcake and other mythical creatures. My dreams reflected their bubbly universes. A tradition that I now share with my own kids.

Take one of your favorites and turn the story around. Change the time or tell  it from another characters perspective. You could give it a prequel or another chapter after happily ever after. Or how about changing the country or switching roles around? Whatever it’s your story.

 

5. “What if” Scenarios  

Ladies we always ask our love interest these type of questions: What would you do if I was in a coma? If a mountain lion attacked me during a nature walk? If a millionaire asked me for one night? And on and on.

Turn those what ifs to your creative advantage. What if your body lays in a coma while your spirit roams around watching life pass you by? What would you see? Who would you visit? How would your spouse or lover or family react?

 

man on a bench6. People Watching 

The isolationist movement of only having personal contact with our phones has made this simple and entertaining activity obsolete. There are benches in parks and along sidewalks that were made for people to sit on and watch their community go by. Some people might have said a hello and started a conversation with a neighbor or citizen that had passed by. Imagine, eye contact!

Quiet intimate moments where no one pays attention to other people. You can learn a lot about characterization by watching people. How they show emotions through physical gestures and facial responses rather than words can be raw material to help shaping future characters. Observe the way they interact with other people or other objects other than a phone. It is rare but it does happen!

Then, after some time, you may see your story unfold in front of you.

7. Fan Fiction 

Fan fiction has been growing for the past decade. Writers take their favorite characters and give them extra stories and backgrounds not used in their original storylines. Think of a character that you wish had more thinks happening to him/her.

Rewrite them in other stories. Have them battle it out or solve a mystery with characters in other stories that you would enjoy reading about.  Look at Marvel and DC comics. They do it all the time. How else would we find out what happened when Batman fought Spiderman?

Try one, or all of these, creative writing methods. Jot down some notes in a small notebook. I always have my notepad next to my bed for those story moments. I also use a writing app (JotterPad) in my phone when I’m out in the world.

It may take a few days, a few months, or longer for a story to form. No matter, keep with it! No one is going to write the tale you want until you do. Don’t give up on your ideas!

Then later, start thinking up a problem(s) and a solution(s). How would it work? Soon that idea will blossom into a story. That is when we get to the how.

***Click here to read how to shape those ideas into a story.