Tuesday, January 19, 2021

3T Writing Tidbit

How do you come up with those ideas??

Have you ever been asked this question?

Have you ever answered it?

I like creating stories, characters, and settings because to me it's like Tetris. Different characters have different shapes (needs/goals/personalities). They fit different ways with their setting, and with each other.

Some shapes don't fit at all. Some snug down so beautifully I know they were meant to be together. Some even fit together with the hole of the exact shape of another character!

But I have to be willing to put a few together wrong to really appreciate when they're right.

Or it's like building blocks. Snap a few together and you get a bridge. Snap others and you get a building. Depending on what kind of theme I want to explore, I'll pick up and discard a dozen, two dozen or more element blocks of character, setting, and motives.

But I have to be willing to discard a wrong block and try another.

The point I'm trying to make is, creativity abounds with wrong paths. 

Creativity isn't like most things in life. It's not building something everyone knows how to build. It's not following a recipe to the letter to get exactly what you expect.

It is, by definition, creativity creates, which means the unexpected. It also means some things won't work out.

At some point in the writing process--either before you start writing, when things aren't going well, or if the ending falls flat--you need to envision the scene you're trying to create. Put people there and work with them; put them through their paces. They might not work out. In fact, the first few probably won't!

But keep trying. Be willing to envision and scene and try different paths. be willing to put together pieces that might not work. They may surprise you! or turn out to be absolutely awful.

It's still creative. And if you keep creating, you can make something that you'll read and be astonished and delighted and proud.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - What Kind of Reader Are You? A Quiz.

 I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published April 20, 2010 for Vivi Andrews's blog

Thanks so much, Vivi, for having me here today!

I love those little “What kind of chocolate monster are you”-style quizzes, and thought it might be fun to try my hand at one.  Keep in mind this is totally subjective and without scientific basis. Though there’s scoring, no bias is implied toward any category.

I tried to find a non-value rating system but the closest I have at the moment is hash marks.  Add up the hashes to find a category.

Note: No bunnies were harmed in the making of this quiz.

1.       When you look for a read, you’re looking for

a.       A good story – 4 hashes

b.       A great story – 3 hashes

c.       A solid story built in nearly-perfect fashion – 2 hashes

d.       A story that excites you personally – 5 hashes

2.       You need to tell everyone when you find what kind of book?

a.       A great book – 2 hashes

b.       A wonderful book – 5 hashes

c.       A POS-awful book – 3 hashes

d.       It doesn’t matter, I need to tell everyone the best of every book – 4 hashes

e.       One or two movers-and-shakers – 1 hash

3.       You read

a.       Everything and anything – 3 hashes

b.       Your favorite autobuy authors and a few new ones if they look good – 5 hashes

4.       You try to

a.       Find the best in what you read – 4 hashes

b.       Find the worst in what you read – 3 hashes

c.       Find structure in what you read – 1 hash

d.       Just read—unless something breaks your suspension of disbelief, then you throw the book   5 hashes

5.       When you find a great new author, you love to

a.       Abstract the story into a few sparkling sentences – 2 hashes

b.       Tell just the right person – 1 hash

c.       Turn all your friend onto her – 3 hashes

d.       You prefer to know your friends’ tastes, and recommend just the right author – 4 hashes

6.       Nothing good was written after

a.       Shakespeare – 1 hash

b.       1940 – 2 hashes

c.       Great new authors are popping up all the time – 5 hashes


Here are my totally unscientific results!

24-29 Reader—You're priceless. Without you there would be no publishing industry.

18-23 Reviewer—You're smart and wise, with the ability to find the best, most exciting things about a book. You pass that along to your readers, helping a story find its audience.

13-17 Critic—You're witty, clever, and primarily an entertainer at heart. The story's important but more important is how you can use it as a tool to entertain.

10-12 Judge—You're looking for a solid story, without the need to impress or excite anyone else. A Plato, measuring every story against the perfect Story Form.

0-9—You're my eighth grade E


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

More tension! We hear it all the time. But how can we do it without resorting to characters simply screaming at each other for no good reason?

Well, goal, motive, conflict. Pick two characters with goals that don't mesh and you have conflict. But here's a little variation that's really nice, if you find a place it's appropriate.

Have people accuse the hero of stuff (usually not true or not true in the way people accuse). But here's the twist: don't have the hero rebut the charges. Have them walk away or stand and take it, making no answer--until by sacrifice or suffering or heroic act they earn the right to say their piece.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

2T Repeat Performance - The Conquering Vampire Hero

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published April 12, 2010 for VampChix

Thanks, Michele, for inviting me to VampChix today!

I love alpha males, heroes that leap off the page.  But I never wanted to write a vampire story.

Vampires scare me. Always have, since I snuck into my older brother’s room and a book cover of Dracula sent me scampering back out. Dark places and things that go bump in the night scare me. Death scares me, having dealt with it too early.

Oh, and blood. I get faint at needles and blood; it doesn’t even have to be my own. Don’t make me tell the story of when my son broke his arm and we took him to the emergency room. It’s embarrassing.

But I write vampire romances. Why?

In her interviews Michele asks five wonderful thought-provoking rapid-fire questions. Three that interest me especially are light/dark, neck/bag, dead/undead. Overwhelmingly the responses are dark, neck, undead.

Michele’s questions gave me the key. Vampires are all about dark. It’s their natural habitat, to the point that daylight is a threat. They’re all about blood, to the point that they consume it.

And vampires are all about death—are in fact about beating it, about going through death and coming out undead on the other side. 

That’s why I write about them, why they fascinate me. Vampires aren’t afraid of the things that scare me. They’re not afraid of blood and death. They’re not afraid of things that go bump in the night—because they are the things that go bump in the night.

Vampires have no fear of dark and blood and death—more, they thrive on them. They’re beyond fear because they’ve conquered it—the ultimate hero material.

What’s your preference? Light/dark? Neck/bag? Dead/undead?

Biting Me Softly Coming April 20 2010!
He’s a candy box of sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. She’s on a diet.
Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert—and lip-smacking gorgeous—Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. And threatening her job.
Visions of pink slips dancing in her head, Liese tries to push Logan away without touching his jutting pecs…or ridged abs. Or petting the Vesuvius in his jeans. He’s hiding something, but it doesn’t seem to matter when his smiles stun her, his kisses crank her to broiling and his bites rocket her to heaven. Fangy bites which, if she weren’t grounded in science, would make her think ampire-Vay.
Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan’s mission is to fortify the Blood Center’s electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He’s ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places—and tastes like his true love.
No matter how often Logan declares his love, Liese can’t bring herself to trust him. But when his archenemy comes after her, not trusting him may cost her life...
Warning: contains explicit vampire sex involving absurdly large male equipment (hey, they’re monsters), unbelievable stamina (just how long can he stay underwater in a hot tub?), hide-your-eyes violence and horrendously bad puns. And, just when you think it can’t get any worse, a computer geekette trying to play Mata Hari.

Read an excerpt at MaryHughesBooks.com.
See the trailer at YouTube!
Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and writer. At various points in her life she has taught Taekwondo, worked in the insurance industry, and studied religion. She is intensely interested in the origins of the universe. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. But she thinks that with all the advances in modern medicine, childbirth should be a lot less messy.
To learn more about Mary Hughes, please visit www.maryhughesbooks.com.
Or visit Mary on Facebook!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Kindle Daily Deal today only

"Your book has been chosen!" Exciting words to any author. But hopefully these words are exciting to readers, too, because this sale's for you.

Biting Me Softly Chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal on Thursday, 12/3.

Get it as a stocking stuffer or treat yourself. At 99¢ at most retailers, you can't go wrong with this ebook.

Logan’s muscular, graceful, and deadly, and his arrival at my Blood Center may put me out of a job. None of that seems to matter when his kisses and bites take me to heaven (bites, which if I weren’t grounded in science, would make me think ampire-Vay).


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

Again taking a sidestep from strict craft into promotion.

Many authors are introverts. They'd have to be, to get energy from such an intensely alone profession. Because we're introverts, we think about things, deeply. And some of us...overthink things.

My stories are my own reaction to vanilla romance and vanilla paranormal romance. I like just a little ghost pepper in my romance, you see. And some people have my same taste.

Some, obviously, don't care for spice in their vanilla romance, and that's okay. Until I started thinking about that, worrying about how the stories would be disappointing for those readers. I started worrying about that when I did my ads and promotions and so pulled back on what made them special. I forgot how much of a kick they are for readers who like a little pepper.

Authors! Don't worry about how your book might disappoint a set of readers. Revel instead in how it excites your readers; how it enhances your readers' lives.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

2T Repeat Performance - Big Heart = Baking a Bigger Pie (chocolate silk?)

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published March 13, 2010 for ARRA

Hello, ARRA! Thanks for inviting me to guest blog today, and huge thanks for Bite My Fire’s nomination, an honor and thrill.

What a lovely blog and website you have! I admit to a special delight in the ARRA logo. The way the Rs combine to make a heart really tickled my fancy…and inspired this blog.

ARRA. Australian Romance Readers Association. Well, I’m a US gal but my hubby has relatives in Australia, and I studied conducting under Geoffrey Simon—can that count for a bit of a connection? I’m certainly a reader of romance. Great swaths of it, Sherrilyn Kenyon, JD Robb, Anne Stuart and now Stephanie Laurens to name a few.

So many romances, so little time! (Ninety award finalists alone, all amazing authors.) And yet we find time, don’t we? Time to read, to water the seeds of love in our hearts, our lives. Despite our busy days and nights, we somehow find time to absorb stories of the sweet joining of two people in heart, body and soul.

ARRA nurtures that love, and not just through reading.

When Maggie notified me that Bite My Fire was a finalist in the Favourite Erotic Romance category, she also mentioned an opportunity to guest blog.  I emailed my interest, thinking that with all those finalists (did I mention there were ninety?) I might get a spot sometime in 2011. Instead Debbie mailed me back that extra blogging spots would be opened up during voting.  That’s plain exceptional.

See, there’s a lot of competition out there. A lot of writers, a lot of great books. As an author it’s easy to feel lost in the sheer volume of spines on the shelf.  Easy to feel you have to scrabble and grab for your little slice of the pie (mmm, lemon meringue).

But ARRA demonstrates the secret of love in action. When faced with feeding the multitude, instead of diminishing the portions, ARRA just baked a bigger pie. (Maybe pecan.)

I have to admit—I still scrabble and have to work hard not to grab. It’s fellow Samhain Publishing author, the awesome Vivi Andrews, who taught me what a big heart is. Just walking among the stars expands me. Makes my pie a little bigger.  (Strawberry-rhubarb. Or maybe chocolate silk after all.)

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for nominating Bite My Fire for Favourite Erotic Romance—for allowing me to walk among your author stars. It is an honor I hold to my heart, which is just a bit bigger today.

Please visit me at Mary Hughes Books!