Tuesday, February 20, 2024

3T Writing Tidbit

One of the struggles that creators in the entertainment industry deal with is -- we want more of that, and make it the same, but different.

I was musing on that today. Most of the creative advice I've been given centers on this seeming absurdity. But there are ways to achieve it.

In music, the easiest and most common way for same-but-different is the old: State your theme. State it again. The third time you state it, go off on a variation. The opening to Beethoven's fifth symphony nails this. Duh-duh-duh-dahhhh. Duh-duh-duh-dahhhh. Duh-duh-duh-dah-duh-duh-duh-dah- and off it goes.

For a story, what you're looking to do is make the story and characters recognizable but stimulating. We love seeing family and friends, but the same stories every time we sit around the dinner table would be boring. Of course, that dividing line between safe, recognizable sameness and unpredictable, stimulating different is a moving target. Not only does it differ by reader (or movie-goer or whatever), it differs in the same reader depending on the day and what's just happened in their lives.

My grandmother taught us about politeness. Offer once, offer twice, offer a third time. If turned down three times, it's really refused. Fairy tales, music, or a grandmother's wisdom, it's a good sum up of the seemingly impossible same, but different. 

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, February 13, 2024

2T Repeat Performance - Whine and wine: Wine! A Midwest author visits California wineries

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

Originally published September 12, 2012 for Coffee and Porn

Whine and wine: Wine! A Midwest author visits California wineries.


Growing up with all things German (white Riesling, both Sp├Ątlese and Auslese), I found a recent tour of California wineries to be a revelation. My usual table wines are simple, crisp and fruity. What you taste at the beginning is generally what you taste all the way through.

California wines are intensely complex. Peppery, buttery, with hints of leather or notes of raspberry and plum. There are overtones and undertones and starts and finishes—and that’s before aeration, which adds even more richness and nuance.

My question is—why? Even a simple LA grocery store Muscatel was a medley of flavors. Why all the complexity?

One big reason surprised me.

The wineries are trying to stand out. They need to differentiate themselves from the French and Italian, German and Portuguese, Australian and Brazilian; they’re competing with a whole world’s worth of well-established, famous wines.

As an author and musician, I understand scrabbling to find your audience. Pushing to be heard as a single voice in a choir of millions is hard. The California wineries helped me better understand why some books sell while similar books languish. It isn’t that they’re necessarily better written. Those bestsellers are new in a way that stands out from the rest. They grab attention by being piquantly different.

So how’s this for complexity? Biting Love—spicy stories with powerful vampires, overtones of action, notes of humor, undertones of sex and a finish of music and love.

Real vampires do musicals.

Biting Oz (Biting Love Book 5)

Gunter Marie “Junior” Stieg is stuck selling sausage for her folks in small-town Meiers Corners. Until one day she’s offered a way out—the chance to play pit orchestra for a musical headed for Broadway: Oz, Wonderful Oz.

But someone is threatening the show’s young star. To save the production, Junior must join forces with the star’s dark, secretive bodyguard, whose sapphire eyes and lyrical Welsh accent thrill her. And whose hard, muscular body sets fire to her passions.

Fierce as a warrior, enigmatic as a druid, Glynn Rhys-Jenkins has searched eight hundred years for a home. Junior’s get-out-of-Dodge attitude burns him, but everything else about her inflames him, from her petite body and sharp mind to what she can do with her hip-length braid.

Then a sensuous, insidious evil threatens not only the show, but the very foundations of Meiers Corners. To fight it, Junior and Glynn must face the truth about themselves—and the true meaning of love and home.

Warning: Cue the music, click your heels together, make a wish and get ready for one steamy vampire romance. Contains biting, multiple climaxes, embarrassing innuendos, ka-click/ka-ching violence, sausage wars and—shudder—pistachio fluff. 

Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and award-winning author. 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.

Visit Mary at http://MaryHughesBooks.com.



Tuesday, January 16, 2024

3T Writing Tidbit

Here's something I've struggled with since re-entering the workforce and having to create How-To documents. What's the different between writing to inform and writing to entertain?

In a nutshell, one is dry and boring. The other is lively and fun! 

Well, maybe that's a little too nutshelly. Here's another look.

Writing to inform is information straight through. As one famous method puts it:

  • Here's what I'm going to tell you.
  • I tell you.
  • Here's what I've just told you.

Writing to entertain, though, is different. At its most basic, it's information with a twist. If we put it in the same format, it would be

  • Here's what I'm going to tell you.
  • Except I can't tell you because ninjas have just entered the room. I fight back and win.
  • But not before they've broken my whiteboard and turned my notes into a flurry of paper snow.

Much more entertaining, yes? The good news is, we can bring some of that into our dry, boring How-Tos. 

I used to think changing toner was a horrid, thankless job. (Picture of worker with a face full of toner and surprised look.) But now I know I have to follow these simple steps. (Outline steps.)

Maybe not appropriate for every audience, but think about ways you can get just a little creative with your business prose.

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 9, 2024

2T Repeat Performance - why I write what I write

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

Originally published August 29, 2012 for Pretty Opinionated

I’m halfway through an amazing virtual book tour for my new release Biting Oz, with the awesome Promotional Book Tours. I’d like to pause for a moment to tell people why I write what I write.

I write romance because I love the attraction leading to a deep relationship. It fascinates and energizes me. I write explicit sex because as a reader I’ve felt too often euphemisms like “core” are thrown in without a lot of thought. Hey, my core is my heart or my soul, not my lady parts. I write action because I enjoy it. I write vampires because I adore strong males and vampires are the ultimate alphas. I write humor because I see the world through glasses set slightly askew.

My goal is to take the reader away for a while. I still hear that old bath oil commercial “Calgon, take me away!” when I say that :) I consider my books to be less an escape and more a safe place. Sure, I work very hard to make the stories fun. But more. There are people who have been badly hurt by life. For them, even the brush of a negative emotion can be like a severe blow. So in the Biting Love stories I craft each emotionally-charged moment like a puff of air. Most people will say, nice breeze, but to me, there’s a difference between light and deliciously delicate.

What else? Well, there’s always a theme but I’m never hammering a message. There are some heart-stopping moments and some squirm-in-your-chair ones too. But by the finish of the book you should wind up feeling good about things, and find something to cheer about at the end.