Visiting Susan Whitfield today

September 16, 2010 at 5:47 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , )

My next stop on the tour is on Susan Whitfield’s blog – hop on over and have a read.

Tomorrow I’ll have a post up here in the realm and then on the 18th, I’m over on Jemi’s blog looking at making fantasy unique.

Thanks all for the continued support on the tour.

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Guest Post from Carol Kilgore

September 15, 2010 at 5:40 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Note from Cassandra: Thanks Carol for hosting me on your blog today and for your excellent post here. I hope everyone enjoys reading your words of wisdom.

POP GOES THE WEASEL

First of all, I want to thank Cassandra for offering me this opportunity to be a guest on her fantastic blog. I always learn from her posts. Today I’m a virgin – this is my first ever time to write a post for someone else’s blog. It’s a little frightening. So here we go, sink or swim.

“Pop Goes the Weasel” is a song most of us learned before we could string more than two words together – as soon as we could master the crank on the side of the Jack-in-the-Box. We watched Mommy turn it, Daddy, big sister. We knew what was coming.

The clown popped out, and we jumped and squealed. We couldn’t wait for them to push the clown back in and make it jump out. “Again! Again!”

Then it was our turn. We turned it fast, we turned it slow, we mixed it up. Again and again.

When we were two, this was thinking outside the box.

We passed the Terrific Terrible Twos a long time ago. Now most of you reading this are writers.

Today, thinking outside the box means something a little different from Mr. Jack. We still have the familiar set-up, but the outcome is . . . outside the box. Now when we turn the crank, maybe the box explodes. Or the clown is a girly fish dressed in sequins with a pink feather boa around her neck and wearing bright red lipstick. Or we have to put the box together like a puzzle to hear the song. Or we start with the clown outside, turn the crank, and he returns to the box.

The same with our writing. Thinking outside the box applies to every aspect of a novel – character, conflict, dialogue, setting, tone, point of view, plot, theme, and so on.

Instead of your protagonist being a firefighter, maybe he’s a special hot-spot firefighter who gets called out on wildfires. Or maybe he’s a dragon and a rookie in the Dragonopolis Fire Department who always needs to be careful not to start fires of his own when he sneezes or laughs or becomes angry.

Thinking outside the box takes many forms. That’s the beauty. The possibilities are endless.

What’s your favorite way to think outside the box?

~

Carol Kilgore is a Texas writer living in San Antonio. She writes mystery and suspense with a little romance to tingle your tootsies. Her blog, Under the Tiki Hut, is a positive spot for readers and writers to meet, relax, and exchange ideas and dreams.

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Busy Times In the Blogosphere

September 10, 2010 at 5:40 am (Weekly Review) (, , , , , , , , , )

Okay, I really don’t like the word blogosphere, but it is apt for describing the network of writing blogs out there. And these are busy times.

I’ve been busy planning my blog tour but I’m starting to get back out there and find out what other bloggers are up to. Let me know if you have an event coming up. I know a few of you have books about to be released and there are several blog fests I’ve been wanting to check out. Two notable events that are coming up:

Talli Roland is calling for people to help her take on Amazon and she is looking for bloggers willing to help out on December 1st. I think she might be a tad ambitious in aiming for 1000 but if we all get behind her, she might just make it.

Alex J Cavanuagh is calling for people to join the Top Ten TV shows blogfest on the 20th of September. I’m a little busy this month but I am definitely looking forward to reading some of the contributions to this blogfest.

Let’s help Talli and Alex out and let me know if you’ve got something coming up.

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Versatile Blog Award

September 6, 2010 at 5:51 am (Author Info) (, , , , , , , , )

Tessa Quin has kindly passed on the versatile blogger award to me. Thanks so much Tessa.

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

So thanks again Tessa and I have included your link.

Seven things about me:

1. I own at least seven different dictionaries (names, mythological characters, etc).

2. I don’t borrow books from the library because I have a hard time returning great stories.

3. I recently started playing netball again, for the first time in five years.

4. I don’t mind spiders unless they are crawling on me.

5. I am trying to learn to speak Japanese – in all that free time that I don’t have.

6. I still own a hula-hoop from when I was seven.

7. I don’t like eating toast.

Passing this on to:

Everyone who is hosting me in the blog tour: Eric, Geoffrey, Lua, Sonya, Alex Willging, Laura, Alex J Cavanaugh, Mason, Carol, Susan, Jemi, Nancy, Lee, Stephen, Barb, Steven, Rosemary, Little Scribbler, and Hart Johnson.

This is a great list of blogs from some of the most supportive bloggers I’ve met. Thanks all of you and congratulations on the award.

Just a reminder, tomorrow I am going to over on Sonya’s blog for my first interview of the tour.

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Two Visits Done

September 3, 2010 at 5:04 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The blog tour started well with my visit to Eric’s blog. I want to thank Eric once again for his brilliant post and for kicking off the tour. I then dropped in to Geoffrey’s blog for day two. Thanks so much Geoffrey for your excellent post here in the realm.

But there are many days to come in September.

Tomorrow I am visiting Lua Fowles blog where I discuss excuses for not writing, while Lua brings her own brand of wisdom here to the realm.

After that there is a bit of a break before I visit Sonya Clark on the 7th for an interview.

Thanks to everyone who has already started following the tour and I hope to see you on my ‘travels’.

Between now and the 7th, I have received an award that I am going to share.

Before I’m done though, here are the 5 things I’ve learned from planning this blog tour:

1. There are many, many helpful people out there, so when you ask if anyone would mind hosting you, be prepared for an inundation of offers.

2. It helps if you do a blog swap rather than just a visit and that way you don’t have to worry about writing two posts on a given day and it lets the people hosting you have a chance to visit another blog.

3. Make sure you have a bucket load of free time because you will spend twenty times longer writing the posts for the tour than any of your other blogs.

4. The time difference between Australia and America becomes really noticeable when trying to coordinate with people on the other side of the world.

5. Despite the work, this has been really fun and I can’t wait to plan another one next year.

Thanks all and see you around.

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Guest Post from Geoffrey

September 2, 2010 at 5:48 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Blogging Like a Kindergartener — by Geoffrey Cubbage of Misanthropology101

Hello, Cassandra’s readers!

Hello Geoffrey, you say.

Miz Jade is on her second day now of a whirlwind blog tour.  That was not a phrase that actually held much meaning for me when she first used it, but she was kind enough to explain it to me, and it’s sort of been like that since I got started over on Misanthropology101 —  Cassandra left the first comment on my first post, in fact (well ahead of my deadbeat friends), so it’s an especial pleasure to be visiting her blog in turn.

Cassandra invited me to say “something about writing communities and internet presence,” and I promised to give it a shot.  She’s vastly more qualified to speak on the subject than I am, but I’ll try to lay some things out without lapsing into too much navel-gazing (people who really want to gaze at my navel can always visit Monday’s post at Misanthropology101, but I swear I didn’t time it that way deliberately).

Anyway, it all comes back to skills learned in kindergarten, or at least the sort of skills that other people say they learned in kindergarten (I learned that even if a kid was bigger than you a brick was still functionally bigger than him, but I was picking up exactly the opposite of the skills you want for getting along in online writing communities).  Share and share alike, disseminate every interesting piece of information you know to anyone who will listen, don’t show anyone your swimsuit bits — that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.  Unselfconscious spontaneous interaction is what the writing blog/forum scene is all about!

To be sure, there has to be a certain amount of practical content, particularly for blogs.  If you want to connect with other writers, it does help to have “writing” in the blog tags somewhere — I assume that’s how Cassandra found Misanthropology101, back when it was first getting started.  She’s very good about keeping an out for newcomers on the scene (another great kindergarten skill).  But I’ve learned that people are less interested in day after day of nuts-and-bolts technical lessons than they are in “Storytime with Geoffrey” (also true of kindergartners, to keep the metaphor rolling).  I like many of my posts about writing technique, and think them to be generally good advice, but they are not the heavy hitters in terms of comments or pageviews.

That is because blogging — and writing, ideally — is about fun and about interaction.  If people don’t get both of those things, fun and interaction, they aren’t going to come back for a second or third visit.  And there’s certainly a self-serving element to all of this; we want people to have fun because we want them to keep playing with us, i.e., keep reading our blog or referring it to our friends or what have you.

And that’s just fine. There is nothing wrong with wanting your blog to be more known, more visited, more popular, whatever.  The trick is to remember that you want all those things because it gives you more people to have fun with, not because the numbers are inherently valuable.  So by all means tailor your writing for maximum entertainment and engagement, pander shamelessly, post topless pictures of yourself — whatever you think will be enjoyable to share.  But remember that it’s all kind of silly unless the ultimate goal is to meet even more people that you enjoy sharing things with!

One thing that everyone seems to enjoy is lists, so I’ll finish one (and maybe should have started with it, for the short-of-attention-span):

GEOFFREY’S GUIDE TO BLOGGING LIKE A KINDERGARTNER

1.  Say hello to everyone, especially if they say hello to you first.  Introduce new friends to your other friends!

2.  Share all your thoughts!  Unless they are deliberately rude or mean.

3.  The more fun everyone in the group has, the more everyone will want to play again.

4.  No, seriously, the brick is bigger than you.

If you liked this post, tell Cassandra!  Also tell your friends, and drop by Misanthropology101 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for many more absurd thoughts on the writing life.  Cassandra’s guest post is of course featured today, and she is welcome back any time she likes — keep up the good work Miz Jade, and keep up the good reading all the rest of you!

Cheers,

Geoffrey Cubbage

Misanthropology101

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Guest Post with Eric

September 1, 2010 at 5:34 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Note from Cassandra: I’m visiting Eric’s blog today but he has generously agreed to guest post here in the realm. Thanks Eric, it is great to have you here. After you’ve checked out Eric’s post, pop on over to Working My Muse and check out the first post of my blog tour.

First off I’d like to say a huge thank you to Cassandra for having me at Casa ‘del Jade.  Guest blogging here (being the first person, no less) is awesome beyond words.  But since you’re all expecting at least a few words, I guess I better become temporarily brilliant.

When I began to search my brain for a topic, I’ll be honest;  I became a little stressed.  While I do have my own flair, this is a new type of fun and puts blogging on a whole new level.  And fronting for Cassandra is pretty dang cool.  This thought took me down an interesting path however, and I began thinking about my characters.

When we write our stories, it’s expected that our characters deal with change, with difficult situations.  This is part of what helps propel our stories forward and keep the reader interested.  But isn’t it reasonable to have our characters get a little stressed from time to time?  And how do we show that in our writing?  One way we can describe this is through physical effects.  For example, I tend to get cold sores on the inside of my lip when I get too stressed.  If I really get stressed out, upset stomach is an indicator.  I can imagine something similar for my characters.

What about situational descriptions?  If my characters come upon a body, torn apart from some unknown violence, do they just abstract about the nature of death or do they lose a bit of their usual cool demeanor?  Consider the following conversation:

“Oh damn Billy, that guy’s dead.  Lookit how his arm is hangin’ kinda wrong.  And his head is split open like one of those punkins you toss out at Halloweenie.”

“Yep, he ain’t with us no more.  Can’t tell who he was, but them tears along his belly look almost like Freddy Kruger claws.  Weird, huh?  So you wanna go get some pizza?”

Now unless you’re looking for a comedic moment, the reader might be expecting a little more from these two characters stumbling across an obviously mangled body.  Dead bodies usually cause sane people to freak out a little.  Perhaps one of them just crumbles on the floor, wailing in agony while the other one is more interested in investigating what happened to the poor chap.  However you choose to deal with this situation, moments like these are a great opportunity to show characterization.  The only caveat I would add is to avoid clichés or stereotypical responses to stress.  If it fits your character honestly, then cool.  But if it sounds like the same ol’ phrasing everyone uses, you probably want to avoid it.

To sum up, stress doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially when we’re writing a story.  Stress is one of the best moments we can use to bring our characters alive, make them truly real.  Just keep the writing honest, not cliché.  Thank you Cassandra for allowing me to grace your page.  This has been a fun exercise for me.

As for the rest of you, have you stressed your characters out lately?  If not, what are you waiting for?  A stressed-out character is a real character – even if they’d rather be in Cancun sipping a margarita on the beach.

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Prep For the Tour

August 29, 2010 at 10:04 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , )

Hey all,

Turns out planning a blog tour is exciting, exhilarating, and a lot of hard work. The tour kicks off on Wednesday the 1st of September over on Eric’s blog, working my muse, and Eric is going to be visiting the realm so I am definitely looking forward to it.

I’ve been busy, writing guest posts, double checking links, making sure everything is going to plan and knowing that something is probably going to come up anyway. I’ve also been helping out with the 40 hour famine. As always, so much to do and so little time. Writing has definitely been taking a back seat but I’m getting back on top of everything so hopefully I’ll have a few really good writing sessions in the near future.

First week of the blog tour begins with Eric and then on the 2nd I am visiting Geoffrey, followed by Lua on the 4th. Hope to see you all there and please pass the word on.

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Blooming Idea

August 14, 2010 at 5:50 am (Feature) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I want to thank Elisa from Where’s My Pencil for passing on The Blooming of an Idea Award to me.

I’m not really sure what the rules are with this one so I thought I would just mention in passing the idea behind this blog and then pass the award on to some very interesting bloggers.

The idea of Cassandra Jade in the Realm is to share ideas about writing. Not just me sharing my ideas but to have the chance to hear from other writers and readers what they think about writing and to learn from that and to help pass those ideas on to others. I love being part of such a helpful online community and the blogs I visit regularly and the people who visit here regularly are always full of helpful and sometimes surprising information.

Thanks to everyone who contributes the excellent comments to this blog.

Okay, to pass the award along:

Alex Willging over on The Rhapsodist for his continuing look into sci-fi television and books. I always love hearing his thoughts on a range of interesting texts.

Lynn Rush for her positive and upbeat view on the world – and her great taste in movies and movie quotes.

And to Lua Fowles who always has something very interesting to say about words and writing.

And that’s all for today. Thanks again for the award.

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Back on Twitter

August 9, 2010 at 5:18 am (Weekly Review) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Midway through last week my internet was back and so I resumed posting some of my favourite blog reads on Twitter. Here are some of the posts I found this week:

My recommendation for this week:

Elspeth Antonelli – 10 tips for characters: http://elspeth-itsamystery.blogspot.com/2010/08/10-tips-for-non-perfection.html

Other great reads:

And a reminder that the blog tour schedule is up for september. I have to add acouple of late entries to the schedule but otherwise the tour is set.

Have a great week and I look forward to reading your blog posts this week.

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