Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Realism and writing

 Is there such a thing as too much realism in fiction writing?

This morning I happened to glance over at my husband’s soap sitting in front of the shampoo bottle (too long to explain why we each have our own soaps, suffice it to say we do). The shampoo, one from the Aussie family, is in a deep purple bottle with a sky blue swath across the front. Steven’s soap of the moment is the exact same shade of blue. The two complement each other beautifully. A rare moment of color-matching in the shower.

Yet if I were to put that into a story, readers would slam the book shut (or close the file on their ereader) saying, “No one color-coordinates their shampoo and soap. That’s just stupid.”

I’ll leave the judgment aside, but the sentiment is honest. We’ve all read books that explain every little detail to the point where the story is bogged down and the characters forgotten. Yet, isn’t that realism?

I would argue no. Think about your daily life. How much detail do you really notice? I don’t know about anyone else, but the cobwebs have to be pretty thick before I even realize they’re hanging from the corners. I can drive past the same house every day for three months before I realize it’s undergone a paint job.

So how much description do you really need to provide that sense of realism in your stories?

It all goes back to character. Sherlock Holmes notices an immense amount of detail, Watson doesn’t. How much would your characters notice?

The companion question to that is, why would they notice? If your character is anal retentive or OCD, they’re going to see the napkin holder’s been moved or that the salt shaker needs filling. Little details like this can very helpfully show character traits.

If, on the other hand, your character spends most of the time with his head somewhere else, his mind wandering or puzzling over a problem, he might not see the stool or would trip over the shoes he (or someone else) kicked off and left in the middle of the room. Again, a way to use detail to show character.

What does the matching shampoo bottle and soap say about my husband? I’d like to say its his painter’s eye coming to bear in small but pretty ways, but I know its an accident. Something that just happened. Are both legitimate character motivations? Absolutely. And if I were to include such a small detail in a story, it would be clear as to which motivation it was.


Go back through your current work in progress and look for those telling details. Examine the ones you’ve included: what are you telling your readers about your characters by including it? If it’s there primarily to set the scene, again, is it an important detail? One that will come into play later on?

I ask that last question because of a question I got one time during a table read of the first three pages of my (still unpublished) fantasy novel. Vivian Van Velde, a young adult fantasy author, was at my table and made the comment about the flower my protagonist stopped to examine. She said (and I paraphrase), “It must be important later on, for him to have taken the time to notice that particular flower.”

I just smiled and thanked her for her observation. In my head I’m thinking, “Drat. It’s just a flower. It has no significance whatsoever. I’d better re-write that!”

So be careful with reality. Over-describing it can lead the reader into false paths. A useful tool if you’re writing a mystery, but not so much if you want them to focus on your characters’ actions.

Rule of thumb: Give only the details that are important to the people who populate your books. If it’s something they’d notice or that would be important to them, include it. If it’s important to the plot or to understanding the world you’ve created, keep it.

Otherwise, think hard before allowing it to stand.

Enjoy writing!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Writing workshops starting up again

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I've been doing a series of writing workshops for several years now. They're published every Tuesday at 6:00 am Eastern (except when I forget!). I've had several guest authors this past year who've been gracious enough to lend their expertise as well.

You will also know that this month has been a bit of a mess for me. My parents have moved from their long-time home into a senior citizen apartment building and getting them from point A to point B has been a stress of enormous weight. My daughter (and I) auditioned for the Eric Whitacre/Disneyland World of Color collaboration and we both got in (use the link to see the official video). So of course, we had to go see it! She had her picture taken with Thor while we were there...I, of course, had my picture taken with Pluto. :)

My husband's family was going away for the holidays, so we had Christmas with them early, which meant shopping and wrapping for that side of the family had to be done ten days earlier than usual. My husband and I give an open house Christmas party every year (this was the 30th one), and that takes two days prep time and a day after of recuperation. This year we had 50 people attend, if you count our cat.

And then, there was Christmas itself, singing at Midnight Mass, enjoying a quiet day at home with our kids. It was a wonderful day. Boxing Day (not celebrated here in the US) found me ensconced on the couch all day long with book in hand (Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings. It's good. And it's taking me more than a day to read!).

So while I had a wonderful December, I didn't really get much writing done, either for the blog, the writing workshops or on a new story. That changes today. I've already written Tuesday's writing workshop, I'm writing this post now and will very shortly begin a brand-new Mystic Shade story. It feels good to be back at the keyboard!

One last thing: through the end of the month, the proceeds for Remembered Love will be donated to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy in the name of Tania and AJ. Vercher. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, please do so. So far we've raised about $250 for this worthy cause. You can read the story here if you don't know what this is about.

Play safe!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Been quiet of late...

The holidays are always special to me and to my family. This year has been difficult for several reasons, chief among them, my parents' move from an established home to an apartment. They lost nearly 1500 square feet and tons more in storage space. That means paring down, handing down, giving away...and many, many moments of anguish as the decision is made for each piece. Who gets it? Who wants it? Is it worth anything? Does it have any use to anyone? Has it become junk?

As of last Friday, the decisions are made, the "old" house formally sold and a new life begun amid unpacked boxes, misplaced papers and missing silverware (which was, thankfully, found!). Christmas decorations are as buried as the silverware was and my very tired parents declared, "No Christmas this year. We just don't have the energy."

But when it comes to Christmas morning, I'm still a child. I'm often the first one up, still (although both my 20-something children woke my husband and I up at 6:00 am last year with the plea, "Please? Maybe Santa came!" And I love it!).

Because of my total enjoyment of the season of giving, today my husband and I took a (very) small pre-decorated (by me) artificial Christmas tree up to them. My mother's eyes lit right up at the thought of having a tree, even a fake white one with red ribbons and silver garland. She's German and, if they hadn't had one, this would have been the first time in 79 years that the holiday would go unremarked. She still tells the stories of going to bed on Christmas Eve and waking in the morning to a fully-decorated tree with the presents scattered under it. Santa Claus brought it all.

(Btw, my dad was appeased when I told him the tree was a loaner. I was coming back in a week to take it back home and put it in the box. He almost hugged me that he didn't have to find a place to store it.).

So I haven't been writing, I haven't been promoting, I haven't done much but spend time with my family. And I wish all of you the same: time with friends and family. Give them hugs, listen to their stories (again!), share a meal or a telephone call. Tell them you love them with your words and your actions and may peace be yours.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 Days of Christmas (Bondage) now available!

This is what you've been waiting for! Well, those of you who waited to purchase all the Christmas Bondage stories in one collection. You'll also save nearly $2 compared to purchasing each story separately.

12 Days of Christmas (Bondage) is now available in all Amazon stores as well as through Smashwords for every ereader format. Use the links below to purchase or click on the picture or title above to go to the page with all the stories listed individually.

Once you've read the stories, please go back and add a review, either for the entire collection or for individual stories. Let's get this puppy to climb those charts!

Play safe...and may your holidays be happy ones!


                    MX siteAU site

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Days; The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve hours of torture...

Beverly Hills, 2025. The presents are bought. What’s left but to enjoy them?

WoooHooo! The wonderful conclusion to the 12 Days of Christmas Bondage stories. Settle in and have some fun reading the last story, it's free at Smashwords.

Play safe,

Monday, December 09, 2013

12 Days; The Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven toys to play with...

New York, 2000. He’d given her all the toys in the toybox. Time to buy some new ones!

The anticipation builds! Eleven new toys? Oh, the things they can do!

This story is available at both the Kindle and the Smashwords stores.

Play safe,

Sunday, December 08, 2013

12 Days; The Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten luscious lashes...

New York, 1975. No, those aren’t eyelashes he gives her!

No, not eyelashes at all, but a much sexier set of lashes. Mmmm!

This one is free and available for download at Smashwords.

Play safe!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

12 Days; The Ninth Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine wax candles...

New York, 1950. More toys handed down, but BJ wants something special for his wife this year – and wax might just deliver....

Don't you just wish someone would give you these gifts? Each day they only get better...

Available at the Kindle and Smashwords stores!

Play safe,

Friday, December 06, 2013

12 Days; The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight wooden clothespins...

Rochester, 1925. The jazz age is in full swing...so why wouldn’t they have a little fun? Even if the wedding isn’t until tomorrow...

A freebie!
And you gotta love clothespins...they have so many uses!

Available at Smashwords. :)

Play safe,

Thursday, December 05, 2013

12 Days; The Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven different dildos...

New York, 1900. It’s an understatement to say Robert’s parents do not approve of his choice of a bride. With any luck, his Christmas present to her will make up for the trouble they’ve caused...

Funny how some themes are timeless. Parents' disapproval of one's choice for a spouse is one of them. This short story is available at both the Kindle and the Smashwords stores!

Play safe,

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

12 Days; The Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth  day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six yards of rope…

New York, 1875. The presents have been handed down and these to make some time to play with them. Ah, the joys of being tied and taken...

We're halfway there! All together, these twelve short stories make up a great overview of bondage through the ages. Remember, even numbered stories are free at the Smashwords store!

Play safe, 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Another NaNoWriMo bites the dust...

How did you do? Did you hit your target?

I'm afraid I got so caught up in the business side of writing this month with the 12 Days series, that I didn't get much new written. I edited, I formatted, I blogged, I did all sorts of things connected with writing, but I didn't actually write much in the way of new material on a story. Lots of starts, though (which I'll talk about in a future post).

For today though, if you wrote every day, no matter if you hit your target or not, you deserve congratulations because that's what makes you a real writer. Real writers write. Its their job. The creation of stories is what they do. They make up whole worlds out of nothing more than their imagination. And then they write them down.

Good writers, however, don't stop there. Once its down on paper (or a computer screen), then they finesse it. Their wordsmithing skills come to bear and they turn that bare story into a work of art.

You know.


For some, this is the "work" of writing. It's the attention to details (is the hero's hair color the same throughout? Did I put the part of her hair on the right or left side? What color are the walls of the hobbit hole?). It's more than just checking for grammar (although that part is important, too). It's looking at word flow, transitions, story and character arcs. And yes, sometimes it means re-writing entire scenes to make them tighter/longer/sharper/better.

So your work is not done, even if you finished your story. Set it aside this week. Congratulate yourself and remind yourself that you have friends and family who care about you. Let the world of your NaNoWriMo novel slip away and enter RL as we say in Second Life (RL =Real Life).

Next week we'll start that editing process with a fresh and rested mind. In the meantime, go read a book (Like 12 Days!).


12 Days; The Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…five locks of gold

New York, 1850. Society dictates a calm and gentle demeanor towards women, they’re so excitable, don’t you know? Matthew, however, loves throwing caution to the wind –and discovers his wife does, too!

Remember, the odd numbers are free. Download the format of your choice from the Kindle and Smashwords stores.

Play safe!

Monday, December 02, 2013

12 Days; The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four cuffs of binding…

New York, 1825. Moving an ocean away from home makes Jane homesick. Thankfully, her husband’s present gives her something more pleasant to think about.

Even numbers are $.99, odd one's are free. Only way I could keep the price at $.49 cents each. Okay, 48 and 49 cents. You're saving a few pennies this way. :)

Now available  at Smashwords!

Play safe,

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Fully Owned is #1!!!

Wheee! Big excitement here. While I'm busy promoting the stories of 12 Days of Christmas (Bondage), Fully Owned, Mystic Shade's latest re-release, has climbed to number one bestseller status over at A1AdultEbooks! Let's here it for this hot number, hot in more ways than one!

Play safe,

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three silk scarves…

London, 1800. Someone needs to learn that silence is golden--and her husband knows exactly how to teach her that lesson...

This installment brings us a little closer in time. But remember, women were still considered property and their husbands had the right to help them improve by any means necessary!

Available at the Kindle and Smashwords stores.

Play safe!