Sunday, August 29, 2010

Writing Viruses?!

Here's another fun article I found via Notebook in Hand. Does your writing suffer from Yoda Effect? Or maybe Description Overload? Find out by reading Nathan Bransford's exploration of writing diseases over at The Huffington Post. . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love yWriter! Now about my story . . .

I adore yWriter! I love having all my chapers, scenes, notes, character backgrounds and character pictures on one easy program. (Well, relatively easy. I had to play around a little before I figured out what I was doing.)

Since I've installed it, I've been writing up a storm for my new urban fantasy blog--a blog that will feature a series of interconnected short stories, flash fiction, and drabbles. But I have one problem: my first story for said blog may contain an excess of cuteness. (Yes, I've been known to do cute. But this one may be over the top.)

It's a story about a pair of Siamese cats who are too intelligent for their own good. It's hard to write about two smart felines without straying into a cute territory! And a little cuteness is ok--I'd just like to make sure that my readers' blood sugar won't skyrocket.

Sigh. Back to editing . . .

Edit: The blog and the story are up! The story is called Sanctuary; you can find it on my Smokeless Fire blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Goodbye Index Cards, Hello yWriter!

While there's something to be said for neatly organized index cards detailing characters, scenes and chapters, there's even more to be said for having all that information stored on your laptop in one handy program. To that end, I finally installed yWriter, a free word processing program desinged for writers.

So far, I'm impressed! I'm using it for a brand-new series of stories--my urban fantasy sans vampire series, in fact. So at the moment I'm playing around with pictures for the characters and places to put stats. I'll start working on scenes next. If all continues to go well, I'll be saying thank you and goodbye to my index cards.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finding a Title

I found this (rather hilarious) article on choosing a title via a link on Notebook in Hand:


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Give a character a secret . . .

My weekly roleplaying group has been using rules based on the Over the Edge system for our latest game. One of the rules I really like involves character creation: each character needs a secret--a secret that should come back to haunt them as the game plays out.

How is this working out gamewise? Not all our secrets have come to light and, of those that have, not all were earth shattering. But the revealing of one character's secret had an intense impact on the game while the secret of another character turned out to be a clever red herring in the overall plot.

Of course, the writer of a story, as opposed to the dungeon master of a game, has much more control over how integral to the plot the characters' secrets turn out to be. So I think I'm going to add 'secret' to my character sheet. Some characters will have big secrets, some will have small secrets--but a secret of some sort should add some spice to each of them and will open up new plot possibilities for me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Character Sheet

I love filling out character sheets. I write them on big index cards that I keep handy and alphabetized, so I can always go back and check a character's eye color or DOB. The sheet I'm using now includes all the stuff I like to keep track of, plus the long-standing Dungeons & Dragons abilities to give me an idea of my characters' strengths and weaknesses:


Name: [including nicknames]
Actor I would cast in the part: [I love 'casting' my characters.]
Enneagram Type:
Sexual Orientation:
Race: [this can be broad, as in 'human' or 'orc,' or more narrow, as in 'human: Native American.']
Eye Color:
Hair Color:

ABILITIES [Usually range from 1 to 18]



Family Connections:
Education Level:
Alma Mater:
Special Skills:
Languages Spoken:
Secret: See this post.


[Anything not covered above]

This character sheet is working for me at the moment--but I'm sure I'll keep adjusting it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Begone, vamps!

Angel and Spike
I'm putting together a character list for an urban fantasy story. I've decided that no vampires need apply.

Yes, I read and enjoy vampire stories. And I'm a hardcore Buffy fan. But I've never had a real feel for these walking cadavers. Besides, I have issues with the whole blood diet. How un-kosher is that?

I also have a problem with most vampire-human love stories. There's usually quite an age-difference involved. Why would someone who is hundreds of years old want to date someone in their twenties, let alone a teenager? (Sorry, Buffy, but as much as I like you with both Angel and Spike, I can't help but dwell on this question . . .)

Vampire-vampire romances have more potential. (Ahem. Yes, I've been known to read a bit of Angel-Spike fan fiction.) And exploring the motivations behind those who willingly become vampires--that sounds intriguing. But I don't think I could do the characters justice. At heart, I don't want to get inside a vampire's head. In fact, I tried one roleplay as a vampire recently and it was a disaster. When it comes to playing a vamp--please forgive the pun--I suck.

So I'll have to turn away any and all vampire characters who try to force their way into my brain. That shouldn't be hard. After all, I'll be busy negotiating with psychics and shifters and ritualistic magicians . . .

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Rec: Writer's Guide to Character Traits

This book provides profiles of different personality types, such as the Adventurer, the Conformist, the Creator, the Flamboyant and the Manipulator. It also covers stuff like criminal styles and the traits associated with psychological disorders.

Profiles like this can lead to lazy and stereotypical characterization--but only, I think, if the writer in question is lazy. I'm not slavishly following these profiles, but I'm finding them helpful. I've got a character brewing right now who owes a good deal to both the Adventurer and the Manipulator . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lymyaael's Rants on Fantasy Writing

These rants are well worth a look. Lymyaael covers everything from back stories to dragons to teenage runaways to gay stereotpyes to final battles--and why not every fantasy novel has to end with one. Fun, insightful stuff!

(Some of these rants are also listed here. I plan on checking both links periodically.)

I stumbled on these rants via the Notebook in Hand forums; a lovely place for artists of all types. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Throughout All Time

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Contemporary; flash fiction
Warnings: None
Feedback: Welcome!
Summary: One man's wry and grudging observations on the Mourner's Kaddish.

Creative Commons License
Throughout All Time by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


"Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba . . .”

I mouthed the words along with the cantor and the other mourners. Assuming the guy leading services was a real cantor. Probably not; he was more likely a competent congregant. This synagogue was too poor to afford a full time hazzan.

b’alma di v’ra, kir’utei,”

I hadn’t been here in years. I hadn’t even come when my father died. I didn’t sit shiva for him either; I was too angry. My wife was appalled—Eileen’s a nice Catholic girl who understands the power of ritual. But I was adamant. I despised the man while he was alive, so I refused to go through the motions of mourning his death.


I'm unemployed this summer--what better time to focus on my writing? I'll be posting my stories on different sites, depending on whether they're urban fantasy, fantasy or, um, erotic fiction. I write that last genre under a different name. (Yes, I'm blushing! But eventually I'll find the courage to share that name here.)

Meanwhile, I wanted a place to post about my struggles with writing: the way my stomach twists when I can't find the right phrase and the way I cringe when I read my attempts at description. But I want to share my triumphs too, plus some drabbles, flash fiction pieces and short stories that don't fit the genres of my other sites.

I love comments, so please let me know what you think. I can take criticism--although I find it most helpful  when it's polite and constructive. I promise to be polite in return.

Thanks for stopping by--enjoy your stay!