Tag Archives: The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo

Why I #amblogging

edgar allen poe quoteWriters need to write every day–that is a given. Writing every day takes discipline and dedication. We writers are often told we are undisciplined and lack drive, but nothing could be further from the truth. We simply lack the desire to do what we are told, and have this story that needs to be told.

Sometimes we have nothing to write that will advance our current work in progress. Inspiration has failed us. We have a kajillion ideas about things we could be writing, and things we plan to write…but nothing that sings in regard to the  task at hand.

When that happens, I sit down and look back through what has already been written, and inspiration fires me up again.

Other times, nothing. That is when I blog on the craft of writing. The act of blogging loosens my imagination when it is stuck.

One of the first chores I was given by my first publisher, was to blog regularly, at least once a week. This, he said, would help get my name out there, and give me a regular platform for my opinions.

I had no idea what I would ever blog about, and the idea of just sitting down and rambling on about nothing and then publishing it made me feel a bit faint. I have no issue with rambling on–I am grandma, it’s what I do. But publishing it weekly?

It began, as all love affairs do, somewhat awkwardly. I wrote short, stilted posts that were obviously forced and took days to write. I felt like blogging had taken up a large chunk of real estate in my writing time, and I resented it.

Then one day I didn’t know what to write about. The only thing I was interested in talking about was either books I had read or books I was writing. I found the words flowed easily when I talked about either of those. Thus was born this blog, Life in the Realm of Fantasy. This is where I talk about everything from Don Quixote to serial commas.

Blogging regularly has helped me to write more freely when I am using a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, such as during NaNoWriMo.

I have also made many friends through blogging, people all over the world who I may never meet in person, but who I am fond of, nevertheless.

And blogging is where I develop my seminars on the craft of writing. I find that talking to you about the craft helps me organize my thoughts. And, although I hate to say it, my first publisher was right about blogging. Blogging regularly does get your author name out there and does showcase what you are able to do.

I recommend blogging to anyone who has a craft they are passionate about. You want to talk about that craft, but your spouse’s eyes glaze over when you launch into one of your discussions.

Well, let me tell you, the internet is full of folks who want to talk about that same craft. Take welding–there are hundreds of blogs about welding, some popular, and some just getting started. Who knew welding was such a hot topic? Obsessed people make poor conversationalists, but writing a weekly blog about what you are passionate about gives you that platform to wax poetic about what you love.

If you want to know more about getting your own blog up and running, see my post of April 20, 2014: The Girl with the Tolstoy Tattoo:

  • Keep it down to about 1000 words more or less.
  • Use the spellchecker tool to look for obvious errors.
  • Write in in draft form and don’t publish it right away–come back and read it over again, and make corrections.
  • If you use information found elsewhere, quote it and credit the author
  • Use images that are either public domain, or that you have the right to use
  • Put links to other informative sites in the text

Blogging is fun. It’s where I blow off steam and grow as a writer. Every author should blog regularly–some of my most inspired moments have happened here in this crazy blog.


Filed under Humor, Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Yes, but how do you really feel?

x - y chromosomesI love writing and I love my characters, but they are so stubborn about some things. Of course, many of them have ‘Y’ chromosomes, but still…. It’s frustrating because they don’t want to to talk about how they’re feeling.

Oh, for the love of Tolstoy–don’t they get it? I’m  a woman. I need you people to talk to me. Tell me what’s going on in your imaginary head.

It’s difficult to show the characters’ emotions and thought processes when it’s so much easier to just say he felt, or she was some emotion.  These thoughts and feelings are central to making our characters feel real. But describing them from a distance, as an author must do, may disconnect the reader from that character.

Sometimes, descriptions don’t allow the reader to experience the moment with the character. Instead, the author is telling them how the character feels.What we must ensure is that our readers remain immersed in the narrative, that no ‘speed-bumps’ come along to knock them out of it. Heart Search cover

One of the best at this is Carlie M.A. Cullen, whose urban fantasy series Heart Search  featuring a coven of vampires is gaining in popularity. I think her books are so compelling because of her ability to draw a reader into the character without going over the top. So, how does she do it?

The opening line of chapter one of Heart Search Book 1, Lost reads like this: The sun, a ferocious golden orb, burnt into his skin as Joshua wandered aimlessly through the country park.

She could have just written The sun was hot and Joshua was killing time in a park.

But she didn’t, and the story is better for it–AND she showed you both the scene and Joshua’s mood in that one sentence.

So what can we learn from reading our favorite authors? We can see how they craft their tales, and we can learn those skills. Painters do this all the time, and we paint with words. 480px-Schmalz_galahad

Let’s pretend we’re writing a fantasy novel. We can go over the top, like a painting by Herbert Gustave Schmalz, or we can find a happy medium between too much and too little. There is no need to sink into overly sentimental and exaggerated pathos in order to inject feeling into our work.

Here we have a character who is on the run from a creature of some sort. 1. He was afraid. He was terrified to look back.

Example one tells the reader how the character feels. We might write this in our first draft when we are just trying to get the story out of our heads. An unskilled writer would consider it just fine the way it is, as it expresses his thoughts perfectly.

However, it tells the reader how to feel, and readers really don’t like being told what to do.

2. He wiped the sweat from his brow with a trembling hand, fear from his narrow escape coursing through his veins. Heart pounding, he leaned against the wall, listening for any sounds that shouldn’t be there before chancing a glance around the corner.

Personally, I would read book number two over book number one, because it’s more interesting and makes me want to know more about this character and his problems. We need to use physical symptoms a character might experience combined with their actions, but  we need to describe them in such a way that it is a natural part of the scene.

John slid down the wall, sitting in the mud, his breaths coming in hard, ragged gasps. Something trickled down his cheek, and wiping it, his hand came away with blood.

Another example: Theodor_Hosemann_Weinstube_1858

Lord Deccan’s fist hit the table. “Wine now, you miserable worm–or I’ll cut off your other ear!”

The one-eared innkeeper scuttled to the cellar. He quickly searched the shelves filled with dusty jars of cheap wine, settling at last on a vintage he thought might suffice.

Baldric’s guests normally drank from wooden tankards, but he knew that wouldn’t suit. There was a goblet, one he’d come by in a peculiar way, but it was a fine cup and would do well enough to stave off a tantrum of the lordly variety.

His shoulders hunched in anticipation of trouble, he approached the angry lord’s table. Setting the only goblet before the nobleman, he left the bottle and stepped away, bowing with feigned obeisance. Baldric had  survived  the  war with all but his left ear intact, and intended to remain that way.

Sir Paul McCartney, image from Rolling Stone MagazineWhat we are doing here is exactly like interpreting what our loved one is telling us, when he/she refuses to use their words. Seeing them sitting slouched in the chair, clicker in hand and numbly flipping through channels is a good indication of their mood. So we must picture the scene and describe it .

We must show the emotions as they are reflected by the physical cues our characters give us, but don’t tell them–a difficult trick to master but one we must all do if we want our work to engage the reader.


Filed under blogging, Fantasy, Humor, Publishing, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, WordPress, writer, writing

The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo

extra small caricature of connie  by street artist Stacey DentonYour blog is up. The Template is as well laid out as you could make it. You have your books or relevant social media listed in the sidebar. You have the catchiest blog title on the block. Now all you need to do is start blogging!

1. If you are using WordPress CHOOSE A CATEGORY NOW for your post–do it 1st so that you don’t forget to do it. I published this blog in the categories of Blogging, Self Publishing, Books, Fantasy, Literature, Humor, Publishing, and Writing.  Each blog post may have a different category. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush pile where blogs go to die.

Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now so that you do not forget to tag the post. That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searcher for that subject will find it. For this post I am using ‘Blogging, Writing, Self Publishing, Humor, WordPress, Blogger’.   Also, ‘The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo.”

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If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that are the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog:

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Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

2. Hook me with that catchy blog post title!  Today’s post is called “The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo” — for a multitude of reasons. I have a tattoo (it’s not Tolstoy) but we are all struggling authors, even those of us who blog on the most random subjects. And if you are ever at a writer’s convention, there is no better icebreaker in the autograph line than to offer to show Tad Williams your Tolstoy tattoo. (If you have one, and if you are insane.) (Be sure to add ‘Tad Williams’ to the Tags or Labels for that post.)

3. Put that catchy title in the White box at the top of the page:blogging 3.1

Now there are two paths for you.   You can wing it, keying directly into the Post box as I am doing now, or you can write it on a WORD document and copy and paste it into the body of the post.  I don’t do that often, because word is rife with HINKY FORMATTING that screws up your blog posts for both Blogger and WordPress, and then you have to use the handy “REMOVE FORMATTING” button that is located in the ribbon (tool box) of both Blogger and WordPress:

blogging 3.2

blogging 3.3

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go, but as in everything, it is up to you to click “SAVE DRAFT” and save your work fairly frequently.

Play around with it. Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it, and will be the size you want it to be:

In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on “ADD MEDIA.” This menu will appear:


blogging 4.1

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so Click on “Upload Files.” Select the image you want to post,  then check your alignment, i.e. left, right, or center. Adjust your size options to fit your need for the image in that post (those requirements vary from post to post.) Then click ‘INSERT INTO POST.”

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In Blogger you click on the little Picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger.

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Now your picture of your Tolstoy tattoo is right there, illustrating your hilarious post where you discuss why getting that tattoo while drinking vodka shots at the “Fans of Great Russian  Authors” convention wasn’t as good an idea as it seemed at the time, and that maybe the T-Shirt would have been a better investment.

leo_tolstoy_t_shirt-r207720cff4e14b059c7bba5cdb41c6c9_804gs_512 from Zazzle


All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other  social media you can think of and Voilà! You are a blogger. Do this regularly, and you will build up a following, and you will develop credibility as an author. Your name will be searchable on Google and Bing, and all other search engines.


Filed under Blogger, blogging, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, WordPress, writer, writing