Hey, welcome to Season Two, Episode 4 of the Dark Mystic Quill podcast.
I’m sorry that I haven’t been consistent with my podcasts. I’m undergoing dialysis. Preparing for it, doing it, and downtime from it takes up most of my time now.
I’m still finding time to write. My newest work in progress is about a small gang that gets betrayed by an organized crime boss. No magic involved here.
I also read a lot. I tried reading some business books but they were so dry and boring that I quickly gave up. I tried a book called “Once Night Falls” by Roland Merullo. I gave it fifty pages before gave up on that one. I did finally finish a book called “When I Was You” by Minka Kent. It has more plot twists than a corkscrew. I almost tossed it in frustration but I forced myself to finish it. It wasn’t spectacular. I read it in two sittings.
I’m in the middle of reading 365 Tarot Spreads by Sasha Graham, and going through each of the spreads day by day. She wrote a follow up book called 365 Tarot Spells. I’m really working on improving my tarot skills. I’ve been reading tarot for over ten years and there’s always new decks or new spreads to learn. I’ll have a podcast later about some of the spreads I use.
This podcast is about writing two kinds of things, short stories and novels. Not flash fiction—I haven’t mastered that art yet. Let me define some things, first.
A short story is about 5,000 words or less. A novel is ten times that or more. Other than that, there’s not much difference.
A short story can have a subplot, probably no more than that, while a novel can have many sub plots. Short stories are just that, shorter, than novels, but their premise is still the same: to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. There is usually a protagonist or hero, and that protagonist wants something, even if they don’t know what it is immediately. Some one or some thing stops the protagonist. This equals conflict, which is the spine of your story. If you have no conflict, you have no story.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret sauce for writing: conflict. Think about it: when you’re telling someone something that might have happened to you, it’s not, “I got in my car and drove home for dinner.” It’s “I got in my car and there was a bat in it and it was flying around and I couldn’t get it out and I needed to be at home for dinner or my mother was going to throw it out again because I was late.”
See how much more interesting it is when there’s something stopping your protagonist from doing what they want? If they do what they want, it makes for a boring story. Short stories are just that, short. Novels have threads that you hold in your head—or on paper for the more complicated novels—and the threads get tied together at the end. Short stories have one or two threads, or conflicts, while novels could have many. Novels, you have plenty of room for description, prose poetry, establishing setting and character development. Short stories, not so much. Short stories, you get in, tell the story, and get out. Novels, you can meander. But meander with a purpose, or you’ll tick off your readers—as what happened with Once Night Falls in my most recent case.
Remember what’s most important: Conflict. Your character has to wanna, and something has to stop them.
That’s about it for this episode. Next time I’ll get into witchy stuff.
Oh, appearances: I’ll be at Rhode Island ComicCon this year, with a selection of signed books from Paper Angel Press and Water Dragon Publishing. This Saturday, February 15th, I’ll be at the Cumberland public library for their fourth annual Author Expo. In the meantime, check out the wares at paperangelpress.com and waterdragonpublishing.com.
So…you can hit me up on Twitter @warwriter, Facebook at L.A. Jacob or Soultales, or follow me on Goodreads at L.A. Jacob.
Talk to you soon!
Hey, writers and welcome to Season two, Episode 3d of the Dark Mystic Quill podcast.
It’s nine in the morning here, on a rainy Sunday. A good day to crawl back into bed with a few good books on my Kindle. Or a good day to write. I think I’d rather do the former.
I skipped the entire week for NaNoWriMo. Dialysis kicks butt. Just sayin’. So my word count is the roughly the same as last week: 24,000 words. There’s probably no way I’m going to make 50K, and anyway, I’m bored with this project.
I’m itching to try a new novel planning workbook that I purchased, or trying to develop a “beat sheet” from Save the Cat!. I want to start something brand new, but I have no idea what. My life has been eaten up by dialysis and work, with no time or space really for creative endeavors. Heck, I can’t even think about “what ifs” for people I see on the street. I used to do that. Now, there seems to be no inspiration.
A friend suggested I read more fiction, so i tried that. The problem is I just couldn’t get into the books I read. Three urban fantasy books. The first book had a main character I didn’t like (The Paranormalist), the second book had a prologue that I skipped and then the first chapter was a backstory infodump (Nighthawks), and the third book had the typical badass female protagonist that I also didn’t like (Shadow of Doubt). Now, it’s not that I don’t give new authors a try. I have twelve hours of forced reading, but it seems that other authors’ babies are formulaic and boring. I have four more fiction books on my Kindle. Maybe I need to branch out to read—and write—some thing different than Urban Fantasy.
I keep wanting to try my hand at Romance but they all seem the same. Two characters hate each other and then grow to love each other. I’m still reading Save the Cat! to find out about the other “genres” that the authors have developed. I like the “Dude With a Problem” idea but I need to come up with something around that beat sheet.
In the meantime, my story The Band Singer seems to be going nowhere. Next weekend, I will be at a virtual write-in at paperangelpress.com/writein over Thanksgiving weekend. I’m going to probably wrap this book up more quickly than I expected. There’s stuff I need to pad it with first. If I make it to 40K, I’ll be happy.
So, if you want to tweet at me I’m @warwriter and on Facebook at L.A. Jacob. I just got a positive review of my story “Hextron, Inc.” that’s in the anthology Corporate Catharsis. All the stories in that book are really good. I’m not just saying that because I’m shilling the book, but they were really just that good. My favorite, or the one that sticks in my mind, is “Rat Race”.
I will let you know next week how NaNoWriMo ended for me. See you then!
I’ve been slacking. Hear all about it.
This week I discuss plot-driven stories.
Hey, writers and welcome to Season two, Episode 3b of the Dark Mystic Quill podcast. I am your host, L.A. Jacob.
It’s six thirty in the morning here and I’m settling down to write. I just got caught up after taking Tuesday off, so I’m at the 15,000-word mark.
Last week I discussed character-driven stories. This week I’m going to discuss plot-driven stories.
I read a book called Tarot Inspired Life by Jaymi Elford. A link is in the show notes. Last week’s card reading was taken from this book, but I put my spin on it. This week’s card layout is taken directly from the book, which has a chapter on how to use tarot for writing. She’s not paying me for this plug, but I want to give credit where it’s due.
She has a three-card layout for plots. I’ve been using it to develop subplots in my story.
Shuffle the deck thinking about having the cards tell you a story. You will chose three cards: beginning, middle, and end.
I wanted a subplot for Lena’s brother, Isaac. So I drew three cards.
In the beginning was The Moon. There’s a secret here somewhere that gets hidden or swept under the rug.
The middle was the seven of cups, and that’s usually the card of illusion. It’s a perfect continuation of the secret beforehand. Isaac has a secret, and he’s put together a complicated life to hide it.
The end was the King of Pentacles. When the secret is revealed, he’ll be a stronger man for it.
Hopefully that helps you with some story blocks you might have. Today I’ll be in a virtual write-in sponsored by Paper Angel Press. You can join me and some of the other authors and editors from Paper Angel Press, like J Dark, Steven Radecki and Laureen Hudson. The website is paperangelpress.com slash writein, all one word. I’ll be there at nine and five PST today, Sunday, November 10. You can log in and talk to me or other authors and editors. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about publishing, editing, writing or even just to chat. Come join us!
And here’s the end ad. I worked hard on this, so don’t skip it.
It’s office holiday time. You’ve selected someone you hardly know for your Secret Santa. Or you have what we call up here in the Northeast, “A Yankee Swap”, where everyone buys some stupid gift and you pick numbers. Number one picks the first gift, and also has the selection of all the gifts that go after them. the object of the game is to go home with a prize you want. Me, personally, I hate that game, because I’m the one who gets stuck with the non-working flashlight. Believe me, it happened.
Why not buy something that will make them feel better about their corporate lifestyle? That’s right, get them a copy of Corporate Catharsis, available at Paper Angel Press. For a price under your budget, you can bring enlightenment to your boss, humor to your cubie mates, and many “Oh, yeah, I can see that” moments to your coworkers. Check it out at Amazon—yep, you can use your Amazon Prime to get it in a couple of days—or paperangelpress.com.
Don’t forget the write-in. We’ll be lonely without you.
That’ll do it for now, and I hope you have a productive week with NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for an update next week.
I tried to do this without a script and realized I missed a few things. So this is my third attempt at this podcast, with a script in hand and no interruptions. Let’s see if I can do this in one take, shall we?
Hey, Nanowrimoers and welcome to Season two, Episode 3a of the Dark Mystic Quill podcast.. I am your host, L.A. Jacob.
I was up at five this morning and got my word count in by six-thirty. The story I’m writing is about a Latino band singer who is trying to make it into the big time. I don’t plan on publishing this story because I would have appropriated the Latino culture, which I am not a part of, nor am I deeply familiar with it. In short, I don’t want to insult anyone.
When I started, I only had the line, “She’s a band singer.” I had the first line, “Lena didn’t usually answer the phone if she didn’t know the number, but she was bored.” It’s supposed to be a mystery, but it’s moving so slowly right now because I’m stopping to describe everything in detail to get the word count up.
But this podcast is not about what I’m doing, it’s how to help you with what you’re doing.
Because I write character-driven books, I have a habit of throwing in characters to get plot moving. Maybe you do the same. If you do, then I have a magical tarot card layout for you. You won’t find this in my book, “Real Magic For Writers” – you’ll find it only here on the podcast.
First, you need a tarot deck, or even an oracle deck if you don’t have a tarot deck. the difference between an oracle deck and a tarot deck is usually the number of cards, and the oracle deck usually has a theme around it. For example, I have multiple oracle decks that I use to supplement the tarot readings.
Next, you need a character. If you’re like me, you have a name and not much else. I look up names first using the Social Security website for baby names in different states. In this case, I’m looking up names in Puerto Rico.
Shuffle the deck concentrating on your character. Ask the cards, “What should I know about this character?” You will chose four cards.
Deal the first card. This is a “visual” of your character. this could be what your character looks like, or a discerning physical feature. I’ll give you an example I just did this morning.
Jean is the percussionist in the band, and he’s a friend of Luis, the main character’s ex-boyfriend. Jean has suddenly appeared at a club that the main character, Lena, is going to. What is Jean like?
The visual card I chose was the Ace of Pentacles. Someone who is pentacles is usually dark. So I gave him dark hair and dark eyes. then the muse suggested, “Why don’t you make him Dominican?” So now he has darker skin as well.
The second card is the character’s strength. The one I chose here was the Ace of Cups. He’s a loving, caring person with a big heart. That made me wonder, does he like Lena?
The third card you pick is the character’s weakness. In this, I chose The Fool. Jean is a sweet person, but he’s naive. He probably does like Lena, but doesn’t have the courage yet to ask her out.
The last card is the character’s relationship to the main character, and in this case it was the Knight of Cups. Her new lover! That will be toward the end of the book because right now Lena has to deal with work, her ex, probably her family, the band, and someone who’s going to kill her.
Hopefully that helps you with character development. Next week I’ll be in a virtual write-in sponsored by Paper Angel Press. You can join me and some of the other authors and editors from Paper Angel Press, like J Dark, Nancy Wood, Steven Radecki and Laureen Hudson. The website is paperangelpress.com/writein, all one word. I’ll be there on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and afternoon. You can log in and talk to me or other authors and editors. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about publishing, editing, writing or even just to chat. Come join us!
That’ll do it for now, and I hope you have a productive week with NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for an update next week.
After a long hiatus, for which I apologize, I’m back again!
Writing and your health — how one affects the other
My exploration on how your health and impact your writing and writing-related productivity.
My August 7, 2018 interview with Wayne G. Barber of the Authors’ Hour on WNRI in Woonsocket, RI.
November, time for talking to ghosts, writing novels and, oh yeah, walking through Artists’ Alley at night.
Did someone say Black Friday?
History is necessary to have a deeper story.
My interview with Wayne G. Barber of the Authors’ Hour on WNRI in Woonsocket, RI.