Category Archives: Other Media

Nov 03

Available for Preorder! ‘Child Finder: Revelation’

Finally! It’s less than a month away now. Child Finder: Revelation will publish on December 1, 2011, but it is available now for pre-order via Amazon. It’s currently available in hardcover and paperback, but the eBook should be coming soon.

Get one in time for Christmas! Read More

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Oct 05

Character Names: Be Astute About Them! An Article by Mary Deal

Be Astute About Character Names
Mary Deal

When choosing monikers for your fictional people, plan deliberately.

You wouldn’t put characters in your story with similar names, like Mary Barnes and Marion Burns. Avoid using not only the same letters more than once if it can be helped, but also avoid names that sound the same or which rhyme. An exception may be names for twins.

What follows are the names of characters in my latest thriller, Down to the Needle. Notice, too, that I have included brief descriptions of each character’s personality, which, I’m told, offers clues to the story plot.

ABIGAIL FISHER, Protagonist, heroine – has a lifelong obsession to find her daughter

JOE ARNO, Secondary Protagonist, Abi’s love interest – steady and supportive

Preston Fisher, Abi’s long-missing husband – secretive

Edith Armstrong, owns “The Beacon,” meals for the homeless – charitable

Becky Ann Fisher, Abi’s abducted daughter – artist

Megan Winnaker, Inmate – determined, brave, while facing death

Vance Winnaker, Megan’s father – Aryan

Rae Overland, gang member

Quincy Overland, Rae’s father – Aryan

June, homeless woman – confused

Margaret Griffin (Lady Griff), homecoming queen, Joe’s former obsessive love interest – quite the vamp!

Bertrand Thorndyke, III, Margaret’s husband – stiff, formal

Velma, Police sketch artist

Lindsay, Abigail’s store clerk – supportive, with business savvy

DeWitt, homeless man who protects June – has a sense of right and wrong

Chad Britto, Police Lieutenant – determined to crack the case before retiring

Stan Yates, blind man – egocentric, self-righteous

Hazel Yates, Stan’s sister – limited mentality

Dr. Gilda Sayer, Prison Psychiatrist

Emery Kenton, Megan’s attorney – hidden obsession

Jack Pierce, Fireman Captain

Dara Hines, Aryan girl – wild

Sling, Dara’s boyfriend – pathetic, fearful

Tess Ulrich, witness to Megan’s crime

Officer John Ryde, hospital guard

Lt. Donald Nater, retired, worked Megan’s case

Gary Croner, Arsonist

Twyla, Megan’s former cellmate

If you peruse the list above, note that seldom are the same alphabetical letters used in more than one name, except in the case of family surnames.

I once read a novella where four character’s name began with the letter M; three began with the letter R, and two with a T. Of the entire alphabet, and of the endless names and combinations that could be used, why must our characters seem similar in any aspect unless for a purpose? Our intention in creating likable stories is to give each character a different personality. That is further delineated by using names that look and sound totally different from one another.

Make a list of your characters’ names and their positions in the story. Try to use any letter only once. It may be an eye opener.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 28

Habitual Mistakes? Mary Deal Tells Us All About Them!

Habitual Mistakes
Mary Deal

Any error in writing, no matter how simple, can be jarring to the reader and we need to strive to keep the misspellings from showing up in our work.

Pointing out one of my habitual mistakes may save another person’s writing as well. Often, I find myself making one particular mistake and simply had to find out what was causing it.

I know how to spell. I know how to key and I’m fast at it. However, one same mistake kept showing up in my work. I try to catch them all but see that I miss a few now and then. It’s embarrassing to turn in a manuscript with that kind of error. It’s embarrassing to publish online and have the whole world see it. It’s particularly embarrassing for me since I write about all aspects of writing correctly. What a hoot!

As I became aware of this nemesis of mine, it narrowed down to one particular word habitually showing up in place of another. I studied the way I used the keyboard and then realized the accidental spellings began happening after I bought a new keyboard. Now I was getting somewhere.

I watched my hands as I typed and found what I was doing wrong, I double checked myself and typed sentences over and over with that one word included. Surprise! What I learned was that I probably made this mistake all along because the faster I type one of my fingers doesn’t reach high enough on the keyboard. Instead of typing or my finger falls short and types of.

While the mind does not see these words – of and or – while reading, they are still there and in plain view for anyone keen to editing, whether in actual editing as work or simply editing a story as they read. In my case, my mind did not see the interchange of these words as I edited my own manuscripts, not even when I read them out loud.

As a result, I am left to do a search for both of these words through all the work I produce for public viewing, and that includes my book-length manuscripts as well; at least until I can re-train my keying ability.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 21

Are the Inmates Running Your Asylum? Mary Deal Dishes on ‘Character Take-over’

Character Take-over
Mary Deal

Many writers do not understand exactly what it means when they hear someone speaking of a character taking over a story, or the story writing itself.

Character take-over happens when you are diligently writing along and suddenly you write something you know your character has to say. It just pops out of your head and you write it because you’re inside that character’s head. You’ve already developed your character sketch and know that character like a twin. You expect him or her to say such things but you don’t know how you conjured that surprising dialogue that is so apropos. Wherever it came from, it fit and makes the dialogue or story more exciting. Wow! Now you’re on a high and begin to type faster and faster as the story pours out

You don’t know where those words came from but your character feels more exciting and you have the feeling the words just popped out without you having to think about what to write. You ask, “Where did that come from?” That’s character take-over.

It’s nearly the same when your story begins to write itself.

You’re typing along, maybe even following an outline, when an idea comes into your mind that changes the direction of the story or is something so foreign to your way of thinking – but it is you creating your story and your mind is always searching around for ways to thicken the plot or add suspense – whatever. It happens subconsciously. All of a sudden it’s there. You might even make major changes in your story or chapter because a more appropriate idea hit you like a slap in the face and it fits your plot and your characters better than you had conjured before. This new idea may also open up parts of the story you had or may have trouble getting through.

All of a sudden, with these unexpected changes, you now see your plot being made more exciting. Your characters are more vivid. You type faster and faster. At this point I would suggest you open a new page and make note of what you received and about how it affects your story deeper into it. You do not want to lose this valuable story-livening information.

Character take-over or a story writing itself is YOU. Yes, it’s you having finally accepted your muse and turned the story over to your creative self. You are trusting your own abilities more, giving your creativity free reign. Don’t stop now!

A TIP: Your creativity, your muse, will cause character or story take-over when you have confidence in yourself and simply keep pounding the keys. Let the words pour out uncensored. Your mind has a way of creating the story elements you don’t yet know. That is, you know the structure of a good mystery and you have great characters established. But if you don’t know the details of how the crime will be committed or solved, or who may fall in love with whom, etc., trust your creative self to conjure these scenes by letting your imagination run rampant.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 14

Mary Deal Tells Us About Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts
Mary Deal

For those who have not been to my website, here is one of the articles presented there.

Writing prompts and story ideas can be found in lists all over the Internet. How many times have you searched to find topics that might serve to shake a story out of your muse? A list of words or phrases just might trigger your creativity into action. Then, when you find such a list, you are not enthused by its offerings and you continue to search for more.

Story starters that encourage descriptive writing abound around you. Everything you see day-to-day is writing prompts. If you don’t see life that way, I encourage you to take another look.

Take new interest in the things you take for granted. Let your mind wander from the probable to the improbable. Fantasize about things and events. Give them a new spin.

Here are a few samples of story ideas taken from everyday life that might help you see what’s around you in your world.

Imagine you’re walking down a road. Usually you see rocks and you side step and walk on.

If you’re a fantasy writer…

What would happen if all those rocks lying dormant for eons suddenly came to life? They pop. They explode. Wow! Would they be friendly? Or would they be alien, just waiting for the right moment to change the universe?

Want to write a mystery?

Suppose one of those ordinary rocks had fresh blood on it?

A romance?

You find an envelope caught under a rock along the road. It’s open and money is sticking out. You want to get the money to its rightful owner so you read the note inside. It’s a heartfelt message about….

See where I’m going with this? Writing prompts are everywhere.

In my day to day life in Hawaii, just this morning, I saw or heard the following writing prompts out of my window from where I sit composing this bit of descriptive writing at my desk.

~ The man across the street is trimming branches off a tree with a buzz saw. He stops suddenly and tries to see into the window of the house. (Someone from inside that house may have called to him. But as a mystery writer, I can make a real thriller out of that teeny bit of action.)

~ A kid runs down the street, like he’s real scared. Now I hear a siren coming close.

~ A dog limps across my yard. It has a broken leg, or its favoring an injured leg, and hobbling. A moment later, another dog crosses the yard. Looks as though it’s had one leg amputated.

~ A car passes by on the street. The girl looks like she’s gushing all over her guy, the driver. She’s almost in his lap. They look blissfully happy.

~ I hear a strange intermittent sound and it doesn’t sound like any of the neighbors using a power saw as they repair their houses and structures. The sound is most curious, choppy, like someone hacking something. I can’t get it out of my mind.

~ I hear a loud bang, like a gunshot. It comes from the next group of homes adjacent to this small neighborhood. I hear another.

~ The woman in the house to the left is standing out in her yard. She never just stands there. She’s always on the go. Her husband comes out. They talk. They hug. She cries. He comforts.

The best writing prompts are right around you. However, if you wish only words or phrases to trigger your muse, then here are a few samples.

Buried money and valuables in a box

White powder on the kitchen counter and you don’t bake

Loving a married person, then learning that person is divorcing

A child who leaves alien footprints

An ugly knot growing on your thigh that gives off a pulse

Learning your spouse is a murderer in hiding

A horrific recurring dream that gets closer and closer

Lightning always striking only your house

The neighbors on your left practice swinging with the neighbors on your right

A rock containing clear facial images that seem to pull you in

A grotesque Halloween mask that looks like the guy’s real face

A drop of acid rain

Unidentified creature footprints

This list is just a sampling of possibilities.

When searching for writing prompts, keep in mind that it is said only twenty types of stories exist. All stories have been written. This is true, but every story contains a different setting, unique characters, and unusual occurrences and endings. That is how we’re able to create new plots all the time.

As you seek mental stimulation through prompts, begin by having an idea in which genre you wish to write. Genre is what you need to decide first. Take for example, this prompt:

A car passes by on the street. The girl looks like she’s gushing all over her guy, the driver. She’s almost in his lap. They look blissfully happy.

A romance writer will turn that scene into, perhaps, one of a happy couple of kids. Then life pulls them to opposite ends of the world. They meet again years later, only by chance, depending on the circumstances of the plot, and realize that they still love each other.

A mystery writer could turn writing prompts such as this into a thriller where the girl is gah-gah over the guy, but he’s got other plans. He turns out to be a serial rapist!

A science fiction or fantasy writer would have the guy taking the girl out to a deserted field, she thinks for a bit of petting. Instead, he beams her up to a hovering ship and whatever fate waits.

Know your genre and then, as you read prompts, determine what appeals to the type of story line you wish to create. When a writing prompt rings true to you, it has the potential to enable you to realize an entire plot line in a flash.

Begin to make a list of story starters that you notice. They are innocent gestures and occurrences that you might find in any good novel or short story.

Make a list of anything that strikes your muse’s fancy.

Allow yourself to dwell on story ideas that may come to mind. Loosen your imagination. Do it now. You will need to free your muse to write any story. Begin with your writing prompts.

Any story starters that you discover can also be used as occurrences and highlights in a story already begun. Story starters need not only start a story. Starters can also flesh out story middles and endings.

Writing prompts, story starters, or story ideas, wherever you find them, can trigger descriptive writing if you will loosen the reins of your muse and let your mind wander on things sometimes best left alone. It’s only fiction, after all.

I have used many instances from my life and ancient family history as writing prompts. You might wish to read Grandpappy’s Cows on my website to see how my muse hilariously ran away with it.

Or you may wish to read what my muse made of seeing a boy out in the dead of night with a scissors in Boy at the Crossword.

These two stories are great examples of readily available writing prompts.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

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Sep 07

Writing the Biorhythm Waves by Mary Deal

Writing the Biorhythm Waves
Mary Deal

At times my creativity is hot. Other times…you guessed it, cold. I began to notice a fairly regular cycle of being on and off. Though I’ve never had writer’s block, at first I began to write when the Muse was hot, edit when she was slouching.

At other times when I thought it wise to edit, I found myself creating new prose. I was in a quandary. Someone suggested I watch my biorhythms and see if the writing cycles coincided at all with the three main cycles of biorhythms.

The next time I had a surge of energy that allowed me to be creative and write new prose, I checked my biorhythms. Sure enough. My intelligence line was at the top of the chart. So was my line of emotion. My physical energy line had just crossed the median line on the upswing. All that created such a high.

However, some months later I noticed that I felt particularly quiet and yet the words poured out in two short stories within half an hour. As I said, I felt quiet creatively. So I was surprised to see what poured out of this mind, through my fingertips and became two completely different stories.

Again, I checked my biorhythms only to find that my physical energy line was at the bottom of the lower curve; which was why I felt less energy. Intelligence was on the downslide but still high above the median line, and emotions were also on the downslide but below the median line. That must have been why I felt no energy and yet the words flowed.

Once I began to check my biorhythms regularly, I got the idea that I was trying to dictate when I could and couldn’t write, or when I should or shouldn’t. That was not good.

Certain cycles produce more energy but all are good for me because I write from different moods. Biorhythms in all their variances produce different moods and emotions and not any of these will prevent a person from writing.

The ups and downs of biorhythms have their place as they are being used to teach people to control emotions, temperaments and such. As far as writing, I’m simply happy to recognize the differences in my mental states and then write from that platform. If my moods dictate what I write, so be it. But I don’t have to have all high Biorhythms in order to write. Nor will I write all negative work when my rhythms are in the dumps.

I’ve found several writers who watch their Biorhythms, and much more than I did. I don’t watch anymore because I believe I can tell what’s going on with all three cycles on any given day.

My friends live by them. Some days they feel off, like having lost interest in writing. Other days, they are super-charged. Biorhythms helped them understand. It might be interesting to chart your progress as your cycles vary. It may help you as a writer to learn of peak performance times – whether to write, whether to edit, or why you feel elated or deflated about your writing. Chances are, it’s not about your writing at all. It’s about the fluctuation of your Biorhythms and how they affect creativity.

Note: Biorhythms can be charted in many places on the Net. Your readings will be the same no matter whose chart you use.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Aug 31

How Far Apart Are the Contractions? Oops, Not That Kind

Contractions Anyone?
Mary Deal

During the time I did a lot of editing, I found the same errors in manuscripts – over and over. Of course, mostly all pertained to grammar.

One of the frequent errors that go unnoticed only by the writer is when using contractions.

Look at these sentences:

There’s two people standing over by the fence.

There’s some people missing.

Do you see the error? These sentences are also incorrect without using contractions:

There is two people standing over by the fence.

There is some people missing.

If you read out loud, you will hear what’s wrong.

The word is, a verb, is shortened into a contraction with the word there. That’s absolutely correct. But the word is represents something singular. In the first sentence, two people are plural. Same with some people the second sentence.

When more than one subject is the object of the sentence – two people, or some people – then are must be used, which represents more than one.

The correct sentences are:

There are two people standing over by the fence.

There are some people missing.

Much less favorable, and mostly used in dialogue, is:

There’re two people standing over by the fence.

There’re some people missing.

Pick through this article and see the contractions I’ve used. Then speak the sentences out loud and also read them without any words being contracted. Another exercise is to look for examples in other pieces you may read. See if you can spot the errors.

As usual, there is one exception to all this. The poor grammar is perfectly okay to have your characters use in dialogue if you have set them up to speak that way. They will need to have this type of slangy dialogue throughout the story, unless you plan a huge metamorphosis for that character. Remember to make sure their colloquial dialogue suits their personalities and the parts they play in the story.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.
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Aug 24

Characters ARE Important! Mary Deal Tells Us All About Them

Importance of Characters
Mary Deal

How many great stories do you remember? The plots hold a place in memory, but chances are, you more remember the characters that made the plots come alive. The greatest story will fall flat if lackluster characters people the plot.

When readers read a story and find the characters not performing the way they should in their given situations, it’s because the writer has not developed them to their fullest potential in the action. The writer hasn’t made them true-to-life. How can a reader feel empathy for empty characters? It’s a huge let-down for a story that held enough enticement for the person to buy the book.

Whether the first book you’ve read, or the most recent, when you realize which are your favorites, what do you remember about them? Chances are your mind goes straight to the characters that made the story work for you. Especially with the older stories, you may not remember all the details of the action. You may remember the plot overall, but you will remember the characters that stood out in the action. You’ll probably even remember the way they were costumed.

You have probably already committed to memory some lines of unique dialogue that you’ll never forget. Dialogue comes from the characters. Dialogue can cause a person to remember a story long after the entire story fades from memory. One line of dialogue can renew the feelings we had when we first experienced the action of the story.

What do you feel or re-live when you hear or remember “Here’s looking at you, Kid.” What story do you associate with that line of dialogue? What do you remember about the character who said it?

How about “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Characters and their dialogue can bring back all the feelings and emotions that the story created, without having to remember every scene and bit of action of the plot.

The importance of great characters can’t be stressed enough. To make them memorable, or to help your reader suspend disbelief and feel empathy and care for your characters, you must make them as real or true-to-life as possible. If your characters just don’t work in a scene or in the entire story, they will be interpreted as contrived.

The writer does not make a memorable character by describing him or her to the nth degree. The writer will establish the character only as much as allows us to know that personality and what their life may be about. Then that character will react to situations as they appear. That’s one of the places where the story – or the characters – will write themselves.

For example, a happily married housewife will react differently to a man making a pass than would a party girl. It all depends on how you set up your characters. They all have different personalities and their reactions and dialogue will be consistent with the characteristics you establish for them.

When I say to establish the character only as much as allows us to know that personality and what their life may be about, a lot more goes into that then finds its way into the story. See my article, Character Sketches. In a character sketch, you will develop so much about each character that you will feel you are them. All of that information does not make it into the story but it sets them up for story people whose actions and reactions will create or flesh out the story. The writer knowing the character well sets up how the character will react in scenes.

Opposite of that, if the writer doesn’t know the characters very well, how can they know how a certain personality will react to anything?

Of all the people in the world, each of us is unique. Of all the characters in all stories written – incomparably fewer than actual living people – each new character in each new story must be a stand-out.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Aug 19

Mike Angley’s Interview on Paul Bruno’s History Czar Radio Program

[layout_logo-the-history-czar] I was honored to have been interviewed by radio host Paul Bruno for his program, the History Czar. Please listen to the audio file and enjoy!

Mike Angley’s August 19, 2011 Interview on the History Czar Program Read More

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Aug 17

Quoting Can Be Such Sweet Sorrow…An Article by Mary Deal

Inside the End Quotes
Mary Deal

So much confusion exists about what goes inside or outside of the end quotes in dialogue.

I digress here to say that the only sentences that should be included in quotation marks are something that someone said. Quotation marks should not be used to draw attention to anything other than dialogue. Considering dialogue, quotes can also be used to set off a repeated portion of something another person said. An example:

~ His response to revealing the secret was “deep and dark.”

Now consider this sentence:

~ San Francisco is known as “The City by the Bay.”

In this example, I would immediately wonder who said that. Yet, it isn’t written as dialogue. The correct way to set off a title or information other than dialogue is to present it in italics.

San Francisco is known as The City by the Bay.

Having clarified that, what follows is the correct positioning of the end quotes on various forms of dialogue.

All punctuation, whether statement, question of exclamation, belongs inside the end quotes.

“Where did you go?” she asked.

In the above sentence, the question mark must follow the question, then the end quotes. Even though we use a question mark instead of a comma, the sentence continues with she asked.

“We went for the movie first.”

“I don’t believe it!”

“I told you, I did it,” she said.

Notice in the last sentence above that the sentence wasn’t complete until after the word said. A comma was used after it, then the end quotes. The variation from the first sentence above with the question mark is that a question mark always follows a question, regardless there is more to the sentence..

Then we get into a person relating something someone else said. That’s where you find single quotes inside double quotes.

“When she became obstinate, her mother said, ‘Go to your room!’”

In this sentence of dialogue, the sentence within a sentence – Go to your room – is set off with single quotation marks. Notice that the exclamation point ending the dialogue goes inside both sets of end quotes: The exclamation point, then the single end quote to end the dialogue within dialogue, and then the double end quote signifying the final end to the entire string of dialogue.

The exclamation point belongs with the string Go to your room, so belongs inside the single end quote. In the cases where an exclamation point should end the embodying string of dialogue, the exclamation point would be placed between the single end quote and the double one.

“I hated that he quietly said ‘It’s over’!”

Notice here, too, the lack of a period after the repeated dialogue. Someone else said It’s over but it is not the end of the sentence that is being spoken in anger. So the exclamation point belongs after the single quote mark but inside the double end quotes.

For most writers, the simple rule is that all punctuation goes inside the end quotes. When it becomes more complicated is when you begin to quote dialogue where one person is telling what another said. Then many more variations exist.

Much to any writer’s chagrin, instruction for proper usage of quotation marks could fill many pages. It’s wise to have a reputable book of punctuation nearby and seek out the exact examples and solutions you may need for your prose.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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