A Famous Advice Not Only For Writing

Image courtesy of Google.com

When I read that quote, I smiled. Walt Disney was famous – for creating a few of the most famous characters worldwide: Micky Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy, Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and so many more that we love today.

I’m absolutely convinced, that if Walt Disney hadn’t lived his own philosophy, we probably still would wait for the famous mice and ducks! In other words, if Walt Disney had continued talking about his idea and not taken action and turned them from an idea into true cartoons to be shown to people, we had no chance of loving them for all these decades. Cartoons don’t come alive just by thinking about them…

And here we go: Our stories are not going to turn into books just by thinking about our idea for a story. Of course, first, there is the idea! But from there it has to go somewhere! No story writes itself!

Take a pen and a piece of paper, start planning – or writing, whichever comes easier! Or do everything on the computer, laptop, tablet, or even phone – whatever works for you and makes you happy – but start working physically!

  • If Umberto Eco hadn’t started writing, his famous ‘The Name of The Rose’ would never have turned into a book.
  • If Tolkien had not been looking for some paper, we couldn’t be reading about the ‘Lord of The Rings’.
  • If J.K. Rowling had hesitated to pick up her pen, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts would still be in ‘the dark’.

There are so many more examples, but I think, you get my thought. – Stop ‘considering’ if the story is good enough, stop hesitating, start writing… word by word by word. It is your story! If it wants to be written, write it! Don’t talk to half the world about your idea… you know, it might be good – and someone else could pick it up and turn it into the book you never had the courage to write! Wouldn’t that be disappointing?

So, write! Stop talking – start doing!

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Walt Disney (1946) ((Wikipedia))

Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901. Disney became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. He is particularly noted for being a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design.

Disney is famous for his contributions in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. His first success was through the series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit which was created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz of Universal Studios. When Disney asked for a larger budget for his popular Oswald series, Mintz refused and Disney had to quit. Later, Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney started from scratch and co-founded Walt Disney Productions, now known as The Walt Disney Company. Today, this company has annual revenues of approximately U.S. $35 billion. This success is largely due to a number of the world’s most famous fictional characters he and his staff created including Mickey Mouse, a character for which Disney himself was the original voice.

Disney won 26 Academy Awards out of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual. He is also the namesake for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States, as well as the international resorts in Japan, France, and China.

Disney died of lung cancer in Burbank, California, on December 15, 1966.

(Source: MyEnglishPage.com)

Beware Bait and Switch Scams – Written For ‘Writer Beware’

There’s a scam doing the rounds right now.

(Apraxia is a neurological condition affecting, among other things, the ability to speak; it’s not really clear why the scammer makes this claim, except maybe as an excuse not to speak on the phone.)

It’s not just writers; illustrators are targets too.

If the person responds, they are sent upfront payment in the form of a check that looks genuine (I’ve redacted the name of the purported sender because it’s not clear they’re involved in the scam).

The check bounces, of course. The recipient contacts the scammer to complain, and the scammer asks for the deposit ticket or other proof of deposit, which would give them some of the recipient’s bank information. Alternatively, the recipient is told that the scammer accidentally overpaid, and asked to send the overage back to the scammer (this is also a common Craigslist scam).

This is an example of a bait and switch scam. You’re offered an opportunity with remuneration. Or you’re promised a service that doesn’t require an upfront fee. But to access it, you have to pay something or buy something or provide something of value, such as personal or financial information. Once you’ve complied, you never hear from the scammer again.

CONTINUE READING HERE

An Old Painting As A Writing Prompt?

Surfing the internet isn’t always a waste of time. I was looking for something when I ran across the image of an old painting, namely ‘Gothic Church Ruins’, painted by Carl Blechen in 1826. (And yes, I’m permitted to use the picture for free without copyright problems, since the copyright has been ‘outdated’). However, that’s not the question at this moment.

Earlier this year, namely in March, when I was in the hospital for several days I drafted the outlines and main characters for three new books, which surprised me very much. (Apparently being in the hospital gave me an unexpected creativity boost) I have continued working on my books, but I only have limited time. And then, after I saw this old painting, I got lost in my fantasies.

Immediately I had visions of beautiful spiritual creatures and forms living in and around these, once handmade, structures, that are now claimed back by nature. Of course, fantasies alone don’t make for a story yet, but in many ways, Carl Blechen’s work has given me an amazing input to mine.

Now, when it comes to ‘Writing Prompt’… what is the meaning of it? Yes, I think, most of us know what it means… it’s generally of help to us, when our writer’s brain goes blank (which very rarely happens), but that’s another story…

According to the ‘Freelance Writing-Love-to-know’ website, a writing prompt is ‘usually a statement followed by questions you can use to craft a piece.’ Simple, and to the point.

Would I need a writing prompt to develop and have ideas? Usually, I don’t. But then, I’m a writer… some input is good for me. I’m sometimes afraid, I keep on writing within the same ‘drawer’ and am completely untalented for other pieces of work. That’s one of the reasons, why I decided to ‘break away’ from ‘The Concil of Twelve’ series for a few pieces, to see, if I can write different stories.

That particular picture gave me another idea. We are now talking about staying faithful to the genre, but still, writing outside of my series. I’m not sure yet, how that story is going to be, and in what direction it’s headed. But I’m sure, with time, we are going to find out.

Picture courtesy of Carl Blechen (1798 – 1840)

How do you try to find inspiration, when you’re running dry of ideas? Do you use writing prompts? If yes, where do you find them? Let us know in the comments, we’re curious!

Happy Swiss National Holiday!

731 years ago, on August 1, 1291, in a top-secret conference, Fuerst, from Uri, Stauffacher from Schwyz, and von Melchtal, representing Unterwalden held up their left hands for an oath, their right hands were placed on their hearts. “… We swear, in good faith, to…”

This oath, ever since, has been known as the ‘Ruetli Oath’ and formed the Confoederatio Helvetica,, the ‘Helvetic Confederation’, or how it was called, centuries later, Switzerland.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

The newly formed cooperation and formal protest to enforce the self-governing of the area, including their facilitation to collect the taxes connected to the North-South passage (from Germany to Italy), didn’t go well with the Danube Monarchy. The noblemen, including the King, saw their authority endangered. In 1315, Duke Leopold of Zaehringen sent his army to make those rebellious Helvetic hillbillies see reason after they undermined the royal ruling.

By that time the Confederation wasn’t a secret anymore and its influence had extended. It was no surprise the monarchy felt threatened. The information that the sovereignty wanted to take back the scepter and demonstrate their power with military strength was carried into the Confederation.

The blood-tired members of the Helvetic Confederation decided to stifle the try to take over the royal power in its beginning. And they were successful. The entire planning led to the famous ‘Battle of Morgarten’, which was basically a fight of ‘David vs. Goliath’, and to the noblemen’s surprise, the handful of ‘Helvetic rednecks’ walked away victorious.

It was the beginning of the end. The Helvetic Confederation gained more ‘cantons’ (states) as members and grew into 26 cantons and half-cantons to join and finally turned into that tiny country that forms the heart of Europe, Switzerland.

Switzerland is a country, famous for its chocolate, cheese, and watches… and yes… they are the best. But also, Switzerland gained respect for significant development and progress in computer science, medical discoveries, nuclear, biomedical, and forensic science.

Additionally, it’s the only country in the world with a square flag and four native languages, Swiss-German, Swiss-French, Swiss-Italian, and Rumantsch, a dying language, only spoken by 2% of the Swiss population in the South East corner of the country.

August 1, the day of the ‘Ruetli Oath’ is the day Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Danube Monarchy and its separation from the Habsburg ruled, often cruel and suffocating thraldom.

Happy Birthday, Switzerland, home of the brave defenders of human rights, and the most beautiful mountains, one of them the famous Matterhorn.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWITZERLAND

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Pain…

Picture courtesy of Google.com

How do we describe pain? Pain can have many different ‘forms’ of manifestation: I found the following words:

  • ache
  • pang
  • prick
  • shoot
  • smart
  • sting
  • stitch
  • throw
  • tingle
  • twinge
  • Burning
  • Sharp
  • Aching
  • Dull
  • Stabbing
  • Radiating
  • Throbbing
  • Cramping
  • Shooting

There are probably many more words to describe pain… in most cases, we describe what aches us when we are experiencing a headache, a tummy ache, when we fell and got injured, when our head, our knee, or our hand hurts when we cut or pricked ourselves…

Picture courtesy of Domestika.org

But… where is the table to describe the pain of heartbreak? Nagging, crushing, piercing…? We heard it all. But nobody can really invent, or find new words to really express what a human being with a broken heart feels. It’s too much to describe, or there are no words? That probably is most accurate, or, as I said once: “The pain of a broken heart is despair.”

Now, a broken heart is caused by loss… generally the loss of a beloved human being, maybe even a pet… The loss of a human being can be caused by separation by decision, or by death.

In medical terms, it’s called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, BHS. I have published a blog post about it, you can find it here.

How to describe what you feel? How to tell your doctor, your psychiatrist, or your best friend, what your tears mean? Tears can’t mend your heart, they are just a manifestation of the words you can’t speak aloud.

How to describe, when nothing you feel makes sense? How to describe the patience you needed to be with someone, how to describe the joy you felt when even talking to the person? How to describe the loss you felt, after saying good night over the phone, and how to describe the endless hours of missing someone’s voice, even if it doesn’t really make sense?

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Do you have experience describing broken heart pain? Help us out, we would like to know. It’s horrible, not to know what we feel, or how to express it.

The Best Part Of Telling A Story – Part V

April 14, 2022 I published the first part of this blog post series, April 28, the second part followed. The third part was published May 26, 2022, and part #4 was published July 11, 2022.. This blog post series talks about the best part of telling a story. There are so many good parts, to me, each holds its own appeal. Let’s have a look at them again:

1. Drafting the plot

2. Finding a motive

3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist

4. Finding the perfect location

5. Thinking of plot twists

6. Create side characters

[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]


Today we are looking into ‘plot twists’. When I looked at that ‘phrase’ I had to laugh loudly. Now, there are as many plot twists as there are stories. And, of course, I am unable to mention all plot twists today, or ever, when it comes to that. Important at this point is, that our story, in fact, has a plot twist.

Let me describe it that way: Reading a story without any plot twist is about the same excitement as listeing to someone reading the phone book.

I’d like to start with a simple example: Boy A separates from Girl A, to be together with Girl B. Girl A decides to continue her life without Boy A, despite thinking, he was ‘the One’. While she gets over the separation, she meets Boy B. When Boy A sees her with Boy B, he’s jealous and tries whatever he can to get Girl A back. While trying to do that, he hurts Girl B horribly… – And here it gets thrilling. (Or, it could get thrilling, if it’s done right.) Why don’t we check out different possibilities?

Romance:

Girl A finds out she was right, and Boy A is ‘the One’ for her. She forgives him, and they get back together… Girl B is hurt, but she understands. Boy B ‘disappears’ from the story, but he has always only been an unimportant side character and nobody misses him…

Chick Lit:

Girl B is sad, but is contacted by Boy B, and they both get together. A Happy End for both couples is ahead. Additionally, Girl A meets Girl B at the shopping mall and they start talking. They find out, they have quite a few things in common, and they become really great friends.

Western:

Boy A and Girl A settle down and work together on their ranch, with huge herds of cattle and they also successfully breed horses, they have two babies, a boy, and a girl. Boy B is a bit disappointed. Girl A would have been perfect for him to settle down, but this wasn’t his path. He composes and sings a really sad song and rides into the sunset. Girl B moves to the next big city and opens a brothel.

Horror:

Girl B is actually a ‘Mormos’, a cruel supernatural monster, which has to mate with a human, kill him, and give birth to the spawn, before again, disappearing for three centuries, while the spawn spreads evil in the world. Boy A’s jealousy has ended their relationship and she couldn’t fulfill her plans, which makes her kill everybody in the story, including the mermaid and the gargoyle (don’t ask me why, I had no idea they were even in that story)… then she uses Boy B for her purpose, which is ending up really badly, since he’s a werewolf.

Thriller:

Girl A gets back together with Boy A, which leaves Girl B to meet with Boy B, who is actually a serial killer and starts with her… then Boy B goes over to kill a few others on his way to kill Girl A as he had planned all along, Boy A is the only one who can save the girl (and the story, too).


Four characters, five possibilities, only from one simple example. Of course , there are endless possibilities, and I’m sure, if I thought about it somewhat longer, I could come up with a few more examples.

What we have here, at the moment, are five examples, two of them don’t really have a ‘twist’… Romance and ‘Chick Lit’ just go from A to B, nothing exciting or thrilling happens. These stories are, most likely, as lame as watching a fly cleaning itself. (Even though, I’m always under the impression, a fly rubbing its first two legs against each other looks like their incredibly smug about something and I imagine them giggling maliciously, only that the frequence is too high for me to hear… But then, that’s different, and a subject for another time)

What’s important here is, that the story has to take a different turn than what’s ‘expected’ from the reader. Generally, there is nothing wrong with the first and second examples, if it were the real life. Their uncomplicated, easy, and without any further challenges, which we, of course, would want for everybody. But for a reader, it’s the lamest story one can imagine.

We want ‘adventure’, or we want to be scared, or maybe we want to bite our fingernails while reading, because the story is so thrilling, we can barely sit still. We want to cry, to laugh, or to yell, maybe even to scream, but we want to feel something! We want emotions in our book, and we want to read about them and feel them. What would we feel if everything always goes smoothly? Nothing… boredom, mostly. And that’s when our readers say: ‘That book was a waste of my time’… and that’s exactly what we don’t want.

One of the fun parts to write our story is, to add unexpected turns the story takes. Maybe it’s fun, maybe it’s scary, but it has to lead our story into a direction the reader wouldn’t think of… and that’s going to be a good story.

Tell us in the comments, if you have another idea to take Girl A, Boy A, and Girl and Boy B… or if you would like to add something else, when it comes to plot twists? We’re happy to read about your experiences!

Soul Taker Secrets – A Unique Place For A Meeting

In one of my books in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I have set up a meeting in the ‘Hundertwasser’ church in Baernbach, Austria.

Despite my books being fantasy books, there is the occasional real existing location on Earth mentioned within the stories. This is one of them.

The church, designed by ‘Friedensreich Hundertwasser’, is a small, but impressive piece of architecture that I admire deeply. I’m not a big fan of ‘Hundertwasser’, but he did this design right.

“Hundertwasser stood out as an opponent of “a straight line” and any standardization, expressing this concept in the field of building design. His best-known work is the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, which has become a notable place of interest in the Austrian capital, characterized by imaginative vitality and uniqueness.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedensreich_Hundertwasser)

When I was there for the first time, one thing impressed me most: the peacefulness of the church and its surroundings. It is unbelievable how wonderfully calm and protected the place is. Despite the famous name of the architect, the church is a cool, comfortable place to sit and rest, inviting, without being overloaded with gold appliques, It’s more a work of natural materials that underline the connection between our creator and nature.

That was one of the reasons why I picked this location to showcase in one of my stories.

I don’t want to give away too much here, since the book, where the church is mentioned, will be published at a later time.

But one thing might be interesting to you at this point: It was not a ‘Council Member’ who demanded this location for the meeting… it was the ‘other side’…

Have you ever picked a particular spot or happening and used it in one of your stories or books? If yes, why did you do that and what was it that made this particular location so unique? Let us know in the comments. We’re curious.

A Monumental Computer Crash

To a writer who’s typing in the last few pages of her first crime novel, nothing is more annoying than a computer crash, namely one she should have seen coming.

Sometime earlier this year, end of January, to be precise, I installed Windows 11 on my laptop. I followed the instructions until the last detail because I didn’t want anything to fail. I backed up my data and did what I had to do to get this system up and properly running.

A few days later I started having problems opening Word. And it got worse every single time I opened the computer. The laptop got slower and slower and it became almost unbearable.

Finally, after having settled in a bit better, I decided to face this problem and get it fixed, which I did with a total of almost 16 hours on the phone with Microsoft.

It turned out, that I did everything right when it came to the installation. Little did I know, that, unlike what my laptop manufacturer wrote online, my ASUS laptop is NOT compatible with Windows 11.

Well, I’m a user, not an expert, how would I know? I checked, as I was supposed to, but I didn’t ‘counter check’, double- or triple check, or consult any other sources, I counted on my manufacturer’s word – and got screwed.

Of course, now, after reinstalling Windows 10 on my laptop, I have to go back and set it up again, which means, it’s like a fresh start, with the backup data copied back onto my computer – which, of course, unfortunately, didn’t work as properly as it should have.

In addition to the fact that I am supposed to clean up my blog, do a few other things, write blog posts, and write more books in the series, am still waiting for my editor to get back to me, and I’m desperate for my crime story to be finally in this computer, I got more books to type in, and since I can use Word again, it’s time I’m getting that stuff done!

Still, computer crashes suck, and I was several times, very, very close to throwing that thing out the window! I didn’t know I could curse like a sailorman, seriously… I used words I didn’t even know I had in my vocabulary.

Maybe it’s time I get a new computer… *sigh*

What did you do the last time your computer annoyed you? Maybe I can learn how to handle that a bit better next time. Let us know in the comments. We’re curious.

Author-Agent “Handshake” Agreements: Be Wary – Written By Victoria Strauss

This is an updated version of a post I put online several years ago, in response to complaints about “handshake” offers from a particular agent at a large agency.

That agent is no longer making those offers (as far as I know). And handshake agreements are rare these days. But I’ve recently heard from several writers who received handshake or no-contract offers from other agents at other agencies–so it’s not impossible that you may encounter such an offer in your agent search. If you do, there’s reason to be cautious.

What’s a Handshake Agreement?

According to Wikipedia, a handshake agreement, or oral contract, is

…a contract, the terms of which have been agreed by spoken communication. This is in contrast to a written contract, where the contract is a written document. There may be written, or other physical evidence, of an oral contract – for example where the parties write down what they have agreed – but the contract itself is not a written one.

“Spoken”, here, is metaphorical: the agent doesn’t need to literally speak the words. The point is that they are offering some form of representation without a written contract to formalize the arrangement. This might be an email promising to submit your work to a few publishers to “see what happens”, with a contract to follow if a publisher makes an offer. Or the agent might tell you outright that they prefer to work without a written contract. Or there might be no mention of a contract at all.

CONTINUE READING HERE

An Empty Shell

There are times when I feel hollow

When times drags out the shallow days

The sun, it shines, provides the warmth

That shows the normal summer ways.

**

Surrounded am I, by furry companions

And people in whose house I live.

I do, what I can, not to be a burden

But I don’t know how much I still can give.

**

I’m feeling blue, and worse by the hour

I feel forgotten, like I don’t matter at all.

No work, nobody who gives me a chance

To prove my worth – I feel useless and small.

**

There’s one person in this world who fills my life

With warmth, with smiles, and with some joy

But even he, goes forward and back, undecided

I feel hurt and humiliated, like a toy.

**

All I need is some success, a chance, some energy

Make me smile, talk to me, and make me feel alive

Currently, I feel alone, in a huge building, my thoughts an echo

Don’t leave me here with only myself – I need to thrive!

**

Maybe I just wither, unloved, undesired, forgotten and alone

If I just disappear, nobody would care if I slowly fade.

Leave the sunlight, go into darkness, enjoy the moon.

go into the night, accompanied by only shade.

**

Maybe it’s not the non-chances, or sadness that are killing

Maybe it’s not neglect, or sadness that trigger fears

Maybe it’s more, maybe it’s pain, hurt and loneliness

That make me drown in an ocean of tears….

*****

(Copyright, Aurora Jean Alexander, July 2022)

Picture courtesy of Google.com