Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Memory of... A Poorly Written Book

By Keith Fisher

We buried our family pet this week. It’s never a happy occasion, but we’ve had Cocoa for 17 years. She was my Valentine’s gift to my wife and the only pet my daughter has known. She was a good cat.

Cocoa was showing signs of her age and it was a blessing to see her pass, but it’s never easy. We buried her under the big pine tree in the back yard.

Also, this week, I’ve been working on a blog. It’s a fantastic idea that will touch and delight you. It will bring you to tears and leave you with a sense that all’s write with the world. (Get it? all’s WRITE).

Okay, I admit I’ve got nothing. I really did have a blog but I discovered I’ve already written it. The experts say one of the signs of old age is repeating your self. Your self.

I started reading another book by one of my favorite prolific authors and discovered a pile of obvious mistakes. I was mystified. "How could that author do that?" I asked. It’s almost like the publisher printed the first draft.

Just to give you an idea: in almost every chapter there are info dumps and exposition that should be dialog. The author lost track of details. In one place, the police are coming over to have a very important conversation but they don’t come, the conversation never happens.

Recently I had a very good friend look at a manuscript and make suggestions. It came back full of red ink so to speak. I look at it and wonder how I could’ve ever considered sending that to a publisher, it wasn’t ready. If I were a best selling author with name recognition, the publisher may have printed it and I would’ve had to live with it.

I’m going to continue reading the book but I have to put it down frequently in order to recover.

I guess I went ahead and wrote this blog even though I didn’t think I would. See what happens when you get me talking (writing)? I tend to run off at the mouth.

Anyway, have a good week and get out the polishing compound. Start rubbing on that manuscript of yours. You never know; a publisher may lose his/her mind and set it in print. Then you’ll have to live with it forever or until you buy every copy back.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Finding a New Source

By Keith Fisher

I’ve noticed a trend in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. Some of the prolific authors tend to use the same names over and over again. I caught myself doing it one day when I gave a new character a name and realized I used the name in another book.

As authors I think we tend to use names and people we are familiar with, instead of expanding our horizons. To keep from falling into the trap, there are many places on the internet that list names. I found a great one at Unlike most name websites, it lists last names too.

On a related note, I was clearing out spam and old emails from accounts I don’t use anymore. The process took the better part of an hour, but as I was deleting, I discovered something interesting. I was erasing a list of names. Not just first names, but first names with last names.

Suddenly I was paying more attention to the sender column than the subject lines. I found some great antagonist names in the sender line of the most aggravating spam emails. Don’t you think that Cialis would be a great first name for a female villain?

But I did find some good name combinations and the work of creating has already been done for me. There were normal names like Betty Collins but there were a lot of unusual names too. Names that readers will remember. Like Tyrone Watson, and Alexander Thompson.

There were many unusable names too, like Unwanted Fat, and Hair Replacement. But I got a kick out of the thought of using Sears Sale. It kinda sounds like She sells seashells by the seashore. Instead we’d use Sears Sale sold socks in his solid stand built by stinky silkworms. It’s not much of a tongue twister, but its cute none-the-less.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I’m Just Happy to Be Here

By Keith Fisher

Thanks to Nicole for tagging me. This time I was able to get in the game almost at the beginning. I love to play these games because one, they give me something to write about. Two, I get to find out who’s thinking of me. If my friends mention me, It makes my day. Here are my answers to the questions:

Four Jobs I've Had:

Inside sales Rep Amico-Klemp
Service Station attendant (back when the term service station meant more than gas station)
I could give a lot longer list but you don’t have the time.

Four Places I've Lived:

Gander, Newfoundland
Helena, Montana
Orem, Utah
Evanston, Wyoming

Four Favorite TV Shows:

History Detectives
This Old House
Ghost Whisperer
Most of the sitcoms before 1980 (but that’s not current).

Four Favorite Foods:

Roast Beef and Potatoes.
Hamburger and Eggs.
Almost anything cooked in a Dutch oven.
Toasted Tuna sandwich.

Four Websites I Frequent:
Yahoo groups
All the blog sites I can find about writing

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:

Kanarraville, Utah (running a general store and writing books)
Fishing anywhere in Utah
Hunting in Alaska
A large stone mansion, (if JK Rowling can get one, so can I) only mine will be on the edge of a cliff, looking down on a large body of water. IT would be in the United States in a place where I have to commute by helicopter. Can you imagine landing your helicopter in the church parking lot on Sunday? But I digress.

Four Movies I Love:

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World
All the Star Trek movies (especially First Contact, but then I like Generations too. Oh I’ll just go with my first answer).
Lonesome Dove
Mr. Blandings Builds a Dream House (Cary Grant)

Four Bloggers I Tag Next:
This is difficult. I’m not sure who has been tagged already. I’ll take a shot in the dark:

Marsha Ward
Karen Hoover
Julie Coulter Bellon
LDS Publisher (but she’s probably too busy this time of year. She probably wouldn’t reveal any secrets anyway so I’ll tag . . . . . . .
Mary Higgins Clark

I knew this was going to be a good blog this week. Hopefully you have learned something about me that will help you decide to buy my books when they come out. If not, send me an email and I’ll talk you into it.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Gentle Rain

By Keith Fisher

We had a cloudburst here the other day. It wasn’t a press stopping, earthshaking experience, but it was welcome none-the-less. We’ve been mostly missed by the current monsoon in the area of Utah where I live, so I was happy to watch the rain as it fell in sheets.

I was reminded of a television movie about WC Fields. Apparently, he was an insomniac but he could sleep if it was raining. I’m not as sleep deprived as he was, but I’m also soothed by the sound of rain. I love to listen as the drops hit the ground. I love the sound of the water collecting into runoff, forming tiny rivulets on their way into the gutters then it races to the storm drains.

The cloudburst lasted but a few minutes and was finished almost before it began but it left a mark. The streets were wet, the grass was watered, and the humidity climbed. The swamp-cooler became ineffective. It was uncomfortable.

You may wonder where I’m going with my rain inspired writing but I just wanted to tell you about the storm.

Just kidding. There is a point here that pertains to writing.

Sometimes we write the storm but forget to write the effects. I once heard someone say, we have a character throw a ball, but we never see it get caught. It stays in our story hanging in the air forever. It never has the opportunity to hit the ground or be caught by someone.

On the other hand, we pull a handy water bottle from a backpack but never tell the reader where the backpack came from. These things are left hanging in the reader’s mind like the nagging question "Did I turn off the gas before I left on vacation?"

We can’t have a rainstorm without it making the streets wet and the humidity rise. Likewise, a character can’t let go of the string without watching the balloon as it wafts toward the heavens and gets caught by the breeze and carried away, disappearing into the sky.

Keep telling your stories but if you need to relax, I’ve got a Gentle Rains CD. It’s a wonderful storm and it helps when the rains don’t come.