Week In Review: March 5

In Case You Missed it: here’s the round up of all of my latest content, plus updates from old guests!

Read on if you want to know more.

If not? See you next week with more writing tips and writerly musings.

Coming up this week:

On Youtube: My Lazy Sunday afternoon livestream write-in is back again from 4:30pm-6:30pm EST. Come, hang out, and we’ll probably even do a few productivity sprints.

Content Around The Web:

On Youtube:

  • Picking A Point of View – If you’re writing a story, you’re gonna need a point of view (or multiple POVs). Here are some factors to think about when picking your point of view — and point of view characters.

On the Podcast:

  • Took a week off

On The Blog (In Case You Missed It):

  • Picking A Point of View – If you’re writing a story, you’re gonna need a point of view (or multiple POVs). Here are some factors to think about when picking your point of view — and point of view characters.
  • Author Spotlight Guest: Poppy Kuroki – a professional ghostwriter and editor. She loves books, Dungeons & Dragons, and playing video games.

Events:

None this week.

What I’ve Been Reading:

Binged a few more Zoe Chant paranormal romances and a few Sherrilyn Kenyon books from my to-read shelf.

New Works By Previous Guests!

None this week. More coming soon!


I’m an aunt again! I was off last week, getting to hold my sister’s hand during labor, and cut the cord for baby Rosie! Momma and baby were home before lunch.

Aunt Morgan holding a 14 hour old baby Rosie.

Picking the Right Point Of View

Every writer is different. Some writers are planners and come into the story knowing exactly what the plot is, who the main character is, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going. Others plan a little lighter, knowing a basic plot outline and the general characters. And some? Just make the whole thing up as they go along.

One thing, though, is generally true, no matter how the writer approaches the story, there is a point of view character, or characters.

Points Of View

Most stories are told in first or third person. In first person, you have the character talking about:

“I went to the store.”

In third person, the story is more:

She went to the store.

For stylized, artsy, or choose-your-own-adventure books, you occasionally get second-person point of view. Or:

You went to the store.

Some stories are ‘closer’ than others. What do I mean by closer? Well, if the story isn’t ‘close’, you can’t know what the characters are thinking. When you are in third-person close, you can have things like,

MAIN CHARACTER thought that so-and-so was a jerk because

Where in first-person close, it would simply be:

So-and-so was a jerk! Why did they always…

But point of view is more than just which pronoun to use for the character (I, she, you) or how close you are. Some stories are told from one point of view, others have up to a multitude of point-of-view characters.

Picking a Point of View

When writing a story, there are many factors that go into picking the right point-of-view — and point of view character(s).

  1. What genre are you writing? Different genres tend toward different expectations for point of view characters. YA tends to be first person, adult science fiction and fantasy is often third person omniscient – like a narrator who can fill in world building gaps. Read in your genre to know what the expectations are.
  2. How intimate is your story? First person is a lot more intimate than third, but easier to throw the reader out of the story if you get a detail wrong. Lots of action and dialogue is great for third person. Mental turmoil often works better in first-person. If your story deals with a lot of trauma, think hard about which way you want to go.
  3. Whose story are you telling? If the character is foremost in your planning, or the most well-developed part of your story, you probably know who should be telling the story.
    • NOTE: Sometimes who you think the story is about isn’t the main character at all.  Things happening behind the scenes can be just as exciting as the things on the main stage.
  4. What does your reader need to know? Sometimes, the plot needs the audience to know things that the main character won’t know.
  5. Are you sure your point of view character is the right choice for your world? Think about your intended point of view characters in relation to what the story is actually talking about. Exploring a real world setting and culture through the eyes of an insider OR an outsider can be done wrong. I’m not here to tell you to ‘stay in your lane’ or anything like that, but this sort of story needs to be told with open eyes, respect for the culture you’re exploring, and definitely consult with people from that culture and background. There are nuances that no amount of study will ever be able to convey.

Do you have a favorite point of view to read? Is it different when you write?

How do you choice your point of view — and point of view characters?

Author Spotlight: Poppy Kuroki

  • writer and D&D fan living in Japan, who plays too many video games

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Poppy Kuroki

Poppy Kuroki is a professional ghostwriter and editor. She loves books, Dungeons & Dragons, and playing video games.

She currently lives in Enoshima, Japan with her husband and dreams of owning a dog.

Poppy, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I’d love a dog, but since there are no restrictions, I’d say an alpaca. They’re so cute and floofy!

I mean, since it’s part of your bio and all, I can’t say that ‘puppy’ was a big surprise. Alpacas are VERY awesome and floofy.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

Like many writers, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I got a publisher for a fantasy trilogy I wrote when I was seventeen, but it didn’t work out. I gave up after that, writing for fun and then taking up ghostwriting as a job. When I had so many lovely reviews complimenting my writing style and creativity, I thought, hmm, maybe I can do this after all. Since you have to promote yourself whether you’re traditionally published or indie, I decided to go indie. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I have two published books, Oath: A Black Diamond Novel and A Bard’s Lament, and a free short story, Rhoda, is on the way.

I’m so sorry that your earlier publisher fell through. It’s a story that happens more often than any of us would like. I’m so glad you found your way back to it, with your name on the cover.

What do you like to read?

I sometimes read debut fantasy, but I often like going back to old favourites like Jacqueline Wilson for nostalgia. I like Darren Shan’s vampire saga, Stephen King, and James Herbert. Newer authors I like include Jay Kristoff and Rebecca Ross.

Oooh. I don’t know that I’ve tried any of those but Stephen King. I’ve got a few new authors to add to my ever-growing to-read pile.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Never use dialogue tags

While I do use ‘said’ a lot, sometimes others like ‘asked,’ ‘suggested,’ ‘screamed’ etc. have their place.

 I’m with you one-hundred percent. There’s definitely been some discussion about dialogue tags making things easy on the reader, with the ‘she said’ just fading from any sort of story distration and better for pacing than action tags.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Showing, not telling.

I once bought a whole trilogy and never got past the first page because it was a big, huge info dump. A lot of readers who liked Oath said they appreciated that the world-building was shown throughout the story rather than a big, long explanation.

What a lovely compliment. That’s what most of us aim for, these days, I think.


Shameless Self-Promotion time!

A Bard’s Lament a novella

The town of Veilig is burdened with a terrible secret.

Ella is a bard, her sister a prostitute, working in a tavern to pay off their late mother’s debt. But Ella has a secret of her own. Her music carries codes for spies to decipher, working to undo Veilig’s horrific crimes.

Then her sister is taken captive.

Can Ella save them both, or will their tale end in darkness?

Oath: A Black Diamond Novel

“Only through death may I leave the Black Diamond’s side…”

Tired of scraping for food in her war-torn homeland, Colette sneaks aboard a ship to Ranigh, the prosperous Empire capital, to seek her fortune. When she’s caught stealing, she is forced to pledge an Oath to a life of assassinhood.

When she’s bid to kill someone she cares for, what will Colette choose?

Obedience or love?


Check Poppy Kuroki out across the web!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

Drafting a Manuscript Using Voice to Text

Voice-to-text has come a long way. I used to have to deepen my voice to what I call a “mansetto” to get any voice activated device to even listen to me. Even now, I know that my excited voice, which is higher pitch, isn’t going to be as accurate.

But, I’ve been using voice-to-text on chats, if I’m multitasking. And, a couple weeks ago, when running errands, I had a plot idea I didn’t want to forget. So, at an empty stop sign, I triggered voice-to-text and narrated my notes.

And it worked.

This whole year, I’ve been struggling with adding words to my space fantasy that I started back in November, for NaNoWriMo. I thought adding a new point-of-view character would help, and it did, but not enough. I managed 5,000 words in all of January.

The ubiquitous “they” say that if you’re having trouble getting the words to flow, try something new: a new font, a new writing location, a new story, a new writing program.

So, Friday, during a live write-in with Sarah Scharnweber, (you can often find me on her Friday night write-ins from 8-10pm ET), I decided to switch things up and try to get my words in verbally. And… oh-gosh-oh-geez it WORKED!

What Software Do You Need?

When I mentioned I’d tried this, this was the first question out of most writer’s mouths (well, keyboards, this was a virtual conversation).

I’m not using any fancy apps, although I did upgrade my phone last year. My technique was straightforward.

  1. I had my Samsung S10e phone
  2. I opened my Gmail
  3. I hit “compose” in the lower right
  4. I made sure my cursor was in the body of the email (a couple times, the keyboard didn’t show up, so I left the ‘compose’ window, reopened, and tried again)
  5. I triggered the microphone button for voice-to-text

That’s it.

I admit, I’m a recovering google fangirl. But about the time they dropped “do no evil” from their corporate guidelines, I devolved to simply a user. The advantage to using gmail is that it saves and auto-syncs with my email on any other device. While I do write in google docs (if you’re having trouble loading large documents, turn on ‘work offline’ as an option), I didn’t want to deal with loading a full manuscript, and I wanted to review the text before adding it to my draft. Plus, gmail is always loaded and I didn’t want to waste the navigating to a new document plus load time.

Besides, for me, I often save story ideas and snippets in my gmail drafts folder, so this is normal for me.

5 Tips For Writing Using Voice-To-Text

1 – Keep your voice slow and calm

As I mentioned earlier, excited voices, especially if you have a higher pitched voice, often run into trouble with voice-to-text programs. Speaking slowly and clearly gives the app the best chance to get the most accurate transcription.

2 – Voice your punctuation

I’ve been using voice-to-text lightly for years. “Comma” and “period” have been staples that have managed to find their way into voicemails, making me feel extra silly. As of this week, I’ve now mastered the “quote” to start or end a quotation, as well as “new line”, which works just like the enter key.

I recommend single new-lining after each paragraph, so when you copy it into your manuscript, the spacing will need the fewest adjustments to be in proper manuscript format. I had been double-new-lining, so learn from my mistakes.

3 – Use placeholder names

This one is pretty obvious. Voice-to-text will likely struggle with fantasy names, so do what I do and just use easily recognized names that you can easily find-and-replace.

4 – Reread every paragraph to make sure it’s still recording and isn’t too inaccurate

The few writers I talked to who have tried voice-to-text writing and vowed “never again” shared horror stories of long writing sessions where the recorder stopped five minutes in. I’m new to this, and I like to make sure future-me will know what I meant to say. So, by rereading each paragraph, I can repeat a phrase that the transcriptor botched, and, validate that the recording is still functioning. Then again, I’d started off manually adding those double ‘new lines’ so maybe I’ll calm down when I get more used to it?

5 – Copy each writing session into your main draft as soon as you finish

Voice-to-text is not perfect, it’s going to need some clean up. If you’re like me, the cleanup necessary for even a full chapter might seem intimidating. I enjoyed doing 15-21 minute sprints, and then copying the transcription over and cleaning it up right then. While I still remembered what any transcription errors meant to say, and while the task was still a matter of minutes, rather than hours or days.


Now, I’ve only been trying this for a week now, and I’m sure I’ll write by hand plenty as well. But, as long as it’s working, I’m not going to knock it.


Have you ever tried voice-to-text? Have you used it for writing?

Have you ever switched something up and found it helped your words?

Author Spotlight: Eric Shapiro

  • an acclaimed, award-winning writer-filmmaker. Eric is a dark soul. Positive attitude. =)

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Eric Shapiro!

Eric Shapiro is the author of Red Dennis, the writer-director of Living Things, and an acclaimed, award-winning writer-filmmaker. He co-owns and edits The Milpitas Beat, a Silicon Valley newspaper.  He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.

Eric, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Definitely Falkor from The Neverending Story! That took me a minute, but there’s actually no other answer. And thank God I don’t have to feed him!

A classic selection and one of my favorites. Did you know that when you write fantasy, there’s no reason NOT to add puppy-dragons. *winks*

What do you write? And how did you get started?

On most days, it’s either news or dark fiction—which often have a lot in common. Generally I just sit down and start typing. I try not to think. Usually the first two paragraphs are agony, then I’ve dropped down into more of a meditative flow state where I can access my emotions. My book Ass Plus Seat actually covers the entire process.

You sound like me! When I struggle to get started, I do my “just five minutes” approach. If nothing happens, fine. But really, nothing beats sitting in front of your keyboard for getting out words.

What do you like to read?

All kinds of things. I’m trying True Crime lately, during Covid sheltering-in-place, but it might be too bleak and disturbing for me. But in general I like to read things that are fast, incisive, shocking, and anti-bull****.

I’ve enjoyed a decent amount of televised true crime, but I must admit, I shy away from it in my reading. I know it’s probably just the escapist in me.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Ways to ‘find your voice’

Anything to do with “finding your voice.” Your insight is the thing to track or look for. If you think too much about your “voice,” your writing just becomes mannered and obvious. Just work toward sharing your insights; look and see and share.

 I think that’s to stop people from poorly imitating their favorite authors, but it’s true. Voice is the one thing that can’t really be taught, everything else is a level of mechanics.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Start writing and then the muse will appear.

It’s so true: She doesn’t come to you. You go to her. Every single time. If you’re not sitting there putting in the physical grunt effort, she thinks you’re boring and annoying. But if you’re exerting yourself and being present, she loves to come and dance and play.

I’ll admit that’s both true and untrue for me. True, in that the muse doesn’t come when I’m not writing, but untrue in that the muse doesn’t always come.


Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Red Dennis

Dennis Fordham has it all: the wife, the kids, the established small business. And yet…he’s slipping. Something’s changing in his mindset. He’s regretting all the chances that he never took. And he’s getting a bad itch to visit illicit massage parlors. Even worse: He’s also starting to talk kind of funny. Only it’s not a joke — his strange words terrify his dental hygienist, who tells his whole Northern California community that he harassed her. When Dennis tries to push back, he’s met with intense resistance. Which is when his troubling thoughts turn into violent ones…

A story of red rage, red madness, and a bright red all-American psycho, RED DENNIS gives us a man on the edge, then invites us to follow him down into the abyss.

Ass Plus Seat

Writer and filmmaker Eric Shapiro worked professionally as a ghostwriter for over 3,000 clients around the world before co-running a Silicon Valley newspaper with over 30,000 readers. In between, he’s written acclaimed fiction books under his own name, along with award-winning screenplays. ASS PLUS SEAT, his first nonfiction book, is where he shares his secrets, exposing and exploring how for years he’s motivated himself to write each and every day.

ASS PLUS SEAT is an essential guide to help writers dealing with procrastination in the midst of the writing process. It’s a book on how to write from the standpoint of staying disciplined and inspired, complete with good tips for writing and expert advice for writers. Put it on your shelf next to the other classic creative writing books for adults, whether you are seeking inspiration to engage in the act of novel writing or screenwriting. 

Put ‘Ass Plus Seat’ on the shelf alongside Strunk and White, and Stephen King’s ON WRITING…” –Mason James Cole, author of Buster Voodoo

I wish I’d read this sooner! I’m going to get back to my manuscript – not tomorrow, but right now!” –Shannon Giglio, author of Short Bus Hero

Short of a Picnic12 short stories about 12 different characters with 12 different mental illnesses.

It’s Only TemporaryIt’s the last day on Earth. A meteorite will hit at sundown. A heartbroken kid hits the road to say goodbye to the only girl he’s ever loved.

The DevotedIt’s the last day in the life of a suicide cult. But as the clock ticks, one of the cult members gets second thoughts and stages a revolt.


Check Eric Shapiro out across the web!

Amazon | Goodreads | Milpitas Beat