Monday, March 5, 2012

Sugar and Spice has all new meanings by Janet McNulty

Mellow Summers just wanted to go to college and get her film degree. She moved into a furnished apartment with her friend Jackie only to find that it already had a tenant: the ghost of a girl who was murdered a year earlier. Now it is up to Mellow to not only discover who the murderer is, but to prove it as well.

With the help of the ghost Rachel, Mellow sets out to solve the year old mystery. She soon finds out that she may have taken on more than she can handle. Pursued by someone who wants the identity of the killer to remain a secret, Mellow will have to use all her resources to outwit him and help the spirit of Rachel move on.

Article:  Starting Out As a Writer- Five Things You Should Know

Writing is fun but can also be tedious.  Many people decide they want to be a writer and set out to do just that.  But then they get stuck staring at a blank page not knowing what to write about much less how to begin.  If you want to be a writer, whether as a hobby or as a career, there are a few things you might want to know.
1. Figure out what it is you want to write about
Before you can even begin writing, you must first know what you want to write.  Decide whether you wish to write fiction or nonfiction.  I have written in both categories, but tend to prefer fiction because I can do more with it.  Then you must decide what genre you wish to write.  Before I penned the first word of my book Sugar and Spice and Not So Nice, I had decided that I wanted to write a paranormal mystery.
After you have chosen a genre, write an outline.  Some people think outlines are not needed, but I have found them useful.  It helps to jot down any ideas you have for your planned book.  Within your outline you will want a chronology of you basic plot and how you want the story to progress. How detailed it is is up to you.  For instance, in my latest publication my outline consisted of the main characters and their personalities, the basic plot, and how I wanted to introduce each character.  It was one page, handwritten, but enough to get me started and keep me on track.  Keep in mind that your outline does not set anything in stone.  It is merely a tool to help you get started on your writing project.
2. Your first draft will be full of mistakes.
One thing that troubles people the first draft.  We love to get things perfect the first time.  That way we do not need to go through the process of editing.  But things rarely turn out perfect the first time and writing is no exception.
The point of the first draft is to get your ideas written down.  Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, just start writing.  Don’t worry about your descriptions, punctuation, or grammar.  Just get your thoughts on paper.
Once you have completed your first draft, then you get to go back through it and correct your mistakes.  The editing process is when you make your writing perfect and correct any flaws.  I have been known to erase entire passages from my books as I edit them.  That is normal.  Sometimes you will only fix a few words in your first draft.  Other times you will find yourself throwing entire pages away and starting over.  That is normal.  Your first draft allows you to write your thoughts down, look at them, and decide if you like where it is going, or wish to do something different.  So, when you sit down to write, just write and do not worry if your first draft is the most horribly written piece of work on the planet, because it probably will be.
3. Figure out your narrative.
When you write, you need to decide if you are going to write in first, second, or third person.  I tend to prefer first or third person narrative because I find them to be easier to write in.  I chose to write Sugar and Spice and Not So Nice in the first person.  Since I wanted a mystery, I felt that it would be more engaging for the reader if the main character, Mellow, told the story.  It also allowed me to use a more contemporary style that would be easy for people to read.  Unless you are the academic type, you probably should stay away from scholarly written work. 
I have found that the first person narrative is more appealing to the reader.  It feels as though the character is talking to them.  Whichever you choose is up to you.  Do you prefer to tell your story from the viewpoint of one character, or would you rather have the God like knowledge that the third person narrative has.  Keep in mind, if you choose to write in the third person you have to focus on the thoughts of each of your main characters.
If you are unsure of which point of view to use, write the first few paragraphs of your story in each one.  Then read them over and pick the one you like best.
4. Do not worry about the length.
Some writers get caught up on the length of their books and forget that quality is more important.  My latest release is just over a hundred pages.  Some have asked why I did not make it longer.  My response was that I could have, but it would have ruined the story.  You will find as you write that some of your pieces will be longer than others. 
When I make my outline I also write down an approximate length that I want to achieve for my book.  This number is based on how detailed my outline is.  It is also very flexible.  I do this to remind me to create something that will be worth reading.
Sometimes I surpass the number of pages I would like to achieve.   My first publication, Legends Lost Amborese, was originally going to be 300 pages, but I ended up with a 500 page book.  When I wrote Sugar and Spice and Not So Nice, I was aiming for a 200 page book and ended up with one that is 114 pages.  Do not feel bad, if you don’t achieve 1,000 pages.  I have read books that long and most turned out to be overlong and boring.
Always remember that content is more important than length.  I set a page length I hope to achieve to push myself, but I always adjust that number to fit the content and quality of my writing.   Sometimes the novella is far superior to the 1,000 page epic.
5. Write with vivid description.
Something a lot of writers do is tell their story.  But to really engage your reader, you need to show it.  We like to be able to see, hear, and touch our surrounding world.  It is no different when we read fiction.  An author needs to describe the world in their story so that their reader feels as though they are there. Take these two passages I wrote for my latest publication.  The first is from my rough draft and the second is from the published book.
“I was grabbed and pulled away from the parade.” 
“Calloused fingers wrapped themselves around my arm.  A sudden jerk yanked me off my feet.  I struggled to get away.  My masked assailant dragged me down the alley and away from the parade.”
Notice the difference?  How much detail you put in will depend on what you are describing.  For instance, I set Sugar and Spice and Not So Nice modern day.  Naturally, everyone knows what the modern city looks like and is familiar with our modern electronic gadgets.  So all I had to do was put in a few descriptive sentences knowing that my reader can fill in the rest.  But I made certain that they could still feel as though they are there.  If I were writing historical fiction or in a more fantasy like setting, then I would have described almost every detail since I would be talking about a world that I made up.
Writing is a fun challenge and these bits of advice will get you started.  Just remember, if you aren’t having fun, write something else.


    "I groaned as I rolled over onto my side. I opened my eyes. Rachel stood over me. “Oh, no,” I said, “It wasn’t a dream?”"

“You didn’t tell me everything,” I accused. “You told me that you last saw Rachel at her apartment, but the truth is you went to the computer lab. Why didn’t you tell me?”"

"My name is Mellow Summers and I am twenty-six years old. I was never was one to believe in ghosts...That is not until I met Rachel."


Janet McNulty currently resides in West Virginia where she moved after receiving her B.A. in History. She lives with her three cats who keep her on task.

Ms. McNulty has also recently published a novel, Legends Lost: Amborese, under the pen name Nova Rose. She is currently working on the second novel in the series called Legends Lost Tesnayr, but also has another nonfiction book in the works, that is untitled at this point.

Title – Sugar And Spice And Not So Nice
Genre – Paranormal Mystery Thriller
Format – Ebook
Publisher – Self Published
Release Date – January 26, 2012

Purchase Links:

1 comment:

Patti Hultstrand said...

Welcome Janet and my audience. Am late in checking in, but you know what you need to do. Please read and let Janet know who is breathing on the other end of the Internet.