Author Archives: Kay Keppler

About Kay Keppler

Kay Keppler is a writer and editor of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northern California.

Happy International Women’s Day

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Eight Ladies Writing

women's dayAs a romance writer—a female writer whose books put women and their goals in the center of the story—I have to commemorate today, March 8, even though I’m a bit late here! International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world, but less noticeably in the United States. The holiday celebrates women’s achievements, even as women use the day to organize for social and political rights.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. One hundred delegates from 17 countries to the second International Women’s Conference, held in August 1910, agreed to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women, and by 1911, more than a half-million Europeans marked the day with 300 demonstrations. In Vienna, women carried banners honoring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that women be given the…

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Writing Sex Scenes

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What should a good sex scene do? More than insert Tab A into Slot B, that’s for sure. See what Michaeline over at Eight Ladies Writing has to say about it.

 

Is there a secret to writing sexy scenes? Image via Wikimedia Commons

Is there a secret to writing sexy scenes? Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sex scenes can be scary to write. We live in a strange sort of pop culture that delights in sharing details, details, details, and this is fine up until the point when a description is suddenly branded Too Much Information. The reader enjoys an open and frank conversation about whatever, when suddenly the writer turns the corner into something that’s just a little too personal.

The scary part is that we, as writers, never quite know where that turn is. It’s not marked with signposts. One reader might switch off at the first mention of bodily fluid, while a different reader will devour descriptions of the most depraved and degrading acts, only to be turned off by something that most readers accept as just part of the modern written sex scene – heaving bosoms or a quivering member.

So, I suppose, like so much writing, the first rule is write to please yourself…

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Building a Playlist

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What do you listen to as you write? Jilly over at Eight Ladies Writing has made some suggestions based on the acts of the story.

Eight Ladies Writing

playlistsAre you a fan of playlists? I find them incredibly helpful as an aid to discovery. This week I started one for my new story, I’ve been listening to it non-stop, and it’s really got my creative wheels turning. I wanted to give myself a flying start, so I used songs we already had in our library and a few that came immediately to mind, but I’d love to build on it and I’m looking for suggestions.

It’s a strong, active story so I’m especially interested in powerful, energetic, punchy songs. When I put the list together I just picked titles that felt right, but below I’ve grouped them into a few themes: Our Girl on a Mission, Our Girl in Trouble, Kick-Ass Fighting, Hunting and Hiding, Preconceptions Challenged, Hard Choices, and The Right True End. I’d love to add songs about a man on a mission, family obligations, classy…

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Reasons for Scene

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How many reasons for a scene do you include in your work? The more, the merrier! See what Michille at Eight Ladies Writing has to say.

Eight Ladies Writing

Red Stage Curtain

My goal for the next week or so is to get several powerful scenes written. By powerful, I mean scenes with multiple purposes in the story. As we have discussed here many times, every scene is a unit of conflict. I want to write scenes that go beyond a unit of conflict.

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Author Branding

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How do (and how should) authors present themselves? It all depends on who you are and what you write. Elizabeth from Eight Ladies Writing has a few thoughts on this matter.

Eight Ladies Writing

brandA few weeks ago, we took a break from our usual discussions about the craft of writing to talk about social media and the business side of writing. Today, again driven by things that are going on in my day job, I want to continue that discussion and talk a little about author branding.

First off, what exactly is an author brand?

At its simplest level, an author brand is about communication. It is how your readers (existing or potential) know you and it’s what makes you stand out from all of the other writers out there.  You want readers to recognize your name and know what you write so that when you have a book out they’ll read it and then tell their friends, who will read it and tell their friends who will . . .

So I just need to write a good book (and another…

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Fighting Talk

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In building a world, how do you create scenes you have no experience with? How can your characters fight their enemy if you yourself don’t know how to fight? That’s what Jilly is doing right now.

Eight Ladies Writing

Fighting TalkIt’s been almost a month since a random discussion with my hairdresser inspired me to have a try at writing fantasy. My initial plan was to give it a couple of weeks and then decide whether to carry on. I’m pleased to report that while the story is still a hot mess of fragments, impressions and loose ends, it’s shaping up well and I’m absolutely loving it.

Last Sunday’s discussion about baddies was super-helpful. It gave me just the nudge I needed to figure out that my story does indeed have a shadowy Big Bad. I haven’t figured out the ‘who’ and the most fundamental ‘why’ of him yet, but I’ve figured out what he does, and it’s not good. It will probably take my hero and heroine more than one book to bring him down. There’s also a good chance he might be a stooge for an even Bigger…

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Under Pressure

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End of February, shortest month of the year, and one of the most stressful times in Japan. Everyone is under pressure. It’s smack in the middle of exam season, and for my daughter, the really important one is coming up next week. Kids are graduating in a few weeks, people are moving. Everything turns over between March 31 and April 1, but now is the darkness before the dawn. Nobody knows anything except “maybe.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDh_gHDvkk

(a mashup of concert footage from Queen and David Bowie at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert; the mix is pretty close to the classic Queen/Bowie song, the description says)

It’s like the beginning of the third act in a novel…

Source: Michaeline: Under Pressure from Eight Ladies Writing.

Friday Writing Sprints – Welcome to the 60s!

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Sometimes all you need to spur creativity is to try a little exercise to get warmed up. Elizabeth, one of the Ladies over at Eight Ladies Writing, is doing Friday writing sprints to help writers of all kinds gear up for productive weekends (and Friday downtime). Here you have it: Random Word Improve.

 

Welcome to another installment of Random Word Improv, or as I like to think of it, play with a purpose.

Whether you wrote a lot, a little, or none at all this week, a few minutes of Improv is a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page. As a plus, you might just stretch your creativity in new and interesting directions.

All right, let’s get started. This week we have a 1960s theme going on. The words are meant to invoke images of free-love, Volkswagen minibuses, Woodstock, and the more positive feelings of the 1960s. What you choose to do with them is completely up to you.

Today’s bonus word is: counterculture. Today’s bonus phrase is: “can you dig it.”

[Check out] the rest of today’s randomly selected random words…

Source: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Welcome to the 60s!

The Value of Persistence

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Roy F. Chandler standing next to a stack of the books he has written. Photo by Katherine R. Chandler/29 April 2009

Roy F. Chandler standing next to a stack of the books he has written. Photo by Katherine R. Chandler/29 April 2009

I envy writers who write fast and well, who don’t seem to have the creative issues I have. Two, three, four, five, six, or even more books per year for these folks seems entirely within their grasp. I can’t write that fast. I never have enough ideas; concepts don’t jump out at me. I’m not one of the writers who say, “I have so many ideas, I don’t know what to write first!” No. I say, “What can I write about next? Must cogitate.”

I’ve always thought that a person is either an imaginative thinker or not—that’s it’s a genetic trait, a gift. It turns out, that’s not true.

Researchers Brian Lucas and Loran Nordgren report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that people underestimate how many creative ideas they can come up with if they continue to work on a problem, rather than give up after mediocre initial results. In fact, the most creative ideas arise after many other ideas have been considered and discarded. People who give up too soon don’t allow the best ideas to emerge…

Source: Kay: The Value of Persistence