Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Untraceable

S.R. Wells' new teen book, Untraceable, is available starting today! Yay!

Untraceable is a new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course - two hot boys.
Kirkus Reviews recently said, "This thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance. The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page."

MORE ABOUT THE BOOK
"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!"
-Kimberly Derting, author of the The Body Finder
Grace grew up in the woods. When her forest ranger dad disappears on patrol, she fights town authorities, tribal officials, & nature to prove he’s alive. Torn between a hot boy and cute ex, she heads into the wilderness to find her dad. Soon, Grace is caught in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. It will take more than a compass and motorcycle for this tough heroine to save all she loves.
Thank you so much for your help and support today and always. I hope you enjoy the book! :)
Shelli Johannes-Wells (AKA S.R. Johannes)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

WHAT JOKES CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT STORY SET-UPS

I borrowed this wonderful writing tip from Bruce Hale's web site.Check out more of Bruce’s Advice: www.brucehalewritingtips.com

WHAT JOKES CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT STORY SET-UPS

Never say anything bad about a man until you've walked a mile in
his shoes. By then, he's a mile away, you've got his shoes, and
you can say whatever you want.

Like a joke (even that one), a story doesn't work properly without
set-ups. What are set-ups? Just the crucial planting of key
information in order to understand what comes next, that's all.

Set-ups create expectations, which you're then free to mess with.
In our joke example, starting out with that well-known aphorism
helped build the expectation that something profound would follow --
which I then stood on its head. Without that opening, there would
be no contrast, and hence, no joke.

Same thing with stories. Here, set-ups and payoffs create and
subvert expectations, yielding surprise, humor, alarm, and other
desirable emotions in the reader. Set-ups form the foundation for
key story twists. How does it work? Well, for example, by
planting various bits of information in set-ups, you can lead
readers to believe that Professor Snape is the villain, then at the
climactic moment, reveal that the meek Professor Quirrell is behind
all the skullduggery. (Belated Harry Potter spoiler alert!)

PLANTING INFO
But not all set-ups lead to twists. Some merely serve to plant
information before it's needed. For example, if your hero knows
how to pick locks and escapes from a tight situation because of it,
you darned well better give us that information in advance, or
readers will feel cheated. "Why, yes, Bob, I just happen to know
advanced lock-picking techniques" doesn't constitute advance notice.

Ultimately, whether you subvert or fulfill your set-up, you must
pay it off in some way. Playwright Anton Chekhov knew the
importance of this. In 1897, he stated one of the great axioms of
story structure: "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the
wall, then in the following one it should be fired." That's called
playing fair with the audience and following through on set-ups.

Three key things to remember about story set-ups:

1. Don't telegraph.
Telegraphing means tipping your hand, being too obvious. If you
make too big a deal about planting your set-up, readers will notice
and see the payoff coming. In joke-telling, if you say, "A funny
thing happened on the way here tonight," it announces, "Here comes
a joke!" And it eliminates the element of surprise, which
ironically enough, is what makes the joke actually funny.

Say you're writing a mystery and playing fair, so you plant the
clue that reveals sweet Daisy could actually be the Evil Countess
in disguise. If you plant it too obviously, the reader guesses
your payoff and it spoils the surprise.

2. Don't overload with info.
As in general exposition, a little goes a long way. You want to
give the reader just enough information, but not too much. Your
goal is reader understanding and a satisfying payoff, so bear that
in mind when deciding what to include and what to leave out. Less
is more. This is especially true if you're planting a clue and
don't want to tip your hand.

3. Don't set it too close (or too far).
You have a tricky balancing act to conduct here. If you're setting
up a key element of your story, bear in mind that -- shocking though
it may seem -- readers don't retain every line of your deathless
prose after they've read it. By your canny placement of the
set-up, you can make sure readers recall it when the payoff rolls
around.

For example, if you mention in Chapter 1 that your hero has a gift
for accents, but she doesn't actually break out an accent until
Chapter 25, your readers might need a brief reminder somewhere in
between. And on the other hand, you wouldn't want to place the
first mention of this linguistic ability in Chapter 24; that's not
playing fair.

In the end, if you keep your set-ups short, subtle and deftly
placed, you'll reap the ultimate payoff: Readers who can't put down
your story.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Picture

The picture in the header of my blog was taken looking out at Lake Palourde from the Brownell Bell Tower. I was raised across the levee from Lake Palourde. I spent a lot of my childhood in that lake, swimming among the water lilies and moccasins.

More information about this landmark tower: http://www.lakeendpark.net/index.php/park/brownell-park-a-carillon-tower.html

Cynthea Liu's Free-tiques

Cynthea Liu, fabulous writer and wonderful instructor for writing for children and teens, is having a "Free-tique" contest on her blog.   Check it out.

http://tiny.cc/j7c4t

I attended a workshop with Cynthea, and have experienced one of her critiques. She really is great! Her book, Writing for Children and Teens is a wonderful, easy to understand breakdown of everything you need to know in the world of children's writing, including how to query and agent....with sample letters, etc. Totally worth the price. Go get your copy!