Thursday, January 22, 2015

A very helpful Shirley McClain guest post about writing!
(The author of "Dobyns Chronicles.")

Short and Flashy
Short and Flashy may be the new in thing with writing and I am so glad to hear that because I love writing short stories and flash fiction. I found that fact out about myself when I was writing my first book, The Tower. When I needed to have a brain change because I couldn’t find the words I needed to say for the book, I would write a piece of flash fiction or a short story so I would think about something else besides that book and reset my brain. It made it easier for me than to come up with what I needed for the book.
Over the past couple of years I have noticed that people have read more of my short stories and my flash fiction. Do you know what flash fiction is? In case you don’t I will try to explain. Flash fiction is a complete story (has all components of a story) in a limited number of words. They can be very challenging to do.
Think how our reading world has changed since the computer came along. The time was that we had no choice but to go to the book store or the library to get our reading material. Now we have small portable screens that let us have a book zipped to us over the airwaves. We can get anything we want to read from Amazon including short stories that we might read while we’re sitting under the hair dryer or waiting in a doctor’s office.
According to Anne R. Allen, one of the authors of "How to be a Writer in the E-Age: A Self-Help Guide" short stories make money and hold their value. Kindle Singles often sell for the same as a novel length book. Ellery Queen and Woman’s World still pay top dollar for genre stories.
Short stories are great for practice. Learning to write short can keep your writing from getting flappy and having short stories in your portfolio might give you another book to publish or an opportunity to publish in a magazine.
I put the majority of my short stories in an ebook called Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes and published on Amazon. Publishing my work of short stories was something I didn’t want to pass up. You may also have an opportunity so see what you can do. It may be worth your while.


How's Your Title Coming Along?
If you are like me, it may take some time to come up for the appropriate title for your work. It goes for anything that you want to place before the public.  I find I can think of titles, but something inside of me knows it doesn’t quite fit (I wonder if that’s my muse talking).
Sometimes the titles are correct from the start for me.  My book that was originally published in November of 2010, had the title of “The Tower”.  When I did a revision of the book, I felt the title needed expanding.  I actually gave it a subtitle.  It is now “The Tower, A Jensen Mystery.”  The book I’ve published this year is called “Dobyns Chronicles”.  I wasn’t able to come up with a new title, so it is the one that stuck.
If you have problems with coming up with your titles, I have found an article from Daily Writing Tips which gives seven ways to help you find the correct title for your work.

1.  Think of adjectives, nouns and verbs which describe your work.  Write them down and then try pulling your title from them.  You can mix them around to see what works best.
2. Look for an important turning point in your novel or focus on the climax.  Describe the event on paper.  Pick out the words or phrases which stand out to you.  See if something works for you for a title.
3.  Pick out novels or short stories that run in the same genre as your work.  Study the titles and how they relate to the story.  Then, look at your project as a whole.  Think of the theme or overall message of your book.  Write down some words that go along with your theme and work them to see if you can find your title.
4.  Avoid the obvious “The” titles like “The Pink Slipper” or The Brown Dog“.  Look for a slight recurring theme or undercurrents in your novel and try naming your novel after those subtle nuances.
5.  Poets have a way of weaving words into a beautiful picture.  Read some famous poetry and write down words and phrases that stick out to you.  Song lyrics can have the same effect. You can find some powerful titles by mixing, matching and combining words from lyrics.
6.  Consult your thesaurus and look up synonyms for commonly occurring words in your novel.  Look up this synonyms in the dictionary to get a better understanding of their meaning.  Use different words in context to find a combination that you like.
7. Type title generator into your search engine and see what pops up.  There are several websites that will either random titles.
I have also included a video on picking your title.  Enjoy……..


I was born in the bay area of California but my family moved my sister and I back to Oklahoma, where they were both from. I’ve lived many different places but I always come back home.

I started the sixth grade in the Oklahoma school system and graduated in 1967. I started to college for a nursing degree but decided that “my man” was much more important. I became an RN with an Associate degree in 1971. Then many years later I went back to school with my sister who was also an RN and we obtained our Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

I am married to a man who spoils me rotten, and I love it. I have two grown children, six grandchildren and twin Great-grandsons. My family has grown by leaps and bounds. My husband and I now have a fur family at home. We have five dogs and three cats and they are all spoiled rotten. It’s like living in a house full of three year olds. When one is not into something another one is.

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Shirley's latest book is "Dobyns Chronicles."

Dobyns Chronicles is about a young boy whose father was a cowboy and whose mother was Cherokee Indian. His parents worked very hard on their ranch to raise their children and survive, but tragedy ends Charlie’s way of life. He finds that it is up to him to raise his siblings, David and Viola. His passion for dignity and life is what helps him to survive.

This book allows you to follow his life and live the adventures, ups and downs that shaped him into the man that he became and that of his family for generations. It’s a book of twists and turns, and a rollercoaster of emotions that will make it hard for you to put the book down.


I posted an excerpt  and review of this book which I found to be educational and a look at what a true family legacy is. I am glad to have read Dobyns Chronicles.

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