Home to: J.B. Dane
Nied Darnell and
BETH DANIELS BOOKS
While under my Dane, Henderson and Darnell names I write fiction, it's under my real name that I pull on my professorial hat and talk about writing genre fiction, something I have never gotten tired of talking about.
I came to teaching late, not returning to college after a brief fling with a few courses post high school until twenty years later. I loved college life...the courses, the research, the reading. However, I still wanted to write fiction. College made me a far better researcher and a much better writer. I swept up the BA and moved into an MA. The MA allowed me to teach courses in English Composition, Language (which was actually Speech, so verbal presentations of the same stuff that went into essays), and Writing Fiction!
In 2009 the online workshop marketplace began picking up speed and I've been even more active in it since putting college courses behind me. You'll find the current offerings of online workshops listed in the menu above, under, oddly enough, WORKSHOPS.
There have been so many workshops that I've done now, some research centered, others leaning more toward "how to" and "why do" situations in writing fiction, that many have been retired and some of those turned into e-books or, when more than a single workshop was combined, into trade paperbacks as well. These are the titles you'll find here. Most are written with beginning writers in mind, but others are genre niche related.
But let's get to the titles currently available!
How To Write A Funny Mystery
From Savvy Authors Press!
As if it weren't tough enough to write a mystery, to come up with the crime, to commit the crime (on paper, of course), and then turn a sleuth lose to solve it, now you'd like to do what many other mystery writers do in the market today.
You want to add comedy to it.
Not as easy to do as you might at first think.
How to Write a Funny Mystery not only strolls through the various types of mystery, and the various types of humor that can be used in a mystery, there are examples from books, TV, and movies PLUS excerpts to illustrate how something can be done.
Originally this topic appeared in month long online workshops but for the book, we started from scratch and included material that didn't appear in any of the workshops.
You really don't want to miss this one, do you?
Muse to Manuscript
E-book and Trade Paperback
Multi-published novelist (under various pseudonyms) Beth Daniels knows there is no one way to write a book, particularly a novel. But if you’ve never written anything with the goal of publication before (or just to finish it to share with friends and family), you’ve got to know where to start, right?
Things covered in MUSE TO MANUSCRIPT: WRITE A NOVEL are:
• Which genre best fits your story idea
• Considering who your audience is
• How long a novel actually needs to be in word count
• Great openings and conclusions need something between them – lots of smaller bits for the middle of the story
• Learning from inadvertent mentors – your favorite authors – and creating a guideline from your favorite books
• To plot or not to plot ahead of time with guidelines on building a story either way
• Dividing the plot to conquer it
• Easy steps to plot by and the importance of action-reaction
• Types of research likely to be needed and when it needs to be done
• A brief guide to formatting and proposal packages
• Creating characters – main, secondary and thirdenary ones
• Sorting out POVs (points of view)
• World building for fantasy, romance, or mystery stories
• Reasons why everything needs a backstory
• In fact, reasons why doing some things are necessary and why others can be a choice of what works best for you!
It’s time to move from wanted to write a novel towards becoming a published novelist!
Geared Up Writing Steampunk
E-book and Trade Paperback
“The best thing about Steampunk is getting to rewrite history.” Or so a reviewer said in commenting about Geared Up Writing Steampunk. But author Beth Daniels totally agrees with them!
In this, the 3rd edition of the book, she adds a few more elements to the fun PLUS expands the included listing of Steampunk publishers to 43.
Since the first edition back in 2010, this has been the only volume to focus solely on writing Steampunk fiction and building the Steampunk stage on which characters play.
Among elements covered are:
•Characters – 31 classifications, covering professions, social strata, and how to build a “being” whether biological or mechanical
•Style of Story – tales of adventure, mystery, romance, dystopian, comedy, time travel
•The World Setting – Victoria’s England, Edward’s, Weird West, Weird Urban East, La Belle Epoch, Canada and Australia, Parallel and Alternative Universe, off Earth (space travel, Steampunk style)
•Suggestions for how to Mangle History
•Period language and jargon creation
•Steampunk meets Gaslamp Fantasy (paranormals, supernaturals, legendary beings, the Fae)
•To use magic or not to use magic
So, don those goggles, pack up the carpetbag, lace up the corset, brush off the bowler or top hat, choose your weapons, the country and spot within the Victorian, Edwardian, Gilded Age or Belle Epoch that will serve as the stage. Journey into the known and the unknown. Journey where history never took us.
Flip Rejected and Abandoned Manuscripts
There is no such thing as a bad story idea. There are simply poor presentations, manuscripts that don’t match current market interests, and giant writers’ block walls that appeared insurmountable. All of these can be overcome with some serious rethinking.
FLIP REJECTED AND ABANDONED MANUSCRIPTS is about finding the redeeming elements and jettisoning those that bog things down. It’s about rethinking, rewriting, reconstructing, reworking, and flipping those once discarded ideas into publishable manuscripts.
“Flipping” works for do-it-yourselfers when it comes to taking a house in need of tender care and turning it into a desirable property. So why can’t the concept work on any and all manuscripts gathering dust in closets, file boxes in attics or garages, or communing with the dust bunnies under the bed, or in nearly forgotten .doc files?
Things covered are the reasons a project was shelved, revamping characters, blending redeemable elements from projects together, scoping out the current marketplace, and a format to consider when building suspense and hitting high points at specific points.
Beginner's Guide to
Deconstructing Novels: Identifying Required Key Genre Elements
Feel like you are lacking the secret password to whisper to the doorkeeper at publishing houses? Could be that your manuscript is missing certain elements that readers (editors, agents and the purchasing public) look for in specific genres or genre niches. If your manuscript is missing or running shy on some of these, that could very well be what is holding you back from achieving a sale.
At conference sessions and interviews with bloggers editors are notorious for telling writers that they are “looking for something different” when that isn’t really what they mean at all. They are looking for tweaks to the tried and true elements in the genre lines their publishing house goes to contract on and releases.
Readers who feed on the output from the Indie (Independently published) presses are looking for specific things, too. If your storyline doesn’t supply those longed for and expected elements, these readers won’t be back to pick up your next title when it comes available.
So how does a writer sort out what these elements are? They aren’t usually things mentioned in guidelines. There is only one way to glean what they are, and that is by reading your competition.
The most recent output from your competition.
DECONSTRUCTING GENRE NOVELS TO UNCOVER THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS dives into sorting out locations and amounts of backstory, character traits, the settings and world built to act as stages for characters, language, and more.
60 Ways to Plot or Dodge Writer's Block
E-book and Trade Paperback
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a meticulous plotter or a clueless-until-it-leaves-your-fingertips Pantser–somewhere along the line you’re going to hit the tall, broad, barbed wire and broken glass topped wall of writer’s block with a plot – either in the planning stage or in the execution, the actual writing of the story.
In other words, you’re stuck. 60 WAYS TO PLOT OR DODGE WRITER'S BLOCK is a cure.
I’ve read a lot of books on how to plot, on how to avoid writer’s block – not a one helped me do so. I’ve listened at conferences as writers talked about fool-proof plotting and how to side-step writer’s block–nada bit of help either. So I dreamed up my own ways around, over or under those seemingly unscalable walls that stopped my imagination cold.
Not all of them work every single time, which is why there are 60 of them presented here. Sometimes they aren’t all that different, though the mental picture painted (or physical manifestation suggested, in some cases) changes slightly. An alteration in the idea generating venue can turn the trick.
At first glance, some will sound really silly. But they work. Not just for me, but for other writers in my workshops. You don’t have to keep them in these formats but can morph them, adjust them as best suits your writing style. Dump ones that don’t appeal to you. But for the sake of experimentation, take each out for a test drive.
Among the “ploys” you’ll find: 2 types of freewrites, road maps, storyboarding, solar systems, interviews with characters, dominoes, dice, and cards, the Perils of Pauline, a Blind Librarian, a Berserker, characters with issues, cat burglars, and more.
The Alternative Quill:
Writing Alternative History
E-book and Trade Paperback
It’s a popular genre with multiple niches, so if you are interested in writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Dieselpunk, or tales that tweak history into something it never was (either the past or the present), Alternative History just might be for you.
Beth Daniels dips into the various styles of Alternative History by giving examples of published work and making suggestions on what specific niches have to offer and ideas on how to tweak history to your own story needs.
While this is an introduction to various niches these types of stories fall under, among the things covered are:
•Gaslamp Fantasy (and what makes it different from Steampunk)
The audiences come in all age groups and the eras represented span from the beginning of mankind to the present.
The possibilities when it comes to storytelling are endless.
Cruise through history with an eye to creating your own world. Sometimes it’s wondrous, and sometimes it’s….
Dreaming Up the Middle of the Story
Kindle only E-book
The most difficult - and longest! - part in any piece of fiction to deal with is the Middle of the story. It arrives the moment the cast has been introduced and the inciting moment - whistle or gun shot that kicks everything off - has been spun.
That's when the question arises: What the heck happens NEXT?
Multi-published novelist and genre fiction writing instructor takes on the tricky problem and comes up with some logical and some surprisingly unexpected ways for writers to do what at times seems impossible -- dreaming up the middle of the story!