Hey, folks! I’ll make this short and sweet . . . I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Folsom’s 93 over at Goodreads.
I haven’t done a very good job of keeping this blog updated, but as the new director of Northern Colorado Writers, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in conference planning. Our 11th annual conference is around the corner, but you still have plenty of time to register. You can even register for one day, or just a separate Master Class. Our keynote speaker is bestselling author Grant Blackwood who will also be teaching a workshop—lucky us! And you! This two-day event will boast over 30 workshops taught by award-winning authors and industry experts from all over the country.
Plus, who doesn’t want to visit Fort Collins?! It’s the land of beer, bands, bikes, and books! (and quite a few beards, it seems) Come for the inspiration and chance to get your work in front of a literary agent then enjoy a local brew.
And look at this gorgeous program! 90 pages of presenter handouts and other writing information you’ll refer back to again and again.
In other news, I’ll be at the Denver Woman’s Press Club Networking Event this Saturday, April 9th from 2:00-5:00. This will be a great opportunity for writers to hear from writing organizations along the Front Range and do some networking and mingling. Bring those business cards! You never know who you’re going to connect with.
The hot ladies of Hot Chocolate Press will be at BookBar in Denver this Saturday! There will be readings, giveaways, and activities involving . . . marshmallows . . . of course. Dean K Miller, the hot guy of Hot Chocolate Press is unable to attend (no, this wasn’t our doing), but his books will be available for purchase at the event. If you can make it, we’d love to have you.
I’m thrilled to announce that I am the new benevolent overlord of Northern Colorado Writers. Kerrie Flanagan started the organization in 2006 to help support and encourage writers of all levels and genres and I’m looking forward to continuing that mission.
NCW offers classes, workshops, meetings, retreats, and an annual conference, so I have my work cut out for me. Luckily, I have some great folks behind the curtain who help me run this amazing organization.
SAVE THE DATE: April 22-23, 2016 marks the 11th annual NCW Conference. We will be bringing in an impressive list of industry professionals, so keep an eye out for that.
I’ve got a few changes up my sleeve such as lower membership dues and a lower conference fee. There’s also some great classes and workshops in the pipeline.
SAVE THE DATE: On January 9th, I will be joined by my fellow Hot Chocolate Press authors at Bookbar in Denver for a night of readings, games, and giveaways. (We all decided I will talk about my melons.) I’ll post more info soon.
Have a great weekend.
I really need to be better about consistently blogging, but lately, I’ve been putting everything I have to say in the YA I’m working on. You can catch me at The Writing Bug, however, every other Wednesday. But while I’m words-smithing away, the writing world keeps spinning, so here’s some newsworthy tidbits to pass along. Plus, I’m giving away a copy of Bobbing for Watermelons . . .
My Bobbing publisher, Kerrie Flanagan of Hot Chocolate Press is at Patricia Stoltey’s blog today discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a small publisher. It’s a great interview, plus Kerrie is giving away a book, so head over and leave a comment.
The Water Holds No Scars: Fly Fishing Stories of Rivers & Rejuvenation, edited by Dean K. Miller, is now available from Tulip Tree Publishing. This is a compilation of essays from various authors about their healing experiences of fly fishing. Proceeds benefit the Platte Rivers Chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. I’m anxiously awaiting my copy to arrive in the mail.
I highly recommend Kenneth W. Harmon’s ebook, The Devil’s Lament. Ken is a longtime member of my critique group and this book has always been one of my favorites of his. He set is aside for a few years, so I was thrilled when he finally decided to shop it. It didn’t take long for his publisher, Winlock Press to snag it. “It is 1932. The world has turned to dust. Lucifer stills walks among us, testing the faithful at every turn. Then he discovers the reincarnation of Eve in a Dust Bowl revival tent … and their ancient passion threatens the world again. When Lucifer and Eve were together in Eden, their relationship changed the fate of humanity.” An excellent read.
The 2016 Top of the Mountain Book Award is underway. Deadline is February 1, 2016, but wouldn’t it be great to get your submission in before the craziness of the holidays? Top prize is $1,000 given in two categories: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. Fiction entries tend to outnumber the nonfiction ones, so please pass along the contest to all your memoir writers!
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for, right? I’m giving away a copy of Bobbing for Watermelons to one (outrageously) lucky and (obviously) smart reader. Just leave a comment (preferably a nice one) by next Monday, the 7th at midnight, PST. Open to U.S. residents only.
And if you read any of these books I mentioned (or any book for that matter) leave an honest review on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and/or Goodreads. It helps authors out a great deal, especially considering there are roughly 750,000 books published a year!
Have at it.
According to Hindu philosophy, animals eventually will reincarnate into people, but only if the animal has no fear of humans. This can only happen if we are kind to them. How many times have we heard someone say that their dog or cat thinks it’s a human? Some Hindus will tell you that that’s because their pet is in fact, ready to be a human in its next life.
I can get behind that.
Last month, we had to say goodbye to our eight-year-old boxer after he sustained a sudden illness. I believe the only thing Moe felt differentiated him from a human, was that he took a heartworm pill every month. I have no doubt he will become a handsome and charming human and will love long walks on the beach. (Think Ryan Reynolds.)
So of course, we knew we’d miss his exuberance when we came in the front door; miss taking him for his daily walk; and miss his goofiness, especially when an exercise ball freaked him out. But as the days and weeks have gone by, I felt his loss is unexpected ways:
Eating popcorn without being watched, feels unnatural.
The mail sits in the mailbox at the end of the cul-de-sac for days at a time now because we no longer go on an evening walk and often just forget to pick it up.
Bringing groceries into the house is anti-climatic because the excitement radiating from this child-with-fur whose waiting for a surprise out of one of the bags, just isn’t there.
The wood floor in the kitchen has an annoying shine because the dried drool marks are gone.
I never thought I’d miss dog farts, nose prints on the glass door, and floating dog hair in the air.
I knew it’d be lonely, but holy crap, I had no idea. The Husband and I work from home, so when he went away for a work trip, I wasn’t fully prepared for the deafening silence. Even a tank full of fish or a lava lamp might have helped. Or dare I say . . . a cat? My neighborhood is full of free range felines and I have found myself keeping a lookout for them. I’ve fallen for a beautiful black one with white paws and green eyes that actually showed me some affection.
I know he’s no good for me. I’m allergic. But would it be so bad to let him come in and walk around? Snuggle a little? I could wash my hands and use a sticky roller on my clothes later . . . I could take an allergy pill. I’m all about protection.
Yes, I’m on the rebound. I’d take in a squirrel if it showed signs of domestication.
I know, just get another dog, right? First of all, it’s too soon. Second, with our son likely leaving the nest in about two years, The Husband and I would like to do some traveling for months at a time, so having a pet wouldn’t be a wise decision.
But . . .
In 2007, Moe picked us out when we came to look at a litter of seven boxer puppies. I believe he did that because he knew we would be his best chance at becoming a human in his next life. There’s no guarantee we won’t get another dog sooner rather than later, because when a dog picks you, you have no choice but to scoop him up and take him home.
I’ll be joining fellow author, Kelly Baugh on September 24th at D’s Boutique in Berthoud, CO for a night of wine and readings. If you’re in the area, come say hello. Kelly will be reading from her women’s fiction, Miss You Once Again, an engaging story with memorable characters and a twist of Southern charm. And of course, I’ll be reading from Bobbing for Watermelons—no Southern charm in this one, but plenty of Midwest snark.
Would love to see you there.
Earlier this week, Katherine from my critique group, sent a link to a post by Rachelle Gardner about developing a thick skin as a writer. Gardner points out that it will likely never happen, but that you will survive.
I’ve been in the Raintree Writers since 2003 and myself and author, Patricia Stoltey, are the only original members (we’ve obviously scared everyone off). We’ve had to learn to not only take criticism, but to give feedback in a constructive way. Over the years, there might have been a tear or two shed by members (and it’s not because someone ate the last piece of chocolate on the table). It’s because writing is a personal endeavor and when you’re first starting out, it’s like watching your toddler trip and fall on the playground for the first time. You want to yell at whoever left the little dump truck half buried in the sand for your two-and-a-half foot tall cherub to trip over. Then you want to cry (which you probably will do).
There’s no crying in critique group. Unless they’re tears of joy, no one should cry. You’re there to give honest, but constructive feedback. Always include positive comments interspersed in your critique and approach your concerns with sensitivity. Chances are, if it’s something that needs addressing, others will chime in, too, so don’t channel your inner Simon Cowell. I also think it’s important to never should on anyone. You should have the aliens invade before the birthday party, or You should make this character funnier.
Laura Powers, one of our critique group members, said it best:
“You can’t let others dictate your story. Fellow writers are great for offering another perspective, spotting problems, sharing techniques, and helping you through creative blocks, but we are just passengers on your ride. You are driving the bus.”
And I’ll leave you with that.
This morning, WordPress informed me that my stats were on fire at Folsom’s 93, my other site. Sure enough, the last two days registered quite a jump. I don’t get a lot of traffic at my two sites, so my writer heart was all a flutter when I saw that I had over 500 hits before 10 a.m. Did an exec at the History Channel fall in love with my book? Did Oprah add it to her prized bookshelf? Surely, some influential bigwig is about to make my author dreams come true.
Is it finally my time to break the internet?! *squeals of delight*
No. One of my posts made it onto Reddit. And I immediately knew which one. It appears folks are strangely fascinated with . . .
And people google it. A lot. Because it regularly shows up as a search term on my analytics All. The. Time. Don’t know what it is? That’s okay, you’re not alone. For as many people who are keenly interested in it, there are twice as many who don’t know what the hell it is. In 2011, fellow writer, Jason Brick, wrote a guest post regarding this very topic, thus, illuminating the blogosphere to the act of hiding contraband up your derriere. Little did I know, it would become one of the most popular posts on the site. If you must.
I appreciate the visits of course, but it doesn’t appear a documentary about Folsom prison’s executed men is in the works, nor a spike in Amazon sales. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t as enthralling as keistering. I assure you, it’s even more so. *clutches book to chest*
It goes to show that the interests of the people is vast and varied, so if you are looking for a new book project, might I suggest one on keistering. It’s sure to be a hit.
Due to some weird Amazon glitches, Baby Shoes wasn’t half price as expected last week, but it is today. Such a deal! This is a fantastic read: 100 stories, 100 authors, 1000 words or less. Short, sweet, and to the point.
You can also click on over to The Writing Bug where I talk about not creating likable characters in “I’m Not Here to Make Friends.”
I recently acquired a family photo album that is more of a scrapbook; filled not only with pictures of bygone relatives, but with valuable, written histories, too. With modern technology, I envision worn and weathered photo albums becoming relics. Even albums from when my son was a baby, look dated. So many family histories are lost, and I always find it sad to find decades-old photographs in flea markets; these sepia-tinted orphans that belong in a family. (Of course, finding old photos is my thing.) With Facebook and other online media, your every move can be documented; immortalized for all time. If you’re a celebrity and want to know what you ate for lunch a year ago, just Google.
I’m lucky that my ancestors deemed their lives worthy of commemorating, otherwise, I’m not so sure I would have known I had relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
I was also thrilled to learn that there’s some writer-illustrator genes that go way back.
In the back of the album are original drawings from 1924 by author and cartoonist, Frank V. Martinek. He had married into my crazy family. Martinek was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and in an effort to educate and help recruit American youth, particularly in the Midwest, Martinek created the comic strip, Don Winslow of the Navy.
Winslow was based on a character in novels Martinek had already written. The comic strip ran from 1934 to 1955, and two films were made in the ’40s. Martinek didn’t actually do the illustrating for the comic, but provided all of the stories. Originally created as a propaganda tool, the strip was said to be very popular for its “excellence suspense, and ingenious, spine-joggling situations.” One historian said that Don Winslow is filled with “intrigue, spychasing, beautiful women, and villains with names like Dr. Centaur, the Dwarf, and the Scorpion.”
Martinek wrote several books:
Don Winslow and the Navy
Don Winslow Saves the Secret Formula
Don Winslow Breaks the Spy Net
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Great War Plot
Don Winslow Navy Intelligence Ace
Don Winslow U.S.N. in Ceylon
Don Winslow and the Scorpion’s Stronghold
Don Winslow and the Giant Girl Spy (The Better Little Book)
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Secret Enemy Base
Lieutenant Commander Don Winslow U.S.N. (The Big Little Book)
Know Your Man
Face to Face with the Scorpion
You can download Don Winslow of the Navy (1940) for free or read it online. I don’t have any other particular reason for this post, other than to well . . . preserve some history.
Never underestimate the recharging power of a vacation. We just returned from a 9-day jaunt in northern California and it was spectacular. I feel refreshed and ready to go, especially now that I have a new project underway—this time, a young adult novel.
Yesterday, I helped out at the Northern Colorado Writers booth at Fort Collins’ New West Fest where I got to chat with people about writing and sell a few books.
We (appropriately) rounded off the weekend with a nice cold What-A-Melon beer from a local brew pub. Who doesn’t love a book photo op?
Baby Shoes: 100 Stories, 100 Authors will be available tomorrow (August 18th) for half price. This is a really great book featuring some amazing authors showcasing their flash fiction chops. I’m honored to be among these authors with my story, “An Affair to Forget.”
Polish up those manuscripts because the Top of the Mountain Book Award will be underway in about a month. A few guidelines have changed and entrants will now have the opportunity to get their submission critiqued. So keep this contest in mind and check the site mid-September for all the rules.
It must have been when our son was around 11 or 12 when we’d let him stay home alone while we went out for a night of grownup, childless debauchery. Despite his eyes being glued to the T.V., we felt certain he understood our instructions: Don’t answer the door; Don’t watch [fill in the blank] on Netflix; and Don’t answer the phone unless it’s us. What kind of parents would we be if we didn’t, right? Plus, we’ve always followed up with Love you.
Then, when he started going out with friends, these snippets of parental advice elevated to things like, Make good choices and Be smart.
Once he got his driver’s license, it forced us to dig into our bag of parent-isms and come up with a new set to accommodate this life milestone. Don’t text, Don’t drink, and Be careful. (Make good choices and Be Smart also carried over because, hey, they can work in any situation.)
Our son has never done anything to make us believe he will become a ward of the state; he’s always been responsible, respectful, and trustworthy. But still, we’re parents and it feels weird not saying something. You just have to. You hope that in the unlikely event his friends ask him to take part in a crime spree that’ll spread across several state lines, he’ll say, “You know, my mom said to make good choices. I’m out.” Deep down, we know he’ll do the right thing because for years, we’ve witnessed him doing just that.
Still . . .
After these first six months of being a licensed driver, our son can now finish our parental sentences before we do. It’s generally accompanied by a nod and an eye roll. Fortunately, he has a good sense of humor and often indulges us. Yesterday, as he headed out to meet some friends, I yelled, “Don’t be an asshole!”
My husband, in the midst of eating lunch, nearly choked. Then we all laughed. Our son said that he loved that one the most and asked if it could encompass all the other warnings and instructions. We agreed. (We still say Love you though.)
I told him that I’d put it on a t-shirt, which he wholeheartedly welcomed.
I designed it; I didn’t say I’d actually order it.
Advice to authors: watch your back, because if you have the audacity to not meet your readers’ demands, you will be skewered. I feel for Harper Lee. It took only a matter of days to rip her down from a place of reverence and admiration (a position readers have bestowed upon her over the last fifty-five years) all because readers sanctified one of her characters.
(A character who the amazing Gregory Peck gave a nice, polished finish to.)
Go Set a Watchman tells the truth and the truth can hurt. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Finch is defending the law, not supporting desegregation. We see Atticus through the eyes of his adoring 6-year-old daughter, so it’s not hard to imagine readers becoming the same 6-year-old who later discovers disappointing truths. But to say things like, Harper Lee ruined my life; and To Kill a Mockingbird is no longer my favorite book, is childish and petty. To suggest that Lee owed readers a happy ending to the lives of these fictional characters is selfish. You don’t have to like it, but to tear her down because of it, is terrible. Get over it.
To Kill a Mockingbird took on a life of its own and it’s no wonder Lee didn’t publish anything until now. If anyone wants a happy wrap-up to the lives of Scout, Jem, and Atticus, then take to the fan fiction boards and write your own damn sequel.
Lee didn’t owe us a thing.
David Kulczyk is a talented author friend of mine who is published under the same imprint as my first book, Folsom’s 93. David’s previous titles, Death in California, California’s Fruits, Flakes & Nuts, and California Justice are excellent true crime reads; I highly recommend them. For his forthcoming book, about the murdering ladies of the golden state, he’s hired an illustrator to provide original drawings. David is working with Oalf Jens, an amazing illustrator, but of course, it costs money. If you’d like to help a couple of guys out, check out David’s Go Fun Me; every little bit helps.
As David says, “being a writer is a tough row to hoe.” Because of my own fondness for whacked out, historical true crime, I’m enthusiastic about this new book. Also, tune in and listen to David on True Murder podcast; it’s a great interview.
I took a little breather, but now the prompts are back. Same “rules” apply: Pick one, two, or however many you want, and write something. Post it here if you’d like. Write a story, whip out some flash fiction; just write.
When our son was little and we’d eat out, he often saved his French fries for last. The untouched fries would drive my husband bananas. You gonna eat those? He clung to the hope that our son would be too full to finish them once he finally got around to it. More often than not, our son, right before jetting off to the playground, would pass the few cold, remaining fries to his dad. All was right in the world again.
I’m the same way with editing. I like to organize and clean things up, so when it comes to editing, I bask in grammar glory that there are rules about such things. And yes, I know it comes off as annoying to some, but whether you like it or not, these editing shenanigans matter. They can make or break you as a successful writer.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t always adhere to these rules and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Fortunately, those mistakes are fixable and over the years, I’ve learned a great deal. I love reading manuscripts and offering content and copy edits. When I catch plot mishaps and dangling modifiers in a piece of writing, all is right my world again.
There are computer nerds, science nerds, and there are word nerds. That’s me. So I’m thrilled to tell you that I’m now offering editing services. You thought my Grammar Nazi ways were obnoxious already . . .
You see, I just want to get paid for being obnoxious. But helpful and professional, too. Whether it’s a full or partial manuscript, or an essay, or short story, I want to help. Visit my editing services page to learn more about what I can do to help bring your writing project to the next level.
And, on a somewhat unrelated matter, here is the Northern Colorado Writers podcast where Kelly Baugh and I discuss our latest books, our creative influences, and a hot new genre we are very excited about.
First, head on over to Goodreads and enter a chance to win my latest novel, Bobbing for Watermelons. The fact that it’s National Watermelon Month ought to enhance your reading experience, right?
This week, I’m at The Writing Bug ranting about rules. I like rules . . . just don’t ask me to adhere to them playing Monopoly, because I won’t.
My flash fiction piece, “An Affair to Forget” is in Baby Shoes: 100 Stories by 100 Authors, available for pre-order and can be yours on July 20th. There are some amazing authors featured in the book and I’m excited to check them out. And flash fiction—how fun is that to read?!
And finally, check out the NCW Podcast where Rich Keller speaks to authors, industry professionals, and everything writing. I’ll be on an upcoming episode with my fellow Hot Chocolate Press author, Kelly Baugh. We discussed Geriatric Erotica . . . seriously. So look out for that episode.
I grew up as a Cubs fan so I know all about the June Swoon. It’s something my father would say with a sigh as we watched the Cubbies chalk up another loss. Just when we thought they were on their way, in came the slump. My own June Swoon actually started in May, and I’m still trying to weasel out of its grasp.
This is my writing desk, newly painted. I figured since I haven’t been using it, it’d be a fine time to repaint it.
I realized, that when I had spent more time at the desk peeling the old paint off of it, than writing, it was time to take a break. The paint-peeling worked as a distraction from the glaring blank screen, but then the ugly desk became a distraction from the writing (at least, that’s what I told myself). I could talk about how peeling the layers of paint was like peeling back the layers of a scene or a character, or blah, blah, blah, but really, sometimes peeling paint is just that: peeling paint. It was also a sign that I need to step away for a little while. So that’s what I’ve done.
Yesterday, as I got caught up with some podcasts, I scraped, sanded, and painted. And it felt good. It’s still in the garage with its new-desk smell and will eventually be hauled back upstairs. I’ll let it sit pretty for a little while as I work on peeling back my own layers and seeing what’s underneath. (Sorry, I had to do it.)
And it all started with a killer sunset . . .
Hmmm . . . I now see a somewhat melancholy theme here . . . (and they’re all some of my favorites).
Well, happy writing!
I recently participated in a photography-poetry workshop where we learned how to take photographs (even with a camera phone) and combine finished pieces with works of poetry. I’ll be the first to admit that poetry is not my forte (you can see my previous dismal attempt here). For this workshop, Kerrie Flanagan helped guide us through writing haikus and Cinquains. Turns out there’s a science to this poetry stuff.
Line 1: Five syllables
Line 2: Seven syllables
Line 3: Five Syllables
Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables
This was a great workshop that got me to try something I hadn’t done before. I’ve always loved taking photos, but I never took them much further than my camera phone (which I’ll point out, took all of these photos). And of course, dabbling in poetry—something brand new to me—was fantastic.
who clings to me,
I’ve no arms to pull you;
what any mother longs to do.
~ Mother Earth
Forget about up,
cast your eyes on something else;
see the world anew.
Unplugged and marked free.
Still, stories unfold on screens
that no one watches.
Droplets gather here,
safe upon this ledge of green.
Don’t drip, drizzle, drop!
Suzette McIntyre, our photography instructor and owner of Boardwalk Gallery, put together a wonderful show of everyone’s work. Part of the fun was seeing what everyone had done. If you live in the area and are interested in participating in the next workshop (likely this fall) contact Suzette. Even if you don’t take a class like this, I urge to try this activity on your own; it might spark a new interest you didn’t know was there.
If you’re in the area this Saturday, you ought to swing by Boardwalk Gallery in Windsor from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The show is a culmination of photos taken from during a photography workshop taught by Suzette McIntyre, combined with poetry writing lead by Kerrie Flanagan. I’m excited to show my “body of work” and check out the other works from my fellow classmates. If anything, come for the wine and cheese . . .
It’s nice to be back in the swing of things after the A to Z Challenge. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my previous Writing Prompt Wednesday posts, and as always, feel free to use any of these. Post here, there, anywhere; just write!
Today, I thought I’d shake things up a bit and come up with some titles, which can also spark a short story, flash fiction, novel, or poetry idea.
I just got back from a writer’s retreat, but I didn’t actually go anywhere. How is that possible, you may ask? Well, during the course of visiting bloggers during the A to Z Challenge, I came across a writer who talked about how she and another writer from her critique group would take turns going to one another’s house for an overnight writing foray. They’d have quiet writing hours and brainstorming sessions. This struck me as a fabulous idea, so I presented it to my dear friend, fellow writer, and publisher, Kerrie, and we picked a date. With The Husband in India for work, this worked out great, plus, this entire week has been rainy, which always makes me want to hunker down with a mug of tea and paper and pencil.
Kerrie helped me brainstorm some plot and character ideas for my new novel, I worked on some poetry for a Words and Images workshop I’m taking, and then we hammered out the storyboard for a children’s book we co-wrote and I’ll be illustrating. Even my teenage son offered his ideas when we were discussing the book. But we had potato chips, so I think that lured him.
We accomplished a lot.
Writing retreats can be quite a financial investment, so something on a smaller scale, and in your own space, is a great option. Having the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, can set you on the writing path if you’re feeling stalled. Plus, it it’s a good excuse to clean house.
Happy Friday, everyone. And if you’re one of those who like a great book for a great deal, you can download Bobbing for Watermelons for half price at Kobo today through Sunday. That’s only $2.99! (You don’t need a Kobo reader; just download the app.)
Have a great weekend and Mothers’ Day!
This Sunday, from 6-7 p.m., Between the Pages, a radio show featuring author readings, news, and music, makes its debut and I get to be a guest! The show is hosted by funnyman, Rich Keller of Wooden Pants Publishing, and I’ll be joined by Northern Colorado Writers Director and founder of Hot Chocolate Press, Kerrie Flanagan. I get to talk about Folsom’s 93 and read from my latest book, Bobbing for Watermelons. Kerrie will fill us in on all the latest industry news and events, so hopefully, you can tune in . . . and given it’s a live show, hopefully, I don’t screw up. But there’s always that chance and you won’t want to miss it. Check out Between the Pages on Facebook and give ’em a Like; they’re good folks.
I’m glad there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. The 2015 A to Z Challenge has come to an end and I had great time, but I’m ready to scale back a bit. This is the first time I’ve participated in the blogging event and it was a fun time. Through the process, I’ve come across some wonderful writers who’ve now been added my blog reader. I’ve learned a great deal from them.
So, on to Z . . .
Zeal is defined as earnestness or fervor; a hearty and persistent endeavor. See ENTHUSIASM, my Oxford Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus tell me. A fabulous word to end this challenge, don’t you think?
Go write, my writer pals! Write with zeal, fervor, and enthusiasm! Don’t second-guess yourself; don’t over-think it; don’t stop to ask questions; just bring your best effort and write.
This is a tiny bit of a departure from my previous posts, but it still entails family. My late father-in-law was one amazing guy. Nearly eight years ago, he passed away from cancer just eight months after my own father succumbed to the disease. Maybe it’s a Dad-thing, but both guys would say “Yo!” But it turned into almost a signature expression for my father-in-law.
Celebratory moments would garner a “Yo!” and fist bump from him—a simple expression and gesture that told you he was beaming with pride on the inside. We don’t superfluously throw around The Yo; only certain times warrant it and those are Yo Moments. That’s when you know it’s a big deal, such as when my last book came out, or when our son aced his 5th consecutive semester, or when The Husband got the promotion he had been hoping for.
These Yo Moments are important. They carry us along as we continue to strive and push ourselves toward that next Yo Moment, when and wherever that may be. I encourage you to strive for your own Yo Moments, such as finishing that first draft, selling an article, or publishing a story. These are moments worth celebrating.
How do you celebrate your accomplishments?
Having no idea what to write for my “X” post, I’ve put it off until the night before. Had I been writing about cult classics, I could have gone with “X-Files.” Or if I wrote erotica, “X-Rated” would be a given. But my theme is writing + old family photos . . . and here are my choices.
I suppose I could have gone with “Xtreme,” “Xerox,” “X marks the Spot,” “X-Factor,” “X-Games,” “X-mas,” but none of these jumped out at me. So this is how I feel about today’s letter of day:
There’s a wall there, you just can’t see it. Apparently, my sister wasn’t in the mood to smile. I tried to help, but there was no getting through that wall. Blocked. That’s how I felt for a while because I had been struggling with what to write next. I’m not a big fan of the term writers’ block and I think we give it more power than it deserves. Maybe that’s why I’m so big on writing prompts—they can get you going when you’re stalled in the writing process.
Look, the muse doesn’t give a shit if you’re staring at your computer screen, fingers poised on the keyboard, asking nicely for some inspiration. In fact, I’m convinced muses revel in watching us suffer, which is why you have to take charge. If you’re struggling with a scene in your WIP, get away from it. Distance can be the exactly what you need in order to come back with a fresh mind. Over at The Writing Bug, I recently wrote about using pencil and paper to get out all my thoughts—every possibility, every angle, every idea, and it worked; it got me my new novel idea.
I also recently picked up The Amazing Story Generator that creates thousands of story ideas.
This book combines random settings, characters, and conflicts; the rest is up to you. That’s how I feel about writers’ block—it’s up to you. You’re the only one who can get yourself past a lull in your writing, so don’t count on being struck over the head with an idea while you’re binge watching on Netflix. That can happen, but, again, don’t count on it. You’re a writer; so write. No matter how crappy it is, it’s writing—and it will lead somewhere.
How do you get going again when you’re stalled in your writing?
This is my grandmother holding her first grandchild—my sister. Even before Amy was born, Grandma had a vested interest in her. No monies, just love. Of course the gains on that investment repaid ten fold.
We often hear writers reference their books as their babies. There’s a lot of truth to this: we labor over it for months, or years and it can be painful and joyous. Just as squeezing something the size of a football out of something the size of pea, is one helluva accomplishment, so is writing a book—usually. (Not to minimize childbirth, but go with me on this.)
In addition to time, writers put a lot of blood, sweat, and plenty of tears, into their work, so to say they have a vested interest in their book, is an understatement. Being emotionally vested is no joke. The idea, would be that in return for the emotional turmoil of writing a fantastic book, the writer gets paid (yes, please) and that the book receives high praise. Right? We all want to experience some level of success, that of which, is different for everyone.
Do you feel this way about your work? Do you feel devastated if your work isn’t received as well as you hoped? Do you think that the amount of work you put forth into your writing is worth every writing hour; every rip-you-hair-out moment; every agonizing editing session? Or is it easier for you to cut your losses and move on if a writing investment doesn’t go as planned?
Where do you draw the line between love and business?
But not us writers, right? I mean come on, whoever heard of such a ridiculous thing? I mean, if there was ever a group of people more certain about what they do, it’s wri—
*Embarrassed look + nervous laugh*
Uh, well, apparently I might be wrong about that . . .
Yeah. Covered, wrapped, coated, slathered and dipped in uncertainty and self-doubt; that’s how we writers roll—at least once in a while. Will people like it? Will readers “get it?” Am I making a fool of myself? Uncertainty can get us into trouble. It can stop us in our tracks and derail our progress. It can make us over-think everything, thus, hinder ourselves. It can cause great works from ever getting read at all.
When you feel this way, here’s what I suggest:
A lot of uncertainty comes from our insecurities. Banish those right now, otherwise, they’ll always get the best of you—and your work.
How do you deal with uncertainty as a writer?
As you can see back in 1985, my sister and I were rocking a few trends: Banana-seat bikes, leg warmers, and those heated curlers called Benders.
They were all the rage, let me tell you. Okay, trendsetters, we were not.
When it comes to writing, do you think it’s important to follow trends?
I don’t know about you, but by the time I’ve identified a trend in writing, it’s already too late to cash in. In fact, I’ve heard agents say to never follow trends; just write a great book. Andy Ward, Nonfiction Editorial Director at Random House says, “Most of the books I work on take two to four years from acquisition to publication, so I feel in some ways that trying to predict trends is a recipe for frustration or even failure. I look for books that have the potential to survive any given moment, that either present ideas or writing that will be as interesting two years from now as they are today. So I guess the trend I try to follow is quality, whenever possible.”
Usually, what dictates a trend, is an uber-popular book. Agents saw a flurry of wizard books after the first Harry Potter. After Fifty Shades of Grey, agents were inundated with BDSM. In 2008, Writer’s Digest reported that in the Romance genre, vampires and paranormal subjects were hot. For thrillers, “terrorism” was on the top of the list, and “sexy, tongue-and-cheek urban fantasy” was taking over the sci-fi/fantasy market.
Jump to 2015 . . . here’s a list of what agents and editors are hoping for. They may not become trends, but it’s good to know what they want.
So there you have it; now go write.
What trends are you hoping will die off? And what do you see making it’s way to bookstores?
Not everyone will like your book. Some will love it, while others might say, “meh.” Like art, books are subjective. Readers come from all walks of life, carrying with them, different perspectives and life experiences. These play a huge role in whether or not they like a particular book. Even Book-zillas like The Help, The DaVinci Code, and Pulitzer Prize winner, The Gold Finch, were not liked by some. It happens.
If you’re lucky enough to get any feedback from an agent regarding your query, sometimes their response includes a line about the book industry being subjective. Hence, don’t give up. It’s true. Yesterday, I talked about how my mom and I share books and more often than not, we have differing opinions on them. She and I are a lot alike, so it’s interesting to see that we don’t always like the same books. But that’s how it is sometimes.
This is so important to keep in mind when getting a not-so-good review on Amazon, or receiving a rejection from an agent; it’s subjective. (However, when they all start pointing out the same things, you might want to investigate whether or not these things should be fixed.) Otherwise, ignore them and move on.
Subjectivity is something we just have to deal with; you can’t please everyone.
Any advice for dealing with an agent’s rejection, and/or those who leave a less-than-positive review?
By now, we’re all probably aware of the quote from Stephen King about the importance of reading if you want to write: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” I think he knows a thing or two about writing, so I take serious heed of this particular piece of advice.
My mom has always been an avid reader and passed this habit onto me early in life. We enjoy sharing books with one another and discussing what we both think of them.
So read, dammit. It’s all part of learning the craft of writing. Don’t limit yourself to writing magazines and books on the craft, but novels, nonfiction . . . you name it. I’m in a book club and because we all have different tastes, I end up reading books I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up. I’ve come across some wonderful books and authors this way.
Reading great books inspires and teaches. As with most other professions, you wouldn’t dive in without seeing how others do it, right? Books allow you to discover the many different ways of plotting, character development, storytelling, and writing beautiful prose.
Even if you only have ten minutes a day to read, that’s all right, because I have a feeling that those ten minutes will eventually turn into twenty, thirty, sixty minutes . . .
What are you reading these days?
My dad’s not necessarily being quirky here; acting silly, really. But you get the idea. Readers like characters who have peculiar behavioral habits, or quirks. It’s what makes them interesting, endearing, engaging . . . and human. When you think about it, we all have these idiosyncrasies to some extent, (which we may not recognize in ourselves) so we may forget to give our characters these reader-loving traits. Chances are, some of your favorite movie, television, and literary characters have quirks—they’re part of why they’re your favorite.
Maybe your character . . .
Check out this list of character traits and quirks that you’re welcome to steal.
Do you make it a point to incorporate quirky habits in character development?
I admit, this is fairly broad, so let’s stick to characters here. Readers want to fall in love with characters; they just do. We crave connections with other humans, even if those humans are fictional. Usually, when we swoon over a book, it’s because characters left an impression.
Readers don’t have to “fall in love” with characters though to enjoy them. Make them memorable. How you realistically portray your characters can make or break a reader’s overall enjoyment of the book.
How do you do this? Here’s a few suggestions.
1. Dialog. Readers should have a clue into the character’s personality by their first few lines of dialog. Do they ramble on when they’re excited? Get discombobulated when they’re angry? Using punctuation–without going overboard–is a way to also show their emotions when speaking. Try to reveal a piece of your character with every line they speak. How they talk to a bank teller or a TSA agent, is very telling about a person, so think about the little things. A great example of this is The Rosie Project by Greame Simsion and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.
2. Use of the five senses. Author Ken Harmon, in my critique group, is always reminding us of this, which is good, because we tend to forget how important this is. Incorporating your character’s reactions to their surroundings gives the reader a deeper POV and insight into the character. How would they react to going into the house of a cat-hoarding agoraphobic? By using the five senses, you’re not only creating a richer scene, you’re developing the character’s personality, which readers love. This is where all that showing (instead of telling) comes in handy. For help, envision yourself in the scene, then try it with different people in your life: your spouse, your mother, or your sister.
3. Body language and gestures. As I’ve mentioned before, 55% of communication is nonverbal. Even if we don’t realize it (which is probably most of the time), we express ourselves, whether it’s our likes, dislikes, fears, and other emotions through gestures. In writing, these say a lot about characters and the trick is to keep them consistent throughout the book. If your character can be self-conscious, she might, periodically throughout the book, glance in mirrors wherever there is one; straighten her clothes, put her hand to her mouth to check for bad breath, etc. Tie one or two of their emotions to body language and gestures. Sometimes, a gesture is much more effective than words; actions can speak louder than words.
4. Observation. When they walk into a room full of people, what’s their first thought? Do they look for certain people? And why? How do they react to what others are doing and saying? When they watch someone pick their teeth, or their nose, do they judge? Do they stare with interest? Do they look away? What a character sees going on and how they portray it to the reader is an important tool to developing them as a memorable character.
What are your tips for portraying memorable characters—likable or not?
Original is defined as present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest. It’s also said to be an eccentric or unusual person. Well, that’s clear as mud.
It can be difficult to be original. Some even say that there aren’t any original ideas or thoughts left. Mark Twain famously stated, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
Do you agree? Perhaps on a quantum level, so to speak, that’s true; we take all these tiny pieces that are established ideas and feelings, and put them together to form a bigger picture. Maybe it’s the bigger picture that needs to be as original as possible. Then again, readers also like age-old themes and concepts because they tend to be relate-able.
Either way, I believe striving for originality in our writing is critical. We all have writers we admire and wish to emulate, but to what degree? For me, I won’t even bother trying to be like my favorite authors, because I know that ‘s as likely as me staging underwater Civil War reenactments. If you have a story (boy meets girl; boy loses girl, etc) the key to originality may be with the characters. How interesting and unique you make them, can sell the story. Make them memorable people and you may just have yourself a winner. But just your everyday folks? Boring. So then your setting has to be rock solid.
How about when it comes to trends? At the NCW conference this year, a publisher said that editors don’t want to see anymore dystopian stuff . . . unless, it’s unique and original. How do you know when you’ve done that? I suppose it’s when you sell the manuscript.
Do you agree with Twain? And how difficult do you think it is to be original? And do you feel it’s essential as a writer to be original?
As you notice here, I am doing my best to get noticed, but the camera is pointed at my sister. Someone noticed, however, and took my picture, but did I notice? I doubt it. I was to busy trying to get noticed elsewhere.
How often do we do this as writers? When you stare at your Facebook page, or list of Twitter followers, do you ever feel like you’re jumping up and down, waving your arms and saying, “Look at my book! Look at my book!”? It always feels like everyone’s looking the other direction.
Chances are, the more you parade around with your book, the least likely people will take notice. Just this week, I’ve come across a few authors who have some stern advice on author self-promotion. Delilah S. Dawson, tells us why we need to just shut up; and Jody Hedlund gives us her 5 reasons for unfriending authors on Facebook. And as always. Chuck Wendig offers his sage advice on the subject.
Bottom line, it sounds like we’re going about this all the wrong way. Dawson points out, social media does not sell books (which I’m tending to agree with), so maybe it’s time to stop trying to get noticed by those means, and start looking at the other avenues that are actually there to help get your work some attention.
Goodreads. It’s where the readers are. GR offers affordable advertising for authors, as well as opportunities to discuss your book and answer questions from readers.
Talk to local libraries. If you have a group of fellow authors willing to spend an afternoon doing readings, approach libraries with the idea. They want to draw readers, too, so it could be a win-win. They usually have author programs and events, so it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them.
Bookstores. Yes, this is usually a no-brainer, but these days—at least where I live—a lot of the bookstores are charging authors $50-$200 to have a solo signing. Usually, promotion (print and online) is included in that, but if you ask me, that’s still a lot of money. With that said, they’re still worth looking into; you never know. Plus, if you rope in a few other authors, you could make it worth the smaller fee.
Gift shops, coffee shops, etc. What if your main character runs a cafe? See about having a signing at your favorite local coffeehouse. If you mention a certain store or city in your book, you might have luck contacting that store, or bookstores in that city willing to host a signing. Local commerce usually loves it when their fine city is mentioned in a book.
Radio shows and podcasts. I talked about this yesterday, so I won’t get into here, but it’s certainly an often-overlooked venue for writers.
Contact websites, eZines, and magazines that fit into your book’s genre/subject matter to review the book. Have a PDF version of your book ready to go so that you can shoot it off to someone who is interested. They may be willing to trade; they’ll review it if you write an article for them. Also be willing to send off hard copy freebies to some well-known reviewers. And think big, because you never know. If you’ve written an amazing book, why wouldn’t Leonardo DeCaprio want to make it into a movie?
Offer your services. Present at conferences, or teach a workshop with the local writing organization. These are great ways to showcase your talents and pass your words of wisdom onto others. Offer readers the the chance to read the first chapter or two of your book; or if you’ve written a short story, offer it for free for a limited time. Cross promote by offering a guest post to a fellow author. Like I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not about you; it’s about readers and what you can impart on their lives.
So if you feel as though you’re not getting noticed with the usual outlets, maybe it’s time to look in other directions.
What have you found to be the best way to get noticed as a writer?
Specifically, radio. A lot has changed since the reel-to-reel days of yore. This is from the early ’80s when my dad was Program Director and deejay at a radio station. Radio has come a long way and with the advent of the podcast, hitting the airwaves has never been easier for a writer. I’m hooked on listening to podcasts like Criminal, Serial, This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Check out my post at The Writing Bug where I list several free writing podcasts. Lots of radio programming makes room for authors, so here are a few to check out.
It doesn’t hurt to add radio and podcasts to your list of promotion to-dos.
My first taste of being behind the mic was probably about the time this picture was taken. My sister and I would record songs and jokes in the station studio and send them to my grandparents. For your listening pleasure, I’ve got the recording Amy and I made for my grandfather’s birthday thirty-some years ago. The first 50 seconds are echo-y, but then it goes to normal. Around the 1:37 mark, you’ll hear my sister punch me in the arm. We sing songs, tell jokes, then start to bicker. You’ll also hear my parents with some background commentary here and there. Classic stuff.
I love this picture of my mom. It’s 1975 and she’s holding my older sister, who is only a few days old. Mom’s at the old Denver airport and her father took this picture. She’s showing him what she thinks about having her picture taken.
It’s pretty easy to express language through gestures in everyday life, but what about writing?
Sometimes, it’s not so easy.
While in conversation, we roll our eyes, talk with our hands, or show certain expressions that are easily translated into how we feel (and sometimes, all in the same conversation)! I love that about language. Experts say that 55% of communication is nonverbal. Just drive in traffic at rush hour and you’ll see what I mean.
With books, however, readers expect most of the communication to come through the dialog exchanges between characters. Reading about a gesture is much different than the actual act of the gesture. If we have our characters roll their eyes, well, first your critique group will point out that your eyes are not dice, so they shouldn’t be rolling; and they’ll also tag all the other instances of eye-rolling in your book and tell you to cut most of them—it’s too many; it’s redundant. But isn’t that how people communicate? Like, all the time?!
I find it can be so difficult to succinctly describe gestures and body language in my writing, and I suspect a lot of authors do; so much so, they choose to avoid it when they can. When we grudgingly give into an argument, don’t we throw up our arms? Toss them in the air? Well, if you’re writing about zombies, then that could literally be the case, but readers might stop and ponder it too long. It’s probably not a huge blunder, but I’m guessing an editor would flag it.
Most of what I’m talking about, are everyday gestures that we often do without even thinking: shrugging; guffawing (what does that even look like?); scrunching our nose when we smell something foul; or showing our dislike for someone or something.
Even though these are common nonverbal cues, we are usually told to keeping them to a minimum in our writing. I think the key is to stay away from cliche descriptions of them, but can we still get our point across? Bottom line, gestures are visual cues and so as writers, it’s our job to convey these gestures in a succinct, clear, yet unique way.
How do you handle describing common gestures in your writing?
It can be easy for writers to keep secrets from their readers, but it generally doesn’t go over well. You want to surprise the reader, or build suspense, so you withhold a few things, but you can end up pissing off the reader. It can also feel insulting, as if the author thinks you’re too dumb to catch on. It’s not fun to be reading a book, when suddenly the author drops a bombshell that he clearly knew about from the beginning, but didn’t let you in on it.
Seriously, how does it not come up sooner that her father is half-alien?!
This is particularly annoying when it’s the protagonist whose coming clean in the last chapter. There is a fine line between deceiving the reader and devising a suspenseful plot.
There’s also a difference between building suspense and building tension. It might be more beneficial to be honest with your readers by letting them in on it and then build tension by keeping the secret(s) from other characters, for example. You want to shock and surprise the reader, but your main character can’t be deceiving. You got yourself an unreliable narrator—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has to be done right.
The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie, was one of the first books featuring an unreliable narrator. We read this one in my book club last year, and we seemed to be mixed on our feeling toward it. I hate to give anything away, but basically, it isn’t until the end, that we discover our first person narrator isn’t who he says he is. Yet, somehow, Christie pulled it off. The narrator didn’t actually lie about anything; he was truthful when asked questions—it was that the other characters didn’t ask the right questions. That, and Christie created a character with a trustworthy background.
Other authors who did this well: Palahniuk (Fight Club); Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho); and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights).
Be careful about keeping secrets from the reader because you can end up deceiving them. If you’re concerned about doing that, have someone who knows nothing about your story or book, read it. They’ll likely pick up on that stuff right away.
How do you feel about unreliable narrators?
Look at how well my sister and I are juxtaposed. Despite our matching attire, we had very different personalities. Not opposite; just different. Growing up, comparisons were often made by teachers; not only with looks, but with behavior. (She was way more behaved than me.)
Juxtaposition is a literary device that clues the reader into the contrasts between characters, concepts, and places. By drawing comparisons between two dissimilar things/concepts/people/places, writers can create a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. When I looked up some concrete examples of this, the same darn ones kept coming up. I didn’t want to regurgitate them, but they really are great examples.
Characters: John Milton’s narrative poem, “Paradise Lost.” In it, Milton places good and evil (God and Satan) side-by-side, in order to showcase the contrast, thus, making Satan’s inevitable exodus below ground, a reasonable conclusion.
Concepts: Shakespeare was a juxtaposition genius and there were several examples of this in his work. This part, from Romeo Juliet, Will wanted to show the contrast between “light” and “dark.” He is wanting to show that despite the darkness of night, Juliet ‘s face radiates against the skin of an African:
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;”
Place: Charles Dickens does this in A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
I did come up with a few examples on my own, that are more modern. In the Harry Potter books, readers are aware of the good vs. evil concept, and Rowling does a great job of doing that, by subtly placing Harry and Volemort side-by-side. Harry has a nightmare where he faces several doors, but then the scar on his forehead burns. The reader surmises/is reminded that it is the work of Voldemort.
Stephen King is also a master of juxtaposition. In Cujo, we see the marked contrast with this vicious, killer canine and the everyday suburban life. In Secret Window, King places us in a quiet, idyllic setting with the tortured, chaotic soul of a writer. (Which is another thing he got right.)
You follow me?
Common proverbs in the English language make use of juxtaposition:
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
All’s fair in love and war.
Make a mountain out of a molehill.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Other ways things to compare:
Young and old
Funny and sad
Warm and cold (as in emotions or personalities)
Pious and atheism
Clean and dirty (such in The Odd Couple, or prude vs. not-so prude )
You don’t have to beat the reader over the head with these differences; being subtle and consistent can be enough to show what you’re trying to get across to the reader.
Do you use juxtaposition in your own writing? If so, how?
I dedicate this post to Ivan Doig, a great American author, whose work left a lasting impression; a literary legacy worthy of admiration.
I’m not sure what impression I was trying to make here, but if Facebook had been around in 1982, you bet your ass I would have posted this gem.
I’m not always known for making a great impression, or even an appropriate one, and I often tell myself I should stick to leaving an impression with my books, essays, and stories.
Writers leave impressions because they want their name and/or their work to be remembered. Author Kristen Lamb made a hilarious impression by promoting her books using feminine hygiene products. (Seriously, it’s hilarious.) When it comes to book promotion and signings, I tend to lack the creativity to come up an impression-leaving gimmick, so I try to leave an impression with my work.
We hear so often about having a strong beginning to snag readers, which is still important, but what about an ending? Isn’t that your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression? It could be what’ll make a reader hug the book to her chest and sigh, or close the book and say, “Hmph. I was kind of hoping for . . .” Even if she enjoyed the rest of the book, the impression you leave her with, particularly at the end, can change how she feels about the entire book. That can also be a good thing. What if the reader found the book just okay, but the ending brought it all together? It happens. Obviously, our goal as writers is to wow from start to finish.
Every book and story is different and it doesn’t have to be a happy ending or a cliffhanger, as long as it leaves the impression that you hope it will. Take a step back and decide what your overall message is and bring your story around to that; hint at it, at least. Maybe you’re trying to bring awareness to a particular issue. Or that you hope readers will be more open-minded about something. Or maybe you just want them to close the book, smile, and write a raving Amazon review.
Endings can be hard to write; they’re not usually my favorite part to come up with, but they are very important to the reader, so devote a good deal of attention to them. You only have one opportunity to leave a last impression.
How do you like to leave an impression as a writer?
This is Ivan Doig, my favorite author. I just read that he passed away today, and it breaks my heart. He wrote 15 books, his first one, This House of Sky, was his beautiful memoir. His 16th, Last Bus to Wisdom is scheduled for an August release. From the first page of the first Doig book I read, I fell in love with his writing style and his characters. Doig was a master of witty, one-of-a-kind descriptions that always made me stop and re-read, out of sheer awe. He had a way of developing characters, who within a page or two, became people you wish you could meet in real life. What a loss. I encourage you to check out Doig’s work. My recommendation is to start with The Whistling Season or English Creek.
Rest in peace, my friend, and thank you for your contribution to the literary world. You’ll be missed.
Isn’t it great when things work in harmony? As you can see, my sister and I are enjoying our harmonious photo session. There are lots of ways authors can have projects that work in conjunction with other projects of theirs.
For example, I recently learned at the NCW conference, that children’s book authors should look into creating an app based on their book(s) so that they can not only offer more to their readers, but broaden their audience as well.
Kelly Baugh, author of Miss You Once Again, which takes place in Mississippi, will be releasing a companion cookbook filled with her Southern grandmother’s recipes.
I’m contemplating writing a novella based on the alter ego that the main character of my novel has. Maybe you have a secondary character who’s worthy of his/her own story? It could make for a great companion book.
What about creating a Facebook or Twitter account for one of your characters? Or create accounts for two characters and entertain tweeps with their banter? Pair up with another author and have a battle of tweets and promote each other at the same time. Perhaps you build a website with a bunch of “extras” for readers to enjoy.
Branding. Come up with an idea, a book for example, and then create products that work in harmony with your book. J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, and Veronica Roth also have companion materials to go along with their books. (They’re huge, so of course they do.)
With some creativity (c’mon, you’re writers!) you can create some great ideas that can work in perfect harmony with your current book(s).
How have you extended the life of your book? What ways can you think of that can expand your audience?