Thursday, April 10, 2014

No, I'm not famous....

No, I'm not famous, but two people have found me interesting enough to interview. I feel special!
I was remembering these interviews the other day about how much fun they were to do. So, I thought I'd share :)

Check out the interviews here:
(Daniel has an amazing book coming out this fall called I, Vladimir.)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let's Get Into Some Trouble!

Two writer friends and I have started a new blog called Trouble the Write Way.
Come on over and we'll get into some trouble together!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Active Reading Part III is here!

Welcome to part III on Active Reading. If you've missed the other two they are here and here

Why do we care about active reading? Because it helps us analyze what we like and emulate it.
When we’re reading something we really like, we should try to glean as much as we can from it. Of course a novel should be entertaining to read, but it can also be a learning experience when we analyze the text. That’s easier said than done. How do we keep from losing ourselves in the story, you ask.

Constantly ask yourself questions. While you’re reading, the trick is to find ways to emulate the author’s success. Did a certain phrase make you smile, or did a group of sentences push you along to read faster? Analyze it and take notes (yes, keep a notebook handy or be prepared to highlight or bookmark your ereader). Do you find yourself mad or sad about a particular character’s action or a scene? That’s a good thing. Analyze why the scene pulled so much emotion from you. Look harder at what works and try to see why it works.

Still afraid you’ll be lost in the story and forgetting to ask those questions? Make a book mark with those questions on it. Every time you turn the page your eyes will go to it, see that list. That’s your time to analyze. If you’re on an ereader, just have a piece of paper for your fingers to fiddle with while you’re reading. On the piece of paper have the word: WHY? Because that’s the true question – why did I like that, why did that give me feels, why didn’t that do it for me as that should have been an emotional moment.

I used to love reading a book in which the characters goal is made clear, and his or her motivations for reaching that goal are obvious and believable. It’s part of the very successful GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) approach. Those three things are key to a successful book, but they can also come off as formulaic when it’s spelled out to the reader. Nowadays, I’m really happy when I come across a novel that has put forth the GMC in a new and exciting way. It challenges me to push harder to come up with an even more unique approach to achieve the GMC. There lies the challenge. Being challenged is a good thing when you’re aspiring to become a better writer. If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming that’s your ultimate goal.

One of your current goals in analyzing published novels should be to note the characters goals, their motivations and the conflict the author throws their way until you’ve mastered the process. When you've learned to spot GMC, writing GMC becomes as easy as tying your shoes, and it'll be easier to come up with different approaches.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Active Reading Part II

One of many reasons for aspiring authors to continue reading novels: To see how they did it

Reading other published works gives you examples of how to (or how not to) write your genre. If you love reading mysteries, and you decide to write mysteries, continue reading them.

But from now on, pay attention to how the authors drop hints and clues, how they lead the reader to the end with foreboding. Have you ever finished a book and said “I knew that was the bad guy.” Did you ask yourself how you knew it was the bad guy? The author dropped hints, of course. Go find those hints, mark them with a pencil or something, and emulate them until it becomes second nature. If you pinpoint what authors are doing right often enough, doing it right yourself will become more of a habit than a conscious thing.

Writing romance? You realize a romance is really dull without constant tension between the two principle characters, but how do authors weave that conflict and romance into one cohesive piece? That’s what you should pay attention to while reading. You read your genre to learn how to best write your genre.

Do you know what your weak points as a writer are? Dialogue? Description? Info dumping? Read and pay attention to how other authors are doing it. If people regularly correct your dialogue tags, read and pay special attention to dialogue tags. Have you ever had someone tell you that your description was pretty but it slowed the pace? Read and pay attention to how authors weave description through activity rather than have blocks of description. Analyzing how authors are doing it right will help you to do it right as well.

Maybe you realize your prologue isn’t a good idea, but you don’t know how to weave the world building or that backstory through the novel in a cohesive and subtle way. Aspiring authors should read published works and pay attention to how they did it. Use a highlighter and note every time you read a passage about the past. Whether it is dialogue or exposition or an internal monologue, experienced authors have perfected info dropping instead of info dumping, and you can learn from them.

Exercise: Choose a book you've already read that's within the genre you write. Read the first three chapters again, this time pinpointing the things you'd like to improve in your own writing. Highlight it, mark it with a pencil. If you're interested in improving your characterization, hone in on the authors word choice in the dialogue. If it's the MC, really dissect the language the author uses in exposition. Mark where the character makes decisions - those are telling of his or her character. Really analyze how the author placed the things you'd like to improve upon. Re-reading a book is sometimes better as it's less for entertainment, and you won't get pulled into the book as much. You'll be able to actually see the words and not the story. When you do this once, perhaps you'll be able to see these things in new novels - no re-reading will be necessary. It's all about training your mind to be discerning. The more you're able to pick up on what authors are doing right, the more you'll be able to emulate their craft.

I’m sorry this second post in the series has taken so long to be put up, but…I’ve been reading. :)
And the next post is here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let your outline turn into a guideline

Here's how it works.

I do a loose outline. It keeps me from having scenes in the first 1/4 to 1/2 that don't move the plot forward. I say 1/4 to 1/2 because that's where I'm most likely to go astray. But I'm so much more ignorant of my outline for the latter portion of my book. Or forgiving - put whatever label to that you wish. I found that when I tried too hard for too long to stick to my outline that it put a damper on my creativity. I've only followed my outline to the T one time, and something about that story just lacks...soul? Intrigue?
It's just not my best story, but it's so much better than my first one which I didn't outline at all. That first novel has major issues that I don't know if I will ever fix. I've rewritten it so many times, but I don't know if it'll ever be publishable.

I'm a huge proponent of outlining. And I'm a huge proponent of being lenient with it. Lenient not for the sake of writing scenes that sound fun even if they don't progress the plot, but to let your character guide you. Sometimes what you have your character choosing in order to hit those plot points isn't what your character wants to do. That sounds crazy, but maybe your character is already on his/her path to a character arc. S/he wouldn't choose to vandalize a billboard because of peer pressure anymore. But there's something else s/he can to do keep that plot point rolling...fake the vandalism?

So, my advice is to write the outline so you'll know what is supposed to happen and you don't  have a bunch of random scenes that sounded great at the time. Now you won't have to figure out which of your darlings you're going to have to kill. But be flexible for growing characters. Let your outline turn into a guideline.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Active Reading

The first time I heard that term I thought it was all some sort of writer secret society code. I've since uncovered the code and ding ding ding I can even advise people on it. You've heard the advice before: a writer should read. You've heard the term, active reading. And you've heard that writers should stay in the loop.

I'm going to break down the mystery of active reading in a series of blogs. However, I can't do that without explaining why active reading is so important.

Why should writers read? Because not reading is like working for an environmental awareness organization and not recycling
Reading connects you to people who are you. You’re a writer, be supportive of other writers by reading their books, published and unpublished. Writers are basically your co-workers. By appreciating and utilizing their work, you’re keeping your industry alive. What happens when we stop buying each other’s books? How can we not support the industry in which we hope to be in?
A writer who doesn’t have time to read is going to be as effective as a scientist who doesn’t like to research, a party planner who doesn’t like to plan, a chef who’d rather drink protein shakes than eat. Reading and writing just goes hand in hand. If you don’t read, a writer is in the dark.

Read to stay in the loop
Have you ever had a reader tell you: that’s a cliché phrase, your character is cliché, your plot was slightly predictable? Reading could alert you to phrases that have been used so many times that it’s eyerolling: stiff as a board, black as night, weight of the world on her shoulders.

Being an avid reader could tune you in to character traits that are being used often in published books. Readers might be tiring of cheerleaders who are misunderstood, girls who are really pretty but don't know it, the sensitive badboy...okay, maybe not the last one.

Reading could also alert you to scenes from published books that are too popular to be used in your own writing. And don't mistake watching the movie as covering your bases. How could you know that having the mayor's daughter give your character a pin with an animal on it before sending her off to fight for her life would automatically bring to mind the beginning of Hunger Games? You won't know that if you haven't read the book.

By reading published books you'll know about commonly (and currently) used plot points. I’m all for making the plot your own, and doing a better job at it than the previous author, or even sure it’s the same premise but my characters are aliens instead of werewolves. But the point is to at least be knowledgeable about what’s currently being written…and how it’s being written. You won’t know what you’re dealing with unless you’re reading.

So there’s the why. The next question is—how should we read? What should we look for? What does active reading mean? Tune in for the next post, and I'll try to answer those questions for you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Time for another trip

Okay, I took another trip recently and oh my God, my life will never be the same. Here's the gist of it.

Oh, wait. I want you to take the trip this time. I'll insert "you" here instead of me.

You are a fanciful girl by the name of Emilie, and you live in Alexandria, Virginia. You're fearful of bad luck and excited about rabbit's feet and lucky earrings. But for a year now someone big is missing from your life. Tossing a coin into a fountain behind an arena at 11:11 on November 11 seems like a good idea, so you do it again the next year too.

But someone was watching. Emilie, you're going to freak when it tell you this, but Scottish rocker Julian McLane watched you last year and decides to say something to you this time. He says a lot of something because (YAY!) we get to hear everything he's thinking. What girl doesn't want to hear what's going on in her love interest's head? Yeah, I thought you'd like that. But hold on. There's no happily after until we find out who is killing off the band's fans. Yup, you heard me. You have to help solve the mystery too, since you're actually part of the North American Tour now.

You. Love. It!

Being on tour with a bunch of ninteen-year-old gymnast rock stars is heaps of fun when they're just a group of huggable, prank-loving, mischevious-yet-sweet boys. You love them so much that you want to help them take out the psycho serial killer of fans. Actually, you need to solve the mystery or else you're next. I know, I know, I'm sorry for bursting your bubble. But, hey, you have a Scottish gymnast rockstar who wants you. Julian is freaking hot. Just take care of the pesky serial killer who's closer to home than you ever expected, and everything will be fine and dandy.

Moment(s), a new adult romantic thriller, coming soon.

Hey, a big shout out to @shelle0712 for her help in naming Julian. You could even go surprise her by saying something on Twitter. People's reactions are always funny.