Posted in write publish repeat

Veturing into the world of Podcasting

I have been going back and forth lately about what platform I would like to focus on for helping other writers and have settled on podcasting!

I love listening to podcasts thanks to my husband introducing me to them and I like the flexibility and format and there will be an archive that is easy to access through iTunes and various other avenues.

Write. Publish. Repeat. will be launching soon!

Podcast Logo

I’m still working on editing the first episode, but I hope to have it up and ready to go next week. The first episode will deal with one of the most frustrating aspects of publishing. The Query Letter.

Titled “How to write a query letter without going completely crazy” I’ll be discussing the basics of what a query letter is, the parts of a query letter, and tips for making yours stand out.

You can follow the podcast now and it will soon be available on iTunes as well!

FOLLOW HERE

Posted in writing, writing advice, writing tips

Creating a Protagonist With Depth: Part Five

If you haven’t read the first three part in the series, you can find Part One HERE, Part Two HERE, Part Three HERE and Part Four HERE.


Now let’s discuss how to make your characters fail in a way that makes them better.


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Failure

Just like nobody enjoys a perfect character, no one likes a character that always makes the right choices and succeeds
If your character always succeeds, where’s the tension, the worry that they might fail? Without that, readers get bored.
A story needs fear that the character will fail/die/be beaten in order to keep readers flipping pages.
Even if they think they know where the story is going, they want to find out how they’ll get there


 How do you make them fail? Rope 2

Look back at their list of faults and flaws. Which of those can you use to put them in a situation where making the right choice will be difficult?
In “What We Saw At Night” Allie doesn’t tell the police what she saw because she’s afraid of getting in trouble for being somewhere she shouldn’t.
Why was she out at night? Because she has a severe sun allergy and has started taking risks because she thinks she won’t live very long.


hand over mouthHow do you avoid nonsense failure?

Does it make sense in real life?
If some guy told you he was sneaking into your room to watch you sleep at night, you’d freak out. Bella, though, was totally cool with it, which has garnered criticism.
Would two parents ever actually split up twin girls and never let them see each other for their own selfish reasons like they did in The Parent Trap? I highly doubt it.
When helping characters make decisions, make sure there’s a good reason for what they choose. Lean on that backstory you crafted.
Do their fears influence them?
Have past hurts caused them to mistrust others when they shouldn’t?


What character failures have left an impression with you?


Posted in writing, writing advice

Where Does Your Book End…Literally

Many writers start a project with an end goal in mind. Even those of us who are pantsers (write by the seat of our pants) tend to know generally where our story or book will end. Those who outline and thoroughly plot know exactly where their story will end.

Globe2I’m talking in terms of the end goal of the plot. Will the MC meet their goal or fail so spectacularly that readers will be hard-pressed to forget? This is important. VERY important. Having a weak ending or no ending at all is a major turn-off for readers, but that’s also another discussion all together. What I’m talking about today is where your book ends physically.

How many of you decide or even just consider the physical location where your plot will come to fruition?

You may be asking if it really matters. It does. A lot.

Let’s Consider Neo and the Matrix…

MatrixThe final fight scene in the matrix blew people away when it originally hit theaters in 1999. The special effects have been copied over and over by now, but the bullets halted mid-flight and Neo’s ability to move like the Agents wasn’t the only thing that made this final scene so memorable.

Setting had a huge role to play as well.

The end goal of the plot in Matrix was that Neo realize he is “The One” and figure out how to defend the freed humans against the machines. Fabulous plot, but what would that final realization have been like if Neo had reached it outside the Matrix?

Not nearly as impactful.

Neo being pretty much dead and losing hope while faced with his enemy, inside their fabricated world — of which he has little control of at this point — while his mentor is being tortured in that same building, and no chance of escape…well, that’s a pretty bad place to be, right? The exact kind of place he where you either need to dig deep or give up. Being outside of the Matrix, relatively safe and surrounded by people who are trying to help him…what would have pushed him to find his true strength? Neo realizing he was the one person meant to save the humans wouldn’t have had anywhere near the same effect if it had come over his morning bowl of mush as he worried about Morpheus having been captured.

Where your final scene happens should be connected to your character in some way.


Is it a place from their past, something symbolic of what they’re trying to overcome?

Such as a childhood home or the location of a traumatic experience, or perhaps a place they once loved and they return to at the end of their quest to put their life back together? The location should be relevant to your character’s history and journey.

Has it been previously referenced?

Ending up somewhere that readers are familiar with, even in passing, will mean more to them than a brand new, never before seen venue. Foreshadowing is a great tool in setting up the final location where the book will take place. A brand new location risks seeming irrelevant to the reader, and may not be the most logical place either.

Does the location make sense for what’s going to happen?

If the final scene is a verbal confrontation (Ex: standing up to a tormentor), think about what type of space will make this more intense. Wide open areas provide room to escape or avoid while small spaces may pin the character into the situation until it’s resolved. Public locations vs. private ones can have a great impact as well. A public location means there will be witnesses. Will there be action involved? Will they be on the move or stuck in one area? What obstacles will the location provide?

Is there meaning behind the setting?

Whatever setting you choose, there should be a reason for that choice. Think about your character arc. Where did this character begin emotionally, mentally, physically, and in reference to the overall plot? Where do they end up? Does your final setting reflect the changes your character has made during the journey that is their character arc. A character arc should come full circle. Setting should as well. That doesn’t mean your final scene should be in the same location as the beginning scene, however, the final setting should be chosen just as carefully as the initial setting was chosen. It needs to reflect what the character has overcome and what their future may hold.


What final scenes of books or movies have stuck with you, thanks in part to the setting?

Posted in characters, writing

Creating A Protagonist With Depth: Part Four

If you haven’t read the first three part in the series, you can find Part One HERE, Part Two HERE, and Part Three HERE.


Now let’s discuss how to fill out your character with some backstory, faults, contradictions, and conflict.

iStock_000014115888LargeBackstory

Now that we have the basics of your character and who they are at the beginning and end, it’s time to fill in the middle.

We do that with backstory. Why is your character the way they are?

Remember those personality flaws, fears, and annoying habits you created earlier? Now it’s time to find out where they came from.

The reason behind the flaw is what makes it interesting.

Ex: Lena from “Beautiful Creatures” is afraid of falling in love because of the curse on her family that tells her she’ll turn evil and hurt the people she cares about.
That’s more interesting than just being too shy to ask a guy out.

Like an iceberg, most of the backstory you come up with will never appear on the pages, but it will make your character who they are. 


Depressed young homeless womanFaults

Nobody likes perfect characters. They’re boring.

Every character needs a few faults.

Make a list of 5 faults your character has – let’s go deeper than not being able to make a free throw.

Personality flaws: unreliable, eccentric, immoral, volatile.

Fears: common or complex – Indiana Jones’ fear of snakes got him in trouble a few times.

Weaknesses: unemotional, domineering, perfectionist.


IMG_0454Contradictions

Faults aren’t enough. Your character needs to be contradictory at times.

Why? No real person behaves the way they should all the time.

We do things we know are wrong, go against our own beliefs, and do the opposite of what we intended to do.

This can go the other way too. Does your bad guy had a soft spot?

No one is all good or all evil. Your characters need to have a mix of both.


Man with SwordConflict

Every good character needs plenty of conflict, not just from situations they find themselves in, but internal conflict as well.

Go back to your list of fears…

Which of these fears will your character face and try to conquer in your story?

While trying to overcome the main conflict in the story, your character must also overcome internal conflicts that are holding them back.

If they don’t, their character arc won’t be completed.


Full, rounded out characters can make or break a story. Giving your character a life outside the story will help them come alive on the pages for your readers.

Posted in writing

Making Pizza and Pleasing Readers

9e9dd-largestackofbooksUsually, I don’t read reviews of my own books. It’s better for my sanity, even though I usually have pretty good reviews. It’s hard not to read a review when a reviewer sends you a direct email to tell you they didn’t like the second book nearly as much as the first and includes a link to their two star review that contains their opinions on the quality of your characters and story. I told her I was sorry she didn’t enjoy the book, but thanked her for taking the time to review and left it at that.

Compared to the 70 5-star reviews on this particular book, this one shouldn’t bug me, but it was kind of bumming me out. Not necessarily because it was a bad review, but because I felt like I had let this reader down. Honestly, it was really getting me down until I started making homemade mini pizzas one night for dinner.

Sounds totally random, right? 

Let me explain. 

Not only were we making mini pizzas because I thought it sounded like fun, but because it’s the only way everyone can actually get what they want on their pizza. I love Hawaiian pizza. My kids think pineapple on pizza is the weirdest thing ever. The kids and my hubby like sausage. I don’t. My daughter has something against pepperoni. My son refuses to eat olives. Solution: Mini Pizzas topped by whoever’s going to eat it.

What does this have to do with writing? 

I know you can’t please every reader. I’ve heard it a million times. I’ve said it to other people at least half as many times. I know this is true.

But I didn’t really know it, know it until I was making pizzas that night and trying to get my kids to put all their toppings on without making a huge mess (failed on the mess part). I looked at our lovely pizzas…

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…and that’s kind of when it hit me. You can’t please everyone and that really is okay. Heck, I can even get four people to agree on pizza toppings! What chance do I have of getting every reader who picks up one of my books to think it’s awesome? Clearly, not going to happen because everyone has different tastes and interests when it comes to books.

This particular reader wanted something different than what I provided. I wrote the best book I could, and a lot of people have really enjoyed it. She didn’t. All I can do is shrug and move on. If I tried to write every book so every person who read it would be perfectly pleased with it, I would lose my mind. I feel like my head might explode just trying to contemplate such an impossible feat.

I’m proud of how this book turned out. I wrote it in a way that I felt was true to the story and characters. Had I written it any other way, I would have disappointed myself, and that would have hurt more than a few not-so-great reviews. Yes, it’s disappointing that this reader didn’t enjoy the story. I hope she finds another series she falls in loves with. We didn’t click on this one. I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is keep writing the kind of books that I feel proud of when I put them out in the world for readers to eat up. That’s really all I can do, and I’m okay with that.


Connect with me online:

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Posted in the ghost host, writing

The Plus Side of Insomnia

I had some book goals for the beginning of 2015…and then my husband and I decided to sell our house, so everything book related happily got put on hold in the face of the excitement of moving.

We’re all pretty pumped about moving next month. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly!
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So, back to insomnia.

Moving is stressful. Well, trying to sell your house and keep it clean with two kids and a dog who is constantly eating crap he should and having…shall we call it intestinal troubles?…that’s stressful. My hubby and I had a tough time keeping up with that in addition to all the other craziness of inspections, offers, surveying, and on and on.

You’d think all that would make you fall asleep as soon as you hit the pillow, but not so much. When I get stressed, I don’t sleep well.

What do I do while I’m lying there staring into the darkness?

PLOT

Sounds ominous, right? I’m not talking revenge or mayhem. I’m talking BOOKS.

With all the hoopla of the last few months…

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I haven’t done much writing, or marketing, or anything actually book related. The last week or so, with all the insomnia I’ve been having, I have at least had the chance to work out the kinks I had been stumped with on The Ghost Host.

Ghost Host Title

What’s been bugging me about The Ghost Host?

Trying to capture the decision making skills of a troubled 18-year-old girl on her own for the first time.

She thinks she has things under control. Her friends are with her. A guy she really likes has promised to protect her. She and the ghost who’s stalking her seem to be on decent terms for the moment, and the FBI is actually looking like a good move.

Echo doesn’t actually have anything under control, and I was too the point in the story where things needed to start unraveling but I wasn’t sure how to do that. How exactly does a girl in that situation react when her first boyfriend, first time on her own, first kind of job, and first time trying to handle the ghosts on her own?

I finally figured it out.

She makes a lot of mistakes.

So, now that I’m finally making progress on The Ghost Host again, I can hopefully finish the last quarter of the book a start making plans for a summer release.

So, keep checking back to see what trouble Echo and the ghosts manage to get themselves into.

Posted in writing advice, writing thoughts

Unreliable Narrators Are Not My Favorite

gone girlThe unreliable narrator has shown up in some pretty popular books, like Gone GirlClockwork OrangeLolita, and Fight Club, just to name a few.

What is an unreliable narrator?

It’s basically a narrator whose credibility has been seriously compromised.

This can be obvious to the reader, as it is with Alex in A Clockwork Orange, or not so obvious, like it was with Gone Girl.

Why don’t I like unreliable narrators?

Because it’s hardly ever done well. Gone Girl is one of the exceptions, and I’m a little hazy of Fight Club at the moment because it’s been a while, but I seem to remember thinking that one was done pretty well too.

What makes the difference between an unreliable narrator being 8858f-bookpagesdone well or feeling like a cheap trick?

It all comes down to the ending.

I remember watching a movie with my hubby some years back called Hide and Seek. My husband and I both agreed that this one of the worst attempts at an unreliable narrator that we’d come across. What left us feeling that way? Basically, by the end of the movie, we were both left feeling like we had been blatantly lied to through the whole movie. The MC acted in ways completely contradictory to the truth that would eventually be revealed, and so did his daughter.

The daughter was the biggest disappointment, because it made no sense at all that she would respond to the dad’s questions and act the way she did when she knew the truth the whole time. There wasn’t any logical reason for the way the characters behaved, EXCEPT that the writers were lying to the audience.

sixth senseHow is this different that a good unreliable narrator?

An unreliable narrator believes in his or her reality, or is completely committed to the deception they’re trying to perpetrate. Every word that comes out of their mouth, every action the take, and look and gesture should all be in line with their warped viewpoint or deception.

At the end of the book/movie, you should be able to look back and not point out any instances where things don’t line up.

The Sixth Sense is a good example of this. If you’ve ever watched the “making of” for that movie, you’ll see how the painstakingly went through that entire film to make sure Bruce Willis never talks or touches anyone other than the boy. They create situations where there “seems” to be interaction, such as when he’s sitting in the living room with the boys mom, or goes to meet his wife at the restaurant, BUT you see at the end that none of those scenes were what they seemed.

When writing an unreliable narrator, this is what it takes.

Unreliable narrators are tough to write well. There has to be a well thought out plan. Interactions, thoughts, and dialog has to be scrutinized. It’s a lot of work, but if you can pull it off, you’ll have something people will remember for a long time!