Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Your Sagging Middle

We had another great creative writing meeting on Sunday. I enjoyed it very much. Our group is getting bigger, we now have 10 people. Running this class was something I wasn't  ecstatic about at first, since I had never done any kind of teaching, but the ladies have been very supportive of me and my years of stage fright. I think I'm getting better at it!

We had two main topics this class, POV, and the sagging middle. Not the sagging middle that most of us writers seem to gain sitting in front of the computer typing away at our future novels, while we munch on junk food, drink coffee and like me, smoke cigs. (Although, there are the one's who write drunk!)

No, it's the other sagging middle we writers have, the one two thirds of the way into our manuscripts. The one that makes us pull our hair out, the one that makes us rewrite constantly. You know...that one!

Now, since I have touched on POV several times in my posts, I thought touching on the sagging middle subject would be a new creative writing topic to discuss.

What causes this problem? Well, I was glad that one of the ladies in our group asked. 

Mainly the biggest cause of the weak middle is panster writing, instead of a plotting. Writing by the seat of your pants can leave "holes" in your sub-plots and plots, and when you get to the climax (the end of your story) you will leave the reader unsatisfied. 

In fact, if the middle of your book isn't building up to the climax, often times you will lose the reader. This is where pacing comes in, and sub-plots. You really need to have some idea as to the way the end of your book will be so that you know what events will happen to lead up to this big ending. 

By creating even basic outlines and or graphs of your book, you can see the entire manuscript right in front of you. You will see if you have several chapters that are boring, or too much info dump, or maybe just not enough oomph to get the reader to continue to turn the page.

This is a good time to come up with another problem your protagonist needs to face. As I have said in the past, conflict is your friend. But you do need to make sure that all makes sense to the reader and all rings true, other wise the reader will not "buy" in to it and close it. (you don't want that!) 

Plan your book and your characters out ahead of time, or at least a basic outline of them. Know what's going to happen and what leads up to the climactic ending, and keep tension higher. 


You will be glad you did, and it will help to to get your manuscript to its fruition!

Have any of you ever come across this problem? I would love to hear what you did to solve it!

Until Friday, I hope all of you have a great week and I want to thank the people that gave Elizabeth such a warm reception! I do hope that some of you check out her books!

Love, Lisa

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Guest - Elizabeth Monroe

Please welcome Elizabeth Monroe as my guest today. She has published two books so far in her Voice of the Wind, Shadows of Time series. I’ve read both books and thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, I can’t wait until the next book comes out! 

Elizabeth and I met on Facebook through the join each other’s writing fan sites and since then we have gotten to know each other. She’s from Norman, Oklahoma and is married. That’s really all I know about her, hence the interview. This way we can get to know her better!

Tell me about yourself, Liz:
I’m really boring! :-) I’m 25 -- well, my mom stopped having birthdays when she was 25 and that’s always sounded like a good idea to me! (She passed away 3 years ago at the age of 82.) I was born in Texas but have lived in Oklahoma my whole life, mostly in small towns where my dad was a doctor and my mom a housewife/nurse.

I had a wildly imaginative childhood and as a kid was fortunate to have good friends who enjoyed getting swept up into my imaginative shenanigans, including my two brothers and sister who always claimed I was the “mastermind” behind everything that got us into trouble. I had an idyllic childhood (for the most part) and lots of freedom to hike, explore, campout, climb mountains, and wade rivers. That’s what’s great about growing up in small, mostly rural towns where there’s absolutely nothing to do except use your imagination!

I’m married, have one son, and have worked in the printing/graphic design/pre-press business my whole life. I didn’t start out “planning” to be in the printing business, but that’s how it worked out when I was a senior in high school and enrolled in commercial art at a newly opened vo-tech, which turned out to be printing. I also have a degree in Art Education and, at one time, played keyboards in my husband’s rock n’roll band. I always enjoyed finding obscure poems and composing music on the piano for them.

But for me, it’s always been about writing. No matter how many times I would try to quit writing, or how crazy it sometimes made me, I always came back to writing. It’s been a long, learning journey with no end in sight. It’s in my nature.

What got you started writing this series?
I was struck by a bolt out of the blue! Actually, throughout college I had been writing a novel (A Heap of Flowers about the 60s) with very similar characters. I was so stressed out at the time, that I tossed the novel into the trash and burned it. But, the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. Then I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s work and loved the idea of elves but wanted to make the story more “realistic” but “not of this world,” too. I wanted to write a story that wasn’t set in any familiar time period, which could be either in the distant past or the future — an alternative reality or parallel universe.

So, with an idea about who the main characters were, I started throwing them together and letting them talk and worked out the story ideas. I also researched the Five Civilized Tribes to develop other ideas, especially for the Objishanda. (My dad’s side of the family has Iroquois, Blackfoot and Cherokee heritage, along with Irish, English, Dutch and German). Also, the word Objishanda in Cherokee/Iroquois means “star folk” (properly written it is Objishand√§, but I dropped the √§ for ebook formatting not knowing whether it would work).

Anyway, to make a long story short, my husband and I were living in Weatherford, OK where the wind blows nonstop. I was at a loss as to what the story was all about, besides two families -- one family the original inhabitants from a “distant shore” (star folk), and the other a family whose people had migrated over the Mountains of the Sky to escape the Kinstrife in their homeland (another story that I hope to write as a prequel — it’s all outlined and partially written).

So, one day as I was standing outside listening to the wind howling through the junipers, that was when the bolt out of the blue struck me. In those fleeting seconds the whole concept for the story flashed through my mind. I walked into the house, picked up a copy of The Prophet, turned to a random page and read: “And he alone is great who can turn the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.” That became my whole theme — about overcoming fear, hatred and prejudice, not only about other people but also about oneself and one’s family who have lived for several generations with a hostility against another group of people. That all became personified in the main character of Jantz Fayerfield who struggles to understand and also reconcile the missing pieces in his family’s history, if only to understand the hostility. I love serendipity!

It took me two years to write the first three books. Since then I’ve written eight more books in the series and also have plans for two more, the Prequel about the Kinstrife and Before Days, and also one about the seven years that pass between books 2 and 3 — Jantz’s missing years.

A long time ago, my son told me, “Mom, most people write one book and try to get that one published first.” I said, “Yeah, I know but I want to be prepared and have the others written so I can goof off and not stress out.” This series has become my life’s work!

But the Voice of the Wind series, are not the only books I’m working on. I’ve almost completed a novel set in 1930s, another wip set in the 1950s, and a collection of short biographical stories.

I love the detail in your descriptions and your characters are very lifelike, how do you do it?
I have no idea! It’s something I developed very early as a child with an overactive imagination. Also, there’s a great book called, “Seeing with the Mind’s Eye.” It’s a book about creative visualization (it’s on Amazon). I’m a very visual person, always have been. We all think in visual images, or at least I do.


When I’m writing, I close my eyes and try to see everything as my characters would — using all the five senses — and feel everything they feel, even if drawing upon my own life experiences, and also using intuition. Intuition is important. Maybe it’s channeling, I don’t know. I see the story as if it was a movie, or maybe I’m tuning into a different frequency on the radio dial.

A lot of my writing is “autobiographical.” For instance, the scene where Jantz stumbles across the forgotten gravestones in the forest happened to me when I was a kid running through the woods with my brother and sister. When I wrote that scene, I just recalled the rush of adrenaline, panic and fear and gave them to Jantz.

A lot of it also stems from plain old observation of everything in my environment — weather, wildlife, plants, the landscapes. And research (before the internet or personal computers existed) at the library reading obscure reference books and taking a lot of notes.

Out in the SW part of OK, after a thunderstorm has moved off to the north and the clouds are piled up in shades of blues, purples and white they look like mountains — hence the name for the Mountains of the Sky. It’s something I remembered from the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains.

Another thing I like to do is to write in first person and then later rewrite in a close 3rd person pov. It’s all about putting yourself into your character’s skin.

Who’s your favorite author and why?
I have too many favorites to pick just one author! It’s a long list. I guess I would have to go back to the first books I ever read (besides Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden), and that is Charles Dickens. Dickens was a huge influence — I wanted to be another Dickens! J I loved his characters and details. Alexandre Dumas and Frank Yerby are also among my favorites — along with the late Robert Jordan — Jordan was a master of description.

Do you have a critique partner or are you in any writing groups?
I don’t have a critique partner and I don’t belong to any writers’ groups. I did belong to one group that met on Sundays for several hours, but it was too boring (for me) and I decided the time was better spent writing. I do have four really great friends who’ve read and critiqued. Three are writers and one is a reader who read both books 1 and 2 and always emailed me typo corrections and said she wanted a sex scene — so I gave her the wedding scene between in Fortune’s Hostage. :-)

However, I do think critique partners and writing groups have their value. A writer needs all the input and encouragement they can get — something I never had, other than the times my Grandma Short would peek over my shoulder when I was a kid scribbling away on a story at her dining room table (she always had a knowing smile on her face). It wasn't until many years later that I discovered that she’d been writing poetry for most of her life. She was a very “Victoria” lady.

I’ve been on my own (basically taught myself writing through the years), and for the Voice of the Wind series, I did my own editing, so there are plenty of mistakes. Anyone who reads the books, please feel free to point out any mistakes so I can fix them!!

I did take a professional writing course that Mel Odom taught (he now teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma). He always encouraged me to publish and also pointed out that what I thought was writing from an omniscient pov was “head hopping!” 

If you had a choice to go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go and why?
I’ve never seen the ocean, so that’s where I want to go. Where doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s the ocean! I’m not one for crowds; I avoid crowds!

It’s almost Halloween, do you like this holiday?
I love Halloween and the other holidays. I used to get into a lot of trouble. When I was in high school our small town of Cyril was so crazy at Halloween that sometimes the National Guard was called in on All Hallows Eve to make sure the town wasn’t destroyed! It never was except for the farmer who lost his outhouse, which was set afire on Main Street by the high school boys.


What scares you, Vampires? Witches? Zombies?
I’m not scared of much of anything! Demons and goblins are another thing! Werewolves, too. Shapeshifting just seems so painful!!


Do you dress up or give out candy to all the scary characters?
Yeah, I usually go as myself because that’s scary enough! I don’t dress up to give out candy though. Don’t want to frighten the little ones too much, but once they see my dog San, they always come right on into the house and try to pet the doggie — forget the candy! San thinks it’s her duty to guard the candy bowl. Every time I pass out a handful, she runs to check the bowl.

When my son was young, we lived in the country so we always took him to the mall to trick-or-treat. Sometimes, I’d get in Goth mode and bush up my hair and tie plastic spiders in it. My hair was long then.




What is your idea of a fun day?
Relaxing at home! Being able to sit outside beneath the maple tree and read or work on a story/book. I enjoy writing outside — listening to the wind or the birds, the neighbor hood noises. I work full time and anytime I can stay at home and goof off is my idea of a fun day. Boring, I know.

I’m working on “Cursed in Love” and hope to have the edits and all the rewriting done soon — if I don’t goof off too much.


Thanks for answering all my questions, I know, I am very inquisitive. You have been a great trooper and I hope that my followers leave you comments and questions below. Thanks for coming on my blog and I look forward to your next book! Let me know as soon as it’s out!

Here are Elizabeth's links:

Amazon

Fanpage


Goodreads



Please leave your comments for Elizabeth and show her the love! Lisa











Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Working on the Basics

Hi everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We had a busy one at MileHiCon. Met a lot of great people, from authors, to publishers, to library workers. It was worth it!

The contacts will help us on this continuing journey of publishing a series. I look forward to learning from them. I even learned about other conferences in our genre that we will be looking into in the coming weeks. One of which is Starfest. I hope to get us a vendors table there in the spring.

Now back to reality. This month, like I said, has been very busy, and this week is no exception. My sister, Toni will be here in about 20 minutes to continue our read through of Fated. We are on chapter 9 and I hope to be on at least 11 by the time she leaves today.

This weekend I host my next creative writing class and I had met a young woman at the conference that will be joining us. The topics are POV and the sagging middle. Both of which I will be researching this week.

I want to make sure I cover all the basics. I'm looking forward to our little group growing. Luckily starting Nov. 3rd we will be holding the group classes at a library instead of a coffee shop. That will help immensely! 

I love meeting all these new authors and appreciate their support and giving them support as well. We can become a great team! It's exciting to work with these women for several reasons, one of which is helping them to put out a book that reads as a traditional published book, instead of the obvious self-publish.

I would like to see the self-publish world be just as professional as the traditional. I don't like to read comments from readers on blogs that say they will never buy another self-pub because of the inexperienced writing skills. We deserve to rock too!

So onward and upward!

On Friday, I will be hosting a guest on here, Elizabeth Monroe. I don't know if any of you decided to check out her books, but their wonderful! I hope that you stop by and give her a warm welcome on Friday! She will be in and out of the site to answer any questions or comments. 

Until Friday, I hope all of you have a productive, and prosperous week! See you on Friday!

Love, Lisa

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fated Cover Reveal

Today is the big official day! Here is the new cover for Fated! I hope you like it and would love to hear what you think! 

Don't forget that we are at MileHiCon this weekend and hope to see some of you there! Thanks for being such great support for us and we will see you next week! Have a great weekend all!                                                                 
Love, Lisa

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lots of Stuff Going On

I'll tell you, this has been one busy month! Except for one day my calendar is full! Between our conference for HODRW and MileHiCon, then helping different writers with creative writing skills or social media. Holding a writing skills class, taking care of my mom's appts and my own, and trying to get things ready for the MileHi this weekend, I am worn out! 

And, we still have Halloween coming! I do have Elizabeth Monroe on here as a guest author the 25th, too. I think you will really like her and I hope you check out her books!

In the mean time, I should have a cover reveal in the next few days for Fated! Very excited about that, and also we should have Fated in the hands of the beta-readers within a week. 

Busy, busy! 

I do hope to see some of my friends and fans at MileHiCon. It sure would be nice to see any of you. I hope you can make it. It sounds like they have a lot of cool things to see and do. I'm looking forward to the Harry Potter display they're having and any jewelry. 

Well, except for listing my "things I need to do list", I guess that's about it for today. Thanks for all of your support for me and my sister, Toni! You are all wonderful and I appreciate you!

Thanks for putting up with my wild and short posts lately, and any time you want to leave a comment or question, I am only to glad to answer!

Have a great week everyone!

Love, Lisa

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blogging Woes

I have realized what a hard sale social media can be, and that's no pun intended. Between making sure you post on your blog, your fan page, and twitter, it can drive you crazy when there's little or no response. It can make you feel as though it's all for not.

And even though the feelings you're having are a normal reaction, it's best to step back and really look at the full picture. Although you seem to get no comments, it could just be that people are busy, or just look at your stats at people that did go to your page. They might have read it, but just didn't answer.

I think a lot of people are shy, too. They don't like to make comments in case they say something they deem as stupid. We are a world of low self-esteemers. And it doesn't help if you're a writer, you already are fighting with thinking you aren't liked and your book(s) aren't either.

This is when you need to take a deep breath in and blow it out slowly. Then count your blessings. Sit back and think: Who are your fans? Who has supported you though your writing endeavors? I think you'll find there are people out there that are appreciative of you and your work.

Life's to short to get caught up in whether or not you get a lot of comments on your blog or fan page. As people get to know you, you will start seeing more and more comments. Just relax and keep doing what you're doing.

It will all work out in the end with the longer you do it and the more your name gets noticed. 

The most important thing is to keep writing and put out great books! It's not just about how many books you write, it's about the quality if you want to gain popularity. And remember, your blog is not about your books, it's about you!

So do it right, and keep on doing it. It will be worth it!

Until next week, keep your chin up and enjoy the weekend, you deserve it!

Love, Lisa




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Do Books Do For You?

Recently a question has come to my attention that I found not only challenging, but intriguing. What do my books do for people? Well, considering the fact that my book(s) aren't non-fiction, such as a self-help or school book, I had to think about this.

My answer is: entertain you. But can it do other things for you? I believe so. For one, it can help you to escape to a new and different world. You can become a part of the story through the characters and descriptions. 

It can reach your emotional place and make you laugh or cry. The story can help you to relax and forget the stresses of life for a little while. You can learn about wilderness, and about living a life free of pollution in the air and in your food and water. 

It can touch your imagination and make you strive for creating your own. Books are a wonderful way to enjoy the simple things in life. They can change your mood on a dime, and bring you back to that place inside you always strive to find. 

I have always enjoyed reading, even as a child. To me, there is nothing more delightful than starting a new book. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen to the characters and usually I don't want the story to end.

Do books affect you like this? Have you ever been angry when the author killed off a certain character? Have you ever fallen in love with a character?

I do believe that fictional books are as important as any non-fiction. They take us all around the world and even sometimes to new ones!

What is your favorite part of a book? What do you look for it to do for you?

Well, good news, we finished Fated! We will start scanning back through it on Thursday and as soon as we're finished with that, it's off to the beta-readers!
I hope you're as excited to read it as we are to have you get it in your hands!

Have a great week everyone and I hope you leave me some comments so I know what books do for you!

Love, Lisa




Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review : Voice of the Wind, Shadows of Time Series

From time to time, actually quite a lot of times, I will order and read my writer friend's books. I am sure glad I read these. I am in love with them and my kudos go out to the author, Elizabeth Monroe.

The series, Voice of the Wind, Shadows of Time, is absolutely wonderful. I have read the first two books in the series, Written in Omen, and Fortune's Hostage, and I'm already bugging her as to when the third book will be out. She said, hopefully the beginning of the year.

I'm keeping her to it! Just kidding, I know how hard it is to stay the course sometimes, but I am so looking forward to it!

Yes, this is a review of the series, but I don't like to give away a story, so I will try to watch that. The story's setting is around the 1800's. The main character's Jantz and his twin Jarutia, live a rich, comfortable life in the mountains of El Nath. 

Their lives are bound to superstitions, and a belief there is a curse on their family. The people in the area all believe that a certain family, the Drakes' are magical and dangerous and there is prejudice abound against these people. 

The twins befriend one of the Drakes, Doriano, and the twins oldest brother, Martin, who is stiff and controlling, tries to pull the twins away from him and continues his push for the town and the family to be against Doriano. 

Needless to say, it creates tension, chaos, separation, and even death. 

These books are worth the read, if not for anything, but the author's wonderful descriptions and richness in the characters. She really brings the world to life and pulls you in as a reader. I love the way she describes the land, you really can see it!

You will fall in love with the characters and find yourself hoping and wishing for them. And you will hate the antagonist, Martin, and want to put a bullet between his eyes.

To me, there is nothing better than to curl up and read this kind of book. One that creates a believable world with rich, lively characters and takes you into the story. I give them both 5 stars.

I hope you give them a read, and if you do let me know!

I also plan to have Elizabeth as a guest here on my blog Oct. 25th so you will get a chance to leave a comment and hear back from her. I hope you join us on that day!

In the mean time, have a great weekend all, and I will see you on the flip side.

Love, Lisa


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One More Reason

Now I have another reason to add to my growing list of reasons of why I'm glad I self-published. Reason number, I don't know, maybe 25: The high cost of putting your book on a book store's web site. 

The plan to have a book signing at Barnes and Noble in October got pushed back to December when I found out I had to have Fable available for purchase by the stores first. I went to createspace and they kindly helped me through setting it up for their purchasing site, Ingram. 

While I was in the middle of doing this, the guy helping me on the phone did the figures for me to see what my royalties would come out to be after creatspace's, and then B & N's. Guess what, I was negative royalties. 

So, needless to say, I had to raise the price of the book. But I had to raise it $3.00, just to get $1.36 per book. I was not pleased. I felt bad because it also raised it with Amazon. The good news is, Amazon kept the price down still.

My first question, to myself, was how in the world do traditional published author's make any money? No wonder they have to charge 25.00 to 30.00 just to make something. And if you are a new author, the chances of you selling books at that price are much slimmer than a New York Times Best Selling Author!

Which brings me back to reason number 25. 

So, those of you that plan to still go through a traditional publisher need to remember the high cost of just having their name on your book. First, they have their cut, then the cut of the book sellers. You will be lucky if you make a buck. 

Just food for thought.

On a lighter note, we finished Fated and after we run through it one more time, maybe a couple more weeks, it will be ready for our beta-readers! Getting really close! 

I hope those who have read Fable are excited about Fated. Just remember this is a side book, one history story of Djenrye, not the second book in the series. But we will start on that real soon!

Also, we will have a table at Denver's MileHiCon this year. October 18-20, so if you are looking for something to do that weekend come on by! I will list the link here for you to check out where. It would be great even if you just stop by for support! Milehicon

Have a great week everyone and if you have any comments, please feel free to share them. I love hearing from you!


Love, lisa