Darcy Pattison's Blog

February 5, 2017

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The post Building a Writing Career appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Are you in this business for the long haul? Then you should think hard about the next book you choose to write. Will it help you in building a writing career? Maybe, maybe not. Here are some thing to think about.

How to Build a Writing Career: The secret is to answer one simple question! | DarcyPattison.com


What’s the Next Logical Book for your Audience to Read from You?

The biggest question is what kind of audience did your first book draw? And how can you turn those readers into rabid fans? The best way to build a career is to develop an audience who is dying to read your next book. So, what logically follows your first book? If your first story is a YA historical romance, then your next book should be a YA historical romance. If you jump over to a MG mystery, your readers won’t follow. This could mean writing in a series that readers will want to follow. But it might just be writing another book in that same genre and with a similar–yet different–tone, plot, characters, etc. Readers don’t like surprises! Well, surprise endings and such, sure. But when they pick up a book, they have certain expectations of what story is waiting for them. If you violate that expectation, readers aren’t happy.


Let’s say that your first book is that YA Historical Romance, and it sold a comfortable 12,000 copies in the first year. That’s 12,000 readers (plus anyone that the book owner passed the book off to) who spent several hours of their life with your story. If you follow that with a similar story, you have a chance to repeat with those first 12,000 and grow a bigger audience. What you hope for is that Book 2 will sell 15,000 or even 20,000.


Growing an audience is the best way to build a career.


But I LIKE Writing in Different Genres

Don’t we all! But will readers like what you write in that other genre? The problem is that you’ll be starting from zero readers. Again. The previous readers of the YA historical romance won’t follow you to the MG mystery. You can’t count on growing their support. And this one may not find it’s audience and only sell 4,000 copies. That means the publisher and booksellers are less likely to buy your next book!


In other words, you may find it hard to get the next contract! By switching genres, you’ve wasted the marketing efforts on the first book and failed to capitalize on them; and then, starting from zero, you didn’t gain traction with the new audience.


It’s not a matter of your creativity! Instead, it’s the question of do you want to build an audience who will beg for your next book. THEN (and only then), you can try another genre. After you’ve built an audience over several books, you can try a different genre and see if any of your readers will follow you. You can take that risk later in your career because you’ve earned their trust and a reputation for great stories. You just can’t do it early because you’re not established as a strong writer in any genre.


To build a career, first sell a book. Then, immediately follow that book with something similar that will appeal to the same audience. Rinse and repeat. That’s it.




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Published on February 05, 2017 12:27 • 2 views

January 30, 2017

Download a Free Sample - VAGABONDS

Darcy Pattison's American fantasy novel.

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The post 4 Ways to Manage the Frustration of Being “Almost” Published appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Guest post by Michael Alvear


I once had an agent ask for an exclusive. Then he requested three rounds of revisions, and still didn’t sign me. I’ve also had a publisher tell me that they “love my work” but passed on my manuscript because they had something “too similar” coming out the following year.


If there is one thing I’ve learned about publishing, it’s this: it will break your heart in unexpected ways. What got me through the frustration of periods of being “almost” published was accepting several truths about the industry:

4 Tips on Dealing with the Frustrations of



Rejection is not an indictment of your work. Every rejection feels personal. But it isn’t. Personal, that is. More likely, it has to do with fit, timing, personal preference, and countless other factors you can’t control. To reorient myself, I’ve learned to do two things—recommit to improving on a craft level, and identify and focus on the deeper reasons why I write. The latter may sound easy and obvious, but it’s not, which is why I explore the concept of a writer’s purpose so deeply in The Bulletproof Writer.
Less than 1% of writers make a living wage. That’s not meant to depress you, but to remind you that while it may seem like everyone around you is getting contracts and deals, it’s actually not true. Sure there are authors who make it big, but they are the exception, and not the rule. Breaking down the realities of getting published in today’s kid lit market helps you maintain perspective. I regularly refer to the section in the book discussing the number of rejections authors typically experience as a way to stay grounded.
Rejection doesn’t stop once you’re published. We focus so much on getting that publishing contract, we forget that the specter of rejection haunts us at every point in the journey, including contending with bad reviews, poor sales numbers, critics, etc., after publication. During a particularly bad period, I researched techniques resiliency experts recommend and adapted them for writers. The most important one? Connecting with your “tribe.” Darcy’s blog can be a kind of tribe, but ideally, you want to connect with other kid-lit writers on the same journey, which you can find through SCBWI.
Use envy as a change agent. Becoming consumed with the green-eyed monster when friends and acquaintances experience success is not uncommon. It certainly wasn’t for me. I learned to differentiate between malignant envy and one that inspires. One key for doing that, according to a recent study on jealousy, is to compare yourself to appropriate writers—namely, somebody with equal or slightly better writing skills. Why? Because comparing yourself to the giants in your genre will leave you depressed (“I’ll never be as good as Rick Riordan”). But comparing yourself to somebody who’s similar in abilities can leave you energized (“Hey! If she can do it, I can do it!”).

Learning to manage the constant stream of rejection, frustration, resentment, and despair that comes with trying to get published is critical to surviving in this industry. Luckily there are proven tools to help get us off the floor and back on the computer.




Michael Alvear

Michael Alvear is the author of The Bulletproof Writer: How To Overcome Constant Rejection To Become An Unstoppable Author (Woodpecker Media January 2017).

THE BULLET PROOF WRITER

He’s been a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post.




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January 9, 2017

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The post 5 Ramblings for 2017 appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Today is a series of rambles, comments on a variety of things.


Why do we keep on writing?

I ask myself this at least monthly, if not weekly and daily. Why? And there are many answers.

Because there’s a story to finish.

Because there are readers to please.

Because I can’t NOT write. Putting words into print seems to be a life-long habit and in spite of uncertainties of publishing, readership and more, I just write. It’s what I do. I’m a writer.


For the slow times of writing.

I’m coming into a slow writing time because of travel. In some ways, it’ll be a fast living time, but a slow writing time. I’m reminded of the classic children’s book, Frederick, by Leo Lionni. It’s about a mouse who doesn’t help gather seeds and other foods for the winter. And when the cold, dark days of winter come, he hasn’t added anything to the store of food. But he can recite poetry that reminds everyone that the warm days of summer will come again. While others are storing up food, Frederick was storing up life. When it was time, that store of life changed into the right words. That’s what I’ll be doing during this slow time: storing up images, feelings, impressions, and life. So that it will spill over into the writing that comes later.


On self-publishing.

Some think that writers who self-publish are control freaks or idiots (unless they are elderly, because, well, you can forgive an elderly person for being an idiot). Instead, I’m feeding my creative life.


The most popular post on this blog.

According to Pinterest, this post has been repinned over 65,000 times! 39 Villain Motivations. Repinned over 39,000 times is this one: 29 Plot Templates. A post I wish was posted more (only 7000 repins, poor thing): How to Mock Up a Children’s Picture Book. (If you’re a pinner, please go pin it!)


I am most often quoted for saying:

Pattison Quote:

Get more quotes (and much more) in this video course, “30 Days to a Stronger Novel.”(Special price: $75 $50. Use this code: NOVEL50)




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The post How to Spice Up Perfectly Good (but Boring) Scenes appeared first on Fiction Notes.


In my work-in-progress, I’m studying a scene to see if I can tighten it in any way. It’s a perfectly good scene. The characters go to a jewelry store. The protagonist’s mother has a birthday next week and he’s got to find a suitable gift. In the jewelry store, they pick up a crucial clue for the overarching mystery.


The scene works. There’s some humorous banter between friends. They find the perfect necklace for Mom. And that crucial clue is just sitting on a jewelry cabinet waiting to be found. So, what’s the problem?


It’s too good. It’s blah. There’s not enough emotion. If I was the reader, I’d breeze through without thinking OR FEELING much. Not good.


The reader needs to be on an emotional roller coaster, and as the author, I can’t give them a free-pass chapter.


Evoke Emotions to Gain Enthusiastic Readers

What to do? First, I’m looking to see if there are emotional hooks that I could pull out and work. Specifically, I looked for any of these emotional possibilities:



inspiration
awe
anger
humor
love
disgust
outrage
anxiety

Why those emotions? Is it a random list? In his book, Contagious: How Things Catch On, Jonah Berger says these emotions will evoke high-arousal in a person. People pay attention to these emotions, as opposed to something like sadness. Berger is specifically looking at why a blog post or YouTube video is passed on to friends. But I’m intrigued with the idea that emotional contagion might be exactly what every chapter of my novel needs.


Berger says that positive emotions such as awe, inspiration, love, and humor are easy to pass along. If you see a funny cat-video, you’re likely to send it to someone. But negative high-arousal emotions are also easy to pass along to friends: anger, disgust, outrage, or anxiety. The last time I passed along a video it was an amazing combination of outrage and humor. Berger’s book is worth a read simply because he’s talking about what catches people’s attention–and we want our novel to catch a reader’s attention.


Revise for Emotions

Usually, the seeds of a strong emotion are present in a scene. Something happened, but you–the writer–are a peacemaker among your characters. You didn’t let it blow up. That mindset plagues me all the time! So the first strategy is to find within the scene the roots of a high-arousal emotion and then work it.


I found outrage in one scene and worked to heighten it. now, the character says things like, “How dare they do XXX?” “Arrogant XXX!” In another scene, it was relatively easy to heighten the protagonist’s anxiety. But then, I had two negative scenes in a row. I worked to heighten the emotion in the next chapter, but for variety, I used the positive emotion of awe. Watching a coronation should be full of awe!


But the jewelry store scene described above baffles me because I can’t seem to find the emotional core of the scene. When there’s no emotional hook, you have two choices. Omit that chapter. If there are no emotions, then your reader will be bored. It’s better to just omit the whole thing. If I do that, I’ll have to find another place to plant that crucial clue. It might be the best choice.


OR, you can find some organic conflict that will fit in seamlessly. To find that emotional core may take some digging. Start by asking, “Why?” or “What?” All sorts of whys and whats and hows:



Why is the character in this place?
Why are these other characters along?
Why are they doing this action?
What’s at stake in this scene?
How can you put more at stake?

In other words, try to go deeper into the characters and find something that matters deeply to them. Put THAT at stake in the scene and develop a high-arousal emotional scene around that. Perhaps, last year, Dad bought Mom’s birthday present, but he’s gone now, either dead or just out of the scene. So the protagonist feels added pressure to “get it right” for mom. That would inject some anxiety into the scene and it may be enough to work with. I’m not sure where this scene will go, except that it’s got to change. Drastically. So you won’t be bored!


8 Emotions to Spice Up Your Story | Fiction Notes | DarcyPattison.com




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December 19, 2016

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The post Pitch Wars: The Inside Scoop appeared first on Fiction Notes.


Guest blog by Elle Evans (Twitter: @ElleEvansWrites)


It’s Intense!

It’s pretty much impossible to tackle any huge undertaking without help. Landing on the moon, running a country, or—writing a good book. Sometimes it takes an online village, as the saying should go. As an aspiring children’s book author, this year I went looking for some serious help boosting my middle grade fantasy to the next level. Say, that level where agents go to battle over it. That’s a level, right? It should be, because I ended up finding a whole new crew of writer friends who’ve gone into battle with me.


Pitch Wars - an insider's look. | DarcyPattison.comEvery August, author Brenda Drake opens up Pitch Wars, a national online contest for aspiring novelists. The goal is to get paired with a fabulous agented Pitch Wars author. These (volunteer!) authors each select a manuscript to mentor, giving advice in September and October to writers. This revision process ends in November, when hopefully you’ve got a manuscript that shines like gold and inspires agents to offer you the world—or at least representation.


It’s intense! And with over 2,000 entries, Brenda needs contest assistants Heather Cashman, Nikki Roberti, Monica Hoffman, along with mentor liaison Joy McCullough, to pull the whole thing off. This year, the author mentors chose 150 manuscripts. Sarah Cannon, author of the fantastic forthcoming middle grade fantasy ODDITY, picked my manuscript, SAMTO DIES AGAIN, a humorous middle grade fantasy adventure. She says she loved it, which I believe, given she read it four times in two months, helping me revise and tighten and polish.


So yeah, I ended up with a stupendously better manuscript to catch an agent’s eye. But what else did I get—or rather, what else am I continuing to get out of Pitch Wars? Community.


Bonding with Fellow Writers

You’ve got 150 other aspiring authors to commune with online. Writers who’ve been through the query trenches, who know a thing or two about revising under pressure, who’re familiar with the current marketplace, who understand story structure, who have practiced social media marketing, who know just the right thing to say to pick you back up to your computer … well, maybe no single Pitch Wars writer has all of this down. But as a group? We’re well armed.


Writers who needed to rewrite the last half of their book in two months? They had a place to go to ask for help. Writers who needed advice on writing their query for the agent round? We had each other to sharpen up those pitches. Writers who are now needing support as the inevitable rejections roll in? Or better yet, the many who are getting bowled over with group congrats as those offers of representation materialize? We have a community of cheerleaders reminding each other of our strengths.


Now with our Pitch Wars manuscripts out in the world searching for homes, many of us are starting new works-in-progress. Fellow Pitch Wars writers post about story ideas, plot brainstorming, book recommendations, craft exercises. And then there are those issuing writing challenges to the group, spurring us to bang our heads against our keyboards, which hopefully results in shiny new words, with minimal bruising.


You know you’re not alone, even when you’re sitting at your computer with only your psychopathic main character in sight. All your writing buddies are out there, just a click away when you need them.


So. Do you want join up with a terrific writing community? Finish your current novel, whether it be middle grade, young adult, or adult. Edit it, tighten it, polish it gleaming sharp. And next August, enter it into Pitch Wars. The 2017 schedule is already up here.

Then go into battle with your newfound friends. Writing’s even more fun when you’ve got someone to compare your battle scars with.



Aspiring author Elle Evans participated in the Pitch Wars. Read her story. | DarcyPattison.comElle Evans loves tromping through the Outdoors, where she gets real ideas for made-up stories. She writes contemporary fantasy and sci-fi for middle grade, and when she gets cell service, she’ll check in on Twitter @ElleEvansWrites



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December 13, 2016

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The post 2017 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book appeared first on Fiction Notes.


National Science Teacher's Association names NEFERTITI, THE SPIDERNAUT a 2017 Outstanding Science Trade Book. | MimsHouse.comLITTLE ROCK, AR – December 13, 2016 — For 100 days in 2012, a Johnson jumping spider (Phiddipus johnsonii) circled Earth while aboard the International Space Station. She circled the Earth 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles. When author Darcy Pattison heard the story, she researched and wrote a children’s picture book, Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: How a Jumping Spider Learned to Hunt in Space, which had just been named a 2017 National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade Book. http://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/ostb2017.aspx


NEFERTITI, THE SPIDERNAUT has been named a 2017 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book | MimsHouse.comThe spider was included in the space mission because of an international YouTube competition, which asked youths worldwide to create a video suggesting an experiment for the International Space Station. Amr Mohammed of Alexandria, Egypt won the competition by proposing to send a jumping spider to space. Most spiders spin webs and passively wait for prey to be caught. Jumping spiders, however, actively hunt. When they see prey, they pounce! But what happens when a spider jumps in space? It will float. Amr hypothesized that the spider wouldn’t be able to hunt in the microgravity of the space station and would starve to death. In honor of his country, he named the spider Nefertiti.


The book tells the story of Nefertiti, the Johnson jumping spider, from her hatching through the exciting days of the experiment, and her final days at the Smithsonian Museum. Scientists tested her ability to survive the rigors of space, including extended periods of dark and cold. After passing those tests, she was loaded onto an unmanned rocket and sent to the International Space Station. Scientists stocked her habitat with fruit flies, and then videotaped her for two hours a day for two weeks. Astronaut Sunita Williams, Captain U.S. Navy said, “It was a suspense story for me as it happened.”


This is an astonishing story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this incredible spider adapted and learned to hunt. Against all odds, she survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth’s gravity. Nefertiti’s story of survival brings hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.


Pattison has won this prestigious recognition for her work before in 2015 for Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma (Mims House), and 2013 for Desert Baths (Arbordale). For more, see MimsHouse.com


###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Children’s book author Darcy Pattison finds inspiration in writing about science and nature; three times her books have been honored as NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books. Her nature picture books include Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: How a Jumping Spider Learned to Hunt in Space (Mims House), a 2017 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book; Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (Mims House), an NSTA 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Book; Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (Mims House), a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; Desert Baths (Arbordale), an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013; and, Prairie Storms (Arbordale). Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle (Mims House, Spring 2016) is a physical science book about how a candle burns, based on Michael Faraday’s famous 1848 juvenile Christmas lecture.


Other picture books include The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), which received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, starred reviews in BCCB and Kirkus, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook; Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt); 19 Girls and Me (Philomel); and 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph: A Military Family Story (Mims House). Her series, The ALIEN, INC. CHAPTER BOOK SERIES includes Kell, the Alien; Kell and the Horse Apple Parade; Kell and the Giants; and Kell and the Detectives. She is also the author of middle grade novels and teaches nationally a Novel Revision Retreat. For more, see darcypattison.com/about


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

In her debut picture book, Columbian illustrator Valeria Tisnés, charms with her anatomically correct, yet exciting work. Her passion for accurate scientific illustrations is fueled by the textures and details she observes in nature and in animals.


ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

Established in 2008, Mims House publishes children’s picture books and novels, teacher resource books, or how-to-write books. Located in the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock, AR, the publisher takes its name from the Victorian House where it resides; the homes in the historic district are named after families who lived there in 1890. Mims House is a member of the Independent Book Publisher’s Association and the Children’s Book Council. Our books are widely available through online, educational, and library distributors.




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The post Oldest Bird in World Lays Egg – Age 66 appeared first on Fiction Notes.


Wisdom, the Midway Albatross is Back!
PW Starred Review.

PW Starred Review.

In 2012, I wrote the story of the oldest bird in the world and how she survived the 2011 Japanese tsunami. At that time, she was almost 60 years old and had lived far beyond the 25 years expected of Laysan albatrosses. Each November/December, when the albatrosses return to Midway, I hold my breath. Did she survive another year or not?

These birds are known to take a sabbatical every four or five years, to lay out a year from having chicks. Wisdom has been continuously laying eggs since at least 2006, so she’s overdue for a year off. If she doesn’t return, it may simply be that she’s vacationing instead of being lost to the wild.


So, it’s exciting to hear that she’s back! On December 4, the staff at Midway Island spotted her with a new egg. Here’s a short video of Wisdom incubating the egg. When they sit on the nest, they will not budge for anything. I’ve been told that if you drove a truck toward them, a nesting bird would be run over rather than move out of the way.


Home sweet home!

If you can’t see this video, click here

Oldest bird in world lays new egg at age 66. Read her story. | DarcyPattison.com

Photo by Kristina McOmber/Kupu Conservation Leadership Program & USFWS


The eggs usually hatch somewhere in late January to early February. We’ll be watching to see if Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai (a Hawaiian word that means a love of wisdom, seeker after knowledge, philosopher, scientist, scholar), can raise a new chick.


There’s something inspiring about this brave old lady. She’s a seabird, soaring over the north Pacific for much of her life. And she’s survived another year to lay an egg and raise a new chick. The survival is almost against all odds–which gives me a shaky sort of awe for her.


For more:



Follow Wisdom on Facebook.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Tumblr

US Fish and Wildlife Flickr


Buy the book.



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The post Why Does Your Character Do That: A New Look at BackStory appeared first on Fiction Notes.


I’ve written about backstory, flashbacks and dealing with what happens before the story starts several times before. This fall, however I’m taking a new look at backstory.


Lisa Cron in Story Genius gives the backstory a whole new life. In particular, Cron asks WHY a character is doing something and then looks to something in the character’s history to explain it.


Cron has a long developmental process for creating a character because she believes that the inner conflict is the backbone of a story. If you create a conflicted character, the story will be stronger. Specifically, the conflict is between what a character wants and some misbelief that prevents him/her from getting it. Let me give an example:


Want: A ballerina longs to be the lead dancer.

Misbelief: I’ll never be the lead dancer because my grandmother tried it and failed, so I’m doomed to fail, too.


This would create a character who struggles with hope and self-doubt. Will she sabotage herself? Of course, that’s one reasonable complication you could build into her story. The beauty of this is that you can already see the final scene:

Our ballerina, Kristina, has a chance to dance lead because the lead dancer has the flu. As the only well under-study, it’s her big chance. But self-doubt will lead to something exciting in that performance. We can see the setting (a beautiful theater) and start to decide on where this will take place. We can also anticipate some characters (musicians, other dancers, choreographer, audience) and start to develop relationships for Kristina.


If it’s a love story, the lead male dancer might be her heart-throb. Or perhaps the choreographer or conductor.

If it’s a mystery, what sorts of murders might take place in such a setting?

To understand why your character does something, you need to look at the back story. What happened to make this character like this? | Fiction Notes at DarcyPattison.com


Backstory: Write the Origin Scene

Cron suggests a couple other useful things. First, she recommends that you write an “origin scene,” that is, the scene where the character first developed the Misbelief. Kristina’s first self-doubt came after her first dance recital. Her grandmother traveled across the country to watch her and something went wrong. At six years old, she forgot the dance steps or maybe she fell. Or her tutu was ripped. Anyway, after the recital, her grandmother launched into a tirade, telling her that she’d never be a good dancer. Grandma had tried it and been successful – up to a point. And her grand-daughter was destined to be just like her. After all, they both had red hair. And. . .well, you get the idea.


The function of the origin scene is establish firmly the Misbelief that will plague the character throughout the story.


Then, Cron suggest that you write three more scenes that develop the Misbelief more. How can the Misbelief escalate, become more entrenched, mean something deeper, or hurt more?


Do these scenes make it into the story? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps, you use only a snippet from the Misbelief scenes as a memory. Or maybe at the climax, you give the entire origin scene. The point is, though, that you know WHY your character believes this thing and why it’s so deeply entrenched in their psyche. Once you know that, you’ll write a stronger character, even if you never include the scenes in the story.


I thought it was hard to write those 3 Misbelief Scenes. But when I looked over my story, I see that I included snippets of telling backstory scenes. Unfortunately, they didn’t hit bull’s eye as explanations of what the character was feeling. I realized that if I could write the Misbelief Scenes ahead, I’d easily figure out where to include them.


This isn’t something that I’m understanding with great clarity, yet. But Cron’s book is pointing toward a deeper understanding of a character and why s/he does something. It’s a skill that I’d like to deepen in my writing process.




The post Why Does Your Character Do That: A New Look at BackStory appeared first on Fiction Notes.


Join Darcy in a Writing Retreat

May 5-7, 2017, NOVEL REVISION RETREAT, Syracuse, NY
June 22-25, 2017,

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz

June 19-22, 2017,

Self or Indie Publishing: Answering the Big Questions
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Published on December 04, 2016 12:57 • 2 views

November 14, 2016

Join Darcy in a Writing Retreat

May 5-7, 2017, NOVEL REVISION RETREAT, Syracuse, NY
June 22-25, 2017,

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz

June 19-22, 2017,

Self or Indie Publishing: Answering the Big Questions



The post Gifts for the Writer, Librarian or Kid on Your List appeared first on Fiction Notes.


Here’s our Recommended Christmas Gifts for your favorite kid, librarian, writer, or book lover on your list.




GIFTS FOR KIDS: Get the App That Encourages Kids to Read Great Books

EPIC! is an amazing book app for kids and one my grandkids actually read. How do I know?

EPIC! emails me a weekly report on what they’ve read that week.


It’s the exact books that you want kids to be reading. How do I know?

All Mims House books are on this app.


It’s the right price! How do I know?

Because it’s only $5 month. But don’t take my word for it. EPIC! offers a free trial month!


Take advantage of it now!

Gifts Subscription on Epic!

Give the Gift of Reading

FOR TEACHER OR LIBRARIAN: EPIC! offers a free educational version of the app. Check it out now.

When you sign up for the app, be sure to search for and READ Mims House books!


GIFTS FOR GIRLS: Baby, Toddler and Young Girls T-Shirts – I’M ROWDY!

T-Shirts to accompany ROWDY: THE PIRATE WHO COULD NOT SLEEP. Perfect bedtime book for fathers and daughters. Watch videos of fathers reading to their daughters here. T-shirts available in baby and children’s sizes; different colors available. Only available until December 31.


I'm Rowdy - Baby T-shirt in White to accompany the ROWDY book. | MIms House.com


Kid's T-Shirt to Accompany the ROWDY book. | DarcyPattison.com


Gift the Gift of Empowerment

I'm Rowdy - Baby T-Shirt in Pink to accompany the ROWDY book. Great gifts for kids.| DarcyPattison.com





Give the shirt and the book!

Rowdy: The Pirate Who Could Not Sleep. Gifts for kids.| DarcyPattison.com




GIFTS FOR FANS OF CANDLES: Faraday Explains Your Favorite Candle

Who’s Candle Crazy in Your House? There’s bound to be an aunt, grandmother or teenage kids. They love those candles, but sadly, they don’t understand them. The perfect gift for the candle-lover is Burn: Michael Faradays Candle, along with a special candle. To accompany BURN: MICHAEL FARADAYS CANDLE, buy this cinnamon-cider Aromatique candle. | DarcyPattison.com
I live in Arkansas, the home of the Aromatique candles. My favorite scent for the holiday season is Cinnamon Cider. I use it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know. They make other scents for Christmas, but this one just says holidays.


To accompany our science book, BURN: MICHAEL FARADAY’S CANDLE, we suggest the Cinnamon Cider Pillar candle. You can’t do Faraday’s candle experiment with candles in a jar; it’s got to be the old-fashioned candles that go into a candlestick holder, or a pillar candle like this.

Gift the Gift of Light and Enlightenment

Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle book cover | DarcyPattison.com




GIFTS FOR KIDS WHO GET TABLETS: Let Reading Rule on Tablets

Will someone you know give a tablet to a child? All that screen time competes with reading! But you can fight it by paying fora year of the EPIC! app. Also, load up your favorite ereader app with some great books. Whether you choose the iBook app, the Kobo app, or the Kindle app, you’ll find Mims House books waiting to be loaded up. Get the kids started on the path to reading on their tablets.


A great place to start is a simple series of book. The short chapter series, The Aliens, Inc. is a funny, family-oriented look at how aliens make a living on Earth. Kell Smith, with the help of his BFF, Bree, make cakes for birthday parties and help plan the parties. When Bree wants an alien-themed party, Kell is stumped. How can this lovable alien family pull a great alien party without exposing who they are?


Give the Gift of Reading!

The Aliens, Inc. Box Set by Darcy Pattison | DarcyPattison.com






GIFTS FOR WRITERS: Scrivener

When they first start writing, most people choose to use a word-processor, such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. A more professional software, though, is Scrivener because it allows you to focus on the organization of your writing. For nonfiction, it’s amazing to see the chapters divided out. Research is a breeze because you can pull in websites and not have to go looking for obscure sites later. I’ve written about its uses several times.



Scrivener: A Review of a Writer’s Software Program
Scrivener: Sculpting a Story

Give the gift of Writing!

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Education Licence)


Give the gift of writing

For those writers in your family, we have several books.

This workbook is a gem! It helps you write the book of your dreams. Info on writing ABCs, rhyming picture books and much more. | MimsHouse.com




30 Days to a Stronger Novel | MimsHouse.com




Start Your Novel the right way with 6 easy steps. | MimsHouse.com




The popular workbook for Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat is Novel Metarmorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. Hurrah! It's now available as an ebook. | MimsHouse.com





Book related gifts for kids, librarians, and that picky aunt. | DarcyPattison.com


Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I recommend these gifts because they are fun and interesting, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you they are perfect for your Christmas list.


The post Gifts for the Writer, Librarian or Kid on Your List appeared first on Fiction Notes.


Join Darcy in a Writing Retreat

May 5-7, 2017, NOVEL REVISION RETREAT, Syracuse, NY
June 22-25, 2017,

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz

June 19-22, 2017,

Self or Indie Publishing: Answering the Big Questions
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Published on November 14, 2016 03:03 • 1 view

November 7, 2016

Now Available!




The post Interviews: Research for Fiction and Nonfictoin appeared first on Fiction Notes.


The next time you need information for your story, fiction or nonfiction, pick up the phone.


Internet and library research only takes you so far. Sooner or later, you need an expert that means a phone interview. Here’s how to prepare for the interview, conduct the interview and use the interview.


First, think about how you like to interview. Some writers experiment with recording the interview with their iphone or special recording devices. I like to have my word processor pulled up and I type like mad as the person talks. This works for me because I’m a fast typist and I can do two things at the same time, type and talk. Decide how you want to document the interview and what tools you need.


Prepare for an Interview

Unless you have no time available, you must prepare for the interview by doing basic research. You should know the person’s name, approximate age, importance to your story, and what you need to know from them. Recently, I was researching a nonfiction picture book about a frog that was in a jumping contest. Crazy, right? The person who jumped the frog passed away last year, but I contacted his widow. Before the interview, I learned what I could about the woman, including her involvement in her husband’s frog projects.


Written questions. For my first frog interview, I had a about a dozen questions. I looked at my basic research and found gaps in the information. I try, however to start and end with open-ended questions. At the beginning, I ask, “Tell me about XXX.” At the end, I ask, “Is there anything else that you want to add? Did I leave out anything or do you need to explain something else for me to understand?”


When you need info, don't just do online and library research. Instead, pick up the phone and call an expert. | DarcyPattison.com


Conducting an Interview

A friend once commented that there are four magic words at our disposal: “I’m writing a book.”


I alway add a disclaimer that the book isn’t guaranteed yet (unless, of course, I have a contract in hand). It may or may not happen. The outcome depends partly on this interview.


As we discuss the questions, I type the answers. I’m not worrying about spelling, but trying to get the flavor of their language. If there’s something quotable, I may ask them to repeat that and make sure I get it down accurately.


Using the Interview

Fiction. If this is for a story, you’ll likely weave the details and facts into the story. In that case, there’s no need to document when/where the interview happened. In fiction, you wouldn’t footnote the interview as a source. You wouldn’t be required to even acknowledge the expert; however, I think it’s a good idea to give the expert some appreciation.


Nonfiction. However, if you write nonfiction you should document the day that you interviewed the expert. Their statements are part of your bibliography and the information may need to be footnoted or otherwise acknowledged. You’ll likely want to include them in any acknowledgment or dedication.


Use facts from the interview to add details that make your story come alive. For the frog story, it was crucial to nail down the exact spot where they found a certain frog. The sequence of events can be straightened out by an interviewee. Add quotes where they create a certain mood, add interesting details, or commentary on the story.


For a recent novel, part of the story was set in an imaginary underground city. I researched architecture, power sources, food sources, marine life that might be typical in my location, unusual marine life that could be possible and could create excitement in the story (giant octopus with a poisonous ink), underwater breathing apparatus, decompression sickness, submarine wrecks, and much more. Novels demand a lot from a setting and that demands research. At any point, I could have and sometimes did, contact an expert and asked to talk about a specific topic.


Talking with an expert is the pinnacle of research. It has the added benefit of unexpected information and tangents that take you to fresh places. Next time you’re writing, pick up your phone and talk to an expert.




The post Interviews: Research for Fiction and Nonfictoin appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Join me at Highlights Foundation in 2017.

June 22-25, 2017,

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz

June 19-22, 2017,

Self or Indie Publishing: Answering the Big Questions
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Published on November 07, 2016 03:12 • 2 views