Mayra Calvani's Blog

August 14, 2017

jh_image001_thumbA self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.

The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his next novel, Between These Walls.

Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.

His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.

Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Beautiful Mess . To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

Beautiful-Mess-Low-Resolution-Color-Book-CoverA: Thanks very much! Here’s the gist: Del Corwyn hasn’t had a hit film since his Academy Award nomination 40 years ago. He’s desperate to return to the spotlight but teeters on bankruptcy. Del is a forgotten legend—until, while combing through personal memorabilia, he discovers an original screenplay written by his once-close friend, Marilyn Monroe, who named Del as its legal guardian. The news goes viral. Suddenly, Del skyrockets to the A-list and has a chance to revive his career—if he’s willing to sacrifice his friend’s memory and reputation along the way. 

As for what compelled the idea, years ago, I read a biography on Marilyn Monroe and learned the actress was forced into a mental institution against her will. That ordeal frightened her because she was trapped, all alone, and couldn’t do anything to stop it. 

I thought to myself, “Even though they released her, the experience must have left scars. Nobody could escape that predicament unchanged.” I sensed a story and couldn’t shake the idea. I sought a way to delve into that experience while respecting her memory and presenting her as a human being who had vulnerabilities like you and I.

Q: What do you think makes good contemporary fiction? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: The key elements, for me, seem to be point of view, balance and heart. POV is important not only because it’s part of the craft, but readers recognize when it goes astray. Writing from your heart breathes life into the story and gives your readers a way to identify with the characters. And balance makes sure all the bases get covered, but recognizes one size doesn’t fit all.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Beautiful Mess features an ensemble cast. So I started by developing a story arc for each character, then overlaid them to see where their stories bled into each other. In a way, I treated each character’s story like a subplot for development purposes. My IT background had me assigning alphanumeric codes to each event, then drafting the story by piecing those blocks together much like a flow chart or storyboard. (A total geekfest on paper!) I didn’t intend to plan the book that way—my personal motto is “Whatever works!”, and that method got me moving forward.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Del is 78 years old, but he feels like a perpetual 29-year-old. So in terms of his perspective and behavior, I started with that younger mentality, then aged him. I added his biographical sketch, which gave him decades of life experience. Finally, regardless of how Del sees himself, he can’t deny reality—in fact, reality of his age annoys him most—so I sprinkled in physical characteristics of someone his age. For example, I gave him recurring lower-back pain to bring him down to earth.

Yes, I create biographical sketches for all my main characters. Usually, I also conduct character interviews to get a feel for their voices. But Del and the other characters were so clearly defined in my mind, this book didn’t require as much prep work. Once I got past the initial mental barriers, the project unfolded fast. 

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: In Beautiful Mess, my antagonist isn’t a person; it’s the realization that Del is aging. But he can’t admit that to himself, so he creates his own antagonists, and those people/facts aren’t out to get him like he believes. In his own mind, it’s Del against the film industry, Del against the world, Del against his competitors. Not to be crude, but he’s always on the lookout for the latest excuse to tell someone, “Go f*** yourself!” He thrives on that—on being the lead actor in his life’s movie. But the truth is, by living that way, Del has become his own worst enemy. That becomes part of his self-discovery process. On the surface, Beautiful Mess looks like a man-vs.-man story, but when you get to know Del, you discover it’s a man-vs.-self story.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Subplots are so valuable. They add depth to your novel; offer opportunities to highlight aspects of your plot or protagonist through parallels or symbols; and buoy up your novel during lulls in your plot, which helps maintain a sense of motion for your reader. That’s one reason richly drawn characters are so critical: they help you develop those subplots. Their stories and backgrounds provide so many places to dig for ideas. And in Beautiful Mess, Tristan’s subplot provided comic relief—it allowed me to dabble in caricature without sacrificing the gravity of Nora’s plight.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: Instead of simply decorating the scene, I try to allow my characters to experience the setting and incorporate all five of their senses. I also try to use setting to give clues about a character’s emotion or inner predicament. 

The world is much smaller than we tend to think. Beautiful Mess examines how, in a pool of humanity, individual lives can cross paths and produce startling consequences. It describes every person’s need to rise above that pool and be known and appreciated for their distinct natures. Los Angeles provided the perfect setting—America’s second-largest city, a mecca where millions flock to pursue the same dream, where it can be easy to feel lost. The cityscape on the cover conveys that sense. The city and its foremost industry are not just the setting for the story, but also symbols for what the story is about.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Del, my protagonist, came to me early, along with his insecurities. So his internal predicament drove the story’s theme and structure. To date, my books have focused on the human heart, those hidden corners we all possess but try to hide. As a result, my books are character-driven. Each book has an external plot, but the true plot—the more important action—occurs internally. I create an external parallel to amplify and shed light on the protagonist’s inner struggle.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: I’m a fan of balance. Because of how my planning process works, I conduct a lot of “pre-editing” before I write a word, which has prevented me from having to rewrite any chapters from scratch. And I’ve gotten to the point where I tend to edit a bit as I write, but if it starts to interfere with my creative flow, I force myself to postpone edits to the revision phase. But when it comes to craft vs. art, if you want people to read your books, it’s important to remember that the book isn’t about you—it’s about your audience. What will serve your readers best? Has your manuscript answered the questions your readers will have? Will your readers relate to a character or care about a storyline, or at least be able to get on board it? As a writer, it’s your responsibility to locate win-win scenarios. You need to sacrifice some things you want in order to give the reader what they want. You can also look at art vs. craft as hobby vs. profession—you can keep a 100% focus on art if your goal is 100% hobby.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: 1.) Cherish your audience—respect them, appreciate them, serve them, be aware of their expectations by reading what they read. 2) Understand people. 3) Pursue excellence in your work—do whatever it takes to achieve it.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Another famous writer, Mark Twain, said that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s a more accurate description for me. Yes, it’s hard work, but that work should bring you joy.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Read, read, read. Anything and everything, especially your counterparts in the marketplace. You’ll stay aware of current standards, and you’ll learn what to do (or NOT to do) as your technique evolves. Oftentimes, when I read another author’s work, it gives me technique ideas. 

Learn, learn, learn. Pay attention to the news. Read or scan nonfiction books, magazine articles, books on business or computer programming or wines. Anything. When you meet people, ask them about their careers. Ask your Starbucks baristas which products customers like best (and why), or how a promotion is working. The more you learn, the more background you have on the world around you. It will trigger novel ideas, give you direction for how to plan a novel (“I remember reading about X, where it said…”), and will expand the network of people you can talk to for research purposes. Reading nonfiction helps you ask better questions when your path crosses with someone in that field. Also, watch people; listen to what they say and how they say it, which will help you sharpen your dialogue skills.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Never give up! Books are a subjective field, so rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t succeed or your work is poor; often, it just means your work isn’t the right fit for the needs of that particular moment—but needs change. Feel free to say hi at www.johnherrick.net, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads!
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Published on August 14, 2017 13:25 • 10 views • Tags: marilyn-monroe, romantic-comedy

August 3, 2017

George photoGeorge A. Bernstein is the retired President of a Chicago appliance manufacturing company, now living in south Florida. Able to retire early and looking for something to do besides play golf, he leaned on a life-time flair for storytelling and turned to writing novels. He spent years attending writing seminars and conferences, learning to polish his work and developing a strong “voice.” Bernstein is acclaimed by his peers as a superb wordsmith.

His first novel, Trapped, was a winner in a small Indie publisher’s “Next Great American Novel” contest, and received high praise, gaining many mostly 5-star reviews at Amazon (reaching their “Top 100”) and Goodreads. His 2nd novel, A 3rd Time to Die (A paranormal Romantic Suspense) has also garnered mostly 5-Star & 4-Star reviews, with one reader likening him to the best, less “spooky” works of Dean Koontz & Stephen King.

The Prom Dress Killer is the third of his Detective Al Warner Suspense series, with the first, DEATH’S ANGEL, and the second, BORN TO DIE, already garnering rave reviews. Bernstein has the next Warner novel already in the works, to be published in 2017. Readers have likened Bernstein’s Detective Al Warner to Patterson’s Alex Cross.

Bernstein works with professional editors to ensure his novels meets his own rigorous standards, and all of his books are currently published by small indie press, GnD Publishing LLC, in which he has an interest.

Bernstein is also a “World-class” fly-fisherman, setting a baker’s dozen IGFA World Records, mostly on fly-rods, and has published Toothy Critters Love Flies, the complete book on fly-fishing for pike & musky.

Connect with Berstein on the web:


http://suspenseguy.com


http://amazon.com/author/georgeabernstein


http://facebook.com/georgeabernstein


ThePromDressKillerprintcover5.5x8.5_BW_30018mar2017

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Prom Dress Killer. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: The Prom Dress Killer begins with a psychotic serial-killer abducting young auburn-haired woman, and eventually killing them, leaving their bodies in peaceful repose, donned in fancy prom dresses.

Miami’s crack homicide detective, Al Warner, is on the case, but has no inkling as to why these girls were taken and then executed? What was their connection besides their red hair, and why the prom dresses?

Warner’s hunt for this clever psycho is stymied by a lack of clues, as bodies begin to pile up. As he desperately searches for the latest victim, the murderer finally makes one tiny error, possibly exposing his location.

As Warner and the FBI doggedly zero in on their fleeing prey and his newest captive, the action escalates. Unlikely players are drawn into a tense, deadly game. As the stunning climax plays out, Warner is trapped in a classic Catch-22. In order to snare this lethal psycho, he must make a decision that may haunt him forever.

I wrote this novel as a natural progression for my Detective Al Warner series. This is the 3rd, and I’m well into the 4th, with at least 2 others outlined.

Q: What do you think makes a good suspense novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Suspense, thriller and mystery often get lumped together. For me, it’s first about who the characters are; secondly, a deadly terror threatens them, putting them in fear for their lives; and third, an action-packed climax, with a surprise the readers doesn’t expect. A mystery is more about solving a crime, while a suspense is about extreme jeopardy.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: When I begin a novel, after conceiving the overall plot, I imaging my main characters, and use 4 x 6 cards to detail their physical and psychological make-up. I list their cars, their homes, their pets – anything I may need later. It’s important to keep all their data straight.

Next I outline the novel, chapter by chapter, with only a few sentences for each as a guideline. This is very flexible, as once I begin writing, the characters inevitably take over the action, often leading me to places I never expected. And they evolve into more complicated, more deadly (in the case of the antagonist), more loveable people.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I wanted Detective Al Warner to be human, not a super hero, despite being labeled “The Hero of Miami” because of his killing a previous serial-killer, while almost dying himself from a gunshot wound. He’s a tough, street-wise homicide cop with great instincts, but has a softer side. He takes the death of ever victim very personally, and has an unshakeable morality. He’s the kind of guy who rescues a wounded golden retriever and brings the newspaper to the door of his elderly neighbor to save her the steps. He never expects to find love, but when he does, with surprising partners, he’s a tender and expert lover. On the other hand, he has no qualms over killing a vicious psycho. He would rather see him dead than in custody, but he fights that urge, trying to apprehend rather than kill. Readers tell me the love his character.

I’ve done some character interviews for Warner, but they’ve all been after the novels have been published.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: He just comes to me. His physical characters just “pop out” of my mind. As I mentioned earlier, he really creates who he is, psychologically, as the story develops. A lot of that comes to me at night, while awaiting sleep. Suddenly, I see him doing things I hadn’t imagined earlier … always worse things, at that. My critique group love how “creepy” (their words) he’s become.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: At a writers’ seminar, they asked, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to your protagonist?” When we came up with an answer, they asked, “What can be worse than that?” And then later, “Even worse than that?” In a suspense or thriller, you have to make bad things happen to your characters … even sometimes, the villain … and things have to go downhill from there. A scene of trauma or danger can’t be over in a half page. It should be even chapters long, and while your readers know everything will end up well, you’ll have them on the edge of their seat … and sometimes you’ll make them wrong. That’s what readers say about my novels: they never know what’s going to go wrong next.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I find that many writers err on both sides of what’s right here. Some are so into the story they forget to tell the reader what the characters look line, where they are, and don’t describe the setting. Others bury the reader in mountains of description that takes them right out of the story.

I like to feed descriptive information in a bit at a time rather than do it all in a “dump.” A quick mention of a silk Armani suit. That he smoothes his sparse moustache; she ran her fingers through her wavy auburn locks. The shriek of circling sea gulls; Smells of oregano and garlic; The sense of feel – the moist, salt-laden breeze wafting with a gentle caress. Small, quick things that set a scene without overburdening the reader. Smell is one of the senses many author forget to use, and it can be an important memory trigger in the novel.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I had an idea I liked: Scheherazade. I know that sounds strange, but I love the stories and concept of A Thousand and One Nights. I thought of writing a current day novel where a desperate woman uses her story-telling ability to delay and entertain a killer until she can be rescued. Rochelle Weitz becomes that woman in Prom Dress Killer.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: I’m not sure. I was always an “artful storyteller,” But after attending a plethora of writing classes at conferences, I blended that with skillful craft. Some of the simpler things were to keep it short: sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. How to build tension is craft. How WELL you build that tension is art. How beautifully you write scenes may be art, but how you blend it together for a seamless story is craft.

Where many new authors fail is that they may have the art, but lack the craft to make it compelling. Those are things I learned at the many conferences and seminars I attended.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: First, the love of writing. We do it because we’re impelled to tell a story. Secondly, the imagination to conceive of people, places, and things to make a great story. And last, but far from least, the willingness to accept expert constructive criticism from editors and agents, and be willing to make changes to improve your work.

After Trapped was selected as “The Next Great American Novel,” my editor there made many great suggestions on how to improve it, including turning the whole novel into First Person POV of the protagonist, Jackee. That required a lot of rewriting, but made for a much more powerful narrative.

On the other hand, she also asked me to change the ending, but I refused – and argued my case successfully with the editor. One of the most common comments I get on that novel is, “I loved the ending.” So you have to be open to change, but also be willing to stand up for what you feel is right.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Nope. Homework was a drag. I rarely needed it to excel, even for the toughest math classes. But writing is a joy, so I find them nothing alike.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: The library, of course, but mainly Google. Surgeons asked if I were a doctor because I got the medical details of Locked-in Syndrome so perfectly for Trapped, but it was all there on Google. And I was able to download a 30 page symposium from the BAU division of the FBI, regarding serial killers, and I’ve used that in two of my Warner novels.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: For many new novelists, writing is an avocation, hoping to become a vocation, but for all but a very slim few, there’s not a lot of money in it. Do it because you love it and because there’s a story there fighting to get out. Don’t chase trends, because by the time you finish your work, that fad will have burned out. In other words, write what you feel you MUST, not what you SHOULD. Your outcome will be better for it.

 

 

 

 
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Published on August 03, 2017 10:27 • 4 views • Tags: how-to-write-thrillers, interview, mystery, suspense, thriller, writing-craft

July 14, 2017

philBorn in Atlanta, Phil Kimble went to school in Utah, lived for 2 years in LA, then moved back to Atlanta.  He and his wife Julie live in Conyers. Mr. Kimble is an avid motorcyclist and competitive distance runner.

Q: What’s inside the mind of a Motivational/Self-Help author?

A: For me, I’m trying to first help myself.  Most of the concepts I write about are ones I with which I at one time struggled.  I assume I am no different from the average person, so the things I figure out I believe will help others as well.

Q: Tell us why readers should buy The Art of Making Good Decisions.

A: It will help individuals in their decision-making process, from understanding the “Why did I do that?” basis for a less-than-optimal decision, to the “What do I do now?” basis for upcoming decisions of any complexity.

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Q: What makes a good Motivational/Self-Help Book?

A: It has to get within the readers’ circle, answer the “what’s in it for me?” question. It has to give the reader an assignment—something tactile to do.

Q: What has writing taught you?

A: I think it has taught me the importance of empathy, being able to transmit your sentences into something someone else can understand.  It’s not a “talking down” sort of thing, but because everyone has different experiences, how I may explain a concept may be a miss with someone else.  So understanding where that person is coming from is important.
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Published on July 14, 2017 04:15 • 5 views • Tags: how-to-make-good-decisions

June 16, 2017

DNMD e 165.jpg InstaFew authors write murder mysteries and thrillers and also deliver babies. A native of the Mississippi Delta and a board-certified physician in obstetrics and gynecology, Darden North is the nationally awarded author of five novels in the mystery/thriller genre, including Points of Origin, which was awarded an IPPY. He practices medicine at Jackson Healthcare for Women in Flowood, Mississippi, where he is a certified daVinci robotic surgeon. North also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation and on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association.

A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Mississippi, he begin his writing and publishing career as Editor-in-Chief of the 1978 Ole Miss yearbook and continued for the 1982 Medic while in medical school. Darden North’s fifth novel is The Five Manners of Death/WordCrafts Press/June 2017. He has presented at the Southern Expressions Conference on the construction of mysteries and thrillers and participated as an author panelist at “Murder in the Magic City,” “Killer Nashville,” “Author! Author! Celebration of the Written Word,” “Murder on the Menu,” and “SIBA Thriller Author Panel.”  Darden North lives with his wife Sally in Jackson, Mississippi. In his spare time, he gardens, enjoys family, walks for exercise, and travels. Sally and Darden have two young adult children who work in the medical field. Visit Darden North the author at www.dardennorth.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Five Manners of Death. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it? 

A: Murder is a Family Affair ...

After a construction worker unearths a human skull on the campus of the University of Mississippi that dates to the 1960s, an older woman’s desperate attempt to erase history counts down the five manners of death.

Surgeon Diana Bratton is surrounded by bodies after the discovery of her aunt Phoebe’s 50-year-old note detailing the five manners of death. Suicide, accident, natural cause, and one death classified undetermined are soon crossed off this list—leaving Diana to believe that only homicide remains.

The5MannersOfDeath_coverfinalWhen Phoebe is linked not only to that death, but to the recent deaths of two local men, Diana is torn between pursuing her Aunt Phoebe’s innocence or accepting police theory that her aunt is involved in multiple murders.

Diana steals precious time from her young daughter, her surgical practice, and her hopes for renewed romance to clear Phoebe’s name. As Diana searches for evidence to trump the police and outrun the conspiracy between her ex-husband and Phoebe’s long-time lover—her quest to expose the truth may be overshadowed by Aunt Phoebe’s need to rebury the past. As the truth emerges, Diana discovers that of the five ways to die, murder is a family secret.

Q: What do you think makes a good thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A:  A good thriller is a plausible, tangle of suspense that springs from a good title, then doesn’t stop until the climax, but leaves readers wanting another chapter. For me, the three most important elements are unique characters, surprising conflict, and unrelenting dread.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: There are five manners of death: accident, suicide, natural causes, undetermined, and homicide. The interesting twist is that all murder is homicide but not all homicide is murder. Surgeon Diana Bratton believes that homicide—that murder—is the only manner of death left to fall at her feet. Then the police prove her wrong.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I work with female physicians on a daily basis, so there was no need to interview female surgeons or sketch characters. Protagonist Diana Bratton is a strong professional faced with self-examination on a daily basis. She is thrown into internal conflict when she must choose between saving her family and exposing the truth about a 50-year-old murder on a university campus that may bring down her family.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: Let’s talk about one of the two major villains: Winston Ivy. Winston is believable because he is a liar of convenience. What’s worse is that he is a handsome, charming liar.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Lots of dialogue keeps the plot moving forward. It should be crisp (even though my novels include Southern dialect!) and it should be purposeful. I work to develop setting and character description through dialogue and interaction between the protagonist and antagonist(s).

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: Like I said, dialogue can describe setting as can the choreography of the characters’ movements.  Interactions between characters and with their surroundings can heighten tension and conflict.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: The theme of The Five Manners of Death, my fifth novel, is unique to my stories. From the first page, I planned to explore the five ways to die. At first it was about a novelist writing and planning death to satisfy the five manners, but the plot took a different turn.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: A good editor understands and feels the style of the author. The objective of the editor should be not to change that style but to let it shine through. If the editor does not endorse or understand the flavor of the author’s writing, then there’s a problem with that working relationship.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: The ability to imagine oneself in any situation or place and to interject that into characters, the possession of nerves and a confidence of steel, and a drive to never waste time.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: The problem is that the assignment is never finished. There is always another 200 to 300-plus page essay waiting to be written. What makes this more of a challenge is that publishers and society may grade the essay on the number of copies the novel sells.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: I enjoyed ThrillerFest in New York, a nice selection of conferences led by established authors mixed with the opportunity to connect with agents and publishers. Another writing conference, this one held in Cape Cod, was instrumental to The Five Manners of Death.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A:  Remember that when the novel is finished, the book is not about you, the author. It’s about the readers you hope to have and what you want them to see and feel in the characters and setting. There are different ways to tell the same story. Read the finished passages aloud to yourself to discover if the story moves, to know if it’s good, if it’s unique. Your characters’ voices won’t lie to you.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Title:  THE FIVE MANNERS OF DEATH


Genre: Mystery


Author: Darden North


Websitehttp://www.dardennorth.com


Publisher: WordCrafts Press


Find out more on Amazon


The Five Manners of Death is a taut, tense, and gripping tale about a long-buried secret that once unleashed will begin a countdown of the five ways to die.  For Mississippi surgeon Diana Bratton, the novel’s protagonist, pages torn from a 1960s college yearbook reveal that murder is a family affair…

About The Five Manners of Death:  When a construction worker unearths  a decades-old human skull on the campus of the University of Mississippi, he sets in motion an eerie chain of events that leaves one  woman desperate to rewrite history and another woman desperate to find the truth.

After the discovery of her Aunt Phoebe’s 50-year-old note detailing the five manners of death, surgeon Diana Bratton is surrounded by bodies.  Suicide, accident, natural cause, and one death classified undetermined are soon crossed off this grisly list—leaving Diana to believe that only homicide remains. But the police prove her wrong:  Phoebe is linked to murder—not only by those skeletal fragments uncovered on the University campus but also to the recent deaths of two local men. Diana is torn:  should she try to prove her aunt’s innocence or accept police theory that her beautiful, beloved aunt is a woman who harbors dark and deadly secrets?

Stealing precious time from her young daughter, her surgical practice, and her hopes for a renewed romance, Diana launches a pulse-quickening quest to clear Phoebe’s name.  However, as she searches for evidence, Diana finds that her desire to reach the truth may be eclipsed by Aunt Phoebe’s need to rebury the past. When reality finally emerges, Diana faces the cold fact that murder is a family affair.  After all, things aren’t always what they seem. And some things never die…

With the precision of a surgeon, Darden North has crafted a confident and chilling tale about lies, secrets, deception and the conflict that erupts when the past and present collide.  Meticulous plotting, richly-drawn, engaging characters and a shocking storyline combine to create an extraordinary thriller resplendent with twists, turns, and the unexpected.  A unique but realistic story teeming with the right mix of medical authenticity, The Five Manners of Death plunges readers deep into the minds of the novel’s characters as each learns that no one can be trusted—and that everyone has his own agenda. With this sensational, skillful and highly suspenseful tale, Darden North claims a solid spot among today’s finest thriller writers.

Connect with the author on the web:


 www.dardennorth.com


Instagram and Twitter: @dardennorth


https://www.facebook.com/DardenNorthAuthor


https://www.linkedin.com/in/darden-north-9b71749


https://www.youtube.com/user/dardennorth


http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/351136.Darden_North


https://plus.google.com/107211094415566347824


http://blog.dardennorth.com/


 
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Published on June 16, 2017 00:43 • 6 views • Tags: surgeon, suspense, thriller

April 14, 2017

margaretfentonbirminghamMargaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. She spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist for the Department of Human Resources before taking a break to focus on her writing. Hence, her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned.  She is the planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Little Girl Gone, and what compelled you to write it.

Margaret Fenton:  Little Girl Gone is the second in the Claire Conover mysteries.  I was inspired to write the story based on a newspaper article I read several years ago about teens and sexting.  Claire is also continuing her relationship with Grant Summerville, the man she met in the first book, Little Lamb Lost.

M.C.: What is your book about?

M.F.:  Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost.  She has taken into custody a 13-year-old girl found sleeping behind a grocery store.  The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears.   Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham.  Things only get more complicated from there.  Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger?  She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Little Girl Gone?

M.F.:  Claire is a child protective services social worker, so all of my books explore kids in danger who come into the foster care/adoptive system.  As I said above, there is a bit about sexting in this book and the effects that cell phones have on everyone.  Information is instant now, and that’s part of what I touch on in this book.

M.C.:  Why do you write?

M.F.:  I had a wonderful mother who instilled a love of reading in me at a very early age.  I loved mysteries most of all.  I loved Trixie Belden, the Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia  Brown as a child, and then read a lot of Agatha Christie and Rex Stout.  After I moved to Birmingham in 1996, I got to know the late Anne George.  She was the wonderful author of the Southern Sisters mysteries and she really encouraged me to give writing a go.

M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?

M.F.:  First thing in the morning.  I grab a cup of coffee, stay in my p.j.’s and write until lunchtime at least.

M.C.:  How picky are you with language?

M.F.:  Not very.  I write based on rhythm and feel.  Sometimes the grammar isn’t totally correct, but it’s dialogue so I think it’s okay.  I wish I had a broader vocabulary sometimes.

M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

M.F:  Absolutely.  When I was writing Little Lamb Lost, I was really struggling with the all-important opening paragraph.  I hated what I had written and needed something new.  I grabbed a drink and went and sat outside on my porch and cleared my mind.  Then it came to me.  The perfect opening sentence for that book.  I’m convinced it was a gift from someone, somewhere.

LGGcoverM.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?

M.F.:  After Little Lamb Lost came out in 2009, my publisher decided they were only going to publish thrillers.  Little Girl Gone is not a thriller.  They asked me to rework it, but it just wasn’t going to happen, so they passed.  Not having a publisher after you’ve had one is really hard.  It was tough dealing with that feeling of rejection and trying to decide what to do next.

M.C.:  Your best?

M.F.:  Oh I love this story.  I had the most amazing and inspirational English teacher in high school.  When I got published, I really wanted to share that with him.  I started to look for him, as he wasn’t teaching at my high school anymore.  I searched a while and even heard a rumor he had died.  Then one of my friends tracked him down.  I wrote him a long, gushy letter and sent him a copy of the book.  He loved it!  We are in touch again and even friends on Facebook.  He influenced me to major in English in college and start writing.

M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

M.F.:  Catastrophic head injury, maybe.  Maybe.

M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

M.F.:  The story above about my teacher.

M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?

M.F:  It’s just something I really enjoy.  I have to work not to get too obsessed with the story at the expense of everything else in life.

M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

M.F.:  Claire and I do have a lot in common. We are both social workers, although she is a lot more of a workaholic than I ever was.  I dealt with the mental health side of things at DHR, while Claire is an actual social worker.  And of course, she’s younger and prettier than I am!  I think most authors create protagonists that are younger and better looking and tougher.

M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

M.F.:  My writing, at least, is fed by darker points of reality.  The thing I love about any good mystery is that justice is always served.  That doesn’t always happen in reality and that’s disappointing.  So it’s nice to get drunk on fiction.

M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

M.F:  I do.  www.margaretfenton.com  Thanks for this interview, it was fun!

 
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Published on April 14, 2017 08:53 • 19 views • Tags: alabama, mystery, suspense
phil in b&W.jpgPhilip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE;  CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University. www.philipcioffari.com

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Bronx Kill. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: My novel, The Bronx Kill, is about a drowning death and the effect it has on those involved in the incident. On a hot August night, five teenage friends challenge each other to swim the East River from the Bronx to Queens. In the attempt, one boy drowns and the body of the only girl among them is never found. The three survivors take a vow never again to speak about the incident. When they reunite five years later, they find themselves at the mercy of the drowned boy’s brother, an NYPD detective, who holds them responsible for his brother’s death and vows to bring them to justice by any means possible. The lead character, Danny Baker, one of the three survivors, must fight not only to preserve his childhood friendships but to save himself and his friends from the detective’s brand of vigilante justice.

Bronx Kill Cover JPEG.jpgI wanted to write about the complexity and durability of friendship. The apparent and not-so-apparent ties that bind us, the debts we owe one another, the divisive factors that can tear a friendship apart, the loyalties that can supersede everything, even ethical and moral principles—these are my concerns here.

In particular, my focus is on friendship that originates in childhood, that continues to hold us together long after childhood ends, friendship that develops and matures over time, that changes as the dynamic of the relationship changes, friendship that allows us at its best to be individuals within the larger framework of the we.

The characters in this novel have been friends since grade school. They have experienced the small triumphs and defeats that occur in playgrounds and alleys, on handball courts and ballfields. They have endured the mean streets of the Bronx, faced hardship, humiliation and loss; but it isn’t until their mid-twenties that they must confront the most severe test of their loyalty to one another. I wrote it as a suspense thriller because I thought that was the most effective way to engage the reader in this story.

Q: What do you think makes a good mystery/thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Of course there are many elements that go into making a successful story. In my book, I strove 1) for a high level of tension throughout, 2) a strong atmosphere of danger and foreboding, and 3) strong, clearly defined characters. I also try to find something sympathetic in each of my characters, even the seemingly unlikeable ones.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A:  I work out the details of the story as I write. I take notes along the way but mostly the process is intuitive, instinctual as I move for scene to scene. What does my character want? What would be the step or steps he/she would take to get what he/she wants? The way I see it character drives plot.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Characters usually form inside my head. I may jot down a few notes but mostly I get a feel for them, who they are, what they want. Then they become more defined in the writing process. My lead character in The Bronx Kill is Danny Baker, a 24 year old man who returns to his hometown, the Bronx, after a self-imposed exile of five years. He is haunted by a sense of guilt and responsibility for the death of his friend. He wants to find the truth about what happened the night of the drowning, but as important is his search to find out the truth about himself, why he did what he did, why he hadn’t acted differently, what more could he have done to save his friend. I knew Danny well enough that I didn’t really have to go outside myself to develop him.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: The obsessed detective who seeks revenge for his brother’s death came to me as I was writing the story of these friends. He assumed a greater role in my mind, and hence in the story, as I got deeper into the book. He wasn’t there at the start. What characterizes him is his unswerving dedication to seeking justice for his dead brother. He’s ruthless and will use any means necessary to enact his vengeance, which adds considerably to sense of imminent danger in the book.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: As Elmore Leonard said, cut out the boring parts. I try to make each scene absolutely necessary. Each scene jumps the story forward. I use the mood and atmosphere not only of the physical setting but also the interior landscape of the characters’ minds to keep the tension high and unrelenting.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I use as much specific, physical detail of the place—whether it be a street, a room, a tavern—to create a visual image for the reader. I always have a particular street or room or bar in mind when I write.  I use the quality of light to highlight atmosphere. I make sure I know my settings well. I’ve been there, lived there. I know the place in all seasons, at different times of the day and night, on holidays and work days. I try to capture the feel of a place, not only its physical details.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I never start with theme. Theme is something I discover after I’ve written the final word. I concentrate on telling the truest, most convincing story I can tell. Theme will take care of itself. And, yes, themes recur in my work. That’s probably inevitable.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: For me, editing improves my work. Makes it tighter, more focused. I cut out waste, superfluity.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Perseverance. Showing up at your desk everyday. Continually improving your writing style. Keeping an open, curious mind. (Sorry, that’s four)

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Writing has always brought me pleasure. If it didn’t, I’d stop.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Taking workshops and going to writers’ conferences have helped me immeasurably.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Learning the craft of writing is a life-long endeavor. Enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 
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Published on April 14, 2017 08:44 • 50 views • Tags: literary, mystery, suspense

March 28, 2017

EchoesOfTerrorFrontTitle: Echoes of Terror

Author: Maris Soule

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Five Star

Websitehttp://marissoule.com 

Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening--circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime--a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE


7:25 a.m. Thursday

“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”

“Who’s an idiot?”

Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.

“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”

Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.

“What?” Brian said.

“He sent Vince.”

“Who sent Vince?”

“My dad.”

“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”

“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”

She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.

“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”

She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”

Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.

“Do you think—?”

A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”

“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”

“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.

Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.

“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”

“Just go faster!”

“I’m going as fast as I can.”

The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.

And then his heart nearly stopped.

Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.

“That’s it, Babe.”

Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.

“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”

“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.

Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.

The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”

She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”

“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”

“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.

Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.

The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .

Then he saw the gun.

////////////////////////////////


MarisSoule2015


Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

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Published on March 28, 2017 10:42 • 65 views • Tags: crime, murder, mystery, suspense

March 22, 2017

184cd-author2blisaLiza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider's view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine. Visit her at  lizatrevino.com

Find out more on Amazon: All That Glitters

INTERVIEW:

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and gorgeous Latina who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer and film director in the 1980s. All That Glitters has grit, glamour, Hollywood and some romance mixed in for good measure.

I was re-reading a Jackie Collins book I’d love as a teenager, and I began thinking I wanted to read this kind of story, but with a Latina as the main character.  That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it in the marketplace, so I started writing.

All That Glitters CoverQ: What do you think makes a good women’s fiction book? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: The thing about women’s fiction is that it mixes with so many other genres, well, any other genre, really.  That’s what I find so interesting about this genre. It allows me to investigate a woman’s point-of-view and her character’s evolution in relation to any other genre or story that I’m interested in experiencing, whether it be a Hollywood romance or a horror or a mystery. But I digress… three fundamental elements are a believable character or characters the will draw the reader in. A character that makes you care or, whether it’s love or hate, the character has drawn you in. Also important is a universal struggle. Sure, there’s plot, structure and what not, but is the central question or struggle one that is a larger one that the reader can understand? So, again, no matter what the particulars are, the reader is caught up in the ‘what would I do’ game. And, finally, a good villain. Whether it’s external or internal, the project needs to struggle and be tested, and that’s exactly what a great villain does for the story.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Originally, I just started writing. I had an idea of the overall structure I wanted, as well as a few specific things I wanted to happen, so I attempted to write with that in mind.  What I discovered was that, for me, that didn’t work out so well. At all. It’s really important to get that ‘inspiration about the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it, but when digging into the actual work of writing an entire novel, I need to outline and plot. It helps me see where the holes are and  what is and isn’t working.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: The initial idea for Alexandria Moreno came from the fact that I was reading a lot of Los Angeles and Hollywood fiction. I have a soft spot for this type of writing.  And, two of my favorite characters from this type of writing, and in general, are Lucky Santangelo and Maria from Play It As It Lays. From there, I wanted to create a Latina heroine that was a blend of those two characters – a character with ambition, confidence and who also exhibited nearly clinically depressed ennui. I also wanted to explore Hollywood glamour – both its magic and its darkness.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: My villain was more difficult, but fun.  I say difficult because there were different iterations of this character in earlier drafts of the story. Once I got my head straight about the structure of this story, I realized there were three different characters that would be so much better if I just combined them into one person. After I realized that, filling him out and finding the physical traits was the easy part.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: That’s where plotting or outlining comes in handy. Even with an outline, you can find yourself at odds with the pacing when you actually get into writing. To keep the narrative exciting, I think it’s important to keep the protagonist always discovering something. It’s important to end chapters with a question asked and lingering, which will propel your reader to move onto the next chapter and further into the story.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I’m a big architecture and urban planning geek, so setting is always a particular joy and challenge to me.  I go out of my way to select specific details that interact with buildings or rooms, like light quality, grit on the windows or streets, or the furniture upholstery. Depending on the type of scene I’m working on, will determine how I go about filling out the scene. That is, if I have general action occurring, then I will go broader with descriptions, like how is traffic on the street moving. But, if the scene is more intimate in nature, like a stilted conversation between two estranged friends, then I’ll pick small details that would evoke what the character is doing and experiencing. For example, with the stilted conversation I just mentioned, I might add a detail about the table their sitting at and the grain on the table or crumpled napkins sitting on the table.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I set out to write about relationships. There are three key relationships in the book, and each of the relationship highlights different but complimentary themes that overlap. Themes that include the redemptive nature of loyalty and friendship, the destructive power of giving into your worst impulses, facing your demons, learning to love yourself, self-acceptance and trust. But, I’m most intrigued by the idea of free will vs. fate. Do we have free will or are things set before we even take our first breath? How in control are we of our life journeys?  Is there some pre-determined destination that all of our little, everyday decisions ultimately leads us?  Or, is it all just chaos? And, if it is chaos, then how do we account for certain repetitions in life? I suppose I’m quite taken with that theme because I see it played out and the questions come up again and again in different stories I’ve written. And, to all of this, I’d say that the themes became apparent after I wrote the story.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: There’s an argument to be made on both sides. Ultimately, I believe it’s not an either/or proposition. Craft and art co-exist. What I found is that art is the inspiration and vision of what you want to say and craft gives you the skills to create. Editing, when done constructively, can bring out the beauty of the initial inspiration, not diminish it.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Desire, perserverance and discipline. You have to want to tell the story that’s in your head. You have to want to tell it so much that you will persevere against all odds. I know that sounds  melodramatic, but it’s true.  There’s nothing harder to do than to keep pushing forward through all the obstacles that come with everyday life. And that’s where the discipline comes.  You have to train yourself to say no to that snooze button if you’re going to get up early to write. In the end, you have to shut everything else out so that the story you want to tell can make it to the page. Simple, right?

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

A: I don’t see it like that because homework has such a negative connotation – at least to me, anyway. Homework was something assigned to me that I had to get done in order to not fail out of school, never get into a good college, and have my life ruined. See what I mean?  Instead, writing and all the other stuff is something I choose to do, so, yeah, it’s work, but it’s an entire world/universe that I’ve created and choose to visit. That’s WAY better than homework.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: So many resources over the years were helpful. Among the best, I think are local writer’s conferences. It is a great way to dip your toe into the waters of the publishing world. You spend a couple of days hanging out with a bunch of writers who have varying degrees of experience and success. The most important thing from going to this is just being around other people who have the same passion or crazy idea about writing that you do. That’s awesome.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Draw inspiration from everything, always be curious about the world around you and you’ll never want for inspiration or stories.

Also, that words matter. It sounds funny or obvious, but it’s something I’ve learned. Once you have to name, describe or explain the idea floating in your head and make it concrete in the real, physical world, then how you express it with language makes all the difference. Now, that sounds paralyzing. But, it isn’t.  Because the other thing that writing has taught me is that fifteen minutes can be an eternity.  I used to think I needed hours and hours of dedicated time to get writing done. Timed writing sprints are a Godsend for focusing your thoughts and getting your story out of your head and onto the page.  Then, after you’ve finished your draft, the ‘words matter’ revision and refinement process can begin.
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Published on March 22, 2017 11:20 • 11 views • Tags: chica-lit, chick-lit, hispanic, latina, women-s-fiction

March 10, 2017

101044HarleyinTuscanyHarley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, and majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay U. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government as a computer programmer and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Harley’s other passions are reading, his wife Anastasia, their two children, peace, running, Italian cars, and California wine.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, White with Fish, Red with Murder. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: White with Fish, Red with Murder is the story of private eye Frank Swiver, who accepts an invitation to a wine tasting on a private rail car, and brings along his secretary and lover, Vera Peregrino. They’re two thirds of a love triangle. The host, Frank’s client, General Thursby, wants him to find proof that a friend whose death was ruled accidental was in fact murdered. Thursby suspects Cicilia O’Callaghan, widow of his late friend, an old flame of Frank’s, and the third leg of that triangle. But Thursby takes two slugs through the pump, and the cops arrest Vera for his killing. Frank spends his nights with Cici, and his days trying to find Thursby’s killer and spring Vera. But soon he realizes he must change his way of thinking, or risk losing both women . . . and maybe his life.

I felt compelled to write this story because I had read all of Raymond Chandler’s fiction, and most of Dashiell Hammett’s. I loved it, and I wanted more, even if I had to write it myself. I tried to reproduce the feel of their stories in characters, atmosphere, dialogue, and plot so that readers who liked Hammett and Chandler will feel as much at home with Frank Swiver as they would with Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe.

Q: What do you think makes a good mystery? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Character, plot, and pace. A good private eye story is not about the eye, but about the characters –the client, the femme fatale, the villain or antagonist. The characters must be believable, well-rounded, and distinct from one another. They must be driven by desires they are powerless to resist. Character is revealed in action. The plot must be credible; it has to be of a certain magnitude to hang a novel on it. And it’s good to have a couple different things going on in the plot. The best way for a writer to conceal a mystery is by interesting the reader in solving some other mystery. Finally, pace. You don’t necessarily have to write a thriller, but it needs to be a page turner. You want the reader to wonder, what happens next. A fourth element, close behind these three, is setting, environment, or a sense of place.

WhiteFish_RedMurder FinalQ: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I’m certainly in favor of knowing where you’re going when you set out. I was working towards a certain ending that I had in mind, but in this novel, the characters revealed to me how to get there and what to do along the way as the book progressed. For example, no one saw the murder, but private eye Frank Swiver questioned the seven suspects present, each of whom had a story, a version of the truth. By studying everyone’s comings and goings, their desires, and their versions of the truth, Frank gathered the clues he needed to put the whole mystery together. By following along with Frank, I learned what I needed to know to write my way to the ending.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Because of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, Frank Swiver is a pacifist, unusual in the tough, fists and blackjacks world of private eyes. He was a conscientious objector during WW II. As it happens, I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, so I didn’t need to interview Frank. We shared the same values.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: The villain goes back to some of the most basic ideas I learned reading Edgar Allan Poe’s first detective story, and to the idea of the duality of human nature. In some ways the antagonist is the opposite of the protagonist, Frank. He’s the animalistic side of Frank’s nature, and the dark side.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Well, Raymond Chandler says, “When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.” I didn’t do that, but I kept the spirit of this excellent advice in mind. Consider variations on that theme—even a car chase, for instance. Also, I try to think of my book as a series of dramatic scenes that will tell the story. A novel’s a big piece of work, so it helps me to get my arms around it by breaking it down into scenes. I think, how will I move the plot along in this scene? How will I reveal character?

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: What I tried to do in White with Fish was create a story world--a noir-ish version of 1948 San Francisco. I used descriptions of specific locations and objects, details, and stylized dialogue to give the novel verisimilitude, and try to give the book the feel of a more human, less technological world than the one we live in.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Themes! Ah! I think I have a sense of the themes of my work inside my subconscious when I start writing. But I can only articulate the themes after the first draft is complete. Some of the themes in my writing have been recurring—non-violence, the duality of human nature, the breakdown of civil order, and classic noir themes, like love, lust, greed, lying dames, violence, double-crosses, and murder.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: I for one, can’t imagine always hitting the mark on the first or only creative thrust. I believe editing and revision are a part of art, maybe 60 percent or more. Just don’t throw out what is good and true and right about that initial draft when you’re editing. Fix the structure to support the plot and the theme; develop and strengthen what is good and what could be better, and cut what doesn’t work so well.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Perseverance is necessary. This is especially true in marketing your manuscripts—pitching your novel to an agent or a publisher, or submitting shorter fiction to the right journal or magazine. Nearly 35 publishers declined my novelette, “Pearl’s Valley.” But it will be released as a standalone book in April by Dark Passages [ https://darkpassagespublishing.com/ ]

Discipline—To me, discipline means to write every day. The surest way to improve your skills and grow as a writer is to write. Write every day. If you write 500 words a day—a page and a half—you’ll have a first draft of a novel faster than you ever expected.

Creativity—Creativity is the fun part of making a successful novelist. You can start with the tropes of your subgenre—like I use tropes from hard-boiled fiction and from noir fiction. But you take them and make them your own—that’s the creativity part.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I don’t know. As another person (who should be famous), said, “If you’re doing what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Though I may have dreaded homework when I was in school, I love my writing, now, and I think I will for the rest of my life.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: You should keep a handful of reference books, such as Strunk and White and a dictionary on hand. Stephen King On Writing tells you everything else you need to know to write good narrative prose, and it’s a good example of the craft, presented in a fun, entertaining style. I also use Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction, and Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft when I need examples of different techniques, such as third person limited omniscience point of view. I’ve taken online writing classes from Stanford that have been excellent, and I’ve participated in classroom workshops at a place in Bethesda, Maryland called the Writer’s Center. If you’re a genre writer, like me, consider joining a group of like-minded writers for different kinds of support. For example, I’m in Private Eye Writers of America, and in the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Well, classes and workshops can be great and can give you a good foundation in the craft. But I truly believe there are two keys to being a writer. 1.) Read good writing. Reading is learning to write by osmosis. See how the great writers tackled a particular problem, or learn how contemporary writers in your genre handle a specific sort of scene. And 2.) write. Everything you write is practice and experience. There will be good stuff even in your earliest writing that you can build upon.

I’m always happy to help if I can, and I’d enjoy hearing from other writers, and my readers. Harley.c.mazuk@gmail.com

 

Harley Mazuk [http://www.harleymazuk.com/] is a mystery writer living in Maryland. His first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder [http://www.drivenpress.net/white-with-fish-red-with-murder] is out now, from Driven Press. [http://www.drivenpress.net/]
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Published on March 10, 2017 12:58 • 107 views • Tags: crime, detective, mystery, suspense

March 3, 2017

barbcaffrey_authorpixBarb Caffrey is a writer, editor, and musician who holds two degrees in Music.
She has a particular fondness for the clarinet, lived in Nebraska for the better part of three years, and appreciated the ability to combine both her loves with the writing of Changing Faces.

Her other books are An Elfy on the Loose and A Little Elfy in Big Trouble (otherwise known as the Elfy duology), while her short stories have appeared in a number of places (most recently in Realms of Darkover). She's also the co-writer of the Joey Maverick series of stories (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey), so the next story you might see from her could be military science fiction—or better yet, military science fiction with romance.

She lives in Wisconsin.

Barb Caffrey's Elfyverse: https://elfyverse.wordpress.com

Link to book: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ChangingFaces_ch1.html

Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

INTERVIEW:

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Changing Faces. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: Thanks for having me! I appreciate it.

Changing Faces is about the importance of love regardless of form, and takes place in present-day Nebraska. Clarinetists and graduate students Allen Bridgeway and Elaine Foster love each other deeply and passionately, but Elaine is hiding a big secret. From early life, she has identified as transgender, and has a great deal of gender-fluidity in her makeup, besides. Allen only knows that Elaine is bisexual, not this other stuff, and when it comes out, it throws him for a loop. He's willing to keep trying with her; he just doesn't understand why Elaine, who is a feminist scholar who will always see herself as female whether she becomes male outwardly or not – she admits this to him, even – wants to become a man. And when things come to head, she decides to leave him rather than talk it out.

You'd think this is it, right? (Well, not if you've read many romances of whatever type, but I digress.) But it's not. There are two angels involved also, who want Allen and Elaine to be happy together. And they only way they see toward doing this is changing Allen and Elaine's faces…which happens because Allen prays, "I will do anything, absolutely anything, if Elaine doesn't leave me." And the angels take Allen at his word.

portrait in gardenNow, Allen is in Elaine's body, unable to tell anyone he's Allen. And Elaine is in his, in a coma, talking with one of the angels. If she can just wake up, they'll have a second chance at love…but it's not going to be easy, and poor Allen in particular is going to get put through the wringer.

Q: What do you think makes a good fantasy-romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: I think honesty is important. A story that matters is also important. And a willingness to explore that story wherever it goes is also important.

Ultimately, it's these three things that make – or break – any book, but most especially a fantasy-romance, in my opinion.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: The story came to me over fifteen years ago. I knew that Allen and Elaine were in a car accident and that she ended up in his body, talking to an angel about what went wrong and why she needs to be with Allen again, even if they're both in the wrong bodies.

At the time, I had no idea what gender-fluidity was about, though I did know something about transgender issues because I had a few transgender friends. Elaine insisting she was always female regardless of her outward body threw me, at first, but I kept after it, and after five major revisions (including a late-round revision just last year in 2016), CHANGING FACES is finally ready.

So I guess it's half and half. I knew right away what the story was on Elaine's side, but I discovered Allen's as I wrote it.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: There are two protagonists here, but I'll choose Allen for ease of reference. Allen has always been confident in his body. He's not handsome, knows it, but is centered, down-to-Earth, and is desperately in love with Elaine. But he did not realize what his prayer was going to do to him; all of a sudden, he wakes up in Elaine's body – the body of a beautiful woman – and doesn't know what to do.

As for how I developed Allen? I understood him right away. Here's a guy who will always be male, but is in a female body and no one else realizes it but him. (As Elaine is still in a coma at this point, and can't help him.) So it was more a matter of putting Allen in situations where he'd be confronted by his own assumptions as a male, and then see how someone ostensibly female was treated.

I didn't do any character interviews with Allen, mind. I did do a few, down the line, with Elaine, as she was far more complex than Allen in certain respects and I wanted to do justice to her complexity.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?
A: In this case, the villain is Elaine herself (in a way). She's going to sacrifice everything because she's so uncomfortable with admitting who she is.

But the reason she's uncomfortable – and it's why I said "in a way," above – is because she was gang-raped at fifteen. So the villains who made her uncomfortable in her own body were those five rapists. And we do see a little of them in this novel, and how she manages to overcome that to form a good love-relationship with the only person who's ever truly mattered to her, that being Allen.

As for making the villainy realistic? People sabotage themselves all the time, sometimes for what seems like good reasons. That's what is realistic about what Elaine does.

In addition, I don't know how anyone would deal with being gang-raped when you already know you're transgender at the tender age of fifteen. So for Elaine to still be confused years later is not altogether a surprise.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: I wish I knew how to give practical, specific tips. The only thing I can tell you is that both Allen and Elaine had to confront a lot of deep, dark things – most of them being in Elaine's past – to get to be able to have that second chance. And to accept the fact that the second chance would not be easy, would entail them both being in the wrong bodies for the rest of their lives, was also not an easy thing for either one of them.

The only practical tip I've ever seen that worked for me, as stated by renowned author Lois McMaster Bujold in various places, is this: "What's the worst thing I can do this guy? Then do it."

I think that's what happened here, at least with regards to Allen. (And Elaine's journey is far from easy, either, as you'll see.)

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: I lived in Nebraska for three years when I went to graduate school. I felt the heat, I saw the vivid colors of the sunsets and sunrises, I felt the scorching cold, and I knew exactly how to describe it.

It's hard to explain, otherwise, but I'll do my best.

If you've experienced something, that helps you to describe it. And I experienced Nebraska. I even met some LGBT people in Lincoln, when I lived there; there weren't many, but there were some, and most of them, at the time (this being the late 1990s/early 2000s) did not want to call attention to themselves. The goal at that point was for civil unions to be accepted in various churches, and there were many disagreements about this.

So, it was important to me to set this story in Nebraska. These are two people who could live anywhere. They have talent in music, they are creative, they are honest, they love each other. But one of them is transgender and gender-fluid, and yet their love is like anyone else's, and their communication problems are like anyone else's, too.

It's important that society as a whole comes to realize that people are people, and regardless of gender expression or sexuality, they are deserving of love and happiness and care. Whatever form that love and happiness takes (providing it's consensual, preferably monogamous, and with people who are adult so they can make their own choices and take their own risks) ultimately does not matter.

Only the love matters. And that's why I set this story in Nebraska in the first place, because it showcases just how much times have changed…and yet, remained the same.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: Oh, I knew the themes right away. Could I describe them right away, though? No, probably not. I just saw that the Allen and Elaine were good people, and that their outsides were not important. What was important were their souls, and how they loved each other, and how they were going to go on despite this radical change in their outward circumstances.

And no, this is not a recurrent theme in my work, at least not in this way. In my two previous novels, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, my main characters Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human girlfriend, are also in love and have a cross-species romance. But they are both straight. So it's not as hard in some respects for them, though in others it probably isn't easy because Bruno doesn't come from this Earth at all.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?
A: I think editing helps authors. There are sometimes mismatches between editors and authors, sure. But a good editor helps you clarify your thoughts. I was very fortunate that I had Katharine Eliska Kimbriel on my side as my editor for CHANGING FACES, because she helped me enormously. I also had a good copy-editor, Janne Kafka, who gave some late suggestions that I implemented. Without them, CHANGING FACES wouldn't be half as good.

As far as craft and art goes? I think we have to put in many hours of thought and effort to do good work. Whether someone sees it as craft or art is up to the eye of the beholder; I won't make that decision for them. But do I want them to see it as an interesting work of art and craft, both? Yes, I do. (Does that answer your question? It's a tough one!)

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?
A: Persistence, hard work, and a willingness to tell your story no matter where it leads.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?
A: In a way, that's true. Authors do research settings, we do think a great deal about what we're doing, and we spend an inordinate amount of time on our work.

But I like to think of it as an expression of my own creativity as much as it is "homework," because thinking of it as homework takes some of the fun out of it. (Picture my big, evil grin here.)

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?
A: Yes, there are a number of them.

First, the Forward Motion Writers Group online is an incredibly valuable resource. They talk craft, they talk about marketing sometimes, they have writing prompts, and the community of writers there is second to none.

Second, I recommend Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD and Ralph Keyes' THE COURAGE TO WRITE as helpful books when you get stalled. Lamont's book reminded me that other authors also struggle through various revisions, while Keyes' book told me that we all struggle to be honest and give our best effort as writers. I find them both useful references.

Third, if you want to share your work as a new writer but are worried it's not that great and need critiques that will help you, I recommend Critters.org along with the Forward Motion community (as notated above). Note that you will get some very strong and pungent critiques there, so you had best have a thick skin…but you will get help if you are willing to work at it and can check your ego at the door.

And finally, I strongly recommend the group Marketing for Romance Writers. Like Forward Motion, like Critters, Marketing for Romance Writers is absolutely free of charge, and there are many wonderful writers there; you do not have to be a romance writer to become a member, either.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?
A: Just tell your stories. No one else's. That's all you can do. Be honest, tell stories that matter to you, and readers will respond to that.

Keep trying, keep working, do not give up, and continue to believe that what you are doing matters whether anyone else sees it or not. That's the only way to succeed in this business.

Anything else is just window dressing, in my not-so-humble opinion.
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Published on March 03, 2017 05:10 • 97 views • Tags: fantasy, romance, transgender