Thursday, September 12, 2019

Non-Fiction Can Improve Your Fiction


For 40 years I wrote non-fiction almost every day of the week as a television journalist. On weekends I wrote fiction just to soothe my soul. That was the fun sort of writing where I got to take those people I wanted to tell off in real life or whose stories I couldn’t change in real life could be turned into stories with a happy ending. In those fiction stories my characters got to tell off their bosses and to dress any way they wanted or to be whatever they wanted to be or whatever I wanted them to be.

That is the joy of writing fiction – You get to be the person who makes all the rules and sets the scenes and say whatever you want the characters to say. 

But sometimes it makes sense to try writing non fiction too. It can actually help you develop as a fiction writer. This week I spent time conducting interviews for a non-fiction biography series. It meant coming up with questions and then making notes about what the people were saying and listening carefully to their words because the stories are going to be real when they appear on the air. As I sat listening, it occurred to me how helpful these non-fiction interviews could be for my fiction writing. Sometimes when you are writing fiction you forget how important non-fiction can be.


I did a Skype session recently with someone half way across the country and the result worked out well for all of us. I got my questions answered and the interaction was more personal than a simple phone conversation.  Actually, listening to people answer questions and then getting those answers down word for word can be useful later. Coming up with the interview questions can also be helpful for a fiction writer – 

Why not interview your characters just like you might interview a real person?  

How would you interview them? 
What would you ask them? 
What would they say? 
 How would they sound? 
How would you tell a story about them from what they say? 

Character interviews can provide valuable information as you describe your character to an agent or editor, but it can also be valuable information for you on a daily basis as you continue to write the story. It can help you to get to know your character better and perhaps understand your hero or heroine more. An interview with the villain might get you to understand his/her motives better as well. The interviews we did this week were about based around one person and while I've suggested interviewing your main character, it might also be helpful to interview peripheral characters or friends about that main character. How do they see the hero or heroine? What drew them to the person? What so they see as his/her goals or accomplishments?  


You might also apply the non-fiction interview to location as well. Think about the questions you might have if you were  doing a magazine story about your story location or visiting a real place. What would you ask to introduce that location to non-fiction readers who might be reading the story and needed to visualize the location?  Actually why not try to get that magazine story sold?  It can be an extension of your writing salary.  


Thinking about how to write non fiction can also be useful in doing your research. What kind of questions do you need to develop to interview the coroner for your murder mystery? What if you are basing your cozy mystery in a bakery? How much do you know about how the bakery operates?  Knowing  how to interview the person in charge can be useful, instead of just floundering around looking for information. Do a Skype interview with someone if they aren't located near you. 

Here are some ideas for conducting those non fiction interviews:


1. Know your questions in advance – people from police officers to bakers are willing to respond to your questions but have at least a few written down in advance so you have a starting point.


2. Research and know at least a little bit about the subject so that your questions are informed. No one wants to have to explain even the most basic elements to you.


3. Let the interview subjects  talk.  Don’t start interrupting immediately. If you think of another question as they are talking, write it down to ask later.  That means…


4. Take good notes or record the conversation so that you have the information available to you later. 


5. Set up the interview in advance. Don’t just show up and expect a person to be prepared to talk to you.


6. Be courteous and thank them and leave your contact information so that they can get in touch with you if they have anything else to say.


7. If you are going to record the conversation, be sure to ask.  Usually they are fine with the idea, but you’re not going undercover here. If you want information for a story, let them know exactly what you’re doing.


These are just a few tips to help you get information. You can also either conduct the interview over the phone or in person. If you are going to do it in person, you might ask a few questions during the set up, just to let them know what sort of things you’ll be asking.


Interviewing subjects and background information can be very helpful to a writer for more than just fiction. Think about writing a blog on what you learned or even an article for a community newspaper. Fiction writing is fun, but sometimes you can find non-fiction writing to be valuable and fun as well!   s

Any questions??  Please feel free to ask!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

New Ideas for a New Season


We all have to do it, even if we hate the thought of it--rewriting. Sometimes there is no way around it. Even the best plotted story can run into a roadblock, or the story written into the mist can hit a hall before you even know what is happening. Suddenly you  can't move forward. Suddenly the characters are not working. We'll look at how to rewrite the story in coming weeks but for today let's look at how to figure out when you've hit a roadblock and there is no other way around it but to re-write. 

 Currently I am working with my co-author,  Sue Viders,  on a new book with a series of writing tips. We just finished a book on Creating A Villain, and now we're moving forward to help writers who may be starting out on their writing journey. These tips will be focused on all types of writers – from those who write into the mist like me and those who are very focused on form and structure like Sue.  As we are working on the book we are again not only learning about our own characters and plotting methods, but we are also getting new ideas for what writers can do when they hit a wall in their writing.  Here are some ideas you might find helpful:


1. The characters are not cooperating.  I listed that above, but that is a big way to realize that you are heading in the wrong direction. If they don't seem to work in the scenes you are writing, you may be taking them in the wrong direction. Look over what you wrote earlier, look over your character profiles, and look over the characters themselves.  If they aren't working, then you need to re-think where the plot is headed for these people. You may need to do a little re-writing that will send those characters back in the right direction.

2.  You just don't want to write. Sure, there can be many, many reasons for not being able to just sit at the keyboard and having the words flow. But often the problem is that you've hit a point in the plot where the story is going nowhere. You may need to read over your plot again to make certain that it is going where you want it. This might be a good time to re-evaluate your plot and whether it can work in the way you originally planned. It might be time to consider re-writing some of the earlier pages or planning changes in the plot.

3. The story is going in some totally foreign direction and you aren't sure why. 
Again, this may be that your plot is not working. This is a good time to try re-writing a few pages and perhaps trying a new direction to see whether you like the re-write better than the original. If you do, then keep heading in that direction.

4. The villain is getting more important than the hero.



 This might be a function of not having the write characters in the right roles. Again, it might be time to make that hero stronger, or to change the direction of the villain. And if you're going to have a super-villain, great!  Just make certain you are setting up the story that way. That might mean a re-write of some of the earlier pages, but they might also be fun to write with this new bad guy. If you need help with villains, our new book is now available at Amazon.com. Sue and I had a great time putting it together. It includes all our favorite villains. 

5.  The motives are not coming through.
 Perhaps what you have your characters doing doesn't ring true. They wouldn't take those sort of risks for no reason. Perhaps you need to re-write those motives to make them stronger, or to make those changes in your characters to make them want something more. Motivation is a big factor for your characters' actions. You need to make them strong enough.

If you do find you have to do a re-write, don't despair.  Sometimes that re-write can make a book much better.  It might even give you an idea for a new book! 

This weekend I will be teaching a class on writing comedy for Savvy Authors in their annual Savvy Con for writers.  www.savvyauthors.com and next week I begin a three-part series of classes  for beginning writers. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Writing: The Never-Ending Process

This past weekend I attended a class reunion of sorts and as usual I came away with great ideas in addition to great memories of people I had known long ago and still enjoy seeing again and again. Naturally I was asked if I was still writing, while others asked where I got ideas and others asked what I was working on right now. The answers, of course, were that I am always still writing because I can’t imagine not doing it, I am still coming up with ideas, and to me, being at the reunion was part of what I am working on “right now.” Ideas can come from anywhere so to me every minute of the day feeds into my writing. Even as I was sitting at a table listening to others
talk about their lives and hearing what many had gone through or their triumphs, I was thinking about how different everything had been for every one of us.

And of course, that made me think later about my own different story scenarios. Later I begin thinking about a story idea I am working on at the moment – how simple choices can make a difference and change our lives. For instance, what if I had not chosen to leave that little town – some of them still live there – and if I had chosen instead to stay. My life would have been so different. For instance, I am not certain I would have made the decision to become a fiction writer or to find my publisher -- The Wild Rose Press, which now publishes my romantic suspense  and mystery novels. I am not certain I would have found Vancouver, BC, where I set my first Romantic Suspense,  Deadly Messages, and formulated that story based on a simple walk around the seawall and Stanley Park. I still visit there whenever I return to Vancouver.



But from that simple thought came a new story idea – of how lives change over those simple little choices. And thus, they form even more story ideas. What about those choices we don’t make – when we just keep doing the same old things. Either way, there can be a story there, from wanting something else and getting out to sticking around and seeing what happens. Lives will be different from that one small choice or not making it and that means two different stories that could evolve from one simple thought. The character who makes one choice would not be the same person who makes the other. Again, that can change the story and a plot could go in different directions. The choice is up to the author, just like the choice of the characters is up to the author. This week my sister was reading Harry Potter and she wondered how J.K. Rowling could keep coming up with story ideas and how she could form her most wonderful worlds. I don’t think I really could give her the reason except to say that as writers we are always formulating ideas in our heads and keeping our characters straight can be as simple as getting to really know them and their world.

When I am writing I am actually living in the world of my characters as though I can see their homes and their lives and feel their pain as much as any friend I have. They come as alive to me as the real places I visit. When teaching classes I often try to instill to my students how important it is to know their characters and consider what choices they might make, or how they see things. Different characters will make different choices. Years ago I published Dead Man’s Rules about a TV reporter who makes the choice to go in search of a story about an old murder. I am back writing about it again as her crazy cousin goes in search of her father. In both cases, these characters are searching for something. Cere found her story, but she also found love. Now I am working on Freeda’s story of searching for treasure but since my books are romantic suspense, I know she will find love along with her search for gold. Simple choices and simple thoughts can make complex stories, which is why and how the writing process never ends, even at a class reunion.

Deadly Messages at Amazon.com

Need writing help?  Visit writethatnovel.net

Thursday, August 22, 2019

When Hollywood Comes Calling

Last week I introduced you to Karilyn Bentley and her book The Shadowheart Curse and mentioned she had a just been given a wonderful opportunity -- a movie might be made of one of her books.  Of course I wanted to know more, so she is back with us this week to tell us about her experience.

Tell us how the movie project involving The Shadowheart Curse came about.

Unbeknownst to me, the movie director contacted my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and said that he liked my Demon Huntress series, needed a writer who could write demons, and wanted me to write a book based on his idea that would be turned into a movie. My publisher set up a call and the director gave me his idea for the movie. While he gave me the main plot and several scenes, he left a lot to my imagination, like some aspects of the characters and the ending. I had to write a synopsis that he approved, then write the book according to the synopsis. There are ten books in the DeadlyTen series, most of them are horror (the director is a horror movie director), but mine is a romance that features a ghost and a medium. The director will turn the book into a movie. If you're interested in livestreaming the making of the movie, go to https://deadlyten.com and sign up to watch.

Had you ever thought about writing a movie script?
No, I never have so being asked to write a book that would be turned into a movie was pretty cool!

What were some of the challenges of writing a movie script as opposed to writing the novel?

Well, I'm not writing the movie script. I wrote the book based on the director's idea and he'll then turn that book into a movie. It's pretty exciting!!

Were there any changes that you can discuss that readers might look for in the movie?

I do not know the answer to this yet. They haven't started filming (should start in September or October) so I'm not sure what will be different. I don't have a say-so in the movie. But am assuming the director will change some things.

Were you on the set as the movie was being filmed?

I wish! But no, I'm not invited. I've never been to Italy and would love to see it (both the book and the movie are set in Italy). But everyone is able to stream the making of the movie by going to https://deadlyten.com and clicking on the signup button in the right corner. So it'll be like we're all on set! The movie is supposed to start filming in September or October. Two of the ten DeadlyTen movies have already filmed and the rest will be filmed this fall.

When will it be available to viewers?

All ten movies will be available on Amazon streaming on 2/14/20.

Would you do it again?

Yes! I was surprised to discover I really enjoyed writing someone else's idea. It's been a fun experience for me!

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience?

I learned a lot about myself. I'm a pantser, but I used a synopsis for this book and writing that way worked (for once). I'm also the slowest writer on the planet, but managed to write the book in six weeks (then sent it off to my beta readers, then edited the heck out of it before sending it to my editor, so I guess that was really around eight weeks). It was a lot of fun and I'd do it again!

BLURB:

Escaping New York after a client’s untimely death, medium Adrianna Sinclair flees to her family property in Italy. All she wants is to avoid ghosts, but an attractive one tempts her in ways she never knew possible.  Luca Fausto has been trapped on the Romani property for over a century for a crime he didn’t commit.  Adrianna may be the answer to breaking the curse that keeps him bound.  Standing in their way is a demonic spirit's plan for revenge.  Will they prevail or will Luca be cursed to the shadows forever? 

EXCERPT:

Lights drew her attention to the opposite wing of the mill, where a man stood staring at her window. At her. Breath caught in her lungs as she froze.

But only for a brief moment until she realized it wasn’t a man, at least not a living one. Her breath escaped on a whoosh of relief. Intuition whispered the man was the spirit who’d watched her last night.

The one from her dream.

Shadows clung to his body, ghostly fingers releasing as he stepped into the dim slash of moonlight. Lights flickered from behind him, like the dying gasps of sputtering candles. Dressed in a white shirt with an old-fashioned high collar, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms, and dark trousers, he reminded her of a working man in a World War I photograph. As if he had removed his coat and tie and rolled up his sleeves to get to work.

Except the men in those photos didn’t sport the wide-eyed, happy look of this man. Ghost. Whatever. Yeah, he wasn’t the only one surprised. She’d sworn never to see a ghost again, yet there stood a ghost, captured by her gaze. The man was hot, in an old-fashioned way. At least he didn’t sport a handle-bar moustache.

He gestured to her, his hand beckoning in a “come here” motion.

She squeezed the bridge of her nose. Was she actually thinking of heading his way? Judging by the way her feet pointed toward the door, she’d already decided. Dammit. She might not want to see a ghost or speak to a spirit, but past experience told her if she ignored them, they ramped up the annoying factor.

       How bad could it be to talk to an attractive spirit?

  

BUY LINKS:


B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shadowheart-curse-karilyn-bentley/1132821747

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-shadowheart-curse/id1473825800

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-shadowheart-curse



Where to find Karilyn:

Website:           www.karilynbentley.com

Newsletter:      https://eepurl.com/ba_0Rf


Twitter:             https://www.twitter.com/karilynbentley1


Pinterest:          https://www.pinterest.com/karilynbentley


Again, congratulations on your new experience! We look forward to reading the book and watching the movie!   Any questions for Karilyn?


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Drawn to A Ghostly Escape

Don't we all love ghost stories? Especially when there is a romance involved? I know I've always been intrigued or fascinated by them and when I find a new one on the market I'm ready to sit down and start reading. So naturally I was interested when I heard about the story written by today's guest in My Writing Corner, Karilyn Bentley.
Karilyn is a Colorado author who says she lives with her own hunky hero, two crazy dogs, known as The Kraken and Sir Barks-A-Lot as well as a handful of colorful saltwater fish. She says she was driven to be an author by her love of reading stories and a preference for sitting in front of a computer at home, rather than sitting in a cube somewhere. I hear you, Karilyn.

 Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London placed in the Got Wolf Contest and that started her on her writing career of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Her latest work is The Shadow Heart Curse and it sounds like just the perfect book to sweep our imagination into another time and place.

Escaping New York after a client's untimely death, Medium Adrianna Sinclair flees to her family property in Italy. All she wants is to avoid ghosts, but an attractive one tempts her in ways she never knew possible.  Luca Fausto has been trapped on the Romani property for over a century for a crime he didn’t commit.  Adrianna may be the answer to breaking the curse that keeps him bound.  Standing in their way is a demonic spirit's plan for revenge. 

Will they prevail or will Luca be cursed to the shadows forever?

Want more? I do! Let's get an excerpt for even more temptation:

EXCERPT:

Lights drew her attention to the opposite wing of the mill, where a man stood staring at her window. At her. Breath caught in her lungs as she froze.

But only for a brief moment until she realized it wasn’t a man, at least not a living one. Her breath escaped on a whoosh of relief. Intuition whispered the man was the spirit who’d watched her last night.

The one from her dream.

Shadows clung to his body, ghostly fingers releasing as he stepped into the dim slash of moonlight. Lights flickered from behind him, like the dying gasps of sputtering candles. Dressed in a white shirt with an old-fashioned high collar, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms, and dark trousers, he reminded her of a working man in a World War I photograph. As if he had removed his coat and tie and rolled up his sleeves to get to work.

Except the men in those photos didn’t sport the wide-eyed, happy look of this man. Ghost. Whatever. Yeah, he wasn’t the only one surprised. She’d sworn never to see a ghost again, yet there stood a ghost, captured by her gaze. The man was hot, in an old-fashioned way. At least he didn’t sport a handle-bar moustache.

He gestured to her, his hand beckoning in a “come here” motion.

She squeezed the bridge of her nose. Was she actually thinking of heading his way? Judging by the way her feet pointed toward the door, she’d already decided. Dammit. She might not want to see a ghost or speak to a spirit, but past experience told her if she ignored them, they ramped up the annoying factor.

       How bad could it be to talk to an attractive spirit?


Okay, I know you probably want more, just as I do, but you're on your own from here, so here are the buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amzn.com/B07TBBZXZC

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shadowheart-curse-karilyn-bentley/1132821747

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-shadowheart-curse/id1473825800

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-shadowheart-curse


And here is how get in touch with Karilyn:


Website:       www.karilynbentley.com

Newsletter:   https://eepurl.com/ba_0Rf

Facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/KarilynBentleyAuthor

Twitter:         https://www.twitter.com/karilynbentley1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4051943.Karilyn_Bentley

Pinterest:      https://www.pinterest.com/karilynbentley

BookBub:      https://www.bookbub.com/authors/karilyn-bentley

But there is even more in store for  Karilyn and her book. Her work is being turned into a movie project! I don't do this often, but when I heard about this, I knew I had to know the whole story so I've invited Karilyn back for next week so we can discuss this whole new possibility.  

Any questions or comments for Karilyn?







Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Delightful Summer Romance

Sometimes a book's blurb can really grab your attention and you immediately want to know more. That was the case for me with the book, The Chief's Proposal. When I saw the title, I had wanted to know more and then I saw the blurb. That did it! See what you think. As an avid reader in summer I am always looking for a new, great read and this books seems to hold a promising story.

It is the latest book from author, Sandra Dailey. Sandra tells us that from childhood, she has moved from place to place, from Indiana to Florida, stopping in several places in between. She's also worked at a number of jobs, including as a waitress, soldier, retail manager and dental assistant.

She says the only thing she never had to leave behind was her imagination and storytelling was always her favorite way to pass time. She kept being told she should write a book, and finally she did, and she found it was a "lot of fun," so she has continued to write and we are glad she did.

She currently lives in North Florida with her husband, and she says she tortures him with crazy story lines and half written manuscripts. We are looking forward to more of them!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Ginny Dearing has finally realized her goal of teaching, but finding a position is proving impossible. After exhausting all possibilities, an internet adgoal of teaching, but finding a position is proving impossible. After exhausting all possibilities, an Internet ad is her only hope. In a small town hundreds of miles away there is a job with one huge string attached...a husband. 

Burned by love once, Brett Silverfeather finds his bachelor life more than satisfying. He's facing re-election for sheriff, but this time the voters are looking for a family man. Brett finds himself pursuing a marriage he doesn't want.

Ginny and Brett are opposite in every way, but opposites do attract. Can Brett protect his heart as well as he does his town? Can Ginny hide a secret past that could possibly destroy her future?

See what I mean?  Don't you want to know more? Let's get an excerpt:

“Why do we need a fire?” Ginny asked.
“We need all the elements.” Brett motioned toward the lake, the sky, the ground, and back to the fire as he said, “Water, air, earth and fire.”
“Is this a Native American thing?”
Brett lowered his head and shook it. It was becoming a gesture she recognized as him gathering patience. He did it a lot around her. “Yeah, in your language this would be called a truth telling.”“What would your people call it?”
“A truth telling. Now will you pay attention?” Brett stretched out on the blanket with his head resting on his saddle. “Come down here and make yourself comfortable.”Ginny copied his pose, and then asked, “What’s next?”
“I’m going to ask you a question and you have to answer it, honestly and completely. After that, I’ll answer a question you have. What is said will stay here when we leave.”“What’s your question?” Brett turned his head to look at her. She’d never seen him look so serious.
“Why is it such a bad thing to be married to me? I know I’m no prize, but you look as if you’ve just received a death sentence.”
Ginny thought for a long moment. “I don’t know if it will be bad. I don’t really know you. I just hadn’t imagined myself being married to anyone, ever.”
And that has me wanting to know where I can get the book. Here are the buy links if you feel the same way:

Buy links:
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Chiefs-Proposal-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B008RYT3RM
Barnes & Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-chiefs-proposal-sandra-dailey/1112379889
Kobo: www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-chief-s-proposal-1
Amazon.ca: www.amazon.ca/Chiefs-Proposal-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B008RYT3RM
Amazon.co.uk: www.amazon.co.uk/Chiefs-Proposal-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B008RYT3RM
Amazon.com.au: www.amazon.com.au/Chiefs-Proposal-Sandra-Dailey-ebook/dp/B008RYT3RM

Here is how to get more information on Sandy and how to get in touch with her:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradailey.author
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sdaileyauthor
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/sandradailey
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551048.Sandra_Dailey

Thank you, Sandy, for bringing us your latest book and what sounds like a fun summer read!
Any comments or questions for Sandy?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Let's Talk Villains!

Villains! Love them or hate them, we can't live without them. Even in our daily lives we run into them when we would prefer to avoid those nasty types who make our lives miserable. But they are inevitable companions to writers. It is difficult to think of writing a fiction novel without some sort of villain to make your hero or heroine unhappy or to test them and make them grow over the course of the story.

When my writing co-author, Sue Viders,  and I set out to write a book on villains, we found ourselves poring back through all our favorite old books and through our many books that we'd written to study the bad guys and gals that make each story click. Whether you are dealing with giant monsters on Mars or the bully down the street, it is easier than ever to find villains we need to defeat.

Sue and I have taught numerous classes on writing great characters and heroes and villains, but when we went looking for books on villains we didn't really find anything on the shelves that worked for writers looking to create their own fictional villains.

And that was why we wanted to, no needed to,  write a book on villains. Who are these special or crazed creatures or people who want only bad things to happen?? Why do they become so nasty and so evil?  Well, we aren't psychologists so luckily we don't need to figure that out. All we really needed to know was how these nasty people affect those around them.  Yes, we need to study their motives, but sometimes you just end up with a horribly evil villain and he or she doesn't  really have a plan other than to make life miserable for everyone around him/her. (Yes, I really enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera)

The book looks at all those villains we have come to hate, know or love and then we took the writing process a step further and started helping writers develop their own villains. Why do we love villains? What role do they play in the story? What do you do with them once you have come up with them. We tried to discuss all of those issues for writers and provide some tips an help on developing your own "perfect" villains for your own stories. Every story is different and every hero or heroine requires their own villain to torment and test them and that was what we set out to do -- show writers how to come up with the perfect bad guy or woman.

We are happy to announce that after months of work, our book is finally available on Amazon.com and we're hoping it becomes a useful resource for writers in all genres. You can get a look at it on Amazon.Com
Amazon.com or search for Sue Viders or Becky Martinez

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email us at  writethatnovel@gmail.com