When I came up with this post, I was thinking about how I perceive the world around me and how difficult it can be to keep my characters from becoming ‘mini-me’s. I know what I think (most of the time) but I need to understand different opinions and what might make someone look at the same thing as me but see something totally different. Sometimes it’s easy, most of the time, not so much. Keeping my characters from sharing all my own opinions is a challenge. If you’re not keeping characters from sharing your opinions, consider this.
Have you ever seen the TV show Leverage? It’s an amusing, Robin Hood type show (one my tween son and I both actually like.) My favorite episode (called The Rashomon Job) is a fun example of how characters see the world around them through their own goals and preconceptions. In this story, the characters describe a museum function they all attended years before they knew each other. They explain what they did that evening and their interactions with each other, but every version had a different spin. I’ve seen lots of shows do something similar, but this is my favorite attempt. I laugh every time.
It’s a great example of how a character’s goals and preconceptions influence their view of the world. And, how difficult it can be to put those ideas aside. People make assumptions all the time because of their own experiences. I’ll admit that I often make snap decisions about the situations I observe. Someone parks in a handicap spot, but seems to walk just fine?—How horrible, they should leave that space to someone who needs it. Someone tailgates my car and at the first opportunity whizzes by me? A$@hole.
But who am I to judge? How do I know what they’re going through? I’m not a doctor, just because someone looks perfectly mobile to me, doesn’t mean they are. And maybe that person behind me is late to pick their child up from school. I’ve been there, I know the feeling. The great thing about writing is, if my character makes a stupid assumption in the first draft, I can always revise it later. Wouldn’t that be nice in real life?
As a writer, I have to get into my characters’ heads. How would they look at the world? What would they think in a particular situation? It’s a lot of fun, but it has also made me take a good look at myself (not quite as much fun, lol) but definitely worth the effort. Hopefully, I’m a better person for it as well as a better writer.
A Romance Novella Anthology
Four restless ghosts…four tales of love.
The Witching Hour by Ruth A. Casie ~ Lost: One locket filled with memories. Will finding it lead to peace and happiness?
The Ghost of You by Emma Kaye ~ A ghost saved his life, then broke his heart. Years later, he may have found a way to bring her back, but will the act of saving her destroy him?
A Spirit’s Bond by Nicole S. Patrick ~ A connection, which knows no boundaries, helps a couple find their way to love.
Kindred Spirits by Lita Harris ~ A young widow must find a way to work through her grief in order to move on and find happiness once again.
I don’t do a lot of promo, I’m seriously bad at it. So I would say the most important thing you can do for your book is to have a decent cover. As an example of how this helps, I write in anthologies with three other authors. Recently, we rebranded the covers in a series. At a recent book signing, people noticed the branding and rather than pick up just one book, the majority of them decided to buy all three.
Take what works and leave the rest. I tend to be pretty insecure. When I first started writing, if I received a negative critique I made the change. It didn’t matter if their comment worked for what I was trying to accomplish and I would end up with crap I didn’t even like. But thankfully, I teamed up with a fantastic critique group—Ruth A. Casie, Lita Harris, and Nicole S. Patrick. Through their help, I learned to trust myself more and truly own my story. Yes, I listen to what they have to say, but in the end, it’s my story and I have to do what I think works best. I’m much happier for it. (And I hope my readers are as well.)
Emma Kaye is married to her high school sweetheart and has two beautiful kids that she spends an insane amount of time driving around New Jersey. Before ballet and Scouts entered her life, she decided to try writing one of those romances she loved to read and discovered a new passion. She’s been writing ever since. Add in a hyper dog and an extremely patient cat and she’s living her own happily ever after while making her characters work hard to reach theirs.
Recently, I’ve experienced a season of change. The journey I am on now is far different from where I imagined I’d be at this stage of my life. Some of the changes are of my own making, others were made for me, regardless here I am and here I must learn to flourish. As the saying goes, it’s time I pulled up my big girl pants and got over it. To everything there is a season.
When your life takes an enormous detour it can be shattering, no matter one’s age. My detour came at a time when I was already vulnerable and for months it was all I could do to get out of my pajamas and brush my hair. It was very easy to fall into a well of self-pity, and little did I know how intensely I’d have to work to get out of its depths. But the depression wasn’t the worst part.
As a child I thought it was normal to have people reading stories to me inside my head. Not schizophrenia voices, but the voice I’ve come to regard as the other pieces of my personality. They keep me company when I’m alone, they built stories to help me sleep, they drive my happy places and thoughts. They give life to the dreams inside my head.
When familiar things go missing, we experience many unsettling emotions, not the least of which is panic. I hate panic attacks, they leave me weak and nauseous but many times I have discovered that when I emerge on the other side, it’s as a stronger person. Whatever made me panic I have faced and survived through faith, work, and the assistance of those who love me best.
Lurking beneath the layers of worry and anger, waiting for me to get my mind organized again. I do best when I have a routine. Yes, I am a touch OCD, and when my mind is scattered, the best way to know is to look at my house. If there are neat piles of crap stacked nicely, I’m alright. If the stacks have spilled over and created their own forest on the dining room table, bring out the Valium, mama needs a rest.
But I’m on a journey, and journeys are not completed overnight. The chapter I am in now is one of the more difficult to predict where it will lead, and I must be alright with that, as I have little choice in my path right now. I must be willing to wait until I’m ready for the next stage. Do I like waiting? Um, no. Does any like waiting?
What I am learning however is to trust everything will resolve itself the way it is supposed to. I believe the book of my life was written long before I was born, and I’m simply waiting for the pages to turn again. It’s an interesting story to date, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Are there things I would change? Of course, but never the meat of the story.
Each piece that I’ve spent the past year working on is at that critical point of where do we go now, and honestly if I can’t tell the direction my own life needs to go, how can I interpret the fates and desires of a dozen or so fictional characters bumping around in various locations around the world, all kept inside my head and a few moleskin notebooks?
So, I plod forward a few paragraphs at a time. It’s progress, and I am definitely not complaining. I will take them as they come and work them into sentences. Slowly but surely the pages of the stories in my life will creep forward. That is the direction I choose, and I thank all that is holy for the ability to do so.
In the end, that is all I need.
Nancy Reece won her first writing contest in seventh grade, and a life long passion was awakened. Born in Pennsylvania, but raised in the South, Nancy studied Psychology at Wesleyan College in Macon Georgia and Computer Information Systems at Southern Polytechnical College. She is married, and lives in the Atlanta area along with two children, two dogs, and a cat. In her spare time she is very active in animal rescue, especially horses, and is on the Board of Directors for Blue Skies Riding Academy, a 501c3 equine rescue dedicated to rehabilitating and retraining horses which have been redeemed from slaughter pens and other abusive situations.
Raised in a dysfunctional family, Cassandra Devlyn Ferguson has tried to leave the past behind and carve out a new life with her husband, former Black Ops specialist, Sean Ferguson. Her family’s shady business dealings never involved her, and she intends to keep it that way.
Sean wants nothing more than to be a devoted, loving husband. But his new job sends him to the front lines at some of the world’s most dangerous spots. For years, he’s blamed his Irish wanderlust for the risks, but the truth is ‘ he enjoys the rush of adrenaline danger brings. When the Devlyn family’s mistakes come looking for Cassie, it’s up to Sean to bring her home safely.
The one positive? Cassie knows all about her family’s true nature and is willing to walk away from everything to stay with him. The negative? Someone wants them dead and will stop at nothing to keep all the skeletons in the closet.
Do you like to read short stories? Even though it’s one of the most demanding writing forms because of its concentrated plot and characterization, writing short stories is also one of the most personal and fun writing formats.
Short stories allow the reader to meet a new character or characters, experience a situation, setting and conflict in a limited amount of words and reading time. Short stories allow the reader to get a glimpse into someone else’s world and often finish the entire encounter in one sitting. And if the story is an emotional, humorous or a suspenseful one, the reader gets to cry, chuckle or cringe as an added bonus. What can be more fun than that?
Every day we tell or hear a short story. It can be a long harrowing story steeped with conflict or a short slice of life that depicts the everyday life of ordinary people. There’s the caring next -door neighbor who goes to the aid of a sick friend across town and gets a speeding ticket on the way home. Or the irksome elderly man in the check-out aisle (ahead of you, of course) who argues with the weary cashier over his expired coupons–and who finally decides to abandon half his items while the line grows longer and longer. . .and longer.
The difference between being a short story teller and a short story writer is just simply having the ability to put your story into a permanent written format that has a beginning, middle and end.
It can be something you read, something you heard, something you’ve seen or something you’ve experienced. It can be a “What if” moment when you’re daydreaming. Obviously, every incident must be expanded into a story idea and encompass a few basic fundamentals of short story writing like plot and problem, setting, characters, time and theme. And like any fiction, characters and conflict drive the story in the short story.
Unlike novels, short stories can be created in reasonable time frames that range from short shorts of 500 words to novelettes of 10,000. If I had to make a list of my favorite short story writers, the Grimm Brothers, Alice Munro, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, and Louis L’Amour would be on it. Who are your favorites?
As a writer, be situationally aware. Look around you when you’re out and about. There’s ideas and stories if you carefully observe…or even eavesdrop!
A Contemporary Mystery and Romance
Rich leaned against a post and reread the letter, then stared off to the distant hills fading away as gray dusk turned to darkness. One more thing to add to his long list of things to do. Renovate the outdated monstrosity of a house. Find a buyer at a worthy price. Go on a wild goose chase to locate a half-sister he didn’t even know existed. And last, unearth century-old jewels from Austria—rubies to be exact—that no one else in over a hundred years could locate. Rich sighed. What a fine cactus patch he fell into! Now his plan to blow into town, sell the house, and make a quick exit within the month was shot to hell.
“Did I throw you for a loop, Richard Lee Junior?” a scratchy voice asked.
Rich jumped and looked around. From the farthest corner of the porch, a rocking chair moved slowly back and forth. Back and forth. But there was no one sitting on it. The night was still and tranquil without a hint of a breeze.
He set the glass and letter on the railing and rubbed his tired face with his hands. “It’s been a long day,” he muttered to himself, “and now I’m hallucinating. I swear I’m hearing a voice sounding like Grandmother Gertie’s.” His gaze traveled to the moving rocker, and he gave it a quizzical look.
“You are hearing me, young man,” the voice said. “Hallucinating, my foot.”
Rich continued to peer at the rocker, now rocking at a faster pace.
“Grandmother? Gertie? Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“I am dead,” the voice replied.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Judy-Ann-Davis/e/B006GXN502/
Life can at times be frustrating, joyous, depressing, boring, even mysterious. It is not always clear in the moment why things happen as they do, but one thing is for certain, unless we make the best of what we’ve been given, life cannot be lived to the fullest. I think I always knew this, but it took a change in direction and taking a risk to grasp its true meaning. Changing direction and taking risks reveal life’s true meaning.
In fact, as an elementary student, I despaired of even being competent in the language arts. It should be said that my early education left a great deal to be desired, but that is another story. It was not until my senior year of high school that I had a rewarding creative writing experience. Thank you, Miss Miller, wherever you are. Once in college, however, I put aside creative writing for the rigors of historical research and expository writing. Another degree and several certifications later and I have come full circle.
My other life is in public education as a reading specialist and secondary school administrator, but about five years ago after I retired to part time work, I decided to pick up my creative pen again. I can’t say exactly why or when the decision was made. That is one of those mysteries. All I can say is I came to feel a burning desire to write and the experience has been a revelation and a joy.
Nothing in life worth having ever really comes without some pain. Sending out queries and the rejections that came with them were not particularly fun, but it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. With novels that are being well received, I can now say that the process was definitely worth the risk.
More importantly, my venture in writing has allowed me to reinvent myself, and through reinvention, I have found renewal as well. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Writing has allowed me to tap into skills and talents I had all but buried for many years. I am a newer, better version of myself for the experience.
Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from Real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from The Wild Rose Press
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.
Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5
Confederado do Norte: http://amzn.com/B00LMN5OMI
When War Came Home: http://amzn.com/B010RXNZRO
As a writer, I’m always reading…reading someone’s glance, another’s strained look, or the revelation that a certain elderly couple met on a train – he going to war and her somewhere else to teach, that brief encounter was enough to bring them to an eventual life together. Those moments of tension or glory become seeds of inspiration in my thoughts, some sprouting into pages and pages of living and dying, loving and hating, reactions and regrets. You are the book I read.
First was the news story about a woman who disappeared and the ensuing conjecture as to where she had gone and why. From that came “Mine to Tell,” a wife’s account of her two week disappearance unearthed after two generations of shame having crippled her family.
Second was “Asked For,” a tale based on what I heard a man, ages earlier, say of another man’s wife – “She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.”
And lastly, “Love on a Train” came about from knowing of far too many relationships formed for all of the wrong reasons – convenience, pressure, ‘the right thing to do’…instances where the heart belongs to one, yet we find ourselves with another.
I have notes jotted here and there of smiling husbands alongside expressionless wives, widows realizing too late they’d been cut from their husbands’ wills and goodwill, fiancés and spouses who vanished without explanation or trace, and a multitude of other skeletons writers can see on the closets of people’s faces, and even in their own mirrors.
Fact is stranger than fiction, helping us write what we know and write it well, whether it’s our own stories or yours. Somewhere in most stories there is an element of truth – he said, she said, he did, she didn’t, everyone should have. It makes the truth more palatable when it’s shared, and observed at a safe distance in characters who overcome.
Annabelle Crouse believes her great-grandmother’s, Julianne Crouse’s, story is hidden somewhere in that boarded-up house Annabelle’s great-grandfather sequestered Julianne to after an unexplained two week absence. Both great-grandparents long since gone, the shame lives on, binding all of the Crouse women into ceremonial right living that is never enough to undo their tainted reputation. Against her fiancé’s and family’s insistence she leave the past alone, Annabelle unboards Julianne’s house and moves in, her only companions the shy man down the road she’d ignored during childhood, and the story her great-grandmother had left hidden behind. Walking in her great-grandmother’s past, Annabelle uncovers Julianne’s tale and discovers the two of them – two women, two generations apart – shared a singular path in love, loss, and forgiveness.
“Write the book.” Leigh Michaels, successful author of too many published romance novels to count, gave that advice at a conference to spare the wide-eyed wannabe authors the paralyzing shock of the demands and responsibilities regarding social media. I know we are told that beginning to market yourself soon is never soon enough, but I stumbled, relieved into Leigh’s advice and focused on writing the book. That book was “Mine to Tell,” and once written and published by The Wild Rose Press, it shot to number one on Amazon, giving it its own sort of promotional momentum. Shortly after that publication came the inner unction that said to write, write, write. Give your readers who loved one book, more to read. So I do that…I write. It’s my priority, and promotion happens because of and in addition to the sage advice to write quality and quantity first.
Have thick skin that only goes so deep. I decided before I ever put a pen to paper that I would have thick skin – I accepted I wouldn’t please everyone, nor would I always write as well as I intended. Both convictions were true, and both were put to the test countless times. It was the second part of my lesson which came much later – thickness that only goes so deep. Not every critique is without personal criticism, nor is every person qualified to render judgment or suggestions as to the value of what I’ve written. I had to learn to know where to draw the line between true support and that which was best left behind. True support isn’t always flowery, but comments best left behind are generally destructive rather than constructive. Therefore, there is a tough but permeable layer beneath my epidermis where words with no profitable merit are never allowed to pass.
“Mine to Tell” http://amzn.to/1PNJo4S
Other buy links:
Buy Link to “Love on a Train” http://amzn.to/1m9eYCx
Buy Link to “Asked For” http://amzn.to/1TyflEu