Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Erica O'Rourke




Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Erica O'Rourke
Hello Erica and welcome to The Writers Voice!


What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

Whatever aspect of the story speaks to them the most – whether it’s Mo’s struggle to define herself when everyone wants to do that for her, or what it means to be loyal to a friend, or an understanding of how complicated and messy families are, or the necessity of choosing your own path – different aspects of the story will resonate with different people, and that’s as it should be. Most of all, I want them to care about the characters and feel like the time they invested was well-spent.

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

Verity’s burial. It was incredibly long and pokey and backstory-laden in its first draft. And its second draft. Also its third, fourth, fifth, sixth…you get the idea. I’ve always preferred revision to drafting, but in this particular instance, revising was painful. It was also absolutely necessary, both for the book and my growth as a writer – I learned pretty quickly there’s no place for laziness or self-indulgence in a book, so avoid putting it in there to begin with.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

I went to an event at a school in the south suburbs of Chicago, and as I was signing copies before the event started, a group of kids – girls AND boys – raced up to me and shrieked about how much they loved TORN, and how excited they were to meet me. I stunned, because that’s exactly how I feel when I meet certain authors. It was strange and wonderful to be on the receiving end of that sort of enthusiasm.

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

A sign of an amazing story is when I stay up until 4 am to finish a book. I usually go to be around 1, but I always read a few pages first. A really brilliant book keeps me up until dawn, and then I’m awful to be around the next day – but it’s totally worth it. As for what makes me feel that way, it’s a combination of engaging, well-drawn characters, a distinctive voice, and a smart, creative plot.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

I could never narrow it down to one book, but I will say that the two writers I find most inspiring are Madeleine L’Engle and LIbba Bray. L’Engle is best-known for A Wrinkle In Time, of course, but her memoirs, The Crosswicks Journals, are wonderful – all about the writing life and what it means to write fictional novels that are still very true. And Libba Bray’s work is incredibly varied and rich, and always distinctively her. I love her creativity, her compassion, her intelligence and her conviction. I study both of them not just to be a better writer, but a better person.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

When I was a teenager, I lied about having read The Lord of The Rings to impress a guy. To this day, I haven’t read it. Please don’t tell my agent – she’s a huge, huge LOTR fan!

Thank you for stopping by The Writers Voice!


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest post by A. G. Bellamy




Music and Fantasy: Why Music is the Greatest Influence

Lately I’ve been a little sloppy in my writing, mostly because I’m at university and my life now revolves around reaching coursework deadlines. Last night I finished my latest – and last – essay about Peter the Great and his palace at Peterhof (it’s a beautiful place – check it out some time!), and as a reward I went onto YouTube. I figured “I may as well watch a few videos, cool my brain a bit”, and under the “related videos” to one of the videos I watched, was “Storytime” by my favourite band, Nightwish. Quickly I clicked on it, curious because I’d never heard it before. Oh how I’d forgotten how much I loved Tuomas Holopainen! With every song from the new album, “Imaginaerum”, that I listened to, the more and more I felt inspired to write… and that is how I wrote the synopsis for the second book in The Noble Angels.

It was something I hadn’t experienced in ages: that ultimate inspiration, the Holy Grail of the imagination. That moment when you realise that this is how you want the story to play out, who the characters are going to be. As I listened to “Turn Loose the Mermaids”, I wrote a short scene wherein my newest character, Caleb, begins to unravel the greatest mystery of his life: his parents, for he never knew his father. That moment when he discovers the truth about his heritage explains everything about himself, and as the song changed to “I Want My Tears Back”, I realised that he could not handle it, so he runs away. During this same song, memories came flooding back and I managed to write a romance scene. Perhaps one day in the future, I’ll offer this as a sneak peek into the second book 

Rediscovering Nightwish has been the best experience I’ve ever had in my career as a writer. At the moment, I’m listening to “I Want My Tears Back” on repeat, planning out an exciting dance scene between two of my main characters: Matthew and Ryan. This is where they will realise how they truly feel, and I can guarantee that this will not end happily. That’s a recurring theme Nightwish seem to have, now that I think about it…

It’s an exciting moment when you get that rush of adrenaline that just makes you want to write, because you know that no matter what you’re going to write what you need. Music has a set tempo, a specific tune, perfect timing for the genre; it’s these things which can inspire, and since Nightwish tend to have a darker sound they are exactly what I personally need to write.

“Where is the wonder where's the awe?
Where's dear Alice knocking on the door?
Where's the trapdoor that takes me there?
Where the real is shattered by a Mad March Hare?”

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview with Jes Young


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Jes Young
Hello Jes and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels? 

I’d like them to feel like they want more. Even at the end of the series when everything is wrapped up, I still want people to think fondly of my characters, to miss them, and to say, “I wonder what happened to them next?” 

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write? 

The fight scenes! I’m a peace loving kind of girl; I don’t know anything about fisticuffs or sword play. Not only did Tab need to learn those things, she had to learn them from people who were supposed to be masters. There’s a scene where Alex, the hero, is teaching Tab to fight and she starts jumping up and down, just sort of hopping around him with her fists up and he laughs at her. What no one knows, except you guys now, is that scene is inspired by my real life introduction to fighting which took place in my living room in the fall of 2011.
The second book (Tab Bennett and the Underneath, which will be available on 12/1/12) has even more action. Tab throws knives! But rest assured, I didn’t practice that in my living room.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you? 

Without a doubt, the moment that made me feel like all the sleep I’d missed while writing this book was completely worth it was the first time a stranger contacted me to tell me how much she enjoyed reading it. I was absolutely giddy about it in the most uncool kind of way. I think I managed to keep most of that out of my response to her though. 

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

When I get to the end of the book and I say, “Man, I wish I wrote that.” Not to be confused with the very jaded, “Oh, I could have written that better.” 

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally? 

I think every book I’ve ever read Considering that I write urban fantasy and fantasy romance, it may seem odd that my answer to this question is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. But when you get right down to it, every single one of the many, many poems in that collection is about love – whether it’s romantic or platonic or fraternal – and that is exactly what I write about. Leaves of Grass is the source of my theory that everything people do (both in real life and on the page) is ultimately about the search for love and on the flip side, what happens when someone doesn’t get it. 

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I’m shy person. Most people don’t know that because I cover it up by forcing myself to be friendly and gregarious, but on the inside I’m a complete shrinking violet. 

Thank you for joining us here at The Writers Voice!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Favorite Writing Books



I started collecting writing books in middle school. Yes, I was that much of a geek! :) I'd do things around the house to make money that I would save to buy books from the Writer's Digest Book Club. At one time I had a huge stack of writing books, but I've whittled them down over the years to the ones I like best.

Here are the writing books I recommend:

  • Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass - I have both on my shelf, but the workbook is the one I refer to again and again. The book is great for an in depth look at Mr. Maass's advice and techniques, but I love the workbook for all the exercises in it. I'm actually carrying the workbook around in my bag with my laptop and manuscript right now as I work on revisions. It's my favorite resource for really getting into the meat of a story!
  • I'm putting these three together:
    Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
    Characters, Emotions & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
    Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood - great books on getting into your characters.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi - great reference on conveying emotions, especially helpful if you get stuck in a smile/shrug/frown loop
  • Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell - good reference for building a foundation in your stories
I have others that I have kept too, but these are the ones I refer to most often. I love to read writing books and see how other writers develop their stories. Their methods may not work for me, but I always find it interesting to learn something new.

What about you? What are your favorite books on writing?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Advice



When I was a young boy I liked to play basketball. I had a hoop outside my house and whenever we had a free day in gym class I’d shoot hoops with some of the other kids. But I wasn’t exactly the next Michael Jordan. My Dad, who was ten times the player I was, told me that in order to get better I needed to continue practicing. That was an obvious answer, and it didn’t do me much help, but then my Dad gave me another piece of advice that actually did help me not only in basketball but in life itself.

“If you want to get better at something, you need to not only practice it, you need to study it.” he told me.

I took that to heart. For basketball the advice meant to not only go outside to shoot hoops, but to watch the games to see how the professionals did it and take notes. Though my Dad’s advice was meant just for basketball, I took it and applied it to many aspects of my life. One of those aspects being my writing.

I will admit when I was younger I didn’t read like a fiend like I do today. I actually had to take special classes to learn how to read better, because I was a bit behind everyone – though I personally blame that on the fact I moved around so much. Everyone thought I was slow because I took these classes. I nearly died laughing when they found out I was reading at an eighth grade level in the second grade thanks to these classes.

So, when I decided to be an author I set out to write as much as I could. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. But during those early years my writing wasn’t up to snuff. I had the creative mind, and the dedication, but not the grammatical wit to bring to life my ideas. I studied hard in school, absorbed my vocabulary like a sponge, but still I wasn’t author level. So I said to myself, “What can I do?”

I remembered my Dad’s advice, and it hit me. If I wanted to be a better writer, I not only had to practice writing, I had to study it. And what’s the best way to study writing? Reading!

I rectified my mistake as a kid in not reading as much and started my own library. I read novel after novel, taking example of how other authors wrote. If ever there was an issue in my own writing, I’d go on to read to see how other authors dealt with the same issue. I read a variety of novels, learning how different kinds of people wrote different kinds of books. I never really was interested in non-fiction, and I always had a penchant for the Supernatural, even before the Twilight fad, so I read mostly paranormal fiction. So, of course, I wrote paranormal fiction. I had many trial and errors, but in the end I came out on top with my debut novel, Dehumanized. It is everything I ever looked for in a novel, and it couldn’t have come to life if it wasn’t for my father’s advice.

I could have been told the same thing by a teacher, or heard it on TV, or could have seen it anywhere on the internet, but it wouldn’t have meant as much to me as it did when my father said it. When he gave me that piece of advice, my life became much better because I knew how to make it better.

So, I say the same to you. No matter what it is you’re interested in, study it. Don’t JUST practice it; make sure to take notes from others. Doing something completely alone is almost impossible. If you’re trying to make a successful blog, take a look at other successful blogs to see what it is they did to become successful. If you’re trying to be an artist, look up other artists and see how it is they created their craft. And if you want to be an author, do what I did and pick up a book and see how it’s done. It’s great advice, trust me.

-Michael

Monday, August 20, 2012

Prepping for a Book Launch: What to Do


With Shift releasing this Friday, I have succumbed to "book launch brain." Every other moment, my regular activities are peppered with sudden thoughts of, "Did I remember to respond to that blogger?" or "What should I offer in the launch tour giveaway?" or "When was the last time I saw the cat?"

I decided that I might as well put this maelstrom of madness into my post today. Who knows? Maybe one of you is in the planning stages for your book's release and can get something helpful out of my crazed state.

When I published my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy last July, I did it with no promotion at all. I created a Twitter account, joined Facebook and offered up a prayer to the universe. Then I published the books and hoped for the best.

I do not recommend this plan.

Sure, I've gotten a respectable amount of sales in the past year, but those didn't come without a lot of time, effort and trial and error. There are many things I could have done differently. I've since changed my strategy with the release of the Firstborn trilogy, which meant my book, Defy, was much better received when it launched in April. I'm encouraged enough by the results of my efforts that I'm confident in sharing them with you.

These tips assume you're self-publishing. I'll go with a timeline approach to help you know what to do at what time. There are certainly things that other authors do that I didn't include on this list. Similarly, other authors may time things a bit differently than I do, but this will give you a general idea. Here we go!
  • Now/Immediately:
    • Join Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads if you haven't already. Add Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+ and any other social media sites that interest you if you have the time. The sooner into the writing process that you do this, the better!
    • If you haven't started a blog and/or created a website to promote yourself, do it now.
    • Get a professional head shot of yourself to use for promotional reasons. Use it as your avatar on all social media sites until you have a book cover to use.
  • Four months before publication:
    • Hire an editor.
    • If your writing is free of mechanical errors, begin working with beta readers. You'll be amazed what other people catch that you won't!
    • Draft a blurb for the back of the book (and the description on book retail sites) and get feedback on it from beta readers and fellow authors.
  • Three months before publication:
    • Hire a book cover designer or, if you're talented in this area, create one yourself. Make sure it's awesome!
    • Add your book to Goodreads, but don't post a cover if you have one. Include only the blurb.
  • Two months before publication:
    • Set the book's launch date. Announce it on your blog, change your bios on social media sites to include it, send out a newsletter or press release, and anything else you have time to do.
    • Reach out to bloggers about a cover reveal. Create all of the content, including an enticing blurb and possibly an excerpt.
    • Research and book a blog tour organizer to help with the promotion, especially if you don't yet have many relationships with book bloggers. Be sure that the tour organizer requests that bloggers read and review your book, and that if the bloggers don't feel your book is to their taste that they'll instead post a promotional piece. The point of launch tours is to promote the positive feedback about it. I recommend doing a tour of one to two weeks.
    • If you intend to have one, work on a book trailer. You can do one yourself or work with a company such as Flatline Films, who produced my trailers for Defy and Shift.


  • One month before publication:
    • Host a cover reveal blog tour. Include as many bloggers (readers and authors alike) as you can. Often if you've signed on with a blog tour organizer, the bloggers participating in the launch tour will also participate in the cover reveal.
    • Include your trailer on the cover reveal posts to create even more interest. Some authors generate countdown widgets, which you can send to participating bloggers, too.
    • Change your avatar on your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your stunning cover. This creates buzz and leads to "passive marketing" when you answer questions about it.
    • Add the cover and book trailer to Goodreads.
    • Consider hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. You can run it for the month leading up to publication day. This is only possible if you plan to offer paperback copies.
    • Ensure your book is properly formatted for all of the places you intend to publish it.
    • Decide on a giveaway to accompany the book's launch. Your blog tour should advertise this with each post. Use Rafflecopter for the giveaway and have those who enter the giveaway follow you on Twitter, Facebook, your blog or anywhere you want.
  • Two weeks before publication:
    • Confirm that you have all of the promotional posts in the hands of your blog tour organizer. Sometimes last-minute requests come in, so you'll want to make sure you have your plate clear to tackle these items as they come up.
    • Reach out to any bloggers you've recruited on your own to ensure they have everything they need for their posts. Confirm their post dates.
  • One week before publication:
    • Draft your launch day post for your blog. You'll be very busy in the days leading up to launch day, so reserve this time for you. Be sure each participating blog gets a mention in your post!
    • Do one more confirmation with your tour organizer and any other bloggers working with you.
    • Make sure your book's formatting is all done and everything is ready to be uploaded to all publication sites.
  • Publication day:
    • Breathe.
    • Check each blog scheduled to post this day and leave a comment to thank them.
    • Tweet, Facebook, and otherwise engage with your fans until your fingers fall off.
    • Celebrate!
Again, there are surely things that you can do that I didn't mention. Paid advertising, for example, is an option for those who can afford it. These are merely suggestions, and far more than I did for the launch of my first books. I hope they help you!

For now, I've got to go and find my cat...

What tips do you have for launch day?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Releasing the Silent Butterfly. An Exercise for Conquering Writer’s Block

Hi All,



          My name is KaSonndra Leigh, and I am the author of the Lost Immortals Saga and Hacienda Moon. I am also one of the owners of the TriGate Group that recently branched out into the publishing world with an indie imprint called TriGate Press. It is with great pleasure that I bring to you my first post as the newest member of the Writer’s Voice. Thank you so much to Emma Michaels for graciously accepting me into the group. I look forward to sharing my experiences and inspirational tips with you all as I move along my literary journey. Today’s post will cover a subject that many of us as writers, both professional and aspiring alike, face on a regular basis. We all know the literary gremlin that tends to rear its head when we need to be most productive. If not, then let me just go ahead and tell you that we call him writer’s block.
          There’s no denying how many authors both unknown and established alike suffer from writer’s block during their literary careers. The situation can be a devastating one, generally showing its bothersome symptoms during a crucial period such as a deadline for an article or a manuscript. Writer’s block stifles creativity in authors much like the groin injury does to the star quarterback facing the Super Bowl and unable to play. To make matters worse, writers rarely admit to suffering from the condition, making the devastation of facing a blank page without an idea or clue to which word to strum across the page first, a lonely and humiliating experience.
          Several texts exist that contain exercises to awaken the creative mind by removing the barriers presenting the illusion of restraint. Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin contains many examples of these type of brainstorm exercises. Le Guin’s exercises are geared toward breaking down psychological barriers hidden within the subconscious mind. They stimulate the creative mind through instructional methods designed to fool the brain into writing without a conscious realization that the writer’s block has lifted. So imagine the pleasure I felt when my stimulation exercise called “Releasing the Silent Butterfly” worked wonders with the elementary students I tutor.
           Part 1: Recall a special place from your childhood. Describe this memory in no less than 100 words. Be free. Be creative. But most of all, you need to be quick. You have to complete this journey back in time within five minutes. Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, the dreaded adverb, or any no-no’s typically found on the Elements of Style’s ‘do not use’ list.

            Part 2: Now, revisit this same place as the person you are today. Same rules apply. What’s different? How has your special place changed? Is it gone? Was it imaginary? Don’t worry about being perfect, just write. Allow your silent butterfly to soar high enough to be visible.

            ‘Release the Silent Butterfly’ is a two part exercise that focuses on uninhibited inspiration and creative flow minus the pressure of editorial worries. It is an illusion designed to trick the writer’s mind into forgetting that he or she is completing an exercise, while providing time restraints. The focus on the differences in perception between the ‘child’ and ‘adult’ versions of a shared memory assists in defeating writer’s block through familiar association. It works for all authorial levels and age groups and can be completed anytime or anyplace. Some of my student readers who tried this exercise also said they found inspiration to try everything from autobiographical pieces to poetry based on the spontaneous results generated after they finished it.

          Try this exercise to combat the writer’s block gremlin and release the beautiful story held inside. Thanks so much for visiting with the Writer’s Voice today.
Yours in Prose,
KaSonndra Leigh




Saturday, August 18, 2012

Arson Giveaway and Killing off Characters



How to Kill the Bad Guys

I know, I know…you’ve all been wondering, waiting, with baited breath, for this post. Why? Because we’re all a little sick in the head. We’re conniving, little masochists, aren’t we? Well, seek no more, look no further. You’re ideal post has arrived.

Killing your characters should never be a sad thing. You don’t have the obligation of sending the family money as compensation for their death. There’s no wake to attend. No legal reprimands. No handcuffs. It’s quick, painless, and can be quite fun. I know, strange concept, right? But when it comes to the page, anything’s game, and it can be fun.

So how do we get rid of those dastardly perps? Well, a fun way to cash their check is a straight-up bullet to the head or chest. You might want to have the killer use a silencer, so others don’t suspect a thing. Make sure they use gloves to avoid leaving behind prints. And hire a cleaner to tidy up the joint. Leaving behind a rose is also a nice touch or a card with nothing written on the outside; but on the inside, feel free to script something witty like Gotcha, sucka! (insert your own version of Samuel L. Jackson’s classic tone here)

Okay, for those who are wary of using guns, a knife or perhaps a screwdriver is necessary. I saw the screwdriver employed in Secret Window, and it just seemed right. It got the job done. Everybody has one in their garage. And it’s got a blunt end, which makes the weapon of choice more than capable. It also adds a little bit of a twisted-ness to it all. A knife is good as a last resort, of course. Both weapons are ideal if a more “personal” touch is required. Aim for veins, the temple, or in a desperate situation, just spear the leg.

Bombs. These little mechanisms of destruction are good if you want to take out a train, airplane, a shopping mall, or just feel like a good ’ol fashioned explosion is in order. Maximum damage is likely. Limbs will fly. Guts will be seen. Hot women will run and scream, arms flailing around. Tons of collateral damage will ensue, but the Wal-Marts should stay intact. Ideal agent to contact: Sir Michael Bay.

Evil Chewable(s): These ain’t the Fred Flintstone variety, peeps. You know in those spy thrillers how the bad guy always manages to bite down on some secret pill he had tucked inside his cheek? Yeah, the agent in charge of eradicating said scumbag is often upset, confused, and stuff gets complicated real quick. This is an interesting, suspenseful method of leaving the reader hanging, breathless, and needing more.

Virus: Welcome to the twenty-first century. Nukes and bombs are so last World War. We’ve gotten much more creative in our methods of decreasing the surplus population. Think mutated humans. Think zombies. Think sudden deaths, or slow deaths, respectively. Societies wiped out in an entire region in a matter of days. If this is your idea of a party, then bring on the airborne virus, you sick, sick pup, you.
And last, but certainly not least…the suicide: Yes, this trick is often saved for those antiheroes who are maybe misunderstood or who lived a bad life, but this is their wildcard, their shot at righting the wrongs. Sometimes, this is a way for the writer to establish a connection between the reader and the fragile mind. A way for them to sympathize or empathize. Maybe they just could never be good enough. Maybe daddy didn’t love ’em. Or maybe they’re rotten to the core, and they believe there’s no way out but to off themselves. See: Romeo and Juliet, The Mist, The Virgin Suicides, and a lot of other melancholy flicks.

So whatever method you so choose to end them bad guys…do so with care, with caution, and remember, they probably had it comin…you know, whatever helps you sleep at night.
If you like me, check yes…and go follow me on the twitter and Facebook.

And, um…spread the fire, you creative mastermind, you,

E

www.estevanvega.com
twitter: @estevanvega
facebook: we are arson



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Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview with Cameo Renae

Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Cameo Renae
Hello Cameo and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Have you ever gotten an idea for a book or part of one of your novels from something or somewhere unexpected?
 
My first (completed) novel, In My Dreams, was born from a dream. Well…it wasn’t a sparkly, lovey-dovey dream, it was actually a nightmare. Really. It rattled me. I shook my husband out of his sleep and told him about it. He was still in “sleep mode”, but thought it was pretty cool. (Yep.) So, I ended up writing it down, and it became the first part of Chapter 1. 

Did you always know you would write a novel? Why did you finally decide to write one and when?

I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but never really had the time. About seven years ago I took a writing course, then became part of a writing community, and started writing short stories. I had so much great feedback that I decided to take on a novel. I wrote my first 90 pages of a MG fantasy, and then… I had the nightmare that started In My Dreams. 

What are five things that are must haves when you are writing?

(#1)- Coffee. At least 2 cups before my brain kicks in.
(#2) – My laptop.
(#3) – That little thing that plugs into your computer to save your stuff… that Scan Disk thingy. I need that! My computer crashed once, and now I’m saving everything.
(#4) – A notebook. I finally got one! I get ideas at the craziest times, so I finally got a pretty book to write them in.
(#5) – My muse. Some days my muse goes missing and doesn’t even leave a note! *so frustrating* But most of the time she’s with me, filling my head with wonderful ideas.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally? 

Yes, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. His books sparked my love for reading. 

What is the hardest emotion for you to convey?

I think the hardest emotion, for me, would have to be sadness. In My Dreams was the first time I’d had to really deal with that emotion. It took me a while to come up with words to portray how someone feels when they’ve lost someone they love, and make the reader really feel it. 

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I’m very random. Things could pop out of my mouth that will just throw people off. My husband usually cracks up, but my kids will roll their eyes and sigh. hehe BUT… in public I come off as shy. 

Which came first for you--the characters, the idea for the setting, or the plot?

The setting came first, and set the tone for the rest of the novel. I actually didn’t have a plan or outline for In My Dreams. I just wrote and it all just came together. Amazingly. But, I don’t write like that now! Now, I totally have an outline, characters and some kind of plot (which seems to change a lot).

Thank you for having me! I had a blast! ♥

Thank you for joining us!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Responsible Writing



Right now, in 2012, we are in a time when anyone can publish a book.  Many, if not all of us authors on this blog write young adult books.  Each of us take it seriously, and we've made our mission to write quality books that will entertain our audience.  The Indie author is taking the Kindle/Nook world by storm.  Our books are affordable, especially to the teens that have limited income.  Teens have access to us via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogs and email and they use all of it.  I love that one click contact and I take it seriously.

I write under a pen-name, so I have a private Facebook account and I have an author account.  On my author account I never post anything to do with religion or politics and the biggest cuss-word is ass.  Recently, an author of adult books sent me an email and asked me to promote her book on my wall.  I replied and explained that I have a lot of young people that follow me, and I don't feel comfortable posting their book.  The author was gracious and understood why I turned her down.

Last week a fifteen year old girl contacted me for some writing advice.  She told me that her book is YA and her main character wants to kill himself.  She asked me if she should kill off the character.  I replied and told her that suicide is a heavy subject and she has to think about the age of her audience.  I suggested that if she goes that direction that she shouldn't romanticize it and keep details to the minimum.  My final suggestion would be to add the number to the suicide hotline following her story.  (it is a paranormal book and her mom knew she was emailing me with the question...so I didn't feel that she was talking about herself)

The majority of us have read Twilight, and I know, there are a lot of haters...there's lovers of the saga too.  I mean seriously, look how successful it is.  Many of us were adults when we read Twilight for the first time, and it took us four books to have them consummate the relationship.  Stephenie Meyer was aware of her audience though.  She put in an old fashion twist to a modern story...wait until you're married to have sex.    She never mentioned religious purpose, just an old fashioned belief system.  There are a lot of adult books out there if you're wanting an adult theme (50 Shades).

My advise would be to remember that kids want to escape their everyday life - they want the stress of everything off of them - keep kids, kids.... all of the adult stuff happens soon enough.  Be a role model.

PS - I have a werewolf series that is a mature teen series.  I had one reviewer say, it was nice to read a book where the teen respects their parents.  That was amazing, because that is what I want kids to take from the book.... I smiled for a week =)

STOP ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING OF E-BOOKS - PLEASE DON'T ACCEPT ILLEGAL BOOK FILES

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Your Characters Become Real People

Being a writer is weird sometimes. Well, if I'm honest it's weird most of the time. See I don't feel like i live in the real world for 90% of my day. I find myself 'actively listening' to people because I'm really thinking about what I'm going to write down as soon as I can find a piece of paper and a pen. I've gotten disgustingly good at pretending i'm in one place, when really I'm in Los Angeles or Montana or London. Recently I've been spending a lot of time in New York and a fictional tent city I've coined Freetown. And all of these places are populated with people who don't exist. 

I made them all up. 

That's the really weird part, because you end up feeling you know them, these imaginary friends you've created from a combination of your past experiences and fleeting encounters with people who invariably touched your life in one way or another. It's interesting to catch glimpses of other individuals in the characters of your books. You write in quirks and mannerisms sometimes from people you haven't seen in years. People you loved, or still do. People who hurt you. People who died and left the world emptier for their absence. 

They're echoes of your subconscious, and i've always been fascinated by how others see the characters that I've dreamed up. They're so personal to me that I've wished many times I could see them the way others do- without the emotion and the vested energy it's taken to build them out of nothing- to see who they'd envisage. 

I guess I got a good indicator of who my readers thought Daniel (the male protagonist in Sovereign Hope) would be when I challenged them to help me find the perfect guy to pose as him on the cover of the sequel. I got so many varying photos sent to me, some of which didn't look anything like the man I had described in my book. But that didn't matter. The guys they sent me were pictures of people they'd pictured in their heads when reading my book. People who maybe looked like memories from their pasts, people who had touched them and changed the way they saw the world. 

Now that the challenge is over and I've found someone to be Daniel on the cover of Eternal Hope, things have become kinda confusing. Collin is a fantastic match for Daniel, but it's strange to know there's going to be a tangible person, an actual live human being out there that readers will now picture when then read the book. Or maybe they won't. I don't know, I can think of a hundred occasions where I've instantly ignored the cover of a book in favour of my own imagination. 

How does this effect you guys? Are you a sucker for a pretty face on the front of a book, or do your psyches kick in and paint a pretty pictures of their own?

You can check out Collin Atkinson by watching the youtube video here! It's his birthday today, and I'm sure he would love it if you stopped by and wished him glad tidings on his facebook page. If not only for the fact that you'll be able to check out more amazing photos like this one!









Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview With Victoria Simcox



What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

Hmm … that's a tough one. I can't pin-point a specific section in the story, but there were a few times that I scratched a scene and wrote something totally different.

What scares you most?

 … Too many things to mention, but the way I handle fear, is by not thinking to far into the outcome of situations, and I try to stay focused on the here and now. Coming from the old county, Austria, my mother is one for idioms, and one she always shares with me is: The soup is never as hot when you eat it as when you cook it.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

When people, especially children tell me that my book is their favorite book, and they can't wait for the next book in the series. That makes me never want to trade writing for anything else.

Aspiring writers often hear, "Read what you want to write," "Hone your writing craft." and, above all else, "Be patient." What other advice would you give them?

Those things are great! I would add, also read other types of writing other than the type you write. You can get inspiration from totally different types of writing than your form.

Do you have a day job? Do you hope that writing will be your full time career in the future?

 I teach elementary school art during the school season, and I also home-school my youngest son. Even if writing was my full time career, I think I could still handle these other two tasks, which I love doing.

Check out Victoria's personal blog for giveaways and reviews @ www.victoriasimcox.blogspot.com


Monday, August 13, 2012

Reality Checks

I love reality checks, those moments that cause you to pause and see where you are in life and offer a moment of reflection. Last week I saw a friend from ages ago and when she learned I was a writer the look in her eyes held everything from disbelief to confusion. Curious, her questions pressed on, stating things like well, you must have left your career then - right? A sly grin told her that I hadn’t, then she moved on to ‘what about your kids, though? They are starting school and such - how do you have the time for this - you a writer, really? That’s an intense vice, hard work - wow, just wow.’ Our conversation was cut short so, I didn’t have the chance to explain my new found obsession, or even why I enjoyed it so much. The Jamie she knew was the one who vaguely paid attention in English classes, groaned when assignments involved required reading - the girl who hashed her papers together the night before they were due. She knew the Jamie that was firmly placed in reality, the girl who already knew how her life would be lived, and was going through the motions that moved from point A to point B. If I could go back and time and tell myself that in 2012 I would have five books published,and ideas for more than I could explain briefly, the girl I was would have seen it as torture. I could hear myself now: you want me to sit down for hours on end, in my sacred free time and write endlessly, then you want me to go back and edit and chop the story I created into tiny pieces again and again, then after all of that you want me to share my private daydreams with the world. My young response would have been “whatever” I can hear it now. Oh how life changes us.
What would have seemed like agony years ago, I yearn for each moment of each day now. I don’t think that makes me crazy. Perhaps a late bloomer, but not insane. I think it shows that each person has a vice, a way out of the ordinary, and when they take it, life is transformed in ways that are beyond the imagination. I admit I didn’t watch much of the Olympics this time around, but when I did catch a glimpse of it, I could see the hours on end of training in the eyes of each competitor, I could see the obsession for the event they were in, the sacrifices they’d made to reach that point in their life.I know that if I had to endure one day of their lifestyle it would be the death of me. What was their joy would be my hell. And that is how it should be. We are not all meant to walk the same path, we have our own. From the outside looking in every career whether it is in the creative, athletic, or even business field has its moments of bliss and agony. If you are meant to do what you are doing the agony would never register. In the same week my twenty two year old brother was plotting what course he would take with his life and he asked me for my advice. This is what I told him. “If you would do it all day - everyday and never expect a dime or ounce of recognition, then that is what you are meant to do - that is what will make you happy.” I told him what I would have wanted my college advisors to tell me. The friend I ran into days ago was not out of line to think that me embarking on this adventure was a bit to much to take on, that I had a family to support and a career that was in its prime. I’m sure she thought that when I was an old woman I could sit down and write out stories, that then I would have the time. All I can say to that is life is short, and not meant to be preplanned, and when you find something that you love, that sets your soul on fire, you find the time. And because you found that time you’ve open doors in your life that lead you to people and places you would have never known otherwise. What is your vice? What is bliss to you, and agony to others? Whatever it is embrace it!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chris Karlson Guest Post!




Inspiration to Research to Magically Lucky
By Chris Karlsen


I’ve had the good fortune to travel many places. In my travels, I found myself often saying, “I’m glad I got to see___,” fill the blank...,”this famous museum, this remarkable cathedral, this mountain range.” You get the drift. I also found myself thinking that having seen those things I wasn’t in a hurry to return. Then, there are the other places. The ones I felt such a strong connection to, it was almost palpable and without a doubt, I’d return.

Turkey was one of those places. The connection was immediate and I also knew I’d use it as a setting for a book someday. A few years ago while on vacation there, I visited the ruins of Troy. I walked the grounds admiring the imagination of the Bronze Age architects who designed thick stone walls to be built at an angle. Their design rendered an attacker’s scaling ladders ineffective.

I walked the avenues along the top of the walls with a view of the Dardanelle Strait. I envisioned how it must have looked to a citizen of Troy filled with the sails of an invading Greek army. At the same time, behind me, a tour guide pointed to a distant knoll and told his group it was referred to as Hektor’s burial mound. Hektor of Iliad fame, Homer’s courageous and honorable Trojan Prince. My favorite character in the Epic Poem.

Ah!! Inspiration. I had my setting. I had my heroine’s idealized view of Hektor and Troy and that he had a Golden Chariot. I had her profession, an archaeologist, and her goal.

While researching Golden Chariot, I read about the Uluburun, the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. It sank off the coast of Southern Turkey in approximately 1300 BCE. The story fascinated me and I knew Charlotte Dashiell, my heroine, would have to be a nautical archaeologist. I returned to Turkey to try and learn more about the recovery. The remains of the wreck were on display in Bodrum at the Underwater Museum there. The recovery project was conducted by INA-the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, also in Bodrum. So, I headed for Bodrum.

I rarely chat up strangers, on planes or otherwise. My husband is more gregarious and he began talking to a man on our flight while in line for our visas at Ataturk Airport. My husband told him the purpose of our visit. As luck would have it, it turned out he knew several staff and recovery team members at INA. He gave me a contact name, which led to a private tour of the facility. I was shown desalination tanks, pictures documenting the Uluburun project and others, the conservation lab and where they work to reconstruct artifacts. Even more lucky for me, they patiently sat and answered my myriad of questions.

During our conversations, (yes, they were kind enough to do more than one with me) I learned that all legitimate archaeological sites in Turkey have a representative of the Ministry of Culture present. They oversee the safety of recovered artifacts and the integrity of the site. The minute I heard that, I had my hero, Atakan Vadim.

Maybe I was in the right place at the right time and simply got lucky. But I like to think there was a bit of magical luck involved. My original plot idea was a thriller set in Istanbul, which is so exotic and interesting. That changed that day on the hill in Troy. What are the odds of being at Troy on a day when I just happened to be within earshot of the tour guide pointing out Hektor’s grave mound? What are the odds of stumbling across an article involving a shipwreck project that started in the 1980s? What are the odds out of all the passengers on that Airbus, (a good third of them Americans needing visas) a man with contacts at INA would be in line next to us?

As writers, we view everything as having story potential. If we stay open to that possibility, we might get just plain lucky or...magically lucky.

I confess, a part of me wants to believe what I deemed the breeze that day on the hill at Troy, was Hektor whispering in my ear...change the story.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview with Rhiannon Paille

 
Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Rhiannon Paille
Hello Rhiannon and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Have you ever gotten an idea for a book or part of one of your novels from something or somewhere unexpected?

I was trying to write a Dystopian novel after reading Suzanne Collins and Lauren Oliver earlier this year. My idea fizzled, and then about six months later my editor asks me if I have an idea for a short story based on superheroes v.s. zombies. I never thought a dystopian could have gone in that direction, but it did and it worked!

Did you always know you would write a novel? Why did you finally decide to write one and when?

I decided in high school that one day I would write a book. It was on my bucket list. When it came down to it, I had all of these bits and pieces of stories in my head and one central image kept coming back to me. That’s when I decided to get serious about it and try to write something. Then it took me three years to finish a first draft.


What are five things that are must haves when you are writing?
1) Music
2) An outline
3) Scenes detailed and imagined in my head
4) Kids not destroying the house
5) Something to drink (usually juice or water actually)

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

There are so many of them I don’t know where to begin, but let’s begin with Shiver by Maggie Steifvater, The Mortal Instruments by Cassie Clare, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. All of them taught me a lot about my craft and hit me personally.

What is the hardest emotion for you to convey?

Happiness. I don’t know why but when my characters are happy I tend to go to the stereotypical and cheesy and I just feel like I’ve entered the shallow zone. I hate it when my writing isn’t deep, thought provoking and emotionally invoked.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I can sing. I’m actually more confident about singing than I am about writing. In high school there was a vocal jazz group that you couldn’t get into unless you auditioned. I was the only grade 10 girl to get in that year. I stayed with the group for three years and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Which came first for you--the characters, the idea for the setting, or the plot?

The characters, then the plot, then the setting. I had the most trouble with the setting, I always do, and so I always make sure to over detail the setting in my notes since my characters have a tendency to jump off the page, telling me who they are and what they want and what happened to them.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why Girlfriends make the difference

Jennifer Adams
Jacquelyn Pierce 




Sally Morgan
One of the comments I get most on my books is about the 3 best friends that are in my series. People seem to love the strong tie between the girls and the relentless banter that they throw back and forth. One of the things I decided when I started this series was that I wanted the friendships to stay intact. I didn’t want the heroine to meet her man and then her friends fall into the back ground. One of the reasons I decided on this was because I felt like it would add depth to the story. I also wanted young ladies to see that even when you meet mister wonderful it is very important that you don’t make him your whole world. It is never healthy to throw out your friends just because you are dating. I hope that through the relationships of the girls that readers see that part of the reason they are able to deal with the overbearing, protective mates is because they have each other to turn to for support.  The loyalty they feel towards one another continually helps them get through tough situations and trials, and although in our lives we most likely won’t face anything remotely as dangerous as what these girls face, it is still important to have that same support system in our friends for when trials come our way. I have really enjoyed writing these three best friends relationships and hope that readers are able to see the incredible value in such friendship.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Take a break!



Today is my first day back at work after a week's vacation. I always love to take a break from the day job, but I also mostly took a break from writing during my vacation as well. I say mostly because I did take the print out of the current manuscript I'm revising and worked on a few chapters while sitting in airports (I had a three hour layover on the way back so I needed something to do!). But aside from that, I didn't write at all. I didn't write while I was actually on vacation, I didn't write when I got back. I've thought about the book a little, but not constantly aside from the couple hours I worked on those chapters. Instead, I visited with my family who live 700 miles away. I went swimming and shopping and out to eat and then was lazy and watched a lot of TV and finished a book I was reading.

And you know what? It was great! I've written stories since I was a kid and I can't imagine ever not writing, but I also enjoy taking a break from it.

I see writers moan all the time on forums and blogs about how they haven't written anything in days or weeks and they ask what is wrong with them? You know what's wrong? NOTHING. You need a break. Writing is hard work on your brain and creativity. It has a way of consuming almost every thought when you're deep into a project. Just as you need a break from school or any other kind of job to clear your head and relax, you also need a break from writing every now and then.

Sometimes my breaks are short. A day or a week or two. Sometimes I go a month or longer without writing. It just depends on how long it takes me to clear my head. When I start imagining scenes or feel the itch to visit my characters again, I know I've had a long enough break and will dive right back into the work.

So if you find yourself struggling with a project or you have zero motivation to write, do something good for yourself and step away. Take a vacation from writing, even if you're not really taking an actual vacation from everything else. Do other things for a little while. Read. Watch movies. Work on other hobbies. Or take an actual vacation and go somewhere for a few days. Let your brain relax, let your creativity build up inside you again. If you really love writing, you won't stay away from it forever. And when you do come back, you'll be full of new ideas and might even have the perfect breakthrough for a story problem you've been struggling with. Don't feel bad about not writing. Everyone needs a break!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Introduction to Michael Loring

                                             The Lycanthropist

Hey y’all! I’m the newest member of The Writer’s Voice, and from what I can see…so far the only MALE. That’s pretty cool, but I’m not going to capitalize on it because it doesn't really matter. Doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl, because everyone shares the passion for writing here. There's no stereotypes when it comes to writing, and that's one of the reasons I love it so much.

Well, let me give a proper introduction for myself. My name is Michael Loring, I am at the moment 18 years old – though in a week I’ll be 19, so let’s just say I’m 19 now – and I recently debuted my very first novel titled Dehumanized! I’m really excited about this, and I’ve been working my butt off ever since the release date. I’ve found though in my pursuit of more readers that I really enjoy blogging. I enjoy being connected with readers and other authors a lot, and I am seriously looking forward to being a part of this amazing blog!

Now, if you want to really know me, there is one thing you should know: I have an obsession with werewolves! Now, when I say obsession I don’t mean my room is covered with posters or that I have a shrine to them or that it’s the only thing I talk about. I have a wide array of things I love; it just so happens werewolves are at the top of the list next to writing and reading.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved werewolves. It’s always been one of my guilty pleasures, just without the guilt. My love started when I was eight years old and I first saw An American Werewolf In London. I’m man enough to admit when I was little I was terrified of nearly EVERYTHING, but there was something about that movie that just captivated me. The idea that an average, everyday guy could become such a creature was so fascinating to me. I had already been an avid animal lover, and seeing someone turn into one really got to me. It was the first movie where I actually cheered for the monster!

I started looking more into the genre of werewolves. Most of the movies and stories were scary, so I was apprehensive. Being a young boy who was too scared to sleep without Scooby Doo or Gilligan’s Island playing in the background hindered my research quite a bit. Not to mention the media wasn’t as abundant as it is today thanks to the Twilight fad. This was the early 2000’s, so my research didn’t take me far. I read all about werewolves and the early incarnations of the legend, sitting in awe in front of my PC as I read all about these man-creatures that were affected by the full moon. I read the story of Lycaon and his testing of Zeus, cringed at the horrible deal Peter Stumpp made with the Devil, and stayed up all night because of the tale of The Beast of Gévaudan. I was hooked, and slowly my unnatural fear of all things horror-related faded and I became a dedicated “Horrorist” as I like to call it.

I grew to have many passions; karate, boxing, video gaming, comic books, music; but none even came close to my passion for werewolves. Only one thing ever surpassed that passion: writing. So, it was only natural to combine the two things, right? Of course! I attempted hundreds of stories, more than half involving werewolves, the others involving superheroes and vampires and zombies and such. But even with all of these failed projects I never gave up. I continued my study of all things Lycanthrope by watching the movies that have come out during these first years of the 21st century and reading all the books that I deemed “worthy” of my tastes. Even though I love them so much, I don’t just read any werewolf novel that comes out. I’m pretty picky. My guidelines for a werewolf novel have always been strict, and more than once I’ve ignored a New York Times bestseller because it didn’t fit my criteria.

There came a day when my mother, one of the few people who grit their teeth and pretended to be listening politely while I rambled on and on about the full moon beasts, said to me, “If you can’t find any werewolf books that interest you, then why don’t you just write them yourself?”

I remember just staring at her for a second; dumbfounded that such a simple, obvious answer had escaped my grasp. I gave some excuse involving something along the lines of already having tried, and then ran off to my room to think of an idea. After nearly two years of thinking and planning and writing, Dehumanized is now available for all to read! And I’m happy to say it fits my criteria perfectly.

So, that’s me. I hope you guys will accept me as a TWV member and I look forward to hanging with you guys again!

You can check me out here:

Twitter: @MichaelLoring
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Dehumanized/273293846073390
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10641453-michael-loring
Website: MichaelLoring.com

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Interview with Leah Bobet

 
Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Leah Bobet
Hello Leah and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Can you tell us what scene you can remember being the hardest to write? What scene was it and why was it difficult for you?

There's a sequence in the middle of ABOVE that takes place in an abandoned psychiatric hospital: Matthew and his friends are sneaking through it, looking for both some answers and, honestly, for a fight. It took forever. No, really. It's a long chapter and all – in its first incarnation it was something like 9,000 words – but seriously, this thing took me a month. It started being Evil Asylum. And then Evil $^%&@* Asylum. I'm not honestly sure why it was such a slog, that one. Partly because I was setting this in a real place, and one I've never been into, and probably sticking too close to the reference photos instead of rushing ahead with the plot (and most of this scene, tragically enough, has ended up on the cutting room floor over three or four revisions for exactly that reason). Maybe it was because it's the turning point in the whole novel – where one goal is substituted for another –and it was really important to get right. Maybe I was just at the point in a novel, wordcount-wise, where things get a little shovy and you have to pay attention. Either way, there was a lot going on in there, and once I was out of it, the rest of the book felt as easy as pouring water. Well. Until the next draft.


How important is your writing environment when you are working on a novel? Can you write anywhere or do you need a specific setting?

Not too important, mostly because I try not to let it get too important. I don’t own a house, I rent apartments, and if I let my writing environment get too important, I'd suffer a catastrophic inability to work every time I moved. I do have a little trouble starting up in a new place, but standing behind your writerbrain with a sharp stick will fix that.

Do you have any closet/trunk novels hidden away?

Four, actually. And those are the ones that are finished, and not just pieces I abandoned for whatever reason. I'm hoping to take one or two of those and do a white-page rewrite one of these years. I might know enough about craft at this point – and know enough about the world – to make some of those ideas work. If not, they're great to scavenge for spare parts.

When you are looking for a book to read what do you look for? Has what you look for changed since your first publication?

I'm a pretty open-minded reader. I look for good characterization, for interesting structure, for themes and tropes that haven't been done to death – or really interesting commentary or twists on those things that have been done to death. I look for really lovely prose, whether it's minimalist and spare and dignified or bright and florid. There is no genre I will not try. And I think that's what's changed since my first publication: no matter what else is going on in terms of the genre or the point of view, I can appreciate any kind of book just on the craft alone. Before, I stuck pretty hard to fantasy and science fiction novels. Now, if something's well-written, I'll pick it up. And that's really broadened not only my appreciation of reading, but, I think, my own mind and worldview just as a person. Reading is an inherently empathetic experience, and when you're reading books from people who don't necessarily think like you do; who grew up with different cultures and assumptions and attitudes, you're not just learning books, you're learning the world.

How long does your first draft normally take you to write?

Hah – there is no "normally", I'm afraid! I wrote the first draft of ABOVE in a year and three months, and it was the year where I finished my university degree on a double course overload, sneaking away to write once every two weeks when I had a spare breath between assigned readings and papers to write. It was also the year I looked for a job, got a temp assignment, looked for a permanent job; where my sister got married, and most of my autumn turned into dress fittings and shower planning and dealing with relatives (between working that temp job and looking for the other one). I also, y'know, was trying to see my friends some and keep my apartment clean. Point being: I can't say what's a normal time for me to draft a novel, because so much depends on what else is going on in my life. I've written books in four months; I've written them in a year and three months. The one I'm poking at now I started a year ago, threw back into the slow cooker because it wasn't ready yet, and while I'm getting regular wordcount on it now, who knows how that might go? I don't recall whose truism it is, but someone wise has said that you never learn to write a book, you learn to write this book. And after drafting a few of them, at this point each one just takes however long it takes.

When you are writing your first draft what do you try to accomplish with your first chapter? Are you just trying to get the words out, do you consciously try to write your hook first, what is the first chapter like for you?

I'm not all that deliberate on a first draft: While it's taken me a little while to learn to revise well and trust the revision process, revising's where I do my deliberate things. My first drafts, while pretty tidy, are mostly about putting together the world, the characters, the situation, and seeing what sparks. I will usually machine the first chapter a little more than the second or third, but that's just because of how I tend to do that exploring: I'll start reading from the beginning, tinker and putter with what I already have, and then keep going forward. So after starting from the beginning a few times in order to get the second chapter out, and then maybe from halfway through the first chapter to get the third chapter out, that first chapter will look pretty polished in comparison. As for the hook: I have never deliberately set up a hook. If a concept or scenario is interesting enough to get me sitting in my desk chair writing something down, well, it's already got a hook, hasn't it? :)


Do you ever identify with one of your characters more than the others?

Not really, no. Every character I write has a slice of me, and every character I write is most definitely not me – and I don't want to write a character I'd identify with more than the others in their landscape: it would bend the narrative and the world in ways that I don't feel would make for my best work. People can tell when a writer's playing favourites, consciously or unconsciously, and they don't like it for very good narrative reasons. The world doesn't play favourites, and seeing that go on in a story undermines the realism of the work. I'm really big on building worlds that feel real and people who feel real, so that their decisions and struggles and needs are important and affecting for the reader. So for me, at least, identifying more strongly with one character than another is just not the best craft decision.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Interview with Julia Crane

 
Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Julia Crane
Hello Julia and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

I found it was hard to slow down. I wanted to get to the climax of the book too quickly. I actually had a couple of comments that the book felt too rushed towards the end so I went back and added more to the chapters.

What scares you most?

With writing? Hmm, interesting question and one I haven’t given much thought to. Of course I have the normal fears of people not enjoying my book, but other than that I can’t really think of fears. Fears in general life? As a mother my biggest fear is something happening to my children.

Do you start writing when you have a plot mapped out or start plotting when you have started writing based off a spark of inspiration?

I’m not a plotter. I just kinda go with the flow; I get an idea and go with it. I do find that while I am doing mundane chores such as sweeping the floor or doing the dishes I often come up with ideas to move the plot forward.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

I got a review from Ya-Aholic that had me smiling for days. That was the first time I thought wow, someone loves my book! http://www.ya-aholic.com/search?q=julia+crane

Aspiring writers often hear, "Read what you want to write," "Hone your writing craft." and, above all else, "Be patient." What other advice would you give them?

If there is something you are not particularly good at find someone who is great at it and learn from them. Such as I constantly have to remind myself to show not tell. I read a book by Heather Adkins and was so impressed with her descriptions that I contacted her. She is now one of my beta readers and helps me when she notices I’m showing not telling or not doing justice to descriptions in a scene.


Is there rhyme and reason to how you choose character traits?

I love seeing characters come to life on the pages. I definitely take character traits from people I know. Since I have a teen daughter I get the pleasure of being around her and her friends. You can learn a lot from watching teens.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!