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Tuesday Tip

I don’t know about you but every four years we get pulled into this political insanity. I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion but I am tired of it already. They shove it down your throat with commercials, they call you night and day for surveys, they knock on your doors, and it gets old. I get enough from the political parties. I don’t want it from authors. I don’t care who you support, it’s your business but I do care about what you write and if you piss me off, I won’t read you.

I may not have sold a book, yet, but I’ve sold a few houses in my day as a REALTOR for fifteen years. There are certain things you don’t discuss with a buyer and politics is one of them.  It is easy to get sucked up into the political rhetoric and I’m not saying you can’t have a view, but if you are an author and you are in the business of selling books, I’m not sure you need to share your view with everyone. The elections will be over in a few weeks. Will all of your readers still be interested in your books when it’s over?

Yes it takes talent to write a novel but it is a business and no matter what you think, there are people who will disagree with you. People who may decide not to buy your books because of something you said that offended them.

I am not talking so much about the big authors out there who have made it because, they can pretty much do what they want to do. But if you are not there yet, why push away possible readers because of politics?

Just my humble opinion.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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P is for Perfection

 

 

 

 

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” – Anne Lamott

 

 

I was lucky enough to meet Anne Lamott a while back when she was an author for the AVID event here in Des Moines. AVID is Authors Visiting in Des Moines and is a program that the local library funds each year. They bring in a handful of authors who speak and sign books from April through June. It’s an event I look forward to each year and try to attend as many talks as possible.

 

Anyone who writes has heard of Anne Lamott and her ‘Bird by Bird’ book on writing. If you have not, you need to get it and read it now. She is one of the writing guru’s I turned to in the beginning. The title came from when her brother attempted to write an essay on different birds. He waited until the last minute to write it and then found himself stuck not knowing how to actually do it. His father told him to not look at the big picture, to take one bird and write about it and then another and another until he completed the report.

 

I suffer from perfectionism in many areas of my life but especially in my writing. I use it as my crutch or my excuse. If I only have 10-15 minutes to write, it’s easy for me to say it isn’t worth it, what can I possibly get done in that amount of time? Even when I do schedule my writing time, I often catch myself editing the life out of my work and ultimately stopping my forward momentum. Then I can’t figure out why I can’t go forward. Just as if I was a log stuck in quicksand, I get stuck trying to be perfect and instead of finishing the project, it sinks and is never seen again.

 

I have murdered too many projects because of perfectionism. Like another writer friend Shirley Damsgaard, who writes a witch mystery series as well as the Jess McConkey books told me, “Sometimes you just have to write the damn thing.”

 

I am so there now. I will spill the words out and worry about mopping up the bad stuff with revision.

 

As Nora Roberts said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” So I have to get past thinking my first draft has to be perfect.

 

Are you able to write that first draft and not worry about how bad it is or are you like me and tend to fix it as you go, never getting far from your beginning?

 

How do you cope with writing that first draft? What are your secrets?

 

Here’s to writing to the end this week, and not worrying about perfection.

 

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

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H is for Hooks – Forktail Dinger, Snapper Slapper, and Googly Worm

“The whole point is to hook people and keep them interested.” – Penelope Ann Miller

Writers are a lot like fly fishermen. They spend a lot of time trying to create something to hook the reader (or fish) and pull them in.

Fly fishermen can spend days trying to create the perfect lure, the one that will catch that elusive fish in the pond. They get their inspiration from nature. That’s why some lures resemble insects.

As writer’s we don’t have too far to go to get help with our own writing. Just as the fly fisherman looks to the world around him, we can look to the books we love. What did that author do that pulled you in and how can you take that trick and make it your own?

Because a hook is so unique, it is often the first piece of the puzzle in developing a writer’s voice.

If you are going to open by introducing a character, make him charismatic, someone the reader will be drawn to and want to spend more time with.

  • Shock the reader with a first scene that ends in a way that the reader didn’t expect and can’t put down.
  • Ask a question the reader will stay up late to find the answer.
  • Hook the reader fast. If you can’t hook the reader by that first scene, do it at least by the end of that first chapter.

This should be a great week for writing, as long as you have air conditioning.

What have I been reading? – Just finished Miss Me When I’m Gone by Emily Arsenault. It was an arc I won from Librarything recently so will have a review on there and Goodreads soon. It is the story of two women, friends from college. One a successful author working on her second book when she falls down the stairs of a library after a book signing. Turns out it wasn’t an accident. Her first book was called Tammyland. All about the women of Nashville and country music but mostly about Tammy Wynette and the similarities between her and the fictional author’s mother who had been killed when the fictional author was a child. The protagonist of the story is a pregnant journalist and is asked to be her friend’s literary executor to finish the second book. She feels compelled to complete the project before she delivers, knowing she won’t have time after the baby is born. While questioning the same people her friend interviewed, notebooks and a couple laptops are stolen and though she knows she may be asking questions of a murderer, she continues. The first book I’ve read by this author and I would read more.

How is your writing project going and what have you been reading lately?

If you’re in the Des Moines area, the next AVID author event is Meg Cabot, Thursday July 10th at 7:00pm, Hoyt Sherman Place.

Virginia

 

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Sacrifice – S.J. Bolton

There are maybe five authors I read that I can’t wait for their next book. Whenever I find a new author to add to that list, I get excited. S.J. Bolton is one of them. Awakening was the first S.J. Bolton novel I’d ever read. It involved snakes. Lots of snakes and a female protagonist who as a veterinarian, gets pulled into helping investigate the deaths because she is one of the few people who is an expert on poisonous snakes. The story starts when she is called to the neighbors to get a poisonous snake out of a babies crib. Within a short time, several residents die and there are a few close calls. The snakes involved in the deaths are not from the area.  It was a mystery with a little paranormal twist and I loved it.

I finally found the first book – Sacrifice. It too is a mystery with a dash of paranormal story line. This one has a female protagonist who is a medical doctor who delivers babies at the local hospital on the Shetland Islands.

It starts out with her digging a grave for her horse and finding a body. At first they think it is an archaeological burial because the body had been buried in peat that causes it to be more preserved than you would expect with a normal burial. When she finds an engraved wedding ring, she suspects the body is more recent. The story goes into a local legend about an all male race of trolls with special abilities. The mothers are, of course, sacrificed for the cause but no one will believe her. It looks like all the prominent men in the area are involved, including the police and her own father-in-law and husband.  Ms. Bolton weaves the story line in a way that you believe.

Bolton is great at pacing. She tells just enough to reel you in and when it gets to the scary stuff she draws it out just enough to make you suffer. Because you never know exactly what is happening, I would call her books more mystery than horror. There is always a puzzle to piece together right to the very end.

There are a couple more for me to read and with my pile of to-be-read growing steadily, I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets another out before I get her current stuff read.  If you like your mysteries with a little bump in the night, you need to check out S.J. Bolton.

 
 

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