Writing Diversely

Writing Diversely

Industry event on writing diverse characters.


Emotion As Fuel

Emotion is a basic component of creativity.

As an angsty teen (weren’t we all?) I used poetry as a way to work through and express the confusion, sorrow, and joy that flowed through my adolescent years. 

In my twenties, I used writing to find my way out of the forest of grief that the loss of my first husband landed me in. 

These days, all the ebb and flow of life finds its way into my writing. Poetry is still my go-to for personal emotion, but I’ve turned to novels and short stories for the majority of my art and self-expression.  

Whether the emotion is sorrow or anger, love or sheer joy, it comes out in my writing. Often it is a process, where the emotion is transformed into a character’s reaction to a situation that is nothing like the one I experienced in real life. Whatever the situation, the feelings it engenders tend to be universal.

Everyone experiences loss, betrayal, ambition, in some form. Everyone needs love, security, happiness, in some measure. Tapping into these experiences and desires creates a universal language everyone can relate to and understand. 

The need to communicate those needs is just as universal. For me, writing is the form that communication takes, and emotion is the fuel.

How do you express yourself?


Calendar Profusion

One of the hardest things I do as a writer is balance my calendar.

Does that sound weird? It’s kind of like balancing a tire – putting all the weights in exactly the right places so that the tire doesn’t wobble, and possibly fall off while you’re driving.

In the case of my calendar, that means making sure no one month has too many events, because if it does, my writing (the tires of my career, you might say) will wobble…

and maybe fall off.

Which would be horrible, especially since the writing is my favorite part of this career.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the events too. Signings are great for meeting readers and I enjoy getting to know them. Conferences help me improve my writing and marketing skill sets. Speaking engagements are sort of like the sprinkles on top of the cupcake. Non-essential but colorful and SO fun. The opportunity to engage with new readers is the cake in that cup.

But any event I attend derails writing for a couple of days both before and after it. A three day event can take out an entire week’s worth of words. So, if I go to too many of them… Well, you see the problem.

My current writing calendar looks like this:

This is the dream, anyway…

December is reserved for family and whatever writing I can fit in between times. It’s ambitious, so I know that if I pile in too many events on top of it, the writing won’t get done.

So, right now, I’m looking for balance. How about you?


The #1 Most Important Question for World Building: Guest post from E.J. Wenstrom

From Hogwarts to Middle Earth, the most compelling speculative fiction worlds are not just believable, but make readers want to envelope themselves between the pages and inhabit that world.

…A new story almost always starts not with the world, but with the character.

The devil, as always, is in the details. When it comes to developing a world that comes to life in full color for my novels, I always find myself coming back to a single question:

Why?

For me, a new story almost always starts not with the world, but with the character. Everything else fills out as an extension of that initial voice.

The beginnings of the world, therefore, are filled out to help me understand who the character is and how they became that way. The why behind it all.

When I started writing my first novel, Mud, I started with little more than a mood and voice from the golem who became the story’s antihero.

Why is this character on the streets?

Why is he hiding from everyone in a shuttered building?

Why does his soul feel so desperate?

These are all questions I asked myself at the earliest stages of the story’s development, and the answers heavily influenced the shape of the world that I built around him from those small nuggets.

Incredibly, before I knew it, I had not only a voice but a complicated character rich in history and shrouded in mysteries driven by the nature of the world he inhabited and its terrible history of wars between the gods and rebel demigods determined to overthrow them.

Why does the why method work? It is a flexible approach that you can put to work from any starting point for any project. The open-ended approach prompts your creativity to reach for the answers and encourages deeper thinking automatically.

Most importantly, it inherently encourages logical cause-and-effect worldbuilding that builds an internal logic to your world as organically as a sapling grows from a seed.

So the next time you find yourself stuck in your worldbuilding, keep this simple word in your pocket and give it a try! I hope it stretches your creativity as much as it has mine.

E. J. Wenstrom believes in complicated heroes, horrifying monsters, purple hair dye and standing to the right on escalators so the left side can walk. Her award-winning fantasy series Chronicles of the Third Realm War (City Owl Press) includes Florida Writers Association’s 2016 Book of the Year MUD (#1), RAIN (#0), TIDES (#2), and more books to come.


New Years Plan

No matter what your path in life, from where you are standing, you can look in either direction, but you can only move forward. Still, it helps sometimes, to stop and consider. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about past, present and future.

From where you are standing, you can look in either direction, but you can only move forward.

Past:

I started writing – seriously writing – about nine years ago now. My first book took me three years to write, and I thought about it for at least a year before I started putting anything on paper. Before that I wrote, and shelved, two other novels over the course of five years.

A lot of stuff changed during that time. I went from having two children at home through their teenage years. I went from Mom to Grandmom, stay-at-home to career woman, student to teacher. And we moved several times, a couple of them from one coast to the other. It was an eventful decade and a half.

There were some rough professional challenges that led me to take a hiatus between the second of those early works and Descent, the first novel I published. But other than the lessons I learned from the experience, I’m content to leave it in the past. Suffice it to say that those lessons made the leap to indie publishing easier than it might otherwise have been.

Present: 

Today, a lot has changed, but the most important things remain.

My girls are grown and I am enjoying being a grandmother to six beautiful little ones. I left teaching, a career I thought would see me through to retirement. The reasons are myriad, and very few have anything to do with the actual art and science of teaching itself. Those reasons are best left to another rant post. In both sides of my life, personal and professional, the love remains, and that is a blessing all its own.


Some might say I’ve retired. I just call it switching careers.

I have eleven books published and I am proud of them. Each one has helped me expand my knowledge base and polish my skill set. I’ve learned that some things can be delegated, even in an owner/operator business like mine. I know enough, now, to be able to give back to the writing community that nurtures me, and that feels good.

Future:

Today, I’m staring at 2019 and wondering how to make the best use of the 356 days it has waiting for me. I know what I’d like to have happen. I’d like to find a good balance between the personal and the professional. (I’ve been seeking that one for a long time with varying degrees of success.)

I’d like to build a profitable writing career. I already love the art of writing. Now I need to master the science of marketing. After all, what good is a book if it doesn’t get read? Kind of circumvents the purpose.

I’d like to succeed in my plan to write seven new books this year, and have a special each month for my readers. I’m working on a plan to make those two things happen and I feel pretty good about it.

I know it will take discipline and perseverance to see the plan succeed, but I’m OK with that. After all, it’s mostly about the journey, and so far, my journey has been pretty awesome.

C.L. Roman

C.L. (aka Cheri) Roman, writes fantasy and sci-fi with a paranormal edge. You can find her here and with her Novel Bunch on Facebook. Cheri and her ever-patient husband live in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua, and Pye, the invisible cat.

The work so far.

A New Start

Hi there.

Remember me? That author you signed up to see posts from about a million years ago?

The sci-fi and fantasy writer?

The one with the cat?

Yeah, that’s me. Can’t blame you if you didn’t remember right away. It’s been a minute since I posted. The official reboot began last week when I put up a guest post by the awesome Leslie Halpern. Her post was the first one in a new posting schedule that I hope you will enjoy. It’s going to work like this:

Every Thursday a new post will go up. Because there are so many stellar authors out there, and I thought you’d like to hear from a few of them, I’ve offered guest spots to a wide range of sci-fi and fantasy authors. So I’ll be posting at least once a month, on the second Thursday, but the rest of the month it will be a guest author.

At least, that’s the plan.

I have the schedule mostly filled through November, but there are a lot of open slots after that. If you have an author you’d like to hear from, drop me a line in the comments. Come to that, if there’s a topic you’re dying to know more on, let me know. I’m always open to suggestions.

This represents a sort of reboot for this blog. I started it a while back when I set up the website. With it, I’m hoping to connect to readers and spread the word about my books and the indie world in general.

I hope you’ll join me.


Guest Post From Val Penny: Why We Love To Write Crime Novels

People like crime, at least in novels! Often, I meet dentists and bank managers with clever plot ideas, or nurses who read every crime novel they can lay their hands on. If I visit a writing group, there are always members keenly producing new murderous plots. Lawyers and convicts show equal enthusiasm for this genre. For those who want to write a crime novel, there are several reasons to want to do so. Here are a few of them.

Emotional Release

Often, those who write crime novels find an emotional release in their craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with everyday life. The cathartic attraction of writing can be decisive.

Some crime authors tell of poor sleep patterns, punctured by nightmares that are repaired when they start to write. Others, panic, constantly scanning doorways for signs of danger. The stiffening fear that afflicts them resolves when they are busy writing crime.

The Story-Telling Urge

The sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate the writer. Once an author begins to exercise their creative muscles, they often find that they run into stories demanding to be told. The stories demand to be told and will not stop coming.

For Companionship

It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch. They are certainly hard-working. The pressure of producing a book a year is intense, yet they never seem to turn their backs on fun. If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers’ convention, do take it. They are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.

An Outlet for Aggression

Most crime-writers will tell you that they are good company because they channel all their belligerent thoughts into their stories, so in real life, the authors are meek and mild. It is not always true, but I can confirm the crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. Crime writers can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.

The Thrill of Research

I can personally confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. It is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong. This information is most useful and helpful. Indeed, when you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted!

Author Bio

author pic 2Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. She is now writing the sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’.

 

 

 

 

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until EdinburghHunter's Chase book cover is safe.

 DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

To find out more about Hunter’s Chase and its awesome author, check out the links below:

www.authorvalpenny.com

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Friends of Hunter’s Chase

myBook.to/Hunter’sChase


Time for an update

Well, seeing as my last post was over two months ago, I thought maybe I should check in.

Recent events: After presenting at the FWA Focus Day down in Fort Myers, I dove head first into finishing the rough draft on Gaia Rising. It went surprisingly fast and I completed it in record time. Or so I thought. My awesome beta readers soon told me otherwise, so the second draft is now underway. I’m still hoping to get it to my editor by the second week in October and get to work on the second book in the series, but we shall see. Favorite beta reader comment? “Somebody needs to die.” (Thanks, MJ!) Her comment, and the input from the others, sent me in a whole new direction and I think the book will be better for it. Then, of course, there was Irma. I’m still praying for South Florida, the Keys, Puerto Rico and the islands. Things here were nothing in comparison and I am counting myself blessed. If you are so inclined, there are a number of organizations working to help folks recover. Unicef, The Red Cross, and Glad are just a few.  

Current activities: I’ve got most of the swag completed for IBF 2017, which I will be attending this weekend. I am so looking forward to reconnecting with authors and readers. IBF is always wonderful because of the professionalism and expertise of the organizers Tawdra Kandle and Mandie Stevens. But I can’t lie, one of the biggest attractions is getting to hang with my bestie, Tracie Roberts. There are so many awesome authors attending IBF (shout out to Robbie Cox, Bridgette O’Hare, Yvonne Mason, Heather Hildenbrand, and many, many more). If you are going to be in the Orlando area, you should definitely drop in for the free signing on Saturday. If you have the weekend free, buy a ticket so you can attend the reader panels.

Future plans: The next big thing is to finish that second draft of Gaia Rising, but then, the holidays. I love fall in Florida. It gets less humid, the bugs aren’t as thick and in November, Christmas Made in the South comes to visit. One of my all-time favorite non-writing events, my first stop will be the ornament artists. There are several that come every year and they make the prettiest Christmas decorations. Then I will definitely have to head over to Pretty Baby Naturals. He makes the best organic moisturizing cream I’ve ever used. And it smells like lemon heaven. Can’t wait!

So, how has 2017 been treating you? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from you.


Of Lesson Plans and Word Counts

It’s finally starting to sink in.

I will not be going back to AC this fall.

That means no lesson plans to prepare, no faculty meetings, no bulletin boards or syllabi to create, no graphic organizers to send to the copy room. No professional development classes, no parent/teacher night.  It also means no new, fresh young faces staring back at me in a strange mix of anticipation and apprehension. 

Yeah, I’m going to miss that last one.

And I’m not going to lie. It feels weird. I’ve given the last ten years of my life to educating high schoolers. The profession has provided me some beautiful highs, and some tear stained lows. It has been both the best and the worst job I’ve ever had and, if I’m honest, I have to admit I’m going to miss it, at least a little.

I’m going to miss the students: Luke, who always sounded like he was asking a question, and Megan, with her breathtaking artistic talent. Wesley, who almost never came to class, but always managed to pull it out at the last minute. Olivia and her vast stock of wisdom and kindness. Dani, who is so beautiful, inside and out. And Dusty, Destiny, Jaymie, Bailey, Skye, William, Conner, Ethan, Cesar, Kylani and…The list goes on, far too many to mention them all here. As they do every year, the students go on with their lives. Our paths will likely never cross again, and that is as it should be. I hope I helped them. I hope they remember me fondly.

Hold on. I need a tissue.

I’m going to miss my colleagues. Tracie and her endless font of wisdom and creativity. Becky S. and her love of all things HP. Vivian and her head on approach to pretty much everything. Becky T. and her unique take on the world. Not to mention Tina, Anne, Sara, Debra, Cynthia, Rob, Jackson, Scott, Bernie, Amy, Shelli – and the list goes on, and on. I am so thankful that I don’t have to lose any of them. (Thank you FB.)

Because of these folks and so many more, it was a good ten years. There are moments when I wonder if I’ve made the right decision – and then I sit down at my desk and the words begin… And I know that I’m in the right place now, just as surely as I was in the right place for that decade of my life.

This past weekend I was privileged to present at a writing Focus day for the Florida Writers Association. It was glorious. I got to speak on something I am passionate about to people who wanted to learn what I had to teach. The teacher in me joined hands with my inner writer and the resulting happy dance is still going on. I’m thankful that the bridge isn’t too long, and it’s in good repair.

So, if I’m looking back with a bit of wistfulness, I’m also looking forward in anticipation. Feeling one doesn’t cancel out the other.

How about you? What changes are you making these days? I’d love to hear about them.


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Current WIP

Gaia's Rebellion
88% Complete
70,000 of 80,000 words