Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing In My Car... With Patricia Sands

Good morning, y'all!

In today's Writing in my Car, author Patricia Sands talks about starting her writing journey -- the surprises, the excitement, how you even change your schedule to make it a part of your life.

Patricia is the author of The Bridge Club. What is this novel about, you ask? For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been "one for all and all for one." Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the "zoomer" years, their connection never falters. As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue. After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their "SOS".

Here's Patricia!

My first novel, The Bridge Club, was self-published in September through iUniverse and has received very positive feedback.

I’ve been a storyteller forever through photography and also in my career as an educator. One particular story had been simmering in my mind for years and five years ago I sat down to write it … just for fun. The story was about my “bridge club”, ten friends that have been together for over 40 years and some of the life experiences we shared.

As assorted people took a look at my writing, I was encouraged to consider approaching the story with a view to publishing. This suggestion created a shift in my perspective as I was not interested in publishing a memoir. Turning to fiction, the number of characters switched from ten to eight and although most of the issues in the story did occur, the details and circumstances in many of them have been altered. The characters became composites of real people.

Research was essential as I made certain my facts were correct. Hours were spent talking with people, listening to their stories and fabricating them into the novel I was crafting.

Never an early riser I found myself waking with a start at 6:30 in the morning, compelled to get to my computer and record the thoughts swirling through my mind. I became totally consumed by the story as it took on a life of its own. One of the great surprises of writing was to discover how characters actually began to direct my writing at times, taking me places I had not planned to go! I had heard other writers speak of this but never really believed it.

After four years I took a deep breath, decided I had completed a first draft, and handed the manuscript to my brother to read. He is an author and co-author of some amazing textbooks – used across Canada in high schools - and a proofreader extraordinaire … and I knew he would be brutally honest.

If you ask any writer, I believe most would confirm it is extremely difficult to declare a manuscript is finished, complete, needs no more work. There comes a time when you have to try to let go. Honestly, another aspect of this process is preparing yourself to let others read what you have written – I felt it was akin to taking my clothes off in public – and at my age, that’s particularly scary!

My brother took the manuscript on an Alaskan cruise he and his wife had planned. He said he wouldn’t contact me until they returned ten days later. On the day I knew I would hear from him I opened my e-mail with trepidation. What if he suggested I stick to photography? His subject line read “I loved it!” Whew!

From there I first followed the traditional query letter route. How I ended up self-publishing and that part of the journey is another 500 words – at least!

Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! Please visit Patricia over at her blog to read interviews and essays about the writing life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writting In My Car... With Adam Santo

For many of us, sharing your art with the world can be a bit scary. Many creatives (myself included) are natural introverts, observing the world, then sneaking back to our notebooks to make something of what we've seen. We all handle this natural ability in different ways, and in today's Writing In My Car, novelist Adam Santo shares his experience.

Adam is the author of Temperature: Dead and Rising. What is this novel about, you ask? When Sally Mertill is driving a carload of her friends back to Green Mountain Falls after visiting Pike's Peak they'll careen off the side of the mountain. With no guardrails it's not surprising there are no survivors. And yet within two days a not altogether bad fellow named Bocnic Drewings will call upon the metal drawer where her body awaits autopsy, open it, and lead her on the adventure of a lifetime; well, that's if she'd have survived the accident. The powers that be have chosen Sally to become undead and she's the only other person time eternal who's been given the power to raise the dead; and control them. When leaders of rival undead clans find out, they either want to control or destroy her, which makes Sally staying undead a bit of a challenge.

The funny part about the writing experience, for me, is the shyness. It is fine to people-watch and to find ideas hidden in everyday life, however, does that come from being an introvert? Not wanting to interact with the ones around or the world at large? Could be. So many little things in life draw ideas up in each of us to use. Whether it is writing, drawing, making movies and shows, creating a bestselling toy for children, or the next presentation to the board of directors (ok, those last two might be stretching it) shows what we notice in the world without consciously knowing these strangers will one day become a part of your creative genius.

At some point in a person’s life they feel the need to write a book. Be it their own manuscript or fixing someone else’s novel to give it the added flare it apparently lacked. It’s not a bad thing to think writing would be easy – it is hard when you create a world these make-believe characters will live in. What is harder still? Publishing said work yourself.

Once the book was completed I felt I had done something great and I still do. What I did not know was how I could sell it. Sure, there are plenty of sites out there explaining how to sell it but for myself it meant stepping outside of the house to do it.

I have found out the hard way that writing ended up being the easy thing to do. It is the promoting that still kills me. I have never enjoyed standing before a crowd to speak, never mind having to “pimp” my novel at the same time. You want to know something? I had a hard time explaining the simple concept of my book to my wife and she was an audience of one!

I have been asked to be a guest columnist here (Thank you Rachel) to my utter reluctance expressed early on to her. Don’t take these words wrong. The reluctance came from writing outside my box; something not related to my manuscripts. This is the first time I have been asked to take on such an endeavor. The thing to remember is that you will fail at something given enough time and that’s alright. I think that last sentence summed it up about how I feel each time a letter on the keyboard is pressed.

My comfort zone at being a secluded gnome is broken. Because of this I have agreed to speak at book club meeting for Friends of the Library that meet once a month and invite authors as guest speakers, such as myself.

Adversity will be present at every turn if you let it. This is a mighty first step against it, which will lead to the speaking engagement scheduled for the end of February 2011. We will see how strong I am after that encounter. I am told it normally is a small crowd of six or eight people. All I can suggest to anyone is “just try it”. The reward comes from doing something you’re not used to instead of be concerned about failing before you start. Enjoy life with flare.

Thanks for sharing, Adam! Please pop over to Adam's blog for more of his musings and book reviews.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Today from Gawker:

[Inquirer, mugshot via Philadelphia Inquirer]

An illiterate deaf man who knows no sign language being prosecuted in Pennsylvania. His linguistic deficit is either his biggest problem—particularly for participating in his own defense—or the greatest loophole in his criminal career, depending who you ask.

Juan Jose Gonzalez Luna's defense lawyer believes his client was raised in an isolated town in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Luna met few (if any) other deaf people, and did not learn to read or write. He uses ad-hoc pantomiming to communicate. Though Luna is intellectually competent, his public defense lawyer has "a really hard time" communicating "even the most basic things. To try to describe legal procedure to someone like that is virtually impossible."

Read more here.

Writing In My Car... With Kevin Klehr

Sometimes, you have to return to your writing more than twice to get it right. In today's Writing in my Car, novelist Kevin Klehr shares his journey to publish his novel Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

What is this novel about, you ask? Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They're not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel. They are soon drawn into the world of theatre - Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world. Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Let's welcome novelist Kevin!

The first few years
About ten years ago I started writing a fantasy novel on Thursday nights, as that was the only free time I had (My partner, Warren, had started playing tennis on those nights).

It was handwritten in a journal and called Staging Life. I had written about five chapters when a friend bought me a 'How to Write' book for my birthday. (As an aside, writing was a passion of mine as a kid, so rediscovering it as a hobby in my 30s was a blessing)

The first paragraph of this How To book clearly told me that if I was writing without my plot being clearly laid out, to stop right away! I made a chapter by chapter story outline, but this totally killed the creative process. The journal was then left in the bottom drawer.

Several years later a young man captured our hearts (no, not in the way you're thinking). He was charming, charismatic, and just needed a little help in learning to love himself as a gay man. Warren secretly lent him my unfinished manuscript, which he returned to me enthusiastically. He demanded I finish it. So I did. Within months a novella was born.

The first draft was taken to an assessor who loved my style of writing, but pointed out some major flaws. Like the main character in The Great Gatsby, my protagonists watched drama unfold around them, but were not directly effected. Secondly, she thought that the love interest between my two main characters which happened out of the blue in the last chapter, should be the main focus of the whole novel.

Thirdly, she didn't like my first chapter. A fantasy telling of Warwick and Allan's life up to the point to which they die. She found two problems with this. Firstly, the real world was as fanciful as the Afterlife. No clear distinction between the two realities. Secondly, she made me realise that how they died should be one of the mysteries that should be told in flashback. Keep the audience guessing!

One thing she did like was the fact that my main character was sometimes inappropriate in social circumstances. She told me to make this his main personality flaw and pointed me toward Joe Keenan's My Blue Heaven. In her words she said 'turn up the 'tude'.' This was very good advice.

I kept using her as my assessor for two more drafts, finally taking the novella to novel length. Eight drafts later the book was finally born.

Along the way there were two mistakes I made that might be worth mentioning for young players. The first I didn't go through with, but it's so important to note.

One publisher was interested in my book. When I looked over the contract, one thing that stood out was my lack of control over my own copyright. I've worked in broadcast media, so copyright law is something I know a lot about. In this contract, not only did they want exclusive world rights, they also wanted me to write to them and seek their permission if I wanted to write anything in the future. Plus, only they would have the right to end the contract, even if I desperately wanted to.

A lawyer pointed out how their payment of royalties was far below the industry standard. Once I asked this publisher a few questions, then they dropped me straight away.

My second mistake was using a different assessor for one of my drafts. One publisher (in fact, many) loved my writing style but not the uncommercial nature of my book. They suggested a few ideas on making the plot more sellable, after only reading the first chapter. So I decided to use them to assess my novel (as a backdoor way of getting them to read the whole manuscript).

This is my mistake...I rewrote the book taking on their ideas, but they didn't really work in the context of the whole story. My partner suggested that I simply should have sent the most recent draft, but I was desperate for a publishing deal that I rewrote using their ideas. Never do this! Five hundred dollars later they criticized the novel in its new form, making me wish I'd listened to my husband.

Even my psychic (don't laugh, she's extremely good) looked at me sternly while we were talking about something completely different, and asked "What did I do with that woman!" She was referring to my original assessor. I said that I was just getting another opinion to which she replied "She understands what you're writing about!" This all happened before I got the book assessment from hell.

I shot and edited the Book Trailer in January, but finally, nine months later its out. It was suppose to be out back in May, but they had problems with my cover design. I'm just glad its finally available.

So if you're into love stories, the afterlife, theatre and film, characters from different time periods, bitchyness and comedy, please check out the book trailer and the first chapter from my profile. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Cyber-Friend

Good morning!

Like Young Adult novels? Then, go on over and say 'hey there' to Karly Kirkpatrick, YA novelist at her blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Feature: You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I love stories that can't possibly be true but they ARE! And I love sharing those stories with friends and family. And I'd like to share them with you. So I shall.

First up:

This politician in the Philippines was assassinated on New's Years Day. The screw: he was taking a picture of his family at the time, and caught the assassin in his shot. THE MURDERER IS HOLDING UP A GUN IN THE FAMILY PHOTO!

Crazy. right? Chilling, isn't it?

Gawker has the full story and that creepy family photo.

Writing in My Car... With Deborah Brodie

I've been asked several times what inspired me to write A Quiet Storm [and now, The View from Here. For each work, that source of inspiration differs while getting it down on paper and using it shape a story remains the challenge.

Today, novelist Deborah Brodie talks about inspiration and how it moves her through the machinations of novel-writing. So. let's welcome Deborah, author of The Path That Gets Brighter and the recent In His Love.

What is In His Love about, you ask? The book tells the story of Sarah, one of the youngest sisters of the congregation at Anchorage Place, a refuge for abandoned children. While running to the love of her Lord, she runs from the romance of a lover, fearful that she cannot love both equally. Sarah must contend with religion and surrender her fear before she can pursue love. The story reveals whether it is possible for Sarah to give into her desire for Daryl while giving her heart to the lover of her soul, and if her relationship with Jesus will survive as she wrestles with her faith. Will she ever be able to fully believe In His Love?

Here's Deborah!

I was excited when Rachel extended the opportunity for me to describe the process of my writing.

When any artist talks about their talent or craft, I believe it all begins with inspiration. One of the unique qualities of inspiration is it is different for everyone, and yet it is found everywhere and in virtually anything. For some, inspiration comes from a beautiful sunset, or perhaps a tranquil landscape. For others, they are inspired by other people’s accomplishments, and whatever obstacles they have endured and overcome.

For me, inspiration comes in the seasons of life; both good and bad. It is in the changing seasons of life that we learn most about ourselves, and others for that matter. These moments become my canvas. Hardships and obstacles battle it out through the characterization of heroes and villains. I become the author and architect of circumstances transforming the abstract to art; the subjective to objective.

Once I become inspired and a story unfolds, I begin to develop the characters and expand on the theme and plot by doing chapter and story outlines. This simply means transcribing my thoughts and ideas onto paper, and putting them in a chronological order I would like the story to follow…at this point.

My writing tends to be from start to finish and I always write on pad and paper before copying it into the computer. I have learned from experience that while this is burdensome it protects my work if technology fails me!

Believe it or not, this is the easy part of writing, because I have the opportunity to express my emotions while engaging my imagination to create a virtual reality of entertainment for others to experience.

Once the story is complete it goes off to meet the scrupulous eyes of the publisher where it holds the fate of being dissected and categorized.

For me, an editor can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. I have recently learned that there must be a balance in the maintaining of the integrity of your story, while having the flexibility to change, and adapt new ideas; especially if it comes from a marketing standpoint.

I am currently working on the sequel to my last novel, “In His Love.” It is a trilogy sequel series. While “In His Love,” is a romance, the first sequel to follow will be a mystery/suspense novel. The backdrop takes place in mystical Guatemala, and the climax will leave readers chomping at the bit for more!

We are all a creative people and I encourage you to let yourself be inspired today. Through inspiration you will find your creative outlet, whatever it may be. It is an expression of your inner self – the real you.

“If you can see yourself as an artist, and you can see that your life is your own creation, then why not create the most beautiful story for yourself?”
Don Miguel Ruiz – “The Voice of Knowledge”

Please visit Deborah at her blog -- and tell her Rachel sent you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Strange Twisted and So True, She Says

Awesome news!

Mega-reviewer Nina Sankovitch just posted an incredible review of The View from Here on her site Read All Day.

Because others' reviews are copyrighted, here is just a small excerpt of what Nina had to say:

The View From Here is Gaslight turned up a notch by modern life, including current anxieties about having it all (baby, career, husband, good sex, great vacations, big screen TVs). Whereas in the movie Gaslight, the woman can only rely on her own resources to fight off impending insanity, Nicole must free herself from the too-freely prescribed medications and proffered therapies, stripping down to the basics of who she is -- only then can she beat the demons at the door (and in her house).

Please visit Nina's site. And please, please, purchase a copy of The View from Here. You'll like it. I swear!