Archive for the ‘#writingwednesday’ Tag

Discover Writers Can So Outline!   3 comments

There’s a myth that you are either a plotter or a pantser as a writer.

Plotters outline. They know where they’re going before they even start. Many of them know exactly each step they’re going to take in the journey to THE END before they write the first word. They are generally plot-driven. Occasionally, they might deviate from their intended course if a plot element presents itself that must be included, but they like order and so any deviation is a carefully-thought-out deliberate choice.

Pantsers thrive on spontaneity and discover. They tend to be character-driven. After introducing themselves to their characters, they let the characters navigate. Discovery writers seek to be surprised by the words as they fall from their fingers, discovering new insights about their characters and their world as they go along. At best, they sketch a few guidelines in advance, maybe have an idea of what the end point will look like, but generally, they don’t want to be constrained by an outline.

Related imageI am definitely a discovery writer when I draft. Even writing a series where I know what the change points of each book are going to be, I generally don’t want to know how my characters intend to get there. That would be boring and I suspect self-defeating. It would feel too much like work to me and a large reason why I write is to entertain myself. If you can produce a good book that way (and who am I to argue with the likes of Stephen King), more power to you, but I prefer to allow my creativity to take lead. I get a better draft that way.

But that doesn’t mean I never outline.

What? How can I say that? You’re either an outliner or a discovery writer. You can’t be both. Right?

I outline after the draft is finished.

Writing 100,000 words for a book is often a series of sprints. I tend to work on a scene at a time. I don’t always work in chronological order. Sometimes I work on scenes later in the book before I work on scenes at the start of the book. I may sketch out a few guideposts in advance, maybe identify some oncoming conflict, but overall, I let the characters lead me through their lives and tell me their story.

When I complete a draft, I then write a chapter-and-scene outline of the completed manuscript. This is where plotters are frowning in confusion. Why would I do that? It makes no sense to them.

Bear with me.

I’ve just written roughly a 100,000 words that are like a puzzle that still needs to be fitted together. I need to step back and see how that puzzle looks when all the pieces are put together, and a scene-by-scene outline lets me do that. I assign one bullet point per scene, and then I can see the whole puzzle in a few pages.

Where are the rises and falls, where is the climax, where is the inciting incident or incidents, where is the resolution? Is there a ton of backstory, delivered too early? Is there not enough conflict?

Image result for image of a road mapWhen you look at your book from a macro perspective, you can see big-picture flaws like abandoned plot threads, unnecessary scenes, missing or unbalanced elements, the place a faulty ending really began to go wrong, etc. I use different highlighting to note these types of problems on my outline so I fix them early on.

It’s easy for rewrite to become about fixing wording, grammar, punctuation and countless other details. Those errors need to be fixed before publication, but that’s proofreading. Why do that if you might later delete the entire chapter? Evaluating your manuscript via a scene-by-scene outline helps cut out some of that superfluous editing of words and commas.

I have a friend who actually prints out her outlines and cuts them up by scene to pin to a big corkboard, but I prefer to do my moving around on the computer. What if you moved the gas station scene to the next chapter? What if the father’s backstory went after the funeral instead of before? What if you cut chapter twelve, except for the fight?

Where are you heavy or light, long or short? Is your book dark except for a couple of humorous scenes? Okay, but did you realize all those scenes were within a few chapters of each other? Is your book almost all loud moments? Is it too quiet throughout? A big-picture view is invaluable in making these determinations.

Once you see an outline you like, you can revise your manuscript with a plan in mind.

By outlining after writing, discovery writers can draft in the manner that allows our creativity to lead while still making use of the organizational benefits of outlines. Also, you’re not locked into your original outline. You can revise the outline after each major revision, then take a step back to see how things look through a wide-angle lens. Your characters will thank you for the freedom you’ve given them, and your readers will be grateful for the extra steps you took to ensure your story works on every level, big and small.

And, finally, there’s a last advantage to this. If, like me, you give your chapters titles, your outline makes a handy way to do the table of contents. I’ve had author friends complain that this is an annoying process of going back and forth between the written chapter and the front matter and it was for me the first time, but then I recognized I could do the TOC in the outline and it eliminated all that bouncing back and forth. I could just run the two documents and go back and forth between them. I intend to borrow my son’s computer for a night to do this with two screens this time around. I suspect that’ll be so much easier.

You learn as you go along as a writer, and I have certainly had plenty of lessons.

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Posted September 14, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in writing wednesday

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Conflicted Character   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverI like when my characters have internal conflicts — emotional, ethical, or mental struggles — while trying to decide what to do about the external problem that drives the plot. The challenge isn’t a physical thing, but a struggle within the protagonist to make the right choice.

Why?

An external task that’s easy to complete often lacks tension and unpredictability, which leads to boring stories. Adding an emotional roadblock makes the task much more interesting.

What needs to be done is clear, but the protagonist doesn’t want to resolve it that way for personal reasons. Either the right choice has consequences he doesn’t want to suffer, or there is no good choice—whatever he does has serious ramifications.

Internal conflicts require a fully-developed understanding of the character, because these conundrums are based on who the protagonist is because of what has happened to him or her in life, and this past makes it harder for him to make decisions and resolve external challenges. They typically come from the morals and ethics of the character, and, more often than not, choosing one side negates the other, and the protagonist can’t have it both ways.

So how do you set up internal conundrums for your characters?

Just as every real person has a set of morals or values that they like to think they would never violate, a character who is more than a plaster saint must also have lines they won’t cross easily. What a character thinks is true affect his behavior. If the “right” choice contradicts what the protagonist holds as true, he’s going to struggle to make that choice. Nothing builds conflict like some serious soul searching and nothing causes soul searching like being asked to contradict your deeply-held beliefs. That can create a lot of fun conflict to play with in a novel.

How a character believes other people should be treated will also affect how she makes a decision—and sometimes these are much harder to reconcile. For example, if the protagonist believes killing is wrong, any choice that requires killing someone will be met with fierce resistance. Morality is rooted in personal rules and laws about acceptable behavior. But if killing is the only way to save someone she loves or to prevent something terrible from happening, a character might be tempted. Doing a bad thing for a greater good can be a persuasive argument … and a slippery slope to disaster. There’s the post-traumatic stress disorder, the dark night of the soul, the belief that others are judging you for your actions, and that fact that now that killing is on the table, you might not be able to take it back. Think of Rick in the Walking Dead. “We don’t kill the living.” Once they had to kill the living, however, it became easier to justify killing the living, but not any easier to live with the guilt that follows.

Sometimes a character wants to do things he knows are wrong. It could be a lie or a theft. What he wants to do goes against what he knows is right, and a lot of conflict is possible as he tries his best to rationalize why it’s okay to do it anyway. Such ethical slip-and-slides can be compelling problems for your protagonist to regret and have to deal with at the worst possible time in the story.

Fear is a powerful motivator for stepping outside your morality. If a character is focused on survival, he might make bad decisions that go against his morality. Maybe a character who would normally intervene when a woman is being abused chooses not to step out of the shadows because there’s a mob doing the abusing. Being too afraid to do the right thing is a conflict nearly everyone can relate to.

Shame is also a powerful emotion. People can ignore their ethics and personal beliefs if it means saving themselves from a terrible secret being revealed. They’ll act to avoid standing out or looking foolish, which can keep them from doing the right thing at the right time to prevent a problem. Someone who witnessed a crime while doing something embarrassing isn’t likely to tell anyone for fear his own transgression will be exposed.

Internal conflicts are fun opportunities to put the protagonist in the hot seat and force him to decide who he really is and what he really stands for. How far is he willing to go to help a friend? What will he risk? What does he value? His struggles while making a decision shows readers who he really is as a person. And it all makes for a much more interesting story.A Threatening Fragility Front Cover

Character Relationships   Leave a comment

Image result for image of character interactionCharacter building is a crucial step in the creative writing process. If you tend to be a plot-driven writer, you may become too focused on creating and developing isolated character profiles and overlook one of the most crucial aspects of character-building: the relationships that exist between these characters. Yet, it is the interconnectedness of characters that provides the framework for fictional society. A fictional world would collapse if not for the networks of people and creatures who hold it up.

Writing believable character relationships requires some thought about how real relationships work. What motivates people to interact harmoniously or to be confrontational? How do those interactions take place?

The best characterizations come from observing actual human interactions. People are very distinctive and these differences form the attraction that draws us together and forms lasting bonds.

Authentic dialogue can divulge a wealth of information about the character’s personality and feelings towards another character. It is a way of bringing the malleable relationships between these characters to life. Unless you’ve trapped your characters in an elevator or a cross-country car ride, avoid information dump dialogue. You just don’t need to tell your readers so much about a character in a huge slug. Moreover, you also should try to recreate verbal interactions from real life down to its finest details. Readers want authentic dialogue, but the dialogue should always play a role in developing plot, characters or character relationships.

Aim to write dialogue that is purposeful. Think of dialogue that incorporate actions (whether it be a lingering glance or a re-adjusting of the collar) or dialogue that intrigues the reader and prompts questions.

 

To a certain extent, it is hard to write characters who are not based on people you know. While you don’t want to suck your friends into your make-believe world, you can borrow their habits, worldviews, and politics. Even better is if you can find something ironic in that person’s character, you can create a truly believable character. For instance, an outwardly cynical person who has a hidden tenderness — for cats or birds, for example — is much more believable because nobody is completely consistent in all of their ways.

Character relationships lacking tension can feel flat and one-dimensional. Characters shouldn’t be constantly fighting each other — even enemies sometimes find common ground, but no two people can interact without their flaws occasionally causing conflict with those around them.

Ah, flaws! We wish we could write perfect human beings, but they’re so boring. A character who is slow to trust others romantically might have had a damaging romantic experience in his past. This allows you to leak some backstory into your character’s interactions in the plot of the novel. Character traits that impact individuals and the people around them negatively also create tension.

 

 

Even characters who are similar should have traits that cause friction in some situations. Right now, I’m writing characters in Transformation Project who see things differently from one another when it comes to handling food distribution. Will they come to a compromise or will they fail to prepare for coming martial law because they can’t agree?

Just as the plot of a novel should show development, so should character relationships. While some relationships may be fairly fixed, primary intimate relations should ebb, flow and change. In journalism, we ask 5 “w” questions that can be used to tweak character relationships. “Who, what, why, where and when”.

By tweaking the 5 W’s you can explore the cause and effect and make sure that any momentous change reverberates through your characters’ primary relationships. You should resist the temptation for characters to instantly like each other because that skips the interesting parts of getting to know each other. The problem with characters instantly liking each other is that this skips the interesting elements of character introductions. You can create curiosity and narrative tension out of the fact each character is still somewhat unknown to the other.

It’s entirely possible, of course, that two characters feel instant physical attraction, but building connection through multiple encounters makes this attraction feel earned. This creates curiosity for the reader and provides a means of narrative tension.

Jazz thinks Shane is sexy, but she also knows he’s dangerous and that isn’t attractive for her. While his gentle moments compel her, she is repelled by his anger and secretiveness. Will something change later? I’m not telling except to say that other men are much more interested in her than Shane is currently. He seems very determined to remain single, even though he admits Jazz makes him warm.

Know your characters inside out. Know things you don’t share with the reader. It’s easier to create believable relationships when you have a multi-dimensional understanding of each of your characters. Note essential facts about each character, even if many won’t get mentioned in your story. Knowing more about each character than you’ll need in the final story will keep characters vivid in your mind’s eye. This will translate to the page, especially when you describe character relationships and are able to bring in your characters’ most crucial attributes and differences.

Literature is replete with believable, engrossing, developing relationships. If a specific type of character relationship is central to your story (such as a life-altering friendship or romance), find books where these feature and make a summary of the course of the relationship. Take notes on characters’ first interactions and their last. Take notes too on any disagreements in the course of the book and why they arise. How do the characters’ personalities complement each other? What differences created the conflicts.”They have history”. Three words that explain the air of distance and awkwardness lingering between two individuals. It’s important to remember that your characters have a history that often transcends the boundaries of the story at hand.

“They have history”. Three words that explain the air of distance and awkwardness lingering between two individuals. It’s important to remember that your characters have a history that often transcends the boundaries of the story at hand.sk yourself, how do your characters’ pasts intertwine with one another?

In Transformation Project, Shane is returning home after being gone for a long time, during which his former girlfriend married his brother. There’s still feelings between these two now-grown teen lovers, but there’s also this new dynamic because Cai is involved in the relationship. Meanwhile, Jazz (and others) have come into Shane’s life to draw his feelings in another direction. Even though Transformation Project is not a romance, I use these tensions to make the character interactions more interesting, more like real life in a small town. I mined some interactions from a small Alaska town from 30 years ago, so I know the intertwined relationships between the two brothers and Marnie are authentic.

It sets up my readers to ask the “why” question. What happened to make Shane so closed off? Why doesn’t he still love the woman he was entranced with for seven years? Once the questions are out there floating in the minds of the reader, I gradually interweave some backstory into my tale.

Remember, relevant backstory is a finite resource. Don’t blow your wad too soon in your story. You don’t want to use up your resource. Just tease enough to keep your readers engaged.

Character motivation directly stems from character backstory. You should explore the ways backstory causes characters to clash, but you should also explore their disparate motivations and examine the potential conflicts that may arise.

Ask yourself, how do the drives and standpoints of each character differ? If a group of people in your story are working together, but end up having vastly conflicting final goals, how will this damage their ability to cooperate?

Discover what motivates your characters, then examine the ways in which those motivations support or undermine each other.

Character evolution is the key to any good story. Sometimes your protagonist is changing the world and other times he’s the one doing t he changing. Character arcs are ultimately the whole point of fiction. The plot is merely a backdrop to what the characters are doing.

Moreover, examine not only how each character progresses through their journey, but also how those journeys intertwine with one another.

Consider how changes in one character’s mindset impact their interactions with other characters. Explore how dynamics between different characters shift over time because of such changes.

Perhaps two sworn enemies become friends when they realize that they have more in common than they thought. Perhaps these two friends revert back to being enemies when an act of betrayal breaks their trust in one another and consequently forces them apart.

Ask yourself: What lessons do the characters (and the reader) learn from each of those encounters? How do their encounters with other characters shape their own transformations as a person?

Don’t ignore your minor characters. Though less prominent than your major characters, they still play a vital role because they ensure the integrity of your novel or piece of fiction. The exchanges that occur between them may be slight, subtle and seemingly trivial, yet these small exchanges become necessary nuances in your story.

If your story world is a lattice, then the minor characters are the final strips of wood that lock everything into place and ensure the overall structure’s cohesion. The purpose of minor characters for the reader is not to know their stories; it’s to know that they each have a story, to know that they are as much a part of the story world as your major characters.

So let every encounter between your characters be important. Remember that it’s when you as the writer understand the significance of character relationships that you are able to most profoundly understand the characters themselves.

It’s time to get writing and get exploring! A world of meaningful character interactions awaits.

Self Editing   2 comments

I’m in the editing part of my latest book and so I’m thinking about editing all of the time. A lot of writing gurus claim you shouldn’t edit your own writing … that you really can’t because you simply won’t see your own mistakes. I disagree.

Image result for image of manuscript editingSelf-editing is a valuable skill that will help you produce better work, improve the feedback you receive, and ultimately become a better writer.

Self-editing is not a substitute for working with an editor or proofreader. Getting a fresh, objective set of eyes on your manuscript is one of the best things you can do to improve your writing and its chance of success in the marketplace. There are editors out there for every genre and every budget, so please consider engaging one.

But, before you do, it’s well worth polishing your manuscript as much as you can before sending it to editors, beta readers, and proofreaders. Self-editing will save time and money by enabling your editor to work with fewer distractions. In a “clean’ manuscript, mistakes are more likely to stand out. And, in self-editing, you will become more aware of your weak points and less likely to make the same errors again.

“Editing” is an unfortunately broad term that covers everything from organizing the overall structure of a narrative to picking up minute spelling and punctuation errors. They’re actually very different tasks, and they require different approaches and, in many cases, different people to perform them.

So how do you self-edit in your writing process?

There’s a convention wisdom that says you should write a book without editing first. I’ve personally never been able to do that. When I feel a little stuck on the next scene, I often read earlier scenes to get myself going. Well, if I see a misspelling or clunk grammar, I edit that rather than waiting until later. But it is true that you should take a break between writing and editing.

The longer the manuscript, the more time you should take before picking it up again. Obviously, deadlines and other life pressures may make this impractical, but to the extent that it’s within your power, schedule your writing so that you can let it sit anywhere from overnight (for, say, a blog post) to several weeks (for a full-length book).

I suggest enlarging your display to a minimum of 200%. This limits the number of words that you’ll see on your screen at any one time, making you less likely to skim, and literally helps you see errors more clearly. In the same vein, consider changing your font or font color because this makes the manuscript you’ve been staring at for months seem fresh and new and actually helps you see errors.

What are you looking for as you edit your own manuscript? You want to improve it, to bring it closer to reader expectations for your genre. You want to have a clear, well-supported theme and excise extraneous or distracting material.

Content Editing

Get ready to kill some darlings … you know, those distracting subplots or multiple climaxes. I know that’s hard, but really, readers get bored by them.

If the first page—heck, the first sentence—doesn’t compel readers to keep reading, they won’t. I have a writer friend who says he doesn’t really write his first chapter until he’s pretty much done with his book and then he spends almost as much time writing his first chapter as he did writing the rest of the book. I don’t go that far, but I do tend to spend a lot more time on it in the rewriting phase because it is really that important. The first chapter is that crucial. It must give readers a tantalizing glimpse of what to expect from the rest of the book. You’re not done with the draft until it does.

One of the best places to create tension and compel the reader to keep turning pages is by crafting strong chapter endings that leave a little suspense. This doesn’t mean the chapters should simply cut off randomly in the middle of scene … at least not often. There is a place for “open” endings at the end of a chapter. You want the reader to want to find out what comes next. Use your chapter endings to showcase an important insight or action.

 

Copy/Line Editing

At this point, you’ve more or less nailed the content of your manuscript; now you want to be sure that the language flows—that it’s appropriate for your audience, conveys the right feeling, meets grammatical standards, and isn’t confusing or redundant.

Tighten it up! Most writers include more than they really need to in their original draft. Look for ways to shorten sentences and paragraphs. Sentences should be 75% active voice. Do a search for the word ” was ” and consider ways to rephrase sentences that use it as the primary verb. Consider whether you actually need a dialogue tag or if context can make it clear who is speaking.

Watch your metaphors. They’re a lovely thing that adds spice to your writing — unless they used badly, when they might confuse a reader or make them laugh when you don’t intend them to laugh. Double-check your descriptions to make sure that they’re in line with the tone you want to convey.

Check dialogue and action scenes carefully. Make sure that it’s clear who is saying what, either from context, accompanying action or dialog tags (they have their place).  With action scenes, carefully block out the action in your head to make sure that all your characters are where they are supposed to be and that the action is physically possible. You can even draw diagrams if you have to or invite your teenager to the backyard for a mock sword battle.

One of the best ways to “read” your writing objectively is to hear it out loud. Invest in some text-to-speech software or get a friend to read it out loud to you. You can also read it out loud to yourself, but I don’t find that as effective.

Know your limitations. Some of us can do these first parts ourselves because we have a background of editing others’ material. Some of us can’t. There’s one area where most writers really need some editing help.

 

Proofreading

It’s critical to have another person (ideally someone with proofreading experience) look over your work before you publish it. At this point, you’ve read your draft through too many times to be able to reliably catch tiny errors. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it as a proofreader before you send it off to your proofreader or critique partner. The cleaner the copy, the better.

Use your word processing program’s grammar and spell check. No, it won’t catch everything—and many of the things it catches won’t actually be errors—but it will almost certainly find some mistakes you’ve overlooked.

Use the find-and-replace function. You can change your single quotes to double quotes and your double hyphens to em-dashes (so, — to —) in a snap and far more accurately than if you do them one at a time. While you’re at it, replace all your double spaces with a single space—this is in line with current standards and will help the final product look more professional.

Just remember that find-and-replace is a double-edged sword; make sure that you replace only what needs to be replaced. Don’t get lazy and clip “replace all.”

Use the Search function. If you know you have a tendency to make the same errors over and over again (typing “from” for “form,” for example, or spelling a character’s name different ways) do a search for those mistakes and check them one by one to be sure they’re correct.

Print out your work, if possible, and proof on paper. Time-consuming and not always practical, it’s still one of the best ways to see your manuscript in a fresh light.

You Should Self-Edit

These are just a few of the many ways that you can improve your own manuscript before sharing it with readers and editors.

Posted August 23, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in writing wednesday

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When Your Villain Isn’t A Villain   Leave a comment

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Villain: wicked or evil person; someone who does evil deliberately; principal bad character in a film or work of fiction (WordWeb). I’d like to add to that: character who refuses to cooperate with your plot.

When Your Villain isn't a Villain #writerslife #amediting @kayelleallenI started with the definition of villain so we both speak the same language. Mine was named Pietas and he was the bad guy in a book I’d written, edited, rewritten, re-edited, and restarted nine times since 2008.

I picked it back up, considered it, and set it aside again multiple more times before I realized my problem was not with the plot, the hero, or the concept. It was the villain.

My problem was with my immortal Ultra, Pietas.

He would not do any of the things I thought a bad guy should do. Seriously? A villain who doesn’t even swear? What kind of bad guy is that? Although he had used a “bad word” in a book no longer in print, that was me badly writing his character to fit my “vision” of who he was. It felt wrong at the time but I didn’t listen to my gut. I should have.

Like any proper scoundrel, Pietas was cold and inhuman and his followers obeyed him without question. But unlike the usual dastardly-deed-doer, the minions of Pietas followed him out of loyalty. I’d missed something in creating this villain of mine and I didn’t know what it was. I figured I had to either put the book away forever or find a way to make Pietas behave.

Those who know the Bringer of Chaos are laughing right now. Make Pietas do what? Right!

Talking to a writer friend, I lamented about this frustrating villain and how difficult it was to write about a narcissistic sociopath. She laughed in my face and informed me I couldn’t be more wrong. He was not a villain at all, but a passionate, honorable, and humble man who’d been put in a position of being the heavy.

To which I replied, “No, no. I’m talking about Pietas.” Turned out, so was she. Obviously, I had missed far more than I suspected. But what?

With her help, we set up an “interview” where she would ask me questions and I would answer as Pietas in a free association format. This is a thought process in which ideas, words or images suggest other ideas in a sequence. Using what I already knew about him, I would try to figure out how he’d answer. I’d role play. Why not? Pietas was not only the king of the immortals in my story, he was the Gamemaster in the role-playing game they all obsessed over: Peril.

We agreed to record it so I could go back and listen again. She would ask open-ended questions that couldn’t be answered “yes” or “no” which would elicit conversation. We talked for well over an hour. She asked “Pietas” about his father, how he felt about his mother, why he did not get along with his sister, and why he was so hung up on a previous lover. What had happened to him as a child that made him angry now? What did he hope to accomplish?

By the end, I had a far deeper understanding of the immortal king. I got to know the real person and not the superficial character I’d written. What showed up in other books was the person he presented to the world. In reality, the psychotic front he showed to others was not at all who he was.

That insight changed everything.

I got to work writing his story instead of the one I’d wanted. When I finished Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas and released it, one reviewer said “He’s painted as a complete psycho in other books. It’s really great to get some insight into who he truly is.” Readers told me they felt Pietas was a real person and I was channeling his energy. My heart sang. I’d accomplished my purpose and revealed the true person to the world. Although, now I had to deal with Pietas, who wasn’t all that happy about the big reveal! I’ve sweet-talked him into bringing his truth into the light, so we should see several more books in his series.

I’ve been busy writing the sequel to the Origin of Pietas. I’m on the last few pages now. Here’s the blurb for the new book, Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire. (updated cover on the way)

Reviving after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and wounds of the heart take forever.

When Pietas reunites with the immortal Ultra people he was born to lead, they reject his human friend, Six, a member of Ghost Corps. Ghosts, their most feared adversaries, are resurrected special ops soldiers who possess enough strength to perma-kill Ultras.

Six is taken hostage, and Pietas must free his friend, deal with the brutal father he’s detested since childhood, make amends with his sister, and rescue his ailing mother. Meanwhile, the tempestuous affair he rekindles with a beautiful, telepathic warrior he’s adored for centuries lays bare long-held and deadly secrets.

The gift of telepathy he’s always wished for activates at the worst possible time, but it gives him one huge advantage. He bonds with an ally who harbors every bit as much hatred for his father as Pietas does: a tribe of genetically enhanced panthers. As much as he loves these noble creatures, connecting with their feral bloodlust threatens to undermine his legendary self-control.

How can he even hope love will withstand the unstoppable berserker rage within the Bringer of Chaos? If it can’t, Ghost Corps will be the last thing Ultras need to fear.

To know when this book is released, join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group.
Pick up Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas

Posted August 2, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Interview with JAnn Bowers   Leave a comment

Today’s interview is with JAnn Bowers. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

JAnn Bowers Author PicMy name is JAnn. I live in Eureka, Montana. Eureka has played a significant part of my writing career for all the tragic events that happened with my family here. I love Eureka for its nature with the Bitterroots and Rocky Mountains surrounding the valley where I live. With its abundance of nature, I am close to and balanced spiritually with Mother Nature. I meditate outdoors during the summer months and seek indoor retreats while I hibernate away in the winter.  I use my spirituality and meditation to write poetry about visions, thoughts, ideas and creativeness. I am also a divorced mom and grandmother. I have four kids here on Earth with me and one in heaven watching over me. My youngest son is Autistic and the joy of my world. My second daughter lives in North Dakota with my granddaughter and grandson.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? (When did you write your first story, for example?)

I knew I wanted to write poetry from a young age when I heard Robert Frost’s work. I absolutely fell in love with the magical formation of poetry. At that moment in my life, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career. However, life got in the way and it never happened. I went onto to being married for 22 years and busy raising kids. Once I was divorced, I found my spark again and started writing poetry. Now I have eight books published and working on two more. I just recently published my first memoir, “It’s Now My Time: Coffee, Poetry & The Past”

 

Tell us about your writing process.

JAnn Bowers GoneMy writing process almost always starts off with a deep round of meditation to help clear my mind of any distorted thoughts. Then I proceed to lock my phone where I cannot access social media or receive any notifications either, usually for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day. I turn to the screen and just write. I write what falls from my mind to my fingertips. It maybe love poetry, micropoetry, nature themed, or spiritual themed but it usually takes me less than 3 minutes to write a micropoem and less than 7 minutes to write a longer poem. Once my phone block is over then I save my doc and stuff it away. I use the same document for the entire week. If I go to share on my blog or Twitter, I pull up my document to read and edit and share.
As for writing essays, such as “Is Graffiti Art?” I choose my subject then research. I write my notes as I research the topic. Once I have completed my research I pursue the book format, write then edit and publish.

 

As for my memoir, “It’s Now My Time: Coffee, Poetry & The Past,” it took eight years of starting and stopping and throwing away a lot of drafts before it all came to me. My memoir was hard, difficult and a lot of tears fell inside while I wrote it. With this book, I used the scene as if I was meeting with the reader having coffee and telling them my life story.  Each chapter or entry is in reference to a family member & first love I have lost through death.  After each memory, there is a spread of poetry I wrote in dedication to their memory or about how their death affected me.

 

As for my poetry books, such as “Wasted” I wrote that book on my iPhone while spending several nights up with my youngest son. I was going through a period of depression, anxiety attacks and my past happened to creep in every once in a while.  To me, “Wasted” resembled a part of my life where I wasted many lonely nights fighting a battle within me while seeking for something new and fresh.

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre is poetry to write. My favorite genres to read are: true stories, true crime, contemporary romance, mystery, suspense, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, self-help and religious reads. I do not care to read erotica, thrillers, and horror.

 

What are you passionate about?

Besides writing, I am passionate about music and art. Back in my college days I took an Art History course and loved it. I still enjoy researching about pieces of art and writing short articles. As for music, music has always been my savior throughout my life. My mom always had the radio or tape deck going and I learned to love it as much as she does. I am a big fan for the 80’s music scene and a huge fan of Def Leppard.

 

What is something you cannot live without?

First would be my kids and grandkids but minus them would be my caffeine. I have to have my daily intake of coffee. I am a huge drinker of coffee when I am writing. Besides coffee would be education or books.

 

When you are not writing, what do you do?

JAnn Bowers NowSince I am disabled due to several health issues, if I am not writing, I am spending time with my kids. We are huge WWE fans and my daughter KayCee and I both enjoy many other sports. If I am not watching sports or a documentary, then I can be found reading or learning something new. Besides, these enjoyments, I like to take long walks when my health allows me too, and yoga.

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Illusions of Love & She’s Gone…Broken, Battered & Bruised, these books have taught me a lot about what love really is and what it is not. To me they have taught me not to fall in love so easily and that most of the time all love is an illusion to our hearts and souls. What one may know about love may be just a figment of their imagination.

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

My past inspires me to write poetry in themes that may help someone through a rough patch in life. My kids also inspire me to write the more cheerful, spiritual connected themes. Music also plays a significant role in my poetry.

 

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your poems asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Very open-minded and sad, that is how I would describe my writing.

 

 

Do you have a special place where you write?

I enjoy writing outdoors on my front steps on my iPhone. But I can write about wherever.  When inside I prefer my desk in my room if the kids are being loud, if not I do like to be out in the kitchen at the island working.

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Yes, love sneaks into almost all my poems and no, I am not getting any closer to why I write about love, and heartbreak.

 

 

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

JAnn Bowers If OnlyI have lived four years in Alaska before. But it was before my inner light switch was turned back on.  This time around I would pack my suitcase for hiking since I didn’t get the chance to do much outdoor enjoyments while I lived there. Then, I would definitely bring lots of writing paper and pens, and a camera. For books, I would bring my favorite books which there is too many to list. I would spend my days enquiring nature at its best and worst and in the evenings I would write about my experiences and poetry or read. I would definitely take a lot of photos this time.

 

 

Talk about your books individually.

 

Illusions of Love – this book is written about a close male friend I fell in love with who I thought had the same feelings which he did but he was too scared and hurt by the painful events from his ex-wife. The poems in this book are my honest feelings about love and him.

 

She’s Gone…Broken, Battered & Bruised- This book was written for the same male friend but only after he broke my heart. When he told me that cold winter morning that he didn’t want to ruin our friendship for a relationship with me, it broke my heart and ripped my soul to pieces but we stayed friends.

 

 

Only If I Could – After much needed time to heal from my heartbreak and once I felt I had recovered and could move forward this book took shape as a rebirth of me, it does still have poetry that reflects back onto my broken heart.

 

Is Graffiti Art – This started and ended as an essay for my college final for Art History. I was always interested and thought graffiti was an amazing art form but once I got into researching and learning the history of it I grew to love it even more. This book also references to 5POINTZ, the graffiti mecca of the world that was demolished in New York City. My daughter and I both crusaded in helping to save the building but it was whitewashed after I had finished my course.

 

Words Whisper to Me – This poetry book is my favorite one! It shows my love for writing poetry and how much my world is full of words and poetry.

 

Poetry Playground – This is a 2-section book. The first section is fun, quirky poems about my kids and life in general. The second section is nature poetry that I wrote while I lived in Idaho.

 

Wasted – This book is about all the wasted time in my life. In this book, the feel of the poetry is if I am seeking to find what life is really about.

 

It’s Now My Time: Coffee, Poetry & The Past – This is my memoir of life events and experiences and how they affected me. It discusses the death of many family members and also my mental illness and physical chronic pain.

 

 

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

A message! All my poetry is about sending a strong message of hope to my readers that life does go on and it does get better if we only turn the switch on inside of us to create the life we want to have.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I want them to think or feel that they have any and all power to better themselves and to overcome any obstacle in life.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I have never sought a publisher. I have always enjoyed self-publishing. But, if a publisher offered me a contract, of course, I would take it. Self-publishing, to me, allowed me to build up my audience and my self-confidence in my writing. It has taught me so much about what the readers want and how to deliver my books to them.

 

There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

Yes and no. I believe it is harder now to get picked up by publishers because places like Amazon makes it easier for independent writers to get their books out into the market. I honestly believe that traditional publishers have their minds shut off to some really good and strong talented writers. As for the future, no one should or can predict what it holds in any industry.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

Being in full control of every aspect of the book, from writing to editing to creating your own covers to setting your price and choosing which industrial platforms who want. I personally prefer to publish through Pronoun.com than Kindle Direct. In the past, I had several issues with my book formats not working with Kindle Direct whereas with Pronoun they have a simple format for poetry where my books look and feel professional. The self-marketing does get hard and tiresome, but it is also fun to meet and collaborate with fellow writers that are willing to be a beta reader, swap blog posts, or promote you on social media.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Having someone to do the dirty work of promoting their books. Self-publishing writers have the long haul of self-promoting their books and getting them out there, versus having a personal rep or agent helping.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I concentrate on the inside of my book first then I approach the cover during the editing scene. That way I know what I want and what I think will attract readers. I think the cover and title stands out the most but the blurbs are so important as well. I honestly think it takes trial and error with each book to see what happens with the audience. Some of my books have been on the very top of best sellers on Amazon and some have made lower marks. Those are the trials and errors.

 

Who designed your book cover/s?

My daughter KayCee K designs all my book covers and graphics. She is so talented and has such a huge imagination to match. She runs her own blogging promotional service for authors at Double Decker Books, so she sees and deals with all sorts of writers and their work. I think this has helped her out when she creates mine. She also runs her monthly e-magazine where she does a majority of the graphics and layouts herself. Her magazine is “Double the Books”.

 

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

I believe we can produce high-quality books on our own if we take each step of the process seriously and do a good enough job. I take each step very personally and professionally. Editing, covers and blurbs are what attracts and keeps readers coming back for more.

 

Where do readers find you and your books? 

 

I welcome you to grab a free book! Grab a copy today!
Amazon Author http://amzn.to/2qnfOmE
Website http://bit.ly/2rK0rEz
Social Media
https://twitter.com/Echoic_JAnn

https://jannbowers.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Echoic.JenniferAnn.72/

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/63237527-jennifer-jann

https://www.pinterest.com/Echoicjann/

https://www.instagram.com/jannbowerspoet/?hl=en

ALWAYS include links, author photos, and cover art. It makes for a prettier interview and readers want to find you and your books.

Interview with Aduro   Leave a comment

Today’s interview is with Aduro. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

AduroWell, I’m from the United States, Idaho in particular and well, let’s just say writing is otherwise my life. I live and breathe storytelling.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Well, it was after I had gone through a number of possible career options in my younger years. Eventually though, I reached a point where school became a hassle, because just one of the teachers ruined the experience for me and she was outright horrible in her own way. Not saying she was a bad teacher, I’m just saying she was a bad teacher for me in particular and was kind of insufferable to deal with.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

I’m what you would call a really complicated author. I write in what can only be described as an “expanded universe” similar to that of DC or Marvel in its concept. As for direct writing, I simply start with a character of mine and build a story around them. If it works, I start writing the story and see how I can expand the story further until I reach a state where I can be satisfied with the work itself.

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I mostly prefer works of fantasy, especially high fantasy. Though I also enjoy some mythology too, namely Greek Mythology.

 

What are you passionate about?

Writing and gaming of course.

 

Well, of course. What is something you cannot live without?

Writing. I couldn’t live without being able to write stories. Though I mostly use a computer. I’d probably have to use a typewriter if I couldn’t use a computer.

 

When you are not writing, what do you do?

Gaming. Playing video games.

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Not that I can think of.

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Aduro Within Shadows CoverA variety of sources, but mostly I get them from the media I take in. Whether it’s a TV show or a video game. Though a huge chunk of my inspiration comes from a combination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra.

 

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Well, given the subject of my novels are usually pretty fictional, I don’t really need to do as much research. The only time I need to do research is when I need to apply some scientific concept or medical knowledge, maybe even a bit of cooking knowledge, to a story.

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Hmm, that’s rather difficult. I would best describe them as something similar, though not as good as J.R.R. Tolkien’s works with some flavour of J.K. Rowling’s works sprinkled on top. Mind you, compared to them, I’m just a small time indie author, while they are among the biggest legends of the modern literature world. But I have modeled my style more after Tolkien’s.

 

At one time, they were small-time, unknown authors. Do you have a special place where you write?

Not really. Just my room.

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Yes. One of the many recurring themes in my works usually involve balance. Finding it and bringing it to others. In some cases though I just write a story for the sake of writing it/simply because I want to write it.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

More character driven. Though they drive the plot more.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I start as a discovery writer with a very rudimentary outline just to know where I’m going and so I don’t get lost. But once I finish the first draft, I create a more detailed outline for my second draft and beyond, that way I can return to it at any time. Even if I have to take a pause from the story and deal with other matters.

 

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

Third person, usually third person omniscient. Meaning I can get into all the characters’ minds if I need to, but I primarily focus on just ONE character at a time.

 

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Computer, video games, a fair internet connection. That way I can do what I want in some peace and quiet. If I bring any books, they’re my own or Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings, so I can reread them and spot details I may have missed.

 

Tell us about your book.

Within Shadows is my first and presently only published novel. It is a simple story about the Head General of a kingdom waking up to find herself in pain with little memory of how she got there. It focuses primarily on her trying to find out why that is the way it is and getting everything back on track within the kingdom. Being a no-nonsense type of person.

Any future stories I wish to keep to myself for now.

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Sometimes, it depends on the story itself. I believe in leaving things up for the reader to interpret instead of intentionally planting moral messages in a story. If it happens, it might be unintentional.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

That they just took a walk in the lives of these characters. That they entered a fantasy world and experienced something different. That they truly felt like they connected with some of the characters.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Well, considering the content of my work focuses on Non-human characters as the mains in most cases, where they are instead animal people or dragons, or something of the like. I don’t think I’m that good for the mainstream.

 

There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I believe that traditional publishing will stand, but if they don’t make a change, they will fall. Self-publishing does have some future as it lets people get work out and become known as authors. People like myself that have ideas that are willing to push boundaries.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

The creative freedom. I can mostly do what I want in my works and I don’t have anyone putting deadlines on me. It’s the control I need.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Better pay and advertising. Their books will get out there faster and become known faster. As well, they’ll usually do better overall.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I haven’t exactly figured this one out yet. It’s just a matter of hammering it away as much as you can. Making unique characters and well crafted stories, while advertising as hard as you can.

 

Who designed your book cover/s?

A close friend. Skitty22 on deviantart, though her name is Cheyanne.

 

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes. We can, and it’s a relatively simple process. All you have to do is find a good editor, go through all the appropriate hoops and everything and you can have high quality stories. But you need a GOOD TEAM to help you.

 

Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

No. I don’t.

 

How do readers find you and your book?

Link to the cover artist: http://skitty22.deviantart.com/

Link to my personal Deviantart account: http://adurotri.deviantart.com/

Link to Within Shadows: https://www.amazon.com/Within-Shadows-Aduro-Tri-ebook/dp/B01AHRL5GI

Primary Twitter: https://twitter.com/adurotri

Dedicated Writing Only Twitter: https://twitter.com/within_shadows

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