Tag Archives: On Writing

Happy Holidays!

Hello faithful readers!

The hubby, kiddos and I will be traveling for the week following Christmas, so this is my last post of 2016. I’ll be back in 2017, ready to kick-off the new social media plan, including my new NEWSLETTER!  (See the sign-up link in the column to the right!)

At first blush, 2016 was a pretty challenging year. But when I look back with more detail, it was full of accomplishments and firsts in my writing career.

I completed a new manuscript, became a member of RWA, attended my first Emerald City Writers’ Conference, successfully pitched my latest manuscript to a number of agents, completed and released LINKING, and maintained a pretty solid blogging schedule while I was at it.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty okay about 2016–at least in terms of my author life. 🙂 Here’s to an equally effective and accomplished 2017!

However you chose to spend your holidays, I  hope they are everything you hoped for/planned for/love and then some.

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Your Questions Answered, part 3

Before diving right in, I wanted to take a second to say how much I appreciate each and every one of you. Linking’s release day was awesome; it felt so good to put something (even a short-story-something) out into the universe again after such a long haitus, and part of what made that feel so great was all of you: my wonderful readers who cheered me on, and shared the link, and wrote reviews, asked questions, and told their friends.  You’re all the best.

Now, here it is, the final installment of my Your Questions Answered series. That said, this has been such a blast!  So, feel free to ask me questions anytime!  I’ll answer them for certain, I promise.

Q.5: I heard once that the first thing you have to do as a writer is make the reader care. How do you make readers care?

A.5: Oh man, this is a big question. That’s my initial reaction when I read it, which is probably why I saved it for last.  But, really, when I stop and think about it, the answer is pretty simple: characters are what make the readers care, at least in the kind of stories I tell.  I have always written, and been most interested in reading, character-driven fiction. So, the short answer is that I make readers care by writing characters that they can care about.

But how do you do that?

The answer to this is more complicated–but also sort of flippant. Frankly, I don’t know if I do. And, in all honesty, nobody does–not really.  I write characters that I relate to (I’ve even written characters that I have a hard time relating to until I get to know them,) but at the end of the day, whether that character resonates with readers is anybody’s guess.  Who are these mysterious “readers” anyway? They’re all of you reading this, and me, and you over there, and the lady sitting across from me on the bus, and everyone in between.  Genre helps to narrow the pool of possible readers, which in turn narrows the audience any given character needs to be relatable to, but even then, it’s a huge misstep to think that because you write a particular genre you know what kind of character fans of that genre will find relatable.  On the other side of the coin, if you try to make your characters relatable to too wide an audience, they end up flat and boring.

The trick is to give the reader some details up front so they can connect with this character as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be a connection derived from a common experience or circumstance–it can be a detail that sparks compassion, concern, curiosity, or some other emotion. It can be linked to physicality, in how you describe the character’s appearance (this is a tricky one–writers beware!) or clues can be dropped within a character’s own inner monolog–what s/he takes note of, his/her impressions of other people, etc.

This questions got me curious, so I did an audit of the opening scenes of Shift, Harbinger, and Augury. Read on if you want to nerd-out on writing stuff. 🙂

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Your questions, answered!

Last week, I asked you all to send me questions you’d like me to answer.  Well, your response was enthusiastically curious, and I have a lot of AWESOME of questions to answer now!  So, I’ll be breaking this up into a few posts that I’ll make over the coming weeks.  I’ll be re-posting some of these questions and answers on my profile at Goodreads and Smashwords–others will be exclusive to the blog. (I’ll make sure to call those out so you know when you’re reading the really juicy stuff.) Here is the first installment:

Q.1: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer? Was it a terrifying realization or were you like… yah.. I got this?

A.1: (A shorter version of this answer will appear on Goodreads and Smashwords. This full response will only be posted here!) 

I was in high school when I first knew I wanted to be a fiction writer
“when I grew up.” I took this year-long, advanced English class my Junior year of high school where we studied styles of writing and their artistic counterparts–creating our own works of lit and art composition in the various styles. It was a really cool class. First semester that same year, I also took a Science Fiction writing class. (Yes, I doubled up on English classes one year, by taking no Math–don’t be like me, kids.)  In the S.F. writing class, the teacher would give extra credit if we turned in stuff we wrote in our spare time, and he’d even read and critique it. Well, I turned in so much extra stuff, and he liked what I wrote for assignments so much, he pretty much just gave me an A for the semester within the first month of the class.  That was the first time I got a taste for showing my work to other people and having them give me notes, and praise, etc.  It was in the second semester of my Art-English class, though, that I said aloud, for the first time, that I didn’t want a corporate job–I just wanted to be a writer. It was the only idea of a career that excited me.

But this snotty girl across the room scoffed and said “Okay, but you’ll have to have a job. You have to make money.”

I remember being so angry with her at the time. It wasn’t what she’d said (because that’s true–you do have to make money in order to live, and writing does not normally pay the bills, which I knew, even then) but her tone that got to me; like she thought that writing isn’t really work. Or that doing something you’re passionate about isn’t a real job because you don’t hate it.  On the one hand, it fired me up and made me want it more, but on the other, I remember having this feeling of ‘She’s right: I do have to make money. And, well, I only have so much focus and effort to give, and writing fiction takes too much of it to allow me to be successful at something else too, so maybe writing isn’t for me.’  So I put it down for a while and focused on other things.  But what that girl said really stuck with me, and as I got older, I starting feeling differently about it: like, “F-you. I do have another job, and I’ll write books, too, and people will like them, and I’ll come to our ten-year reunion all published and shit. Just you watch.”  And while it didn’t happen exactly like I’d thought it would, I was published by the time I went to my 10-year high school reunion–so there.

Q.2: How did the Shift Series come to be in your mind?

A.2: It’s super simple, actually: I read a lot of contemporary fantasy, and paranormal/fantasy romance, and whenever I would read that there was a shapeshifter in a book (on the back cover, or other summaries) I would hope it was a human shifter, but was always disappointed. So one day, I started thinking more about it: why aren’t there more human shifters in books?  Which led me to “if you were a human who could change your appearance at will, do you have your own appearance at all?” Which led me to “I think the answer is yes, but that people who abuse their gift could potentially lose themselves.” And then, “the wider shifter community would definitely look down upon shifters who abuse their gift, be it to steal people’s identity, or for nefarious self-interest, etc.”  And then that cracks open the whole pantheon of questions/scenarios around the spectrum of what is right and just, morals vs. ethics, etc.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew I had a story on my hands.  And frankly, when I write it all here, I know there is still more story to tell, even if with different characters/experiences.

Check back for more answers in the weeks to come!

Linking (1)

And don’t forget:  Linking: A Shift Series Short Story is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Apple iBookstore