Friday, November 21, 2014

 

Friday Speak Out!: Beware Scams Targeting Self-Published Authors

by Penny White (Pen)

They’re everywhere.

A self-published author promises additional exposure for your book if you purchase and review her/his book. It sounds like a fair and equal exchange.

Until you purchase the book and discover the true reason behind the offer.

The book you’ve just purchased is, in a word, horrible. Just a hint of a plot at best, underdeveloped characters, poor writing, little to no dialogue...you get the picture. The only way the author can get positive reviews is by making such an offer.

And you are expected to write a favorable review in order to get that extra exposure for your own work.

You can make something up. But do you really want to sacrifice your integrity?

Hundreds of people fall for this gambit. People rave about how wonderful the book is in droves. This leaves any writer with integrity scratching her/his head wondering how in the world these people could even like the book.

Chances are, they honestly don’t. But in order to get that extra exposure, they compromise ethics with the hope of receiving free promotion. It’s easy. All that’s required is purchasing the book and writing a glowing–albeit not completely honest–review.

This hurts more than it helps. Especially when it comes to building a platform or a brand. Do you really want to be associated with a terribly-written book? A book that has absolutely no redeeming value? It’s a given those reviews were written for the express purpose of getting that additional exposure and not necessarily an honest assessment of the book.

By engaging in such scams you not only compromise your integrity, you weaken your own platform. Are you willing to risk it falling out from under you?

It isn’t easy for self-published writers to gain the exposure and following hoped for. It takes hard work, often working on promotion and marketing when you’d rather be writing. It takes skills most of us don’t have. We end up learning and honing those skills as we go. Most of the time we learn by trial and error.

Earning that experience with those skills is a bonus in and of itself. In the long run, we appreciate what we endured to become a successful self-published author.

Is it worth it to engage in these scams? Certainly not. Not only do you compromise your own integrity, but the person running these scams is the one who truly wins. The author in question takes advantage of other authors while her/his book rises in undeserving notoriety. S/he is the one making the money with each sale and promise.

It casts a shadow over the self-publishing industry, already questionable by society at large. It makes it even more difficult for self-published authors–with actual writing skills–to gain the exposure they deserve.

* * *
Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1rsEQFX Follow her on Twitter @penspen
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

 

Why Is It So Much Fun to Write the Antagonist?

Recently I was teaching an adult education class about characters in a novel, and I said, "Writing the bad guy is so much fun. At least I think it is. I hope I'm not the only one. I think this is normal." The students kindly gave a little laugh, and we went on to talk about famous antagonists and how to write your own bad guy to stand out in the crowd.

Come on,  I'm not alone, right? Some of you out there also love to write your antagonist, don't you? Bad guys are fun to write because they can say and do things your protagonist never could, and these characters are usually what give your novel tension and page-turning action. From Darth Vader to the Wicked Witch of the West, from Cruella DeVille to Voldemort, readers have a love-hate relationship with each one. This is what you're also striving for in your novel. Here are a few things to consider:

Your antagonist needs a redeeming quality or at the very least, a reason readers can understand for their behavior. This is the biggest detail about antagonists to spend time on when thinking about this character in your novel. Why is your bad guy bad? Here's an example. When I was writing my middle-grade novel, Finding My Place, my antagonist, Mrs. Franklin, was mean just to be mean. She didn't have a redeeming quality or reason for her evil ways. Although she was fun to write and gave my 13-year-old heroine a lot of drama, the story wasn't as rich as it could be until I worked on Mrs. Franklin's character.

So, I gave her a reason for her meanness, and this reason was a bit of a redeeming quality, something that readers could possibly relate to. Mrs. Franklin was cruel because she loves her family above all else. Her family is the only important thing to her, and she's willing to treat others badly in order for her family to have comfort and safety during the Siege of Vicksburg (U. S. Civil War, 1863). She takes loyalty to her family to an extreme, which is also something many bad guys do. They have a normal desire (such as inheriting the shoes of your dead sister) to a crazy extreme (trying to kill or enslave a teenage girl to get the shoes).

Your antagonist has a past, favorites, and an appearance, too. In my opinion, it's as important to spend time on a character study of your antagonist as it is on your hero. Writers will pen page upon page of their protagonist's likes and dislikes, family, appearance, and hobbies, and write two sentences about their bad guy--why he's bad and what he does that's evil. But your antagonist had a past too, and he or she also has a favorite color or food, does something in his or her spare time (even if it's making plans to destroy the world, it's still a hobby), and might even like to watch TV. Figure this out before you do too much writing, and even if their love for everything chocolate never makes it into your book, your antagonist will stand out on the page and be a real figure for readers.

Your antagonist may not be a person at all.  Another huge discussion we had in the novel writing class was whether or not an antagonist has to be another human or even paranormal (vampire, zombie) character in your novel. The answer is NO. In my young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, the antagonist is the curse. Well, actually, it's two curses that my main character tries to break. Readers could argue that the woman who put the curse on Julie's family is the antagonist, but she plays such a minor role and is not the driving force of tension in Julie's life. You could also argue that it's her boyfriend, Gus; but again, what is blocking Julie from her goal throughout the book? The curses.

How about The Perfect Storm? Although this is based on a true story, the antagonist is the storm. Same for the movie Twister. In Jaws and Jurassic Park, the antagonists are living things, but animals. Heck, your very own loveable flawed hero can even be your antagonist--Mr. Hyde, anyone?

So to sum up. . .have fun writing your bad guy or force of nature or hero with a split personality. Take time to develop this source of tension in your novel, and maybe one day, readers everywhere will be discussing your antagonist the way we have He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Margo L. Dill is a writing teacher and novelist for kids and teens. She teaches classes in the WOW! Women On Writing classroom about writing novels and writing for children. To check out her upcoming classes, please see http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html . To find out more about her books, including the current holiday sale, please see http://margodill.com/blog/books/ .

Photo above by The Western Sky, www.flickr.com

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

 

Writing Lessons I Learned From My Dog

See Libby Hall. Doesn’t she look adorable in that T-shirt?

Too bad that Libs doesn’t agree.

Libs is a short-haired, miniature dachshund who shivers, even in the house, now that it’s cold outside. (Okay, I recognize that cold in Georgia is nothing like cold in Minnesota. The point is, for Libby and me, it’s forty-two degrees and freezing.) And so I thought that her T-shirt would be just the thing to keep her warm and toasty. But Libs—after approximately three hours—wriggled out of her T-shirt.

But here’s the amazing part: Now, Libs can wriggle out of that T-shirt in about ten minutes!

Thanks to Libs, I realized that a manuscript I’d struggled with for three years had been useful. All the writing and work and revisions I’d put into that story helped me learn the finer points of crafting a middle grade novel. And now, I’m applying that knowledge to my latest manuscript. I still make mistakes, but I recognize them—and I know how to fix them.

Lesson learned: Apply hard-earned knowledge to correct present writing problems.

I keep a basket of Libby toys on a shelf, and the other day, I found a treat in that basket that I’d forgotten was there. I broke off half and gave it to Libs. Five minutes later, Libs was back under the basket, jumping up and begging for another treat.

I ignored her. So she plopped down and whined in her little high-pitched puppy voice.

And she whined. And whined. And whined. That dog is nothing if not persistent. And as you can probably guess, I finally gave in, tossing her the other half of the treat.

I thought about several editors that had bought essays from me in the past. Libs prodded my memory about those markets, giving me a push to submit again. After all, if an editor bought once, she or he liked my style and voice. And eventually, all that whining—er, submitting is bound to pay off.

Lesson learned: Once an editor has accepted your work, keep submitting.

Speaking of treats, Libs is all about delicious little doggie morsels. She was not so much about taking her little doggie business outside. So we decided that we’d train her with treats, and it was quite the successful ploy. Even now, despite cold or wet conditions, which she definitely doesn’t like, Libs will dash outside and get ‘er done so that she can come back inside and get her treat.

Goodness knows, writing is a tough business when it comes to tangible rewards. It can be years before a project pays off. So Libs reminded me that I need to treat myself for the little successes as well as the big successes. When I give myself a reward, I’m ever so excited to dash back to work.

Lesson learned: A reward can be a great little motivator.

So I suppose you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. But it helps to have a new dog like Libby Hall around (and plenty of treats)!

~Cathy C. Hall




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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 

Franziska Macur places in the Spring Flash Fiction Contest with "The Unicorn"

Congratulations to Franziska Macur, a runner-up in the Spring 2014 Flash Fiction Contest. If you haven't read her story, "The Unicorn" yet, please check it out here. Franziska is a professor of communications turned homeschooling mom, a writer, a Certified Simplicity Parenting Coach, and a lover of stories. She is the author of Charlie and Noel: An Advent Calendar Story.

Franziska and her husband raise their two young daughters bilingually and are passionate about family rhythm and simplicity. Franziska blogs about the power of stories and her journey to live and parent simply, creatively, and wholesomely at www.homenaturally.org and www.facebook.com/HomeNaturally. Franziska is currently working on a middle grade novel about a 10-year-old girl who longs for just a little adventure but gets much more than she bargained for.

WOW: Congrats, Franziska, on placing in the top 10 of the Spring Flash Fiction contest! Great job. What gave you the idea to write, "The Unicorn"?

Franziska: I like the idea of making ordinary things magical. And I like the fact that we – as storytellers--get to infuse this magic into stories. It doesn’t have to be real. It just has to be believable. So I guess I wanted to show that it really doesn’t matter if you have a horn or not – as long as you believe and make others believe.

WOW: The real joy in this piece, besides it being well-written, is the twist at the end of it. What gave you the inspiration to end it this way? Did you know your ending before you finished?

Franziska: Yes, I knew the ending first. Then I created the rest around it. This is actually pretty unusual for me. I generally think of an interesting beginning and go from there. But as I said before, I do like semi-magical twists, and they generally happen closer to the end.

WOW: We talk so much about trying to balance our lives on WOW! because we all seem to be talented, passionate women with a lot of different hats. You are certainly no exception, according to your bio. How do you find time to work on your writing?

Franziska: Ha, I sometimes do and I sometimes don’t. But I try really hard to get up early and get some heads down writing done without little girls pulling on me. I can still do some editing later in the day, even when the noise level is up.

WOW: What made you want to enter this flash fiction piece in our contest?

Franziska: I am a children’s writer, but I thought that grown-ups might enjoy this piece, too. And it’s always fun to share your writing with others.

WOW: How is your novel writing going? We know you've taken a few WOW classes. Do you find classes to be helpful with your novel writing?

Franziska: I do think that classes are very helpful. They teach you something new, and they keep you on track. Win-win. The novel itself …I think that some days it’s two steps forward and one step back. Other days, it’s the other way around! But it is definitely coming together.

WOW: Great to hear! Congrats, again!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

 

David W Berner Launches his blog tour for Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons

& giveaway contest!

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender.

In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip--the one he always wished he'd taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story--Jack Kerouac's On the Road--and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit.

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

Paperback: 242 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 17, 2014)
ASIN: B00NVBMDZ0
ISBN-10: 0988439093
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092

Twitter hashtag: #AnyRoadBook

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, November 21st at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author: 
David W. Berner--the award winning author of Accidental Lessons and Any Road Will Take You There--was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book Accidental Lessons is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). Any Road Will Take You There is the author's story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."

David can be found online at:

Website: www.davidwberner.com

Twitter: @davidwberner

Twitter: @anyroadbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-W-Berner-Writer/190345939480

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.w.berner

-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: David, thank you for choosing WOW! for your tour. This has been such a pleasure for me! Who has been most influential in your writing career? And how so?

David: There have been many. Great authors have certainly spurred me on. Hemmingway, Kerouac, even the poets Billy Collins and W.B. Yeats. So have great songwriters: Dylan, McCartney, and some wonderful new songwriters with bands like Dawes and Iron & Wine. Music and wonderful lyrics have made an immense impact on my writing. It’s the lyrical aspect. There’s music in words even without musical notes. I love prose and poetry that moves like a song. It inspires me.

But more than anything, everyday people and the people closest to me have been very strong influences. Working as a journalist, I see incredible stories all the time, stories of humanity and triumph and tragedy. Those stories inspire me. But there’s also my mother, who was a voracious reader and encouraged me to both read and write. And of course, there are my sons. They continually motivate and encouragement me to keep telling stories one way or another.

WOW: Motivation and encouragement is so important in all areas of life. Speaking of life and lessons, what advice would your current self offer to your previous self?

David: Don’t be in such a hurry. I worked in daily journalism for so many years and I expected the publishing world to move as quickly as that industry does. I expected, even though I knew better, that drafts and edits would happen more quickly, that story ideas and narratives would come more easily. The truth is you need time, time to think, walk around, experience, breath. Time to savor the stories. Slow down.

WOW: Sounds like solid advice, and speaking of publishing, what prompted you to go there with your story? What made you want to publish Any Road Will Take You There?

David: I believed my first book–Accidental Lessons–the story of being a new teacher was truly universal in its deeper meanings. Although it is about a year teaching in a troubled school district, and clearly appeals to educators, the bigger idea is about renewal and the reinvention of the spirit. We all can relate to that. But my sons are the ones who got me to see that. They are the ones who encouraged to write the book and see that so many people would find the story relevant to their lives, teachers or not.

WOW: Lessons taught to us by our children--what a gift! Thanks for sharing your story and helping teach others. What’s next for you?

David: All kind of stuff, I guess. I like doing different things. I’m involved in a songwriting competition. We’ll see where that goes. I play guitar and I occasionally write music. The songs are just my way of expressing something in another way. It’s mostly for fun.

My publisher, Dream of Things, is releasing a book of my essays in the spring of 2015. It’s a collection about the connection between our lives and our pets. These are not necessarily sentimentalized stories of cute cats or loyal puppies, but rather the deeper tales about how our souls can be shaped by the animals in our lives.

I also have a novel I’m hoping to get out there soon. Looking for a publisher. It’s entitled Night Radio and it’s the story of a young man in the early 1970s, during that wonderful period when music truly was the soundtrack of a generation, and his dreams of being a radio sage. The character makes a mistake that changes his life and compels him to broadcast a unique and unforgettable New Year’s Eve show that forces him to face his past. It was fun writing about an industry I grew up in and still work in today. I still do broadcast work for CBS and occasionally for public radio.

WOW: No dull moments at the Berner house I guess, wow! Since we are sharing, what is something readers may not know about you?

David: I cry when I hear Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.”
I am a rabid Steelers fan, even though I live in Chicago.
I want to visit Cuba someday.

WOW: David, I am a firm believer in networking and support. Have you been in any writing or reading group and what are your thoughts on writers groups or book clubs?

David: I am a member of the Chicago Writers Association and they are wonderful, truly a good group for networking and support. I’ve been involved with a couple others from time to time. Honestly though, I’m not extremely active. I love CWA, but I’m not that big of a joiner.

On book clubs, well, I’ve never been in one. But I have spoken at a few, clubs that have read one of my books. That’s a hoot. Would love to do more of that.

WOW: When did you know you were an author?

David: I like to think of myself as a writer, more than an author. An author implies a level of marketing and sales. So, when did I know I was a writer? When I was a little kid and wrote my first book in 2nd grade. It was this little story I wrote about a Cyclops and deep-sea explorers that was turned into a little paper Mache book as part of a class project. I loved that book. Still have it. But a professional writer? Probably when I held the first copy of my memoir Accidental Lessons in my hands.

WOW: I hope you know you’ve graduated to writer and author status – you’re a big deal David! How do you celebrate your writing victories?

David: Quietly, with a glass of wine and a smile.

WOW: Be looking for that next email from me – you’ll have to let us know what wine you’ll be drinking this evening as your blog tour launches!

If your book were a movie, what song would be included? And why?

David: If we’re talking about Any Road Will Take You There, we could easily fall into clichés, right? “On the Road Again” and so many other road songs come to mind. But there’s one Bob Dylan song that I truly believe says it all. The chorus, or refrain in “My Back Pages” is “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” That’s a statement about rebirth, transformation, and renewal of the spirit. I like that a lot.

WOW: Now those songs will be going through my head all day – you won’t hear me complaining! Thank you for sharing and for choosing WOW! David, this tour has been such a pleasure!

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, November 17 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, November 18 @ Choices
Join David Berner as he offers insight into writing about your life and choosing what to write about. David shares his thoughts with Madeline Sharples and readers of Choices. Learn more about Berner and his memoir, Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons.
http://madelinesharples.com/

Wednesday, November 19 @ Jerry Waxler
Join memoirist Jerry Waxler as he reviews David W. Berner's memoir, Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons.
http://www.jerrywaxler.com/

Thursday, November 20 @ All Things Audry
Today is the day to catch up with David W Berner and his WOW! tour as he stops by All Things Audry with the guest post topic of "The Allure and Redemptive Nature of Road Trips". Read this post and find out more about Berner's memoir Any Road Will Take You There.
http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 21 @ National Association of Memoir Writers
David W Berner shares his thoughts in a guest post at National Association of Memoir Writers and shares "How to balance the story with what can be the sometimes intrusive nature of writing about family". Hear from David W. Berner about this and find out more about his memoir Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons.
http://namw.org/blog/

Tuesday, November 25 @ Create Write Now
David W Berner stops at Create Write Now as he shares a guest post with Mari McCarthy and her readers. Learn more about Berner's book Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons and read his insightful post about "How to incorporate reflective moments in memoir or creative nonfiction."
http://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog

Wednesday, November 26 @ Lauren Scharhag
David W. Berner and his memoir, Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons make a stop to share thoughts about being a writer in residence with Lauren Scharhag and her readers. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss!
http://www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 26 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews David W. Berner about Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons. David has also offered an ebook copy of his book for a giveaway; so don't miss this great blog stop!
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 28 @ Words by Webb
Jodi Webb interviews David W. Berner about his memoir Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons.
http://jodiwebb.com/

Monday, December 1 @ Renee’s Pages
David W. Berner writes today's guest post at Renee's Pages where h talks about "What Broadcast Journalism Taught Me About Parenting". Learn more about David W. Berner and his memoir Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons.
http://reneespages.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 2 @ Chynna Laird
David W. Berner shares his thoughts as he writes today's guest post at Chynna Laird Author Blog. Hear about "How Accidental Lessons Changed My Life" and learn more about David W. Berner and his popular memoir Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons.
http://www.chynnalairdauthor.ca

Thursday, December 4 @ Romance Junkies
David W Berner is interviewed by Romance Junkies. Find out more about Berner and his memoir Any Road Will Take You There.
http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Monday, December 8 @ CMash Reads
David W. Berner writes today's post at CMash Reads as he writes about how to be disciplined with writing - - writing like you workout. Don't miss this guest post as you find out more about his memoir Any Road Will Take You There and register for a giveaway so you can read your own copy David's book!
http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Tuesday, December 9 @Sioux’s Page
David W. Berner stops by Sioux's Page to talk more about his memoir Any Road Will Take You There and also provide some insight into his experience publishing with Dream of Things and how he came to choose this publisher.
http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 12 @ Sherrey Meyer
David W. Berner takes his WOW! blog tour to Sherrey Meyer's blog with a guest post topic "Writing about the living and writing about the dead. How to be true to both. " Hear what David has to say as you learn more about his memoir Any Road Will Take You There.
http://sherreymeyer.com/blog/

Monday, Dec ember 15 @ Kathleen Pooler
Stop by Kathleen Pooler's blog, Memoir Writer's Journey today to learn more about David W. Berner and his memoir and read David's guest post about "The unique connection between fathers and sons."
http://krpooler.com/

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com.

*****BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Enter to win a copy of Any Road Will Take You There by David W Berner! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, November 21st!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

 

Nonfiction or Fiction: The Choice to fictionalize real events

Because I write for children, I read a lot of children’s books.  My recent reading has been limited almost exclusively to picture books and I’ve discovered a wealth of nonfiction gems including Mr. Ferries and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford (Houghton Mifflin) and The Kite that Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Terry Widener (Calkins Creek). 

Or at least I assumed they were both nonfiction until I looked more closely and made a surprising discovery.  The Kite that Bridged Two Nations is a fiction book based on a real event. 

In the back matter of the book, author Alexis O’Neill explains that her decision to write about the event as fiction was based on what is essential for a gripping story. 

Conflict.  A good story has to have conflict.  Homan, the main character, couldn’t simply make a kite, fly it and win the context.  For this story to be picture book worthy, there had to be conflict big enough to bring Homan to a halt before he could even build his kite.  O’Neill introduced needed conflict by creating a disagreement with Homan’s father, who strongly disapproves of his son’s frivolous kite flying.  Do you see what O’Neill has done with this conflict?  Homan not only win’s the contest, his father comes around to see the value of what his son does.  This subplot creates not only needed tension but a warm, satisfying conclusion to the story.

The Catalyst.  All good stories require something to get the main character moving.  O’Neill knew that the drive to win the contest was what brought Homan to achieve the impossible.  But how on earth did he find out about it?  O’Neill created a handbill, typical for the time but not part of the historic record, to bring the contest to Homan’s attention and get the story underway.

Acceptable Risk.  Homan wasn’t an adult but a journey to the Canadian side of the falls stranded the real Homan for 8 days in Canada.  A picture book character separated from parents and family for eight days. Can you say banning and censorship?  Of course you can, if the book would even be published.  To make this Canadian stay more acceptable, O’Neill invented a kind Canadian family who takes him in. 

When you find a true story that just won’t work “as is,” consider writing it as fiction.  A story that works as fiction will soar into the hands of your readers.  A story that doesn’t work as nonfiction, simply won’t fly even if it’s about a kite.


--SueBE

Sue Bradford Edwards teaches our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.  The next section starts on January 5th.  

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

 

Updates from a NaNoWriMo Battlefield



Photo | EKHumphrey
This is the blog post where I admit that I’m still on the battlefield, but I have no plans for winning the battle. (I refuse to call myself defeated.) Two weeks ago I braved jumping into NaNoWriMo without a plan, a story outline, or a writing schedule. (Thank you for all the cheering after my November 1 post! I appreciated it!) Diving into NaNoWriMo was less pressure for me than in other years, but I knew it would still require a commitment of my time.

I wish I could claim that I haven’t been writing for the contest because of some other fantastic project. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In this time, the biggest realization I’ve come to is that—writing or no writing—I’m not putting aside enough time for me.

For example, those times when I had a spare moment, my focus shifted from writing to helping my daughters clean their room during a crisis—a buyer contacted us to buy their beds we were replacing and we would do some repairs. Or I was diving into the launch of my email list free gift. (That excitement was lessened by some last-minute editorial changes that took time.) These were not the only things that became a bump in the road. Unfortunately, I’ve let individual bumps grow into a mountain that was between me and my writing.

For the next two weeks, I’m going to shift my focus. Obviously, I’m not going to finish a novel in the next fifteen days. But I know I want to finish it. What I can do is I can put a plan in place to at least get writing during this busy time. And these are tips that are applicable post-NaNoWriMo.

  • Refrain from reading (too much). Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. Lately  I find that if I check my phone or email, I start clicking on links. Thirty minutes later, I’ve started reading the longest article in the history of the world. It’s a sign of my procrastination, which I need to curtail.
  • Plan better. The bed fiasco sucked more time than necessary because I let it. I could have stepped back and allowed my kids more autonomy while I supervised. I thought by jumping in, I would get return to writing time. Instead, I was pulled deeper into my kids’ activities. (Totally worth it, mind you, but I still could have planned better!) This weekend, we are throwing a birthday party...and I've been planning!
  • Better buddy contact. I needed to check in with my NaNoWriMo friends and give them support. I find having those writing conversations energizing, but I haven’t made time for them…yet!
  • Shuffle writing time. I’m a morning writer, so I often tell myself I can’t write creatively later in the day. So, for the next two weeks, if I don’t write in the mornings, I vow to write during my lunch hour or before bed at night. I will be writing, no matter the time of day.

What have you been doing to reach your writing goals, NaNoWriMo or others? What have you had to rearrange or stop doing in order to make progress on your work-in-progress?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her free guide, Harmonizing: Find and Communicate to Your Audience, helps health and wellness professionals communicate with their potential clients.

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