Making Stories “Real”

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I’ve been asked if my characters are based on “real life” people that I know and if I use  events from my own life in my stories.

None of my characters remind me of anyone I know, although I often use friends’ names. As of yet, I haven’t used any of their mannerisms or physical traits—only their names as small tributes to their friendship.

As far as events are concerned, Runaways: The Long Journey Home was written in response to a recurring dream. I had dreamed the first few minutes of Jake’s escape so many times, that I simply had to see where the story took him. Where the dream ended, my imagination began. The book tells the story of abuse and forgiveness that has touched many lives.

My dog, Baxter, will appear in my next book, Simon Says. Although he doesn’t play a large part in the story, he will be portrayed accurately, including many of his quirky habits. So far, making him come alive through description has proven to be lots of fun.

If you are planning to use a real life event, or portray a friend of yours as one of your characters, be sure to get their permission. It might save you a lot of heartache should your friend not see past events in quite the same way as you have portrayed them. Don’t let that discourage you, however. Some of the best stories are those real life accounts that uplift and encourage the human spirit.

Finally, I do choose to honor people in my life who mean a lot to me or have influenced me in some way. I do this on the dedication page. For example, I have dedicated my first interactive picture book for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers to my parents. (Mom has Alzheimer’s and Dad is her faithful companion and caregiver.) Although they are not portrayed in, I Remember the Seasons, my mother’s memories did influence my choice of what to include within its pages.

Just Say “No.”

4959365203_0206a63ff3It’s hard to say, “no.”

To a party invitation.

To a bully.

To another piece of pie.

As an elementary school teacher, we taught a drug resistance program in our classrooms. It had as its slogan, “Just say NO.”

Our everyday world is filled with all kinds of opportunities, some of which are tempting, especially when we are asked to choose between them and “work.”

Even now, with the beautiful spring weather outside, flying a kite or walking the dog sounds like a lot more fun than sitting at my desk, typing on the keyboard…

I get it. I struggle, too.

And, I confess, that sometimes I opt to go to a movie or out for dinner with my husband instead of editing a chapter for my new book.

But, other times, we writers need to look toward the prize—the completion of a magazine article or a book—and let ourselves want that so badly that we

SIMPLY MUST

ABSOLUTELY MUST

UNEQUIVOCALLY MUST

SAY

“NO!”

So that we can live our dreams and not be caught, in the future,

simply dreaming.

A Writer’s Voice

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Whah…whah…whah.” Do you recognize that voice? Sure, it’s the teacher in Charlie Brown.

Each time you hear it, your brain makes certain connections and you know who is speaking.

But what exactly is a writer’s voice and how does a reader recognize it?

Well, a writer’s voice is unique to them. Readers recognize certain authors by the way they put words together—the distinctive way they look at the world.

Readers like, and thus “follow,” writers that have a recognizable voice—one that is original, like no one else’s.

So, give yourself the freedom to say things in your own unique way. Don’t try to copy another writer’s style.

Your voice is YOU shining through.

Become recognizable by allowing yourself to write in a style that is uniquely your own.

Can Fiction Deliver A Powerful Message?

 

32838577662_02d6f6f35dLet’s talk about writing goals.

I’m not referring to how many words you’ll write in a day or how many months you’ll allow yourself for writing that next great literary masterpiece.

Let’s consider the question: “Why do you write?” in the first place.

Some say it frees inner anxieties and helps work out problems, in much the same way as journaling.

Others may see it as a future money maker. Hum…

Still others view writing as a way of sharing information or the story of their journey through difficult times in an effort to help others facing similar circumstances.

Let’s go with the idea of helping others.

The next decision would be whether that would be best accomplished through fiction or non-fiction.

If one can share from real life experience, that would be the most powerful.

If not, can the same message be conveyed via fiction?

I believe it can—and I believe, if well-written, it can be just as powerful.

That means doing a little research on the subject at hand, and perhaps reading a couple of non-fiction books on the subject. You can then use the facts to weave a meaningful story with realistic characters.

I am currently writing a fiction book about bullying. As a former counselor, I know some of the facts. I can even recall situations that were shared with me. But, I still found it necessary to do some further research on the internet and interview a few people so that I could create characters and circumstances that would be believable—and that readers will connect with.

Finally, each time I write, I need to get in what I call the “emotional zone” so that I can write from the perspective of the person being bullied.

My writing goal?

To use my character’s emotional journey to help others vicariously experience the pain bullying causes and then join the effort to erase it from our culture.

Whatever It Takes

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I’ve heard that artists, in general, are a quirky bunch. They need certain things in their environment in order to get their creative juices flowing.

Writers might demand that the room needs to be at a specific temperature.

Actors may require that friends or family must be in the audience for them to perform well.

Singers often ask for specific things to drink or that the air be purified in their dressing rooms.

I know I find it difficult to write unless my desk is organized.

Whoever you are, we all perform optimally when certain conditions are met.

For most everyone, being well-rested, fed, and hydrated may apply.

So, let’s say you’re a writer. You’ve met your requirement of having a quiet place to write. You close the door and sit down at the computer.

But suddenly you’re distracted by a bird outside the window or a telephone ringing somewhere down the hall. Isn’t anyone going to get that?

Now, you’re off track.

Unable to focus.

You want to push your chair back and forget writing for today, but instead just rewind.

Maybe you need a walk around the block. Perhaps simply refreshening your water glass with a slice of lemon will do it. Maybe say a silent prayer.

Then, get back to the computer and try again.

Whatever it takes. For as long as it takes. As many times as it takes.

I’ve found that one page leads to another…and that page leads to the next…and before you know it, it’s

a book!

Let’s Get Cozy

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Sometimes, genres are broken down into sub-genres. One of my favorite reads is the cozy mystery, which is a sub-genre of crime fiction.

Here, point by point, are those factors which delineate them as such:

1- Profanity, sex and violence are downplayed.

2- They are usually set in small, socially intimate communities.

3- The detectives, almost always amateurs, are frequently women.

4- The main characters are usually well-educated, hold jobs which bring them into contact with others in the community.

5- They often have a contact on the police force (a spouse, relative, or friend) that gives them access to important information about “the case.”

6- The “detectives” are usually discounted by the authorities as nosy busybodies,(especially if they are elderly women) but are generally well-liked and gregarious members of the community.

7- The detectives get their information by eavesdropping, or even “stumbling” upon clues.”

8- The murderers are usually members of the community where the murder takes place and have hidden in plain sight. They often explain their motives after the unmasking.

9- The secondary characters are often comedic.

10- The murders often happen off stage, or even before the story begins. The real story is in the solving of the puzzling mystery.

11- These mysteries often have a prominent thematic element introduced by the detective’s hobby or job, such as fishing, golfing, antiques, etc. Some are based on holidays, such as Cozy Christmas Mysteries.

Cozy mysteries are fun, both to read and write!

How Much Is A Facebook “Like” Worth?

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Although you can find articles on the Internet which place the value of a single Facebook Like at between $8-12, others say each like is worth an average of $174.

Things like your budget, resources, and objectives determine just how much a “LIKE” is worth to you.

You may also want to consider that just because someone “Liked” your page doesn’t mean they will automatically like all of your posts or purchase your books.

Experts say that a page “Like” should be viewed as a potential client. In fact, some say that until a visitor to your page purchases a book, they should be considered to have a worth of “zero.”

I think, however, it is more useful (and realistic) for us to consider just how valuable the Facebook Community is to a writer as a whole.

Now, I happen to believe that someone is valuable if they engage in my posts, share content, and interact with me on one of my websites or subscribe to my emails.

Therefore, I want to make them happy. I want them to feel appreciated. I target my marketing to appeal to them.

I furnish them with information, share their opinions, offer them free and/or discounted deals, and of course, I visit their Facebook pages and “Like” them!

Even though we may never meet in person, Facebook Friendships are reciprocal relationships and we need to view them as such.

The value of a friendship?

Priceless.