No posts for the next two weeks due to my kids being on Spring Break. Yes, the younger two get two weeks off, while the middle schooler only gets one.
See you in 2017
As usual, last week I went to visit my grandpa at the nursing home. They had a huge sign that warned the unit was sick with Gastroenteritis and to not visit unless absolutely necessary. I turned to go away, but one of the staff stopped me to ask me about something my grandpa received. Against my better judgement, I followed them onto the unit, solved the problem, and decided since I was already there to go ahead and visit my grandpa. Bad decision! I ended up sick for three days and passed it on to my six-year-old daughter, who was also ill for three days. Knock on wood, so far we’re the only two out of the family that came down with this horrible bug.
There are things you don’t want to share, like the nasty disease above and then there are things you do want to share. Cindy Baldwin’s blog is something I found that has been helpful while I’m plotting my next manuscript and that is something I want to share. She doesn’t write often, but she has several nuggets of helpful writing advice in between her personal stories. My favorite is the topic of objective correlatives. If you’re like me and clueless as to what that means, Cindy does an excellent job of explaining it in detail here. Basically, it’s a “grand-scale metaphor” that is throughout a story. The Phoenix in Harry Potter is an example–that I swiped from her post–and she explains it in detail if your curious about it. So, long story short, I’m trying to figure out how to get this into my next WIP.
Have you heard of this? If so, have you used it in your writing or have you read it in a novel?
*cover art original U.K. edition
This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’m white or if you prefer Caucasian. My hubs looks white but is Creole, which is a mixture of African American, German, and Cuban. His family hails from Texas via Louisiana and my children are a mixture of us. None of us has dark skin. However, I love my husband’s family, which runs the spectrum from dark African American to light, Latina, and Asian. Because of this, I always write characters that reflect one of them as I feel they are so underrepresented in literature or stereotyped. Recently, an agent, Saba Sulaiman addressed the question if someone should “throw” diversity in their manuscript to make it more marketable. She provided the best answer I’ve seen. If you’re wondering the same thing, I recommend you check out her answer at Pub Hub.
I thought I did this well in my writing, but according to the feedback I received from an editor, I actually do the opposite. So, that sent me on a quest to find out exactly what I was doing wrong. Here’s the best advice on how to make sure you’re not doing what I did.
It’s a blog post by editor Kate Foster and she discusses how many blogs are out there dedicated to this topic. She’s right. There are a gazillion of them. However, she enlightens us with some excellent “code” words that show us exactly how we show or how we tell. In addition she explains how to show with examples and by doing the following; “…show…them [the reader] through facial expression, body language and inner thought…”
I’ve been using this advice to catch my “telling” errors and I hope it works for you too.
The other day a writer friend of mine told me that writer’s whose debut novels come out to critical claim and big advances always struggle with their sophomore novel. She cited several friends she knew and quoted them as saying that they wished their first book wasn’t such a hit because of all the pressure to repeat it. Marie Claire published an article by such an author who wrote a piece that reiterated my friend. So to my writer friends who are not published, yet, be careful what you wish for.
Here’s the article. *Be aware there is some cussing.
It’s hard to write main characters that are strong and likable. Agent Linda Epstein’s blog had a recent guest post who addressed this particular problem and it struck a chord with me. I’m sharing the part of the post that I liked down below. For the rest of the article, you can read it here. (Highlights are my own.)
“According to the Transitive Property of Reader-Character Relations, readers will echo the reactions of characters they already know and like and/or trust, and oppose the reactions of characters they don’t like or trust. Consider the opening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Dursley family is shown to be amusingly small-minded and aggressively normal, so we readers enjoy feeling superior to them. But we also learn the Dursleys hate the Potter family for being so different, and since we dislike the Dursleys, we automatically like the Potters—a useful first step in making readers sympathize with Harry. Think about how your character math works as you introduce new figures into your book.
You can also use supporting characters to create more dimension in a character who thus far has had only one identity.
In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale. I feel the muscles in my face relaxing, my pace quickening. . . . The sight of him waiting there brings on a smile. . . .
“Hey, Catnip,” says Gale.
—The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In the first six pages of The Hunger Games, we see that Katniss loves her family, but she’s not a particularly kind, enthusiastic, or pleasant person. Then she goes to meet Gale in the woods, and this happens: She relaxes. She smiles. She experiences pleasure in someone else’s presence, and Gale likes her as well, which confirms Katniss must have some warmth we haven’t seen yet. That affirms our own interest in her and maybe even warms it up to affection, and that makes us extremely invested in her when she volunteers for the games at the end of the chapter.
A corollary to the Transitive Property: Readers like characters who are liked by other people. They are suspicious of characters who aren’t liked by other people. If you’re writing premise-driven fiction, consider giving your protagonist friends right away, because the friends provide an instant affirmation of the worthiness of the reader’s interest in the protagonist. With that interest confirmed, you can get right on with the plot.”
As I type this the Olympics are in full swing and there is an uproar, rightly so, over the way the media is treating the female athletes. If you don’t know about it, it is in regards to their degrading comments that have nothing to do with the women’s athletic abilities. Sadly, this is not new for women.
Not for women athletes.
Not for women crime/mystery/thriller writers.
Recently, an article in The Atlantic declared, rightly so, that women writers are dominating the crime/mystery/etc. market with books that have twisty, emotional characters that reek havoc on the supporting cast. The author, a male, admitted to reading and enjoying these type of novels. It’s nice to see that these writers are receiving some of the attention they deserve. I can only hope this continues and translates to better book contracts for women authors.
I have a confession and admitting it will not make me popular with quite a few people, but that isn’t going to stop me from writing it here.
I’m a huge fan of James Patterson.
I know. I know. I can hear you booing loudly. But even if you aren’t a fan of his writing (which I am), you should at least respect his business acumen. He has turned his writing into a serious business. Yes, I know he hires “coauthors” and they do most of the writing, but once again, it should be admired that he has figured out how to make it in this tough business.
If you don’t believe me, check out this article on GallyCat. It listed the 12 highest paid authors and James Patterson made number one on the list, beating out the competition by $75 mil. That’s right, he blew away the next author on the list by almost 40%. So boo all you want, he’s laughing at all the naysayers as his bank account grows.
Goodbye summer and hello to the new school year. The youngest two Dahl children went back to school last week and the oldest returns this Thursday, her last year at middle school. Next school year, I’ll have a kid in elementary, middle, and high school. So, I’m going to enjoy the simplicity of only dealing with two school calendars this year.