Good Storytelling Trumps Technique

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We all know it is a top priority to learn to write well. Honing your craft and knowing the nuts and bolts of crafting words is key. But and this is a biggie—if you are not a good storyteller, no one will buy your book. (This includes non-fiction. Dry as toast academia sells to a small niche.)

We worry about how well we’ve learned the craft because other writers are going to be reading it. We rely on their input. (As we should.) The bottom line, however, is the reader. They are not going to judge you for your POV, backstory, whether you have prologue or how often you use -ly words. Many readers will forgive those errors if the story is compelling.

They are going to judge you on how well you tell a story.

Did you keep them reading?

Did they laugh out loud or use a box of tissue.

Were they entertained, challenged or inspired.

Did your prose resonate with them?

Was it the perfect weekend read?

Could they feel their heart racing?

Did they experience a new world unlike their own?

Were the characters’ problems so familiar they read to seek a solution for themselves.

Few readers want to read to cotton candy and sunshine stories where nothing happens and all the characters are sweet and their toughest decision is what to have for dinner. You know it’s true. Be honest. Listening to your seatmate on a four-hour flight extoll the virtues of their perfect family for the length of the flight gets tedious if not boring. Imagine if her tale involved running away from an abusive relationship or going into witness protection. Wouldn’t that be more interesting? Ok, total strangers sharing their personal information would set your Weird meter off in real life. But in the pages of a book you can feel free to hang on to every word.

A good storyteller takes real life struggles and brings them home to their readers. A she-really-gets-what-I’m-going- through moment keeps them turning pages. A gifted humorist can take the mundane, the ordinary, and craft it into something unforgettable.

How are your story telling skills?

 

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Be Encouraged : Your Words Are Not Wasted

Waste basket

Photo from morguefile.com

Today I thought I’d post a quote to inspire you this week. If you wonder if you’re wasting your time writing. If you feel why bother. This quote should inspire you to press in this week in crafting words.

Joss Whedon strength quote

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” Joss Whedon

Strengthening words

So let your words strengthen you. Journal. Capture your emotions on paper. Write your hopes, dreams aspirations. Write the promises God has spoken to your heart.

Characters within

Create on paper the characters talking in your head. The ones so unlike yourself. Have them walk the streets of places your long to visit or make you homesick. Let them speak the words you haven’t the courage to say yourself.

What are you afraid of

Darkness? Water? Death? Taxes? Parenting? Love? Strangers? Growing old?

Wow! So much to write about. Go Get Started!!!!

 

What quote inspires you to write?

I love hearing from my readers. Leave a comment.

 

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Lapping the Couch Potatoes to Publication

couch

Are you a sitter or a lapper? Photo by Morguefile.com

“No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone sitting on the couch.”

Diane Flegal, Hartline Literary Agent

I found this quote in a recent blog post by Diane Flegal. It resonates with me. I am often comparing myself to those who publish gobs of stuff throughout the year and those who are making the big bucks for their novels. I set that as my finish line and whine and complain when I’m miles from that goal with each passing year. But if I would only turn around I’d see I’ve come miles from where I was ten years ago. Even with bumps and potholes that have derailed me for seasons of time, I am still on the path to the finish line of being a multi-published author. Each year I grow my blog, publish a few more articles and short stories. Last year I wrote my second novel. This year I hope to see my debut novel in print. This year I plan to write another novel and find homes for some of my short stories and article ideas.

Turtle

Slow and steady to my goal. Photo from Morguefile.com

Over the years I’ve met people who want to write a book. They moan about the if-onlys and the some-days. There are lots of wanna-be writers out there. And you know what? I am miles ahead of them. I’ve written two novels, hundreds of articles and a plethora of short stories and plays over the years. I am on course even if the wind dies down and I am dead in the water due to unavoidable life dramas. Because I’m in the water heading toward the island of multi-published authors. Who knows, if I keep pressing forward I might become a best-selling author or even an author who is being read hundreds of years after my death.

But if I sit down with the moaners and naysayers who quit when stuff gets hard, I’ll never get one fraction of an inch closer to the finish line than I am today. I refuse to be a couch potato when it comes to achieving my writing goals. I will not watch others pass me and wallow in jealousy. No, I’m lapping the couch and it feels pretty good.

Are you a lapper?

 

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This week’s winner of Bring Home a Cowboy are Tere Belcher and Laura Sower. Gloria will be contacting you. Congratulations! I’m sure you will love her book.

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Bring A Cowboy Home Giveaway and Interview with Author Gloria Doty

Gloria Doty pic-3I found another book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I received an advanced copy of Bring A Cowboy Home to review. I love a good December romance and this is better than good. Gloria Doty has two non-fiction books to her credit Not Different Enough and A Bouquet of Devotions this is her first novel. I’ve ask her to come and talk about Bring a Cowboy Home and tell us her creative process. It will be coming out on February 11th. Here’s a bit about the book from the back cover.

Relationships are never easy, especially when everything seems to be conspiring against you.

Louisa Crowder is a successful businesswoman from Chicago. When she meets Cal Frasier, a handsome rancher from Magnolia, Texas, it feels like someone’s lit a match on a forest fire. The only problem: Everything seems to stand in their way.

With the opinions and objections of their adult children, their totally different lifestyles, secrets from their pasts, and their completely opposite views of their faith in Jesus Christ, can Louisa and Cal fan the flames and find happiness, or are their obstacles too insurmountable to overcome?-bpfbt bring a cowboy home-res

By the way I love those boots, Gloria. Take a seat at the kitchen table while I steep some Chocolate Chia Tea. Help yourself to a Blueberry Danish.

After reading Bring a Cowboy Home I have a few questions I am dying to ask.

Why a romance between a couple as I like to refer to them circling 60? Most romance focus on couples somewhere between 20 and 40 years old.

I thought with the millions of ‘baby boomers’ in our society, perhaps they were tired of reading about the young and beautiful people. Perhaps they would enjoy reading about a romance that is a ‘second chance at love.’ Many people have the mistaken idea that once a person is 50, 60, 70, 80 or beyond, they don’t need love or romance any longer. Nothing could be further from the truth. My characters are healthy, viable, sexual people.

You live in Fort Wayne Indiana but you settings are Texas and Illinois. You actually put Lucy (Louisa) in a home in Batavia, Illinois. That’s the next town over from Aurora where I live. Why there? And how did you research these two places to get the geography right?

With Lucy’s business, she had to be in a large city. Chicago is the closest to me. It also has a reputation for dishonest, unscrupulous government. My sister and her husband live in Batavia and we have had many discussions about the perfectly good houses that are torn down to build a new and larger one.

My daughter and family live in Cypress, Texas. It is close to Magnolia, Tomball, Montgomery and Spring, Texas. I have enjoyed visiting these towns when I visit my daughter, so I used them in the story.

How long did it take for the idea for this story to grow into a novel?

The idea formed in my head on the way home from a writers’ meeting, where I was a guest. I went home and began the story. I knew the end line before I filled in the rest of it. I wrote it in 3 weeks. I fell in love with my characters and their lives, so I continued the story for 2 more novels. They were written over a short time, also.

Lucy refers to Cal as Marshal reminiscent of the old Gunsmoke TV show. In your mind does Cal look like James Arness ( the actor who played Marshall Dillon) or someone else?

No, not James Arness. In my head he looks like Dylan Neal who plays Jack on Hallmark’s Cedar Cove. I purposely asked the cover designer to NOT use ‘people pictures’ on the covers because I want each reader to visualize Cal and Lucy and Ben and the others, for themselves.

Cal didn’t look like Dylan Neal in my head, nor Marshall Dillon. You’re right, readers see the characters in the head much differently than the author does. :)

Tell me how you decided on the character traits of Lucy and Cal and why those particular characteristics?

With the exception of being wealthy, Lucy is a lot like me. Obstinate, headstrong, impetuous and has an “I can take care of myself’ attitude. Cal needed to be someone I could fall in love with…and I did. Too bad he isn’t real. He is patient, loving, and still, a man’s man.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Actually, maybe a bit of both. I like to works a scene out in my head to see if it feels right, but sometimes, my characters have a tendency to go off on their own.

What do you hope readers will take away with them after journeying with Lucy and Cal?

I sincerely hope they will realize there is no age limit on falling in love or on romance. People can be faced with many situations, but their love for each other will remain strong. Cal and Lucy do pray a lot together, also. I didn’t want the Christianity to hit people over the head; I wanted it to be evident that prayer can be an integral part of a relationship.

I know you have two more books planned in the series. Are Cal and Lucy still the main characters or do you share someone else’s story?

Cal and Lucy continue with their lives in the next two books. They face many things that typical people struggle with every day. Many of those things involve their adult children and grandchildren. These books are already written and with the publisher. The second one comes out in June and the third one in the fall.

I’m already looking forward to reading them.

Now, it’s time to ask the question I usual ask all the authors I interview. What is one tip you would give to a new novelists?

You can write about anything but make certain it is something or some character you feel a kinship with. It will be easier to describe their feelings and thoughts if you are ‘there’ so to speak. Also, find people who know the facts about an item or circumstance, if you don’t. I asked a friend who is very knowledgeable about guns for his expertise on the revolver Lucy carries. He told me what kind, as it was given to her by her grandfather, and what it was capable of doing. I found a person who works with EMTs to send me copies of the exact words an EMT would say to a mother about to give birth at home. (Second book) Even though you may be writing fiction, it still needs to be believable.

A Giveaway

Gloria will be giving away both and e-book and a paperback copy of Bring A Cowboy Home. Just request to be put in the drawing in the comments here or on my Facebook page. Winners will be announced on Friday. Don’t forget you can purchase a copy after February 11th. It’s already available on Amazon in e-book. Pass on this blog in social media and comment that you did and receive an additional chance to win.

More About Gloria

Gloria Doty is a Christian author, freelance writer, blogger and speaker. She has written articles for many magazines and is a regular contributor to a quarterly devotional. Her non-fiction book, Not Different Enough, was published in 2014 and was awarded the Writer of the Year award by the WTP Writer’s Conference. It is the transparent telling of the first thirty years of life with her daughter with autism, Asperger’s and intellectual disabilities. Gloria and her sister co-authored A Bouquet of Devotions, published in 2015.

Bring a Cowboy Home is her first fiction romance novel. Her love of Texas and the towns included in the book were her inspiration. Gloria has five children and thirteen grandchildren. She writes from her home in Fort Wayne, IN.

Contact Info: Gloria Doty

gloriadotywriter@gmail.com

http://www.writingbygloria.com/ blog on this site: Montage Moments

http://www.gettingitright-occasionally.blogspot.com/ Blog about life with my daughter, Kalisha

https://www.facebook.com/gloriadotywriter?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/detour27

http://www.pinterest.com/doty7843/

http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/doty7843/likes

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=134328377&trk=spm_pic

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21914726-gloria-doty

 

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What I Discovered about Writer’s Digest

wd COVER RESIZEDRecently, I began subscribing to Writer’s Digest. Others had sung its praises but I hadn’t bothered until now. I had no idea what a treasure I’d been neglecting.

It is full of all sorts of writerly stuff. How- to articles for marketing. Business articles on taxes and record keeping. Interviews with authors, book reviews and so much more.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction this is a great resource. I learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

In the February 2016 issue I found some fascinating things. For example, an article, Publishing Decoded by Phil Sexton shared the needed to approve the spine font not just the cover font. Because the spine is often what is displayed at bookstores. It needs to be eye-catching. Did you know publishers pay for special placement at book stores? That’s when the front cover is visible.

A writing craft article entitled The Art if Distraction by Jane K Cleland explained Red Herrings are not just found in mysteries.

It’s a mini-conference between its pages. Monthly columns introduce you to various agents and what they are looking for, author interviews, conference information and more. Not to mention, book reviews and ads relevant to writing i.e. editing services and writing courses.

wd COVER 2 RESIZEDI carry the magazine around in my purse so it is handy when I have a moment in a waiting room or waiting in the car. (Yes, I have a big purse.) I read during my lunchbreak at work and when I need a break from writing.

The price is worth the investment. Lots of new information with every issue. If you are serious about your writing, you really needed to add Writers Digest to your writer’s toolbox.

Have you checked out Writer’s Digest? What’s your take on it?

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The winner of the free copy of Her Deadly Inheritance  we are giving away this week is Kathy Thomas.

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A Visit with Author Beth Ann Ziarnick and a Giveaway

I’ve been reading alot in January and it is reflected in my second author interview in so many weeks. I love to share author stories and I hope you love reading them.

Beth's head shot-2

Today I am welcoming Beth Ann Ziarnik to Writer’s Patchwork. We met at The Write-to-Publish Conference a few years ago where she won a publisher’s award at the banquet with her debut novel Her Deadly Inheritance. I’m so excited about its recent release. I enjoyed the story and the creative way you told it. Click to read my review.

Below is the a little taste of the story for those who have not read it yet.

First a runaway. Now running for her life. Won’t Jill Shepherd’s family be surprised when she returns to Grand Island, Michigan to end their scheme to have her declared legally dead? But when Jill exposes the mastermind behind her intended death, her family’s deception may kill any chance she has of remaining alive.

Clay Merrick may seem to be little more than a handy-man restoring homes, but when the former Special Forces operative tracks a brutal killer to Jill’s historic house under renovation, he has most of the evidence he needs to bring the killer to justice … until Jill gets in the way.

When the killer sets sights on Jill as the next victim, it’s not just Clay s mission on the line, but his heart.HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Beth, I’m thrilled to have you visit with me today. Let me take your coat. Watch out, don’t trip over the pile of shoes near the front door. Come, join me in the kitchen for coffee and Danish.

Thank you for inviting me, Cindy. It’s great to be here. Oh, is that lemon-centered Danish? My favorite! How did you know? <G>

It’s such an honor to have you take time from your busy promoting schedule to share with my readers some of the background story to Her Deadly Inheritance.

My pleasure!

Let me start out Q & A with a question all my readers want to know. Where did the idea come for Her Deadly Inheritance?

The idea first germinated while I was reading yet another wonderful romantic suspense—even then my favorite genre. I wondered how the faith of Christian heroes and heroines might affect the choices necessary in the difficult circumstances of a romantic suspense. From there I took the basics—isolated and exotic location, frightening suspense, the falling in love of two unlikely people, etc.—and started praying and asking myself, “What if?” Jill and Clay and pieces of their story started to form. I wrote those short scenes and chucked them into a folder until I finally had enough to see a story emerging.

Tell me, how did you come to choose Upper Michigan for your setting?

I live in northeast Wisconsin and was looking for an island for my novel’s setting, one that was somewhat remote and exotic. Eureka! I found it in The Grand Island Story by Beatrice H. Castle. The location had everything I needed. My husband and I made two trips to Munising and Grand Island MI to research the setting. Forest ranger David Worel and a few other local people were kind enough to help. We loved the community and its old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. I just knew I had found the right place and time for Jill and Clay’s story.

Why renovating houses as the backdrop?

I needed a reason for Clay to be there and interact with Jill while they fell in love. I’m also an architecture addict and cheer on the restoration and upkeep of grand old historical homes of any era. So I borrowed Mark Twain’s Connecticut home, tweaked it a bit for my story’s purposes, and plopped it about half way up Grand Island’s east side over Trout Bay. I think that’s called literary license because the truth is: (1) There’s never been a house at that location, and (2) no one ever built a Victorian mansion on the island. You can go to the location on the Grand Island, but you will not find Jill’s house or any evidence of it. That element of the story is pure fiction on my part.

Besides visiting The Grand Island what other research did you do? I always like to know how other writer’s build their story world.

In addition to reading Mrs. Castle’s book and visiting the community to experience the story’s locale, I interviewed an officer at the sheriff’s department to find out how they might process a case such as the death of Jill’s mother and how quickly they could access the scene on the island. I also interviewed a couple of island residents about life on the island. I read everything I could about the history of the area and took pictures. I researched both Jill’s career as a genealogist and Clay’s as a restoration contractor, even interviewing a local restoration contractor. I made an online tour of Mark Twain’s house and collected articles and pictures so that I could better “walk” through the house as if I were there. Lots more because every aspect of a novel will have some research connected to it in order to make the story and its setting come alive.

Describe the personalities of your two main characters Jill Shephard and Clay Merrick. Did you model them after anyone in particular?

Though they are totally themselves, Jill has bits and pieces of me in her, and Clay has bits and pieces of my husband Jim in him. Jill’s tendency to be frightened yet bulldoze through her fear to a desired end is a little like me. So is her relationship with God. Clay’s steady purpose, his faithfulness, his muscles and love of family and playing ball are like Jim. As a matter of fact, the spectacular catch he fields in the ballgame scene is Jim’s. I saw my husband do that amazing thing! But truly, I had to write about Jill and Clay and observe them to come to know them. I never had anyone in mind as they developed.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope readers see that loving someone isn’t a walk in the park. It takes work and sacrifice but is so worth the effort. I also hope they will come to realize that if they obey God and give him enough time, he will make difficult situations come out for good in the right way and at the right time.

How long did it take from conception to publication?

Oh, boy! Her Deadly Inheritance was a long time in the making. The idea first occurred to me forty years ago. Romantic suspense wasn’t even on the Christian publishers radar screen back then, and I had a long way to go to learn the skills for writing fiction. I spent my early years being published in magazines and newspapers with articles and news stories. I also had twelve years of being just this side of wheelchair or bed-ridden with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Not much happening then. But the dream and the story never went away. Then about six years ago, I decided to get serious. I focused entirely on the novel, working hard to acquire the needed skills, endlessly writing and rewriting and polishing. I started meeting editors and agents at conferences and sending out proposals. As close as I seemed to come to breaking through, nothing happened until the summer of 2013 when agent Jim Hart declared he loved my novel and wanted to represent me. Surely the Lord was at work! A year later, my novel won a big award during the Write-to-Publish banquet, and six months later, Rowena Kuo at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered a contract to publish my book. It took about a year to edit and polish a novel to bring it to its best. Meanwhile, other important preparations were in the works. But on January 2 this year, Her Deadly Inheritance released.

What have you learned along the way to publication that you can pass on to new writers?

  • No matter how tempting, don’t quit. Believe in yourself and the dream God put in your heart. Keep working at your craft, building your skills for storytelling.
  • Join a local Christian writers group—start one if you have to. I did. Join online writers groups, too. You will grow much faster as a novelist if you do. I love ACFW where I take monthly classes taught by professionals (free with the membership) and make friends who help me and whom I am blessed to help.
  • Go to Christian writers’ conferences seminars where you can learn more than you ever dreamed. Where you will make dear writer friends and meet editors, publishers, and agents. Again, where you will both help others and be helped.

I was very intrigued by the number of endorsements you have in the front of your book. Endorsements from noteworthy authors. Tell us how you managed to get them.

They all offered. These friends whom I’ve made down through years of going to conferences and seminars were almost more thrilled than I was when my dream came true. But they are also professionals whom I could count on to tell the truth.

Do you have any other projects in the works you would like to tell us about? Is there a sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance?

Jill and Clay’s story will continue for two more books, though each story can stand on its own. Yes, I’m putting them through two more horrendous suspense experiences that will threaten their lives and challenge their growing love to the breaking point. I am loving the writing of the second novel even more than the first, if that’s possible. <G> For this one, I borrowed the Pabst Mansion and it location in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Jill will meet her birth father face-to-face for the first time. But her long-time dream of a loving relationship with him turns into a Christmas nightmare she and Clay could never have foreseen.

Giveaway Hurrah!!

You mentioned you wanted to do a giveaway. So, readers, leave a comment to be put in the drawing. You have time to make a comment either here or on my Facebook page. Please share this blog with your friends so they can enter the contest too or pick up a copy at their favorite bookstore.

The winner will be contacted by me for email information to pass on to Beth. We will announce a winner on Friday.

More About Beth

A long-time fan of romantic suspense, Beth Ann Ziarnik offers her first novel with all the twists and turns, cliffhangers and romantic tension she and readers have come to love. She is a co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in Northeast Wisconsin and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to her 450 published pieces (several included in anthologies), she is the author of Love With Shoes On, her ten-year devotional column about love in action and based on 1 Corinthians 13.

Currently, you can find her online at:

www.bethziarnik.com

www.facebook.com/beth.ziarnik

www.facebook.com/authorBethAnnZiarnik

http://www.bethziarnik.wordpress.com

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Winners of Book Giveaway from J Andersen

J Andersen offered two e-books for commenters on Tuesday. Today we  drew names. I’ve included those who comment on my facebook page as well.

TBT-2 The winner of  e-book copy of The Breeding Tree is TLC Neilsen. At What Cost

The winner of the e-book copy of At What Cost is Carol Guthrie Heilman.

Ladies, contact me with you emails and I’ll pass them on to Jessica.

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