The Best and Worst of 2016

I started a ‘best-of-2016’ list last week thinking that it would help me to zip through my post at this busy time of year with holiday festivities and company in town.  At the top of my list was ‘best day’.

That best day was in August when I was able to slalom ski all the way around the island at Lake Burton in North Georgia. I’ve tried to slalom ski many times. I could go straight but when the boat turned, I always fell. The difference was a wider ski that my friends had.  I was so excited about my accomplishment, I asked my husband for a wide slalom ski.

This is what I’ll be skiing like next year!

Christmas morning he dragged out a long thin package he had hidden away and I knew.  There it was. My own ski. Now, when friends and neighbors were out on the slalom course I’d go too. It would be fun, even if I only skied around a few of the buoys on the course.

We loaded the family in a ski boat and headed out on the lake. The water was colder than summertime so I decided to boot up standing on the swim platform, something I usually do sitting on the deck or in the water. I jumped sideways into the water, but didn’t jump out far enough and slammed my wrist on the edge of the swim platform breaking my radius bone in two places.

fractured left radius pre-op

 

So my 2016 is going out with a bang.

Luckily, I’m nearing the end of my story in revision.  I guess it’s a good time to re-read my entire manuscript for nit-picky things I can correct typing with one finger. Let me know if you’ve heard of a good dictation program.

I wish you all the best in 2017.

Top Five Books of 2016

We’re counting down 2016 with our personal lists of favorite….books, of course! I think you can find out a lot about each of the Tuesday’s when you analyze their lists!

Jonathan’s top five:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney– I LOVE every book in this franchise. Never read one in which I didn’t laugh a lot.

Click Here to Start by Denis Markell – Kids searching for treasure in a real-life escape room setting. What’s not to love?

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat – Fun book about a girl entering middle school and navigating her way through the new way-of-life

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantaskey – A mystery set in 1920’s Chicago. I love historical fiction and one that takes place at the same time as Al Capone’s Chicago? I’m in.

Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production by Sarah S. Reida – Lissa Black moves from NYC to Pennsylvania and discovers monsters in a swamp near her house. I hate when that happens.

Joanne

Joanne Butcher

My favorite books of the year weren’t all published in 2016 and they’re not all fiction.

1.            The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (now in movie format)

2.            Off the Grid by C. J. Box   (was on critic Oline Cogdill’s 2016 favorites list too)

3.            Homecoming by Stacie Ramey (famous Tuesday Writer)

4.            The Killing Song by P.J. Parrish

5.            Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Mass

Stacie

Stacie Ramey

Picking five best books of 2016 is exceptionally hard. Thanks, Tuesdays! Argh!
But I am a professional. So… with after  a ton of crossing out and adding and deleting books from my list to cull it to only five, I’m going to list these:

The first one is The Raising, by Steven Dos Santos completed his Torch Keeper trilogy with a bang! It was released in January of 2016 and it really got my reading off to a great start! Thanks, Steven! I recommend his books to everyone. Next is The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. This was a stunning beauty that came out in late 2015 but I didn’t read it until 2016, so it qualifies. Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us was breathtaking and achingly beautiful. One of my favorite reads ever. Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog was one of my favorite books of the year. I read it the week it came out. A book about obsession, this one is vivid and so real you feel like you are part of it. It’s a book that makes you lean in.  And for a humorous book to round out my list, try The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand. So funny. So authentic. So entertaining. So go out and read it why don’t you?!

Melody

Melody Maysonet

 

 

Faran

Two of my top five reads from 2016 include two books I wrote about for The Palm Beach Post.

In June, I reviewed This is not The Abby Show by Debbie Reed Fisher and found it to be an honest and funny look at a young girl with ADHD.
The Homecoming by Tuesday member Stacie Ramey was so good that I finished it in less than 48 hours. John’s journey from hate and loss to self acceptance sucked me right in and didn’t let go.
A third book is one I read about once a month called the Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. It’s a spiritual book about living by the right principles and getting the most out of life.
The fourth book was a gift from Scbwi picture book author Laurie Friedman called Ruby Valentine and the Sweet Surprise. Had fun reading it with my daughter, Blair.
Last, I just started reading The Living by Matt De La Pena. Anything he writes is gold if you ask me.

So there you have it – our top fives – what’s on your list?

Wrap it Up Wednesday, Holiday Style

The holidays are different for me and my family. I mean, not that different than other Jewish families’ holidays but I mean different from the mainstream.

 

There’s a lot of talk about marginalized and underrepresented people in literature and I know that’s true. But I think there’s also a lot of misunderstanding and just plain not understanding of other cultures and how they live. But mostly, underneath all the traditions, we are all the same.

 

 

Here’s what I mean. Every year my family rushes through the throes of daily life, auditions, rehersals(for Lexi), work for JKR and I, writing for me. There’s grocery shopping and bill paying and house cleaning and dog caring for. You know, just the usual life stuff. And somewhere around September or October, depending on the Hebrew calendar, we have to fit into all of that, the huge amount of preparation that celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur requires. I’m not complaining. I love that time of the year. Growing up it meant I’d polish the silver and clean the Waterford while helping Mom cook and Dad bake. My family is decidely less formal, and honestly, I have no idea how Mom managed all of that, but we still cook holdiay meals and, in our less organized manner, usually manage to get everyone to Synagogue for services. And most times, I am in love with all of that. Truly.

 

But then December comes around, and my Christian friends take the baton of holiday preparations. They are frenzied and rushed and also filled with joy. It’s wonderful to see and freeing for me, because Winter break for me is more about recuperating from the hustle and bustle of essentially working two jobs, and the cancellation of almost every activity I participate in during the year. Writing groups, included. That’s why this week’s Wrap it Up Wednesday is all about my perspective on life more than wrapping up what happened in group this week because group didn’t happen.

Because as my friends happily rush from one house to the next Christmas-ing and stuff, I am lounging around, watching movies with my kids, playing cards, and whatever else we feel like doing that doesn’t require showering before 1:00 PM. It’s bomb.

 

 

But see, this year was a little different. This year Chanukah fell on Christmas. Talk about your plot twist.

 

Now, don’t get all smirky with me. Chanukah, while obviously a Jewish holiday is really no big deal in terms of preparation. Here’s how Chanukah works in my family: Step 1. Buy potatoes, sour cream, applesauce, Chanukah candles and gelt. Maybe Coke also for a big treat. Step 2. Make latkes. Step 3. Light Menorahs. Repeat 7 more times. Except the latkes part.

The thing about Chanukah is I always downplay it. Always. It’s not a huge holiday, it’s kind of a kid’s holiday. I mean, there’s tons of amazing meaning, which I won’t get into for this post, but it’s not one of the biggies. So I don’t usually get all worked up about it. But something happens when we light the Menorahs, all of them given to us each by my father, who had a huge collection. The candles are beautiful. I don’t mean normal candle beautiful. With birthday candles, you blow them out. Candles you light for the house are encased in glass. These are little lights lined up and burning bright until they burn out. And they just get inside you. And as you sing the blessings, they make you remember when you were a kid lighting them, and then when your kids were little and you taught them to light them, and every single time you got to be with your brother and sister and their kids and light them. You remember the last Chanukah with your mother. And the last one with your father. And you know that one day, no matter how much everything else changes, this thing will remain constant. The lighting of Chanukah candles will continue in my family. With my kids lighting them with their kids, and hopefully me, there watching.

 

This is the thing that makes holidays important and wonderful and worth all of the hectic running around. For my family, at least. I hope for yours also, whether you are Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Atheist, or Non-theist. Family time and family traditions are the most important things you create together.

 

Tomorrow The Tuesdays will give their best book we read in 2016 recommendations. I hope you’ll read that post because books have the power that religion does to reach people and bring them together and create memories.

 

See you all next Tuesday, when I offer my tips on writing. Until then I’ll be playing cards with my kids, and watching movies, and staying in pjs until 1:00. Don’t judge me. Happy everything to everyone!

Writing for Young Adults: Something I Learned the Hard Way, Part 1

When I began seriously pursuing writing as a career, I didn’t intend to write for young adults. My book, A WORK OF ART, was originally aimed toward an older audience, but my critique group convinced me (and rightly so) that it was suited for young adults. After all, its protagonist was a teenage girl, and many of her problems were teenage problems.

But making the transition from an adult audience to a YA audience was tougher than it seemed. My early drafts were written in third person, where everything was seen through the eyes of my protagonist. That’s all well and good, but I soon realized how distanced that kept me from the mind of a teenager. I found myself writing things like: “She gazed at her father’s painting,” which sounds nothing like how a teenager sees the world. I’d be much better off saying: “She looked at her dad’s painting.”

But even that wasn’t cutting it—not for my book, anyway. While writing in third person, it was too easy to slip into the mind of a forty-something year old mother. (Yep, that’s me.) My critique group recommended I write in first person. They said it’d be easier to stay in my protagonist’s head. I resisted and kept writing in third—mostly because I didn’t want to rewrite the first half of the book yet again. But I kept getting comments like, “I don’t feel what your character’s feeling.” Or, “Your protagonist feels distant.”

So finally I bit the bullet and tried writing my next chapter in first person. Wow, what a difference! Though I still found myself using the occasional “adult” phrases such as “I gazed at” or “I harbored,” the overall effect was startling. My critique group raved about what a difference the first-person made. They felt connected to my protagonist in a way they never had. And so I was off. I finished the draft in first person and then went back through the first half and “converted” to first person, which I soon discovered was a lot harder than changing all the “she’s” to “I’s.” That conversion from third person to first person made me realize just how distanced my protagonist was from the mind of a teenage girl.

So that’s one thing I learned the hard way. Writing in third person kept me distanced from the mind of a teenager. That’s not to say you can’t write wonderful YA fiction in third person. Of course it can be done, but I, apparently, couldn’t do it.

Media Monday – After Christmas Sales

Ever wonder where writers like JK Rowling get their ideas?

I do!

If only there were a store with after Christmas sales where I could get one. Perhaps I should go shopping today to Teddy’s Story Joint.

http://studioc.net/studio-c-teddys-story-joint/

If only it were that easy! Truth be told, there are lots of similarities between certain types of stories, but what makes each one unique is the author’s spin.

Joseph Campbell has a book on the heroes. www.tuesdaywriters.com

Our favorite writing guru Joyce Sweeney has schooled us in the plot clock and using it in our stories. Amazing picture book author, Rob Sanders explains the plot clock on his blog: http://robsanderswrites.blogspot.com/2011/08/plot-clock.html.

So maybe I will do a little after Christmas sale shopping today, but I guess I don’t need a new story. I just  need to refine the one I’ve got.

 

Free Write Friday

2016 has been a year. Yes it has.

Sides have been taken. Predictions made. Proven wrong. Then revisited. Twitter has taken on a whole new life and a whole new role in the political landscape. And no matter which side of the argument you were on, it’s a time of trepidation and unchartered territory for all of us.

But then again, we have books and movies and fandoms to save us, thankfully.  Full immersion in the worlds created by authors and screen writers is at an all time high.

Thank you Harry Potter. Thank you Star Wars. Thank you Marvel Universe. Thank you Barnes & Nobles and indie book stores. Thank you bloggers and podcasters and fan fic writers. You keep us living what we love.

And you know what? I sincerely believe that 2017 is going to be even bigger for those of us who work in the imagination trade. Yay us.

But until then here are a few of my favorite memories of 2016:

 

I didn’t actually see The Force Awakens until January 2016 so even though it came out in 2015, I’m counting it as one of my favorite memories this year. Reliving the magic of Star Wars meant remembering my parents (who are in everything, still) who always gave my siblings and me a love of magic in all forms. I couldn’t be more grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was on the First Books panel for FL SCBWI January conference with fellow Tuesday Writer, Melody Maysonet.

 

Along with Steven Dos Santos, I presented a YA masterclass for the Big Read at Broward County Public Library.

 

The Tuesday Writers launched our group blog. First post was written by our lead-off batter, Jonathan Rosen. Yay us.

 

At the midyear SCBWI conference I met my editor, Annette Pollert-Morgan and had dinner with her and my agent, Nicole Resciniti where I pitched ideas for future projects using Jonathan Mayberry’s formula for pitching: start with the heart of the piece and show us why we should care. It worked! I laid the ground work at that meeting for the two book deal Nic and Annette and I penned. One book to be released November 2017. The other November 2018.

 

I experienced ALA 2016 and for the first time I found my own personal version of Nirvana. My Disney World. My Eden. And it all started, as most really good things do, with Harry Potter where Tuesday Cathy and I tried to win a prize. I’d like to say we left empty handed, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth as you see Cathy’s bookhaul:

 

Over the summer I was part of a multi-kidlit author panel for young writers in conjunction with Nova University. Honestly, it might have been the most fun thing I’ve done all year.

 

In July I did my first ever school visit as an author at Glades Central High School.

 

In August we adopted our third dog from Big Dog Ranch Rescue. A puppy we named Delilah who has brought us equal parts of deliciousness and destruction.

 

In October I turned my third manuscript in to my editor. Then I got to emcee an amazing literary event at EmKo on race and immigration sponsored by The Cream Literary Alliance.

In November my second book, The Homecoming was released. Much partying ensued. Also some silliness. As is my nature. You may have seen the pictures.

In December The Sister Pact was named one of Pennsylvania School Librarians Top 40 books of 2015. I was beyond humbled.

 

2016 has been a year. Yes it has. But it’s good to remember the highlights along with the lows. (My NY JETS are def a low but my Gators made it to the SEC Championship game. Go Gators)

 

This weekend will signal, for many people, a time of peace and kindness to all, for others a celebration in the ability to persevere, for others a renewal of core values and beliefs. For all of us, hopefully, it will be a time to be with family and friends. A time to remember that goodness and light exist even in dark times.

 

Thank you, Tuesday readers, for giving me this chance to wax sentimental about the previous year while facing the challenges and enjoying the rewards of the year ahead.

 

Peace to all of you whether this holiday season finds you in the beautiful snow lined woods or on the sunny beach.

 

Stacie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Themed Thursday: Our Favorite Holiday Movies

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Jim and Trevor love A Christmas Story. I enjoy it, too, but nothing beats It’s a Wonderful Life. When I was growing up, I remember watching it with my dad. He had a TV rule—he didn’t watch anything with kids and hospitals because they were too sentimental. He broke that rule when it came to this movie. At that time, before VHS, you could only see It’s a Wonderful Life by staying up late and watching it on some smaller local station. It was a treasure the first time I saw it.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My favorite holiday movie of all time is, hands-down, It’s a Wonderful Life. My dad introduced me to it when I was a teenager, said he watched it when he was a kid. And because I wanted to please my dad, I watched it, even though the fact that it was in black-and-white was a huge turn-off. (I’ve since changed my opinion of black-and-white movies.) I think there’s a little bit of George Bailey in all of us. We sometimes have to compromise our dreams for those we love, but in the end, it’s love that makes us rich.

Faran Fagan

Faran: Although I’ve only seen it once or twice in uninterrupted full length, It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite holiday movie. (It just edged out Christmas Vacation and Die Hard—I know they are total opposites, but serious won over comedy, and I just don’t think Die Hard qualifies as a true holiday movie.) I think we all go about our days not realizing that what we do and say matters to people (definitely myself included). I love the idea of seeing what the world would be like without you—how what you do really makes a difference. No movie does this like It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s such a touching, sad, funny, tender movie, full of emotion and soul-searching. But mostly, at least I know this is true for me, just watching parts of the movie makes me wonder how many people I may have touched at some point or another. And made a positive difference in their lives. Isn’t that how we earn our wings?

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: My favorite holiday movie has always been It’s a Wonderful Life. I had a huge crush on Jimmy Stewart, loved his little stutter, and It’s a Wonderful Life was one of my favorites of his. The movie itself is perfect story telling. I tend to like darker less sentimental movies, but this one is special. The holiday season isn’t complete without this gem.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite holiday movie. I remember waiting with excitement for it every December when I was a child. At that time, as a kid, I liked watching the cartoon kids doing their thing. I still love the movie as an adult because I love its simplicity. I believe, like Charlie Brown, that Christmas is too commercial and I habitually look for the potential in all things. I love that his friends rally around his pitiful looking tree and bring out its beauty in the spirit of Christmas.

Jonathan: My favorite holiday movie is a tough one, since there are so many that I like. However, the last few years, it totally has been Love, Actually. I watch it once a year, without fail, around the holiday time. First of all, I LOOOOVE British movies and especially British humor. This movie has that and every one of the interweaving storylines gets to me every time. There’s comedy, sadness, and just plain sappiness, which I wouldn’t have any other way. I will watch it again this year and probably many years to come. Especially pre-zombie Rick showing literal signs of affection to Pre-Pirates Elizabeth Swann. If you haven’t seen it, what is wrong with you???

Wrap It Up Wednesday: Cramming Too Much Into a Scene

I realized this week that I have a habit of trying to cram too much into a scene. I cram so much into a scene that it becomes overcrowded and messy.

Here’s how I came to that realization. Last week I read my climax, and there was this moment that I thought was all dramatic, where the main character has this turnaround in her thinking. But it turns out, that moment belongs in the scene I read this week—the scene following the climax, and I probably would have never realized that if not for the Tuesdays.

Sadly, the Tuesdays weren’t as thrilled with the climax as I wanted them to be, but now I see why it fell flat—because I was trying to cram too much into it. That seems to be my M.O. I think all this stuff I’ve planned for has to happen (because, hey, I planned for it), but then the scene gets overloaded.

I’ve been telling Joanne (of the Tuesdays) that she needs to parcel out her dramatic moments, and now I’m thinking I should take my own advice. Funny how you can’t see things in your own writing that you can see in other people’s.

 

Tips and Tweets – Be like Shonda Rhimes (if only!)

In my day job, I’ve been a teacher and/or media specialist for the past 31 years.

tuesdaywriters.comThis is me at open house this fall.

Right now, I’m teaching high school students to be better public speakers.  It’s AWESOME! My undergraduate degree is in teaching of speech so I am totally in my element.

Tuesday is Ted Talk Tuesday in my classroom. I have a fine collection of my favorite Ted Talks which I use in class. Today I’m sharing Shonda Rhimes’ Ted Talk for you. www.tuesdaywriters.comhttp://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything.

 

Shonda is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. In her talk she speaks about the hum. The hum of when everything in your work is clicking.

I’ve felt the hum myself, although I haven’t felt it in a while.

I’m still writing…just try and stop me! But when the hum is there…oh, magic!

Okay, I’m not published, yet, but what happens when you’re responsible for 70 hours of television a year and you lose the hum? We’ve all been there, and I, for one, will take the advice of a Titan.

 

Interview with Debut Author, Corabel Shofner!

Hello Tuesdays!

Today, I’m pleased to be joined by my fellow 2017 Debut member, Corabel Shofner, whose, ALMOST PARADISE, is scheduled to come out JULY 25, 2017 from FSG Books for Young Readers

JR: Hi, Corabel and thanks for joining us today.

CS: Hi, Jonathan! I have interviewed other writers, but this is my first interview where I’m on the hot seat. I think? I did fill out a questionairre for Query Tracker after I got my agent, but I have no idea what I said. My policy is Never Look Back.

(If you can’t remember it, it doesn’t count and that means I’m first!)

JR: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about ALMOST PARADISE and the impetus behind writing it?

CS: This is a book that spent many years in the drawer after I wrote it. So it ws a long time ago, but I remember this: The character of Ruby Clyde healed me. I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which can be quite frightening and I was laid out with treatments when I picked up my laptop and wrote:

“My name is Ruby Clyde Henderson and I am not stupid. What’s more, I look like a boy. So when I want, I tell them my name is Clyde, and when I don’t want, it’s Ruby. Some don’t even believe I’m a girl, with my hair being so short. It’s funny, people tell you not to lie, but they hardly ever want to hear the truth. If you try to tell it, they call you a liar. Liar, liar, pants on fire. But if you lie, they believe you.”

I absolutely believe in traditional medicine, but I also believe that writing from your heart heals the body. I did not set out with this goal in mind, you really can’t manipulate it, but as I wrote about that brave and wise little girl, I grew brave and wise myself. My humor and health returned and you can make of that what you will.

 

JR: I read on your website, www.corabelshofner.com, that you were an attorney. How has the transition been from doing that, to writing books for younger readers?

CS: Attorney is only one of many hats in this unruly life of mine. At the risk of sounding batty, I was really stupid in high school, so I dropped out and hitchhiked away. Many many adventures later, I discovered that I had some intelligence and enrolled at Columbia University in Manhattan, met and married my husband, and raised our family in suburbia. Law was part of proving something to myself,  but I’m a bit conflict averse which does not go over well in negotiations or in court, so my favorite part was research and writing. (I wrote a brief for SCOTUS. Yay.)

As to writing for young children, I wrote the best book I could, and actually thought it was adult literary until Farrar, Straus and Giroux told me it was for ten year olds. But, as usual, the thing I did not intend turned out to be the right place for me. I absolutely adore the kidlit community. As Gary Schmidt said, “Mean people don’t set out to write children’s literature.” (I know, I know. I didn’t set out to do this but I don’t think I’m mean. My husband might havee a different opinion on that.)

 

JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point? 

CS: Well, I can’t sing and I was an average actress. Drawing would not come out of my hands the way words did. That said, it took me forever to learn to write. I wrote the non-fiction masterpiece MONSTERS UNDER MY BED in the second grade. But after that, I couldn’t understand where writers got all those words for a book. I was mystified. I wrote an essay once in school about circles but it said absolutely nothing. I just didn’t get the idea of having something to say. Who knows why I kept on trying, but I did.

For me, it took many years with false starts and heartbreak. I meet people easily so I would brush up against authors who offered their agents, but that never worked out for me. They’d try and stop when it wasn’t an easy sale. I am a bit odd and not overly popular. When I got serious, I decided to go cold, get out of the slush pile with an agent who loved me and was willing to fight the long fight.

When Elizabeth Copps from MCA called me, I knew she was the one. Don’t ask me how, but she was what they call young and hungry, and her office was in Rockefeller Center  (Like that matters, but the first question I asked her was what she saw from her window.)

She got a lot of interest on the first round of submissions, but no takers except FSG who was my first choice because they are quirky like me. Even so they didn’t even make an offer right off, we just talked on the phone — a couple of times, for hours. I could hardly believe it! I was talking to a top professional in the Flatiron building who had read my book. I thought they might ask me to revise and resubmit but they said they would take it to aquistions. I was running into walls with glee. When it failed, I got into bed and put a pillow over my head until my son wrote the most amazing email. http://corabelshofner.com/2015/04/rewriting-hell/. I dragged myself back to my desk, did a massive revision, then FSG bought my book. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, still think that.

There is no normal route, that is important to remember.  For some writers it is quick and easy, for others it is long.  I was about average. At one point I wanted to know every invisible link in the chain that led to my publication and I found out that a summer intern was the one who found me in the slush pile and gave Ruby Clyde to Elizabeth. I found the intern on social media and thanked her. This is what she wrote back:

I’m sorry it’s taken a few days for me to respond to this! I cried when I read it, and that might just be because I’m an overemotional train wreck, but you have no idea how wonderful it was to receive this. Ruby, you see, became a good friend of mine when I read your story. I’m so excited to hear that she’s going to be able to make some more amazing friends. However, I can’t take any credit for helping you along the way. That story was always going to make it because it needed to be hold and you have the kind of voice that makes telling a story meaningful. Congratulations and stay in touch!!

Talk about magic! I have read that thing a hundred times.

That’s a fantastic story!

 

JR:What’s your writing process like?

CS: Haphazard. If you ask me when I am in a disciplined upswing I will announced that I must write everyday; if you ask me when I’m in a fuzzy cloud, I’ll be like what book? Either way, it is a serious pursuit, whatever that means. Right now I am copy editing ALMOST PARADISE so I’m in a good place.

I usually start with a character and I don’t plot from the beginning, so that makes for a lot of work on the tail end. Boy, I had to rip ALMOST PARADISE apart and put it back together, but it is a better book now. I try to plot loosely when I understand where I’m going, but you really have to be what you are when you write. So, I’m a sloppy plotter.

 

JR: What’s your favorite movie?

CS: You should know that I adore movies, all of them: From slap stick  GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, to lyrical ENCHANTED APRIL,  the roller coaster DEAD POOL, the blood and guts of Quintin Tarantino and the heartbreaking SOPHIE’S CHOICE. I fall head over heels into movies.

All good choices!

 

 

JR: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

CS: I was on a soap opera once, also a victim on Candid Camera (I thought I was a spy.)

Okay, you MUST post your Candid Camera shoot!

 

JR: Do you do a lot of research when you write?

CS: Yes, but research is a way of life.  You tell me something and I will go look it up. Gets tedious but I can’t help myself. I did learn early on not to cram all my research into the story.

 

JR: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?

CS: YES. I have been in, out, and back in the Nashville Writers’ Alliance over the years. My friend, Rita Bourke, who is a gifted writer, led me there. We meet weekly and that keeps you writing. Everybody knows the drill and gives good feedback. Just reading your work and having people respond is priceless. You have to put your ego to sleep and develop and ear for good advice. I can’t do it by myself, and I loved working with my editor on bigger problems. Without readers, I have no idea what is on the page and what I left in my mind.

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JR: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?

CS: Jill McCorkle showed me a new way to open the story of Ruby Clyde, right in the middle of action. Richard Bausch loves the art and if you can’t get in a classroom with him, follow him of facebook where he offers up musings, like prayers.

My advice to others? If you find writing valuable, then do it. Just do it. At the very least, you will get to know yourself better. If you feel yourself moving toward a career then treat it like a serious profession, learn everything you can about the business, get out there. As I used to say about theater everything works and nothing works, you won’t know until you do it. But never lose the essesnce of why you write.

Oh one more thing, someone told me to query 100 agents before giving up. I didn’t have to go that deep but the idea made the process less personal, more professional.

 

JR: What are you working on next?

CS: I was nearly finished with one novel when I remembered ALMOST PARADISE (it was called Ruby Clyde at the time.) So I have that, but it has some big problems. So I wrote another novel from start to finish, using everything I had learned from my masterful editors at Farrar Straus and Giroux. (Thank you guys, free graduate school.) And I have articles and essays and scattered papers everywhere with lists.

 

 

JR: Is there anything that else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media?

CS:  Social Media shatters my brain, but I am diligently trying to learn it. Links are on my webpage, CorabelShofner.com (which I must rework to include school visits and sadly, I’m bored of my blog there,) Twitter (which is madness, like the old disco clubs on the 1970s,) Instagram (which is pleasant but I forget to look at it,)  Tumblr (I’m trying because Rachel Fershlieser works there, but I can’t learn anything new right now,) and Facebook (I am most comfortable on Facebook, it is like stopping in the coffee shop for a chat on the way to work.)

 

JR: Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays?

CS: FARAN is far and away my favorite person

JR: Seriously? Faran again? I can’t stand it. Okay, whatever. Going to delete the whole question now. 

 

JR: Anyway, thanks again for joining us today, Corabel and best of luck with Almost Paradise!