Halloween Character Archetypes for your Novel

Halloween is a fun time where we can wear whatever we want and party. I’m sharpening my characters in this layer of revision of my work in progress. I want to make sure the character arcs pan out and that my character’s roles with each other are well defined. In the course of that process, I revisited Carl Jung’s archetypes. With them fresh in my mind, I went off to a Halloween party and had to laugh at how the costumes and personalities frequently matched the archetypes.

 

Hero: Wants to change the world. He fears internal weakness.

 

 

Jester: Seeks fun and yet fears  boredom.

 

 

 

Creator: Wants to realize her vision. She hates mediocrity.

 

 

 

Care Giver: Loves to help others and deplores selfishness (so she shares her jello-shot).

 

 

 

Sage: Seeks knowledge and is afraid of deception

 

 

 

Magician: Wishes to alter reality which can sometimes lead to inadvertent results.

 

 

 

Innocent: Wants happiness and doesn’t want retribution. It is said that if you want a great costume, go for the reverse of your personality.

 

 

Explorer: Wants freedom and fears entrapment

Revolutionary: Is the rebel who fears having no power.

 

 

Ruler: Generally wants prosperity and fears being overthrown (by the UPS man).

Lover: Wants connection and detests isolation. A friend, who really is a connector and therefore great at sales, dressed as the UPS man.

Every-man: Wants to belong and not be excluded from the group, yet not stand out. Wearing a hat with skeleton face on it took care of that.

 

The next day, in thinking about my characters, I wondered what they would have worn to the party. The fun visuals helped me to better identify them and the behaviors I want to portray. This Halloween season, ask yourself what costume would your characters wear?

Manic Monday

It really is manic for me these days

So manic that I barely have time to breathe, let alone post. So I apologize, Tuesday readers, that this post is a tad bit late. I know you understand.

You see, #authorlife is a huge, major, and let’s just say it, manic kind of a deal. I’ve spent the last few months with my head spinning. But I’m not complaining. I’m lucky to get to do these things.

Here’s just a brief look at what I’ve been up to recently:

I presented a workshop for SCBWI with Joyce Sweeney. It was the first time I taught peers. And the first time I team taught with Joyce. It was pretty cool.

Here’s me presenting theme using some of my fave books

Here’s Joyce presenting using some of her fave books… I spy THE HOMECOMING….aww, thanks, Joyce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Joyce and I  presented a workshop the FAME conference in Orlando. Talk about awesome! Plus I got to meet Pete the Cat!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this while finishing my revision on WEIGHTLESS and planning promotion for THE SECRETS WE BURY.

It’s been a whirlwind kind of a month, Tuesday readers. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have!

Our Favorite Scary Movies

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Silence of the Lambs is my favorite scary movie with Hannibal Lector being my favorite creepy antagonist. Since I was a kid I haven’t liked gory scary movies. Back then they scared me too much and I’d have nightmares. Now I find that many of them are overly dramatic to the point of being silly. I find a psychological thriller much more interesting than a chainsaw massacre.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: It’s tough to pick just one because there are a few that are my favorites. I’m really not a big scary movie person, in general, but I do love the humorous ones. So, since we have to pick something, I’m going with Shaun of the Dead. It’s such a funny movie and yet still has the fun zombie elements. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen it, but every year at Halloween, I make sure to revisit.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: Normally, I would say Jaws, but since Halloween is just around the corner, I’m going to say Fright Night, the first one, not the remake. Scary, funny, plus the ’80s. What’s not to like?

Faran Fagen

Faran: I gotta go with John Carpenter’s The Thing, based solely on the scene when they’re tied to the couch and Kurt Russell is testing their blood trying to figure out which one of them is “the thing” (which means they’ve been consumed by an alien who can mimic human beings). So creepy not knowing who’s part of “the thing” and who’s still normal in this sci-fi thriller.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: In high school, the John Carpenter’s Halloween movie came out. OMG this ages me, but HBO was in its infancy so not that many people I knew had it. Halloween was playing on it, and someone I worked with had it. I went to her house and watched the movie. The walk from her front door to my car seemed verrrrrrrrry long that night!

Stacie: I lurves me some scary movies. So many scary movies. I strive to watch a scary movie every day during the month of October, but I admit I’m really far behind this year! Ugh. If I have to pick just one, I’d have to say that Rosemary’s Baby is one of my faves. Or The Shining. Or Halloween. Or The Thing. Sigh. 

 

Eclectic author, a former White House guest, injects fun into writing

By Faran Fagen

No class this Tuesday, so enjoy this profile on local author Shutta Crum:

In 2005, she was invited to read her one of her 15 published children’s books at The White House. She’s also a public speaker, a librarian for 26 years, and taught English and creative writing. Several of her articles about teaching and writing have appeared in professional journals.

For Shutta Crum (pronounced shut-ta, not shoot-a, which she gets a lot), life was “shaped by the written word”. And she couldn’t be more grateful.

“I like sharing my stories with the world,” said the 65-year-old Greenacres resident. “When kids love my books, it makes me feel immortal. Hopefully, the books will continue to exist after I am gone, in the hearts of readers, and in libraries.”

Crum’s schedule is full of school and library visits as well as book festivals, and writing workshops for all ages. She’s done free talks for the schools her grandchildren attend in Palm Beach County (Crum has two children and four grandchildren). Her schedule and history can be found at her website, www.shutta.com.

On Feb. 18, she spoke at the West Boynton Beach Library as part of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators) monthly author series.

Crum’s workshop, titled “Sound, Shape, Sense: The Work of our Words”, reviewed and discussed techniques that can be used in any genre or format (verse or prose).

Crum feels storytelling is in her blood. Born in the mountains of Kentucky, telling “whoppers” and listening to tall tales long into the night was part of her Appalachian heritage.

“In those dark and scrawny hollers I’d cling to my father’s tall legs and stare wide-eyed as I listened to the hair-raising tales my relatives told.”

Her journey reached its peak when she was invited to the White House’s Easter Egg Roll.

Crum met a number of George Bush’s cabinet. Unfortunately, there was a lightning storm on Easter that year. Although there were many families waiting in the rain, the festivities for that morning were cancelled, so she did not actually get a chance to read her book, Bravest of the Brave, to the crowds.

But in her vast career, Crum has reached a multitude of families through her writing. Her latest, William and the Witch’s Riddle, is about a boy who must solve a witch’s riddle in order to save his family and end a centuries-long curse.

“My books, and the books of others, give young readers a safe space within which to think and to dream,” Crum said. “What I want is for children to come into that space and to see themselves, others, and the wonders that lay before them.”

Q & A:

Who is your hero? My husband, Gerald Clark, always. How he puts up with me, I’ll never understand.

What is your favorite movie? I’m not sure I have an absolute favorite movie. But two of the top ones are: “Young Frankenstein” and “Raising Arizona”. Both are dark, but over-the-top fun. Similar to many of the books I like to read.

What’s your favorite author/book and why? As a librarian, an avid reader and a writer, I have a ton of favorite books—at many different reading levels. So I will only say that right now I am in love with two 2016 picture books; “Frank and Lucky Get Schooled” by Lynne Rae Perkins, and “I Am a Story” by Dan Yaccarino.

If you could meet any person in history, who would it be and why? As a writer, I’ve often thought about the whole puzzle of Shakespeare. Did he really write those plays, or did someone else? I’d like to solve that riddle. But I suspect he’d be a more boring conversationalist than Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare’s fellow playwright, who has been described as a spy, a brawler and a “rakehell.” Have you ever met a rakehell?

What are your hobbies? I quilt and do other “crafty” things like make tiles. I’m absolutely enamored by color. And I often wish I was, also, an illustrator.

What do you do to get away or take a break? I really don’t need to take a break from writing. I usually write for about three hours a day, three to four days a week. But we do enjoy traveling, hiking, and canoeing around Florida.

Self-edit Like You’re on a Vision Quest

 

When I think about writing, one really important question comes to mind: why don’t we have jerseys?  I’m not talking about replicas. I’m talking the real deal. Practice ones. Game ones. Full-on writing equipment with equipment managers.

To me, Writing is like a sport.  But the question is, is it a team sport or an individual competition. My favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, Vision Quest, is when Louden Swain states emphatically, “Wrestling is not a team sport!” Then proceeds to climb the pegboard while his teammates gather around and cheer him on. If you haven’t seen it, you should:

https://youtu.be/nJtNsehdT5o

You’re welcome! The whole movie is genius but that scene has always been my favorite. Even before I was writing. When I was just a reader. But now that scene gets to me on such a profound level because it completely depicts the writing life.

We start out training like the wrestlers do in Vision Quest. As a team. A critique group. An organization. A workshop or conference cohort. We hone our craft there, practice our literary moves. Then when we feel we are good enough, we try to climb the pegboard. And some of us make it. And that makes the rest of us clap and cheer and believe it can happen for us, too.

 

But what about all of the alone time? The butt-in-chair stuff that no one sees. The rough drafts and first tries no one hears because they are too dreadful to trot out in public? Those come just from us. We can use a writing coach (I definitely do). We can put our writing tribe on text on demand notice (I do that also) to help answer our plot questions and character moves. But it still comes down to us. What we do in that chair is what counts. After the critiquing. After the Beta reads, we are the CEO of our work. So how do we self-edit? Very carefully (cue the evil laugh)

These are my steps for self-editing. They’re not pretty, but they are essential. My version of writing bootcamp. Get ready to puke.

  1. Any part of your book that you think is sooo creative, so awesome that you continuously rubbed your hands together like the evil genius you were when you wrote it? Yeah…they probably need to go. Kill your darlings does not just refer to clever passages and favorite quotes. Huge artistic insight on the day of inception often comes off as contrived and unbelievable on the paper. Love at first sight doesn’t always end well. Look at those babies and be sure they serve your book. If not, Bbye. It isn’t you, it’s me. No, it’s really you.

  1. As you are carving and adjusting and looking for darlings to kill, is there a part of your manuscript that you figure you’ve read so many times that there’s no reason to read again. Or parts you feel are so solid there’s no reason to look at those? Yup. You’ve got issues there. If you find your eye scanning and skimming parts of your book, that could be the sign of a pacing problem. If you are bored in parts of your manuscript, how will readers feel? It’s time to get real or go home.

  1. You made it through the warm-ups, are you ready for the combines?  I hope so because it’s time to dig deep and get aggressive. Here’s where you look at every single word in your manuscript.  Every one should serve a purpose. Should inform character development. Should advance plot. Should act as subtext. Should create literary rhythm. Should work on more than one level. If your words aren’t working as hard as you are, they go. Sorry. You come to win or you  watch the game from your couch. True story.

  1. Now it’s time to check your manuscript for characters that are slacking, actions that don’t progress plot. Look at each one of your scenes as if it’s a still picture in a film. I’ve actually done that with DVD’s. O Brother Where Art Thou is one worthy of this exercise. Every single shot is perfect. Every one. If any of your characters or scenes are just phoning it in, it’s time to break up with them.

Writing is a bad boyfriend. It’s true.

 

But nobody said climbing the pegboard was easy. You are not here to make friends. You are here to do outrageously hard things. You are here to win the National Championship. To set new personal records. To lift Lord Stanley’s Cup and drink a huge monster energy drink out of it. And when you’ve done all of that, when you’ve brutally embraced your manuscript. When you’ve committed to each word, each scene, each plot decision. Then you can hit the showers and celebrate like a champion! Cue the cheerleaders and the band. Cue the equipment manager. Because you’re going to need a clean jersey for tomorrow’s session.

 

 

Spooky Halloween Reads!

Hi Tuesdays!

Happy last full week of October! And since it’s the last full week of October, you know what that means! We’re coming around to Halloween time! So, I decided to write about some spooky middle grade reads!

The first on the list, might be something that you’ve heard of. I don’t think you can do middle grade and Halloween time, without including Goosebumps by R.L. Stine!

This is THE first one on top of any list. I’m not going to pick any specific title, since you can read any of them and get the same sense of creepy fun. They’re spooky and often have streaks of dark humor. I love this series, and if you’re going to check out any middle grade spooky books, you have to make sure to include Goosebumps on your list!

 

Next on the spooky list, just came out this year. The Gravedigger’s Son, by Patrick Moody. This one has a family line of cemetery diggers. Forbidden woods, and a risen corpse. I’m going to be honest. ANYTHING taking place in a cemetery, and I’m hooked!

Next on our Halloween list, is Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. I looooved this book. So creepy and fun! A secret passage to a darker mirror world, where parents want to sew buttons over your eyes. So creepy. A book that would’ve terrified me as a child, but made me want to reread all the time.

 

This next one isn’t out yet, but I’m sure it’ll be on my Halloween list for next year. Oddity, by Sarah Cannon. I’m looking forward to this one. It has alien mobs and zombie rabbits! As you know, I have a fondness for evil bunnies, so I can’t wait to read this!

 

This one, just came out recently. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie. This one involves a centuries-old mystery, a haunted house, and a doll crying real tears. All I know, is I am in!

I love Halloween and love spooky reads, so hope you enjoy these books!

Oh, by the way, there is one other spooky book for Halloween that I didn’t mention, but I’m sure I have once or twice before!

 

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

 

Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring his three kids around. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into. His favorite of all time is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. He currently writes middle-grade, because his sense of humor is stuck in that age. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country is really willing to accept responsibility. His MG debut, Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, is out now from SkyPony Press. He can be found at www.HouseofRosen.com.

Changing my approach at the plate

Freestyle Friday

By Faran Fagen

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.”
One of my favorite and least favorite quotes (it’s from Captain Picard in a Star Trek episode)
Favorite because it’s true, and least favorite because I usually think of it when I follow the right road but still end up at a dead end.
I think we’ve all been there. Adhered to  the cooking instructions and the cake isn’t fluffy enough. Taken the prescribed medicine and laid low and still sick.
In baseball, when I hit a slump, I change my approach at home plate. Hands higher, knees bent lower. Throw in a leg kick? Sure, try that. Eventually, something clicks and swing gets smooth again.
So this school year (I’m a teacher so my writing tends to cycle through each school year), I’m trying a different approach. And it’s already paying dividends.
I’ve made two major changes to my writing that have sent a current through a revision that stemmed from input I got from editors and agents in 2017.
One comes indirectly from Tuesday colleague Jonathan Rosen, who told me (and stated in several interviews) that the biggest thing he did right before he got published was to sit down and write the funniest book he possibly could. In all his rejections, agents and editors always loved his humor, so he decided to focus on that.
That got me thinking, that I’ve had a similar experience with agents in regards to my baseball scenes and my action scenes.
So I’ve pledged to make sure that each scene is full of action and thrills, whether or not it’s on the baseball diamond.
The other adjustment I made comes from a speech I heard from award-winning author Richard Peck at a conference (miss him). He said that above all else, your aim as a writer is for your words and message to permeate a high school library and find that one student who desperately needs your book to survive.
So I’ve mixed the baseball/action thrills with this teen in need at the forefront as I piece together the heart of the story.
I’ve recently revised the strongest beginning of Strike Zone, and submitted it to a contest.
Whether I win or not, the cool thing about this writing gig is that it forces you to think. About what people find interesting and what young people truly need to feel accepted and understood.
So I guess in that respect, writing’s shaped me into a better person, just like I’ve molded my characters. So maybe I haven’t lost after all.

Our Favorite Quotes

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: My favorite quote is by Edgar Allen Poe. “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” It seems to me all at once fantastical, imaginary, and surreal. Life frequently feels like this to me, both when it’s wonderful and when it’s less so. My hat is off to EAP for summing up the un-sum-up-able. Bravo, Poe.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Faran Fagen

Faran: “Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” –Sacha Guitry. I truly believe that the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Even the most successful people fell on their faces on their way to the top. I think we don’t allow young people to experiment and learn from trial and error, which is how you grow. This quote embodies this sentiment.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I’m sticking with writing quotes, and this I take to heart. Dialogue. Have plenty of it and get the info out that way. “All the information you need can be given in dialogue.”– Elmore Leonard

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My favorite quote is “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Because it’s so true! From a song by The Smiths called “I Know It’s Over.”

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Peace begins with a smile. –Mother Teresa  (1910-1997, Nun and Missionary)

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday

 

The Tuesday Writers met yesterday for our critique. We each take a turn reading eight to ten pages then the group does a verbal critique afterward. We missed Stacie this week as she was out for a work conference.

Cathy read first. She’s working on a historical novel, homing in on what her character is lacking as well as working on theme. She did a good job setting her character up to show what’s going on in her life. There were some outstanding moments where my stomach tightened as I felt the emotions of Cathy’s character. Faran had a great suggestion to look at the story’s inciting incident and work backward from there to the beginning of the novel to see what the main character needs.

Faran was up next. He rewrote the beginning of his current work in progress about a baseball player and his attitudes. Melody suggested that the character’s language was a bit strong for chapter one and that those words might be more effective with rising tension later on. Faran’s third scene had really good description of some of the plays of a baseball game. I could see the action playing out before me and feel the tension of his character.

Melody who often reads first, stalled until the third slot. She decided not to read her chapter as she’d been mulling over some changes as we talked and figured she wanted to implement them for better impact before reading the chapter to us.

I was up next. I’m doing revision on my work in progress about a college freshman. I revised a chapter leading up to the first plot point. Melody suggested I cut out some of the explanations in the dialogue. Cathy offered that I have my secondary character be vaguer about an idea she has and that my main character draw the idea out. Jonathan suggested my main character use more fraternity lingo.

Jonathan tempered the humor in his novel for a chapter to have his protagonist spend time with a girl he likes. The chapter was more reflective and less raucous, but kept the story moving forward.

Looking forward to next Tuesday!