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!

Interview with Deb Sharp, Author of the Mace Bauer Series

Florida author Deb Sharp is like the main character in her “Mace Bauer Mysteries,’’ Deborah Sharp’s family roots were set in Florida long before Disney or Miami Vice. As a native and former reporter for USA Today, she knows the spots not found on maps: Molasses Junction. Muse, and now, Himmarshee, her own tiny slice of “Authentic Florida.’’

To create Himmarshee, Deborah borrowed from the present-day ranching town of Okeechobee, and from the south Florida of her family’s past.

Not far from Ft. Lauderdale, her dad used to walk to town, leading the family cow. A generation later, Deborah rode her horse over the same citrus- and ranch-dotted terrain. Now, it’s all interstates and strip malls.

The difference between Mace’s hometown and hers: Deborah will never let Himmarshee be spoiled by sprawl.

Q. You’ve written a number of hilarious mystery novels in your Mace Bauer series. How did you come up with the concept for your novels?

I wasn’t a fiction writer. I was a journalist, but I always wanted to write a mystery. I saw so many sad stories as a journalist I wanted to write a funny mystery. I saw a full page ad of a woman in a turquoise convertible in the Miami Herald. I started to think about the type of character who might be riding around in a turquoise convertible and what could happen. That woman is MAMA and I decided to write a story about where she goes in the convertible. From there I figured she would be from an obscure part of Florida and that she would have three girls. The book started with MAMA discovering a body in the trunk of the convertible. That started the whole series.

 

 

 

Q. You spent a number of years as a reporter for USA Today. Was the transition to novel writing a challenge for you?

It was a lot harder than I thought. I figured I’d been a professional writer for twenty-five years, how hard could it be? Journalism teaches you to leave out what the people you interview are thinking or feeling. I had to learn to put emotion in my fiction. It actually took me a couple of years to get it right. I took a lot of workshops, went to Sleuthfest conferences and joined a critique group. All of those things helped to become a fiction writer.

Q. Do you consider writing an art, or a craft, or a mixture?

Some people are artists when they write. I always thought of it more of a craft. For me it was a profession with the journalism. I felt like saying “I’m an artist” didn’t describe the kind of writing I did, so to me it was more of a craft. There can be artistic feelings that go into writing, but I believe it’s a craft. People have a talent for observation or expression, but to put it all together is something that you have to develop. You can’t just sit down and paint a masterpiece. You have to cultivate your talents and work at them.

Q. You’re really good at marketing. What do you feel are the most important aspects of marketing?

I got a lot of reviews from newspapers in the beginning. The platform has changed since then. Physical newsprint has scaled back and social media has increased. I think something that a lot of people overlook is just being a nice person. Helping out and volunteering gets the word out that you’re willing to give back and that opens people up to you. A lot of people think they need to work to build their brand. I think you can build your brand by being kind to other writers even though it’s old fashioned and low tech. I’ve always felt more comfortable helping someone else rather than pushing ME-ME-ME on social media.

Q. You are good at asking questions on social media that draw many responses from your fans. How do you go about it?

I think it’s because I’m curious. I’m interested what other people think, and I guess it’s easy for me to formulate questions because I did it with the journalism.

Q. What are you reading now?

HaHa! The mystery writers out there might be disappointed that I’m reading chick lit at the moment. I like Jennifer Weiner and I just got something by Sofie Kinsella. I do have a new Michael Connelly novel that I picked up, but I’m enjoying the chick lit right now. I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything in that genre, but it’s light and it’s fun for me at this point.

Q. As you know, we are a critique group. Do you participate in one?

I’m not in a critique group at the moment. I am a huge advocate of critique groups. I was in the Thursday night critique group run by Joyce Sweeney. What was beneficial to me, was hearing from other writers who didn’t have a journalism background. They could pinpoint exactly where I needed to punch things up on emotion or description, things I was scant on from my previous training. In a critique group I think a person should find something nice to say, not be a slash and burn type person. A good critiquer can tell you what’s wrong in a manner that helps you learn and that is so beneficial.

I laugh and say I’m the Goldilocks of critique groups. The first one I went to was too hard, the people were mean. They said they didn’t like my writing, but they really didn’t care for the genre. The next one was too soft. They liked to sit around and drink wine rather than critiquing. Not that drinking wine is bad, but I wanted feedback. Then I found the Thursday group and it was just right. I don’t think I’d be where I am if it weren’t for the Thursday critique group helping me. I am a big fan of critique groups.

You can find out more about MAMA and her antics at DebraSharp.com

 

Hurricane Irma Madness

The Tuesdays met yesterday before hurricane Irma headed our way. Melody is moving along with lots of emotion in her current WIP. Faran started a new story, sure to please all sports fans. I read a revised edition of the last two chapters of my WIP. Jonathan entertained us all with the wit in his next hilarious middle grade novel.

We are all in the midst of hurricane prep or driving out of the state to avoid Irma so the Tuesdays will not be postingfor a while. We hope those of you who live in Irma’s path stay safe and that your electricity returns quickly.

 

 

Wrap it Up Wednesday for the Tuesday Writers

The Tuesdays met at Jonathan’s house shortly after the rain stopped in West Broward. Parker, Jonathan’s dog, trekked down the stairs to greet us all and spent an extra amount of time checking out Faran who is back after a hiatus at summer camp.

Faran read the climax of a Y/A baseball novel he’s been working on. The pacing and tension were amazing. We were on the edges of our chairs feeling a whole range of emotion for the main character, his best friend, his girlfriend and the entire baseball team.

Cathy has a new character that just showed up in her novel. He’s wreaking havoc all over the place. The Tuesdays love the chaos he’s creating.

Melody’s chapter had her main character grappling with issues about a boy she likes. It related concepts regarding money and morals. Melody reflected the morality beautifully with a slimy smile on a character’s face.

I read a scene that I added to the climax of my work in progress. The Tuesdays liked the addition, but suggested relocating it.  We discussed moving it forward and adding to an existing scene to maximize the ramping up of tension for the grand finale.

 

Jonathan is cranking out another hilarious middle grade novel. Even though he has a short deadline with his publisher, he manages to continue to ace the funny stuff. The Tuesdays were excited to find a small fix for Jonathan’s WIP. We know it was only because he’d had a busy week hosting his launch party.

Stacie didn’t join us this week. She’s spending quality time with her daughter before college starts. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday.

When you find a Personal Flaw in your Writing

Summertime makes it more difficult for all of the Tuesdays to get together because we are all taking time to get away and relax. Yesterday we were excited to have almost all the Tuesdays back together. The only one missing was Faran who is out until mid-August.

So what did we talk about once we’re all back together? Jonathan’s book launch coming up next month, of course! When a mysterious cuddle bunny showed up on the couch, it prompted Jonathan to decide that Faran should wear a bunny suit to Barnes and Noble in Plantation on August 10th. We all agreed that since he wasn’t there to decline, it was a fabulous idea.

When it came to reading, I did the chapter before the climax of my work in progress. The tension is ramping up at this point and the Tuesdays liked the pace, except when my character stopped to make a phone call. Even though it was a phone call of desperation, they said it slowed the pace too much. It was suggested that since the phone call shows a necessary act of desperation, that it be moved to the beginning of the scene, before things start getting really wild so that the pace can continue to accelerate.

It was also pointed out that my sidekick is way to calm dealing with horrific situations involving physical and mental health. This has been mentioned before and I have deepened the reactions of my sidekick, but notably not enough. The beauty of working with a good critique group for a long time is that we have all come to know each other’s backgrounds. It was pointed out to me that my female sidekick is behaving too rationally, like a nurse would in a similar situation. It was suggested that I let go of my nurse persona and let this character freak out like a normal person would in a similar situation.

This advice was presented in a way that helped me see not only what needed to be changed but gave me a long term view into watching for my own specific flaws when writing. I am eternally grateful to the Tuesdays for helping me grow as a writer.

How Writers can use Podcasts for Book Promotion

Helping people live their true passion is Jaime (“Jemmy”) Legagneur’s mission, and she has found no more powerful tool than podcasting. By interviewing movers and shakers on her ‘Curve the Cube’ show, she offers real actionable nuggets to inspire others to go from being dreamers to being doers! Jamie co-hosts two other shows, is the organizer of the Palm Beach Podcasters MeetUp group, and is launching her own network, the Flint Stone Media Podcast Network.”

Thank you, Jaime for joining the Tuesday Writers.

Q. Not everyone is familiar with podcasts. Would you explain podcasts to our readers?

A podcast is the practice of using the internet to make a digital recording of a broadcast that a listener can download on demand to their computer or mobile device. Most are accessed via I-Tunes, not through traditional broadcasting channels.

Q. How can authors benefit from doing Podcasts?

Authors can use podcasts to sell their books and build their platforms. An author can find a show that has the type of audience they want to appeal to and reach out to the producer of the podcast. The author can then send in a request like a cover letter. Let them know who you are, your genre, a little bit about your book and why they would want to talk to you. Authors can also produce their own podcasts. For example, if someone writes a series that has a certain theme the podcasts could be about aspects of that theme.

Q. How could a not yet published author use podcasting?

A lot of people use podcasting to get their name out there. Musicians do it all the time. For an author it would be an excellent way to help build a social media platform so when their book is ready to present to an agent or editor, they can show that they already have a following.

Q. How can a writer prepare for a podcast interview?

Listen to other podcasts particularly some that are hosted by your interviewer. Communicate with your interviewer. Go over a list of pertinent topics to discuss. Ask if there is something they don’t want you to say, such as colorful language. Is there anything you don’t want them to ask? Remember to share information on how listeners can find you and your book at the end of the interview and to promote the show with your social media fans and friends.

Q. Is there anything a guest shouldn’t do for a podcast interview?

Don’t be late. Don’t insult the host or the show. Don’t reply to questions with straight yes or no answers. Remember it’s audio, they want people talking. Never oversell your book. A podcaster may drop the episode if you are harping on the sale or if the information given is not pertinent. And definitely don’t Twitter bomb with fifteen Tweets a day that have a direct link to the download from I Tunes.

Q. You said that most Podcasts don’t get broadcast. Can you give an example of some that do?

The KVJ morning show on 979 WRMF in West Palm Beach records all their shows. They post an ‘On Air’ package on their Facebook and You Tube pages when the show is over so fans can listen to them at any time.

Q. How did you get started doing podcasts?

I started a few years ago when the KVJ radio show in Miami was being disassembled from their radio station. I really like them and wanted to help keep them on the air so I started a massive campaign to promote them. There was talk about me being their promotional producer so I figured if I started podcasting, it would familiarize me with on-air media. I wasn’t happy with my current job at the time. I told myself if other people love what they’re doing, that I should too. KVJ ended up getting a morning slot on WRMF in West Palm Beach and the podcasting took off for me. Now I have episodes on the first and fifteenth of every month.

Q. What did it cost to get started in podcasting?

Initially, about $100. I had a computer already. I got a set of clip on microphones for myself and a guest for $60, editing software for $10 (which I don’t recommend doing), and the hosting was around $30.

 

Q. Are there analytics you use to measure effectiveness?

Absolutely! If you have the right hosting companies the analytics are right there for you. Stats can be broken down by region, by the type of device your listeners are using. You can dial into your stats to gear your podcast to a particular demographic or to people who listen to them on the go with their smartphones. Stats can help a podcaster gain sponsorships and advertising.

Q. How does podcasting differ from Periscope?

Periscope is live at the moment the person is filming. Podcasts are recorded and listened to on demand. Periscope has the visual element, like You Tube videos, people see the visual but don’t necessarily pay attention to the dialogue. When using a podcast it’s all about the words, so people tend to focus more on what is being said. It’s set up to be on demand so a person can listen at their convenience.

Q. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found about Podcasting?

The power of it. To get a listener to say: “You’ve got me to curve my own cube.” When I went to Podfest last year I met this girl called Dr. D. Her show is called ‘The Sisters of Flow’. It’s about a woman’s monthly visitor. How bizarre is that? But what is powerful, is that there are cultures where the topic is never discussed. A girl who lives in a country or within a culture where there will never be any conversation on the topic can listen in and find out about her own body. That kind of information can be life-changing.

Thank you so much, Jaime for joining the Tuesday Writers.

You can find Jamie at: FlintStoneMedia.com. or her motivational site: CurveTheCube.com

 

 

 

What Song Makes You Happy?

Melody: This is going to sound strange, but the song that always makes me happy is Never Tell by the Violent Femmes. My sisters and I used to act out the song, to the point where we were tumbling on the floor and slam dancing during the crazy, cacophonous ending. Of course that was when we were younger and less likely to hurt ourselves. Country Death Song, also by the Femmes, is a close second. It’s so outrageous and wrong that it’s funny.

Faran: Definitely a toss up between AC/DC “highway to hell” and Ozzy Osborne “the road to nowhere.”

 

Cathy: Happy is a relative terms. I love the Fall Out Boy song called, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” It’s a song my husband covers with the band Private Stock, and I love hearing him sing it and how the crowd reacts. It’s also an awesome title.

 

Jonathan: There are so many songs that could fall under this category, but for the sake of the exercise, I’ll just pick one. This isn’t my favorite song, but it is up there. I’m saying Escape (The Piña Colada song). I love it, and it brings me back to my youth, when I heard that song a lot. The nostalgic aspect is huge here, but it’s also so catchy, that I can’t help but smile, when I hear it.

The song that always makes me smile is “Radar Love” by Golden Earring. My sister first played it for me on one of our sister outings. I fell in love with it, played it over and over again. I It was the one I danced to at clubs in Gainesville. And the song I requested at The Phyrst in Penn State. How can you not smile when you think of someone loving you so much that you two have Radar Love?

Joanne: One of the many songs that make me happy is “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi  Lauper. It reminds me of fun times in the 80’s dancing and singing it at the top of my lungs to my husband and friends.

Down and Dirty with Story Structure

Elements of plot and structure have been a challenge for me. That theme continued when I read to the Tuesdays yesterday. I’m leading up to the climax of my story. I have the plot secured, but the structural tension at this part of the novel needs more work.

Although I have increased tension in this chapter, The Tuesdays want me to make it worse for my main character and his sidekick. They said show more fear in the sidekick, to the point where she is really freaked out. I have visceral signs of fear like shaking and sweating, but they said show it on all levels with more verbalization, action and reaction. Make the scenes scarier.

For part of my chapter, I had a drug deal occur at the dealer’s house. How naïve am I? That lead to a lot of discussion on the behavior of a drug dealer and what TV has taught us about how a dealer would talk, how they would act and where they would meet a prospect.

The Tuesdays also mentioned at this late point in the novel, I need to have my protagonist seeking out help more, not just have other characters show up to help him. I need to make my main character recognize his problem somewhat even if he has not clue how to deal with it yet.

I got a lot of large scale insight from our group’s critique this week.  As always, The Tuesdays framed their critique with the things they liked about the chapter. I knew there were parts of this chapter that didn’t feel right, but I wasn’t sure how to fix them. The great thing being part of a critique group is that others can help spot things that trip you up. I’m excited about making these changes. Thanks Tuesdays!

4 Ways to Figure out Your Book’s Genre

Why is genre important? Readers use genre to find a book because it gives them an idea of what will be in it. Defining genre has been a challenge for me. Everyone else in our Tuesday Writers group writes Young Adult or Middle Grade novels. My main character is eighteen years old and in college, so my novel doesn’t fit into the young adult category. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about defining genre.

1) Learn Genre.

Go to a bookstore. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the various mainstream novel genres that exist and which authors write in each category. What sections are you drawn to?

  • Mystery and Thriller can seem similar but there is a difference in the set up. A mystery is a mental exercise about discovering who the villain is. Agatha Christie was a favorite author in the mystery category. With Thriller, the bad guy is evident. There is a time clock set for when he will cause great harm. There’s lots of life threatening action involving the the main character in order to prevent that harm. Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code contains the elements key to a thriller.
  • Romance novels are happy ending stories about relationships and the love between to people. Some noted authors are Nora Roberts and Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook.
  • Horror has the intent of scaring the reader by inducing feelings of terror. The primary danger can sometimes be disguised as a metaphor for the larger fears of society. Stephen King is the master of horror with his exploits of the dark side of human nature. King’s novel The Shining has often been the dubbed the scariest book ever.
  • Young Adult books feature a main character who is under eighteen years of age and still in high school. Middle Grade novels have characters that are usually age eight to thirteen.
  • Sci-Fi writing combines science and fiction in imaginative concepts often involving the futuristic worlds of technology, space or time travel. Frank Herbert’s, Dune is a prime example of science fiction.
  • Literary Fiction has a form or style that has been accepted as literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s,  The Great Gatsby and Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol are considered classic literary fiction.

2) Assess the sub-genre of your manuscript.

Each of the mainstream genres has multiple subsets. Here’s where the process can get confusing. A Writer’s Digest article shows thrillers can be categorized as suspenseful, psychological, technical and supernatural, even horror or romantic thrillers.  Does your story have elements that fall into another category? Ask yourself what percentage of the novel’s plot applies.

3) Write down your main plot points.

What happens at your inciting incident? What’s your binding point where your protagonist can no longer return to his world as it was? What’s the low point of your story? What’s the crisis at the turning point that leads to your climax? These key parts of your plot should help indicate which of the mainstream genre categories your book fits into.

4) Who is your screaming super-fan? 

What else would he or she want to read? Find half a dozen other novels that you think your super-fan would have on their bookshelf. Are they books that interest you? Do they fall in the same genre you feel your novel fits into?

Choosing the right genre improves the odds of selling your book not only to readers, but to an agent. Give your readers everything you can to make it easy to find your book.

Murder your Darlings in Revision

Several months ago I did an exercise in which I went through my entire manuscript, scene by scene, to see if each scene contributed to advancing the plot. I made a list of about a dozen scenes that I thought I should cut in my next layer of revision. I’ve cut most of those scenes, but some have a snippet of information that I want to keep, so I’ve integrated that into the scene before or after.

This week one of the scenes that I’d planned to cut stayed. I tried to get rid of it. Really I did. I moved it around. I took out the names of the girls in the scene because they weren’t significant characters. I trimmed the dialogue, but I kept most of it because I needed the ending for the lead up to the next chapter.

When I read to the group, all my finagling didn’t work. I got busted by The Tuesdays. The good thing about being in a critique group is that they’ll call you on your shortfalls. What’s great about The Tuesday’s is that everyone helps you through the murk so you have a clearer picture of how to fix the problem.

Now I have reduced three pages, most of which didn’t advance the plot, to a few potent sentences that really keep the pace moving. Thanks Tuesdays!