From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life in the Way of Writing

Today is Saturday about 11:30am. My husband is home, I should have some free opportunities to write, in theory that is. But, as I begin this short blog project, which I have explained to the knight in shining armor I married, that I just need ten minutes, I am interrupted first by my two year old's unexplained crying. Then, as I sit down prepared to begin again there is a knock at the door followed by my dearly beloved ushering in my four year old who has fallen in the back yard only to land in the neighbor's dog's um, leavings... Now I must clean him up. And so my life routinely goes.

It isn't very often that I am free to sit for any stretch of time and let my imagination run wild, my fingers hammering the keyboard in an attempt to keep up. But I digress, let me start at the beginning. Four years ago I had my first child, four months after that I quit my teaching job and on December 26th, yep you read it right, my family of three moved from our 1920s cape cod in Kansas to a two bedroom duplex in Marysville, Ohio. It didn't take me long as a stay at home mom to become bored with daytime television and being new town, the dead of winter did not offer many opportunities to meet other moms. So, I quickly burned through our library, reading anything and everything that caught my eye. I've always read, I love to read and imagine. As far back as I can remember my grandmother and I traded books and talked about stories together.

So, at my grandmother's suggestion I set out to write a novel. My son was young enough that I was able to take full advantage of his nap times for my writing and since he napped twice a day I was on quite a roll. Every afternoon as soon as I finished that day's editing and writing I emailed it off to Grandma in Kansas. She replied nightly with "It's wonderful honey, I can't wait for the next bit." Now, you might think this would be sufficient and rewarding. I on the other hand I did not (Love you Grammy), I wanted constructive criticism.

A year later I had almost finished the book but was bored with it. This is not a very good sign. If I didn't want to read it why would anyone else? I saved my first manuscript and tucked it into the back of a drawer. By this point I'd met a few people in town, one of them an author with whom I shared my manuscript. Over the next two years as my writing dwindled to a stop, she never gave up inviting me to writing events, and eventually the group for whom this blog is written. I am happy to say that I've picked that novel back up, saved my original and began again with all the tips I picked up, suggestions other writers have given me and am excited about the new face I've given my story.

I have learned a lot during my journey, in my personal, professional and writer's life. I work part time to keep my sanity, I have discovered adult interaction is very stimulating to the senses and prompts brain activity. I have an amazingly supportive husband who quite literally pushes me out the door when he senses my need for personal time. Always have a notebook, you never know when inspiration will strike or you'll need to write down a passing quote or scene. Keep connecting, eventually you will find a niche that fits just perfectly where you can grow some roots.

Michele Buchholz

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanks Giving

I have to admit: Thanksgiving has always been my all-time favorite holiday. When I was a child, our house was the hub for all the festivities. My mother cooked the turkey, and my grandparents, cousins, friends of the family – whomever, as the list was long and all were welcome - would dine at our round oak table along with my brother, my parents and me. Sadly, the group at our holiday feast has dwindled considerably with the passing of time, but my enthusiasm for the day has not waned in the least.

I know that this year it seems harder than ever for many folks to conjure up the enthusiasm for our “day of plenty” when it may appear that there is so little to go around. Yet despite the difficult economic times, I would like to encourage you to take this day and reflect upon your own personal “Thanks Giving” list. I bet that each one of you could come up with at least three things that you are grateful for. (And probably a great number more, but three seems pretty manageable).

Now, taking the three items on your list, here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving a day of true gratitude:

1) DIG DEEPER. Like many people, you have probably included loved ones on your gratitude list. For example, you may be thankful for your parents. But dig deeper – are you grateful for them because they always supported you when you failed? Or are you grateful for them for the life lessons they instilled in you throughout the years? Whatever the three items on your list, dig down and determine just why you are glad to have them in your life.

2) GET LOUD! Don’t keep your list to yourself. Is your child on your list? Then tell them how proud you are of them. Tell your son that he makes you laugh or your daughter that she inspires you. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. And don’t stop there – tell other people what you are grateful for, and ask them to share their lists. In a world where we are all too quick to offer criticism, use this day to make someone else feel cherished.

3) STOP AND SAVOR. This is a fact: time goes more quickly with each passing year. I don’t think Einstein has a theory for it, and probably you scientists out there would argue that “technically” time, in and of itself, does not move any faster. But, for those of us over forty, you know exactly what I mean. I find myself thinking about all those things I planned to do “someday” and I realize: someday is now. So, linger over your meal today. Enjoy the aroma of the food as it cooks. Use every single one of your 10,000 taste buds. Listen attentively when others are speaking. Enjoy the sensation of a full belly, but most importantly, enjoy having a full heart.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

by Erin McCahan


Seventeen-year-old Bronwen Oliver doesn't just want a family. She has one of those, and there's nothing terribly wrong with them apart from bickering grandparents, an image-obsessed mother and a brother she describes simply as Jesus. But there's no natural sense of connection between Bronwen and her family, leaving her with the belief -- and the hope -- that she was switched at birth, that she was never supposed to be Bronwen Oliver but someone else entirely.
When she begins dating college senior Jared Sondervan, she finds herself thoroughly embraced by the loving family she has always wanted and does not hesitate to say yes when Jared proposes on her 18th birthday. Plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her junior year of college become plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her freshman year of college. And a wedding so soon isn't exactly what Bronwen wants. But Jared is. And his family is. So why the sudden hesitation?
Before Bronwen can determine what she truly wants, she must first determine two things – who she truly is and who she truly wants to be. And the answers are not what she thought they’d be.
My thoughts:

The cover of this book drew me in and after reading the much edited wedding invitation on the back cover I knew I had to read this book. At once I connected with the main character Bronwen because during my teenage years I often felt as if I had to be switched at birth and there was no way I fit in with the rest of my oh so perfect family. From that point on I couldn't put down the book and was extremely invested in Bronwen's personal struggle to find out just who she was, where she would end up and what the fall out would be.

-Michele Buchholz

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Using Non-Fiction Publications as a Jumping Board to Fiction Publication

Okay, I feel like I'm cheating somehow by discussing non-fiction writing on a blog devoted to fiction, but bear with me.  As any agent or publisher will tell you, it is far easier to publish and sell non-fiction than fiction.  Our instant gratification society makes for a ripe market for information of any kind.  For beginning writers, it's pretty easy to get published in non-fiction on the web, in small newspapers, in local magazines and newsletters.  Once you have a few publications under your belt from smaller publications, move onto bigger fish.

If you're not an expert on any particular topic, you can transform yourself into one. For example, if you're a working mom, start blogging about your frustrations and experiences about being everything to everybody.  Interview other working moms to get their tips for coping.  Pick up some followers, and're a self-made expert.  Use the platform you've established to sell your first articles or essays to local or web publications.  Really, when I mean "sell," I don't necessarily mean you'll be compensated in greenbacks at first.  What you'll get in return is a publishing credit.

Having your non-fiction writing published will give you more gravitas when you are searching for someone to publish your fiction.

How many times have you looked at the fiction submission guidelines for your favorite literary magazine or for a literary agent and realized that they want a listing of publications in which your writing has appeared?  What agents and publishers want to know is that you've been vetted by other publications (and they think you're ink-worthy), and that you are a professional who can work with editors. 

If you have been frustrated with rejection for your fiction, it might be time to readjust your publication plan of action.  Building a platform as a non-fiction expert can take a while, but once you get those first few non-fiction publications under your belt, you will have new confidence in your attempts at fiction publication.

Here are a few helpful resources:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Self-Editing...How the Heck Do You Do It?

First off, KUDOS to you if you've made it through the intital draft of a novel and are ready to edit. That's a feat in itself. Most people who start a novel never ever finish it. So, stay positive. You're already heading in the right direction.

So far in my journey to publication I have written (and edited) two full length Young Adult novels. The first one was, well, horrible. A complete learning experience. My grammar skills left a lot to be desired, let me tell you. But, hey, putting it out there to beta readers was my very first step in learning to self edit. I didn't even know what a dialog tag was two years ago let alone a beta reader!

When I tried to edit my first novel, I had no clue what I was looking for. Mainly, I just ran through looking for misspelled words and run-on sentences. So, when I got my first red-filled edited version from a beta reader back, I was a little taken back. I had a lot to learn.

Instead of getting mad at the people making the marks, I went back to them and asked them to teach me learn some skills and so I can improve the next time. For this post, I figured I'd share what I learned from the disastrous first novel.

1. Shorter Sentences: Yep. Aim for short concise sentences. Agents even pointed that one out to me. This makes the words flow and people can read it fast.

2. Keep Your Sentences Active: What I mean here is, instead of saying something like..."I watched him stand..." make it "He stood." Again this helps flow.

3. Internal Thought--Make Sure It's There: Another words, just because you know in your mind how you want your character's dialog to be perceived, doesn't mean your reader gets it that way. If your main character says something snippy, but the reader doesn't see some internal reasoning for it, it can turn the reader against your character. You want people to like your characters. To empathize with them. So, make sure they come off the right way.

4. Pacing: Most agents will tell you to start your story with action. To get a good feel for what they mean here, pick up a book from your shelf and read the first couple of pages. More than likely it's an action scene. Don't lead in with backstory, even if it's important. Figure out a different way to work it into the story. Cut scenes that drag the story down. Save them in a file for later, they work somewhere else.

5. Look For Repetition: This can range from overly used words (Look and eyes are some of mine) to repetivie thoughts. I've had my hand smack for saying the same thing eight different ways in just three chapters. The reader will get it the first time, don't beat a dead horse.

6. Forshadowing: Make sure you weave it in throughout the novel. It's imporant. Weather you know it or not, it's one of those things that can keep your reader hungry to finish your novel. So weave in some clues.

7.  Stay in the Right Tense: This is a biggie for a lot of people. If you start in present tense or past tense, stay in that tense. Most of all, pick the tense that best suits your writer's voice.

8. Let Your Voice Shine Through: You hear it all the time, voice is everything. If you hear someone talking to you in your head, write it down just like you hear, weather it's snarky or whatever. It's what's calling to you. Be true to it.

9. Establish Your Crisis in the First Quarter of the Book: First off make sure you know your MAJOR crisis. It's really hard to make that the center of your writing when it's not clear to you even. Take a hard look at your plot and make sure you know and can clearly state it.

10. Have Fun With It: Remember why you are writing. The minute it's not fun anymore, is when you stop loving it. It's okay to put a novel back on a shelf and edit it later if you become frustrated. Sometimes a break can give you fresh editing eyes.

Any other tips you wanna share???? We'd love to hear them!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Writing A Heartbreaking Scene: How Do You Go There?

So I've had a couple days off, and I spent a chunk of those days watching sappy click flicks and working on revising my manuscript. There are some really great tear jerking scenes in movies and books out there right now, just FYI. Anyway, when I think about writing a sad scene, like a break-up or something, I like to pull out some sappy movies and get my mind right. Writing a heart wrenching scene works so much better when you can feel empathy for your characters and a well written scene (movie or book) can draw you in and instantly make you feel that.

I was thinking of some of my go to movies and books that just bring out those emotions that in turn help me write better scenes in my own manuscripts and I thought I'd share. But I warn you now, most of my list is YA/Teen stories since that's what I write. Who knows, maybe someone I'll help someone get through a block. :)

Here goes:

Twenty Boy Summer (YA Novel)

The Sky Is Everywhere (YA Novel)

Twilight Saga (New moon break up or movie)

 A Walk to Remember

There's a few to get you started. Have any you want to share?

Happy NaNo Everyone!!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Interview With Kylie Brant

Today, I'm interviewing romance author Kylie Brant.

FF: Kylie, thanks for being here today. Tell us a little bit about your background.

KB: I'm a Midwesterner, having lived my entire life in Iowa. We do quite a bit of traveling, especially once winter hits. We favor tropical locales once the snow starts flying!

FF: Tell us your latest news?

KB: Deadly Intent is Book 4 in The Mindhunters series from Berkley Sensation. Although part of a series about investigators who work for the legendary ex-FBI profiler Adam Raiker, each of the books stands alone. In Deadly Intent, forensic linguist Macy reed and investigator Kellan Burke race the clock to find an eleven-year-old girl who has been kidnapped--for the second time.

FF: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

KB: Writing always came easily to me in school, although I never considered doing it for a living. But I've always delighted in words, their nuances and inferences. I have always been a voracious reader, and I think we absorb quite a bit about good writing skills just by reading works by fine authors.

FF: What inspired you to write your first book?

KB: My favorite authors just couldn't write fast enough to keep me in reading material. So one summer I decided to try my hand at writing my own romance. That was 1990. I sold my first and second manuscripts to Silhouette in 1992.

FF: how does your family feel about your writing?

KB: My husband has always been very supportive. I have five kids and I started writing when they were 12, 11, 7, 4 and 4. So they've grown up with me writing. They sort of take it for granted, I think. However, now that I've branched out into single title books and sold them to Germany, they are taking more of an interest. And they are old enough to start reading them for themselves, so they have a big better idea of what the plots entail. The kids are proud of me--but that doesn't mean I don't take my share of ribbing. Nothing is sacred with those guys!

FF: What books have influenced your life most?

KB: The authors who inspired me to try writing for myself are the ones who I just couldn't wait for their next releases! Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Lowell, Patricia Gardner Evans...they were some early favorites.

FF: What is your favorite book?

KB: My favorite books of all time are To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger; and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

FF: What book are you reading now?

KB: Oh, I always have several books going at once! Right now I'm reading Silent Scream by Karen Rose and The Search by Nora Roberts.

FF: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

KB: Impossible for me to choose only one! I love Nora Roberts because her characterization has so much depth. Tami Hoag has fabulous suspense that never disappoints. And I love Lee Child and Robert Crais's recurring characters in their series.

FF: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

KB: Recently, I've enjoyed Leslie Parrish and Kate Brady.

FF: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

KB: When I started writing it was before email, and before the Internet. I didn't belong to any writing groups, nor did I know anyone who wrote. After my first sale my editor strongly suggested I join RWA. I have found such a wonderful sisterhood there and made some great friends. I look forward to the conference every summer just to catch up with my buddies!

FF: What are your current projects?

KB: Right now I'm writing the sixth and final installment to The Mindhunters series, Adam Raiker's story. And I already have an idea for a new series!

FF: Do you have anything you want to say to your readers?

KB: I always encounter readers who are a bit hesitant about joining a series midway in, if they haven't read the first few books. I just want to assure them that each of the Mindhunters books are stand alone novels. I can promise you won't feel lost if you start with Deadly Intent! The first three in the series were released last fall back to back and the third Waking The Dead, was a 2010 Rita finalist.

FF: Thank you so much for spending time with Fiction Flurry. Kylie's latest release Deadly Intent is getting fantastic reviews! Be sure to add it to your reading list. If you want more information about this author, please stop by her website

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo Tips

Four days into November and the craziness of trying to write a novel in a month, and I remain optimistic.  I have written every day thus far, though not enough to be on target.  I hope to make up for it this weekend at a write-in.  That brings me to my limited advice on ways to get through NaNo.  The advice is limited because this is only my second attempt at NaNo, and I have a word count to try to keep up with!

Here's what's helped me so far:

1.  I tend to write more in the evenings, so a small glass of wine or some beer helps me to loosen the writing muscles, or at least reduce anxiety about whether or not I'm up for the NaNo challenge. I don't usually partake of the adult beverages, so I don't drink more than 1/2 a glass lest it put me to sleep, which would be counter productive, now wouldn't it? 

2.  Attend write-ins in your area if your house is a zoo like mine.  Fellow writers offer camaraderie, but they're all there to do the same thing, which is to crank out copy.  The best part is no kids, phone, tv, or piles of laundry to distract you.

3.  Don't worry about the language usage or fine details of your story.  NaNo is perfect for simply building the skeleton of your novel.  Go back to your story after November and put some meat on those bones.

4.  Make big batches of soup.  It freezes well and heats up nicely.  There's no sense in spending otherwise good writing time on cooking.

5.  Don't beat yourself up if you are not on target for your daily/weekly word count.  This is supposed to be fun and productive, not a burden.

Now...quit surfing and go write.  But please DO come back to Fiction Flurry tomorrow.  We will have an interview tomorrow with author Kim Bahnsen!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My First NaNo

"So," I announced to my husband with a flourish, "I've signed up to do NaNoWriMo this year."

Pulling his attention (reluctantly) away from the TV, he asked, "What's that?"

As I explained the concept of National Novel Writing Month, and my personal reasons for participating, I began feeling anxious - and overwhelmed - about the commitment. I went on about how I would need my computer free in the evenings and why I had to get dinner over with in a timely manner, but I could see his eyes glazing over.

"Okay," he said when I sputtered to a stop and went back to watching TV.

This was my first clue that I was starting to obsess about National Novel Writing Month.

This is my first year for NaNo. Last year, several members of my critique group participated, but I did not. And I felt that I had good reasons for my decision. I was several chapters into my first novel and I didn't want to stop the momentum to start another story. Also, the Thanksgiving holiday is something that doesn't happen just once in my family - between my husband and I, we have a large family requiring our presence at 2-3 family functions. Then, of course, there's Christmas shopping and decorating to do (I like to get it all done early). So I felt justified for holding out.

But, what I realized - as I watched other people (people I knew) participate in NaNo - is that none of my reasons were really valid. Everyone has lots to do at Thanksgiving and everyone has Christmas shopping or something equally as important. My real reason for not participating was plain, old-fashioned fear.

The final straw, so to speak, was the wonderful Guest Blog posted by Urban Fantasy author Laura Bickle. If you haven't read it you can find it here. She talks about her experiences with NaNo and the two books - both now published - that she completed during the month. After reading about her success, I realized that I needed to face my fears.

Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of being ridiculed. These fears have ruled my writing, crowding my head with "What ifs" and "You can't say that" thoughts. Participating in NaNo is about facing these fears and moving forward with my writing.

I also have other compelling reasons to participate.

First, I need to learn some habits as a writer. Umm...make that GOOD habits. Most important of these is to write every day. I have a lot of excuses for NOT writing - and I'm really good at deploying them. Web-surfing, FARMVILLE, my favorite TV program - all of these have kept me from my writing goals.

Second, I have to learn to write without editing myself. My Inner Editor is a cold-hearted, evil bitch with no compassion whatsoever. She delights in ripping my efforts to shreds - before the words even hit the page, if possible. I sit, staring at the blank page, desperate to find a word - any word - that's suitable to type.

And finally, I really need to finish something. I'm good at starting a story, but not so good at sticking with it. Halfway through (or before) I've already decided that the story I'm telling is overdone, my writing sucks and the ending I'm working towards is garbage. So I quit. The story I was in the middle of last year at this time (the one I didn't want to put away) now languishes on my computer - stuck on Chapter 8.

So, I made the plunge. Headfirst dive, no safety net - just me and a blank page. I've locked my Inner Editor in a closet and bought my fears a one-way ticket to Antarctica. You'll have to check back to see how it goes.

If you have a moment to spare from your own project, I would love to hear your experience with NaNo. Is it your first time? Have you participated before and if so, what are your thoughts on the experience. If not, why not? All comments are greatly appreciated.

Stat Counter