Monday, January 30, 2012

Successful Blogging

Sue Roebuck, a regular contributor to Book Blather, recently interviewed science fiction writer, Alex J. Cavanaugh. The following post first appeared on her blog, http://www.susanroebuck.com.
Welcome back to Book Blather, Sue.


Surely everyone - particularly those who adore SF - has heard of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He wrote a fabulous article for me here last year. He's also the author of the acclaimed Amazon best-seller SF adventure CassaStar and creator of its main character the rebellious, unforgettable whiz Cosbolt fighter-pilot Byron.
In addition, Alex is a successful blogger with a huge and faithful following - you can be proud if you say you belong to Alex's Ninja Army.
All writers should aspire to what he's achieved. So - and, of course, hoping to catch a few tips myself - I asked Alex to give some advice to those who are starting to blog.

Alex: Here’s a few things I’ve learned about blogging over the years:
  • Blog about your passions! Every blog needs a focus and it doesn’t have to be about writing. If you select your blog’s theme based on what fires you up, it will come through in your posts and draw in readers. 
  • Remain positive. Sure we have our down days. (I started the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for just that purpose.) But if you’re constantly negative, no one will stick around. 
  • Set a schedule. Even if it’s just a couple days a week. 
  • Blog details do matter. Place your Google Friends Connect button high on your sidebar. Make it easy for people to leave comments. (Embedded comment boxes and word verification are challenging.) Keep your posts short and invite others to get involved in the discussion. 
  • Follow a variety of other blogs. Don’t just follow other writers and authors. You’ll learn a lot following them, but when it comes time for your book to enter the world, you want as wide an audience as possible. 
  • Get involved. Blogging is a community. You need to get involved by commenting on other blogs and participating in blogfests and other events. You need to give back by encouraging others and shouting out their accomplishments. 
  • It’s not the followers, it’s the connections. Sure you want a lot of people following your blog. But forming relationships is more important. 
          Wow, that’s quite a list isn’t it?

Sue: But an invaluable list. Thank you :-)  I'll just check my Friends button...and see when the next blogfest is...
*** Very soon I’ll post Alex’s description of his new book  CassaFire which is out on February 28th – very exciting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From Zimbabwe to Redneck, U.S.A.


Trish Jackson is the real deal. This multi-talented author not only writes romantic suspense, but also created a memoir based on her grandfather’s life story and an informative booklet for teen drivers. Welcome to Book Blather, Trish.




You grew up in Africa and now reside in Florida. Please share a bit of your journey with Book Blather followers.

***First, I want to thank Marilee for the invitation to be featured on Book Blather.

I've always lived in the country. I grew up on my parent's farm in what is now Zimbabwe; rode horses, learned to shoot, and swam in rivers and dams. When I married, my husband and I lived on a large lot, where I kept horses and taught horse riding. Emigrating from my home country and coming to the U.S. was both scary and exciting, but I love it here. I've lived in California, Arizona and now Florida, and my husband and I have always followed our country roots. I think country folks are the most well-grounded people, who always stick to their core values.

Your novel, Redneck P.I. sounds hilarious. Tell us about it.

***Twila Taunton is a redneck and proud of it. After the betrayal of her childhood sweetheart, she vows never to let another man into her life. Until she meets sexy hunk Harland O'Connor. She steps in and takes over his private investigation business when he is shot and wounded.  This leads her into several "situations", which she handles redneck style, with total disregard for political correctness, ably assisted by her Harley-riding great aunt Essie and her weed-smoking companion, Gasser Cunha, who is also a first-class computer hacker.
The book is an eclectic mixture of fun, suspense, and sizzling romance.

                                         
Will there be another book in the series?

***I am currently working on the first sequel, "Kick-Assitude." Twila sets out to unravel the mystery around several unsolved murders in her home town, Quisby, Alabama, assisted by her sidekick, "Scratch," a dog, who rides with her on the back of her Harley.

The second edition of my first novel, "Way Out of Line" is also due for release in May, 2012. This is a story of undying young love that survives years of separation under extreme circumstances. It moves from a prison to a cult, to the wild country of Mozambique in Africa, where the lovers have to escape from a militant group and swim a flooded, crocodile infested river.

You also write non-fiction. What’s up next in that genre?

***My first love is writing romantic suspense, but I have enjoyed putting together a compilation of my grandfather's memoirs. He was an African pioneer, policeman and soldier.
My most recent non-fiction work, just released in December, is a booklet called "Don't Text and Drive—22 Safe Driving Tips for Teenagers." I wrote and illustrated it myself. My hope is that it will help save some young lives.


Where can readers buy your books?

***Redneck P.I. and my other romantic suspense novels are available in electronic format from my publisher, Uncial Press. The print and Kindle versions are available at Amazon.com – there's a link to both on my website www.trishjackson.com

Please share an excerpt from Redneck P.I.

*** The next day at work, the boss called me into his office. Like
everyone else, I don't like being asked to go into the boss's office.
It usually doesn't mean good news, and reminds me of standing
before the head at school, which was an event that had occurred
more often than I would have liked.

He indicated the chair. "Please sit."

I slumped into it and wound the gum I was chewing around
my finger, before I corrected myself and sat upright as was
expected of employees in this establishment.

"I... um… I... um… I heard that you have..." He coughed,
"...been a little um indiscreet with Anthony."

I sat bolt upright. "That little pervert has been telling
everyone, hasn't he? I'll kill him. I'll…"

He held his hand up. "Judging by your reaction, I can only
assume that Anthony was apparently being honest when he said
that you er… You showed him your er… Your breasts, and you
have a ladybug tattoo." He couldn't resist looking at them, then
raised his eyes guiltily to focus on my face again.

This is where a lesser woman would have squirmed and
apologized or made up some lame excuse. "The dirty rat bastard. I
should have known he wouldn't be able to keep it to himself. I'll
kill him. I'll wring his scrawny little neck, I'll—"


Friday, January 20, 2012

An Agent's Perspective

Meet Nancy Knight, a published author and one of seven women who, in 1999, joined together to form the small press, Belle Books. Looking for a new challenge, Nancy is now representing authors as an agent with the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency. Welcome to Book Blather, Nancy.

When I speak at writers’ conferences, eager writers generally ask the same two questions. What’s hot or what’s selling right now? How can I get an agent to take me as a client? Interestingly enough, the answer to both questions, well, the simplistic answer, is the same: Write a great book. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. Right?

So here’s an answer that’s a bit more specific. First of all, write your book. That’s right. You have to have something down on paper. You have to have a product an agent can sell and editors can buy. The majority of writers I speak with haven’t finished books yet. They’re in the process of writing a book. Or, they’re getting ready to write a book. Okay. Just stop right there. Write the damned book. Talking to an editor or agent (if you’ve never sold a book) without ever having finished writing your book is pretty much a waste of time—yours and the editor/agent’s. The best piece of advice I ever received as a writer was to sit down and write the damned book.

Write the book of your heart? Oh, boy. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that. Okay. Maybe that works if the book of your heart is something that will sell. But, the smart (and successful) writer studies the market and tailors the book of his/her heart to boost the chances of selling. What good does it do to write a book that nobody wants, except your mother of course. Publishing is becoming, unfortunately, more and more like Hollywood. Editors say they’re looking for something new and different. Some are and there’s a rare book or two each year that fill those slots. Most editors and agents really mean they’re looking for some new twist or some fresh approach to something they know will sell. In today’s economy, taking a risk on a new author and seeing that risk turn into a flop is chancy at best. No editor wants to spend a lot of money for a book and watch it languish on the shelves. Jobs are on the line every day and editors who lose money for a publisher don’t last long. So, study the market. Find that new twist or fresh approach. Tailor that book of your heart. (Or save it until you become a NYT bestselling author and then approach your publisher with it.)

The next step is to revise it. What I mean here is to take off the kid gloves and scour that manuscript like it was a burnt pot roast pan. Get rid of all the excess verbiage and beautiful prose that has nothing to do with your story. Look at the storyline. Have you tied up loose ends? Have you fulfilled the promise you made in the beginning? (This means, have you given the reader the story you promised them in the beginning or have you morphed your story into something else entirely?) Is every character necessary and pulling his/her own weight? Is the story cohesive or does it fall apart on re-reading? Revision isn’t just about tweaking a word here or there. It’s about editing out the redundancies and filling in the gaps. It’s about perfecting the plot and the characterizations. It’s about building the most believable world for your story to take place in. So, grab the steel wool and start scouring.

Grammar. OMG. What can I say? I’m constantly amazed at the number of submissions I get with laughable grammar skills. I’m not talking about a misspelled word here or there. I’m not talking about a dangling participle or a misplaced modifier occasionally. I get manuscripts with such poor grammar that I literally laugh out loud sometimes. If you aren’t sure of your grammar skills, get somebody to read your manuscript who can point out the problems. Or, do what a friend of mine did: enroll in a local community college and take a grammar class.

Learn proper formatting. If you don’t know how to format a book for submission to an editor or agent, look it up online. Your  name should appear at the top of every page along with the title of the book and a page number, preferably in consecutive order from page one to the end. Nothing fancy. Double space your ms. Always. Indent your paragraphs and don’t right justify the margins. For those of you who know these things, I apologize for boring you, but somebody needs to say this to the vast sea of unpublished authors who haven’t a clue.

Submit to an agent who actually represents the type of book you’ve written. Don’t waste your time or an agent’s by sending non-fiction to an agent who only represents fiction. Read the Writers’ Digest Guide to Literary Agents. Really read it. See what an agent is looking for instead of blindly submitting your ms.

Finally, you should understand that agents and editors are actively looking for the next great book. When we receive your ms. we’re eager to see if yours is the one we’re looking for. I sincerely hope it is. By the way, I’m looking for fantasy, urban fantasy, romance (and all its sub-genres), mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and young adult novels in all the aforementioned genres. Thanks for reading my rant. And, thanks to Marilee for providing me with the opportunity to be a guest blogger on her site. Good luck!

Nancy Knight
Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Recipes from Chef Jean



Chef Jean Denham, a regular contributor to Book Blather, has a new book in the works. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the recipes. Welcome back, Chef Jean.



Quick & Easy Clam Chowder

No chowder could be easier and it’s tasty.

2 15-oz. can creamed style corn
2 to 3 shakes Tabasco
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk or regular
2  6 1/2-oz. can minced clams, drain but reserve the clam liquid

In a saucepan heat the corn, Tabasco and milk until heated through. Add the clams and enough of the liquid to make a good consistency for the soup. Makes 4 servings.



                         Clam Chowder with a garnish of deep fried catfish.   

Last Minute Dinner Salad

This is a good idea to keep in the back of your mind for a night you want something filling, fast and so easy. Or, if you read your book too long and dinner will be late.

Open a can of kidney beans, drain and rinse and pour into a bowl. (Cici, Cannellini or Garbanzo beans work also).

Add bottled Italian salad dressing and top with finely cut green onions (green and white parts), raw or canned sliced mushrooms, a couple tomatoes; season with salt and pepper very lightly and taste for seasoning. Stir well before serving and top with some grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese. For a wonderful flavor and you know tomorrow’s going to be a killer, make the salad the night before.










Linguine with Tomatoes and Brie

The tomatoes and brie marinate on the counter for 2 hours and let me tell you it’s difficult to stay out of it; nibble here and a nibble there and all of a sudden not enough left to finish the dish.

1 lb. linguine pasta                            3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large wedge brie cheese                           1/4 cup olive oil
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped             Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced                     1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz.)shredded Parmesan
    cheese

Cut the skin off the brie and cut into chunks. In a large serving bowl, combine the brie, tomatoes, garlic, Parmesan, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Loosely cover and allow to marinate out of the refrigerator for 2 hours.

When ready to serve, cook the pasta according to pkg. directions; drain and add to the salad bowl. Toss gently and taste for seasoning. Scatter chopped basil over the top and serve immediately.

a Chef’s Journey idea: Camembert cheese is very good to use in place of brie also.        




Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kathy Rygg, Author of Children's Books

Is it bunny eat bunny out there in the kids’ book world? Here’s the gal with the answers. Kathy Rygg writes children’s books, she’s a staff writer for a children’s e-magazine, a freelance writer/editor and active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has a degree in magazine journalism, worked for the McxGraw-Hill Business Publications division in New York City and was the editor of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. Welcome to Book Blather, Kathy.



Please tell us about yourself.

In addition to the above, I am also the author of the children’s iPad app “Magic Story Factory,” which helps young children create an interactive e-book. I currently live in Omaha, NE, with my husband and two young boys where I love shopping, wining, dining and cheering for the Huskers!

My children's young middle grade book Tall Tales with Mr. K is about a group of third-graders who think the teacher’s lounge is where teachers eat candy out of vending machines, watch TV and get to play video games. They don’t expect it to be a tropical island where they are kidnapped by pirates, a circus where they learn the flying trapeze or a crime scene where they solve a jewelry heist!


Were reading and writing always a part of your life?

Absolutely! I’ve always been an avid reader, especially with book series. Growing up I loved the Little House on the Prairie books, Beverly Cleary books and Nancy Drew. As early as kindergarten I would write (and attempt to illustrate) my own short stories. They usually involved princesses, witches, and knights on white horses.

Describe your road to publication.     

I looked into a lot of different self-publishing options before deciding to publish on Smashwords and Amazon. I was really impressed with the distribution channels that Smashwords provides, and I liked the quality of the print option with Amazon’s CreateSpace. Of course the marketing aspect is challenging, but it takes time to build an author platform. I have been incredibly impressed with the support from the online author community, especially with opportunities like these!

What influenced your decision to write for children?

I really didn’t consider children’s writing until my son began reading chapter books. He devours books, and I pulled out all my childhood favorites for him to read. In doing so, I rediscovered how much fun the genre can be, so I decided to explore it. I was instantly hooked!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in the writing process?

It’s difficult to take off my editor’s hat while I’m writing. I can’t just create a first draft the whole way through. I tend to edit a chapter at least three times before writing the next chapter. The upside is I love the revision process. It’s such a great feeling to take something you think is written well and make it even better!

What are your current projects?

I have a middle grade novel being published by Muse It Up Publishing, which comes out in August 2012, and I am currently writing my first young adult novel.

I am also a staff writer for an online children’s emagazine, knowonder! where I regularly contribute short stories for children ages 3-10.

Where can readers buy your books?

Tall Tales with Mr. K is available both in print and for kindle on Amazon.com, for Nook on Barnes and Noble.com, and for iPad, iPhone and iPod on iTunes and for Sony, Kobo and to download to your computer on Smashwords.com.

You can also go to my blog at http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com. I provide tips, information and interviews for authors. You can also find me on Facebook (KSR Writer), Linkedin (Kathy Rygg) Twitter (kathyrygg) and Goodreads.


Any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep writing, attend conferences, join critique groups, network online, and don’t be afraid to self-publish on sites like Smashwords and Amazon. It's a great way to stay motivated and build a presence. Most of all, don’t stop what you love doing! Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of work to become successful, so it won’t happen overnight!


Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Excerpt from Tall Tales with Mr. K:

“I noticed you weren’t too happy during reading group,” Mr. K said. “What was wrong?”
“I don’t know. It was just hard,” Max said, looking at the floor.
“That particular book was hard?”
“Yes. No. All of it’s hard. I just don’t like to read.” Max felt a lump in his throat. He swallowed it back to keep tears from forming in his eyes.
“I know reading can be really tough,” Mr. K said. “Sometimes it helps if you don’t think of it as just reading words on a page.”
“What do you mean?” Max said. He looked up, all the way up, at Mr. K.
“I like to think of reading as though you’re decoding a map—a treasure map. The page of the book is the map, and the words are the symbols on the map. Once you’ve figured out what all the symbols mean, then you know--”
“Where the buried treasure is!” Max said.
“Exactly! And in the case of books, the treasure is the story.”
“It sounds cool, but I don’t know if I can do it,” Max said.
“Why don’t we find out?” said Mr. K, turning toward the door of the teacher’s lounge.
“We can’t go in there. Students aren’t allowed,” Max said.
“You are if a teacher is with you. This is where we’re going to unlock the secret behind reading a treasure map.” Max stared at the door with the big “Teacher’s Lounge” sign beside it. He wasn’t sure what to expect. Mr. K turned the handle, and Max followed him through the forbidden door.
Max stumbled through the doorway. He thought he’d be faced with startled teachers eating their lunches. Instead, he found himself—outside. And not just outside the school but outside on a beach. Soft sand surrounded his feet. He looked around and saw blue ocean water as far as he could see. Mr. K stood beside him wearing a tan, wide-brimmed hat. A pair of binoculars hung around his neck.
            “Where are we?” Max whispered, scrunching his nose to keep his glasses up. “How did we get here?” He turned around to look for the door to the teacher’s lounge. Nothing was there but a thick jungle with mountains behind it.
            “We’re on an island known for its buried treasure,” Mr. K said. “And I happen to have the treasure map.” He held up a plain, brown hardback book. He handed it to Max. Max opened the book. Each page was filled with a different picture of a treasure map.
            “You mean we’re going to hunt for real treasure?” Max asked, stunned.
            “As long as you can decode the map,” Mr. K said. “And as long as we can stay away from them.” Mr. K nodded toward the water. Max turned and saw the dark outline of a giant ship sailing toward them. At the top a black flag with white skull and crossbones waved in the wind.
            “Is that a pirate ship?” Max said.
            “We better get started before it comes to shore.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

Calling All Mystery Writers

Book Blather would like to welcome the multi-talented Gerard Bianco. Gerard not only writes mysteries, he is a playwright and jewelry designer. I'm delighted to share his timely article for mystery writers, Planting A Seed.
                            
 Include More Than One Mystery in Your Novel
Reading a great mystery novel is a lot like horseback riding. Sometimes, you’re cautiously slow-walking on unfamiliar turf. Other times, you’re head-bobbling-wobbling trotting. Then there are those times when you’re whooshing along on a take-your-breath-away gallop. This variety of pace is one of the key elements contributing to the thrill and excitement of the ride. Another is fear. (What if I fall off the damn horse?)
In keeping with this metaphor, mystery writing then becomes somewhat like laying out a course for the rider. The author must include a assortment of terrains to make the ride interesting and somewhat challenging. There has to be grassy hills to climb and soft, sloping landscapes to descend. There must be twists and turns, tree-laden paths, and long, smooth straight-aways for those blazing gallops.
To accomplish this, writers use an assortment of subtle and not-so-subtle techniques to enhance their storytelling and add the necessary oomph required for a successful mystery/suspense yarn. From the many techniques available, consider the following.
Planting a Seed               
How do you write a page-turning mystery—one in which people say, “I couldn’t put the book down?” How did authors like Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie create stories that keep us glued to the page? One technique they used is called, “Planting a Seed.” These authors sprinkled their mystery stories with several small, subtle mysteries that forecast evil, ruthless, merciless, cruel and unscrupulous events that will take place later on in the novel. These little mysteries, many times placed at the end of a chapter, add breadth to the story, carrying the interest of the reader from the beginning of the novel to its successful conclusion. Tied together with the larger who-done-it, they keep the reader turning pages faster than you can say, “221B Baker Street.”
In my lecture series, Subtle Writing Techniques Used to Create a Successful Mystery Novel, I stress the importance of taking the extra steps necessary to bypass the competition you’ll come up against in today’s highly aggressive market place. Incorporating the technique of “Planting a Seed,” will place you well ahead of your fellow authors. Both the TV and film industries understand the importance of “Planting a Seed” to capture the viewer’s attention. Commercials, film clips and trailers are filled with nerve-tingling uncertainties that leave the viewer panting for more.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of mystery seed planting from some of the authors I mentioned earlier.
Raymond Chandler in his last sentence of Chapter 4 in Farewell, My Lovely wrote: “I went out of the Hotel Sans Souci and crossed the street to my car. It looked too easy. It looked much too easy.”  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that later on in the story ‘it ain’t gonna be so easy.’ By planting those two little sentences, Chandler keeps us wondering what will happen next.
In The Case of the Musical Cow, Erle Stanley Gardner wrote at the end of Chapter 13: “The co-ordinates had located the position of car seven within two hundred feet. The trap was ready to be set.”  Can’t you just hear the eerie music being played after those lines?
Agatha Christie proved she is the “Queen of Crime” when, in her short story, The Double Clue, she introduced the diabolical character, Countess Rossakoffand, Poirot’s suggested love-interest, and then prophesized, through Poirot, that the Countess and the detective will, one day, reconvene. In his final words of this story, Poirot sighs to Hastings: “A remarkable woman. I have a feeling, my friend—a very decided feeling—I shall meet her again. Where, I wonder?” The seed Christie planted kept her readers on the edge of their seats, waiting for her next novel.
Once you begin to recognize how authors use these subtle mysteries to keep the reader racing through the story, you’ll begin to understand their importance and use them in your own mysteries. It’s essential to remember, as with most techniques of writing, not to overplay your hand with too many of these keenly-placed accents, otherwise your story will become burdensome and taxing. Keep your dialogue crisp and your descriptions sparse. Say no more than is required to get your point across. Your terseness will create a sense of urgency that will have your reader yearning for more of what you’re dishing out.
Here’s an example of the seed I planted, along with the brevity that I used in my book The Deal Master. At the end of Chapter 11, I wrote: “With his shoulders up around his ears, he quickly walked away from the action without once looking back. When he reached the corner, he turned left. Then, when he was certain no one was looking, he sprinted as fast as his legs would take him towards what he thought was freedom, but on the contrary, was nothing of the kind.”                                            
Gerard Bianco is the author of the award-winning mystery/thriller The Deal Master. His lectures on the Art of Mystery Writing are highly popular amongst writers and readers alike. His play, Discipline http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000502844/Discipline.aspx was published in December, 2011. The article above was written for Now Write Mysteries, http://nowwrite.net/mysteries/ published by Tarcher/Penguin, December, 2011, which features 86 never-before-published suspense, crime, thriller and other mystery fiction writing exercises from top-selling authors.  Mr. Bianco’s web site is http://gerardbianco.com/ his blog: http://gerardbianco.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Write What You Know

Fellow Belle Book author, Kat Magendie, calls herself a West-by-god-Virginia Hillbilly. I call her a fabulous writer. Here's her take on that oft-repeated bit of advice familiar to all of us: writing what you know. Welcome to Book Blather, Kat.




I was thinking about the “write what you know” thing. Sometimes people think it means to write what you have experienced in a tangible way. It can be, of course. It can also be what you empathize, which is still “what you experience,” but in an indirect kind of way.
Years back, I went by a friend’s house to visit her, while on my way to somewhere I don’t recall. I was dressed nicely, had on make-up, et cetera. I was as I am now: Healthy as the clich├ęd horse. My friend, however, had cancer. Her hair was falling out. She was pale and tired. I brought something to her and we chatted a while.
But what I want to focus on was the moment I stepped into the door. I walked in, smiling and strong. I walked in with all this HEALTH surrounding me. My pinked cheeks, my sturdy body, my clean-and-free-from-cancer insides. I walked into her house and she sat in her chair with cancer eating at her, what was left of her hair and her partially bald scalp showing through a little from her scarf, her pallid complexion.
What hit me with a sudden ‘oh,’ wasn’t only when she said something to the effect, “You look so nice,” and her tone was wistful. Before she said a word, it was the look in her eyes. Her demeanor said, “I want to be healthy again. I want to be strong again. I want to have on my cute clothes again. I want my hair back! I want this damn cancer out of my body RIGHT NOW! I want to be ME again.” And maybe even, “I’m glad my friend is here, but . . .” But, she’s making me feel sicker. But, she’s making me feel ugly. But, she’s making me feel hairless and sick and pale and pukey and weak.
For that moment before we chatted and were just the friends we were, I’d put myself in her place (and maybe she in 
mine)—what I thought I would feel if I were sitting in that chair and she had come breezing in with all that gawdamm Health I used to feel and wanted to feel again—whether I’d hit it on the nail isn’t important for the purposes of things from a “writer’s perspective.” What matters is—
Empathy.
I could sit down now and remember that moment of clarity. That “look” I saw in my friend’s eyes. The feeling I suddenly had that made me feel as if we could so easily trade places. The feeling that somehow I made her just a little sad or uncomfortable or maybe even a bit envious of my good health—for why should she be sick and I be healthy? Who or what decides these things? In “writing what I know” I can also use that moment of recognition to write something from my friend’s perspective.
Will I get it exactly right, will I know everything she thought or felt? No way, but that one moment of that one flash in her eyes, that sound of her voice, the energy charged in the room and the energy wished for, the sickness and the health, all of it I can recall. And from that could come a story written from “what I know.” Empathy. Paying attention. A knowing. A guessing. A learning. A reaching into and out of. I could take what I’d think I’d be feeling and pass it onto her (on to my character).
Sometimes that’s what Writing What You Know means.
By the way, my friend is fine now. Healthy and feeling wonderful. Pinked cheeks and shiny hair. No one would ever have to know, except her, and me, and all the 
future characters who may come.  


You may purchase Kat's books on her website, Amazon and at www.bellebooks.com.
        
                                                                  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ten Tips from Best Selling Authors


If you follow this blog, you’re a book lover. A reader. A writer. Possibly both. Here’s a peek into the mind of some famous writers. Enjoy!




Maya Angelou – “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, the most boring and awful stuff. And then, it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”

James Patterson – “I pretend I’m sitting across from somebody, telling them a story and I don’t want the to get up.”

Kurt Vonnegut – “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order that the reader may see what they’re made of.

Elmore Leonard – “Never use a verb other than said to carry dialogue. The dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. Said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.”

Isobel Allende – “Writing is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores.”

Stephen King – “Read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t read, you can’t be a writer.”

Ernest Hemmingway – “Each day’s work should only be interrupted when one knows where to begin again the next day.”

Annie Dillard – “A work in progress quickly becomes feral. You must visit it every day to reassert your mastery over it.”

Margaret Atwood – “If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.”

Mary Heaton Vorse – “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”