…I’ll Do It…My Way

I can hear Frank Sinatra as I type those words.  And I should have listened to him.  He was right.

I’ve been reading a lot of especially good advice on how to organize your book and write lately.  And some of it really sounded good to me.  So good that I decided to make up sheets for scenes in my next Jazzi novel and try to create a sort of massive storyboard.  C.S. Boyack wrote a great article on how he uses them.  And I got so excited!  I could picture in my mind how each scene would fit in a giant jigsaw puzzle of other scenes and I could move the scenes around and add scenes and who knows what else to create a brilliant flow in my book.

C.S. Boyack’s posts:  https://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/the-2019-interview-series-featuring-c-s-boyack/  and  https://storyempire.com/2018/12/14/and-now-for-something-completely-different/

And the team at Story Empire have been writing great posts about how to build a Story Bible with plenty of other advice about multiple POVs, settings, and story structure:  https://storyempire.com/blog/   Staci Troilo even included charts for readers to download and use.

Every single bit of advice is good.  And I love learning how other writers work.  And I tried…I really did…. to write out scene sheets and hit beginning hooks, inciting incidents, pinch points, and more.  And it all helped me think of new scenes and ideas for Jazzi 5.  Which is good.  But when push came to shove, for me to “see” the book in my head, I’m sitting at my computer, writing out plot points like I’ve always done.  Sigh.

It’s possible that I’m too set in my ways.  It’s possible you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  (And if my friend Carl reads this, no comments!)  Or it’s possible that we each find what works for us and we’re comfortable with, and we should remember that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Even though I do like to try new things once in a while.

Way back in my beginning writing days, I tried to develop my book’s characters by using the Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts.  But it never really worked for me.  It didn’t give me enough to “see” and “hear” my characters.  Then I tried filling out an extensive questionnaire I saw online for each one.  That didn’t work for me either.  “I had so much information, it bogged me down.  That’s when I went to a workshop given by Shirley Jump and she showed us her character wheels.  Those worked for me.  They gave me enough, but not too much.  A friend tried them, and they failed her miserably.  What works for one writer doesn’t always work for another.  That’s why all a writer can do is share what she knows and what she’s stumbled on that works for her.

When a writer shares something near and dear, it’s because it’s a hard won technique or truth that she’s probably learned the hard way.  But that doesn’t mean it will work for you.  And what have I learned?  I’ve learned to listen to writers whom I respect and to consider their advice.  And to roll all that advice into something I can use by trying this and that until I find what fits.  I’ve learned to push myself once in a while to try to get better, because a comfortable groove can become a rut.  I’ve learned that I can admire other peoples’ prose and voice and style, but I have to stay true to myself.  I’ve learned that sometimes the words come easy, and sometimes the words come hard, but I do better if I plop my fanny in a chair and write every weekday that I possibly can.

So, learn as much as you can, but trust yourself and your own voice.  And happy writing!

 

 

 

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Nag, nag, nag

A while ago, over on the Story Empire blog, Staci Troilo was host and asked What is the Favorite Book you’ve written and why?  I read all five of the writers’ answers who take turns hosting the blog to see which book they chose and why it was their favorite.  Their answers were interesting.  You can find the link here:

https://storyempire.com/2019/03/29/bonus-friday-favorite-book/

At the end of the blog, Staci opened up the comments section to other authors to share. I tried to think of the favorite novel I wrote, but I couldn’t settle on one.  I love every book I write, or else I’d never be able to slog through 60,000-100,000 words to finish them.  But then–and every writer will know this feeling–the question just wouldn’t go away.  It rattled around in my head and kept nagging me.  Until I finally came up with an answer for myself.

If I had to choose, I’d pick FALLEN ANGELS, an urban fantasy I wrote as Judith Post.  It was my first true attempt at urban fantasy.  Not that I got it right.  Every editor who commented on it said that NO humans should play a major part in an urban fantasy.  And what did I do?  I made Danny, the detective, work with Enoch, the fallen angel, as a partner.  I did a few other things wrong as well, but I learned a lot while I muddled through it.  And mistakes and all, I was really proud of that book when my agent finally approved it.  First, every time I redid a scene, the book got longer.  It’s the longest book I’ve ever done.  I’d never written a battle scene before, and I had all kinds of them scattered through the story.  I had Enoch–the angel who tackled his friend so he couldn’t join Lucifer’s rebellion–watch Caleb get thrown to Earth as punishment anyway.  And when Caleb bites humans to drink their blood to sustain his own energy, he infects them with his immortality and creates the first race of vampires.  Who don’t behave well, so Enoch’s sent to Earth to clean up after Caleb.

I liked the ideas I played with for this story.  And I was happy that I’d created a character–Enoch’s best friend, Caleb–who was so selfish, but charming–that you waffled between hating him and cutting him some slack.  I tried, but didn’t completely succeed, to create a romantic interest who was so hurt that she pushed everyone away.  That was trickier than I imagined.  Some readers felt sorry for her, and others could have done without her:)

I guess the reason I’d choose FALLEN ANGELS as the favorite novel I’ve written is because it challenged me to leave my comfort zone and write things I’d never tried before. Enoch was a protagonist who didn’t want the job he’d been given.  He didn’t want to be a hero.  All he wanted to do was convince Caleb to go Home with him.  But Caleb LIKED the freedom he’d found on Earth.  He never wanted to repent and be forgiven.  So Enoch was stuck.  Probably for a long time–a brooding hero.

What about you?  Which book would you choose?  And why?  (Be careful.  If you don’t answer, the question might nag you for a long time).

Happy writing!

October writing

In case anyone here was following my mystery, A Baker’s Dozen, written chapter by chapter on my webpage, I put up the last chapter today.

Next week, I want to start writing an experimental story a week to put up.  I like to read C. S. Boyack’s blog, and he’s posting a story once a week for October on his blog.  He’s a darned good writer.  So you might want to check them out.    https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/macabre-macaroni/

Teri Polen is doing a special October blog, too, Bad Moon Rising, interviewing authors about the supernatural and paranormal.   And yes, ouija boards scare me.  https://teripolen.com/2018/10/03/badmoonrising-cusp-of-night-by-mae-clair-supernatural-suspense/   If you scroll down, you’ll see more authors’ answers, including Staci Troilo’s.

But a while ago, Craig (C. S. Boyack) wrote a blog for Story Empire about writing out of your comfort zone, and he asked what authors would write if they decided to let their fingers wander out of their usual writing zone.  https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/friday-group-post-questing-beasts/

I put down short stories I’d like to try:  an alternate history, magic realism (if I can ever nail what I really think it is–but I have an idea), something creepy, and the genre I almost ALWAYS fail at–horror.  I’d like to write the scariest, baddest short story I’ve ever written.  Which might still be too upbeat, knowing me.  Aargh!

Anyway, I hope you have a perfectly wonderful time writing this month.  And if black cats and witches wander onto your pages, so much the better:)

 

Oh, those Alpha Males

I’m near the end of reading Ilona Andrews’s MAGIC TRIUMPHS.  Her heroine, Kate Daniels, is so strong with so many sword skills and so much magic that her love interest, Curran Lennart–whom she marries and has a child with later in the series–has to be exceptional, too, to be her equal.  So, in the beginning books of the series, he’s a shapeshifter who is the Beast Lord of the entire Atlanta pack–a shifter who becomes a giant lion who can kill and maim every bit as well as Kate.  She’s a female with an attitude, and he’s a male with enough ego and confidence to stand up to her.  He’s strong and sexy, but let’s face it.  That’s not enough.  He also has to respect Kate and be there for her.  He has to have a tender side when he deals with her.

I have to admit, I can take or leave most alpha males as heroes.  I’m just as into witty or clever heroes–men who are masculine without swagger and macho.  I don’t write alphas because that’s not my first inclination when I think of a hero.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading about them–especially if there’s a great cover with abs that ripple and biceps that bulge.  You know the ones.  The ones that snag your attention when you scroll down twitter or Amazon covers.

I happen to think Julia Donner writes some of the best male characters around, but for me, Ilona Andrews writes some of the best alphas.  I love “Mad” Rogan in her HIdden Legacy series, and I fell hard for Hugh D’Ambray when he switched from villain to hero in IRON AND MAGIC.  I’ve only read the fourth and final book in Staci Troilo’s Protectorate series, TORTURED SOUL, but that fourth Brother was an alpha to remember.  Another to add to my list–and he might be an all-time favorite–was Keir in WARPRIZE by Elizabeth Vaughan.  All of these men were efficient killers who worked hard to do the right thing against impossible odds and to care for the women they loved.

How about you?  Do you have a thing for alpha males?  What’s your favorite type of male protagonist?  Do you have some favorites?

Whatever you’re working on now, I hope your characters come alive for you and happy writing!

 

Check this out!

Staci Troilo Color Photo RT smaller

I met Staci Troilo on the Story Empire blog (https://storyempire.com/2017/07/12/8-steps-author-brand/) and through Mae Clair’s blog (https://maeclair.net/).  If you haven’t looked at their sites, I highly recommend each of them.  Staci edits as well as writes, and she gives good, solid advice and writers’ links–besides writing fabulous stories.  She has two that came out in August.

Tortured Soul is the last installment in her Medici Protectorate series and became available on Aug. 28.  She wrote a beautiful blog about it:

https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/ending-a-series-is-torture-tortured-soul-the-medici-protectorate-finale/#more-5881

Here’s a little teaser to whet your whistle:

Tortured Soul banner

I love the purple on the cover!

 

Staci is doubly blessed (and doubly busy in August)  because using her pen name, Keira Beck, she wrote her Nightforce Security 1 novel that came out Aug. 1.  If you like romance, suspense, and plenty of twists and turns, you’ll want to check this out:

 

If you’d like a taste of the Nightforce Security guys before committing to the series, there’s a great promo going on at BookFunnel, where you can get an introductory story called One Ugly Mug. It’s free, and it’s not available anywhere else. You can find it by clicking this link.

One Ugly Mug by Keira Beck

You can find Staci on these sites:

Staci Troilo
Bestselling Author

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