Talking Writing Points with Ames Karas

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READ THIS FIRST

Starting Point:

Today is a writing day. This is about word production. Start at the beginning then go in chronological order. When finished, put the word count in the title. Change the icon to something awesome like a star or something.

 

STARTUP: Keep a legal pad handy for notes.

-What’s my goal for today’s writing session?

-Word count by 15 minute increment.

-Doubts about my character.

-Doubts about my fictional characters.

-Doubts about the direction of the scene.

-Possible fixes.

-Questions about the next scene.

-Any other interrupting thoughts.

 

Then at the end of a writing session:

-What did I accomplish? Yay me!

-What should I do before next writing session?

-What will I write next?

-Review these notes before the next Day’s writing.

 

NOW CRUMPLE IT UP AND THROW IT AWAY! YAY!

KEEP IN MIND WHILE WRITING:

-Why do I love writing?

-What is my story about in a paragraph?

 

 

 

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Act 1 is a bitch.

It took me 2 years to write Act 1 of my recently completed WIP Winded Embers. It took 7 months to write Act 2.  

Act 3 took less than a week.

 

Act 1 seems daunting because there are multitudinous variables to organize and implement. You must answer questions like: What does this character want? Why does he want it? Who is in his way? Why?

I’ll stop now lest I begin sobbing. You will revise so breathe.

 

That is just what comes from the story. Never forget, humans are pre-fabricated with self-doubt and anxiety. This is extra true for creatives who must essentially get naked in public. Accusation and questions will flood you while you write.  

 

What if I suck and have to re-write the entire thing? Wow, am I screwed up for writing about this? Who am I going to offend by writing? Worse, I am not going to offend anyone? Am I writing garbage that doesn’t mean anything?

 

In my experience (limited though it is) stories tend to come more easily when unimpeded by Writer’s block. Industry secret: Writer’s block= personal problems.

Here is my advice on surviving the production of act 1.

Create a positive writing habit (more on this in “go Analog”).

 

Recruit allies. Writer buddies can shut down your self-doubt and make you work better. There are some questions you cannot answer about your own book. Knowing you have beta readers creates a mental toilet for the questions you can’t answer. “Is my character relatable?” I have Betas for that. ::FLUSH::  

 

Go Analog. never underestimate the power of paper. Physically setting down a noisome idea is underrated. Nothing gets rid of negative thoughts like a pad of paper. Little in this world is as satisfying as crumpling said thoughts and winging them across the coffee shop into the waste basket. I’m just sayin’

Below is my warm-up. I needed it while writing Act 1.  KEY: This worked for me. Use what works for YOU!

Now go write and be awesome, you writer you.

Ames Karas   candor.amykaras.com

 

 

 

Man ready to run

 

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Legal Thriller, Mystery and Crime Fiction with Sherrie Marshall

 

 

 

It’s time for FORENSIC LENSES!

 

 

 

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This week we would like to see through the “lenses” of a person who not only loves mystery, legal and crime thrillers; but also who has over two decades of work experience in the legal system. Come join us for another investigative session of Forensic Lenses…

 

 

 

 

LET’S WELCOME FELLOW WRITER AND MY GOOD FRIEND SHERRIE MARSHALL

 

 

 

 

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*What did you study in college?

I have a B.S. In Organizational Leadership and a minor in Economics. Yes, that’s a real degree. It’s code for how to be a leader in today’s disorganized society. The instant gratification expected in everything we touch lends to a society that has become less focused. It has left the door open for much needed leadership. I just hope I can contribute some small part.

I’ve definitely heard of this one. Couple of my comrades have the same degree! 

 

 

*What genre do you write?

I have an affinity toward legal thrillers and mystery. After serving the legal community for 22 years, I’ve learned that the human spirit is the most creative medium to write about. The criminal side, as well as tangled civil matters fascinate me.

We’re definitely kindred spirits in this department. Legal thrillers, mystery, law…It’s all so fascinating. My dream is to write a sci-fi type legal thriller, then perhaps other quirky legal thrillers. Whatever my imagination can come up with. 

 

 

 

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*How long have you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember stories have been brewing around in the old gray matter. It’s only in the last year that I’ve decided to share. Writing has been an evolution for me. Like any artist will probably admit, sharing our craft is intensely personal. I’m delighted to have arrived at a place in my life that I finally have the time to create and the inclination to share.

I like the word you’re using in describing this journey. It’s definitely an evolution in many ways. Writers are the most interesting people on earth. Unless of course, you’d happen to be an alien writer. THAT would be something.

 

 

 

“Easy reading is damn hard writing” -Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 

 

*What exactly is your work experience? (In the legal system)

The first ten years were spent as a bailiff sitting in the courtroom for trials and hearings of all kind. I worked for a District Judge which allowed me to study human nature stemming from a very unsavory place. It was not for the weak at heart, but I became fascinated with human psyche. After my journey through the courts, I became a paralegal and focused mainly on Securities Litigation. Weirdly, it wasn’t that much different than previous criminal trials I had attended. Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them, money, retirement, possibly business or family. The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.

This is too good, Sherrie. I had a hardy laugh and about cried, all in the span of one paragraph. I laughed at what you said about human nature stemming from an unsavory place. I pictured you making a face at some pungent smell in the courtroom. Lol! But in all seriousness, I almost cried at the mention of loss that people have to face. I guess I never realized it in this way before. Someone is always put at a loss for something dear to them. Whether it be family, friends, possession, freedom etc. There will always be a loss involved with consequence. 

“The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature” I love this statement. Human nature is extremely flawed. But some authors explore the beauty in the midst of the storm through their writing.  I believe it was Sally Allen who said something about it in our interview. Finding beauty in the midst of the shipwrecked human condition. Very intriguing. 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them…”

 

 

The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.- Sherrie Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

*Which books did you devour growing up?

I loved the antics that Nancy Drew found herself in every novel. I couldn’t wait to check out the next book from the library and shred through it like it was the holy gospel. My imagination worked overtime at a very early age. It fascinated me that a young girl could solve a crime. Talk about your strong female character!

That’s awesome! I admit, I’ve never read Nancy Drew but I’m glad you’re imagination was set on fire! That’s great. Would you ever write a YA mystery?

 

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*Who are your childhood heroes?

My parents were my everything. They showed each other kindness and respect. I held a naïve belief that all children had parents like mine. We took picnics regularly; I can still taste mother’s fried chicken, and we stayed after church to eat dinner on the ground (it’s a southern thing). Then I found Elvis. I completely admired that a backwoods boy from Tupelo, Mississippi could turn his beautiful pipes into a voice heard ‘round the world. The fact that he paused his career to serve his country deepened my admiration even more. I always thought if he could do it, anyone who tried hard would have a chance too.

That’s great. Parents are a very important part of our lives. Elvis is awesome. I love to impersonate Elvis. I actually have a pair of “Elvis” sunglasses (Shh..Don’t tell anyone).

 

 

 

 

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*What are your favorite legal thrillers and mysteries?

John Grisham is the legal thriller king in my book. I have to say after studying writing for decades, he is not the best person to emulate if you’re a newbie. He breaks all the writing rules, but is a fine example of consistency in delivering a wallop of a story to readers every time. Books in this department include The Testament and The Innocent Man by Grisham, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow.

I’m a Grisham fan as well. I have the Testament downloaded but haven’t read it yet. Definitely looking forward to reading Harper Lee, and I’ve yet to read Scott Turow. .

 

 

 

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*List your favorite crime and mystery writers.

James Patterson is simply a freak of nature in the writing world, and I also enjoy English cozies by Deborah Crombie. I believe I’ve read all novels written by both authors.

Awesomesauce! I have some Patterson books lined up on my to-be-read-list. The cozy mysteries are extremely appealing for some reason. The next one I’ll read is by Elizabeth Spann Craig, or Riley Adams. 

 

 

 

“Maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” -Unknown

 

 

 

 

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*Who are your top 5 sleuths and what do you appreciate about them?

 Alex Cross (Patterson) is such a lovable detective. He has a realistic family life with ups and downs that carries through the entire series. The crimes he must solve are heinous, which peaks my interest.

 Gemma James (Crombie) is a female detective that solves crimes in the UK with sensible rationale. No hyper-dramas, which I appreciate.

 Sherlock Holmes is of course on my list. He is so flawed by nature, that I can’t help but pull for him when solving a crime.

 Mike Hammer (Spillane) had a no nonsense style that forged “hard boiled” detectives into my brain at a fairly young age. All that Hammer reading became beneficial later when I worked with lawyers 

 Inspector Clouseau was such a bumbler, I couldn’t help but love him. Since I was so young, I never knew whether or not the caper would be solved. But of course, they all were, which may be my earliest hook into the legal arena. The movies released in the 60’s and 70’s were always a family favorite.

I love it! This is a very diverse group of sleuths. Honestly I’ve been pondering starting a Mystery Thriller Week starting February 2017. Interested? I could use your assistance.

 

 

 

“Danger is the snack food of a true sleuth” -Mac Barnett

 

 

 

 

*What do you experience as they solve crimes?

The novels that capture my attention always propose more than one logical answer to a set of problems. I am enthralled with how the sleuth arrives at his decision to pursue one only to find that it is a complete disaster. I’m not a fan of such plot devices as Deus ex Machina, but I love a surprise during the climax of any novel, as long as there was some small crumb left along the way that I can go back and connect. It becomes the “Wow” factor for me in novels. I’m a “twist” junkie.

Nice. I’m thinking it must be very challenging to fool an experienced mystery reader.

 

 

 

 

 

AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME….

 

*As a reader, what are your top 5 pet peeves?

Talking heads, hopping heads, a huge cast of characters with a POV, abandoning me for 100 pages after a cliff-hanger, and novels without resolution. I like to know what happened after the disaster.

Very good list here. I’m always fascinated by what irks readers in their experience of a story. It gives great insight.

 

 

 

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*What fascinates you most about criminal, civil matters?

I led a lovely sheltered and protected childhood and was shocked to discover the other side of human nature. I began to research what made serial killers tick, and why passion seems to be the human emotion I most closely equate with animal instinct. In other words, if someone is threatened with the loss of something they hold as dear to them as breathing, then fight or flight enters into the equation. I believe that is where the wires get crossed in many killers. Civil trials can be as twisted and quirky as criminal court. One of my favorites included a lawsuit where a real estate developer decided to cut corners and not spray for termites under the foundation. Guess what can swarm thick enough during dinner to blind you? Yep, termites. It was strange though, after the verdict in favor of the family, that home burned to the ground while they were on an extended vacation. Hmm, fascinating.

Fascinating indeed. I can see why discovering the other side of human nature would be very shocking. It sounds like such a contrast doesn’t it? Certainly makes for great fiction!

 

 

 

*As a person who has much experience in the legal system, what is justice?

Such a loaded question! Justice is administered in a legal sense when a jury of your peers decides on a verdict. But, whoa, is that a huge oversimplification?! In my personal opinion, real justice is when a wrong is set right, be it sincere incarceration for an offender or the correction of a civil issue. Where these two can never meet to administer true and rightful justice is a flaw in our judicial system. Laws are made to protect us all, but at what expense to our basic rights as humans? It is unfortunately deemed prejudicial to a defendant to tell a jury about his prior convictions for similar crimes and patterns. I never sat through a trial where a jury was allowed to consider every piece of evidence for this reason. Jurors and Judges have some of the hardest jobs on the planet. They must weigh all evidence and vote to do the “Just” thing. Justice probably boils down to what Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”

I couldn’t wait to ask this question. LOVED EVERY BIT. This is a large reason why I’m even writing at all. What is justice? I can’t escape this question. It comes back to me time and again. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks so much for sharing Sherrie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Interview with Story Coach, Author and Ghostwriter Kevin T. Johns

 

 

 

WELCOME TO THE TRAIN KEVIN!

 

 

 

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Kevin T. Johns is an author, writing coach, ghostwriter, and podcaster who is passionate about helping  writers.

 

 

 

 

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Were you born and raised in Canada?

Yup. I’ve lived in and around Ottawa, Ontario, most of my life. I did a brief stint in Toronto after high school, but, for the most part, Ottawa has been my home.

I’ve yet to go to Canada. Can’t wait to tour the country!

 

 

 

 

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What sparked your love of literature?

Comic books and Stephen King. I wasn’t a big reader before the age of ten or eleven, but around then I started reading super hero comics and Stephen King books and it just took off from there.

I started with a comic bent too, but I didn’t start with novels until much later.  I should’ve asked you about your favorites.

 

 

 

 

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After studying literature in college what 3 things have you come away with? (Besides debt)

1. An understanding that we all bring different lenses to our reading experiences, i.e. a book can be read with a feminist lens, a structural lens, a post-colonial lens. No one point of view is the “right” one. Each lens will provide different take-aways from a work of literature, all of which will be valid.

2. Literature (and art in general) plays a massive role in defining the culture we live in. We generally think of storytelling as escapism or just entertainment, when, in fact, it’s often key to formulating the world around us and how we understand it.

3. The analytical skill-sets used by literary scholars are applicable across a wide range of disciplines and situations, and are, therefore, well worth developing.

I love it. These 3 are great nuggets to chew on and appreciate. 

 

 

 

 

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What drives you to help other writers?

I believe books and stories are profoundly important to our world and to people’s happiness in general. But books, and novels in particular, are exceptionally difficult to create. If I can help make the writing process a little bit easier for someone, I feel like I have a duty to do so. Shawn Coyne said something when I interviewed him for The Writing Coach podcast that I totally agree with: “When you learn a particular craft, it’s kind of your responsibility to share it so that we can take storytelling to a new level.” Sharing what you know, helping others as a teacher and a mentor, is how we all get better. So there’s a certain moral responsibility to sharing what I know about writing. I also just love working with writers. For whatever reason, it’s the thing that lights me up and makes me happy.

That’s awesome! I’m all about taking storytelling to the next level. It’s fun to work with writers!

 

 

 

~A brand is a story that is always being told- Scott Bedbury

 

 

 

 

Can you name up to 5 common problems you see most in writers?

1. Not writing (procrastinating, overthinking, delaying, giving-in to resistance,          avoiding doing the work, etc.)

2. Not having a regular writing schedule

3. Thinking software and tools will solve their problems

4. Taking themselves too seriously

5. Perfectionism

I’m definitely guilty of some of these. But if you don’t know the problem then you can’t fix it. 

 

 

 

The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.-Sandeep Jauhar

 

 

 

 

What are some of the ways that you help them?

The great thing about being a writing coach is that I can tailor my help to the individual writer’s situation. While there are certain common challenges every writer struggles with, the way each writers overcomes those challenges is totally unique to them. I don’t have a one-size- fits-all approach to helping authors. There is no secret answer or push-button solution. My job is to work with writers to explore options and find solutions that allow them to excel in their own special way.

I like the tailoring approach to helping writers. That’d be the most beneficial because everyone is so different.

 

 

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Tell us about some of your own writings.

My novels The Page Turners and The Page Turners: Economy of Fear are young adult horror/sci-fi/fantasy mash-ups about a group of teenager who accidently unleash their favourite fictional villains into the real world.

Rocket Princess vs. Snaggletooth the Dragon is a children’s picture book for rebellious young ladies who want to be more than just another princess. It’s beautifully illustrated by Rich Lauzon.

Smash Fear and Write like a Pro is a short self-help manual for writers grappling with self-doubt.

The Novel Writer’s Blueprint: Five Steps to Creating and Completing Your First Book is a writing instructional book that helps aspiring authors craft their first novel.

I also blog regularly about writer’s craft.

AWESOME. I’d definitely like to check out some of your writings!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Who are some popular Canadian authors?

I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert on Canadian literature. My reading tastes are more focused on the cannon of “great literature” without much concern for the nationality of the author. There are, of course, certain Canadian authors everyone knows and reads like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, but that’s not really my thing. I guess some of my favourite Canadian writers would be indie comic book guys from Toronto like Chester Brown, Joe Matt, and Seth.

Just wondered. I’ve been meeting so many writers from Canada I couldn’t help but ask. 

 

 

How can we sign up for your podcast?

On my podcast, The Writing Coach, I speak with all sorts of people who, like me, work with authors, be it editors, coaches, or book marketing experts. You can check out the full archive of past episodes and subscribe via iTunes right here.

Sweet. I listened to one these a while back and really enjoyed the production and audio quality.

 

 

 

 

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Tell us about some of the services you provide.

My one-on- one coaching offers support, accountability, and expert advice to authors via weekly video-conference coaching sessions. Each week, I hop on a call with the writer and we dive deep into their writing, goals, and challenges.

My group program is similar to the one-on- one coaching, but takes place in a group context. I have an amazing collection of authors in the program right now who have created a wonderful community of support for one another.

I also have an online course, The Novel Writer’s Blueprint Master Class, which consists of video tutorials that walk aspiring authors through the entire process of writing a book, from idea creation all the way through to completed manuscript. I’ve set up a coupon code for your readers, so if they use the code WRITINGTRAIN at the checkout, they’ll get $200 off the course.

I also work as a ghostwriter. Successful entrepreneurs, coaches, and business people hire me to help write their self-help, business, or other non-fiction books and articles.

Sounds like a great deal that offers a lot of good services. You sound really busy! 

 

 

 

 

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Are you currently working on a project or novel?

This fall I’m releasing my latest novel, M School. It’s an action thriller with an all-girl cast. It deals with issues of violence and mental health, and I’m super excited to share it with the world. Folks can get some free goodies if they join the book’s early notification list here.

I just signed up. Curious about your new novel!

 

 

 

M School by Kevin T. Johns

 

 

 

 

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DUE THIS FALL!!

 

 

 

Favorite inspirational quotes.

I often come back to the Ernest Hemingway quote: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

 

 

 

 

DON’T FORGET THIS MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY

GET $200 OFF The Novel Writer’s Blueprint Master Class  when you use the coupon code WRITINGTRAIN at the checkout. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU KEVIN!

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH KEVIN

@Kevin_T_Johns

Amazon Author page

Goodreads

www.kevintjohns.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Interview: Reading habits and the Classics with Bestselling Author KM Weiland

 

 

WELCOME

TO THE

WRITING TRAIN

 

 

 

 

 

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When you read a book, what do your eyes see? What do they perceive?

 

 

 

Writers extend to virtually every corner of the earth; east, west, south, north and arguably are the most fascinating people on the planet. Well if you ask me, they are the most fascinating people on the planet. It’s no great secret that I take great joy in interviewing them. To discover and share in their craft, learn how they tick, or don’t. Fascinating indeed.

I had a crazy thought of interviewing writers from a completely different perspective. Most writers began their journey as readers so why not get a view into this experience?  So here it is, the Forensic Lenses series. An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of your favorite authors.

 

 

 

 

 

FORENSIC LENSES

SERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you–follow the reader?

I do…

Her name is KM Weiland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome Kate!

 

K.M. Weiland is an award-winning, butt-kicking, internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel books. She writes speculative and historical fiction from imaginary lands. Her blog  helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com is regularly ranked in Writer’s Digest top 101 Best Websites For Writers every year, but is #1 in my book. She puts up with writers like me who don’t know grammar yet. Way to go Kate!

 

In the history of the blogosphere, there has never been such a defining moment until today. As a token of our appreciation we bestow upon you, KM Weiland, the ever noble…

 

 

 

 

Seal of Awesomeness

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Gold Vintage Label

 

 

Wear it with dignity and honor.

*applause, standing ovation*

 

 

 

 

Alright, so let’s cut to the chase.

Was reading Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, the inciting Incident in your path of becoming a writer? You mentioned how this sparked your love of history, laid the groundwork for your book A man called Outlaw, influenced your novel Behold the Dawn and not to mention your desire to write historical fiction.

 

That’s an interesting way to look at it. The Scottish Chiefs was definitely a formative fiction experience for me as a child. But I think it was more of a “feeding” of my love for stories, than it was an inspiration to actually start writing. I didn’t start writing until several years later and certainly not with any intent to actually *be* a writer. I actually really like that I kind of slipped sideways into writing. It was never an ambition. It was more just an out-breathing of myself.

 

But Scottish Chiefs definitely influenced me, on at least a subconscious level, in regards to *what* I would end up writing: medieval-esque epic and heroic tales–what I call “blood and thunder” stories.

Never was my ambition either. Funny how that works huh? So it was more of a feeding your love for stories, great! How reading affects us on a subconscious level and fuels our imaginations is quite a mystery. Perhaps we should we call it, Fuelination? Whatever the term, early reading habits in children serve as the impetus for authorship later in life. Then all it takes is a small spark of inspiration to ignite the flame. BOOM. The passionate flame has been lit, begetting another writer. A particular breed of humanity.

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How has your reading experience and love for stories evolved from childhood, teenage, to adulthood?

 

I have always loved stories. They have always been my language. But I was a very undisciplined reader as a child and teenager. My parents weren’t readers themselves and weren’t able to guide my reading choices. I read and loved and re-read (and re-read and re-read) a few classics like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Black Stallion. But I also read a lot of highly forgettable children’s novels–and probably every book in the Star Wars Extended Universe that had been published to that point. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I started discovering better quality fiction and disciplining myself to read widely and broadly–especially in the classics. It’s my goal to read all the classics before I die. I’m working my way through the authors alphabetically. So far, I’m up to M.

 

 

I find it interesting, even though your family wasn’t a reading family, you still became a voracious reader and ultimately a writer. I’m wondering if you got your books from the library or bought them on allowance. It sounds like your learned that discipline through reading experience on your own. Versus someone telling you this is good, or that is bad. You had to cultivate it yourself. Which I think had a big role in making you who you are today. You’re probably more keen because of it. 

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Reading the classics
How has being a writer affected your reading? Is it a killjoy because you have more of a critical eye? Or does it yield more appreciation for the story? Take us into your realm as a reader.

 

Most of my childhood reading was from the library. My grandparents and aunts bought me a lot of books as well. I tended to reread the books I owned a lot–hence the multiple visits to Anne of Green Gables and Co. As for writing affecting my reading… You hear a lot about authors who find that their own awareness of the principles of writing turns them into hypercritical readers and robs them of the joy of reading. But I’ve never really experienced that. Maybe because I’ve always been hypercritical! :p For me, writing has only enhanced my reading. Instead of *just* reading for pleasure, now I also read with a writer’s eye and get to explore and enjoy the psychology and craft of every new author’s work. It brings a whole new dimension to my appreciation of a good book.

 

I really appreciate this. Having a writer’s eye, exploring and enjoying the craft are all pluses!

 

 

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AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME…

As a reader what are your 3-5 pet peeves and why?

 

 

  1. Flat narrative voices that “tell” instead of “show.”
  2. Self-indulgent authors, who are obviously too in love with their own story worlds and characters to be objective about the reader experience.
  3. Unnecessary prologues
  4. Repetitious dialogue
  5. Overuse of character names when addressing each other in dialogue

 

It’s good to be aware of these. Thanks!

 

 

 

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I’ve often heard you say you must read all the Classics before you die. It must be high on the bucket list!  So why this journey through the Classics and what impressions do you have?

 

 

For the purposes of challenging myself to read all the classics, I define a classic as any book published before 1966 with a title or author I recognize. I started the challenge really just as a way to get myself to read the important literature landmarks from history. It’s been an interesting journey–tedious at times, but, overall, definitely worth the effort. I feel like I’ve vastly broadened myself and my understanding of people, the world, and writing. It’s made me read books by authors I never would have touched otherwise–from so many time periods and countries and about so many different topics. I estimate I’m about halfway done (I’ve just reached the “M” authors). I’ve found it incredibly rewarding.

 

 

I’m looking forward to your response when you’re finished as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about the most influential authors of the century. How they left their footprint upon society and the craft of writing. 

 

 

 

 

footprint-md

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every great writer has left their footprints in the craft. We gladly follow in their footsteps. But as we do, we don’t realize we begin to make our own.

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS:  Your mission should you choose to except it, would be to note the changes in the craft while reading the Classics.

 

 

The primary facets of good storytelling have remained the same over time: structure, character, and theme. I would cite two things in particular as the biggest changes over the years:

 

1) The visual style. Television, the movies, and the Internet have made the far corners of the world accessible to everyone. As a result, complex descriptions of foreign places and things are no longer necessary. Writers today need only a few vivid details to bring a scene to life for readers, who can then fill in the blanks for themselves. At the same time, however, due to the overwhelmingly visual nature of entertainment these days, authors also have to be much more evocative in their descriptions. Readers want to see a “movie” in their heads, which is why “showing” (instead of “telling”) has become such a touted technique.

 

2) The pacing is much tighter and faster these days, for the most part. Again, the culture in which we now live is faster-paced and more than a little distracted. Readers today aren’t as patient with long, flowing passages. They want to get to the point.

 

Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing.

 

 

 

Thanks KATE!

 

 

 

 

*Please see KM Weiland‘s Amazon author page and her award winning books!

*For further contact visit kmweiland.com and her award winning blog at helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com or on Twitter @KMWeiland

*Join the 2016 Reading book challenge on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Novel  One of my favorite reads of 2016!

 

 

 

*********

 

 

 

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Dreamlander  Read the BRAG Medallion winner and NIEA finalist!

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Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success  Don’t miss this award-winning beauty! One of  personal favorites.

 

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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

An award winning blockbuster and must have writing book! One of  personal favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today a READER, 

tomorrow a LEADER.

-Margaret Fuller

 

 

 

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Never underestimate the power of a good book

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Interview: with Author Melanie Marttila

 

 

Story of the Writer

 

Everyone please welcome Melanie Marttila 

 

 

 

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Melanie is a science fiction & fantasy novelist-in-progress, a published poet and short story writer and all around awesome person. I first met Melanie through our awesome Facebook group entitled: THE WORDPLAYERS. Sounds cool huh? Because it is!

 

WELCOME ABOARD

 

 

Are you originally from Canada?

Well, this is an interesting story (but I may be biased). I was born right here, in Sudbury, Ontario, and when I was about a year and a half, my grandparents built themselves a new house. My parents decided to buy my grandparents’ old house, where my dad had grown up.

It gets better.

After I spent a few years away at university, I returned to Sudbury, married, and, once we both had stable employment, my husband and I bought the house from my parents 🙂

The land on which both houses stand was part of a farm that my grandfather had bought, back in the day, and to finance the building of their new house (which my parents eventually moved into after my grandparents passed) they sold off some of the land to the city.

So I live in the house in which three generations of Marttilas have lived, on the street that bears my family name. Beside my mom. My writing room was my bedroom growing up. How cool is that?

I mean, some people might think it’s BORING, but, you know. Cool. *smiles*

 

I keep meeting great writers from Canada, it’s wonderful! I seriously need to go there one day. Look out Canada!

 

 

 

 

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What’s it like?

Sudbury is a mining town in what most people consider northern Ontario. If you look at a map, we’re actually smack in the middle, about an hour and a half drive from Manitoulin Island in Georgian Bay, which is part of Lake Huron.

We’re the site of an ancient meteor impact, which is where all the stuff mined here came from and why Sudbury is called the nickel capitol.

Sudbury is also on pre-Cambrian shield, ancient mountains that have been ground down by glaciers. We have a chunk of it in our basement 🙂

When I was a kid, open pit smelting had blackened the rock and consumed most of the trees as fuel. In the 60’s, NASA came up here because the landscape, at the time, was very much what they expected to find on the moon . . .

The International Nickel Company (INCO) built the stack (to divert the sulfurous smog produced by smelting the nickel), changed their refining processes, and started to recover the landscape that had been ravaged by their previous practices. Now, we’re lovely and green again—in the summer, anyway. Winters here are pretty hellish.

Having said all that, my family was never involved in mining. Sudbury is the kind of place that gets into your blood, though. That’s why I came back and have made my life here, despite the winters.

Our area of Ontario is dotted with lakes that have formed in depressions in the pre-Cambrian shield. Outside the city, it’s considered prime cottage country.

 

Sounds like a memorable and scenic place. 

 

 

How long have you been writing?

Egad. Since I was seven years old.

 

 

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Wowsers!  I have a seven year boy right now. Writing is not his strong suit, its reading. But it’s amazing you were able to begin writing stories at such a young age. 

 

 

 

What was your career path?

I worked in retail from the age of thirteen through high school, had some interesting jobs in university—canine security patrol and video camera person and editor for a company that filmed show jumping and dressage shows across Canada and down into New York—and after graduation, I had an unreliable series of contracts in libraries and academia. My sister-in-law made me aware of an opportunity with her employer, and now I’ve been working with that same employer for fifteen years.

I’m currently in L&D, learning and development. Call me a corporate trainer. I’m a certified trainer (and certifiable, some would argue), but still working toward the goal of being able to leave my day job for my true passion, writing.

That’s an interesting mix of jobs there. I love how it always comes back to writing in the end. 

 

 

 

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I find everyone’s story so fascinating. Normally it starts early in childhood, then comes back full circle with a full blown passion of writing. 

AMAZING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*******

*******

 

“The journey, not the arrival matters.”

~Michel de Motaigne

 

 

*******

*******

 

 

 

What did you study in college?

 

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BA in English Literature, rhetoric emphasis, cum laude, thankyouverymuch 😉 MA in English Literature and Creative Writing.

Ouch, that sounds difficult. But it does make me very curious. I’ve only had one creative writing class in college. Got an A. Makes me feel smart. 

 

 

 You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I was in grade three. I’d just gotten a puppy and wrote what might be called a “personal essay” about her. So I was already writing. I just hadn’t really caught the bug. Yet.

Then . . . IT happened. The students of the grade five class wrote and illustrated their own storybooks and were invited to present them to us.

One of the grade five students, a girl named Siobhan Riddell (isn’t that a lovely name?) did her own version of St. George and the Dragon. I didn’t even remember the rest of the stories. I wanted to take Siobhan’s home with me and read it and look at the pictures, over and over.

The thing you should know about Siobhan is that she was an awesome artist, even then. She grew up to become a professional artist and then, that bastard cancer took her from the world 😦

But that was the moment. I made my first submission—to CBC’s Pencil Box, a show that dramatized the stories of their young viewers—that year. I wrote the Christmas play for my class the next year.

And I’ve been in love with words ever since.

 

That’s such a lovely story! I often wonder what it is that ignites in some children to become writers and not others.  I suppose some just “catch the bug”. Love that expression.

 

 

 

 

 

A luz do outro lado da ponte

 

 

What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

To write. Pure and simple. Writing is (almost) everything to me. It’s my spiritual practice; my counsellor; my companion, and my comfort. I feel off when I can’t write for whatever reason. I have said that I’m going to write until age and infirmity—it’s going to take both of them because I’m not going down without a fight—rob me of the capacity.

My self-worth isn’t pinned to getting published, but I can’t see how I can justify quitting my day job unless I can make a decent living from my words. So, I’m doing the work to make that happen.

So far, I’ve had three sales of science fiction short stories, a handful of wins in local writing contests, and a bunch of poetry published in anthologies.

2015 was a year of near misses, long lists, short lists, second readings, and the like. And lots of rejections. I’m also querying an epic fantasy novel, without success. I like to reframe rejections: I’m one ‘no’ closer to ‘yes!’

I’m focused mostly on writing novels now, though, and most of those are fantasy of various shades.

YES. I love your attitude here. “one step closer to yes” is a great way to look at it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. We wouldn’t mind seeing more of your poetic muscle too. 

 

 

 

What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I generally finish what I start. I’m diligent (and a bit compulsive) that way.

The three things that keep me from writing as much, or as quickly, as I’d like are:

The day job. It allows me to invest in my writing (conferences, courses, etc.) but—man—would I love to spend my days doing the thing I love.

Actually, it’s just the one thing (oopsie). *grins*

 

I like that you are DILIGENT. It’s an indispensable character trait necessary for every writer. Without it our stories go nowhere. Our characters go nowhere. Our careers go nowhere. Splendid. You don’t suppose you could lend me some of yours do you? Got an extra gallon or so lying around?

 

 

 

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Here’s a picture of Melanie’s desk

 

 

 

What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

The writing itself. It is truly a way of life for me. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

As one of my characters says, I want to be a part of the great voice that carries this age into the future.

Now that’s not arrogant at all, is it? 😛

 

Not at all. You are very clearly a writer to me. I love your laser-beam-like focus on writing.

 

 

 

What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Um. Yeah. Day job.

Ah yes, the dreaded day job. The more I dive into the writing realm the less I like my day job. All I want to do is read and write. I’m not sure how that happened, but there it is.  

 

 

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Day Job: I hate you.

You:  I hate you too.

Day Job: I wish you’d quit and go write somewhere.

You: I will, you just wait…

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have given up your dream, why? 

I’ve never given up. The dream has lain dormant for periods of time (sometimes years), but even when I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing, journaling, daydreaming, and doing other creative stuff (sketching, gardening, cross stitch–yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too–and I was even in a musical for a local theatre company).

I discovered Joseph Campbell in my undergraduate years and I’ve really come to understand my creative journey in terms of the Hero’s Journey. It hasn’t been a straight line, or even a circle, as the Hero’s Journey is often presented.

It’s been more of a spiral, kind of like the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, where the Pevensies, Scrubb, Pole, and the rest run through Narnia after Narnia, in Escher-esque fashion, Aslan urging them, “Further on! Further in!” until they reach their final destination.

My journey has been defined by my threshold guardians. The play I wrote in grade four? The teacher edited my work substantially without telling me or explaining why the changes were necessary. Even at that point, I knew it was wrong, and it seeded a deep distrust of authority.

In grade five, a former friend appeared to offer an olive branch, bury the hatchet, what have you, but only did so long enough to gain my trust and ask to ready my stories . . . to which she took an entire bottle of white out, returning my exercise book of obliterated words only when the teacher made her stop.

The big threshold guardian was my first advisor in my MA program, an icon of Canadian Literature. He questioned my presence in the program and accused me of “wasting his time.” That was the wound that wouldn’t heal, even after I returned to work with a different advisor and finish the collection of short stories that became my creative thesis.

After that, I internalized the lessons of my threshold guardians over the years and my internal editor became monstrous. It’s one thing when other people tear you or your work down, but when you start to tear yourself apart . . .

It wasn’t until another icon of Canadian Literature shared his own trials with threshold guardians that I found my way back to the page.

I’m happy to say I haven’t left it since.

 

Wow that’s a very touching story with devastating experiences along the way. But what I’m really seeing and enjoying, is your resilience through it all. 

 

 

 

Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Fear.

The new writer is afraid to look silly or expose their relative level of craft to the scrutiny of others.

The experienced, but unpublished, or minimally published, writer is afraid that they can’t be as good as other publish authors, or that their stories have no value.

Even published writers fear that they can’t write another novel as good as their last.

You have to learn to put fear in its place, make it your friend, listen to the legitimate lessons it has to teach you, and then agree to disagree on the rest.

That’s the hard part.

 

Well said. Seems like fear must teach us many lessons along our journey. To step out there and expose ourselves to the world. For better or for worse. With this in mind, I found a Superhero guy to help us out a little. I call him….CAPTAIN NO FEAR.

 

 

 

 

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  Captain No Fear

 

 

 

Behold some of Melanie’s poetic muscle below.

 

 

A Poet’s Apprentice

 

learning the words;

noun and adjective,

verb and adverb.

Putting them together

in little sentences—

she won’t let me play

with the big ones yet—

But she’s left me alone

just for a minute

with this big cauldron

teeming with

letters

and other viscera.

Before she returns

I grab the ladle

and gulp,

burning my mouth

with the potent brew.

Then I run

me and my belly full of words,

out the Dutch-door,

through the muddied fields

of hay stubble,

to the tree with leaves of paper,

draw forth the quill–

stolen from a feather duster–

prick my thumb

for ink.

Then.

I write.

Lovely!  That’s great!  UGH I miss poetry so much. I haven’t written very much lately. You’ll have to come back and grace us with your poetic words. 

 

 

 

neoverse

 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about your short stories

In “The Broken Places,” a doctor on board a generation ship headed for another galaxy tries to diagnose a strange plague affecting the ship’s crew/citizens. What she discovers in trying to find a cure for the blue skin, void-like eyes, and verbal non-sequiturs is something she never suspected, but if she doesn’t stop the condition from progressing, the crew, and their mission, are in jeopardy. That one was published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine in June 2014.

“Downtime” is the story of Opus, an AI-borg who achieves sentience, and liberation from her creators, as she learns what it means to be human, and that she’ll never be one. The good people of On Spec Magazine, one of Canada’s most respected speculative fiction markets, published that in their Fall 2014 issue.

 

Something tells me one day you’re going to hit one out of the ball park. 

 

 

 

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*what has writing taught you over the years?

What has writing taught me? Who I am. That quote by Flannery O’Connor, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” is very true. The more I write, the better, the more authentic, a person I become. The rest is between me and the page 😉

 

Oh yes! I love that quote. I’m finding it to be very true in my own experience. Writing things out is a very tranquil experience. There’s no like it. 

 

 

 

THANK YOU MELANIE

THIS WAS A TRULY ENJOYABLE INTERVIEW

 

 

 

*******

 

 

Keep writing 

until the pen

runs dry

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

 

Interview: A Window Seat with Publishing expert Jane Friedman

 

 

 

Welcome back to the Writing Train

 

 

Have you ever had to go out of your way to get a window seat? Whether it be on a bus, train, car, or an airplane? Well if you did, there were definite benefits to the journey. So why do adults and children alike fight for the ever-sacred window seat? It’s not about the window itself, but the view that comes with it. The scenery and vista are the grand prize! Something well worth fighting for, so here it is.

 

Today we have a “window seat” experience  with a very special person among both the publishing and writing community. Someone who hardly requires an introduction; who is widely respected for her knowledge, experience, generosity and expertise in multiple areas.

 

 

 

EVERYONE PLEASE WELCOME JANE FRIEDMAN

.

 

 

car of train of long-distance message

 

 

People are multi-faceted creatures with many sides that we may or may not be aware of. In the process this interview, I was ecstatic to see various sides of Jane I hadn’t seen before. Splendid indeed!

 

 

LET US BEGIN

 

Hi Jane!

 

 

 

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Here’s a little more about Jane, which is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like the full iceberg experience please visit her about page on her  blog. Her resume could very easily saturate an entire blog post.

 

  • A Writer and Professor who has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry and specializes in digital media strategy for authors and publishers.
  • Former Editorial director and publisher of Writer’s Digest.
  • Teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia
  • Columnist for Publishers Weekly.
  • Educates authors about the publishing industry

 

 

 

So just in summary: 

 

~Jane is the ultimate Jedi Master~

 

 

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If you’re looking to publish anything anytime soon, take heed you of little faith, to the work of Jane. 

 

 

  1. Visit her site Janefriedman.com or Jane’s blog.
  2. @JaneFriedman or @HotSheetPub  on Twitter
  3. How to Publish Your Book, by The Great Courses (Video, audio, DVD, and CD formats available). 24 Scrumptious lectures!
  4. The Hot Sheet a biweekly email newsletter and essential publishing news for traditionally and self-published authors.
  5.  Online Classes
  6.  Books
  7.  Resources for Writers
  8.  Speaking in upcoming workshops and keynotes.
  9.  Facebook
  10.  Youtube

 

 

 

Here’s a great book to get started with…

 

 

 

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Don’t miss Publishing 101!

 

 

 

A Window Seat….

 

 

I’ve heard of some famous Friedmans in Cincinnati and beyond, are you related to them?

I wish I knew, but probably not.

 

Fair enough.

 

You write poetry! Do you still write poetry? I was so elated to see “Jane’s Embarrassing College Poetry” on Amazon. I think we largely know you in the publishing realm, but not so much as a writer, or even a reader.

 

I haven’t written poetry since I left graduate school in the early 2000s—I became consumed with my career in the publishing industry.

 

Now that I’m my own boss, and my business is doing well, I have a chance to steal back some personal time. So what do I write? I don’t know. Staying busy with my career (perhaps a “shadow career” to use a term from Steven Pressfield) has been an excellent way to avoid confronting the most fearful step of all—seriously devoting myself to my own writing.

 

Jane writes poetry! YES. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw your poetry book on Amazon. I’ve included the first poem for proof.  

 

 

LYING IN BED

The little things that keep us up at night-

a drip drip coming from the kitchen sink;

the entrancing  glow of the streets and soft moonlight;

the heater rattling on, clink by clink.

Two thrown-off sheets and sweat above my lip, 

the windows open, breezes blowing in.

Both hands and fingers grasping the air,no grip, 

but shadows touch the walls, acting the twin. 

The curse of overactive minds I know,

for the art of sleeping well is lost on me, 

when I remember your leaving years ago

and sleep away from where I thought I’d be. 

Then you laugh someplace and mention my small name.

I wake to hear you; nothing is the same.

~Jane Friedman

 

******* 

*Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. -Leonard Cohen

 

 

 

 

book

I read somewhere where you said, “I probably read more than anyone on the planet”…and I wanted to get a window into your THAT experience. I’m assuming this is academic reading. Can you bring us into this experience, and what exactly you’re looking for?

 

I think what you’re remembering is a line from Publishing 101, where I discuss having read more writing advice than anyone else on the planet. That’s a result of working for Writer’s Digest, the No. 1 publisher of writing advice books in the world. We released several dozen books every year while I worked there—in addition to the monthly magazine—and not only did I read the majority of what we published, but I had to keep up on the competing books as well.

 

These days, most of my reading is related to the business of the publishing industry and the evolution and future of the media. I have moments of existential angst where I ask myself, “Did I really choose this? How did I end up here?” But I don’t think the answer matters; it’s where I am, and there’s satisfaction in the mastery I’ve attained. However, it does matter what I do next: is this an obsession I want to keep feeding?

In recent years I’ve become interested in reading histories. Maybe reading too many trend pieces and hot takes has resulted in a desire for a deeper understanding of cyclical change and behavioral patterns. I want to get beyond either/or, reductionist thinking and instead investigate better questions to ask and how certain frameworks affect the questions and answers we come up with. Unfortunately, nuanced thinking isn’t known to drive traffic or buzz.

 

Epic indeed. I enjoyed what you said about the “evolution and future of the media” as it relates the business of publishing. Definitely a hot topic!

 

 

 

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The Hot Flame of Publishing

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?

Almost always nonfiction. One of my recent favorite reads was What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. I’m currently working through From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun and will soon finish Status Anxietyby Alain de Botton.  I’m looking forward to reading Virginia Heffernan’s newest book on the internet. To fall asleep I read Wikipedia entries on my phone.

 

I’m also a devoted subscriber to The New Yorker; that’s my coffee-and-toast reading in the morning. I haven’t missed an issue since 1998.

 

Nice. I hear you–Can’t miss that coffee time. The apocalypse can wait…Give me my coffee first. I’m all over the place with reading habits, but reading a lot about personality traits. I saw that you’re INFP! Woo-hoo! I’m ENFP, so we’re in the same neighborhood. 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I don’t really have favorite authors, but if I had to choose one, Alain de Botton. Reading his books are like eating a nutritious doughnut.

 

 Nutritious doughnuts, now that’s something they could genetically modify. Haven’t heard of Alain de Botton, I’ll have to check him out.

 

Here’s my one publishing question based on the most recent Hot Sheet [http://hotsheetpub.com] newsletter. Can you briefly touch on the deeper market factors affecting the income of writers today? (See excerpt below)

“Publishers share the frustration of the author community that it is increasingly difficult for authors to make a decent living from their writing. However, we locate the principal source of this problem not in the contractual relations between publisher and author but in deeper market factors. With margins being squeezed across the whole supply chain, books facing increasing stiff competition from other media and entertainment sectors for consumers’ time, and there simply being more writers … the reasons for the decline in average author income are wide and varied.”

Well, here’s the thing—my partner on The Hot Sheet wrote this particular item, and while you can find evidence to support this view, I don’t buy into the popular myth that it’s increasingly difficult for authors to make a decent living from their writing. It has always been difficult.

 

That said, perhaps one of the best times to be a writer was during the 19th century. Literacy dramatically increased, and the number of magazines exploded, in addition to the number of books published annually. But despite it being something of a golden age, one author complained to a US congressional committee that he did not know any author who made a living by writing literary work. He said that of all the learned professions, “Literature is the most poorly paid.” The truth is that many writers’ careers are gifted into existence by their birth, by privilege, by marriage.

 

Authors sometimes lay the blame for their economic situation on the publisher, and it has always been thus. Going back to ancient Rome, authors have been accusing their publishers of greed. But such accusations almost always betray ignorance about how the industry works.

In the digital era, it’s becoming more common to lay the blame for authors’ suffering on the tech companies, such as Google. The Authors Guild in particular has expended all kinds of resource on trying to argue before the US courts that Google essentially steals money out of the pockets of authors and publishers. There’s an oft-repeated and oft-misunderstood saying that “information wants to be free,” which the Authors Guild says creates a sense of entitlement among readers, or that it creates an expectation that writers shouldn’t be paid. I don’t think this is true at all. However, what’s valuable to us, or what is worth paying for, has changed. Analyst Ben Thompson explains the value shift very well in his post about the the Smiling Curve [https://stratechery.com/2014/publishers-smiling-curve/]. Clay Shirky too has written at length about how publishing has been turned into a “button”—publishing is the new literacy, meaning that anyone can publish, it doesn’t require professional experience any longer. We live in an era of universal authorship where everyone has the ability for self-expression and distribution of that expression. Not all of that expression will be high quality (a lot of it will be crap), but I don’t place a value judgment on that; it’s a fact of digital life and we can’t go back to some previous era. And if you could go back to a previous era, you would simply find the same complaints in the culture: that too much crap is being published. It dates back to Gutenberg, these “problems” we have with both quality and quantity of material being published.

 

Authors can make a decent living from their writing if they’re willing to pay attention to how the business works, figure out a business model that works for them, and adapt as needed. Too many authors and authors’ organizations want to preserve a system that doesn’t work with new forms of publishing, distribution, and media.

 

This is great info. I think I’ll start calling you Jedi Jane.  

 

Your Twitter profile has the following statement: “A writer who believes art and business can happily co-exist.” Can you give us a little marriage counseling, those of us who are not looking forward to this union?

Another one of the harmful assumptions of “serious” writers is that art and business are antithetical to one another. This belief is so ingrained that no one questions it any longer. Before writers even have a single word published—before they’ve encountered any aspect of the business of their art—they presume that they are bad at business or that business concerns will pollute their efforts. There’s absolutely no openness to the possibility that the business side can be just as imaginative and interesting as the artistic process itself. And of course businesses excel when they employ people who have kept their artistic side alive, who can bring imagination and innovation to their work.

To be sure, business can and does ask for compromises—but that’s not always to the detriment of art. A bit of friction, some kind of barrier—a net on the tennis court!—is healthy. There’s a wonderful book Make Money Make Art by Elizabeth Hyde Stephens that looks at this dynamic using the framework of Jim Henson’s career. He started off in advertising, and found ways to pursue his art in commercial settings. He used those commercial opportunities to hone his craft and support later artistic projects. Dana Gioia is another example of someone who sees how art and business can inform each other—a poet who has an MBA and worked as a corporate executive. And Alain de Botton is yet another; although I don’t think I’ve heard or read him on this topic, it’s clear that he has an integrative approach. Just look at his venture, The School of Life, and how it’s a business manifestation of the ideas you find in his books. It’s genius. What if he said, “Oh no, getting involved in a business is beneath me, it is crass. I need to focus on my writing.” Thank God he is not that boring.

Thanks, I needed to hear that. I’m glad you’re pointing the misconceptions that many of us have ingrained us already. I guess this is the part where we ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after!. Hey, my grandparents were married for 60+ years!  And that’s really saying something.

Tell us about your upcoming book!

There are thousands of students in creative writing programs who study the art and the craft, but receive very little or no guidance on what to do once they’ve graduated. They don’t know how the publishing business works and their expectations can be wildly out of line with reality. Even worse, they can even be conditioned—because of everything I’ve described above—to feel bitter and resentful toward editors, agents, and the industry, to feel victimized. This doesn’t help anyone and it has to stop.

 

My book, The Business of Being a Writer, is meant to provide that missing education—what it means to make a living as a writer, and how to understand the business well enough to advance your writing career, without relying on luck or magical thinking. It’s slated for release in Fall 2017 from the University of Chicago Press.

 

 

Businessman Superhero With Sunset In City

*The Business of Being a Writer*

 

 

 

Thanks Jane!

 

 

To show we really appreciate your time, we’d like to present to you an honorary fist bump. I’ve only given out a few of these so I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

Gestenserie- Faust

 Honorary Fist Bump

 

Do what no one else can do-

Be you.

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Story of the Writer: Caroline Peckham

 

 

 

Welcome back to the Writing Train!

 

 

 

To Trains sign

 

 

 

Howdy!

 

 

Do you love stories? We ALL do right? It’s no secret writers have some of the most gripping minds on the planet. The characters they’ve created; worlds they’ve crafted, and plots they’ve weaved together, have left their imprint upon the world. This series is dedicated to them, published or unpublished.

~Every author is a story~

 

 

 

 

Books, old, stacked.

 

Everyone please welcome

YA Fantasy Author

Caroline Peckham

 

 

 

 

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First off, I’d like to pay a special tribute to my friend Caroline. She may be largely aware of this, but she inspired me in a very particular way as a writer. I was stuck in a dreamy state wishing and wanting to be a writer. There I was, sitting on the sidelines cheering and watching everyone else’s success. She had just published one of her books (can’t remember which one) and I got so excited and genuinely happy. I proceeded to ask her the question. Kind of like,  what’s your secret sauce question. So I asked; what’s the difference between those who dream, and those who achieve their dreams?  Then she dropped the line on me. BAM. Just like that, it smacked in the face like a ton of bricks. But what she said was utterly simple. Make a plan and do the work. That’s it. Make a plan and do the work. I’d like to plaster these words on my forehead in neon ink. Possibly a green, or orange color would suffice.

 

You may never know how your words affect other people. Words have power. Lasting power. Enduring power. A single word, phrase, sentence can last a generation. It may ignite and inspire an entire generation. It certainly did with me.

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU CAROLINE

 

*Give honor to whom honor is due*

 

 

~Make a plan and do the work~

-Caroline Peckham

 

 

 

 

*Are you originally from Kent, UK?

 

I am! I live ten minutes from my family \home so I get to see my parents all the time. I currently live in a little village which is famous for being where Winston Churchill lived. Lots of tourists come here in the summer. It’s a very typically English town (pubs, teashops and the like!)

 

Wowsers! Winston Churchill, thats amazing!  I saw some pictures online and it  Kent is a very beautiful place. Would love to visit there someday. Here’s some juicy quotes by Winston Churchill. 

 

 

“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure”

~Winston Churchill

 

*******

 

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”

~ Winston Churchill

 

*******

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

~ Winston Churchill

 

 

 

*Did you love books as a child? Name your favorites. 

 

 

 

I did, I was brought up in a strict diet of books and The Beatles haha. My dad used to read to me all the time and, as he was a bigger lover of fantasy, even read me books like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was probably much too young for them!
I remember him reading me the first couple of Harry Potter books but I was old enough to read them myself by the time the third one came out and was absolutely hooked! Some of my all time favourites were His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, The Healer’s Keep by Victoria Hanley, and any of the Katherine Roberts books (I actually won a signed copy of one of her books which I still have!). They were fantasy books for young teens, my particular favourite was Spellfall. I used to read it every time I was sick off school.
I’m beginning to realize that reading begets writers, and writers beget readers. It’s an endless cycle. It seems to affect only a select group of individuals though. Obviously everyone who reads doesn’t become an author. But somehow when it reaches kids at a young age; and their combustible imaginations, it takes flight. Then in turn your words will indeed beget more writers, enable more readers. Awesome.
*What influenced you the most in your early years towards being an author?
It’s a bit of a cliche but I grew up in the golden age of Harry Potter. The stories just captivated me and I began writing around this time. When I was older one of the things that really resonated with me from this series was that feeling of pure excitement about a novel coming out. I used to queue up at midnight to buy the books from my local supermarket and I wanted to write something that made me feel that way again. I can honestly say my debut series excites me as much as they did, if not more!
Yes! I love it. Exciting isn’t it? 
*Would you write anything besides YA fantasy? 
I have a few science fiction ideas but, through no real intention of my own, most of my ideas tend to be based in the fantasy genre. I would definitely move around a bit perhaps into something a but more paranormal. I have a massive document dedicated purely to ideas so any time something comes to me it goes straight in there!
Yes, having something like an idea folder is quite critical. Especially us writers who have ideas literally coming out of our ears. That in itself sounds paranormal.   🙂
*Did you study literature in college?
I didn’t, I actually studied Zoology. One of my other passions in life is animals and I never actually considered a writing career as a possibility until the last few years. I always just assumed writing would have to be my hobby until I realised there was nothing I wanted more than to do it fulltime.
Awesome! I always find it intriguing when I hear this. Lawyers, Physicians, journalists, engineers etc. all have had an unquenchable desire to write. It never ceases to amaze me; that those in top notch professions would be willing to put them aside and pursue writing!  Passion is powerful. 
*Tell us a bit about your series
My series follows a sixteen year old boy on a journey through the seven worlds to save his sister from a curse. Each world is locked by a Gateway and a challenge must be completed in order to receive a key. An enemy is on the rise who is looking to thwart them at every turn and Oliver’s family is much more involved with him than he could ever have imagined. It’s got a bit everything from action, magic, adventure, to romance!
I always enjoyed a book with a journey in it. I love the organic feeling of movement in a story that is always heading toward an end point.
Journey wins every time. Let’s take a look at some of your books.

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Creeping Shadow  (The Rise of Isaac, Book 1)
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Bleeding Snow (The Rise of Isaac, Book 2)

NEW RELEASE 

May 24, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turning Tide (The Rise of Isaac, Book 3)
*Can you tell us a bit more how you made the transition from zoology to being a full-time writer? What was the tipping point
I suppose I’m the sort of person who follows her heart – mushy as it sounds! I try to do things in life that make me happy. I don’t believe in ‘one day I’ll do this’, instead, I make a plan and start working toward that goal. So I guess the tipping point was leaving university and after several failed interviews for jobs my heart wasn’t even in, I asked myself what I wanted to do. The answer was writing. So, I decided to work for my family business and on the side start writing my fantasy series with the goal of one day doing it fulltime.
YES. I. Love. It. Not mushy at all. You totally sound like a go getter. Keep following your heart!
*What made you chose the self-publishing route? 
I, like I imagine a lot of self-published authors do, tried to get an agent first. I was so unbelievably naieve to the whole publishing world I didn’t even know anything about self-publishing! After being rejected…a lot…I discovered Amazon’s KDP programme. I learnt about building an author platform by blogging and getting out there on social media. I started to really look at being an author as a business and now (having five years of experience in my family’s business) I had a good background in what made a business work.
It was another year before I was ready to hit publish on Amazon with my first book last December and I haven’t looked back!
Nice. It’s certainly not easy to take this route. I’m glad you overcame those hurdles. 
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*What was your goal (s) in becoming a writer? (GOAL)
The number one reason I’m writing this fantasy series is that I love it. I couldn’t stop writing it whether I had people reading it or not. In fact, for the first years it was just me and a whole lot of self-doubt. It wasn’t until I got the first book out there and I started getting reviews that I really started believing I had written something worthwhile. So I suppose my goal in becoming a writer was to write something I love and, now that it’s out there, all I want is for the people who read it to love it too!
This is better than going to the movies. Seriously. I wish I had some popcorn right now. Your passion is tangible! I highlighted your words because they’re so inspiring. 
*Now that you’re published, do you have new goals in view?
It’d be a lie to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows in self-publishing. There has to be a certain amount of planning, deadlines and marketing that goes on behind the scenes. My goals now are to get out books regularly (every 90 days) which benefits the fans and keeps my books up there in the new releases etc. so I don’t fall off the radar. I suppose my short term goals are to have this series out over the summer and have hopefully started a new one before the year is out.
I’m floored. Self-publishing has done a lot for authors though.   Its been a game changer on many fronts. I think its also cultivated authors to become entrepreneurial in today’s world.  Every 90 days! Wow! Hey, if you’re sending out review copies in the future drop me a line.
*Do you have any major conflicts hindering you from attaining your goals?  (CONFLICT)
I think the one thing self-published authors are always battling against is visibility. Amazon changes the way it ranks books/publicises them/presents them all the time. So we indie authors have to try and keep up with that, constantly adapting to try and stay visible. With 2,000,000 ebooks on Amazon Kindle alone it’s no wonder a single author has to battle for their spot in the limelight!
You’re not kiddin, and there’s alot of people casting shadows. Hopefully there’s enough limelight to go around.
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*What keeps you motivated? (DESIRE)
I think a simple passion for my stories is what keeps me going. In a funny way, I‘m as excited to find out what happens as the fans! I get the same joy out of writing as I do out of reading. I can’t deny receiving great reviews and emails from the fans doesn’t make my heart absolutely sing though. Knowing someone out there is waiting for the next installment of my book is the best motivation an author could ask for.
“I get the same joy out of writing as I do out of reading” … This is so amazing.  Joy and passion working together in unison. 
*What’s the main antagonist in your  career?
The antagonist of my career! What a brilliant question!
I suppose Amazon is the antagonist and the protagonist. It can be the best and most helpful thing in the world when its algorithms are in favour of my books but it’s getting Amazon to work for you that is the most monumental task for an indie author.
That kind of sounds like an anti-hero with evil algorithms.
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Evil antagonist
*Why do writers give up? And what would you say to inspire them?
I can see why writers give up. It has been a seriously long road to where I am and, now that I’m here, I can’t just sit back and enjoy the view. It takes constant work to keep yourself out there. I think anyone looking to write fulltime, self-published or not, should do it because it’s their passion because at the end of the day it’s hard work!
Also, I’ve looked into whether there’s a magic fix or formula that makes your books blow up and get sales but I can honestly say that the key is consistency. Stick at it and you’ll get there. View this as a life long thing not a quick fix.
I read a self-published author’s advice somewhere (and I wish I could remember who it was now!) but they said something that has really stuck with me: when you independently publish an ebook it has unlimited potential. Over the course of the rest of your life, your book has the potential to return revenue to you. What other business has that much possibility?
Yup. I think Joanna Penn calls this scalable income. It definitely has unlimited potential. You’re on the right track, keep running.

*Writing is marathon. Are you a distance runner?*

 

 

 

Running
Writing is the journey
 

BONUS: What are your favorite quotes?

 

I’m a big Pinterest freak! I love looking at quotes on there that give me a boost when I need it. So, instead of sharing my favourite book quotes with you I’m gonna share a couple of my favourite motivational quotes that make me believe anything is possible.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale

 

 

*******

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem

 

 

*******

 

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K Rowling

 

 

You can find Caroline online:

Thanks so much Caroline! Please come again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep writing,

someone’s always feverishly hunting 

the next book…

Why not write it?

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

On The Train: With Angela Ackerman

 

On The Train

with Angela Ackerman

 

 

We have a very special post today, with bestselling co-author of mutiple blockbuster thesauri Angela Ackerman.

 

WELCOME ANGELA 

We’re so pleased to have you with us today!

 

 

Author Angela Ackerman_Writers Helping Writers

 

Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: a Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, as well as four others including the newly minted Urban Setting and Rural Setting Thesaurus duo. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site, Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop for Writers, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

You can also connect with her on Twitter: @AngelaAckerman

 

I’m so glad to have at least one half of the dynamic duo of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These two are a completely awesome pair and deserve a splendid title. Therefore, by the power vested in me, I deem thee Champions of Inspiration and Thesauri Queens! WAHOO! HIP HIP HOORAY!

And if you haven’t heard already, Becca & Angela are the masterminds behind the game-changing Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses, as well as the Emotional Thesaurus.

 

 

little sketchy man with tie and glasses on winner's pedestal

 

 

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CONGRATULATIONS

 

 

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. ~J.M. Barrie 

 

 

 

Hi Angela,
You and Becca have two wonderful setting books coming out soon, June 13th I believe. Can’t wait to read them. YUM. So let’s talk settings shall we?
Please don’t stone me, but I’ve never been to Canada. Hopefully sometime soon though. Especially since I keep meeting great people from Canada. (and I drink Tim Horton’s coffee)
*You live close to Calgary, Alberta; what’s it like living there? I bet it’s UBER GORGEOUS. Do you have any pictures of the Canadian Rockies to woo us with?

I won’t lie—it’s very beautiful. I am close to the mountains, and a well-known place called Banff, which is one of the most sought out natural areas in the world. Becca recently came up (from New York) as we were teaching a workshop together, and the first thing we did when her feet hit the ground was drive 45 minutes to Banff.

That sounds pretty inticing. I’ll have to follow suit. 

 

 

banff 2

 

This is absolutely breathtaking.

 

Banff1

 

Looks like the mountains are right in your backyard practically!

 

See below for a list of their publications.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

The Emotion Thesaurus : A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Emotion Amplifiers Kindle edition

The Rural Setting Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural places. Add this publication to your Goodreads  account.

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces. Add this publication to your Goodreads

 

 

*Tell us about your new setting books and how they can enrich our writing.
This pair of books I think will surprise people, because so many writers really don’t peel back the curtain on setting and all it can do. Most think of setting as a stage, a place that is necessary for a scene’s action to unfold, the anchor for readers. They sprinkle in a few sensory details to help the reader picture it and then focus the storytelling lens on the action. But setting is story glue. It lends powers to all other elements: helps to characterize the story’s cast, adds dimension to plot and character growth through challenges and conflict, evokes mood, steers emotion through emotional triggers and symbolism, and even allows writers a way to deliver critical backstory in a non-dumpy way. Honestly, choosing the right setting for each scene is akin to creating magic, so learning how to use setting to its fullest may be one of the smartest things a writer can do to improve their storytelling.

But I guess that might not fully answer your question. Bare bones, these books show writers how to use the setting to elevate a story as mentioned above, plus list the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures for 225 setting a characters might visit, spark ideas on how to generate natural conflict in the setting, and give descriptive examples of each one using different techniques. Most of the book is set up in list format, and each setting location has two pages of sensory detail and information. This allows writers to find the description they need that fits perfectly with their story and then quickly get right back to writing.

You guys are the best in the business, honestly, at what you do. We give honor to whom honor is due. I have all your books, yet there’s unplumbed depths waiting to be discovered.

Hone your skills with the Urban Setting Thesaurus.

 

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Unearth the secret of mastering the Rural Setting detail.

 

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I have to say, I’m licking my chops here waiting for these books to come out. In order to write or utilize setting to its fullest potential we need a KEEN NOSE. For detail, discerment and skill. The skill is in the balancing affect. Knowing when, how, and how much of the setting to enrich our  stories with.

 

 

Liar

 

*Can you tell us about the adventures you and Becca experienced in researching settings? I’M SURE YOU HAD MANY ADVENTURES LOL!
Yes we did. Becca has taken quite a few road trips to check out marinas, lighthouses, schools, and racetracks. I hung around some seedier areas to get sensory detail on alleys and underpasses, toured a jail cell, watched half a dozen videos on (ugh) taxidermy, and was arrested so I could get the sensory experience of being handcuffed in the back of a police car. Thankfully it wasn’t a real arrest because my family set the whole thing up, but it FELT pretty real, let me tell you!

I like how you casually weaved in getting arrested. I bet that was quite a sensory experience. Adventurous indeed!
*Where physically did you have to go in order to obtain the necessary sensory feedback?
Most of the locations we have in our books we physically visited. Some we couldn’t. It’s hard to get into a psychiatric ward, for example—they aren’t big on letting you tour a place like that. Or a funeral home, or a slaughterhouse. In these cases we watched a lot of you tube videos, did a lot of googling, and often talked to people who worked in these settings. But other places—a cruise ship, casino, a fire hall, ancient ruins, pastures, rainforests, orchards, salvage yards—these we visited. At the fire hall I got to try on all the firefighter gear, and man, talk about heavy!

Cool. You should’ve taken a picture! Sounds like it was a pretty thorough job. My dad was actually a fireman his whole career. 
*Where emotionally did you have to go to tune in to the settings?
Good question. It often depended on the setting, and what sort of emotions were naturally evoked. Sometimes we had to distance ourselves. To get detail on slaughterhouses and pastures, we watched a lot of videos that were disturbing and graphic—animal slaughter processes, factory farming, animal cruelty, things like that. We had to try and focus as much as possible on the details, not what was happening, to get these entries right.

Wow. That’s sounds very challenging. Hard to imagine having to sit through that. Well thanks for taking one for the team. It just goes to show how much work physically and emotionally are invested in these kinds of things. THANK YOU.
*Did you encounter any difficulties on your adventure?
Not that I can think of. Mostly it was fun, albeit time consuming—these two books took several years to create. But I am a big traveller and been to different countries, which really helped me get access to some of the different types of natural environments that are climate-specific (rainforests, deserts, places like that). And the fact that Becca and I live in different places helped us access different types of locations. It worked out well.

That’s great! Although personally, I would skip the rainforests and deserts. But seriously, this shows the caliber of writers you are, and I commend you for it. 
Thanks so much for asking these great questions!

Angela

 

Thanks for joining! Feel free to come back anytime.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Must see interview with Becca Puglisi and Lorna Faith.

 

 

 

1. How Writers Can Bring Setting to Life through Personification  A guest post by Becca Puglisi over at C.S. Lakin’s site livewritethrive.com.

2. Something Big is Coming by Angela Ackerman.

3. Level up your Setting by Thinking Outside the Box by Angela Ackerman.

4. Showing Through your Characters Senses a guest post by C.S. Lakin.

5. Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential by K.M. Weiland

 

 

 

KEEP WRITING 

YOUR STORY 

YOU’LL NEVER 

REGRET IT 

Benjamin Thomas 

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com 

Story of the Writer: Kim Vandel

 

STORY OF THE WRITER:

Interview Series

Featuring Kim Vandel

 

I first came across Kim Vandel on kmweiland.com  as one of 5 recommended muscle-bound-muse authors to be read. She received high praise from my mentor, Jedi Master and mother hen, KM Weiland which took me by surprise. So naturally, I had to figure out who this person was. Vandel made her debut splashing onto the scene with her YA superhero novel Into the Fire. Be sure to check it out. Here’s a peep.

 

ITF cover 2x3

 

 

Praise for Into the Fire

“…this was possibly the best book I’ve read this year. It’s one of those stories, likes Weeks’s, that sucked me in deep and wouldn’t let me go.”

-KM Weiland

“So, so good. Vandel does all the good stuff of supernatural teen stories–and does it better.”
K.M. Weiland, author of Storming and Amazon bestseller Outlining Your Novel

 

“Vandel’s debut shines in a market where well written
young adult urban fantasy is hard to find.”
Jess Evander, author of the TimeShifters series

 

download

Ladies, gents and voracious readers I present to you Kim Vandel! *standing ovation* Kim, welcome to the Writing Train it’s so nice to have you with us. Before we begin,  I have to admit you’re definitely the great Princess Leia. There’s no doubt in my mind. Leia with a pen, I might add. Love it.

 

Kim Vandel author photo thumbnail

Here’s a little more about Kim.

Kim Vandel is a grownup who loves to read and write teen fiction. She worked in the field of environmental science before pursuing her dream of becoming a novelist. Her first book, Into the Fire, released in 2015, and it’s currently a double semifinalist for the Realm Award (debut and young adult categories). Kim lives with her family in the Seattle suburbs—the land of Microsoft, Nintendo America, and approximately five million Starbucks. You can learn more about Kim at Kimvandel.com

 

~It’s customary for me to ask a few questions in order to have a proper introduction. So here it is!~

 

Do you see yourself as princess Leia? Kind of a sassy princess?

Hmmm. Can I take The Fifth on this one? No? Well, when I was a kid, I never got in trouble for anything I did. I got in trouble for things I said—or more precisely, the manner in which I said them. And “Kimberly” means “from the royal meadow,” so sassy princess might be more accurate than I’d like to admit. I definitely identified with Princess Leia when I was growing up, and not just because of her sassiness. I wasn’t a girly girl. I hated wearing dresses, and I didn’t play with dolls. Leia was a princess I could relate to because she didn’t stand around while Luke and Han rescued her. She grabbed a blaster and started shooting. She showed me that a girl could be beautiful and strong—that it was okay for a girl to be strong. A princess could be a hero right alongside the guys.

Hah! I love it. Having this background resonates with me on different levels. I love your spirit, or sassiness, as you call it. Leia wasn’t a passive princess sittin’ on her laurels waitin’ for ol’ Luke and Han, she was in the battle! That’s great. “She grabbed a blaster and started shooting.” Love this statement. I almost want to print it out and plaster it on my wall. It really speaks to what kind of person she was. A princess hero with a blaster, splendid.

Do you drink Starbucks Coffee? If so, what’s your M.O.?

Dude. I live in the Seattle suburbs. Of course I drink Starbucks coffee. (And yes, Starbucks is everywhere.) Favorite hot drink: tall skinny vanilla latte. Favorite cold drink: venti unsweetened black tea. At home it’s usually French or Italian roast.

Well, we won’t hold that against you. Don’t stone me, but I love Tim Horton’s coffee. Starbucks is a little bitter on the palate. However I will get their white chocolate mocha once or twice a year. 

Coffee cup
Hmm…Starbucks or Tim Horton’s?

Where did you go to school?

I graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. I know, I know. I’m a science nerd. But it’s useful when you write speculative fiction.

Nothing wrong with being a science nerd, especially if your writing speculative fiction! I find it pretty cool actually. 

Favorite snack when writing?

I’m not a snack-while- I-write kind of girl, but if I was, it would involve something that’s salty and/or crunchy and covered in chocolate. Beverages are a necessity when I write. I always have tea or coffee close by.

I’m not much of a snacker either while writing. I ditto the tea or coffee though!  I’ll fire up a cup of Earl grey, peppermint or some nice ginger flavors. 

1. You’re a writer; so what’s  your story, or what inspired you?

I grew up in a family with a love for good stories, whether they were in the form of books or movies. Those stories sparked my imagination. They opened up worlds—entire galaxies!—of possibilities. They inspired me to think and dream and look beyond what was right in front of me. To create worlds of my own.

Yes, I have a very similiar background.  Those stories set fire to our minds, opening up the vast worlds, and the galaxy of our imagination.

a. What did you learn in writing Into the Fire?

There’s a lot of personal growth going on behind the scenes of a book. If you want your book to connect emotionally with your readers, then it has to be real, and being real is scary. It means exposing a little piece of your soul to the world. But something beautiful happens when you do: you grow stronger. As I wrote Into the Fire, I went on a journey with my protagonist Kate. As she found the courage to keep going in spite of her fear—in spite of how hard life can get sometimes—I learned to do the same. She may be fictional, but Kate inspires me.

Wow, this is amazing. When we write our stories we’re indeed sending little pieces of our soul out into the world. Amazing. I do like the thought of taking a journey with the protagonist. It’s a mutual journeying experience.  I also love the thought of being inspired by a character that you wrote. That’s awesome. Inspiration first brought you the character, you developed it, and now she’s a continual source of written inspiration. That’s awesome!

2. What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My ultimate goal is to connect with readers. I want to create stories that will transport them to another world, and I hope they find something in my story that will inspire them to see themselves and their own world in a new way.

I LOVE that you want to connect with your readers and take them on a meaningful journey. Just by this statement, I can tell you’re a good storyteller. That means a lot and says what kind of writer you are. 

Woman reading inside a huge book
Woman reading Into the Fire

a. What’s it like being published? A lot of us dream about this. You’re not only published, but your book Into the Fire is a double semifinalist in the Realm award.

Being published is both terrifying and the best thing ever. It’s terrifying in that there’s no going back. My work is out there where anyone can read it (and criticize it). You feel very “exposed” as a published author (which for an introvert is pretty much a nightmare). But being published is also the best thing ever because you hear from readers who have totally connected with your characters and “love, love, LOVE” your story. And sometimes you get to see all your hard work pay off with professional recognition—things like your book being a double semifinalist for the Realm Award.

That’s great! As we said earlier, it’s like we’re shipping out a piece of ourselves out into world for mass exposure. But it’s also displays an intrinsic theme, a story, character we want them to know about. First is resonates with you, then with readers from all walks of life. That’s mind boggling! It’s an echo of hearts, we  just make the first sound.

 

3. What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Lack of time. Lack of focus. Fear.

Ah, yes. Time, focus, fear. The three evil siblings that do their masters bidding. I ask every writer these questions and time and fear are always listed.

4. What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I love to create stories, and I believe that’s what God has called me to do. Those two thoughts keep me grounded. Now that I’m published, reader feedback is a huge factor in staying motivated. A teenage boy said I’m his favorite author, and a teen girl said she’s dying to read the next book. Another reader said that when she finished Into the Fire she wanted to read it again and spend more time with the characters. Those are the kind of things an author loves to hear, and they help me stay motivated. I know that all my time and effort will eventually pay off.

Again, love your spirit. These kids are feeding off your stories and you’re feeding off their encouragement. Beautiful how that works isn’t it?

5. What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

I am my own worst enemy. All too often I let fear and self-doubt hold me back.

Aren’t we all? This is just human nature itself. Self-doubt and fear. Yet you overcame them both! Now your story connects with readers and authors. Very inspiring. 

a. A lot of us think being published is the goal, since you’re there, what’s the next battle? 

The next battle is to keep going and stay focused on what’s important. You can’t let things like negative feedback or sluggish sales discourage you. Haters gonna hate, and the sales will come. Make sure you celebrate every success, no matter how big or small. You worked hard for those successes. Enjoy them! (Yes, I’m also preaching to myself here.)

It’s only the beginning for you I’m sure. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they always say.

6. If you have given up your dream, why? (If no skip to next question)

When I first started writing, there were a couple of times I gave up because I was so discouraged. The urge to write never really went away though, so eventually I started again. There are still days when I want to give up, but it usually means I’ve been pushing myself too hard and need to take a day off. I’ve learned to keep going when I want to quit, but it takes practice and a healthy dose of stubbornness.

 

Mucha practica, which translates as practice a lot. Which requires stubbornness and focus.
7. Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Because writing is really, really hard. It’s a lot of work, often with little or no reward. (At least not that we can see.) We put our very hearts on the page, and we take a huge risk by revealing our hearts to the world. It’s almost impossible not to take rejection personally, because it’s us on the page.

When I first began learning what it took to actually write a book, I thought whoever wants to do this out of their mind. My second thought was, whoever actually pulled this off is brilliant. Rejection is inevitable. But we’re the first ones who reject ourselves with doubt and fear. Then we go to submit our “child” to an agent who drop kicks our baby with a “Thanks but no thanks” only  to confirm our subtle self-rejectionist mentality. We  should consider those “rejections” as more of a direction, to where we need to be. If they reject us then it wasn’t meant to be. 
8. What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Take a deep breath. Know that you’re not alone. Now go find other writers. I can’t stress that enough. Whether it’s online or in a local writers’ group, find the people who “get you.” Draw encouragement from them. Learn from those who have gone before you and lived to tell the tale. You don’t have to face the big bad publishing world all by yourself. Don’t give up your dream!

I love your closing words which I’ll echo. DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DREAM! It’s your dream, so don’t let it lay waste without taking action.
Tentative dates for book 2?  I don’t have a release date for Among the Flames, but expect to see it sometime this summer 2016: Among the Flames, book two of the Under Fire series.Click here to sign up for Kim Vandel’s author newsletter VANDELIZED.
Thanks so much for joining us Kim! Appreciate it! Can’t wait for the next installment in the series! Be sure to come back for a book promo.
Twitter: @KimVandel

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.

~Mark Twain

KEEP WRITING
SOMEONE NEED TO HEAR YOUR STORY
Regards,
Benjamin.
@thewritingtrain