Jonathan Wolstenholme There are nearly three dozen free writing contests in October. They cover the full range of topics, style…
BY Martin Cavannagh “All you need to be a writer is a pen and paper,” is something you might say if you’re one of those smug savants who can just sit down and write an entire novel longhand. But for the rest of us? Well, we can take all the help we can get. Naturally, there are the everyday low-fi accessories that every writer should already have in their arsenal, …
But You Promised to Review My Book
Via Indies Unlimited
At first glance, my assignment seems straightforward. Write a post about what authors can do to not get taken advantage of by reviewers who ask for a print version of your book and then don’t come through with the promised review. The short answer is probably “not much.” But Ms. Brooks says one paragraph of seventy words won’t cut it as a “real post.” So, I’ll ramble on.
The reality is that once this has happened, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. It doesn’t matter whether the “reviewer” is a scam artist looking for inventory to sell at his or her local used bookstore, or a well-meaning reviewer who didn’t follow through. (The latter might be because life got in the way, they discovered reviewing really wasn’t their thing, or maybe you’re better off that they didn’t review it because they thought your book su … wasn’t very good.) My advice is, if you’ve gotten to this point, the best move is to drop it and move on. Next time, remember your mom’s advice about an ounce of prevention.
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a cliché at this point, but it got that way because it’s so true. What can you do to prevent yourself from getting to the point of needing a cure instead? I’ve got a few ideas.
The first idea is guaranteed to work. Don’t send print versions of your book out to reviewers. On the one hand, I can see this from the side of the reviewer. If they prefer to read in print or (strange as this may seem in today’s world) don’t have an eReader or a tablet or a smartphone or anything else that can be used to read an eBook, I can’t blame them for insisting on paper. Even if their only reason for insisting on paper is that they plan to read the book and then get a couple of bucks selling it at the local used book store, I can’t fault them for that. Whatever the cost for you to get the book to the reviewer short of sending it overnight to the other side of the world is a low price for the amount of time you’re expecting the reviewer to spend reading, evaluating, and writing a review of your book. (That doesn’t excuse the reviewer for lack of follow-through, but the cliché about beggars and choosers comes to mind as well.) If a reviewer not reviewing your book after sending him a paper copy is that big of a deal, not sending it to begin with is the only sure answer. (A short detour for a bit of self-promotion. I run a site with a list of reviewers who all are willing to accept electronic versions of books for review. Check it out. http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ And we have an entire resource page here at IU dedicated to helping authors get reviews…)
If you’re willing to send out paper copies for review and sometimes do, a percentage of those aren’t going to come through. Just like a percentage of those reviewers that you send electronic copies to won’t come through. That’s the nature of the beast and you aren’t going to change it. However, if you’re willing to accept some failures, there are things you can do to help minimize them. Some of these ideas are good when chasing reviews, even for those who will take or prefer an electronic copy.
- Follow the site’s instructions. If they say query first and include these items in your query, then query first and make sure to include whatever else they ask for. (If they say “send me a paper book to this address and I promise I’ll review it,” be suspicious.)
- Look over the site and make sure that your book seems like a good fit.
If they’re insistent on a paper copy, do a quick Google search looking for discussion among authors to see if anyone reports issues with this reviewer.
- Look at how often they publish reviews on their site. At least every week or two is okay, more often is better. If it’s only every couple months, it’s probably not worth your effort to even try.
- Last, you’re a business. A review from this site has some kind of monetary value to your business. What that value is, only you can say. But if that value isn’t at least the cost of the paper book, shipping, plus a little more to make up for those reviewers who don’t come through, then it might make sense to move on to the next reviewer.
I’ve rambled enough now. What are your thoughts? I’ll bet some of you have ideas to throw in the mix, too.
In my oh-so-very-pleasant work room upstairs, where I spend so much time hacking away at this machine whose letters on keys are disappearing fast from overuse, and my wife Diana leaves me alone to bleed and brood when the thinking and writing aren’t going well and to be stricken with ecstasy when they are, I am surrounded by books–many volumes about the arts and the immensely gifted people in them.
This morning I had a busy schedule of things to do that I’ve wanted to do for weeks but haven’t. I’m Chicago born and bred, Spartan tough, so I told myself that today was “time to get serious, buster. Enough of this uncharacteristic self-indulgence.” Today would be different; I’d “dig in,” “put a dent in things,” “make progress,” “do my thing.” I checked over my list of current projects, every single one of which oddly is “top priority.”
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By Sarah Hutto
Meet Charlotte. Charlotte’s a thirty-four-year-old sweetheart who sometimes gets dizzy owing to her poor diet—but she’s not letting that stop her from spending hours clicking between Twitter and Craigslist instead of working on her article! She doesn’t actually need anything on Craigslist; she just likes to read sad posts by strangers going through bad breakups instead of doing her work. Charlotte would do well in a home where three square meals are placed in front of her each day. She would also benefit from being reminded to shower and having her phone confiscated at night. She’d make a great companion for anyone seeking a poorly adjusted, emotionally unavailable woman to sit in a chair in the corner and stare at her laptop while mumbling.
Meet Richard. Richard is a feral writer who has garnered interest from literary agents, but he lacks the perseverance to finish reading a novel, let alone to write one of his own. When Richard is not working on first chapters, he sporadically attends a meditation group where he is known as “the weeper,” hangs out with one of his two ex-girlfriends, and shoplifts ramen noodles from his local Walgreens. Richard had kidney stones once. He wrote an article about it for a major national magazine. He’s hoping to get kidney stones a second time so that he can write a follow-up piece. Richard would do well in a loving environment with a couple of other writers to interact with. He is almost completely house-trained.
Meet Serena. Serena came to us as a seasoned reporter with a master’s degree in journalism who had recently dropped out of the rat race to freelance. Serena currently lives with two roommates in an apartment where she is left alone all day. Her roommates are under the impression that she is unemployed, despite the fact that she’s technically a copywriter. Serena wakes up at 2 P.M., smokes a fatty, and walks to the Wawa for some snack cakes. Because of her stress-filled professional background, Serena would do best in a single-writer home where she can come and go freely. Whoever adopts Serena will be required to maintain her daily supply of fatties and snack cakes.
Meet Joshua. Joshua has had some short stories published in best-of anthologies and is a frequent contributor to several national news outlets. He owns some plants but has yet to have a successful relationship with any human. He eats a lot of soup. So much soup. He sometimes talks to his downstairs neighbor, a friendly woman whom he is attracted to, but whom he will not pursue because he knows that vulnerability only leads to pain. Despite all this, Joshua has very good dental hygiene. He is flossing right now. Joshua would do well with an owner who forces him out into the sunlight, despite all his allergies. Joshua would also probably benefit from some sort of medication. He is up to date on all his shots.
Meet Francis. This handsome scrapper published a popular zine in college. In his twenties, he opened a publishing house, which took off, and he sold it to his partners for a tidy profit. After that, he wrote a book of poetry, which was met with critical acclaim and won a Pulitzer. His accomplishments, though impressive, are of little comfort to his wife when he locks himself in the guest room for days on end and pees into an empty Gatorade bottle. We’re hoping to find a new home for Francis quickly, as his wife is gearing up to kick him out. Francis is generally aloof and would do best in a home with low expectations and an empty guest room. Whoever adopts Francis should be aware that he has bitten two people, although we believe that this will not be an issue once he settles into a stable environment.
by Megan Stielstra
This is the thirteenth in a series of micro craft essays exploring the finer points of writing. Check back each Tuesday for a new Craft Capsule.
I was at the Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago, throwing tennis balls into Lake Michigan for my pit bull. My son, then four, splashed next to us in knee-high water. It was summer, early morning, the sun beginning to rise, and behind us we heard singing. A group of people, all dressed in white, had gathered on the beach. Two of them waded into the lake, passing us to deeper water. The woman’s skirt streamed around her waist; then the man dunked her backwards and she sprang up dripping, joyful, her face turned towards the sun.
I didn’t have much of a religious upbringing. This was my first baptism.
Recently, trying to write about this moment and what it meant for me, I realized my memory was tangled with a scene from Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother Where Art Thou (2000). Have you seen that movie? It’s based on Homer’s Odyssey and is set in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression with a terrific bluegrass soundtrack. Three escaped convicts in the woods are engulfed in a wave of bodies dressed in white—what “appears to be a kind of congregation,” one convict says to the other two. Everyone is singing: Oh sisters let’s go down, come on down, down in the river to pray. It’s beautiful; magical, almost. They move as one towards the water in four-part harmony and yes, fine, of course the people on Montrose Beach that day weren’t really singing “Down in the River to Pray.”But still, that’s what I hear. I shut my eyes and I can see them, their clothes swirling white in the water, their voices in my bones.
I’m interested in how art and pop culture influence memory and, subsequently, the choices we make when crafting creative nonfiction. Do I include that song in my retelling? The white clothes, the magic? When I find myself searching for rules of how one can and cannot write, I go back to Francine Prose’s beautiful essay “Learning From Chekov.” “Admit that you understand nothing of life, nothing of what you see,” Prose writes. “Then go out and look at the world.”
The achingly personal connections we’ve built with books and movies and music is as true to our stories as standing in the sun.
Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections including The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, forthcoming this August from Harper Perennial. Her work appears in Best American Essays, the New York Times, Guernica, the Rumpus, and on National Public Radio.
Conferences are not only the best way to meet agents, get tips from other writers, and learn about the publishing industry, they make you …
13th annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. May 1 – May 7, 2017 at various locations in New York City. readings, performances, and panel discussions for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. “The thirteenth annual PEN World Voices Festival will take on some of the vital issues of the Trump-era, with a special focus on today’s restive relationship between gender and power. Taking place in New York City, May 1-7, 2017, the weeklong festival will use the lens of literature and the arts to confront new challenges to free expression and human rights—issues that have been core to PEN America’s mission since its founding. At this historic moment of both unprecedented attacks on core freedoms and the emergence of new forms of resistance, the Festival will offer a platform for a global community of writers, artists and thinkers to connect with concerned citizens and the broader public to fight back against bigotry, hatred and isolationism.”
Romance Times BookLovers. May 2-7, 2017, Atlanta, GA.
ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Writers Conference, May 5 – 6, 2017. NYC, NY. Focus on Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Humor, Journalism, Marketing, Nature, Non-fiction, Publishing, Religion, Screenwriting, Travel. Attending: more than 100 editors, authors, literary agents, and publicists.
Northern Colorado Writers Conference. May 5 – 6, 2017, Fort Collins CO. The 2017 Northern Colorado Writers Conference will bring back some local favorites such as Laura Pritchett, Trai Cartwright, and Kerrie Flanagan, as well as welcome several new-to-NCW presenters such as Bob Mayer, Jessica Strawser, and Whitney Davis, and several new agents.
Idaho Writers Guild Conference. May 5 – 6, 2017, Boise, Idaho. Meet with agents, editors, and authors. Panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote speaker. Your registration – $195 for IWG members, $225 for non-members.
Gold Rush Writers Conference. May 5 – 7, 2017, Mokelumne Hill, CA. “Writing professionals will guide you to a publishing bonanza through a series of panels, specialty talks, workshops and celebrity lectures. Go one-on-one with successful poets, novelists, biographers, memoirists and short story writers.” Writing workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Children’s, Fiction, Marketing, Non-fiction, Poetry, Publishing, Romance, Travel, Young Adult.
The Massachusetts Poetry Festival. May 5 – May 7, 2017, Salem, Massachusetts. The Mass Poetry Festival offers nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, and open-air readings. More than 150 poets will engage with thousands of New Englanders.
Grub Street Muse and the Marketplace Conference. May 5 – May 7, 2017. Boston, Massachusetts. The Muse and the Marketplace is a three-day literary conference designed to give aspiring writers a better understanding about the craft of writing fiction and non-fiction, to prepare them for the changing world of publishing and promotion, and to create opportunities for meaningful networking. On all three days, prominent and nationally-recognized established and emerging authors lead sessions on the craft of writing—the “muse” side of things—while editors, literary agents, publicists and other industry professionals lead sessions on the business side—the “marketplace.”
Hedgebrook VORTEXT Salon. May 5 – 7, 2017: Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island, about 35 miles northwest of Seattle. Workshops, panel discussions, lectures, open mics, and time to write in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for women writers.
Columbus State Community College Writers Conference. May 6, 2017, Columbus, Ohio. Workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Fiction, Journalism, Marketing, Non-fiction, Playwriting, Poetry, Publishing, Screenwriting. This one-day conference is free of charge.
DFW Writers Conference. May 6 – 7, 2017, Fort Worth TX. Featuring pitch sessions with literary agents, advanced classes, engaging panels, interactive workshops.
Writers Retreat Workshop. May 6 – 13, 2017, San Antonio, TX. Featuring Author and Instructor Lisa Cron (Wired for Story, Story Genuis), Thriller novelist Daniel Palmer (Delirious, Forgive Me, Mercy (with his late father Michael Palmer) ), Mystery and thriller author Reavis Wortham (Red River Mystery Series, and in 2017 Sonny Hawke series), Author and Instructor Les Edgerton (Bomb, Hooked (WD), The Bitch), Author, Instructor and Editor Carol Dougherty, Author, Instructor, Editor, and Program Director Jason Sitzes, and more agents, editors, and authors.
Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat. May 7 – 12, 2017 in Waialua, Hawaii at Camp Mokulē‘ia, Oahu. Offers workshops in fiction and nonfiction, readings, one-on-one consultations, publishing panels, yoga sessions. The retreat is led by North Shore native Constance Hale, the author of Sin and Syntax, the editor of more than two dozen books, and a journalist whose stories about Hawai‘i appear on CD liner notes, as well as in publications like The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine. Hale invites a mix of writers, editors, and agents from both the islands and the mainland to lead various workshops and appear on panels.
Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp. May 7- 13, 2017: West Bend WI. 6-day, residential workshop-retreat for writers in all genres working on a novel or creative nonfiction book. Workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Publishing, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult. Registration is limited to 30 people.
Crafting Successful Author Visits. May 7 – 12, 2017, Honesdale, PA. Peter Jacobi, journalism professor and former newsman for NBC and ABC, will coach you in the fundamentals of public speaking. Peter will teach the seven essential parts of speech writing as well as tips for audience engagement. Carmen Oliver and Jan Cheripko will advise you in the creation or revision of your presentation intended for a school audience. In addition to one-to-one feedback on your presentation, Jan and Carmen will accompany you to an on-site school visit during the workshop.
Writing the Unreal: The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction. May 7-14, 2017, Honesdale, PA. This unique workshop is designed for anyone with a complete or near-complete draft of a middle-grade or young adult novel in fantasy or speculative fiction who wants a thorough manuscript critique and help making plans for revision. WAITLISTED.
Lakefly Writers Conference. May 12 – 13, 2017: Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Workshops, talks, and a bookfair for poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers. Keynote speaker is Nickolas Butler. Many speakers and presenters.
Atlanta Writers Conference. May 12-13, 2017, Atlanta, GA. Featured Writers Include: Six acquisition editors from top publishing houses and six well-regarded literary agents, plus a workshop presenter from the publishing industry and successful, experienced authors, many of whom received their first publishing and/or representation contracts via the Atlanta Writers Conference.
Seaside Writers Conference. May 14 – 20, 2017: Seaside Assembly Hall in Seaside, Florida. “The Seaside Writers Conference is an annual gathering of creative writers from all over the nation, and features award-winning writers in poetry and fiction and screenwriting who will offer a full week of intensive writing workshops, one day seminars, school outreach programs, and social events.” Many authors, agents, editors.
Whole Novel Workshop: Historical Fiction. May 14 – 20, 2017, Honesdale, PA. This workshop provides novelists in middle grade or young adult historical fiction a complete review of their entire manuscript, along with tools for revision and practical tips from experts in the field. WAITLISTED.
Writing By Writers Methow Valley Workshop: May 17 – 21, 2017, Winthrop, WA. Faculty: faculty includes Ron Carlson, Ross Gay, Pam Houston and Lidia Yuknavitch. Tuition: $1,650 (before November 1) $1,750 (after November 1) includes one four-day workshop, admittance to all panels and readings, and all meals (dinner on Wednesday; three meals Thursday through Saturday; breakfast and lunch on Sunday) and lodging for four nights. Alumni of the first Methow Valley Workshop in May 2016 will receive a $100 discount.
Nebula Conference and Awards Ceremony. May 18-21, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA.
Defining Your Voice. May 18-21, 2017, Honesdale, PA. As a reader, you know “voice” in an instant. It stands out. It rings true. It stays in your head. As a writer, you have a voice that is distinctively your own. It comes from within and without—inner conflicts, outside pressures, personal values, and your own particular views of the world infuse your work. You tell the stories that only you can tell. Join writer and editor Sharyn November to immerse yourself in rich examples of many writers’ voices as you work to develop your own.
Pennwriters Conference, May 19 – 21, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA. Friday evening keynote Jonathan Maberry; Saturday afternoon keynote Chuck Sambuchino; and 20+ authors, literary agents & editors, writing industry pros. Costs: $375 for 3-day registration. One-day registration available $185.
Austin SCBWI 2017 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. May 20 – 21, 2017, Austin, TX. Conference on children’s books with keynotes; general sessions; breakout sessions for writing, professional development and illustration; intensives for novels, picture books and illustration; critiques; pitches and more. Faculty: Editors Kendra Levin (Penguin Random House), Melissa Manlove (Chronicle) Agents Linda Camacho (Prospect), Stefanie Von Borstel (Full Circle) Art Director Giuseppe Castellano (PRH). Authors Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, more. Author/illustrator.
Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers. May 22 – 26, 2017, Houston, Texas. Featured Writers Include: Fiction: Bill Broun (Night of the Animals); Nonfiction: Lea Lax (Uncovered); Poetry: Hayan Charara (Something Sinister, The Sadness of Others, and The Alchemist’s Diary). Application deadline: MAY 1st.
Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference. May 26 – 27, 2017: Wyndham University Center in Pittsburgh. Master classes, craft discussions, publishing talks, pitch sessions, and readings for creative nonfiction writers. In just three days you can meet one-on-one with a literary agent or publishing consultant, get concrete advice from professional writers, hear what different kinds of editors are looking for, and hone your skills in an inspiring small-group session. You’ll also meet and mingle with writers from across the country who share your excitement about the writing process.
Connecting Writers with Hollywood. May 26 – 27, 2017, Spokane, WA. CWWH is a writers conference where writers and screenwriters can pitch their material directly to film agents and producers. It is a weekend of education, panels and pitch sessions. Faculty: Chuck Palahniuk (!), Brian Bird, Mel Eslyn, Mark Steilen, Mike Dill, Megan Griffiths, Kim Hornsby, Nikki Navarre, Heather Morado.
Balticon 51. May 26 – 29, 2017, Baltimore, MD. Balticon is sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS). BSFS presents the Compton Crook Award, the Robert A. Heinlein Award, and the winner of the annual Jack L. Chalker Young Writer’s Contest annually at this event. Faculty: Eric Flint as Guest of Honor. Multiple tracks of Programming over the four day weekend, featuring authors, artists, scientists, musicians, podcasters, publishers, editors, costumers and other creative SF luminaries.
The Personal is Always Political with Melissa Febos. May 26 – 30, 2017, Austerlitz NY. What is the role of the personal writer in this new political landscape? It has always been the job of writers to engage in conversation with the world, but in times of national upheaval, this job is more urgent than ever. In this generative workshop, we will explore methods of bringing our personal stories more explicitly into a political context.
Capturing the Unexpected: Beginning Your Novel – Right. May 28 – June 3, 2017, Honesdale, PA. The experiences of National Book Award-winning editor Patricia Lee Gauch will drive this spirited workshop on getting your novel off to a great start. Through dialog and activities, writers will gain vivid strategies with which to build their middle-grade or young adult novels into truly original narratives with rich characterization, surprising depth, and real emotional power. Daily exercises, long and short, will focus on writers’ diction and style, character development, the driving force of attitude, and voice. During the five days, participants will develop a draft of two short stories or chapters with which they can begin a long work of fiction. Class is limited to eight participants. Applications for this workshop should include a two-page sample of writing. WAITLISTED.
North Words Writers Symposium: May 31 – June 3, 2017, Skagway, Alaska. Faculty: Keynote author Paul Theroux. Alaskan authors include: John Straley, Sherry Simpson, Tom Kizzia, Deb Vanesse, Andy Hall, Lenore Bell. Costs: $375 includes most meals. College credit extra for $90.
By Kristen Lamb
So last time we introduced Deep POV. What is it and why do readers love it? Well, as I touched on last time, I think readers love it because it’s just clean, tight writing that pulls them into the story. I also think like all other POVs that have evolved in tandem with social changes, deep POV is a consequence of our world. We are a reality TV generation and we love that intimacy.
But after noodling it a couple days, I thought of yet another reason it behooves writers to learn deep POV. I think the reason readers love it is it hooks them. We live in a world chock full of millions of tiny distractions, which has made all of us more than a little ADD. A hundred years ago, readers weren’t distracted by emotionally distancing words.
They were an easier fish to catch, so to speak.
I think these days, writers really have a challenge. We are already competing with countless distractions, so why add more into our work? We need to hook early, hook hard and drag that reader under before he swims away.
Today is the HOW TO DO THIS.
To accomplish “deep POV” yes, there are style changes we can make, like removing as many tags as we can and ditching extraneous sensing and thinking words. But deep POV is more than just tight writing, it’s also strongly tethered to characterization. Good characterization.
It is essential to know our cast if we hope to successfully write “deep POV.”
KNOW Your Cast
There are all kinds of ways to get to know our characters. I often write detailed character backgrounds before starting a story so it doesn’t become a fish head.
Why we need to know our characters is that deep POV is a reflection of the inner self, how that character sees the world, responds, evades, processes, etc. It is also a reflection of personal history and relationship dynamics. It is his/her PARADIGM.
*cue brain cramp* *hands paper bag*
It’s okay. Breathe. We’re going to unpack this.
Reflection of the Character
Back when I ran a weekly workshop, I had writers do a little exercise to help them learn POV and also strengthen character-building skills. I gave this scenario:
We have a family of four—Mom, Dad, a grandparent (either gender) and a teen (either gender) who has spent a year saving for a family vacation. On the way to their destination, the vehicle breaks down. What happens and tell it from the perspective of EACH family member.
Every week, writers showed with the perspective of one of the four. We had ASTONISHING creativity.
Who These Characters ARE Changes the Story AND Deep POV
When we layer in some background, the characters (and consequently the story, problems and conflict) all change drastically.
What if dad is finally home from his forth tour in Afghanistan and has terrible PTSD?
What if Mom is a closet alcoholic?
What if the teen is recently in remission from Leukemia?
What if Grandma is a tireless flirt who’s antics got her turned into a vampire and the family can’t understand why Granny wants to travel only at night?
What if the teen is an asthmatic and forgot his inhaler?
What if Granddad has early on-set Alzheimer’s?
What if the teen has been recruited for a mandatory deep space mission by the New Earth government and will never see the family again?
What if the teen was adopted and the purpose for the trip was to meet the child’s birth mother? How would this impact the emotions of those in the vehicle?
What if there used to be TWO children and one had died in an accident a year previously?
Do you see how by changing WHO these people are, this cannot HELP but affect everything else?
If Dad has PTSD, he might jump at every lump of roadkill because that’s how insurgents hide IEDs. If the family is stranded and Mom can’t get to a liquor stash, she might start getting belligerent or, left too long, start going through DTs. What would an addict notice? Likely nothing beyond how to get a fix.
While a kid in remission with a new lease on life might enjoy being broken down in the middle of nowhere (appreciating the little things in life) the addict would be hysterical.
All of this will impact Deep POV because we are in the HEAD and EMOTIONS of the character.
Let’s pick on Mom for an illustration. I’m riffing this, so the writing is just an illustration. Just roll with it.
Kidding! Lighten up. You seem tense.
Fifi clutched the baby picture, the one she’d carried everywhere for fifteen years. She hated she was happy the old van had finally given out. Her husband stared, bewildered at the smoking engine. Other than car trouble, he seemed fine. Fine. How can he be fine?
She glanced back at her daughter, the living reflection her of all her dreams and failures. She’d wanted a baby more than life. Every night on a freezing floor. One miscarriage after another and then came a tiny bundle of everything she’d ever longed for.
That woman hadn’t wanted her. That woman had abandoned her. That woman was Gretchen’s real mother and now Gretchen wanted to meet her. Real mother, like hell. And I’m a real astronaut.
How had she failed? If she’d been a good mother, Gretchen would have forgotten that woman and they wouldn’t be here.
“You okay?” Her daughter bent between the seats and kissed her cheek. “You said this was okay, that we could do this. You’re sure, right?” A wary smile revealed new braces, the braces Fifi paid for with money she’d saved for a new van.
“I’m fine, Honey.” She crumpled the baby picture and opened the van door. She needed air.
Fifi clutched the baby picture, the one her daughter had given her a week ago for Mother’s Day when they picked her up from rehab. Ninety days clean. At least that was the lie she’d packed along with her swimsuit and the hairspray can with the secret compartment and the only pills they hadn’t found.
The pills that were now gone.
They should have already been at the resort, the one staffed with eager friends willing to help her out. Friends with first names only who took cash and asked no questions.
Fifi scratched at her arms. Millions of insects boiled beneath her skin, invaded her nerve endings and chewed them to bleeding bits. Pain like lightning struck her spine, the section crushed then reconstructed. Pain like lightning spidered her brain, frying her thoughts. She glanced again at the baby picture, then at the fine young woman in back. Her daughter Gretchen.
What am I doing?
Maybe she would be okay. Maybe she hadn’t had enough pills to completely undo her. Maybe she could ride this out. And maybe I’m the Queen of England.
Gretchen bent between the seats and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you, Mom. You okay?”
Tears clotted her throat. She nodded. “Yes, I’m fine, Honey.”
“You mean it?”
She hesitated then smiled. “Yes. Yes I do.”
She tucked the baby picture in her shirt pocket, close to her heart and opened the van door. She needed air. She also needed to change their plans. Visit somewhere with no friends. With no one who took cash.
Do you see how changing WHO Fifi is changes everything? Everything she is sensing, feeling, thinking. Being in the emotions of a heartbroken mother who feels betrayed is a very different experience from being in the head of a sympathetic addict who’s struggling to get clean and stay clean.
Both women are impacted by the daughter. One Fifi is hurt by the daughter, the other Fifi finds hope in the daughter. Both women are conflicted. One is tormented with feelings of failure and betrayal and the other is tormented by failure, but very real physical problems of addiction that impact the story.
Deep POV has thrust us into the head and emotions of both women. We feel what they feel. The author is invisible because there are no tags. The sensations are raw and visceral because we have gotten rid of the coaching words.
Fifi felt millions of insects boiling beneath her skin….
We get right to it.
Millions of insects boiled beneath her skin…
The sensation is CLOSER. There is no psychic distance. She isn’t thinking she is going to lose it. She isn’t wondering if she can keep it together. She is experiencing everything real-time and up-close.
Fifi thought, What am I doing?
She just does. We KNOW Fifi is thinking because we are camped in her head.
Deep POV is Akin To Method Acting
When we know our characters, who they are, how they came to be, the formative experiences, what they want from life, etc. we can then crawl in that skin and become that person. By us becoming that character, we then have the power to transport our reader into the skins we have fashioned.
I hope this helps you guys understand the magical, mystical deep POV and now you’re all excited about writing stronger characters. What are your thoughts?
Before we go, check out the new classes below (including a two-week workshop on Deep POV by powerhouse editor Lisa Hall-Wilson). W.A.N.A. is also offering two NEW classes for romance authors, one on how to write shifters and the other on how to write great historical romance without needing a PhD in History.
I also have a SUPER AWESOME DEAL to help you whip that WIP into fighting form! I put together a Book Bootcamp (3 craft classes—6+ hours of instruction with MOI—for $99 & RECORDINGS included in the purchase price) as well at a Book Bootcamp GOLD (also 3 craft classes for the price of two PLUS three hours with ME one-on-one plotting your novel OR repairing the plot for your novel). So make sure to check those out below along with all kinds of new classes!
Make sure you check out the newsletter class with Jack Patterson. He’s sold almost a quarter million books, so probably someone to listen to. Just sayin’…
What are your thoughts?
I LOVE hearing from you guys!
****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.
Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?
Talk to me!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!!
Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!
April 29th $45
In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.
With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.
Book Bootcamp $99 ($130 VALUE)
Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.
Individual Classes with MOI!!!
Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 April 13th, 2017
Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017
Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017
The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017
Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!
Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.
Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
One of my flash fiction pieces has been accepted by Lunch Ticket, an Arts and Literary magazine from the mfas at Antioch unversity!
“My poems “To Someone” and “O Aleppo” were accepted and will be in the next print and electronic edition of the Wild Women’s Medicine Circle Journal!
The Northern Virginia Literary Review Issue 31 will come out March 21 with my poem in it. My contributor copies are being sent to me.
My essay was just accepted for publication by Mothers Always Write-a literary magazine by mothers for mothers. It will be in an upcoming issue! And yes, it’s about my mom.
The cover of my new book DreamPoem is done and looks fantastic thanks to Michelle Goodhew from Mundus Media Inc. I won the book cover package for free and its really cool!
That’s about all the writing news for now!