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Book Review~~Allie and Bea

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 5 out of five quills      A Review

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde is breathtakingly beautiful. Once again the author takes two unlikely characters and puts them together in such a way that the reader doesn’t question how or why it happened. It becomes believable and a delightful read. 

I could especially relate to Bea. Senior citizens are mostly only a social security check away from destitution. One little thing can tip the scales. And since I avoid writing spoilers, at all costs, that’s all I’m going to say. 

The story is crafted by this author, word by word. It had everything for this reviewer. Struggle, pathos, heartbreak, friendship, love, and a surprise ending.
My favorite book in the world is Hyde’s Have You Seen Luis Velez? but Allie and Bea runs a very close second. I loved this story!
A must read!

Did you see my Interview with CRH?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Writing Tips ~~ Write in Present Tense or Past?

write, create, writing, authors, blogThe best writers almost always seem to know, either consciously or intuitively, when to use present tense. Many of us, however, do not. Present tense has become something of a fad, and we often use it even when past tense would serve the story better. Whatever the causes for the prevalence of the present tense in today’s fiction, it is important that we understand its advantages and disadvantages so we can better decide when to employ it.

Present tense restricts our ability to manipulate time. Altering chronological order and varying duration both work against the primary purpose of present tense, which is to create the feeling that something’s happening now.

It is more difficult to create complex characters using present tense. While it is certainly possible to create complex characters in present-tense fiction, it’s more difficult to do so without natural access to the basic techniques that allow us to manipulate order and duration. 

The present tense can diminish suspense. Because present-tense narrators do not know what is going to happen, they are unable to create the kind of suspense that arises from knowledge of upcoming events.

I, as an author, am in the ‘past tense’ camp. I am always put off, and find it very distracting, when a writer chooses to write in present tense. And horrors of horrors, flips back and forth between present and past tense for no apparent reason.  TS

                                                                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~

‘Most stories are told using the simple past—was, walked, drank, hoped. Stories using the past tense are written the same way stories have been told for years—once upon a time, sometime before the present time, these marvelous characters existed and lived out a fantastic adventure. They did these things, these events are over, and someone can’t resist telling you all about these happenings and adventures.

When I say most stories, I mean the great majority of stories. Oral stories as well as written fiction are told using the past tense. It’s common to readers, it’s common to writers, and it’s been the prevalent format for storytelling for years and years and years.

It’s so common that readers don’t notice it; they simply jump into the story’s adventure.

The present tense—is, walks, drinks, hopes—on the other hand, is rare. Yes, we all know wonderful stories told using present tense. Yet in comparison to the number of novels that use the simple past, present-tense novels are few in number. Present-tense narration is also much more recent a practice.

From what I can tell from a quick survey of Internet articles, readers notice when stories are told using the present tense. I’m not saying, nor are those readers, that there’s anything wrong with the use of present tense. We are saying that its use is noticeable.

Choose the present tense if you’re trying for a unique feel to your fiction, but know the limitations. Know that readers might not accept your choice. Know that publishers might ask you to change your narrative tense.

Choose past tense when you don’t want to distract the reader, when you want to use the common storytelling method.

Don’t let fear hold you back. Use the narrative tense that works for the story, the genre, and your readers. Know what narrative tense can achieve.

Write strong stories.

Write powerful fiction.

(Thank you, Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog)

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
 
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What Other Writers are Saying…

TS. I am currently developing a new journal for creative writers who are or want to be writing plays. If my fans and readers are familiar with my journals, it is traditional for me to embed quotes from other writers, authors, actors, directors, etc., into the blank pages of the journal. These are meant to inspire the owner of the journal with their own story writing.

Louis L’Amour

So I am always looking for new quotes as I hand pick every one when considering them for my journals. Here are what other writers have said about the joys (and heartbreak) of being a writer.

 

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway 

Mary Y-Arr

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Y-Arr

 

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence.” N.R. Hart 

MJ Bush

“Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.” MJ Bush 

“We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Anais Nin

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has but not by you.” Asha Dornfest 

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Stephen King

Stephen King

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” Holley Gerth

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August: My interview with Susan Wiggs and in September: Alan Dean Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Interview with author, Anne LeClaire (part 2)

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

AL. Mornings and into the afternoon are the times I write. When I am working on a first draft, I can usually only put in four hours before I need to stop. (I am always surprised by how physically tiring writing can be). But when I am working on rewrites, I can go until late in the afternoons. I love doing rewrites.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AL. Remember how good it feels when you are finally at the desk writing.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

AL. Where? Everywhere. Dreams, newspaper articles, overheard conversations and, as the book progresses, from the story itself.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AL. Love of story. Almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was scratching out stories, some only a sentence long. And reading, of course, lead fuel to the fire.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

AL. I’ve had times when character comes first and times when an idea or situation grabbed me initially. Five of my novels rose out of situation and five from character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AL. Yes. I lose all track of time. One time my husband had been out for hours and he came into my studio and asked what I had for lunch. I told him I hadn’t eaten yet. He informed me it was 3:30. I thought it was probably around noon.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

AL. My most recent book was published this May. The Orchid Sister is set in Mexico and Cape Cod and concerns many of the themes that fascinate me: how we deal with grief, loss, betrayal, families, faith and fear. In short, all the big things in life.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AL. I have written as long as I can remember. I had a newspaper column in the local paper when I was in high school. In my 20s and 30s I wrote for newspapers and magazines. At the same time, I was beginning a novel. At the encouragement of an editor at Yankee Magazine I sent a brief outline and sample chapter to an agent. Four months later I had enough for her to submit to a publisher who bought the book on the basis of an outline (which I actually had to learn how to write) and three chapters.
I still haven’t mastered the skill of outlining a book. I think I like the story to unfold as I write it instead of knowing everything ahead.

Did you miss part I? Click here

The conclusion will be on June 28th. Don’t miss the end of this terrific interview.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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Interview with best selling author, Anne LeClaire

TS. Anne LeClaire is a best-selling author of ten novels, one memoir and a children’s book. She lives on Cape Cod and is married with two adult children. I discovered her in one of my searches for new (to me) authors and found ‘The Orchid Sisters‘. 

writing space

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

AL. For years I worked at a desk in the far end of our bedroom. My next space was in the guest room in a friend’s home with a view that over looked a salt water pond. After a year there, I upped my game and rented a single room in an office building only two miles from our home. Then in 1991, I designed my dream work space. It is attached to my home and when friends first saw it they likened it to a chapel. It has lots of light and a vaulted ceiling and I enter it through a set of French doors and small library alcove that serves as a transition between two lives.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

AL. Attire first: I wear very comfortable clothes – usually sweats. I once read about an author who put on a suit and went out his front door, re-entered his home through a side door and went to his writing space as if to a job. That sounded like a lot of work to me just getting to the desk. Plus uncomfortable. I mean, a suit?
I usually have a cup of tea or glass of water at the desk. I always begin by checking my email (also known as an act of procrastination) before settling in to begin. I then open up the file to the work from the previous day and begin by working on that and before long I am into the new work. Why this way of beginning is important for me is because I don’t have to begin with a blank page. I am seduced into the new pages.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

Anne with friend

AL. With social media, web sites etc, my life is pretty much an open book. I give lectures and teach workshops both throughout the US and internationally. I am a licensed pilot. My music tastes are varied, encompassing opera, classical, county, jazz, ragtime and  tunes from the 40’s.
I guess readers might not know about the summer jobs I held while in high school and college: Two summers working in the Connecticut valley tobacco fields, two summers working in a plastic injection-molding factory, a summer as a dishwasher on Cape Cod and a summer as a chambermaid. Great experiences for a future writer (although I didn’t realize it at the time) which helped broaden and shape my social views.
One other thing: Once Jane Hamilton, Gail Tsukiyama and I opened a benefit with a Rap performance. I can confidently say there is little chance of being back for a repeat.

Join us for Part 2, June 21st

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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Interview with author, Boo Walker (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

BW. Persistence and butt-in-chair time hone a writer’s craft but I do believe some have an inherent ability to see life in interesting ways, which leads to the fresh voice we all crave to read.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

BW. I write an outline first, using Scrivener’s corkboard feature. I find I’m faster and crisper when I follow a storyline. Of course, I’m always open to following my characters if they want to take a detour. Once my outline is in place, I write each chapter without much looking back. I want to get the bones onto the page. Sometimes I feel like writing detail, but sometimes, I’m almost writing a sketch. Whatever feels like coming. Then I go back and edit and edit and edit. I add flesh and clothes to the bones.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

BW. I think a life spent behind a desk can be dangerous for writers. I have traveled a good bit in my life, and I think it helps me climb into other character’s minds with an open heart.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

BW. What’s downtime? If I do get to enjoy some of this so-called downtime, I love being with my family.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

BW. I started out writing thrillers but have most recently been writing book-club fiction. Something about the challenge of writing page-turners without a mystery to solve or someone to chase intrigues me.

Q. I see your guitars on the wall of your studio. Tell us about your music and Nashville.

Just for fun!

BW. My first connection to the muse was when I started writing songs in college. I fell in love with the five-string banjo, and it became all-consuming for many years. I moved to Nashville from Charleston with a band called The Biscuit Boys, and we enjoyed some great success, playing with Travis Tritt, Sam Bush, John Michael Montgomery, Ricky Scaggs, The Dixie Chicks, and many other heroes. Along with playing banjo, I found my creative stride writing lyrics. My career was cut short by a hand disorder called Focal Dystonia. I moved back to Charleston and tried to figure out the rest of my life. I needed to find a more grown-up job and joined a day-trading firm. But my muse still spoke to me. That’s why I started writing novels! 

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

BW. Enjoy the ride.

Did you miss the first part? Click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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Need a Journal for the Creative Writer?

My dear readers and fellow creative writers, don’t forget about the wonderful journals that I have created just for you.

250+ lined, blank pages for your writings, musings, and ideas. Each blank page is embedded with an inspirational quote from a famous author, writer, actor or director.  Some ‘how to’ sections (from me) to help and inspire you to get started; either writing your first short story or beginning that new novel you’ve been prevaricating about.

How To Begin
That All Important First Sentence 

How to Choose the Subject of your Story or Playtest
Formatting your Play
How to write Dialogue
How to Create Rich, Exciting Characters for your Novel
Story Arc

“I wanna write!” “I’ve got a story.” “I’ve always wanted to write.” 
Writers write!  Full stop. Period.

 

To Purchase

 

 

 

 

…and for expectant Mommy

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Book #1 (of 10)

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Interview with Boo Walker, Part II

At Boo’s 5 acre vineyard in Cally

We continue with part II of an interview with
Cowboy/winemaker/musician Boo Walker.
Did you miss Part I?

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

BW. I think so much about procrastination. It gets us all. Like I mentioned, I love the Be Focused app. That and setting a word count. I have word counts that I force myself to hit, and I don’t allow myself to enjoy much more of the day until I hit my count. In other words, once I clean my room, I can go out and play! Hit the word count and the rest of the day is mine.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

BW. They come to me on walks and in dreams. Often, they start as real people and begin to morph into a more exaggerated persona. I find that when I try the least to find them is when they come to say hello, and that can be any time of day. The muse is full of characters, but she waits until you’re quietly listening to share.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

BW. I read Plum Island by Nelson Demille while trekking across Ireland in the late nineties. From that moment on, I wanted to create a character as cool and funny as John Corey.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

BW. Depends on the book. I’m open to both, whatever the muse leads me toward.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

BW. Totally. That’s what keeps bringing me back. If you sit long enough typing a story, you’ll enjoy such a feeling. It’s the best in the world, better than any drug. You’re writing and suddenly you’re pulled in and become the character. When I wake from this daydream thirty minutes later and realize my fingers have been flying over the keys, I know I’ve written something special. But it wasn’t me at all, was it? My best writing is when the muse is the one writing. I’m just a conduit with fast fingers holding on for dear life.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

Bed head ignored. Busy writing!

BW. I can’t share much, but I’ve recently moved to St. Pete, Florida from Washington State, and I’m in love with this place. The next two stories take place in St. Pete and will be chock-full of familial dysfunction, love stories, and characters searching for meaning. I like throwing difficult circumstances at characters and seeing how they overcome.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

BW. Perhaps ten years ago, but what led me to becoming a pro is reading the life-changing book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Q. How long after that were you published?

BW. Until recently, I’ve always self-published. It took me a few years to write my first book, Lowcountry Punch. I did a lot of reading at first, learning the craft. And I interviewed the Charleston DEA and did some serious research. Then I wrote and rewrote and burned drafts. Finally, four years later, my book hit the shelves.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

BW. No, I don’t think so. I suspect there will always be a place for them. How sad to think there would be a world without bookstores. But for me personally, I have gone almost entirely digital.

Q. What makes a writer great?
   
Don’t miss the conclusion to this wonderful Interview ~~ May 31st.

Watch for my review of Red Mountain Rising (sequel) Coming soon!
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Book Review~~The Orchid Sister by Anne D. LeClaire

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5 out of 5 quills        A Review

How do I write a review, for this book, without giving away the twists and turns of the story and end up writing a spoiler? I can’t.  This beautifully written book has plenty of twists and turns. It’s a love story sort of, a story of intrigue sort of, a story of grief, revival and survival in huge doses. The threads of this tale are so tightly woven that to write about the plot is a spoiler x ten.  I just can’t do it. 

The writing is superb.The characters are well drawn and I cared about every one of them. If I had one tiny criticism (and it disappeared within the first six pages) it was that it had too much narrative for my taste. But after page six, I understood how the author constructs her story.   So I was immediately drawn into the story so much so that long descriptions (rather than the dialogue telling the tale) didn’t bother me.  

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Available now.Click here to buy

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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