Monday, May 21, 2018

Decided on an Ending

Yesterday, I came to the end of my still-untitled diary novel. Or perhaps it should be called a short novel? There are 99 typed pages. It's a MG or YA book, so the length seems all right--what does anyone think?

I had been give a suggestion by a co-worker about how to possibly end the story after she and others had read what I had written up to that point. I had told them that what I had written then was only the beginning. Once she offered her suggestion, I got to thinking how to I could conclude the story--how the protagonist, Martin, really feels about having to wear braces.

As I have been saying, I have more ideas in mind for the protagonist that could easily make for another book. It seems to be thinking too far ahead, but now I might start thinking about these now, because I'm wondering what to write next. I also wonder if I need to do more work on the memoir before I send it to the publishing contest I want to enter. I only wonder how many people have entered so far or just how many are aware of the contest to begin with. And I have a dream written down that I may try writing from, even if it just ends being a short story. Though I know I will need to do some polishing of my recent work. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Tale of Two (or More) Titles

The title of this blog post comes form this article from Minnesota Public Radio News: 

A tale of two titles: A girl, a train and thousands of confused readers

Seeing this reminded me of how I have been trying to find a title for my work in progress. I still haven't completed it, but have though of an ending before I even began to work on one last chapter or two before the ending. Has anyone ever done this?

But back to the title thing. As I've said in recent blogposts, trying to find a title has been challenging. One suggestion I got was Smile, but a pointed out that a graphic novel with that title exists. Even though titles cannot be copyrighted, it would be confusing to have two books with the same title with a similar plot line. I don't want to be accused of ripping off the one that already exists. But would that happen?

From the article linked above:

The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller, set in contemporary London, with a female protagonist and a female author — Paula Hawkins. It was published this year, and received wide acclaim.
Girl on a Train is a psychological thriller, set in contemporary London, with a female protagonist and a female author — Alison Waines. It was published in 2013, and received almost no attention.
You might be able to predict where this is going.
"An incredible number of people were buying the wrong book," reporter David Benoit tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer.
Benoit revealed the case of mistaken identity in the Wall Street Journal — after he experienced it first-hand.
Benoit's mother read Alison Waines' book. Then she passed it to her son.
"I read it in its entirety," Benoit says. "It wasn't until after that that we realized, 'Hey, wait a second, there's another book out there that people are actually talking about."
After talking to readers of Girl on a Train and poring over Amazon reviews, Benoit concluded that most mixed-up readers had purchased the e-book.
"You go on Amazon, you click the first girl-on-a-train book you see on your Kindle, and maybe you never look at the cover again when you're reading, so you don't realize it's a different author," he says.
Not so his mom.
"My mother actually bought the book in a bookstore," he says. "So she didn't misclick. She literally picked up the wrong book."
In e-book and in print, the mistake has led to a boom year for Waines.
"Writing had always been a hobby for her," Benoit says, but this year she says she sold over 30,000 copies of her book.
And she's excited to see what happens when her next book comes out.
Several years ago, Stephen King published Joyland. A novelist named Emily Schultz published a book by the same name back in 2006.
Schultz got an immediate boost in sales (and documented how she spent that money on a website she called Spending the Stephen King Money).
"Now she has a new book out this year that's doing very well," Benoit says — it was featured in NPR's own book concierge, in fact — "in part because she had become a little bit famous with the Stephen King mishap."
Both Schultz and Waines published their books first, so it's not as though this were a cynical maneuver on their part.
And Stephen King and Paula Hawkins are doing just fine — Hawkins has sold over 6 1/2 million copies of The Girl on the Train.As for the readers?
"Many readers who admit they bought the wrong book liked it anyway," Benoit wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
"One woman I talked to actually liked Miss Waines' book better than Miss Hawkins' book," Benoit tells Wertheimer.
She made her book club, which had planned on reading the best-seller, pick up Girl on a Train instead. 
This reminded me of what happened recently at my book club. One book that had been selected for this year was The Silent Wife. On our Facebook group for the club, the title had been mentioned but not the author's name. One member asked for the author's name after she'd gone onto Amazon and found two books with that title:

The first one was the one that was selected as one of our reads this year, but at least two of the women in the book found and read the second one. "I read the wrong book," they each said. At our meeting in April, one of those who'd read "the wrong book" gave a synopsis of that one. I then got tempted to read that one (I borrowed a copy of the "right" book from another member), and sought a copy of the "wrong" one. It was pretty good. 

Coincidentally, The Girl on the Train was one of the books our club read when it was released in 2015. But no one mistook it for the other book mentioned above, which I'd never heard about until now. I liked The Girl on the Train, but haven't found out enough about Girl on a Train as of yet to consider looking for that one. 

Note that The Girl on the Train and Girl on a Train are both psychological thrillers set in London, but that the two books titled The Silent Wife are very different, and that one is psychological thriller. This being true, I now wonder how confused titling my WIP Smile would be since the book already existing with that name has a similar plot. Some kids might go looking for one book and then find the other one. Though I'm certain I will not use the title Smile. I currently have some titles in mind, many of which include the word "teeth." 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Still Trying to Come to the End

I wrote another chapter in my diary novel over the weekend and am still trying to decide how to end the story for now.  As I've said in previous blogposts, I have some ideas for the character, but don't want to cram all of them into one book, so I plan to set the other ideas aside for another possible book. I know, that's thinking too far ahead, but the other ideas I have in mind for the protagonist are completely different from what I have been presenting in the current work.

I have got an idea in mind for the end of the WIP, but am still wondering how many more chapters and details to include before reaching the end. And I'm wondering what the average word length is for diary-based novels. I currently have 86 typed pages and wonder if that will be enough for a short fiction book. But does the number really matter? This as the question I had when working on the memoir. I manages to get that one to 88K+ words. And I still want to enter the memoir in the publishing contest at Blydyn Square Books. I have till the end of September to send it in, either by hard copy or as an email attachment.

How long has it taken any of you authors out there to end one book?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Choosing Character Names

One thing I have been asking myself is how I decided on character names for my story in progress. Do any of you authors out there ever ask yourself such a question?

I still am asking myself why I chose Martin as the protagonist's name, and Rachel for his mother's name. Not to mention Roderick for a classmate and Jana and Janelle for two other classmates (twin sisters).  How do any of those sound to you? Some sites advise against using similar names in the same book, such as this one:

Names That Are Too Similar

If your story has more than just a few key characters, you want to make it very easy for your reader to distinguish between them. That’s why you should avoid using names that sound too similar:
  • Similar beginnings:  Readers might be confused by a “Cathy” and a “Cynthia,” or a “Richard” and a “Roger” in the same story.
  • Similar endings: Avoid giving your characters names that end the same way, like “Madison” and “Jason,”  or worse yet, names that rhyme, like “Shelley” and “Kelly.”
  • Repeated vowel sounds: “Janeen,” “Lee,” and “Edith” all share a long ‘e’ sound. This can be tiring for the ear.
  • Similar length: You’d be confused too if you had to read a book about “Bob,” “Ted,”  and “Joe.” How would you keep them all straight in your mind?
Now, before you go and say you’re writing about a set of twins, just remember: names can have a similar feel without sounding alike. For example, “Matthew” and “Luke,” (both names from the Bible) or “Ava” and “Bette,” (both Hollywood film actresses).
Keep in mind, you want your characters to stand out as individuals, not meld in your readers’ minds.
And from Wikihow:

Even after reading this, I don't intend to change the twins' names. I've known twins to have alliterative names and non-alliterative ones, and even rhyming names. Many boy-and-girl twins I have met do not have alliterative names, and I can only think of one or two such sets of twins that I have met personally.

Also from Wikihow:

I certainly wouldn't name a person in a book Elvis, but might easily use that name for a dog or cat. And I'm not even going to get started on Adolf 🙂

I honestly don't see any reason not use whatever names you want to use. 

How do any of you choose your character names?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

5 Topics For Your Author Blog


Finding good topics for your author blog can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. A great blog can be an excellent platform for authors to find new fans and generate interest in their work, but you need to continue to produce fun, engaging, insightful and entertaining posts to encourage readers to keep coming back for more.
You can write about anything you want to in your author blog, but it’s good to remember that people will be interested in finding out more about your characters, your work and you as a writer. If you can create posts that cover these topics your readers will feel as though they know you and your writing better, and that’s what will hopefully motivate them to buy your book!
So what are some great topics to write about? Here are 5 to get you started!
Where you find your inspiration
What inspires an author is fascinating to both fellow writers and non-writers alike. For those who can’t imagine writing a book themselves, it’s so interesting to hear where a person might find the inspiration and motivation to come up with their stories, and for your writing comrades it’s great to get some tips if they are feeling a little creatively uninspired.
How you do your research
A well-researched book is going to be all the better for it! Share with your readers and fellow writers how you begin to research your book. What methods do you use? How do you organise it? If you come across anything particularly interesting, an unusual fact, for example, share this with your readers too!
Character interviews
There is no much you can do with your characters. Why not interview them individually as if they were famous so your readers can get to know them? If they have any unique hobbies, talents or interests, you could write a separate blog on this topic, for example, ‘how to bake the perfect pie by [insert character name here]'. Also if your characters face particular struggles, you can share how they overcome them in separate posts.
Create polls
Polls and votes are a great way to get your readers interacting with your work. Get them to vote on anything, character names, the outcome of a particular storyline, your new book cover and so on. This is not only brilliant free market research for you, but will get readers talking and thinking about your book which will make them more invested.
Your writing ritual
Many writers have various routines and rituals that they like to undertake when starting the writing process. Do you have any weird and wonderful habits that you can turn into an entertaining blog post to share with your readers? Talk about your writing process, what you need to get started, and your writing space so they have a little insight into how and where the magic happens!
These five topics work for any author blog, so if you are stuck for ideas why not create these posts and hopefully they’ll inspire you to write even more.

I didn't originally set out to do an author's blog, or even a writer's blog, just  a blog where I could write about anything I want. And I have found it easier to have all posts on one blog, rather than trying to start another one or two blogs. But as those who have views my blog recently can see, I have had a great deal of posts about what I am writing. One can see in recent posts how I chose to write something set in the 1980s and how I have included pre-tech items such as using an encyclopedia. I think others should learn what life was like before the Internet and cell phones. 
Have any of you who have written stories tried interviewing your characters? I haven't, but since I was doing a memoir, it seems weird to even try. It's about me, after all, and I know about me already.🙂 But as far as the protagonist in my diary novel goes, I've stated how he is riddled with anxiety over having to get braces. He readily gives up chewing gum and eating candy, pretzels and popcorn in preparation. I don't agree with my mom's friend's statement that he is "extremely cynical"; rather, he's just displaying teen angst. References are made to A Wrinkle in Time and Lord of the Rings (a cat called Frodo). That might tell readers something about him. 🙂 "Just be glad you're a cat and not a nerd like me," he tells the cat, referencing Meg in Wrinkle saying, "Just be glad you're a kitten and not a monster like me" to her kitten.

Maybe now I should ask what others think of my character names? Or the storyline?
I have been trying to write about my work-in-progress, making sure not to spoil the end, though I have not come there yet. But I now think I know what will happen.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Importance of the Point of View


One of the most critical decisions any writer has to make is whose point of view they are going to tell their story from. The whole relationship between the writer and their story is set when they make this decision.
The viewpoint from which a writer tells a story determines its whole outlook, and each perspective comes with its own devices that can give writers great freedom, but also limit them too.
So how does one decide which point of view to use? Let's take a look at some of the different types.
First person singular. The first person singular point of view gives writers an opportunity to make the story genuinely personal.
The readers will follow the story through a single characters eyes; this can make them feel very bonded to that character and allows the scope to play with the intimacy between reader and character as well as create a sense of immediacy which can help to keep the story moving along.
However, this viewpoint means that only one side of the story is told. The narrator's knowledge of events and the way they see the world is the only opportunity for readers to get what is going on. If the novel has a large cast of other interesting characters, it may be challenging to get readers to have the same connection or identify with them.
Third person limited
Third-person limited tells the story from only one person’s perspective but as if the reader was following them around and observing.
This point of view allows readers to gain a slightly broader perspective while still being permitted to understand the characters innermost thoughts and feelings without being bound to their particular opinions.
This perspective allows the writer to prove the protagonist wrong or reveal biases that the character does not even know that they have. The writer maintains control and authority while still being able to tell the story of one particular individual that the readers follow throughout.
Third person omniscient
Using this viewpoint means that many different characters perspectives are explored. This allows the reader to see many different sides of the story, and to get to know a whole cast of characters on a more intimate level.
However, employing this perspective can mean that the reader has to work harder to make sure they know whose viewpoint they see things from, and if there are too many characters and perspective switches too regularly, it is possible they could become confused, frustrated and unable to follow the story any longer.
Of course, writers are perfectly entitled to choose whichever perspective they wish, and may even want to mix in two or three different views in their story (though be warned this could confuse your reader if not done well). Whatever you chose, it is worth giving some time and consideration to point of view, and experimenting with it to find the best way to tell your story just as it should be told.

It should be obvious that a memoir would be written in the first-person, since the author is narrating something about his or her life. And epistolary novels are generally in the first-person, since they are written in the form of a diary, blog, letter, email, etc. I knew that when attempting these two formats that first-person was going to be how to write it.However, in the past, when I attempted to write stories, I nearly always chose the third-person, since I was attempting fiction. It seemed to me then like the first-person should only be used for autobiography, even though I had seen fiction books written in the first-person. One trouble I had at first when trying to written the first-person was how not to repeat the pronoun "I." In third-person narration, it's  easy to vary noun and pronoun usage without repeating "he," "she," "it," or "they"  or the name(s) of the character(s). But now that I have been writing in first-person, I have found it easier to do so.

One thing I immediately look for when reading first-person-narrated books is how and when the name of the protagonist is revealed, either in the narration by the protagonist himself, or or in dialog spoken by another person. Here was how I introduced the name of the protagonist in my diary novel:

I hate the fact that she [his mother] chose to use her maiden name Martin as my first name. She no doubt would have done the same thing if her last name had been Thomas or Douglas.  Or God help me—Gordon. Oh, why couldn’t her name have been Cooper or Tyler? Jordan even.  Any one of those would have sounded much cooler.  I bet she’s glad she wasn’t named Smith or Jones—would she have named me either of those? My middle Charles came from my late father Charlie. I hate my last name because of the girl named Blair on the TV show Facts of Life  and because of the actress Linda Blair from the movie The Exorcist.

Those who have written fiction in first-person, how do you introduce the name of your protagonist to the reader?

And who here has ever attempted the second-person narration? That one seems harder to do. Just as I originally had trouble not repeating the pronoun "I" when attempting to write in the first person, I likely would have had the same trouble not repeating "you." And it seems that second-person is mostly best for interactive books such as the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Neil Patrick Harris parodied the format of the CYOA books for his memoir, Choose Your Own Autobiography. I now feel like reading Bright Lights, Big City, to read something other than an interactive book. Goodreads has a list of popular second-person books, most of which I have never heard of. 

What is your preferred post-of-view for fiction? I'm now seeing the first-person used in many fantasy and dystopia novels, such as The Hunger Games and Twilight book series. If I choose to ever attempt a book in these genres, I will have to decide hard on what point of view to choose.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Chapter Break Bingo – May 2018

Here is the new card for May. Some categories this month are a little out of my comfort zone, but that makes it fun:)

Click on the card to download (or right click here and save-as).
Mark up the card however you wish to claim the squares.

Here’s a recap for clarity (with specific dates for example):
May 4 – new bingo card available
June 3 – Julie and I will post our May completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post
June 4 – new bingo card available
July 2 – Julie and I will post our June completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post. We will also be posting the May winner of the most squares in this post.
And so on and so forth.

 Here is what I am reading:
  1. Lily's Crossing--Patricia Reilly Giff (3 squares): Library Book, New Relationship, Physical Book
  2. The Gathering of Zion--Wallace Stegner (1 square): Favorite Author
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean--Jenny Han (1 square): In a Series
  4. The Pearl--Angela Hunt (3 squares): Free Book, Mother, Flowers on Cover
  5. The Outsider--Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (1 square): Free Space
  6. Spare Parts--Joshua Davis (8 squares): Robot/Artificial Intelligence, Shelf Love, Military/CIA/FBI, Suspense, Nerd/Geek, Teacher/Mentor, Bike Ride, Unnamed Character
  7. Last Light Over Carolina--Mary Alice Monroe (2 squares): Audiobook, Cookout
  8. America is Not the Heart--Elaine Castillo (1 square): Recently Released
  9. Three Wishes--Lianne Moriarty ( square): Garden