Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Part II: Beat The Sheet or Break The Glass

Imagine you've just had some good news. You take your favorite person and go to a fancy restaurant where you order dinner and an expensive bottle of wine. On your way home, feeling full, happy and satisfied, do you and your favorite person spend the drive discussing the glass you drank the wine out of?
If you do, its because they served the wonderful wine in the wrong glass. Maybe it was brought to you in a shot glass, a coffee cup, or maybe you had to drink it straight from the bottle?'d be talking about the wine, the food, the company. Anything except what the glass looked like.
This is the concept we'll be discussing in today's post. When a writer tells their story- its the wine. Often if a great story is crammed into a formulaic process like a beat sheet-the story is ruined by the glass. There are many benefits to a beat sheet
-helps find important stops or points in the story
-keeps pacing flowing
-fills in plot holes.
-gives bones for structure.

-The problem...If you're story has all the makings of a good novel, but you're trying to make it fit a formula, you've lost its uniqueness, intrigue and urgency. It becomes predictable.
Cory Mandell, a screen writer and instructor at USC talks about his work with aspiring screen writers. He has worked with a number of authors whose stories are great for about the first 40 pages while the author sets up the scene, setting, and character. However, as soon as 'the in sighting' incident is needed in the formula-around page 40-the story turns sour. Why is this?
Mandell claims its because the really memorable stories don't follow the formula. He gives three specific examples:
1. Juno: In Juno, the inciting incident happens before the story begins...When the MC gets pregnant.
2. When Harry Met Sally-In this romantic classic there isn't a clear incident. Perhaps the scene where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in the restaurant but that is 98 pages into the script.
3. The Godfather- A scene where our MC strides into a restaurant and guns down the enemy who attacked his father- Page 63 of the script
The point is...Each of these stories included an inciting incident, but not in the same place or at the same time in the story. "The Glass" had to be shattered in order for the writers to craft a specific container for the wine.
We don't read a book or watch a movie to talk about whether or not it followed a beat sheet. Trust me I've tried to have that conversation with my husband. He couldn't care less. If there's something wrong with the story. if it feels like its not going where it needs to. Then reader's put the book down, they don't work it out in their heads how it followed the formula and read it anyway.
The glass isn't important unless its so blatantly wrong, that it overshadows the wine. As a writer our job is to serve up the best, richest, most delicious wine for the money. If we do it properly, the glass doesn't matter.
The secret is now...How do I break the glass and craft my own specially sculpted container?
Good question. In part III, we'll look at ways to serve up your stories in the perfect decanter, goblet or carafe. In the meantime...keep writing!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Talking Books With Richard McEwan

I quite enjoy reviewing Children's books because I get the chance to see the world through a child's eyes for a few minutes. I didn't review The Adventures of Sir Buddy and Mr.. Pupples, by Richard I thought I could talk with him instead. McEwan has written this book about two dogs who get themselves into trouble, in hopes that children will want to help animals in need. His interview shows his love of his family and the work he does.

Traci:Welcome Richard. It's so nice to have you here talking to us about your book-The adventures of Sir Buddy and Mr. Pupples.
Richard: Thank you. It's been a dream of mine for a while.
Traci: Great,
, at what age did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 
Richard: I didn’t think about being an author until recently in my life. After a long career in sales, marketing, advertising and real estate, I retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I served in the U.S. Navy, actively for two years and four years in the Reserves.
I live with my wife, Christie, and our two dogs, Buddy and River, one cat named Oyster and many photos of foster dogs. My wife and I fostered about 50 dogs during a span of 5 years volunteering with the Animal Welfare League in the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Our dogs inspired me to start writing due to their antics and their own stories that needed to be told. The fostering of dogs has been a love of ours not only for saving a dog’s life but for the joy it brings to the one who adopts the pet. I would have to say our grandchildren have been a great influence to me in becoming an author because of their love of books…whether being read to or looking at the books on their own.

Traci: What a life you've live! What was the most significant influence on  the type of books you wanted to write? 
Richard: My grandchildren and wanting to convey the message about caring for lost pets to children of a young age.
Since this is my first book I will have to say my focus is on children’s picture books, and in all likelihood will remain in that genre. I like the fact that my book captures children’s attention by drawing them into the story through the written word and illustrations, but also they are being exposed or reinforced in a couple of facets of caring for animals…lost or stray pets and the fostering of them.

Traci: And all of this came about because of your love of dogs?
Richard: Our two dogs inspired the characters. Their personalities, antics and for this book, that they are both foster dogs. The plot was inspired by what my wife and I have witnessed in reference to stray/lost dogs and cruelty to dogs, and the rescue efforts, including fostering, that involves so many people.

Traci: It's a noble cause, What do you want your reader's to get from your books?
Richard: I want to convey a message about caring for lost pets to children of a young age, what better way than a picture book.

Traci: What can parents of children do if you've inspired them to want to write picture books, instead?
Richard:  I would have begun much earlier writing my business plan and actively working it so that I would have been better prepared for when my books arrived. There are many, many pieces to this puzzle of publishing and marketing a book. Some pieces fall easily into place, while others either take longer or are more involved than anticipated.
Don’t put your partially written book back in the drawer or in that file folder you have had for years. Make a commitment to yourself that this is important and set aside the time. Think about the feeling of accomplishment you will have when you have your book in your hands for the first time or see your book on the shelf of your local book store or on Amazon. It’s powerful and rewarding!

Traci: Do you illustrate as well, or do you have an illustrator? 
Richard: My publisher worked with me to find the right illustrator.

Traci: In your case, Which came first; the pictures or the story? 
Richard: Story. I started writing by hand but quickly turned to the computer. That made it infinitely better because of ease of restructuring, adding/deleting and most important…to be able to read what I had written! This first book I did very little research because the knowledge and experience my wife and I had rescuing and fostering dogs. In conjunction with that, I actually lived with the characters, therefore, I did not have to develop them. For future books I have already completed some research and will, of course, do a great deal more so that when I weave in facts they are as accurate as possible.

  Traci: Will you write more books like this one? 
Richard: Most likely yes.

  Traci: Are you working on any other projects? 
Richard:  Yes! I am trying to finish something I had written previously and nothing is coming forth to rescue me. It is so frustrating. Sometimes I can push through it and the words flow but I have found the best tact is to leave it alone for a while…just let it rest. It works like magic!

  Traci: Good Luck on your next book, Richard. Before we say goodbye, Is there anything else you'd like your fans to know about you?
Richard: I am  an Author who writes engaging children’s stories that not only entertain but also have a message…something of value that a child can learn. That by making a small, yet positive, contribution to their life I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
As for me as an individual, I guess I would like to say that I love the Lord and do my best to live by His word, that I love my family and friends, especially spending time with them, that I have  integrity, and am honest, trustworthy, loyal, funny and happy.

Traci: Thank you for talking with us today. You can find Richard's Book The Adventures of Sir Buddy and Mr. Pupples through his publisher--Halo publishing, or online at amazon, Barnes and Noble and Ingram. You can reach Richard through his

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are You In-love With Prince Charming?

The world's most classic stories of romance and true love stem from the lovely princess falling for Prince Charming. Today, much of our literature has strayed from the traditional fairy princess/prince charming scenario. Our heroine's are warriors, business women, hand maidens,and  average girls with extrodanary abilities. All of these characteristics fall into the character arc of 'fairy princess. Just as their flaws are equally royal. Some are spoiled, selfish,and  focused on their appearance instead of their true value.
No matter what your heroine looks like, where she lives,or  what she does, at her core she is a princess.
Are heroes are much the same. While the women have characteristics going from: warrioress to princess to queen. Our heroes go from: knight in shining armor to prince charming to king.
Let's take a look at each of these character arcs, its characteristics and its flaws.
-Knight In Shining Armor-
The knight is our most common character. He is rough, physically powerful, fearless, and willing to sacrifice his own life and well being to 'save 'the girl' and slay the dragon.
Emotionally, this character is distant, focused on the battle and unaware of the deeper wants, needs or desires of the other characters beyond swooping in to rescue them. He takes orders from superiors but often grudgingly and sees his actions in accomplishing the goals as being flexible according to what he perceives as truth.
-Prince Charming-
Prince Charming is handsome, like the knight, he has battled and saved his kingdom before and doesn't hesitate to volunteer when a defense is needed. Unlike the knight who swoops in to save and then returns to distant and unattainable, Prince Charming does not go into battle up on the orders of others. He is contemplative, uses more strategy and allows his men to defend and save him. He is still a little spoiled, distant from the needs of the other characters and prone to selfishness, but he has to worry about more than just his own life at this point.
-The King
The king is wise, patient and has great perspective. He sees the well fare of his family, his warriors and his kingdom in one great realm. He is reluctant to rush into conflict, but is willing to fight for the good of everyone. He is stubborn, subversive, if necessary, and keeps his cards close to the chest. He doesn't answer all questions, respond to demands, or solve problems as much as he imparts wisdom. He can be vague, frustrating to the other characters, and aloof, but by the end of the story all his cryptic advice helps the development of the other characters and leaves him loved and respected.
In a trilogy or series, developing your hero's arc from knight through King can provide a road map for his growth from the beginning of his journey to the end of the series.
Look at your favorite books and see if you can find the character arc of your hero's and heroines. Keep in mind there are also helpers, antagonists, jesters, and High priests or priestesses. Your Main characters will have basic characteristics of the three we've looked at.
Your King doesn't need to wear a crown. Your Prince doesn't necessarily live in a castle. Your knight doesn't even have to polish his armor. A reluctant bad-boy motorcyclist can be both a prince and a knight. Your pirate can take on any of the afore mentioned characteristics. Don't confuse character and characteristics with the hero or heroine.
Just remember, readers want to see the story go from a kingdom of trouble, discontent, or boredom to a happily ever after with the royal family in control, protective and in charge. More importantly they want to feel like they're the rulers of their own world, or at the least in-love with Prince Charming.-
 His loyalties have expanded and his sense of responsability weighs on him.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Author Review: A.J. Tupps

Over the last year my reviews drifted away from Young Adult and more toward romance and mainstream fiction. I'm excited to present to you for the next few months a couple of new YA author's I've been introduced to.
A.J. Tupps work, by way of The World Of Ink Network., Is the story of a 16 year old girl named Selena.

Tupps explains her book "Shadow Tears" as a group of stories she told her children while they helped her husband through a health crisis and recovery. It was a dream she'd chased for years and thanks to the love and support of her family...she made it come true.
Tupps uses elements of fantasy, history and fiction to create three separate worlds in which her lead character resides. Elements of telekinesis, telepathy, and weather manipulation bring an exciting world to life for her characters to explore. As Selena learns of her past, her powers, and the many people who fill her usually loving but limited family, she grows more powerful, uses her deep love of her family and friends to direct her efforts and discovers her purpose in a complex and dangerous world of guardians, shape shifters, and visionaries. I like historical based stories and the elements of history mixed with fantasy in this story were a surprise as I read. "Shadow Tears" is an interesting and complex story with vibrant characters, exciting scenes and deep emotional journies.

 Title of Book(s): Shadow Tears

Publisher: Halo Publishing, Int.

ISBN Number(s): 978-1-61244-310-2

Places where book(s) are available for sale: Halo Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram Distributing, Nook, Kindle, B. Dalton, Bowker Books, and many


About the Book: A child of three worlds, Selena Goodwin faces the typical challenges of maturing and falling in love until she is confronted by an enemy
she never realized existed.  Plunged into a world of secrets, deception and death, she must rely on people she never expected to enter her life.  All her
interests in mythology, lore and the paranormal are tested in reality.  She will find out how to become the woman she is destined to be despite the obstacles
before her.  Who said growing up was easy?  They hadn’t really  lived, have they?