donovanmneal

Archive for the ‘On writing’ Category

How do you handle trolling behavior?

In On writing, Personal on May 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

When I started out in writing I just wanted to tell a great story about a biblical event.  I thought it would simply be so cool to just tell what I thought was a fascinating story from the Bible.  Enter the troller

trolling

One of the things that I’ve tried to do was build alliances with others.  Find others in my field and pick their brains, learn from them, and maybe even give back something useful to them.  I had hoped I had found such a person in this woman whom I met on LinkedIn.  A creative writing major who loved writing and was a professed Christian; I dialogued with her for several weeks.  We even had one phone call.  I gave her an unedited draft of about 2 maybe 3 chapters of my novel.  She gave me some good feedback.  Later she engaged in some Facebook behavior that was simply problematic for me.  Behavior which I asked her to discontinue and talked with her at length about before I discontinued communication.  It was after this (I think I honestly knew before) that I had stumbled upon a very opinionated, person who by her own admission enjoyed arguing with people

 

Eventually she made a remark, about a friend of mine that I really did not care for, and I decided… that was it, the relationship needed to end.  I blocked them on Facebook, discontinued email communication and explained to them why I was doing it.  This occurred back in the summer of 2013.  All was silent until Feb of this year when my book was released.  After the reviews came in, this person decided to make comments on seven of them.  As of the 18th of May the troller has placed 2 more additional comments. Now keep in mind she has no book review herself.  She’s just piggybacking on others reviews. (She seems to be checking in occasionally to see what’s being said, and choosing after months to still make comments.) She selectively finds the weakest reviews and emphasizes in her comments the least favorable elements of that review.

So after thinking about all this I have to confess that I’m amazed (and concerned on some levels) that a person can be so infatuated with you that they feel the internal need to do such a thing.  I mean what motivates such behavior?  I didn’t spurn this woman romantically that was not an issue.  At least not for me.  (No telling what this woman was thinking.)  So I see these comments on my amazon page.  Go take a look here.  Tell me…what would you do?

Questions

1. When and if should an author (or anyone I suppose) respond to trolling behavior?

2. Has this ever happened to you?

3. What makes a person behave towards someone whom they have never met personally.

 

Hey help an author out by buying my book and leaving a review.  I figure the best way to shut a troller up is by success!

click here to check out the reviews.

 

 

 

.  .

 

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How to develop a novel character by answering 17 easy questions.

In Its resource Monday!, On writing on May 5, 2014 at 8:00 am

alignmentchartby4thehor

 

The power behind any novel is not just if it has an awesome plot.  But if it has characters that move the reader.  Character development is something that is learned.  It’s something that you can get better at.  But it starts with having a great template to work from.  Here is the template that I use in developing my characters.  I don’t profess that any of this is original.  Just that its pieced together from others who I’ve come to respect.  I figure perhaps this might work for other aspiring writers as well.

Now here’s the thing.  When you start a character you might not know all this.  If you are a pantzer who writes by the seat of their pants.  Then you might find these questions get answered organically as you write.  But whatever you do answer the questions at some point.

Answer these 17 questions and you will be on your way to have a great character for your work!

 

  1. What is the character’s name?
  2. A one-sentence summary of the character’s story line?
  3. The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  4. The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  5. What event launches the characters toward their first dilemma?
  6. The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  7. What event strips the character of hope?
  8. What even pushes the characters to change?
  9. The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?)
  10. What even shows the characters as their changed selves?
  11. A one-paragraph summary of the character’s story line?
  12. What is their role in story?
  13. What is their occupation?
  14. What is there physical description?
  15. What is their personality?
  16. What are their Habits/Mannerisms?
  17. What is their Background?

 

Donovan M. Neal

Hey if you enjoyed this article and are interested in more of my writing.  Please sign up for my email list here!

 

Author Interview: Philip Dodd

In Author Interviews, On writing on April 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

Phillip Dodd

 

Today I am pleased to introduce to my audience the author of the Christian Fiction novel, Angel War.  I was pleased to meet him on Goodreads, and as his work deals with the same subject matter as my own I wanted to get to know him and appreciate his own take on the fall of Lucifer story.  Phillip has a degree in English literature from Newcastle University, and has been writing songs, stories and poems since he was twelve. Angel War is his first published novel. He was thirty four when he first began to write it in 1986 and sixty when he completed the final version of it in September, 2012. It took him twenty six years to write.

So lets get started shall we?

Tell us about your book Phillip. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

My book, Angel War, was inspired by Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, which speaks of the war in heaven, fought between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The Bible only says that the war happened, but not why, so I decided to write my own version of the events of the war and its aftermath. My story is essentially the biography of Azel, the Prince of the White Castle of the Angels of Light, the one who begins the war in heaven and who later becomes known on Earth as Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. When I first read Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, when I was a fifteen year old schoolboy,  I was astounded by the idea of there being a war in heaven, which led me to an interest in angels in The Bible, literature, painting and sculpture, and finally to begin to write, in 1986, when I was thirty four, what became Angel War.  My book could be called a work of fantasy fiction, rooted in The Bible. I think it would appeal to Bible readers and those who like to read fantasy fiction.

 

What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Though my book is a work of fantasy fiction, it is presented as a history, the history of the angels of the angel lands and how it came to affect human history on Earth. So the biggest challenge I had in the writing of my story was to make that history consistent and convincing. It was also a great task for me to create on the page my own versions of such people from The Bible as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Judas, Peter, John, Mary and Joseph, Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

 

What advice would you give other novelists?

When you have finally finished your story, understand that it is only the first draft, a base to build upon. When you have finished your final draft, you will know, for you will feel satisfied that there is nothing else you can do to improve what you have written. Study The Writers and Artists Yearbook and as many sites about publishing on the internet that you think will be helpful to you. Do not read narrowly. You may feel safe with your favorite authors and kind of book, but there are worlds elsewhere in other kinds of books. Learn from the masters. Classic novels have lasted for a reason, mostly because they are good tales, well written.

 

Tell us about your journey of faith. How did you become a Christian?

Looking back, I have happy memories of singing hymns and carols at junior school. I thought most about Jesus and The Bible at Christmas and Easter time, and when I went to Sunday school. Through my love of literature, I came to know more about Jesus from many different angles through the works of different writers. What truly drew me to Christianity is the story at its heart, the life of Jesus on Earth, which could not be more moving. That story has always been there in my life, so I have always been a Christian. It means more to me now, of course, now that I am sixty two, and I understand it more.

 

Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My favourite novelists are Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Mervyn Peake, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse. Mythology is one of my interests, so I like The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, Gilgamesh, The Elder Edda and Beowulf. Poetry is another one of my interests. My favourite poets are William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

 

Now that you’ve written your book, what other projects if any are you working on?

Recently, I completed the final version of my light-hearted science fiction story for older children and adults, called Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle. I hope to publish it in 2015. One day, I would like to publish a collection of my poems. At the moment, I am only writing verses, but I hope to write another story sometime in the future.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The basic theme of my novel is the battle between good and evil. If it has a message it is that whereas good is natural, evil is not natural and that it will be utterly defeated one day, as The Bible promises

 

When did you start writing?

When I was twelve, in 1964, I wrote on a scrap of paper the lyrics of my first song. It was the first thing I had written that was not for school. From then on, I have never stopped writing songs, poems and stories.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write simple, straightforward prose. I try to make it flow with no snag in its path and to sound close to poetry when I can.

 

How did you come up with the title?
I wanted the word angel in the title, as my book is concerned mostly with angels and their history, and I wanted the word war, too, so I reduced it down to those two words, put together, to form Angel War.

 

How much of the book is realistic?

In the final chapters of the book, there are references to events in human history, like the sinking of the Titanic, and the tension between America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980’s,  but seen in a new way, as events happening because of the war between the Dragon on his Citadel throne and the Father in Heaven, so the events are described realistically, but not as they are written of in human history books.

 

What books have influenced your life most?

The King James Version of the Holy Bible was the main inspiration for my book and it is the one that has influenced my life most. Since it was first published, it has had a greater influence on the history of English literature than some might think.

 

What books are you reading now?

At the moment, I am reading quite a few poetry books, some of them written by fellow members of the Poetry group on Goodreads, such as The Tenderness of Mountains by Lisa Marie Gabriel and A Rough Deliverance by Nancy Bevilaqua. After enjoying reading his collection of poems about his life working on river boats in America, called The Candle On The Reef, I will soon be reading a book of religious poems by Robert R. Whitford, called The Word, The Breath, The Saving Grace. Recently, I enjoyed reading the final, unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, called The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

 

Angel warWho designed the cover?

For the front cover of my book, I chose a print, called The Woman and the Dragon by Gustave Dore, one of his Bible illustrations, and for the back cover I chose another one of his prints, called The Fall of Babylon.

 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Having to discard chapters that I was proud of in order to make my story as short as possible was the hardest part of writing my book.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

When I was writing my book, I learned that characters truly do have a life of their own. Often a character would say or do something that I did not plan or predict. That is one of the great mysteries and pleasures of writing fiction. When you are actually inside your story, while you are writing it, things happen that can seem magical.

 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Because my book is rooted in The Bible, I found myself rereading parts of The Bible and looking at books about The Bible, to get certain facts right in my story. That was a challenge, but an interesting, worthwhile and enjoyable one. The most challenging character to create in my story was its main one, Prince Azel, who later becomes known as the Dragon, Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. It was psychologically hard to get him right, even disturbing at times, to make him believable as a character, particularly when he speaks and writes his true thoughts, but I was pleased in the end with what I managed to get down on paper. I did my best. My book took me twenty six years to write. Often the writing of it was a struggle, but it was well worth the strain.

I want to thank Phillip for taking the time to be with us today and you can find Phillip’s book Angel War on Amazon

 

D

 

 

 

Music for the next novel has been selected!

In On writing, The Third Heaven: The Birth of God on April 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

 

In the next novel, Heaven has been decimated by war. Michael’s mind reels with visions of the future revealed to him by El, and Lucifer’s plan to force God’s surrender comes to a head.

The Third Heaven:The Birth of God is the sweeping tale that explores the powerful aftermath and consequences of Lucifer’s fall from Heaven.

For in order to save humankind, and heal the rift to his kingdom. God will make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his beloved creation.

What would YOU do for love?

Those that know me, know I love to write to epic music. The music takes my spirit to where I want the words to echo. Each book has its own music, its own song, that gives the reader the sense of what emotions will be invoked in the book. I have now found that piece that exhibits that emotion in me for this next novel.

It’s a powerful piece that evokes childlike wonder, awe, power, and flows into sweeping choral melodies that transports the listener into the realm where angels live and move to bring about the will of God.  Angels who will lay down everything to see God’s vision come to pass.  Angels…whose innocence was lost due to war.  And a God who will stop at nothing to bringing restoration to his beloved creation.  A piece that will haunt you to ask….what would you do for love?

Introducing the new theme song for my next novel. Adam Balazs Vox Humana.

Epic music at its best.

Enjoy!

Inspiration Tuesday: Duel of the Fates

In It's Inspiration Tuesday!, On writing on February 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm

There are few things that would stand as an adversary to a writer as the enemy known as writer’s block.  The towering wall of inability to muster words to advance ones story.  The sheer frustration of being caught between two opinions, to find oneself standing in the proverbial desert looking across dunes of words that all look the same.  Directionless in your journey.  Observing nothing, but sand that silently echoes over more sand.  Nothing.

dunesBut then you move. Lumbering, walking forward looking for any sign of direction, any hope that might advance you in your prose.  It is then that you realize that war that rages within you.  A war to produce meaningful prose.  A war to combat fatigue, and procrastination.  To move ever forward in a relentless march towards your goal.

Never stopping, plodding along basking in swelter as your head pounds refusing to be quieted by all the Tylenol in existence.

You are dueling the fates.

Wrestling with the Darth Mauls that every writer who wields a pen or PC must contend.  Lost in the silent battle that is as ferocious as the sword saber slashing of any Jedi.

You — are dueling the fates.

Steadfastly you pound the keys swiping at any mirage that would serve as beacon towards your goal.

It is then that you discover and draw power and inspiration: you smash through the door and vault across the borders of silent muse.  To land steadfast ready to run towards the sanctuary of an oasis of prose.

You bask in the stream of consciousness that invigorates you and from which you draw strength. You savor every succulent syllabic strung sentence that smoothly rolls from off your pen.   Your muse has awakened.  Yet you are not fooled.  Although an oasis has found you but for a moment.  You look over the horizon of desert that you must still cross.  A desert that at whose end will yield to you a promised land of a first draft.

You are a writer–and you are dueling the fates.

D

Resource Monday: Go A.P.E. yourself

In Great Resources, Its resource Monday!, On Marketing, On writing on February 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

ape

 I read quite a bit.  Most of my reading consists of books that are informational, educational self help in nature.  I read more fiction as a youth but much less now.  (I’m working to remedy that!)

I want to recommend for today’s post a book that will give a tremendous hand to those either just starting out or even those who perhaps need a refresher after having published a book that is not doing as well as you might like.

APE: author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to publish a book by Kawasaki, Welch

This book covers the following areas

Why write a book

The self-publishing revolution

Tools for writers

How to write, finance, and edit your book

How to avoid that self published look

How book distribution works

How to convert your files

How to sell books directly

And it goes on and on.

On and on it goes.  This book to me is THE reference book for any beginning indie writer period.

One of the things I loved about the book was he also provided you what his method was for using the concepts he write about to get his book in your hands.  Its one thing to talk about how to its another to share with fellow readers the exact map YOU used to achieve your success.

The book is full of helpful links to the sources mentioned.  It is simple and I think a quick read. The author uses a very conversational tone, and it has a wonderful interactive table of contents that allows the reader to quickly navigate to any relevant section that is most useful to you.

I’ve read countless books about writing, editing, layout and design, publishing and marketing.

This book above all I’ve read provides the most comprehensive road map on the self-publishing process I have ever read.  It’s a must.  As someone who has now published my first novel.  If you asked me which book would you recommend for new authorpreneurs—this book hands down is the clear winner.  I wish I had this book when I started out, but I’m very glad I have it now.

Five stars.

 

D

 

Author Interview with Tony Ross

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am

Tony Ross

Today’s interview is with writer Tony Ross.  Tony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, “Victor,” was released in 2011 and is currently out of print. “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” was released in January 2013 with a few details and minor changes made to the original story. The sequel “Orion” was released in October of 2013.

1.     So tell us about your book.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

I have two books on the market right now: “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” and its sequel “Orion.” Both are supernatural/sci-fi thrillers, aimed primarily at younger adults who read those genres. Readers have compared my style to Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker and Stephen King. I’ve also drawn comparisons, at least with “Victor,” to Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series. The action and suspense probably appeal more to men, but I’ve heard good things from female readers too.

Victor“Victor” won a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2013 International Award Contest. The story is set in 2040 in fictional Sunlight City, where choice is the only law and all things are permissible. The decisions of three people will influence the future of the world: a gifted assassin trying to hold together his fraying sanity, a brilliant scientist with a world-changing secret who must unlock the assassin’s mind in order to survive him, and a streetwise, energetic detective with secrets of his own.  All three are bound by the darkest of secrets. Only the truth will set them free.

“Orion” features a young man, David, protecting a frightened woman from a killer. Faced with a deadly ultimatum, trapped by the weather in an overcrowded hotel slowly boiling over with fear and mistrust, David must protect the woman, find and stop the killer… and confront the darkest secrets of his heart.

I write these crazy stories, believe it or not, to minister. I don’t write Christian fiction strictly for Christians. We’ve heard the message already. Not everyone will read a book that’s clearly about Jesus, salvation, or Christian living. But if I can work those things into a fast-paced and entertaining novel, maybe a reader who doesn’t know God will decide, “Y’know, maybe I need to look into Christianity a little more.” And maybe I can encourage the Christian readers to take their walk with God a little deeper, beyond religion to relationship.

2.       What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Time to write is always a bit difficult to come by. Between family, work, ministry, etc., there are only so many hours in a day. I wrote most of “Orion” sitting at the kitchen table while my homeschooling kids did their homework. Beyond that, turning off my internal editor is always a trick. I need to tell myself that writing a truly “rough” draft is okay. I sometimes get hung up on plot points and stop writing for a few days while I kick things around in my head.

3.       What advice would you give new novelists?

Number one, write. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel. Just write. I’ve done poetry, articles, short stories… You can’t hone your craft without using it. God’s given you the desire and the ability. Take every opportunity you can to perfect it.

Number two, read. A lot. Find out what good writing is. Why did this best-selling novel stand out? What didn’t you like in that other novel? What would you do differently? Don’t copy anyone, but learn from their styles and develop your own. Every good writer is a student too. Don’t be afraid or too proud to learn from those who have gone before. Learn from their experience.

Number three, pray every time you sit down with pen, pencil or keyboard. What does God want you to write? Really look for His will. You might have a plan, but God’s is going to be better and ultimately more fulfilling.

Other than that, research your publishing options. There are plenty out there and not all are good. I spent thousands to publish the original version of “Victor” and was less than satisfied with the results. I pulled “Victor” off the market, revised a few things, and released it as “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” through a different publisher. This time I saved thousands and am much happier with the end result. Save yourself the heartache and do your research before you publish.

4.       Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

This is a long story. Let’s see if I can provide a Cliff’s Notes version. I walked away from God in my teenage years. I had a lot of anger, bitterness and hurt to work through. By the time I turned twenty-two in 1994 I was a depressed, suicidal alcoholic who expected to be dead or in prison by twenty-five. God put a young lady into my life at that time who invited me to church. At the time she’d asked, I’d hit rock bottom and had nothing left to lose.

I went with that young lady to Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, Wisconsin. I found a church that prayed and worshiped unashamedly, preached directly from the Word of God and welcomed me and all my issues with open arms. Over the next several months, I repented of my sins, was baptized by immersion in Jesus’ name and was filled with the Holy Ghost, just like we find in Acts chapter 2. God took a life that was completely hopeless, flipped it around and gave me a new and living hope.

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve been married to that lovely young lady since 1996. I have five beautiful kids, two boys and three girls. I’m part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic and have preached there since 2004. God has really done great things for me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

5.       Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My bookshelf is fairly diverse. Supernatural thrillers are my favorite, but I enjoy fantasy, mystery, westerns, a little bit of everything. I’m a big fan of Frank Peretti. I have a lot of Ted Dekker on my shelf. Robert Liparulo, Bryan Davis, and Mike Dellosso are also among the ranks.

6.       Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m just underway on “Brimstone,” the third book in my series. I’ve got a fourth in mind that should finish out the series, but I’m contemplating a series of short and very affordable ebooks, 20,000 words or so, featuring my characters at different points in their lives, telling new stories or letting readers see other sides of them.

7.       When did you start writing?

Oh, I don’t like math questions… (Laughs) Tenth grade. This would be… 1987-88. My English teacher had us write a journal. The first week we introduced a character, the next a second character. The third week was conflict, and so on. Most of my classmates wrote a sentence or two, a paragraph tops. I was writing pages. By the end of the year I had a 140-page handwritten epic, which really wasn’t very good, but I was hooked. At the end of the year my teacher told me, “Tony, you have one assignment for the summer. Get published.” I finally was in 2009. I hope she’s not mad that I’m late.

Tony Ross was born in Shawano, Wisconsin in 1972. In addition to full time factory work, Tony has been part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in nearby Clintonville since 2004. He was married in 1996 and has five children.

Tony does somehow still find time to write what he calls “thrillers for thinkers,” novels that not only entertain but invite the reader to contemplate deeper spiritual points. While a Christian thriller may seem like an oxymoron, Tony believes it’s all a matter of perspective

I want to thank Tony for allowing me to get to know him and for spending time with my readers.  If you want to learn more about him and his books you can check out his website here.

Author Interview with Carole McDonnell

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

Carole McDonnell

Today I would like to welcome author Carole McDonnell, author of the book The Constant Tower and the Wind Follower.

Thanks for allowing me to interview you Carol.  So tell us about your book. 

My newest release is The Constant Tower.  It’s Christian spec-fic.  It’s set on a planet where at the rise of the third moon, humans get tossed across the planet.  There are towers and longhouses, which have to contend with this problem and clans with different kinds of technology.  The theme is about being stuck in one’s tribe but the main plot is about a young prince who wants to please his father and flee his tribe.  But who can flee in a world like this?  Where would you go?

What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

The first was finishing it.  I tend to work on so many things all at once that actually finishing a project requires effort.  The second was my memory of my first book Wind Follower.  Folks either hated it or loved it.  They complained that it was too Christian or not Christian enough, or too complicated or too sexual.  It’s very hard to write a second book when the success of the first book is aways in your mind.

Any advice would you give new novelists?  

It depends on if you want to self-publish or not. If you are aiming to be published by a traditional publishing company, you have to write to please the editors and you have to fit into a specific niche.  If you self-publish, you can write whatever you want to.  However, the important thing is to write well.  Get a good group of friends who will critique you and be open to suggestions.

Tell us about your journey of faith. 

How did you become a Christian?  — I really don’t know.  My family loved Jesus, going to Church, and the Bible.  There was no time where I said, “I will be a Christian now.”  I was always a Christian, always loving the Bible since childhood.  But there are many times when I grew deeper in my commitment to and faith in Christ.

Constant TowerWho are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?  

The Bible, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, various British poets.  I read a lot of poetry and memoirs.

 Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m working on two novels, two non-fiction books, some short stories, and a screenplay. The novels are a contemporary Christian young adult novel called My Life as an Onion, an adult contemporary novel called The Daughters of Men. The non-fiction books are Blogging the Psalms, and A Fool’s Journey Through the Book of Proverbs.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?   

I always try to write about God’s love and about how cultural identification works with one’s faith.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Not really but I often write in a folklorist fairy-tale style.

How did you come up with the title?   

Wind Follower is about someone who follows God, who is the Breath of Life and the “Wind.”  The Constant Tower is about the search for the “constant tower” a place where one finds the true and constant God.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In the first novel, Wind Follower, I wanted to talk about the problem First Nations have because Christianity was often brought by imperialistic nations who had conquered them. The second novel, Constant Tower, is about how religious, racial, and tribal groups often argue with themselves when they should be battling the demonic world.  In addition, we are thinking of the wrong people as enemies, wasting our strength, being tools of the demonic, when the end of time is so near upon us.

How much of the book is realistic?

I often think Fantasy is realistic.  More realistic than mainstream novels which don’t show spiritual or supernatural issues, more realistic than Science Fiction which is a false hope because so many futuristic events and inter-planetary space flight probably will not happen before Jesus comes.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the events are based on my experiences but not that many.  In my contemporary WIP, however, there are many events that mirror my own life.  This has been a problem because it weighs down the story sometimes and I have to watch carefully lest I fill the book with grudges.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  

I wouldn’t change anything but I would probably add some new stuff or clarified a few things. This happens a lot because one keeps thinking about the characters and the world.  I would also have proofed it a bit more to get rid of the typos.

I want to thank Carole for spending time with us today.  If you are interested in learning more feel free to check her out her writings at the following links.

 Fantasy Novel, The Constant Tower

Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction ebook

spirit fruit book

Wind Follower, a Christian multicultural fantasy

 

What it is like to be a writer.

In On writing, Personal on January 14, 2014 at 5:38 am
Revision doesn't have to be hard.

Revision doesn’t have to be hard.

I was once asked what it was like to be a writer.  And though I would never presume to speak for all writers.  I can definitely comment on my own experience.

Writing my novel was a labor of love.  Honestly, I don’t know if I should put more emphasis on the labor or the love part of that statement.

It meant being alone a lot.  Thinking about how subject matter should and could be tackled.  It meant discovering what the Bible had to say about the subject I was writing and what level of creative license I would take to explore things the Biblical text did not address.

It meant envisioning a world that I had never seen but only heard and read about.  Creating personalities, as opposed to automatons.  Characters that you might emphasize with, laugh with, champion, and learn to hate. It meant creating a world that was simple enough that people could engage in and view the movie that played in my head.  It meant asking what was this characters conflict?  What could prevent them from achieving their goals.  Figuring out plot lines. Learning more about grammar.  Realizing my limitations and seeking out more information.  It meant writers block, trying to figure out what ‘writers block’ was, and learning to overcome it.  It meant being disciplined sometimes, and not others.  It meant counting words, and seeing if I progressed today.  Figuring how to transition between scenes, how long chapters should be.  If the verbiage sounded right, or not write at all.  It meant, reading my work so much that I got tired of reading it.  To write 5, even 10 pages of text, then realize its drivel, and to delete a days or more work.

That’s some of the labor part.

Writing a novel is bringing something from nothing into reality.  It is just a concept, an idea, but to finally hold the completed work in your hand.  It’s an awesome feeling.  It’s an awesome feeling when you go to the copyright offices website and register your book.  It’s an awesome feeling when you see the cover of your novel for the first time.  It’s an harrowing endeavor to hand it over to an editor and then get it back knowing that you have to remove scenes or other bits of dialogue that don’t make sense.

It’s a nerve wracking experience to send out query letters to agents, and essentially trying to sell them to “pick me!” “pick me!”.  It’s painful when your work is rejected.  And then making the decision to do it again.  And again…and again….and again.  It’s a sense of wow, now how do I get this in the hands of readers?  It’s the soberness that comes when you realize that, your book is but one book out of the millions on Amazon.  When you realize, you need to start a business if you want to actually sell the book.  That you are more than a writer.  You are an authorpreneur, a marketer, graphic design specialist, editor, publisher, lay out artist, publicist.   The revelation that the author hat is only one of a hydra of hats.

It’s exciting to see your name and have others see your book and say,” wow, you’re an author?”  Or “Did you write that?”  “Where can I get a copy?”  “What’s your book about?”  There is an inevitable smile that occurs when the statement or question is raised.

That’s some of the love part.

You are elated when you get a one page registration letter from the copyright office indicating that they have your book on file and it’s officially registered.  There is no greater feeling than when someone reads your book, and they tell you how exciting it was to read, or what they learned, or how amazed they were.  It hits you in the gut though when someone tells you it stinks.  If your like me in those moments you look then to some of your favorite writers and see that they too have bad reviews.  And then you accept the reality that you are indeed an author.  You’re not just a writer anymore.  But a published author.

You lament when you find errors you thought you had corrected, embarrassed over a plot hole that you can see but others can’t.  Cringe when someone tells you it’s not a book Christians should read. Then confused when other Christians love it and get exactly what you were writing at.  It’s then that you realize that you have moved beyond your comfort zone of your own world, into the big world of…well the world.

You are excited over every blog post comment, interaction with readers, more and more you get it.  You are constantly reminded why you wrote the book.  You look at sales numbers.  You learn how to market.  You make connections that help strengthen you and your team that assists you.  You wonder where family and friends are or not in talking about your endeavors.  You make new friends and associates.

You learn how much to talk about your book without crossing the line of bragging or spamming or being inordinate in the accomplishment and promotion of your work.  You wonder if you’re me how to balance scriptural principles you’ve learned with the business of promotion.

You stretch, you live, you cry, you wait…you do a lot of waiting.

You learn a lot about people, yourself, and the business. And when no one else is looking.  When all eyes are not looking at you.  You sit silently behind your keyboard, hearing the clitty tap, sound of your keys while you quickly attempt to place on ‘paper’ the rapidly developing pictures and dialogue that is flooding your mind and which sometimes you can’t get out of your head fast enough.  You backspace, and try not to edit, and then sometimes you do, but the words, nouns, and verbs leap off the page screaming for you to allow them to live, to tell the next story.  To be part of the next piece of creative written prose given to you.  They scream with every stroke of deletion, lamenting in anguish that they have failed to be apart of the creative world you are imagining.  Yet others are arranged in such a way that they collectively sing in choral praise, excited to be brought forth into the world.

And that’s what its like to be a author.

And then you do it all over again.

 

D

An Interview with Christian Fiction Historical author Allison Kohn

In On writing on October 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

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So So today I’d like to take the time to introduce Allison Kohn.  I had the privilege of meeting Allison on Goodreads.com

Allison describes herself as “a seventy-four year old woman who has been through muddy waters and over steep mountains and knows how to show others the way in an interesting and entertaining way.”

So tell us about your book Allison. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

Evelyn’s anxious Bench is the first in the Baker family saga. It tells the story of Jonathan Baker’s extended family’s departure from their luxurious homes in Maryland with all the servants and other amenities – like bathrooms – to help blaze a trail through the untamed country between Independence, Mo. and the west coast.   Jonathan Baker had a strong personality and when he got the manifest destiny bug, he expected his children and their spouses to pick up their children and follow him into the unknown. The story focuses on his oldest daughter, Evelyn. She is the last of his children to give in to his desire and she doesn’t like it one bit, but she is determined to be a “good woman” so she puts on her martyr’s bonnet and does her best.

Why did I write it? I was responsible for the unmarried adults in our church and they were reading novels full of things not listed in that “whatsoever things are pure…” guideline for walking in the light.  Writing has always been second nature to me, so I decided adults needed to read things “…of good report” as the guidebook says; and the adventures of the Baker family and their part in manifest destiny would make exciting, romantic reading.

Sounds like you were looking for a way to do ministry.  What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

For me, the greatest challenge was a lack of technology. I wrote on notepaper with a pencil – my first typewriter was an old pharmacy model. Rejection was the next biggest challenge. I sent in my first pharmacy typewritten copy to Zondervan in the early eighties. I got a three page letter back and was so ignorant about the process; I threw it away and had a good cry. What I should have done was made the suggested changes and sent it back.

Four books are quite a number to have under your belt.  What advice would you give new novelists?

Don’t give up, of course.  A good editor is a must, but you better be a good editor yourself too, because it’s your book and your editor is human – and humans make mistakes. I have also advised authors to get a writer’s thesaurus with a language guide in the back and spend time with the guide.

So I of course have to ask about your faith.  How did you become a Christian?

That’s a long story. My mother was sure about God and she made me pretty sure about him, but when I asked her why Jesus died on that old rugged cross, she said she didn’t know – to her, it seemed like a stupid thing for him to do. Years later, during 4th and 5th grades, I went to a Mennonite school where a friend led me in the sinner’s prayer and explained that I should cover my head with my hands when I prayed – since I didn’t have a prayer cap and she was pretty sure my mother wouldn’t let me wear one.  I didn’t remember the prayer, but I remembered the thing about covering my head with my hands when I prayed. When that didn’t seem to be getting through, I tried prostrating myself – but that didn’t work either. I asked a Baptist if being baptized would help. He said, no, I didn’t have to be baptized to be saved, but he wasn’t sure what a person did have to do.

By that time I was seventeen years old and I had an asthma attack and had to stay home alone. I got my mother’s Bible – she never read it, it was important to her, but she said it contradicted itself, so she kept it dusted and cherished it but never opened it. I looked up to the ceiling and said, God if you’re there, mama says this is your word, so use it to speak to me and show me how to know I am going to heaven when I die. Then I let the Bible fall open in my hand to wherever it would. Well, I’d been to Sunday school enough so I’d heard about the serpent of Moses’ and when the bible fell open to the third chapter of John where Jesus explained to Nicodemus about that snake on the pole being a picture of Jesus dying on the cross, it all became clear and I jumped and shouted for joy. I didn’t have to do anything, Jesus did it all for me.  A few months later we got a lot of books from my aunt with a Bible in the lot. I started reading and fell in love with God. That was 58 years ago and the love has grown exponentially through the years.

What a wonderful testimony.  Do you any favorite authors and or books you like to read?

While I was going to that Mennonite school, I discovered Grace Livingston hill and have read her over and over again through the years. Recently I discovered Eugene Peterson, Glen beck, Fred Herron, P.L. Gaus, Nancy Mehl, and a assortment of new Indie authors with Paula Rose Michelson in the front.

Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I have written four of the Baker family saga books and am working on the fifth. I am going back over the first four and re-edit them, and, if necessary, re-publish. That’s the best thing about self-publishing. The writer has complete control of fixing the errors.

When did you start writing?

I have dyslexia and am left handed, so it wasn’t until I was twelve years old I learned how to deal with both well enough to read and write well. Before that I told stories. When I discovered the Bible’s many treasures, I started writing commentaries and sermons; but there was always the Baker family in the background, waiting to be written about.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

The fifth book in the Baker family saga is set in the south during the civil war and features Linda Baker, Jonathan’s youngest son’s youngest child. She is a strong willed young lady visiting her cousin when war breaks out. She is quite outspoken about her allegiance to the north, which causes a lot of trouble. Things escalate from there.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Since the library was my home away from home for many years, and I got the chance to do a little traveling along the Oregon Trail, there was no problem till I could no longer drive, walk well, or see well – but there are always ways to overcome every obstacle.

Than you Allison for sharing with us today.  I especially appreciate the pointers from another writer. May you have great success!

For those interested in Christian Fiction in the historical /romance genre you can find Allison’s book here