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It by Stephen King

Reader Review: Sometimes it’s great to reread a book that’s been out for a while, or discover it for the first time. 🙂

Author:                Stephen King
Title:                    It
Pages:                 1090

Version:              Paperback

Genre:                 Horror

Publisher:            Signet

Reviewer:            Michael

 

Evil happens in small town Derry, Maine when seven 6th graders go up against an entity. To some, this entity appears as a clown, and to others their own worst nightmare. It feeds on their fears. Then, after twenty-eight years of success, these individuals have to face it again. Will they be able to escape the horrors from their past?

In my opinion, this is Stephen King’s best novel. What compelled me to continue reading was the way the characters were portrayed, the sacrifice, and the pure evil of the villain. King’s flashbacks are seamless. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an intriguing read.

WD’s Editorial Note: For writers looking to learn how to write flashbacks, this is a great novel to study.

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Writer’s Wednesday Guestblogger: New Author Greta Buckle

I’m happy to introduce new author, Greta Buckle, as our guest today. I met Greta through Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research. We’ve worked together on several projects, and it was a real pleasure for me to work with her on today’s feature novel, Mything You. It’s been a pure joy to get to know her and watch her grow as a writer. Please welcome Greta!

Greta Buckle grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, then in law. After realizing she hates clients, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is fun, but writing is her passion. She wrote one hundred and one fan fiction stories online before deciding to transition into writing her own stories. Never ask her about republishing her fan stories from age eleven- horribly written stories of princesses. Greta dreams of writing full-time, where her barista can make her coffee, and a walk on the beach can motivate her tales. The ‘Theseus’ story came to her when she was a freshman in high school when her English teacher, a nun, told her how life was hard and tragedy teaches lessons. The sci-fi stories come from years of Star Trek and Star Wars fandom. Greta’s love of writing has kept her centered and focused. How is she crazy? The voices in her head are characters in novels, and she’s not insane. Visit her website at: http://gretabuckle.com/

What event/person made you interested in writing? 

There wasn’t one event, exactly. I spent years and years writing fan fiction as a mental release. I wanted to tell stories not seen on TV. What happened to me to write full length novels was a realization. I was unhappy with my life, and no book told the story I wanted to see. I was so tired of not reading the story I wanted to read, then I realized why not write your own? I wrote it, finished, then asked myself what do I do now? This set off my interest in pursuing more. Do you know my eighth grade class in the yearbook voted I would most likely be a writer? My reaction then was to go home and cry. In my head I thought writers lived in the fortress of solitude like Superman’s home and never got to go outside. Such a strange reaction! I giggle over this now.

What made you interested in the Greek myths?

My family are nerds. My sister and brother had an argument in the ancient ruins of Rome over the Latin translation they were both doing there. At the dinner table we might discuss who killed who during the French Revolution. And, my father is a huge history and science fiction fan. Unlike most of my friends, I tended to know every story in the Bible and myths. Plus I took a class on the classics in high school. Either way, I’m a nerd and I love the stories.

What was your inspiration for Mything You?

I came home from a writers’ conference in Chicago, then I saw an open call for stories on Ancient Athens or Rome. They were looking for dark and gritty with more sex, so it wasn’t like my novel at all. Unlike the 50 Shades novels, I won’t write what I don’t feel. I was pumped from the conference, and the thoughts of the Ancient world had me buzzing. I penned the outline. I wrote the first chapter. Then I watched a movie starring Theseus to confirm… no my story is nothing like that movie at all. Good. At that point, I penned the story. I wanted to retell an ancient myth as a romance, and, of course, the characters had to be young. Theseus is in search of his father, and thirty year old men aren’t looking for adventure the same way a newly turned man is. In my rendition, love helps him win everything.

Tell us about your characters–Theseus and Ariande. How did you come up with these characters? Were your characters–the way they act in your novel– inspired by anyone specifically?

I wish I knew someone on an epic adventure. I’d have joined them. In my head I saw Theseus as an Indiana Jones, or Prince of Persia type character. The man on his journey, larger than life action hero intrigues me and grabs my attention. He’s on a mission, and will accomplish his goals.

Ari had to be strong-willed in order to keep up with Theseus. She was not to be weak and she’s not going to kill herself because a man might leave her. Vulnerable, yet strong. Not just the hero must save her girlfriend, but she’s not the kick butt, doesn’t need a man because she’s strong and hard either. Guess I was going for Drew Barrymore type in Charlie’s Angels, which is hard to mix. She’s strong yet soft.

What else can you share about yourself personally?

I worked from high school, through college, and after in the Engineering department of a major company. In high school, I made the photo copies of the plats. Talk about bored! I decided to go to law school. Think Legally Blond, though I’m not blond. In school, I thrived. I tutored people on course work. Then I had to get a job in the legal field. I had to meet clients… with problems…eww. Yes, I met interesting people, and I met lawyers who worked their entire lives, giving eighty hours a week, to Lady Justice and the reward was a huge alcohol bill and a lonely life. I couldn’t live like that either. So, again, I quit, and became a teacher. While teaching is a rewarding job, it’s not everything I want. Writing is the one constant in my life.

I have a cat, and his name is Anakin Skywalker though he’s yet to display any evil tendencies, at all. I’m excited about the Disney merger and new Star Wars movies.

I’m not married, no children, etc. But I do have two parents, two sisters and a brother. One sister has read my stuff, but the rest of the family hasn’t. I love my family, but I always call them the crazy Scorpio nest. Everyone but me, the exception, are all water signs, mostly Scorpios. I’m the odd one in the family. But if anyone knows Scorpios, you know they are intense. Growing up in that household meant living in a constant state of defensive warfare. Shouldn’t shock anyone I’ve turned to writing.

What is your plan for future novels?

Writing has taken over my life. Let’s see I’m penning a sci-fi short, which Brittiany, my editor, doesn’t know about yet. I always wanted to write my own version of Star Trek, but for that to happen you must have a ship full of interesting characters.

I’m writing a sequel right now for Haemon and Antigone. If anyone is familiar with the classics, I will state now, Antigone will not die. I never thought she should have. I’m mixing Antigone and Haemon’s love story with the original tragedy and the Seven Against Thebes myths. Add in a love story. Minus out the tragedy, and I’ve set up a nice war for a city state.

But what I’m really excited about is how we’re getting to work on my contemporary fantasy mixing in the Greek Gods to modern age, with a science fiction, Ancient Aliens angle. One epic bad guy. Seven love stories that must be told to break a curse and restore powers. This is the story that made me want to write. It started with the question, what if you were a god or had super powers, but you never knew it? You lived an ordinary life, never accessing your potential.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

This is a hard question. I read so many throughout the years. This is the equivalent of ‘the what’s your favorite movie’ question. My dad worked for Warner Brothers before I was born. I’ve seen thousands and read even more than that. If I state Julia Quinn, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, I skip a hundred more.

Thank you, Greta, for sharing with us today! If you’d like to leave a comment for her, she’ll be checking in throughout the day. Thank you!

 

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Naming Characters

E. Tip of the Week:

A name is a great way to add more depth/backstory to a character’s background. Usually when an author uses a name of foreign origin, there’s a reason and a backstory that goes with it. For instance, using the name Nikita: perhaps Nikita’s family roots are Slavic and her mother wanted her to have a traditional Slavic name even though her family lives in the U.S. To learn more about her family roots and the meaning of her name, Nikita might explore the region where her ancestors once lived. This could be a journey she might not otherwise take, but because of her name’s origin, she’s curious.

Another way to add more depth to your character is by making their name an unusual spelling. My parents named me Brittiany, with an extra “i” in there. I have a few theories why my mother spelled my name differently–one of them being she just wanted my name to be special.

However, using a different spelling can sometimes lead to confusion with your readers. They may not know how to pronounce the name in their head, and could stumble upon it, taking them out of the story. So, be very cautious when using an unusual spelling. A lot of people pronounce my name Brit-ti-a-nee because of that extra ‘i’. It’s just Brit-nee.

I get questions like “Did you realize there’s an extra ‘i’ in your name?” all the time. “Yes,” I tell them. “I’m aware, and thank you for spelling my name correctly.” I’ve yet to meet someone with the exact spelling of my name.

But a unique name can be a great ice-breaker. I love the story I can share with people when I meet them for the first time, and they ask me about my name. 🙂

To find a unique character name, go to a baby names website, or get a few baby names books from the library. Find a name that has the meaning of what you’re trying to portray for the character. You might be surprised at what you find. Good luck!

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Thanksgiving

Because today is the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to take a moment and focus on something that is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve always believed family comes first, before anything else. My family supported me when I married, had my children, and now as I enter into my second year as the owner of Written Dreams. I’m thankful for their support, their love, and their never-ending belief in me. I’m thankful for Lara and Susan, my editing partners, and for all the writers and publishers that have sent work our way this year to help make Written Dreams a success.

This Thanksgiving will be my first holiday without my son home. He’ll be staying at campus, but will be home for Christmas. It’s a tough thing, emotionally, for me. Something I’ve never had to deal with before. Those few special days out of the year–holidays–that have become a tradition in our home of gathering together and being thankful for our health, our family, a roof over our heads, food on the table–those moments are very important to me. My extended family will be gathering together, my girls, and my handsome hubby. We’ll be eating sweet potatoes, turkey, dressing (my sister-in-law makes the best dressing), homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, venison (avid deer hunters in my family), pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate pie, ham roll ups, and so much more. There’s never a lack of food at my brother’s home. And I’m thankful we’ll be gathering together as a family to enjoy the feast.

But for some people, it’s been a long, rough year. Most recently, with some writers, agents, and publishing houses dealing with the effects of Storm Sandy, and being displaced from their homes and offices. Some just recently being able to get back into their homes, some with no homes to get back to at all. Still finding the courage inside to go on–to write, to agent, to edit, to do whatever needs to be done to continue putting out the books on schedule. When I’m gathering together with my own family, I’ll be saying a prayer for those friends I know that are struggling, for good things to come their way, and hope their families are safe.

If you’re feeling generous this holiday season, your gift towards helping the people recover from the storm would be appreciated: http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

Thank you. We hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

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Please Clarify…Please Clarify…Really, I Need More Clarification Here

E. Tip of the Day: Clarification

When an editor says, “Please clarify,” or “More details are needed here,” or “Clarify the reasoning here” what does it mean exactly?

Every editor is different, with varying opinions on what needs clarification in any specific story. As an editor, I tend to look at this way: if I’m confused about what is happening in a story, there’s something wrong, and that something needs to be fixed. Immediately.

Why? The fast answer: Because it’s not a good thing to alienate and confuse the readers. 🙂

As an author, what can you do to understand better what the editor is trying to tell you? Listen. Ask questions. Ask your editor to clarify to you what they need more details about, if it’s not clear in the comments they’ve made in your manuscript. Ultimately, what they’re telling you, is there’s not enough details being conveyed to the reader in order for the reader to understand what is happening in the story. If the reader is confused, that’s not good. So, when an editor mentions clarifying an area, whether it’s setting, eye color, or something happening in the plot, you should stand up and take notice. And then, find a solution that fits both your needs as the author, and the reader’s needs for understanding.

Here’s a cheat sheet–in my opinion–of areas that usually need clarification and how they can be addressed. And please, keep in mind, every novel is different, so some areas in a story may be more important to clarify than others.

1) If the comment is made on dialogue and is something the reader is explaining that happened, ask yourself: how much does this comment pertain to the overall plot? If my ending will be unaffected by anything I add to the story, how important is it that I add more details (in this specific place)? Or, is this something that can be cleared up later?

2) If the comment is made on setting, and the setting is as much a character as the rest of the cast of characters, it’s probably a good idea to make sure what is being conveyed makes sense. Ask yourself literally–maybe even by making a drawing of a chicken’s scratches map–if I took this route, would I get to my destination?

3) If the comment is made on your character’s personality, in my opinion, that’s a biggie. If your characters are inconsistent, it’ll make your novel a much more difficult read. The story is all about the characters, and when it comes down to it, is the reason why the readers are reading the story. So, ask yourself, why is my character acting this way here? How are they acting differently than in the previous chapter? Why is it important for them to act this way, or can I have them act more like themselves, and still get my point across?

Make your revisions based on your best judgements. Take time to read your work out loud after the revisions have been made. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, not having any of the back story in their heads before they begin reading. If you’re still confused, and the editor is unhappy with your choice of clarifying on the revisions, it might be time to a) find a new editor, or b) do a self-evaluation on your writing style. It’s important to work with an editor who understands where you as an author are coming from, and what the story is at heart that you’re trying to tell. Editors are there to help the process, not hinder it. 🙂

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Reader Reviews!

Captured by a Cowboy by Jean Barrett:

Captured by a Cowboy is one of those stories that actually transports you to the Old Wild West, making you feel like you’re there with the characters. The main characters play off one another nicely, each having their own mysterious background and internal conflicts. This story is an all-around fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

–Sabrena

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Writer’s Wednesday: Introducing Cheryl Yeko

Today our special guest is Cheryl Yeko. Cheryl is relatively new to the publishing world and wanted to share her experiences. She is a Wisconsin author. Visit Cheryl’s website at: http://www.cherylyeko.com/ or contact her through the social media sites: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectingRose, Twitter: https://twitter.com/cherylyeko, or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5406425.Cheryl_Yeko

My writing journey was swift and exhilarating, and my head is still spinning. My life quickly immersed into the world of writing. I love it! But, there have been surprises and setbacks along the way.

When I was younger, I devoured romance novels. My problem was that once I started a novel, I found it impossible to put it down until I reached the happily-ever-after. As such, as life’s struggles crept in, I found the time spent reading was interfering with work and family. I went cold turkey, and stopped reading novels altogether. A decision I now sometimes regret, but it is what it is. Whatchagonna do?

Then a few years back, my husband bought me a Kindle and I rediscovered my love of all things romance. My children are grown so I now found the time to read. Two years later, I finally came up for air and decided to try to write a novel. So, I checked out some books from the library, signed up for some online classes and began my manuscript on PROTECTING ROSE. I spent the next eight months writing my novel. When I had finished it, I was clueless on what to do next. I found the local RWA group in Milwaukee and joined. I also joined a critique group, which I think is an essential writing tool.

That’s when I realized I had written my novel in a passive voice, instead of an active voice. A newbie mistake that most new writers make. I spent three months fixing this issue, as well as tweaking overused words and learning the ‘romance’ language. I even entered my WIP (work in progress) in some contests, receiving some really nice feedback, and finaled in the 2011 Launching a Star Contest. I submitted PROTECTING ROSE to three publishers, and received two offers. The coolest thing I’ve learned is that the very weakness that caused me to stop reading romance novels years ago, is now my greatest strength. My muse is always active.

PROTECTING ROSE won the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. What a thrill! I was hopeful that the New York Times bestselling list was next. LOL! Well, color me naïve.… But, it was still awesome to be recognized by my peers! PROTECTING ROSE was released in paperback in October, so, we’ll see how that goes. I have to say, it is really cool to hold a book in my hand that I wrote, and I’m looking forward to conducting some book signings in the near future.

PROTECTING ROSE has garnered some nice attention, and I’ve actually grown a decent fan base, but it still tends to get lost in cyberspace among the many, many other novels offered on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I had no concept of all the marketing activities being an author would entail, and I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around that. But, if you don’t market your books, you can expect your novel to fall into the novel wasteland. Isn’t that a song? If not, it should be!

My latest release A MAN TO TRUST is based on a double murder trial that I sat on as a juror last summer. Of course, the romance is totally made up, but the details of the crime are based on what I learned over the two weeks of trial. I plan to market more strategically and consistently from here on out! No. really, I mean it ;>)

The characters in A MAN TO TRUST are loosely based on individuals involved in the case as well. I built a romance between the lead detective on the case, and the widow of one of the murdered drug dealers. How fun is that!

This is the second book, in a series of three. The first, PROTECTING ROSE, was my debut novel and released last December. A MAN TO TRUST came out October 24th this year. My third novel planned for this series is Rick and Sheila’s story, (no title yet) who are both characters from PROTECTING ROSE. Rick is also in A MAN TO TRUST. My plan is to complete the arc and bring all the characters together one last time. This time, Rick gets the girl!

Thank you, Cheryl, for being our guest today! If you have questions or comments for Cheryl, she’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

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Motivation to Write

E.Tip of the Day: Finding motivation.

Need it? You know, motivation?

Close your eyes for a moment. Just a moment, or you won’t be able to read the blog. 🙂 Think back to the earliest memory you have of writing a story. What did it feel like when you put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard. Sitting there, letting the thoughts flow. It didn’t matter if they made sense or not, it just mattered that you were writing. Being creative with your inner spirit. It was such a free feeling, being able to express yourself with words. It was exhilarating. It was emotional. It was breathtaking. Do you remember?

It’s there inside you. 🙂

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Creating Characters Not Like You

Every Monday, writers can now look forward to starting their writing week right with an inspirational writing exercise! We’re starting with something everyone is familiar with–character building. 🙂

1)     One problem many writers encounter is how to create characters that are significantly different from themselves.  Sure, the character may be a nineteenth century male archeologist excavating in Egypt, and the author a hometown girl who has never left the state she was born in, but does that character react like its creator when angry?  Frustrated?  Joyous?  Successful?  An exercise I’ve found helpful is to consider a specific situation or problem in my own life, write briefly about how I handled it, and then put my character in the same situation and consider how he or she would handle it, concentrating on the differences between us…and making sure there are some!   I often discover qualities and emotions I didn’t realize my character possessed doing this exercise. 

 

For example, I have a character who is an adolescent girl confronted with a very strange young man who, while not violent or overtly threatening, is either from another dimension or mentally disturbed.  As a fifteen year old in a similar situation, I was very polite, very shy, and very scared: how do I get out of here as quickly as possible without hurting anybody’s feelings?  My character is also scared, but feeling even slightly threatened leaves her confrontational and unconcerned with being polite, or with getting the heck out of there.  She is, for the moment, ready to stay and make her points clearly. 

When and how do you and your character react differently? How would your own character react?

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Actions Speaks Louder Than Words…Especially in Fiction

E.Tip of the Day: Everyone’s heard the expression, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Actions do speak louder, especially in fiction. Which scenes do you remember better from books you’ve read? Where characters are showing how they live their lives. Exploring, building, cleaning, fighting, saving someone’s life, or protecting their own, etc.

Scenes with action should draw the reader in, put them on the edge of their seat (if written correctly) and engage the reader with the story. Although inner thoughts and exposition is needed to show some details of the story, the actions of the characters will be –in most cases– more memorable in the reader’s mind. So, as you’re writing this week, think about what you’ve done in your life, and which actions you’ve taken to show what type of person you are personally. Then, take it those memories a step further with your writing. Show what your characters are doing, and what makes them stand out. Use the five senses to explore, and describe their actions.  And most of all, have fun with it! 🙂