Interview with Charles DuPuy, author of Say The Word

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Charles DuPuy about his new release, Say the Word. The novel is currently available to purchase here on the Written Dreams website. Come learn a little more about his heart-pounding, tear-jerking mystery as Charles shares his process with us!

About Say The Word

When physician assistant Jim Booker “saves” the life of a Mafia don’s son, the young man’s father makes him a solemn promise. Jim remembers it when he runs into an intolerable situation at Serenity, a substance abuse treatment facility in Maine.

The resulting consequences of the don’s actions threaten to land Jim in prison for the rest of his life. He struggles to come up with something, anything that will clear his name. He is helped along the way by Brianna, a counselor who works with Jim at Serenity. They join forces to try and get the tenacious state police detective off their backs, but they’ll face numerous obstacles along the way as Jim tries to prove his innocence.

The Interview

Q: What made you want to write a physician’s assistant type character for Say the Word?
A: I was a physician assistant in Maine for many years. I drew on my experience at a substance abuse treatment program for the background to Say the Word.

Q: What is your connection to Maine?
A: I moved to Maine after becoming a physician assistant in 1983. My first exposure to Maine was as a camp counselor while in college. I have hunted, fished, camped and hiked throughout the state, and enjoyed fishing for lobsters and digging clams. Maine is larger than all the other New England states put together, and it’s chock full of things to do and places to go.

Q: Any words of advice on how to cope for people who have dark demons like abuse or addiction in their lives?
It’s a waste of time and money to offer advice to people who are addicted to one or more substances. They need to reach the point in their lives where the only direction to go is up, and they’re willing to go in that direction. Without their willingness to change, any effort to help them is a waste of time, sad to say.

As for people who have suffered abuse, be it physical, sexual or psychological, a willingness to get past it is key. The most important thing they need to understand is that the abuse was not their fault. Many abused people blame themselves for what happened. That is what keeps them suffering.

Q: Why mystery? Did you find it, or did it find you?
I’ve always loved a good mystery, so writing them came naturally to me. Keeping my readers wondering what’s going to happen next is very satisfying to me. It’s the spark that keeps me writing.

Q: Words of advice to an aspiring young author?
Read everything that interests you, write daily in a diary or a journal, and explore everything in your world. Keep doing it until you know who you are and what you want to say. Then write, write, write until most of what you write satisfies you. Don’t expect everything you write to satisfy you. That’s why good writers edit and rewrite.

Q: Who do you enjoy reading?
I read to learn and to be entertained, so I read a wide range of stuff. Naturally, mysteries grab me the most. It’s likely that Edgar Allan Poe got me started, and Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and William Golding caught my eye. Contemporary writers include Lee Child, Dan Brown, Stuart Woods, James W. Hall, Dean Koontz, and yes, Stephen King, a fellow-Mainer. I’m constantly on the lookout for new blood, pun intended!

The Truth About Writing Your First Novel

Writing takes a lot of determination, patience, and hard work. A lot of people who aren’t in the publishing industry don’t realize this, so if you want to be a professional writer, realize it’s going to take a lot of time. To begin with, you need to spend a lot of time reading. Reading about the craft, reading novels in the genre you want to write in, reading books that are outside of your target genre. Read everything!

Next, you’ll want to write a short outline to give you a map of the beginning, middle, and end of your story. For some people, it’s difficult to write a 20 page outline. The type of outline I suggest for new writers are much simpler for writing a novel. Here’s an example:

Chapter 1: write 2 sentences about the main action to take place in Chapter 1 and 1 sentence about which character will be introduced.

Chapter 2: write 2 sentences about the main action to take place in Chapter 2 and 1 sentence about which character will be introduced.

And so on until you get to Chapter 20, or the end. Some simple outlines might have up to 60 chapters. Ultimately, that’s up to you and your editor.

Next, after you’ve written this very brief outline–your novel path, if you will–write one of the scenes. It doesn’t have to be the scene from chapter 1. Write whatever comes to mind. Figuring out where the scenes go can come later, if need be. The point is to write. Write when you’re in different moods–happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed. All of these emotions need to get out and onto the page. Don’t be afraid.

You’ll want to decide which point of view you feel most comfortable writing in–1st person, 3rd person, or another viewpoint. If you don’t understand viewpoints, read what other successful writers say about writing in the viewpoints of their choosing. Then, make a decision.

Write every day for at least 1 hour, if you can. Write 100 words, 1000 words, or 10, 000 words–whatever your schedule allows for. Be consistent–writing at the same time every day, six days a week. Take 1 day off to rest and brainstorm.

If you’re writing a fiction novel, you’ll need to write between 60,000 -90,000 words. Don’t get discouraged if it takes 1 year or more to write your first novel. Writing takes time to do.

And the most important thing to remember, don’t revise now. Just write your first draft until you get it done. You’ll have lots of time to review and revise, add new chapters, new characters, and different plot twists later.

Good luck and happy writing!

Learning your craft

Every author wants to improve their craft. Here’s a few tips on what to do.

Write a lot. Write on a schedule. Write different things, different forms, different stories. One editor used to say to set a goal of writing one short story a week. If you do that, at the end of the year you’ll have 52 short stories you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

If it’s early in your arc as a writer, by the end of the first year, none of those 52 stories are likely to sell, but during that year you will have learned a lot about the art and craft of writing. And probably learned a lot about yourself as a writer.

Keep with that schedule, and at the end of the second year, you’ll have written over one hundred stories. By this point, you may have produced a few stories that have a good chance of selling and learned more about writing than you’ll ever learn in any sort of writing program.

Read a lot. Read different genres, different formats, by different authors. If you write mystery, read romance. If you write humorous, read serious stories. Pick apart the story, analyze the characters, their actions, their emotions. Are they realistic?

And most of all, don’t stress the small stuff. Writing should be fun, fulfilling, and something you enjoy doing. If you’re struggling with a story, set it aside and start something new.

Don’t Stress The Small Stuff

E. Tip of the Week: Don’t stress the small stuff. It’s okay to ask for help.

                                Two Contest Drawings!

Writing a synopsis or query letter can be difficult. Instead of stressing about it, let us help you. This month, send us your query letter or synopsis that you’ve  been struggling with writing, and we’ll enter your name into a hat. On Dec. 21st, a winner will be chosen for a Query Letter Edit. That winner will receive a free edit on their query letter.

On Dec. 28th, we’ll choose another winner for a Synopsis Edit.

Emails can be sent to contest@writtendreams.com. One winner will be chosen randomly for each contest.

For more details about writing a great synopsis, read the blog post by Dorothy McFalls on The Editing Essentials from July 11th, 2012.

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!

Writer’s Wednesday: Bryan Thomas Schmidt And Writing For Children

BTS & Friend

Today, we’d like to welcome Bryan Thomas Schmidt to The Editing Essentials! Bryan is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel,The Worker Prince (2011) received an Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Book Club’s Year’s Best SF releases in 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012. The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books are 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He  has also edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA. Visit his website at: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/

Making the transition from writing adult novels to children’s books can be challenging. There are both advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Vocabulary, plotting, descriptions, dialogue–so many aspects must be simpler, depending on the age group targeted for the book. But children are the most enthusiastic audiences (usually), much more so than adults. Their eyes light up when you’re introduced as an author and when you read to them. They look at the silliest illustrations with utter seriousness and laugh at the jokes with gusto, even when they’re mildly amusing ones. Here are some of the considerations authors have to consider in making the switch.

Advantages: Enthusiastic, eager readers and parents used to buying lots of entertainment for their kids at all kinds of prices. If your book has educational or historical elements, all the better. Then they feel even better about buying it. And if readers fall in love with you young, they may grow up and follow you from kid’s books to adult books. So, in a way, you’re helping raise your long term audience.

Children’s books are shorter and illustrated so it’s fun to see your story come to life in visual ways, and you can also write more books in less time. The advances are often larger than those for novels, depending on the writer, reputation and how much they like the plot or series. The market for children’s books is good.

But the biggest advantage for me has been creative freedom. Suspension of disbelief is a lot easier for kids than adults. You can posit many things to kids that they’ll accept which adults would demand more evidence of. For example, in my Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter series, 9 year old Abe and Davy Crockett are sent back in time with two others by accident. Coming up with complex time travel theory was unnecessary. Being accurate with which dinosaurs and plants lived in which geography and proximity was not so important. As long as the names and basic facts match science and history, you can provide education and entertainment at the same time while having a lot of fun writing it. These books are some of the funnest stories I’ve gotten to write. I mean, how often do you get to write scenes with Abe Lincoln narrating Davy Crockett wrestling a saber-toothed tiger and fighting off bears and T-Rexes? As Mike Resnick put it, “Not often enough.” It’s a blast!

Disadvantages: Kids learn fast but appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures/length are a concern. The general rule is to not have sentences with more than two more words than the age of the oldest child in the age range of the intended audience. Writers and publishers fudge this though, because so many kids vary in their development cycle. A second grader can be reading at a sixth grade level and will want more complicated books and so on. This makes it easier for the writer on vocabulary, but harder on audience pitch because sometimes two friends whose reading is not at the same level can’t share books like they might want to. Disappointing children and parents is always disappointing, especially when you did your best.

A similar issue is dealing with description and nuances. Kids at different intellectual levels but the same age will understand things differently. Keep it too straight and simple, you bore the more developed children. Go the opposite way, you lose the less developed ones. On top of that, some kids handle violence and intense content better than others. So you have to write in a way that lets them off the hook in the right amount of time to avoid creating trauma or unnecessary fear for your readers. This often means altering your writing style in other ways. Also, schools and parents will evaluate content for a book based on varied criteria. So you have to leave out grittier elements which adults may take for granted and be very meticulous in choosing words and phrases, etc.

In truth, writing children’s books helps me write more clearly for adults. It also allows me to think and play outside the box, which keeps me fresh and happy and energized when I dive back into my novels. Plus, I have yet to see many adult reader’s faces light up the same way kid reader’s faces do when I show up for a reading or signing. And the hugs, well, they’re better than chocolate (or close). Writing for kid’s has taken me back to the age of wonder I had as a creative child, making up stories. It’s given me a chance to revisit old favorite authors and books. And it’s also encouraged me to write the kinds of stories I never would have dared otherwise. All in all, not such a bad thing, when you’re a writer.

Thank you, Bryan, for being here today and giving us great tips on writing for children! Please feel free to ask Bryan questions today. Thank you!

 

 

 

Just Write…Anything

E.Tip of the Day: Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of concerns from writers about how hard it is for them to stay motivated to write. Having that urge to put forth great stories and strong characters continuously can be daunting at times. Asking for help can be even tougher. Writing is a lonely occupation after all. Or is it?

Yes, writing can be lonely but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re struggling with getting words on the page for a week or two, or more, let us know. We’ll help motivate you to getting the right words on the page again. That’s what we’re here for. That’s part of the reason Written Dreams was formed. 🙂

Motivation to some people can be a no-brainer. If you want to do something, than do it. Clear. Concise. And to the point. No complaining. No wondering. Task complete. Simple, right?

No, not quite. Writing is a craft, and with every craft comes the need for creativity. Without that creativity you end up having a flat, life-less story. But, what most writers don’t realize is it’s okay to have a little flatness. It’s okay to write something horrible. It’s okay to stay on the page typing random letters and numbers once in a while. And it’s okay to write something that you will toss out later. Because the important thing here really, is that you’re writing–whether it makes sense or not every day is not important. If you have to get through a few hours of writing a story of silly, random made-up words, you might look at the screen and think you’re nuts. You’re not nuts. Really, you’re not. And just the act of writing something unconventional will motivate you. Try it, and see. 🙂

If you’d like more info on our Coaching services, please see the Coaching Tab on our website under Services. We’re happy to help in any way we can with furthering your writing career! 🙂

 

Writer’s Wednesday, Author Peg Herring Shares Tips On Writing A Series

Today we welcome author, Peg Herring, to The Editing Essentials! The first book of Peg’s I read was MacBeth’s Niece, a very enjoyable story. Thank you, Peg, for joining us today!

Peg Herring is the award-winning writer of three series and several standalones. A former educator, she lives in Michigan with her long-time husband. They often go traveling, much to the disgust of their cats, Trouble and Alice, who are left at home to guard the place. Visit Peg’s website at http://pegherring.com or her Amazon page, Amazon.com: Peg Herring

As a writer of three series, with nine published books and two more on the way, I’d like to address five writing questions people ask at my workshop, “Write, Edit, Publish!”

1. “I have a great story idea, but I can’t get started.” (or “I can’t get past the first three chapters.”)

It’s hard to write a book. Really hard. On the other hand, it’s easy to let storylines float through your head, where every idea seems interesting, workable, and compelling. It’s only when you try to write them down that you realize it won’t work.

So lots of people have great story ideas, but only a few write those stories down. It might be that you really don’t want to write a book; you just want to say you’re a writer.

If you are willing to do the work, great–now apply the BITCH principle: Butt In The Chair, Honey! Thinking about your book, talking about your book, even outlining your book isn’t the same as WRITING your book. Set a time each day to work. Any active writing is better than that filmy wisp in your mind.

If (when) your progress stalls, do something else for a while, but then make yourself go back to work. It might not go well. You might even have to toss a day’s work (or two or three), but you must actively write rather than letting yourself imagine that point in the future when it will all flow seamlessly from your fingertips. Ain’t gonna happen.

2. “I’m three-quarters done, but I don’t know how to end the book.”

We sometimes call that the Muddle in the Middle. You’ve got so many strands going that you don’t know how to weave them into a whole. Again, the only thing to do is finish it. For me, writing the ending clarifies what has to happen in the middle. “Oh!” I say to myself. “A paragraph on page 92 will clear that little knot up nicely.” And it does, but only when I’ve seen how the whole thing resolves.

3. “I finished my book, and my mom likes it. How do I know if it’s really good?”

Don’t trust Mom; she loves you too much. In fact, don’t trust the opinion of anyone you know. (You might ask, “Will you give me ten bucks to read my manuscript?” That separates the wheat from the chaff!) It’s easy for friends and family to gush, “Gee, that’s great! You should publish.” When there’s no investment required, almost everyone will say nice things. It makes you happy.

My first advice for judging the quality of your own work is wait time. Let a manuscript rest for a few weeks and then go back to it. Often your reaction will be, “What was I thinking?”

I always read the manuscript aloud or have my computer read it to me. My ears find lots of things needing attention that my eyes didn’t see.

I read each of my manuscripts many times. One reading assures that I’ve included at least one non-visual description on each page. It’s easy to tell what things look like, but what do they sound, taste, feel, and smell like? That adds depth to your description and interest to your writing.

4. “What’s different about writing mystery?”

Mystery requires everything other types of writing require AND a puzzle for the reader to figure out. Mystery authors walk a fine line, tossing in clues to the solution while trying not to give away too much. A reader’s reaction upon finishing a mystery should be, “I didn’t guess the killer, but I should have.”

The modern mystery has lots of elements: suspense, romance, history, paranormal, occupational info, police procedures, and even crafting trivia. The writer needs to enlighten her readers without obscuring the mystery with facts, anecdotes, and quilting details.

5. “How do you keep yourself interested when writing a series?”

Aha! This is where I get to tell you about my work! I have a historical series with Five Star Publishing set in Tudor England (next book, THE LADY FLIRTS WITH DEATH, May of 2013).

My Dead Detective Mysteries (LL-Publications) are mildly paranormal, meaning some characters are dead (no drooling zombies). THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY won EPIC‘s best mystery of 2012.

The new series, The Loser Mysteries (also LL), begins in November with KILLING SILENCE. Loser, a homeless woman, is haunted by her past and endangered by her present as she tries to help a young father accused of murder.

How do I keep three series from driving me crazy?( I often don’t!) Some things I’ve learned to do help: first, I work on one book at a time, whether writing or editing. I attack whatever’s most pressing and put other projects aside until I’ve finished it.

Second, I keep notes on what the characters look like, drive, eat for breakfast, etc. It doesn’t do to say Loser hates oatmeal in one book and then have her order it in a restaurant in the next.

Finally, I have in mind the general arc of the series before I begin, with an idea of how many books it will entail. The Dead Detective Mysteries is a five-book series, following the adventures of Seamus, who resolves problems he faces while helping others solve theirs. Seamus’ story weaves through the series, so the solution to the mystery in each book is only part of the reader’s enjoyment of the larger story.

That’s a little of the advice I give writers. If you have a specific question or a comment on something that works for you, I’m ready to listen.

Thanks, Peg, for the great tips! If you have a question or comment for Peg, she’ll be with us all day. Thank you!