I’m In It For the Love (Mostly) – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

Don’s Comment: If you haven’t had a chance to check out and follow the Writers in the Storm Blog. You really should. There is valuable information from a team of talented contributors on a nearly daily basis. Here is a great post from one of those contributors:


Writers in the Storm has always been a labor of love for everyone behind the scenes. Yes, it’s work to keep up a thrice-weekly blog for more than a decade, but it usually doesn’t feel like work. And the personal rewards are enormous.

I haven’t taken a poll of all the other behind-the-scenes peeps, so this is a window into my own journey and my perspective on the magic of WITS, and of giving back to your fellow scribes in some capacity.

I do it for the love…mostly.

The Magic 6 Ingredients

When I sat down to think of why I’ve been happy to be a part of the WITS Dream Team for ten (coming up on eleven [eek!]) years, I boiled it down to six things.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The World Will Try to Break Your Creative Spirit. Sometimes, It Will Succeed.

Check out this great post from Meg Dowell’s blog with a reflection on 2020 entitled: The World Will Try to Break Your Creative Spirit. Sometimes, It Will Succeed.

Meg Dowell

2020 was a very, very bad year. For all of us.

I will never refer to this period in history as “good.” Nothing “good” has come from all this. Good things did happen to many people unrelated to the bad, sure. Hopefully you were one of them.

However, there is one thing that tragedy after tragedy can lead to for those willing to listen: It does have the power to remind us what matters most. What we really care about. What we really stand for in this life. What we can and will do anything to change, to preserve, to save.

I, for example, was quite unkindly reminded that creativity and emotion are vitally linked. Strong emotions fuel creative expression, which inspires strong emotions, and ideally, the cycle continues.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Like the rest of you, I had big plans for 2020. And even after lockdown, after the many…

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#FirstLineFriday #GiveawayContest #FreeDownloads

It’s First Line Friday over on Marcia Meara’s blog. Check out this fun quiz and submit your chance to win.

The Write Stuff

Welcome once again (FINALLY!) to #FirstLineFriday, a little quiz designed to help us appreciate some of the best opening lines in literary history. From the classics of long ago to the latest best-sellers, everything is fair game.

As always, the rules are simple:

  1. Be one of the first five people to email me before the game ends at 4:00pm EST, with the title and authorof the correct book. 
  2. Do not reply here on the blog. Email only: marciameara16@gmail.com
  3. Honor System applies. No Googling, please.
  4. Submissions end at 4:00 P.M. EST, or when I receive 5 correct answers, whichever comes first.
  5. Winners who live in the U.S. may request a free download of any one of my books for themselves, or for someone of their choice. OR, if they’ve read all of the offered books, they may request a free download of my next publication.
  6. Winners who live elsewhere

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Co-Authorship Part II: Shared Vision

Check out this great post from Gwen Plano via the Story Empire blog. It’s the second in her series on Co-Authorship. This one is on shared vision.

Story Empire

Hello SE readers, Gwen with you today, and it’s my pleasure to offer Part II of the four-part series on co-authorship. Last week, John Howell mentioned that he and I wrote a book together. Using examples from our experience, he introduced co-authorship and explained some of the essential components. Today I’m going to build on his post and focus on creating a shared vision. If you missed John’s post, you can see itHERE.

Let’s start with a question. By chance, have you contributed to an anthology? If you have, you know that expectations are explained. You’re given word count limits, a theme, time-frame, and general dos and don’ts.

Authoring a book with another writer has similarities. Instead of multiple stand-alone tales, though, there’s one overarching story that might include a romance, a murder, or an adventure. These subplot threads must be seamlessly interwoven into the one story…

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Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Supernatural John W. Howell, #Pilgrims Noelle Granger, #Southernculture Claire Fullerton.

Check out these great books featured at the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore from this post on Sally Cronin’s blog.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Friday Edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first book  today with a recent review is  Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell..

About the book

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number…

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People Watching During a Pandemic – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Eldred “Bob” Bird

There’s no doubt 2020 has changed some of our writing habits. In the years BC (Before Covid), one of my favorite writing exercises was people watching. I’d tote my laptop to parks libraries, pubs, and a whole host of other public places. This is where I found inspiration when building characters or looking for new and interesting ways to represent human interactions in my writing.

I paid close attention to things like body language, facial expressions, and all the little nuances that set someone apart and made them stand out from the crowd. I listened in on conversations and tried to guess where the person talking was from based on their accent and use of slang. I made up stories about the couple whispering at a table in the dark corner of the bar. This was my creative playground.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power

Check out this great post from Mae Clair via the Story Empire blog with the topic: When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power

Story Empire

Hi, SEers. Mae here today for my first post of 2021! I hope all of you had a spectacular New Year. Let’s hope 2021 is going to be FAR BETTER than the wretched mess that was 2020.

I’m going to start this post with a question, and it may seem like a strange one given we’re talking about new beginnings, but—how long do you stick with a problem WIP before abandoning it for greener pastures?

We’re all acquainted with the first flush of love for a new project—the excitement of jotting notes, working up character profiles, and choosing our setting. If you’re a plotter, you’ve worked out all, or most of, the details. If you a panster or planster, you have a general idea of where your novel is headed. Either way, you start with a bang like a racehorse bursting from the starting gate.

And… you’re off!

Riderless horse with racing saddle in full gallop

For a…

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Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it?

As I embark on my next writing venture after a 2020 hiatus, I realized something. The equation of my age plus the stress of 2020 and the length of time since I’ve written a Frank Rozzani book has added up to me forgetting the details of many of my familiar characters. I remember reading a while back about having a character bible, a book of character profiles. The article I read talked about how this is especially important if you write a multiple-book series with the same characters.

At the time, I said to myself, “I’ll never forget these characters. They’re part of me.” Well, as I get older, I’m pretty sure there are actual parts of me that I’ve forgotten.

As I try to write for my tried and true characters, I find myself searching my previous books for things like dates, names, hair and eye color and other things that would be great to have at my fingertips. As a result, I’m revisiting the idea of the character bible. I thought that one useful resource would be to go to the blogging community of authors, editors and readers and ask for your opinions and experience.

I thought I would begin, however, by telling you what I’ve learned about this tool for those of you that haven’t heard of it or have been using elements of it without realizing it had a name.

What is a Character Bible?

There is no single definition or series of components that make up a character bible. From the research I’ve done, it’s basically a collection of character profiles each of which tell you about the character’s:

  • Name – This might seem obvious, but a character’s name is important. Think of Alex Cross and the numerous James Patterson books bearing his surname in the title. To a much, much lesser degree, of course, there are my Frank Rozzani detective novels that all have ‘Frank’ in some form in the title Frankly Speaking, Let Me Be Frank, Frank Incensed (my personal favorite), Frankly My Dear and Frank Immersed.
  • Physical Appearance/Mannerisms – The characters height, body type, hair color, eye color, physical anomalies and disabilities and other information about how the character looks.
  • History – Information about the character’s backstory, cultural, educational and socio-economic situation and any other relevant information that is material to the plot.
  • Personality – What psychological quirks, conditions or flaws does the character have? What motivates him/her? What are his/her desires? What’s missing from his/her life?

Now, the worst thing you can do is dump all of this information about the character into your story in one fell swoop. You can dribble out the information as needed in small doses. The other thing to avoid, however, is your character developing some ability or piece of knowledge from his background out of convenience to get you past a snag in the story without foreshadowing it first.

What characters should be in the Character Bible?

Again, there is no universal agreement on this, but characters you can consider are those that are pivotal to the story and more than just one-dimensional “fillers” like:

  • Protagonist – The main character or hero of your story.
  • Antagonist The villain or anti-hero of your story.
  • Love Interest – The person that makes your protagonist’s heart flutter.
  • Sidekick – The Robin to your character’s Batman.
  • Supporting Characters – Those colorful folks in the background that give humor, expertise and other key elements to your story.
  • Sub-Plot Characters – The stars of those little vignettes that advance your story through the actions of secondary characters.

It’s up to you, the author, how many character profiles you put in your Character Bible. If you’re a John Grisham or James Patterson type, you probably have less than a half-dozen characters to keep straight. If you’re a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or J.R.R. Tolkien type writer, buy a few notebooks to fill.

Tools for Creating A Character Bible

There are several templates out there for you to create the character profiles that will become part of your character bible. I’ve selected some here to give you an idea of what’s out there:

Reedsy Character Profile

For those of you that belong to Reedsy, or even if you don’t, the site offer’s a character profile template separated into various sections. An image of the first page is shown below:

Courtesy of http://www.reedsy.com

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward and guides you through the information that makes up the profile. I see pros and cons in the level of detail. I tend to only think about what I need to know about my characters, but I suppose the additional information, much of which you’ll never use in the story, might help you get a more accurate picture of what motivates him or her.

Filestage Character Bio Template

Filestage is another online site offering a character bio template in a spreadsheet format. It does have some nuances that the Reedsy template doesn’t cover, but the spirit is the same. I suppose you can create multiple tabs to add additional characters. Here is a snapshot of what it looks like:

Internet Writing Journal

Another character profile format appears on the Internet Writing Journal site. Again, it has much of the same information and you can pick and choose how much of it you’d like to use.

Conclusion

It’s entirely up to you if you want to create a character bible. I’m headed in that direction with my latest Frank Rozzani book so I can make the current book and any additional sequels more manageable.

I’d love to hear from you on your experience with this technique. Have you used it? Have you thought about it? How do you keep your characters straight?

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – Reviews – #1960s Jane Risdon, #Mystery Amy M. Reade, #Thriller Gwen M. Plano.

Check out these books featured in the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore from this post on Sally Cronin’s blog.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today with a recent review is Jane Risdonfor the 1960s Only One Woman..co-written with Christina Jones.

About the book

June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But, after a romantic summer together, they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.

December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.

As the colourful and final year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

One of the recent reviews for the book

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Meet Guest Author, Leon Stevens…

Head over to the Story Reading Ape blog and meet Guest Author, Leon Stevens

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Leon Stevens Interviews Leon Stevens

Hello. I’m Leon Stevens, and I’m sitting here with author Leon Stevens who has written two books, Lines by Leon-Poems, Prose and Pictures, and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Well, here we are again.

It seems that way.

You wrote down a list of questions for the guest post on thestoryreadingapeblog.com. Where did you come across that site?

Through my WordPress blog. I was reading a re-post of a book marketing article.

How is your blog coming along?

Better than I thought. I’ve been writing something almost daily.

Nice. Shall we get to the questions?

Fire away.

Now bear in mind I do know all these answers, so try to forget who I am.

I wish I could.

[silence]

I’ll let that pass. Question 1: Have you always been a writer?

Not until…

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