Essays, writing tips

Repost: Are You a Storyteller or a Writer?

I’ve often thought about this because I can write a good story but I suck at telling a one. This post6 Key Differences Between Storytelling and Writing by Gordon Long does a great job making the distinction between the two skills. And now that I understand the differences, I feel a little less like a loser. LOL

typewriter love

Are you a Storyteller or a Writer? Or are you one of the lucky ones who are good at both? 

Essays, Guest Blog, Stories

Madison Wheatley, Writer: When God Gives Beauty For Ashes

When I decided to get back into writing, I joined an online writing site called Scribophile. Soon after, I met a writer named Madison and we quickly hit it off. Every now and again, the group we are a part of hosts flash fiction contests, and the last story she wrote really had an impact on me. The theme was Dark Bible stories. In other words, writing a story inspired by one of the many dark stories written in the Bible. I loved her piece so much, I asked her if I could post it on my other site for Christian creatives, Delia Talent, and if she would write a line or two about the inspiration behind the story. She did, and that story was even more moving than the flash fiction! I’ll post an excerpt below to give you a taste. But I hope you’ll go check out the whole story here. If nothing else, though it starts dark, her story just might brighten your Monday. 

Excerpt from, Madison Wheatley, Writer: When God Gives Beauty For Ashes 

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Picture by Amanda Staley

When Delia asked me to provide the inspiration behind this piece, I thought about being vague. I thought about saying, “I wrote this piece in response to my own struggle with infertility.” In the end, I decided to share the ugly truth. I don’t have any aspirations of “inspiring” or “uplifting” people going through what I’m going through, but maybe someone reading this will find comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.

I wrote this piece following a miscarriage. Not mine, though. The thing is, a couple close to my husband had gotten pregnant, and they wanted us to adopt their child. They knew they didn’t want to be parents, and more than that, they knew how badly we wanted to–and how we had been unsuccessful in the seven years of our marriage.

We knew better than to get our hopes up. We tried to be smart, or at least we tried to be. We talked about nursery ideas but didn’t make any purchases. I wrote a letter to our home church asking for financial support, but never sent it. We’d tried not to refer to the child as “our baby,” knowing that nothing was official yet. We spiked all our hopes with a healthy dose of pessimism.

But when we got the call saying that the mother had lost the baby, I realized the hold that hope had had on me. All of a sudden, it was our baby, and she (We always assumed it would be a girl.) had died. My husband cried all day. I was simply numb, that is, until little by little, the realization of what had happened chipped away at my armor of I knew this would happen. I went to bed early, but the nightmares were so bad that I cried in my sleep…

 

I hate the end the story here (I really do!) But I hope it’ll inspire you to check out the complete post. It’s worth the read.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great Monday.

Essays, Misc

Talking Pets – A Flash For The Freestyle Writing Challenge

It has been a while since I posted any writing. The reasons for that are many, but the main two are 1) I’ve been submitting some of the more recent pieces to magazines and whatnot, and 2) I’ve been working like a beast to finish the draft of the third book in my Papilion trilogy (IT IS DONE!). And…I amidt that the fact summer is finally here after a long and horrible winter has lulled me into a kind of comfortable laziness.

But just this morning I was thinking it was time to get back to writing something, anything. Someone was listening because about an hour ago I got tagged by Tanya Miranda to participate in the Freestyle Writing Challenge.

freewritingchallenge

It’s scary to post something written so quickly and under duress (15 minutes with little prep time and not allowed to edit!!), especially while being so rusty. The last thing I wrote was a novel, so massaging the muscle to ease back to flash fiction was tough. But, whatev. When the challenge is laid, you gotta step up to the plate. So here’s my ditty.

Tanya’s prompt: Your pet of many years suddenly speaks human. What does it say?

My story: Communion

I’d always wondered what my dog would say if he could talk. We’d been inseparable for what felt like an eternity. A gift to me on my fifteenth birthday, Pongo warmed my feet every night and blissfully licked me awake every morning. He followed me to the kitchen, sat by my side while I ate, calmly awaiting the scraps of egg or toast or bacon I’d cunningly flip at him when I thought he wasn’t looking. He caught the scraps every time.

I grew up, went to CEGEP. My body and face changed, and even my mother claimed she hardly recognized the well over six-feet tall grown man with a face full of hair, and a deep barrel-chest. But Pongo knew me. Mom said he’d sit by the window long before I returned each day from long hours of study, whimpering and whining before the car turned into the drive. Walking into the house to Pongo’s excited yips while he dumped a red ball in my hand in greeting were the best welcomes around.

Got married. Had a couple a kids. But now, I saw that Pongo was getting on in age. His habits didn’t change except he took longer and longer to get them done. His silky black and brown coat shone less in the sun during our walks, and I even noticed some tufts of grey coming in around his brows and muzzle, just like a ‘real’ old man.

Then one day, while sitting on the porch, my hand on his head, his muzzle in my lap, I noticed his breathing coming less and less even. In fact, he struggled to breathe. I knew it was close, yet didn’t know what to do.

The sun was going down then, dipping just behind the line of houses across the street. And just as the roofs eclipsed the last rays of sunlight, I heard, ‘I love you.’

Then he was gone.

I looked at my beloved dog, best of friends. He was at rest.

Don’t know how he did it, how he’d managed to speak those words. But on the other hand, I wasn’t surprised. I’d known the truth all along because Pongo had saying he loved me his entire life.

****

There you have it. 370 words in 15 minutes. Here are my chosen victims, er, nominees…

Phil Partington

Cairo Amani

Belinda Hughes

Lela Markham

Scott Toney

My Prompt is: Falling down the rabbit hole…

And here are the rules for the challenge:

  1. Open a new document.
  2. Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
  4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).

Thanks for reading! Leave your comments below, if you’d like to share your thoughts.  🙂

Author Interviews

Author Interview with Susanne Leist, Paranormal Mystery Writer

ProfileHello, everyone! Welcome to today’s author interview with paranormal mystery/thriller author Susanne Leist! Susanne has always had a passion for writing and has achieved her life-long goal of writing her debut novel. Please stick around and discover her and her book, The Dead Game.

Hello, Susanne! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

After college, I worked in the fields of commodities, financial analysis, and budgeting. I went back to school for an M.B.A. in Finance. But my creative side had been calling out to me for years, wanting to be set free. I finally listened to it and wrote my first book, The Dead Game, a paranormal mystery/thriller with vampires and vampire derivatives.

I am married with two beautiful daughters. My oldest is married and works as a buyer for an internet company. My second is graduating from college and will go on to graduate school for social work.

My life is complete.

What’s your writing background?

My writing background is my love for the written word. I have been reading adult books since the age of ten. When I say adult books, I am referring to the murder mysteries that my older brother was reading at the time. He devoured books, a few each week. I followed him into the magic world of books. He read Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Alistair Maclean and so did I.

I wrote my book to honor his memory. It took me ten long years to hone my craft. I had to begin at step one and teach myself through editing and grammar books the proper way to write. I hope I made him proud.

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin? How do you handle negative feedback?

I’ve never had a thick skin. I’m sensitive about my feelings and other people’s feelings. I find it hard to give a bad review. I could always find something good to say about a book. But I received a few poor reviews, at the beginning.

These reviews were from fellow authors in review groups. At first, I was hurt and discouraged. Then I noticed a trend to them. They were criticizing the same few things about my book. I was telling too much of the story and not showing the reader enough. I was using too many adverbs. I studied these reviews and read more editing books. My book had been edited by Outskirts Press, but I edited it again.

I believe my book is done. I’m happy with it. It is all what I had dreamed it could be. My reviews have been good so far—fingers crossed.

What inspires your stories? What draws you to your preferred genre?

I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to watch TV shows with paranormal themes. My favorites are The Originals and Supernatural. They combine horror with wit.

I have always found it hard to find books that offer mystery in paranormal settings. That’s why I decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies, clues, and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. A little humor is added along the way. And don’t forget the haunted house—we must have one of these.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

  The Dead Game is the first in a series of three books. The first book resolves the murder mystery, but at the same time, opens a Pandora’s Box of new mysteries. Its surprise ending will lead to more surprises.

Once The Dead Game is established in the marketplace, I will begin my work on the second book. I have an outline and notes all ready to be written. My writing often leads me in unknown directions, so I won’t know how the book will end until it does.

The story opens with a horrific scene at End House, setting the stage for the rest of the book. End House is situated in an idyllic town in Florida, where tourists frolic on its white-sand beaches. But this paradise turns deadly as bodies wash up on shore. The small town is ravaged by winds and dark shadows.

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    Three young women move to Oasis for its secluded white-sand beaches. What they find is anything but peace and quiet. They and their new friends are invited to a party at a deserted house. That is when the fun and games begin. They are thrust into a deadly game between humans, vampires, and The Dead.

Linda wants to find a new home and to trust Todd, who might be the ring leader of the evil group. Shana wants love with Sheriff Sam, but he is too close with the nocturnal, original residents. And Louise finds that she doesn’t fit into this small town of secrets and intrigue.

Do they uncover The Dead and save their town? Or are they sucked into the descending realms of the supernatural?

The Dead Game has begun.

Can you tell us one or two quirky thing about yourself? Other hobbies besides writing?

Besides reading and writing, I enjoy shopping, mostly for handbags, and swimming. Swimming gives me the strength to shop and write.

What’s one thing about writing you would have liked to have known before getting behind the computer?

I hadn’t realized beforehand that writing a book was so hard. Characters have to move around and speak at the same time. They can’t sound the same. After all the rewrites, the plot and story of my book has remained the same. Only the dialogue and grammar have changed. I believe I could edit for the rest of my life and still not be satisfied.

The writing and publishing process has been a steep learning curve for me. But I would not have had it any other way.

Did you go traditional or self-publish?

I published through Outskirts Press.com, which is a do-it-yourself type of self-publishing house. Once my book had been improved, I was offered a menu of services to choose from. Most of these were expensive. I picked editing and their publishing service. Everything else had to be chosen a la carte.

One day, the publisher informed me that my book had been published. I thought that this meant it was printed. Not only was it printed, it was sitting on Amazon and Nook without a description or bio. It looked sad. I panicked. I had to learn how to use Google. I opened blogs. I found Facebook and Twitter. Luckily, I found some nice authors who helped me with my countless questions.

Advice to those looking to break into your genre? On marketing and selling?

It is important for an author to have everything in place before launching his or her book. I learned the hard way after I self-published. Blogs, websites, and social sites like Google and Twitter should be ready and waiting. Summaries and bios should also be prepared in advance. After the book is released, it should be announced everywhere with bold pictures and words. People will be ready and eager to read it. That’s my goal for my next book, which will be the second book in The Dead Game series.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My readers can find me through my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. I respond to all questions and remarks. I love to interact with my followers and read their opinions.

susanneleist.blogspot.com

http://susanneleist.wordpress.com thedeadgameblog.tumblr.com

 http://amazon.com/author/susanneleist

Goodreads

Shelfari

https://twitter.com/SusanneLeist

Thanks for reading, everyone. Please let Susanne know how much you enjoyed her interview by leaving a message below, or visiting one of her sites. Have a great week, and tune in next Monday for our next interviewee.

 

Essays

Quickie Update

Hi all! I’ve been away for a loooong time and I feel I should provide an explanation.

Truth is, I just got overwhelmed with ‘doing’–running to this and that event, running to this writing group or that workshop, reading, writing, following social media, reviewing, blogging–it was all too much so I just stopped.

stop-sign-2I’d been in this place before–feeling as though no matter how hard and fast I ran I could never keep up–and it sucked. So, it was cut stuff out, or go nuts. Besides, I wanted to spend more time writing. After all, that’s the purpose of all this, right? We run around promoting ourselves to sell the books we write, and we blog to communicate about our passion for writing as well as about those fabulous books. But we write because that’s what we were born to do.

So I kicked social media and all the rest to the curb for a bit, sat back, and wrote.

writing image

 

I have been rewriting the third book in my Rise of the Papilion trilogy, weaving together the half manuscript I wrote last year with new material. It is a big job, a huge puzzle getting all the disparate pieces to fit. But it is coming together, and this time I’m not rushing. Rather I’m letting the thing breathe, adding or rewriting as the story comes to me.

Sadly, I haven’t published any new stories on the blog lately, mostly because the most recently written pieces have been submitted to magazines and I’m waiting the responses. I did write a story called Falling Free which I hope will be turned into a short comic by the grace of my super-talented sister, illustrator and soon to be animator, Amy Hands. (Click on the link to check her out on deviant art). I’ve also been journaling and writing poetry, basically just seeing where the creative muse takes me. Journaling was something I used to do a lot but had stopped, thinking: What’s the point? I’m never going to read this again. But I went back to it, and rather than pages of “blah, blah, blah”, I closed the notebook with vignettes, focused thoughts, and spontaneous literary expressions scrawled across the pages. I understand this to be a development of a new character’s Voice. I’m certain that, at some point, it will all come together to create a new kind of story for me. More on that to come.

In the meantime, here’s what’s coming up on the blog in the next little while:

– author interviews with Scott Toney of Breakwater Harbor Books, and Susanne Leist

– guest post by the wonderful author and all-time best supporter Belinda Hughes

– more book reviews

– new posts on writing and the writing experience

– info on the release of the paperback version of Wolf’s Bane, which I hope to release in the next 2-3 weeks

– updates on ongoing and new writing projects, including Berserker, book 3 in my fantasy trilogy

Thanks to everyone who reads, shares, comments on and otherwise supports this blog! Also, I’m always looking for people to collaborate with, so if you have an idea drop me a line!