Learning to be a Writer

Learning to be a Writer

By Yen Ooi The journey in becoming a writer neither starts nor stops at writing itself. Of course, producing copious amounts of stories, prose, poetry, and text is vital for a writer, but there is also the much ignored fact that in becoming a writer, one must be like a writer. Don’t worry—last I checked, writers are not a different species or a specific sub-species, but there are two important characteristics of a writer that I believe are key. These characteristics are probably true across all creative types, all artists. Neil Gaiman famously said that, “If you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.” So, I twist his words and say, pretend to be a writer and just behave like writers would, and slowly, you will be one. But what is it that makes a writer, a writer? In the last few years, I have met many people in various creative careers—writers, artists, designers, musicians—and I realised that everyone is creating something, and that we are all passionate about our own creations. I also realised that there are those, like Gaiman, who are a cut above the rest. I believe that this is because of two characteristics. Good artists are: 1) humble 2) proud.   Yes, I know. It sounds like the above makes all artists hypocrites, but hear me out. All artists, people who create, know that their skills and quality of their creations can always be improved upon, and that there are always people out there who are better than them. This keeps them humble. This also is how they are able to accept criticism at a level that no other jobs require, whilst giving them an open heart and mind to be able to work with others collaboratively. However, to be a good artist in today’s world of social media, self-publishing, and accessible technology, artists need also to be proud. Proud enough to believe in their own work and sell it. The solitary writer is a dying breed, preserved only by the archaic functions of traditional publishing houses. A writer needs to be able to approach future readers and say, “I know you’ll love this!” and believe it. Writers and other artists have a difficult job to do today. Humble and proud are antonyms of the other, but they go hand-in-hand in creating a good artist. It is the balance of the two that we all seek, in order to survive in a very harsh environment that destroys all who fail, and makes celebrities of those few who shine. So, if you are thinking of becoming a writer or if you are in a transition to do so,...

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Will Wretched Fate’s Characters Find the Change They Crave?

Will Wretched Fate’s Characters Find the Change They Crave?

by Joy Shearer Wretched Fate is the second novel in the Detective Sam Osborne series by mother-daughter authors Sharon Swope and Genilee Swope-Parente. The crime/romance novel is, in part, a story of metamorphosis. Each of the main characters must leave their past behind, if they can, to build a better life. Will they be able to achieve their dreams? Rosalie struggles with her weight, self-confidence, and her relationship with her mother.  She doesn’t look like the women in magazines and her mother is no help in her attempts to lose weight. She cooks for Rosalie and serves her fatty foods in heaping helpings. Rosalie puts much effort into accepting herself while aiming to get healthier. Will she find a way to accept who she is now and make the changes she wants? Jacob strives to leave behind his troubled childhood. His parents had an odd relationship that left him leading an isolated life. He hardly ever leaves his mansion where he writes best-selling romance novels even though he has no real experience with romantic relationships. He doesn’t like others to disturb his schedule, so he’s hired a groundskeeper who very rarely enters the house. He has a cook who lives in a cottage on the property and only comes to the mansion briefly to drop off his meals. Can he learn to connect with outside world? Wretched dreams of having a real family and normal childhood, but can’t see how. He only has vague memories of a woman holding him close. Now, still a child, he is living a nightmare. He is in bleak circumstances and sees no way he’ll ever have a life like the kids he observes at a carnival. Can he escape his condition? Wretched Fate’s main characters all want to change their lives, but are unsure if transformation is even possible. Read the intriguing novel to find out what happens to Rosalie, Jacob, and Wretched.   Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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A Query Letter Begins With Research

A Query Letter Begins With Research

by Judy Spring Query letters… Dun-dun-duuuuuun. (silence) All serious authors face crafting a query letter at some point in their career, and many come to it with dread and apprehension. Most stress and agonize about summarizing their manuscript succinctly so that it invites a publisher to continue on, reading the first few chapters once the letter is complete. It’s nerve-wracking! We are constantly told, “Be yourself, but in a standard way that sticks out.” It is possible that these conflicting messages meshed together are what cause confusion and anxiety when contemplating query letters. The goal of this article is to alleviate that stress by offering some resources and tips about crafting what could be the most important letter of your career. The first step: research. Everywhere you look, that’s the first suggestion you will find. Nichole Canniff, the Chief Operation Officer here at Spectacle Publishing Media Group, LLC has offered this tidbit of her experience: “One thing I cannot stand is when a query letter comes in that isn’t complete per our directions on the website. I might make an exception for a manuscript that is really good; however, when a publisher asks for the first three chapters, a bio, chapter summary and a synopsis—send them all per their instructions. If you do not know what they require, find out. It is unprofessional to submit a query that is incomplete. Most publishers will reject the query right away.” In other words, make sure to read submission guidelines for the publisher before sending in your query. This can be easily accomplished by doing a search on the Internet with the keywords of the company name followed by ‘submission guidelines.’ For your convenience, here is the link to SPMG’s submissions page: http://www.spectaclepmg.com/submissions/. (We are currently not processing any queries until November 3rd, which gives you just enough time to really polish your manuscript and query letter!) Next, make sure to read different ways to approach writing query letters so you can present your genre, your voice, and your story in the best light it deserves while still following the specific guidelines. Canniff warns, “There are a lot of examples of good query letters on the Internet: the format, what to include in the letter itself, etc. Research it, but at the same time, make sure you are putting your own spin to the letter. If you submit a cookie-cutter query letter that all authors are submitting to publishers, you will be no more impressionable than another author.” Websites and blogs all over the Internet warn of this mistake, and a querying author would be very wise to heed the warning. It is possible to find a balance between the standard requirements...

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Creating and Developing Characters

Creating and Developing Characters

by Ashleigh Galvin When an author is struck by a bolt of inspiration for their next “bestseller,” it’s often accompanied by character ideas. A lot of my story ideas are based around characters I would like to write about, personalities that I want to stick into certain situations just to see how they are going to act. But it’s important to learn as much as possible about a character before you start writing about them. Note that I said “learn,” not “make up.” You can’t tell people how to react. For example, you cannot tell your boss he isn’t going to be annoyed that you just spilled coffee all over his urgent paperwork. It’s the same for characters in your books. How they react is all about how you develop them while they are still budding ideas, barely on paper. This article is a short piece on creating and developing compelling characters. When I have an idea for a new character, I try and name them as soon as possible. A good name is everything. Not only will it endear the character to readers, it will help make them feel “real.” Once you have named your character, they will start to take form in your mind; they won’t be just a thought any more. A name is also important for the character’s impact on the story. If you name your rough and tough biker Ichabod Osmond Nadeir, then he is going to get some strange looks. Perhaps that’s why he always introduces himself as Ion, his nickname. Personally, I like to know what my characters’ names mean. In this instance, Ichabod means, “the glory is gone.” The nadir is the lowest point of an object. However, Osmond means ‘divine protector’ and Ion is an ancient Greek hero born of the Sun god Apollo. This man must have a hard past and an interesting future. Once your character has a name, you’re ready to start fleshing them out. I always start with their past as it’s what makes them who they are now. Look at the character’s life prior to the beginning the story. Look at their parents, their birth, how they were raised, where they were raised. Did anything important happen when they were young? A few years ago I created a profile template, which I use for my characters to this day. It’s about five pages long and it’s a great point of reference if I get stuck. It has the basic questions like “Who is their Best Friend?” But it also has some more interesting questions like, “What is their favourite food?” and, “Their most hated colour?” While these little questions might never be mentioned in your...

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Coming Soon: Spiral of Hooves

Spiral of Hooves by Roland Clark Roland Clarke is a retired equestrian journalist and photographer, who used to be a regular contributor of articles and photos to various equestrian media. In 2000, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which clipped his wings as he was unable to meet deadlines so easily and found it increasingly hard to attend equestrian events.  Roland Clarke’s debut novel, Spiral of Hooves, is a thriller that will leave you feeling exhilarated. Something of an exposé on the competitive horse riding community, Roland’s beautiful prose will leave you romancing nature. Read this exciting novel and follow Armand Sabatier’s journey in trying to forget his painful past by creating a new life for himself on a beautiful stud farm, only to be lured by the need to uncover truths and to protect the innocent, tumbling directly into the hazards of trust, friendship, and love.   Excerpt from the upcoming Spiral of Hooves: “The whiteout descended blanketing any evidence that remained, leaving Armand bewildered and uncertain as to what he had witnessed. Now the panic was building, reawakening the haunting memory that never melted in his heart. He was back in another country, helpless as a broken body struggled for life and the blood on his hands spilled on trampled snow.” Roland lives in Kent, England with Juanita and their two cats Willow and Kefira.  On his website, Writing Wings—www.rolandclarke.com—he signs his Blog as The Silver Scribbler, a clue to his age and hair. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Interview: Alison Lyke

Interview: Alison Lyke

by Judy Spring Alison Summerhayes Lyke is a 31-year-old novelist, poet, and freelance writer from Rochester, New York. She recently released Honey through Spectacle Publishing Media Group, and we’d like to take some time to get to know this unique artist and ask her some direct questions about her craft, as well as learn a little more about who Alison is. Alison lives with her nine-year-old son Jonah, and her two cats Milo and Zoonz. Milo is deaf which brings a few challenges. Zoonz is named from the African word for “home.” Sushi is Alison’s favorite food, and when asked, she replied that white is her favorite color. Interestingly, she says the color represents purity to her—a blank slate and the beginning of something new. Her single pet peeve is when others are judgmental, and her suggestion is to just calm down and realize that no one has any idea what another is going through. Passing judgment is useless. Music is a big influence in her life, and rock of all kinds is her preferred genre, although she likes some “hippy music” as well. Alison enjoys writing film, music, and art reviews, and also life musings and anecdotes. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She contributes poetry and short stories to literary magazines. Alison enjoyed being a freelance writer for five years, and now works with a local agricultural technology company, writing for their various needs. The following questions are from a personal interview with the author.   When did you know that you wanted to be an author? “I’ve always been writer. There was never any wanting or deciding. It was an eventuality.”   In your writing process, do you use an outline to write your story? “My stories come together like puzzles. I often have a vague outline with very specific portions written in. Certain scenes, chapters, or conversations are vital and I tend to write them randomly, and then fill in the story around them. My first drafts are seas of gibberish with islands of clarity.”   What sparked your interest in the story subject of Honey? “I wanted to write a mythology with a rich, full pantheon of gods, functioning like ancient Greece, but in modern day. I also wanted to touch on the power of meditation and contemplation. Then Honey came to me, this mess of a woman under a rat’s nest of hair, so stoned that she didn’t even have enough ambition to work up an attitude problem. I had to explore her character, test her limits and make life better for her.”    What does the story matter of Honey...

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