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BLOGWORDS – Monday 11 November 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – PAT NICHOLS

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – PAT NICHOLS

 

SETTING: FICTIONAL VS. REAL

 

In 2016 the idea for a story about Emily and Rachel—strangers drawn together by tragedy and a long-held secret—grew into a full-blown plan to write a series centered in a small town struggling to survive.  From the beginning, I knew the two women had to come from different backgrounds and lifestyles. If Emily was raised by middle-class parents living in a small town, Rachel had to be the daughter of a wealthy big-city business owner.

Because I live in Duluth, Georgia—a metro Atlanta suburb—selecting the city was easy. Not only had I visited Centennial Park and the Georgia Aquarium, my husband and I had dined at the Sun Dial Restaurant atop the circular Peachtree Plaza Hotel. Nearly every Atlanta site referenced in The Secret of Willow Inn exists. Including the high-rise building that houses Streetman Enterprise the fictional real-estate development firm owned by Rachel’s father. Using actual locations has advantages. Especially with the existence of Google Earth. I can’t count the number of times I zoomed in on downtown Atlanta to make sure Rachel could see the Skyview Ferris Wheel from her office window or Fox Theater from her father’s office. Or which direction she turned to walk to the park. Of course, as a writer I was also bound by reality.

When it came time to identify Emily’s hometown, I decided to create a setting I could conform to the story. A town on the brink of failure, populated by a cast of quirky, argumentative, lovable characters.

To get a sense of small-town vibe, my husband and I spent several weekends visiting north Georgia locations; tourist destinations—some dating back to the civil war—and quiet little villages off the beaten path. One of those treks occurred on Labor Day. Once we left Atlanta, we discovered an interesting situation. Small towns take the holiday seriously. Other than a few places to eat, stores were closed. Imagine that. No labor on Labor Day. A fact I used in Willow Falls series book three.

Every town we visited had a place to eat, some sort of general store, and at least one inn. Perfect for my story. Because the characters in my fictional town believed the only way to survive was to entice visitors, it needed a few existing attractions—a fifty-foot waterfall and a hundred-year-old general store. Add a colorful history, revealed in The Trouble in Willow Falls, and the town had a fighting chance to survive.

After mentally creating a fictional setting, I needed a visual to guide my scene descriptions and characters’ movements. So, I created an aerial view on a poster board, using a blue marker to pinpoint key locations; Willow Inn, the abandoned hotel, Hayes General Store, Pepper’s café, and Patsy’s Pastries and Pretties. As the story progressed, I added new sites. Recently I created a more professional looking view.

It’s funny how in time the fictional setting seems as real as the one that physically exists, thanks to readers’ ability to imagine and writers’ capacity to paint mental pictures. In some stories the setting serves as another character. During my research about fictional settings, I discovered Cabot Cove, the setting for the Murder She Wrote television series wasn’t real. Who knew?

As an author I’ve found it beneficial to use both fictional and real settings in the same novel. Real settings, especially those that are well known, give readers a sense of authenticity. Atlanta is a southern hub for ground and air travel. I can only guess how many millions have flown over the city or driven on the downtown connector as they pass through to their destinations. At the very least folks might have wondered what lay beyond the skyline.

On the other hand, a fictional setting gives writers tremendous latitude and readers’ the opportunity to let their imaginations soar. By the way, I prefer not to have characters’ faces on my covers, because I don’t want to limit readers imagination to picture the characters the way they want. The same can be said for setting.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pat Nichols is proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. She draws on a twenty-seven-year corporate career working with amazing women from all walks of life to write emotionally charged stories about women who face tension-laced challenges and heart-warming triumphs as they pursue their dreams. The Secret of Willow Inn introduces readers to Willow Falls, a small southern town on the brink of failure, populated by an opinionated, quirky, lovable, cast of characters. The Willow Falls series will appeal to Debbie Macomber, Ane Mulligan, and Jan Karon fans.

She was born in Illinois, grew up in Orlando and has called Georgia home since the eighties. Pat and Tim reside in Duluth and are active members of Gwinnett Church, a Northpoint Ministries Campus. Although they love dogs, especially black labs, their pets now consist of squirrels scampering across their deck and deer traipsing through their back yard. She is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers International. She was featured on WATC Television Atlanta Alive and in Voyager Magazine http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-pat-nichols-author-duluth/

Come on over for a visit on her website: www.patnicholsauthor.blog  or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

 

 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Pat Nichols

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 4 November 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – J’NELL CIESIELSKI

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – J’NELL CIESIELSKI

 

SETTING: REALITY VS FICTION

 

Once upon a time in a land far, far away …

How many times as readers have we been swept away to places new or familiar by this timeless phrase and descriptions of palm trees, drafty castles, or moon dusted planets? Setting is an instrumental component in storytelling. It sets the tone, character background and expectations, and in some cases directs the narrative (where would The Little Mermaid be if she wasn’t under the sea?). Imagine some of the most distinctive stories you know: Robinson Crusoe, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, or Alice in Wonderland. These stories would not be what they are without their unique settings. For them, setting is king.

How does a writer go about choosing the setting? In some instances, there is no choosing as it can only be one place. William Wallace does not exist outside Scotland, nor could Frodo make his epic journey through New Jersey. It had to be Middle Earth. In other cases, a story can be set just about anywhere the author prefers. Not being a fantasy writer myself, I can’t expound much on fantastical settings so for the sake of credibility we’ll stick to real locations that may or may not have fictional elements (spoiler: they usually do, otherwise it wouldn’t be fiction).

Ok. We’ve got our setting. Now what? Research! Remember how setting is king? Well, research is the shining crown that makes it so. Research must be conducted to know the lay of the land, to understand the weather, to see the rolling hills or crashing waves. A reader wants to walk the cobblestone streets of a French village with the characters. A reader wants to see the rusting colors of a sun setting over the mountains of Colorado. These emotions and experiences can only be evoked with proper research; otherwise literary pandemonium will break out as rooftops in Germany will suddenly be green (they’re terra cotta) and deserts will spring up in Iceland (hardly, as it’s known as the land of fire and ice). Take for example my recent novella set in Scotland. The country has a very distinct look, landscape, and feel. I wanted readers to shiver at the chilled winds sweeping off the granite crags, sway with the heather flowers thick as carpet across the moors, dive into the deep blue lochs, and stare in awe at the ancient stone castles home to the clans. Without including these key elements the story would fall flat and the characters would not have an authentic setting in which to act and react to. At some point, research isn’t enough. At some point, the story needs to start adding its own elements to the setting.

In real settings, fictional elements must be introduced in order to keep the story moving. It’s impossible to keep every detail accurate, otherwise you venture into non-fiction territory. Details must be added for characters to play off and live within that can’t be found in the real world. Looking again at my novella, Night Fox, I researched everything I could about the area in which the story is set and realized I needed to give the hero a home. Yes, there is a real place called Scotland with clan lairds who lived in castles during the eighteenth century, but there was never an estate called Strathmoore on McLendon lands. At least to my knowledge, because I made it up. Likewise there isn’t a village called Druimbeath, but I needed a place for my heroine and hero to interact (when one of them isn’t out committing highway robbery). These places may have sprung from my imagination, but the details about them are true to what existed in eighteenth century Scotland that I had compiled through extensive research. In other words, though my village and castle are made up they could easily be mistaken for real. But that’s also because I’m a stickler for details J

Which brings me to a final point that is hotly debated among readers. Detail accuracy. Does the writer keep the details as authentically accurate as possible for the setting/time period/nationality/etc. or do they keep things accurate-ish while liberally sprinkling in their own ideas of what things should look or sound like? As a historical writer this hits home for me because there is a high standard for keeping historicals as authentic as possible to the era presented, and while this is a noble endeavor, it’s not always possible when information becomes lost over the centuries. I believe in not placing so much importance on accuracy that enjoyment of the crafted story gets lost. Research what needs to be researched, but at the end of the day it’s called fiction for a reason and I for one will never mind a few make believe castles.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

 

Just for Fun …

  • My name is pronounced Juh-nell Suh-sell-ski
  • I’m not a fan of cooking, but I love baking. Probably because I can lick the bowl of cake batter
  • My heart belongs to no other dog than a beagle. I mean, c’mon. Have you ever seen a beagle puppy and not squealed?
  • I was married at Disney World
  • My favorite TV channel is TCM

 

http://www.jnellciesielski.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jnellciesielski

https://twitter.com/JnellCiesielski
https://www.goodreads.com/jnellciesielski

https://www.pinterest.com/jnellciesielski/

 

 

Available 15 November

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, J’nell Ciesielski

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 7 October 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DARLENE TURNER

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DARLENE TURNER

 

IMAGINARY FRIENDS

 

Ever have an imaginary friend when you were a child? If you’re a writer, I’m guessing you probably did. Confession time . . . I had one too.

Pee Wee lived in our bathroom, and we had great conversations every day. He never failed to give me a laugh and help me with my problems.

Today, our imaginary friends are called characters. We knew it would pay off one day. What I love about these friends is we can craft them anyway we want—their physical traits, profession, who they fall in love with, etc. Creating characters is fun, but can also be frustrating and time-consuming.

But it’s worth every minute.

Why?

The more you know your character, the more they jump off the page and into your readers’ hearts.

Here are some tips on how to do make our imaginary friends real.

 

Visualize them. I’m a visual person and find it easier to give descriptions if I can see something in front of me. For my characters, I pick a person from my favorite TV show or movie and use them as a basis for my hero and heroine. I find a picture and post it on my board within Scrivener. Instant visual! However, be careful not to describe too much. You want readers to form their own image. This just helps me know my imaginary friends better.

Do a background check. Get out your FBI credentials and research your friend’s past. Where were they born? What were they like as a child? Teenager? Young adult? What’s their profession? Nothing is off limits. There are no sealed files in your investigation. Cross-examine and get out the lie detector. Know them inside and out.

Give them a quirk. Your main character needs a habit or trait that makes them distinct. It could be a phrase they repeat, an action they do when nervous or excited, or even an OCD characteristic. Perhaps your antagonist leaves the body in perfect form, ready for burial—hair combed, make-up done, arms crossed and in a prayer position. Whatever it is, make it unique.

Talk to them. It’s okay. Your family understands when you talk to your imaginary friends now. You’re a writer. It’s allowed. Sometimes when I talk out loud, it clears my head and gives my characters more depth. Try it.

Give them a secret. Shhhh…don’t tell it to anyone. Yet. Your friend needs something from their past, helping or hindering them. It forms an arc every character requires, so your readers will cheer them on. But tell their secret at the right time and place in your story.

Make them vulnerable and let them love. Everyone wants to love and be loved, which means our characters need to be vulnerable. Our characters can be stubborn, but at some point they need to open up and take a risk. Give them the chance!

 

Getting to know our characters intimately will allow our imaginary friends to become real to our readers.

And captivate their hearts.

 

What tips have helped you in developing your characters?

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. Her debut novel, Border Breach with Love Inspired Suspense, releases in April, 2020. You can connect with Darlene at http://www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.

 

https://www.facebook.com/darlene.turner.902

https://twitter.com/darlenelturner

Sign up to receive my Newsletter and get a FREE short story!

 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Darlene Turner

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 30 September 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY – JANE ANN MCLACHLAN

 

DOWNRIVER WRITING

 

Plotting and pantsing are usually presented as an either/or choice. I agree with author T.I. Lowe who posted earlier on this topic, that both are needed. Creating a plot that is clear enough to give your story direction yet free enough to leave room for creativity and insight as you write is the best option. What is more important than plotting or pantsing, is doing pre-writing exercises to get to know your story.

I spend a lot of time on “pre-writing” before I write the first word of a new novel, and that’s what I teach my students. I’ve seen too many new writers start a project with great enthusiasm, believing they have a good grasp of what they want to write, only to have their story dwindle away by the fourth or fifth chapter. Sometimes this happens even if they’ve spent time plotting the action sequences.

 

Planning a novel involves more than just outlining a plot of the actions that will occur. I use a process I call “downriver writing” which involves a number of exercises meant to explore my idea, theme(s), characters, setting, and yes, the plot of my story. Because before I start writing I need to know what my story is so clearly that writing it is as simple as floating downriver on a raft.

 

With downriver writing I still have to steer my craft, but I don’t have to fight the current. I don’t have to stop and wonder where my story should go next, or feel like I’ve lost the thread of my story. When I write downriver, the plot flows naturally from the characters’ personalities and choices, so that every twist, surprise, and revelation seems right as it happens, and feels right to my readers.

 

The exercises I use are a kind of research on my story. I am tapping into my own imagination to chart the course of my story by thinking deeply about my characters, setting, situation, and plot. They help me delve deeper into the possibilities within this story, and the act of writing out my answers helps solidify my creative insights.

 

The protagonist’s journey begins when some event occurs to irrevocably change the protagonist’s situation. This is called the inciting incident. It forces the hero out of her previous life and starts her on her journey. Everything that happens in your story should flow naturally from that one incident, and from how your characters react to it, which is determined by their personalities and past experiences.  For this to work, you have to know your characters as well as you know yourself; you have to be able to predict what they would do and why, so well that it is unconscious and utterly believable to your readers.

 

The inciting incident is the only time you, the author, will be able to manipulate the plot. It is the one action that does not naturally flow from the characters’ prior choices and actions, but rather sets them all in motion. It must, however, appear to flow naturally from the setting and situation your characters are in, so you must introduce these in a way that will make the inciting incident unexpected but still believable.

 

For example, the inciting incident in The Hunger Games is when Katniss’ little sister, Prim, is chosen for the games. In order to fully appreciate this moment, the reader has to know how helpless, innocent and sweet Prim is and how much Katniss loves her. Suspense and tension over the choosing and the games themselves has to have been built up in order to climax in the calling out of Prim’s name. In the introduction leading up to the choosing, we see Katniss’ tension and fear. She’s had to put in extra ballots for herself to keep her family alive, and fears for herself, and for her friend Gale who has even more ballots in his name. The likelihood that Prim, with only one ballot, will be called is so negligible Katniss barely worries about it. The worst thing that could happen, in her mind, is that she will be chosen and her mother and Prim will be left to starve. Then— BOOM—something far worse happens – Prim is chosen.

 

And we’re off. Everything else that happens in the entire Hunger Games trilogy is a natural consequence of the choices made by the main characters in reaction to what happened before. If you really know your characters and their situation, after the inciting incident it’s all downriver writing.

 

So what do you have to know about your characters? Basically, each character’s attitudes and reactions will be influenced by four things: his background, his occupation and interests, his mood at the time, and his backstory (BOMB). These four things will affect how each character perceives what is happening, what they notice in a scene, how they interpret it and how they will react to it. For each character, you should know their background (rich/poor, rural/urban, large family/orphan, etc), their occupation and interests (a doctor or nurse will notice the way another character walks or looks and draw conclusions about their health; a fisherman or hunter will notice the sky, the sea, the landscape, and signs of incoming weather; a carpenter or engineer will notice buildings and possible structural problems); their mood (a character’s response depends on whether he/she is feeling depressed/happy, angry/loving, envious/admiring); and their backstory or past experiences.

 

So no, you don’t have to plot out everything that’s going to happen in your novel. You can pants it. Because if you’ve done your pre-writing exercises and thoroughly explored your story idea, setting, situation and characters, your plot will naturally fall into place.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jane Ann McLachlan has been teaching writing and working with emerging writers for 16 years across Canada and the US. She has a Masters Degree in English Literature, a certificate in Adult Education, and she was a college professor of Creative and Professional Writing for over a decade. She has 10 published books, both fiction and non-fiction. Half of them are traditionally published, the other half are self-published. She has four award-winning novels and three of her self-published novels have been Number 1 bestsellers on Amazon. She is the author of Downriver Writing: A Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel and is currently piloting a mentorship program for new writers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY

            this one’s a little bit different…

Jane Ann McLachlan is giving away the first month (October) of her mentorship program for free, plus a detailed critique of the first five pages of your novel, to the first 12 people who buy her writing workbook, Downriver Writing, and can tell her the first sentence on page 60 of the workbook VIA EMAIL at jamclachlan@golden.net

Please DO NOT write the sentence here in the comments (it will be deleted)

Rather, email your answer to her at: jamclachlan@golden.net.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jane Ann McLachlan, GIVEAWAY

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 23 September 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – T.I. LOWE – GIVEAWAY WINNER

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – T.I. LOWE – GIVEAWAY WINNER

 

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

JEANNE KENNEDY

T.I. will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Bestselling author T.I. Lowe sees herself as an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother and active in her church community, she resides in coastal South Carolina with her family. For a complete list of Lowe’s published books, biography, upcoming events, and other information, visit tilowe.com and be sure to check out her blog, COFFEE CUP, while you’re there!

 

https://www.tilowe.com/

https://www.facebook.com/T.I.Lowe

https://twitter.com/TiLowe

https://www.pinterest.com/lowe0821/

https://www.amazon.com/T.I.-Lowe/e/B00I4Z5GV6/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7798899.T_I_Lowe

 

 

GIVEAWAY

T.I. is offering a signed Lulu’s Cafe paperback giveaway.

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, Guest Post, T.I. Lowe, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 16 September 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LINDA KOZAR – GIVEAWAY WINNER

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LINDA KOZAR – GIVEAWAY WINNER

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

FAITH CREECH

Linda will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author of over 28 traditional and indie-published books, Linda Kozar, (www.lindakozar.com) is also a speaker, and podcaster (Along Came A Writer, Chat Noir Mystery and Suspense). Linda and her husband of 29 years, Michael, live in The Woodlands, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters, their wonderful son-in-law, and Gypsy, their rascally Jack Russell Terrier.

 

http://www.lindakozar.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Kozar/e/B002BMEY8Y

https://www.facebook.com/linda.kozar

https://twitter.com/LindaKozar

https://www.pinterest.com/lindakozar/

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Linda is offering a print copy of her novel, Calliope’s Kiss. (U.S. address only)

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, Guest Post, Linda Kozar, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 2 September 2019 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – PEPPER BASHAM – GIVEAWAY WINNER

 

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – PEPPER BASHAM – GIVEAWAY WINNER

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

VIVIAN FURBAY

Pepper will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.

 

https://pepperdbasham.com/blog/

https://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Basham/e/B00W0IZ1F4

https://www.facebook.com/pepperdbasham/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13561411.Pepper_D_Basham

https://www.instagram.com/pepperbasham/

https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/

https://twitter.com/pepperbasham

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Pepper is offering a print copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge (U.S. address only) OR an e-copy of winner’s choice of Pepper’s books.

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Face, Guest Post, Pepper Basham, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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