Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minnesota Author: Julie Kramer

Last night I went to listen to a fellow MN author give a talk at the library at University Center Rochester. With approximately thirty to forty people in the room, it was an intimate setting for Ms. Kramer to share her publishing story and speak about her five books, the newest being Shunning Sarah. She started off the night by explaining her theory on the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction." Having been a TV news producer for twenty years, she's seen it all and swears that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. She urged fellow writers not to worry if a plot is too outlandish, claiming that if you write it well enough, the reader will believe anything. She then reminded us of the true story of the crazy female astronaut who wore a diaper while driving cross country to save time on her travels to commit murder. Point taken.

I was frustrated to hear that Ms. Kramer was accepted by the first agent she contacted. That certainly doesn't happen everyday. When asked if there were plans to make any of her books into movies, she said no and thought that perhaps her stories would make a better TV series. She also mentioned that most books don't make it to the big screen, and that the fame and popularity of The Help doesn't happen but once a decade. Kathryn Stockett's success makes me incredibly jealous as well. What an amazing writer!

I came away from the night still believing that I, too, have a chance to succeed as a writer. I'll just keep plugging away, trying to improve my craft and tell the best story I can. As the saying goes, "Anything is possible."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Demons and vampires

How much longer will this last? Why the obsession with demons and vampires? I just don't get it. I was scrolling through the list of book giveaways on and was amazed at the amount of new books in that genre. It seems to me that the market is saturated with those types of books. But maybe readers can't get enough of them. I'm not much of a fantasy reader so it's hard for me to comprehend the draw toward this fantasy world. Is it the method at which the victim is stalked that's exciting or is it the possibility that the victim overcomes the predator? Or is it just the mad passion between the demon or vampire and the human? Since the Fifty Shades books are popular now, my guess is it's the passion. I'm not sure I'll read those books either. Maybe I should just to see her recipe for success, although I think I already know what it is. Unfortunately, I have too much Norwegian in my blood to be that kind of a writer.

Reminder: Only five days left to enter the book giveaway on for Sincerely, sad dad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Riding the wave

I'm trying not to take it personally, but the recent book sales slump also has me slumping. The real problem is that I don't know how to fix it or if it is even something I can fix. My sister tried convincing me that September was slow in her field too because of school starting. I guess I can believe that since my own house is busy with school and sports. I still have time to read though! My husband keeps telling me that things will get better. We takes turns boosting each other up because things aren't always wonderful in education either. Even with their kind words, I'm thinking of new ways to market the books. My inner saleswoman wants to be bold and boisterous. She wants to walk up to complete strangers and hand them a business card. She wants to email and Facebook popular community members and ask them to take a chance on someone new to the field. Maybe if I drink more coffee that woman will come out of her shell. Who am I kidding? A bottle of Jack is more like it. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talking it out

I was able to work out a few kinks in my writing the last few days. Book #3 is no longer on the naughty list. Whew! Things were not looking good for a while. I sent my mom the first two chapters to get her opinion on what I should do and she liked what I had written, but suggested a few changes. I agreed to the changes and finally feel good about the direction I'll be going.

I also filled her in on the rest of the plot. In relaying to her the storyline, I realized a few parts of the story were a bit over the top. Some areas needed to be toned down to be believable. Since my imagination often gets carried away and needs to be pulled in from time to time, it was helpful to talk out the plot and the characters. We came up with some better ways of doing things to help with the suspense and to continue one or two characters forward. I will still need her help with the ending. I'd like to prolong it this time. Not too much, just enough to slow the pace a tad. Improvement from one book to the next is my ultimate goal.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A new beginning

Book #3 is my evil nemesis. After having written nearly 12,000 words, I've decided that the beginning needs a major overhaul. I currently have three different options for the book beginning. Unfortunately, the one I like best does not fit in very well with the rest of the character development I've already created. What to do. Quite the dilemma. I'm hoping that when I open the file in just a moment that it will all become clear to me which direction I should go. However, it might still appear muddled with no direct path lighting the way. Hmm. I'm almost afraid to get started. The good thing I guess is that I'm only 12,000 words in and not almost finished. I have plenty of time to make things work since I plan to self-publish it next May or June. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's OK to be the first one

It's OK to be the first reviewer for Sincerely, sad dad. Being first is the best! When you're first in line you get the best seat, the closest parking spot, or the cheesiest piece of pizza. How about when you're first at crossing the finish line? Hey, that feels mighty good. Or for all you Minnesotans, how does it feel when you catch that first fish of the season? It probably feels just as good as getting the first pedicure of the summer. Being first is awesome!

(Hint: I need someone to post the first review of Sincerely, sad dad. No pressure.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Character strengths

I've written a few times about character flaws and how it is the flaws that make a character unique. They are what make us all unique. However, it occurred to me while developing a character recently that it is also a character's strengths that set her or him apart from the crowd. I'm always so focused on defining the weaknesses in a character that I forget to balance things out by giving them some strengths. Or maybe it's just human nature to find the flaws first. I bet it takes you twice as long to name your own strengths than weaknesses. Sad, isn't it? But characters in fiction are supposed to have bigger-than-life flaws, making you really glad you aren't them. I can't help but think of the latest action movies. Can you imagine putting yourself in some of those predicaments? Not me. I sort of like my boring life. Sort of. Some days though I think it might be cool to be visited by an old friend that is certain I hold the key to some huge secret that will save the world from its doom at nightfall. Okay, so maybe that's taking it a bit far, but you know what I mean. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Making some progress - finally

Yesterday was a good day. I put everything else out of my mind and sat down and wrote just over 1500 words. Yippee! It was spring the last time I did that. The story flowed from my fingertips and the characters revealed themselves. One character even turned out to be completely different than how I envisioned him. That happened sometimes. When I start developing one character, I don't always get it right in my notes how the other one will react. My natural instincts take over defending the weaker one. I figure we could all use a defender from time to time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A rough start

I'm already starting chapter five of my third book and it still doesn't feel quite right, which tells me something needs fixing. I'm just now introducing Kody's main client so the story is finally getting interesting to me. That's not good if the author isn't interested in her own book until chapter five. In Sincerely, sad dad I introduce Kody's main client right away and I think it immediately draws the reader in. I'll have to rethink this third book. A reader needs to be hooked within the first couple of pages and I doubt anyone is going to stick around until chapter five when things get interesting. My plan is to keep writing and when the story is basically writing itself I'll go back to the beginning and decide what to do. This is one of those cases when time is the only solution.