Monday, June 30, 2014

World Blog Tour 2014

Welcome to the 2014 World Blog Tour!

First, I want to thank Carole Brown, award-winning author of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman and Hog Insane for inviting me to participate. I encourage you to check her work out.

You can find Carole’s blog at

“Like” Carole on Facebook: https://facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Connect with Carole on Twitter
https://twitter.com/browncarole212 Her user name is @browncarole212



During this tour, each author/blogger is asked to answer four questions.  Here are my responses:



1)   What am I working on? As usual, I have several irons in the fire. I am engaged in serious editing of my second novel and in the throes of drafting my third. The second book is about a young woman who opens up a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. I am tentatively calling it Shirley’s Cuppa Joe. The current work is a novel about a woman who finds herself caught in the middle—again. She is a middle-aged woman, the middle of three siblings, living in the Midwest. Her life is turned upside down when her aging mother begins to show signs of dementia. When “Mimi” moves in with her middle child, everything seems fine at first. But soon, Karen finds herself once again in the middle—caught between two strong willed people she loves dearly—her mother and her husband. Both are contemporary Christian fiction like Breathing on Her Own.

2)   How does my work differ from others of its genre? Christian Fiction can range from “in your face” evangelism to simply “clean reading” with little to no reference of a relationship with God. Every novel I have written to date seems to carry the theme of forgiveness and redemption. My characters are flawed. They don’t always have their lives together, but by God’s grace they learn about themselves and about the God who loves them.

3)    Why do I write what I do? I write to tell a relatable story to Christians. We are all in different places in our walk with Christ. I write in the hope that others can see themselves in the characters in doing so, commit—or recommit—to being the persons God has called them to be.

4)    How does my writing process work? It’s messy. The story usually plays out like a movie in my head. I grab the scenes from the mental movie and plot them on a timeline. Then I write from scene to scene. I like to get the initial story down and then tackle the rewrites. Sometimes in the rewriting phase I see where I can weave in a meaningful subplot that will explain a particular character’s actions later. I use a calendar to keep the work sequential. I plot the scenes on the calendar. That way I make sure I don’t have something goofy like it snowing in August in Ohio or something. I also keep a spreadsheet with information about each of my characters. I like to know where they went to school, their birthdates, and so forth. I may never use the information, but it helps me make sense in writing. For example, I once read a book where the couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary yet from other context clues, they didn’t get married until the husband had finished his law degree and the next year he would be turning the big 4-0. It didn’t add up.

Now you’ve seen my answers. Be sure to take a peek at Carole Brown’s blog and to meet two more authors follow these links this next week:

Gloria Doty is the author of the award winning book, Not Different Enough. The book is the story of Gloria’s daughter, Kalisha, and their 30 year journey together with autism, Asperger’s, and intellectual disabilities. Gloria is a prolific writer and regular contributor to several publications.


Check out Gloria’s blog, Montage Moments on her website

“Like” Gloria on her Facebook page

Gloria is available on Twitter https://twitter.com/detour27 
User name: @detour27

            Buy her book HERE 


* * * * *

Renee-Ann Giggie, author of Stella’s Plea. Renee-Ann is a Canadian writer. As an interpreter for over twenty years in a deaf ministry, the deaf community remains a recurring theme in Renee-Ann’s writing. She has published in several arenas.

            Go to http://reneeanngiggie.com  to read her blog.

            “Like” on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ragiggie 

Renee-Ann can be found on Twitter https://twitter.com/StellasPlea 
User name: @StellasPlea

Buy her book HERE


Have fun on the tour and a great Fourth of July but, don't forget to come back to A Novel Creation on July 9!















Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Like Soup, the Plot Thickens

If you read last week’s post, you know that I have spent my week working on the plot for my newest work in progress (WIP). If you didn’t read last week’s post you can view it HERE.

I didn’t expect this to be a two-part post. I expected to express my concerns about a weak plot last week, work on it, and write a bit about my characters this week. Not to be. I had great comments about the plot, read a book and a few articles on plot, and spent my week creating a graph for the book.

Graph? Really? I don’t necessarily outline my story, but rather create scenes and write from scene to scene. I’m a rather visual person. I went back to my initial storyboard and began plotting the scenes on a continuum. I placed them in order and where I expected turning points and the climax of the story.


I realize now, I had lost sight of my original story. My story is about Karen. The dementia her mother experiences is the subplot. The dementia creates some of the tension in the story. But as it does to people in real life, the dementia Mimi experienced began to take over. I researched the stages of grief, because it defines the stages everyone involved experiences when someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The story had become a series of Mimi-isms –those moments when Karen’s mother had lost touch with reality. I had allowed the disease to complicate and constrict the story of Karen.

I was recently asked what I think is the biggest mistake writers make in terms of craftsmanship. Curiously, I said we writers tend to be a bit wordy, get off topic, often give way too much information, not trusting readers to be able to “fill in the blanks.”

Off topic? Try “off plot!” We can become so involved with the details we stray far from our intended story. B-O-R-I-N-G

Playwright/Screenwriter, David Mamet, said a good story line is simple. He outlined it this way:


I’d be interested in hearing how you keep your eye on the prize. I'm all about "happily ever after." 
 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Before I let you go, I need to make an announcement about next week’s post. I know several people are signed up for email notification.
I was tagged for a World Blog Tour. My post will come out on Monday instead of Wednesday and remain up until Tuesday, July 8.

It’s a fun concept. Each author is asked to answer four questions. I will introduce you to three other authors, the one who invited me on the tour and two others who will answer the same four questions the following Monday. It’s your chance to get to know a few new writers and gives each author a chance to share with a new audience. Hope you’ll tune in…



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

To Plot Perchance to Scheme

My current work in progress is about a middle-aged woman who is dealing with issues surrounding her aging mother. Her mother is showing signs of dementia. I know where I want my story to go. I know what I want my main character to learn, feel, and do. But my plot is weak.

Tension? I have tension aplenty. Dialogue? No problem. Flawed but lovable characters? Oh, yes. But the plot? Weak.


The basic premise is that Karen’s mother can no longer live on her own. She comes to live with her daughter. Timely, yes. But, as I said, it’s weak. What triggers that move? What sequence of events brings about Karen’s “aha” moment in coming to appreciate her mother? What underlying plot or event will drive the story to its conclusion?

To address the problem, I began asking myself “what if” kinds of questions. “What if Karen and her siblings had a falling out?” “What if Granny ran away from home?” The bottom line—“What happened to make Karen take on the role of caregiver?” And for a subplot, “What if Karen’s husband lost his job?” “What if…?” Well, you get the idea.

Remember those “which way” books so popular for middle school kids in the eighties? Because dementia itself has so many twists and turns, I actually considered writing this as one of those—for adults!

This week I’ll be working on strengthening the plot. I want to have a clear direction.

Curiously enough, when I looked the word plot up in the dictionary, the first definition was of a secret scheme or devised plan to cause disruption. I’ve read a few books where I think this is the definition the writer used. In fact, the story line was so convoluted the plot remained a secret even as I read the final words of the book.

Once, when my husband read such a book, plodding through the murkiness of the text chapter by chapter, he found great relief in finishing the novel and declared it a classic.

“A classic?” I was confused. I had heard his groaning all the way through the many days of reading.

“Not the good kind of classic,” he answered. “The kind where you’re forced in school to read it, you never understood it, but your teacher tells you it’s a classic.”

Ahhh…a boring book. I understood. We had a few of the same teachers in school. Where there was no plot or substance our teachers insisted the book was laden with symbolism.

Maybe.

This simple truth remains: good novels have a strong plots. They may have a main plot and several subplots intertwined, but there is a plot. Plot and characters work together to shape the story. When something happens in the sequence of events, the characters react. Their reactions shape what happens next.

A plot: A sequence of events that take place in a moment or over years.  The plot can make or break the story. Characters are great and we want people to identify with them, cheer for our protagonist and hiss at the antagonist, but without a sequence of events for our characters to experience, we have a boring book.

I certainly don’t want to write a boring book, do you?


What are you doing to strengthen your writing?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writer Known, Audience Anonymous

How well do you know your audience?

It’s a question all authors need to ask of themselves as they write. The notion is simple: if you have an idea of who will read your book, you will write with that audience in mind.

I remember a television program where a teen was trying so hard to be “cool,” he was turning his back on his longtime friends. The lesson learned in the show was captured by his father who said, “In my generation, ‘cool’ meant not-so-hot.”

The words we choose, the situations we create, even the conversations we capture speak to a specific audience. Identifying that audience helps keep our story fluid.

I thought I had identified my audience for Breathing on Her Own. In my proposal, I stated the story would appeal to women ages 30 and up.

I was right. And I was wrong.

The book is written from the perspective of one woman, Molly, who is in her late fifties. She has a sweet husband and two adult daughters. I’ve had women of various ages tell me they identify with Molly. Most of the book signings and book talks I’ve given are for groups of women.

Lately though, several men have told me how much they appreciated the book.

A couple of weeks ago, Darryll Davis, the pastor at our church had asked if he could interview me as part of the message. I didn’t know where it would lead, but I agreed to do the interview. The message was about stepping out of our comfort zone and using whatever gifts God gives us to minister to His kingdom. It turned out to be a great message. I was honored to be a part of it.

During the interview, it became evident Darryll had read the book. He spoke of it from Travis’s viewpoint—a parent’s concern. He spoke of the place in the book where Travis prays with his son-in-law. He talked about the spiritual leadership Travis offered his wife.

Another man who had read the book told me he felt Travis’s frustration at not being able to “fix” things. He said he could identify with Travis as he struggled in building the deck and recognized the concern Travis had about the financial well being for his family.

One of the men in the church that day decided to read the book. He met me at the door as Tom and I walked into church this past Sunday.

“I have one question for you,” he said as he looked my way. “When is your next book coming out?”

I never intended my audience to be men. I figured women—women like me would  read it. Sure, my husband read it. But hey, he could be a bit biased. I had several men read it in the endorsement stage, but I thought perhaps they were being kind.

In Amazon, the book is listed as Christian Fiction, not Women’s Christian Fiction. Did I miscalculate? Do I really know my audience? My audience isn’t merely women, but includes the men who live with them—the members of families who experience life-changing events together.



Who is my audience? In truth, I write for an audience of One. And I know He likes it.

What these men say:

Lean, not florid, genuine, not sappy, reflective, not preachy, familiar, not clich├ęd, satisfying, not contrived: what more could one ask of a contemporary novel from a first-time novelist? Readers of Breathing on Her Own will enjoy a story that feels close to home, in the tradition of writers like Anne Tyler. We know the people in this story. They are friends, neighbors, family, even ourselves. I expect that when readers finish this book, they will ask Dr. Waters when they can read her next one. That's certainly my question. –Jon Weatherly, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology, Johnson University

I was hooked from the beginning! Waters takes us on a journey of faith and doubt which had me asking questions like, “How would I react?” and “Would I trust God during these tough times?”—Andy Lynch
WTLW TV host of 'Faith and Friends' and Sports Director of WOSN
Entertaining, challenging, and realistic. Breathing on Her Own brings us face-to-face with what we really believe, through the eyes of one woman's journey –with hope and resilient faith as the backbone of the story. –Drew Waters, Actor and Director, star of  The Redemption of Henry Myers (2014), The Ultimate Life  (2013), Breaking the Press (2010), Friday Night Lights



So the question is this…Who is your audience?