A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Cover Reveal- Sullivan’s Way by Wilhelmina Stolen

Cover

Historical Romance

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

 Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

 Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

Available January 9, 2014 from 5 Prince Publishing! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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New Release Day for 5 Prince Publishing Authors Peter Hindley and Susan Goodsell- The Perfect Crime: A Story of Truth or Fantasy

5 Prince Publishing welcomes it’s newest authors, Peter Hindley and Susan Goodsell! Check out their book, The Perfect Crime: A Story of Truth or Fantasy!

Perfect Crime Cover

Events have accurately been recorded since the time of Alan’s death; they combine to reveal an intriguing story. Did he die naturally or was he helped in some way? Has a crime or two taken place? Some may think so. Maybe there is a conspiracy; if so how far it may extend is unclear. Nothing is quite as it should be.

This unique book evolves from a simple account to a vast scandalous exposé, a true and topical account showing a fascinating view of human nature, society, and the establishment in the United Kingdom. Many questions are posed for the reader and evidence is laid bare as you take a journey of discovery.

The story and writing style changes drastically as the twists and turns in the narrative expose themselves; ultimately it reaches a logical end, but that is not the end of the story. A sequel is already underway.

Buy Your Copy Today for $2.99!

Excerpt: 

We have accurately recorded the events near the time of Alan Hindley’s death, who was a brother to Peter and father of Susan, the two authors of this account, and what followed; they combine to reveal an intriguing story. Did he die naturally or was he helped in some way? Has a crime or two taken place? Some may think so. Maybe there is a conspiracy; my lawyer certainly thought so; how far that conspiracy extends is unclear. We are certain that nothing is quite as it should be. Nevertheless this account shows a fascinating view of human nature, English society and the workings of the establishment in the United Kingdom. The story is so bizarre that it could well be fiction, and that is why I have added “A story of truth or fantasy” to the title. What is frightening is that it is all absolutely true.

The normal formalities that follow a death were not adhered to after Alan’s demise: Why the mandatory procedures were bypassed may not be evident, but during the course of our nine year account they certainly do become evident.

Why did his wife act as she did and who aided her? These and so many other questions will become apparent.

In this case what is certain now is that the will and wishes of the deceased, Alan Edward Hindley of Paignton, Devon, has not been adhered to and the UK law and establishment did nothing to aid its rectification: The laws relating to Wills are fatally flawed and the government is fully aware of that. As named executors we have been denied the right to execute his wishes. You may think this is not possible, but it is, and it has proved to be absolutely legal.

His wife, Wendy, acted as sole executor of her husband’s Last Will and Testament without the other two named executors and we reveal how simple it is to do just that. Why she felt this was necessary will ultimately be disclosed. You will learn how the solemn duty of executing a will can be mal administered in a totally legal way and without fear of retribution.

We have experienced many twists and turns along our path of discovery and these have been reflected in both the different styles and structure of the book. Our journey has taken us to numerous office doors and has led us into the heart of the halls of government, where events have made it very apparent that what we were witnessing was true injustice and unchecked corruption within the United Kingdom. It is for this reason that we felt it necessary to pen our story, to be able to share our account with you and all our other readers, who have been reading an abridged account on the Internet since May 2008; it is very much in the public’s interest to be aware of what can go wrong and does go very wrong daily.

We have been told that Alan died in his home during the evening of 14th March 2002 in more than one place, and all on the same night, the last time anything vaguely like this happened was two thousand years ago (please forgive the last statement, it is not meant to offend); but first a little background information about the family.

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About the Authors:

Peter Hindley

Peter Hindley is a coach to dance competitors and is a jury member for international dance competitions. He left England in 2007 for a new life in France and has been recording events since his brother’s unconventional death in 2002.

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Susan Goodsell

Susan Goodsell, co-author and Peter’s niece, lives in England with her partner and their two now grown-up sons. She spent many years in London before returning to Kent in 1997. The year her father died she began teaching English in a secondary school; now after finishing work, she returns home to begin another shift, as a detective and writer.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Deciding what genre you write should not be this difficult!!!!

Finding the Correct Genre For Your ProseOkay, admit it, we’ve all been there. You get an idea; invest time, tears, aggravation, and determination to write it all down. Then you struggle with letting it go long enough for a friend or relative to read it. You gird yourself emotionally (or at least you try to) while you listen to their feedback, then cry when in private. Despite however many edits it takes to tell your tale, one of the first questions asked by your reader is, “What genre do you write?”

You would think it would be easy to say, (fill in the blank), but not these days. Genres no longer carry the simple tags of Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Drama, and Sci-Fi. There are sub-genres to these popular book categories that muddy the waters when it comes to deciding exactly where your manuscript fits in. Not to mention, new categories seem to pop up every day. Ever heard of Science Fiction/Alternative History? Me neither, but it is out there!

So, how do you find out if your manuscript fits into one, or more, of these sub-genres?

Well let’s start with defining what a fiction genre is. Visit this link, Exploring Different Types of Genre, which is found on the For Dummies website.

To summarize, here are the two main types of literal and commercial fiction:

Commercial fiction: Attracts a broad audience and may also fall into any sub-genre such as mystery, romance, legal thriller, western, science fiction, and more. (Example: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. Popular authors in this genre include John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, and Jackie Collins.)

Literary fiction: Appeals to a smaller, more intellectual audience. Works in this genre can fall into the above listed genres. The difference is the qualities it contains: excellent writing, originality of thought and style. These qualities raise it above the level of ordinary written works. (Examples: Cold Mountain by Frazier. Popular authors in this genre include Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsover, John LeCarre, and Saul Bellow. )

The article goes on to describe the main genres, as well as list the sub-genres and its most popular authors. Visiting this link provides valuable information to help you discover where you fit in, as well as where to best promote your work when it’s published.  The site also provides links to the Writers of America website for each genre for more detailed descriptions and the accepted rules.

For those of you on a time crunch who don’t have time to read the full article, but want to find our more information about your genre, here are the links:

Mystery Writers of America        Romance Writers of America

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America      Western Writers of America

So, where does my writing fit in? While I writer Romance, because I ‘break the rules’, the stories I tell fall into several categories.

The settings are modern day which puts me in Contemporary Romance.

Though I write from the female and male point of view, the stores are mostly about women’s issues and the ability to overcome, which places me in Women’s Fiction.

My characters are not all from one race. The heroines in the first three novels of The Butterfly Memoirs are an African-American, Caucasian-African-American, and Caucasian. The heroes are Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic. This puts me in the Interracial Romance category. Unfortunately, this is a relatively new category that is just now being acknowledged by the publishing industry. (Here’s a great blog post written by a fellow author on this topic: Interracial Romance: The Most Popular Genre No One’s Heard About.)

And last but not least, because I am an African-American author, anything I write, regardless of the topics, writing style, or genre, I am automatically placed in the African-American genre before anything else is considered.

So, where does YOUR story fit? Good luck with figuring it out!

MJ

#WriterWednesday- Interview with A.T. Hicks!

This week I introduce you to another great author, A.T. Hicks! She stopped by a few weeks ago to share how she cracked the mystery novel code. This weeks she’s back to tell us why she writes and offers a few tips to aspiring authors.

Welcome back, A.T.! 


What inspired you to write?

 I wasn’t really inspired to write so much as reminded that I could. One day, desperate, I was trying to figure out where my talent lay. What was I supposed to be doing? At that point in my life, I was a directionless college student without the goals and drive that those around me seemed to have. I prayed. The next day I wrote my very first poem. And within a year I wrote my first novel. Albeit a terrible one, but a novel nonetheless! My inspiration for books lies in the madness of everyday life, in the nuances of human behavior, and…in court TV!

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

At the moment, I’m focused on writing a series of not so cozy mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Peaches Donnelly. I love cozy mysteries and have read tons of them. However, I noticed none were written by black authors. I figured I’d change that. However, I wanted the plot of Peaches and the Gambler, my first cozy, to have plot elements that were far more risqué than your traditional cutsie-cutsie cozy. So, with that in mind, I got to work. So, I guess you could say I chose the genre and not the other way around.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Unless I get really busy with my day job, I write nearly every day. I try to stick to around 1500 words a day. But as usual, this goes awry! Novels generally take me two to three months from start to finish.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

 I write all my novels in front of the television while talking to my husband! In addition, I’m not one of those writers who, if they stop, the writing muse disappears. Quite often, I’ll write a paragraph or two, in between cooking dinner.

MJ: Sounds like me this evening! I was cooking and writing at the same time!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

 I’m a panster with a bit of plotter thrown in for good measure. I usually have an idea and run with it. However, I spend a lot of time in my head plotting. Thus, the characters are already well-developed. I generally know exactly what’s going to happen in a book, save a few minor details.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

My stories are almost inevitably ideas I’ve gleaned from a combination of watching the news, reading police bulletins and watching court TV. The development of the character for Peaches Donnelly was shaped around one of my girlfriends whose life–I swear to God–is a bad comedy. Every time I spoke to her something funny was going on with her or one of her two daughters. She was too funny a character to pass up. She IS Peaches Donnelly! The car chase in my second novel, Peaches and the Baby Mama, actually happened in real life. It was a story I saw featured on an episode of Judge Alex. It was so unbelievable and ridiculous; I just had to use it!

MJ: Ha ha ha!!! Art imitating life!

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

 I know this is probably clichéd advice, but write all the time. Learn how to shut people out. Put down your phone! Also, watch plenty of TV. That’s where I get all of the characters for my books. Nothing comes out of a vacuum and certainly with the characters in my books, this couldn’t be more true.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m self-published. I’m sorry. I’m an Indie Writer. I believe that’s the politically correct term these days!

What are your current projects?

 I just completed Peaches and the Baby Mama. The next novel in the series is Peaches and the Cross Dresser.

Peaches and the Gambler Silhouette

 

Buy Now!

What does a strip club, a dead man and a Dove ice cream bar all have in common? Peaches Donnelly.

Peaches Donnelly has a major problem: she’s just been fired. Unaccustomed to filling her days with nothingness, she embroils herself in the murder of a childhood friend. However, standing between her and the solving of this heinous
crime are two pesky daughters, a selfish opera singer sister, the diet from hell and two sexy men she can’t resist.

Add to this bubbling pot a hasty decision to go undercover as a stripper and you have a story rife with drama, laughs and a little dash of danger.

Follow Peaches and the always funny cast of characters in this first installment of a rollicking series of cozy mysteries.

 


 

Peaches and the Baby Momma

Buy Now! 

 

Bodacious beauty and Baby Mama Extraordinaire Cecily Washington has it all: a Child Support Portfolio that would make any Gold Digger proud, a sprawling McMansion filled with expensive goodies, and a closet full of designer shoes that would bring a diva to tears.

When Peaches is invited to a party at the uber wealthy Cecily’s home, she jumps at the chance. However, poison is in the air when local daycare owner and president of Peaches PTA, Stacey Howard, storms in and confronts the Baby Mama about the torrid affair she is carrying on with her husband.

When the housekeeper finds Cecily dead the next morning, the victim of a vicious—and some think well deserved—knife in the back, Peaches sleuthing/nosy instincts kick into high gear. Stacey Howard is the prime
suspect. But the list of Cecily Haters is long and illustrious. Accepting a lucrative wager to solve the crime before local police, Peaches puts her amateur detecting skills to work to root out the well-to-do Baby Mama’s
murderer.

 

About the Author:

When A. T. Hicks isn’t penning outrageous fiction, she’s shooing a renegade tomcat out of her garden, trying to prevent her escape artist dog from slipping out under the fence once again and negotiating with her teenaged daughter to complete her chores.

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Thanks for stopping by to share your books with us!

MJ

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#WriterWednesday- Interview with Christopher Bynum!

I crossed paths with author Christopher Bynum in one of the Facebook book clubs I belong to.  We first conversed when he dropped by for an author chat about my first book. I was floored when I learned he wrote Erotica. I have not ran across many male authors (I know they exist!) who write Romance, much less Erotica…and man is he good at it! But Romance and Erotica are not the only genres he  has explored.  He goes by the pen name, The Black, and has an extensive catalog of stories to read on his website. You have to check them out!

Chris Author pic

Welcome, Christopher!

What inspired you to write?

 I think I’ve always had stories in my head. Early on I wanted to be an artist. I was always good at illustration, and I thought that I’d tell my stories that way. Then one day it dawned on me that I could tell my stories more efficiently with the written word than with a series of illustrations or paintings.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write everything. My back up hard drive is loaded with stories of every genre – Action/Adventure, Romance, Erotica, even Science Fiction, Fantasy and Old West tales. Most of my published works are erotica, a genre I kind of fell into. The year before I retired from the Air Force the IT guy at my headquarters asked me what I was going to do after I retired. I told him the same job I did in the Air Force, but that what I really wanted to do one day was to pursue my passion, which was writing fiction. I also commented that I thought that reading books on computers would be the wave of the future. He agreed. He told me that in every new technology, sex always leads the way, whether it be VCRs, video on CD, and the new technology (at that time), DVDs. He suggested that I write about sex. So that’s how I started with erotica. I made my bones on a certain adult web site, and over about a decade became quite popular there writing serialized erotica. Many of those stories became published books.  

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m usually up by 7:00, and the first thing I do is sit down with a cup of coffee at my laptop. I try to do no less than four hours of writing a day. It usually works out to be many more hours – sometimes eight or ten on a given day because if inspiration strikes, I’ll usually stop whatever I’m doing and go fire up my laptop.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I come up with some of my best stuff in the shower. I’m talking about specific narrative and dialogue. Then by the time I’m dry I’ve lost over half of it. If someone ever invents a waterproof laptop I’m going to rule the world. Okay, maybe that’s not interesting; just strange.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I plot. Mentally. I can’t sit down in front of a blank Word document with no idea and just start writing and hope it turns out okay. Today I wrote the first 2,000 words of a story that’s been in my head for weeks. The crazy thing is that until a couple of days ago it hadn’t occurred to me to write it at all. It was just something bouncing around in my imagination while I was doing other things. That being said, I rarely create a written outline before starting a story or novel. Usually the story plays out in my head, including character dialogue. If I get stuck, I get up and walk around and let the characters talk to me. Lately however, I’m finding that I need to lay out at least a rough overview of the primary elements of a story, because my new stuff is more complex. Right now I have pages of bullet statements for a book project I’m working on taped to the wall behind my laptop. 

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

Many of my stories are based on my experiences or are inspired by the experiences of others that I’ve observed. Some come to me out of thin air. An example of a story inspired by real life would be one I started about five years ago. I had an idea for a story about a man who was in a marriage that ended suddenly, catching him by surprise. My thought was that after his marriage ended, the character would go on something of a sexual rampage, having many physical relationships without allowing himself to become emotionally involved with any of the women and be hurt again as a result. I was going to call the story Insatiable. I was married at that time, and all of a sudden real life events started to look like they would mirror my story idea. My fictional story became emotionally too close to reality, and I wasn’t able to finish it. Fast-forward to my post-marriage life: I met someone who was externally the (stereotypical) model of the strong, independent, successful black woman. You step to her wrong and she would verbally crush you. But we discovered that beneath her strong exterior, she was a submissive at heart. Boom – a new story idea. I created a character based on that woman. I needed a male costar for her story, so I dug up the character I’d put aside – the man who’d experienced the failed marriage – made him a writer named Simon Bishop, and wrote a story titled, Elle. I posted Elle on the adult web site, and I was surprised at all the positive email feedback I received from women readers. They wrote that they could relate to Elle’s character – not necessarily her sexual submissiveness, but her desire to have a man she could trust enough to allow her to let down her guard, to not always have to be in control. The emails highlighted to me that many women don’t want to be controlling or in always control of every aspect of their lives, but feel that they have to be because they haven’t found a man they could trust enough to hand over the reins to. Based on that feedback, I knew that Elle would have to become a published novel. I published it as Elle (Insatiable: Book One). I still have plans to publish Simon Bishop’s story (the story I put aside), probably as the fourth book in the Insatiable series.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they? Read a lot. Read works by your favorite authors. As you read, think about what makes you enjoy that author’s work. From a technical perspective, examine the way they lay out a story and draw you into it. Then sit down and write, but don’t try to imitate those other authors. Instead, find your own voice and run with it. Don’t worry about how bad you think it might be. That’s what editing is for. For instructional/reference material I suggest Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and J.A. Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Grab a copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine every now and then. I always find good tips or motivation there.  Also pick up a copy of Gone With the Wind. Even if you don’t like the subject matter and some of the character portrayals, the novel is a classic for a reason. Author Margaret Mitchell laid out a blueprint for character and plot development that’s as good as any you’ll ever read. One thousand pages fly by. Most important, write! Writing is like exercising a muscle. You won’t get better at it unless you work that muscle and make it stronger.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m self-published.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on three projects currently: A vampire novel titled Nightwalkers, which will be much different than any vampire tale ever written, a romance drama titled Anything Worth Having, and I’m compiling the many short stories that make up The Hitman Chronicles. The one is long overdue for publishing, but it’s my pet project and I want to get it just right.

Connect with Christopher on the following links:

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Blog/Website     Amazon     Email

Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I’M A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK.  I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction, she asked me, ‘is this going to be in one of your stories?’ I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with their ‘Remember when…’ tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what  my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‘broken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident’ that led to fluorescent yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room.  No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‘you know better’ speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What’s the point?  All that’s left is ‘don’t do it again.’

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.  Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character’s life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have  followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them – good and bad – will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Thanks to Carol Fragale of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me for this honor! I have had the privilege and sharing blogs with her and several other talented Women’s Fiction authors on Goodreads.  So…let’s play!

Ten Questions About My Latest  WIP:

Autumn landscape1. What is the working title of your book? Jaded, Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs (Currently in the hands of my editor.) Release date is March 7, 2013.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? The story line is based on a secondary character in my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Yasmine Phillips, who is the best friend of the heroine, Ebony Campbell. Though the  novel focuses on Ebony, there are a few chapters where the reader is introduced to Yasmine to show where she is in her life. She’s ambitious, a hard worker, and full of self-confidence, especially when it comes to her relationships with men. She’s all about friends-with-benefit. During the course of the story, she winds up engaged to her main hook up. Everything seems to be working out until Ebony drops a bomb on her happy moment and she discovers her new fiance is not the man she thought he was. Jaded picks up two months later when we find Yasmine still reeling from the heart break of her engagement. Shes decided to give up on relationships of any kind and focus on finding herself.  She’s been working on a business  to start her own small business. Entrepreneurship is nothing new. She’s grown up watching her parents build and maintain their own business, a Bed and Breakfast chain of hotels, since she was in high school. Upon graduating collage, the chain expanded opening a second location. She’s managed the hotel for the past three years. During the course of the novel, Yasmine finds herself in a relationship that has her struggling to decide whether she is ready to open her heart up and give love another chance.

3. What is the genre of this book? Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters of the movie rendition? Oh, that’s easy! My male lead would be Columbus Short! He is exactly how I pictured Zachariah Givens while writing. For Yasmine, it would be a mix between Zoe Saldana or Megan Good.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After heart break leaves Yasmine devastated, she must decide if fighting for love is worth the risk of  losing the woman she’s become.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? I am Indie published through 5 Prince Publishing.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I outlined the novel first, but from there it took 29 days to write my rough draft, complete with errors and no edits…about 85,000 words.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would have to say the first novel in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken. I have worked hard to develop my own style of storytelling, so I can’t think of anyone to compare it to.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? My stories are based on themes and ‘what if’ scenarios. Jaded deals with several themes: women as entrepreneurs, reaching your goals without the support of family, opening yourself up to love after heartbreak, friends-with-benefits relationships, dealing with sick family members, and knowing when to trust yourself to follow your heart.

10. What else about your book might pique the readers interest? If you’ve read A Heart Not Easily Broken and got to know Yasmine, the truth she learns at the novels end will have you wanting to know what happens to her. As I said before, one moment she’s in her happy place, then without warning her outlook on love will never be the same. You will want to know if and how Yasmine Phillips finds her Happily Ever After.

Whew! That wasn’t too bad!

The three authors I’d like to tag to introduce their Next Big Thing are: Nia Forrester, Candace Shaw, and Sharon C. Cooper!  Enjoy!

MJ

Lets Talk About It!: Finding Love After a Broken Heart

How many times can your heart be broken before you give up on love?

That is one of the questions  addressed in my  upcoming novel, Jaded- Book two of The Butterfly Memoirs. This novel follows Yasmine Phillips, a bi-racial woman who seems full of confidence, works hard, and is all about enjoying life. She’s not looking for love, but enjoys friend-with-benefits relationships.

When love finds a way into her current relationship, she realizes her childhood dreams of becoming a wife and mother are going to come true…until the truth about her fiance comes to light and the man she thought loved her turns out to be her worst nightmare.

She should be able to suck it up and move on…right?

This isn’t the first time a man has broken her heart. Yasmine is left questioning her self-worth and ability to trust a man ever again. With the happiness  her friends are experiencing in their lives and relationships, she realizes  fate has given her the roll of  ‘the go-to-girl’ for her family and friends, aiding them to fulfill their endeavors in business and marriage.

What is she left with?

“A business plan and a dream.”-Yasmine Phillips

If you’ve followed my blog over the past two years you know music often finds it’s way into my stories. It can describe a characters feelings, their goals, or set the tone for a scene. One day while cleaning the kitchen I pulled out my iPod in search of inspiration for the ‘first kiss’ scene for Jaded.  The question in my mind was: with her relationship history, what  would  be the setting, the motivation to take that step? To allow herself to be kissed, to feel, to be wanted again?

Then it hit me in the lyrics of this song: Love Calls by Kem.

It’s got a  sexy jazz feel, and of course the smooth bass guitar line (and you know I love my bass players! Ahem…Brian Young). The song talks about a person giving up on love because of past experiences, but not being able to deny it when it comes your way. The song quickly went from inspiring the first kiss, to fueling one of the plot lines for not only Yasmine, but for her love interest as well.

If you haven’t heard the song, watch the video, sit back and get lost in these smooth lyrics!

MJ

My Straight Jacket is Purple…How About Yours?

***This blog was originally published  12/2011, and was my most read blog on my old blog site. I decide to dust it of, refresh it a bit and share again. After all, I’m sure all authors can relate! :)***
I know, it’s a crazy statement, but as an author we all have an element of crazy in us somewhere. How can we not? We have to balance our lives, family, and day to day responsibilities with the art of storytelling. We create lives, personalities, likes and dislikes. It’s like giving birth without the added weight gain and late night bottle feedings.
Or is it?
If they all came like this, I’d want one!
If we don’t watch it, we drink coffee, eat snacks, and are glued to our computer screens for hours on end. Thus the weight gain. Late night bottle feedings come in the form of waking up in the wee hours of the night, turning on the bedside light or computer to jot down notes or write a scene that’s been plaguing us all day.
How do we stay sane? Where do these fictional people come from? Why are we not wearing straight jackets?????
My best guess is because we’ve learned to blend in with the rest of society. Thankfully people are intrigued by our stories and want to be entertained. Thus the reason why the straight jackets stay tucked in the corner and the psychiatrist keeps the crazy pills at bay.
But, all jokes aside, it is my opinion that writing is the truest form of self-expression, of healing, and finding a way to cope with whatever ails you. Whether you write in a diary, a memoir, take the experiences of your life, or pull from those around you. No matter what avenue you decide to take, writing can help you make it through.
How well you write is another story.
I love to create the characters in my stories. As an only child I spent a lot of time playing with my baby dolls, stuffed animals, and Barbies’. Each had a name and a voice of its own. I spent hour after hour making up stories and creating adventures to entertain myself. Each story had a Happily Ever After. From time to time I would get the tape recorder (remember that ancient form of electronics?) and make cassette tapes of these little adventures to share with my parents. They of course thought they were funny. Little did I know that form of storytelling would eventually lead to me putting stories down on paper.
I still use a recorder – digital that is – and the stories are the ones from my books. No dolls allowed; I leave that to my daughter. Now the stories are not about princess riding horses and marrying the prince. Now it’s stories dealing with real life experiences. Not all are my own, but they are real, they do happen, and there is heartbreak and pain. But through it all there is happiness and love.
As I create the heroines in my stories, I’ve come to realize something. In each character – as different as they are – there is an element of me. The woman I once was, the woman I am, the woman I secretly wish I could be, and the woman I aspire to become. Multiple Personality Disorder at its best. By telling these women’s stories I’ve found a way to work through the pain in my past and find happiness in my family and the ones I hold dear.
Along the way I’ve made friends I never would have known, and gained knowledge I never would have attained. In short, I’ve not only learned how to become a better writer, I’ve learned more about me. Writing has allowed me to make a mark of my own outside of being a wife and a mother. After thirty-eight years I have finally discovered something I love, something I’m good at, and something that unless I actually lose my mind, no one can ever take away from me.
There’s not a morning I don’t get up with an idea in my head and am anxious to get down on paper. Seeing my first story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, become a published Bestselling novel on Amazon has been a mind  blowing experience. There are days when I pull up  Amazon and look at my name and cover on the screen and go, ‘Wow, did I really write that?” What’s even more mind blowing is knowing that I am on the eve of the publication of my second novel…
If someone  told me three years ago that this would happen, I’d probably laugh and say, ‘yeah, right.’ But it just goes to show that following your dreams and not being afraid to wear that straight jacket can pay off……
As long as you write a book good enough for the ‘doctors’ to read. What can they do if they’re distracted? 🙂
Can’t believe I found purple shoes to match! LOL!
To all of you who are on various stages of your writing path, I wish you the best journey. Write your heart, write what you feel, let those characters out and onto paper. Just do me a favor, watch your back. If you don’t tell the story right, the men with those special white coats just might change their mind and take you for a ride!
By the way, my straight jacket also has butterflies!
Until Next Time, Write On!
MJ