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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @ thewritepen (Twitter and Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Do the Opposite and Win as a Writer! (Part 1)

I recently read a blog by Dawn Field titled "How to Fail as a Writer" and she listed 23 ways to do just that. While I'm sure there are more ways to fail, I wanted to talk about the first eight in Part I of my blog review of her list and why you should do the opposite to WIN as a writer.

Here goes:

1. Don’t worry too much about your opening line. Readers will soon be past it and into the good stuff.
My opposite: Please, please, please do worry about the opening line. Why? Because the first line of the first chapter determines whether readers will want to read the next paragraph or the next chapter of your novel. Once you get readers hooked they will want to read more of your work!

2. Don’t be concerned that your ending goes off with a fizzle. The rest of the book was worth the price of admission.
My opposite: Endings are a pain. I struggle with this too because if you have a story that sizzles and pops you don't want to be stuck wondering how to wrap things up. So I would suggest spending some time to write an ending that leaves readers gratified.

3. Don’t worry about typos and grammatical errors. Trivial details won’t bother veteran readers.
My opposite: Nothing turns readers off more than reading a novel with typos and grammatical errors. It's a sign that you don't care about yourself as a writer to polish your work and that readers don't matter. And please hire an editor and even when you do, please do your due diligence and read through your work again as there may be a few missed typos and grammatical errors.

4. Go with your first complete draft as your final draft. Your gut instincts were correct the first time around, you’ll just dilute them when you edit.
My opposite: A resounding NO. The first drafts are usually rushed to get the story completed. Once that's done then the real work begins to polish, polish, polish, or rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I know rewriting may sometimes change the plotline but it's worth rewriting it to get the best product you can produce.

5. Only write when the urge hits you. If you need discipline to write, it’s not really writing.
My opposite: You should have a writing regime or else you fall into a place of no return. Trust me, I have been there and it's not a nice place to lift yourself out of. But, I'm trying to maintain a more balanced writing schedule.

6. Do not exercise, enjoy hobbies, or have any kind of life . Any minute spent not writing is time down the drain.
My opposite: Please exercise, enjoy hobbies, engage with friends and simply take care of yourself. I know if I didn't, I would be no good as a writer as these activities help feed my creative soul.

7. Sleep as little as possible. Sleep deprivation will unlock your inner writing god.
My opposite: Nothing rejuvenates me more than a good night's sleep. Listen to your body and get the necessary sleep as it's the best thing to replenish your mental acuity and to release your inner writing god.

8. Quit your day job immediately. Work gets in the way of your writing.
My opposite: Now this is laughable. Unless, you have a coffer of cash lying around, I would strongly suggest that you keep your day job. I know that work can sometimes get in the way but you have to carve out some time for your creative adventures. I do!

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tips and Tricks for Writing Popular Fiction Novels

So you have a great idea for a fiction novel. Now, where do you start?

As for me, I started out by taking a few creative writing classes and throughout the years I continued to hone my skills through various workshops and attending writers conferences. I have also spent so reading a wide variety of books some within my genre (romantic suspense) and others outside my genre (non-fiction, etc.).

Anyway, I recently read the following John Grisham's suggestions for writing popular fiction and wanted to share them with aspiring writers. Also, this is a great reminder for me to see how I measured up against these suggestions.

1. Do write a page every day - Failed, but I'm working on that.

2. Don't write the first scene until you know the last - Semi-failed. I have a tendency to write and figure things out as I go along. But, I'm working on at least having a road map of where I want my stories to go.

3. Do write your one page at the same place and time - When I do write it's usually at the same place, but at different times.

4. Don't write a prologue - Passed with flying colors as I typically like to dive into writing my story. Also, I think prologues can be somewhat distracting.

5. Do use quotation marks with dialogue - Passed with flying colors as this is basic.

6. Don't keep a thesaurus within reaching distance - Sigh, it's right behind me on my book shelve, but I rarely use it. If necessary, I tend to jump online to http://www.dictionary.com

7. Do read each sentence at least 3 times in search of words to cut - Aaah, the proverbial killing your darlings. Over the years, I have done a better job of getting rid of words that slow down the pacing of my stories.

8. Don't introduce 20 characters in the first chapter - Passed with flying colors because as a writer I run the risk of not only confusing my readers but myself. So, I tend to limit the first chapter to no more than 2 or 3 of the main characters.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Reflections of Things Past

Whew, now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season are over, I'm now able to catch my breath and reflect back on 2017. For starters, 2017 was a year that pushed me artistically, personally and professionally.

Anyway, here are a few things I was definitely proud of myself for doing:

  • Hiring a publicist to revamp my website as it's been neglected for far too long and I love the new look! 
  • Freshening up the cover of my first novel, Gotta Let It Go, relaunching the second edition and making it available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. 
  • Hiring an editor for the sequel, Gotta Get It Back - and yes this has been sitting for a few years. I'm shaking my head here because I'm guilty of not making this a priority amidst the craziness of life. But onward I go.
  • Changing my look (new hairstyle) which came with a new level of sassiness.
  • Diving into a new attitude about living, loving, and laughing out loud.
  • Embracing when folks do their own thing and being there to support them when needed without hesitation. 
  • Striking a balance between work and play and knowing I can't win them all.

Nevertheless, there were a few things that remained constant: 

  • Meeting with my monthly writers' group and enjoying the company of my fellow writers. We even incorporated having an icebreaker before our meetings. With only a few minutes to discuss a single question, we got to learn more about each other.
  • Loving and taking care of ME: gym time, spa time, alone time, and chill time with family and friends.
  • Reading and enjoying written words from some of my favorite authors and some new ones too.
  • Enjoying the arts - love, love, love the new productions of Baltimore Center Stage and yes I will truly miss Kwame Kwei-Armah. He did an excellent job!
  • Connecting with my readers via my monthly newsletter.
  • Networking with my fellow creatives online and in person. 
  • Being thankful for all the blessings bestowed upon me.
Toward the end of the year, I was given a blow by the loss of a good friend. This created yet another pause as to how I wanted to live my life in 2018. Moving forward, I promise to write more because he would have wanted me to, live my best life with no regrets, love unconditionally, embark on new horizons, and be happy above all else!

So, 2018 here I come!! #fearless #fierce #boundlessjourney

Monday, January 1, 2018

Interview with Daneace Jeffery, Author of Another Me

Author’s Bio: Daneace Terry Jeffery is a Baltimore-based children’s book author and a teacher who has taught for 19 years in Howard County, MD. Ms. Jeffery earned a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Literacy. She has five grandchildren who are all bi-racial. Another Me is the third book in the Ella series that is loosely based on the life of her eldest granddaughter.

What inspired you to write your book?
DJ: I was inspired to write the first book after the birth of my first bi-racial granddaughter. It was important to me to find books to add to her library that featured a bi-racial child. Unable to find the right book, I decided to publish my own. I was not looking for the “look I’m a bi-racial child” book, but just a regular picture book with the main character being bi-racial. 

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
DJ: Being a children’s book author was something totally out of my arena.  Growing up my influence surrounded authors like Nikki Giovanni, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and believe it or not, Shakespeare and Chaucer.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
DJ: No, Ella and Her Bubbles was the first book and Grandma’s Two is the second book. Another Me is my third book.  It took about 3 months to write this third book, because I would write a few lines and put it away.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
DJ: Because these are picture books, I don’t use an outline, I take my inspiration from my grandchildren and their lives.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
DJ: No, I don’t listen to music at all when I write, I need the peace and quiet to hear my thoughts.  My ideal surrounding to write is somewhere near water like a deserted beach or ocean. I love nature’s music.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
DJ: My key to success is feet to the floor.  You have to be willing to put in the hard work of selling yourself in whatever manner you can.  I try to place myself in situations where I can be seen and heard with book in hand of course. And a good publicist is also another option.

What advice would you give to new authors?
DJ: The best advice I would give to new authors is to do your homework, know your weakness and be prepared for hard work that may not lead to success the first time around. Anyone can write a book, but will anyone buy that book?  If the market is already saturated with books about peanuts, you better have a new idea of what to do with those peanuts before you spend money to publish.

How about sharing an excerpt from Another Me?  
DJ: The baby is here and her name is Sophia. Today I am going to meet my baby sister at the hospital for the first time. I am very happy that I can play with her now and tell her all about the fun things we can do when she comes home. I hope she likes all of the stuffed animals and toys I left in her crib. When I get to the hospital and walk in the room Mommy is holding her. I just stop and stare. She is very small.

What’s next for you?
DJ: I plan on publishing books four and five in the Ella Book series, but first I am taking a detour to write a book based on the aftermath of the death of my nephew who was one of the sailors killed on the USS Fitzgerald this past June. This book will be about all of the various people and organizations that have held our family together in this time of national tragedy.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: www.ellabooks.weebly.com
·         Facebook: Ella and Her Bubbles
·         Twitter: @EllaBubbles

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Review of Whispers of Words Spoken by An Howard

Poetry is a great way to express one’s thoughts and emotions in an abbreviated way that touches your soul. In Whispers of Words Spoken, An Howard guided readers through her poetry in four section: Whispers in General, Whispers to God, Whispers of Erotica and Whispers of Love. In each segment, I was swept away by her words about life in general, her self-love, her love of/for God, her being in and out of love and her love of erotica.

I thoroughly enjoyed An’s poetry as I could see myself in quite a few poems in each section. Funny how words can be so universal in that we can all feel the same hurt, pain, love, joy, and excitement through the eyes of another.

A very good read!

Some of my favorite lines from poems in each section:

My Words
Sometimes my words are all that I have
In this empty place called life.
I use them to express my happiness or my strife.

God Where Are You?
God where are you when I’m feeling alone,
Where are you when I’m saddened and kneeling at
your throne?

Just A Sip
I love the way u take me in as if I was fine wine
Slowly u sip me up and grab my behind
You eat me up as if you were hungry
so I feed you all of me and intensely you give me all of

Forever In Love
I loved you from a distance for so many years
as I sat back and watched your smile gleaming at me

not even knowing what I was thinking.

Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, December 18, 2017

Interview with Gilbert H. Richards, Author of Herd of Tusks

Author’s Bio: A native of Baltimore City, Maryland, Gilbert H. Richards, a high school English Literature teacher of 20 years, set a goal to write a book of poetry during his college years. Having always written personal essays, Richards combined his love of writing, reading and his knowledge of English literature in his first book of poetry, Herd of Tusks. Richard has earned an English degree from Morgan State University and a Masters in Special Education from Coppin State University. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. 

What inspired you to write your book?
GHR: I’ve been writing poems since my teen years.  At 62 years old, I think a lot about my own mortality. I want to leave a testament behind. This volume of poetry is that testament. I hope it’s not my last.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
GHR: I like a lot of authors, poets, journalists, and columnists etc. However, I was definitely influenced by the Black Power and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. No doubt, I’m a Revolutionary/Black is Beautiful baby. 

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
GHR: This is my first book and it took me about a year and a half to complete.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
GHR: Both. I start organically, then try to organize it by topic and theme.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?        
GHR: I always have music, sports talk radio or TV on. It’s all backdrop.  “We’re Growing Higher and Higher” from Shaka Zulu.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
Exposure, publicity, word of mouth, Facebook, website.

What advice would you give to new authors?
GHR: Look around, see what’s happening in your local area. Check out other local poets around.  Read and reflect on what’s current in poetry globally too.

How about sharing an excerpt from Herd of Tusks?

Death is the jester who keeps me amused
--the wild card that keeps me guessing.
A peculiar host this stranger rests
in my parlor. His face veiled, his lips pressed,
his eyes astray. Keeps me praying.

What’s next for you?
GHR: I’m currently writing my memoirs covering the last 50 years.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?Website: http://authorgilberthrichards.com/books/
Facebook: Gilbert H. Richards
Book buy links: https://outskirtspress.com/herdoftusks and http://authorgilberthrichards.com/books/

It's been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Interview with Glynis Guevara, Author of Under the Zaboca Tree

Author’s Bio:  Glynis Guevara was born in Trinidad. She completed a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree in London, England and was also admitted to the bar of England and Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to Toronto, Canada in the 1990’s and is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers Creative Writing Program. She also completed a Technical Communication certificate (George Brown College), an IT Diploma (DeVry), as well as a Teacher of Adults Certificate (Centennial College). Her YA manuscript Barrel Girl was a finalist for the Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Her debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree was published by Inanna Publications in June 2017. Her second YA novel, Black Beach is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in the fall of 2018. 

What inspired you to write your book?
GG: Many years ago, after signing a contract to buy a townhouse in Toronto, I lost my job. I was extremely stressed about the possibility of losing my down payment. To deal with this challenging situation, I started to write. I wrote for many hours every day and couldn’t stop. I eventually took a writing course at Humber College. Even after I got a new job I continued writing. Under the Zaboca is the second manuscript I completed, and I am grateful to God for guiding me through this difficult time.  

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
GG: No, I don’t think my writing was influenced by any particular author or book, but some of the authors I admire include Elizabeth Nunez, Edwidge Danticat and Monique Roffey. I try to write the type of books that I longed to read as a youngster.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
GG: Under the Zaboca Tree is my first published novel. It took about a year to write the initial draft. I then put it aside and worked on several other projects. It is difficult to specify exactly how much time I spent on it. What I can say is that it took a bit more than ten years from the completion of the first draft to the June 2017 publication date.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
GG: I never write with an outline. I usually start with an idea and let it flow organically. Usually, my manuscripts end up totally different than I initially expected.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
GG: No, I don’t listen to music when I write. I prefer to write in complete silence, but when I’m at the editing stage I sometimes listen to music.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
GG: As a debut author, I am still in the learning process, trying to figure out the keys to success, but what I have learned so far is that firstly, you need to have a quality product. Having a presence online is also very important. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Being focused on who is your target audience and making contacts in the writing community is helpful.

What advice would you give to new authors?
GG: If you want to be a writer, you need to have a thick skin. Be open to constrictive criticism and don’t let disappointment deter you from your craft. Again, as a debut author, I am still open to advice from others on this topic.

How about sharing an excerpt from Under the Zaboca Tree?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve stared at the women who’ve walked past me and wondered if any of them could be my biological mother. The week after I turned ten—as I sat next to my dad eagerly awaiting our flight—the longing for my real mom was as strong as ever. That day, despite my excitement for the changes about to take place in my life, the green-eyed monster within me poked its head out as I glared at a tall, slender woman holding a young girl’s hand. I secretly wished I were that little girl with my mother’s hand clutching mine.
Suddenly, my father eased out of his seat and nudged me. I grabbed my carry-on bag, jumped to my feet, and stepped ahead of him. Dad and I were leaving the cold winters behind and heading to the tropics—sunny Trinidad and Tobago, to be exact. The thought that I’d soon be free to roam the streets all year long without a coat, woolly hat, and pairs of boots and gloves gripped me and, in my wild imagination, I felt thick beads of sweat trickle down my skin as I played and laughed and had fun with hordes of new friends I hadn’t yet met. My heart thumped loudly against my chest, so I pressed my sweaty palms against my thighs and tried to calm myself; instead a burst of energy overtook me, and I rushed even farther ahead.
“Baby Girl, wait,” my father said very softly, calling me by my pet name. Back then he hardly ever called me Melody. I spun around and, as Dad stepped toward me, I heard the babbling voice of a nearby infant. The baby’s mother’s eyes caught mine, and I saw her smile as she glided by me, the gurgling baby in her arms. I was instantly overcome by a sense of loss as I remembered the animal sounds my dad would make when he used to play with me. He’d bark like a dog and moo like a cow; he was especially good with his trumpeting elephant noises. The first time I heard him bark, I tried to imitate him. My bark didn’t sound as real, but in time—and with his coaching—I improved. Dad, however, stopped playing those games shortly before my stepmother, Charm, left us.
What’s next for you?
GG: My next project is to begin writing a sequel to Under the Zaboca Tree, and also to resume working on an unfinished manuscript tentatively called, Shady Lane that I started writing several years ago, but put aside due to ill health. I have four completed manuscripts still to be published. Inanna Publication will publish my YA novels, Black Beach in 2018 and Barrel Girl (Hopefully in 2019).

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: www.glynis.guevara.com
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorglynisguevara/
·         Twitter: @GlynisGuevara
·         Book buy Links:

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.