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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, February 18, 2018

5 Tips to Consider on Your Writing Journey to Publication and Beyond (Part 1)

So, you want to WRITE! Here are 5 tips to consider on your writing journey to
1.     Determine what you want to write: fiction versus non-fiction.

2.     Learn the art of writing by taking a creative writing class, attending writing workshops, conferences, etc.

3.     Read. Read. Read. (Books within and outside of your genre).

4.     Write. Write. Write. (Develop a daily schedule you can stick to).

5.     Research. Research. Research. (Subject matter, people, places, marketing strategies, etc.).

Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview with Becky DeWitt, author of Stolen Property

Author’s Bio: As a Christian author, Becky's writings reveal trials and tribulations as well as edification to the soul. Her books express the Christian journey from the ordinary everyday perspective with titles and cover art that are uncommon.

In 2008 she published her first children's short story, Destiny's Closet, which developed into a book by 2009. Destiny's Closet teaches children the importance of developing a personal relationship with God.  The success and well-reception of "Destiny's Closet" inspired Becky to write two more books, "Destiny's Closet - Circle of Friends" and "Destiny's Closet - The Wonder School," for a series.

In 2017, Becky released her first novel, Stolen Property, which is an adventure into the supernatural from the Christian perspective, with awe inspiring and breathtaking experiences. It is available on Amazon.com.

Becky has contributed articles for several websites and magazines and a library of her writings are on the Authors Den website (www.authorsden.com/beckydewitt).

What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
BD: God and my Pastor.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
BD: No.

How long did it take to write your book?
BD: It took one year.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
BD: I just sat down to the computer and asked the Holy Spirit to let the words flow.

Do you listen to music when you write?
BD: If yes, is there a theme song for this book? Yes. I did listen to music for this particular book. There was no one specific song, but I listened to Elevation Worship.

What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
BD: First, I have to identify the target audience and then expand locally, nationally, and even internationally. Second, is networking through word of mouth by speaking about your book at churches, book clubs and other various events. Third, utilization of the Internet through social media.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BD: Always believe in the gift that you have been given to write. Try to write every day to develop and keep the focus. Remember it is your story and if you do not believe in what you are writing, no one else will.

How about sharing an excerpt from Stolen Property?
It was another Sunday morning and Pastor Esther Goldstein had been up and down all night praying and seeking God for the word to speak to His people. But there was something different today and she could not exactly discern what it was. She made a cup of tea and sat down at her kitchen table looking out at the ocean through her glass doors that led to the deck. As she watched the waves roll on to the shore, she looked at them and thought of the awesome power of God and all of His creation and particularly how the ocean just stopped at the shoreline.

Just then the sky began to change and it was the breaking of day. It was really the best time of day, especially for her. She loved the early mornings. Pastor Esther had always felt that it was the best time to get a prayer through with no distractions. She took the scripture about seeking the Lord early literally.

As she sat there stirring her tea, she wondered ‘Lord what is it?’ She knew that there was something going on and she would continue to seek the Lord until she got an answer. Still stirring her tea, she thought to herself ‘I should have put another spoonful of sugar.’

Soon it would be time to get dressed and she did not even have a topic. Well, that is how it went with her sometimes.

What’s next for you?
BD: I have just published Faith Is Calling You, which is a Christian inspirational book. Currently, I am working on the sequel to Stolen Property and another book.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)? 
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, February 11, 2018

A Review of the play, Skeleton Crew (Baltimore Center Stage)

Last Sunday, I braved the rain and cold weather to see the play "Skeleton Crew" by Dominique Morisseau which was directed by Nicole A. Watson. This play was part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival.

This play is a depiction of folks working the line in a stamping plant in Detroit, Michigan, circa 2008. Meet Shanita, pregnant and without a man; Dez who's trying to save enough money to open his own business; Faye, who is simply trying to get in her 30 years before retiring; and Reggie their boss who is caught between executing management's plan to let them go or trying to save their jobs. This was definitely a tumultuous time in the auto industry where everyone's job at any given day could be yanked away.

All of these actors gave the audience an excellent performance. You could feel their joys when they talked about choosing a name for their baby (Shanita), or when they smoked a cigarette against company policies (Faye), or anxiety when a weapon was found in their backpack during a "Stop and Search" by management (Dez), or conflicted when they had to enforce company's rules (Reggie). Despite the uncertainty of losing their jobs and despite their flaws they stuck together as a family till the very end for an outcome befitting them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this play. The actors engaged the audience and made you feel like you were right there working in the stamping plant. This play runs now through March 3, 2018 and it's a must see!

Cast members:
  • Brittany Bellizeare - Shanita
  • Stephanie Berry - Faye
  • Sekou Laidlaw - Reggie
  • Gabriel Lawrence - Dez
Check out the trailer and the actual set below:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Do the Opposite and Win as a Writer! (Part 3)

Welcome to Part 3 of my review of Dawn Field’s “How to Fail as a Writer” blog and why you should do the opposite to WIN as a writer.

1. Do not ever read for other writers. Critiquing will just cloud your mind and take your focus off your own work.
This is so not true. I have been running a writers’ critique group for almost 10 years and we enjoy reading each other’s work. I find that constructive criticism only makes my writing better through their feedback. And nothing beats having your work polished to the best that it can be.

2. If an editor critiques your writing, stick to your guns that it’s his fault he didn’t understand “what you really meant.”
Sometimes a third party (an editor) pointing out what’s wrong with your storyline can be a very hard pill to swallow. But the good thing is that they are objective and will make your work so much better once you get over the fact that as writer’s we don’t always know it all.

3. If a reader gives you feedback that something in the plot seems to be missing, ignore her. Better yet, prove it’s “all there” by pointing to page 224, where three words in the middle of a paragraph at the end of the chapter “explain it all.”
Readers can be very astute so as a writer you have to ensure that the plotline overs all the bases and explains the character’s motivation, etc. So instead of dismissing the reader’s feedback, writers should see how best they can address the reader’s concerns.

4. Never back up the electronic copy of your work. It’s good for your creative juices to be in constant fear of losing your book beyond the event horizon of the cyber black hole.
This is laughable. Without a doubt PLEASE do save your work.

5. Forget the idea of practicing any kind of writing other than your book. It’s just a distraction.
It’s not a distraction when you can flex your creative muscles while engaging in other types of writing other than your book. As for me, I enjoy blogging and writing book reviews. So, go ahead and flex those muscles.

6. Do not stoop so low as to take the advice of writers who have walked the path before you. You need to find your own path in your own way.
I know we all have to find our own path but why reinvent the wheel when embarking on the writing journey. If there are writers who have experienced the ups and downs of the writing industry, I think it would behoove writers not to take a few lessons from them.

7. Never show your writing to anyone.
That’s the worst thing a writer can do. You have to show and share your writing to get feedback to ensure you are on the right track in keeping readers engage. As I have said before, I run a writers’ critique group and I really enjoy sharing my work with the members and welcome their feedback too.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Review of The Root of all Evil by Joylynn M. Jossel

Meet Klarke Taylor, a mother of two and happily married until her husband blew up her world with his lies and infidelity. Now, she has a pile of bills and creditors breathing down her back. So she devises a plan along with her two besties, Jeva and Breezy to get her a man to bail her out of her financial situation. Reo Laroque is the man who fits the bill. He’s a bestselling author and is looking for a woman who can be his wife. However, all doesn’t go so smoothly as he is caught up in a twisted case of love, lust and lies.

This story had too much going on. Not only did Klarke have drama with her ex-husband, her boss and her new husband but her besties had issues with their men as well. While there were some interesting moments in this book, I felt the story would have been better served if it had fewer subplots. I perked up toward the end when Reo’s six-month-old daughter drowned in his pool and Klarke confessed to the crime but there was no hard evidence to put her away in jail. I was left wondering who did it and it was also unclear whether Harris played a part in it or not… then the book ended. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable read.

My favorite lines:

My beef has always been with you, Tionne. What’s strange is that I probably wouldn’t have even been mad at you if you were just the other woman. But when you decided to take on the role of my friend—laughing in my face, going out with me, coming over to my house and having me baby-sit your and Harris’s love child, you crossed the line. Otherwise my only beef would have been with Harris. Harris took vows and made a commitment to me, not you. You didn’t owe me shit. Harris did. I’m not like most women who fly off the handle and set out to beat the mistress down. But you, Tionne, you pretended to be my friend. You played me and that hurt.

Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Do the Opposite and Win as a Writer! (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of Dawn Field’s “How to Fail as a Writer” blog and why you should do the opposite to WIN as a writer.

1.  Be as original as possible, forget conforming to any genre expectations.
My opposite: As writers our work tend to fit into various categories or genres. You are either a fiction writer or non-fiction writer and sometimes even both. Nevertheless, there are rules or expectations from the publishing industry and from your readers as well. I write romantic suspense novels and so you would expect to see elements of danger and romance not a comedic novel. The blue print is out there for whatever genre you decide to write and it’s best to follow them if you want to be a successful writer.

2. Ignore the belief that publishable books have structure or that you need one.
My opposite: Structure or plotline is what holds a book together. Without structure, your book will invariably fall apart. This can lead to reader complaints and that’s not a good thing. So take the time to develop a plotline and then review it to make sure it tracks the story you are trying to tell.

3. Leave details as ambiguous as you can. Let your readers rely on their mind-reading abilities to intuit what you really meant.
My opposite: What’s a story without details? Well, it’s a story that won’t capture and keep the readers attention from start to finish. So, please ensure that your story is filled with clear details that will help the readers envision exactly what you mean.

4. Make sure your readers cannot easily form mental images from your story.
My opposite: The whole point of writing is to capture the readers imagination and draw them into a world you have created on paper. If readers can’t connect with the characters by knowing what they look like or places that they go then this makes for a bad story. Bottom line, writers need to engage the readers five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch to pull them into the story.

5. Don’t worry about logical inconsistencies, keep your readers on their toes!
My opposite: Readers love a good story. However, what they don’t like (I’m wearing my reader hat here) are inconsistencies in the storylines. If they have to flip back to pages where you described something one way from the page they are on, they will get frustrated and put the book down.

6. Do not waste time learning the craft of writing. Focus on producing lots of words – that’s what writing is all about.
My opposite: Writing is more than producing lots of words especially if there is no cohesiveness to it (e.g. shoddy plot structure, stilted dialogue, no character motivation, etc.). So, my advice would be take a few writing courses, attend writing workshops and conferences to learn and hone the craft of writing. I have done all of this and continue to do so because there’s always something new to learn.

7. Don’t read, not even the great authors. And especially never read other authors in your genre. Their writing might rub off on you and make yours less original.
My opposite: I cringe whenever I hear writers say they don’t read the writings of other authors especially if they are in their genre. They are definitely doing themselves a major disservice if they don’t. For me, I enjoy reading suspense, thriller and detective novels with a hint of romance. So my library is filled with books from Eric Jerome Dickey, Carl Weber, John Grisham, Walter Mosley, etc. I read them to get a feel of the plotline, character’s motivation, the setting and the dialogue. This propels me to sharpen my craft and in no way makes my writing less original. In addition, I would recommend that writers not limit themselves to reading in their genre as they can gain a better appreciation for the written word from various genres.

8. Do not research your topic. Your intuition is more compelling than facts.
My opposite: Not doing your research is a big No No. In order to make your writing resonate with readers and allow them to connect with your characters and the storyline you need to do your research. So, if your novel involves a murder, you need to research police procedures, medical terminology, etc. In other words, you need to write a story that is grounded in reality and that makes your characters and the plotlines believable.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Interview with Larry Matthews, author of Nine Millimeter Solution

Author’s Bio: Larry Matthews is a veteran of thirty-five years in broadcast journalism, working in radio and television in major markets and networks. He has published eleven books, eight of them fiction. He was a street reporter, investigative reporter, anchor, news director, editor and producer. His Dave Haggard thrillers have been top-ten sellers on Amazon.

What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
LM: This is the 4th Dave Haggard thriller. Each deals with a theme or crime. The first was about a psychopathic priest, the second about greed and corruption, the third about terrorism, and now the 4th is about human trafficking. All of the Haggard books are Washington thrillers. Dave is a D.C.-based reporter, as was I, so I use my own experience as a platform for the stories. Nine Millimeter Solution is also about the cynicism that has overtaken our political world. Many people don’t know who the good guys are, so I try to use that confusion in the book. But there are clearly some very bad people at the heart of this story.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LM: Yes, but it had nothing to do with thriller writing. When I was a young man I read and was changed by Narcissus and Goldmund by the great German author Herman Hesse. It is a story set long ago about two men, one a scholar and the other a man of the earth who meet in a cloistered monastery. One, Narcissus, remains and lives a life of faith and scholarship. The other, Goldmund, goes out to experience the world and suffers for it, but he also enjoys all of the pleasures of life. To me the book is about the choices we all face when we are young.

How long did it take to write your book?
LM: This one took several years. I got about twenty-thousand words into it and lost the thread, so I wrote another book and then found my way back to Nine Millimeter Solution.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LM: Ah, the “pantser versus plotter” question. I’m 80 per cent pantser, meaning I tend to write by the seat of my pants. I do like to know where I’m going so I write the last scene first and then mull over how I will get there.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LM: I sometimes listen to music, especially if it will fit the scene I’m writing. Dave Haggard is from east Tennessee, the mountain area, so I will listen to what is sometimes called Hillbilly Music. I can use the word Hillbilly because it’s my heritage, even though my cousins don’t like it.

What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
LM: Oh boy! If anyone has a workable answer please let me know. Most writers I know scramble to find readers. Many, I’m sad to say, write truly great books that never find wide readership. Outlets like this blog are very helpful in calling attention to works that might not find access to mass audiences.

I am very excited about a forthcoming audiobook of Nine Millimeter Solution to be narrated by Dave Lawrence, a Hollywood actor and in-demand book narrator and voice artist. He’s done over 150 audiobooks, some best sellers. He’s also a longtime friend. Look for it in March.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
LM: The keyboard is your friend. Spend a lot of time with it.

How about sharing an excerpt from Nine Millimeter Solution?

“The boat was open and the rain soaked the passengers who bobbed in the Gulf of Mexico, some of them retching over the side. The man in charge, a scarred, hard Mexican, smacked a teenage girl who was crying and hysterical. “Shut up,” he said. “I will leave you to the sharks.” His English was rough and he spoke in the cadence of his native Spanish. “We will be there soon and you will be somebody else’s problem.” The man was a coyote, a mover of human beings. On this night he was delivering a dozen teenage girls to a trader in Texas who bought and sold women and girls to eager markets in the United States.”

What’s next for you?
LM: It’s hard to say. This is my 11th published book, so my idea bag is getting low. I’m working on a new book about two very amoral people, a man and a woman, who keep up appearances as community and church leaders but whose personal lives are awful. It’s a fun project but I don’t know if I will publish it. My early readers break two ways: men love it and want more, women hate it and one even urged me to stop writing it. So…

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.