Q&A with Beth and Ezra Barany about PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO

 

 

*Today we have two very special and amazing guests with us! Let’s give Beth and Ezra Barany, both award-winning authors, a warm welcome! 

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about each of you, and why you both decided to work together as teachers and mentors.  When you’re not helping other writers, you both also write fiction. Tell us about them.

 

Beth here. Our collaboration didn’t happen overnight. When Ezra and I first met we were both writers, but not yet teachers. Pretty soon after getting married we decided to teach overseas. So we both got training in teaching English to foreigners. Then we went to Paris to teach English for two years.

When we got back home, Ezra got his credential to be a high school physics teacher and I went to work in a bookstore and then an office.

Fast forward 3 years, I decided to start a business helping writers as a creativity coach. Pretty soon when I started doing presentations, Ezra helped me with some of them. Then he had a break from teaching high school and started to teach more actively with me. He approaches writing differently than I do, so I really wanted to include his perspective so that the writers could benefit.

Over the years I’ve been asking him to teach various aspects that he knows well so that we have a more robust group of courses for writers.

I write young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery, and have series published in the first two. Many of my interests have been very different than Ezra’s and that’s been great. When I met him he was writing short stories in horror, mystery, and surrealistic fiction. Ezra has published 3 books in his Torah Codes series.

 

Presto! Ezra speaking! As Beth said, it took some time before we worked together as teachers. But uniting our teaching superpowers was inevitable by the way we both loved the craft and business of writing and wanted the world to see how fun it could be.

We toyed with the idea of cowriting a story, but our genres are so different, that we find it’s best if we stick to editing each other’s work.

 

  1. In what ways are your creative process different from one another, and how did you manage to weave them together as you teach and mentor other writers?

 

Beth here: I am much more of an organic writer than Ezra. I start with character and evolve the plot from there. I also start with a clear idea of my genre, and I think this is where he and I are similar.

And because I have an organic approach to the writing process I would notice where there were holes and ask to see if Ezra could fill them. Since he has a more linear approach to planning his novels I knew that would be helpful to some people, and I learned from it too.

 

Abracadabra! This is Ezra! I’m a plotter. A severe plotter. We’re talking write-every-detail-of-each-scene-on-index-cards plotter.

I tend to start with the “Holy crap! I didn’t see that coming!” idea of what happens in the thriller, and how it will make the reader want to share the thriller with all her friends.

From there, I think of the main moments that fit a standard hero’s journey or Act I II and III model, those moments that lead up to the climax I already have in mind. I usually do so by using a problem-solution tool, such as Problem: Jacob gets attacked by lobsters at the restaurant; Solution: Jennifer, chef extraordinaire, fends off the lobsters with a hatchet. I scribble the problem-solution scenes down on index cards and then I fill in missing scenes on more index cards.

My biggest issue is character development, and that’s where Beth saves the day. She asks me questions about the characters that make me discover there’s more to the story than I originally intended.

Overall, I’d say Beth’s strengths are my weaknesses in writing and vice-versa, so our skills complement each other in helping round out the skills of other writers.

 

  1. You both just published a book, Plan Your Novel Like a Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! Tell us about it, and about how you both put this together.

 

Beth here:This book is based on a course we have been teaching for over five years. The material just evolved out of mostly my process and then adding in Ezra’s process where it made sense.

I was the main driver in producing an editing the book and Ezra looked at everything, added editorial comments, and created the awesome cover with my input.

 

Ezra here: What she said.

 

  1. Where can we find this book?

 

You can find this book at all these vendors:

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

iBooks

Other vendors

 

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?  Why?

 

Beth here: I love to plan and write my first draft at cafés. I love the ambient noise, the fact that even though I am alone in the project I am surrounded by other people doing their thing, and it gets me out of my house, so I have a change of pace.

 

Voila! Ezra at the post now! I love to dig holes in the ground and find chests of gold bullion and non-sequiturs.

As for places to write, I, too, like writing my first drafts at cafés. I like the possibility of someone coming up to me and saying, “You’re writing a thriller? No way! You’re the most amazing person in the world!”

It hasn’t happened yet, but yeah. That would be cool.

 

  1. In each of your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

 

Beth here: One of the biggest obstacles facing writers today is just starting the process. Often writers don’t know where to begin and that can be overwhelming and confusing. Another huge obstacle is that they feel that there might be something wrong with them because their ideas don’t fit the mainstream. Lastly I see writers not even starting because they don’t think they can do it even though they really want to write a novel.

 

Ezra’s mouth talking now: I agree. B.I.C. is one of the toughest tasks writers have to overcome. B.I.C. stands for Butt In Chair. Getting started is hard for me and, I believe, for other writers. But there’s the five-minute solution. As soon as a writer sits down, tells herself, “I’m going to write for five minutes,” and starts writing, those five minutes typically end up being a half hour.

Another tough obstacle is the desire to get it right the first time. Analysis paralysis. I tell myself that my goal is to write crap and have fun doing it. Often, if I’m having fun writing the story, readers will enjoy reading it. Also, giving myself permission to write crap takes the pressure off to be perfect.

 

  1. Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

 

Beth here: If you have the dream and the desire to write a novel but don’t know where to begin, then I recommend you start by setting the timer for five minutes and just write. Nonstop. Not caring about typos or anything. Not caring if you repeat yourself or write nonsense. Writing is a practice, writing is something you can get better at. And if you want to write a novel, you absolutely can. I believe in you.

 

Ezra here: *hug*

 

********

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“I can honestly say this book saved a manuscript that was headed for the shredder!” — Ann W. Shannon

This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.

This 168-book comes with 20 chapters, lots of exercises, and a free bonus workbook.

 

About Beth Barany

Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. More resources on publishing, book marketing, and novel writing are on her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone. When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

About Ezra Barany

Ezra Barany loves riveting readers with thrillers, but by order of the Department of Motor Vehicles he must place a warning on every book cover, “Do not read while driving.” His first two books in The Torah Codes series were award-winning international bestsellers. In his free time, he has eye-opening discussions on the art of writing novels with his wife and book coach Beth Barany. A high school physics teacher, Ezra lives in Oakland with his beloved wife and two cats working on the next book in The Torah Codes series. Ezra, not the cats. For a free short story in The Torah Codes series, “Mourner’s Kaddish,” go to http://www.thetorahcodes.com/.

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: David Cedar

 

** This week we have a special guest with us to share about his debut scifi-mystery-thriller novel, Anniversaries.

 

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 

I have a creative mind and an Art background and in lieu of expressing myself in paint on canvas (like my father did), I chose the written word.

 

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what kind of music? 

Sometimes. If I do, it’s mostly 1960s pop and rock or Classic Rock. And it’s always on in the “background” to keep me company.

 

Who is your favorite author? Why? 

I have read novels in the past but, I mostly read magazine articles, so I don’t have a “favorite author”.

 

Do you have a favorite magazine or two?

I have, in the past, subscribed to two magazines: “Hemmings Classic Car” and “Collectible Automobile”. And have hundreds of back issues. But, I no longer like either publication anymore, I’m sorry to say.

 

You’ve just published a book. Tell us what your book is about. 

ANNIVERSARIES is about Darren Prescott, an ex-drug dealer/pimp who discovers a way to travel back in time to specific events on specific days in his past (and other people’s past too). He plans to parlay this ability into a money making venture, but gets side tracked when he discovers (while Time-Traveling) something horrible his father did years earlier.

 

What inspired you to write this book?

When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother gave me a slice of Swiss cheese for a snack and as I was about to bite into it, she said, as a joke, “Don’t eat the holes”. Well, I believed everything my mother told me, so when I was finished eating, on my plate were several Swiss cheese “holes” all with bite marks around their perimeters.

This little memory, this quick “snippet” of my life, has stuck with me all these years. And there are dozens and dozens of other “snippets” in my memory bank. One day, I got to thinking that these memories, although insignificant, all have anniversaries. Let’s say that the “Swiss cheese” incident happened on July 10, 1966, that means that every July tenth, it has an anniversary. My novel is loosely based on this concept.

 

You write under a pen name, what prompted you to do this?  Is there a story behind this pen name (on how you came up with it?)?

I decided to use a pen name because, my late father (Albert Swayhoover) was an Artist and his artwork is all over the Internet. If one were to Google “Swayhoover”, the result would be thousands of websites that sell his work. I was concerned that my book and I might get lost among all of that.

The origins of my pen name are: “David” is my middle name and “Cedar” was part of the name of the street in which I grew up, Cedar Point Drive. Then I searched Author names and didn’t find any other David Cedars, so that’s what I went with.

 

Where can we find this book? 

Amazon

 

What are your writing plans for the near future? 

I’m considering a sequel to ANNIVERSARIES. And there are two or three articles on one of my favorite subjects: American Automobile History that I am writing.

 

Where can we find you? 

www.davidcedar-author.com

 

******

 

About the Author:

David Cedar (aka Robert Swayhoover) was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1984 with a degree in Advertising Design. In 1997, he married Patricia Townes-Swayhoover. The couple lived in New York City before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2003. Writing has always been something David was interested in, but never gave it a try until seven or eight years ago. Besides writing, his interests include: Automobile History and World War II History.

 

Click on image to purchase

 

 

 

 

#Book #Review: Plan Your #Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It!

 

*Please note – I received a free copy of this book by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

 

Having been a writer for a number of years, finishing a novel is still a Herculean challenge.  I don’t consider myself as a true plotter nor am I a true pantser.  I suppose I’m somewhere in between.  The challenge that always stopped me from finishing a book is not figuring out its plot, but with the characters.  I can work with one or two characters, but when I start to juggle more than three, I hit a mental block every time which keeps me from reaching the end of the story.

Then, I read this book.

Filled with applicable writing exercises geared to help the writer create the core blueprint for the book, I came away energized and well, hopeful.  Hopeful in that I now believe I have the tools in hand to help me complete the current manuscript I’m writing.

Through this book, Beth and Ezra Barany share tools and exercises on developing real characters that readers can relate to as well as creating plots and subplots that will keep them glued to each and every page.  They also give tips and ways to effectively create a world for your story that seems real and complex. And these are only the tip of the iceberg!

There are hundreds if not thousands of how-to-write-a-book manuals, but this one actually gives you specific step-by-step techniques that you won’t see in most of them.

So, if you’re struggling to finish that novel then this book is for you!

 

(You will find this book over at Amazon )

#WIP: Novel In Progress Update

As mentioned in previous posts, I am in the planning stage of a (my very first!) romance-suspense novel, Storms of the Heart.  Using Canva, I created a book cover.  What do you think?

Here’s a draft of the story’s synopsis:

Kathleen Burman moved to the small town of Walden, nestled in the prairie valley near the Rockies, in search of a new life.  There she meets the locals each with their own troubled past as herself.

Joe Tucker is one of the locals who deliberately keeps busy to keep his painful past at bay.  Along comes Kat who reawakens something within he thought he’d never feel again.  Dr. Weaver Teems, a city dweller who temporarily moved to Walden to help out a colleague, deliberately steps in between Kat and Joe, to convince her there’s a better life outside Walden.

Soon the past and present collide as storms of the heart erupt.  Who will survive?

Author Interview: Huck Krueger

Today I have a special guest with us-author of several Science Fiction novels, Huck Krueger!

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say? 
I’ve told people that I’m a pilot and a writer. But since I put my plane away and don’t know if I’ll ever fly it again, I might say, “Hi. I’m Huck. I’m a writer and a former pilot.” Or I might leave out the word, ‘former,’ for now.

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 
Like most kids, I had fantasies, and I enacted them in my play. In my teen years, I still had those fantasies, though I didn’t play any of them out with toys or action figures. I started drawing cartoons and comics. But I knew I didn’t have any special skill at it and never assumed I’d sell any of my comic stories. Many of those comic stories and booklets are sitting in a box in my basement.From sixth grade through junior high, I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were enthusiastic about writing, and they had taught me the concepts of English grammar and writing basics. Then I ‘saw’ the ‘window’ to write my fantasies out in stead of trying to draw inept comics.I’ve thought that if I ever publish a big-time seller, I’ll dedicated it (my first book anyway) to my junior high English teachers.

 

What do you write?
I’m interested in science, especially astrophysics and aerospace.  So I write Science Fiction mostly, though I’ve dabbled in romance, contemporary and wartime settings. My science fiction is most often involving space travel or life on other planets. I don’t care for the pure fantasy involving the supernatural or spirits, or worlds and creatures that likely wouldn’t exist.

I read a lot of history too, but I shy away from writing stories in that genre because I worry about being historically inaccurate. With sci-fi there’s usually more suspension of belief. I can be ‘way out there,’ and feel comfortable that no one will definitively prove that what I write can’t happen.

 

You’ve just released a book (or two) this year, correct?  Can you tell us some about it (them)? Where can we find your books? 
My latest novels are a series about four crew-members who fly an Astral Research Vessel, or ARV, throughout the galaxy to study stars and nebulae. The crew consists of two men and two women. My main character, Miles Wendel, is the pilot of their ship. Tana Vargas is their engineer and bio scientist. Li Keung is their astrophysicist who mans their science equipment. And Cassie Nystrom is their captain.

Their ship is ‘sustained’ by force fields and is often invisible. Only the objects and equipment they access or touch become visible. If someone wants privacy, say in his or her quarters, then the walls will appear, usually throughout the living compartment of their ship.

Their ship is capable of ‘bypassing the speed of light’ by what I’ve termed, ‘Hyper Sub-dimensional Transition (HST),’ which means they enter alternate dimensions of space/time and fly a ‘shorter’ distance to their destinations.

Of course, at their destinations, they encounter adverse situations. In each of the four stories I’ve conceived so far, they’ve encountered extraterrestrials as well as ‘external conditions’ which complicate their struggles.

I’ve published the first two books in this series which I call, Voyages of the Altair. I named their ship Altair after the star in the Aquila constellation. Its name means ‘Flying Eagle.’ I thought it was appropriate.  Each book has a main title, and so far, I’ve titled them after the star or nebula where the plot takes place.

The first book is WR104, which I published in June, 2017. On their maiden voyage we find them near the unstable blue star, identified by astronomers as WR104. The second book is M42, which I published in November, 2017. The crew is assigned to fly through and study the famous Orion Nebula (M42). I’ve finished the first draft of the third story, Eta Carina, and I’m currently writing the fourth, with a working title of, M54.

Information about these books and links to purchase them, along with my other books, can be found at my website, huckkruegerauthor.com. One can also find them via Amazon. Nook and Kindle versions are available.

 

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories? 
Space travel and extraterrestrials are what I write about most, because they give me so much ‘room’ to create and work out ideas. I like to note that most of my aliens are not evil aliens out to destroy humanity or Earth. They have their faults, but I often have them interact and cooperate with my human characters.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters? How do you come up with various settings? 
I usually use the ‘closely attached’ third-person point of view, and usually choose one main character to do it in each story. To clarify, the story is shown through the view of one person–only things he/she knows is told. Though, I try to imagine what each character thinks, sees and feels, so I can have them interact in a believable fashion. Sometimes while writing, as an excuse to get up and move around, I’ll physically act out a scene to get the concept and figure out how characters would respond.

Many of my story ideas have come from a topic in science I happen to be studying at the time. I try to construct a story with that aspect of science involved.  I came up with one story after I read about Jupiter and its moons and the forces at play between them. In the story I explain the basics of Jupiter’s ‘plasma torus’ and how it affects the electromagnetic fields around the four moons. Then I ‘stretched’ the science and went beyond to create a plot for the main two characters.

Another idea came from combining two news stories. Back when the influenza virus was ravishing through the world, I had that story rolling through the back of my mind when I read about UFO abductions.  I combined the two into a plot of aliens abducting someone and mistakenly allowing their victim to contract one of their diseases. After they set him/her free, the disease spread rapidly. The result was a pandemic that wiped out hundreds of millions. I created a story about an astronaut woman whose family had died from the disease.

In my new series, Voyages of the Altair, I’ve been reading about dark matter and dark energy, and worked the plots around the idea of living beings made of dark matter and energy.

 

How valuable is being in a writing group for you? 
It turns out that the writing groups have been very valuable. Since the late 1990s, I had let my story writing go dormant. I had only dabbled with poetry and some articles and essays from that time until the local retired fire chief invited me to check out the local writers’ group in November, 2006. That group identifies itself as the Lake Region Writers’ Group. There was another group that met in Willow City, called the Prairie Rose Writers.

They ‘prompted’ me to rekindle my story writing. While I worked on an old story and wrote new ones, the Prairie Rose group, who had collaborated with our group on an anthology, ‘recruited’ me to assemble and publish the work.  After learning the processes of self-publishing, I decided to ‘join the ranks’ of the other two in our group who had self-published their own works. After learning about what I did to publish the anthology, one of the Prairie Rose writers has now self-published one or two books.

 

When you’re not writing, where would we usually find you?
Outside of my job, which is custodial and maintenance at the local college, I’m often at my computer studying a science or history subject, or communicating with someone, or just entertaining myself. Otherwise I might be working in my shop in the garage or doing some chores or repairs around the house, and in the summer times I often worked on or flew my ultralight plane.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today? 
Writers today still face the usual problems any writer has such as writer’s block or deciding how to compose an article or story. In the business realm of literary jobs and publishing one’s work, I don’t know how much competition one faced in the past. But now-a-days writers will find a lot of competition.  The major traditional book publishers and major magazines receive tens of thousands of submissions in a year. Getting noticed will often be through luck.

An ‘outlet’ for many writers has been via the internet, which includes blogs and self-publishing. Writers of blogs, ezine articles/stories, self-published books, or other digital compositions can get their ‘foot in the door,’ if their piece catches the eye of a major publisher. Publishers sometime notice when a piece gets thousands or millions of views or sales. They might approach the author(s) and offer a proposal.

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Off hand I can’t think of any advice or tips that haven’t already been mentioned or posted somewhere.

 

 

 


 

About the author…

Huck lives in Devils Lake, N.D. with his wife, Linnea. He graduated Cando High in 1982, and in 1989 received a B.A. with a major in English, a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in German from MSU-Minot.  You can find his science fiction titles atKindle and Nook.

 

Books and Reading and Reviews (Looking for Books to Read!)

 

I’m looking for one-three (clean) Romance books to read between now and January, and am open for suggestions!  I’d prefer it to be an ebook, but will take print versions as well.  If you’re an author of such book, please let me know a bit about your book’s premise to help me decide.   Whichever book(s) I decide to read, I plan to post a review on this blog by the end of January (if not, sooner).

You can let me know either via the comment section below, or through the Contact form.

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Book Review: To Trick a Hacker by India Kells

 

 

To Trick a Hacker is a Romance Suspense book written by the gifted storyteller India Kells.   It follows heroine Dylan Harris a loner who’s hiding within the fringe of society working as a hacker for a secret organization called Purgatory.   With a tumultuous and traumatizing past she’s trying to hide from, she finds herself hunted by an unknown assailant who seemingly have ties to her painful past.

In comes Owen Sorenson, a gorgeous former Navy Seal, sent by Purgatory to protect her from further harm which she reluctantly accepts.   Each battling scars of various kinds, they at first formed an uneasy team as they set out in search of a killer that soon grows into a passionate and emotional relationship.   A relationship which gets tested time and time again threatening to send either one over the edge and into darkness.  It’s a romance forged in pain and loneliness as they each face their personal demons from the past which keep returning to haunt them.  Sprinkle in a killer bent on turning Dylan to the dark side by threatening all who she cares for and you have a riveting story that will keep you turning the pages till the very end.

To Trick a Hacker ultimately is a story about family, love, second chances, and sacrifices.

India Kells’ writing style can be liken to Sherrilyn Kenyon and Sara Mackenzie, and I definitely look forward to reading many more of her books!

 

You can find India Kells at the following places:

http://www.indiakells.com

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

 

Book Review: Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline

Available October 1, 2017. Click on image to purchase book.

Annalisa Parent, teaching extraordinaire and editor of Chair & Pen: Musings on Writing and the Writing Life, has come out with a new book called, Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline.

If you’re someone who tends to write on “the fly,” but always seems to have a problem either finishing or figuring out where the story’s going, this book is for you.

Annalisa, a Pantser herself, understands how other fellow Pantsers tend to lose their way when they write a book because of the unorganized fashion of their creativity.  This book aims to help them–you— find your way through the “muddle” quicker.

How?

By finding the patterns (or theme) in the story, and then build upon them.

This book is not your typical how-to-write book.  The instructions and examples are not in your usual cut-and-dry and formal format.  This is nothing like an ordinary book about writing.  Did I say that Annalisa is a teaching extraordinaire?  Well, she proves it in this gem.  Her presentations throughout the book are personable, easy to grasp, and her witty sense of humor and uncanny culture references make for a truly enjoyable learning experience.

Annalisa believes in taking the whole writer in account and not just about providing knowledge.  For the first part of the book, she turns her attention solely to the writer.

You.

Knowing and accepting yourself for who you are as a writer is half the battle in your journey to becoming a published author.  She talks about brains, and how Pantsers are who they are because of the way their brains are wired.  She talks about how we tend to limit ourselves by giving in to our fears, and how the wrong kinds of feedback could damage our future as writers indefinitely.  Annalisa shows us how to turn all of this around.  How to manage the fears and find the right kind of feedback needed to move our writing forward instead of backward.

Annalisa firmly believes that having the right mindset coupled with positive support could mean the difference between having a publishable or an unpublishable book.

The focus of the second half of the book is on the writing craft as she breaks down various parts such as character development, plot structure, conflict, setting, pacing…all geared for Pantsers.  She provides tips and exercises on how to take what you have and improve upon them rather than change everything.   Annalisa is a firm believer in NOT interrupting the creative flow as you create your story; but to take what you have created later on and make them better, interweaving them together so they become connected as part of one seamless story.

Annalisa truly understands you as the writer, and takes a holistic approach to helping you reach your goal-having a complete and publishable book.  This book is unique and a joy to read.  You learn more about yourself as a writer, gain the confidence needed to move forward while enjoying the journey.