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.

 

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What If There Was No Internet?

 

What if there was no internet?  Whether it crashed due to an electromagnetic storm, or a massive meteor shower took out most of the satellites…and the internet is now GONE.

As a writer, how would you function?  How would you go about sending out your stories to the world?

Would you still keep writing?

So many completely rely on technology (namely internet) to get things done, and to communicate with others.   Would we be able to revert back to the “old” ways of doing things?

Scary thoughts?

 

#ThursdayThoughts: What IS Success?

 

Many writers feel that touching even one life is success.  Not by how many books one published, or by how many awards one garnered; although these are VERY nice to have.

For some writers, writing goes much deeper than any physical items or accolades.   It’s about using their gifts as storytellers,  healers, change-makers for the sake of others.

Success is based on the number of lives impacted.

What about you?  How do you view success as a writer?

Writers, the fate of civilization is in your hands.

 

Over at Facebook, I moderate a session every Thursday with WE PAW Bloggers called “Thursday Talk Shop.”   This week we’re looking at a particular quote by a French philosopher, author, and journalist, Albert Camus:

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

These are the questions I posed to the group:

Do you agree with this?

What do you think he meant by this?

How does a writer do this? I mean, wow, this is heavy! Can you name ways how a writer can save civilization?

This goes to show the kind of power behind the “written” word. Can you name writers who in your mind changed the course of history?

Feel free to participate!

You Tube Tuesday: Stephen King

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

I came across this video recently and loved how he presented some of the tips as well as how he came up with the story idea for Cujo.

Have you read any of his books?  Which one is your favorite?

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, Tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

Writing: Daily Word Count (Poll)

Stephen King in his famous writing book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, has this to say about his daily word count:

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”

Wow…that’s a lot of writing!

What about you?

An Ode To Spring: A Contest Winner

Over at I held a contest called, “An Ode to Spring,” where writers could write poetry about the coming of Spring (or hopefully, warmer weather!).   Today, it is my delight to present you the 2nd Place winner, Tate Morgan, for his beautiful poem, Spring Love.

 

In spring lovebirds hover fancy

till morning lit by the dew

Takes back winter’s heartache

restoring the love in you

 

The desperate cries of anguish

from a heart that knows no joy

Feeds long upon its own regret

tossing the soul as if a toy

 

Give to me your heartaches

lie down in the meadow green

Let go the sorrow of past loves

have rain wash the soul clean

 

Always to blossom in springtime

love feeds us of our dreams

Washing away the winter sorrows

from each one or so it seems

 

Take all of what you’ve been given

set aside pieces in you there-of

No broken promise of joy’s embrace

can outshine a true heart in love

Enjoyed his poem?  You’re in for a treat then!  Visit his page for loads more. 🙂

Q&A with Author Alison Morton

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I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with us today: Alison Morton who is the author to the alternative history series called Roma Nova.  Be sure to check out her sites below! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been fascinated by the Romans since I was 11 and that’s a while ago! In between normal life events – earlier career in various sectors, marriage, raising our son, running my own business – I spent many of my vacations clambering over Roman Europe.

These days I live in France with my husband, write thrillers, cultivate a Roman herb garden and drink wine.

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of books you write?

I have a masters’ in history, six years’ military service and I love a good thriller.  And I’ve always believed that a woman could run things as well as any man.

After the novel writing bug was triggered by a terrible film, all these came together and resulted in the Roma Nova thriller series.

What’s your favorite part about being a writer?

Two things: firstly, the research and the way you become diverted into looking up stuff totally unrelated to your work in progress and secondly, receiving an email or review from a reader who totally gets what you are trying to say in your books.

alison-morton-in-rome

Tell us more about your books.

They’re adventure thrillers set in a modern Roman society run by strong women (Roma Nova). Of course, our heroines are fallible and of course they have strong love interests, but it’s the women who lead the action and call the shots. While the books are thrillers, there are no dripping body parts. 

The first one, INCEPTIO, starts in New York when an ordinary girl, Karen Brown, is hunted by a government enforcer. But in steps an attractive Roma Novan spy who helps her escape. But Karen finds it isn’t just gratitude she feels towards him.

She discovers her Roma Nova heritage and her true name. Her new life in Roma Nova is shattered a few months later when the government enforcer crosses the Atlantic and comes after her. He has a very personal reason to pursue her …

inceptio-book-by-alison-morton

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent the sixth book in the series to the copy editor and that will be out this April. Now I’m developing a novella, also set in Roma Nova.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I close my eyes and let them have conversations with each other. And sometimes I let them run around in my head acting out scenes. It’s important to establish each character’s separate personality from the start. Many people find it helpful to write out character profiles. Stories, whatever their setting and purpose, are all about people in the end.

What’s your favorite traveling destination?  Any place you haven’t visited and would love to?

Rome is my absolute favourite – impressive in so many ways.

In 2015, we visited the US and Canada for seven weeks seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington DC, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Quebec and a lot else! Last year I did ten trips to the UK to speak at events as well as two here in France. In March I’m off to the London Book Fair and then to Dublin, Ireland to speak in June. That’s plenty of travel at present!

What do you see in the future for women in general?

I think we’ll keep nudging towards a more egalitarian world, but there’s a long way to go. We must continue to stand up for a truly equal place in the world and chisel away at ingrained and subconscious acceptance of stereotypes that surround us.

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

If you’re a writer keep writing and be persistent. Make your work the best it can be – no compromise! If you’re a reader, the best thing you can do when you read a wonderful book is to leave a review.

Social media links

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site

Facebook author page

Twitter:  @alison-morton

Goodreads

Alison’s Amazon page

alison-morton-books

A Christmas Story Contest Winner: M.E. Lyle’s Interview

Click on image to see the original contest's page

Click on image to see the original contest’s page

Contest winner is M.E. Lyle for his humorous story, A Late Christmas Dinner.   Enjoy his interview

So, tell us a little bit about the piece you wrote, A Late Christmas Dinner, for this contest.

A Late Christmas Dinner was inspired a few years back and based, very loosely, on real events. Of course the story has been greatly exaggerated.  What good are imaginations if we can’t use them?



What else do you generally write?

I generally write light humor, tinted with a bit of romance. I enjoy making readers smile. I also tend to use a lot of dialogue. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.   I do very little poetry.

 

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing since 2007. My early writings are terrible, filled with punctuation errors, and verb confusion messes. I tend to use present tense when I should be using past tense.   I need to go back someday and clean those messes up, but there are so many, and I am so lazy.   I was inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It’s always been a favorite.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hopes and dreams as a creative.

My hope is to live long enough to create something worthwhile.   Most of what I write is pretty silly.

 

Where else can we find you and your work?

My work is posted only on WritersCafe.

 

Are you on WritersCafe?  I have a contest called Best of 2016 that runs ’till January 13th.  For this one, the members get to vote on the top finalists.

Why I Write: Contest Winner’s Winning Work

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Why I Write

 

(*From late August through end of October, I ran a contest over at WritersCafe.Org called “Why I Write.”  The premise of the contest was to write a 250-word essay (or a poem) on why you write.)

 

Our 1st place winner of the contest is Eagle Poet for poem, The Page.  You can check out the writer’s profile/other writings here.

 

the-page-winner-of-why-i-write

Click on the image to see the original poem.

 

The Page

by

Eagle Poet

My pencil, an arrow of expression.
It’s fine, gray, tip the connection 
between thought and paper.
A tool breathing life into 
immortalized ideas.
 
A sword slicing through
what can’t be seen, but 
felt. It’s eraser, a magic wand 
zapping away fragments 
which don’t mesh.
 
A lever releasing proclamations 
of misunderstood spirit and soul.
 
Misconceived lines a blueprint,
tape measure gauging the 
distance between conception 
and fulfillment. 
 
Mirrors, simultaneously clear 
and cluttered, the writer sees 
the best and the worst reflecting 
from a single lens,
panoramic. 
 
Page creases are miles 
of a struggle, telling a story,
each one a marking, of a 
composite. 
 
Stray marks indicate steps
walked, easily perceived 
as an unfriendly highway.
 
My pencil is the ticket, 
gets me from point A 
to point  Z. A pointer sets apart
the narrow pathway
and untraveled road.
 
A chisel that carves away
the past engraves a new 
future.

 

 

 

 

Why I Write: Contest Winner Interview

coffee-and-writing

Why I Write

 

(*From late August through end of October, I ran a contest over at WritersCafe.Org called “Why I Write.”  The premise of the contest was to write a 250-word essay (or a poem) on why you write. For the next three Mondays, I will be presenting the winners’ interviews or posting their winning work.  Enjoy!)

 

Our 3rd place winner of the contest is known as WriterGirl247247 for her essay, Saved by Words.  You can check out her profile/other writings here.

 

  1. So, tell us a little bit about the piece you wrote, Saved by Words, for this contest.

My piece, Saved by Words, is the story of how I became a writer. I love nothing more than to create stories. But somewhere along the line my own story slipped through the cracks. So I decided to tell it, because I believe what I express in Saved by Words is felt by many writers.

 

  1. What else do you generally write?

I write mostly young adult adventure, suspense, spy thrillers, and science fiction. And when I can I like to throw in some humor and romance.

 

  1. How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing since I was thirteen. Initially I channeled my creative side through drawing, but never saw myself becoming an artist. I always had stories inside my head since I was I kid and would use them when I drew. Then one day after school, a new idea hit me. Drawing wasn’t working, so I wrote. And I’ve been writing ever since.

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about your hopes and dreams as a creative.

Ideally I’d be a New York Times bestseller, and my books heading to the big screen. But most importantly, I want to create someone’s favorite character. To create someone’s favorite book. I want people to love my worlds as much as I do.

 

  1. Where else can we find you and your work?

I’m currently finishing the first book of a five book series, the idea that drove me to write. Most of my other work can be found under my Writers Cafe profile. I’m also working on the first of another series, Phantoms: The Lost One, which is also under my profile and contemplating publishing it.

 

Author Interview: James Dorr

james-dorr-pic

*Today we have a special guest interview with short-story writer, poet, and author, James Dorr!  Enjoy!  Be sure to check out his links below too.

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say?

I’m James Dorr.

I’m a writer.

I write short fiction and poetry, mostly dark fantasy and horror, but also occasional science fiction and mystery.

Yes, I do see a difference between horror and dark fantasy, dark fantasy, to me, incorporating elements of the supernatural while horror is more a description of the readers’ reaction, evoking feelings of fright or unease. So there can be psychological horror as well as such things as dark mystery, dark science fiction, dark romance, even dark humor. Comedy is similar, in this case evoking laughter or at least a chuckle (whereas “horror” as a word is derived from “horripilation,” a physical bristling of body hair as when one has “goose bumps”), so there can be comedy-mystery, humorous science fiction, etc. But then I write cross-genre work as well.

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I think, in general, I felt a need for self-expression. When I was younger I thought I might be a painter or graphic artist, or something in the visual arts, even perhaps something like a cartoonist (as an undergraduate, for instance, I became Art Editor on my college’s humor magazine, as well as illustrating for other publications). But I seemed to have more talent for describing things in words, rather than lines or colors, to tempt the reader to visualize things for him or herself, and for more than just the visual impression – to try to evoke other senses as well, to feel a thing’s texture, a speech’s music (I might mention I also lead and play tenor in Renaissance recorder consort), to see for a moment within a different character’s mind .

Or maybe it’s just an urge to show off.

You have a new book coming out in 2017. Tell us about it.

On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul – an eater of corpses – explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest that introduces us to the 16 stand-alone chapters of Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, about half in fact already published in various venues as complete short stories, loosely inspired by a pair of quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, of the most poetic subject being the death of a beautiful woman (which also informs, in its way, my previous book The Tears of Isis) and of the boundaries between life and death being “at best shadowy and vague.” If these statements be true, and in an already dying world, can love be a power to even transcend death?

What inspired you to write it?

For Tombs the stories, at least the first of them, preceded the book, yet they seemed to “want” to come together, rather like the stories in books like Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club or Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. That is, even if complete in themselves, they seemed to be part of something bigger, in this case a sort of future history of a people already aware of its approaching doom, if not in this lifetime, at best in no more than a few generations. That’s far enough, then, that one needn’t despair, to strive to live only in the moment, but nothing that one accomplishes is going to be long remembered either. Yet legends still are, somehow, created – perhaps through some larger need of humanity – and these are the legends presented here. Ones that, in having created this world, I felt myself compelled to discover.

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

That’s hard to say, because I’ve published several hundred stories, at least as many poems, and in several genres and combinations of genres. One thing I seem to come back to, though, is the idea of love as a redemptive quality, which I think informs a number of the Tombs stories too. Then in my 2013 collection The Tears of Isis, while assembled from stories for the most part already written, I tried to adhere to a theme of beauty and art being in some ways at odds with intimacy and life, opening with a poem about the Medusa seen as a sculptress who, whether through art or through her myth, turns men into statues. Does the artist’s model then, of necessity, become an object, but in that way gain a kind of immortality? And then there are vampires, in a different way preying on life but becoming immortal themselves, leading to a series of flash stories I’ve been working on (two of them published recently in Daily Science Fiction) depicting the “casket girls” of New Orleanian legend, who allegedly brought vampires with them from France in 1728. And then, thinking of that as an urban legend, I’m fascinated by people’s beliefs, of myths and even fairy tales, a number of which I’ve also worked into stories or poems.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

That’s something that I think gets easier with practice. I’m thinking right now though of an expression, that you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his boots, and I think that’s a key. Imagining yourself as different people and learning to empathize, both in life and in art. So I try to imagine a major character’s previous life – one of the “casket girls, above, for instance, as a child growing up in Eighteenth Century France (and, yes, researching Eighteenth Century France too), then the hardships of a voyage at sea, the not knowing what to expect ahead, the hopes and fears — and then placing that character in the new situation the story presents them with. What would I do if I were that person, as modified by what I’ve “learned” of their past?

And then not to “tell” what the character thinks, or at least not too much, but to try to show her or him in action in such a way that the reader can sympathize with that person too. (In short, to see through my character’s eyes instead of my own, to hear with its ears, smell with its nose, taste with its tongue, feel through its emotions, think with its brain, and do my darnedest to make sure you, the reader, do so as well.)

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

Nowadays a main one, I think, may be what happens after a book, or a story within a book, gets published. In the past the publisher took the responsibility of getting it into bookstores and into the hands of reviewers and doing at least a minimal amount of advertising. Now, however, writers are much more on their own. And of course there’s self-publishing too, but even with a traditional publisher it still comes down now to promoting oneself – how to prevent the book you slaved over from just being buried under the crowd of other books coming out at the same time?

This is one reason I thank you, Carrie, for being willing to interview me here, to introduce myself to your readers (as in turn, hopefully, some of my readers will see this here and stay around to see more of your work). In this way we all can help one another and, on the same token, I’d like to urge readers, if you come across a book you enjoy, please consider writing a review, even if only in a sentence or two just saying you liked it, and sharing it in places like Amazon and Goodreads where people will see it.

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

Perseverance. Don’t quit your day job. Those are the clichés, but they’re still true, that most writers aren’t going to make much money until they’ve been at it for some time, if even then. But the real advice I would give is to enjoy what you’re doing, as well as to strive to do your best.

Follow your bliss, to repeat that cliché. Be proud of your work, but be practical too — if an editor advises you to make changes, take it seriously. But remember it’s still advice, especially as you gain more experience, and the one you must please, ultimately, should be yourself.

Biography:

Born in Florida, raised in the New Jersey, in college in Cambridge Massachusetts, and currently living in the Midwest, James Dorr is a short story writer and poet, specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all poetry Vamps (A Retrospective), as well as, forthcoming, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, a novel-in-stories from Elder Signs Press in spring-summer 2017. He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician.

Social Media:

Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

tombs-book-cover-james-dorr

“The city had once lived, blazing with light. The books all described this. The Ghoul-Poet sat in the midst of a heap of them, pages torn, rotting, spread out all about him. This was a library, the pride of New City, or rather a square that had faced the library, that had received this avalanche of thought — words embossed on parchment — that cascaded down when the library burst, its walls weakened by age. It was a treasure trove, this mountain of dreams and abstracts, histories and myths. Some true, some perhaps not.”

These, then, were the legends of the Tombs, the vast Necropolis and its environs . . .

. . . of corpse-trains that plied bridges crossing the great river, bearing the City’s dead, braving attacks from flesh-eating ghouls

. . . of ratcatchers, gravediggers, grave guards, and artists

. . . of Mangol the Ghoul, of musician-lovers Flute and Harp who once played back a storm, of the Beautiful Corpse

. . . of seas filled with monsters, a mass-death of animals, secret tapestries teaching children about a past great war, the dangers of swamps

. . . a city consumed by a huge conflagration, a woman frozen for thousands of years

. . . a mission by airship to rescue a man’s soul

. . . a flower that ate memories. . .

These are just some of the wonders, the horrors, to be found in the pages of Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, scheduled to be out from Elder Signs Press in Spring-Summer, 2017.

Two Writing Contests (Deadline is less than three days away!)

coffee-and-writing

Why I Write  

Submit a 250-word essay or a poem on why do you write.

Top three finishers will have a choice of seeing their essay/poem featured on A Writer and Her Adolescent Muse blog , or be interviewed for the same blog (Purpose? More exposure!)

Interested?  Click here.

spooky-halloween-pic  Super Short Halloween  

In honor of the upcoming frightful holiday, write a super short horror story (100 words max).

Story should be no more than PG-13. Think like Hitchcock…be creative and don’t rely on gore to scare the pants off your readers.

Interested in this one?  Click here.

Enjoy!                                                                                                                                   w

Writing: Created a Trailer? (Poll)

If you have a trailer, feel free to share on the Facebook page  for this blog (or in the comment section below) so we may watch it!

 

Why Do You Write? (The Madness Behind Being a Writer)

insane

Why do writers write?

The answer seems obvious, and the reasons are similar among most writers.

It’s because we must.

It’s who we are.

We have no choice but to write…

or go stark, raving mad.

There has to be more to it than that.

In my mind, at least.

We must dig deeper.

There is a reason other than the ones we give to people (even to ourselves).

What is it?

Be honest.

Why write at all?  What’s the true driving force behind this passion? This innate desire to put words down? To create?

There has to be more than just “I need to write.”

Is it because we are already mad?

Insane?

Mentally ill?

Perhaps we need to be crazy enough to dig deep into our minds, the deepest, darkest parts of our psyche in order to pull out our masterpieces.

To share openly with the world.

To be willing to be criticized and ridiculed.

But why do all this?

For what?

Eternal glory?

Fame?

Acceptance?

Writers are an eccentric lot.

Complex.

Which means…

the reasons behind the why of what we do are infinite.

To try to even understand us is…

madness.

So, don’t bother.

Just accept us for who we are.

Just accept yourself for who you are.

And write.