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/.

 

 

 

 

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#Writerslife How Does A Writer Survive Now-A-Days?

by rawpixel via Unsplash

 

You’d think with all the technology we have on hand, as writers, we’d find a way to make a living. But the truth is, technology has made it so that anyone can publish therefore flooding the digital world with stories, poetry, how-tos, comics, etc. it has become nearly impossible to make any kind of a living.

So, how does a writer survive now-a-days?

  1. Community. Being a part of a community of writers and authors (guilds, groups, tribes, followers, link-ups, etc.) helps you through times when you’re feeling alone and overwhelmed. Plus, through a community, you’ll have access to opportunities to further your career/dream (a community tends to be filled with people from various creative/professional backgrounds).
  2. Diversify. I’ve noticed that many successful authors these days are also teachers, coaches and mentors, working with those just beginning their journey as writers. Others speak at various conferences, summits, and events spreading their knowledge as well as promoting their published works. For those who dislike public speaking of any kind, there are other opportunities such as writing guest posts for blogs, journals, and magazines with large subscribers, or content writing/freelance writing, etc.
  3. Exposure.  With so many ebooks or print books in the market these days, it’s nearly impossible for any potential reader to find your published novel.  You need to find ways to get your name/brand/written work before as many eyes as you can. A few ways to do this: publish shorter works in ezines, journals, and magazines; set up a blog and write regular posts; guest posts on other blogs that have a high number of subscribers; set up interviews with various media outlets (popular blogs, podcasts, book reviewers with their own websites/blogs, etc..)

What about you? Can you think of other ways for a writer to survive in this highly competitive creative industry?

3 Reasons As To Why You Should Accept Your Flaws (As a Writer)

 

 

You know the saying, no one is perfect, right?  Yet, so many are trying to be perfect, and failing miserably at it. Including writers.

Especially writers!

I don’t think I’ve known very many writers who didn’t give a darn about the quality of their written work. In fact, many of us get so hung up in believing that our writing needs to be perfect before we can send it out into the world. The problem is, this way of thinking is probably the number one reason why nothing gets completed (and in many instances, even started).

Heck, perfectionism is one of the root causes of the so-called “writer’s block.”

What a writer to do?

Here are some reasons why we should accept those flaws as writers.

!. It lowers the stress level.  I think Stephen King was on to something when he said:

“As with all other aspects of the narrative art, you will improve with practice, but practice will never make you perfect.”

No matter if you’re an unpublished writer or a prolific, best-selling author, the writing craft is a life-long apprenticeship where there are no masters.  Instead of agonizing over your struggles in grasping certain grammatical rules, realize that we all have issues with them. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. You will never get the story “perfectly” written in the first draft. The sooner we accept that, the easier the words will flow.

 

2. Your flaws are what sets you apart from the others.

“Flaws are what makes people most interesting.” -Minh Tan

Some of the most interesting people in the world have been writers and the first one to come to mind is Ernest Hemingway. Aside from his flamboyant and active lifestyle, he was noted for his writing style. He lived in a time where literary (aka elaborate) writing dominated; but his style ran counter to this. He preferred to write lean descriptions while relying more on dialogue and action to tell the story. Many, at first, viewed this to be a flawed writing style; instead, he gained notoriety and eventually won many awards (including the Nobel). His writing style wasn’t the only reason for his success; it was also the kind of stories, their characters and content, that set him apart from the other writers of the time. Much of this was due to his wartime experiences as well as his battles with mental illness and alcoholism. All of these were responsible for fundamentally shaping  his style of writing.

He was an imperfect man who wrote unforgettable stories.  So, embrace your flaws and make them your strengths rather than view them as weaknesses.  It is our flaws that will set our writing apart from the others, and it is also our flaws which readers can connect and identify with.

3. Your flaws are part of what makes you, well, you!

I love Ann Lamott. She just has a way with words, and putting things into perspective.

Our flaws can make our creative life messy, but they contain some of the juiciest morsels for our stories. And stories are the reflection of who we are as writers. So, stop trying to be perfect and accept your flaws as mere extensions of who you are as a person, and as a writer.

One last quote from Ann Lamott to ponder on:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California).”

 

 

 

#NaNoWriMo: Midpoint

 

 

November is already half over–can you believe it?

And what’s even crazier is that one week from today is Thanksgiving!

Heck, I haven’t gotten a turkey yet much less planned a menu for it.  I’ll work on it over the coming weekend…maybe.

I’ve been writing away on a story for NaNoWriMo currently sitting at about 7,200 words for the month. Yeah, the word count is quite low provided that I didn’t start until the 5th day. I’ve set up a goal tracker for this novel that by February 1st 2019 to have written a total of 75,000 words. This will be more realistic, but that won’t stop me from trying to get as many words done for November as I can. At that point (after November 30th), I plan to go back to writing my other projects.

So, what is this story I’m currently writing?

Click on image to read

 

Brief synopsis:

Nyssa Mann found herself in a zombie apocalypse that claimed everyone she cared for.  In search for a safe haven, she met a stranger who promised just that only to be tricked into a fantastical world where she will face a new kind of terror.

There are currently eight chapters up on Wattpad if you’d like to follow along Nyssa’s adventures. I’ve been trying to write about one new chapter per day. At the moment, a total of 30 chapters are slated for the completion of this book (possibly there will be additional chapters).  This may also be Book One in a series or saga for the overall story but for now I’m taking this one day at a time.

What about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If not, are you currently working on a writing project? I’d like to hear about it!  🙂

 

#IWSG: What Are Your Thoughts On Social Online Publishing Platform?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

The question of the month is: what are your thoughts on social online publishing platform?

 

 

Seriously.  What do you think about using sites like the ones above for publishing your stories (novels included)?

Good idea?  Bad?

I’ve used them periodically on and off for several years now. For me, they help me work on a book chapter by chapter while getting feedback.  Especially with sites like Wattpad or Writerscafe, I can find out if a particular storyline has true potential, or needs to go back to the “drawing board,” and for most of the ones I’ve done, scrapped altogether.

By posting/publishing stories/books on these places do they hurt your chances of finding a traditional publisher?

I don’t think so.

I used these sites to write my first draft.  And if I seriously want to find a traditional publisher for a particular story, I’d take it down before performing the heavy-duty editing/revising.

Heck, there’s been several writers on Wattpad who actually were approached by one of the big publishing houses to have their book published with them, and even a few had their stories optioned for television and big screen film.

It’s a new world out there (well, not truly “new” per say but the rules have changed). This is truly one of the best times to be a writer.

So, what about you? Any thoughts?  Have any personal experiences with any one of these sites?

 

 

#IWSG: Book Titles Vs. Character Names

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

 

For me, the book titles (or for any type of stories, short or long) are more difficult to come up with.  A title has to encompass the theme and message of the story, giving the reader some idea of what it may be about.  Because of this, it takes a while to come up with a title that “feels” right.  Many times I end up giving a story a working title until I can come up with a better one.

With some stories, any title I gave never felt right.  For these, I usually set them to one side for a while in the hope that the right title will magically pop in mind.  It does happen, but rare.  I’d end up settling for one that I could live with, and move on.

What about you?  Which one is more difficult for you to come up with a name?

Story Sunday: Ancient and Dead

 

It’s the most exciting find in archeological history.  An ancient structure uncovered in a sea of dirt and rocks.  Experts are telling the public that it once was used to house thousands of paper items.  A library full of books.

Archaic relics of a long since extinct race of man.

#Writing is a Journey

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Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images CCO

 

You may have noticed a few subtle changes on this blog.  One’s the color.  The other is the name.

Since 2007, I’ve been blogging and (seriously) writing, and have used “a writer and her adolescent muse” as a title because I was still exploring genres and forms to see which were the best fit for me.

It’s now 2018 and I believe I’m close to the answers  I’ve been seeking.

Close.

I enjoy writing horror and dark stories and dark poetry.  And I plan to continue. As for writing books, I will be focusing on inspirational romance-suspense.  Hence, the name change of this blog to A writer and her sentimental muse to reflect this shift.

I also have a memoir in me that wants to be written.  This will be titled, The Whispering Shadows.  I already have a blog by that name, and will be revamping it in the near future to start the memoir.  I will share more on this in the future.