*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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Where can we find this book?
You can find this book at all these vendors:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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/.