Nano Prep #2

This is for all of you who are planning to write a book next month. It can be daunting to get started. Here’s an exercise I came up with to get you started thinking about your story.

  • What is your story about, in one sentence?
  • What is your story about, in one paragraph?
  • What is your story about, in one page?
  • Who is your main character? (more on this at a later date)
  • What genre is this book?
  • What is the setting? Date, place?
  • What is your intended audience?
  • What is the theme of your book? More here.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that I wanted to write a story about a couple trying to have a baby. My sentence description might be, “A couple in their thirties face a series of challenges trying to have a child of their own.” That sounds a little weak. Maybe I could change it into “A couple in their thirties must overcome a series of challenges in trying to conceive a child of their own.”

That’s better, but I could still expand on it some. Is my main character the man or the woman? Or is it a same sex couple?  So my sentence might read, “A woman and her partner must overcome a series of challenges in trying to conceive their own biological child.”

I could expand more on that, discuss what the challenges are, or maybe what kind of book this is, but that’s a place to start.

Then I need to discuss the genre. Is this science fiction or contemporary fiction? It’s probably not fantasy, horror, or mystery. Let’s go with plain contemporary fiction.

That helps me narrow done the setting. It’s present day. I’m most familiar with the US, and since I want to write about some cutting edge reproductive technology, a big city would be a good place to start. Maybe New York City.

And it’s pretty obvious that this would be geared to an adult audience.

But theme – that might take some thought. There are lots of way I could take this story. But let’s say that I want my readers to see that a challenge like this uncovers a lot of secrets in a relationship, that I want to describe a relationship that isn’t quite the way it seems on the surface. So my theme might be “Challenges uncover who we really are.” I may not be phrasing it just right, but that’s the general idea. Obviously, it will become more clear as I write it. But I hope you can see how this is done.

Now I could go back and rewrite my one sentence, moving on to a paragraph and then a page that details what my story is about. All this can be done now, before you really start to work in November.

Hope that helps! Good luck to you writers! Next time we’ll work on character.

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NaNo Prep #1 – Are You In?

This is the first in a series of articles I will be doing about prepping for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. 

Hey, fellow writers! Next month is NaNoWriMo, and whether you’re a first timer or a repeat, there’s one question you have to ask yourself LONG before November 1st if you want to be a success.

Are You In?

Are you in – as in – are you committed? Are you in this project for the long haul? Are you going to write every day, right up until November 30th?

This really matters, because if you’re just casually committed to your book, you’re not going to finish it. Hey, you don’t HAVE to write a book. But if you want to write, you need to really want it. That’s been my problem lately. I’m kinda half-hearted about writing. I want to finish my book, but I want to finish my other projects too.

So for the month of November, I’m committing to writing every day, for at least 30 minutes a day. If that means leaving the house so I can use a computer, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to the library, or getting on my tablet, or using a freaking notepad and a pencil. But I’m going to write.

What about you? Are you going to stick with it, even when you feel like you have nothing to say that day and you really want to go do something else? If you really will write every single day, you can absolutely hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. You can finish. We’ll do it together.

 

Who’s Ready for NaNo?

The old opened book is christian Psalter
19st century Psalter. Isolated over white with clipping path

Are you planning to be part of NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November, and it celebrates the amazing amount of literary talent out there, waiting to be discovered. There is an official site (nanowrimo.org) which has so many helpful tips you’ll be overwhelmed!

I took part last year. The official goal is 50,000 words. I came it around 35K, which I was very proud of. Since then I’ve hit my 50 thousand, but my book is still not done. This year I’m unofficially joining in with the goal of finishing my stinking book! I almost don’t care if it’s good, I just want it to be done! After all, that’s what rewrites are for.

Now is the time to prepare. If you are a planner, start with your outline, your character descriptions, your research, and get it all underway now. If you’re more of a pantser, plan by clearing your schedule for next month. Make a writing playlist, stock the freezer with meals and the cupboard with snacks, and tell everyone that you won’t be around much next month.

Anyway, I’d love to know who else is joining in the fun. Let me know in the comments if you will be signing up, what genre your book is, and title if you have one. Then we’ll be writing buddies. My book is an adult thriller and I know I can finish next month.

 

Interview with Anne Montgomery

Today I have another treat – an interview with author Anne Montgomery. Anne is a former reporter turned writer. She has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Today we’re going to be talking about her book, The Scent of Rain.

32337760I really enjoyed your book. (My review is here.) Where did you get the idea for this book?
The ideas for all of my books come from current events. I am an admitted news junkie and have been reading the newspaper front to back daily for about 40 years. I’ve learned that truth is often far stranger than fiction. Stories about the polygamists in Colorado City are often in the news here in Arizona. I had never heard about the cult until I moved here and was shocked that such a group could exist in the US. In regard to Rose, the 16-year-old protagonist, I am a teacher in a Title I high school in Phoenix. Many of my students come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds. I am also a foster mom. I have seen what abuse and neglect can do to children first hand.

What kind of research did you do? Can you describe your writing process?
As a former reporter, I greatly enjoy digging for a story. I read articles about Colorado City and conducted interviews with people who had lived and worked in the community, including Flora Jessop, who escaped twice from the cult and today works with the Child Protection Project: an anti-child abuse group that helps women and girls escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The stories Flora told me were so harrowing that to this day I have not listened to the three-hour recording of our interview session. The images were burned into my brain. I also interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby, who bravely confronted the cult members, asking them to refrain from marrying and reproducing with their close relatives, after he discovered that the cause of the awful birth defects in the community were the result of incest. Unfortunately, Dr. Tarby was ignored.
I find it impossible to write stories without actually visiting the locations where my characters live, so
I recruited a friend and we drove to Colorado, City. We concocted a story about looking for a place to retire. As we studied the community, children stared at us as if we were monsters. They are told that outsiders are devils. I am not afraid of many things, but I have to admit that I was uncomfortable while doing my research on site and have no desire to go back.
In regard to my writing process, I’m what you call a “pantser”, which is an author who doesn’t have a specific plan or plot line in place. While doing research my characters are fleshed out, but I’m never certain exactly what they will be doing or where they will take me. In fact, my characters often surprise me. This is writing by the seat of your pants. Hence, “pantser”.

Adan and Rose both have difficult family situations. What was your own family like?
I was raised the middle child in a middle-class family in Livingston, New Jersey, not too far from New York City. Both my parents were college graduates – a rarity in the 1960s – who expected their three kids to go to college, as well. I struggled early on with what I would later learn was low-end dyslexia. So, I hated to read and school was a battle. When it came time for college, my older brother bet me that I’d drop out freshman year, because I was too stupid to graduate. Perhaps I should thank him for my later successes in academics, because I was determined not to lose that bet. I was also obese until I was about 14, a condition that embarrassed my family and had me spending a good deal of time without human companionship. However, I was lucky to have the best dog on the planet who wandered the nearby woods and streams with me, so I never felt alone. I believe those early forays into nature provided me with the love of wild areas I still have today.

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The setting is very important to the book. What experience did you have with the desert before the book?

The state of Arizona, where I have lived for almost 30 years, is one of the most wondrous wild areas I have ever explored. We have the incredibly diverse Sonoran Desert, as well as high mountains and canyons and rivers and forests. I have seen much of the state because I’m a rock collector. (It’s true. I have about 400 specimens in my living room alone. Friends know not to ask about them if I’ve had a glass of wine, because I then feel compelled to explain when and where I obtained each one, whether they want to know or not.) Before researching The Scent of Rain, I had not traveled to the Arizona Strip. I was thrilled by the stark beauty of the area. Zion National Park is just a short drive from Colorado City. The thing I enjoyed most about writing the manuscript was incorporating descriptions of the landscape into the story.

Which of the characters in the book can you identify with the most?
Like Rose, I am often enthralled with the beauty of nature. I’m a high school teacher, and to have a student like her would be a delight. I admire her enthusiasm, her determination to find answers to the natural world around her, and her efforts to reconcile the beliefs of the strange community in which she was raised with all the new things she learns about the outside world. I can also identify with Adan. Through some strange twist, I became a foster mom at 55. As I never had any biological children, you can imagine what suddenly having a 15-year-old boy in my home was like. Adan reminds me of my first son, Brandon. I now have three boys who call me mom.

What would you like readers to take away from the book?
Be aware of what’s happening around you. Some characters in The Scent of Rain are kind, well-meaning people, but they don’t acknowledge what’s happening right under their noses. Mistreatment of people, especially children, is something no one should tolerate, and no belief or religion should be a mask for abuse.

Is The Scent of Rain your first book? What are you working on now?

Actually, I have six books, through two are neatly tucked away in a drawer, likely never to see the light of day. Two books are to be soon to be reissued. A Light in the Desert is a soft-thriller involving an assassin who is succumbing to a strange form of mental illness called the Jerusalem Syndrome, a pregnant teenager, and the deadly real-life sabotage of an Amtrak train in the Arizona desert. Nothing But Echoes is historical fiction that deals with the discovery of a fabulous tomb in Northern Arizona that reveals a man interred 900 years ago who doesn’t look like the pueblo people who buried him, and which leads to questions about when Europeans first arrived in the Americas. The Castle, which tells the story of a female National Park ranger who is struggling to come to grips with being raped and the serial rapist who is stalking her, is currently being offered to publishers.

Which authors would you say have influenced your work the most?

That’s a tough question. I’m told I write like a man. More likely, I write like a reporter. We are, after all, story tellers. We are just more succinct and often lacking in flowery prose. So, perhaps reporters have influenced my writing more than authors.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I have several hobbies. I am a high school football referee and crew chief. That means I’m the white hat, the official that signals to the press box about what’s happening on the field. I began officiating in 1979 as a way to learn the main team spectator sports. I wanted to be a sportscaster, which was unheard of for a woman in the 1970s, so I decided to become a certified amateur official in football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, in order to become knowledgeable enough to report on the games. I believed a news director somewhere would appreciate my efforts and hire me. And that’s exactly what happened. I would go on to work for five TV stations. My first on-air job came at WRBL-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where I anchored the Emmy and ACE award-winning SportsCenter. I finished my on-camera broadcasting career with a two-year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. That I still officiate football surprises me, but I can’t seem to quit. My other hobbies include rock collecting, gardening – which is quite an adventure in the desert – scuba diving, and playing my guitar. I’m also a movie buff.

What’s the best way for readers to stay in touch with you?

I am active on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Readers can find me on Wikipedia and Amazon, and are also welcome to contact me on my website, https://annemontgomerywriter.com/.

New Award!

Hey there! I’ve been nominated for my first award by the authors at Little Blind Book Finds, Dawlyn & Krista. You should check them out for all kinds of reviews, both spoiler-free and spoilery, for lots of lists and other goodness.

The Mystery Blogger award was created by Okoto Enigma of Okoto Enigma’s Blog.

This is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blogs not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.

-Okoto Enigma.

Here are the rules to the award:

  • Put the logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Tell your reader 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)
baby cindy with daddy
Baby Speedy Reader

3 things about me!

I am the oldest of two girls, which meant I was very protective and very bossy when I was growing up. Hey, it’s ok to be bossy if you’re right!

I met my husband in college. We got married during my senior year – in the middle of the semester, in fact. Instead of a honeymoon, we spent a night at a hotel and then went back to school and work.

I have fibromyalgia. It’s like arthritis pain, plus chronic fatigue and a host of other problems. It flares up and then calms down, but I’ve learned how to live with most of the symptoms.

Dawlyn & Krista’s Questions

  • What is your favorite movie genre?

Adventure, mostly. I love the Marvel movies and Wonder Woman was beyond great. I also loved Dunkirk this summer.

  • What is your favorite thing about being a blogger?

I love having an audience that’s interested in my enthusiasm! When I get excited about something, it’s great to be able to share it with someone else.

  • What is your favorite non book related thing to do?

Sewing! I’m busy with so many quilts right now, and so many pretty things that I want to make.

  • Who is your favorite celebrity?

Ooh, that’s tough! I think I’ll go with Mark Ruffalo, Mark Hamill, and Gal Gadot. I love the way each of them is so great with their fans, but they use their fame to bring attention to important issues.

  • What book got you into reading?

I don’t remember one specific book, but I know that it was thanks to my mom! I was a reader from a really early age and it was because my mom got me a library card and took me to the library whenever I wanted to go. She’d let me check out as many books as I wanted and never made me ‘quit reading and do something else!’

My best posts

Interview with Brent Jones My first author interview, but not the last, I hope!

Unlocking the Past Loved this book

Still A short story I wrote

My nominations!

Susan Loves Books

I’ve Read This

Linda’s Book Bag

Review Tales by Jeyran Main

Flavia the Bibliophile

Thrice Read

Rachel Poli

My Chestnut Reading Tree

I Suck at Writing

My questions for you!

  1. What book do you wish you can change the ending for?
  2. Why did you decide to start a blog?
  3. Which food could you eat every day?
  4. Library or bookstore and why?

That’s it! Hope you all enjoyed this one! I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. Happy reading!