Friday, February 24, 2017

My Writing Journey

Author Kaitlyn Davis

If I had to describe my writing journey in one word, it would probably be this: whirlwind.  Because it truly has been a crazy, wild, and sometimes chaotic adventure.

Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist!
As a new college grad armed with a major in creative writing, I never dreamed I’d attend my five-year reunion as a bestselling author working from home full-time. My first job out of school was working as a writer for the Huffington Post, but I quickly realized that spending my days crafting nonfiction left me too burned out to pursue my passion. Which led me to my second job, an absolutely amazing position in the marketing division of one of the major New York publishing houses. I was working with books all day, discussing books all day, and using my creativity on campaigns. And by night, I was writing.

Within the first year of my post-college life, I’d finished the first manuscript I’d truly been proud of (because, let’s face it, there are a ton of things I wrote in high school and college that will, rightly so, never see the light of day!). But I had no idea what to do with it. Because, well, it was about vampires. And it was young adult. And it was a few years after the Twilight craze. With my job working inside the industry, I knew that no agent and no publisher wanted anything to do with young adult paranormal romance. The trend had died. Dystopian was the new “it” thing. My book, the one I’d slaved over, that I loved, that I was so proud of, would never see the light of day.

Ignite
And then something amazing happened. It was 2011 and I read an article about a girl named Amanda Hocking who’d self-published a, you guessed it, young adult paranormal romance. And even more incredible, her books were selling like crazy. 

So even though it wasn’t what I’d always imagined (and was, in fact, a path many industry insiders scoffed at), I knew right then and there that it was the path I was going to pursue.

My manuscript soon became my first published novel, Ignite (Midnight Fire Book 1), and within two months I’d sold a thousand copies. So I published a second book in the series, and a third, and a fourth. Two years after Ignite went on sale, I was making three times as much money self-publishing than I was working at my day job, so I quit and decided to do what I loved full-time.

And, I’ve never looked back.

Gathering Frost
But I’ll be honest, there have been ups and downs. As anyone who began self-publishing in 2011 will tell you, the industry has changed a lot in five years. Discoverability is much more difficult. Marketing is much more involved. Competition is fierce. And there’s a little less to go around. But you know what? I get to sit in my pajamas all day, drink coffee, pet my dog, and write whatever the heck I want to. So things are still looking pretty darn great to me!


What will the future bring? Who knows! I have an entire journal full of ideas I one day hope to pursue, so I’ll do what I’ve always done—I’ll let the characters in my head and the stories in my heart guide me.

Follow Kaitlyn on her Facebook, Twitter and check out her Website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WHALES AND WRITERS

Author G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

While visiting the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago, I went on a whale-watching excursion with Captain Bob. Soon after we left the marina, a humpback launched its 40-ton body out of the water. Someone asked why whales breach. “I think they do it to entertain us,” the captain said. I suspected it was more complicated than that.

People ask mountain climbers why they climb. Parents ask teenagers why they do all the crazy things they do. And readers ask writers why they write. One thing I’ve learned is that there’s rarely a simple answer to the question that starts with “Why?”

The Damnable Legacy
When I first sat down to write The Damnable Legacy, I thought I was writing to entertain readers. Woman has regrets. Woman goes on quest and faces adversity. Woman conquers all. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that life wasn’t that simple. And if fiction is supposed to emulate life, then the novel needs to be more complex.

So I started over. This time I delved into research, and the more I discovered, the more I wanted to learn. I researched adoption and attachment disorder. I research mixed ethnicity relationships. Climbing Denali. Teens who self-harm. The afterlife. When I re-wrote the novel, it was no longer just a book to entertain. It was a book that would surely educate.

But still, that wasn’t enough. I had crafted characters who did things and said things, and I needed to understand and embrace why they did. So I dove into the world of psychology and mined the psyches of my characters. I studied Freud and Jung and the concept of shadow selves. I read about single moms with unplanned pregnancies and superstitions and men who rape—or don’t rape. And then I wrote the novel again, this time from a place of far deeper personal understanding of my characters’ motivations—and my own curiosities and biases.

So now when people ask why I write, I tell them my goal is to entertain, educate, and enlighten. I can never be sure if I’ve met that goal until the work is out and I hear back from readers, but I can at least use myself as the primary litmus test. If I’m not delighted with the story, it’s not good enough. If I haven’t learned along the way, it’s not ready. And if I haven’t personally grown and begun to look at some aspects of our world from a new perspective, I have more work to do.

Women on the Brink
We don’t know for sure why whales breach, but we do know that breaching is in itself an act of breaking through. In that vein, breaching is like writing.

Then again, Captain Bob said that maybe “the whales just breach for fun." Yes, indeed. Writing can be fun, too.

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer is the author of  The Damnable Legacy and Women on the Brink. She’s currently working on another novel and a self-help book about writing for wellness, drawn from her experience teaching workshops to survivors of cancer, domestic violence, and brain injuries. She has an essay in the forthcoming anthology, Just a Little More Time, and her other short work has appeared in the New York Times as well as other publications. Visit her website at www.gekretchmer.com like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.



Monday, February 13, 2017

How a Motion Picture Marketing Executive Learned to Write About Hollywood

Author Aimee Pitta
I’ve spent over twenty-five years as a motion picture marketing executive, and in the process of earning millions of dollars for other people in box office grosses, and a few Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards for myself, I’ve shanghaied the unsuspecting public into watching films that portray woman as victims, whores or stereotypical put upon wives and mothers. No longer able to live with myself one day I quit my job to write full time and to create female characters that represent women as they really are… Smart, courageous, funny and obstinate.  
Realizing of course that I’d have to keep my hand in marketing to pay my bills. As we all know a girl’s gotta eat! I set out to find my way as a writer.  I struggled a lot, had difficulty finding my voice and tried to figure out what I knew, so I could write what I know. My first step toward that was to look at my skill set and determine how it could assist me on this writer’s journey.
As a theatrical creative marketing executive, (Manchester By The Sea, Lady Macbeth, Love & Friendship, Hello My Name is Doris, It’s Complicated, to name a few) I realized that I have a keen understanding about the importance of creating characters that are not only interesting, engaging, and entertaining but are highly marketable. Trust me, I’ve worked on some clunkers that taught me if you don’t have interesting and engaging characters, then you won’t have a marketing campaign that will cut through the clutter. Working as a producer of trailers and TV spots, I’ve learned the importance of telling a succinct story and that less is more. As a copywriter who has been lucky enough to be hired to come up with titles for films who don’t have any, (The Guilt Trip, Home, The Bounty Hunter, People Like Us, Black Hat, Mirror-Mirror, Playing For Keeps, No Strings Attached) I’ve honed my skills crafting concepts and titles that resonate with an audience, gives them an understanding of what to expect from a project.
Happily Ever Before by Aimee Pitta & Melissa Peterman
Once I put together my skills and felt confident I had what it took to create a compelling story, I needed to look at my life to find that hook of writing what I know. As a one of five sisters, I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with smart, funny, strong, capable and at times unlikable women, especially when we were arguing over clothes, bathroom time and who got the car we all shared. As a woman whose parents gracefully and humorously battled my father’s MS for over 43 years I have learned about courage and grace and humility and that life can be absurd, compelling, hilarious, and heartbreaking in a matter of seconds. That, I discovered, was my value as well as my voice as a storyteller. It is what I strive for in every story I tell. And this notion of being invisible is where I found hook.
The Theory of Invisibility by Aimee Pitta
The Theory of Invisibility is an idea that has looped in and out of my consciousness for years. For me invisibility comes in many forms as each of us can go through our days without truly being seen. My father, a paraplegic for much of his life because of the crippling ravages of MS from his exposure to the radiation emanating from being stationed at the US Atomic Bomb site, was invisible to our government who to this day, has never taken responsibility for his illness and he was invisible to the outside world who couldn’t see past his wheelchair. However, this notion of being invisible did not solidify for me until I helplessly watched someone I love slowly disappear while he grieved for his beloved wife. It was from living through and observing this experience that I found an emotional window into this universal story.
I love to write. It’s been my addiction since the tender age of 10. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I strive to create strong, courageous and astoundingly real female characters because they have influenced me, inspired me, laughed with me, cried with me, carried me and walked beside me my entire life.
Aimee Pitta can be found on Facebook & Twitter



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Inspires Romance Writer Sue Lilley?

Author Sue Lilley

I’ve been thrilled to do a couple of author interviews recently. But one question about my own favourite authors caused way more soul-searching and reminiscing than I expected. I never knew I was so indecisive but I guess it’s a bit like music or movies – it depends on the mood!

I’ve loved many different authors during various phases of my life. As a child, I borrowed Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew mysteries from my local library. I then devoured all Catherine Cookson’s historical sagas, which were set in the north of England, where I live. I moved on to Judith Krantz and the big sex and shopping novels of the eighties and all the romantic dramas by Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts.

High Hopes by Sue Lilley
Undoubtedly, my biggest influence has been Rosamunde Pilcher, who inspired my lasting love of Cornwall, which features in both of my own novels. Her novel The Shell Seekers is my all-time favourite book. I adore the wonderful characters, the sense of family history, the vivid setting. I had it in hardback and read it so many times my copy fell to bits and I had to buy it again, obviously well before the days of the Kindle. I even read it to my daughter as a bedtime story when she was a bit too young to appreciate it but insists to this day that she loved it.

If I was ever to be stranded on a desert island, I’d also take Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Scruples by Judith Krantz and any of the big and fabulous dramas from Penny Vincenci .

The UK may be a smallish island on the world map but Cornwall is as far away from where I live as you can get without leaving the country. But I love everything about the picturesque wilds of Poldark-country and I feel it’s my destiny to live there one day.

High Hopes is set there, with an old family house at the centre of the drama. The characters are childhood friends who are rocked by a twenty-year secret. High Hopes is the name of a place in the book and also represents the theme of having “high hopes” for the future.

Another Summer by Sue Lilley
Another Summer was inspired when I was visiting after a severe storm had caused devastating flooding. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge which had been destroyed by a rampant river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris. There wasn’t a soul in sight and I started thinking what if...? 

Check out Sue's Website at http://suelilley.com
Follow Sue on Twitter

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Five Reasons Why I Write Young Adult Books

Author Kaitlyn Davis

I write young adult fiction and I'm proud of it! No shame. No struggle to admit the truth. Nothing but pride in my craft and in all the other books next to mine on the shelves!

Readers and writers of YA are often met with derision, a fact I really can't wrap my head around. I've had people ask if I write YA because writing for adults is too difficult. I mean, really? There are so many stereotypes surrounding YA—that it's poorly written, not great literature, easy to read, dumbed down, simplistic, trashy, and the list goes on and on.

So today, I want to celebrate this genre and the reasons I LOVE writing it :)

1) Coming of age characters! Teenage years are the most emotionally charged years of anyone's life! More dramatic! More passionate! More intense! And I love writing characters who are in the thick of self-discovery and are still struggling through the highs and lows of becoming the person they are meant to be.

2) Fast-paced plots! Personally, I prefer writing an arresting tale over a beautiful sentence any day of the week. YA novels tend to focus more heavily on enthralling plots and intriguing characters, and less on flowery prose. Whereas many adult novels have left me dragging to get to the end, I fly through most YA books. Do I want beautiful writing no matter what I read? Yes, absolutely! But I want that writing to come with an unputdownable story.

A Dance of Dragons
3) No need for explicit anything! Okay, I'm a total prude—I'll admit it! I don't think I could write an explicit sex scene even if an enraged fan put a gun to my head! It's just not my personality. So I love that with YA there is no pressure to do so. I write a little bit of contemporary romance in addition to my YA, and this is a huge problem I struggle with in those novels that I don’t even have to think about with my YA work.

4) Genre Blending is Encouraged! Take my Once Upon A Curse series, for example—this series is a mash up of the romance, fantasy, fairy tale, and dystopian genres. And that's what makes it so much fun to write! Walk into any book store and it’s obvious that adult literature is very strictly categorized—romance over here, sci-fi over here, thrillers here, and literature here. But with YA, everything is mixed and there are no rules, allowing for much more creative freedom!

Frost
5) Constantly Evolving Trends! Similar to the above, the major trends in YA fiction are always changing and adapting. One year it is paranormal romance, and then the next gritty dystopian, then realistic contemporary. While I don’t write in order to follow trends, I do find them incredibly inspiring, pushing me to find a new way to look at a story or a genre!


What are your favorite things about reading or writing YA fiction?

Follow Kaitlyn on Facebook, Twitter and check out her Website

Monday, January 30, 2017

LESSONS LEARNED FROM WRITING AND PARENTING


Author G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

I used to think I was pretty smart, so when my husband and I decided to start a family, I wasn’t too worried about whether I knew what I was doing. Likewise, when I decided to write my first novel, it didn’t look that hard, either. Ha! How wrong I was, on both accounts.

Rhino Skin

At a writing workshop early in my career, a short story I’d written was ripped to shreds by the workshop leader. “Throw it out,” he said. “It’s not worth saving or trying to revise.” I wanted to crawl under a blanket and die.

Over the past couple of decades, my kids have periodically had similarly harsh criticisms of me when they didn’t like rules or consequences I’d imposed upon them. Room cleaning, video games, and curfews were three of the most popular causes for protest. I love each of my kids with all my heart, and I know they love me, too. Even so, we’ve shared some terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that nearly shattered my heart.

As a writer and a parent, I’ve had to develop thick skin. It was a matter of survival. But that’s not to say my heart became smaller or weaker. If anything, it’s grown larger and stronger as I’ve watched my children--and my characters--struggle through life’s complexities.

The Damnable Legacy
Staying True

When one of my sons was in fifth grade, a boy in his classroom bullied him relentlessly. The teacher and principal refused to intervene, so I took the matter into my own hands. I went into the school one morning with my son. We had a kind and gentle chat with the other boy. All seemed good between the kids after that, but the principal felt undermined. He criticized me harshly for doing what I did. I was humiliated by his reprimand in front of the schoolchildren. But I didn’t regret the action I’d taken. I’d remained true to my son, and to my values against bullying, no matter the consequences.

As a member of various writing critique groups over the years, I’ve received a lot of ideas on how to improve my work. Cut this scene! Show more skin! No, please don’t kill off that character! Although grateful for every comment I received, I sometimes felt lost—especially when the comments conflicted with one another. It was like having some people point north while others pointed south. I nearly lost track of where my story, and its characters, were headed.

It’s a fact: we live in a society where criticism is the norm. Even with rhino skin, I’ve found it confusing. But writing and parenting have taught me to expect criticism, to listen to it with grace, and to weave it into my work, and my life, when it makes sense—so long as I can stay true to my own values, goals, and dreams.

Input Versus Output

When I first became a parent, I thought it was all about me bringing up a child and teaching him everything from shoe tying to relationship building. Likewise, when I first sat down to write, I thought the goal was, quite simply, telling stories to others.

Women on the Brink
But I’ve learned that neither writing nor parenting is solely about output. In fact, it’s more about input from others. My kids have taught me at least as much as I’ve taught them, not just about Snapchat and Game of Thrones but about honesty, trust, and communications. And my literary community--especially my readers--have inundated me with wisdom, not only about the craft of writing but also about the art of being human.

As it turns out, writing and parenting are two of the most complex and humbling challenges I’ve ever undertaken, and I’m grateful for both.


G. Elizabeth Kretchmer is the author of  The Damnable Legacy and Women on the Brink. She’s currently working on another novel and a self-help book about writing for wellness, drawn from her experience teaching workshops to survivors of cancer, domestic violence, and brain injuries. She has an essay in the forthcoming anthology, Just a Little More Time, and her other short work has appeared in the New York Times as well as other publications. Visit her website at www.gekretchmer.com like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Starbucks, Lovers, Infidelity & Writing

Author Tony Faggioli

“One of the most often overlooked aspects of infidelity is the pain that exists within the cheater, long before the act in question takes place, that subsequently causes the pain in the person being cheated on,” she said as she sat across from me, her hipster glasses resting perfectly on the bridge of her nose and her hands folded neatly in her lap. As the third therapist who had agreed to an interview with me about this topic, she was the one who gave me the final piece of the puzzle that I needed to make Kyle Fasano, the main character in The Millionth Trilogy, more human.

It was the decision that some people make to hurt the one they love that drew me to the topic of lust and infidelity as the central catalyst for the spiritual war that breaks out across all three novels. This was not going to be a nuanced, intellectual journey into the topic, like, say, The Bridges of Madison County. No. It was going to be more like an Apocalypse Now story, of human hearts torn, ravaged, at war and on the verge of madness. Because to be honest, that’s what I’d seen in the lives of those around me who’d been cheated on. Complete devastation.  

“Why?” I wondered, while sequestered in the alcove of my favorite Starbucks one morning. Why was this particular…sin…so much more profound than the others? So much so, in fact, that “crimes of passion” are one of the top three reasons for murder. I decided that for the purposes of this story, lust, temptation, selfishness and the labyrinth of consequences that follow infidelity were going to be given center stage, amongst angels and demons, hell and hell on earth. I interviewed a detective at with the Los Angeles Police Departments Central Station, as well as a few pastors, to gain both a humanistic and spiritual view of the consequences.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:  

BOOK 1, “ONE IN A MILLION”, HAS REACHED #1 IN FREE CRIME, #1 IN FREE PARANORMAL and #2 IN FREE SUPERNATURAL IN THE PAST THREE MONTHS. AT ONE POINT IT EVEN MADE IT TO #37 IN AMAZON TOP #100 THRILLERS.

BOOK 2, “A MILLION TO ONE”, HAD ITS VILLIAN COMPARED TO HANNIBAL LECTER BY KIRKUS REVIEWS IN OCTOBER. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I WAS VERY HAPPY ABOUT THIS. 

BOOK 3, “ONE PLUS ONE”, EARNED THE HONER OF BEING A “FEATURED REVIEW” IN KIRKUS REVIEWS MAGAZINE LAST NOVEMBER.  I’M TOLD THAT ONLY 10% OF THE REVIEWS DONE EACH YEAR BY KIRKUS EARN THIS DISTINCTION AND I WAS THRILLED.

MY 4TH BOOK, THE SNOW GLOBE, A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, IS SET TO BE RELEASED ON MARCH 17TH, 2017. IT IS A STAND ALONE NOVEL ABOUT A WOMAN BEING STALKED ACROSS THE COUNTRY BY HER EX-FIANCE.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ME OR MY BOOKS PLEASE CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE: tonyfaggioli.com