Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Insecure Writers want to know: What is the weirdest thing you ever had to research for your story?

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I’m not exactly sure which was weirder, the actual research for this fact or the result of researching the fact the way I did. You decide.

I was writing a mystery novella back when the internet wasn’t so prolific. I’m still not sure if the workload was a bit easier for the writer without all the social media work necessary today to stay alive in the public arena. But this was back when most of the research of writers started in the library and then moved on to interviewing experts to share firsthand knowledge.

In writing a story, as you all know, the facts have to be genuine. This is true whether you are writing contemporary stories or building a fantasy world. I opened every conversation with the librarians with I was writing fiction.

The problem? I don’t think anyone believed me. I even offered to show them the manuscript in progress. No one took me up on that offer.

Okay, so I’m not Mary Higgins Clark. No, I’m not J.K. Rowling either.

Nope! I’m just plain ol’ Victoria Marie Lees.

Guess what? No one cared. All they cared about was that I had a question about the use of a hand gun.

Just a basic question. After all, I’ve never used a hand gun before.

So I couldn’t really find any information at the library. And I was running out of time. This novella was my final assignment for a course at the University of Pennsylvania, a writing seminar in fiction entitled “From Murder Most Foul to the Explicit Corpse.” I only had a week to complete it. And with all the workload for two courses, working outside the home, helping my five children with their own school work, not to mention trying to get ready for Christmas, I didn’t have much time for research.

So I called my town police station. Well, who else do you know uses hand guns regularly?

All I needed to know was which type of handgun expelled bullet shells. I needed them, I told the police officer, at my fictional crime site. They were key to discovering who the murderer was in my mystery.

There was silence on the phone.

“Officer?” I asked.

Nothing.

“Sir, this really is a fictional story about a murder that happens onstage during a performance. … Hello? Are you still there?”

After a few minutes, I heard muffled voices on the other side of the line.

“Guys, I can bring the manuscript in to show you if you want.”

Finally, the officer answered my question. But later that day, a town police cruiser drove past my home. Slowly. Peering into my living room windows. I guess they wanted to see where I hid the body.

In fact, the police drove by my home every day for several weeks.

However, after noticing all the foot traffic at my house what with five children playing outside, running in and out of the house, friends and people popping by, the police figured I must be a crazy writer and not a murderer. For how could I ever find time to murder anyone let alone hide a dead body? And then keep the body hidden from all the occupants and visitors at the house.

I can’t wait to read your stories. Thanks so much for stopping by Adventures in Writing and offering a comment. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already. It’s greatly appreciated.  


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Insecure Writers want to know: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book?

            Unfortunately, I have not. I’m still working on that memoir book about attending college as a mother of five. Crawling forward ever so slowly. And those five children—in addition to their father—still want the lion’s share of my time.

*Aren’t I the lucky one?*

It’s time to run to the library again, to turn off my cell phone. To hide among the stacks. But then I worry that something bad happens and no one can reach me.

*Sigh!*
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            As for networking, I have some of you fellow IWSG bloggers. I read and follow your blogs hoping to form solid connections, connections where we can ask each other advice when necessary. I cherish each one of you who follow my blog and leave me notes. You keep my spirits up, so that when I finally do have that memoir in hand, I hope to be able to turn to you all for support and information on how to publicize and sell the memoir. I’ve learned so much just by reading all your blogs.

            I feel like I’m scattered to the winds with my facebook author page, google+, twitter @VictoriaMLees, Goodreads page, and 2 blogs. I have a Camping with Five Kids blog that I update at the beginning of the month as well as this writing blog.

I do have a few questions about your experience in platform building though:

Even though I have no book, should I create a webpage with my blogs and social media connected to it? I have nothing to sell. Do you have any suggestions for what I could put on the landing page?

What about an e-mail list? Do you have one?
How did you start it? Do you need to solicit e-mail addresses separately for list purposes?

I need to offer a newsletter to the e-mail list in regular mailings, right?
What do you write about in any newsletter you send to an e-mail list?
How difficult are the Email marketing services to use? Which one do you use?

Thanks so much for stopping by Adventures in Writing and offering any advice or experience you may have about these topics. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already. It’s greatly appreciated.  

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Insecure Writers want to know: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

            Have I ever pulled out old stories and reworked them? Yep! Could I get all of them published? Not always! I did get one old YA short adventure story published and then created others that the editor liked and published. But still other short stories weren’t published. Why? Now if I knew that, I’d have many stories published, wouldn’t I?
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            Writers use what they’ve learned and read to create their stories. Yet each story is different. And it can be difficult for the writer to see why editors prefer one story over another. Sometimes the writer has neglected to give the reader [or editor] key information in the story; some context, some explanation of why the reader should care about this particular character with this particular problem in this particular scene. I know I have.

            It is very difficult for writers to find what’s missing in their own work. This is why all writers need critique partners and editors. Someone who hasn’t read the story before can spot what might be missing in story logic or emotion. As the story’s creator, the writer knows everything about the story. It’s just that sometimes the writer forgets to tell the reader through story action or inner dialogue key pieces of the story puzzle.       

            I continue to forget to add “how the character feels” about a particular incident in the story. Emotion is as necessary to short fiction as it is to longer fiction. The reader needs to care about your protagonist in order to keep reading. Another thing I seem to do wrong is summarize story action in my full-length manuscripts instead of dramatizing it. Not all action. Just some of it. I think it’s because I write a lot of short fiction. As writers, we can’t show everything in our stories because that would be boring to the reader. But we need to show key scenes—fully fleshed out with emotion, dialogue, and action—whenever the protagonist goes through any emotional change or has a revelation about the story problem, either internal or external. The reader wants to be part of the story as it unfolds.     

All the luck with getting your own stories published in 2017. Thanks for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. Please follow my blog. It’s greatly appreciated.  


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Insecure Writers want to know: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

It’s true. I can no longer just read to enjoy a story. It was in reading other stories that first helped me to create some of my own.  When I read, I look to see what it takes other writers to create fully complex plot lines, fully fleshed out characters in their stories.  
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I read to understand how the writer sets up the story, connects the plot lines, builds the characters, and introduces backstory.  I can see all sides of the story now that I’m a writer. I can appreciate the hard work the author did to create the story line. I learn new insight in how to draw readers into my own stories. I read between the plot lines to see if I can obtain a better understanding of how the author put the story together.

Being an avid reader, I can see the importance of small details in stories. However that being the case, I find the plot holes in storylines; find errors in logic that shoves me out of the fictitious dream as John Gardner says in The Art of Fiction.

Writers should be readers, because reading can open the mind, can offer an opportunity to learn something new. We learn about myths and traditions, other cultures and other worlds when we read. We get story ideas from reading journals or essays, other histories or other adventures.  


All writers learn from other writers through the reading of their stories. I know I do. Reading a new novel or memoir, we can understand how a story flows, how it builds momentum, how it comes full circle. Writers should be readers—especially in the genre that they are writing. Read award-winners as well as popular writers and small presses and indie writers.

Should a writer read while creating her own story? I say we should always read, if only to give our minds a rest from our own story creations. All the luck with your own stories in 2017. Thanks for stopping by Adventures and leaving a note. It’s greatly appreciated.   


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Story Genius Writing Course: One Ticking Clock in Story

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Crawling along in the
Story Genius method for
my college memoir.
A story is one external problem that grows, escalates, and complicates from beginning to end, Lisa Cron says in our Story Genius class.  Jennie Nash concurs. And, the ladies tell us, the writer needs to develop one overarching ticking clock with real life consequences. 

Right!

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Try it in memoir.

So I started with my misbelief that I shouldn’t attempt college because I’m inadequate to those seeking a college education. This was instilled in me when I was growing up and struggled in school. This belief kept me out of academia and away from failure, humiliation or displaying incompetence. Or so my father told me. I chose the successful path of secretary with a regular paycheck and married and became a mother like my mom, sisters, and friends.

I was safe in my cozy box of motherhood, safe from any fear of failure until my disabled daughter signed up for high school classes. Then I needed to choose whether to be a failure at guiding my children or disabled child or a failure at attempting college.

The ticking clock begins as I am forced by a comment made from a high school guidance counselor, an educated person respected in society, to either re-teach my daughter as best I could, the material needed to pass high school by educating myself first through college classes, or condemn her to only special education classes in high school.

So you may ask why I was so afraid of failure in college.

Because, in my mind, if I fail at my attempt to obtain a college degree, I have wasted the time I could have spent with the family, trying to achieve a goal that was not possible for me. My father would be right. I am not college material. 

But my family is everything to me. If I failed college, I would have wasted my family’s time, which is more precious to me. It’s ok to waste your own time but not someone else’s, especially when you love them.


So what do you think of my memoir problem and ticking clock? Any comments you offer are greatly appreciated. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

 
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          Memoir must be told in story with all the story elements in place.  But of course, everything must be true.
           
And that’s why memoir is so difficult!

            Up the ante, build, complicate, add twists and turns, find resolution—in memoir.  Nuts! It’s extremely difficult when it is all personal and needs to be true.  And then add insight. Yes, insight in memoir as well as in fiction.  The protagonist must share insight into her actions.  The reader must follow along her inner thoughts to see how she works out her story problems.  How she grows; how she changes. 

            To get emotion on the page, the protagonist must be vulnerable.  Easier when it is a fictitious character you are writing about than yourself.  But I understand that to be able to connect with readers, to get that “me too” feeling, I must allow them into my mind, my worries, my thoughts, my decisions.  This is what makes memoir so powerful, so transformative to others.  It’s about why the situation or action matters to the protagonist.  Why does it matter that Victoria goes to college at this time?  What does going to college mean to Victoria?  

            Memoir as in fiction, tough questions need to be asked and then answered.  And the content of these answers need to be important to the characters.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’m struggling with.  And this is why I’d wish I didn’t know that memoir needs to be told like a story.  Then I could write my memoir like a collection of humorous anecdotes.  But then it wouldn’t be as meaningful to others.  There’s the reason why we authors keep looking to better our skills in writing. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

 May publishing be offered to any writer who seeks it in 2017.  Have a wonderful New Year! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?


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If God is with me, this confounded memoir will be published and successful.  To that end, I must trudge on with a redraft of my adventures in college showing why it matters to both me and the reader.  I’m signed up for the Extension Course of the Story Genius method of writing and creating story with Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash, the two key editors and writers in the course.

Like with any other profession, writers need to keep current in their careers.  We need to keep publishing and keep ourselves abreast of publishing trends and active on social media.  We need to demonstrate our knowledge base and share it with the public both online and in person.  I’ve just started giving writing presentations and workshops locally for teens and adults.  If I’m lucky, in five years I will have increased my writing workshop reach.  

Writers also need to build their online platforms.  This is what I am attempting to achieve through my connections with fellow writers at Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  I try to help my friends in the blogosphere by joining or following their blogs and connecting with them on facebook and Goodreads.  

May I please request that if you have not “followed” my blog, please do so now.  And if you could, please connect with me on my facebook author page and Goodreads page. Thank you so much.  If I haven’t connected with you on social media, please feel free to give me the links in the comments section of my Adventures in Writing blog.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.   We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE. 

Have a wonderful holiday season!