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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Truth in Story for Memoir or Fiction #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Life is messy. Very messy. Things don’t make sense. Sometimes we can’t figure out why someone does something. As humans, we want reasons for actions. We want order. And we want resolution to life stories.

Enter - the value of truth in memoir or fiction.  

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/

Our job as writers of memoir or fiction is to find the orderliness in story; the reasons for actions; and of course, the resolutions found at the end of the tale we tell. Make no mistake. This is difficult work. Especially for memoir.

Memoir needs to be true. Absolutely. No question there. If you change the setting [where things happen], you are writing fiction. If you change the timeline of events [what happened first, etc.], you are writing fiction. Dialogue needs to be something that the real person would normally say. Don’t worry about exactly what the person said on October 15, 2004. You will drive yourself crazy.

Memoir is your truth, your belief of what really happened in a scene. I’ve read that it is okay change people’s names, but you need to place a disclaimer in the front matter of the book to say the names have been changed. Has anyone received different advice on using real names of NON-famous people? Please share what you know here at Adventures in Writing.

Fiction, on the other hand, can be based on a true incident or real facts and real people, but the writer doesn’t need to stick to the facts as she would in memoir. Think of historical fiction here or real murders or kidnappings. Many great story ideas come from factual events. A writer begins with fact and then fictionalizes what happens, what the characters think, why they behave the way they do. Sometimes I get tied up in the facts; like the fact that a rip current has never happened in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, that I know of, yet that’s where I placed my most recent story sold to Cricket Magazine where a rip current was the major action in the story.   

But if we get back to that “messy life” and truth that I started the post with, the biggest job of the writer is to write a story that seems truer than life, whether it’s memoir or fiction. People read to discover the reasons for actions. And except for some literary stories, readers want closure at the end of the tale. They want resolution because life doesn’t always offer that resolution.

This is extremely difficult in memoir because, like me, you may not exactly know the reasons—and feelings—for every event you include in the memoir. How many times can I say I felt insecure; felt like an imposter or worried that I’d fail and that would be the end of my college career. Too many, according to my editor. And I agree with her. Of course, that leaves me staring at the computer screen and the scene I’m working on to discover “what else” Victoria could have been feeling at the time. It’s about going deeper into the emotion of the scene and not just relying on the surface emotion – insecure, imposter, worry. This is what writers need to do in memoir as well as fiction.

I hope you’ve found some insight in what I’ve written. Please offer insight of your own. It would be truly appreciated. Please ask any questions about my college memoir in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much!

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: What does the term Working Writer mean to you?

            I’m not sure if I’m blending two different terms here. Am I a working writer? Absolutely! I am forever writing and creating new short stories for market and blog posts and writing presentations and editing fellow writers and revising my college memoir and trying to keep up with social media. I so admire all of you who can keep up with the image of what I think a working writer does. Bravo! 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

            But if we interpret working writer to mean a successful writer, I am probably not the true working writer. I’m certainly not making enough money through my story sales and presentations and editing to pay the bills. That’s where the day job comes in, or in my case, my part time position as a substitute teacher—which is non-existent at the moment because of Covid-19 and the need for online schooling.  

When I think of the term working writer, I think of writers in their home offices, pitching ideas to agents and editors. I picture someone actually waiting to read what I create next. Many of you have a faithful audience who can’t wait for your next installment of stories or articles or blog posts. To me, that’s the mark of a true working writer. 

I’m more of the hopeful writer. I write constantly. I brainstorm scenes, inner dialogue, character motivation, and insight. And then I pray, hoping some publisher will be interested in my creation, will care about what I have to say to the world. I strive to create a following, people and readers who care about what Victoria Marie has to say through story or memoir or poetry. My values are family-centric. My YA stories deal with teens trying to help others understand them and their hopes and dreams. 

That being said, I realize I need to go out and find my audience, my followers; people who are eager to see what Victoria Marie creates with words. I look to you all, my faithful blog readers, as a source to help me explore the thick forest of publication and social media. I absorb your posts and newsletters, gleaning how you became published and successful writers; how you found the time to keep up with social media and still write your stories. 

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

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, September 30, 2020

A Frozen Crimes Blog Hop with Chrys Fey

Writers helping writers. This is how life should be. We should help each other when we can. It is a privilege to help Chrys Fey with her new book launch and blog hop. 

Frozen Crimes Blog Hop Prompt: Whom would you want to be stuck with during a blizzard, and what would you do? 

Oooo! A blizzard. Yep! It’s true. I love snow. As long as I don’t have to drive in it. 

We must have all the needed amenities of course:

a warm fire

running water

plenty of delicious food prepared by an expert chef

dark chocolate. 

Okay, so maybe chocolate isn’t considered a “needed” amenity for you, but it sure is for me. 

Now we’re not permitted to use family, so whom should I be stuck inside with during a blizzard? 

I’m always looking for peace and quiet and uninterrupted writing time with my family of seven always around. 

Maybe I should be stuck inside with Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator. But in order to have her undivided attention, the internet must be down. She is an extremely successful Book Coach and I want her to focus on me and my college memoir. She’s from Santa Barbara, so she probably wouldn’t like to go out in the snow anyway. We’d have that expert chef and plenty of chocolate to keep our energy up. And someone to keep the fire going. A fresh pot of hot tea and some scones. Hmm … this sounds good to me. What do you think?      

Hop around to the other participants to read their answers: FrozenCrimes Blog Hop   

When disasters strike around every corner, is it possible to have a happily-ever-after?

 

 

BLURB: Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn’t get any better…until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn’t long before his menacing goes too far.

Hoping for a peaceful Christmas, Donovan takes Beth to Michigan. Days into their trip, a winter storm named Nemesis moves in with the goal of burying the state. Snowdrifts surround their house, and the temperature drops below freezing.

Except, the storm isn’t the only nemesis they must face. Everyone’s lives are at stake—especially that of their unborn child. Will they survive, or will they become a frozen crime?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes

 

EXCERPT:

The crunch of the shovel pounding into the snow and ice filled his ears. It was all he could hear. The rest of the street was silent beneath its wintry blanket. Breathing was difficult with the icy air clogging his lungs. His nose burned. His throat was dry and on fire. But he ignored it, focusing on his task.

Crack, crack, crack.

He jabbed the shovel into a hunk of snow. On the third hit, it shattered into several pieces. He scooped them up and flung them to the side. He surveyed what remained. There was one big ball in the middle of the path that needed to be dealt with next. He moved over to it and struck it. That one impact had it severing in two. He was about to hit it again when something crashed into the back of his head.

Explosions of white light danced over his vision. Pain enveloped his skull.

The shovel slipped from his fingers. Blackness cloaked his mind, coaxing him into its depths.

Beth. Her name was a whisper in his head, as if his thoughts were being sucked into a wormhole.

His legs collapsed under his weight.

Cold. It seeped into him, consuming him. And then his consciousness fled down that same void that ate his thoughts.

 

***HUGE DISASTER CRIMES GIVEAWAY*** 

 


 

Prizes: 4 eBooks (Disaster Crimes 1-4: Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes) + Girl Boss Magnets (4), Inflatable Cup Holder (1), Adventure Fuel To-Go Cups (2), Anchor Fashion Scarf (1), Mermaid Nail Clippers (2), Citrus and Sea Salt Scented Candle (1), Snowflake Handmade Bookmark (1), Insulated Cooler Bag (1)

 

Eligibility: International

Number of Winners: One

Giveaway Ends: October 30, 2020 12:00am EST

LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/76132e0221/?

 

***FREE EXCLUSIVE EBOOK***

 


 

To get the exclusive prequel to the Disaster Crimes series, sign up for Chrys’ newsletter. By signing up, you agree to receive Chrys Fey’s newsletter. After you confirm subscription, you will receive an email (so check your inbox and spam folder) with directions on where to snag your eBook copy of THE CRIME BEFORE THE STORM.

Click here to sign up and get The Crime Before the Storm FREE!

 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press. https://www.chrysfey.com

Author Links:

Website / Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Imposter Syndrome in Fiction or Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Imposter Syndrome. Is it real or not? I’d love to hear your take on this topic. However, for this #AuthorToolboxBlogHop post, I’d like to focus on making it real for your story. An author’s job is to make his or her story world and characters real to the reader, whether fiction or memoir

https://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/

Let’s begin with a definition. Dictionary.com defines Imposter Syndrome as:

anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one's accomplishments to luck or other external forces. 

I don’t know about you, but in some instances, this defines me. Inferiority grabbed ahold of me and hung on with both hands for most of my college journey—especially at the University of Pennsylvania. I couldn’t get past the fact that I lacked the foundation the other students received to prepare for the Ivy League. I felt I got lucky receiving the Phi Theta Kappa scholarship to attend Penn. This brings on the feeling of being a “fake” IL student; the “oh-my-gosh what if they find out I’m not as smart as the other students” feeling. This is what I’m getting as part of the Imposter Syndrome. 

I’ve talked about Character Arcs and the need for progression of the character in the story before in an Author Toolbox post. You can read it here

To make our characters believable with whatever syndrome we want to give them, we need to look closely at the character as a whole person. We need to know what goes on in his life, on the outside, yes, but also what it means to him on the inside, why he feels so strongly about what is happening. Again, it’s the why of the story. Why does what happens on the outside of the character, the plot, matter to the character personally? Story is about how what happens in the plot affects one specific person—our protagonist. 

We can give our protagonist all sorts of disorders and problems. But we need to thoroughly understand both the disorder and the inner problem and how they manifest in this particular character. Many real people feel inferior to other highly accomplished people. I believe Imposter Syndrome is alive and kicking. I am a highly insecure writer; hence my connection to Insecure Writers Support Group, a great group to find support and security by the way. 

I hope these few suggestions help you to understand the need to know your protagonist intimately to create a character the reader will truly care about, whether it's fiction or memoir.

Please ask any questions about my college memoir and share any insight you may have about the use of Imposter Syndrome in writing your story in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much! 

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: If you could choose one author to be your beta partner, who would it be? Why?

            First, I’d like to thank you, my fellow Insecure Writers, for your patience while we moved. In that short space of time, we moved our oldest daughter in with her sister and her family. My husband and I packed up our home of 36 years, sold it, and moved three hours away. And finally, we moved my 96-year-old mother-in-law into a nursing home. Sheesh! I’ll be going through boxes forever looking for what I need at the moment. You can read a short post with photos about our moving adventure at http://campingwithfivekids.blogspot.com.  

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

            Now let me think…the perfect beta partner for me, if I could choose anyone, would have to be the writing teacher and author Beth Kephart.  Kephart has the ability to look at themes and characters from many angles. She sees the story beneath the plot. This is a gift for any writer.        

            Kephart is a memoirist as well as a YA writer and poet, and it never ceases to amaze me how she can uncover such deep emotional truths in life through story, in both fiction and memoir. 

            I write both YA fiction and memoir and would love to hear her feedback on whether I have reached the inner core of the story I’m trying to visualize for the reader. However, being that highly insecure writer that I am, I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to hear it. Of course this is why writers need to be brave in order to improve their writing. We must learn from each other. Share ideas and methods. Choose the ones that will work for us to make our stories the best they can be. And then we need to be brave enough to let the stories go and send them out into the world for others to judge whether we have accomplished our goal of creating a great story. 

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

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.   


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Let the Story Unfold #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


            Writers should not unload all the information about their characters in one place in their stories. Readers do not want to see a who’s who bio for every character lumped together in the story. By the same token, writers should not pile on all the facts of their story world at the beginning of their novels or memoirs either. You know; world history, how devices are used, why things happen, and why it matters to the world at large. Besides being info-dumps, these methods take away the pleasure of reading a story. 
http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


Let the story unfold naturally. Don’t answer all the reader’s questions on the first page or even the first chapter of a novel or memoir. Let the reader care about a person first. The story needs to unfold slowly as Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator tells her coaching clients. Once the reader connects with a character, then the writer can explain how the story world affects this person or family. We are creating a character arc. Characters, especially the protagonist, should change by the end of the story.

But where do you place the important material in the story?

The writer shares the information about his or her characters or the story at large at the time when those characters would be thinking about how things work in their world or thinking about their past because it affects the story present, the forward movement in the story. Many writers know this, but it’s very difficult to do.

At one point in my college memoir, the character of Victoria must face her fear of what opportunity might bring if she wins two prestigious college awards.

In allowing this story section to unfold slowly, Victoria discovers that what she’s afraid of are how her feelings toward her family might change if she is awarded an opportunity to study away from home. This was a dream of Victoria’s when she was younger. Now she feels she might blame her family, as if it could be their fault she can’t study just anywhere. She worries about what regret could do to her psyche. Regret from missed opportunities can be ugly. It makes people bitter. And Victoria does not want to be bitter—especially toward her family.

This forces Victoria to face the fact that she could never leave her family for semesters at a time; never leave her husband with all the work of raising five children and helping their special needs daughter with her education. Realizing her family comes first, Victoria decides to apply for the awards, knowing she would only accept an opportunity that she could use.

This is part of the character arc of Victoria. She will be forever changed from this point in the memoir story. She will not sacrifice her family life to live a college dream of studying away from home. She will find another way to complete her college education with no regret.

Please ask any questions about my college memoir and share any insight you may have in the comments section of Adventures in Writing about how you allow your story to unfold naturally. Thanks so much!

Please note:

I will not be posting on Adventures in Writing in July or August 2020. I am moving and have much to do, especially since I’m still trying to move forward on writing projects. Don’t know if I’ll be able to keep writing during this time, though. Thank you for your understanding.

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Writers have secrets. Share one or two of your own. Something readers would never know from your work.


Oooo, secrets! Let me think. Something readers would never know from my work. I don’t know if this counts as a secret, but I’m afraid of edges. As in falling off of. Mountain edges. Jumping off cliff edges. Canyons. Water fall edges. Even diving boards count here. Or maybe it’s that I’m afraid one of my five children would fall off said edges because they’re being…well…children. You know. Fooling around when we are close to edges; pushing and shoving each other. 
http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


Gosh! I worried about this each time we set up camp at national or state parks. We’ve camped in deserts, on mountaintops, by canyons, and water falls. Our children insisted the campgrounds have pools, and with those pools came diving boards. And with diving boards came the children’s favorite phrase: “Watch this, Mom!”

I think I closed my eyes each time. But don’t tell the kids. They still think I saw everything.

We were camping at Arches National Park, when I finally succumbed to this fear of edges with my children. I stopped our family hiking expedition completely. I wouldn’t allow the children to go any farther along the narrow orange sandstone arch we needed to cross on this trail. I turned us around. They were not happy.

I also have a terrible fear of wild animal encounters too—especially snakes because you don’t notice them right off. Not until they make a noise or strike! I’ve literally had too many encounters with wildlife in my adventures camping with five children. Out of the seven people in my family, I’m always the one who finds the snakes—and they are always ready to strike. I follow our last child on the trail. And my family is not quiet when we hike, which is why the snake is usually ready to strike by the time I reach him. Of course, I still would rather find them than my children.

So no matter how many YA adventure stories I write where my teenaged protagonists confront wild animals or tumble down cliff sides or mountains, I am terrified until I finish my first draft of the story. I need to be sure I can logically get the teen out of danger before I can revise—or sleep. My protagonists are my children, too!

Please note:

I will not be posting on Adventures in Writing in July or August 2020. I am moving and have much to do, especially since I’m still trying to move forward on writing projects. Don't know if I'll be able to keep writing during this time, though. Thank you for your understanding.

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

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.