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, January 19, 2021

Don’t Interrupt Opening Scenes with Unnecessary Details

I hope your 2021 is starting off right, fellow Writers. Let’s all hope for a healthier and safer New Year. And an end to this pandemic! 

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The Wonder of Winter

Now let’s get to the meat of the post.

Writers shouldn't interrupt opening scenes with unnecessary details. As writers, we need context in the opening scene of our stories. We want readers to know what our book is about. Specifically.

Readers come to story to see how what happens in the plot affects the characters, or rather, a particular character—our protagonist. People connect to people. We want the readers to care for our protagonist. And to do that, the reader needs to know why what happens in our story matters to our protagonist. What’s the protagonist up against in this story? What does she want?

We need to be in the scene with the protagonist and see how she’s making sense of the story/scene action. That being said, we shouldn’t constantly interrupt opening scenes with too much backstory or description. Writers need to stay in the moment in the opening scene especially.

But that doesn’t mean there is absolutely no backstory. We are inside the head of our protagonist. If our character would think of a prior life experience because of what’s occurring in the opening action, we need to show that to our readers. But we should keep it short. Only a reference to the character’s prior experience. We can elaborate later in the story.

We are enticing our readers to follow our story journey in order to understand situations in our protagonist’s life, why she acts as she does and why it’s so important to her. 

The reader needs to know what’s at stake in the story for the protagonist.

I recently printed out and read aloud the opening scene of my college memoir. Printing out pages helps a writer to actually see what is in a scene, and reading aloud helps the writer hear what happens to be sure it flows smoothly. Well this time, the scene didn’t flow smoothly. 

While I am in the head of the protagonist and making sense of her thoughts in this scene, I interrupt the scene with too much backstory about my special needs daughter—my impetus to begin college when I do. It’s just too much information too soon in the memoir story. It literally stops the forward motion of the opening scene. 

My daughter’s struggles in elementary school sometimes mirrored my own. They explain to the reader why the protagonist feels so inferior to those who went to college. However, they don’t need to be fully explained in the opening scene interrupting the action.   

Where will I put this information in the memoir story? I’m not sure at this time. Nor am I sure if I need all this information to show the reader a mother whose lack of belief in herself affects her ability to assist her children.

Writers shouldn’t interrupt the flow of their opening scenes with too much backstory or description. We should offer any important information in small doses when the character would be thinking of that information within the context of the scene being portrayed. 

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

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. 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Fighting Chance Blog Tour with Chrys Fey

Hello fellow bloggers and writers!

Today at Adventures in Writing, I am happy to welcome Chrys Fey as she launches her new book A Fighting Chance.

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I asked Chrys to share her marketing plan and how she came up with it.

 

Chrys Fey: Oh boy, a marketing question. 

First, I came up with my marketing plan after years of experience and testing out all different kinds of marketing techniques. The thing is, you can never know what’ll work. What worked once, may not work so well a second time. What works for one book, may not create the same outcome for another book. What one author says worked for them, won’t work for every author. Publishing and marketing and social media, etc. are changing constantly. So, those are all things to keep in mind. 

Victoria Marie Lees: Great advice, Chrys!

Chrys Fey:

With that said, my marketing plan looked like this:

- I did a cover reveal in December using Xpresso Book Tours’ cover reveal service. I also shared the cover across my social media, on my blog, and in my newsletter.

- I approached ten specific bloggers to host me for 10 specific guest posts.

- I put a Google form up on my blog and asked bloggers in my community if they’d like to take part in my 3-week long blog tour. Victoria was one of the bloggers who signed up. 😊 Thanks, Victoria! 

Victoria Marie Lees: My pleasure! 

Chrys Fey: 

I didn’t have any other guest post ideas in mind, but I did have a list of pre-made questions I wanted to answer about my book/series. Participants could choose one of those questions or ask one of their own.

- I also signed up for a blog tour through Silver Dagger Book Tours. Those posts didn’t have a guest post of any kind, just my book’s info. With this book tour service, you decide how much to pay, which I found interesting.

Yes, I really did use a blog tour service while orchestrating posts at the same time. I did that because the blogs that sign up through that service are book blogs with different audiences. Plus, the more eyes on your book, the better. I’m also testing out which method is better for me.

- My blog tour includes a free (for a limited time) eBook and a giveaway, two incentives for readers.

- I gave out advanced reader copies (ARCs) to reviewers.

- I recorded YouTube videos for my channel where I talked about the book, read an excerpt, etc. Those will be posted during the release.

- I also recorded a couple of videos to post to IGTV on my Instagram.

- I promoted the cover reveal and the release in my newsletter.

- I created teaser images for Instagram using Canva. Each image has the cover art and a quote from the blurb or story.

- Scheduled tweets and Facebook posts.

- Updated my website and press kit.

- Finally, something very different…I launched a new website that was inspired by the Disaster Crimes series and A Fighting Chance, but it is NOT about promoting my books. More details below. 

Victoria Marie Lees: Thanks so much, Chrys, for sharing your insight into marketing with the followers of Adventures in Writing. And here’s what we’ve all been waiting for, friends, the peek inside A Fighting Chance.

 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


Pages: 154

Genre: Romantic-Suspense

Heat Rating: Hot

BLURB:

*A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.*

Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he's worried the truth will frighten her away.

And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending.

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

 

Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes


EXCERPT:

Amanda looked up from the current list of up-to-date payments for classes. A movement outside the glass storefront caught her eye. She tilted her head to see a man coming up the sidewalk from the side where the picnic bench sat. Through the vertical blinds, she glimpsed a square face—a short, rugged beard and long, dark hair pulled into a man bun. Her breath fled from her lungs. Her body went from icy cold to flaming hot in the span of a millisecond. She dropped to the floor and slid under the counter, beneath the ledge where they put their purses and cell phones.

“What—” Beth peeked at the windows. Then she snapped her fingers at April and pointed at the stools.

April jumped into action. She pushed the stools in so they blocked Amanda. The bell attached to the door jingled as April removed the jacket she wore and draped it across the stools, creating a curtain to shield Amanda.

From a crack, Amanda watched Beth move to stand in front of the twins, who were in their walkers playing peacefully. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be closing.”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m here for Amanda.”

The sound of Damon’s voice had her heart beating even harder. That voice had haunted her nightmares, had come back to life in her memories.

Beth cocked her head to the side. “Who? There’s no one by that name here.”

“Don’t bullshit me. I know she works here.”

His voice was closer now.


***FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME***

THE DISASTER CURSE

 

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Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*

 

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The Disaster Crimes Series:

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)

Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1)

Seismic Crimes (#2)

Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5)

Tsunami Crimes (#3)

Flaming Crimes (#4)

Frozen Crimes (#5)

A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6)

The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.


***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE***


http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

 

TheFightingChance.org is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.


***GIVEAWAY***



 

Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/23d974a92670/

 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

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. 

Author Links:

 Newsletter / Website / FacebookGroup / Blog / BookBub

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: As a Writer, what throws you out of a story you are reading?

What a great question. Every writer needs to pay attention to any story she reads to see if anything is not working or throws the reader out of the story to be sure that the writer doesn’t make the same mistakes in her own manuscripts. This is why it takes me longer to read a book. I’m basically studying how the author created the story and kept the pace moving forward. 

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As to what makes me question my belief in a story, one thing can be errors in a sense of place. Time. Seasons. Weather. If I know the setting where the story takes place, simple errors in where real businesses lay or the direction of streets can be troublesome for me. Like if the sun sets over the Atlantic in New Jersey in a story, I know that can’t be true—except for the tip of Cape May where the Atlantic meets the Delaware River at Sunset Beach. The writer needs to prove his or her story logic to me for me to be immersed in the story. 

One thing that can actually throw me out of a story is if the characters are wooden or not acting logically to themselves. We need to give characters reasons for their actions. We need to dive deeply into the psychology of our characters to see what makes them tick and help the reader to care what happens to them, to connect with them. A story can be filled with action, one harrowing escape or war after another, but if I’m not invested in the protagonist, there is a disconnect between the story and me.  

This especially holds true in memoir. If the reader does not care what happens to the protagonist, the memoirist, then no one cares about her story. No matter what the action is. We need to have the reader rooting for the protagonist in either memoir or fiction. 

If I say my memoir is about a woman who finally learns to believe in herself through attending college. Good for her but who cares? 

But if I say the memoir is about a mother whose lack of belief in herself affects her ability to assist her children, the memoir becomes specific. It becomes personal. It becomes real. 

Hopefully, the memoir becomes a story readers will want to read to see how she does it. Seriously, here’s hoping! 

I’d love to hear any comments you may have on these two statements of what my college memoir is about. It would be greatly appreciated. 

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, December 1, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Are there times of the year when you feel more productive with your writing? Why?

            It’s probably the time issue, but I feel more productive in my writing in the winter months AFTER the holidays. Having a large family, I’m usually up to my eyebrows with family obligations, preparing meals for an extended gathering—although I’m not sure this will happen this Christmas. It didn’t happen for Thanksgiving, due to an increase in coronavirus cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We had a quiet Thanksgiving, but we still used the good china, silverware, and wine glasses.  

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            For me, productive writing happens without constant interruptions from family or friends. Beautiful weather can be a problem for me, too. I love the outdoors. When beautiful weather hits—and snow counts as beautiful weather in my book—I need to get outside. My new writing room has large windows onto a wooded lot. Yep! It’s a problem. I’ve faced my desk toward the wall to help a little. I use the opportunity to “go outside and play” as a reward for a good writing day, or for a chance to think things through if I’m having problems moving forward in my writing. 

I’d like to switch gears here at Adventures in Writing and tell you about a wonderful writer you may know. Liesbet Collaert has had the most extraordinary life. She’s sailed the world on Irie, a beautiful sailboat, and continues her adventures on land, camping all over North America in her camper van Zesty. 

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Her new travel memoir, Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, launched recently in eBook and paperback and is already the #1 new release in sailing on Amazon. The global link to order Plunge is HERE. I’ve purchased a copy a few days ago and am enjoying her adventures so. 

Here’s the enticing book blurb for Liesbet’s book: 

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Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?  

 

You can keep up with Liesbet’s present adventures at her blog Roaming About, where she shares excellent photos and the good, bad, and difficult about living life in a camper travelling from campsite to campsite. I’ve learned lots, and I’ve camped across the United States and up into Canada with five children in a pop-up camper. You can read of my adventures at Camping with Five Kids

            You can connect with Liesbet on twitter and facebook and follow her Amazon author page. 

Writers helping writers! That’s what Insecure Writers Support Group does. 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, November 3, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Why Do I Write What I Write?

Albert Camus is right that many essays and stories are used to “keep civilization from destroying itself.” Documenting past atrocities is important to keep civilization from repeating the same mistakes. I think science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres can depict the downfall of civilization, too, by showing what would happen if mankind became too aggressive or too obsessive or too cruel. 


By the same token, Flannery O’Conner and many writers “write to discover what [they] know.” Of course the writers then need to revise what they have written to be sure they make a point.

I feel F. Scott Fitzgerald sums up the question of why we write what we write best:

“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.”

I would like to add to his quote:

That “something” you have to say, needs to matter to the world—both the real world and the world of your story.

Why do I write what I write? I like to create stories to give people courage; courage to stand up for themselves, courage to attempt something difficult, and courage to finally believe in themselves. The theme of courage can be demonstrated in any genre, fiction or nonfiction.

To show courage through story, fiction or memoir, a writer needs to offer readers a fully fleshed out character. Someone the reader can connect to and care about. In my YA fiction, the protagonist is always the underdog, the one who needs to believe in himself enough to stand up to a bully or accept a new situation she can’t change. My protagonists need to accept the challenges that come with every new situation. They need to come to grips with their past to be able to live their present.

In my college memoir, Victoria needs to accept the challenges she can’t change; waiting to begin college until after having a family, and find the courage needed to face a classroom filled with students half her age and deal with her own struggles to learn. She needs to stand up for herself, both in the classroom and at the college, day after day, year after year, until she receives her degree.

With a courage theme, I’m still trying to come up with a title for my college memoir. Would you kindly offer your input on these two suggestions? They state what the story’s about, but I think they’re too long. Any suggestions to tighten them up? 

Power to Believe in Yourself: One Mother’s Journey Through College

Or

The Power to Believe: From Community College to the Ivy League – [The Story Behind] A Mother’s Journey 

Thank you for any assistance you may offer on the title of my college memoir. 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, 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.  

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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! 

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            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.