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