From a True Story . . .

I did a podcast this week, and the host asked if I’d ever based a character on a real person. I said, “No,” because it’s too limiting, doing that doesn’t let a character breathe on its own. It didn’t occur to me until later that I have stolen dialogue from real life, three times (that I remember). I’ve also stolen T-shirt slogans, but I don’t think that counts. (My fave: “Jesus Is Coming. Look Busy.”) But spoken dialogue? Only three times.

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This is a Good Book Thursday, April 21, 2022

I keep going outside and thinking, “Wow, it’s really warm now, spring came early.” Then I realize it’s April and spring is right on time. Yes, we’re a third of the way through 2022. Remember when we thought nothing could be as bad as 2021? Good thing there are good books to read. I’ve just started David Chang’s Cooking at Home Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave) and I love it. It’s a non-recipe cookbook and very laidback and free and non-judgmental and I need all of that right now.

What are you reading that you need right now?

Questionable: How did you get started writing and what challenges have you faced?

Tricia asked:
I was wondering if there are any interviews you’ve ever done that talk more about your journey to becoming published and the challenges you faced, starting your career later in life. I’d especially like to know more about what in you did prior to becoming a published writer, and what encouraged you to pursue it. If not, would you be willing to either reply to my reply or make a post talking about it?

I’ve done a million interviews but most of them are lost in time (as they should be). So here are the answers to your interview questions (g).

What did you do prior to becoming a published writer? Continue reading

Writer’s Conference Memories

Melissa mentioned a writer’s conference where a panelist said that beta men have no balls (I would love to know the name of that writer) and it made me remember a conference I was at a LONG time ago, almost thirty years, where one the writers said that her husband used to make fun of her writing, telling her that he was the one bringing home the bacon and she was just a wife. Then she started earning a lot more than he did, and she said, right there in front of god and everybody, “Guess who’s sucking hind tit now!” Makes me laugh to this day.

I know that many of you have gone to writers conferences (or other conferences, we’re not picky). What are some of your best memories?

HWSWAnswers: Supporting Characters, Other Genres, Writing Advice, Pen Names, Why????

Emily asked:
I’m struggling with secondary/side characters at the moment – of necessity I have seven of them trucking around with the main characters. Most of them, while they have a backstory and a life (I wrote short stories for each of them, trying to get myself in their heads) there’s not much that appears on the page because it moves things away from my main story. How do you know when you’ve got the balance of that right? There’s two in particular that I keep trying to give a little more story to, but every time I try it drags things away from the main action.

What’s your main story, the narrative that has all the juice that draws your reader into the story? Continue reading

HWSWAnswers: Everything Else

And we’re back with more answers to questions you asked earlier in the week.

Cate M asked:
Any tips for getting the most out of an MFA creative writing program as a genre writer (in this case romance)? This is definitely putting the cart before the horse, since I may not even get in. But in the event I do, and you wanted to give me some tips any time between February – September, that would be lovely.
Alternately, what are some ways to grow/ and learn as a writer if I don’t get into that MFA program?

I don’t know anything about MFA Programs. There are some good ones. A bunch seem more designed to produce teachers of MFA programs based on my experience one year applying to every one as an instructor since I had nothing better to do. They preferred people with MFAs rather than publishing credentials. I’d take a look at who is teaching and what the graduates do. If you don’t join one? Read a lot. Write. Get some people you trust as a small critique group. I’m not a fan of large groups. Two, at more three people. Continue reading

Argh: 2005

So the 2005 post are up again.

The first post in July 2005 talks about having problems with You Again (still not finished after it was rejected) and meeting Bob and starting Don’t look Down, so a lot has happened in fifteen years. There’s also a reference to Charlotte’s Book which is one of those things that just died on me. I can’t even remember what it was about. Fifteen years, people. Continue reading

Questionable: Why Can’t I Write?

Deb asked:
I used to love to write fiction – fantasy and romance especially. I hoped to publish someday but mostly I just enjoyed writing and living in those worlds. I went through a divorce awhile ago and it rattled some of the carefree feel to my writing but I carried on, believing in the romance and fantasy and hoping for love again. Two years ago, my mom died and going through that and the fallout with my relationship with my dad just broke whatever it was remaining in me that could pretend or believe in the dream. I sit down and try to write fiction and it turns into memoir or how-to or similar. . . . [D]o you have any suggestions on getting my real/dreamer self back? I had resigned myself to the fact that this is the new me, like it or not, but lately I am mourning that loss and just not feeling okay with it.

First, what’s wrong with memoir or how-to?  I love writing non-fiction (as anybody who reads this blog knows, I LOVE the sound of my own voice) and I don’t see it as a second-choice genre at all.  If that’s where your inclination lies now, embrace it.

But you say you’re not okay with it, so my next question is “What is the story you have to tell that you can’t not write?”   

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