Friday, January 31, 2014 | By: Cafe
In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins - not through strength but by perseverance. 
- H. Jackson Brown
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 | By: HiDee

Five W's and One H To The Rescue

“I keep six honest serving-men, 
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When, 
And How and Where and Who” 
       - Rudyard Kipling

It’s disconcerting to discover you don’t know your characters as well as you thought you did.

My pantser approach is partly to blame. My characters take on a life of their own as I write. I tend to let them find their way through my first draft, learning who they are, and gently guiding them in the direction I want my story to go. Sometimes they go peacefully, but other times I have to drag them, kicking and screaming, to where they need to be.

It’s a learning journey for all of us.

If my characters are kicking and screaming, it usually means I’m not writing them true to their character. It means I need to revisit some basic writing tools to figure out where I’m going wrong. After all, I don’t like being forced to be someone I’m not – why should they?

Every journalism student learns the importance of the Five W’s and one H: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Many journalists firmly believe your story is not complete until you answer all six questions. They have a valid point; not answering any one of these questions can leave a gaping hole in your story. And the best part, from a writer-standpoint? None of the questions can be answered with a simple yes or no, which means you learn more about your characters by delving into their answers.

I like the way the Socrative Garden lays it out in this table:


As I tried to get to know my hero better, I did more than just ask him these questions. I asked other characters the same questions. Understanding how they perceived him, and therefore reacted to and with him throughout the story, was very helpful in revising his character.

Sometimes, my characters are kicking and screaming because they don’t want to admit something to themselves. I can’t blame them. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean we like hearing that we have faults. Our psyches are easily bruised. But growing and changing is an important part of character arcs, so my character will need to toughen up. He needs to trust that I have his best interests at heart.

How do you react when you discover you don’t know enough about your characters? How do you flesh them out? Please share.



Friday, January 24, 2014 | By: Cafe
No great thing is created suddenly.
                                          - Epictetus
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | By: Lynn

I Wish You Naps

Working for what we need and what we want is part of life for most of us. We get regular breaks – weekends, holidays, vacations – from the daily grind. We escape from work to regain balance and peace. Writer, waiter, doctor, office assistant, lawyer, teacher, mom, dad, whatever our work is, we need to take a break from it to maintain our sanity.

Though I'm not big on taking vacations, I do feel the need to escape from time to time. I felt that need recently, and began thinking about a destination that would settle the chaos in me. I love my work as an editor and writer, but deadlines can get overwhelming and schedules can be hectic. I realized while I was daydreaming about getting away that the "work" that was dragging me down so much was the work I do to achieve my goals, personal and career goals. No matter where I go, where I escape to, I'm there, my thoughts whirling, checking in on my productivity, my attitude, my personal growth, my relationships, and on and on. It's a lot to manage (a word that sounds like more work), and I start longing for absence of doing and instead just being.

Just being is not something we're familiar with. We've been taught, I believe, to keep busy doing the many things that our society and we believe make us happy and fulfilled. But for me, keeping on task leads to complete soul fatigue. I know the solutions that will soothe my overworking brain, but even they can feel like work. I meditate and it always proves helpful, but I'm resistant to stopping and getting still. After all, I have work to do!

So while I was cleaning my desk the other day, it's not a surprise that I noticed in a pile of papers I was sorting a page where I'd typed this sentence:

I send you waking naps, where for brief periods of time, you can stop working on yourself and simply luxuriate in where you are right now, just as you are.

I don’t know who wrote this or where I got it from, but it made me pause. I just stood there, letting myself relax. It felt so nourishing to my working-on-myself self. I have strong desires to grow personally and to grow my writing. But, I think I deserve moments of just being. Rested, I think I'll be able to be more loving, more creative, more alive.

What is it like inside your brain most of the time? What do you do to have peace?



Friday, January 17, 2014 | By: Cafe
One of the secrets to life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.
- Jack Penn
Thursday, January 16, 2014 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Deborah O'Neill Cordes


Today, The Write Way Café welcomes screenwriter and novelist Deborah O'Neill Cordes.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
The first inklings of my future as a writer came during my high school and college years, while I was studying science and history.  Dragon Dawn mingles my love of those fields with my penchant for time travel fiction.  H. G. Wells's seminal work, The Time Machine, had a big influence on me.  Although Wells's novel did not provide a definitive "happily ever after" necessary for romance, it did give me pause to wonder what would happen next to his time traveling hero.  Would he travel back to the distant future, rescue Weena, and find happiness with her?  I've always hoped so.  Dragon Dawn's romantic tale also follows a different path.  The romances between my heroine, Dawn Stroganoff, and her dashing commander, Gus Granberg, and two of my secondary characters, Lex and Tasha, end with great poignancy and the potential for a grand HEA, which - I promise! - will be fulfilled in the sequel, "Dawn of Time."  

You have two different time-travel series coming out.  What was your path to getting these books written and published? What type of research did you do?
I actually have three series coming out: my own Dragon Dawn dinosaurian sci-fi time travel series, and two Morgan O'Neill series, which I co-author with Cary Morgan Frates. They are a new Elizabethan time travel trilogy, to be published by Entangled, and a medieval Italian time travel series (publication details coming soon).  My writing and publishing paths have been hard fought and long in coming.  I wrote for over fifteen years before publication, spending about half that time writing screenplays, some of which were optioned.  In 2012, the first book in the Morgan O'Neill Roman time travel series, Love, Eternally, was published, with the rest of the trilogy following soon afterward.  As for research, I love doing the deep research for all of my novels.  In addition to a bachelor's degree in zoology, I have a master's in history with thesis from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, which helped hone my research skills.  Many thanks to my teachers and professors from Flagstaff for providing me with an excellent education!

Where did the idea for your stories come from?
Dragon Dawn started percolating in my mind in the early 1980s, after the discovery of the K/T Event, which occurred 66 million years ago when a large asteroid or comet stuck the globe, causing the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs (and around eighty percent of other Earth species).  I started to wonder what would have happened if that disaster hadn't occurred and dinosaurs had lived on.  What if one species had evolved to sentience and developed a technological civilization?  I thought it would be great fun to create an alternate universe where that had occurred, and also to find a way for a human female astronaut from our universe to "awaken" in a dinosaurian body and attempt to alter the path of history and restore the universe to its rightful course.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My heroine and hero in Dragon Dawn are imaginary, although I've given them surnames that are actual names in my family heritage: Stroganoff and Granberg.  Perhaps Dawn is a bit like me in that she loves learning about the past.  I also have Dawn growing up in Flagstaff.  It's a small love note to one of my home towns (the other being Staten Island, NY, where I was born).

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
Most days, I have a messy desk, filled with piles of research and sticky notes.  Once a novel is finished, I clean off my desk, file things away, and get ready for the next book.  My dear hubster, who is an eldest child (I am, too) and therefore quite organized and neat, compliments me at this stage and braces himself for the forthcoming piles.  Needless to say, I am not as anal-retentive as my hubster!  I do forgive him, though, because he's a great cook.  Of course, I would be quite thin if he didn't feed me so well.  LOL

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love gripping historicals, like Shogun by James Clavell, wonderful time travel novels, like Stephen King's 11/22/63, and any romance with an epic sweep, involving multiple characters and settings.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the sequel to Dragon Dawn, titled Dawn of Time.  I'm also working with Cary on the prequel and sequel to our Elizabethan time travel novel, The Thornless Rose.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
I have a historical epic about medieval Russia, which is not a time travel.  It is in need of editing, and I am determined to get that baby ready for publication some time in the next few years.  As for a new and different genre, I haven't given it much thought; I've got enough on my plate for the immediate future.  Gulp!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I'd be an archeologist.  One great thing about being a novelist is that I can vicariously experience having different occupations through my characters' lives.  In Dragon Dawn, my heroine is the first archeologist/astronaut on Mars.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Starting the next book.  The first moment, when the blank page stares back at me, is always a killer.  Sometimes it takes weeks to get over the feeling I'll never be able to write again.




About Deborah:  Deborah O’Neill Cordes is a screenwriter and novelist of historical and speculative fiction. She is the author of the sci-fi time travel novel, Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series. She is also the co-author of the Morgan O’Neill time travel novels, which she writes with Cary Morgan Frates. Three of Deborah’s works have been optioned by Hollywood, while many others are award winners, garnering finalist placements in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Literary Contest, semi-finalist wins in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Finalist award in the Seattle International Film Festival’s Perfect Pitch Forum. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two West Highland White Terriers, who, alas, are precocious terriers and therefore never white.

Please visit Deborah at:  http://deborahoneillcordes.com/

Dragon Dawn
Time snakes between alternate universes.  Ever watchful, an alien intelligence survives on Mars, waiting to be found by spacefarers from Earth.  The alien’s ultimate goal is to send human astronauts back in time, where they will alter the past and thwart the extinction of the dinosaurs.  A race of intelligent dinosaurs, resembling the alien’s extinct species, subsequently evolves to rule the world.  But a human female astronaut, through a strange twist of fate, survives the change in the space-time continuum.  After finding herself in a dinosaurian body, she must race against time – and the formidable alien – to restore the universe to its rightful course. Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series.

Dragon Dawn is available on Amazon.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | By: HiDee

Looking For a Better Way

I will never be a Survivor contestant. I am not fond of bugs or snakes in any way, shape or form. I am not a water-lover. But I am fascinated by people, and I love watching the show just for the people interactions. 

What makes the contestants tick? How can one person lie without any qualms, while another beats him/herself up for a little fib? Why can one person cope with the mentality that it IS a game, while another knows it’s a game but can’t reconcile that with the way they have to play to advance? Who are these people in their real lives? What traits make them who they are?

Knowing I’m fascinated by people, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’m also fascinated by how writers write. Why are some writers plotters and others pantsers? Why are some writers plungers, instead of planners? How are some writers so prolific while others are not?

I probably spend too much time in search of that elusive “better way” to write my books. I’m a panster, not a plotter; a plunger not a planner (at least in writing). If I find myself distracted by something that isn’t working in my manuscript, I’m quick to search my writing reference books or the internet for a solution.  

Google helps me find websites and blogs that have articles written by writers, for writers. There is a wealth of information out there, and I find it easy to waste a lot of time searching, hoping to discover that one nugget of information that will click with my creative brain and send me scurrying back to my manuscript.  

Writers are great mentors – many of them share their methods, their stories about what works for them and why. They write articles and make them available to other writers. They lead workshops where they interact one-on-one with those of us motivated and inspired to follow in their footsteps. They recognize that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another; that writing methods are as diverse as writers themselves, and they encourage us to persevere and find our own way. 

I think Don Fry sums it up best in his Writer's Digest article To Plan Or To Plunge? A New Way of Looking At The Outlining Debate: You need to know who you are, and what works best for you. 

And so to borrow (and edit) a line from Eddie Rabbitt’s 1980 hit song "Drivin My Life Away":  

I’m writing my life away, looking for a better way, for me...

What writing advice have you been given or discovered that really clicked with you?  Please share.
 
Friday, January 10, 2014 | By: Cafe
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.
- James Russell Lowell, The North American Review
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | By: Cafe

R.T. Wolfe is Back!

We are happy to welcome the prolific and talented R.T. Wolfe back to The Write Way Café. R.T. is talking about her new Nickie Savage Series, and giving us a sneak peak at what's up next.

The first book in your Nickie Savage Series was recently released. Tell us about this new series!
This is a splinter series from my Black Creek Trilogy. Nickie Savage is a brass, smart-as-hell detective. Duncan Reed is an artist for Hollywood with a photographic memory. As opposite as they are, they’ve found they are unstoppable team. If you like detective/mystery romance, give this series a try!

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space is mostly a table at our local Panera. Sometimes it is the bleachers at one of my sons’ swim meets or the car on route to said swim meets. Rarely do I write at home. There are too many distractions at home … laundry, long grass, dusting. I can tune out other restaurant patrons but not perennials that need to be dead-headed.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Time. Those dang day jobs get in the way of everything.

Who or what has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
My inspirations are Nora Roberts and James Patterson (before his co-writing days). Their styles may differ, but they both have an ability to draw a reader into the setting, into their characters heads. They provide great mystery, amazing relationships, and excellent writing. Rarely, am I disappointed by one of their books.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
An author. Or maybe a writer. Seriously, writing is my dream job. It is my crack cocaine and my readers are what keep me going.

What is your favorite social media?  Why?
Social media has become a four letter word for authors. I have over 1500 followers on my Facebook Page and FB only shows my posts to about 35 of them unless I pay for more. Regardless, I post there daily. Nothing too serious, mind you. My Page is all about mindless fun, announcements, and more mindless fun. I use Twitter daily, too. Do you? Do you ever feel like you’re talking to yourself? So dang funny. I also have Pinterest, Linkedin, and Google Plus accounts but have yet to find one I could call a ‘favorite.’

What’s up next for R.T.?
In December, I finished book 1 in a new series I’m writing. The Island Escape Series is all about murder, passion, treasure, family, and sea turtles. In book 1, Island Secrets, a scuba diving instructor devotes her time to finding her brother who went missing in a diving accident. She finds herself relying on the help of her childhood friend, the playboy who ends up her boss. If you like sand, sea turtles, and intense relationships, you’ll like Island Secrets. It is with my editors right now and should be out sometime this year. With book 1 in that series with my editors, I’ve started writing book 2 in the Nickie Savage Series. Savage Rendezvous is flying onto the pages as Nickie finds herself at risk of losing two things, her most personal case ever and Duncan Reed. If you would like to receive once-a-month updates on R.T. Wolfe novels, sign up for my newsletter. The link is located on the Home Page of my website, www.rtwolfe.com.

And now some fun stuff!
What is your biggest shopping downfall?
Um, shopping. Shopping is my biggest shopping downfall. I only shop when I’m desperate.

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full personality?
Ooo, tough question. I’ll go with honesty. I’m half empty. I’ve had ‘one of those lives’ and find it easier to live on the cautious side. Past trauma may keep my guard up, but it makes for great writing material!

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
My Facebook followers tell me I’m a dog person. They accuse me of only posting pictures of cute, furry … Okay, okay, I’m a dog person. J

What is your favorite season and why?
I am a four-seasons person, but my favorite is Fall. I love to get out my jeans and sweaters and walk through forests of brilliant colors with leaves crunching under my feet. Winter is magnificent. I even enjoy shoveling. Spring is rejuvenating and summer brings days of writing on my patio. I live in Illinois and am probably right where I need to be.


Thanks for stopping by today, R.T.!




Friday, January 3, 2014 | By: Cafe
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
- Harriet Tubman
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 | By: Cafe

Happy New Year!


We would like to thank all of our readers and our guests for being a part of The Write Way Café.  Happy New Year and best wishes in 2014!
     - Lynn and HiDee