Tag Archive | interview

Do You Have Unfinished Manuscripts?

unfinishedHow many of us have unfinished works in our computers? I bet a lot. Sometimes we get an amazing idea for a story, we furiously write it down, come up with characters, develop and plot and after feverishly working on it for days and weeks at a time…. it fizzles. Why does this happen? I can blame writer’s block, lack of time, computer problems, but that’s usually not it. You can always come up with some excuse, but for me, the real reason is that I probably got bored. And if “I” get bored with my own story, you can imagine how readers might feel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean I’m not capable of finishing a book… just maybe not this one.

The question begs, what do you do with these stories? Especially those that are halfway, to three-quarters of the way, written? Can they be saved? Do you even want to save them? Should you finish them as an exercise and put them in a special “where the sun don’t shine” file, or do you occasionally take them out, dust them off and try to “fix” them? I have four novels in various stages of production. Some are in genres I never usually write in and I use these books to “play.” When I need a break from a serious WIP, but still want to write, I go to these “where the sun don’t shine” novels and work on them. Some of them are actually decent, some of them are terrible and some of them I will never show anyone because of subject matter (you fill in the blanks 😉 ) But the fact is, they are there, I know they’re there and I don’t necessarily want to let them go.

I wondered if I were the only author that has unfinished works in their arsenal. This week I asked authors Charity Parkerson and C.K. Raggio for their input on this subject. They had some great, thought provoking responses.

Question #1) Do you have any unfinished works? Or do you have stories you start but don’t finish and what do you do with them?

C.K. Raggio: I have quite a few short stories in numerous notebooks near my desk. When I get frustrated or stuck on whatever novel I’m writing (and hard liquor and yanking out my hair doesn’t cut it) I take out a short and work on that instead. It helps me to clear my mind and refocus. It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment once I get to the end of a draft and feel like I’ve improved on it.

Charity Parkerson: I have one book in particular that has sat on my computer for over a year now that I’m beginning to think will never be complete. While writing A SPLASH OF HOPE I always intended for it to have a sequel, but so far, it’s not happening. Sometimes if I have several things that are around 1000 words, I’ll find a way to piece them together to start a new story and it will spark an idea.

Question #2) Do you think it’s okay for writers to have stories that never get finished?

C.K. Raggio: Definitely. I think sometimes a story starts in our head but isn’t ready to be completed. Sometimes we need to grow in our own lives before we are finally able to go back and finish the story’s journey. I believe every tale we tell in some way is connected to our experiences, fears, goals and ultimate dreams. Life will sometimes throw a curve ball and a course we thought we were following changes direction, so even if a story is never finished it’s not a bad thing, it just means we may have drastically changed before we had a chance to polish it to perfection.

Charity Parkerson: I think every writer does have stories that never see the light of day. If in the end it doesn’t work for them then most likely it’s not going to work for readers. Writing is never a waste of time, but not everything is right for publication.

Wise words, ladies. I agree with everything you’re saying and love the idea that maybe sometimes we need to “grow into our lives” before we can finish them. And I love the concept that even if we don’t finish, it’s not a waste of time because it might “spark other ideas.” Really great advice.

For more information about the authors above, please feel free to contact them here:

Charity Parkerson is an award-winning author of several books including 15 Amazon bestsellers. She can always be reached on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson You can also check out one of her novels, THE SEXY & THE UNDEAD at http://www.amazon.com/The-Sexy-Undead-Witches-ebook/dp/B00CLYIMD0/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1373661362&sr=1-6&keywords=charity+parkerson

C.K. Raggio is a thriller/horror writer with a taste for the dark side. Her debut novel HERON PARK is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Wx537w You can visit C.K. at her website http://www.ckraggio.com/

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Dealing with Frustration – The Ups and Downs of Writing

frustrationI liken being a writer to being on a see-saw. One moment you’re at the top of the world and the next you’re crawling in the dirt. What do I mean by this? If an agent requests a partial read of my novel, I’m ecstatic. If I get a rejection letter, I’m crushed. If I get a great review, I’m over the moon. If I get a bad review, I’m back in the dirt, devastated.

Being a writer is a life of ups and downs. The trick with most people seems to be trying to find a way to manage the frustrations that come along with it. For me, when I get a rejection letter from an agent, I try to answer it with TWO new queries. If I get a bad review, well, I usually email all my tight writing friends and whine and they make me feel better. I’ve also found a boatload of sushi and some dark chocolate seems to help when things are very bleak.

But frustration doesn’t always come from reviews and query replies. It can also come from within ourselves. For me it’s the moment where I’m staring at the screen, 250+ pages into a book, at the climatic ending and I’m like a deer in the headlights. “OMG, WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN NEXT?” or “OMG, WHAT I WROTE IS SO BORING!” It’s those moments where you wonder, “what in the world am I going to do?” I usually close the novel at that point, feeling like I’m the worst writer in the world (man, we are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we?) But then, that’s when my “aha” moments happen. I tend to dwell on the book for awhile (maybe a day, a week). I think about it when I’m commuting, when I’m in the shower, when I’m about to fall asleep… and then WHAM! You get that moment when you suddenly see your story go on a tangent you never thought possible and you give yourself “permission” to go there.

So I asked some other writers what they do to deal with frustration.  Then I asked them about their own “aha” moments. First I spoke with author Gwen Choate who has been writing for 70 years (yes, I said 70) – she is my idol, 90 years “young” and just published her YA Novel, THE SACK (although she’s been writing successfully since her 20’s – I should have used her for my persistence blog last week). I also asked author Frank Tuttle whose YA book ALL THE PATHS OF SHADOW consumed my 11 year old Aspie son who was so compelled by the ideas in this book enough to make drawings for the novel and begged me to send them  to Frank. (who by the way, graciously put them on his book’s FB page)

Question #1) Do you ever get frustrated?

Gwen Choate: All the time. For most of us, the writer’s life is a mix of joys and disappointments. The thing that is most helpful for me is my morning “quiet time,” when I journal and meditate.

Q #2) Have you ever had an “aha” moment?

Gwen: Yes, often.  For example, if I’m blocked by a problem, I like to say before I go to sleep at night, “Please tell me what to do about this.” It’s amazing how often my subconscious comes through and I get an “Aha” the next morning.

Q #1) Do you ever get frustrated?

Frank Tuttle: Frustrated is my default ground state. Why am I not rich? Why am I not famous? Why am I not appearing on late night talk shows? As to how I handle this frustration, see also grain alcohol, consumption of. (very funny, Frank)

Q #2) Have you ever had an “aha” moment?

Frank: Yes. They usually involve the Mississippi Highway Patrol and radar-assisted speed traps. But you wanted writing related discussion, so I’ll say this: All good narratives can be boiled down to a simple formula. A character, in a setting, facing a problem. It’s really that simple. It’s not *easy* but it is simple.

Well said, Frank. I believe our own frustrations can also be boiled down to a simple formula. “Our book”, “other’s perceptions of our books”, and “our reactions.” Well, maybe it’s not that simple. But I believe as writers we need to realize there will be ups and downs, difficulties, good times and bad, but at the end of the day we do this because we love it. We must always remember that. Frustration is just a state of mind – one that we have control over, though at times we may not realize it.

Thank you to Gwen Choate and Frank Tuttle for their time. To learn more about them, please check them out here:

Frank Tuttle writes fantasy to escape his real life exploits as a jet-setting international superspy. You can visit Frank’s webpage at http://www.franktuttle.com/ where you will find links to Frank’s blog, his books, and first-aid tips for exotic pet owners. You can also follow Frank on Twitter www.twitter.com/frank_tuttle

Gwen Choate’s YA novel, THE SACK, was nominated by Texas Librarians for the Star of Texas Award as a best Middle School book. It is available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sack-ebook/dp/B00CD5VBTO/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1371494846&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sack+gwen+choate She can also be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gwenchoate

Interview with Carolyn Arnold

Books by Carolyn Arnold    Books by Carolyn Arnold

I have been so fortunate to meet wonderful authors over the past few months and what I’ve noticed is the complete lack of competitiveness between all of them. I’ve never met a group of people so willing to help each other out. Carolyn Arnold is no exception. She has written several novels across a multitude of genres and has created an amazing blog called Celebrating Authors, where she promotes other writers’ upcoming projects with snapshots, announcements and interviews on their current works.

So, to continue with my love of bringing authors to my blog, hailing all the way from Canada, please allow me to present the multi-talented Carolyn Arnold.

1) So, Carolyn, please tell us about your upcoming book and what it’s like writing a series?

SACRIFICE is the third in The Madison Knight Series. Designed to be a stand-alone series, it follows Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight in her drive to find justice for the victims of horrendous crimes, despite the ever-impeding domination of male superiors.

Here’s the book blurb for SACRIFICE:

When the son of business tycoon Marcus Randall, washes up on the shore of the Bradshaw River, Detective Madison Knight must sacrifice everything—including her career—to find justice for the “perfect murder”.

With Marcus Randall already on the radar of the Secret Service for fraud and counterfeiting, the investigation sheds new light, and they require the full co-operation of the Stiles PD. But with power and money to back him, Marcus has a reach that extends right inside the police department.

If Madison’s going to find out the truth, she’ll have to sort through the lies and balance diplomacy with politics.

~~

As for writing a series, it can be both comfortable and difficult.  While you might know the characters quite well you have to be certain to keep things consistent.  This can be a trick, and that’s why it’s a good idea to keep good notes on everyone, and everything that has gone in a novel.

2) I completely understand about keeping notes. So many times we change or add things to a novel and being consistent with our characters is so key. How did you come up with the idea for this particular book?

Actually, it was inspired from real-life.  I used to work for a father and son.  The son never seemed to take any responsibility in life, and his father was left to clean up after him.

3) I believe taking facets from real-life can truly bring a book alive and is very relatable to readers. Do you research a lot?

Most definitely.  Also, when I research I cross-reference to make sure that I have a solid understanding of the material.  With TIES THAT BIND, I recently received some high praise from an ex-cop who spent 30 years on the job.

This is his review in part:  “Police Procedural at its best…Arnold really did her homework in “Ties” researching interview techniques, evidence procedures, medical terminology, and legal issues that usually are painfully absent in most police procedural novels. Not in “Ties”, seriously the most technically correct police procedural novel I have ever read. The fictional side was even more entertaining than the facts!…”

4) What an amazing praise from an ex-cop! Congratulations! So with all this reviewing and researching, do you plot a lot or do you let your story surprise you?

A mix of both, I suppose.  While I am primarily a “panster”, I have an idea where I want things to go.  But, sometimes, or should I say a lot of times, my characters take me down another path.  These “detours” are a real highlight of the writing journey.

5) Agreed – there’s that wonderful moment as a writer when your characters simply bring you someplace that maybe fifteen minutes before was never even a thought in your mind. It’s that “detour” you speak of that makes it so worthwhile. So tell us, what are your current projects?

I’m taking a stab at writing a political thriller.  And, I’m getting ready to start a first round of edits for another thriller novel for release in the late fall—ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY.

6) You’re a writing dynamo and in a relatively short time you published a great series of work. So many people say they want to write a novel, but they just don’t get around to it. How do you do it?

What an amazing compliment: a dynamo 🙂  I guess it just comes from such a passion for writing.  Writing, to me, is something that is a necessary part of my daily life.  I’ve made sacrifices for it, and continue to, but when you strongly believe in something, you don’t have much choice.  I just hope that my readers fall in love with my characters as much as I have.

I’ve written 8 novels, and 2 short stories.  4 of these novels are in The Madison Knight Series, 2 are thrillers, 1 is suspense, and 1 a romantic suspense.  Book blurbs on all of them are available on my website here:  http://carolynarnold.net

7) Ok, lastly, tell us something that folks might not know about you.

Hmm, tough question as I consider myself rather open….This summer, I took another attempt at gardening, and so far, not only are the plants still alive (a month later), they are prospering.  My favorite is my banana tree, which is growing at an insane rate.

Carolyn, thank you so much for your time. If you’d like to connect with Carolyn and her novels online, please see the links below.

Amazon Author PageWebsiteBlogTwitterFacebook